Janet`s July 2015 letter to the Community

There are so many fascinating aspects of being in a new place.  Meeting new people, learning new routines, gaining new insights – and trawling through old “stuff” in an attempt to sort out what`s important and what can be discarded.  Amongst other things, I`ve found the very first service register for St Paul`s Goodmayes.  The first entry, on 23rd May, was for the Dedication and Licensing of the South Chapel at 3.30pm, conducted by the Bishop of Barking, with the Bishop of St Albans as the preacher.  The offertory, for the Church Building Fund, amounted to £64.7s!

The following day was a Sunday and the regular pattern of services began: 8am Communion, with 41 communicants; 11am Matins and sermon; 3pm Children`s Service; 6.30pm Evensong and sermon.  They only recorded numbers of communicants, so we don`t know how many people attended the other services but it`s a fascinating window on the past.  It`s important that these records exist and are preserved.  The old service registers and other documents will soon be taken to the Essex Record Office for safe-keeping so that generations to come will also be able to rejoice in our


Our past is important.  Knowing where we`ve come from helps us to be more confident in where we`re going.  It`s an essential part of map-reading.  If we don`t know which direction we`ve come from it`s quite difficult to work out which way to go next!

At our Parish “At Home” in May we began the process of collating our collective knowledge of our past by listing key events in the church`s history and including dates of individual arrivals at the church, and weddings and baptisms that are significant to us.  The history is still very incomplete.  We need your contributions too if the history is truly to be ours! Your opportunity is coming soon. The more perspectives we can include, the more accurate we will be.  So please be ready to add your knowledge to our developing account – details to follow.

And before our registers, PCC minute books and other documents go off to the Archive, I`d like us to read through them systematically and compile a record of the key events, especially those which are now beyond living memory.  If each person took just one document the task would be easy.  Any volunteers?  Please let me know.

The purpose of both these activities is to compile a history that will enable us to give thanks, in an informed fashion, for all that was good and valuable in our past – so that we can look to the future with confidence and hope.  God is the alpha and omega, the God of the past, present and future.  He has been with us in our past, he sustains us in our present and he will be there in the future.  Thanks be to God!


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