Dear Friends

Dear Friends

Written address from our Minister Revd. Bill Bowman

Fake News

Dear Friends,

I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that this month, on Thursday the eighth, we have a General Election and all the main parties have been, for what seems an age now, wooing us for our votes. It is certainly not for me to tell you for whom to vote but I would encourage you to vote. It is a precious democratic right for which our forebears sacrificed much to preserve.

Since the 2016 US Presidential election campaign a new phrase has entered the English language – “Fake News.” This idiom is used by people, mainly politicians, to describe what they consider to be lies and fabrications reported as facts. Whether the so called “Fake News” are made up stories or facts the person in question disagrees with and would rather not they be brought to light is, of course, open to debate.

“Fake News” or indeed fake anything is the opposite of truth. Truth is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Pontius Pilate famously asked Jesus at his trial, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Jesus didn’t answer Pilate on that occasion but earlier that same evening Jesus had assured his enquiring disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) Truth is not an abstract concept to be discovered by philosophical debate (as the Greeks thought in Jesus’ time) or adherence to the Law of Moses (as the Jewish leaders thought in  Jesus’ time) it is knowing the person of Jesus Christ and his revelation of the Father’s love and saving grace.

Jesus told his first disciples if they held firm to his teaching, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). The truth revealed in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus sets us free from bondage to fear, despair and hopelessness and opens up our hearts and lives to love, compassion, justice and peace which we are called to share with a troubled world which is often a slave to the purveyors of, “Fake News.”

Sunday 4th June is Pentecost Sunday – that day we celebrate the coming into the world of the Holy Spirit in a special way which gave birth to the Church. Jesus, when he promised his disciples this gift, described it thus – “when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) We are delighted to be welcoming on the evening of 4th June our brothers and sisters from the other churches in West Wickham to celebrate together the gift of the “Spirit of Truth.”

Disregard “Fake News!!” Jesus said, “For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37)



Remember Watergate?

In June 1972 there was a break-in at the Democratic Party’s Headquarters located in the Watergate building in Washington DC. It went virtually  un-noticed at the time but due to the investigative journalism of two Washington Post reporters, involvement in the break-in was traced back to the White House. The attempt to cover up the … Continue reading Remember Watergate?


At this time of year the snowdrops are in full bloom in the manse garden and they seem to get more and more each year. They remind me of my native, Ayrshire, as snowdrops grow in abundance there along the hedgerows and in the woods at this time of year. But the snowdrops also remind … Continue reading Snowdrops


I am writing this in the week in January when the Prime Minister has been making a major speech on the government’s Brexit strategy and the term “trade deal” has been bandied about freely. I am sure it wasn’t necessarily the intention of the PM but it is a timely reminder that “Fairtrade Fortnight” is  … Continue reading Trade

Standing on the threshold

I think this is the first time since I became your minister that I am writing my letter for the January magazine after Christmas. I thought the services over the Christmas period at both Elmers End and Emmanuel went well and it was wonderful to welcome so many who do not come to church at … Continue reading Standing on the threshold


I heard a caller say on a phone-in radio programme earlier this month  “2016 has been a frightful year.” They were referring to the uncertainty brought about by the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as the next US President. The continuing war in Syria and the terrorist attack in Nice and other … Continue reading Faith

The Russians are Coming

I am writing this on the day when the BBC news reports that the Russian Fleet (bound for Syria) is sailing through the English Channel shadowed by ships of our own Royal Navy whose job it is to monitor their progress away from British coastal waters. For some reason this news bulletin brought to mind … Continue reading The Russians are Coming

Harvest Thanksgiving

At Elmers End we celebrated our Harvest Thanksgiving on 18th September and Emmanuel celebrate theirs on 9th October. Harvest is a very important festival in the Christian Church and it is right that we celebrate it. Unlike Christmas and Easter it doesn’t commemorate a significant event in the life and ministry of Jesus but none … Continue reading Harvest Thanksgiving


By the time you read this it will just be a few days before Marion and I and our group set off for Greece – in the footsteps of St Paul. We shall be visiting all the places Paul visited in his journey through Greece as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. We start … Continue reading Greece!

People of the Way

The United Reformed Church’s General Assembly which I attended in Southport from 8th -11th July had as its theme “People of the Way.” The earliest Christian church members were known by this description. In the ninth chapter of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Saul of Tarsus (later better known as Paul) seeks … Continue reading People of the Way

The Olympics

At Messy Church at Emmanuel last Sunday (as I write this) the theme was “the Olympics.” During this month athletes and sports people from all over the globe will be heading to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to prepare for the 2016 Olympics which begin in early August. It hardly seems four years since the games … Continue reading The Olympics