Topsham service marks Pentecost

PUBLISHED: 16:30 26 May 2016

Church window

Church window


A Topsham church service has been hailed as a resounding success as 200 people turned out to mark Pentecost.

Pentecost is a significant date in the Christian calendar. The festival commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following the death of Jesus Christ.

In the Bible, it is described how the apostles, who were gathered to celebrate the Jewish harvest festival of Shavvot, began to talk in foreign tongues, leading the massed onlookers to assume that they were drunk.

However, Saint Peter explained the disciples were inspired by the Holy Spirit and he preached the first Christian sermon, which prompted the conversion and baptism of 3,000 people.

The first Pentecost marked the beginning of the Christian church, as a meaningful movement, so the celebration is considered the birthday of the faith.

Ahead of the service, new music was written for St Margaret’s Church choir. Composer James Moriarty wrote the anthem.

The commissioning of James came about through a link to charity Fairbeats, which aims to help connect children in London through music.

One of the co-founders of Fairbeats is clergyman Tony Raven’s niece, Jennifer.

St Margaret’s Church choir member Dorothy Raven said it was important to mark the occasion.

She said: “We had around 200 people in the congregation and the service went really well. Our young composer, James Moriarty, wrote a new Pentecost anthem, and the performance was really good.

“After the service, we had lunch, which was lovely. My sister-in-law cooked the salmon and around 80 people had the meal. It was a joint service with St Luke’s Church. A few of their congregation stayed for the lunch – it is very important that churches come together for services.

“Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit and the start of the new church. People think Christmas and Easter are the two big events in the Christian calendar, but Pentecost is just as important.

“I would like to say a big thank-you to our music director, Tony Yates, for bringing the performance together.”

Pentecost’s name comes from the Greek word ‘Pentekostos’, meaning 50.

The festival is celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter, marking 50 days since the final Sabbath of Passover, and so falls on a different date every year.

Traditionally, the church has referred to the celebration as ‘Whitsun’, or ‘Whit Sunday.’

It is believed the name comes from Pentecost being a day for baptisms, when participants would dress in white.

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