Parish of St Stephen


Parish Magazine Extracts
From the August 1932 edition of the parish newsletter
Mr. George Hubbard
Mr. George Hubbard has given the parish much help of late. He has interested himself in the Y.P.U. and has thrown himself heartily into the work of Littledean Hill Mission. He has a higher ideal of service than to consider his work as merely for the parish, but we do thank him for his comradeship. I am glad to say that the Bishop has given permission that Mr. Hubbard should become, at any rate for three months, parochial Lay Reader. He has already taken up his duties.
From the December 1932 edition of the parish newsletter
I wish we could have a few more meetings like the one which filled the Parish Hall to overflowing on November 16th. One advantage of such gatherings is that they do bring us all together, which is a very good thing. I was delighted to see so many of us from the Hill present at the meeting. I have been to many functions at the Parish Hall at different times, but never have I seen it so crowded before.
Please keep December 12th an open date. I have been asked to give a lantern lecture in Gloucester at St Mary-de-Crypt Schoolroom. I shall describe my travels in Palestine and shall be showing slides made from my own photographs. The lecture is at 7:30, and I hope that many of us will be able to come to it.
Children’s Hour
Numbers are keeping up well. Last month we made a special study of keeping correct time in the singing. Miss Holder, our organist, very kindly allowed us to use her metronome, which was a great help. A rumour is abroad that we are to have a children’s orchestra on the Hill - wait and see!
Christmas will soon be here now. The choir is hard at it on Monday evenings practicing parts and special music for Christmas Day.
Christmas in Nigeria
As I write this letter my mind goes back to where I spent last Christmas - in the marshy swamps of the Niger Delta in West Africa. What a journey it had been! Twelve solid hours steaming down the Niger - that was how I spent Christmas Eve. What a boat! What a crew! What a motley crowd of passengers! The boat was one of the old flat-bottomed paddle-wheelers, commanded and manned by Hausas, Arab-like natives of Northern Nigeria.
As for the passengers, I imagine all the races of Nigeria were represented, each one speaking his own language at the top of his voice.
Many times we missed the bank by inches, for or five times we grazed sandbanks, and twice we stuck fast on submerged reefs till a dozen stalwarts leapt overboard into the shallow water and levered us off again into the deep current.
Then there was that never-to-be-forgotten trip by moonlight by moonlight for ten miles up the creeks in the Mission motor launch, with the final lap of twelve miles on our “push” cycles through marshes and tropical forest in the early hours of Christmas morning. In spike of the scare that leopards were about, we reached our destination safe and sound, but tired out. Only a year ago!
Yes, it was Christmas Day all right. The first sound that greeted our ears on awakening was the tune of “Christians awake, salute the happy Morn,” sung in Isoko. There was no mistake about that, Christmas Day it most certainly was, even if the thermometer did register ninety degrees. What a scene too an hour or two later in the little mud and thatch Church. Banana leaves make an excellent substitute for holly, you do not want mistletoe or evergreens if you can get mango leaves, while the flaming scarlet of the bean tree blossoms is more vivid than any holly berries. The church was packed, and late-comers had to be content with sitting in the windows and doorways, or with remaining outside.
So it was under these conditions that I had the wonderful privilege last year, on His birthday, of telling the story of the Birth of Him Who is the “light to lighten the Gentiles.” Strange to think that ten years before this part of the country was still in primeval darkness., and that it had been a blank on the Government Survey Maps. Today, thank God, Light is beginning to shine where, only a few years ago, darkness covered the land.
In wishing you all a very Happy Christmas, I am going to pass on to you an acrostic which I came across recently. Light does a lot of things which Jesus does for those who let Him. Light Leads, Illuminates, Gladdens, Heals and Tests. John 1, 9-12. May that light, Which dawned nineteen hundred years ago in Bethlehem, Which is dawning today in heathen lands, dawn afresh in our hearts this Christmastide.
Yours sincerely,
Acknowledgements to Roger Deeks, part of the team heading up 'Voices from the Forest' School of Media at the University of Gloucestershire. 2022/3
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