life ON TOWER HILL 07/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        July 2017

Inclusive Church
As Revd Bertrand Olivier mentioned in his video, here at All Hallows we are part of Inclusive Church, a gathering of churches committed to fulfilling the gospel call of love and acceptance. Our statement of belief is:

“We believe in inclusive Church – church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

It is a simple statement of love, but one we consider deeply important. So whoever you are, know that you are welcome here at All Hallows as part of our family and, more importantly, as part of the family of God.

“We’re all going on a summer holiday…”
Well, that time of year has come around again, when the schools let out and London becomes flooded with families and groups of children. Thinking of something to do with the kids this summer? We have plenty of activities here that children and children-at-heart will love. From historical treasure hunts to arts and crafts; there is something at All Hallows for everyone.  So come on by, 7-days-a-week, bring the family, and enjoy learning, playing and exploring history.


Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

Londinium Walk
28th July

Join us for all these and more at


life ON TOWER HILL 06/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        June 2017

Continuing our series on the team at All Hallows, this month we feature Sophia Acland, our Associate Priest. Sophia has special responsibility for weekday ministry at All Hallows, and is here Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. ‘Every time I come out of the tube station at Tower Hill, and see All Hallows, the oldest church in the City, next to the ancient buildings of the Tower but with the backdrop of the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie, I feel lucky to be in this very special place,’ she says.

‘The combination of traditional and contemporary is reflected in the weekday life of the church too. Events like last week’s Beating of the Bounds attended by our associated livery companies, or the Knollys Rose ceremony (which takes place on 14th June) have been held here for hundreds of years. But we also try to meet the needs of today’s Tower Hill community in a variety of different ways. Our Wednesday evening Taizé (click here for more info, and to find out if Taizé is for you) provides some calm and reflective space with God for those from the offices round about who may have had a long and stressful day. As it is international and ecumenical in character (we sing in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Latin and Greek and have even attempted Latvian!) it has also become a good way to welcome those who have recently moved here from abroad, or who are visiting as tourists.’

Sophia also provides a chaplaincy service so that people under pressure, or anxious about work or relationships can come and air their worries in confidence, and has recently begun a Tuesday lunchtime healing Eucharist where the many prayer requests left on our prayer board and in our prayer book are offered to God, and where prayers are said for healing, both individual and corporate.

‘I am conscious of the many different constituents that make up our parish and would like to be of service to as many of them as possible. As well as the business community, there are an ever-increasing number of hotels. Then there are the retail outlets, the people involved in river and tube transport, those who work – often on the minimum wage and at night – for service and facilities companies, and the homeless.’ All Hallows tries to offer a welcome to them all, and Sophia has been involved in various outreach projects, including work on financial inclusion, a Death Café (which provided a safe space to discuss death and dying), and a community photography project to commemorate the Great Fire of London.

Sophia is also licensed as Associate Priest in two parishes in Gloucestershire and enjoys the mix of work this dual role provides: ‘The combination of the two jobs is really interesting, if sometimes a little surreal: I could be taking a big City memorial service during the week with a congregation of insurance brokers and lawyers and then at the weekend find myself in the middle of a field in the Cotswolds with assorted horses, dogs and guinea pigs and their owners for our animal service!’

Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

June 14th
Knolly’s Rose Ceremony

June 17th
Church Quiz Evening

June 25th
Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Join us for all these and more at

life ON TOWER HILL 05/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        May 2017

‘And let us run with perseverance…’
The Marathon played a big part in the life of All Hallows the weekeIMG_2670nd before last. In the course of 7 hours, over 40,000 runners and walkers, at least three rhinos and a giant hotdog passed the doors of the church as they approached the 23mile mark (not to
mention the spectators, many of whom stopped by for refreshments, or those who attended the London Marathon Official service at All Hallows the evening before).
Amongst the runners was our very own Martin Carr, who ran the race in a remarkable 4hrs 9mins and raised a staggering £2,500. There is still time to support him.
Please do join us in congratulating him and wishing him the best of luck next year. 🎉

‘In Search of Healing’
Many people who visit All Hallows come here at least partly in search of healing. It’s very moving to read the short prayers – in a wide variety of languages – left on our prayer board or in our book each week. A prayer for a friend who has just received a frightening diagnosis; for a grandparent who is dying; from a couple longing for a child; from someone struggling with the breakdown of a relationship – they illustrate the fragility of life and our universal need for healing, reconciliation and wholeness.

With this in mind we have recently begun a new short lunchtime service, a Eucharist for Healing, which takes place in the Columbarium Chapel in the crypt on Tuesdays at 1.00 pm. The week’s prayer slips and book entries are placed on the altar and we pray for healing both for individuals and more widely: for the healing of divided communities at home and abroad, for reconciliation between nations, for Christian unity, even for the healing of the earth in the face of current environmental challenges. Healing and restoration are integral to the good news of Christ, so a service like this helps us reconnect with the God whose purpose for us is a life of wholeness. Do join us to pray for yourself or for others, and if you have someone special you would like us to mention by name, let Sophia know beforehand:

‘Meet Adey’
Every month, as we release our newsletter, we will be introducing you to some of the players at All Hallows who are here during the week. We start this month with the effervescent Adey Grummet, our Education and History Officer, who manages visitor experience amongst many other tasks around the church. Throughout the year, tens of thousands of tourists walk through the doors of All Hallows and Adey’s role includes helping them to experience our church in the best way possible. When asked, Adey told us “The best part of my work at All Hallows is never knowing what’s coming day to day.” All Hallows is right in the centre of the business and tourist community and strives to welcome all our visitors so that they may get a glimpse of our long standing presence in this busy part of London. Whether helping with the sell-out work of our bi-Annual Education Project (with Clios Company) or liaising with tour guides and individual guests, Adey helps people to see the church as not just a beautiful building but a place of worship to our great and amazing God.
“There’s such a sense of heritage here,” she says. “Everyone who has walked through this door over the last 1,400 years has added to its history.” We quite agree, and Adey is one of those people too – helping the church stay vibrant. Adey also spends a lot of time with our indispensable volunteers. “They’re great, so willing to help however they can. Even with something as simple as making tea. You haven’t tasted a cup of tea ’til Barbara has made one for you.”
Humour and kind observations like this are what make Adey such a valuable member of our team here at All Hallows: no action or task is small enough to go unnoticed by her or so grand as to be considered insurmountable. We are blessed to have Adey on our team.  Adey works Mondays and Fridays. Do drop in and say hello.

Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

May 12th
Lunchtime Concert

May 25th
The Beating of the Bounds

June 14th
Knolly’s Rose Ceremony

Join us for all these and more at

Desert Journeys – 14/4/17

Desert Journeys 33

April 14th 2017

This poem was written by the Anglican priest and army chaplain Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, known affectionately by the troops during WW1 as ‘Woodbine Willie’. It reflects the period of disillusion which followed the war, a time of economic downturn and unemployment coupled with rising secularism and materialism. Today, on Good Friday, the saddest day of the Christian year, it still resonates strongly.


by G.A. Studdert-Kennedy (1883-1929)

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,

They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;

They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,

For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.

They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;

For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,

They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’

And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;

The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,

And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.

Bertrand Olivier, All Hallows By The Tower


Desert Journeys – 13/4/17

Desert Journeys 32

April 13th 2017

Nearly at the culmination of our Lenten desert journey with Christ, Holy Week is a smorgasbord of activities, and Maundy Thursday is the real beginning of the roller coaster which takes us to the height of emotions before plummeting into the abyss of Good Friday.

For bishops, clergy and lay ministers, the day starts in the cathedral for the Chrism Mass – a Eucharist where oils used for the sacraments throughout the year are blessed by the Bishop, and where the gathered ministers lay and ordained reaffirm their commitment to ministry.

Maundy Thursday liturgies later in the day include a re-enactment of Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet – challenging traditional leadership values – before the sharing in the last supper and the waiting in the garden. As we enter into these liturgies, we may feel overwhelmed by the sense of love and impending loss, the absurdity of Jesus’ journey – yet feel absolutely powerless to change it all.

In this singular journey with Christ, we enter the desert of the soul, and we are called to empty ourselves of our own desires that we may be filled with divine grace.

On Maundy Thursday, the shadow of the cross seems still far away, yet it is just around the corner. Can we bear to watch and wait, even for one hour?

Bertrand Olivier

Vicar, All Hallows by the Tower

Desert journeys – 12/4/17

Desert Journeys 31

April 12th 2017

Within the wider journey of Lent, Holy Week is the time when our direction of travel is concentrated, focussed on the central events of the Christian story. This is a time when we really need to commit to the journey, because the powerful liturgies of Holy Week ask us to walk alongside Jesus all the way from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his death on the cross and burial.

These are not events at which we are just spectators, armchair travellers watching in safety from afar: we are asked to inhabit the story ourselves, actually to participate in this great drama of our faith. So just as the crowds in Jerusalem did, we wave our palms, sing Hosannas and process outside in the spring sunshine on Palm Sunday; like the disciples we submit shamefacedly to having our feet washed; we share with Jesus in the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday; and we try to watch and pray with him late into the evening in the garden, tempted perhaps to fall asleep and aware of our own massive limitations in the face of his courage and faith.

On Good Friday, the journey focusses down even further. For centuries people have traced Jesus’ actual footsteps along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem as he carried his cross to Golgotha, and many more have joined them in spirit by following the stations of the cross around their church or parish. There is something profoundly important about being physically involved in Passiontide, I think because it reminds us of our own part in Jesus’ death, and the implications this has for our future. In the parish in Gloucestershire where I serve part-time, we have our own ‘green hill far away’, known locally as Cam Peak, and each Good Friday a procession from churches of all denominations carries a heavy, life-size cross two miles from the town centre and past various ‘stations’ to its summit. It’s a stiff climb, but each year around 300 people make it to the top to pray at the foot of the cross, a reminder that, as Rowan Williams has put it ‘God’s future is alive here and now, and it is us’.

Sophia Acland

Associate Priest, All Hallows by the Tower and

Associate Priest, Cam with Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire

Desert Journeys – 11/4/2017

Desert Journeys 30

April 11th 2017

Aboriginal hunter in outback at sunset.

Many cultures and faiths other than Christianity feature stories or traditions of people stepping away from home and going off into the wilderness, often to commune with something greater or divine.

The aborigines of Australia walk the Songlines across thousands of miles, the Native Americans seclude themselves in a natural environment on Vision Quests, and the story of the Buddha reports that he left a life of luxury and meditated under the Bodhi tree for 49 days before achieving enlightenment.

In our ‘always on’ lifestyle, where smartphones and emails constantly connect us to the 24-hour cycle of updates and newsfeeds, and where the ethos is often to add and complicate rather than to subtract and simplify, it’s both challenging and appealing to think about unplugging ourselves from the constant churn of input, and to allow the natural world around us to be heard.

Forty days and nights of fasting in the desert isn’t feasible for most of us (many employers allow flexible working now, but wi-fi tends to be hard to come by in places where the view to the horizon is nothing but sand), but it’s nonetheless possible to get away from it all, even if only on a temporary basis; in recent years, the idea of a ‘digital detox’ has been gaining in popularity, and whilst it might be beyond some of us to go an entire day without checking email or social media, simple steps like not checking email before breakfast can be seen as a small victory, a way of fighting the temptation to allow a distraction to become an addiction.

Similarly, physically taking oneself away from everyday locations can allow for refreshed insight – a change, they say, is as good as a rest. A lunchbreak spent in a nearby park instead of eating a sandwich at your desk, or even taking a moment to look up, at the sky, instead of down at a smartphone, can provide us with a micro-retreat – a small speck of comfort, perhaps, but then again the biggest desert is made up accumulated grains of sand.

In his popular philosophy book The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff points out that “if timesaving devices really saved time, there would be more time available to us now than any other time in history”, and yet we often hear about our ‘busy modern lifestyle’, one in which it seems that we have no time to stop and think, or to walk in nature – we have things to prepare for, plans to make, and things to do.

And yet as the time of his passion drew close, Jesus made a point of taking himself away from everyday life to reflect and prepare for the days to come; if this was the case for Him, how much more so would our lives benefit from us breaking from routine to think, reflect, and pray?

John Soanes

Desert Journeys – 10/4/17

Desert Journeys 29

April 10th 2017

I have been privileged to travel widely in my life. I have seen majestic mountains, green valleys covered in wildflowers, awe-inspiring waterfalls, animals of every size and shape, and oceans teeming with fantastically coloured coral and fish.

But one of my favourite areas of beauty is the desert. I have wept for joy at a breath-taking sunset. I have been lost for words at the intricacy of limestone formations. I have laughed with exhilaration, racing over massive sand dunes on a quad bike.

We often use the desert as a metaphor for difficult times, loneliness or solitude. Indeed, all of these have their place, and God can teach us much, and show us his power and faithfulness in them.

Lent can be like that. It reminds us of the sadness of Jesus’ journey to the Cross; of the seriousness of our failures which demanded his sacrifice; of the wretchedness of life without the grace of God.

But the desert can also be a place of life and growth, of amazing discovery, of adventure and celebration.

And Lent can be the same—as we read our Bibles, give more time to prayer, live generously and spend time with the people of God, we can be enriched in faith, encouraged in hope and excited by all that God can do in and through our lives each day as we give ourselves into his hands.

In Philippians 4, Paul exhorts us to rejoice in the Lord. I love the way Eugene Peterson phrases it in The Message: Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!

Let’s make Lent not only a time of reflection, but also a time of rejoicing—beauty in the desert.

Janet Gaukroger



Desert Journeys 7/4/17

Desert Journeys 28

April 7th 2017

Prison as a desert journey…

Imagine yourself in war-torn Germany in April 1943, being hauled off to prison by the Nazis, not knowing the charges against you, much less how long your imprisonment might last. How would you feel? How would you react?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the great Lutheran theologians of the 20th century provides fascinating insight into this scenario in his book, Letters from Prison.

…People outside find it difficult to imagine what prison life is like. The situation in itself – that is each single moment – is perhaps not so very different here from anywhere else; I read, meditate, write, pace up and down my cell… The great thing is to stick to what one still has and can do…and not to be dominated by the thought of what one cannot do, and by feelings of resentment and discontent.

(Bethe, Eberhard, ed., 1981. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. London: SCM Classics. p. 4)

Does Bonhoeffer’s early desert wisdom carry him through his two years of incarceration? The intimacy of his personal writings to family and friends, and the faith to which they testify, makes compelling reading. Immerse yourself in his desert journey.

(Bonhoeffer was martyred on 9 April 1945)

Sarah Owens

Lay minister, St Anne’s Lutheran Church