Sunday Worship from Ballee

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Water is what connects us to life. It is also – clearly when we look at the book of Genesis – something that connects us to God.

Today’s service comes from Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. It is also a collaborative act of worship because taking part in the service is the Rev Brenda Catherall, minister of Chowbent Unitarian Chapel, Atherton, Lancashire. Brenda reads from Genesis ch.1 v.1-5 and the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

The world offers itself to your imagination

Brenda is reading at Pennington Flash, near Leigh, an area reclaimed from industrial decay and now a Country Park and home to over 250 species of bird. Wild Geese also feature in the video.

John Strain, Ballee organist, plays the hymns All people that on earth do dwell (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 1) and Bright the Vision that delighted (‘Hymns of Faith and Freedom’ 35).

 

Time for a Story: Wisdom

This week’s story tells the story of Archimedes, famous as an astronomer, inventor and scientist, whose Eureka moment has passed into the English language. Click on the above video which features special music, images from the British Museum and animation created by InkLightning. This image is of Syracuse, the birthplace of Archimedes.

 

Here is some more information on Chowbent Chapel. Click on the image below to read about Chowbent Chapel and the Rev Brenda Catherall:

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The studded door from the vestry to the chapel

Sunday Worship, Dunmurry 2nd August

 

Dunmurry window 2016

A great eagle, with great wings and long pinions,

rich in plumage of many colours,

came to Lebanon.

He took the top of the cedar,

broke off its topmost shoot;

he carried it to a land of trade,

set it in a city of merchants.

Today’s service comes from Dunmurry with a reading given by church member Emma McCrudden (Ezekiel ch.17 v.1-8) and the hymns played by church organist Allen Yarr.

Eagles are frequently found in the Bible and in Christian iconography. They are often found in churches:

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Lectern Ullet Road Church, Liverpool

 

All Souls Eagle

Lectern All Souls’ Church, Belfast

 

Click on the video to see today’s service from Dunmurry

 

Time for a Story: Navigation

This week’s Time for a Story is filmed in First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Banbridge and deals with the question of finding True North. With illustrations of the North Pole from the British Museum and some special music. How do we find our own internal compass to return home to the place where we wish to be?

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Scenes from the North Pole

First communication with the natives of Boothia Felix. Several figures standing outside igloos, mountain in the background with a flag. 1834 Mezzotint. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Sunday Worship Banbridge, 26th July

Banbridge with Methodist church second

Our service today comes from First Presbyterian (NS) Church, Banbridge. The reading is given by Sam Agnew (Mark ch. 4 v.21-34) and John Strain is the organist, playing the organ at Ballee Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. The hymns are O worship the King, all glorious above (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 21) and God speaks to us in bird and song (Hymns of Faith and Freedom 66).

 

I see an angel waiting to be released

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Michelangelo, the famous Renaissance sculptor, was once encountered chipping away at a large, shapeless block of marble. “What do you see?” someone asked him. Michelangelo replied simply “I see an angel waiting to be released”. (Picture: Ullet Road Church, Liverpool).

 

Click on the above video to see Time for a Story: Neverland which tells the story of a famous statue in Liverpool’s Sefton Park which stands alongside the Palm House there. The video is filmed nearby in the outstanding building of Ullet Road Unitarian Church designed by Thomas and Percy Worthington at the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth centuries. The video also features some of the wildlife in the park as well as animation by InkLightning.

Below are some of images taken at the time in the church and in the park that relate to the video.

Sefton Park:

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Ullet Road Church:

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Service from Hope Street, Liverpool, Sunday 19th July 2020

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This Sunday’s service was filmed on location in Liverpool. It is a praise service, intended also to show our appreciation of all those who contribute music to our services during the lockdown.  In the video we visit Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral, the site of the Hope Street Unitarian Church – which are all located on Hope Street – and travel out to the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, originally built in 1618.

The reading is Psalm 98 and is read by Rosemary Neill of Downpatrick. The organists are: Laura Patterson, Downpatrick; John Strain, Ballee; and Alfie McClelland, Clough.

The hymns sung are:

Onward Christian Soldiers (Mission Praise, 543)

Father Hear the Prayer we Offer (Hymns of Faith and Freedom, 299)

And can it be (Mission Praise, 33)

City of God, how broad and far (Hymns of Faith and Freedom, 299)

Breathe on me, breath of God (Hymns of Faith and Freedom, 177)

All the places visited in the video have been mentioned one way or another on this blog and the following links will give more information about them:

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, designer of the Anglican Cathedral and iconic telephone kiosks

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral under Construction

Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral

The Church on Hope Street

The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth

The 400th anniversary of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth

Ancient Chapel: then and now

 

 

Also uploaded this week – Time for a Story: The Promise

The story of St Dunstan, 10th-century Abbot of Glastonbury (the ruins of which Abbey can be seen above), Archbishop of Canterbury and the person who devised the Coronation Service still used by British monarchs today. Filmed at Downpatrick with pictures from the British Museum and animation by InkLightning.
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Special Offer from Dunmurry – Rev Mac Floral Designs

A Celtic Way was printed in 2007, by Very Rev William McMillan. The 96 page hard back book contains a wide range of colour images of Rev Mac’s floral arrangements, garden and travels.

Dunmurry congregation have copies of this book to give away. If you would like one, please email: firstdunmurrynsp@gmail.com

Copies can be collected from The Manse, Dunmurry by prior arrangement. If you would like a copy posted, please request bank transfer details. P&P is £4 (UK only).

Sunday Worship Downpatrick, 12th July

Today’s service is from Downpatrick and deals with the gospel story of Jesus – and Peter – walking on water. What is the meaning of this for faith in our day and age? After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus goes up a mountain to pray while the disciples go out on the lake in a boat. Threatened by a sudden storm Jesus comes out to save them, although at first they are more alarmed by this than anything else. We look at the way God interacted with humanity through water in the Old Testament. The hymns are played by Downpatrick organist Laura Patterson.

Time for a Story: Imagination deals with one of the most famous literary figures of the nineteenth century. Born in Cheshire in 1832 he spent his working life as a Mathematics don in Oxford. Generally known by his pseudonym his creations have a enjoyed a place in the popular imagination ever since.

 

 

Sunday Worship from Clough, 5th July

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This Sunday our service comes from Clough. The theme is inspired by Thomas Carlyle’s remark that ‘Wonder is the basis of worship’. In this light we explore the place of singing in our worship (‘O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands hath made’). Dr Anna Ferguson reads Psalm 96 and Alfie McClelland plays the hymns: City of God, how broad and far and Love divine, all loves excelling.

This week’s Time for a Story has the theme of Diligence and tells the story, from India, of Janaka. It can be viewed here:

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Worship from Ballee 28th June

Roots hold me close; wings set me free

Today’s service comes from Ballee and features a reading sent in by Jonathan Chambers, now of Somerset, which reminds him of Ballee. It is by George Eliot from Daniel Deronda (1876):

A human life, I think, should be well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labours men go forth to, for the sounds and accents that haunt it, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge: a spot where the definiteness of early memories may be inwrought with affection, and kindly acquaintance with all neighbours, even to the dogs and donkeys, may spread not by sentimental effort and reflection, but as a sweet habit of the blood. At five years old, mortals are not prepared to be citizens of the world, to be stimulated by abstract nouns, to soar above preference into impartiality; and that prejudice in favour of milk with which we blindly begin, is a type of the way body and soul must get nourished at least for a time. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one’s own homestead.

This links in with Psalm 8 (read for us by Rachel Neill):

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is humankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.

and with our hymns played by John Strain which include:

He formed the stars, those heavenly flames,
He counts their numbers, calls their names;
His wisdom’s vast, and knows no bound,
A deep where all our thoughts are drowned.

But all this helps us reflect on our roots, where we come from, what we have achieved in the course of our lives, and our place in the vastness of the universe.

Also this week we uploaded Time for a Story: Saying Please, which has its own Somerset connection:

 

and my own thoughts on churches coming out of lockdown in Northern Ireland:

Children’s Service Sunday, 21st June

The Sunday School at Clough have this week put together a very special service. At this time of year we would usually be holding our Children’s Day Service where the children of the Sunday School would lead our worship and also receive their prizes for attendance and for work submitted to the denominational Sunday School Exhibition. Since none of that can happen this year the Sunday School at Clough decided to put together their own act of worship, all filmed at home under the current restrictions and together it forms a wonderful service which can be viewed through this link:

Very special thanks go to Leanne Straney whose Idea the service was and who did so much to make the service happen.

Taking part in the service are;

David Rooney – Welcome

Ethan Straney reads Mark 10: 13 – 16

Sophie Ramsey and William Rooney sing ‘My Lighthouse’

Olivia Rooney – Prayer

Ethan Perkins – Prayer of Thanks to God

Poppy Rooney reads 1 John ch.4 v.9.

Zak Straney reads the poem ‘Hold my hand, Lord’

Lexie Rooney – Prayer

Eva Rooney & Anna Rooney – Lord’s Prayer

Abi Straney sings ‘Who is the king of the Jungle?’

Sophie Ramsey sings ‘I believe, I believe’

Hannah Rooney reads John 3: 16 – 17

Sarah Rooney sings ‘For God so loved the world’

Abi Straney – Prayer, ‘Hold my Hand God’

Sunday, 21st June is also Fathers’ Day and in this week’s Time for a Story video Sue Steers gives an account of the history of Fathers’ day:

Sunday Worship, 14th June Downpatrick

Surely the LORD is in this place; and I did not know it

Our service today comes from Downpatrick and we are delighted to have Megan Neill giving the reading (Genesis ch.28 v.10-22), and Laura Patterson playing the organ.

Downpatrick ext June 2016

The theme is Jacob’s Ladder:

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves.
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.”

Where do we find the house of God and the gate of heaven in a lockdown?

The service can be viewed here:

 

Last week, in Time for a Story, Sue Steers told the story of Sir Isaac Newton and the discovery of gravity. The video, with animation by InkLightning can be seen here:

Brilliant mathematician, astronomer, discoverer of gravity, Master of the Mint, Unitarian theologian, learn about this remarkable man who is still commemorated on modern coins.

 

Images of Gertrude von Petzold

In this issue [of Faith and Freedom: Volume 73, Part 1, Number 190] we are pleased to include Mária Pap’s review of the Lindsey Press’s new book Unitarian Women. A Legacy of Dissent. One of the subjects rightly featured in the book, and also included within the book’s cover illustration, is Gertrude von Petzold. Although her career as a Unitarian minister was relatively short it was also quite effective and was remarkable because it was such a trailblazing achievement, the first woman minister of any organised denomination in Britain. Her achievement is perhaps all the more impressive because she was not born in Britain, English was not her first language, and she achieved all that she did in the teeth not only of prejudice because of her sex but also because of her nationality. In every sense she was an outsider in her chosen field and yet she established herself in her profession as a leader of considerable authority who inspired tremendous affection and loyalty from her congregations.

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Postcard of Gertrude von Petzold, taken by Burton & Sons published by Rotary

She was also an undoubted celebrity in her own right. The image of her reproduced in the book and on the cover of this issue travelled far and wide and has retained a place in the public imagination, at least for those interested in this aspect of Unitarian or women’s history. In the last couple of years an enlargement of this same image has been framed and hung on the walls of Harris Manchester College, a fitting tribute from her old college, but a compliment too to the photographer.

When the picture was first taken in 1904 it was ubiquitous. It must have sold, as a postcard, in the thousands. Not only that, three weeks after being inducted as pastor of Narborough Road Free Church in Leicester the same image graced the cover of the Tatler magazine.

The picture was taken by Burton & Sons, a long-established photographer local to Leicester but with studios across the Midlands. They also had the task of creating something new – no one had ever photographed a woman minister before. How should such a subject be depicted? With what clothes, posture, style? How do you present someone doing an entirely new thing, the first of her kind? There is no precedent for this kind of illustration. So where do they go for inspiration? The answer is simple, it is a celebrity photograph. The model used by the photographer, and by market leader Rotary who subsequently produced and sold her image as a postcard, is that of the top celebrities and postcard favourites of their day – the stars of the stage. Although she is wearing her academic hood and holds a book as indicators of her academic status, Gertrude von Petzold is dressed very elegantly, she gazes off into the middle distance her head resting on her left hand. This is a classic pose of an actress or musical hall star in 1904, she was being packaged as a celebrity in the terms of her era.

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Postcard of Miss Phillida Terson/Miss Phyllis Terry published by J. Beagles & Co. 1912. As can be seen the pose is almost identical to that in Rotary photograph of Gertude von Petzold. (Described as ‘an actress of distinction’ in the ODNB she combined stage appearances with film roles in later life).

You have to acknowledge too that she also must have projected something of a star quality herself. You can find other examples of pictures of women graduates from this era and they lack that extra element that undoubtedly helped to make this postcard sell.

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Unnamed Pre-1914 female graduate. Wickens Studios, Bangor, North Wales

To many of us this [image of Gertrude von Petzold] is a familiar picture. But it was not an inevitable depiction of the first woman minister. How else might an Edwardian photographer think that a woman minister might be shown? Well the answer comes with the postcard that is reproduced alongside this article. This is a far rarer postcard than the one produced by Rotary and, it has to be said, is not as well produced although it was published by J. Beagles a long-established London photographic publisher. Like Rotary they specialised in royalty, musical hall artistes and actors and actresses but unlike them they had a different model in mind for the picture of the first female minister. What inspired them was the image of a woman as a nurse.

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Postcard of Gertrude von Petzold by J. Beagles & Co. London 1904.

This was already a well established outlet for women’s work – a caring profession characterised by service, so it was not a surprising model to be chosen by the photographer. Although again there are academic accoutrements, this picture, with plainer clothes, a high collar, long sleeves and even the hands pushed into the pockets of the skirt or pinafore, is exactly reminiscent of contemporary photographs of nurses. With a fuller face, if not exactly gazing directly at the camera, this is one of the ways that members of the nursing profession were presented on postcards in the Edwardian era and right through the First World War. J. Beagles were not alone in this; Elliot and Fry, another firm of London photographers, also produced similar images of Gertrude von Petzold.

Edwardian Nurse Postcard

Postcard of an Edwardian nurse (‘With very best wishes for the future from Eunice to Molly’, no photographer or  publisher named). She doesn’t have her hands in her pockets as many similar photographs did but the similarities of pose and dress can be seen with J. Beagles’ photograph of Gertude.

But here we have two ideas of this pioneering woman minister. Was she a star, a glamorous personality, an elegant figure fit to grace the cover of magazines? Or was she a nurse, someone inspired by practical purpose, a worker, a servant? I wonder how she preferred to be seen herself? In the end, though, there is no doubt which card was the most popular. The ‘nurse’ picture is very rare indeed. The postcard image of this minister as a celebrity and star is very common and is frequently offered for sale on eBay right up to the present day.

This article appears in the SPRING AND SUMMER 2020 Volume 73, Part 1 Number 190 of Faith and Freedom. All the illustrations are from my own collection and may not be reproduced without my express permission.

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The current situation with Covid-19 has delayed production and distribution of this issue but another article in the current issue can also be read online. To read Jim Corrigall’s review of Stephen Lingwood, SEEKING PARADISE: A UNITARIAN MISSION FOR OUR TIMES, Lindsey Press, London 2020, pp 142, ISBN 978-085319-094-3. £10.00 pbk. click here.