Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Trees of St. Mary's

When traveling abroad one expects from time to time to encounter "And Now For Something Completely Different" moments and in this I have rarely been disappointed, but I never expected it to be something Anglican.

Thursday and Friday featured long technical sessions in the London area (Horsham), but one of my colleagues there had planned a treat afterward. We took a half-hour trip to visit his church, St. Mary's Church in Goring-by-Sea, where they were conducting a special event, their second annual Community Christmas Tree Festival -- and I have to say, I have never before seen its like.

The church was filled with Christmas trees! 61 of them, to be exact, each one named, erected by and representing a church group, local business, club or association. The decorations were as varied as the sponsors, sometimes featuring photos of the group members, sometimes artwork, sometime other things. The tree named "Bee-Fit Children's Fitness" (tree #24), sponsored by an organization called "Bee-Fit," was filled with paper bees crayoned by children, for example. A rather amusing tree was named "Why We Need a Parish Office" (#60), by St. Mary's Parish Office, and filled with reminders of all the many activities of the parish office. Some were simply fitting, such as "London Bells" (tree #1) by St. Mary's Bellringers. One interesting tree was the "Poverty Tree" (tree #4): stark and bare, with the only decoration (that I remember) being an iron chain wound through it.

Just the names of many of the trees tell stories: "Singing Bows" (tree #20, Sephton Music Group), "The Nativity" (tree #29, St. Mary's Clergy, placed in the Sanctuary), "Goring Past and Present" (tree #35, Goring Residents' Association), "St. Mary's Dustbusters" (tree #52, St. Mary's Cleaning Group; I imagine they'll have some extra work when this display comes down!), "Tree of Dreams," "Freedom with Mobility," "In the Bleak Mid-Winter, "Praying Around the World" and so on.

Some businesses were represented, such as "Guy Wakeford Plumbing" (tree #46, no prizes for guessing the sponsor though I seem to recall it being filled with little card ornaments with plumber's wrenches on them), and the amusingly named "Seasons Meatings" (tree #57, John May Butcher).

One I'm sure Fr. Daniel would like to have seen was "The Catechism" (tree #30, St. Mary's Sacristans), the other tree in the Sanctuary, Epistle side.

Of course, there is a purpose to all of this, as noted in the guide. Not only is it "a window on our community here in Goring," but it is a benefit for The Chestnut Tree House Appeal, the only children's hospice in Sussex, which does not charge families for care and which receives no government funding, so it is completely dependent upon private support.

Well done.


  • At 1:34 PM, Blogger Kathleen said…

    Jolly well written and the pics are fabulous! Makes me want to go right over... Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  • At 2:54 AM, Blogger Graham W said…

    Thank you for your great article, it was a pleasure showing you around.

  • At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Gary C said…

    As somebody that was involved in the planning and setting up (and now sadly taking down) of this event it was a real pleasure to read your article. You have shared with whoever reads this a wonderful snapshot of what was a treemendous (sorry!) community event which was enjoyed by the thousands of people that came to see it. Our hope is to raise more than the £4700 we gave to our chosen charity last year. Happy Christmas to you all.

  • At 6:40 AM, Anonymous TOTAL Youth Group said…

    Thanks the young peoples' group will be delighted that the starkness of the Poverty tree was appreciated ..please now continue to pray for those living in poverty and the young people from our parish visting Brazil with Tearfund next year and their fundraising!

  • At 2:27 AM, Anonymous Bill T said…

    Thank you for your kind and encouraging remarks. With hard work and wonderful support we were able to raise the sum of £6000 for the terminally ill Children of the Chestnut Tree Children's Hospice. For us this was a magnificent sum for such a short event. I send good wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.


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