Stanley's sermon hits the airwaves

On the 27th May, 1981, the Rev. Stanley Hodges had the biggest congregation of his life when his sermon went out to thousands of radio listeners.
The Sunday morning service on BBC Radio Four came live from Christ Church, Wickford, where Mr. Hodges has been the minister for 22 years.
The 200-strong congregation were warned before the broadcast to try not to cough or rustle their papers.
They sang four hymns accompanied by organist Frank Hunter. The lessons were read by Susie Holden and Mrs. Hilda Lemon.

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  • Stanley Hodges came to Wickford in around 1959, I believe from Broxbourne, with his adorable wife, Edna. Replacing the then Minister, Mr Marles, he became the new Minister at the old Congregational Church in Wickford High Street, opposite Wade & Pollards on the corner of Market Road, both now long gone.

    Stanley was a beautifully spoken man, with a deep and resonant, yet gentle, calming voice. He was a very peaceful man. Edna was just the opposite, bursting with music and energy. She played many instruments and became a teacher at Wickford Church of England Infant School. They were a wonderful pair. They eventually had three children – Jeremy, Deborah and Sarah. On Christmas morning, before inspecting each member of the congregation’s Christmas presents, which they were encouraged to display, Stanley would tell one of his three most well-loved Christmas stories – my favourite was ‘Anna Mariah and the Glass Peacock’. Both Ken (my then boyfriend and my now husband) and I were members of his Youth Group and later his Missionary Committee. Stanley married us in 1963 and Christened all three of our daughters – Tracy and Kerry in the old Congregational Church and Kristy later in the newly built Christ Church.

    Stanley received a calling, in 1981, to move Churches to one in Broadway, in the Cotswolds. It was a beautiful part of the world in which to live. We missed them terribly – they were a huge part of our lives. We visited them many times, the last twice sadly, for their memorials – Stanley preceding Edna. It was the end of an era, not just for us, but for all of us who remember them from Christchurch days – some 22 years in all.

    By SANDRA ELLIS (10/06/2020)
  • An article in the Evening Echo in March 1983 reported that Stanley had recently preached his last sermon at Christ Church, before retiring.

    By Bob Plimmer (13/11/2019)

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