|Extracted from 'A Century of Witness 1895-1995'|
Clergy and Lay Helpers
Choir and Organists
In many ways there has been strong continuity in the life of the church apart from its continuing worship and witness. A choir was formed in the early days and still exists. Originally it consisted of men and boys and for many years was trained by Dr Greenfield and Mr W.P.Jolley, who was also organist. Later organists included Mr Leslie George, Mr Cox and now Mrs Joan Woods, who also trains the choir, which has included girls and women for many years. A long serving lady member at present is Mrs D Anker. The choirs have always joined in the Deanery and Diocesan festivals and are now affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music.
In recent years a music group has been formed to help lead Family Worship. It includes instrumentalists and singers and was originally led by Owen Smith, followed by Ted Chamberlain, Patrick Dent and now Keith Plater.
Sunday School and Youth Work
Children’s work has always been a feature of life at St. Peter’s and Sunday school still continues, though paralleled in recent years with Family Worship services. Many people will have memories of Mr Albert Dickens and Mr Harry Dickens, his son, who were Sunday School Superintendents for many years. Originally the older children were encouraged to join the King’s messengers and a Boys’ Club, as well as cricket, football and gym clubs, but after 1955 they were catered for by Pathfinders, who meet for a club night during the week, as well as having a class on Sundays.
Pathfinder camps and Grendon week‑ends provide happy memories for many ex‑Pathfinders and Leaders. A Young People’s Fellowship for the 14+, and a 1330 group have existed from time to time. Guides (originally formed in 1922), Brownies, Rangers, Cubs and Scouts have all played a part in Church life under such notable leaders as Miss Mary Wills, Miss Olive Elliott, Mrs Joan Gibbard, Miss Margaret Shelton and Mrs Janet Moore. Mr Bill Elliott and Mr Harry Wood, better known to generations of boys as “Skip”. “Skip” gained the Medal of Merit for his services to Scouting.
A Mothers’ Union was formed in the early days and still continues; there have also been Women’s Fellowships and Young Wives’ Groups (or Ladies’ Groups) which still exist, and a Men’s Fellowship or Church of England Men’s Society have also existed from time to time. These groups have undertaken maintenance tasks around the church, room and grounds. Now ‘Mums and Tots’ has succeeded the Baby Fellowship in giving a link with young families and baptism contacts. Home Groups also serve a purpose for mutual support and fellowship as well as for Bible study.
Over the years many home and foreign missionary societies have been supported. In the early days the Lebombo Mission and Waifs and Strays were supported, then the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, followed by the Church Missionary Society, the South American Missionary Society and now Wycliffe Bible Translators, with Brian and Val Hodgkin (both Rushden people) as our link missionaries in
In Rushden itself many missions have been held to reach non‑church-goers with the Gospel and to deepen the spiritual life of Christians. These have varied from being St. Peter’s centred, as with the Prayer Book Mission of the Rev. Dick Rees and more recently that of Captain and Mrs Edmund Wilborne of the Church Army, “Good News Down the Street” or town based missions in co‑operation with other churches. These included Ian Knox and the Billy Graham relays. In the 1950s several coach loads went to Wembley and Haringey to join in the Billy Graham Crusades.
Over the years St. Peter’s has managed to balance its books and has also raised large amounts of money from time to time for buildings, ministry (when direct contributions to stipends were needed) and often for mission or special needs, but this has never been easy, nor has there ever been a large surplus. From early days there have been schemes for regular giving Free Will Offering envelopes, a Partnership scheme, now Stewardship schemes with envelopes and covenants, in addition to Gift Days and many money raising events.
Our most recent money raising has been for the major servicing of the pipe organ (after a gap of about 30 years) and the reconstruction of the Hall kitchen essential to meet the Health and Safety Regulations. The Hall itself has also been re‑furbished (1994) thanks to a grant from a Parish fund established when the curates’ houses were sold.
The magazine has existed throughout the life of the church originally under the wing of St. Mary’s (until 1914) then independent, under names varying from ‘Advance’ to ‘Review’ to ‘Between the Spires’ and now, once more in conjunction with St. Mary’s and Newton Bromswold, as ‘Grapevine’.
Throughout the year we celebrate the Christian Festivals of Christmas, Easter and Whitsun, with Harvest Festival and Mothering Sunday and the seasons of Advent and Lent. The Toy Service in early December provides gifts for our linked inner city parish of St. Luke’s at Hackney the last in a line of many such links.
In conclusion we at St. Peter’s today feel honoured to succeed to the work of our predecessors over the last 100 years and pray that we shall be able to continue the work for the extension of God’s Kingdom in this part of Rushden.
Early memories by members of St. Peter’s Church
First Thursday in July
Weekday events through the year (except during Lent).
Monday King’s Messengers
Wednesday Scouts / mid‑week Communion at 9am.
Thursday Social Event for the whole family arranged by Mrs Bennett, Mrs Jervis or Mrs Page, with Mrs Wright in charge of the kitchen.
Saturday Dance in Church Room end at 10.30pm. Those who attended were expected to be at 8am Communion the next morning.
As Mrs Parker says quote
II. From Mr Howard Sinfield
I started attending St. Peter’s 62 years ago when I met Dorothy, my wife. There was a Social Club. We were both Christened and Confirmed, and later married there.
I became a Server and assisted the Vicar, Rev. Percy Barwell Spriggs, a man I have respected all my life.
On September 3rd 1939, a Sunday morning Ray Robinson and I were on duty in Church a knock came on the vestry door, I answered it and was told war had been declared. I told the Vicar who informed the congregation and prayers were said by him and Father Stevens.
During the war we could not black out the Church windows so all services were held in daylight hours.
Soon after war started the Vicar, Rev. Percy Barwell Spriggs, was taken ill and all at St. Peter’s were grieved when he died. Mrs Barwell Spriggs wished his body to be placed at the altar steps the day before his funeral. There was a 24 hour vigil. George North and I watched in 2 hour watches during the night from the vestry which was blacked out. Mrs Spriggs gave Mr North the Vicar’s watch and me his cuff‑links in memory. I still treasure those cuff‑links.