Focus Magazine September
Letter from the Ministry Team 2
Ways to donate 15
God in science 17
Your face mask and dog
Bible Bites 23
God in the arts 27
Please note that views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily
reflect the official opinion of the Church of England or the Local Parish.
The inclusion of an advertisement in this magazine does not imply the
approval or recommendation of St Martin’s Church.
A Letter from the Ministry Team
‘Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints
were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the
hand of Moses and Aaron.’ (Psalm 77:19-20)
What a summer this has been! Could we ever have imagined life would change so
radically? Who would have predicted that COVID-19 would bring the entire world to
its knees? We have watched the movement of this virus throughout the world every
day in the media. We have seen its impact upon our everyday lives, and we are still
adjusting to life with this unwanted visitor who refuses to leave. Yet, it is not all doom
and gloom. The environment is the one thing that has flourished during lockdown
and I’m sure you will agree that we have seen many acts of kindness along the way.
Also, as a church community we have managed to stay ‘connected’ using all sorts of
means, and I am so grateful for that. So, now, how ‘connected’ are we to God, given
the fact that for a long time we were unable to enter into the church building to worship
The above psalm talks about the presence of God in the world, but in a hidden way.
It is hard to connect with God when we cannot discern his presence. However, what
if God is simply working in a different way in today’s world? What if he is giving birth
to a new reality through us, our hearts and minds, by revealing things about how we
used to live our lives? For example, what do you like about today’s world? For example,
I have appreciated not having to pay for parking in some places. I have been
grateful to banks for delivering cash to the vulnerable. I marvel at how supermarkets
have bent over backwards to ensure everyone is able to get their groceries. I like the
fact that I can browse in shops with space around me, drive on less busy roads and
have Zoom meetings from home. What is God telling us through these changes?
The virus has forced us to return to the basics and God is asking us to look, look
closely at how we have been living our lives and our faith. As we reflect, as we share
our thoughts with another, can we dare to imagine new and unheard of possibilities
for the future? When we do so, we are engaging in what is known as ‘prophetic imagination.’
Undaunted by the future and not clinging to the past, we can boldly anticipate
a new hope and a more caring world for all. Life is fearful right now, but God’s
people are called to be radical thinkers, plan for a better and kinder future and engage
in bold and faithful action. So as awful as living with this virus is, God could be
creating something new out of it. This new thing, if we dare to make it happen, could
actually end up being God’s gift to us all!
Loving God help people to adjust to this new world.
Show us how to live and trust and share differently.
“All things new” is a huge stretch for us.
But we know it is your good gift to us.
We will embrace it and we will give thanks to you. Amen.
Take care and thank you for who you are and all you do. Be blessed.
Can we please pray for all students, staff and volunteers returning to
their places of education in the next few weeks. It has been a very difficult
time for all in this sector. We pray that they will be safe and able to
focus on their learning and new life together in this time of pandemic.
We pray for all whose employment is under threat. We trust that God
will surround them with wise and resourceful people to guide them
through these uncertain times.
Please give thanks to God for placing us in this part of Maidstone and for
all the churches who serve alongside us. May we all be beacons of light,
love and hope in the months and years to come. May we serve our
neighbours and one another faithfully.
We also pray for an end to this virus and for all those working hard to
find a vaccine. We pray, we trust and we put our hope in the Lord.
Revd Joyce Addison
St. Martin's Church,
Maidstone, Kent ME15 7LP
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 3
Focus Magazine September 4
4 13 13 9
Bishop calls for targeted sanctions to protect Uighurs
A new system of targeted sanctions could be used against the perpetrators of “gross
human rights abuses” on the Uighur people in China, a bishop has told the House of
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, also urged the Government to consider the
use of sanctions speci%ically to protect freedom of religion or belief around the
He was speaking during a recent debate on the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations
2020. The legislation brings the UK into line with the other nations’ approaches
towards a ‘Magnitskystyle’ sanctions regime, which allows for sanctions
against named individuals rather than simply states.
At present freedom of religion or belief is not included on the list of speci%ic grounds
on which the sanctions regime can be applied.
Urging the Government to reconsider this, Bishop James said: “Given that freedom of
religion or belief is a foreign policy priority, I %ind it slightly surprising that this right
is not explicitly included in the scope of the regulations in relation to sanctions.”
He added: Like others, I am particularly concerned about gross human rights abuses
in China, especially against Uighurs. As one of my episcopal colleagues noted last
week in a letter to the Foreign Secretary, ‘The images that we have seen in recent
days and the reports emanating from the region are harrowing and require a clear
and unequivocal response’.”
Focus Magazine September 5
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Focus Magazine September 7
London ‘more religious than the rest of the country’ says new report
London is more religious than the rest of the country, according to a new report published
by the think tank Theos.
The report ‘Religious London’, shows that Londoners are signiicantly more religious
than people living elsewhere in Britain, and the capital’s Christians are far more ethnically
The polling, conducted for Theos by Savanta ComRes, shows that: most Londoners are
religious (62 per cent identify as religious compared to 53 per cent across the rest of
Britain outside London)
Religious Londoners were 48 per cent BAME (Black, Asian, minority ethnic) compared
with just 27 per cent of nonreligious Londoners.
Christianity in particular was signiicantly more ethnically diverse in the capital 31
per cent of Christians in London are BAME compared with just two per cent across the
rest of Britain outside London.
Theos also identiies further insights around the nature of religious practice, inding
that Londoners are more intensely practising, more likely to pray, and more likely to
attend a religious service than those outside the capital.
One in four Londoners attend a religious service at least once a month compared with
1 in 10 in the rest of Britain outside London.
Religious Londoners are twice as likely as religious people in other parts of the country
to attend a service twice a month or more (31 per cent vs 15 per cent)
56 per cent of London Christians pray regularly compared to 32 per cent of Christians
in the rest of Britain.
Christian Londoners are also more likely to say that they will donate to a charitable initiative
than nonreligious Londoners (76 per cent vs. 68 per cent); that they would
help their neighbours with a simple task than nonreligious Londoners (92 per cent vs.
86 per cent); and half of Christians (49 per cent) and nonChristian religious adults
(53 per cent) say that they are likely to volunteer regularly for a local charitable initiative,
compared to 40 per cent of nonreligious Londoners.
The report argues that London's leaders and policy makers should take more account
of religious communities and their signiicant role in providing social welfare across
Theos director Elizabeth Oldield said: “The great success story of London has been its
ability to welcome and accommodate opinions from across the political spectrum. The
city still has the capacity to shock us – and this is one of the things which makes London
one of the most dynamic, complex and interesting cities in the world.”
Focus Magazine September 8
8 13 13 9
8 Where the Ark of the Covenant was kept for 20 years (1 Samuel 7:1) (7,6)
9 One of the parts of the body on which blood and oil were put in the ritual
cleansing from infectious skin diseases (Leviticus 14:14–17) (3)
10 Uncomfortable (3,2,4) 11 ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have —
’ (Malachi 1:3) (5)
13 Where Paul said farewell to the elders of the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17)
16 ‘Jesus bent down and — to write on the ground with his finger’ (John 8:6) (7)
19 Prophet from Moresheth (Jeremiah 26:18) (5)
22 Comes between Exodus and Numbers (9)
24 and 2 Down ‘Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before
the Lord under — the — ’ (1 Samuel 2:11) (3,6)
25 There was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7) (4,3,6)
Clues continue on page 11
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 9
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1 Rough drawing (2 Kings 16:10) (6)
2 See 24 Across
3 Underground literature (including Christian books) circulated in the Soviet Union
4 Lo, mash (anag.) (6)
5 The Bible’s shortest verse: ‘Jesus — ’ (John 11:35) (4)
6 ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her — and have no compassion on the child
she has borne?’ (Isaiah 49:15) (6)
7 Can be seen in a dying fire (Psalm 102:3) (6)
12 ‘Send me, therefore, a man... experienced in the — of engraving, to work in
Judah and Jerusalem’ (2 Chronicles 2:7) (3)
14 Second city of Cyprus (8)
15 United Nations Association (1,1,1)
16 One of the women who first heard that Jesus had risen from the dead (Mark
17 Braved (anag.) (6)
18 — of Evangelism, outreach initiative in the 1990s (6)
20 ‘Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and — in their own sight’ (Isaiah
21 ‘Neither — nor depth... will be able to separate us from the love of
God’ (Romans 8:39) (6)
23 What Jesus shed in 5 Down (4)
ANSWERS ON PAGE 22
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 11
Focus Magazine September 12
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Focus Magazine September 14
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Focus Magazine September 16
God in the Sciences
This series is written by Dr Ruth M Bancewicz, who is Church Engagement Director at
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge. Ruth writes on the positive
relationship between Science and Christian faith.
How can a Christian be a scientist?
I used to ask this question as a student. I wondered what it was like to have a career in
science, and how being a Christian might make a difference. Eventually I met a good
number of successful scientists who were sincere Christians, and I learned that science
and faith are a great combination. Dr Francis Collins, former Director of the project to
decode the whole of human DNA, wrote that it is “possible for the scientist-believer to
be intellectually ful%illed and spiritually alive, both worshipping God and using the
tools of science to uncover some of the awesome mysteries of His creation.” So, what
do people like this make of the opportunities and challenges of a life in science?
Although our beliefs may affect what we notice about the world and how we interpret
our data, they don’t affect the outcome of the experiments themselves. If a Muslim and
a Christian drop the same ball from the same height under identical conditions, it will
fall at the same speed. This means that a scientist can be respected by her colleagues
for doing good work, regardless of what she believes and what her colleagues think of
Science is an exercise in observing and measuring things, and coming up with general
principles about the way things are. The world has been declared by God to be ‘very
good’ (see chapter one and two of Genesis), and exploring it is a way to express our
gratitude to Him. Scienti%ic discoveries can also bring a sense of awe and wonder that
feeds into our worship.
Some people don’t want to get involved in certain lines of research because of ethical
concerns. On the other hand, there are many issues that make Christians want to get
stuck into new research that will help care for people and the rest of creation, such as
medical research, ecology or developing appropriate technologies.
Organisations such as Christians in Science and the Faraday Institute gather together
scientists who are also people of faith, and others who are interested in the subject.
They come from a wide range of backgrounds, and express their beliefs in a variety of
different ways. What they have in common is the conviction that you don’t have to
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 17
choose between science and God. As the young people in our churches prepare to return to their studies, online if not in person, let’s
encourage them that science (along with many other ields) is a great way to serve God.
Dr Ruth Bancewicz is Church Engagement Director at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge, and a member of Christians
in Science. See www.faraday.cam.ac.uk/churches and http://www.cis.org.uk
Editor: Coronavirus has caused innumerable problems, not least that of further pollution…
Now even more plastic
There is growing concern in the Government, among campaigners, and among scientists
over how coronavirus has sparked an increase in singleuse plastics.
Not only are millions of disposable masks and gloves now ‘out there’, but there has
been also a huge increase in disposable cutlery, sachets and containers.
One study by UCL estimates that in the UK alone, if every person used a singleuse face
mask every day for a year, it would create an additional 66,000 tonnes of contaminated
waste, and 57,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.
Two environment ministers, Lord Goldsmith and Rebecca Pow, have said: “We are actively
thinking across the Government and NHS whether we can safely reuse PPE and
we are aware of other countries who have begun looking at the potential to decontaminate
and reuse it.”
Scientists warn that it could take up to 500 years for polypropylene face masks to degrade.
Meanwhile, according to some estimates, 129billion masks and 65billion plastic
gloves are being used each month worldwide.
Focus Magazine September 18
PP Holy Days
1 st Sept St Giles of Provence - helping those damaged by life
St Giles was an immensely popular saint in the Middle Ages, and no wonder: he
was the patron saint of cripples. In those days, there were many people who, once
injured, were never really whole again. Even today, a serious injury – either physical
or mental or emotional, can leave us damaged for months, years or even longer.
At such times, we, too, find inspiration in others who, though also damaged by
life, have not been overwhelmed.
St Giles was probably born in Provence, southern France early in the 7 th century.
The 10th century Legenda Aurea (Golden Legend) tells us he lived as a holy hermit
deep in the forest of Nimes, near the mouth of the Rhone. A hind, or Red Deer,
was his only companion. Then one day, while out hunting, King Wamba spotted
the deer, and pursued it. The hind fled back to St Giles for protection. King Wamba
shot an arrow which missed the deer but pierced the saint who was protecting it.
Thus the king encountered the saint. The saint’s acceptance of his injury, and his
holiness greatly impressed the king, who conceived a great admiration for St Giles.
In the end, much good came out of the original harm of the encounter, for the king
built St Giles a monastery in his valley, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard. The little monastery
was put under the Benedictine rule and became a source of blessing for the area
roundabout. In later years, St Giles’ shrine would become an important pilgrimage
centre on the route for both Compostela and the Holy Land, as well as in its own
There is a further story connected with St Giles. Another legend tells how an emperor
sought forgiveness from him for a sin so terrible he dared not even confess it.
While St Giles said Mass, he saw written for him by an angel the nature of the sin
in question. But his prayers for the emperor were so efficacious that the letters
naming the sin faded away. As Christians, we know that the Bible urges us to pray
for others, no matter how hopelessly bad they seem, because Christ’s mercy and
forgiveness are extended to everyone who truly turns to Him and repents.
St Giles, the crippled saint who helped others find wholeness with God, became
patron saint of cripples, lepers and nursing mothers. In England 162 ancient
churches are dedicated to him, as well as at least 24 hospitals. The most famous
of these are St Giles in Edinburgh and St Giles in Cripplegate, London. In art, St
Giles is represented as either a simple abbot with staff, or protecting the hind, or
saying the Mass, and thus interceding for the emperor.
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 19
Editor: Has anyone in your church got a dog which reacted badly to their face mask?
Your face mask and your dog
Face masks have been a big adjustment for all of us, but dogs especially may be struggling,
warns the animal charity, Dogs Trust.
Dogs use our facial expressions to tell how we are feeling, so if they suddenly encounter
people whose faces are covered, they could become confused, stressed, and even
feel threatened. Their confusion may lead to a loss of obedience and cooperation with
Here is how to get your dog used to you wearing a face mask:
Hold your hand over your face for a moment, speak reassuringly to your dog, and
then reward him.
Introduce your dog to your face mask, let him sniff it and let him see you put it up to
your face, and then down again. Reward him.
Put it on for a moment. Reassure and reward him.
Put it on and move about the room, while reassuring him. Reward him.
Gradually build up the length of time that you wear the face mask around him. Keep
reassuring him. Reward him.
Expect that he may not be so quick to understand and obey you when you are wearing
the mask – be patient.
Don’t take him into public places where many people are wearing masks, unless you
Focus Magazine September 20
St James the Least of All
On how to survive a weekend away with the young people
St James the Least of All
My dear Nephew Darren
I think your idea for both our Con!irmation groups getting together for a weekend
away – socially distanced, of course - was excellent and our meeting last week drew
most of the plans together. We didn’t take any minutes, so let me record the decisions I
believe we made.
Since all of us have to sleep far apart at the centre, I am prepared to spend the nights at
a local hotel. By chance, I have found that there is a four star one only a few miles away,
so I have booked myself in.
As the dining area in the youth centre may be cramped, I am also willing to have dinner
each evening at the hotel, thereby creating more space for the rest of you. An additional
sadness is that, since breakfast at the hotel is not served until 8am, I will not be able
to join you either for your pre-breakfast dip in the nearby stream. It would be grossly
unfair to expect you to pack lunch for me, so I will arrange for the hotel to provide me
with a picnic hamper for one which I can have while you all enjoy your cheese and
I think it will be an excellent learning experience if you prepare all the teaching sessions
yourself, but be assured that I will always be on hand to give the advice of experience.
That large armchair near the !ire in the common room seems to be the best place
for me to sit, so I can keep an eye on proceedings, while I take on the responsibilities
for stoking the !ire. This reminds me; do make sure that the young people are encouraged
to saw enough logs each morning for me to ful!il my obligations.
Naturally, my arthritis will prevent me being able to accompany you on your afternoon
hikes, but I will cheerfully park my car wherever you leave the minibus, to provide a
second vehicle in case of emergencies. I do not mind in the least waiting all those long
hours until you get back; I have already found an attractive tea shop in the village.
I am fully aware that not sleeping or dining at the centre, not being responsible for preparing
the teaching, nor being involved on the walks will mean that my contributions
will be ever so slightly limited, but these are sacri!ices I gladly make in order to give
you further experience in your ministerial career.
Your loving uncle, Eustace
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 21
PP Reviews sep20
Tumbling Sky – Psalm Devotions for Weary Souls
By Matt Searles, 10Publishing, £3.99
Gentle and wise, this devotional is balm for bruised souls. It will comfort and enable
you to see the love of God afresh.
Honest and wholly Christ-centred, these Psalm devotions shine the light of God's truth
and grace into some of the darkest corners of our emotions. They help us to see the joy
we can have even in the midst of pain, giving rich comfort, refreshment and hope to the
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Focus Magazine September 24
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 25
Focus Magazine September
He gave us eyes to see them: ‘The Madonna of the Goldinch’ by Raphael
The weeks and months of lockdown have been dificult and testing times for many of
us, but they have also provided the opportunity to look afresh at the world of nature.
With less trafic on the roads, less air pollution, and less noise pollution, the sky has
somehow seemed bluer and the bird song more joyful and conident.
It is appropriate that we focus this month on one such bird noted for its liquid, tinkling
song - the goldinch. In this month we also celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary on 8 September, and so the painting is ‘The Madonna of the Gold-
inch’ by Raphael.
Raphael was only 37 years old when he died in 1520, but his work is marked by maturity
and great beauty. No more so than in this painting which shows Mary with a
young Jesus and John the Baptist. You could easily miss the tiny bird which is carefully
held by John and gently stroked by Jesus, who has one foot resting on His mother’s. It is
an intimate, tender scene which was painted in 1505 as a wedding gift for Lorenzo Nasi.
It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1548, painstakingly restored in the early
part of this century, and now hangs in the Ufizi in Florence.
As we look, we rejoice in the grace and simplicity of the scene. We look again and ask
ourselves ‘Why a goldinch?’ The bird has a red spot on its head, and legend tells that
the goldinch lew down to the cross of Calvary to take a thorn from the crown of
thorns. As it pulled the thorn in its beak, its head was splashed with a drop of blood.
And so this painting of gentleness and innocence opens out into a wider canvas of redemptive
love. Our thoughts move from infancy to the cross. Mary, sat on a rock, is
reading ‘The Throne of Wisdom’, and the artist is inviting us to ponder where true wisdom
is found. Here, as we look at the wonder of nature and new life with a mother and
Website: www.stmartinsmaidstone.org.uk 27
PARISH WHO’S WHO
Joyce Addi- 669351 vic-
Ignite Enabler Melanie Banister 07732681795 firstname.lastname@example.org
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