Tag Archives: Church of England

Memorial: grief and celebration

Last weekend (June 29), it was the fifth national Armed Forces Day in the UK. The day aimed to raise public awareness of the contribution made by those who serve and have served in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. It also gave people an opportunity to show their support for the Armed Forces community.

Lorelle wrote about how United States celebrated Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) on May 27,  a day “dedicated to remembering those who died while serving in the United States military services.” The BBC also reported that Memorial Day honoured the dead in US conflicts from the Civil War through Korea and Afghanistan.

Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day are linked. Whatever views we may have about wars (euphemistically ‘conflicts’), especially modern wars, we learn from history about mistakes, sacrifices and bravery. We learn about humility. Continue reading

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My tranquil neighbourhood in Chandler’s Ford

A while ago, my friend Shimon from Jerusalem published a series of pictures about his neighbourhood in his blog, The Human Picture.

I’m totally enchanted by this series, which Shimon neatly named ‘Blood behind stones’.

“In our culture, it is believed that the soul of a living being is found in its blood. So the name of the series refers to the human beings that live and work behind the stone walls, and the stone buildings of our city.”

~ Quote from Shimon Z ~

This reflection has added value to the series, as his photos are not just for aesthetics pleasure, they form history.

Shimon’s series has triggered me to do something similar, on a much smaller scale.

I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 13 years. We moved over here when I was heavily pregnant, and now my son is almost a teenager. “Why not capture my neighbourhood?” I thought.

I normally walk for half an hour to work everyday. Yesterday I took some pictures on my way to work and my journey home. I’m sharing some images here to take you on my journey.

1) First, I cut through this little wood, then walk through a very narrow path. There’s a large prominent ‘No Dumping’ sign in the wood — it implies that some people dump their rubbish in the wood and this ghastly sign unfortunately reflects negatively on the residents.

In the past, I saw broken chairs, sofa, duvets and bags of rubbish being dumped in the wood.

route through the wood

Cut through the wood, listing to birds chirping.

Continue reading

Stories from the church

Last Sunday, my friend didn’t join me for coffee after the church service. I wondered why and she sent me her excuse by an email:

“I was sitting next to a 91 year old lady who was visiting the church. She was telling me all about her war service. She was in the women’s RAF and started off building Hurricane fighter planes. Then she was attached to 57 Squadron (Lancaster Bombers) and was in charge of delivering the bombs out onto the airfield and seeing them loaded up into the bomb bays. Her husband flew the Lancaster bombers and survived the war.  Her best friend worked on the Dambusters project!”

Hands of time (image by cogdogblog via Flickr)

Hands of time (image by cogdogblog via Flickr)


This story excited me. It looks like the Church of England attracts the most interesting people. It also proves that some people’s viewpoints of the church are possibly wrong. Some people have the perception that church is a boring place with boring, under-achieving people.

I’ve decided that in the future when I get to church early enough, I would: Continue reading

Sunday morning laughter

I made an effort to go to the church this morning when the famous line by Shelley sprang to mind, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” It isn’t the most spring-like February. A sudden burst of hails last night echoed the rock music and I enjoyed a bit of drama in the weather. Rain and snow are just a bit too boring for me.

If you think that church is boring, you might be wrong. This morning, the priest in our local Church of England church dressed like he had got a job to do, unlike last weekend. He donned a striking purple robe (or do you call it a dress?) today for a change.

You can see the shade of purple in this picture:

Rowan Atkinson - wearing a big purple dress every day! (Radio Times image)

Rowan Atkinson – wearing a big purple dress every day! (Radio Times image)

The priest started the service by saying, “Welcome everyone. Any mention of rugby is banned, including gloating.” It sounded like he hasn’t quite recovered from the rugby match yesterday.

The Six Nations: Wales thrashed England: 30: 3 (BBC picture)

The Six Nations: Wales thrashed England: 30: 3 (BBC picture)

He also reminded the small congregation of sending out the Easter Worship leaflets in the community, “If you would like to make a nuisance for yourself in the name of Christ, here are some Easter leaflets.”

The priest also announced that there would be a film night next Tuesday, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by Mel Gibson. “The film also comes with a bit of health warning.”

Church of England for Dummies

Since my last post about our ‘vicar’ who didn’t wear a lot on a Sunday, my dear friend Hazel kindly gave me a lesson by email called Church of England for Dummies.

I love going to the church as I’m a bit vain. I enjoy being the youngest adult for a day, though I’ve noticed some strands of white hair have already started sprouting when I look at the mirror. Old ladies would speak to me adoringly, the way they speak to an oriental foreigner. “I’ve been to China, you know? I climbed the Great Wall. Oh, those pandas in Sichuan. Aren’t they gorgeous?” Some gentlemen would take me back to the glory of the British empire, their postings in the Far East, the colonial styled Raffles Hotel in Singapore and all that. (Oh, don’t forget the awful Changi Prison!)

However, though being in the church for a few years, I’m still ignorant of the structure of the church. For example, I thought a ‘READER’ is someone who reads out the Bible during the service. There used to be a speaker with a strange title as ‘Captain’. I thought most trained ministers in the church are called vicars. Apparently, I’m quite wrong.

According to Church of England for Dummies by my friend, Hazel,

“Fiona is a priest whose local title is Associate Vicar. Technically, there is one Vicar (sometimes called a Rector, especially in country districts). He or she is the incumbent, which means that he or she is in charge of the parish. All other priests work under this person and are actually assistant curates according to the Church of England regulations. However, local titles, such as Associate Vicar, can be bestowed by the Bishop.”

“Some priests, such as Lynda Bunting are Self-supporting Priests – in other words, they are fully qualified but work unpaid. Deacons are people who have been trained at theological college and are working in a parish for a year (or longer) before being consecrated as priests by the Bishop. Michael was a Deacon when he came to us. They all have the title Reverend (Rev. or Revd.)”

“In multiple benefices – groups of parishes – there is often a Team Ministry comprising several priests working together, though one of them is usually put in charge of the others.”

Ordination -- cartoon by Dave Walker

Ordination — cartoon by Dave Walker

“Michael Smith comes from an Anglo-Catholic background – what is commonly known as High Church in the Church of England. Anglo-Catholic services follow Common Worship for communion as we do, but there is much more emphasis on robes, incense, ceremony and bells etc and often a strong music tradition.”

“Worship must be a beautiful offering to God and there is an emphasis on the sacraments. As in the Roman Catholic churches, many Anglo-Catholics like to attend formal confession to a priest, particularly before important services such as Christmas and Easter mass. (Communion or Eucharist is usually referred to as Mass in these churches).”

“Ian and Fi come from the evangelical wing of the Church of England and would put more emphasis on bible teaching and preaching than on sacraments and prefer simpler, unrobed services.”

“A Reader is a lay (as opposed to clergy)  person who has undergone several years of training and is then licensed to work in a parish. Readers can preach and teach and do pastoral work and take funerals, but they cannot officiate at baptisms or consecrate the bread and wine for communion – only an ordained priest can do these things.”

“Generally, our parish is ‘middle of the road’ being neither evangelical (apart from Church@four or anglo-catholic.”

I found the above information fascinating. I’ve created this Wordle image file based on Hazel’s inspiration:  Church of England for Dummies
CoE for Dummies

CoE for Dummies

Christmas in the eyes of a foreigner in England

I’ve been in England for 15 years now, yet there are still new things about Christmas I find each year. I thought I have known all I need to know about Christmas, yet there are always surprises. Here are some of the facts that I’ve gathered over the years:

1) Christmas List:

It’s a list-loving nation. People love their shopping list, Christmas to do list, and the most important list of all, is a Christmas card list. In Britain, there’s an expression that you’re either ‘on someone’s Christmas list’ or you get ‘crossed off’ someone’s Christmas list. If your distant relative hasn’t sent you a Christmas card for 2 consecutive years, do you still send him one — now that a second class stamp is worth 50p? Do you go the extra mile to send your old friend or foe a card?

2) Christingle:

The Christingle service is foreign to me. I’d never heard of it until two years ago. Last weekend, in our local Church of England, there was a candlelit Christingle service. Children were each given an orange and messages of peace and prayers were said. They passed on the candle flame and it was an extremely moving scene to observe how children were taught the message of peace in this simple ritual. Christingle was introduced by The Children’s Society in 1968 to the Church of England, and money is raised to support vulnerable children.

Christingle The Children's society

Christingle for Christmas: Symbolism of orange, red ribbon, dried fruits and lit candle.

  • The orange – represents the world
  • The red ribbon – indicates the love and blood of Christ
  • The dried fruits and sweets – symbols of God’s creations
  • The lit candle – symbolises Jesus, the light of the world

3) Colour: Continue reading

An innocent scarecrow competition

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Last weekend, there was a Scarecrow Competition in our local parish church in Chandler’s Ford.

I was intrigued. I was determined to have a look after finishing my teaching in the morning.

Do scarecrows have to be made with straws? Are there any rules? I would be clueless with straws. In our house, straws are only used for our chicken run in the garden.

I’m not sure how popular scarecrow competition is in the western culture. It strikes me as something nostalgic, innocent, fun and silly. People like having fun, being creative, and showing a good sense of humour.

I like it.