Good Works Fair and Trunk or Treat Party

Sunday October 30th was another red letter day for us at St. Margaret’s!

At both our services this morning we had a ‘Good Works Fair’. We had representatives from four mission agencies in Edmonton – Hope Mission, the Mustard Seed, Habitat for Humanity, and the Edmonton Food Bank – come and speak to us about the work their agencies do. After each service we had a coffee hour and an opportunity for our members to speak with the mission representatives and find out more about their work and what individuals and groups can do to help. Many people mentioned how much they appreciated what our four mission partners had to say and the fact that they were willing to come and take time to talk with us, both as a group and as individuals. One of the agencies represented was the Food Bank, and our Sunday School children had prepared small parcels of food which they presented at the end of the 10.30 service.

Then it was out into the parking lot for ‘Trunk or Treat’! Those who participated had brought Halloween treats in the trunks of their cars; we closed off the parking lot to make it a safe place for our children, and then the children went from car to car ‘Trunk or Treating’. We had a costume competition and ended the proceedings with a wiener roast around the fire pit behind the church. Wieners and pop were sold and all proceeds went to our Sunday School’s World Vision mosquito net appeal.

Everyone agreed that the day had been a great success. Many thanks to Marci Chesterton, who had the idea for the Good Works Fair, to Maggie Woytkiw who worked with her to organise it, and to Erin McDougall who organised the ‘Trunk or Treat’ party!


Food bags from the Sunday School offered for the Edmonton Food Bank.

Members of St. Margaret’s interact with our mission agency representatives after the 10.30 service.

Our four mission agency representatives: Armand Mercier (Habitat for Humanity), Joel Nikkel (Hope Mission), Paula Cornell (The Mustard Seed), and Kelly Cailliau (Edmonton Food Bank).

Our four mission agency representatives with Marci Chesterton, who first had the idea for the ‘Good Works Fair’).

‘Trunk or Treating’ in the parking lot!

Children and parents ‘Trunk or Treating’.

The day’s events ended with a wiener roast around our fire pit behind the church.

For more pictures check out the Facebook album here.


The recording process is coming along slowly…

Some of my friends will know that for over a year now I’ve been making gradual trips to a friend’s private recording studio to record some tracks for a new CD. I thought you might like to know that we are now almost at the point where the basic tracks (i.e. guitar and voice, or in a couple of cases cittern and voice) are complete.

We have recorded usable versions of the following traditional songs:

A Begging I Will Go
Lord Franklin
Pretty Saro (with the cittern)
Johnny Cope
The Week Before Easter
Master Kilby (with the cittern)

Also the following original songs:

The Bismarck and the Hood
The Ballad of Jake and Rachel
Fire of Love
‘Twas on a June Morning
I Know You Will Be There
Watching this Town Growing Old
The Wise Man’s Servant

This is rather too many for a CD – we have fourteen songs and we will probably only use eleven or twelve. ‘The Wise Man’s Servant’ will also be my Christmas song for this year so once it is properly doctored I will be sending it out to everyone on my email list. We made a few other recordings too, of course, but we (i.e. Alex Boudreau, my ‘engineer/producer’, and myself) don’t think they’re quite up to the standard we want so have decided not to use them.

As for the next steps, there are a few other instruments (stand-up bass, lead guitar, possibly harmonica or fiddle, and maybe even a cittern lead-line on one tune) I want to add to a few tracks. However, I’m looking for a very clean, simple, stripped-down sound so as to be able to easily reproduce it in gigs around town (and also, I admit, because that’s the sort of sound I really enjoy on other people’s CDs). So there won’t be anything like ‘a full band’.

Once the recording is complete it will be a matter of getting it properly mastered and then manufactured, album artwork designed and so on. I have no idea how long all this will take, but I’m hopeful that by the summer we might have something sale-able. When I know more, I’ll let you know, but I did want to give a sort of progress report as a number of people have asked me how the process was going.

St. Cedd

When I was a young Christian in south east Essex, the old chapel of St. Peter’s on the Wall in Bradwell was very special to me. There was a rather ramshackle collection of buildings around it, built by the Othona Community shortly after World War Two (nothing like the much nicer buildings that exist there now); I attended several youth events and pilgrimages there, and had two or three nights of prayer in the chapel itself. Those nights still live in my memory thirty-five years later.

St. Peter’s was built by Cedd, Bishop of the East Saxons, about 654 A.D., out of the stones of the ruined Roman border fortress of Othona. Here’s what the St. Peter’s Chapel website says about Cedd:

1300 years ago there were people working in Ireland and Scotland to spread the Christian faith. In Ireland, Patrick had established many monasteries and from there Columba had come to Iona, a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland, to establish a monastery and many other Christian centres.

From Columba’s monastery, a man called Aidan was sent from Iona at the invitation of King Oswald of Northumbria to set up a monastery at Lindisfarne on the north-east coast. It was also to be a school where Anglo-Saxon boys could be trained to become priests and missionaries. It was in this school that Cedd and his brothers Caelin, Cynebil and Chad learnt to read and write in Latin, and learnt to teach the Christian faith.

The four brothers were all ordained as priests and two of them, Cedd and Chad, later became bishops. Cedd’s first mission was to go to the midlands, then called Mercia, at the request of its ruler, King Paeda, who wanted his people to become Christians. Cedd was so successful that when King Sigbert of the East Saxons (Essex) asked for a similar mission, it was Cedd who was sent.

So in 653 Cedd sailed down the east coast of England from Lindisfarne and landed at Bradwell. Here he found the ruins of an old deserted Roman fort. He probably first built a small wooden church but as there was so much stone from the fort he soon realised that would provide a much more permanent building, so he replaced it the next year with the chapel we see today! Cedd modelled his church on the style of churches in Egypt and Syria. The Celtic Christians were greatly influenced by the churches in that part of the world and we know that St Antony of Egypt had built his church from the ruins of a fort on the banks of a river, just as Cedd did on the banks of the River Blackwater in Essex (then known as the River Pant).

Cedd’s mission to the East Saxons was so successful that the same year he was recalled to Lindisfarne and made Bishop of the East Saxons. His simple monastery at Bradwell would, like those at Iona and Lindisfarne, have been at the same time a church, a community of both men and women, a hospital, a library, a school, an arts centre, a farm, a guest house and a mission base. From there he established other Christian centres at Mersea, Tilbury, Prittlewell and Upminster.

Cedd often visited his northern childhood home and in 659 was introduced to King Ethelwald who asked him to establish a monastery in Northumbria. Cedd chose a site at Lastingham as it was wild and seemed fit only for wild beast, robbers and demons. Again this was exactly how St Antony of Egypt chose his sites. In 664, while at his monastery in Lastingham, Cedd caught the plague. As he lay dying 30 of his monks from Bradwell came to be with him. They too caught it and one young boy survived and returned to Bradwell.

Today, October 26th, is the feast day of St. Cedd. Thank God for his missionary work so long ago which bore such good fruit amongst the east Saxon people.

O God our heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst call thy blessed Apostles and send them forth to preach thy Gospel of salvation to all the nations: we bless thy holy Name for thy servant Cedd, whose labours we commemorate this day, and we pray thee, according to thy holy Word, to send forth many labourers into thy harvest; trough the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, fore ever and ever. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer)

(Note: the first two pictures were taken at St. Peter’s Chapel in June 2007. The last is the stained glass window of St. Cedd in St. Leonard’s Church Southminster, taken in May 2009).

700 years old

According to this website, this year (2011) is the 700th anniversary of the publication of the first part of Dante’s masterwork the Divine Comedy: his Inferno.

Of all the books published in any given year, only a few will still be selling even a hundred years later, and only a tiny fraction will last as long as seven hundred years. And few books can have had the effect, not just on a single language and culture but on an entire spiritual tradition, that Dante’s work has had on Italian language and culture and also on the long tradition of Christian spirituality.

I read the Inferno for the first time myself this year and am certain I will read it again to try to absorb more of its powerful imagery. Meanwhile I’m currently climbing Mount Purgatorio with Dante and Virgil, on my way up to the Paradiso. But I’m glad to pause and pay tribute to Dante on this important anniversary! And if you’re like I was a few months ago – aware of the existence of the Divine Comedy but never having cracked it open – why not treat yourself to a literary feast!