The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

Parish Magazine

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October 2019


Judy East

One thing you can say about this parish - I'm never short of magazine material! I've managed to fill 21 pages already without putting, I would say pen to paper, but whatever the modern equivalent is, finger to keyboard perhaps?

In truth I've been doing the magazine so long it mostly was pen to paper at the start and everything had to be typed up on duplicator skins and rolled off by hand. The only redeeming feature of the whole enterprise was that the duplicator was in the belfry which, whilst freezing cold, did afford the best view in the church - down into the churchyard and along Church Row - so when I wasn't up to my elbows in duplicator ink (it's hard to describe just how messy a process it was) I could watch the comings and goings of the neighbours. How times have changed! Though as a bit of a technophobe I wonder if I actually spend less or more time on the preparation of each issue? Best not go there!

I don't remember from those early years, that we celebrated Dedication Sunday - someone will tell me I'm wrong, I'm sure and say, Of course we did - but I don't remember it. People who wonder why we do, and why other churches don't, get the whole story of the two Johns. The church before this one (pulled down because it was in so ruinous and dangerous a condition that people couldn't worship in it) was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This was quite clear, someone, sometime, declared it to be so, wrote it down, made sure there was no mistake. Obviously, you say. Well, no, not that obviously because in 1747 when the “new” church was dedicated that's precisely what didn't happen "St John......" is what the document says and we've been prevaricating ever since. That the Bishop of London declared it to be St John the Evangelist in 1911 doesn't stop people from wondering - is it? Are we sure? Can we definitively declare that our patronal festival falls on 27th December and not 24th June (john the Baptist)? Or even 14th December (John of the Cross), or 13th September (John Chrysostum). Celebrating the Saints lists 17 St Johns, only six of which were born too late to qualify.

So it begins to become clear that the better option was to aim for the Sunday nearest the actual date of the Dedication service (8th October 1747) - because, frankly, even if we were SURE, absolutely, positively, CERTAIN, it was 27th December, would we actually want to have another celebration just after Christmas? No one can say we're not practical!

As usual, there's lots else happening this month and throughout the autumn. I was particularly glad to get information about what's happening in Junior Church because so much always is happening and yet we don't hear that much about it. We all saw, and possibly even envied, the children playing in the sand pit over the summer but Junior Church is, it seems, even more exciting than that! Read what Helen and Jessica have to say further on in this issue.

There are also updates on two charities - PSALM and AgeUk Camden, as well as the annual plea for donations for the Christmas hampers (can it be that time already?) And a look ahead to the Come and Sing Requiem (Verdi, this year) in November.

A word about mice

Everyone must have seen the traps around the church. The initial stage involved one every few feet it seems and yet we still haven't eradicated them. It's costing a lot of money and a good deal of frustration because as long as there's so much food left around we stand very little chance of winning and whilst we try to love all God's creatures mice are unhygienic when they're eating our biscuits (and even our altar bread!) So, we're asking, PLEASE make sure you don't leave anything mouse-friendly lying around, even if you think it's on a shelf they can't reach - believe me, they get everywhere! We have mouse-proof boxes for the foodbank offerings so please don't put food anywhere else. If you can't find a safe place take it to the office and ask them to put it away for you. If you belong to a group that likes to offer biscuits (almost all groups do!) please keep them in a tin or plastic container with a well-fitting lid. We can all love the mice much better when they leave the church and go back to living in the churchyard.

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