God with Us: an Advent blog

God with Us logo

The constant refrain of Christmas, in carols and readings, is that God is with us. In whatever situation you find yourself this Christmas, God is with you – you need only turn to him and ask to know his presence.’                               Archbishop Justin Welby

In Advent we try to take time out from the rush of Christmas preparations, and to pause and reflect on what the coming of the Christ child might mean in our lives. In Matthew’s gospel Joseph is told that the child soon to be born to Mary will be called Emmanuel, a Hebrew word which means ‘God with us’. How can we get ready to hear this wonderful news? How can we unwrap in our own lives God’s gifts of peace, hope and love? One answer to these questions is ‘by praying’.

After the success of the All Hallows Lent blog, to which a wide variety of people contributed, we are running a new blog during weekdays in Advent this year. Based on material from #GodwithUs, a Church of England initiative, we will reflect each week in December on a different aspect of prayer – first Listening, then Watching and finally Waiting – and how we can use prayer to explore the amazing good news of Christmas.

Do join us in getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who is God with us, during this wonderful season. To find out more about #GodwithUs, see www.churchofengland.org/Christmas



life ON TOWER HILL 11/17


Parish news from All Hallows by the Tower                      November 2017


christch2Moving on

At the end of October we heard the news that Bertrand our Vicar will be leaving All Hallows to take up a new post as Dean of Montreal and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral there.  This is an exciting new challenge as he explains:

‘It is a huge honour and privilege for me to have been invited to serve the bilingual Anglican Cathedral Community in Montreal, and I relish the prospect of being able to integrate both anglophone and francophone sides of my personality in order to share the Gospel in this new context for me.’

Inevitably, this announcement will bring change at All Hallows. ‘We have achieved much at All Hallows in recent years’, says Bertrand, ‘and I am tremendously grateful to our Churchwardens, PCC, staff and volunteer team, and all those who have given their time and energy to continue God’s mission on Tower Hill and expand it beyond into cyberspace.’

Bertrand’s last Sunday at All Hallows will be on the Feast of Candlemas (transferred), on 4 February 2018, and announcements will follow about plans for our farewell to him.  After twelve successful years of ministry here, he is held in great affection and will be much missed.



JakeContinuing our series on All Hallows people, this month we meet Jake Kirner, our part-time Verger.

Jake joined us in September this year and works three hours on weekday mornings before speeding off to his other verger’s job at St Giles, Cripplegate.  Jake has a degree in music; he was previously a classical singer and has also worked in music publishing. He has been a concert verger at St Sepulchre without Newgate and his musical connections have already proved useful at All Hallows.  The practical skills needed in his job – maintenance, security, preparing for special services and keeping the church looking tidy and welcoming – have been honed not only by his previous experience as a verger but also by his home life: he lives on a narrow boat, constantly navigating either the River Lee or Regent’s Canal.

Jake says, ‘I enjoy problem solving, from broken locks to overbooked concerts and all the glamorous and mundane things in between.  All Hallows has many lights to fix and artefacts to protect, but I hope also to help the church prosper in its role in the community through concerts, special services and other events that bring people together.’

Send hope for Christmas – 5, 13 & 19 December

Poster for letter writingAdvent is a time when we wait in hope and expectation, but for many in the world today there is little prospect of hope. Do join us to write Christmas messages to some of those who most need to hear it – isolated victims of torture – and send some hope this Christmas.

Come along any time between 12.30-2pm on Tuesday 5, Wednesday 13 & Tuesday 19 December to write cards over a sandwich lunch. Cards will also be available to write after Sunday services in December and after the Taizé service on 13 December.

All are welcome to join us, whether for 15 minutes or for a whole session – whatever time you can spare.

All Hallows treasures… the Roman Stele

Continuing our series on the treasures of All Hallows, this month our Education and History Officer, Adey Grummet, describes an intriguing Roman carving:

Roman steleIn the Crypt Museum of All Hallows is a Roman funeral stele, or grave marker, for a married couple. Although the female head of the image has been lost, it is inscribed to Demetrius and Ateidia, who lived and died together. The draping of the male toga shows that Demetrius was an established citizen and Ateidia’s gown is also of finely woven and draped fabric. More than this of their story can only really be imagined but the Londinium of Roman times was a prosperous and populous trading centre and garrison city.

One possible scenario is that the couple died together in the Antonine plague between 160-180AD. All Roman burials took place outside the city’s wall, which had been completed in stone by the 2nd century. It was a section of this wall that, centuries later, was uncovered and then destroyed during the building of the first underground station on Tower Hill around 1880-81. Soil and material from these diggings was taken to the Tilbury marsh and used as landfill, our stele perhaps amongst it all.

Then, it was dug up once more during the building of Tilbury docks between 1882 and 1886. At this point, someone tucked it away in the corner of an office and there it remained unnoticed for a few more decades. It was not until 1932 that it was brought to the notice of the Port of London Authority. The stele was then examined and found to be genuine and was brought back to Tower Hill for exhibition in Revd ‘Tubby’ Clayton’s new museum under All Hallows, where it can still be seen today.

Upcoming events

CONCERT FOR ST CECILIA’S DAY – Saturday 25 November, 6.30pm                                 East London Chorus: Bach, Mozart, Rheinberger, Finzi and Britten

LUNCHTIME CONCERT – Wednesday 29 November, 1.10pm                                          Johan de Silva (Baritone) and Christopher Moore (Piano) 

ADVENT ACTIVITY AFTERNOON – Sunday 3 December                                                      Help decorate All Hallows

SEND HOPE FOR CHRISTMAS – 5, 13 & 19 December, 12.30-2.00pm                                      Write cards for victims of torture


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