The nation's FAVOURITE
Put together artistic flair, a knowledge of Britain's churches and the capacity to write good English and you get Andrew Barr. A former producer of BBC's Songs of Praise, he has now produced his third book on the theme of Nation's Favourite. After Hymns and Carols, this time he presents the nation's favourite churches (Lion Publishing pounds 14.99). His choice of 30 examples may surprise but hardly disappoint you as he trips happily from Durham to Devon, from a primitive Welsh chapel to Westminster Abbey also taking in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The North East is well-represented from Yorkshire to the Borders. Ancient or modern, of whatever denomination, each church is someone's favourite and Andrew also looks at the views surrounding them. He continues the format of his previous books with a good choice of colour photographs making this an ideal coffee table book. But be warned. The text is so absorbing that the coffee could go cold as you continue to read. He draws on interviews with people he has met at each location as well as local history and his own childhood memories. I particularly enjoyed Andrew's visit to Paddy's Wigwam, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool. He claims to have designed a similar one as a boy! There is also a glossary of church terms in case you don't know the difference between the clerestory and the triforium. Excuse me now, as I go out to buy a second copy to give away for Christmas.
ALL HALLOW'S EVE
Christians have a problem with Halloween. They don't want to spoil the fun but they feel uncomfortable when so many stunts are aimed at scaring young children. At a time when there are so many genuine horror and terror stories around why should we add to a list of the macabre? After all this is really All Hallow's Eve, a time for a joyful celebration of the saints in glory. Sadly it's now become yet another commercial bonanza so it's unlikely that we shall see an immediate change in how it is being observed. But a growing number of parents would prefer not to see their children dressed as monsters or murderers. At present these are in isolated pockets for change but they have a website www.halloweenchoice.org Click on and you could learn what's happening and how to become involved. If Jamie Oliver can change the nation's school food, albeit little by little, there may yet be hope for those who aim to change Halloween.
WHISPER WHO DARES
Following my comment on peace and quiet we now know that Northumberland National Park has been voted the most tranquil part of England with the North Yorkshire Moors second. We might take warning from a notice which appeared in the brochure of a hotel in Italy: 'Our hotel is noted for peace and quiet. Crowds flock from all over the world to enjoy its peace and solitude'.
TONIGHT: St George's Cullercoats.
Organ Recital with Shaun Turnbull. 7.30pm
SUNDAY: Heaton Methodist Church.
Anniversary Service: 10.45am. Worship led by Rev Ian White former President of the Methodist Conference.
TUESDAY: Brunswick Methodist Church, Newcastle.
Oasis ( a time for reflection in a busy city. 12.30pm
NEXT SATURDAY: St James and St Basil, Fenham.
Autumn Fair with Wingrove Primary School Choir. Noon ( 4pm
Heaton Methodist Church. Autumn Fair. 2pm
St Mark's Methodist Church Gateshead. District Autumn Music Meeting.
Handel's MESSIAH Part 1. 6pm
Salvation Army Hall in North Shields.
Faith Supper and Bible Study. 7pm
Please send items for CHURCH MATTERS to Francis Wood, 52 Albemarle Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 3NQ or telephone 0191 28 5338.