About Us

The Order's Newsletter:


The OSJ Newsletter is the principle point of communication for the Order of St James (UK) and OSJ (Worldwide). 

All members may contribute to newsletters and articles of interest are also drawn from other churches and printed with permission.





The Editorial Team:

 
 
 
 
 
Fr. Ian Walton, OSJ

Executive Bishop for the Order of St James.

Fr. Ian is the editor of the Order's newsletter and is the priest in charge at St Leonard's, Hazlewood, the Order's spiritual centre.
Unice Brierley, OSJ

Lay Preacher (Methodist) and a regular contributor for the Order's newsletter.

Unice has vast experience in preaching and is a great teacher and example to those less experienced in this ministry.
Rev David Startup, OSJ

Visiting preacher at a number of Baptist and United Reform Churches, and a regular contributor to the Order's Newsletter.
OSJ Safeguarding Officer
(shared post)
Rt Rev David Bennett, OSJ

Bishop for OSJ Wales.

Liberal Catholic background. Royal Navy and Police background.  PTSD trauma specialist and a regular contributor to the Order's newsletter.
Rev Kevin Wright, OSJ

Bishop's Chaplain.
Funeral celebrant and the priest in charge of a number of mission churches.
OSJ Safeguarding Officer
(shared post)






Why St James?   His Importance and Legacy

The Epistle of James is probably the most misunderstood in the New Testament, and St James is likewise probably one of the most misrepresented of the key New Testament figures. 


Church politics has played its part in the rewriting of the New Testament over the early years and the legacy of St James, the first bishop of Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus, has been consistently undervalued and undeservedly ignored.  St Paul's writings suited the increasingly Roman politics of the time, but not so the writings of St James.  St Paul was a Roman, St James a Jew.


Nevertheless, these events have help protect the integrity of the oldest and most intact and reliable of the Epistles.


What we see in the Epistle of St James is the expression of faith leading to works driven and then change.  Real faith naturally expresses itself in 'works', the selfless outward expression of the love of God, led by the Holy Spirit and demonstrated in action.  Works are a by-product of an active faith and are led by the Holy Spirit.   Works are not in themselves the end product or the goal.  Their purpose is to lead people to God, not to glorify the person doing them.  And as St James stated, faith without works is an empty faith.


The church has made much over the theological differences between faith and works.  Despite popular opinion, there is no overall conflict between the teachings of St Paul and St James either, rather a subtle harmony, but St Paul is certainly not backwards in taking every opportunity to up his prominence and importance against the Jerusalem Church which was held in such regard, a stumbling block in his search for recognition, authority and power.  In that regard, St James along with the Jerusalem church leaders, had to be found wanting if St Paul wanted his way. 


In those early years in Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Spirit endued disciples began to put into action the teachings of Jesus and they found of their own voice and expression of faith as they transitioned from a purely Jewish outlook to one which accepted and welcomed the many Gentiles who responded to the Gospel of Christ.  As a community it was very well respected and continued to grow under the leadership of St James, assisted by Mary (mother of Jesus) and Mary Magdalene, but as other Christian communities grew beyond Jerusalem, it was not without its critics or enemies who were envious of its supposed position and power.


Over the years, St James along with Mary, (the mother of Jesus) and Mary Magdalene, have had such bad press as to destroy the prominence of the Jerusalem church and to bulk up St Paul's reputation.  Rome strengthened its position over Jerusalem as the political climate changed, especially following the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Emerging Christianity became the victim of personal and group politics in the form of the emerging denominations, and there were many schisms as each vied for overall power.  Some of the early founding fathers were declared heretics, their followers persecuted and killed, and many early letters and documents were destroyed in an attempt to hide the dissent that existed.  Even the Gospels and the Epistles were rewritten and/or edited in part. 


However, what was left in the almost ignored and untouched Epistle of St James is of relevance to us as individuals.  It remains the oldest and most original writing of the New Testament, even pre-dating the Gospels according to some sources.  It takes us right back to the early beginnings of the real Church and focuses on what was really important.  Not just 'faith', but 'faith resulting in action'.   


What was radical in the Epistle of St James was that everyone was involved, everyone had responsibility and everyone had the chance to make a difference.  They had responsibility and much was expected of them.  They had, 'ownership', direction and purpose, and were far from passive in expressing their love of God.  It builds directly on the teachings of Jesus, as an example consider 'the parable of the talents' found in Matthew 25, v14-25, and Luke 19 v12-19.  'Talents' were not buried under mountains of rules, regulation, canon or tradition.  They were meant to be used.


We have lost that.  Now it seems we find we have given over our Christian heritage to organizations that rule over us and paid professionals who absolve us of our Christian responsibilities.  As long as we do what we are told without question and put our money in the collection box, we will go to Heaven.


That is not true and certainly not good enough. 


The Holy Spirit is challenging people not to accept this situation any more, and they in turn are challenging the church organizations that have let them down so badly.  Where they get no satisfaction, the outcome is that they will leave and the churches will empty.


That does not mean that 'the Church' is dying.  It is changing. 


The Church is 'people', not organizations.  People will still have their faith even if they don't go to a church, and they will still live according to their faith.  It is the churches led by self absorption and self interest that are dying.  They have had their chances.


So how do we as an Order respond to and engage those who have become disillusioned and disengaged, or those who have never even have heard or understood the Good News of Jesus Christ?  How do we support and encourage them?


We need to go back to the first principles outlined in the Gospels and particularly those found in the Epistle of St James.


There are only two things any of us need to do to the best of our abilities and understanding: to love God,  and to love our neighbours as ourselves.  God has already prepared us for this task as we have been given the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us.  It starts wherever we are with whatever we are doing.  It usually starts with a smile, and how simple is that.


Every one called of God has a ministry, a spiritual gifting, a skill and has a place, a value, and without which the whole Church (and subsequently the whole community) suffers.  We recognise and encourage the use of those gifts.


For all of us, the first principle is, if you see something is wrong, or that there is a need, then it is your responsibility to deal with it.  It is not someone else's responsibility.  It is yours.  God brought it to your attention for you to deal with.


We are here to support you where we can if you cannot find support in your own community.


This is what the Order of St James is about - firstly in giving responsibility back to the people, and secondly in empowering them in both their Christ centred calling and ministry.  The world could be a so much better place and it is up to all of us to make it so.





Why 'an Order' and not 'a Church'?


We don't need another 'church'.  The world is full of both old and new churches all saying that they are the real thing and the only true way to find God. 

The only true way to find God is through personal encounter, and no one 'church' has the sole rights on that, as much as they may wish to think so.

Churches may provide good teaching and provide a safe environment to meet like minded people, but their rituals and traditions and canon are no substitute for a living relationship with God. 

We recognise that, but sometimes the churches in question don't.  That is why your presence in the church and/or community you are a part of is important, so your voice can be heard and change can be made.

Being an Order, it means that people can stay where they are, doing the things they do and make changes from within what already exists.  It means they can have support and encouragement where perhaps none exists, to do what God is calling them to do.





The Order's Spiritual centre:


St Leonard's Chapel, Hazlewood, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.  The Chapel is around 900 years old and is remarkable for its brightness, acoustics and peacefully spiritual atmosphere.

Regular public service are held here and are listed on the 'Services' page. 

The chapel was also dedicated as a shrine to the 40 Martyrs during the period when the Carmelites used Hazlewood as a monastery.  The painting over the chapel's altar is a celebration of the steadfast faith of those who died during the persecution of Roman Catholics.

  





So who was St Leonard?


According to the building report provided by English Heritage, the figure above the porch is that of St Leonard to whom the chapel is dedicated.  Not many people know who St Leonard was, so here is a potted history.


St Leonard was born towards the end of the fifth century near the  town of Orleans, France. He was the son of a Frankish  nobleman, a high-ranking officer in the army of the king, Clovis I.


At fourteen years of age, St Leonard went to the monastery of  Micy in Orleans and, on completion of his studies, entered Holy Orders, eventually succeeding Saint Remy at Rheims.


St Leonard's holiness attracted sick people to him. It is recorded that they obtained their recovery and spiritual enlightenment.


The king heard of this and asked Leonard to become chaplain to his court. However, Leonard's zeal for saving souls made him refuse this tempting offer. Preferring solitude, he chose to retire in isolation to the region of Aquitaine. Finally, reaching the forest of Pauvin just north of the town of Limoges, he built himself a cell and lived on vegetables and fruit.


At first, he devoted himself to prayer and contemplation but, as a man of compassionate disposition, he later befriended prisoners and captives of war.


In one account of St Leonard's life, it is also reported that Theodebert, King of Austria and grandson of Clovis I, while hunting with his couriers in the area, became distraught when his pregnant young wife, Queen Wisigarde, who was accompanying him, went into premature labour and was having serious difficulties. The royal doctor despaired of her life.


St Leonard arrived at her side and fell to prayer on her behalf. Through his prayers of intercession, the Queen recovered and gave birth to a healthy child. The king's gratitude was expressed by offering St Leonard the estate of Pauvin, where he was joined by young men wishing to share his monastic life and form a community. Over time, a flourishing monastery was built on this estate in honour of Our Lady of the Forest.


Leonard changed the name of Pauvin to Noblat in the King's honour. It was from here that he carried out his work of evangelisation, preaching the Gospel across the whole region.  As reports of his characteristic holiness and miracles spread, sick people were brought to him and many went back home cured. Clovis I promised to release every prisoner St Leonard converted. Many of those released in this way joined his ever-growing community.
 

St Leonard's pastorate continued to grow until his death on 6 November, 559 A.D.


St Leonard's fame spread as details of his life and miracle-working became known. It was reported that prisoners who invoked Leonard’s aid discovered that their chains and shackles miraculously fell from them


(Although probably based on the incident in Acts regarding St Paul,  Charles Wesley's words for 'And can it be,' (circa 1735) certainly resonate with the stories regarding St Leonard and also with the work of OSJ.)

 1.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

 2.

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.
 3.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
 4.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

 5.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Saviour in my heart.
 6.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.


It seems that Leonard was never at a loss for an edifying sentiment. “A fare of dry bread, eaten in the joy of a pure conscience,” he held, “is of more worth than a house abundantly furnished, where quarrels and divisions prevail.”


Yet St Leonard’s death was followed by five centuries of anonymity. From the 12th century, however, his name was copiously invoked, not merely throughout France, but in various parts of Europe.


In England, there were 177 churches dedicated to St Leonard, many of them in Kent and Sussex. There were also several dedications in the West Midlands, notably at Bridgnorth and Bilston, and also here in Yorkshire.


Also, monasteries, hospitals and hermitages were dedicated to him in France, Italy, England, Scotland and, not least, in Bavaria. At York, the largest medieval hospital in northern England, run by the Augustinians, was dedicated to St Leonard.


Noblat is identified as the Saint's home town and the church there became a great pilgrimage shrine.  The Saint was invoked both by women in labour and by prisoners of war.  Relics of Saint Leonard are placed above the main altar in the church of Saint Leonard de Noblat, at the place where his hermitage once stood.


St Leonard's Chapel at Hazelwood also has one relic of the saint which is housed in the tabernacle on the altar.  This was obtained from a monastery in Belgium by the Order of St James when St Leonard's chapel was re-consecrated for Christian, rather than denominational, use.