Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) - - - - - - 01392 206229 - - - 07941 880768

About Us

We are a community of faith seeking to discover the face of Jesus Christ in our Church, in our Community and in our Commitment.

Monday 31 August 2020

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 6

 My Grandfather’s Boats - Sutton Harbour - Plymouth by Rev’d Paul Collings 

So Jesus got into one of the boats (the one that belonged to Simon) and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and began to teach the crowds from the boat. Luke 5:3

I cast my mind to childhood days

And see again the boats that lay

By harbour wall there safely moored 

At end of day there tied, secured.

I see again the vessels three,

The Plym, Sand-swallow, and Ivy,

My Grandads boats, with him at helm

Across the ‘Sound’, the sea his realm.

Such seamanship held in esteem 

As Captain Daymond, and his team,

Kept seaways, dredged and deep and clear 

That passing ships to port could near.

I also think of those who plow

The waves of life others to show 

Your guiding hand, Lord, ‘gainst the tide

And through their patience homeward guide.

May I be constantly aware

Of those who flounder in despair,

Guide in your strength, and rescue souls

And bring to port completely whole.


“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” : Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday 30 August 2020

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 5

The Barbican, Plymouth by Rev’d Paul Collings

Link to St Nicholas Merthodist Church Topsham online Service 30/08/20

“Moses said, "We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our sheep and our cattle we will go, because we are to hold a pilgrim feast for the Lord." Exodus 10:9

Historic Sutton harbour’s strand

Gave haven for each craft to land

The catch of fish, to trade, to deal,

The labour of their hands, a meal.

This city port saw many sail,

Ships setting course, freedom avail

As Pilgrims Fathers, long years past

Their voyage to new life held fast.

Four centuries long have now gone by

Since Mayflower sailed so to apply,

Their simple faith of purity

And there find hope,  security.

Lord, of the pilgrim heart impart 

To mine a passage way, there chart;

Help me with others journey on

And find anew love’s worthy song.

For pilgrims, in their earnestness

Lord strengthen them, their faithfulness,

To trust in your unfailing hope

And through your guidance with you cope.

He who would valiant be 

'gainst all disaster,

let him in constancy 

follow the Master.

There's no discouragement 

shall make him once relent

his first avowed intent 

to be a pilgrim. - John Bunyan

Saturday 29 August 2020

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 4


Her Majesties Royal Dockyard Technical College by Rev’d Paul Collings

2 Timothy 2:15  For yourself, concentrate on winning God’s approval, on being a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, and who knows how to use the word of truth to the best advantage. (J B Phillips)

With school days past, next steps were made

As I began apprentice trade,

And there within those halls I took

Four years of study, word and book.

There draughtsman’s art, and tradesman’s skills

Instilled with practice, learning filled

My youthful mind with knowledge, facts

Of naval history, trade’s impact.

Whilst there, I won a national prize

As education’s level rise

Above predicted grades forecast

And joy of learning grew at last.

The interest seen in lecturer’s eye

As with keen verve their skill applied 

To help each student there mature,

Start on their journey, life’s venture.

You taught your twelve disciples, Lord,  

To listen and your word explore,

Your perfect truth, your living way,

And in their lives to share convey.

Lord, help me use my learning too,

That others may mature, come through,

To see afresh the pilgrim course

That leads to you, eternal source.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -  Willian Butler Yeats

Friday 28 August 2020

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 3

 Penlee Secondary Modern, Plymouth by Rev’d Paul Collings 

Jeremiah 3:1-8 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

So where the sixty years long past

Since first I  took my place in class

At senior school, there to prepare 

For life’s events to learn, to dare.

To dare to find the path, the way

Unfolding each and every day,

A setting of foundation stone

Though the far future still unknown.

Now looking back, I see again

The diligence the care the chain,

Forged by the staff, that still remains

It’s constant reference point  maintains

And from that learning of my youth

Lord, still you challenge with your truth

You call me each and every day

To listen to your teaching way.

Lord, show me too how I can share

Your gracious truth and there with care

Help others learn life’s lessons too

And make each step a pathway new.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. - William Arthur Ward

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 2

 St Peter’s Church of England by Rev’d Paul Collings 

St Peter’s Church built in the 1840s was hit during the night of Monday 21 April and the early morning of Tuesday 22 April 1941. Although not demolished the church was entirely destroyed internally by incendiary bombs. Therefore the exquisite detail and beauty of this church was entirely lost. It was rebuilt and opened in 1950s and reordered in 2007.

Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you. Exodus 23:25 

St Peter’s Church on Wyndham Square,

The place where first I learned to share 

Worship’s rich liturgical  form,

That left my spirit strangely warm.

To my young mind each performed rite

Spoke of a glorious holy sight,

As from the school we there would wend

To sit a while, some time to spend.

The priest in vestments sang the prayers

And spoke of gospel truths with care;

Instilled in our young tender minds

Some semblance of that grace divine.

Yet in my heart and mind today

There echos scenes, as I replay

The memories of those times long past,

Their shadow still upon me cast.

And Lord, may now that grace divine

Still truth imprint upon my mind;

As from my heart I daily raise

A living anthem, sing your praise. 

“Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing.  Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when  he cometh in the clouds of heaven.” John Wesley

Thursday 27 August 2020

Faith in Time of Crisis - 20 by Dr J P Hunter

 St Nicholas Church - Reith bei Seefeld in Tirol by Rev’d Paul Collings - A Church with Open Doors

Meditation by Dr J P Hunter

Psalm 16 - Good News Translation – a miktam of David. 

Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    all the good things I have come from you.”

How excellent are the Lord's faithful people!
    My greatest pleasure is to be with them.

Those who rush to other gods
    bring many troubles on themselves. 
I will not take part in their sacrifices;
    I will not worship their gods.

You, Lord, are all I have,
    and you give me all I need;
    my future is in your hands.
How wonderful are your gifts to me;
    how good they are!

I praise the Lord, because he guides me,
    and in the night my conscience warns me.
I am always aware of the Lord's presence;
    he is near, and nothing can shake me.

And so I am thankful and glad,
    and I feel completely secure,
10 because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
    and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.

11 You will show me the path that leads to life;
    your presence fills me with joy
    and brings me pleasure forever.


As our church buildings are about to re-open, this Psalm expresses the joys of a life lived in companionship with God and of being in the presence of the Lord’s faithful people, verse 3. By saying in verse 8 nothing can shake me, David is expressing the unique sense of security felt by believers. God does not exempt believers from day-to-day circumstances of life; we will still experience trouble, physical and emotional pain. But whereas unbelievers might have a sense of hopelessness about life, believers can move ahead confidently in God’s nearness. They know that God will keep them from being moved off his chosen path. David’s heart was glad, he had found the secret to joy. True joy goes much deeper than happiness. Happiness is dependent on external circumstances; true joy is based on God’s presence within us. As we understand the future He has in store for us, we will experience joy.


Thank you, Lord, that all the good things in my life come from you. I trust in you for my safety and security, knowing that through your nearness, you will warn and guide me to remain on the path that leads to life. 

The knowledge of your presence fills me with joy, now and in eternity. Amen.

Hymns & Psalms 421, verse 1

How blest is life if lived for thee,

My loving Saviour and my Lord!

No pleasures that the world can give

Such perfect gladness can afford. 


Tuesday 25 August 2020

My Home City - Reflections on my early years in Plymouth 1


St Peter’s Primary School - Plymouth by Rev’d Paul Collings 

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

In Wyndham Square there still stands

The primary school where little hands

First learned to write and eyes to read.

As in its rooms young minds did feed.

The teacher’s skill, their tender care

Where children’s minds become aware

Of life’s potential, set their feet

On paths made firm, each journey greet.

There too relationships did grow

And how to share and so to know

That in the lives of others find

Creator’s will with ours entwined.

So thankful, Lord, for those school years

Where learning grew in spite of fears;

For teacher’s who in me could see 

A future day what I could be.

For those who teach in this our day

With different pressures, Lord, I pray

That they will too hold in their heart

Each child’s uniqueness from the start.

Help each to see unfolding way

As if each step was a new day,

Help them with care and steadfastness

Capture, inspire such worthiness.

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.’ –Benjamin Franklin

Monday 24 August 2020

Around the city - thoughts on Exeter’s Past 16

Topsham by Rev’d Paul Collings 

Romans 12: 9 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.

The native Celtic settlement of Topsham became the port of the Roman city of  Isca Dumnoniorum (Exeter) in the first century AD, and continued to serve it until the Roman occupation of southern Britain ceased about the year 400. In the 7th century the Saxon rule in East Devon saw the settlement grow into a considerable village.

Many the ship that left this port

Failed to arrive as storms abort

Their passage cross the dangerous seas

Gave rise to  grieving loss, dis-ease.

Off, full of hope with mainsail set 

Each vessel ventured, orders met

To carry cargo ‘cross the seas

And trade their wares then homeward breeze.

But dangerous waters round the Horn

Turned trading days to ones that mourn,

Each member of the crew on board

Who gave their lives without reward.

Whilst trading ships have long since ceased

From Topsham’s quayside journey’s east,

Yet there are those who risk today

That we might live a certain way.

Lord, never may my wants demand

That others risk their lives or stand

In danger’s way, my whims to fit

But in humility lives uplift.

Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books - especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. - John Wooden

Sunday 23 August 2020

Around the City - thoughts on Exeter’s Past 15

The Ships that Sailed By Rev’d Paul Collings 

St Nicholas Methodist Church , Topsham Online worship for 23/08/20

2 Chronicles 9:21 “For the king had ships which went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold and silver, ivory and apes and peacocks.”

The lights of home, the voyage done,

There safely moored as down goes sun;

Then shelter in the place called home

And rest a while from journey’s roam.

The battle of the raging waves

Where many dangers and close shaves

Were met to bring  ashore the wares

And then with city folk to share.

To share the goods from far off shores

This was the task, the aim, the chore

That faced each Captain and each crew

As there they sailed, t’ward homeward view. 

From ancient times so has trade plied

Across the oceans changing tides,

In spite of hazards, danger, risk

Each barque longs for that home-shore kiss.

Lord, in my dealings cross the lands

Or near to home where goods change hands,

Teach me to honour every gift 

That you provide, each soul to lift.

May through all commerce, ev’ry trade,

An equal measure, truly weighed,

Where all can share your graciousness 

And in that sharing know they’re blessed 

I pity the one who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process. -- Benjamin Harrison

Saturday 22 August 2020

Around the City - thoughts on Exeter’s past 14

 The Weir By Rev’d Paul Collings

Tomorrow’s Online Worship Link for

In 1564-6 John Trew of Glamorgan cut a 1¾ mile channel which became the Exeter ship canal, the first such, in England. The canal was only 16ft wide and 3ft deep but it made it possible for barges to bypass the shallow and unreliable river. The old St Leonard's Weir was replaced by Trews Weir to raise the river to feed the canal. The weir was used to provide water for a fulling mill, a cotton mill and a paper mill.

Ezekiel 47:9  And wherever the river goes,[a] every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea[b] may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 

The constant flow of river streams

Speak of your blessings here that seems

To pour upon my arid soul,

Refresh, renew and make me whole.

As rain falls down on higher ground

Towards the coast as seaward bound,

The river courses ‘cross the land;

On, on it goes till reach shore strand.

Lord, source of life, come wash my heart

With flowing waters, there  impart

New purity of heart and mind

As in those waters, grace I find.

Help me dear Lord, to channel grace

To others there in arid place,

And in the waters you provide

Flow on for ever by your side.

“May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” - Rainer Maria Rilke


Friday 21 August 2020

Around the city - Thoughts on Exeter’s past 13

Exeter’s Quay by Rev’d Paul Collings  

Psalm 107: 23-24 Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean: With a word he called up the wind—an ocean storm, towering waves!

From distant lands and far off ports

Came many tales, seafare reports  

How passage trade from cross the seas 

Brought to our quay by sail filled breeze -

Those ships of oak. pitch tar and sail.

From harbour home through stormy gale

Each voyage crossing storm tossed seas

Would bring to port, vitals that ease;

Would ease the needs of kith and kin

Transporting neath the decks within

Delights for table, goods to share

And destined here to bring welfare.

Creator God of might and power,

Still here today new blessings shower,

As to each harbour of each soul

You bring your grace to make us whole.

With thankful hands we moor each barque

As if receiving Noah’s Ark

A vessel built to save, give life,

And banish doubt and danger, strife.

And as I sail life’s vessel, Lord

Please take the helm and guide assured

That I the right coursed journey take,

At your command, my own forsake.

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

Thursday 20 August 2020

Faith in Times of Crisis 19 by Dr J P Hunter

The Bell of Peace in Mösern By Rev’d Paul Collings 

Whatever we are waiting for - peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance - it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart. - Sarah Ban Breathnach

The Bell of Peace in Mösern near Telfs was erected to mark the 25th anniversary of the Alpine Area Work Group (ARGE ALP). The bell symbolises cross bordering peace initiatives and friendships made between the people of the Alpine Area. The bell weighs over 10 tonnes. The largest swinging bell in the Alpine Area was designed by Tirolese architect Hubert Prachensky and cast by famous Grassmayr Bell Foundry at Innsbruck. The bell is swung daily at 5:00pm as well as on special occasions.

Faith in times of Crisis 19 by Dr J P Hunter

Psalm 13 New International Version (NIV) 

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.


On occasion, we need to express directly to God our problem to be able to put it in perspective.

In this Psalm of personal lament, without any introduction, David expresses his impatience and distress in the first two verses by using the phrase “how long” four times. David’s complaint is about the absence of God and he urges Him to act: else I die, else my enemies will say or else my foes rejoice. 

It seems to him, and also to us in our individual situations, that suffering and evil go unchecked and we wonder when God is going to stop them. 

Having expressed his anguish, there is relief and previously lost balance is restored. David is able to re-discover his underlying, firmly held belief and trust in God. No matter how long he would have to wait for God’s justice to be realised, he would trust in God’s love, in his salvation. He is able to see again that the Lord has been good to him and he ends in praise.


Heavenly Father, it is so good to know that whenever we are burdened or over-burdened, we can come to you and express our innermost to you. For you are a listening God, even though our earthly eye cannot see you, you are there and you are near. Thank you for accepting my prayer. Thank you that you care for me. So, I will put my trust in you and place my life into your hands. Amen.

Hymn - Singing the Faith 635, verse 1 and refrain.

1 My troubled soul, why so weighed down?                             

You were not made to bear this heavy load.                             

Cast all your burdens upon the Lord;                                          

Jesus cares, he cares for you.


I will praise the mighty name of Jesus,

praise the Lord, the lifter of my head.

Praise the Rock of my salvation,

all my days are in his faithful hands.

Robert Critchley (b. 1959)

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Around the city - thoughts on Exeter’s past 12

A bridge in time by Rev’d Paul Collings 

Originally from Cornwall, Robert Welsh(e) was appointed the vicar of St Thomas Church in 1537. In 1549, Welsh was a part of the Western Rebellion - also known as the Prayer Book Rebellion - joining Catholic rebels who refused to accept the Protestantism being forced upon them by the King's men. Eventually, 6,000 armed rebels descended upon Exeter. However, it is Welsh who is said to have stepped in to prevent rebels from burning Exeter to the ground; possibly at the old Exe bridge. According to Exeter historian John Hooker who was alive at the time, Robert Welsh was, "the arch captain and principal doer, an active director of the rebellion." Welsh was sentenced to death, his execution carried out by Bernard Duffield, a protestant councillor who wanted to make an example of him. Duffield raised the gallows on the steeple of St Thomas Church and Welsh was bound in chains and strung up for all to see. John Hooker wrote: "[He was] hung in chains, having on his priest's vestments, with a holy bucket, a sprinkling brush, a small bell, a pair of beads, and other Romish articles hung about him; where he remained for a long time.

Roman’s 14:1-4 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

Hidden for years this old stoneware

Stood in the west, this thoroughfare,

Were foe and friend along that road

Would carry wares and heavy loads.

Just on that spot battles were fought,

Opposing forces, clashing thought,

Of how to pray, what form to take;

How dare these principles forsake.  

Both holding to religious faith,

In battle lines a haunting wraith

Of parties fighting there to win

The prize, to conquer other’s ‘sin’.

Lord, when opposing views I hold,

Help me to see, perhaps that gold

Another human mind perceives

And with new insight truth receive.

Help me in that new freedom find

Joyous renewing of my mind,

And in your lasting truth to seal

Your purpose in my life revealed.

The major dilemma is that we tend to listen to reply, while all we should do is: listen to understand and feel.” Akilnathan Logeswaran