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.