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Monday, January 6, 2014

St John's Presbyterian Church, Runcorn, now a building site.

On the Demise of St John’s, Runcorn
Here, in the sepulchred silence of the dying day,
A hundred years of passing saints have trod;
Some walking proud, some falling on their knees,
But all of them to spend some time with God.
Here, amidst the glory of pitch-pine and lofty height,
They worshipped in the morning and at night.
Where, Sunday by Sunday,
The people prayed,
And the organ played;
Where hymns were sung in unison,
Supported by the choir in their stalls
But that’s not all.
Out on the Bowling Green
Where once at Summer Fete
The woods were seen,
It’s now a JCB that tears the soil.
Roses, daffodils, forget-me-not,
Have all fallen to the metal scoop
And lie discarded in a dying heap.
Yet I recall, and not so long ago,
The times I stood in crow-black gown,
And looking down
Upon those worshippers who congregated there,
In pew after pew, where saints have sat and sin has trod,
I shared the Word of God.
© 2013 Colin Gordon-Farleigh

The Church has left the building;
And all that now remains
Are memories of those who worshipped here.
Their sadness and elation,
From poor and happy days,
Consigned to conflagration
Or to heaven’s lasting praise.
No more the doors will beckon strangers in
Nor see a white-gowned bride upon the step;
No more the final journey of a friend
Carried shoulder-high at their life’s end.
I stand amid the dust and desolation,
Where pitch-pine pews once gleamed;
And gaze at the vacant windows
Where once the morning sunrays beamed
Upon the people praying to their God.
Yet now, in all its shattered glory,
There is a strange twist to this story,
Where once were Easter bonnets, gloves and hats,
Residing in the sanctuary of the tower
Is a colony of bats.
© 2014 Colin Gordon-Farleigh

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Aberystwyth: My Theological "Alma Mater"

I attended the Theological College at Aberystwyth prior to entering full-time ministry with the Presbyterian Church of Wales. The College is to the left (see arrow) of the picture above, the buildings to the right being University of Wales buildings.
 Before breakfast, after lunch and in the evening, we would invariably stretch our legs walking along the seafront promenade, walking to the end where we would "kick the bar."
 Some days, especially if we had made the mistake of eating college 'Spotted Dick & Custard' at lunchtime, we would need a greater amount of exercise and would climb the hill, which was quite a strenuous climb, but worth it once you got to the top. 
At night the front was brightly lit by the light streaming from the hotels that hosted the town's holiday visitors.
 Turning left out of the college and walking a short distance along the promenade, you come to the ruins of Aberystwyth Castle, a pleasant place to sit and contemplate the days instruction. 
My memories of my college days are amongst the best memories that I have, partly because of the reason that I was there, partly due to the people whom I was at college with, and partly because Aberystwyth itself endeared herself to me.