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.

The significance of this date is that it is traditionally the day on which his remains and relics, carried by Syrian Christians, arrived in Edessa (now Urfa in south east Turkey) from India, where he may have been martyred at St Thomas’ Mount near Chennai. There are still ‘St Thomas’ Christians’ in India today, particularly in Kerala.


We welcome as our preacher Tania Witter, Assistant Priest at Christ Church Highbury, where she has ministered for 24 years, working with 3 vicars, all male. We’ve invited her to join us for this service as a way of celebrating that it’s already 25 years since women were first ordained to the priesthood of the Church of England.


On the previous day, 29 June, the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, which is the Patronal Festival of our link parish in Mozambique, John Irwin, a member of our congregation, is to be made deacon in St Paul’s Cathedral, together with 50 other women and men, by Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London.


On 3 July this year Joanne Grenfell, our new Bishop of Stepney, is to be consecrated in the same cathedral, along with 3 other women to serve in different dioceses. St Paul’s is our cathedral and some of you know that in 2013 I was made a prebendary, which gives me a stall in the choir. I keep this until I retire next Easter.




The grounds around our church building are in two distinct parts. Entering through the gate in Monsell Road you are in the playground that was made for St Thomas’ Playgroup in 2010. You may have read in the ‘Islington Gazette’ about two months ago that we’ve been finding it difficult to secure this outside space safely for the children, because of the anti-social behaviour of some visitors. We’re now locking that gate both when the children are present and when no one is on the premises. The situation has improved.


There is more of a garden on the St Thomas’s Road side of the building. Sadly this is also being abused. Perhaps it is too welcoming as there are several benches, given in memoriam, on which people can relax. We’re reluctant to lock this space as well, but are aware that some of the activities are causing distress to our neighbours. It is indeed astonishing how shameless some of our fellow citizens are. We would prefer our garden to be a welcoming place for everyone to enjoy. After all, not everyone has one.


Incrementally we are working on strategies to improve the situation both with officers of Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police.

However, it is vital that you report any anti-social behaviour that you witness. This helps to build up a picture of what is going on, which in turn can lead to more resources being made available.


You can report in three ways: dial 101, which will soon be free, or 999 in an emergency; call our neighbourhood police 07407-487254, or e-mail them; if you prefer to be anonymous then contact Crimestoppers by calling 0800-555-111 or on-line at


If we all work together, as we began to do when we held those public meetings last year, then we can make this parish safer.



Just before Easter we had our lighting adapted so that we would use less energy. Most of our bulbs, inside and outside the building are now LED. We’re enjoying the change very much as not only is it cheaper, but we can see better as well.


More recently we have had some solar panels fitted to one slope of the roof, one that catches the most sunlight, while not altering the look of the building to passers-by or neighbours. Soon we will be able both to store some of the electricity produced and to feed any surplus to the National Grid.


On 12 October you are invited to join us for an Eco-Fair so that we can share our experience as well as that of other organisations. There will be more details in our next circular. We all can and need to play our part in tackling this crisis, which has so many aspects. Helping other species that are facing new challenges is also important. At the end of May Islington Swifts fitted two nest boxes to our building. One of my greatest joys while I have been in Finsbury Park is seeing and hearing these visitors during the warmer months.




I was delighted that so many of us accepted the invitation from our Muslim neighbours to a meal during Ramadan. While we were eating I realised that we were on exactly the same stretch of St Thomas’s Road where over 15 years ago other events had taken place. I hope our presence there in 2019, at the initiative of our local mosques, has finally exorcised those events. We need to witness to another and better way to conduct human relationships, one that works with others and not at their expense. The world is blessed when people, who may be very different, celebrate each other.


Rev’d Prebendary Stephen Coles

The Cardinal’s Hat, 25 Romilly Road, London N4 2QY


Facebook: St Thomas the Apostle Finsbury Park

Charity Number 1179777


St Thomas's Road 

London, N4 2QP

Charity Number 1179777

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