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City of London churches

18 September 2020

September 17th, 1920.

[A commission appointed by the Bishop of London had drawn up a “great scheme of destruction”, as the Church Times (14 May 1920) had called it, affecting 19 of the churches in the square mile.]

THE City clergy are displaying unusual activity. The City Churches Commission has stirred them at the least to protest. For the most part we share their sentiments, though we do not attach so great an importance to the findings of the Commission as do some. Indeed, we are inclined to believe that much that is said and written concerning the City churches tends rather to galvanize into life a report that scarcely survived its birth. A special plea, we notice, is being made for St Magnus the Martyr chiefly on the ground that Miles Coverdale was once its rector and is buried there. We confess, however, to being more favourably impressed by the argument of Mr Oscar Berry, who formed one of a deputation to the Lord Mayor on the subject. Mr Berry said he had lived in Billingsgate for thirty years. When he first went there the language was dreadful; now it was worthy of Oxford or Cambridge. That, he said, was “due to the influence of the Christian mission and of the church of St Magnus”. Mr Berry apparently was content to ignore historical associations in favour of insisting that if churches were pulled down they would make of London a heathen place. It is greatly to be hoped that out of this zeal for the City churches will arise a far more aggressive presentation of the Faith to the City workers. It is not enough to leave churches open to whomsoever will enter. Every City church is potentially a magnificent mission centre.

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