This year’s date is Friday 7 March, and the local service is at St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, at 2pm. Material has been produced by women from Guyana, on the theme ‘God’s Wisdom Provides New Understanding’. You’re asked to bring cakes for a shared afternoon tea following the service. Men and children are also welcome!


….but all active hands are needed for a couple of hours on Saturday 8 March. The challenge is to ‘de-clutter’ our premises and tidy them up. We no longer have the luxury of lots of storage space so that we never need to get rid of anything; we need to be ruthless so that we can put all available space to better use. We start at 10.30am, and will finish with a simple shared lunch at 1.30pm. Please come and help – there will be plenty to do, and it should be a satisfying process!


In 1961 Father Joe Williamson, the controversial vicar of St Paul Dock Street, preached at St Paul’s Cathedral. (In those days St Paul’s was a separate parish, with a long history of animosity towards St George’s; some bodies may have turned in their graves when the parishes were united ten years later, and in the process we ‘acquired’ St Paul’s School, a link which we value enormously – see below.) Fr Joe had more or less invited himself to preach: it was to be a great set piece, speaking out about the evils of homelessness and prostitution, and the work at Church House, Wellclose Square (now owned by the diocese, and recently taken over by squatters). He took a fortnight off to prepare it. He was petrified at the prospect of preaching it, and of coping with the media attention he hoped would follow.

The Dean was kindness itself: ‘speak for as long as you need’, he said – dangerous advice given the length of what he had prepared and the fact that another service followed. The Archdeacon was chilly, since Fr Joe was critical of the bishops. The media certainly went to town, with a press conference that day and a string of stories in the coming week. When you current Rector preaches at St Paul’s Cathedral in May (not, I hasten to add, at my own invitation) I do not expect similar treatment….

Our archives have picture of Fr Joe, in flamboyant style, leading the Good Friday ‘Way of the Cross’ down Cable Street, kneeling in the gutter of a thoroughfare that had become world-famous as a result of the race riots 30 years earlier, and in his time had been taken over by a bewildering variety of African and European all-night cafés, knocking shops, robber landlords and drug dealers. In those days, Cable Street was indeed a ‘Via Dolorosa’, giving an authentic local context to the keeping of Holy Week. What is the local context now, half a century later, in a much-changed parish? Where does the way of the cross take us today?

In the 4th century, Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem had the brilliant idea of using the whole of the city of Jerusalem (then as now a compromised and divided city, which a Muslim scholar once memorably termed ‘the City of Wrong’) as the theatre or arena for proclaiming the passion and resurrection of Christ, using what they believed were the ‘actual’ sites. We know about this from a Spanish pilgrim, whose name is uncertain but is usually known as Egeria, and who wrote enthusiastic postcards back home about all that she saw and took part in. The crowd moved around the city; in the appropriate places, they groaned and hissed when the story of the traitor Judas was told, they wept in the garden, they followed the way of Jesus through the streets to Calvary. It was a strenuous week that made a powerful impact. Each day the bishop sent them home to rest in readiness for the next day’s instalment.

In this way the tradition of Holy Week developed, and Christian communities around the world ‘create their own Jerusalem’, from Palm Sunday to Easter Day – in city centres, suburbs and villages. Moving between churches, sharing worship across the traditions and bearing witness to the community are appropriate ways of marking these days. So we shall begin on Palm Sunday, gathering in the courtyard with palm leaves and processing into church, where we shall turn our leaves into crosses and share in a congregational reading of the passion gospel. For the latter part of the week, we will share services with St Mary’s, meeting there on Maundy Thursday to mark the institution of the Eucharist and keeping watch as we remember how Jesus left the intimacy of the table for the darkness of betrayal and the agony of the garden. St Mary’s will join us at St George’s on Easter Eve at 8pm, for the great and dramatic Vigil service, which includes the lighting of new fire, the renewal of baptismal vows and the first communion of Easter. There will also be a joyful Eucharist on Easter morning, at 10.15am.

On Good Friday, all the local churches join together for the Walk of Witness, for which the (approximate) timetable is:

11am St Anne Limehouse + 11.15am Our Lady Immaculate + 11.30am Departure + 11.45am Royal Foundation of St Katharine + 12 noon St Dunstan & All Saints + 12.15pm St Mary & St Michael, Commercial Road + 12.30pm Watney Street Market, followed by refreshments at Percy Ingles. The cross is carried between each stop, at which there will be a reading, prayers and a song or hymn.

Join us for all or part! Our own service on Good Friday – a stark and moving service, lasting about an hour and a quarter, is at 2pm. We hope that some will be able to stay afterwards to help clean and prepare the church for Easter.

Marking Holy Week as fully as you can – attending the services, or making time for reflection where this is not possible – is vital if you are to know the true cost, and joy, of Christ’s Easter victory. In the words of an old saying, ‘no cross, no crown’.


Because of the exceptionally early date of Easter, most schools are still in session during Holy Week and Easter Week. With this in mind, the diocese has supplied resource boxes for parishes and schools to help share the message of Easter. St Paul’s School will be using this material for a series of workshops, and an act of worship, on the afternoon of Maundy Thursday, and coming into church on Easter Tuesday. We shall also be distributing palm crosses to all pupils who wish to receive one.


In preparation for our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on 27 April, the Church Electoral Roll will be revised, in accordance with the rules. Any who wish their names to be added to the roll, or whose addresses or personal details have changed, should complete a form (available at church, or from Wendy Ramanoop, our Electoral Roll Officer) before 30 March. This is when the roll will close for revision; the revised version will then be published for checking. It is important that everyone who regards St George’s as their church should be on the roll – it gives you rights and responsibilities, and is a measure of the health of the church.

One of the targets of our parish Mission Action Plan is to develop our links with those of other faiths and cultures in the local community, and we are working on ways of addressing this. On Saturday 1 March we are invited to a Tea Gathering at the Darul Ummah Centre, 56 Bigland Street, from 6.15pm to 7.30pm, and I hope a number of our members will join me there, to meet and exchange views with people from the local community and find out more about the Centre’s work.

Muslim concern about environmental issues is a fairly new development, and a group called LINE (London Islamic Network for the Environment) holds a monthly Sunday afternoon forum, with speakers from various faiths. Their website tells you more.

The Sottyen Sen School of Performing Arts have been using space in our church for their rehearsals for several weeks now, having outgrown their previous meeting place. We are delighted to host them, and they are delighted to have this link with us. They are passionate about preserving and sharing their rich cultural traditions – song, dance and drama – and perform regularly around the borough and further afield. Why not look in one Saturday (11am – 3.30pm) for a chat and a cup of tea, and help us build this link?


On Saturday 8 March you can join in a ‘come and sing’ performance of Stainer’s Crucifixion: note-bashing at 2pm, full rehearsal (obligatory) 4pm with tea at 6pm and the performance at 7pm. Or turn up to listen – it’s free! The following Saturday, 15 March, the London Docklands Singers, accompanied by the Marcel Sinfonia, will be performing Bach's St John Passion at 7.30pm. Tickets for this are £10 (with concessions).


The speaker at one of our Lenten sessions was Wifred Wong, a university friend of our Treasurer Richard Powell. Wilfred now works full-time for the Jubilee Campaign, monitoring and campaigning for persecuted Christians around the world, and he gave a very challenging talk, detailing the situation around the world. In addition to persecution by governments of various political flavours, there is also much persecution in countries (such as Nigeria and Pakistan) whose constitutions claim to guarantee religious freedom, but where the authorities turn a blind eye to violence, intimidation and forced conversion by fellow-citizens. If you would like to know more, and be put in touch with the Jubilee Campaign to receive their bi-monthly newsletter, please speak to the Rector. 

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