Editor: The Revd Canon Derek Earis
- LETTER FROM THE RECTORY by Revd Liz Hassall
- KINDNESS THROUGH LENT AND BEYOND by Jose Knowles, Reader
- LENT – A SEASON OF GROWTH by Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy
- WILDERNESS AND DISCIPLESHIP – A BOOK FOR LENT by Revd Kingsley Boulton, Deacon
- LENT – A SEASON OF GROWTH THROUGH PRAYER by Vera Silberberg
- LENTEN INSPIRATION by Janet Fox, Reader
- JOHN DONNE, THE POET PREACHER by Revd Catherine Reid
- ST OLAVE’S CHURCH WEBSITE – A YEAR OF GROWTH by Tina Sanderson
LETTER FROM THE RECTORY by Revd Liz Hassall
A Season for Growth
Growth is a part of life – in the natural world, we can see it and marvel at it, even if it happens only incrementally. It’s when we turn away from something for a while that we notice that growth has happened. The first thing people say when they meet someone else’s children after a long time is ‘haven’t you grown’ and when you come back from a holiday, you realise quite how much the lawn and the weeds have grown in your absence.
As you get to know me better, you will discover that gardening is not one of my gifts. I was publicly sacked from being plant-watering monitor in primary school, having killed a significant proportion of the school’s plants. My record has not greatly improved with indoor plants but I have been more successful with growing veg, animals and children. Perhaps it is because animals and children tell you when they are hungry or thirsty or over-watered, rather than leaving you to figure it out.
In the Church we are more in the business of inner growth – the kind of growth that takes us from people who dabble on the edge of faith to being people who are committed to following a life of faith in Jesus Christ. This is a long process and one which will be different for everyone. The main thing about this inner growth is that it is a process which never stops. You never get to the point where you can say “I’m all grown up now” and stop growing.
Lent is perhaps the season of our Church year where we are most focussed on our own spiritual growth. How is it going for you? Are you overwatered and losing your leaves, are you parched and lacking refreshment, or are you thriving? Will you be able to look back when we get to Easter and see the growth – and will the people around you notice? I hope that your Lenten activity is providing the nourishment that you need right now and that you will discover in the future that you have indeed grown in faith.
What exactly are we trying to grow into? The phrase that our new archbishop is using (and which we will doubtless be looking at over the next few months) is “missionary disciples”. I think this means people who have enough commitment to following Jesus Christ that they can go out into daily life taking his teachings with them and share that good-news gospel through their actions as well as their words. The result of this being that they contribute to the growth of the Church as a whole – growth in this case having a multitude of meanings.
So my hope for the coming months is that this will be a season of growth for all of us (and I deliberately include myself in this) where we can begin to return to activities that have been curtailed for the last year and discover what growth God has been provoking in all of us while we have been apart.
Wishing you a blessed Lent,
KINDNESS THROUGH LENT AND BEYOND by Jose Knowles, Reader
Kindness is the sincere and voluntary use of one’s time, talent, and resources to better the lives of others, one’s own life, and the world through genuine acts of love, compassion, generosity, and service. Moreover, kindness involves choice.
True kindness comes directly from the Holy Spirit. It is God’s way of orienting our hearts towards others, whether they deserve it or not. Whether we are loved or hated for it, the Bible calls us to show kindness to strangers, to friends, to our families, to people of our faith and others:
And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.”’.Genesis 20:13
Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and evil.Luke 6:35
Kindness is also closely linked to forgiveness. In Ephesians 4:32 we are told that being kind means having tender hearts, and forgiving one another – just as God has forgiven us through the person of Jesus Christ. This and other verses like it are, essentially, practical instructions that tell us how we might show kindness to one another through our thoughts and actions.
The Greek word for “kind” is chrestos. Part of its meaning is “useful,” which underlines the fact that Biblical kindness has to involve some kind of action. We are told to love not in word but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18) – in other words, that it isn’t enough just to utter kind words. We have to follow through and demonstrate our capacity for love and forgiveness in the things that we do every-day. And even then, it isn’t enough to just wait for an opportunity to show kindness to someone else to come along – we have to actively seek out opportunities to show kindness.
Acts of Kindness
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Or have you ever done something for a stranger, knowing that you didn’t have to, but that it would make their day? That is the kindness that comes from the fruit of the spirit. It is a kindness that recognises generosity and self-sacrifice – because whether we give our money or our time, we are giving something away to someone else knowing that we ourselves cannot have it.
Impressing others should never be our motivation when it comes to being kind to others. God encourages us to show kindness to others humbly, quietly, even anonymously, with no expectation of anything in return. To family, friends, strangers, the poor, the needy, the sick, the grieving… really, to everyone.
He calls us to meet other people exactly where they are and treat them with love, compassion, patience, and kindness – in other words, to display the presence of the Spirit within us.
10 Random Acts of Kindness
- Hold the door open.
- Give an honest compliment.
- Thank someone who you appreciate.
- Be a good listener.
- Offer your help to someone.
- Ask the person who’s serving you how their day is going.
- Treat someone to a coffee or tea.
- Whenever I am blessed in either the receiving or the giving of kindness, my heart and spirit skip with joy.
- Thanks Be to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen
LENT – A SEASON OF GROWTH by Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy
I have been asked to contribute something for this edition of Touch Base where the focus is on ‘Lent – a season for growth’. Since we are at the stage of welcoming a new vicar and at the same time taking ourselves through the season of Lent one idea occurs to me. We need to begin to prepare ourselves for whatever changes and developments in our congregational life Liz will be guiding us through. This diagram which I have often used in my training and parish development work might help. It is not for me to suggest what changes might be introduced but it is for us all to prepare for them with a piece of self-examination. It might be helpful to place ourselves on this chart in this Lent and perhaps at every church festival or every month thereafter??
Using diagrams like the one above, I have spent more than half a lifetime working with congregations so that they can develop a shared vision for themselves and their partners. I have been fortunate in having talented colleagues to do this work with me. In the 1980’s, alongside my paid church work, we formed the Edward King Institute for Ministry Development. I founded and edited the Journal Ministry where clergy and congregations could describe how they were experimenting with new forms pf parish ministry. Later, with a different generation of colleagues, we founded MODEM – Managerial and Organisational Disciplines for the Enhancement of Management. Our book 101 Great Ideas for Growing Healthy Churches is still selling well.
We came to live in York 17 years ago when I became Director of the Foundation for Church Leadership where research into how bishops, Dioceses and congregations work took a more national and academic turn. With support from staff at York St John University, my interest in church leadership developed into a PhD about how the Church of England manages change – some of you may ask, DOES IT? The Transition Curve diagram, in many different forms has appeared in my What’s new in Church Leadership as well as in my most recent book, Multi-Congregation Ministry – in my first conversation with Liz she told me that she had it on her desk! All these books are published by the Canterbury Press and are available from them at www.canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk
WILDERNESS AND DISCIPLESHIP – A BOOK FOR LENT by Revd Kingsley Boulton, Deacon
There are very many books one could choose for one’s Lenten reading. I opted for a book by Paula Gooder, as I know how readable and engaging her writing is, so often opening up a new understanding of Scripture. I also had the privilege of hearing her speak when she came to give a talk to the York Group of the William Temple Association in 2015. Those of us who meet online on Thursday afternoons decided to use this book as the basis for discussion during Lent.
Dr Paula Gooder is a Church of England Reader, and a writer and lecturer on Biblical studies. She has held many different positions and is currently Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London where she is responsible for growing and leading the Cathedral’s theological and learning programme. It is unique in the Church of England for a lay person to be appointed to a position with this title.
Let me go there is part of a series of books by Paula Gooder for the different seasons of the Church’s year. The others cover Advent, Easter and Ordinary time. It follows a similar pattern and can be used in a number of different ways. It can be used for individual reading or by groups, and each chapter ends with suggested questions for discussion and reflection. The book can be read either in one go or gradually during the days and weeks of Lent.
As the title of this article indicates the overall themes of the book are wilderness and discipleship, and the direct relationship between the two. Each chapter contains a number of Biblical passages, and it begins with some Old Testament examples before turning to the Gospels, and particularly that of Mark.
The wilderness, both literally as depicted in the Bible and metaphorically in our own lives, is shown to have both negative and positive connotations. It can be bleak and even threatening, outside of our comfort zone. Yet it can also allow us the space we may need. In the book we are given helpful insights into our Lord’s temptations, or more accurately testing, and how that might relate to us.
Dr Gooder then turns to the related theme of discipleship and she reminds us that the Greek word for disciple (mathetes) means a learner. Discipleship is thus first and foremost learning, as Peter, Andrew, James and John were learning, not just from Jesus’ words but also from what he did. That is surely a pattern for our discipleship too.
The exploration of the wilderness is perhaps particularly apt in this time of the pandemic when we can perhaps feel as though we are living in a kind of wilderness. Yet this season of Lent gives us an opportunity to review our discipleship in the light of both the challenges and the opportunities that the current situation presents. Like me you may find this book a great help on that journey.
During Lent this book will be discussed each Thursday from 2pm during the Zoom social hosted by Kingsley and Ruth. Details of how to access this will be given in the St Olave’s weekly Newssheet or email Kingsley on email@example.com
LENT – A SEASON OF GROWTH THROUGH PRAYER by Vera Silberberg
Lent – the beginning of Spring – gives us all time to take stock, just as the ground needs preparation for seeds to flourish. We hope to use this time to start and develop habits, and re-order our lives in ways that will last beyond Easter into the whole year. One of the most important habits which usually needs attention is prayer : monastic life is based on constant prayer [the Benedictine adage ‘laborare est orare’] but clearly there have to be times to set aside for prayer.
Most of us, most of the time, cannot give the time required for [e.g.] the regular offices of Morning and Evening prayer, even though we may enjoy joining in when the opportunity arises [a Quiet day, a visit to a Cathedral]. Common Worship also offers ‘Prayer during the day’ which can be used at any time, consisting mainly of a psalm and a reading.
But prayer is about strengthening our relationship with GOD, so think about how we maintain/strengthen our relationship with one another, especially those we love. These days, many people maintain contact by texting, [as I’ve known courting couples maintain and develop their relationship]. I can remember the days when international phone calls had to be booked, and prepared for so as not to waste those precious 3 minutes – today is much easier – but it’s always that easy with GOD.
And in any relationship, listening is as important as speaking – in any fruitful conversation there are silences when those involved think about what has been said to make sure they have understood before continuing – and giving thought to their response. There are a number of different kinds of prayer group meeting regularly [under normal circumstances] which give the opportunity to listen to the Word of GOD, often in corporate silence. They may be labelled Ignatian, Julian, etc, but all contemplative methods seek to enable us to hear/listen to the Word. Most books written for use in Lent or other times will contain questions to be considered before continuing – enforced listening time?
Even if no group is available [as now] it should be possible to set aside 5-10 minutes in the day to think about a sentence or phrase from the Sunday gospel [the ‘I AM’ sayings are very suitable] : what is GOD saying to you and how are you going to respond? But it is important to set that time aside, rather than hoping a quiet moment will appear. We all have busy days, but Drake [I think] said “Lord, thou knowest how occupied I shall be today – should I forget Thee, pray Thou dost not forget me” – so how about a quiet thank you when you get up, go to bed, have a meal, finish a piece of work………….? The office canticles Benedictus and Magnificat could be used as morning and evening prayer, or the Nunc Dimittis on retiring.
There are other brief prayers we can easily learn, to use in a quiet moment: the Jesus prayer; the universal prayer for peace [said by many at midday]. Any of these prayers can be put on a card in our wallet, or mobile phone case, to be easily accessible. And, if you have space, a “holding cross”?
Another important aspect of prayer is intercession – remembering that GOD already knows all about the person or problem, I tend to think about intercessory prayer as cleaning the window to let GOD’s light shine through to others, or unblocking a tap to let healing waters flow [as St Francis said : Make me a channel of your love ; make me an instrument of your peace.]
The Coventry litany of reconciliation, taken slowly and meditatively, can provide prompts for intercessory prayer in many directions.
So, Lent gives us the opportunity to try different ways of strengthening our prayer life, [which is intensely personal], our vital relationship with GOD, find what works, and then go on doing it !
LENTEN INSPIRATION by Janet Fox, Reader
Nu sculon hergean heofonrics weard,Caedmon’s Hymn
Meotodes meahte and his modgepanc,
Weorc wuldorfaeder, swa hewundra gehwaes,
Ece drihten, or onstealde.
My A-level English teacher was able to read these words in such a way that it was possible to grasp their meaning – he had studied Old English – this being written in early Anglo-Saxon. It is called “Caedmon’s Hymn” and was composed in the late 7th century by a cowherd in Whitby. The translation reads:
Now let me praise the keeper of Heaven’s kingdom,
the might of the Creator, and his thought,
the work of the Father of glory, how each of his wonders
the Eternal Lord established in the beginning.
Inspirational words indeed that echo down the centuries and are as relevant and inspirational today as they were to Caedmon back in the 600s.
It may seem a bit obscure, but I find the simple phrases used by Caedmon open up a glorious image of hope and thankfulness. He goes on:
He first created the sons of men
Heaven as a roof, the holy Creator,
then Middle-earth the keeper of mankind,
the Eternal Lord, afterwards made,
the earth for me, the Almighty Lord.
A hymn of praise indeed, from a simple man inspired by what he saw around him.
Verse and poetry provide many different ways of looking at things because they tend to condense ideas into phrases that may not, initially, seem to make much sense but as you read them, or even better if possible, listen to them, they begin to suggest more than just the words on the page. You can begin to visualise a bigger picture, to gain inspiration from what the poet was envisaging – and I can guarantee that each interpretation will be as individual as each one of us is.
Different poets speak quite differently to each of us and can inspire both delight and despair. I have to admit that when I see a George Herbert hymn listed on a service sheet my heart lifts. We all know the glories of ‘Teach me my God and King’, ‘Let all the world in every corner sing’ and ‘King of glory, King of Peace’ and many others. But equally, his words can perplex and confuse. His work was all published posthumously and reflects his personal experiences of the confusions and contradictions that life can bring as well as all the joy, love and hope. One particularly appropriate to the present time is called, quite simply ‘Lent’. It was written in 1633, the year that he died, and for me encapsulates all that the current season should, and does, mean – in four simple verses. To me, the third of these verses is especially encouraging:
Who goeth in the way which Christ hath gone,
Is much more sure to meet with him, than one
That travelleth by-ways:
Perhaps my God, though he be far before,
May turn and take me by the hand, and more
May strengthen my decays.
I will point out that the line arrangement is Herbert’s own and often contributes to the overall effect of his works, take a look at ‘The Altar’ perhaps or ‘Easter Wings’ for example. You get visual inspiration as well as verbal to add to your enjoyment. George Herbert was an extraordinary poet in many ways and there is an excellent biography by John Drury entitled ‘Music at Midnight‘ if you would like to know more about his life and the times that informed his work.
Another lyric poet and cleric from a similar era is the Cavalier poet Robert Herrick (1591–1674), best known for his monumental collection of poems ‘Hesperides’ – – or maybe for the opening line of his verse “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”, the oft quoted: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”.
He too has a splendid short poem relevant to the season, ‘To Keep a True Lent’. Read in conjunction with George Herbert’s approach it seems a lot more prosaic and almost modern. It is certainly less spiritual but for all that it gets right to the point. It begins by asking:
Is this a fast, – to keep
The larder lean,
From fat of veals and sheep?
But the concluding verses are truly an inspiration of what Lent should be about:
It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
And hate, –
To circumcise thy life
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin, –
And that’s to keep thy Lent.
There is a wealth of poetry that can inspire and inform us. It doesn’t all have to be seventeenth century or earlier, it is just that I find the unusual use of language and phraseology makes you think even more deeply about what you are reading and as understanding expands so does the glow of inspiration and hope. May I recommend that you revisit some of the poetry that you may have dismissed as being too obscure or too ephemeral to be of value and see what you can find there.
JOHN DONNE, THE POET PREACHER by Revd Catherine Reid
When I was thinking about what to highlight with respect to John Donne as a preacher, I happened to notice on my shelf Classic Preachers of the English Church; a book comprising a series of lectures delivered at St James’ Church in 1877, and who should be the focus of the first lecture… none other than John Donne himself, ‘the poet-preacher.’ This evening, I draw on some of this lecture given by J.B. Lightfoot, then a Canon of St Paul’s, where Donne himself had been the Dean some two hundred fifty years earlier. I also draw on Izaak Walton’s biography of John Donne, as he was his friend and first biographer. Donne is commonly known for his poetry and you can find volumes on this, but, on his sermons, not so many.
John Donne – The Poet Preacher
Although raised a Roman Catholic, which in Elizabethan England would have been a difficult experience, John Donne was later ordained in the Church of England in 1614, then in his early forties. Seven years later, he was promoted to the Deanery of St Paul’s, which he held till his death in 1631. He died aged 59, having been 16 years in orders.
John Donne the Poet
As a lay person, he had been notably a poet (indeed, his fame as a poet was greater in his own age than it has ever been since); as a clergyman he was before all things a preacher, and he became famous for it. He had remarkable gifts as an orator, and he used them well. It is a shame, for us, that we cannot hear Donne himself but must be satisfied with simply hearing how others heard him. After he had preached a sermon, ‘he never gave his eyes rest’, writes his biographer Walton, ‘till he had chosen out a new text, and that night cast his sermon into a form and his text into divisions, and the next day he took himself to consult the fathers, and so commit his meditations to his memory, which was excellent.’ On the Saturday he gave himself an entire holiday, so as to refresh body and mind, ‘that’, I quote, ‘he might be enabled to do the work of the day following not faintly, but with courage and cheerfulness.’
John Donne the Preacher
When first ordained, he shunned preaching before town congregations. He would retire to some country church with a single friend, and so try his wings. His first sermon was preached in the then quiet village of Paddington. But his fame grew rapidly; and he soon took his rank as the most powerful preacher of his day in the English Church. More than a hundred and fifty of his sermons are published. When looking at them, each several pages, it is difficult to imagine the vast congregation at St Paul’s listening, not only with patience, but with absorbed interest; that he could hold a London congregation enthralled, unwearied, unsatiated was thought ‘astonishing’ by the Deans that came after. J.B. Lightfoot, however, thinks the secret of his domination was his untiring energy to which even the least manageable subjects would yield. ‘There is throughout an energy, a glow, an impetuosity, a force as of a torrent, which must have swept his hearers onward despite themselves. This rapidity of movement is his characteristic feature.’
Donne’s sermons often include detailed exegesis of scriptural passages, which would be difficult to deliver well to a large and miscellaneous congregation but, writes Lightfoot, ‘with Donne it was always interesting [when you read Lightfoot, you almost sense he was there himself. Certainly, he has read Donne’s sermons and sensed the energy and force of the preacher]. ‘It may be subtle. Wire-drawn, fanciful, at times; but it is keen, eager, lively, never pedantic or dull.’ Donne is considered by some the most animated of the great Anglican preachers.
The Voice of the Penitent
‘It has been said that God’s heroes are made out of broken lives.’ No study of Donne as a preacher would be at all adequate which failed to take account of the ‘discontinuity of his moral life’. Izaak Walton, in an elegy written a few days after his death, compared him to the chief penitent in the Gospel and ‘there can be little doubt that at one time Donne had led an immoral life’. The voice of the penitent – ‘tones of pain, thrills of contrition, stingings of accusations, wails over abiding stains and wounds, and passionate weeping’ can be discerned in his letters and sermons. Donne’s penitence was intense, and a comparison with Augustine is often made. Donne himself quotes Augustine more than any of the church fathers. Donne doesn’t repent of the ‘sins of his youth’ through pious platitude or conventional orthodoxy but through the profound conviction of a ‘sinful, sorrowing, forgiven, thanksgiving man,’ when he speaks of the ‘sovereign balm of our souls, the blood of Christ Jesus.’ If I were asked to describe, in a few words the secret of his power as a preacher, writes Lightfoot, I would say ‘that is was the contrition and the thanksgiving of the penitent acting upon the sensibility of the poet.’
Poetry in John Donne’s Sermons
I found this aspect and character of Donne particularly striking when reading his sermons, and, like many of us, would have liked to have heard him deliver one such sermon. His sermons are lit by the poet in him, the imagery is vivid and the zeal of the evangelist persuasive. He preached for around an hour at a time and so we can here but highlight only a passage or two…
In the earth, in the grave, there is no distinction. The angel that shall call us out of that dust will not stand to survey who lies naked, who in a coffin, who in wood, who in lead, who in a fine, who in a coarser sheet; in one day of the resurrection there is not a forenoon for lords to rise first and an afternoon for meaner persons to rise after. Christ was not whipped to save beggars, and crowned with thorns to save kings: He died, He suffered, for all.From a sermon preached to the Virginia Company, 30th November, 1622
A sermon that sticks in my mind is his last sermon preached at Whitehall before King Charles I in 1631 titled Death’s Duel. Certainly, his subject suited his circumstances, and he rose from his sick-bed to deliver it. He describes life and living as a series of deaths, even the womb into life is a form of death … I finish this evening by quoting parts of this final sermon:
‘for this whole world is but a universal churchyard, but our common grave, and the life and motion that the greatest persons have in it is but as the shaking of buried bodies in their graves by an earthquake.’
‘the worm is spread under thee, and the worm covers thee. There is the mats and carpet that lie under, and there is the state and canopy that hangs over the greatest of the souls of men.’
‘The tree lies as it falls, it is true, but yet it is not the last stroke that fells the tree, nor the last word nor the last gasp that qualifies the man.’From John Donne’s final sermon preached at Whitehall, 1631
And, importantly, he ends by saying,
‘There we leave you in that blessed dependency, to hang upon him that hangs upon the Cross, there bathe in his tears, there suck at his wounds, and lie down in peace in his grave, till he vouchsafe you a resurrection, and an ascension into that kingdom which he hath purchased for you with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood.
Revd Catherine Reid, Anglican Chaplain to the University of York
This sermon was preached at Evensong (All Saints, York) at the invitation of Revd Derek Earis as part of a sermon series on ‘Great Preachers of the Church.’
First Sunday of Lent 2021 Year B Sunday 21st February.
ST OLAVE’S CHURCH WEBSITE – A YEAR OF GROWTH by Tina Sanderson
Starting from Nothing
It was March 2020. A pandemic was making its presence felt. The country was heading for lockdown. The churches and public places were closing. The York City Centre Churches were without websites and had lost all the previous content. A new website was needed NOW, together with a YouTube channel for broadcasting online services, a regular newsletter to keep people in touch, and a way of signing up for the newsletter!
Design for Growth
When starting ‘with a blank sheet of paper’, the approach is to look at the best out there and draw inspiration from that. I spent a day or two trawling through church and cathedral websites looking at what worked well, and what was less good. Most websites take at least 3 months to design and build professionally, and this one had to be live in a week! It had to be built with the final design and also the current situation in mind, allowing new topics to be added regularly. Fortunately, there was the excellent parish profile to draw on for initial content, and some superb photography by Ben Pugh.
Early Foundations in March / April 2020
The most urgent things a year ago were:
- How to keep in touch and ask for help if needed, together with a mailbox for the churchwardens
- Who to contact for weddings, funerals and intercessions
- Information about online church services
- Access to prayer lists and reflections
- A way of attracting donations and giving
- Information about our churches for visitors
In its first month the new St Olave’s Church website contained the basic building blocks:
- A home page with a summary of the most important information (changing regularly as new content was added to the website)
- A regularly updated ‘Watch, read & pray’ page
- A place for the online service details
- A temporary page about the York City Centre Churches (until the York City Centre Churches website was up and running)
- A temporary place for the York City Centre Churches’ Touch Base magazine, which had previously been circulated as a printed booklet.
Aids to Contemplation and Remembrance in the Pandemic
St Olave’s Church is well known for its music and with the mounting pandemic death toll during Lent and Passiontide 2020, posts were added to aid contemplative reflection with music from Fauré’s Requiem and Bach’s St John Passion recorded by St Olave’s Church Choir in 2012 and 2016, under the direction of Keith Wright. These posts can still be found on the Music at St Olave’s page.
Touch Base Magazine Moves Online
The online version of Touch Base reaches its first anniversary in March 2021 too! The magazine for York City Centre Churches has continued to be published throughout the pandemic, with Revd Derek Earis providing themes and seeking the articles. The content is then formatted and prepared online over several days before being published. It has been a fascinating read, and an introduction to people (virtually) from the various City Centre Churches. Hosted on the St Olave’s website until September 2020, the magazine has now been moved to the new York City Centre Churches website.
Church Life and History Pages
Once the urgent day-to-day part of the website was up and running, work could start on the Church Life and History pages. The first lockdown yielded:
- Our Vibrant Community
- Music at St Olave’s (with recordings of the organ and choir)
- Our Beautiful Churchyard
Ben Pugh sought contributions from the church community and put me in touch with historian Helen Fields, who has researched and published so much about St Olave’s Church. Keith Wright and Max Elliott provided the direction and content for the music page. Such informative web pages would not have been possible without the support and information from many in the St Olave’s Church community, and thanks go to all of them.
The second lockdown saw the building of
Finally, the third lockdown has enabled a new page to be built, in time for the website’s first anniversary:
A Year of Growth
St Olave’s Church website has certainly grown in the last year! However, websites should never be static and new content and pages will need to be added in future. The existing material will need constant review. Regular updates ‘behind the scenes’ are required to keep the website current and secure from a technical point of view. The effort and skill needed to build and maintain a good website should not be underestimated. Jen Hutchings now manages the ‘Watch, Read & Pray’ page, for which I am most grateful. The St Olave’s Church website is used far and wide and regularly attracts new contacts. In the last week alone, 152 individual users have accessed the website in 200 sessions and the number of active website users is steadily increasing.
Born out of the need to keep St Olave’s Church accessible to congregation and visitors alike in these extraordinary times, the website is also a useful tool for St Olave’s Church to have. A good church website should only be there to support growth in the church itself, and this one was created with that aim in mind.