One hundred years is, I would suggest, a long time in anybody’s language. How does a church manage to keep going for that long?
St Michael and All Angels, consecrated in 1911, stands high in Willingdon Road, and can be seen from all over Eastbourne. As the congregation plan to highlight this marvellous milestone in just a few days from now, the invitation goes out to people far and near to join them in their celebrations.
On Saturday September 24th, from 11 am to 4 pm, there is to be a Michaelmas Festival and Fun Day, formally opened by the Deputy Mayor and his wife. As well as a variety of exhibitions and activities, several local organisations will be taking part in the festivities, including PARCHE (an Eastbourne charity which meets the spiritual needs of elderly men and women in care homes), Fair
Trading Post, and Family Support Work – a diocesan agency operating across East and West Sussex.
The Life Gospel Choir will perform and lute playing will be another part of the musical programme.
A bouncy castle and children’s games will attract the young, and for those with an interest in handcraft, the local Embroiderer’s Guild will be there, along with a number of other demonstrations.
A flower festival with arrangements taking a themed look back over the last century, a history of St Michael’s and a display of paintings by pupils of Motcombe School will be set up inside and outside the church.
Free refreshments will be available throughout the day.
The Bishop of Chichester is due to visit on Sunday 25th to preach at the 10 am service and confirm members of the church.
A busy couple of days, promising to be memorable too.
So, congregations come and go, and many, surely, have been the changes at St Michael’s over the decades. However, their statement of intent has very likely been the same from the beginning, albeit written in different phrases.
The motto of the moment is ‘Sharing Jesus’ love with everyone’, aiming to promote and develop prayer as the priority and key to renewal and spiritual growth. “We are committed”, they say, “to building a mission community shaped by Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit, equipped to bear witness to Christ in a broken world.” The outworking of that purpose, then, is what has kept them together all those years.
The current vicar of St Michael and All Angels, Rev Dr Sebastian Matapally, has published a selection of his poems, one of which we reproduce here, with his kind permission.
Christian life is like a race, a marathon.
You have to go at it and keep on keeping on.
Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, is what we aim for.
This is an inherent discipline – you simply have to have your goal which you keep going at.
We always admire not only those who come first but also those who come last,
those who never gave up but made it to the finishing line.
We don’t have much sympathy for those who give up along the way
and slide into the crowds, unknown along the route.