Dedicating the Temporary Church

November 1st 1902

From the Hants and Berks Gazette, Saturday 8th November 1902
a report on the dedication service of the "temporary" church


The temporary church in Southern Road was opened on Saturday (All Saints' Day) by the Bishop of South Tokyo. The dedicatory service began at three o’clock, at which time the whole of the seats allotted to the congregation, about 130 in number, were occupied; and, after the procession of clergy and choir, preceded by the cross-bearer, had passed up the aisle, and taken their places on either side of the beautifully adorned altar, a considerable number of worshippers came and stood in the aisle, and the entrance gangway. The Rev. Canon Hessey, Vicar of Basing, and the Revs. E. W. Wilmott, A. H. Thorold and C. R. Stewart were present, and the congregation included the Rev. A. Kelly, Messrs P. A. Phillips R.C. Blencowe, F. Lazenby, J. Wheeler, W. Cannon and R. C. White. During the procession towards the Holy Table, the 122nd Psalm (“I was glad when they said unto me”) was sung. The newly appointed organist of the Parish Church (Mr G. Manns) officiated at the harmonium. At the font the Bishop prayed for those who should be baptised. Returning then to the Holy Table he prayed for those in this place who should receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; for the bearers of the word that should be read and preached here; and for all who should draw near to God in this place. Evening prayer was then said by the Vicar, the proper Psalms, the 84th and the 132nd, being effectively rendered to plain chants. The lessons were read by the Rev. L. C. Hamerton, who will be mainly responsible for the services All Saints’. Hymn 395 (Ancient and Modern), “O Word of God above”, having been sung, Bishop Awdry, standing on the steps of the altar - there is no pulpit - preached a short sermon from the text “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, with the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8) Those were the gracious words in which God accepted the offering of that temple which was rebuilt after the captivity. The silver and the gold were His before, but he said, “You have offered this temple and prepared these vessels for the ministry, and I accept them at your hands” So, doubtless, God accepted at their bands the offering of this place. Of silver there was not much, of gold little or none, but each as they had given had, he trusted, been given out of a pure heart in the love of God. If so, it was not in vain that they had offered it. Yesterday, as they watched the preparing and getting ready of this place, they came in with their hats on. It had not then been offered to God and it had not been sanctified; but now they would show a reverence in this house which they had not shown before, for it was God’s house. “The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him. Here He was, and was glad to see, a certain inequality in the things which had been done. There upon the altar were things worthy of a church that should be permanent, and given, he had not the smallest doubt, for a church that should be permanent. This, remember, was the beginning of their offering, not the end. This was a temporary church. Thank God they had this place of worship where they could begin at once to pray that proudly they might have a church here that would be less unworthy of God’s Holy Name. He put this before them in order that they might, from this very day, begin to prepare to offer to God a permanent church to take the place of this temporary one. Their town growing, year by year. How long would it be before they were ready to build that of which this was the preparation? If things went on at the present rate it could not be more than ten years before another place such as this would be needed in the town, with another permanent church to cover it. Let them be ready with their permanent church when that time comes and then perhaps this very building might meet the growth of the town in some other part. Those who had worshipped for God in this special work would be the bene factors of those who came after. The Bishop drew this distinction between Christianity and every other faith (which was worthy of the name) in the world: It is in Christianity alone that the whole man - body, soul and spirit - is taken into account for all eternity. The outward man is eternal; changing, and the same How would It be when they passed out of this world Here the Bishop approached a theme which was very appropriate to All Saints’ Day. Shall we carry – be doubted it not – that by which those will recognise us unto whom we go? Are we not at this moment making our own bodies – which by themselves are spoken of as temples of the Holy Spirit – or marring them? Is there not year by year coming over the features of everyone some change? Whence comes that change? It is not only that. The face of a child is like a piece of clean paper with nothing written on it. As our life is so will the writing be. If God cares for our bodies, shall we not care for our surroundings? If He would physically make us His temples, shall we not make temples as little unworthy of Him as may be? The temple of Herod was perfectly magnificent, its white marble sparkling with gold. But it is never the majesty of our buildings, but the spirit in which we live and the spirit of our prayers that make the glory and consecration of them.

Zerubbabel’s temple was more glorious than that of Solomon, not because it was more splendid with marble and gold, but because a little Child was carried into it, and there learned and taught there. He worked His works, there He was rejected thence He was cast out and sent to His execution as a criminal. These bare walls, this simple place,- not as they would have it afterwards, be trusted -  might after all, if their hearts rose to God with their growing gifts be holier in God’s sight than the most beautifully furnished church God had given them wills that they might work for Him, and with that freedom He had given them the power of offering to Him worship more precious than the outward things, yet to which the outward things of worship ought to correspond. If their hearts were faithful, they would delight in pouring out of their worldly substance for the beautifying of His temple. But it was not the outward beauty that God looked to. It was the souls that offered it, the strong, free will to give themselves and all they had to God. It was this that He accepted; it was this that He loved; it was this by which he chose to be glorified. Let nothing be done in the spirit of rivalry or self-glorification. The less that was seen of the names of those who gave the better. Let themselves be forgotten and God alone remembered.

During the collection on behalf of the furnishing fund which amounted to about £33, the hymn “How bright those glorious spirits shine” was sung The Bishop then said the collect for the day and the concluding prayers, and then gave the Blessing.

At the Sunday evening service there was a very large congregation, many being able to gain admittance. The service was said by the Rev. L. C. Hamerton, and the collection amounted to about £8.