Weekly Newsletter, 1 February 2024

Dear St Mary’s,

It was wonderful to mark Candlemas with you. Later that day, many people joined us to mark the end of the St Luke’s stall on the Farmers’ Market and to give thanks for more than 16 years of ministry. It was so good to be together and to pray both for all that has been and to begin to seek God’s guidance for the future. 

Join us this Sunday morning for two services of Holy Communion at 9am and 10.30am with children’s groups at 10.30am. 

Revd Jacintha Danaswamy leads and Revd Vanessa Conant preaches at both services.

At 6pm, there is evening prayer in St Mary’s. 

Update on Refugee Action 

We have now heard that, with a couple of exceptions, nearly every family with whom we had contact in the hotels on Lea Bridge Road has been rehoused in London rather than in cities across the UK. This is a huge win  – we had heard that many families would be moved to Bristol or Welwyn Garden City.

Waltham Forest Citizens (of which we are a member) is continuing to campaign and you can be involved. On 7 February at 11.30am-12pm outside City Hall (E16 1ZE), there will be an action, asking the Mayor of London to grant free bus travel to all asylum seekers. We know that many asylum seekers receive just £8.86 per week for all their expenses and so using the bus to access vital appointments or education can consume that total amount. If you are interested in attending the action, please email .

We’re also planning further actions on Clearsprings, the contractor who has the contract for all asylum-seeker hotels and accommodation. We will keep you posted about these and how you can be involved. 

Lent begins: 14 February is Ash Wednesday, with Services at 7.30am and 7.30pm

The season of Lent – a time of deep reflection, prayer and penitence – begins with the powerful and moving service of Ash Wednesday where you are invited to receive an ash cross on your forehead as a sign of humility and repentance and also of devotion to God. We offer two services – one in the morning at 7.30am-8.15am (for those who are commuting) and one in the evening at 7.30pm: a service of stillness, music, reflection and communion. You are very welcome to either service. 

Learning Community: Deepen Your Faith and Meet Others in January and Through Lent

It’s not too late to sign up for our Lent courses and there are three options to choose from: 

  • Everyday Healing (CORRECTED DATES: begins 29 February – four online sessions on Tuesday evenings, 7-9pm). Run by the Guild of Health, explore the healing potential of the Christian faith to bring hope into the world today, and raise your confidence to be a healing presence whether you have a clear ministry, or simply feel drawn to explore this way of understanding the Christian life. Although this course is now fully booked, you can join the waiting list here
  • Lent Course: Spiritual Disciplines (six Thursday evenings from 15 February, 7.30-9pm, in church). Join with others in church as Revd Alan Moss leads this course on the spiritual disciplines. Consider things such as prayer, fasting or meditation with an opportunity to explore how these ancient practices can nurture and nourish your faith. It’s also a great way to meet others and connect. If you’d like to be part of the course, sign up here
  • Gospel Pairs (five meetings held at a time and location that is convenient to you): Read the Gospel of John with one other person in church. Sign up with a friend or be matched with someone to read the Gospel of John over the weeks of Lent, held at a time and location that is convenient to you both. You don’t have to be an expert in the Gospel – resources are provided and the programme allows each person to discuss what stands out to them and explore these things together. If you would like to be part of Gospel Pairs, you can sign up here.

Save the Date: Join our Good Friday choir

Did you sing with our Christmas choir? Or perhaps you wanted to but just didn’t get the chance? There’s another opportunity to join a wonderful community choir, singing ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’ which is composed by our very own Jonathan Rathbone. We will sing this piece on Good Friday at 7pm in St Mary’s, with rehearsals on the three Fridays beforehand. Interested? Sign up here.

Key Recall: Do you have a key to St Mary’s or the Welcome Centre? 

In order to keep our building safe and secure, we periodically recall our church keys to ensure we have a good record of their location! If you are a keyholder of St Mary’s or the Welcome Centreplease could you return your key to church in an envelope marked with your name and the building the keys are connected to. We will be undertaking the key recall for two weeks from this Sunday, 4 February. You can either deliver your key to the office during that time or place it in the white box at the back of church. Questions? Contact our Operations Manager, Dan Copperwheat, at .

EcoTip of the Week: Join us for the No Faith In Fossil Fuels Vigil on Sunday 18 February, 1-3pm 

For the next few weeks, we will be thinking about how we can support the No Faith in Fossil Fuels prayer vigil. For ten days from Ash Wednesday, people will be keeping a constant presence of prayer outside Westminster, seeking to raise awareness of the damage and injustice caused by climate change. We have two slots on Sunday 18 February from 1pm-3pm. A group will be going straight from church and others will follow – do join us! Sign up here to let us know you are coming. 

Please Pray 

  • Please pray for all those who are grieving and in the midst of sorrow 
  • Please pray for all who are unwell and receiving difficult treatment – pray for those receiving palliative care 
  • Please pray for those who are lonely or anxious 
  • Please pray for the world, remembering especially the children of Gaza and all who awake in terror
  • Please pray for Ukraine as we approach the 2-year anniversary of the war 
  • Please pray for all those suffering hunger and poverty in our nation, remembering all asylum seekers at this time 
  • Please pray for the team who have run the St Luke’s stall on the Farmers’ Market over the last 16+years, praying for rest and sabbatical 
  • Please pray for our PCC this Monday as we meet to discuss the life of our churches 


There has been some turmoil this week among Church of England clergy who receive a stipend (the monthly ‘living’ which each priest receives). A payroll error means that everyone is going to be paid a day late, causing financial difficulty for anyone reliant on the money to pay bills, buy food or avoid the limits of their overdrafts. The news has been met, understandably, with anxiety and consternation. 

The email explaining the situation stated that the problem was caused by ‘human error’ and I found myself immediately thinking about that human or humans and how difficult this moment must be for them. Making a mistake is never enjoyable but it’s particularly hard when you know the error will impact thousands and potentially cause real struggle for many. 

How we approach human errors, especially in public life, can be a complex matter. We rightly want to hold people to account – to have consequences for behaviour or choices that are wilfully damaging and even to address unintentional incompetence, recognising that that, too, can have devastating impacts. But we can sometimes struggle to work out how to hold accountability in right tension with forgiveness, mercy and redemption, and our desire for consequences can occasionally become a devastating force in and of itself. 

One of my most treasured parts of a service is the prayer of confession. In our tradition, this is said communally, and the prayer holds together our corporate and personal lives. I love that there is a space, every time we gather, to say, ‘I made a mistake. I got it wrong.’ Its unfailing inclusion reminds me that this is a normal part of human life and to be a faithful human is to recognise our own capacity for error, for hurting others, for wilfully or unintentionally wounding the world around us. In the letter to the Romans, St Paul describes this universal human experience: ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’

I find such comfort in gathering with others and offering up the mistakes and pain and trouble of the week (in my life, in the life of the world) and acknowledging how much I need the grace of God, how much I long for healing or forgiveness or change. It is good for my soul to own my responsibility, not to cover up or hide away or defend: somehow, there’s a great relief in this. 

And then there is such hope – because every confession is followed by an absolution, a promise of God’s forgiveness. It’s not a shaming or humiliation or punishment. Neither is it a denial of wrong, a brushing it under the carpet. It’s not an ecclesiastical ‘never mind’. It’s a powerful re-setting, a new beginning, a wave of mercy and an equipping to live another way. 

I pray the prayer of confession might bring hope to your life. May we be people who confess quickly and thankfully – recognising our need of God, and recognising our human errors. And may we hear the words of absolution as a promise of a new beginning, a new hope and a new life in Jesus Christ. 

Almighty God

Who forgives all who truly repent 

Have mercy upon us 

Pardon and deliver us from all our sins, 

Confirm and strengthen us in all goodness

And keep us in life eternal

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

With love,


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