Bishop pays return visit to Addington’s ancient church


St Mary’s church, Addington, last resting place of five Archbishops

St Mary’s in Addington celebrated its patronal festival on Sunday with a visit from the Bishop of Southwark, Bishop Christopher Chessun, to preside over the Eucharist service.

At nearly 1,000 years old, St Mary’s is Croydon’s oldest church and the oldest, public building that is still in use. Yet it is just one of 365 churches in the diocese for the 10th Bishop of Southwark to oversee, so a visit is special.

Yet this was Bishop Chessun’s second visit to St Mary’s in just two weeks, his having previously visited privately for the funeral service of a close friend, Matt McConnell, whom he had known before his ordination. McConnell’s daughter helped the Bishop preside over the service.

Bishop Christopher Chessun, the Bishop of Southwark, addressing the congregation at St Mary’s on Sunday

The bishop dwelt upon the value of meditation just for a change of pace in a 24/7 digital world. He also touched upon his Call to Mission based on the themes on Faith, Hope and Love. Having spent the summer asking each member of the Anglican congregation in his diocese to consider their own place in the Christian faith, Bishop Chessun was now asking Southwark diocese Anglicans to consider the position of the church in our community.

This is a most pertinent question when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has recently fired a Parthian shot at David Cameron’s Big Society when he pointedly dismissed it as “aspirational waffle”, saying that it was a “deeply damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable”.

Among those “Big Society” measures is the new obligation on local councils to reduce  benefits from the growing number of Croydon’s unemployed.

As to who will replace the retiring and entertainingly impertinent Dr Williams to the highest position in the global Anglican church, the betting shows Croydon’s former bishop, the media savvy Nick Baines, at 16/1 with Paddy Power. The 53-year-old Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, is the favourite at 6/4 with the bookmaker.

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