Vicar of St Paul’s to retire

On Friday 21st April I celebrated the 18th birthday of my induction as vicar of this church and parish. I remember that when I rang the bell at that service to signify the fact that I had taken “real, actual and corporeal” possession of the benefice, the Archdeacon got worried because I kept ringing it. Some people believe that the number of strikes of the bell indicates the length of tenure of the new incumbent. I’m not sure if any of you counted the strikes – I certainly didn’t! I just enjoyed doing it – as I have enjoyed ringing it for the 9am Morning Prayer most days, for weddings, baptisms, and funerals – and being your vicar and parish priest for all these years.

There were three things which initially attracted me to this church: the fact that it was a one church benefice, that it was in an urban priority area and that the church “welcomed the ministry of women and gay clergy”.

That last sentence, an addition made to the parish profile by the archdeacon at the time, was an indication to me that this church wanted to be on the move, open to change, a pilgrim church, welcoming and hospitable to all comers …

For me, that’s been the hallmark of St Paul’s: to be a local and yet at the same time a global community of searchers, seekers and travellers, diverse and yet one in Christ. I believe that to be an important – if not the most important – aspect of Christ’s vision for the Church’s ministry in the 21st century – and I think our young people here at St Paul’s show us best how it’s done: to welcome newcomers and integrate them within a couple of weeks!

This necessarily goes together with the theological ethos and outlook of St Paul’s; many of us here are refugees from churches with a more fundamentalist outlook for whom living with the questions has become more important than getting (easy) answers. If I were asked what is at the heart of this church, I would say: “meeting the Risen Christ in word, in sacrament and in community”.

St Paul’s has always had and shown a concern for the local community; as an urban priority area we have made the expression of care for that community a focal point in Parkside Project and the Community Centre and of course in what is called the “cure of souls” – which means the availability of someone from the church to be attentive to the physical, spiritual and existential needs of anyone within the parish (and that boundary has never been rigid!).

But that local community has changed beyond recognition which has been and still is a big challenge to the life and ministry of this church. Beginning with the sale of social housing, the provision of smaller but high-end properties meaning that the parish is no longer a UPA area, the diversification of the social, ethnic and religious make-up of the local community on one hand and the increasing secularisation on the other has had a significant impact on the number of occasional services requested and other activities offered by the church in the past, for example the Summer Club. This is a significant challenge for the future of this church. How does it need to change to relate to the area as it is now?

The last three years have shown high activity in upgrading the fabric of the church and the community centre; projects to the value of £220k have been made possible by the great generosity of our members, and good stewardship of the PCC, the Community Centre Management Committee and the tremendous support of our treasurer. Thank you!

The annual report accounts for that and all the other activities carried out by many members of this congregation. Thank you for your commitment, dedication and love expressed in this.

And now for the bit you’ve all been waiting for for the last 18 years: As I will hopefully complete the 65th year of my life at the end of this year and reach what has traditionally been retirement age, I have been thinking about my own future – as well as the future of the church – and I have come to the conclusion that it’s time for me to retire. Not today or tomorrow, but at the end of January 2018. I’m  telling you this today so that we can all get used to the idea and so that the PCC and the Churchwardens have got plenty of time to get into gear and prepare all the necessary for the search for a new vicar … who will take this church into a new phase of its history and journey.

Heinz Toller

Hearts on Fire

The Bishop of Kingston invites all lay people in the Kingston Area to a Day Conference on

Saturday June 17th 2017.
Arrive at 9.15am for a 9.30am start; ends at 2.30pm
St Cecilia’s Church of England School, Sutherland Grove, London SW18 5JR

The Conference will offer a choice from ten workshops which are designed to support
participants in deepening their Christian lives. There will be encouragement to
develop confidence as disciples, opportunities for fellowship and prayer, and sessions
on particular ways in which lay people can support the growth of their church. The
event will include practical training for churchwardens, and I shall be talking about the
nature of the relationship between religion and science, one of the great challenges in
the 21
st Century. I hope that participants will go away renewed, challenged and
equipped, with their hearts on fire to follow Jesus.


Act of peaceful defiance

A charming and disarming smile defeats a member of the EDL in Birmingham.

A living example of the Golden Rule “Treat others as you want them to treat you.”

Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31.

Holy Week at St Paul’s







Palm Sunday 9th April
8am Holy Communion
10am Holy Communion with Palm Procession

Monday 10th   Tuesday 11th   Wednesday 12th  April
9pm Compline in the Lady Chapel

Maundy Thursday 13th April
8pm Agape and Holy Communion in the Community Centre
(please sign up if you know you’re coming)
followed by silent watch in church until midnight  

Good Friday 14th April
10am Family Service
followed by Hot Cross Buns in the Community Centre

12 – 1.50pm Good Friday Meditations
2 – 3pm Good Friday Liturgy

EASTER DAY 16th April
8am Holy Communion
10am Celebration of the Resurrection and Holy Communion

Westminster attack

The sun slowly rises …

Feel it on your face and hands and

in your heart

Spring is coming

The light shines in the darkness

and the darkness will never put it out

In the early dawn they went to the tomb …

The sun slowly rises …

from: The Sun Slowly Rises
Readings, reflections and prayers for Holy Week 
from the Iona Community.

Lent 2017

LENT 2017: “Conflict and Spirituality”

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday this week with a Communion service at 8pm in which we remember our createdness and mortality by the imposition of ashes.

As always, there are Lentgroups (Mondays and Fridays – please speak to Heinz).

In our Sunday 10am Service, instead of the sermon, we will be having Gospel Conversations between two biblical characters:

5th March     Conversation with Satan

12th March      Conversation with Nicodemus

19th March      Conversation with a woman at the well

26th March      Conversation with Mary

2nd April        Conversation with Lazarus

and an opportunity to enter that conversation with each other after the service (about 11.45 in the Studio of the Community Centre).

If you want to DO LENT GENEROUSLY there is an opportunity to join in the 40acts challenge: commit an act of generosity every week day in lent – there are three levels to choose from each day. Want to know more: go to where you can also join the programme.

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

APCM 23rd April 2017 12noon in the Community Centre

If you’re leading any activity in the church, please send your annual report to . Subject line: APCM Report 2017 – please use this exact subject line so your report can be easily retrieved for publication.

If you are interested in being a member of St Paul’s PCC, please speak to Margaret Brown, Nicky von Fraunhofer or Heinz Toller.

We will also be looking for a new member or two of Wandsworth Deanery Synod.