St Thomas the Apostle - Finsbury Park

Parish Circular





The official day on which the Church celebrates St Thomas is 3 July, but we keep to the nearest Sunday so that more people can join us. For many centuries he was commemorated on 21 December, perhaps because of a tradition that he was Jesus’ twin! He is famously described in the gospel as ‘Didymus’ meaning twin. His feast day was changed possibly to avoid any confusion about this, but also because his day was overshadowed by Christmas itself.

The significance of 3 July is that it is traditionally the day of the arrival of his remains and relics, carried by Syrian Christians to Edessa (now Urfa in south east Turkey) from India where he may have been martyred. There are still ‘St Thomas’ Christians’ there.


We welcome as our preacher John Seymour, Tutor for Mission and Contextual Theology at St Augustine’s College. This college provides non-residential training for ministry for students from the south-east of England. Several of our ordinands from St Thomas’ have studied there for all or part of their training.

John himself was previously Chaplain of Twyford School in west London. While there he developed a strong connection with the cathedral school in Maciene, Mozambique and was able to take several of his students on visits there.



 Several forms of work are described as ‘vocational’. These include being a doctor or a nurse, ministry within the Church and other faith traditions, and working within education. This kind of employment suggests that the person employed is not primarily interested in the money. In the past, and to an extent even now, this has led to such people being taken for granted as if we would still do such work however badly we might be paid.

 Yet medicine, education and religion are not the only forms of vocational work. Many people who do creative work would regard that as a ‘calling’ as it’s what they really want to do. Artists and writers, for example, often go through long periods when they earn very little from their work. Most of them will need to do other kinds of work at the same time, at least when they are starting, in order to have enough money on which to live.

 What is it that defines a ‘vocation’? The idea of a calling suggests that it comes from somewhere else and finds a response within us. Sometimes other people can discern it before we recognise it ourselves. That was true for me. Jesus ‘called’ his disciples like Thomas. One way of understanding a vocation is to think of it as the kind of life that is a blessing to others, not just those people who are ‘like us’, but people who are very different from us.

 For example in the Church we describe the kind of work I do not as ‘paid’ but ‘stipendiary’. I am given a stipend as your vicar, not to carry out a detailed job description, but simply to be here and available. Sometimes the pension I receive on retirement is referred to as a ‘deferred stipend’. I never cease to be a priest, even though my role changes and I’m no longer a vicar. Until Easter 2020 I will continue to be here for whatever members of the congregation and parishioners present to me.




 Our part of London was filling up with housing in 1888-9 when the church was built. So St Thomas’ was put here very deliberately to serve the new residents, so that they did not have to walk far for worship. It’s been a very local church ever since, set amidst the community and not towering over the neighbours.

 Curiously ours is the only parish called ‘Finsbury Park’. Our  neighbours are Stroud Green, Brownswood Park, Highbury…  

 St Thomas’ needs to be alert and responsive to whatever is going on locally. Therefore I was glad that we have been able to host a couple of meetings recently where parishioners have been able to meet councillors, community police and council staff. The need arose because of the increase in drug dealing, and some associated violence, that has been taking place within the parish. The area was beginning to feel less safe, but many of us weren’t sure if anything was being done about it. When we met it became clear that no one was really co-ordinating information that had been passed on. There were also quite a few people who didn’t know how best to report incidents in a safe way.

 Once again Finsbury Park is suffering from being on the edge of three boroughs. This is one reason why the proposed Neighbourhood Plan, currently going through a period of consultation, could help us considerably. Please be alert to this.

 In the meantime please report any criminal activity you see. In an emergency dial 999; if it is not an emergency dial 101; or you can call anonymously to Crimestoppers – 0800-555111. The Highbury West Neighbourhood Policing Team can be contacted on 020-3276-3030 or 07407-487254 or





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