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News & Views

Churches Together afternoon walk

Rosslyn Hill Chapel was the third stop on a tour of Hampstead Churches in May, organised by Churches Together in Hampstead. Two Chapel members describe the afternoon which included meditation, prayer, music and singing:

Sharon Neal writes: ‘What a wonderful afternoon! Others have described it as a “celebration of togetherness” and a sort of “pilgrimage”. Having lived in Hampstead for over 30 years, I am always interested in getting to know my local community better and I like to support events which help to increase understanding amongst people from different backgrounds and beliefs.

We started off at the Quaker Meeting House and sat in a circle in silence, which was only broken by the sharing of a few thoughtful comments and readings. A favourite memory from this session was when the woman next to me rose slowly to say that Quakers sit in a circle to signify that there should be no barriers or ‘borders’ between people, a comment which was very beautiful in its simplicity and heartfelt delivery. We then walked to the nearby Heath Street Baptist Church and sat in on a delightful rehearsal of Baroque music played on period instruments. This was followed by an introduction to some of the children’s activities and informal prayers. The next stop was Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel for delicious refreshments, more getting to know each other, and music by some very talented young musicians. Then on to St. Peter’s Church in Belsize Square for Taize sung prayer. All in all, a day of variety, good will, and joy.

In a world marked by war and division, I think most would agree that events such as this have an important role to play in helping to overcome prejudice and lack of understanding. It is hoped that there will be future events involving other local churches and faith groups.’

Katie Gosling writes about the evening Taize service at St Peter’s Belsize Square: ‘I had never stepped inside but passed by many times. It was warm and inviting. It felt like there were cool wood surfaces but softness in cushions and carpet. Someone had prelit candles at the altar. It was so beautiful. And there were paintings of line-drawn faces that felt angelic on squared canvases by the candles. Some of us sat on the floor at the front and some on pews. Rev Catrina from Emmanuelle Church led the service. The Baptist minister Ewan King helped guide it with his daughter playing a harmonium and son on a recorder. There was also a bass and a harp and other instruments like flute. We chanted and sung in Latin and other languages, sometimes louder, sometimes quieter. I liked the way Ewan would speak with his eyes and smile to Catrina to clue each other in to whether to sing more or less rounds with everyone. The Latin words were about love and God. We prayed for the Gaza conflict. We said a named prayer for people in our community. One person from Emmanuelle sang a solo and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I had goosebumps! I felt like the strength in others' voices gave strength to my own and soon I had lost myself in a state of semi transcendence and a feeling that I couldn't give up. We prayed “into the coming week that our actions here would help us help others, that we would do and say things that would make a real difference.” I felt uplifted by the different inputs from each Church from their families.’

Photo: images of Jesus and candles at the Taize sung worship


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