September is upon us again. The ninth month of the year brings the return of our children to school, the beginning of the autumn and also the Patronal Festival for St. Mary’s.
We celebrate the Patronal Festival for St. Mary’s on 8th September. On this day we remember the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in whose honour Lowon St. Mary’s is named. There are only two saints’ births we celebrate in the tradition of the Church of England, Mary and John the Baptist.
We know from scripture that Mary and John’s mother, Elizabeth, were cousins of some description, but we don’t know the names of Mary’s parents from the Bible. The names of Anne and Joachim, the parents of Mary, are found in the Gospel of James, which wasn’t included in the Canon of the Bible and was written, scholars believe, sometime in the second century.
What remains though is that Mary agreed immediately to be the mother of Jesus when she was approached by the Angel Gabriel. This puts Mary then in the unique position as being the Mother of our Saviour. Mary was obedient to the calling she received and was able to be part of the life and ministry of Jesus. She was there from the beginning to the end, holding the lifeless body of her son after his descent from the cross. But that wasn’t actually the end, it was a new beginning which we are still talking about now, and will do into eternity.
Lowton St. Mary’s is 160 years old this year, having been built in 1861 by a lady called Mary Legh to serve the area of east Lowton, and especially the workers at Knott’s Mill.
The story of the church begins around the year 1850 with the building of Knott’s Mill when a number of Anglican families moved into the area. They had a long journey to attend the nearest church, St. Luke’s, as all of Lowton was one parish at that time. However, for their convenience, services and a Sunday school were held in what is now a public house — the Church Inn.
When the church was built in 1861 it was dedicated to St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, because of Mary Legh, the main benefactor.
Things have most certainly changed since 1861. In that year Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president of the USA, the American Civil War began with the raid on Fort Sumpter and here Queen Victoria was Queen. In the December of that year, the Queen’s husband, Prince Albert died, and Henry John Temple, Third Viscount Palmerston, was the Prime Minister.
There was no electric light in the church and no traffic hurtling by on Newton Road. There were no housing estates or supermarkets, no NHS or welfare state, and life expectancy was much less than now.
Very different times but the same Gospel. Very different people, in culture and outlook, but the same love of God in creation to celebrate.
St. Mary’s is now part of Lowton and Golborne Team Ministry and together as three parishes in one Team we celebrate and remember the achievements of the last 160 years at St. Mary’s. Let’s hope and pray that together, when we celebrate the Nativity of Mary this year, we can praise God for his goodness, thank him for our common mission and pray for a furtherance of His Gospel.
Also, let’s look together for a new beginning at the end of the Covid 19 restrictions, just as Mary had that new beginning in the Lord.
Let’s pray together for our mission and our people so that we can be the people of God, just as they were in 1861 when St. Mary’s was built, in 1732 when St. Luke’s was built and in 1849 when St. Thomas’ was built. In tune with our culture and society, three beautiful churches built to the glory of God for his people. Let’s be those people and take His message to our community.
Your friend and Team Rector