Krista Ovist

Bewilderment and Revelation: Reflection from Sue Chin for the Second Sunday of Lent, March 13, 2022

Ian has asked me to say a word or two today about a theme which lies at the heart of this season of Lent – the experience of Wilderness.  He knows, from our many conversations, that my work as a psychotherapist involves journeying with men and women through periods when life seems to have dried up, when all that once offered nourishment is replaced with a sense of emptiness and bewilderment. At times like these we can feel forsaken.

In today’s reading from Genesis, we encounter Abraham in a state of despair, as he contemplates his childless marriage.  After all he has achieved in his long life it seems that it may amount to nothing, since he has no heir. This great leader who has travelled far from home has just returned from a triumphant battle with the kings of Mesopotamia. Yet, as he looks towards his own mortality, Abraham fears his life may not, after all, bear fruit. In his desolation, the voice of God comes to him and points to the innumerable stars, to indicate the extent of his legacy to future generations.

Abraham’s vision of the stars, from a 6th century Byzantine manuscript.

I have always loved this image of God’s promise of abundance.  What strikes me, as a therapist, is that it is often when we have reached rock bottom, when it seems we have run dry and we feel utterly lost, that we finally encounter in the wilderness within, a deeper presence, a still small voice which could not be heard above the clamour of our busy lives.

A few years ago, in times when international travel was straightforward, we took a family holiday into the wilderness of Tanzania. Inspired by pictures of elephants, zebra and wildebeest, we knew this would be the trip of a lifetime. It was the dry season and our journey from the airport by road was long, bumpy and dusty. Eventually we reached a high ridge overlooking our destination, the wide-open plains of the Serengeti. There, stretching out as far as the eye could see, we found ourselves gazing upon what appeared to be a vast and featureless desert, a wasteland, a barren plain devoid of life. I felt my heart sink.

Thankfully our Masai guide, Mathey, ploughed ahead. As we descended to the plain, he turned our vehicle off the main track. Almost immediately his sensitive eyes spotted a Serval crouched in the grass, a rare wild cat native to Africa with large ears and exquisite markings. Over the next few days, he revealed to us a staggering abundance of wildlife. Mathey would often stop the vehicle and look intently into a stand of acacia trees. Signalling to us to stay still and quiet, we too learned to watch and wait for revelation. I remember asking him how he could spot creatures so well camouflaged in the flaxen grass. His answer was simple: ‘there is life all around us, all the time’, he said, ‘If you stay very still and quiet you can feel its presence’.

In Tanzania I discovered that wilderness is not empty or barren, but abundant and vital. Its richness however is not self-evident. It reveals itself in response to the faithfulness of our looking. I learned that it takes patience and practice to see hidden treasures that are overlooked by eyes accustomed to seeing at a glance. As a psychotherapist I recognise this quality of faithful vision, for it also applies to seeing into the landscapes of our own human nature. At the start of therapy, most people regard their inner realm of feelings, memories and longings ‘at a distance’, as I first glimpsed the Serengeti from the ridge. They imagine their hearts to be places of little interest, with ‘nothing much to see’. In time they learn to watch and wait for revelation. Their inner emptiness turns out to be a wilderness of wonder.

*

In the story at the heart of this season of Lent we are told that ‘Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness.’ He didn’t stumble, or fall, or end up there by accident. He didn’t lose his way or get led astray. Nor was he forsaken by God. He was led there by the spirit. He withdrew from the world at large to dwell for forty days and nights in a place of solitude, vulnerability and silence. It seems that Jesus knew there was a wellspring of life to be found in the wilderness, a hidden presence that would reveal itself, in response to his faithful watching and waiting.

The Gospels, especially those of Mark and Luke, note that alongside the imperative to go out and spread the word, to feed and heal the people, Jesus placed great importance on the practice of retreat. We see him taking himself away immediately before choosing his twelve disciples, before the Transfiguration and most poignantly perhaps, before the Crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Before teaching the Lord’s Prayer Jesus urged his disciples to balance their ‘going out’ with regular moments of ‘going in’. Matthew recounts him saying to them ‘go into your room and shut the door’.

Behind closed doors, tucked away from sight in a quiet upper room on Replingham Road, I’ve come to see therapy most essentially as an experience of retreat into a place of wilderness. For an hour a week my clients leave the busy-ness and familiarity of work, leisure and family and step into a place shielded from expectation and distraction. It is an emptied and uncharted space. What happens next between us is not on any map. Neither I nor the person who enters know what lies waiting to be discovered. Nor is this process of self-discovery instant, it requires patience, courage and faith from both of us over many weeks. Most people’s journey in therapy lasts just short of a year – somewhere in the region of forty sessions.

The forty days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness suggest to me that cultivating the quality of attention that might allow us to feel the presence of the still small voice, takes time. The French word for time is ‘temp’ (T.E.M.P). It stems from a Latin word meaning to stretch something. So time is experience stretched out beyond the instant.  The Latin root ‘temp’ also gives us our English words ‘contemplation’ and ‘temple’. Contemplation is attention stretched out over time, and temple was once a cleared space stretched out on the ground for sacred practice.

Along the way to revelation, the practice of retreat and contemplation is often beset with doubt, and despair. Untethered from our usual distractions, we may encounter forsaken longings, un-mourned losses, buried memories. It can be tempting to give up, to return to a familiar territory where the wilderness within is filled once more with busy-ness. My role as a therapist is not to offer a quick fix, a ready-made way through, but to hold the individual in their bewilderment, to help them stand firm against the lure of doing and consuming. Together we watch and wait for the still small voice of revelation. To make our way through the appearance of emptiness within, we need to slow down, to look around and above all, to listen. There is an intensity to this state of being. For it is precisely when we are lost that we become most fully present. Wits sharpen, instincts stir, our dulled senses awaken.

In the account of the forty days in the wilderness, we see Jesus at his most human. In this untamed and unfamiliar place, we might imagine that he encountered his own bewilderment. Perhaps in the many days of his solitude he even felt forsaken at times. The temptations of the devil play into this essential experience of human frailty. By suggesting a quick fix of turning stones into bread, the first temptation offers Jesus a way out of his experience of emptiness. By promising him power and glory, the second plays on his sense of worthlessness. And by suggesting that the intervention of divine forces means he cannot fall or fail, the third taunts Jesus in relation to his vulnerability. Emptiness, worthlessness and vulnerability are perhaps the most common feelings we all encounter when we take ourselves off the main track and first discover the wilderness within.

Living as we now do in this age of instant consumption and infinite distraction, we are never far from the quick fix feed of social media, twenty-four hour news and ready-made snacks. In the ever-present noise of our switched-on world, we may struggle to heed Jesus’ advice to ‘shut the door’. Yet without the capacity for retreat and bewilderment, we risk losing our connection to a wellspring of wisdom and abundant love. Jesus shows us, that if we are to hear the still small voice of God’s promise, we may need to bear with the experience of emptiness, worthlessness and vulnerability. To bear our bewilderment we may need the guidance of others who have already explored some of their own wilderness and cultivated a more faithful vision.

*

In these times of devastation and desolation, we need more than ever to feel the presence of God in our midst. Jesus reminds us that if we are to be instruments of God’s work in the world, we need to regularly take ourselves away, to learn to watch and wait for revelation. I will be forever grateful to my Tanzanian guide for showing me that there is life all around us, all the time. And that if we are to feel this vital presence, we need to clear a space in our lives, to stop the vehicle which drives us to keep doing and instead, stay very still and quiet for a time. The more often we encounter God’s presence, the more we learn to trust that, like the stars above Abraham, it is always there.


Sue Chin

‘Thank you!’ to Abundance Wimbledon

A huge ‘Thank You’ to Sue Lovell-Greene and the folks at Abundance Wimbledon, who collected 2 tons(!!) of fruit and made it into jams and cordials to sell at their annual charity fundraising Fruit Day. They have generously donated £300 of their proceeds to St Barnabas.  Now that’s grace!

Transfiguration: a sermon before Lent in a time of war, from Rev’d Ian Tattum

Ash Wednesday is in three days’ time, so Lent is approaching fast. Lent is a time for penitence, when we not only acknowledge our own wrong headedness and potential for evil but also register the reality of our imperfect world.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, with all its deception and cruelty, inevitably makes us cry, ‘This is wrong’, and ask what could have been done, can be done, and what we might have colluded with? Wars are always a horrible mixture of blunder, lies and malice.

It is also timely and appropriate that we always prepare for Lent with the story of the Transfiguration, which we heard, not only because it is about transformation – metamorphosis and transfiguration mean virtually the same thing – but also because it is such a resonant event for orthodox Christians, who are so involved in this conflict. Scandalously, the Russian Orthodox Church has so far been in lock-step with President Putin’s toxic nationalism. If Lent is not about spiritual and ethical change – about the possibility of changing and our hoping for it – it has little purpose.

Today I have just two main ideas to share.

The first is that the story of Jesus being transfigured, his being seen for who he truly is, is not just about him, but about people; it’s about us too. It’s about the kind of people just like the core disciples – Peter, James and John – who are prone to falling asleep, to not quite grasping what is going on, or just being subsumed by all the immediate concerns around us – in our actual lives and from the media.

The second is how the kind of metamorphosis the Christian tradition is talking about can be lost because of the frailty of the language and imagery we use. I am going to lean on the life-cycle of the butterfly quite a bit, because that has been one of the great favourites of the Church down the ages.

Concerning the first point, The Transfiguration is clearly another stage in the revelation of who Jesus is: the one who perfectly reflects the glory of God. According to the Gospel of Luke, at his baptism in the river Jordan by John, this revelation is more a private affair. The voice from heaven is addressing Jesus: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved.’ In today’s reading the disciples hear that voice too, but it comes from within a cloud, and is directed towards them: ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ Which could be a very simple but urgent message for us, and for those with greater power, especially during Lent, a time to listen much more.

That is one of the reasons that we tend to have an intensification of Bible Studies, Lent Courses, and still, at least, residual habits of giving things up; but I am not convinced that any of those lead necessarily to us listening to Jesus any more than usual. They can easily become seasonal activities, like singing carols at Christmas, with more than a hint of nostalgia about them.

If we are called to listen, that means so much more than just hearing. It means to take to heart, to live and to act. There is a lot of explicit tenderness towards the human condition in this Gospel – it is tough to listen. The disciples who can’t keep their eyes open during the vision on the mountain are the same ones who fall asleep when Jesus endures the night before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. St Luke says that they were made sleepy by grief.

But listening and attending – being mindful – of what Jesus means is essential. The whole import of the Gospel is that Jesus has good news to share, wisdom which can help and transform the hearers if they are able truly to listen.

Key to that is being reminded who we, who all human beings, truly are: children of God too, beloved, whatever our scars or predicament, capable of great compassion and of being liberated from the fears and obsessions that ossify our hearts, people who can embrace peace and truth, however marred. In giving extra attention to this during Lent we are marking this time of the year as a particularly hopeful one, when despite so much we see inside ourselves and outside; we embrace the belief that all can change with an energy matching the natural world.

Most of us, fortunately, come across the idea of metamorphosis when we learn about the life-cycle of butterflies instead of in Kafka’s terrifying story of the same title. But I think this can still lead us astray, because it can put too much emphasis on the spectacular climax of a whole complex and mysterious process. It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who was the first person in history that we know of who even mentioned butterflies, and he named them after the soul or the spirit, leaving us with a potent sense of their beauty and fragility.

But there is always a temptation to see the butterfly as the ultimate form of a creature which actually spends most of its life in completely different forms, and to associate the religious journey with a liberation from earthly things. The caterpillar was drawn as a worm in religious art and was often deemed a very inferior creature, and the chrysalis was seen as a tomb.

Entomologists are still discovering the marvellous variety of butterfly lives. Some species of butterflies can live in their adult form for over a year, but more attention is now paid to the other stages of their lives: eggs that can change colour to remain concealed; caterpillars that can live for years, eating and growing by making themselves virtually invisible or terrifyingly conspicuous; an incredible biological system that can dismantle a small carnivorous grub inside a chrysalis and rebuild it as a large blue butterfly. But there is also huge continuity between these stages. If you were able to look inside an old caterpillar you would see a chrysalis about to be born.

So, when we think about metamorphosis and transfiguration of our own lives, maybe we should accept the subtle changes too and the necessity of phases. All are transfigurations. This might help us cope too, when the broken and disordered world which we usually manage to keep at a mental distance knocks on our door.

Francis Fukayama has had many mentions lately for his optimistic phrase ‘the End of History’, coined at the end of the Cold War. It was not the end, when a butterfly was launched. It was a moment in a complex and arduous life cycle.

Listening to Jesus Christ. Taking to heart that we are all beloved, might lead to a real transformation, but it won’t be just yet.

Two companion Reflections for Creation Sunday (20 Feb 2022)

Sermon on John Ray from Rev’d Ian Tattum
Readings: Genesis 2.4b-9. 15-25 and Luke 8. 22-25

John Ray – who was he and why discuss him on a Creation Sunday?

He was a pioneer botanist, ornithologist, and entomologist. He appears to be one of the earliest believers in ‘deep time’. He was a collector and recorder but also a profound thinker about how the world is connected together.

As he wrote in his most famous and influential work of theology, which directly inspired Gilbert White and indirectly influenced the young Charles Darwin:

(Prepare yourself for some dignified seventeenth-century prose.)

‘If man ought to reflect upon his Creator the glory of all his works, then ought he to take notice of them all and not to think anything unworthy of his cognizance.’

He was a devout Christian, a one-time priest in the Church of England.

He was born in 1627 and died in 1705.

His mother was a diligent collector of medicinal plants, and his father was the village blacksmith in Black Notley near Braintree in Essex.

His mother influenced his love of a major new field of science – botany – and his father, it has been suggested, inspired a mind fascinated by how things worked and fitted together.

If we think back to that reading from Genesis, he took forward the programme that Adam is said to have started: the naming of all the animals; but not just by cataloguing them but through being captivated by the wonder of them – as gifts of the creator.

Many years ago, some friends decided to make some elderflower champagne. When it was time to drink it, it was disgusting, because one friend put some cow parsley in instead. The flowers are, as you may know, very alike, but one is found in a hedgerow and another on a tree.

If you think yourself back to the seventeenth century you will find yourself in a world where plants were used mainly for three things: growing as crops, planting in a garden, or for healing. The last of these was the most dangerous. If you accidentally picked the wrong plant, or deliberately collected a look-alike for profit, the consequences could be catastrophic. Nowadays you can go to any good bookshop or browse the internet to identify plants, birds, insects, etc. When John Ray got involved with the study of nature, he had very little to go on.

His major study was plants. There were a few books around to help, but they simply listed plants in alphabetical order and were very confusing. How do you differentiate one plant from another?  Size?  Size of leaves?  Number of petals? Tthe word ‘petal’ itself had only just come into existence.) There were some plants with Latin names and many more with a variety of local names.

So, the first thing he needed to do was put the books to one side and go and look. And he started locally, around Cambridge. Literally, he had to get down on his hands and knees, into ditches and across meadows and look closely, at every single detail. Even today there are botanists who say you can identify flowers from his literary descriptions alone. Although you will need to be able to read Latin, as that was the scientific language of his day.

He also tried to sort out the birds.

Aristotle was still the go-to scientific authority when it came to most study of nature, and he had simply divided birds into three categories, based on where they live: Woodland, by the water, and on the water. There was, as for plants, little idea of the underlying sense of how they are related to each other, what type of species they belonged to, etc.

Here are some questions to show what a muddle names were then.

Wimbledon Park is full of puits at the moment. What are those?

Bald Buzzard?

Solan Goose?

Turtle Dove?

We often, even in the Church, think of the importance of celebrating creation as being an ethical response to the current climate crisis and threats to the environment. I am delighted that we have an Eco Church Bronze Award, and we are going to push for silver.

But caring and noticing, and wonder at God’s creation are vital.

Otherwise no one would have realised that spring arrives a month early.

Take a look at the dog’s violet in the church garden!

Who is my neighbour? Addressing our co-creatures as persons
Reflection from Krista Ovist

Lately, I’ve been pre-occupied by one particular thought: How might I be changed for the better if I were to address other-than-human things – my co–creatures — as persons; not as objects, but as irreducible and holy subjects in their own right, with their own durations and trajectories?

I’ve been experimenting with getting into the habit of invoking the things I interact with every day – calling on them directly.  Here, for example, is a formula I’ve been working on for greeting the waters I will use each day.  As I turn on the tap for my morning shower, I say inwardly:

Welcome in, Waters-of-this-Day.
I take you.
Come inside;
I take you.

I bow to your sacrifice.

I promise, in return, to curb my demand,
to meet and handle you with humble hands.

I will atone.
One day, I too will be taken.
I will die and restore my waters to the earth to feed you.

Food of foods; all is food.
Thank you, Waters-of-this-Day.

I’ve been composing similar little salutations to the creaturely things that go into my dinner, addressing them one by one as I chop them up and sauter them.

Now, I know that a discipline of speaking in this way to the co-creatures I encounter and consume will not solve the climate crisis.  I do sometimes wonder if such practices might have prevented the crisis to begin with.  But my present hope is that my prayers – and I would call them prayers – may begin to recompose me into someone who is more like John Ray, someone who is a closer follower of Jesus than I have been when it comes to keeping faith with creation.

We all know that we should be more like John Ray – that, like Ray, we should read ourselves as creatures, enmeshed in complex relations with other creaturely things, both living and non-living; that we should attend carefully to what other creaturely things communicate, by virtue of their myriad qualities and interactions; that we should respect all creaturely things as existing for their own sakes as much as for the sake of others.

But often, as in our relations with one another, we miss the mark in our relations with our co-creatures.  We take without replenishing.  We waste.  We choose convenience.  We trespass daily against thousands of things we can’t even see.  And, because we know we are missing the mark, we can begin to experience our trespasses against the rest of creation as one more onerous source of guilt and anxiety.  A day like today, celebrated as ‘Creation Sunday’, can make it seem as though the Church has really upped the ante on us.  Now the answer to the question, who is my neighbour? includes not only human others, but other others as well: endangered species, rainforests, glaciers, the air, the Wandle, you name it.  Now I must love all these others as myself.

Daunting and difficult as that may sound, I think it must be true: all creaturely things are our neighbours.  And that, I gather, is a pretty fair way of describing how John Ray engaged with his hedgerows and with the birds and bugs that nested in and infested them.  For Ray, close empirical observation of plants and animals was a way of loving his neighbours by getting to know them directly, face to face, down on the ground, embedded with them as co-creatures in creation.  Although he was always eager to discover what ‘use’ other things might be to humans, he thought it was absurd to imagine that other things exist solely – or even mainly – for the benefit of humans.  He concluded that, as well as being useful to one another, all things exist for their own enjoyment.  Everything is the protagonist of its own story and arc of existence, however small or brief or remote from human awareness.

My prayers to my co-creatures won’t add to scientific knowledge, but they may train me, similarly, to give all things their due, even when I am sacrificing them for my own needs.  My prayers may inculcate in me a neighbourly reverence for my co-creatures that renders me incapable of taking them for granted and treating them as mere inert objects for my convenience.

Should I be worried that it may be idolatrous to pray to one’s co-creatures directly, rather than praising and thanking God for them and asking God to bless them?  I don’t think so.  After all, in our Gospel text for today, Jesus himself addresses the wind and the waves as though they were persons.  And our hymn texts – informed by biblical poetry — suggest that these same forces – wind and water, as well as other creaturely things, such as planets and stars – praise and adore the Creator.  I don’t think we necessarily need to read these texts as vestiges of what critical scholarship has called an ‘animistic’ worldview, one in which people project human capacities onto non-human animals and things.  Perhaps, instead, we might read them as quite the opposite: as indicative of a world in which humanity is not the measure of all things – one in which, in so far as non-humans are persons, we have not yet begun to know what personhood is – or agency, or communication, or worship, or love.  All these things intersect with the human, certainly; yet they may also exceed the human in ways we have yet to fathom.

So, why not give it a try?  Try asking that head of broccoli you never got around to eating to forgive you for wasting it.  Dispose of it gently, regretfully.  It sounds daft, I know; but the more you do it, the harder it gets not to be changed.

Sermon for Epiphany 2: 1 Corinthians 12.1-11 from Rev’d Ian Tattum

Do you think of yourself as gifted?

Do you think of yourself as spiritual?

As soon as you start thinking about those questions, I am pretty sure that you will quickly discover that you are being influenced by the way we tend to think today. We are all shaped by the language we inherit and the context in which we live.

Take that word gifted. It has been used in education for a long time now to refer to those who have special or exceptional talent in particular areas. In Maths, Arts or music, for example. Which probably immediately excludes most of us.

And the word spiritual. It now tends to be used to designate certain emotional responses to the world, such as wonder or delight, or to mental or psychological practices, such as meditation and mindfulness – often in a way to make a distinction with religious activities, such as praying, going to church, attending a Mosque, or singing songs which articulate religious beliefs and ideas.

So when we turn to biblical passages, like the one from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians this morning, we might find it hard to get our heads around what exactly is meant. The translation might muddy the waters too.

In the biblical translation that we use, St Paul begins: ‘Now concerning spiritual gifts’ – a phrase that seemingly combines the two words or ideas that we have been thinking about, and well describes what he goes on to discuss. But the word so translated has a more nebulous meaning – ‘spiritual things’ – which could have equally been expressed as ‘spiritual stuff’. And what he says next is crucial, although possibly a bit confusing to us, at first view. He says that, when it comes to spiritual stuff it means putting behind you the worship of idols – the hallmarks of the pagan world – and instead being someone inspired by the Spirit of God to say Jesus is Lord.

He then makes a move which reveals where his insights about what constitutes a gift and what might be spiritual differ from some of our ways of thinking. The first point to make is that the people in Corinth seem to have had a similar elitist attitude to spiritual gifts as we sometimes have in education. And he addresses the matter over the next few chapters. The people in the community who had the power of prophetic utterance – or speaking in tongues, as it is sometimes called today – or performing miraculous healings had begun to see themselves as the most important people, the most special ones whose gift was the greatest of them all.

In this chapter St Paul begins to dismantle that idea. He does not say that such abilities are unimportant, but begins a process of dethroning them. He says there are many gifts that the Holy Spirit brings, and all are equally important.

Although he doesn’t quite say that!

We must always remember that St Paul tailored his advice according to the nature of the church community he was writing too. He picks out the spiritual practices in Corinth which had the most kudos and insisted none is better than the other. But in the next chapter of the letter, he concludes with a phrase most of you are very familiar with, advising that there are three fundamental qualities that underpin all spiritual gifts.

‘And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’

As many of you who have been listening to me over the years will be well aware, I think St Paul is often misunderstood and misinterpreted. He would certainly struggle in the modern world of social media where crystal clear expression and utter consistency are often demanded. He famously wrote that he would be all things to all people – not because he was a prevaricator, but because his motivation was to communicate the implications of what saying Jesus is Lord leads to. He had personally experienced an incredibly powerful conversion. As he describes it himself, and so does St Luke in the book of Acts, he didn’t just have a mystical/spiritual encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus; he had a moral awakening. He had been full of hatred and fear, but that had been dispelled by Christ’s forgiveness and love. When he is described as losing his sight, I wonder whether that means, once he lost the clarity of how he had seen the world up until then, he found himself groping in the dark, as he learnt to see his way in the world again. He found faith, he began to hope again, and he realised that at the bottom of everything was love.

When I read about St Paul, and what he wrote, I see someone wrestling with that profound personal transformation, and trying to draw on it, to help people in the brand new churches find their way too. So he acknowledges the dramatic spiritual experiences that people can have, but is also aware that people are not all the same.

We are in the season of Epiphany, which is a time to reflect on the implications of God coming into our world, out of love, to heal and change us, to set us on our feet again after we have fallen – like St Paul on that dusty road.

Last week, we heard about the Magi; this week, about Jesus’s first great sign at the wedding feast at Cana. But this reading from St Paul reminds us that, through the Holy Spirit, God is with us and within us – in ways which don’t have to be spectacular. Not the sort of things that might go to our heads. In his letter to the Corinthians he encourages us to live lives rooted in faith, hope and love – and my, do we and our world need these qualities? But a few years earlier he had put things differently, when he wrote to the church in Galatia, where people were a bit caught up in arguments about what religious ritual practices were most important. There he drew on the idea we know from the Lord’s Prayer – that God’s ways and ours don’t match, which is why we pray for God’s kingdom to come. To say ‘Jesus is Lord!’ means to be open to and to foster what he there calls the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- mastery.

And you could not have a less elitist list of spiritual gifts than those.

Hall Bookings

Our halls are open for hire.

We are delighted to be welcoming back regular group activities, both for children and for adults.

As of April 23, 2022, we will have limited availability for party hire.  For the time being, we are prioritizing users who live in the parish of St Barnabas or are church members, as we want to support our local community as we come out of Covid restrictions.  Click here for details.

We run the halls as part of our commitment to the community.  Although they raise revenue for us, they are not profit making, so we ask all hirers to respect them and look after them so that they can be enjoyed by local residents for many years to come.

NB: all hall names are merely working titles, and all prices are open to revision!

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