Friday, May 31, 2013

Photos dramatize the Collapse of Christianity and the Rise of Islam in England

This is what happens when the Gospel is not preached — and not lived. This should be a jolting wake up call to us all, and stir us to fervent and zealous faith, lest our communities also be overtaken by a false desert pagan religion.

It would seem from the comments of the English clergy below, that the best they can offer is a line from the classic Pink Floyd album, Dark Side of the Moon:

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English Way;
The time has come, the song is over,
Thought I'd something more to say...


One country, two religions and three very telling pictures: The empty pews at churches just yards from an overcrowded mosque
  • Two photos show Sunday morning services in churches in East London
  • The third shows worshippers gathered for Friday midday prayers outside a nearby mosque 
  • The difference in numbers could hardly be more dramatic

Set aside the fact that our Queen is the Defender of the Christian Faith. Ignore the 26 Church of England bishops who sit in the House of Lords. 
Pay no attention to the 2011 Census that told us 33.2 million people in England and Wales describe themselves as Christians.
For if you want a more telling insight into religion in the United Kingdom today, just look at these photographs. The story they tell is more revealing than any survey.

Dwindling flock: St Mary's Cable Street in East London was built to hold
1,000 people. Today, the congregation numbers around 20.

What they show are three acts of worship performed in the East End of London within a few hundred yards of each other at the end of last month. 

Two of the photos show Sunday morning services in the churches of St George-in-the-East on Cannon Street Road, and St Mary’s on Cable Street.

The third shows worshippers gathered for Friday midday prayers outside the nearby mosque on the Brune Street Estate in Spitalfields.

The difference in numbers could hardly be more dramatic. At St George’s, some 12 people have congregated to celebrate Holy Communion.

Empty pews: 18th-century parishioners crowded into St George-in-the-East
to hear John Wesley. Only 12 people attended this service.

When the church was built in the early 18th century, it was designed to seat 1,230.

Numbers are similar at St Mary’s, opened in October 1849. Then, it could boast a congregation of 1,000. Today, as shown in the picture, the worshippers total just 20.

While the two churches are nearly empty, the Brune Street Estate mosque has a different problem — overcrowding. The mosque itself is little more than a small room rented in a  community centre, and it can hold only 100.

However, on Fridays, those numbers swell to three to four times the room’s capacity, so the worshippers spill out onto the street, where they take up around the same amount of space as the size of the near-empty St Mary’s down the road.

A study in devotion: The tiny mosque on the Brune Street Estate,
Spitalfields, holds only 100 people, so the local Bangladeshi
community throng the street for Friday midday prayers.

On Sunday October 1, 1738, St George’s was packed twice during the day to hear the great evangelist John Wesley, who then preached at the church for the following week explaining, as he put it, ‘the way of salvation to many who misunderstood what had been preached concerning it’.

Today, there are no John Wesleys to fill up the pews. The church does its best, offering, for example, a monthly ‘Hot Potato Sunday’, during which the few congregants can discuss the readings of the day over a baked potato.

Canon Michael Ainsworth of St George’s puts on a brave face when he says: ‘What we are saying now is it is not just a matter of numbers. It is about keeping faith with the city and hanging in there — being part of the community.’

At St Mary’s, meanwhile, Rev Peter McGeary cannot explain why the numbers are so low: ‘It’s impossible to say, there are so many variables.’ 

When he is asked if he tries to boost his congregations, he simply replies: ‘We are not a company, we are a church.’

In contrast, there seems a remarkable energy attached to the mosque on Brune Street, which has been described as the ‘Mecca of the City’.

Here, come rain or shine, members of the  Bangladeshi community perform the Friday prayer of Jumma under the open sky. It is a communal act which will surely only grow in popularity.

Sadly, that’s not something that can be said of the two nearby churches, and unless they can reinvigorate their congregations they may finally end up being deconsecrated.

When that happens, such large buildings will be attractive spaces for those who can fill them. 

One day, in a few decades, St George’s may well again be packed with worshippers — but they will not be Christians.