Reflections on an EastEnders funeral

Rev Canon Dr Sandra Millar who leads work on funerals for the Church of England has written a great blog post reflecting on Peggy Mitchell’s funeral:

This week the funeral of the great pub landlady, Peggy Mitchell, took place in Albert Square. It was full of wonderful East End traditions, like the horse drawn bier led by the funeral conductor and the people standing by in respect. There were hints that Peggy had specified what kind of funeral she wanted – and it was certainly a very traditional, even old-fashioned,  affair in the local church.

But these days a Church of England led funeral needn’t be traditional, whether it takes place in the local church or elsewhere. People can wear brightly coloured clothes, the coffin might be wicker or felt or hand-decorated, it could be draped with a favourite sports shirt, balloons might be released – whatever reflect that unique life and the love of God within a framework of reflection, prayer, thanks and commendation into God’s care. The EastEnders funeral reminded me of the time I took the funeral of a pub landlord – there were nearly 1,000 people present, a wicker coffin, the singing of Waltzing Matilda and lots and lots of tributes. I spent a lot of time with the family discovering what would make this funeral helpful, and to this day I remember them and pray for them.

Whatever the circumstances, the vicar talks with the family beforehand, finding out key family contacts and tensions (that would have been interesting in the Mitchell clan!) discovering what made this person uniquely loved and special to those around him or her.  The vicar may encourage the family to make a tribute, talking about their own personal memories, and will be there alongside on the day, ready to offer a steadying arm or even take over if emotions became too much.  Together with the Funeral Director the minister is responsible for the service, making sure it all works smoothly, offering care and support as needed – and should something go wrong, the vicar will be there.

Christians believe in a God who made every human being uniquely, who knows every step we take, walks with us through our journey in life, so celebrating and giving thanks is a central part of every Church of England led funeral. The camera cut away from the funeral service, but I do hope someone spoke about Peggy with affection. If I’d have been taking her funeral I would definitely have used the line ‘Get out of my pub!” somewhere in the service!  But funerals are more than just thanksgiving: there is grief and loss, sometimes anger or regret, and a church service will also make space for holding those emotions, letting go where appropriate and finding comfort to face the future.

Above all a Church led funeral offers a message of hope – a hope that death is not the end and that both we who have to carry on living and those whom we love but see no longer are all held in the great love of God. Our recent research around Church of England led funerals showed that the timeless words ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life’ have a powerful resonance with people, even though their full meaning will take us all a lifetime to grasp.

A good vicar – and there are many like Revd Juliet Stephenson from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the current Funeral Celebrant of the Year – will offer pastoral care before, during and long after the funeral. Sometimes that’s the space to light a candle, sometimes the space to remember and sometimes a listening ear.  I know EastEnders isn’t real [it isn’t is it?] but I hope that all who are faced with organising a funeral will know that the Church of England is there for them, meeting their needs with compassion, humour, love and grace.

Children give their opinion on Adele


Adele’s 25 has been breaking records ever since it was released in November, but what do children think about the British songstress?

Luckily the YouTube channel Fine Brothers have the answers.  They gathered a group of children and played them “Hello” and 21 favourite “Rolling in the Deep.”

The seven minute video is full of amusing impressions and comments, with some saying she is perfect while others say they prefer hip hop. One just asks: “What does this all represent?”

Interactive Map of James Bond’s Travel Destinations

James Bond journeys

Agent 007 has travel all over the world while working for the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service. The latest film, Spectre, takes James Bond to Austria, Italy, and Morocco. These may be great journeys for us, but for Bond, it’s just another day at the office.

The Guardian offers an interactive map that shows where James Bond has traveled over the course of his 23 movies. It does not include space, where Bond spent some time in Moonraker. And, of course, it does not include any of his travels that remain classified.

Prank of the year by Adele!

Adele just pulled off the best prank of the year.
To pull it off, Adele got a fake chin and fake nose to go undercover as Jenny, whose day job, Adele says, is nannying. When she introduces herself to the fellow impersonators, she does a pretty stellar job at hiding the fact that she does, in fact, have a casual 10 Grammys at home. She even sneaks in a dig at herself and fakes some serious nerves before taking the stage for her performance of “Make You Feel My Love.” But as soon as she sings, no one can deny that that, right there, is most definitely Adele.
Watch the prank of the year

Songs of Praise to feature makeshift church in Calais migrant camp

I’m really pleased to hear today from various news agencies that Songs of Praise is filming a segment in Calais to feature the makeshift church from the migrant camp.

Producers have already spent two days shooting an episode at a makeshift Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the ‘Jungle’ camp, which will be broadcast on a date to be finalised.  And the full crew for Songs of Praise is due to arrive at the centre of the 5,000-strong camp this weekend.

This comes amid a worsening crisis which has seen nine people lose their lives after thousands of migrants stormed the Channel Tunnel in a desperate attempt to build a new life in Britain.

Pictured is a makeshift Ethiopian Orthodox church, where film crews have already spent a day shooting
Pictured is a makeshift Ethiopian Orthodox church, where film crews have already spent a day shooting
A baby sits in the middle of women from Ethiopia and Eritrea who are praying and singing during Sunday mass at the makeshift church
A baby sits in the middle of women from Ethiopia and Eritrea who are praying and singing during Sunday mass at the makeshift church
Prayers at the makeshift Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Prayers at the makeshift Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Production for the show was disrupted after one parishioner objected to being filmed during a service at the tarpaulin and corrugated iron church, The Sun reported.

Another worshipper, Ezekiel Lala, confessed to the newspaper he had been caught trying to illegally enter the UK thirty times.  The 28-year-old said:

‘I pray in church for good health so I can get to England.  I know God will help me. I try every night to get to England.’

Kibrom Kasta leads an service for Ethiopian and Eritrean worshippers at the jungle church
Kibrom Kasta leads an service for Ethiopian and Eritrean worshippers at the jungle church

Britain’s Got Talent: Old Men Grooving

I loved this Brtain’s Got Talent act from last night, Old Men Grooving bust a move.

The Judges appear sceptical when these dancing dads appear on stage, but their hip hop and street dance routine leave them open-mouthed in amazement.

It’s a brilliant example of what we see on the outside isn’t what we actually get.  Certainly one I’ll be using with the youth group over the next few weeks.

Help find a Strictly Come Dancing Star for Comic Relief

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing professionals are set to put a sparkle into the lives of members of the public by training them to strut their stuff for a new BBC series.

For the first time EVER the BBC team that brings you ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is opening its dance floor to the public and they’re looking for inspiring everyday unsung heroes to go on this incredible journey. We would really like you to nominate your heroes or heroines for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – their very own televised Strictly experience for Comic Relief as part of the next Red Nose Day campaign!

We are looking for you to nominate inspirational people who genuinely change many other people’s lives – and of course, it is essential that they are Strictly super fans. The show is going to be a complete surprise to these individuals, so it is very important that they have no idea they are being nominated for the show. It should be an amazing chance to reward these amazing people, with an unforgettable experience that will be broadcast to the nation at a primetime slot on BBC One.

To nominate your hero, all you have to do is send an email to to receive an application form.

Deadline for applications is 31st October 2014. Good luck!!