Churches Together – 25th January 2015

‘We are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink. At times this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!’

Pope Francis. Apostolic Exhortation Evangeli Gaudium’ The Joy of the Gospel.

Report One

On 25 January the Holy Ghost church was packed as worshippers from the many Christian churches in Exmouth (23 at the last count) came together. This was the culmination to the week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when five Exmouth churches (Baptist Church- Victoria Road, Methodist Church- Tower Street, Holy Trinity Church of England – Rolle Street, Glenorchy Reformed Church – Exeter Road, and our own Holy Ghost Church) took turns to host a prayer service, followed by a fellowship lunch.

As Father Philip commented, such a service would have been unthinkable one hundred years ago, when Catholics and non-Catholics would never have ventured outside their own churches, regarding other denominations with great suspicion. But today was witness to the fact that “we are all fools for Christ”, willing to witness to our beliefs, but aware that what we have in common is greater than any differences.

The service began with church representatives giving and receiving glasses of water, in a symbolic re-enactment of the living water offered us by Christ. It was followed by the Gospel of the Samaritan woman at the well, read by young members of ICE (Initiative for Christian Education). The significance of the gospel was explained by Reverend Benedict Cambridge (Holy Trinity, Littleham and Lympstone,). He drew parallels with modern-day social outcasts, to emphasise how welcoming and inclusive we need to be as Christians. His sermon was followed by a presentation from Diana Corrick on “Homes that Smile” a charity aimed at helping young families to learn basic parenting skills, and come closer to God. The closing prayer was read by Robert Jenkins of the United Reform Church. The rousing music was provided by a group of musician from the represented churches. There was a retiring collection, to be divided between Homes That Smile and Churches Together in Exmouth before participants moved to the hall for refreshments.

— Siobhan Canham

Report Two

On Sunday 25 January, at the end of an action-packed day for our indefatigable hospitality team, we were happy to welcome some 150 persons from the various churches in Exmouth to the annual service marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The service began with a rousing rendition of ‘Bind us together, Lord’ and then Father Philip reflected on the fact that 100 years ago, when our church was first consecrated, such a service could not have been held.  An awareness of this made the ritual that followed, when representatives from the different churches offered each other symbolic cups of ‘living water’, extremely moving as we realised just how far we Christians have moved in our relationship with one another.

The Revd Benedict Cambridge from the Holy Trinity team gave the sermon and 3 young women from the Community College read a dramatized version of John 4:1-24 (The woman at the Well).  After the service the Hall was packed as people chatted and enjoyed the refreshments provided. The Revd James Hutchings, on behalf of Churches Together in Exmouth, thanked Fr Philip, and all involved, for a truly memorable evening.

— Mimi Barton