Letter to the congregation of Bournville Parish Church in which Canon Peter announces his appointment as priest-in-charge at St Mary le Strand, London

May 24th, 2020

20th May 2020


Dear Friends,


I write to share some significant news.

Last summer I began to discern that it was time for me to move to a new ministry.  This long process of prayer and reflection has led to me being appointed to a new role in the Diocese of London.  Whilst I am excited and happy to be offered this new role, I am also sad to be leaving Bournville which has been our home for nearly eighteen years.

From September I will begin a new ministry as priest-in-charge of St Mary le Strand.  This is a beautiful church which is right in the middle of The Strand with traffic flowing either side of it.  The church has had some ups and downs and, at present, they have a Sunday service only once a month and one midweek service.  However, that is all about to change as Westminster City Council are planning a scheme to pedestrianize that part of The Strand and for the church to become a focal point in the middle of a new public square.  My role will be to oversee the restoration of the church building and build up the ministry there so that the church can take its place in the heart of the regenerated area.

My last Sunday in Bournville will be 19th July and, if restrictions are lifted, we will move at the end of July.  I have no idea what will be possible in terms of public worship at that time, but I sincerely hope that we will find a good way to say a proper farewell.  I will have to come back for a party if necessary!

When I first began to think of moving the timing seemed just right and to fit so well with the rest of my family’s work and education.  Paula will continue in her role as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Susie will continue at University and Ruth will go into sixth form for her A’Levels.  Now, in the middle of this lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, I have to say that the timing feels far from ideal.  Nevertheless, I do trust that this is still the right thing and it will all work out in the end.

I would just like to say a few words here about what will happen in the interregnum.  When a church does not have a vicar in post then the responsibility for the parish rests with the Churchwardens under the guidance of the Area Dean and with support from the Archdeacon.  At Bournville Parish Church we are extremely fortunate to have Revd Gail Rogers who will continue as Assistant Curate.  Revd Gail is still in training and has one more year to serve of her curacy; through the coming year she will be supervised and supported by another local vicar.  I am confident that Revd Gail will do a superb job of maintaining the worshipping life and pastoral ministry of the church in this coming year. However, she will need the support and help of everyone in the church, and whilst she will be taking a lead in many things it will be the Churchwardens and PCC who will be responsible for ‘running the church’.

I would like to thank you all for your support and friendship over many years.  There is so much to be grateful for, we have loved being part of the Bournville community and it has been a great honour to serve as Vicar here.  Please keep us in your prayers in this time of change and transition.

With my prayers and all best wishes,


Canon Peter Babington

Vicar of Bournville

Sundays at Home – Morning Worship for Lent – Bournville Parish

March 21st, 2020

Dear Friends,

Due to the public health emergency situation relating to Covid-19 (Coronavirus) all public worship is suspended.  This means we are trying to find creative ways to do church differently.  We may not be able to gather together as the Community of Christ but we can still worship at the same time in our own homes.  Church is not closed, it is changing.

To see the Order of Service for our Sundays at Home Morning Worship during Lent follow this link: Click here for the order of service

Canon Peter and Revd Gail will be recording the service so that it can be posted online at 10.00 a.m. via the Bournville Parish Church Facebook page, which you can link to here.

When possible we also hope to have a couple of hymns as part of these Sunday morning services. Thanks to Laura and Charlotte for organising these.

Wherever you are, we hope and pray that you are staying safe and well.  Pray for us as we pray for you.

Canon Peter


Safeguarding Matters

June 25th, 2019


Safeguarding Matters

If you have any concerns about a child, a young person, an adult who may be vulnerable or someone who works for or volunteers for Bournville Parish Church or the St Francis Youth and Community Centre then do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Parish Safeguarding Officer can be contacted through the Parish Office on 0121 472 7215 ext 2; the office is open Monday to Friday from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. and any messages left will be checked and passed on daily.

The Bishop’s Safeguarding Adviser, Steph Haynes can be contacted on: Telephone:  07342 993 844, or e-mail: StephH@cofebirmingham.com

Click for a link to Bournville Parish Church Safeguarding Children Policy.

Click for the Bournville Parish Church Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy (especially for the St Francis Lunch Club)

Victory is ours (Easter Day Sermon)

April 22nd, 2019

Victory is Ours

Sermon for Easter Day 2019

Acts 10.34-43; John 20.1-18


May I speak in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.

Goodness is stronger than evil;

love is stronger than hate;

light is stronger than darkness;

life is stronger than death.

Victory is ours, victory is ours

through him who loved us.

Victory is ours, victory is ours

through him who loved us.


These words, by Desmond Tutu (former archbishop of Johannesburg) set to music by John Bell of the Iona Community, are what came to me as I have been praying and thinking in these last few weeks about what is at the heart of the meaning of Easter.

Easter is the celebration of Christ’s endless victory over sin and death:  Jesus is the risen, conquering Son of God the Father.  He is alive; risen from the dead and Easter is our victory celebration!  Today we shout and sing: Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed, Alleluia! Read the rest of this entry »

Holy Week and Easter 2019 Services and Events

April 13th, 2019

Click here to see the leaflet giving details of all the services and events for Holy Week and Easter at Bournville Parish Church


Jesus was a Jester: A Sermon for Easter Day / April Fool’s Day 2018

April 1st, 2018

Sermon for Easter on April Fool’s Day

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1.18)

And what is resurrection, but “a laugh freed for ever and ever.”[i]


Jesus was a jester

Since the day he come to earth

A king born in a stable

With shepherds at his birth.

As he grew, he grew in wisdom

Though he never towed the line

He was well-known for his party tricks

And once turned water into wine.


The Devil didn’t like Jesus

He couldn’t look him in the eyes

He tempted him in the desert

But Jesus didn’t buy his lies.

The Devil was a card-sharper,

The Devil was a hack.

Jesus was an upstart

He was the joker in the pack.


Jesus was a riddler

He travelled across the land

He had a ragged band of followers

Who tried hard to understand.

Jesus was a teacher

Jesus was a clown

He was a topsy-turvy preacher

Of a world turned upside-down.


Jesus was a jester,

he liked to play the fool

He upset those in power

When he stretched and bent the rules:

He would work on the sabbath,

Healing with a touch;

He kept company with sinners

And he loved them all too much.


Jesus was a truth-teller

Though he always told it slant

He told the tallest tales

Just like the way a farmer plants.

His words were seeds of the Kingdom

Sown in human soil

Scattered in his hearer’s hearts

Nourished by his toil.


Jesus was a comic

He road a donkey into town

People laughed ho, ho, hosanna

Jesus you’re such a clown!

Jesus was a Jester

Though sometimes he wore a frown

He was angry with the temple men

Said he would tear the temple down.


The Devil was a trickster

He wanted to see Jesus crash

He was looking for a betrayer

And Judas took the cash.

The Devil was a conman

He caught Judas in his scam.

The Devil shrieked with laughter

And he didn’t give a damn.


Jesus was a stand up

He knew how to work a crowd

A response to every heckler

He could make them laugh out loud.

But when the crowd turned nasty

And shouted out in rage

Before their violence he was silent

And he died a death on stage.


Jesus was the fall-guy

He was made to walk the plank

The butt of every bitter joke

The victim of the prank.

Jesus was a scarecrow

Discarded on a hill

Mocked and shamed and laughed at

Beaten up and killed.


Jesus was a loser

And now the game was lost

The Devil was the victor

His master-stroke the cross.

But Jesus was a jester

He knew all the wisest-cracks

A trick to play on the Devil

That would stop him in his tracks.


Jesus’ friends were grieving

The women went alone

To the place where he was buried

But who would roll away the stone?

In the empty tomb an angel

“He is not here” was all they heard

They ran away in terror

And they did not say a word.


But Jesus was alive again

A laugh with every breath

For goodness is stronger than evil

And love is stronger than death.

When everything was over

And every hope seemed gone,

Jesus had the last laugh

And still the laughter echoes on.


So, sing ha, ha, hallelujah!

Come and sing along with me

Join in the Easter laughter

Jesus the fool will set you free.



(c) Copyright P.G. Babington 1st April 2018

[i] Stephen Pattison, quoting Patrick Kavanagh’s Lough Derg, in the chapter ‘Laughter and Pastoral Care’, in A Critique of Pastoral Care, (London: SCM Press, 1993 (2nd Ed.), p.192)


Yes to God: A Sermon to Celebrate 60 Years of Ordained Ministry

September 25th, 2017

On 24th September 2017 my Dad, Gervase Babington, celebrated the 60th anniversary of his Ordination as a Deacon.  There was a lovely celebration at their church in Lincoln, St Nicholas, at which I preached and Dad gave the final blessing.  Thanks to all the people of St Nicholas church for making us welcome and for their love and care over the years.  Below is the full text of my sermon.


Yes to God


May I be helped to speak in the name of the Living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

First, can I say a huge thank you to the Vicar, Hugh, for inviting me to preach this morning and indeed for encouraging this celebration to take place today.  It is really wonderful for us all to be here for this celebration of a lifetime of ministry.

When Gervase, my Dad, moved after 16 years from being Rector of Waddington to become Vicar of Gainsborough, one of the congregation said to him, “I’ve timed all your sermons and you never preached for less than 7 minutes and never more than 12!” So, if you would like to set your timers now I will see if I can keep within that range.  One of my dad’s maxims about preaching is that a sermon should be about two things:  about God and about 10 minutes.  Whilst this sermon will be about those two things, I would also like to stretch that rule today because this sermon will also be about my father and his ministry as a deacon and priest.

60 years ago this week, Gervase Babington was ordained as a deacon in Sheffield Cathedral by Bishop Leslie Hunter.  It was a time of great change and challenge:  under Bishop Leslie Hunter, Sheffield was a forward-thinking diocese engaging with industrial mission, encouraging lay ministry, and exploring new patterns of ordained ministry.  It was also a time of great popular spiritual and theological questioning, exemplified by the controversial book Honest to God. Read the rest of this entry »

Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us…

April 30th, 2017

A Pilgrimage of Trust and the Emmaus Road

Luke 24.13-35


Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us.

The gathering of people from across Europe this weekend in Birmingham is part of the Taizé Community’s pilgrimage of trust on earth – we are travelling together as people sharing in a journey of faith.  We can learn at least four things from today’s gospel story to encourage and inspire us as we continue on this pilgrimage of trust.

First, Jesus, the risen Christ, is with us when we walk together.

Jesus is with us even when we do not recognize him.  He is with us in the stranger who shares our journey.

He is with us when we are doubting, discouraged or in despair.

He is with us even when we are walking in completely the wrong direction, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, walking away from the amazing things that God was doing in Jerusalem…


Second, Jesus is with us when we open the scriptures together.  It is wonderful when we experience that sense of God speaking to us in the words of the Bible and we, too, can say: ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he spoke with on the road?’

We can learn about God from the living Word of God in the Bible.  We learn best and we learn most when we learn from each other, when we interpret the story of our lives in the light of the story of salvation. Just as Jesus interpreted the experience of the disciples as he opened the scriptures to them.


Third, Jesus is with us in the breaking of bread.

Many Churches teach and many Christians believe in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine of communion.  What we must remember about that teaching of the real presence is that Jesus is present in the whole action of the Eucharist.  He is not just present in the bread and wine; he is present in our gathering, in our thanking, in our praising, in our sharing, in our responding, in our receiving.  But it is not what we are doing that makes him present, his presence in the sacrament of communion is his gift of himself – it is the free gift of grace.  He is with us because this is his table, he is the host, he is the one who invites us to come to him to receive.  We are the Lord’s people, gathered around the Lord’s table, on the Lord’s day.


Fourth, Jesus is with us in our proclamation of his life and love.  Just as those disciples on the Emmaus Road rushed back to Jerusalem to share the good news and to share their joy, so are we sent out each week to proclaim the gospel in word and deed.  The service ends with the word ‘Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia. Alleluia!’  Jesus is with us as we share our faith.

What little faith we have to share, it is enough; the little confidence we have to share it, it is enough.  The gospel of Jesus is a call to joy and simplicity of life.  The gift of the Taizé Community is that it shows us how we might do that.  The little we have is enough.  So let us remember that we, too, are sent out to experience the joy of sharing the story of our faith in Jesus.

Jesus, the risen Christ is with us:

With us when we walk together in friendship;

With us when we open the Bible together and listen and learn from each other;

With us when we break bread;

With us when we share our faith and make God’s love known.

Jesus, the risen Christ is with us.  Alleluia. Amen.

The Storyteller – A sermon for Easter Day

April 17th, 2017

The Storyteller

Sermon for Easter Day 2017


Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a storyteller.

He told beautiful but simple stories that touched the souls, warmed the hearts and sparked the imaginations of all who heard them.

He told his stories with wonderful words and a sharp wit.  He told his stories with a look of love and a gentle touch.  He told his stories with his actions so that sometimes it seemed as if his whole life were itself the truest kind of story.

His stories touched and transformed people. All sorts of people came to hear them.  He called them to come to him, he invited them to come closer…

‘Come to me, all you that are weary, come and rest a while.  Come to me and lay down your burdens, forget your worries, let go your sense of shame.  Come to me and listen…’

And as he told his stories it was like his words created something out of nothing; it was as if he made the whole world new again.  When he had finished speaking and people had finished drinking it all in, they went away refreshed.  People left walking taller, feeling freer, and knowing that they were OK.  Those who had come feeling left out or excluded, knew that they belonged.  Those who came feeling guilty, left knowing they were forgiven. Those who were wronged, went home feeling put right with the world.  And he did all with his words, and his gentle touch and a look of deep compassion.


But, as every storyteller knows, every story has a problem.  And the problem was that not everybody liked the storyteller’s stories… not everybody liked the storyteller.

His stories of a world turned upside down didn’t appeal to those who lived on the upside of the world.  They liked their place in the existing story.  They didn’t like stories that undermined their power and position.  They didn’t like their authority questioned.  So they authored a new plot line, based on betrayal, denial, and false accusations.  A plot that turned on violence and suffering and ended in death.

It turned the tale of the storyteller into a tragedy.  The storyteller’s enemies brought their plot to fruition and wrote their alternative ending.  And so it was that the storyteller died and there was nothing that those who loved his stories could do about it.

The End.



And yet, as in all the best stories, the storyteller’s story has an unexpected twist.  You see, as you probably all know, stories have a life of their own!

Those who had lived alongside the storyteller and all who had listened to and loved his stories found that the stories lived in them.  They found that they, too, could tell the stories; they, too, could bring a gentle touch and a look of love.  The stories were so vivid and brought such vitality that sometimes it was beyond doubt that the storyteller was telling the stories in person – even if they did not recognize him at first.

It would be wrong to say that they all lived happily ever after… true stories don’t usually resolve that way.  The storyteller being with them again was not a happy ending, it was a joyful beginning.  The story teller being alive did not mean that his betrayal, suffering and death never happened.  Rather, this was a whole new story being told within them and amongst them, it was the living words of the storyteller and his stories bringing a new creation into being.  No longer once upon a time, in land far way, but now and here, his story lives and works in us; the storyteller’s words and touch and compassion are at work in us.  For goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.

The beginning. Alleluia! Amen.


Everybody’s Welcome to Rise & Shine our Breakfast-Time Service

February 23rd, 2017

RISE AND SHINE WEB BANNER-01Everybody’s Welcome to come to Rise and Shine!  Every week at 9.00 a.m.  in the Church Hall.

Informal, inter-generational worship as we continue to explore who God is.

More information here at the Rise and Shine Facebook Page