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St Saviour's 160th Anniversary

On 16 July, St. Saviour’s will be 160 years old: I was Master of Ceremonies at the magnificent centenary service in 1964 (adorned by the presence of three bishops) and was thrilled to be welcomed back at the sesquicentennial mass, celebrated by the princely Bishop Richard Chartres ten years ago. Many years, many thoughts.

What has St. Saviour’s achieved as a parish? What has changed over the years, both socially and ecclesiastically? My first thought is that the attitude of the world has become increasingly secularised and that the church is seen as of less relevance than in the past: just look at how church attendance has slumped nationally since the Covid pandemic. Why? I suspect that people have found that they can manage spiritually without regular church attendance, and prefer a lie-in, a nice breakfast, and a quiet morning at home after a busy week to sitting through a long service.

St. Saviour’s has been in the doldrums in the past: congregations were tiny (in the 1960s it was suggested that there were more people in cassocks east of the rood screen than in hats and coats west of it!) and in the 1980s the church narrowly escaped closure. Do not forget the power of the Holy Spirit, the rejuvenator, the bringer of strength… or, in older English ‘the comforter’.

What may the future hold? None of us know. What we do know is that St. Saviour’s spire indicates a living organism within the heart of Pimlico, a place where all may be at home, whether Christian or not. Some may say ‘but only a few attend weekday services, fewer attend Sunday mass than in earlier days’. Times change, patterns of worship change – but as a very perceptive Mother Superior said to me ‘We are here to say prayers for those who do not’. That need will never go away it and remains for ever the reason for St. Saviour’s prominent existence in Pimlico.

Deacon Douglas MacMillan

The Collect

Almighty God, to whose glory we celebrate

the dedication of this house of prayer:

Let our worship always be sincere

and help when we call on you in faith.

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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