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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Bishop Stephen's 9th missionary journey

Bishop Stephen walked from Woolwich to Seven Kings via Stratford today for his ninth missionary journey within the Diocese of Chelmsford as part of the Diocese's Centenary Celebrations. Several members of St John's Seven Kings met +Stephen at the parish boundary and, as we walked with him to St John's, heard stories of his breakfast with the British Legion in Woolwich, the Greek Orthodox couple he met in Stratford who want to attend St Johns Stratford on Sunday, and the two schoolboys who asked about his crozier and ended up agreeing to pray for the Bishop as he promised to do for them.

At St John's we gathered in our community garden for a time of public prayer for the church and community. +Stephen outlined his vision for his missionary journeys as a means of making visible the work of the churches in the Diocese within their communities. +Stephen then joined our first Anniversary celebrations for the Sophia Hub which runs from the St John's Centre and which builds community by supporting social enterprises locally.


Luke Sital-Singh - I Have Been A Fire.

Sophia Hub's first Anniversary celebrations

Tonight the first Anniversary of the Seven Kings and Newbury Park Sophia Hub was celebrated at St John's Seven Kings. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Bishop of Barking and Mayor of Redbridge were present to mark this momentous milestone, as were many of the staff, Directors, Steering Group members, volunteers, start-ups and Enterprise Club speakers who have supported the Sophia Hub in its development and achievements.

In its first year the Sophia Hub has worked with 23 business start-ups, many of which were present at the event and sharing news of their progress and ways in which the Seven Kings & Newbury Park Sophia Hub had supported them. This support has included our Sophia Course (which helps generate ideas for social enterprises), our weekly Enterprise Club (which provides input on key business topics and peer to peer networking), membership of our Timebank (which enables start-ups to receive volunteer support on a give and take basis), and use of Business Mentors (who accompany start-ups on the initial phase of their journey into business).

Olive Hamilton-Andrews spoke about her business (Hamiland Management Limited) which provides practical policies, projects and office organisation to other businesses in order to reduce workload, release time and get results. Aidan Ward, a Director of Sophia Hubs Limited, outlined the ethos of the Sophia Hub while I spoke about our many achievements in the year. Myra Whiskar and Ros Southern, our Project Co-ordinators, compered the evening and were thanked for their tremendous input in shaping and taking the project forward. The Mayor of Redbridge and the Bishop of Chelmsford then offered personal responses to all that they had seen and heard of the project.

Delegates enjoyed a hot vegetarian buffet provided by Fusion Foods, a start-up run by Manzoor Ahmed who has spoken at the Enterprise Club. The event concluded with use of the World Cafe method of structured conversations, where those who attended contributed their thoughts on the benefits of businesses engaging with their communities. Feedback centred on the significance of businesses building long-term relationships with local customers where trust and confidence are built through the delivery of personal but professional services.


Dry The River - History Book.

Anthony Hodgson

I met Anthony Hodgson again at tonight's Private View for commission4mission's 'Presence' exhibition, having formerly met him when I spoke at the Arts Centre Group's spring gathering.

Anthony grew up in Whitby and feels that this ancient port, and its environs, has inspired him throughout his life, being exposed as it is, to the extremes of natural beauty and violence. His art is a reflection and a continuation of this. What intrigues him is the relationship between the contrasts and conflicts found in nature and within ourselves: the light and dark; the good and bad; the beauty and the ugliness; life and death, and beyond.

Multi-talented Anthony is an artist, musician, photographer and poet


Evanescence - Bring Me To Life.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Two bishops: art, music and prayer

commission4mission's 'Presence' exhibition opened at St Stephen Walbrook today. Among those viewing the exhibition were those who attended the Scripture Prayer Action (SPA) session at St Stephen's on Monday lunchtimes. SPA aims to provide a place of spiritual refreshment and renewal. The sessions are led by Bishop Michael Marshall and also feature The Rev'd Soon-Han Choi, who provides the music. The current series is entitled 'Who am I? re-discovering our true identity' and today's session focused on David and the armour he refused prior to fighting Goliath. Over refreshments heard about retreats at Hacienda Los Olivos.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell spoke at the well attended Private View for the exhibition in evening. Picking up on the exhibition’s sub-title of ‘Visualising the Numinous’, Bishop Stephen began by reminding us of the phrase that ‘pictures are better on the radio.’ This is because, as we listen to the radio, we subconsciously construct our own visual landscapes. Similarly, he suggested, we might say that pictures are preferable to books as words are better in images. We enter into the landscape of a painting and in it construct our own philosophical or theological landscape.

He recalled that one of the mystics had said, ‘Where is the man without words, he is the one I wish to speak with.’ The Desert Fathers told a story of three novices who visited Fr. Anthony, one of whom sat in silence the entire time. When asked why by Fr. Anthony, he said, ‘It is enough just to see you.’ In this sense, seeing is believing. Pictures can have that visceral impact, as with Jean Lamb’s sculptures at the entrance to this exhibition. ‘Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi’ has been the Anglican tradition; as we pray, so we believe. When someone of faith produces a painting it is an act of prayer.

By way of illustration Bishop Stephen spoke briefly about images by Mark Rothko, Albert Herbert, Mark Cazalet,Jacob Epstein and Georges Rouault. His chosen images open up new vistas of meaning and interpretation by: inhabiting a complex narrative in a single image; meditating profoundly on the created order; revealing Christ in the shadows of society; and entering into the theological truth that seeing is believing.

‘Presence’ can be viewed at St Stephen Walbrook (London EC4N 8BN) until Friday 17 October, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays). The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley,Valerie Dean, Elizabeth Duncan Meyer, Jonathan EvensJohn Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Jean Lamb, Mark LewisDavid Millidge, Janet Roberts, Francesca Ross, Henry Shelton and Peter Webb. In addition to the exciting and varied work of commission4mission artists, visitors to the exhibition can view the splendour of this Christopher Wren designed building with its altar by Henry Moore and kneelers by Patrick Heron.


Matthew E. White - Big Love.

Bishop Stephen @ Presence exhibition

Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, will speak on the visual arts tonight at the Private View for commission4mission's 'Presence' exhibition at St Stephen Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN from 7.30pm. All are welcome for the Private View which begins at 6.30pm. commission4mission's AGM will be held at 6.00pm.

Bishop Stephen is well known for his interest in the Arts. In Christ in the Wilderness, he reflects on five of Stanley Spencer's 'Christ in the Wilderness' paintings, and reveals them to be a rich source of spiritual wisdom and nourishment. He invites us to slow down and enter into the stillness of Stanley Spencer’s vision. By dwelling in the wilderness of these evocative portraits, Stephen Cottrell encourages us to refine our own discipleship and learn again what it means to follow Christ. His most recent book, Walking Backwards to Christmas, was inspired by a 'Nativity' painting of Albert Herbert.

commission4mission's 'Presence’ exhibition aims to visualise the numinous and will can be viewed at St Stephen Walbrook from Monday 29 September to Friday 17 October, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays). 

The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, Valerie DeanElizabeth Duncan MeyerJonathan Evens, John Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Jean Lamb, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Janet Roberts, Francesca Ross, Henry Shelton and Peter Webb. The exhibition provides the first opportunity to see work by several new members of commission4mission including John Gentry, Jean Lamb and David Millidge. Their work adds considerably to the variety of styles and media available through commission4mission.

In addition to the exciting and varied work of commission4mission artists, visitors to the exhibition can view the splendour of this Christopher Wren designed building with its altar by Henry Moore and kneelers by Patrick Heron.


Bishop Stephen's ninth missionary journey

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has been undertaking 10 missionary journeys in the Diocese of Chelmsford during the Diocese's Centenary Year. His walk on Tuesday 30th September will be the penultimate journey and will take him from Woolwich to Seven Kings via Stratford. The idea is that people can come and join him for all or part of the walk each day, and at breakfast, lunch and in the evening there is an opportunity for the local church to use him in some sort of activity.

His route in Redbridge will take him from Ilford Station  to St John's Seven Kings via Thorold and Benton Roads. A group from the parish will meet him at the Ley Street/Benton Road parish boundary at about 16.20 and will walk with him to St John's. There will be public prayer in our community garden with the Bishop at about 17.15.

There are several ways in which you could be part of +Stephen's missionary journey. First, a group will leave St John's at 16.15 to meet +Stephen on the way and walk with him to St John's. Second, you could join us for public prayer in the community garden at St John's at 17.15. Third, you would be very welcome to come to the Sophia Hub Anniversary event in the evening.

The Seven Kings & Newbury Park Sophia Hub has been open for one year and is celebrating its first anniversary with a business networking event on Tuesday 30th September from 5.45pm at St John's Seven Kings (St Johns Road, Seven Kings, Ilford IG2 7BB). We would love you to be there celebrating this milestone with us and our special guest, The Rt. Revd. Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford.

The event will include: a Sophia Hub presentation; sharing your views on enterprise and community; meeting our start-ups; opportunities to network and join our timebank; buffet and refreshments. We have exciting achievements to share with you including the delivery of Sophia Courses, a weekly Enterprise Club and the setting up of a Timebank.

See our website - - and blog - for more details.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 30th September. Please RSVP to


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Windows on the world (311)

Coventry, 2014


Leonard Cohen - True Love Leaves No Traces.

Sabbatical Art Pilgrimage: Latest ArtWay articles

My latest articles for ArtWay have been added to the website. My new Church of the Month report focuses on the Swiss town of Romont and artists such as Alexandre Cingria, Romont, Sergio de Castro and Yoki. In addition, a page about my sabbatical art pilgrimage has also been created on the site.

Click here to read all my posts about the sabbatical art pilgrimage. My latest Church of the Month report follows others on Aylesford Priory, Chelmsford Cathedral, LumenNotre Dame du LĂ©man, Sint Martinuskerk Latem and St Aidan of Lindisfarne, as well as earlier reports of visits to sites associated with Marian Bohusz-Szyszko, Marc Chagall, Jean Cocteau, Antoni Gaudi and Henri Matisse.


Shovels and Rope - After The Storm.

Disagreements in love

There are two issues explored in Romans 14 which were divisive in the Early Church. The first was whether or not Christians should eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, and the second whether or not Christians should worship God on certain required Jewish holy days. Both were linked to the Mosaic Law which made it clear that meat sacrificed to idols was unclean and which required worship on Jewish holy days. So, the broader background to these issues is the extent to which Christians are bound by the Mosaic Law or set free from its requirements by Christ.

Some believed that there was nothing wrong with eating meat that had been offered to an idol because they knew that the idols were worthless. Others carefully checked the source of their meat or gave up eating meat altogether. The problem was especially serious for Christians who had once been involved in idol worship. For them, being reminded of their former days was too much temptation. It weakened their newfound faith. Likewise, for some Christians who had once worshiped God on the required Jewish holy days, it caused them to feel empty and unfaithful if they didn't dedicate those days to God.’

Paul’s approach to these issues gave the Early Church, and by extension ourselves, several principles, which if applied seriously and conscientiously, help to enable debate and discussion of difficult issues in ways that prevent situations from becoming explosive.

The first principle is that each person ‘should firmly make up our own minds.’ He encouraged everyone to think about the issues and to decide in their own mind what it was right for them to think and do. Paul didn’t appeal for people to sit on the fence on these issues. He wanted people to take time to think them through and arrive at an opinion.

However, by itself, this principle extends the sense of division by encouraging people on both sides of argument to clarify their positions. So, by itself, it is not a solution to the issue. By itself, it leaves the discussion and debate as being about taking sides and producing winners and losers, which is not where Paul wanted to go.

His second principle is that, whichever side of the debate you are on, you should not judge or despise the views of those on the other side of the debate. They are fellow Christians and they have in conscience arrived at their understanding of the issue on the basis of their faith. So he writes, speaking equally to those of both sides of the debate, ‘You then, who eat only vegetables—why do you pass judgment on others? And you who eat anything—why do you despise other believers?’

He is saying it is vital to recognise the validity and legitimacy of a brother or sister in Christ holding a view that is different from yours. Particularly, when they have in conscience arrived at that view before God. So, that is his second principle; do not judge or despise those who think differently from you.

Finally, he moves beyond respect for each other to the place of love in debate and disagreement. So he writes, ‘you should decide never to do anything that would make others stumble or fall into sin’ and ‘we must always aim at those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another.’

Paul is clear about his position on these debates. He writes that ‘All foods may be eaten,’ so he is on the side of the debate which argues that Christians are set free from the requirements of the Mosaic Law by Christ but he also says that ‘it is wrong to eat anything that will cause someone else to fall into sin.’ The right thing to do, he suggests, is ‘to keep from eating meat, drinking wine, or doing anything else’ if that ‘will make other believers fall.’ So, out of love for his brothers and sisters on the other side of the debate, he will not fully exercise the freedom which he believes he has in Christ until such a time as using that freedom will not hurt a fellow Christian.

Why does he take that position? It is because he believes it is the loving thing to do. Care of others takes priority in his thinking over the exercise of personal conscience: ‘If you hurt others because of something you eat, then you are no longer acting from love ...Do not let what you regard as good get a bad name.’

Paul is, therefore, putting into practice what Jesus taught his disciples at the Last Supper. In John 13, we read, ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.’

Jesus says that it is love for each other which will be our witness to the world: ‘If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.’ That applies just as much when we discuss, debate and disagree, as when we are united and harmonious. Paul knows that the issues he is giving guidance on are public issues. That the way in which the Christian community deals with these issues would have been seen by those who attended the pagan temples where food was sacrificed to idols and by those who attended the synagogue where the Jewish hold days were observed.

The witness to Christ that Paul is calling for in this situation is not a church where everyone things the same way on these issues. Instead he is pleading for a church where everyone examines the issues conscientiously in order to make up their own mind on the issue, respects and honours those who think differently from them on those issues and constrains their actions in order to show love to those who think differently. He is calling for a church that can discuss and debate and disagree in love, as doing so shows the wider community that we are indeed Christ’s disciples and that the message of Christ is real love which changes our behaviour even when we disagree.


Jackson Browne - Doctor My Eyes.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Presence: Visualising the Numinous

The next commission4mission exhibition, which is entitled ‘Presence’, was hung today. The exhibition aims to visualise the numinous and will be held at St Stephen Walbrook, London, EC4N 8BN, from Monday 29 September to Friday 17 October, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays).

The opening night event will be on Monday 29 September, 6.30 – 9.00 pm, with Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford and Patron of commission4mission, as guest speaker. All are welcome. commission4mission’s AGM will be held that same evening at 6.00pm.

The exhibition includes work by Ally Ashworth, Hayley Bowen, Harvey Bradley, Valerie DeanElizabeth Duncan Meyer, John Gentry, Clorinda Goodman, Jean Lamb, Mark Lewis, David Millidge, Janet Roberts, Francesca Ross, Henry SheltonPeter Webb and myself.

In addition to the exciting and varied work of commission4mission artists, visitors to the exhibition can view the splendour of this Christopher Wren designed building with its altar by Henry Moore and kneelers by Patrick Heron. For more information phone 020 8599 2170.


Gungor - We Will Run.