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The Rushden Echo & Argus, 27th December 1907, transcribed by Gill Hollis.

Dedication of New Lectern

Address by The Rector - The Work of Canon Barker

The dedication of the angel lectern presented to the Parish Church, Rushden, by the family of the late Canon Barker took place at the Parish Church on Sunday morning. The lectern, which was briefly described in last week's issue of the Rushden Echo, is in the form of an angel of graceful and dignified modelling with outstretched arms supporting the carved and perforated book board. The angel stands on an octagonal base, moulded and carved, designed in the Late Decorated style of architecture. Each face of the octagon is pierced with tracery of simple character, which produces good effects of light and shade, and also adds a good impression of lightness to the whole of the base. The lectern stands on a moulded plinth attached to which is a reader's platform having carved and traceried sides. The carving is perfectly in character with the carving of the old oak screens in the church. At the base of the pedestal there is a small brass plate bearing the following inscription:-

The new lecturn
The new lectern & inscription
"To the memory of John Thomas Barker, Rector of Rushden 1868-1890, and of Helena, his wife. The gift of their children." The work has been admirably executed by Messrs. Jones and Willis, of Edmund-street, Birmingham, and the lectern is a notable addition to the beauties of the church.

The Ven. Archdeacon Kitchin conducted the dedicatory services and read special prayers after the Psalms for the day, subsequently saying : "In the faith of Jesus Christ, we dedicate this lectern to the glory of God and in memory of His servants, John Thomas and Helena Barker, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." In place of the customary sermon, Archdeacon Kitchin said : Instead of preaching the usual sermon this morning I want to say a few words with reference to the service of dedication in which we have just taken part. It is 39 years since Canon Barker came here as Rector of this parish. It is 17 years since he died and was brought to be laid to rest under the shadow of the church which he loved and had served so well. Since then, many great changes have taken place here. From a considerable village the place has grown into a considerable town, so much so that when one who laboured here as curate in Canon Barker's time, Mr. Disney, came here for the consecration of St. Peter's church, he said the growth of the town filled him with amazement. He felt a stranger in a place he hardly seemed to know. Rectors have come and gone during those years, having built upon the sure foundation so well laid for them by him who had gone before, but amidst all these changes, so numerous and so great, there is one thing in this place which has never changed, and that is the veneration and the respect which has always been held for the memory of Canon Barker. "To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." So the poet tells us, and if this is so Canon Barker is in a way alive to-day. Being dead, he yet speaketh, and his works do follow him. There are probably very few here this morning who remember the time when Canon Barker came, 39 years ago, as Rector for this parish. There are probably several here, possibly many, who remember the last years of his ministry here, and it may, I think, be interesting to-day to recall for the benefit of those to whom Canon Barker is but an honoured name, what was said about him in the Peterborough Diocesan Magazine at the time of his death.

Canon Barker was ordained in 1849 to the curacy of Egham, Surrey, where he served for two years. Afterwards he became successively curate of St. Peter's, Eaton-square, chaplain at Dresden, and incumbent at High Cross, Hertfordshire. But the work of his life had yet to begin when, in 1868, he was appointed by the Crown to the Rectory of Rushden. At that time the parish was in an incredibly neglected state, a state happily nowadays impossible. There was absolutely no church life in the place. To speak of the church in Rushden in those days was to utter a reproach. The material building was in a most dilapidated condition, and the spiritual life of the church had been allowed to sink into the very abyss of neglect. Such was the parish over which Canon Barker was called to preside. With a quick grasp of its varied needs, he at once set about raising the tone of the place, though the task, uphill in itself, was made more difficult by bitter opposition. His courage, however, was indomitable, and endowed with intense zeal he soon made his influence felt. A solid foundation has been laid upon which others may continue to build. One of the first duties the late Rector made himself responsible for was the building of good schools, a dire need in those days. Those schools, in which he took a keen interest, have now nearly 1000 children on the registers and are being carried on with great efficiency. A new Rectory was built, and the church, one of the finest in the county, was restored at a cost of nearly £6000, and re-opened in February, 1875. The spire was repaired separately in 1884. To these and other objects too numerous to mention, the late Rector was a generous subscriber. A mission room was also built to serve as a temporary school, and every enterprise connected with the religious and temporal welfare of the place found in Canon Barker a liberal supporter. His works as well as his cherished memory will long remain in Rushden.

That is a brief sketch of the honoured life and work of one whom in the gift made to this church, we commemorate to-day. And in all the work he attempted to do for this place he found a constant and ready helper in the gentle lady laid to rest in January last. She constantly went in and out among the people of this place, and by her kindly works and manner earned for herself an affection hardly less than that which Canon Barker had drawn to himself. Filial affection has led the sons of Canon and Mrs. Barker to wish to make the gift of the beautiful angel lectern which has just been dedicated to the honour and service of Almighty God. It is a gift in my opinion, entirely in keeping with the character of this church, a gift which we, as the Rector and Church-wardens of this church, gratefully accept, a gift of which every care will be taken, and one which, when we pass away, will be handed down to the care and custody of those who come after. From that lectern the Word of God will be read, it may be for hundreds of years. May that Word be to those that hear it indeed a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path.

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