June sees a mix of activities at St George's – work and play alongside our regular worship, and some special services too. After church on Sunday 8 June there will be a barbecue on the Rectory lawn, to which all are welcome. Since we have the equipment, we hope if will be the first of many over the summer (if we have a summer....) Churches Together is also planning a barbecue here, on a date still to be fixed.

On 14 June the Parochial Church Council has an AwayDay, spending the morning together at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine to look at future directions for our church and to revise our Mission Action Plan. We have so much routine business at our normal meetings that we need this opportunity to stand back and look at ourselves – and get to know each other better.

Should we continue to hold jumble sales? We find it hard to staff them, and some of us feel that times have changed and we should be doing other things with our limited storage space and energies; others of us are clear that they continue to be valuable social and community functions. Well, we shall be having one on Saturday 28 June (at 2pm), to test the waters. Please support it!

Details of these events, and the next round of committee meetings, are in the Calendar below, and a date list available in church gives July dates as well.

Education Celebration

For many years the national church education agencies have promoted the ninth Sunday before Easter as Education Sunday. I have always tried to mark it, particularly as a time to celebrate the links between parish churches and church schools, involving pupils, parents, staff, governors and members of the congregation. This year it fell too early to fit into our programmes, but we have agreed with our church school, St Paul's CE Whitechapel, to have a service on the eve of their Founder's Day, after school (at 4.30pm, with refreshments at church beforehand), which we hope will be well-supported, to demonstrate that we value our links. The school is awaiting the report of a recent OFSTED inspection, and the signs are that this will be positive. The separate denominational inspection will follow shortly.

Art Impact

At short notice, a series of three concerts has recently been given at St George's by members of Musique Savante, a network organised by Evgeny Shirkin, a Dutch cellist born in Russia. The performers are mainly graduates of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama or other London colleges, and their performances of the very highest quality (raising questions about the adequacy of our pianos!) The plan of the Art Impact Project is that such performances will inspire people to seek music tuition, which will be arranged for them, and also that it should be linked to small art exhibitions. We wait to see how all this develops, and hope that St George's – with our own resident professional musician, of course – can be a part of this.

Church Buildings Council

I have been a member of the Council for the Care of Churches for over ten years, for most of that time as a General Synod appointee. This body (which dates back to 1921) is a kind of national Diocesan Advisory Committee, with is consulted, in some cases as a statutory requirement, both on major church schemes and on churches being considered for redundancy; we also have a policy-making role. It is important work, and something that I have enjoyed – especially the site visits around the country – and I have been Vice-Chair and also Chair of the Organs Committee. On occasions I have stood in for our Chairman, who as Bishop of Sodor and Man and now the Dean of St Paul's has sometimes not been available. The Council has now been re-formed, as part of a simpler and more integrated structure, designed to encourage greater flexibility in the use of church buildings. I had thought I would not be eligible to be part of this, but I have been asked to continue for a further five years (the staff are referring to me as Methuselah). This means that I from time to time I will be absent from the Wednesday eucharist (because that is when we meet), but we are fortunate to have local clergy, retired or in specialist ministry, who enjoy coming to provide cover, and who we are always pleased to see; so I shall continue to call on them!

Brother Giles SSF

Among them, living at the Franciscan house in Halcrow Street, was Giles SSF, who worshipped regularly with us until recently. Sadly, the lease on this house will not be renewed, so the community will be dispersed, ending a long and hugely significant ministry in our immediate area. Giles has now moved to St Matthias' Canning Town – where his ministry began! However, though this is in Chelmsford diocese, he retains permission to officiate in London, and assures us that he can get here easily on the DLR, so we hope to see him from time to time.

Building projects in the parish

Several months ago some us inspected plans for the major redevelopment of the Goodman's Field site – in the north-western corner of our parish close to where St Mark's Whitechapel once stood. More recently, we have seen the revised plans for the Bellway development of the Bishop Challoner School site – close to where our daughter church of St John-the-Evangelist-in-the-East Grove Street stood. Both schemes provide a mix of commercial and social housing, community and sports facilities, and are part of the changing face of our parish. Establishing links with those who move into these areas is an important challenge for us.

News of church members past and present

We keep in touch with a large number of people who have connections with st George's, and are always keen to receive their news, so that we can hold them in our prayers. The same if, of course, true of our current members, some of whom continue to struggle with ill health and other problems. We're glad to report that Edith Wyeth, after a rather frustrating three weeks in hospital, is up and doing again and keeping the rest of us on our toes.

St George's on YouTube and in the Swedish press...

We recently gave permission for a performing arts student, Foisal Uddin, to video a project in church – an advert for Cancer Research UK. You can see the draft (three different versions) at <>

Last month I mentioned that descendents of a Jack the Ripper victim, Elizabeth Stride, visited from Sweden. Articles have now appeared in Kvällsposten and Aftonbladet, including pictures taken at the top of the church tower. I have the details, if you are fluent in Swedish!

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