On Sunday 10th September, Teddington Parish held its first ever River Blessing Service, as part of the Teddington800 celebrations.

The church congregation, alongside representatives from the RNLI, Twickenham Sea Cadets, Royal British Legion, The Lensbury Club, Walbrook Rowing Club, The Skiff Club, Teddington Boat Shop and local scouts and guides, began the morning with a parade service at St Mary with St Alban.

During the service, Joe kept with the nautical theme by blessing the children’s church ark, expertly crafted by our Plain and Pearl group, before talking about the ways that the river has shaped and enriched the community of Teddington over many years, from a source of food and transportation in days gone by, to a provider of leisure activities, beauty, and a vista beyond the buildings across the street for many in our urban community.

The congregation, accompanied by the SMWSA choir, then processed to Manor Park, to gather at the river’s edge and hear Joe, Mary and Ros bless the river and see a floral cross set adrift on its currents, from the Teddington Wharf pontoon. Many in the congregation spread flowers and small paper boats in the water as the blessing was given, watched by a small flotilla.

The service ended with a dragon boat demonstration from the local scouts, in readiness for more dragon-boat racing to come that afternoon. The weather held out just long enough to ensure most of the crowd went home dry!

It seems apt to end with a short poem written for the occasion and penned by Liz Stewart, a member of the congregation at SMWSA:

‘The tide in Teddington ebbs and flows,
Like life itself it comes and goes,
Let’s row together side by side,
Knowing God’s love will be our guide.’