20 August 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (84) 20 August 2023

Lichfield Methodist Church, on the corner of Tamworth Street and Lombard Street, Lichfield … opened on 20 April 1892 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and today is the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XI, 20 August 2023).

Later this morning, I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. But, before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

In recent weeks, I have been reflecting on the churches in Tamworth. Throughout this week and last week, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at a church in Lichfield;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church on Tamworth Street, Lichfield, at its opening in 1892

The Methodist Church, Tamworth Street, Lichfield:

The Methodist church at the city end of Tamworth Street, at the junction with Lombard Street, has undergone extensive redevelopment in recent years, with the addition of schoolrooms and meeting rooms. This is the home church of the Tamworth and Lichfield Circuit, which includes the Methodist churches in Lichfield, Alrewas Glascote, Shenstone and Tamworth.

Although John Wesley visited Lichfield three times in 1755, 1756 and 1777, he never preached in Lichfield, and the first Methodist chapel in Lichfield was not registered until 1811.

A warehouse at Gallows Wharf was registered in 1811 as places of worship by Joshua Kidger. A chapel was built in Lombard Street in 1813, and was opened in 1814 by Dr Adam Clarke in 1814.

There is evidence of another Wesleyan chapel that opened in 1815 and that in Wade Street in 1815 and that was still in use as late as 1837. During the 1851 Religious Census, the chapel in Lombard Street recorded attendances of 22 in the morning and 41 in the evening, but referred to congregations of 130 in the winter months.

Lichfield was in the Burton upon Trent Circuit until 1886, when the Tamworth and Lichfield Circuit was formed.

A site for a new chapel was bought in 1891. The ‘new’ Lichfield Wesleyan Methodist Church on Tamworth Street was built in the Victorian Gothic ornamental style to designs by Thomas Guest of Birmingham.

The foundation stones were laid on 12 August 1891 by Samuel Haynes, Mayor of Lichfield, and Reginald Stanley (1838-1914) of Nuneaton, a prominent Methodist business figure who owned brickyards, collieries, and an engineering firm. The builder was Edward Williams of Tamworth. The stone-laying ceremony was followed by a tea in the Guildhall.

The church was opened on 20 April 1892 by the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1839-1912), regarded as ‘the architect of a more socially-minded Methodism’.

This new church replaced the Lombard Street chapel, but that building was not sold until 1921, after Tamworth House next to the new chapel was bought. New Sunday School premises were opened in 1924 and a period of growth led to extensions of the premises in 1972.

Meanwhile, there were Primitive Methodists in Lichfield from 1820 at Greenhill. They registered a schoolroom in Saint Mary’s parish for worship in 1831 and opened their own chapel in George Lane in 1847/1848. The George Lane chapel closed and was sold in 1934, when the members joined the Wesleyan Methodists at Tamworth Street.

In 1826, the Methodist New Connexion registered a barn in Sandford Street that had formerly been used by the Congregationalists. It was replaced in 1833 by a chapel in Queen Street, but this was sold in 1859 when the congregation disbanded.

Major alterations were made to the church on Tamworth Street in 1982, when the sanctuary was relocated at the Tamworth Street end and with new entrance facing Tamworth House. The pews were replaced by chairs from a prison on the Isle of Wight prison. But the loss of the choir stalls also led to the demise of the choir itself.

Meanwhile, a growth in population in Lichfield in this period, particularly with the development of the Boley Park estate, was matched by a growing membership, which reached 348 in 1987.

The church buildings were refurbished in 1998-1999 and again in 2012. The glass doors at the main entrance of the church mean that on a Sunday morning the church is looking out onto Lichfield, and Lichfield is looking into the church at worship … an architecturally perfect way to express the mission of the Church.

The Tamworth and Lichfield Circuit of the Methodist Church is made up of seven churches in Tamworth, Lichfield and the neighbouring villages. The Superintendent Minister is the Revd Joanna Thornton.

The Minister of Lichfield Methodist Church is the Revd Wendy Walker. The Sunday services are: 9 am, traditional, 1st and 3rd Sundays; 9 am, ‘RISE,’ Breakfast Church, 2nd and 4th Sundays; 10:30 am, weekly, incorporating various styles and children provisions; ‘Participate,’ 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, 4:30 to 5:30pm.

[For the former Methodist churches in Tamworth, see HERE.]

The foundation stone was laid on 12 August 1891 by Samuel Haynes, Mayor of Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 15: 10-28 (NRSVA):

10 Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ 12 Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ 13 He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ 15 But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ 16 Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19 For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’

21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ 24 He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ 26 He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 27 She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ 28 Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

The glass doors at the main entrance of the church mean that on a Sunday morning the church is looking out onto Lichfield, and Lichfield is looking into the church at worship (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘Modern-Day Slavery Reflection – The Clewer Initiative.’ This theme was introduced today:

As this week marks the remembrance of the Slave Trade and its abolition we ask that you take some time to reflect on the history of slavery and how it still has implications today. At the same time, we recognise that slavery still exists across the world and in our own communities.

You may want to use the following prayer written by the Clewer Initiative.

Lord Jesus Christ, we join our prayers with people across the world to ask for your guidance and grace, that we may learn to notice the unnoticed, especially those trapped in modern slavery. Bless all who work to fight this crime and bring freedom to those being exploited.

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

We pray for so many of our sisters and brothers who are suffering through forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced begging, county lines drug trading, forced marriage or forced organ donation.

Lord have mercy
Christ have mercy

Especially we ask for the courage and wisdom to discern how we might play a part in reaching out with your love and healing, and in helping our own communities to become more slavery-free. Lord have mercy Christ have mercy. Amen.

For more resources: www.theclewerinitiative.org

The USPG Prayer Diary today (20 August 2023, Trinity XI) invites us to pray in these words:

Father of everlasting compassion, you see your children growing up in a world of inequality, greed and oppression; help us learn from the mistakes of history, and build a better world where your values are shared by all. Amen.

The Collect:

O God, you declare your almighty power
most chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Post Communion Prayer:

Lord of all mercy,
we your faithful people have celebrated that one true sacrifice
which takes away our sins and brings pardon and peace:
by our communion
keep us firm on the foundation of the gospel
and preserve us from all sin;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lichfield Methodist Church was designed in the Victorian Gothic ornamental style by Thomas Guest of Birmingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The former Regal Cinema, facing Lichfield Methodist Church at the corner of Tamworth Street and Lombard Street … now converted into apartments (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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