Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Minister : Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) : email : : Telephone : 01392 206229 : Mobile : 07941 880768

About Us

St Nicholas Methodist Church has existed on the present site for over 150 years since it opened in 1867.

We are a friendly community of believers where all are welcomed. We help each other to worship God, and strive to live more like Christ in service beyond the walls of our church building.

Part of the
Exeter Coast and Country Circuit of the Methodist Church.

Friday, 18 September 2020

To Poland with Love - Recalling the 1988 Mission during a Communist Era 10

Pencil Sketch of Memorials at St Stanislavsky Kistka’s Church by Rev’d Paul Collings

Haunting Symbols of hurt and hardship

“Jesus Wept!” John 11:35

Today we pick-up from the earlier mentioned visit to the British and Foriegn Bible Society as we made our way later that morning to Saint Stanislaus Kostka's Church and Cemetery. The parish was created in 1927 in the area on the northern outskirts of city which was the site of significant development during the inter war years and in 1930 construction work started on the monumental neo-romanesque church building, it was interrupted by World War II, and was finished in 1963. 

Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a Social Reformer, was the parish priest in the early 1980s.  He was  chaplain to the Solidarity movements during  the period of Gen. Jaruzelski’s military dictatorship. His sermons became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. On October 19, 1984 he was kidnapped, beaten, tortured and murdered by three Security Police officers. His body was dumped into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Wloclawek where it was recovered on October 30, 1984. Later his body was buried here at Saint Stanislaus Kostka's Church.

A little distance from his grave I found plaques on the wall of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Church commemorating the 1000s of victims of the massacres conducted by Nazi-German occupants in the years 1939–1945.

In front of the memorial plaques I came across the Powstaniec statue (the "Little Insurrectionist") commemorating the child soldiers who fought and died during the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. A similar statue of single child is located on Podwale Street, next to the ramparts of Warsaw's Old Town.

That statue is of a young boy wearing a helmet too large for his head and holding a submachine gun. It is reputed to be of a fighter who went by the pseudonym of "Antek", and was killed on 8 August 1944 at the age of 13. The helmet and submachine gun are stylised after German equipment, which was captured during the uprising and used by the resistance fighters against the occupying forces.

Finally under leadened skies I came face to face with a life size statue of a forlorn Jesus, and I reflected upon Christ's words as he looked over Jerusalem; "Jesus Wept!"

Around the perimeter of the church where numerous banners with the word Solidarność meaning Solidarity, but for Poles it stands for so much more.  The history of Solidarity, tracks the rise a Polish non-governmental trade union, that began on August 14, 1980, at the Lenin Shipyards (now Gdańsk Shipyards) by Lech Wałęsa (who later became president). In the early 1980s, it became the first independent labour union in a Soviet-bloc country. Solidarity gave rise to a broad, non-violent, anti-communist social movement that, at its height, claimed some 9.4 million members. It is considered to have contributed greatly to the fall of communism.

In this small corner of Warsaw, the silent story of struggle, sacrifice and selflessness can still be found; yet there is hope. Within the grounds of the church is St Popiełuszko bell erected in 1987 that above all this memory of heartbreak  the scriptural words  rings out. "Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good" Romans 12:21

I leave that last word for today's diary entry to Father Popiełuszko, “It is not enough for a Christian to condemn evil, cowardice, lies, and use of force, hatred, and oppression. They must at all times be a witness to and defender of justice, goodness, truth, freedom, and love. They must never tire of claiming these values as a right both for themselves and others.”

Judge eternal, bringer of justice, 

hear the cry

of those who suffer under the lash of heartless political oppression;

those who languish in prisons and labour camps, untried or falsely condemned;

those whose bodies are shattered,

or whose minds are unhinged by torture or deprivation.

Meet them in their anguish and despair, 

and kindle in them the light of hope, 

that they may find rest in your love, 

healing in your compassion and faith in your mercy.

In the name of him who suffered, 

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Community Groups Regularly Usiing the Church

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