Seven stones, seven words

07 November 2014

IT was a special Sunday; so the congregations from all three morning services at St Margaret's, Chipstead, in Southwark diocese, gathered together for a joint service at 10 a.m. to celebrate the completion of a project to install seven prayer stones in the churchyard. Placed in strategic places to form a prayer walk from the lychgate to the lower churchyard, each stone is carved with one of the seven "I am" sayings from St John's Gospel. It was the culmination of three years' planning and preparation. The hope is that the stones will provide pleasure, comfort, and solace for both regular members of the congregation and people who come to tend the graves.

The service was led by the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, and included a walk through the churchyard in the autumn sunshine led by the Bishop and the Rector of St Margaret's, the Revd Phil Jackson. They stopped at each stone while a member of the congregation read the words of scripture aloud, and one of the children placed a symbolic object beside the stone. The Bishop then reflected briefly on the words of Jesus, and there was a prayer and a blessing before they all moved on to the next stone. When the walk was completed, they returned to the church for the end of the service, and then celebrated together in the lower churchyard with a shared lunch.

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