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St Aidan was the 7th Century AD bishop of Northumbria. His base was on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. St Aidan was renowned for his loving compassion. From heaven, with Our Lady and all the Saints, he continues to pray for us in love.
The parish church, designed by G F Bodley, began to be built in 1894 and was consecrated in 1895 (even though it was not finished - see, from the outside, the 'temporary' south brick wall).
George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) mainly designed churches in the Gothic style. He was the first pupil of George Gilbert Scott, and later a partner of Thomas Garner, for many years. He was a friend of the Pre-Raphaelites and William Morris, and his own most important pupil was the Arts and Crafts designer C R Ashbee. By the early 1860s Bodley had adopted the English Decorated style almost exclusively in his designs. Bodley was renowned for his sense of tradition and for the "refined beauty and restrained power" he sought and often attained.
Bodley's parish church designs became influential throughout the Anglican Communion. They include, among many others: St Michael and All Angels in Brighton, Holy Trinity Knightsbridge, St. John the Baptist Church at Tue Brook in Liverpool, Church of St. Augustine at Pendlebury near Manchester, Church of the Holy Angels at Hoar Cross in Staffordshire; Chapel of St Mary the Virgin at Clumber in Nottinghamshire, St Mary the Virgin Church at Eccleston in Cheshire, the Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral, All Saints in Cambridge; also Queen's College Chapel, Cambridge; and secular buildings for King's College, and for Magdalen College, Oxford.
Abroad he was the architect for the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Washington DC; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; St David's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania; and All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur, India.
He was also a master of ecclesiastical furnishing design, and church interior architecture, such as altars for York Minster.
That the Altars, at St Aidan, are in the eastward postion, so that priest and people symbolically face God together (rather than just gaze at each other), is a reminder that the Mass is far more than a "fellowship meal" but a Sacramental action eternally linked with the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross.The danger of some modern liturgy (and church re-ordering) is to turn the awe, reverence and mystery of divine worship into mere human-centred entertainment. Worship is to focuss on and adore God, and not become an earthly diversion for our benefit !
Archbishop David of York has said that many current trends in Anglican worship had a tendency "to ape the passing styles of the times; worship as entertainment; worship as distraction - quite other than what it truly is or should be, namely the giving worth to God." Clergy need to be more familiar with the heritage of the Church. "Worship should be accessible yet at the same time awesome." (Church Times 28/05/2004 p 3)
Though we may often get it wrong - we are only a small, middle-of-the-road Church, nothing grand or special about us! - may our worship, in which we are surrounded and joined by the Holy Mother of God and the Saints, become eventually a vibrant link between earth and heaven: "This is none other than the House of God, the Gate of Heaven" (Gen 28 v17).
In the church is a late Anglo-saxon (early Norman) Font sculpted about 1080 AD. This came from the original church at High Hoyland, and then was used as a cattle trough until rescued for our parish.
Above the High Altar (still used Sunday by Sunday in the eastward position) is a beautiful mid-20th century reredos: depicting Christ enthroned in majesty, with St Aidan and his friend St Oswald of Northumbria.
Other items in our church include:
The Paschal (ie, Easter) candle in which is pushed five incense grains (in small nails) to represent the five wounds of Christ on the cross; from which Baptism candidates are given a lit candle to represent Christ as light of the world.
The 18th Century pulpit at the front of the nave (where congregation gather at the main services) from which sermons are sometimes preached.
In the nave you will also find a Lectern from which the Bible is read, and a Memorial Book of the Dead.
In the Lady Chapel (ie, Chapel of Our Lady - Mary the Mother of God) on the north side of the church, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a ''Blessed Sacrament House''. There is also an image of Our Lady of Walsingham on long-term loan from the parish of St Michael the Archangel, Emley (also part of the Upper Dearne 5 Parishes group). There are eikons of Our Lady and the Christ Child, and of St Mary Sumner who founded the Mothers' Union (see their three banners in our church), and a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. See also the votive candle for H.M.The Queen (the legal Governor of the Church of England, who we keep continually in our prayers); and a votive candle stand for our other prayers of intercession. The window shows Christ the High Priest and two (as yet unidentified) bishop Saints. Confessions are usually heard by a priest in the Lady Chapel.
The east window in the High Altar Sanctuary (meaning special place, safety, set apart) shows Christ crucified, with His mother and St John. The small rose window on the south wall of the sanctuary depicts items associated with the passion and crucifixion of Jesus.
We are preparing new plans to provide a new south entrance, giving proper dignified access to those with disabilities; and also up-to-date loo's, and a kitchen area at the west end of our church - building to 21st C standards without damaging the traditional layout and ethos of our parish. The cost of this is likely to be about £70,000 plus refundable (we hope!) VAT. We have already raised £56,000 - virtually all without any outside grants - and are now in the process of raising the last £14,000, and we welcome any help you may be able to give us!
If you do wish to help then you might wish to BACS a donation to the account of Skelmanthorpe St. Aidans PCC - Sort code 20-43-04 - Account No. 40016454. If you do that kindly email me [ firstname.lastname@example.org ] so we know where the donation has come from; and tax-payers are welcome to request a gift-aid form to increase their donation by 25% at no extra cost to themselves