From the Parish Magazine
 

 

April 2012

 

Patrick Collins Writes . . . .  from 'The Melody of Life' by Fr Andrew, SDC

whom we acknowledge with grateful thanks

  

Holy Week - The Last Days
 

Lazarus had been raised from the dead, and the whole multitude that had come to Jerusalem for the feast was surging with excitement; many were beside themselves with admiration; some, besides the deliberately hostile, were sceptical through a natural reaction from the fervour of their neighbours; all were curious.
 

The Name of Jesus was on the lips of every one. ‘He is the Messiah’ cried some. ‘He is a deceiver’, cried others. ‘He is in our way and is a public danger’, cried the priests. Every day and all day eager crowds passed from Jerusalem to Bethany, anxious to see the man who had emerged from the tomb, and glad to be caught in the current of curiosity that flowed along the pleasant road.

 

The climax came when the Divine Master entered the city riding on an ass. Then men spread their garments to make a carpet for the feet of the ass that bore him; flowers were scattered; palm branches were strewn before Him. But the impression upon the crowd was a purely superficial one - an outward shock, the raising of Lazarus had occasioned it; an outward shock, the sight of the arrest and the suggestion of an armed force when the soldiers came to take Him, would disperse it.
 

That alone is real which comes of interior experience and is based on spiritual conviction.

Jesus Himself was never for one moment taken off His feet or borne on the current of popularity. He saw very clearly the instability of the crowd. When He rode into Jerusalem in fulfilment of prophecy, He knew well that the lot of the ‘Servant of the Lord’ would be His lot, that He should be that ‘Man of sorrows acquainted with grief of Whom the prophets told. The strong current that bore Him to Jerusalem was the force of the Father’s will and the attraction of the Cross, as giving the final and prefect opportunity for the test and revelation of perfect love.
 

The exterior shock of the Crucifixion, which proved the superficiality of so much devotion and so much apparent loyalty, proved also the interior reality of the obedience of Jesus to His father’s will, His perfect loyalty to the divine idea of love.
 

‘I hang here in the dark, but I am here because I have followed with perfect loyalty the way of love; therefore it must be the Father’s will that I should be here.
My will must now be perfectly one with His will. Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.
 

Such, if one may dare to expand the record, must have been the interior experience of our blessed Lord in the last hours of the last days.
 

The exterior crucifixions, the naked beauty and helplessness of truth in a superficial world, of Love in a cruel world, will not disturb those who follow Christ interiorly. However dark and difficult the time, where there is union with the will of God the result will prove it to be the way of peace.

     

Patrick Collins

 

  

An Anglican Writes . . . . Why I am an Anglican

 

I am and remain an Anglican because I really believe that as we say in the creed, it is part of the one Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus, and that we have retained throughout the essentials that make it so. I am reminded of the answer an Anglican priest gave to the question “Where was your Church before the reformation?” The answer given was “where was your face this morning before you washed it?” 

 

Yes, we do have problems because like Jesus Himself, His Body the Church is both human and divine. She is God’s spiritual temple on earth. The Holy Spirit lives in her, guides her and gives her life and power. On the other hand, the Church is made up of human beings, and so we see that while the Church is perfect in her Head and Soul (Christ), she is imperfect in her members among whom are the imperfect you and me. The structure of the Church is determined by God and by men. Christ gave the Church its essential and unchangeable features - men have given it its changeable and imperfect form. 

 

A recently retired Bishop (for whom I made a fish pie one Good Friday) used to say when asked about the particular problems of the Anglican Church at the present time, “study your history, it’s all happened before”. 

 

The book that helped me over the only vital matter concerning my membership of the Anglican church, that of the validity of Anglican orders, was written by the Anglican monk Dom Gregory Dix. In it he proved to my satisfaction that if the Church of England had lost its apostolic order, then so had the Church of Rome. Either we both still had valid orders, or we had both lost them.
 

All the essentials were retained at the time when Henry broke with Rome’s jurisdiction, and although over the centuries abuses and neglects took place, these were over time brought back, especially via the Evangelical revival and the Oxford movement. Even now the so called problems of the present time in the Anglican Communion have been brought about by people of very differing views, but all of them concerned with making the way of Christ and the love of Christ manifest in a world (mostly the western world) which has largely lost awareness of Him, His teaching and his love for every human being no matter what. 

 

It is I believe a strength of the Anglican Communion that problems, and the different ways of dealing with them, even the ones that seem to some to threaten the essentials, can be openly discussed, open disagreement happens, and yet still (thanks not least in our own day to Archbishop Rowan Williams) somehow hold in there together, until such time, and it may be centuries, the Holy Spirit’s will is perceived and accepted. As the Bishop said, study your history, present day problems in the Anglican communion are only variations of the hoary heresies of the past that have regularly raised their ugly heads over the centuries.
 

As it happened God gave me family who were Church of England, but I remain in it because I believe it is a true part of Christ’s Body on earth, and in my past ministry as a layperson, and in (hopefully) my future ministry in the Sacerdotal priesthood, I believe, as the evangelicals used to say, “it is for me the best boat to fish from”.

  

An Anglican

    

                                        

 

THE FIRST PRIEST IN-CHARGE OF ST BARNABAS  

This is an abbreviated version of part of an account of the early years of St Barnabas Oakhill written by Fr Peter Marr. May we remember the causes for which St Barnabas Beckenham stood for from the beginning.  

 

The idea of a church district in the south of Beckenham was associated with the appointment of a Chaplain to members of the Hoare family living at Kelsey Manor in the 1870s. The moving force was Peter Richard Hoare. A chapel had been built there by Sir George Gilbert Scott and the Revd Robert Linklater served as Chaplain from 1869 until 1872. He subsequently went as a curate at St Peter's London Docks and was succeeded by the Revd Edward Pote Williams.

 

Edward Pote Williams was born on 23rd November 1838. He was born at Eton College where his family had been booksellers and publishers. He was a descendent of Joseph Pote (1703-1787) bookseller at Eton, whose daughter had married into the Williams family, also publishers. E.P.Williams senior, published sixty or so books, classical literature, history, theology and the Eton School Lists. In 1869 he also published a History of Boating at Eton.

 

The young Edward Pote Williams was educated at Christ's Hospital (then in London) and Christ's  College, Cambridge. He was ordained Deacon in 1861 and Priest the following year. He served a number of' curacies, at Calbourn, Isle of Wight (1861-63) Fawley, Hants (1863-64), and Chislehurst (1864-69/. During this time, in 1865, he joined the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) subsequently becoming the longest serving member of the Society.

 

In 1869 he served as a missioner at St Peters London Docks together with the Revd R.A.J.Suckling. He was Rector of the rural parish of Barsham in Suffolk (to which Fr E.P.Williams subsequently was appointed), and then Vicar of St Peter's London Docks, and of St Albans Holborn.

 

It would have been here if not before that Fr Williams would have come into direct contact with Robert Linklater and thus with the Beckenham connection. However, he left Chislehurst and served an curacy at St Augustine's Kilburn (1869-72), before coming to Beckenham that year.

 

He married Julia (Ellis), by whom he had five sons and three daughters. Their eldest child Katherine Mary was born in Chislehurst about 1865. The next child, Leonard, was born about two years later at St Leonards-on-Sea, whilst Fr Williams was still at Chislehurst. A third child Bernard Francis, was born about a year later, again at Chislehurst. During his time at Kilburn (1869-72) Mary and Margaret Irene were born. Margaret died on 20th November 1882 and is buried at Barsham. Then whilst at Beckenham Cyril and Mildred were born in the late 1870s.

 

The Revd E.P.Williams set to work to establish on Oakhill a church that was sympathetic to the Catholic tradition within the Church of England. This was finally achieved in 1877 a few months before Peter Hoare died. News of his appointment as the first Incumbent was certainly made known by April 1877. Keble College Oxford, then recently founded in memory of John Keble became the Patron. The College was chosen to ensure a succession of Catholic-minded priests for the parish. A capital sum of London, Tilbury and Southend Railway stock provided the stipend, apparently given by a now unknown benefactress.

 

The religious atmosphere in Beckenham at the time was not a happy one. In particular it was the year that the feelings over the book 'The Priest in Absolution', a manual for priests concerning sacramental confession, were at their height. The Church Association had a number of meetings locally expressing concern about ritualism and about auricular confession. On the other hand in 1877 the Beckenham and Bromley Branch of the English Church Union the other end of the churchmanship spectrum expressed its hearty sympathy with the Rev. Arthur Tooth in prison for conscience sake (i.e. ritualism) and its deep sense of thankfulness to him for his loyal stand in defence of the rights of the Church. Fr Tooth, then Vicar of St James Hatcham, is buried at Elmers End Cemetery where on 5th March each year we hold a service at his grave.

 

The establishment of St Barnabas nevertheless went on apace. But in July we read in the local press concerning St Barnabas, Oak Hill:

Within the past month, with signatures attached to it representing 304 persons, has been presented to the Rev. EP. Williams, in which the memorialists state that the gentleman in question, who has just been nominated as first incumbent of this Church, is a member of the Society of the Holy Cross and of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and likewise one of those who signed a petition to Convocation in favour of the appointment of legalized confessors in the Church of England, they cannot in any way receive or recognise him as their minister or pastor, and therefore trust he will abstain from intruding into their homes in that capacity. Accompanying this memorial is a list of names of parties who decline to sign the same (representing 68 souls) with their reasons attached. A copy of the document was sent on the 12th. to His Grace the Archbishop, together with a strongly-worded memorial...

 

We have already noticed that he had joined SSC in 1865. The month following the petition, August 1877, there were further problems. The Revd Charles Stebbing Wallace SSC had been refused a licence by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Tait, "because he would not leave SSC." However, the members of the SSC were "unanimous in thanking Bro.Wallace for his courageous conduct". Clearly the matter was somehow resolved as he appeared listed as "curate" at St Barnabas the following year at the Stone-laying ceremony for the new St Barnabas Church. He is described as the "embodiment of priestly chivalry and fraternal charity" and later became Vicar of the Ascension, Lavender Hill.

 

When St Barnabas District was made into a parish in 1880 it seems that the Revd Edward Pote Williams was not acceptable as the first Vicar. It is not clear why. He left Beckenham in 1880 and became Rector of Barsham, Suffolk, succeeding the Revd R.A.J.Suckling. At Barsham Rectory he had two domestic staff of which one, Mary Seels, probably came with the family from Beckenham. Her own family lived at Clayhill Cottages in the Bromley Road. Suffering from indifferent health, Fr Williams left Barsham and became curate at St Mary Magdalene, Paddington, a Keble College living (1889-91), then Chaplain to the Sisters of St Mary and St John in Chiswick (1891-1902) and finally curate of St Matthias Earls Court (1900-16).

 

He had joined the SSC in 1865 and by 1909 had become the senior member by length of membership of the Society. He had been a founder-member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament and its Secretary-General. He became the oldest member of The Church Union. Much is revealed in the words of Ninian Comper, the architect, who was staying with the Williams' at Barsham on Good Friday 1883: Mr. Williams, rector, is what I call a regular thorough priest and not a rector or clergyman...... " Fr Williams returned to St Barnabas to preach on a number of occasions up to 1919 and a local writer observed in 1895 that FY Edward Pote Williams had "never lost his first love for the church and parish he inaugurated".

 

He died aged 84, and after 62 years as a priest, at Earls Court on 14th November 1922 and was buried at Brookwood Cemetery on 17th November. His obituarist wrote in The Church Times that Fr. Williams was closely associated with Fr Lowder and also Fr Mackonochie "the defendant in various ritual suits...and [Fr Williams] was in full sympathy with their ecclesiastical positions".