Much to the delight of the many children who come to visit our town and parish during the long summer holiday it looks as if the refurbishment of the Pier Head and further work on restoring the beach shelters along the promenade will be finished ahead of schedule. This gives me an excellent opportunity to hatch my plot to induct four-year old grandson William into the wiles of the 2p arcade machines (its all in the flick of the wrist and timing*) and the joys of being cuddled up in a towel after a swim inside a beach shelter with an ice cream.
This is going to be our second summer in Felixstowe and we are looking forward to all the fun of the many events our town hosts and try to gently
‘gossip the gospel’ as we spend time relaxing at the pier and the Spa, in the gardens and along the Prom, with townspeople and visitors alike.
One thing I have noticed in the short time I have been vicar of this parish is the many interdependent communities that make up our town and parish. ‘Above’ cliff and undercliff, West end and Brackenbury Dip, holidaymakers and residents, retirees and those still earning a daily crust. And that is not to mention the incredible activity at the Port of Felixstowe that seems to go on without affecting the daily life of the average Felixstovian.
Where do all these communities meet? For unless we know where to meet them we will not easily be able to tell them of the Good News of God’s love nor begin to become Christ’s hands and feet to them. We will meet almost all of them somewhere between the pier and the promenade. Perhaps our parish should be present there as well as in St John’s and St Edmund’s?
Yes, some of them, and we have already had summer visitors in our church services, will know the path to the doors of our churches but not all will. To tell the good news to all God’s people we need to be amongst the people of God. The apostle Peter reminds us to, with gentleness, ‘always be ready to give account for the hope that is within us’ (1 Peter 3.15). For if we are not ever ready to tell them who will?
So do expect to see the clergy of the parish on the promenade and in the pier over the next month or so. We will be handing out key rings to owners in car rallies, encouraging assaults on the tower of St John’s Church – a steeplejack badge to everyone who completes the 80 or so steps up and down, and generally becoming masters of the grab machine J
If you can join us (the water is not too cold in the North Sea) please do. If not please pray for everyone who will be part of our town this Summer that each may know that our parish and our churches are indeed ‘Open to God and Open to All’.
*Watch this YouTube tutorial if you want to learn how to conquer the coin pushers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLwIOk-0jpc
(This article was first published for the August 2017 edition of the parish magazine of the Parish of Felixstowe)
© Andrew Dotchin 2017