Weekly Email – Epiphany 3 | All Saints Margaret Street All Saints Margaret Street | Weekly Email – Epiphany 3

Weekly Email – Epiphany 3

Friday 19 January 2024 at 11:45


Dear friends,

At the beginning of every new calendar year, clergy across the country start counting up the attendance statistics in their churches over the previous twelve months in order to make a statistical return to their diocese. These returns each year give a clear idea of how the church is developing both nationally and at individual diocesan level, and which particular parishes are growing or shrinking numerically, and in what ways.

The good news for our parish is that in terms of Sunday attendance, our figures just calculated for 2023 show congregational growth of 10% on the year before. We should give thanks to God for this blessing – in whose strength and power alone it is that we are able to do anything in his name.

This is a significant development for our parish at a time when narratives of shrinkage, retrenchment and financial difficulty seems to dominate the headlines coming out of the Church of England’s hierarchy and central church institutions.

Our parish growth is particularly important when taken in the context of where post-COVID attendance figures are at for the rest of the Church of England. The most recently published statistics, which you can read about here, show a huge plunge in church membership and participation post COVID. National statistics show between 2019-2022 all English dioceses lost between a fifth and a quarter of the Sunday attendance they had in 2019, and that the Diocese of London is now shrinking just as quickly as the rest of the country.

Now, statistical measurements of attendance alone are not the be all and end all of how vibrant a parish is, nor of what it means to be a Christian community, but they do give some indication of the evangelistic health of a parish. Against the worrying backdrop we see elsewhere across the Church of England, we should give thanks that due to the hard work of so many who contribute to the life of our parish, we have been able to see sustained congregational growth in every year since the Pandemic.

This kind of vitality and energy is the product of Spirit-filled commitment by an enormous range of people who live out their Christian discipleship by contributing to our experience of worship on Sundays: sidemen and welcomers; those who serve refreshments; servers; musicians;  those who prepare, decorate and clean our church; all those in our parish office who prepare orders of service; those who run our livestream; and those who contribute to our online presence in social media.

The corporate vision and commitment of our PCC and church wardens in prioritising renewal of our parish’s life over the past three years has also been very important indeed in its effect on Sunday worship figures. It is through the hard work of all these people, and the courage of their vision for the future of our parish, that God is able to draw more people to worship him here in our church.

If we take “in person” attendance at All Saints’, the average total Sunday figure for 2023 was 178.73. This is a 9% increase on the figure for 2022 which was 164.1.

Our online participation, however, has also grown. The average live online Sunday congregation figure for 2023 is 75.6, which represents a 15% increase on 2022, when average live Sunday online attendance was 64.8. This is very intriguing because our online attendance reduced significantly through 2020-2021 as people returned to worshipping in person in church, and seemed to plateau in 2022. We are now seeing an increase in the number of people who join us on Sundays online.

If one adds in person Sunday attendance and live online Sunday participation, this produces a total Sunday average figure for 2023 of 254.33. This is 10% bigger than the same total average for 2022, which was 228.9.

Our PCC is about to publish a Mission Action Plan for the next five years of our parish’s life which it has been working on for some months. It will be finally agreed at our PCC meeting in February. One of the key challenges our PCC sets for us in that document is an aspiration that in 5 years’ time, our in person average total Sunday attendance should be over 200. I hope these figures just calculated for the past year show this is looking realistically achievable. I pray we will succeed in achieving this target as we grow in confidence and zeal in our proclamation of Christ’s Gospel.

The broad conclusions to be drawn from these figures is that we are seeing what is increasingly looking like sustained congregational growth at All Saints’ emerging from the erratic statistical complexity of the COVID years 2020-21.

Our parish’s immediate “bounce back” from the Pandemic was very strong. However, we have also embraced a series of new ways of reaching out and including worshippers who join us online in such a way that our congregational base (both online and in person) has continued to grow over the past two years, even after the initial COVID bounce back of 2021.

I would say that there has definitely been a steady and noticeable growth in attendance at the High Mass and at Evensong most Sundays, particularly in younger people. Both liturgies feel much fuller in attendance than they did two years ago.

However, I have also noticed a number of other elements over the past year which I suspect have also contributed to these encouraging figures. Amongst these has been an increase in attendance at special “one off” liturgies such as Advent and Epiphany Carol Services, liturgies for the Coronation, along with our keeping of feasts like the Assumption, and All Saints’, all of which also seem to be very popular.

Our summer attendance figures are also curiously strong. Most parishes see a dip in the summer as parishioners go on holiday. Ours keep pretty strong each year through July and August, however, as tourists, friends and visitors from overseas who couldn’t travel in the COVID years have returned to visiting London and take the place of our regular parishioners on holiday.

A significant part of our increase in online figures has to do with the introduction of a regular livestream for Evensong on Sundays in addition to that for the High Mass in the morning. However, this was only from late November 2023 onwards and doesn’t account alone for what were often higher participation rates online for the High Mass through the second half of the year. It will be intriguing to see how our online attendance rates develop over the coming months.

It is so easy to internalise the narrative of doom and shrinkage which we are constantly peddled by the secular press and our own church institutions. It may be true that the Church of England more widely is experiencing numerical decline, but this needn’t be the case in our parish.

If we keep ourselves open to the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit – focussed on joyfully proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sustaining the people of God with the ministry of Christ’s Word and Sacrament, and forming people to be his faithful disciples, I pray God will continue to help us to grow in depth of faith, love for our neighbour, and in the vitality of our parish life together.

Fr Peter


We were very pleased to see the High Mass vestments used last Sunday for the first time which were recently restored in memory of Christine Ellis. They were blessed the Sunday before, and we are very grateful indeed to the benefactor who made this restoration project possible. You can watch last week’s High Mass on our YouTube channel here


Parish Visit to the British Library:
“Fantasy – Realms of Imagination”

On Tuesday 23rd January 2024 there will be a parish trip to The British Library to see an impressive new exhibition entitled, “Fantasy – Realms of Imagination.” One of the curators of this exhibition is our own parishioner Rachel Foss, who will give us a guided tour and explanation of the exhibition.

We will meet at the British Library at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 23rd January 2024. Our visit to the exhibition will be followed by supper at the Pizza Express opposite the British Library on the Euston Road at 8.00 pm. The cost of the exhibition is £15, and supper is £30 (including drinks). Please email the parish office to book a place.



Young Adults Group – hiking trip

Weather permitting, our next Young Adults Group walk will take place on Saturday, February 3rd, in Epping Forest. This is aimed at our younger folk, but anyone who feels up to 10-12 muddy miles is very welcome to join! We’ll stop for lunch half way. Be in touch with Fr Alan if you would like to take part.


Our parish’s young adults group last hiking trip to Winchelsea and Icklesham – taking a well-earned break for lunch.


Confessions: Fr Rowlands

Fr Graeme Rowlands will be available to hear confessions and/or offer spiritual counsel at the following times: Mon 22nd Jan – 5.30 pm; Tues 30th Jan – 5.30 pm; Tues 13th Feb – 5.30 pm; Tues 21st Feb – 5.30 pm; Wed 28th Feb – 5.30 pm; Wed 6th March – 5.30 pm; Mon 11th March – 5.30 pm; Mon 18th March – 11.00 am.


Pusey House comes to Margaret Street

The Chapter of Pusey House, Oxford, invites friends of Pusey House to a special High Mass at All Saints’, Margaret Street, at 4pm on Saturday January 27th 2024. The Ven Dr Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings will preach. All Saints’ parishioners are welcome to attend and are invited to this Mass too.


Evensong and Benediction is now live streamed every Sunday at 6.00 pm. Join us in person or online. Music at this Sunday’s Evensong includes: Evening Service in G by Edward Bairstow; O, for a closer walk by C. V. Stanford; O Salutaris by Edward Elgar; and Tantum Ergo by Maurice Duruflé. You can watch last week’s livestream here and this coming Sunday (21st Jan) here.


Walsingham Pilgrimages 2024

Now is the time to sign up for our two main pilgrimages to Walsingham over the next year. Please be in touch with our parish office to book a place and to make payment electronically:

National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham
Monday 27th May 2024 – leave All Saints’ Margaret Street at 7.30 am.
This is a day pilgrimage to Walsingham which takes place on the last Bank Holiday in May each year. We travel together in a coach from Margaret Street, setting off first thing, and return late in the evening of the same day. The pilgrimage includes a large outdoor Mass in the Abbey grounds of Walsingham, with sermon and procession in the afternoon. The cost is £20 and the coach leaves All Saints’ at 7.30 am.

Annual parish weekend pilgrimage to Walsingham
Friday 19th July to Sunday 21st July 2024
A weekend pilgrimage away in Walsingham involving: Pilgrimage Mass at the Shrine Church; evening processions; sacraments of healing; sprinkling at the holy well and finishing with procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction.  Cost:  £190 Friday pm to Sunday evening (including full board plus mini-coach from Kings Lynn – pilgrims need to book their own train ticket to Kings Lynn). There is an option for pilgrims who wish to stay on until the Monday and return on 22nd July – this costs £280.


What a joy it was on Thursday to celebrate the marriage of Guangnan Zhou and Ying Wang at All Saints’. We assure them of our prayers as they begin their married life together.


Zoom Theology Seminars

What a tremendous evening we had on Tuesday evening with our online Zoom Theology Seminar series. We were joined online by over 60 people, from every known continent except Antarctica! Fr Robin Ward gave us a wonderful conspectus of the theology, history, culture and politics of the Patristic period. We are grateful to him for a fascinating account of how the church’s faith was defined and agreed in its earliest centuries.

Our next Zoom Theology seminar will take place onTuesday, March 12th, 2024 and will be entitled, “Holy Murder”! Fr Alan will be leading us in comparing detective novels with a religious context. We’ll focus particularly on P.D. James’ classic Death in Holy Orders, and The Rev’d Richard Coles’ Murder before Evensong.

More information about our online Zoom Theology Seminars can be found here.


We are very grateful indeed to Fr Robin Ward for leading a wonderful seminar on Patristic theology last Tuesday.


Shrove Tuesday Crêpes Suzette dinner

To celebrate Shrove Tuesday, we will be hosting a special Crêpes Suzette dinner at Le Beaujolais restaurant on Litchfield Street in Soho on Tuesday 13th February 2024 at 7.30 pm. The cost will be £50 for three courses. Instead of the usual cheese trolley, you are welcome to choose, as a special treat for Pancake Day, the restaurant’s famous Crêpes Suzette as a way of finishing Ordinary Time and preparing for Lent. To book a place, please email the parish office.


The family and friends of Guangnan Zhou and Ying Wang congratulate them on their marriage yesterday! Many prayers and best wishes from us all!


Confirmation classes

Anyone interested in being baptized, and/or confirmed should be in touch with Fr Peter or Fr Alan. Confirmation classes will begin in the New Year. Our confirmation next year will take place on Pentecost Sunday, 19th May 2024, when we will be joined by the Bishop of Fulham to administer the sacraments of initiation.


Attendance last Sunday



The flowers before Our Lady of Margaret Street are given this week in memory of Gwyneth Hopkins, of blessed memory, whose 5th year’s mind falls on January 21st.
If you would like to mark an occasion with flowers, please contact Shawn.


Prayer List

The Friends of All Saints’ Margaret Street:

January 21st – Eoghan Healy, Rebecca Hirst, Fr. David Hobden, James and Gwendoline Holdcroft, Edwin Holmes, The Rev’d Canon Graham Holcombe, Bishop David Hope
22nd – Richard Hoskinson, David Hutt, Alfred Imhoff, David James, Andrew Jervis, Arthur Johnson, Stephen Jury, Malcolm Kemp
23rd – Alan Kimbrough, Brenda Koupis, The Very Rev’d Harry Krauss, Deirdre Laing, Graham Last, Christopher Laws
24th – Cornelius Logue, Frau Dr Christiane Loidl-Rainey, Nigel Lynn, Henry Macey, Bishop Michael Marshall, Robert Mason, Graham Mather
25th – Judith Mather, The Ven Fr Stephen McClatchie, The Rev’d Peter McGeary, Nigel McNeill, John McWhinney, Anne Merritt
26th – Thomas Moller, Barry Moore, Dr John Morrell, Fr. Stephen Morris, Inger Mosbery, Carol Mundell
27th – Christopher Naylor, Brian Newman, Elaine Norman, Graham Norman, Richard North, Fr. Paul Ockford

The sick:

Javier Barbetta, Martin Berka, David Craig, Jason Dunlop, Clara Exton, Frances Gayler, Gill Hargreaves, Fr. Harry Hodgetts, Elizabeth Lyon, Lionel and Lynn Persey, James Roger, Bruce Ross-Smith, Paul Sturgul, Doreen and Melvin Warren, Jean

The faithful departed:

Brian Clifford, Deidre Laing, Adam Persey, G. Venkatramani, Rodney Whiteman Pr

Those whose anniversaries of death fall at this time:

January 21st – Harris Charlton, William Clark, Hannah Berry, John   Snoswell, Mary Bishop, Virginia Smith, Isabella Fotheringham, Frank Whitehill, Lilian Yorke, Gwyneth Hopkins
22nd – Amony Lay, Annie Waggett, Maggie Dibley, Derek Allen Pr, Jim Swanton, Edith Laing
23rd – Kenneth Christie
25th – Ethel Boileau, Hilda Lawson, Watroslav Reith, Anthony Halsey Pr
26th – Noel Campion, Frederic Hood Pr, Oswald Rodger, David Peschek, David Webb
27th – Walter Vale, Annie Taylor, Alice Savage, Jane Wildash
28th – Annie Benniston, Vera Martin, John Brackley, Barbara Niemyska


Service times this week

Saturday 20th January – Feria
12.00 pm Mass of Requiem
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 21st January – Third Sunday of Epiphany
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Low Mass
6.00 pm Evensong and Benediction

Monday 22nd January – Feria
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Tuesday 23rd January – Feria
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Wednesday 24th January – Ss. Francis de Sales, B and Dr
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Thursday 25th January – Conversion of S. Paul, Apostle
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Friday 26th January – Ss. Timothy and Titus, Bs
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Saturday 27th January – Our Lady on Saturday
12 noon Mass
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 28th January – Fourth Sunday of Epiphany
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Low Mass
6.00 pm Evensong and Benediction