A History of St Peter's Hale
History is both restraining and liberating at the same time. It is always good to see what has happened before and to take hold of the tradition and development that has gone on, but it can also inspire us to go forward in our own generation to tackle the things before us and not simply to try and preserve ourselves in the past.
It is excellent that Geoffrey Wheeler has written this history of the parish of St. Peter with his own insight and sensitivity. The parish will be in great debt to him for this and I know that it will be an inspiration for you all as you think towards the future.
The Church is led by the dynamic Holy Spirit and He is always leading the Church on, never changing its roots within the truth of God but always calling us to think afresh how we apply that truth in our own generation.
People occasionally say that they are against change, we ought to be thankful as we read a history that our forebears were not against change and, in most cases, although they made mistakes sometimes in their changes, they were normally for the better.
So, as we look at the strategy of a parish, the adaption of its buildings, the style of its worship and the sharing of gifts and ministries in the congregation, we learn from the past and look to the future with the Lord leading us forward.
May you be inspired as well as instructed by this excellent history.
Yours warmly in Our Living Lord
The Rt. Revd. Michael A. Baughen
Bishop of Chester
To be a part of a lively church such as ours is one thing. To "step back", so to speak, and try to observe it objectively is another, but that is what I have tried to do in this account of our first hundred years. One's own recollection is able to help for almost half of that time but to go back further, one relies upon other memories and written accounts.
I am most grateful to all those who have provided me with their own memories and in some cases, their old photographs, though I am especially indebted to Sheila Murray and Keith Eickhoff. Armed with notebook and tape recorder, Sheila interviewed many of the older members of the parish - in the case of Elsie Coombes, recording an invaluable account of the wartime years only a few weeks before Elsie died.
Together, Sheila and Keith read through piles of Parish Magazines and volumes of records of meetings of the PCC and, before that, the Parish Council. From their labours came the harvest of interesting, unusual and significant facts. My warmest thanks, too, to Michael Keeley for his splendid photographs of Family Service at St. Peter's.
My aim has been to give not simply a resume of those facts but an impression of what it was like to live in Hale and to be a member of St. Peter's in each of the succeeding decades. In particular, I have tried to portray what sort of people were the vicars.
Inevitably, it has not been possible to cover every activity in detail (many societies deserve a history of their own: the Scouts. Guides, Cubs and Brownies, for example), so I apologise now to any who may have slipped through the net of our research and my compilation.
"Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away.
They fly forgotten, as a dream..."
I have never felt too happy about that thought and if, in the pages of this brief history, I have been able to rescue from that stream the memory of some of the people, including ourselves, who have been the real Church of St. Peter, Hale (as opposed to just the building of that name) then my task will have been as worthwhile as it has been delightful.