All posts by Lesley Crawley

Lesley is a priest in the Guildford Diocese

Pragmatism or Principle?

Recently there has been much discussion about the decision not to invite the spouses of gay bishops to the Lambeth conference – I think there is a reasonably fair post from a more conservative perspective here.

A lot of this has focused on the apparent inconsistency of inviting the bishops, but not their spouses, and the majority of views that I have seen have either expressed the view that if you are inviting the bishops you should invite the spouses as if it is wrong to invite the spouses it is wrong to invite the bishops, or that if you aren’t inviting the spouses you shouldn’t invite the bishops for a similar reason.  Both then rail against the decision because it is placing pragmatism above principle (the Archbishop of Canterbury apparently having told one of these bishops that if their spouse were invited there would be no Lambeth conference).

What I wish to look at in this blog post is the assumption that Christianity is about holding a principled position on this issue or that.  The two great commandments:

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

and numerous other quotes suggest that the most important thing about Christianity is love; love for God, love for neighbour, love for enemy.

If instead of assuming that we have to hold onto a principled position – and that our principle is more important than someone else, whose principled position leads them to the opposite conclusion, both then requiring those in authority to decide who is right – we assume that we have to love one another where does that lead us?

I have long thought that the 10 commandments, or the 613 laws of the Torah, are far easier to keep (ho ho) than the two great commandments because they are so black and white, and allow for little need of interpretation; whereas the two great commandments can leave lots of scope for ambiguity, and debate as to who has got it right.

I for one would have more sympathy for the decision if I thought that it came from the wrestling with the two Great Commandments, than if I thought it was a purely pragmatic attempt to get as many bishops to Lambeth as possible – even if the answer were the same!

Please help us find the relatives of these people buried at St John’s, Hale

Some of the gravestones in St John’s churchyard have become very unsafe and we are worried that someone might be hurt as a result. The maintenance of gravestones is the responsibility of the families of the loved ones, however, if we are worried about them from a safety point of view we have the right to lay the stones flat. We don’t really want to do this and so we urgently would like to contact the relatives of the following people as we believe that their gravestones fall into this category.  If it is you, or you know who they might be please would you let me know?

Ethel Matthews
Fredrick Lipscomb
Henry Tompkins
Harry Beaumont
George Cantwell
Wilfred Park
Eaustania Fagan
Jill Stares
Lotti Raynsford
Ivy Biddle
Charles Stent
Albert Woodhams
Frances Wilkinson
Samuel Bide

Thank-you so much

Lesley Crawley

St John’s Church is 175

Come to the 175th events:

Flower Festival
May 18th 10-4pm and May 19th 12-4pm. Entry £1, refreshments available.

Talk on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
May 22nd 7pm
Bishop Charles Sumner, who founded our church was a relative of William Wilberforce and so I seems appropriate as part of the 175th anniversary celebrations that we look again at slavery. Modern day slavery and human trafficking is going on around us now and we need to have our eyes open to it and learn what we can do to combat it. Suzette Jones, the Diocesan Health & Wellbeing Adviser, will give a talk at St John’s to help us all understand what we can do.

Talk from Christopher Herbert on ‘Art, Architecture and Christianity in Victorian England’
June 5th at 7:30pm. Donations welcome, refreshments available.

Art and Craft Exhibition
June 22nd 10-4pm and June 23rd 12-4pm. Entry £1, refreshments available.

BIG Party entitled ‘Music in the Churchyard’     
July 20th 12-2pm. Free of charge for the whole community. There will be music, food and lots of cake. All are invited, please let us let us know that you are coming so we can get the catering right. Email

Afternoon Tea Singing and Reminiscing

Aug 3rd 3-5pm. Free of charge and open to all. There will be a cream tea and lots of opportunity to join in the singing.

Celebration service with Bishop Andrew presiding

Nov 24th  at 9:30. Please come and join the service, followed by our 175th birthday cake!

Please also write about what St John’s Church means to you in 175 words and email it to The writings will be published here so let us know whether you want it to remain anonymous.

Also – please complete our community survey by clicking here

Christmas at St Mark’s

Monday 24th Dec at 5pm – Crib Service (especially for youngsters, come dressed as your favourite nativity character)

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 11am – All age Communion service


Christmas at St John’s

Monday 24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service (especially for youngsters, come dressed as your favourite nativity character)

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 9:30am – All-age Communion


Christmas at St George’s

Monday 24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service for Toddlers

Monday 24th Dec at 5.30pm – Crib Service for all ages

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 10:00am – All-age Communion

Come to a Start! course

In October we are starting a Start! course… The course introduces Christianity through six DVD based interactive, small-group sessions. The Start! course makes no assumptions about participants’ background or experience or knowledge of Christianity or the church. It really does start from scratch.

Each session lasts about 90 minutes and is based around short, DVD programmes – two per session. There’s time to chat, interactive exercises and space for reflection – in a style that aims to be honest and enjoyable.

Come along and bring your friends. To find out more contact Lesley – 01252 820537,

Start A4 Poster.jpg


Parish Fete

The sun shone for us on 9th June — indeed it was almost too hot at times in the morning—and many willing hands helped to get the church grounds looking festive and inviting by 12 noon, when the Fete was officially opened. For the next 3 hours trading was brisk at the various stalls, and there were plenty of games and activities to keep the young, and not so young, amused. Entertainment was provided by the Maypole dancers from Badshot Lea School, and the band from TS Swiftsure. The Mayor of Farnham, our local councillor, David Attfield, spent some time with us, and drew the tickets for the Grand Raffle. By the end of the afternoon there were a lot of extremely weary people.

The refreshment team, under the expert organisation of Gillian Hyman, were rushed off their feet, as were the barbecue trio, with head chef Martin Reed. Maxine Everitt had once again, with her usual calm efficiency, planned and prepared the event, very ably assisted by her support team. After the first count it seems that approx. £2,600 had been raised, a good increase on last year’s figure. Many thanks to all those who worked so hard for the event, whether unseen in the kitchen or vestry, on the stalls, or helping to set up and clear away.

Margaret Dyer

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