Remembering those we’ve loved and lost

Many people find their way to St Luke’s through the saddest of circumstances – planning a funeral for a loved one. Others have found comfort in the love and support of people at St Luke’s during the dark time after losing a friend or family member.

As a church, we often include opportunities during regular services to remember and give thanks for people we’ve loved and lost – perhaps through lighting a candle, saying a prayer, or the shared experience of communion, which symbolically gathers together all people, both living and dead.

However, once a year there’s a special service dedicated to those who’ve departed this world. All Souls Day (also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed) falls every year on 2 November. St Luke’s will be holding its All Souls service on Sunday 29 October at 4pm. It’s an opportunity to pray for departed souls, give thanks for those we’ve loved, and light a candle in their memory. Their names will be read out as part of the service.

The service is particularly popular with people who’ve attended funerals at St Luke’s in the preceding year, but anyone is welcome to attend, and some people make the journey every year.

If you’d like the name(s) of your loved one(s) to be read out at the service on 29 October, you can fill in a form (which you’ll find at the back of the church) and pass it to Pat Tomlinson. Alternatively, if you’re not a regular at St Luke’s, you can email your request to We look forward to welcoming you to the All Souls service to remember those you’ve loved and lost.

The Speakeasy returns

Here at St Luke’s, we’re blessed with some amazingly talented people in our congregation, from singers and musicians to actors and comedians. Our annual Speakeasy is an opportunity to be entertained by the best of the church’s talent – and enjoy a great social evening and a singalong, too.

What can you expect from a St Luke’s Speakeasy? You’ll arrive to find the church transformed into a twinkling candlelit café, with the stage set for the show. There’ll be a bar in the kitchen, and nibbles to snack on while you relax among friends and enjoy top-class musical performances, sketches, cabaret acts and a few surprise moments. Plus there’ll be a house band to lead a singalong we can all join in with. Crispin – who produces the event – will be our master of ceremonies.

The 10th St Luke’s Speakeasy is on Friday 13 October, 8pm-11.30pm. Tickets cost £5, or £2 concessions, and the event is only open to those aged 16+ (no exceptions). Tickets are on sale now at Sunday morning services and at (69p/56p booking fee)  – advanced sales are encouraged so we can make sure the bar doesn’t run out.

As well as a chance for us all to get together and have some fun, it’s also a great opportunity to invite friends, family and neighbours along for a relaxed evening out. So get your gladrags on, tune up your vocal cords and get ready for a great night at St Luke’s.

Feeling festive?

If you happen to visit St Luke’s over the August bank holiday weekend, you’d be forgiven for thinking the congregation is on the sparse side. That’s because a lot of St Lukers will be decamping to Northamptonshire for the weekend for the Greenbelt festival.


If you haven’t heard of Greenbelt, it’s a fantastic faith, arts and justice festival, where thousands of people gather to listen to great music, learn and debate at talks and seminars, spend time catching up with old friends and new, and chill out in the famous Tiny Tea Tent.


St Luke’s has a long association with Greenbelt. For many years, Greenbelt had its offices in St Luke’s (before we opened up the east aisle of the church to make space for our growing congregation). Many of our members are involved in running and overseeing different parts of the festival. You may even see a few familiar faces on the programme.


To learn more about our favourite festival, check out the website at


However, if you’re in London on Sunday 27 August, rest assured that St Luke’s will still be open for business. There’ll be an 11am service as usual, and friendly faces to greet you. The rest of us will see you when we get back!

Another successful year for Nightshelter

Here at St Luke’s, one of our biggest projects each year is our part in the Islington Churches Cold Weather Shelter (overseen by CARIS: Throughout January-March (the coldest three months of the year), we open our doors each Saturday night/Sunday morning to offer a hot meal, a bed and a cooked breakfast to homeless people (six other churches in the area cover the rest of the week).

We’re pleased to report that 2017 was another successful season for Nightshelter. We hosted around 14 guests each week (around 100 in total). As well as home-cooked meals and a safe, comfortable place to sleep, guests were able to make use of the shower cubicle and washroom, which we installed a couple of years ago for this purpose. We also offered recreational activities and other services.

Around three quarters of this year’s guests moved onto other accommodation, such as supported housing, hostels, rented accommodation or returning to family or friends. This shows the vital role the project plays in helping to break the cycle of homelessness. One guest said of the warm hospitality he enjoyed at St Luke’s: “It’s that little bit of love – it makes all the difference, especially when you’ve never had it.”

Over 6,000 hours of volunteer time went into making the 2017 Nightshelter run smoothly – as well as thousands of pounds’ worth of donations of food, clothing and toiletries. Without the involvement of so many members and friends of St Luke’s (inside and outside the congregation), the project wouldn’t be possible, so thank you to everyone involved. A very special thank you goes to Dan, Sarah, Emma, Stef, John and Rosa, who ran our part of the project and coordinated our many volunteers with skill, commitment and compassion.

Holy Week at St Luke’s

Easter is one of the busiest periods in the Christian calendar, and St Luke’s will be buzzing with activity over Holy Week.

Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, before the tide turned, leading to his crucifixion five days later. So on 9 April, in keeping with tradition, we’ll start our 11am service in the garden before processing into the church carrying woven crosses.

On 13 April, we’ll gather in the church for a Maundy Thursday meal at 8pm. Food is provided but you’re invited to bring a bottle. A relaxed and sociable meal will be followed by a brief meditation and table communion. (Please email if you intend to come, so we know how many to cater for).

Good Friday meditations at 12 noon on 14 April will be a short, reflective service, when we’ll use a series of ‘stations’ to aid our contemplation. These artworks or installations are created by members of the congregation and this year the theme is the words of Desmond Tutu:

‘Goodness is stronger than evil,
Love is stronger than hate,
Light is stronger than darkness,
Life is stronger than death.’

On Saturday 15 April, we’ll gather at 11.15pm for the most dramatic service of the year. The Vigil of Fire (midnight mass) uses darkness, fire and light to meditate on the dark hours after Christ’s death, followed by his glorious rising.

On Easter Sunday, 16 April, we’ll be back in the church for the family Easter celebration at 11am – a light, bright service, including activities for the kids.

Whether you’re a regular at St Luke’s, an occasional visitor or have never joined us before, you’re very welcome at any of our Easter events.

Lent courses at St Luke’s

As we move into Lent – the period of 40 days before Easter – we have various opportunities at St Luke’s for thought and reflection, including two evening discussion groups meeting over the next five weeks.

Associate vicar Martin Wroe is running a course on Monday evenings on the subject of ‘Finding a Hidden God’. Focusing on discovering the divine in unexpected places, the group will meet at the Wroes’ home from 7.45pm. The course begins on Monday 6 March, but you can join later if you miss the start. Places are limited. Email for further details and to book a spot on the sofa.

On Wednesday evenings, our vicar Dave Tomlinson will be running a course on ‘The Jesus Fatwah – love your Muslim (etc) neighbour as yourself’.
TJF-2015-header-501x330This explores Christianity and other faiths in a fraught and troubled world, using film footage of 17 Islamic and Christian experts to stimulate discussion. The group will meet in the side hall at St Luke’s at 7.45pm, starting on Wednesday 8 March. Bring a drink of your choice – nibbles will be provided. All are welcome. And you can join late if you miss earlier sessions. Email to find out more.

‘Have You Ever Tried To Enter The Long Black Branches’ by Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives —
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left —
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one’s foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one’s foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird’s pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or two of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what’s coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn’t ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean’s edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Mary Oliver

Something for everyone at St Luke’s

Here at St Luke’s, our main event of the week is an all-age communion service on Sundays at 11am. A relaxed gathering based on the Anglican tradition – with a few elaborations – this is where you’ll get a sense of how we do things at St Luke’s and have a chance to meet many of us. There are activities for children and a DIY crèche, and we enjoy catching up afterwards over tea and coffee (and cake, if we’re lucky).

However, we also have a variety of different services during the week that you might enjoy and find helpful. They usually follow this pattern (with some flexibility):

Every Sunday 9.15am: Holy Communion.
This service is short and sweet, with a said Eucharist (no singing) and no sermon.
Enter via the side door in Penn Road.

First Sunday of the month, 7pm: Choral Evensong. A cathedral-style (albeit rather smaller!) musical service led by our lovely choir in the chancel (that’s the bit at the front of the church, behind the altar).

Second Sunday of the month, 7pm: Soul Space. Ambient, chill-out worship, using music and images to inspire thought and reflection.

Fourth Sunday of the month, 7pm: Listen To The Silence.
Based on evening prayer from Iona, this service of quiet draws on Celtic spirituality, which finds a holy presence in all of creation.

Every Wednesday and Thursday, 9.30am: Morning Prayer. Simple Celtic prayers to start the day. Enter via the side door in Penn Road.

We also have various social events when we get to hang out together and enjoy each other’s company. These include a church lunch on the third Sunday of the month, after the service; and a new pub lunch get-together on the first Sunday of the month.

Whether you’re an old timer at St Luke’s, a newbie or you’re simply interested in checking us out, you’re very welcome at any of our services and events.