Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Foyer display: Jan Gilchrist

St Martin-in-the-Fields is home to several commissions and permanent installations by contemporary artists. We also have an exciting programme of temporary exhibitions, as well as a group of artists and craftspeople from the St Martin’s community who show artwork and organise art projects on a temporary basis.

One of the initiatives from this group is a changing display of work by the group members or artists linked to the group. The changing monthly display in the Foyer of the Crypt for August is by Jan Gilchrist. Each month a different member of the group or artists linked to it will show examples of their work, so do look regularly to see the changing display.

Jan is showing four watercolours, ‘Penguins on a hike,’ ‘Ardglass Harbour Co. Down,’ ‘Seascape Barry Island,’ and ‘A Danish fishing boat’. She writes: ‘I was born and brought up in Barry South Wales, coming to London as a registered nurse in the 1970’s. After joining the St Martin-in-the-Fields congregation where Ian and I met and then married, we moved to Maidenhead to live where our son and daughter were born. For nine years I have been a member of the ‘Maidenhead Painting Club’ after being persuaded by a member of the St Martin’s clergy that I needed to take up a hobby for myself, for which I will always be grateful. We are a group of amateur artists who enjoy different media. I find painting relaxing and fulfilling, so much enjoyment in observing colour and form.’


Van Morrison and the Chieftains - Star Of The County Down.

Gather us in ...

Here's my sermon from this morning's Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

Jesus takes the child’s five loaves of bread and two fish, blesses them by giving thanks for them, breaks them for distribution by his disciples to the crowd, then asks his disciples to gather up the broken fragments of the meal in baskets so that none is wasted (John 6. 1 - 21). Jesus has yet to institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper, but we recognise the basic elements of the Eucharist in this story; bread that is blessed and broken before distribution in order that those receiving the broken body of Jesus are gathered up and formed into the whole Body of Christ, which is the Church.

Could you look for a moment at the leaflet you have been given for ‘Something Worth Sharing’, our annual conference on disability and Church, as there you will see an image which has the same elements included? There in the centre is bread that is broken; a priest’s wafer broken into seven pieces each held by a diverse group of people. Are they taking the broken pieces of the host to themselves or are they reforming the host into a whole? We do not know from this image, which was the inspiration of Fiona MacMillan. The image encompasses both the breaking apart and the bringing together and that is significant as both feature in the pattern of the Eucharist which we see enacted here in the feeding of the 5,000.

At the beginning of June Carol Ashby spoke at our Bread for the World service on this passage, the feeding of the 5,000, reflecting particularly on the fact that Jesus told his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ She said that, just as Jesus needed helpers and just as all the leftovers were gathered up and kept, so each one of us is needed here at St Martin's and in God's kingdom and nothing we offer or give is wasted or goes unused. I want to build on the inspiration that Carol provided by suggesting three further ways in which to think about the gathering up of fragments so that nothing may be lost. The first concerns the gathering up of food waste, second, the gathering up of the fragments of our lives and third, the gathering up that is the kingdom of God. All these relate to our being gathered up and gathered in today at this Eucharist.

So, my first reflection is very literal and concerns food waste. In 2016 the Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed ‘the Evening Standard’s campaign on tackling food poverty and waste,’ by saying that as ‘hunger is a complex, widespread and shocking blight on our country and more needs to be done to highlight this issue.’ In commenting on this statement, the paper noted that the Archbishop had good scriptural reasons to join the Food for London campaign. They noted that after ‘feeding the five thousand, Christ instructed the waste to be gathered up afterwards’ and said that it was in that spirit that the Archbishop had supported this campaign.

It was positive to see a major newspaper quoting scripture and doing so with some understanding. This contemporary reminder of the feeding of the five thousand and the 12 baskets of fragments that were gathered up afterwards give us one way of reflecting on Jesus’ words. In the UK we throw away edible food worth £470 per household each year and a third of perfectly edible vegetable crops are discarded from our fields due to supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards. This wasteful food cycle has a big carbon footprint, making climate change worse.

Earlier this year, the Church of England’s General Synod backed a motion calling upon the Government to tackle food poverty and take steps to minimise waste throughout the supply chain. The motion outlined ways in which retailers and Church of England members can attempt to tackle food poverty in Britain. The motion called for the Government to consider steps to reduce waste in the food supply chain, urged parishes to help lobby retailers on food waste and stressed the need for church members to reduce waste in their own homes.

Following that literal application of Jesus’ teaching, we can also think in terms of a metaphorical understanding of the fragments as representing the disparate elements of our own lives. The catalyst for the feeding of the 5,000 was the offering up of his lunch by the young boy. His offering was offered to God, multiplied and the result was that there were 12 baskets of fragments to be gathered, so as not to be wasted. This suggests that our offering of ourselves to God provides a means by which what is disparate and fragmented within our lives can gathered up and unified.

That was certainly my experience in offering for ordained ministry. In my working life I had experience of partnership working to create employment opportunities, with a particular focus on assisting disabled people in finding and keeping work. In my church life I had involvement in setting up a church-based day care business and a detached youth work project reaching out to disaffected young people. In my personal life I was writing and painting and finding a limited range of opportunities to share my creative work.

I realised, as I went through the selection process for ordination and then my ministerial training, that ordained ministry could hold and utilise all these disparate experiences and, as a result, could provide a frame within which all these disparate fragments of my life could be gathered up, held together and unified. And so it has proved, as each context for my ministry to date has provided unique opportunities to make connections between faith, work, art and social action through partnerships and projects. That has, of course, never been more so than here where our mission model and HeartEdge, our growing ecumenical network of churches, integrates congregation, culture, commerce and compassion.

Mission and ministry in, from and outside the church provides a framework, forum or context in which all of our skills, experiences, interests and failures can be gathered up, integrated and used for God’s glory and in God’s service. My personal experience of this reality has been in relation to ordained ministry but, the model of mission that we use here is clear that this gathering up of all that we offer applies to us all, whether lay or ordained.

Later in John 6, Jesus gives a cosmic or eschatological twist to this phrase we are considering when he says it ‘is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day’ (John 6. 37 – 40). These words come in the middle of Jesus’ teaching about being the Bread of Life which followed the feeding of the 5,000. When Jesus gave thanks over the bread, the word used is ‘eucharistesas’, the word which gives us ‘Eucharist’. Jesus shared the bread around in communion, then, when everyone was satisfied, he instructed his disciples to pick up the fragments using that same phrase, ‘so that nothing may be lost.’ Just as none of this ‘eucharisticized’ bread was lost after the feeding, so, because ‘Jesus is the bread of life, [those who] see and believe in him … receive eternal life [and] become a fragment which he will gather up on the last day.’ (John, Richard Burridge, BRF 1998)

This is the reason why Christ came, which he revealed both here and in the parables he told about things that were lost; the lost sheep and coin (Luke 15. 1 - 10). The shepherd and woman in those two stories are exactly the same; because of their concern for the sheep and coin which are lost, they will not give up searching until these have been found. The sheep and the coin are loved and this love is revealed or proved through the search.

The point of those parables is for us to know that we are similarly loved by God because he also searches for us until we are found. That search is the story told in the Gospels; that Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he laid down his own life for us becoming obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross – in order that all might be safely gathered in as those who are gathered in rise with him and return to God. Christ went on that search to seek and save those who are lost and thereby to ensure that none shall be lost and all shall be safely gathered in.

Those who are lost almost universally consider themselves worthless but these parables and this story of the fragments gathered up specifically deny that assumption. What is lost is actually the most precious thing or person of all; the person or thing for which everything else will be given up or set aside. What is lost and found, discarded but then gathered up, is us. We are the ones for whom Christ searches at the expense of all that he has, including, in the end, his own life. We are the most precious lost person for whom he searches, the discarded fragment that will not be overlooked and will not be wasted. We are precious, we are loved. As a result, we have a basis for saying with the poet Walt Whitman that: ‘Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost, / No birth, identity, form — no object of the world, / Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing.’

And so we can pray, in words from a call to worship by the Wild Goose Resource Group that we used regularly in my previous parish: ‘Gather us in, the lost and lonely, the broken and breaking, the tired and aching who long for the nourishment found at your feast. Gather us in, the done and the doubting, the wishing and wondering, the puzzled and pondering who long for the company found at your feast. Gather us in, the proud and pretentious, the sure and superior, the never inferior, who long for the levelling found at your feast. Gather us in, the bright and the bustling, the stirrers, the shakers, the kind laughter makers who long for the deeper joys found at your feast. Gather us in, from corner or limelight, from mansion or campsite, from fears and obsession, from tears and depression, from untold excesses, from treasured successes, to meet, to eat, be given a seat, be joined to the vine, be offered new wine, become like the least, be found at the feast. Amen.


Marty Haugen - Gather Us In.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Alfred Lichter and Shaun Gagg

The painter and sculptor Alfred Lichter, born in 1917, lived and worked in Mallorca for almost 30 years. He died at the age of 95 years on November 1, 2012 in Alaró

His mature understanding of the meaning of art was that it opened windows to the spiritual world – an alternative concept to our materialistic and conflict-filled earthly existence. He wrote that:

'Capriccio is the result of my lifelong search for the essence of art.

Capriccio is the name for an artistic approach that places special emphasis on nature’s inexhaustible energies and the logic of chance.'

In 2001 he exhibited a collection of Ecce Homo images.

The Sorrows Of Steel is a welded steel nail sculpture by Shaun Gagg which is a life size Jesus Christ from over 15,000 nails welded together. Gagg says that he doesn't consider himself particularly religious but for many years has had the Idea of a 'Jesus from Nails' at the back of his mind. He thinks it must have something to do with the painting Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali which he first saw as a teenager and has fascinated him ever since.

The sculpture is now the focal point for the newly-refurbished Lady Chapel of Holy Cross and St Francis Catholic Church, Walmley

Parish priest, Father Neil Bayliss, said: “I thought the sculpture should be in a church where Christians can see it, reflect on it and get inspiration. It is an amazing sight and one which I want many others to share in. Many parishioners have taken the chance to see the artwork whilst it has been on display in a local art gallery, and were fully supportive of my proposal to buy it. Art plays a huge role in the church and this was a great opportunity for us to add something extra special to the redevelopment of the Lady Chapel.”


Linda Perhacs - We Will Live.

Encounter: St Martin-in-the-Fields Autumn Lecture Series 2018

I wonder how you have been changed by the people, places and events you have encountered?

‘Come and see,’ Jesus says to his first disciples in John’s Gospel; and they do just that. In the Gospel accounts, Jesus’ disciples witness his face-to-face encounters with a remarkable diversity of people - those of other nations, tribes, faiths, religious leaders, sinners seeking forgiveness, those possessed by evil, those seeking healing, those who betray him, and those whose lives will be forever transformed by his presence. It is not only those who encounter Jesus who are changed, but also those who witness those encounters, passing them on to others, retelling his stories.

Our Autumn Series of lectures at St Martin-in-the-Fields will focus on this theme of encounter. How are we changed by the people, events or objects when we meet them face to face? How do prejudices shift? How are new insights born? What inspires us to new ways of being and relating to God and to others? How do we become who we truly are through those we meet? How do we encounter God in our lives? In each of these lectures prominent and inspirational leaders, thinkers and practitioners will be speaking from a personal but also public perspective about the way such encounters have changed the course of their lives.

This lecture series will be supported by an exhibition, Encounters, in St Martin’s foyer and lightwell by the artist Nicola Green. This series of portraits powerfully expresses a series of historic meetings Green was privileged to witness between spiritual leaders around the globe, from Popes to the Dalai Lama to Chief Rabbis, Grand Muftis, Archbishops and Swamis. Encounters is accompanied by the launch of academic book Encounters: The Art of Interfaith Dialogue.

Come and see: Encounters an Exhibition by Nicola Green,
St Martin’s Foyer and Light Well, from 17 September-19 November

Click here for more information about the Autumn Lecture Series.

- Revd Richard Carter


M Ward - For Beginners.

Windows on the world (407)

Ely, 2018


Ed Kowalczyk - All That I Wanted.

Friday, 27 July 2018

HeartEdge Mailer | July 2018

HeartEdge is a growing international ecumenical network, passionate about nurturing Kingdom communities via four C’s - congregations, culture, commercial activity and compassion.

Each month our Mailer brings you inspiration, ideas and resource. If you haven't already, you can subscribe - sign up here!

This month:

  • Pádraig Ó Tuama on stories and conflict, Alastair McIntosh on hope and Nadia Bolz-Weber on forgiving the asshole
  • Michael Battle, Rowan Williams on 'ubuntu', Liz Adekunle on 'sorry'
  • Bread church, Jürgen Moltmann on Small church plus Waterway Chaplains
  • Also - Cre8, The BFI Community Cinema and Luminery Bakery
  • Nadim Nassau on El, slave culture and a little blue statue, Also Waterloo and Unveiling festivals - and Final Word from Ruth Gouldbourne on welcome!
Read the July Mailer here.


Sunday, 22 July 2018

Artlyst: Interview and Review

My latest pieces for Artlyst include an interview with Alastair Gordon who talks about painting as a form of philosophical enquiry: 

'John Berger described painting as a way of seeing but it’s also a way of thinking or making sense of the world around us. Painting is also a proposition. We respond to the ideas of our times and, for me, this is about the relationships between things made or created, digital or analogue, reproduced or replicated.

My paintings are an attempt to make sense of how artefacts come into being. These questions find their source in philosophy but historically artists (in the west) have more usually referred back to theology. These questions about how things come into being have a wider resonance with how the universe works.'

Alastair's work can currently be seen at Husk, the Gallery he founded in Limehouse, until 25 July and in the Summer Show at JGM Gallery in Battersea.

Artlyst have also published my review of Sacred Noise at Christie's:

'Themes of religion, faith and divinity have pervaded art throughout the centuries. The 20th-century did see the reinterpretation and subversion of those themes. Yet, the rebirth and redefinition of the European legacy of religious painting include much that is affirming of religion, in addition to much which challenges its basic premises and history. This exhibition has more of the latter than the former. I would suggest that, at present, the story of art which has continuity with de Morales, Zurbarán and Cranach is the road less documented and therefore, because of its hidden treasures, is currently the more interesting story to tell.'

My other Artlyst articles and interviews are:

Joy Williams - Until The Levee.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Kahlil Gibran: A Guide for our Times

Kahlil Gibran: A Guide for Our Times is a CARAVAN peacebuilding exhibition with editions in Bahrain and Egypt that culminates at Sotheby's in London, featuring work by 38 acclaimed Middle Eastern contemporary artists inspired by the Lebanese born poet-artist Kahlil Gibran and the universal message of peace and harmony found in his poetry, writings and art, such as in his best-selling book The Prophet, which celebrates its 95th publishing anniversary this year. 

The exhibition visually highlights how Kahlil Gibran, a supreme East-West figure, can be an unparalleled guide for our times, related to peace, harmony and the building of bridges between the creeds and cultures of the Middle East and West. The exhibition reflects the compelling universal spiritual contribution that Kahlil Gibran has made and continues to make to the world, showing how Gibran’s voice is timeless, a guiding spirit for our times. Gibran’s work focuses on the themes that unite all peoples and religions, leading the reader or viewer on a journey towards peace and harmony, reconnecting us with humanity.

Kahlil Gibran: A Guide For Our Times. Sotheby’s, London. August 6-10, 2018 (Open to the Public: Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM ). A CARAVAN exhibition sponsored by Barclays Bank Middle East / North Africa.


Nadim Naaman and Dana Al Fardan - I Know Now.

Windows on the world (406)

Maldon, 2018


Beth Rowley - I Walk Beside You.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Graham Sutherland: Attracted to the Cross

My latest review for Church Times is of the Graham Sutherland show 'Beneath the Tapestry' in Coventry Cathedral:

'This exhibition is small but significant, as it brings together important works by the artist which are unlikely to be seen together again in my lifetime.

Sutherland’s religious works may be few, but they are not only supremely realised conceptions of key moments in salvation history, but icons of the renaissance in the Church’s artistic patronage which, across Europe, also engaged George Bell, Jacques Maritain, Maurice Denis, and the Dominicans Marie-Alain Couturier and Pie Raymond Régamy. In Britain, it led to the conception of the new Coventry Cathedral as a “treasure-box” of significant commissions. But Sutherland’s wider creative imagination was stimulated, too: his Thorn Trees and Thorn Heads, a new strand in his work, derived from his reflections on the crown of thorns. Vibrant Thorn Trees lithographs can be seen in the complementary exhibition of Sutherland prints organised by the Goldmark Gallery in the Chapel of Christ the Servant.'


Candi Staton - His Hands.

Come as a child

Here is the reflection I shared in Wednesday's Eucharist at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

The poem called ‘Song of Childhood’ by Peter Handke which features in the film Wings of Desire captures, for me, something of the openness of childhood when the world lies open before us and we encounter it without cynicism or prior knowledge. The big questions of life are in front of us but we have yet found answers or the pretence that we can know all the answers.

In the poem the child has retained that openness to life and existence as she or he has grown but in our gospel reading (Matthew 11. 25-30) today we hear of people who have not. When Jesus speaks about the wise and the intelligent, he is speaking of those who think they already have knowledge of what God wants. They are those who cannot receive the new thing that God wants to give because they think they already know all there is to know. As a result, they are closed off to what God wants to share.

Jesus says that those able to receive are like children. They are not worldly wise or information wise and, as a result, they are open to what is new and what is revealed. This is how we need to be if we are to receive what God has revealed to us in Jesus.

Tom Wright says this: “Jesus had come to know his father the way a son does: not by studying books about him, but by living in his presence, listening for his voice, and learning from him as an apprentice does from a master, by watching and imitating. And he was now discovering that the wise and learned were getting nowhere, and that the ‘little people’ – the poor, the sinners, the tax collectors, ordinary folk – were discovering more of God, simply by following him, Jesus, than the learned specialists who declared that what he was doing didn’t fit with their complicated theories.”

Sister Corita Kent has described the way in which children look and learn:

“Ask [a] child to come from the front of the house to the back and closely observe her small journey. It will be full of pauses, circling, touching and picking up in order to smell, shake, taste, rub, and scrape. The child’s eyes won’t leave the ground, and every piece of paper, every scrap, every object along the path will be a new discovery.

It does not matter that his is all familiar territory – the same house, the same rug and chair. To the child, the journey of this particular day, with its special light and sound, has never been made before. So the child treats the situation with the open curiosity and attention that it deserves.

The child is quite right.”

Unless you come,
come as a child,
not grasping but trusting,
not arrogantly but humbly,
not resisting but accepting,
not feebly but vigorously,
not giving but receiving,
not self-centred but God-centred,
not teaching but feeding,
not gaining life but losing life,
not leaving but returning,
not closed, but open.

Unless you come,
come as a child,
you cannot enter
the kingdom of God.


Van Morrison - Song Of Being A Child.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Bill Viola and the art of contemplation

Bill Viola & the art of contemplation: a HeartEdge church & culture seminar, Thursday 20 September, 2.00 – 5.30pm, The Parish Church of St Cuthbert, 5 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH1 2EP.

St Cuthbert's is currently showing Bill Viola's 'Three Women' ( and this seminar has been organised as the final event that the church is hosting relating to the installation.

The seminar will focus on:
Register for free tickets at


Jeff Buckley - I Shall Be Released.

HeartEdge in The Exchange at Greenbelt

HeartEdge aims to catalyse kingdom communities by supporting churches in blending their mission around four key areas: Congregation; Commerce; Culture; and Compassion. When rooted in a vibrant congregational life, compassion, cultural expression and commerce are not secondary or simply instrumental to our mission but are creative and challenging forms of church in their own right.

The 4C’s are central to HeartEdge, so we are excited to have the opportunity to discuss at Greenbelt how the Church can re-imagine congregation, culture, compassion and commerce. We will be hosting panel sessions on the 4C’s in The Exchange and bringing an eclectic mix of interesting friends to share ideas and perspectives.

These include: David Alcock, Ruth Amos, Al Barrett, Philippa Boardman, Andrew Earis, Richard Frazer, Giles Goddard, Wale Hudson-Roberts, James Hughesdon, Jonathan Kearney, Mark Kinder, Rosemarie Mallet, Cliff Mills, Pam Orchard, Anthony Reddie, Anna Sikorska, Rob Wardle, Sam Wells and Simon Woodman.

Following its first outing in 2017, The Exchange is returning to Greenbelt to explore whether we can imagine something different, something better; a basis for us to have hope for a society where the energy of enterprise brings about better outcomes for everyone.

The Exchange will be brought to you this year by Midcounties Co-operative, Anthony Collins Solicitors, Co-operatives UK and New Internationalist. There is even a rumour that the Exchange will have wifi …

Come and hear about, and talk to us about business as it could be, if we had the courage, the kindness and imagination to make it happen.


The Chieftans - Rebel Jesus.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

HeartEdge out & about in the Autumn

Members of the HeartEdge team will be out and about in the autumn contributing to events organised by local churches and business networks.

The first event is 'Today's Church: A Call to Social Action' at St Martin's Church, Burton Agnes on Saturday 22 September.

'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35-36

If you feel called to respond in any way to these words of Jesus then come and join us! We shall have with us the Revd Jonathan Evens, Associate Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields London & Project Coordinator for HeartEdge and the Rt. Revd Alison White, Bishop of Hull. Please bring any food you may need. To book your place email or call 01262 490019 by 15th September 2018. Only £5.00 and refreshments included.'

In my talk I’ll be exploring how we might find our way to becoming abundant communities that open space for generosity and cooperation in models that serve local need and address social justice. I’ll also be talking about the five ‘goods’ of flourishing, fulfillment, inspiration, blessing, and hope and will be suggesting that care comes not out of self-important altruism but out of recognition of our own need, and desire to be transformed by the strangers God sends us.

I will then be speaking on 'Visual Art: re-imaging the Christian story' at St Luke's Maidenhead at 7.45pm on Thursday 27th September -see

Bell Vue Baptist Southend will be hosting 'An Evening with Sam Wells' on Wednesday 3rd October, 6.30-9.30pm (Bell Vue Baptist Church, Southend on Sea, SS1 2QA). Doors open 6pm. Talk 1: 6.30pm Break: 7.45pm Talk 2: 8.20pm.

'Sam Wells is one of the best thinkers and practitioners we have today in the area of ministry and mission.

Last year with St Martin-in-the-Fields, his church, he launched HeartEdge a new network that wants to help churches find a future bigger than their past. At the centre of this vision is the importance of congregation, culture, commerce and compassion.

This will be an opportunity to hear him inspire and challenge us on what it mean for us to be the kind of church that survives and thrives in the context of world and kingdom. | @bvbc_southend |

Finally, we will be contributing to the Salt Conference 2018: #StandTogether, Friday, 05 October 2018 – 9.30am to 4.30pm at Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London SW1H 9NH.

This is a conference organised by Christian Aid's SALT Business Network to explore faith, business and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The conference provides a unique opportunity to learn how you can be supported and equipped to be a changemaker in whichever business God has called you to.

Listen to business leaders from a range of sectors and hear how they’re transforming business, communities and lives.

Find out how you can join with other Christian business leaders to be a real force for good in the world.

Guest speakers include:
  • Paul Gerrad – Director, Group Policy and Campaigns, at The Co-operative Group
  • Lord Dr (Michael) Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE – Global Head of Citizenships for KPMG International
  • David Connor – founder of the 2030hub and Coethica
  • Sophi Tranchell MBE – Managing Director of Divine Chocolate, the innovative international Fairtrade cocoa cooperative in Ghana
  • Martin Rich – cofounder and Executive Director of Future Fit Foundation
As well as high profile speakers from across the faith and business spheres, there will be opportunities to take part in workshops on a wide range of topics such as:
  • Culture making at work
  • B Corps: using business as a force for good
  • Modern slavery in supply chains
  • Future Fit Business Benchmark
  • Finding your rhythm of grace
  • Stop:Start – 10 minute reflections for people on their way to work (led by HeartEdge)
  • The Bible and Business
  • Putting purpose into practice – some challenges and opportunities 
The conference is a day to inspire, support and equip Kingdom business leaders. Tickets cost £55 each.

Innocence Mission - Look Out From Your Window.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Healing and wholeness: Dismantling the barriers to belonging

I was involved in a fascinating session on Healing, Wholeness and Holiness at the wonderful Parish Away Day for St Martin-in-the-Fields held last Saturday.

We were able to organise this session on the basis that St Martin’s has many people involved in health and wholeness in its broadest sense. The session drew on that rich diversity of experiences and perspectives to explore the holistic nature of healing ministry and how its many ‘branches’ connect to one vine. It was a rich opportunity to learn more about God and about one another, and our hope is that it will continue to grow the understanding of healing and wholeness that has been developing at St Martin’s. 

I contributed the following brief reflection and shared material on social prescribing as an approach which can encompass the range of healing that we were speaking about in the session and as another way of moving beyond the medical model of disability:
In the culture of Jesus’ time, disabled people - those with physical, sensory or mental health conditions, learning disability or neurodiversity - were actively excluded from the wider community and from worship at the Temple. Jesus’ healing ministry had the effect of re-including those who had been excluded in the wider community and in worship.

The key issue, however, was a culture which excluded others and which Jesus sought to address through his teaching about the Kingdom of God. Today, the best way to achieve this same aim within our society is by understanding and utilising the social model of disability, which recognises and seeks to dismantle the barriers to belonging that our society throws up through environment, structures and attitudes.

I see this branch of ministry connecting to the vine because when we explore and address these barriers in church and society – as we seek to do through our Disability Advisory Group and our annual conference on disability and Church together with Inclusive Church – we are doing what Jesus sought to do through his healing ministry.

Welcoming God, enable us to identify and remove the barriers to belonging which confront disabled people to ensure that all people can fully and wholly contribute to church and society. Amen.


Van Morrison - The Healing Game.

Something Worth Sharing

Something Worth Sharing
Saturday 13 October - Sunday 14 October 2018
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London

A weekend of events to mark our 7th annual conference on Disability and Church, a partnership between St Martin-in-the-Fields and Inclusive Church.

Saturday 13 October
10.30am - 4.30pm, St Martin’s Hall
Something Worth Sharing

Disabled people can be isolated by experience or geography, and face barriers to belonging in churches and communities. What can we do to unlock gates and open our gifts? From access statements to advisory groups, using language and structure, connecting and gathering, we explore ideas and share practical resources for getting in and joining in.

Speakers include: June Boyce-Tillman, Tim Goode, Fiona MacMillan, Ann Memmott, Emily Richardson and Sam Wells

Through plenary talks and in small groups, with a silent space and a marketplace, this is a day to resource each other and the church. Organised by and for disabled people, supporters and people with an interest in disability issues.

Cost: £20/£10 concessions

Registration: Spaces are limited.

Sunday 14 October
10.00am - 11.30am
Eucharist and Healing Service for St Luke’s Day

This special service reflects the weekend’s themes using liturgy written by members of St Martin’s Disability Advisory Group and Healing Team. The service includes the laying on of hands and anointing with oil, accompanied by prayers for healing - for yourself, someone else or the wider world. All are welcome.

Sunday 14 October
2.00pm - 4.30pm, St Martin’s Hall
Something Worth Sharing: Defiant Lives

A special screening of this feature-length documentary followed by discussion of the issues and ideas. Defiant Lives tells the story of the disability rights movement in the UK, US and Australia, Mixing archive footage and recent interviews with disabled people who fought for a society where everyone can participate. All are welcome.


Tickets are free with a retiring collection to cover costs - suggested donation £5.


Victoria Williams & Vic Chesnutt - God Is Good.

Sacred Noise at Christie's

Sacred Noise explores themes of religion, faith and divinity in post-war and contemporary art through 30 works shown at Christie’s until 21 July. The exhibition seeks to chart the reinterpretation and subversion of these themes in the 20th century.

The starting point for Sacred Noise is the permission granted through Christ’s incarnation to depict the divine in human form which developed in the West in the direction of realism. The humanism of the Renaissance represented a significant move within this development. Keith Walker has written that ‘The Renaissance was the period when man and the world were re-discovered … Previously the artist was considered only a maker. God alone created. In the Renaissance man’s Godlikeness was asserted.’ Luis de MoralesEcce Homo variations showed Christ alone and at close range, blurring the boundaries between the human and the divine, then the vivid tableaux vivants of 16th-century Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán, gave the faithful a sense of direct access to the scenes he depicted.

While there is work included by the likes of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Sir Anthony van Dyck, the exhibition, once it has established realism as the primary mode of Christian expression in the West, is then keen to arrive at the beginning of the modern period to show how the European legacy of religious painting was reborn and redefined in post-war and contemporary art.

The argument made is that the wide range of work on display in Sacred Noise makes clear that, if divinity was long the anchor of human existence, its artistic unmooring in the 20th century has opened up endless new interpretative horizons. These interpretive horizons involve a move from realism to expressionism, abstraction and conceptual art while engaging with the sense that nothing is considered sacred — or scandalous — any more, the idea that art, science and money have come to supplant religion in the West, and the rejection of a divinity that leaves us tormented, forsaken and horrifyingly alone in a godless world.

Francis Bacon, Lucio Fontana, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Maurizio Cattelan are cited and shown as being just a very few of the artists who shook the canon through their engagement with religion. However, there are issues with this selection of artists and with the argument made here through their work.

Firstly, the response of these artists is more nuanced in regard to religion than the exhibition allows. Bacon said that he could find no other subject as valid as the Crucifixion to embrace all the nuances of human feelings and behaviours that enabled him to think about all life’s horror. For Fontana, his Fine di Dio series rejected earthly images of God and symbolised instead the apophatic God, ‘infinity, the unfathomable, the end of figuration, the principle of the void.’ From the early 1980s onwards, religious imagery surfaces in Warhol’s art with his confronting of his own mortality giving way, as the exhibition catalogue states, to an interest in redemption and salvation. Biblical references also come to feature in Hirst’s art through his sense that the Bible has ‘great stories’ which ‘you can use … to fnd out what your life actually amounts to, in the end.’ Cattelan states that, as one who grew up singing in the church choir, his work is not anti-Catholic, but a way to ‘open people’s eyes to the faux sensibility of a culture where nothing is really considered either sacred or scandalous anymore.’ The work of these artists does not simply indicate the death of God among artists or society, as this exhibition, at points, wishes to suggest.

Secondly, the exhibition seems to make clear that this argument is only sustainable through its selective choice of artists. Of those 20th century artists exhibited here, only Eric Gill and Stanley Spencer are artists uniformly acknowledged as those creating from the inspiration of their faith. Yet a different selection of artists – Arthur Boyd, Marc Chagall, Maurice Denis, Makoto Fujimura, Albert Herbert, David Jones, Colin McCahon, John Piper, Georges Rouault, Gino Severini, Betty Spackman, Graham Sutherland, Paul Thek, Vincent Van Gogh, among others - could easily result in an exhibition to support the argument that the relationship between art and faith has been relatively close and positive in the modern period.

Themes of religion, faith and divinity have pervaded art throughout the centuries. The 20th-century did see the reinterpretation and subversion of those themes. Yet, the rebirth and redefinition of the European legacy of religious painting includes much that is affirming of religion, in addition to much which challenges its basic premises and history. This exhibition has more of the latter than the former. I would suggest that, at present, the story of art which has continuity with de Morales, Zurbarán and Cranach is the road less documented and therefore, because of its hidden treasures, is currently the more interesting story to tell.


Good Charlotte - Beautiful Place.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Windows on the world (405)

Bradwell, 2018


Belle & Sebastian - I Want The World To Stop.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Connections of Sister Corita Kent and Norman Nicholson

Tracing the connections between artists that were either part of the Church and were engaged by the Church in the 20th century is an important element in the argument that the level and extent of the engagement between the Church and the Arts has been more significant that is generally acknowledged. Some of my posts tracing these connections include:   
Most recently, I've been reading about the work and friendships of the US nun Sister Corita Kent and also of the British poet Norman Nicholson:

The Catholic Art Association was founded in 1937 by Sister Esther Newport as an organisation of artists, art educators, and others interested in Catholic art and its philosophy, and created the world into which Sister Corita Mary stepped when she began her career as an inspirational artist and teacher at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles in 1945.

'Much of Kent’s artistic activism came out of her close friendship with Father Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest best known for his radical antiwar activism. Kent and Berrigan carried on an extensive correspondence and collaborated on a number of projects. She designed the covers for many of Berrigan’s books, including The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (Beacon Press, 1970), his free-verse play about his trial and conviction for burning draft files with napalm at the Catonsville, Maryland, draft board in 1968. Berrigan penned the introduction for Kent’s book Footnotes and Headlines, and she used both his published writings and personal letters in numerous prints.'

Her screenprint "Powerup" (1965) 'melds a sermon on spiritual fulfillment by an activist priest, Daniel Berrigan, with the advertising catch-phrase of the Richfield Oil Corporation.'

'“An Evening with God” which took place at the Boston Tea Party, a rock music club, and featured performances, music, conversation, and an informal communion meal of store-bought bread and wine' was 'an event planned by Kent, the priest Daniel Berrigan, the musician Judy Collins, and the Harvard professor Harvey Cox.'

Berrigan said of Kent, "She introduces the intuitive, the unpredictable into religion, and thereby threatens the essentially masculine, terribly efficient, chancery-ridden, law-abiding, file-cabinet church."

Berrigan was part of a 'colorful cast of friends and associates who shared both with him, or crossed his path.' 'Think Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Thich Nhat Hanh, Martin Luther King, Ernesto Cardenal, and Martin Sheen, to list the best known.'

Norman Nicholson 'was always an active and enthusiastic member of a vibrant and close-knit nationwide web which interlinked the leading writers and artists of the day. T.S. Eliot was typically this web’s central figure, but other notable participants included E. Martin Browne, Kathleen Raine, Anne Ridler, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Michael and Janet Roberts, Bro. George Every and very many more.'

Nicholson was published by T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber, where Anne Ridler was Eliot's secretary. Nicholson was sometimes a weekend guest at Helen Sutherland's house parties, which included writers such as Eliot. 'For a short period, at the beginning of World War II, Norman Nicholson and Kathleen Raine were very close.' 'Kathleen and Norman helped each other with their first collections and the title of Kathleen Raine's - Stone and Flower - is a quote taken from one of Norman's poems. Many of the poems in Norman's second collection - Rock Face - were either written for Kathleen, or came out of their conversations and collaborations.'

The sculptor Josefina de Vasconcellos and her husband Delmar Banner on moving to Cumbria also made friends with Cumbria’s own artistic community, befriending Beatrix Potter and Nicholson.

In An Anthology of Religious Verse, which he edited, Nicholson writes that to ‘many modern poets the events of Our Lord’s life are so vivid that they seem to be contemporary, so that it is natural for them to write in the language, imagery and form of our time.’ The structure of his book deals with modern conceptions of God and of life in relation to God. Poets included are: W.H. Auden, Hilaire Belloc, S.L. Bethell, G.K. Chesterton, Walter de la Mare, Clifford Dyment, T.S. Eliot, George Every, M. Farrow, David Gascoyne, Thomas Hardy, Rayner Heppenstall, G.M. Hopkins, D.H. Lawrence, Andrew Murray, Norman Nicholson, J.D.C. Pellow, Ruth Pitter, Anne Ridler, Michael Roberts, Walter Roberts, John Short, Tambimuttu, Allen Tate, Dylan Thomas, Charles Williams, W.B. Yeats and Andrew Young.

Nicholson contributed to the Christian verse drama revival which began in 1930 when E. Martin Browne was appointed by George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, to be director of religious drama for the diocese. 'One of Browne's early assignments was to organise a pageant, The Rock, to raise funds for the building of Anglican churches. At the request of Bishop Bell, T. S. Eliot wrote a series of choruses linking the loosely historical scenes of the pageant, which was played by amateurs and presented at Sadler's Wells Theatre for a fortnight's run in summer 1934.

After this success, Bell invited Eliot and Browne to work on a play to be written by Eliot and presented at the Canterbury Festival the following year, with Browne as director. The title was Murder in the Cathedral and it was this production that established the collaboration between Eliot as poet-playwright and Martin Browne as director which was to last for twenty years ... It established Browne as the leading director of the "poetic drama" movement, which was then undergoing something of a revival ...

In 1945 Browne took over the 150-seater Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate, and devoted it for the next three years to the production of modern verse plays, with first productions of plays by Christopher Fry, Ronald Duncan, Norman Nicholson and Anne Ridler, all directed by Browne himself.'


Norman Nicholson - September On The Mosses.

Thought for the Week: Healing and Wholeness

Here's my Thought for the Week at St Martin-in-the-Fields:

This weekend Ali Lyon and I are leading a session at the Parish Away Day entitled ‘Healing, Wholeness and Holiness: many branches: one vine?’

We are doing so on the basis that St Martin’s has many people involved in health and wholeness in its broadest sense. The session will draw on that rich diversity of experiences and perspectives to explore the holistic nature of healing ministry and how its many ‘branches’ connect to one vine. We hope that it will be a rich opportunity to learn more about God and about one another, and will continue to grow the understanding of healing and wholeness that has been developing at St Martin’s.

In the culture of Jesus’ time, disabled people - those with physical, sensory or mental health conditions, learning disability or neurodiversity - were actively excluded from the wider community and from worship at the Temple. Jesus’ healing ministry had the effect of re-including those who had been excluded in the wider community and in worship.

The key issue, however, was a culture which excluded others and which Jesus sought to address through his teaching about the Kingdom of God. Today, the best way to achieve this same aim within our society is by understanding and utilising the social model of disability, which recognises and seeks to dismantle the barriers to belonging that our society throws up through environment, structures and attitudes.

When we explore and address these barriers in church and society – as we seek to do through our Disability Advisory Group and our annual conference on disability and Church together with Inclusive Church – we are doing what Jesus sought to do through his healing ministry.  


James Taylor - Fire and Rain.

Black Tea for H. R. Rookmaaker: Contextualising Dr. Rookmaaker’s Work for the 21st Century

Prompted by recent interest in Hans Rookmaaker’s work, Peter S. Smith has recently reflected in a lecture at English L'Abri on the decade-long relationship he had with the art historian. Through personal meetings and letters from 1967 to 1977, what kind of influence did Rookmaaker have on a young painter and printmaker? How do we understand his legacy in today’s context? Did he open doors that we have yet to walk through?

Black Tea for H. R. Rookmaaker: Contextualising Dr. Rookmaaker’s Work for the 21st Century (Peter S. Smith) - June 11, 2018


Mahalia Jackson - I'm On My Way.

Apocalypse in Art: The Creative Unveiling

Apocalypse in Art: The Creative Unveiling was a conference organised in June by CenSAMM at the Panacea Museum in Bedford.

The word ‘apocalypse’ originally indicated an ‘unveiling’, and the speaker in the Book of Revelation is a ‘seer’. This is perhaps one of the reasons that this ancient text (and others like it) have generated such a ferment of creative responses in the visual arts – as well as those other non-visual strands of the arts which have their own way of engaging our mind’s eye.

The rich variety of types of artistic unveiling (visual, musical, dramatic, literary) makes an engagement with the creative arts a deeply valuable way of understanding and appreciating the idea of apocalypse, alongside more traditionally academic modes of enquiry.

This conference sought to explore our relationship to art, its practice, its study and what the arts unveil to us. As artists or as audiences of art we can be profoundly transformed by our encounters with artistic creativity; indeed, we can find ourselves using the language of revelation to describe such encounters, regardless of our individual faith, religion or beliefs. Mark Rothko is quoted as saying, “the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”
All presentations, including my own, are now on the CenSAMM website here: or can be found on YouTube here:


Melbourne Mass Choir - When He Returns.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Coventry Kids & A Picture of Faith

Back in 1962, the schoolchildren of Coventry donated their pocket money to help fund a 70ft stained glass window in the new Cathedral. Last Saturday the authors (Diana Coulter and Bob Smith) of a new book about Keith New (the artist of the window) invited the original Cov Kids, who are now in their sixties to early seventies (and probably have children/or grandchildren of their own!) to reunite.

The event was a great success with a terrific turnout, many of whom wanted to be involved in similar events in the future. Many of those who came, while they may not have been to the Cathedral for many many years, were moved by "their window in their Cathedral."

Over the past four years Diana Coulter and Robert Smith have been researching the stained glass of Keith New, one of the three-man team who designed the nave windows at Coventry Cathedral. New (1926–2012) was a significant pioneering British modernist stained glass artist in the 1950s and 1960s.

Coulter and Smith have published their monograph Keith New: British Modernist in Stained Glass with Sansom, a Bristol-based publisher specialising art and design of the 20th century onwards. This is the first monograph devoted to his work. It examines New’s career in the first part, while the second part comprises a comprehensive catalogue of his stained glass.

New’s career was launched with the 1952 Royal College of Art’s commission to design the nave windows for Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral. The three-man team, led by Lawrence Lee, included Geoffrey Clarke, another pioneer in the medium. Each artist designed three windows. The commission brought New to the attention of other prominent architects, including Robert Matthew and Denys Lasdun, as well as artists and critics like John Piper and John Betjeman, and resulted in many commissions for churches either in post-war rebuilds or in medieval buildings.

Also at Coventry Cathedral currently is 'Graham Sutherland: Beneath the Tapestry', a curation of works that inspired and helped develop the iconic tapestry that hangs in Coventry Cathedral.

As part of Basil Spence’s ground-breaking design for the New Coventry Cathedral (consecrated 1962), he commissioned several high-profile artists to create new works. One of the most significant works included in his design was to be a tapestry, depicting Christ in Glory, to be hung behind the altar in the new Cathedral. Spence invited Sutherland to produce designs for Coventry Cathedral’s iconic tapestry - beginning a 10 year collaboration that resulted in one of the world’s largest modern tapestries, Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph that now sits at the very heart of this special space.

Precentor and Vice-Provost at Coventry Cathedral, Michael Sadgrove declares these years (1987-1995) amongst the best years of his life. The Cathedral is where he wrote his first book, 'A Picture of Faith'. The book's theme was Graham Sutherland's Tapestry of 'Christ in Glory' and took a look a the piece not so much as a work of art, but as an icon for meditation. In his lecture last Saturday, he revisited some of the book's themes and asked, from a personal perspective, how it continues to speak today, a quarter of a century later.


The Brilliance - Yahweh.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

HeartEdge conference - Commerce, Compassion, Culture, Congregation … It's All Church!

Commerce, Compassion, Culture, Congregation … It's All Church!

Commerce, Compassion, Culture, Congregation are essential – in our view it’s all church! This September attend the HeartEdge two day intensive – theology, ideas, resources, plus time to make connections, find encouragements and Jazz!

12 & 13 September 2018 - Day 1 at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Day 2 at Lambeth Palace.

Contributors include:

Programme includes:

  • Bread for the World
  • For Good: The Church & the Future of Welfare
  • Great Sacred Music
  • Live Jazz

Programme: Day 1 at St Martin-in-the-Fields begins from 10.00 am and includes an evening Eucharist followed by live Jazz. Day 2 at Lambeth Palace begins from 9.30 am, with conference close at 3.30 pm.

Cost: Early Bird rate £69 (until 20th July 2018); then HeartEdge members rate - £79 & non-members rate - £99. Tickets include conference programme, refreshments & lunch, plus complimentary Jazz on evening of 12th September.

Registration: Book tickets at

For more information: Contact Revd Jonathan Evens on 020 7766 1127 or

HeartEdge is a growing ecumenical network of churches and other organisations which supports churches in blending their mission around congregation, compassion, culture and commerce.

‘HeartEdge feels different, in that it is practical theology, where the theology is not just a veneer, but running right through it.’ Rev Andy Goodliff, Minister of Bell Vue Baptist Church, Southend


Great Sacred Music - I Stood On The River Of Jordan.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Zi Ling - Singulart interview

Zi  Ling has been interviewed by Singulart. In the interview she says:

'I am really interested in using watercolour and collage as my method. However, using pure watercolour as media challenges me a lot. Because the very moment when brush meets paper and paint, it simultaneously produces marks. For me, it is the most organic and direct way of expressing myself. I enjoyed the simplicity and purity of the process. Watercolour is a very sensitive media. You need to balance between the controlled and the uncontrolled, making your own marks on paper and playing with the ‘accident’. It is both challenging and exciting for me.'

Singulart is an online gallery for contemporary art that allows collectors and art lovers alike to buy works of art in complete security from nationally recognized artists. From abstract canvases, figurative paintings, drawings or even street art and graffiti, we offer an international selection of work in a variety of styles and techniques. Singulart is also helping emerging artists from around the globe to sell their works to art lovers.


Arcade Fire - Put Your Money On Me.

Windows on the world (404)

Oxford, 2017


Joan Baez - Brothers In Arms.