This weekend is the start of the 150 years celebration of Christchurch in Fulwood. Today we were blessed with a Guest Preacher - Rev’d Chris Newlands, the Vicar of Lancaster Priory and Patron of our Parish.
150 years ago the first sermon was preached by Alan Joseph Turner and the church was dedicated by the Bishop of Manchester.
Many notable things happened in that year of 1864; The American civil war was being fought and many tragically lost their lives. One person who lost his life was General John Sedgwick who when sat upon a white stead with his gold uniform, when asked was he not frightened of being picked off, he said “They couldn’t hit an elephant from that list….” before being shot dead by a sharp shooter.
Many other things were happening; Because of the American civil war and borders being closed, this caused the cotton mills to close and this was known as the cotton famine.
The Lancashire Cotton Famine,
also known as the Cotton Famine or the Cotton Panic (1861–65), was a depression in the textile industry of North West England, brought about by overproduction in a time of contracting world markets. It coincided with the interruption of baled cotton imports caused by the American Civil War, and speculators buying up new stock, for storage in the shipping warehouses at the ports of entry.
Despite all this 1864 saw the opening of the clifton suspension bridge, and railroads where being opened across the country. Julia Ripley invested money in the railroads and from the profits also commissioned Ripley St Thomas School in this year.
Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy
The school was originally built as a charitable orphanage and school, known as the Ripley Hospital, and was intended particularly for children whose fathers had been lost at sea. It was paid for from the legacy of Thomas Ripley, a merchant who died in 1852, to build such a school along the lines of the Bluecoat School in Liverpool. The building was commissioned by Ripley's widow, Julia. The foundation stone was laid on 14 July 1856, and the building was completed eight years later, being opened on 3 November 1864 by the Rt Revd James Prince Lee, Bishop of Manchester.
Queen Victoria was also on the throne and it wasn’t just a year of secular reinvention, the church was also undergoing an age of reinvention the people of Preston were saying Jesus Christ is Lord of this land.
The sermon back then commented on how this church was a wonderful thing especially as it was so cheap to build. Christchurch was a new building and people came to worship, but we can worship anywhere.
It is in this church we come together as Christ’s body; we are fed, we are baptised, we are married, we are commemorated when we have our funerals here - but above all we come to hear the Word read aloud, and to be expounded on, and more importantly to take it out into our lives so we can take it to others.
Christ’s work has been done in this place from 1864 to 2014
We are given the present to shape the generation of today. We are commissioned at our baptism to be the body of Christ, clergy and lay people together. Christ is the cornerstone but we are the builders and we must not be lazy, but we must build upon it.
May God equip us with vision, imagination, and boldness to do all we can to be God’s people.
In years to come let us pray we will celebrate all that has been done in this place.