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.

Monday, 21 September 2020

To Poland with Love - Recalling the 1988 Mission during a Communist Era 13

The Dome of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit by Rev’d Paul Collings

Wednesday 14th September

The reality of life and faith in crisis 

1 Corinthians 3:16 

 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?

Following morning prayer and a time of rehearsal, we walked into the shopping area of the town. Part of the requirements of obtaining a visa to visit Poland was that we had to exchange at least 10 dollars into zlotys every day. The problem was, we couldn’t spend it. The commercial infrastructure of Poland’s economy was in dire straits. Inflation was running away at 60% and there was a lack of day to day goods and produce in the shops.  We witnessed bread queues, and one supermarket full of jars of pickled gherkins and nothing else.

In the centre of the shopping area we found two department stores Wars and Sawa, named after the one time King Kazimierz the Restorer’s God children, who he named Wars and Sawa, hence the name Warsawa (Warsaw).  We couldn’t grasp how cheap things were. During that trip I purchased a rocking horse (I kid you not), a jewellery box, handmade earrings, a Fanfara (a valveless trumpet), a brass replica of king’s column of the Royal Square, a hand crafted framed picture of Warsaw, a school satchel amongst other things and still had change out the equivalent of £30. The average monthly wage in Poland at that time was around £10.

One of our number, a music student went into a music shop and managed to buy the complete works of Chopin for the equivalent of under £2.50. Just to give  another indication of the financial difference between Poland and the UK, later in the week in Lublin, our drivers had mentioned to one of the local pastors that we needed to refill the coach with diesel. He said to our two drivers,  “just follow me in my car.”  After travelling through several back streets they eventually came to a stop and the pastor got out of the car and whistled. Around the corner came an small truck full of jerry cans and they set to refilling the coach. When the drivers asked how much they owed, they were told a ridiculously paltry amount.  The drivers insisted that they would pay the equivalent amount in dollars of what they would have had to pay at a UK filling station.  The pastor and the church member were astounded; not only had they helped us but earned a substantial boost to  the church coffers. However, this had an amusing knock on effect, for later that day. a number of other officials from different churches having heard of this lucrative sale of diesel, came to our drivers asking if there was any other ways that they could supply any of our needs.

However, back to Warsaw.That Afternoon, saw our return to the Royal Square and an even bigger group joining our 2nd Open Air service.

The evening gather was at the beautiful Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit with it’s  200 year old 33.4 metres domed ceiling and amazing acoustics. In this classical rotunda building based partly on the Roman Pantheon we found another 400 people eagerly gathered. The church had fellen into ruin when bombed and burnt by the Germans on September 16, 1939, and required substantial renovation and rebuilding after the war. 

As I conducted the band that evening with a piece of music called, “The Compassionate Christ”, my eyes were drawn to a large painting above the altar depicting the Risen Christ appearing to Thomas, with words in Polish carved into the stonework, PAN MOI I BOG MOI, (My Lord and My God). It is interesting that later in the week we would be entering in a region of Poland that in English we would call, bog (bagno) country.  But in Polish Bóg means God and in a sense in that church, I had a growing awareness that all places where indeed God’s Country, and that each human being is a temple of God the dwelling place of the Spirit.

It was Colonel Bramwell Booth’s grandfather and name sake (Son of the Founder William Booth) who said “Every land is my fatherland, for all lands are my Father's”  May prayer is that  I may walk each day with the an enlivened spirit, and meet Christ in humanities living temples and there be able  to say, Pan Moi i Bóg Moi; My Lord and My God.

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Community Groups Regularly Usiing the Church

Regrettably, due to the current restrictions, there are no community activities at the church premises.

Watch this space for news of when activities will restart.