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Thursday, March 30, 2017
Power of St Francis in west London
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 One crib scene came from Madagascar carved of wood, another was built of slate with brown leaves and moss. A German nativity scene was decorated in brightly coloured flowers. Virginia Chachati and her dad Joseph, who used to live in the Sudan, built an imaginative crib with Wallace and Gromit sheep, lights and real wheat grass. These were just a few of the 45 cribs from around the world that were brought to St Thomas of Canterbury's church in Fulham for a special blessing this Advent. Children from St Thomas's primary school also put up an exhibition of stories and pictured about St Francis and the first crib in the church. On Friday 15 December, representatives from many Eastern and Western Christian denominations gathered for a special blessing service. While children from St Thomas' sang carols, Fr Augustine Aoun from the Lebanese Maronite order led the blessing, speaking in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. Fr Thomas Dawod, Syrian Orthodox, also sang in Aramaic. Others taking part included the Rev David Paget from St Andrew's Anglican church, Rev Ken Bowler, from All Saints Putney Bridge; Methodist minister John Cook and Fr Bob Miller from Dulverton in Somerset. The project was devised by assistant priest Fr Clive Lee. He said: "We wanted to do something that marked the millennium in a special way for our parish. The first crib of St Francis once brought a community together and that is what we have been doing here tonight." "One person said to me: 'Until I experienced the service I didn't realise Jesus was not English.'" The event was the first inter-denominational service of its kind in the diocese of Westminster.
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