1899 07 01

1899 July 1st       The Cyclist’s Parson

Short Sermons and Cheap Teas

The Rev. Alwyn Lewis, of Fyfield, Ongar, himself an ardent cyclist, considers it no small part of his duty to look after his brothers of the wheel, and to that end organises services for cyclists, bright brief and extremely popular, and on Saturday last threw open his beautiful rectory grounds for a cyclist’s fete. A Leader representative was cheerily met by the rector, clad in whites, blazer, and sun hat – the orthodox clerical collar being the only outward and visible sign of his calling.

Clergy’s lack of sympathy

I’m an ardent cyclist myself,” he said, “always have been ever since I was ten years old, and as cyclists get but little sympathy from the clergy as a rule, I thought it my duty to look after them a little.” “The average parson complains that cyclists don’t go to church – but he doesn’t encourage them to do so. I hold my cyclists services at an hour convenient to them, half past three, and at the first this year, Trinity Sunday, there were 700 here.” How many does the church hold? “Only about 400 but they packed themselves somewhere, around the church, down the path, anywhere, so long as they could hear the music and the singing. And then the grounds are open to them – they’re seven acres in extent – and they can have tea here.”

Purveying of Tea

Of course I can’t give them tea, they come in such large numbers, so they pay 6d a head for as much as they like. At first I gave the tea and had collections in the church for it, but they represented to me that it would be so much more satisfactory if I made a settled charge. Dancing? Yes, we’re going to have dancing later on. So far from disapproving of dancing, I’m going to lead it off myself tonight to let them see that I have the courage of my convictions. They think about here that I’m very advanced,” continued the rector, throwing away the end of his cigarette, “but that doesn’t matter. I have the very great satisfaction of knowing that I am doing good. Come and listen, through the phonograph, to my last Sunday’s five minute sermon – I don’t believe in long ones – which expounds my views on Sunday cycling.”

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