I first visited St. Olave’s Church in the ’70s when I went to pick up my mother after she attended a church service there. As I peeked inside to see what it looked like, I was struck by the beauty of this little church. It reminded me of the one I attended as a boarding school girl in a beautiful hill station in India. Somewhat later, I met Rev’d Wigmore who appeared so warm and welcoming; and, in due course, his wife Margaret who introduced me to the Mary and Martha Group, of which I became a member. One day I expressed to him my interest in joining the choir (I had sung in two Church of England choirs as a girl and in my teens). He encouraged me to do so, and I did. Subsequently, I also joined the Altar Guild. I have attended St. Olave’s for what is now some 40 odd years.
As to what St. Olave’s means to me, let me say this. After losing my parents over a space of about two years, St. Olave’s became my anchor. Without it, I would feel adrift now – rudderless. Life has not always been gentle, and whenever I faced bleak moments, I always resorted to prayer and the Church to see me through turbulent times. Moreover, one of the things most human beings (and animals for that matter) seek in life is the need to “belong”; and I was no exception. So, it was here at St. Olave’s that I felt I belonged. It has been my spiritual home ever since.
It’s worth mentioning that Rev’d Wigmore officiated at the funerals of my father in the Turner & Porter chapel, and of my mother in this very church. It was here that I married Ron Cosgrave in 1996, the Rev’d Stephen Oliver conducting the nuptials. And Rev’d David Burrows, nearly 10 years later, officiated at Ron’s funeral in the T&P chapel. Hence, over the many years, St. Olave’s has been an integral part of my life. One of my fondest hymns is, “We love Thy Place O God” – a simple hymn, but the words are so meaningful to me.
Naturally, over the long years, I have seen many changes not only among the congregants but also incumbents to the Rectorship. Each has projected his unique style of ministering; but one thing they all held in common is making St. Olave’s a warm and welcoming place of worship for one and all; and now Rev’d Rob is doing the same.
I have made many friends at St. Olave’s, including Jessie Powell now in the nursing home and Rita Irving. I remember fondly the late Myra McFarlane, Isobel Cummings, Janet Sayer, Ruth Allen, Sally Merivale and Moria Collins to name just a few; but of those worshipping now, both young and old, I enjoy a happy relationship and always look forward to socializing at the coffee hours, even on Zoom!
Then, there are the special events yearly that bring us together, such as the Pancake Lunch, so ably organized by Jim Shapland and his crew of helpers; the ACW June lawn sale, the Christmas Craft and Bake Sale, the luncheon put on by the Sudanese parishioners; and more recently initiated by Rev’d Alexandra, the Christmas Community Lunch. These events, and others too, give one an opportunity to mix and mingle and in some cases raise funds for the Church and other causes.
Many years ago, I recall the late Bette Ragsdale saying St. Olave’s is one large family. I couldn’t agree more, and am happy and proud to be part of it. At this ripe age of 91, when we continue to congregate virtually online due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, I pray that St. Olave’s will spread the faith well into the future.