52 of 66 | The City of LITCHFIELD | Definitley NOT St Chav!


THIS WAS LITCHFIELD | (See my Full 66 City Tour List by Clicking HERE)


I was up at around 5:00am this morning. Did some journaling and emailing, breakfasted on cardboard bits and milk (Muesli) was washed packed and out the door by 8:30am. Lichfield was about an hour away. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to exclude toll roads on my Sat Nav, and as I ardently refused to get on the M6 Toll, my Sat Nav determinedly tried to get me back on it. I waisted about 30 minutes on this technological tussle.

Finally, I pulled over to a Maccy D’s about 20 minutes from lovely Litchfield and you know, it was a very lovely blue sky day as well. It was a day for some open air work, though my 52nd of 1st Thessalonians did not seem to me to lend itself to market square proclamation.

Still, the coffee was doing its job and waking me up. I had been to Litchfield a few times before, and remember it to be a beautiful place. The Cathedral itself, though very badly damaged by the Parliamentarian forces in the civil war, at one time housed the relics of St Chad, (not to be confused with St Chav of course, the patron saint of Essex) and being subsequently endowed by Charles he 2nd at the Restoration, always seemed to me to be one of the plusher Cathedrals in our nation, boasting three spires just to prove the point. Litchfield has always struck me to be the same, you know, prosperous, settled and unwilling to be disturbed. In Lichfield, every days except Saturday seems to be a sleepy Sunday.

  • I rang the Cathedral and left messages for the Verger. I don’t think the dean was available.
  • I rang St Chads for some church contact names and got permission from the very nice and helpful personnel lady to park my car there for the day.
  • I rang Litchfield Civic centre to see if I could get an interview with the Mayor. They would get back to me.
  • I contacted a few churches and even got through to a Pastor Jeff Fry (I know! A Miracle) of Darwin Park community church. It looked like a church plant based on a cell church model, so I asked if he had any meetings I could come along to and share. He said he would get back to me.

As a side issue, I think UCB did some very recent research where they called 1,000 churches. 700 of them did not pick up? In other words, 70% of our churches had no warm body at the end of the phone. May I say it one more time: Fixing this IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

Anyhoo, as I was pondering, panicking and praying what to do next, the phone rang. It was the Sheriff of Litchfield and former Mayor, Dr. Neville Brown. I suspect the incumbent Mayor was not available today but had kindly asked Dr Brown to meet with me. I would meet him at his school at 12:00am.

Now the Sheriff is also, I believe, a Neuropsychologist and within the state schooling system regarded maybe as a bit of maverick. Even so, he is the founder of the very successful ‘Maple Hayes Hall’ special school in Litchfield, and an award-winning expert on dyslexic pupils with literacy problems. If you are interested then Dr Brown’s book, ‘Morphemes, Meaning and Literacy’, outlines his theory of language, which led him to develop the alternative, visual literacy method that has been used at his school since 1981. I am pretty sure he could help me and even my family. Just in conversation for example, I picked up that as a male, my left and right hemispheres were more out of phase than females which is probably why when typing I always type hte instead of ‘the’. So there you go Bridget, I am ‘out of phase’. I am emphasizing this male peculiarity so evident in me because I have been slighted twice today. The first was when one of my interns from a previous church called me to tell me that whenever her friend felt a little ‘mental’ she looked at my 66cities blog just to remind herself that someone far worse than her was already let loose in Britain! The second was when moaning to my good wife today I frustratingly exclaimed that “darling I am either an idiot or a hero, what do you think?” She replied “Well, a bit of both dear.” I could feel her patting my head as she said it. Well! To you both and to the whole word I can now almost certainly say, that I am just a little ‘out of phase’.

I had a great tour of the successful school. With only 120 pupils and smaller class sizes, I can definitely say that everyone seemed orderly and even happy. I had a smashing and very educational time with the Sheriff of Litchfield who very kindly gave me an interview.

It was 3:00pm. I had picked up a message from Pastor Jeff who in short had invited me for Shepherds Pie at 7:00pm and given me the opportunity to share from 1 Thessalonians at a cell group meeting at 8pm. Thanks Jeff.

I tried to make my way to St Chads and to Litchfield Cathedral but for some reason, the Cities one way system just led me a very merry dance. Get it sorted Litchfield! However, I did eventually arrive at the Cathedral and parked for free outside.

The verger could not find anyone to give me an interview, so I spent my time visiting the shrine of St Chad (no relics here right now, but did I read that some of his ‘long’ bones were in Birmingham Roman Catholic Cathedral? Yes I did. 2 Kings 13:21 has a lit to answer for!)
Much more importantly in Litchfield Cathedral are the St Chads Gospels, The St Chad Gospels which is an eighth century Gospel of 236 surviving folios, eight of which are illuminated and four which contain framed text and it also contains as marginalia, some of the earliest known examples of written Welsh. I think the book just contains Matthew, Mark and a bit of Luke. It’s all interesting stuff!


What’s most importantt though is that the Puritans wanted to burn both it and the bones. I get the sense that the present day lovers of the Cathedral hold these Parliamentarian Puritans in some disdain. I am longing for the film to come out which tells the story of what Britain would have looked like without the restoration of the Monarchy.

By now it was near 5pm.The day was lost. I managed to find a bed and Breakfast about 25 minutes away and drove up there to drop my bags off and prepare for tonight’s cell group meeting. I was greeted by a very friendly Border Collie which cheered me up no end, and grabbed an hour or so in preparation.

I arrived on time at Jeff the Church planters home. The Shepherd’s pie was lovely and this latest Missionary to Britain was dedicated to his task as was of course, his lovely wife. I shall have been sticking with this mission for 66 days. They have been persevering with this church plant for over 6 years. Now THAT’S dedication.

When the other cell group members arrived, the DVD in the TV allowed us to sing along to some digital songs. Frankly, I have always found it hard to be digitally led in singing songs to God. Me and my wife Bridget have done this many times ourselves mind you in church planting situations we have started but I always found it difficult. In fact, I find any intimate front room singing very challenging. In fact let me be honest, I find it difficult when we call it worship. You see, me and old Fred (there is always an old Fred of an old Freda) always sound like two knackered geese with a walnut stuck in their orifice. I always feel this home or house group ‘worship’ time is a most unnecessary bolt on in our gathering together and in terms of getting blokes to come along, is attractive as Doris waving her caramel coloured flag at the front of the church on a Sunday morning. This really has to stop.

But that’s just me.

And apparently most every other bloke in the world.

Hot Coffee, lots of Chocolate Cake, a little reading sprinkled with some exhortation and some doctrine, maybe followed by some good stories and prayerful praise, is a great recipe for a good cell group meeting. And let me moan a bit more by saying that the often perpetually long lists of those whose are dying of cancer this week and those who have gotten persecuted in Africa last Tuesday, always seemingly brought to the table by dour old ladies getting some strange delight in recounting other peoples troubles, need to be totally taken OFF the mid week house group /cell group agenda. There is a most definite place for this kind of stuff. There is a most certain place for this kind of stuff. There is a most needful place for this and it’s in the resurrected public prayer meeting, where we are ready, armed, prepared and all rightfully gathered together to do serious business with God and the devil.

So let’s keep our singing for the public gathering of the local church and then lets do it well, let’s do it prayerfully, let’s do it lustily and with good courage! And let’s keep our ‘serious’ prayers (for want of a far better descriptive phrase) for the serious prayer meetings. What? You don’t have those now? WELL GET IT SORTED! It’s not rocket science.

Anyways, now I have in my rant both sorted out and fixed all our important Christian gatherings, let me say just how much I loved being with Pastor Jeff and his wife and the lovely people of the cell group. What an awesome couple, doing an awesome job for an awesome God.
I actually drove back and crawled into bed around 10:30pm. I was absolutely whacked!
Pastor Jeff had kindly given me a contact in Wolverhampton for tomorrow and praise God, an email I received tonight also indicated that someone had booked me into a bed and breakfast just outside Birmingham and wanted to take me for some grub on Thursday as well! Ooooh and my colleague, accountant and friend was also passing through Wolverhampton tomorrow and he wanted to hook up as well! How wonderful. My ‘Billy No Mates’ hat was beginning to gather dust in the back of the car.

Here it’s the very wee mediation on 1Thessalonians, with mostly grateful thanks to Dr. V. Vernon McGee.

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About vrfarrell

Biblical activist
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