January 2015
Thank You Evening
Picture, Dymock church Choir
It's been our custom for some years now, once a year, to invite all the Volunteers who keep our church clean, maintained, and functioning to an evening 'Soiree' with wine, nibbles and a concert from our choir - (which is ironic as the choir is part of the volunteers invited to attend!) and this year was no exception. Friday January 30th saw this year's function, when some sixty volunteers gathered in St Mary's Church - it never fails to amaze us just how many people it takes to keep our church 'ticking over'. (Return to Top)

As well as the traditional refreshments, the choir, which has grown to many members (see picture), gave a concert of music in various styles from the classical to jazz via light musicals, plus a solo on the oboe and songs from our junior choir - 'The Young Voices'. (Return to Top)

Family Service with Baptism
Picture, Anika at Font
The theme for our regular Family Service on January 11th was 'The Baptism of Christ' so it was appropriate that we had a baby for actual baptism - a little girl Christened Anika. (Return to Top)

In his sermon our rector, Rev'd Tony Lomas, reminded us that John the Baptist baptised people in the river Jordan for the forgiveness of sin (disobedience of God's rules) but that John pointed out that he only baptised with water as a symbolic washing clean but that one would come after him who would baptise with the Holy Spirit - which of course was Jesus. It's in the knowledge that baptism today involves a traditional washing away of sin and receiving the Holy Spirit that we baptised Anika. (Return to Top)
Men's Breakfast
Picture, The Men at Breakfast
Our guest in January was Imam Hassan (Muslim ‘priest’) from a Mosque in the city of Gloucester. At breakfast in the Beauchamp Arms Pub, he told us something about himself and the work of his Mosque, then answered questions. (Return to Top)

His grandparents were part of those invited to England from India after the second world-war but subsequent generations including himself were born here. After a state education he went to a Muslim university where he studied for 3 year to learn the over 800 pages of the Qur’an by memory, then for another 7 years before becoming an Imam in a small mosque in the north-east of England. Ten months ago he felt confident enough to transfer to one of the three Mosques in Gloucester City, where the congregation at Friday prayers at each is well over 1,000. He said that earlier Imams were immigrants who, like his grandparents, didn't speak English which made them seem remote to ‘outsiders’, but most Imams now teach and preach in English… and consequently are more welcoming! (Return to Top)

We learnt that good Muslims say prayers five times a day, though each session only lasts about 5 minutes. The main ‘Service’ is Friday Prayers with sermon, which lasts about 45 minutes. Mosques are built in the midst of the community so no-one has to travel too far. If the numbers attending outgrow the building, they build another Mosque in a nearby area. His Mosque runs a ‘Community Centre’ and a ‘Food Parcel’ service, a ‘Food Bank’, serving 50 families a week with donated food. (Return to Top)

Muslims revered Abraham, then Jesus as prophets, but now revere Mohammed as God’s final prophet; God won’t be sending another until Jesus returns again. They therefore acknowledge Jesus’ birth at Christmas and death and ascension into heaven at Easter. Similarly the Qur’an was dictated to Mohammed and is God’s final word to humanity. That book belongs to God so can only be changed by him, consequently those learning the Qur’an usually do so in the original Arabic. (Return to Top)

They have a Muslim infant and primary school, like our church schools, from where pupils try to get into one of the Gloucester Grammar Schools. If they can’t do that, they have a Muslim Girls secondary school. He teaches in their primary school 1½ hours a week. In addition, they run a ‘Madrasa’ or Muslim classes to which all boys from 3 – 16 go between 5 to 7pm every Monday to Friday to learn the Qur’an and the principles of their faith, 10 hours a week! (Return to Top)

Regarding some of the things we hear about in the media and in answer to questions, he said the Qur’an teaches that you should only go to war in defence of your faith or land and you should give notice of your intent before attacking to enable women, children and the infirm to move to safety first. They don’t have Sharia Law in Gloucester, British Law is adequate but it can be helpful in large Muslim communities like Leicester. (Return to Top)

Might we make a return visit to his mosque? He’d be pleased to receive us – we hope to arrange that in the near future. (Click here for the return visit). (Return to Top)