In this edition of Triangle
Hatches, Matches and many Dispatches
The average church goer knows little of this part of church life. Perhaps this letter may interest them.
I started as verger/sexton in May 1966. There were three Sunday services (two sung), weddings, baptisms and funerals plus grave digging to attend to. The church had a virtual monopoly of weddings and funerals. Many funerals were followed by churchyard burial and most cremations had a church service first-many nonconformists were also buried in the yard. Most Saturdays from April to October would have at least one wedding, and often several. Over the years I have dealt with approximately 2000 funerals and 1300 weddings.
The ground in the newer churchyard is hard, heavy and sometimes wet, that of the old part lighter but unstable and likely to fall in. Once a lowering strap broke when burying a coffin, and one family bearer fell in a grave! I have never had a grave too small for a coffin but twice had one very tight. Burials in the old yard often gave trouble, I have many times had to go out during a service to dig out a collapsed grave. I have also opened several old Victorian vaults - once when committing a coffin into one. We could see my mates’ boots-he was sitting on an old coffin in the vault!
Graves in one plot in the new graveyard are in gravel ground, and in very wet weather often would need water ladling out during a service otherwise a very wet grave would result. When opening a grave for a further burial there is a legal requirement regarding depth; however some of my predecessors often did not go deep enough-this meant raising the planks with soil or knocking in the previous coffin to make more depth.
The biggest grave we ever dug was for the Sutton Hill fire victims-three coffins wide, in 2000. Another time we had an American casket for a young woman killed in Alabama and in the very hot summer of 1976 a double burial of two drowned brothers.
At one very large funeral (900 present), one of the family bearers was full of beer and on coming out of church with the coffin went off to relieve himself-he caught us up at the graveside. At another burial the grave sides collapsed just as the coffin had been lowered with the Methodist minister jumping off the grave in fright.
Some years ago an acquaintance always said “you won’t get me!”-He dropped dead going home from the pub-I buried him on the Friday afternoon.
Did you know that there is a churchyard ghost? It was well known by the old Madeley people-it’s in the new churchyard, the very bottom where the heretics and suicides were buried- a little woman with a long coat! I saw it myself at Christmas time in 1976 but never since.
One Saturday forty years ago there were two weddings and two burials (then Saturday afternoon funerals were common). The organist brought a friend who was merry and sat him at the rear of the pipe organ. Just as the coffin from the first funeral was being wheeled out of church a loud drunken voice sang out “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide”-the vicar was very cross. The undertaker and myself tried not to laugh. I denied any knowledge of the drunk who was dispatched before the next funeral.
Over the years I have prepared wedding and funeral duties and have dealt with many families. Since the 1990’s there have been far fewer weddings and funerals, and the closure of the churchyard to new graves in 2008 means a great reduction in grave digging. However, I am retirement age in 2010 and the hard work is getting too much.
J H Price
(I believe I speak for many of us who would want to say a big thank you to John for all the work he does, much of it behind the scenes. Editor)
For many issues Triangle has incorporated an article entitled A letter from...and has invited a member of the clergy team to contribute. This has been well received and we thank all who have contributed in this way. However, we would now like to ring the changes and introduce a new feature called Pause for Thought. It will be written by a member from one of our congregations and we hope it will give people who may not normally write for Triangle the chance to say something that God has been speaking to them about. If you feel that you would like to write our next Pause for Thought please contact us. (Details on the back of this sheet). We look forward to hearing what God is saying…
To start us off Pat Clarke has kindly written our first
Pause For Thought
Isn't it strange, how we sit and think of times past, and look at all the good and the not so good things that have occurred in our lives? Recently, I looked back at my life and realised there were times when I had neglected God, but he had not neglected me. In fact he was there all the time, upholding me, supporting me, caring for me. It is only on reflection that we understand, not at the time of happening.
News From Kuwait
We have just spent a months holiday in South India – a time of diverse contrasts. From living with Navina's family in Mangalore at a gentle laid back pace, through to enjoying the touristy trail around Kerala we experienced many things. From the coastal fishing town of Cochin where the apostle Thomas first landed and bought the Gospel to India, we went to the highlands of Munnar where we froze among the tea plantations in the clouds, and then deep into the heart of South India to the tiger reserve of Periyar, followed by a luxurious house boat trip along the beautiful backwaters ending with a beach resort - we felt so blessed. We did not encounter any tigers, but we did get to ride elephants, see wild monkeys, and on one occasion Navina almost shared a bed with a scorpion.
We have now been back in Kuwait one week. The children are back at school (Rianne started a new school), and it has been a busy time. We have a team from Singapore Diocese who are visiting our Chinese congregation and are doing a great job of teaching, training and reaching out to the Chinese in Kuwait. Tonight we were on the beach at a Chinese barbecue and we met people who were drawn by the Chinese congregation's activities. One young man, a US trained architect wanted to know more about baptism.
Again I was in court to stand with Simon, who was bitterly disappointed to learn that judgement had been deferred for another month. It is more than 2 years since he saw his family. On Tuesday I met with the USA commissioner for Religious Rights, an Imam who advises Obama on Muslim relations - it was a warm and encouraging encounter in which he asked about the church in Kuwait and Baghdad. I also had meetings with the USA and UK ambassadors to explore representing church interests at government level. Along with preaching, meeting my team members, and pastoral visits - our holiday already seems a distant memory. Kuwait is in the grip of Ramadan. No food or drink to be consumed in public during daylight hours. If you are caught, you are fined two hundred pounds (even if you are not a Muslim). It's hot and driving around in 45+ degrees C without a drink is punishing.
Navina injured her feet before travelling to India, but although still in pain, is now recovering. She will return to her studies and women's Bible study group soon. Rianne is loving her new school and is currently on an island at a youth event which lasts all weekend. Kathryn has started her piano lessons and is really excited by them. Benjamin is getting back to his trumpet and wants to build airfix models in the coming weeks.
Please Pray for the following:
1) The Chinese Ministry - thank God for the Singapore Partnership who are investing people and resources into regular short term missions trips to Kuwait. The Singaporean ambassador to Kuwait is a Christian and friend of my Chinese chaplain. This is very encouraging. Pray that more Chinese will come to faith; we are baptising two in October.
2) Pray for movement with Kuwait's government on allowing more facilities for Christians to worship. This has been a complex and very political task.
3) That our children will settle in with their schools and teachers.
4) For the integration of new expat’s into the life of the church quickly and effectively.
5) My heart seems to be functioning okay, yet I am still on medication and need to pace myself. Thank God for the improvement over the last few months.
Sending you all our love and prayers from Kuwait.
Andy, Navina, Rianne, Benjamin and Kathryn Thompson.
Answers to the Sweet Summer Quiz
In the summer edition of Triangle clues were given to different sweets or chocolate. Hopefully you have worked them all out now but just in case you haven’t here are the answers:
1. Gem Orchard
2. High class thoroughfare
3. Musical bard
4. Wobbly infants
5. Feline equipment
6. Locals from Malta
7. Talk quietly
8. Money making royalty
9. Big bus
10. Arrange marriage partners
11. 100% Au
12. Mother’s local
13. Sweet tooth cleaner
14. Edible fasteners
15. Out there (look up at night)
16. Even more out there!
17. Sport for Princes
18. Garden flowers
19. Dairy holder
20. Pub Pins
St. Michael's Fellowship Programme of Events
October to December 2009
Trip to Oswestry Garden Centre
Mock Magistrates Court
Raphael Duckett’s Visit
Hannah Lawrence Singing for fun
Fellowship meetings are held in St Michael’s Church unless otherwise stated and commence at 2.30 pm.
All are welcome
Tea, coffee and biscuits are available afterwards.
Dates For Your Diary
Sat 3rd Oct
Dave Moulden's Ordination service at Hereford Cathedral
Sun 15th Nov
Fundraising events in St Michael's church
Sat 17th Oct
Sat 14th Nov
Sat 5th Dec
Sat 12th Dec
Eroica Camerata Concert
Mission Impossible 9
Assembling 30 people from 4 countries (Ukraine, England and America) to lead 4 youth camps in 4 different countries (Russia, Belarus, Tadjikstan and Ukraine) Having only 3 days together to prepare the programme of activities. Raising the air fares and the total costs of running each of the camps. Conducting discussions in 3 different languages. It certainly seemed like mission impossible.
Together with my daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, I was assigned to help run a camp on the banks of the river Dnieper near Kanev in central Ukraine. Some 35 youngsters participated and we ran a programme of games, sports, teaching the message of Jesus, worship and fun events under the theme "Change Your Life". We all coped with the conditions - no running water, washing in the river (was it still radioactive as Chernobyl is some 300 km upstream?) some interesting food, the mixture of very hot weather and thundery rain and tents which were not always waterproof. At the end some 20 youngsters responded to a call to accept Jesus as their saviour - which made all the hard work and fun worthwhile.
The organisation who made all this possible, Kreativity, has been developing young christian leaders in Cherkassy in central Ukraine. At the heart of everything they do is a desire to spread the good news of Jesus to young people who have never heard it. The "Mission Impossible" events are the climax of their year. They really appreciate the help that their colleagues from England and America give and certainly for us it was a memorable and rewarding experience. Mission Impossible 10 in August 2010 is set to be about surviving on an uninhabited island for 2 weeks. We're set to go back. Will you be coming too?
One More Step
The ordination of David Moulden as priest at Hereford Cathedral is at 2.30pm on Saturday 3rd October. We are supporting David and Sarah in this further step in their calling to Christian ministry by travelling by coach to Hereford for the occasion. Details are in the weekly notice sheet – and I hope very much that you will be able to join us for the occasion.
One More Gift
We are so grateful to Mike Davies for making contact with grant making bodies requesting financial support for the reordering work completed at St. Michael’s Church. From five Trusts we have now received £12,250 as a result of Mike’s work. Rev.Henry Morris
Thank you to all who have contributed to this edition of Triangle. The closing date for articles for the Christmas edition will be announced in the church notices. Please pass to your church representative:
Woodside: Angela Handley, Sutton Hill: Anne Koe, St Michael’s: Hazel Shipman. Or if possible e-mail: triangle(at)tf7.org.uk