Link letter

From the parish magazine of 8th August 1949

The Rev. Richard Graham Crookshank, rector of the village church of Bere Ferrers in Devonshire, England, likes to appraise his congregation as follows: "We are a lovely agricultural parish set between two rivers. I don't like to sound conceited, but my parishioners are a bit above average. We are really great friends." Last week the Rev. Mr. Crookshank put the strength of that friendship to the test. In his parish magazine, in an article forthrightly entitled "Straight Ahead for the Bonfire," he blazed away at his little flock.

"Formerly a parish was a community with interests common to all," he wrote. "Attendance at church Sunday by Sunday was maybe, to a certain extent, conventional, but at least it brought those who came to worship into a 'real' fellowship. Nowadays, it is the screaming fellowship of the motor-coach trip, the beer-blown friendship of the jug and bottle, the oily fellowship of the fish-&-chip saloon, the sandy-pebbly fellowship of the trippers on the beaches on Sundays, the near-naked-truth fellowship of those who go down to the sea in slips . . .

"Small wonder that attendance at the worship of God has suffered and with it knowledge of what constitutes genuine fellowship. The state of Sodom and Gomorrah was a teddy bears' picnic compared with the viciousness of the average parish life and its tribal customs, which in some cases are shockingly primitive.

"As a nation we are approaching at a meteoric rate closer and closer to the edge of spiritual darkness and Christian bankruptcy. At the moment, our decencies of life, such as remain, are the coppers of our spiritual capital, which, like our gold reserves, are rapidly diminishing."