MossValley: Chap 4/Pt 2, Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life 1866-1916, by Rev William Odom
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Continuing the transcript of

Fifty Years of Sheffield Church Life
1866-1916

by
The Rev. W. Odom

[ photo ]
Hon. Canon of Sheffield


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Chapter IV - Part 2

CHRIST CHURCH, HEELEY, 1888-1916

[ Part 1 of this chapter ]

The most urgent need was a church room, there being no place for parochial gatherings other than the old and somewhat inconvenient national schools. A most suitable site was forthcoming out of the vicarage garden, and on July 13th, 1889, amid a persistent downfall of rain, the memorial stones of the room were laid by Mrs. George Brownell and Mrs. Samuel Roberts, after which most encouraging words were spoken in the church by Archdeacon Blakeney.

The room, of which I was architect and clerk of works, was opened on Monday, October 7th, 1889, marking the time I entered upon the second year of ministry. Commodious and cheerful, with admirable acoustic properties, the room is 50 feet long by 40 wide, and seats 350 persons. The cost, including fittings and seats, was 420. Amongst the large assemblage at the opening were Archdeacon Blakeney; Alderman Clegg, Mayor of Sheffield (a member of my old congregation at St. Simon's); Mr. and Mrs. George Brownell, of Newfield; and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Roberts, of Queen's Tower. The Sunday following, a Young Women's Bible Class met for the first time, conducted by my devoted wife, who on the Monday started a Mothers' Meeting, when forty-one gave in their names as members. On the Tuesday our Literary Society, with a membership of sixty, held its opening meeting, when my friend, Mr. John Newton Coombe, gave an address on "Books and Reading". From that time to the present the room has been the centre of religious and social activity, a boon and blessing to Church and Parish. A convenient class room, seating thirty, was afterwards added.

Our subscription list had met with a generous response when arrangements were made for a bazaar at the Cutlers' Hall in the Spring of 1890. I ventured to ask Mrs. Thomson, wife of the Archbishop, to open this, which she most kindly consented to do. It was, I think, the only public function which she undertook in Sheffield. Without entering into details, I may say that from first to last the bazaar was a most gratifying success, the proceeds of the stalls amounting to £523. By July, 1891, the subscriptions had reached £2,042, making a total for the Church Room and the Church Enlargement Fund of £2,565 – a result which exceeded our expectations and gladdened our hearts, and this before the close of a third year in the parish. Difficulties notwithstanding, we felt that the good hand of our God was upon us.

Mrs. Thomson, who was most warmly welcomed by a large and representative audience, gave a charming address, which, as noting a "Red Letter" day, must be given. She said:

"The bazaar which I have the honour to open to-day is for objects which tell their own story. In the parish of Heeley several things were wanted. The church wanted additional sittings, and has got them. It wanted a parish room for meetings of instruction and devotion, and this it has also got. It was not satisfied with its organ. The organ was not powerful enough for the larger church, being a little wheezy, perhaps, and short of breath. The taste of to-day runs in the direction of plenty of wind and power. I suppose a modern organist s never quite content unless he is conscious of a tuba mirabilis under his control, which would endanger the windows if used too freely. He thinks it excellent to have a giant's strength, though he knows that it will be serious to use it as a giant.

"If you observe, these lines make a picture of a parish stirring with new life. The clergy will not be content to take down a rusty key of the church from a rusty nail on Sunday, only to hang it up again on Sunday night to rest for another week. Mr. Odom has only lately come, and you might say he was guilty of throwing to the winds the old maxim of 'One thing at a time' when he asks for church and room and organ all at once. He justifies his hurry by saying there has been no movement of this kind in the parish for more than thirty years, during which time the parish has changed from a peaceful suburb to a hive of industrial population.

"I do not speak of what other religious bodies may have done, for, as you suppose, I do not know that part of the subject. But it was high time that the Church should stir, and she is stirring. To have a debt like £600 looks like imprudence; but Mr. Odom knows well the bank on which he can draw. It is the bank of the faithful people of Sheffield, out of which comes year by year – so my husband tells me – the interest of one million sterling for Church purposes. A deficit which might be a sign of imprudence in some places is not so in Sheffield. When you know what the people give, and how readily, it would seem a kind of imprudence not to give them the pleasure of wiping out a deficit, which they never refuse; which they seem to enjoy. Nobody thinks that this debt will be staring Mr. Odom in the face next year.

"The bazaar has for its patrons most of the leading people in Sheffield. It offers every attraction of an innocent kind. Raffles are wisely excluded. The list of stall-keepers is a very strong one, and I think that no one who comes with money in his pocket will escape without being persuaded, invited, gently compelled, to spend the last shilling he has brought. There is no case, I believe, in this commercial community of a man being obliged to call his creditors together from excessive expenditure at charitable bazaars.

"We do not all know what the ministry of such a parish entails. It means hard work from morning to night without intermission. It means a weight of responsibility from which a good pastor is never relieved. It means the sense of work undone, even when the work done has been carried to the very limits of the strength – or further still; it means sympathy and succour to a large flock of working-people who manage pretty well when work is good, but who face much sorrow and privation when that slackens. We are helping to-day one who has shown already that he is sensible of this responsibility, and ready to face this great labour. In your names and in my own, and in that of the Archbishop – who has desired me to say so – I express every good wish for this bazaar, and I now declare it open."

Mrs. Thomson, to whom at the opening a magnificent basket of flowers had been given, was at the close presented by the vicar's daughter, on behalf of the stallholders, with a handsome silver-mounted scent bottle, bearing her monogram with the words, "Heeley, 10th June, 1890". The vote of thanks to her was proposed by the Mayor (Mr. S. G. Richardson), and supported by Archbishop Blakeney.

Mrs. Thomson's words of twenty-seven years ago derive increased interest from a charming book recently published entitled 'Zoë Thomson of Bishopthorpe and her Friends', by E. C. Rickards. Among her friends Mrs. Blakeney, wife of the Archdeacon, is specially mentioned, Mrs. Thomson having been a frequent visitor at Belmont.

The enlargement of the church was carried out in accordance with the designs of the late Mr. J. D. Webster. Whilst the work was in progress the usual services were held in the church room, which had been duly licensed. The nave of the church was lengthened by one bay, a new aisle was built on the north side, and a vestry and organ chamber added. The total cost of the extension and improvements, by which 320 additional sittings were gained, was £1,750, making, with the church room, an expenditure of £2,170.

The church was reopened by Archbishop Thomson on May 16th, 1890, in the presence of a large congregation. His helpful words of encouragement, based on Romans viii, 1, 2, are not yet forgotten. The remembrance of the honoured Archbishop's visit is, however, clouded by the sad fact that the sermon was the last he preached in Sheffield. Before the year closed he was called to rest from his labours.

The field was wide, and there was much more to be done. Having put one's hand to the plough there could be no looking back. More Sunday school accommodation was urgently needed, as for some time we had been obliged to rent, at a cost of £20 yearly, three large rooms in the Gleadless Road Board Schools for the increasing number of Sunday scholars. At this time (1892) a large plot of land used as gardens near the churchyard was being laid out for building purposes. In order to prevent the Hartley Street side of the church being closed up with cottage houses it was essential that a portion of this land should be secured without delay. A more suitable site for parochial buildings there could not be, and so a portion containing 856 square yards adjoining the churchyard, with a frontage of 120 feet to Hartley Street, was purchased at a cost of £230. Shortly afterwards, the present commodious buildings were completed at a cost, including the site, of £730, leaving ample space for further extension. The memorial stone was laid by my wife on September 16th, 1893, when she was presented with a handsome ivory-handled trowel, suitably inscribed, as a memento. The schools were opened on Nov. 20th, 1893, by the Archbishop of York (Dr. Maclagan), with warm congratulations on the possession of such admirable buildings. This was his Grace's first visit, and on the afternoon of the same day he held a Confirmation, the first ever held in Heeley Church, when there were 110 candidates, of whom eighty-three were from the parish.

The year 1896 saw the Jubilee of the parish, which was rapidly increasing in population. To commemorate this a committee was formed, and it was resolved to raise not less than £1,200, in order to carry out (1) the completion of the church by the erection of a south aisle, giving about 140 additional sittings, and to make other improvements; (2) to repay the loan due on the Hartley Street School buildings. Plans were prepared by Mr. J. D. Webster, under whose superintendence the extensions of 1890 were carried out, and it was felt that when the enlargement was completed the parishioners would possess a church worthy of the size and importance of the parish.

A subscription list was opened, with my friend, Mr. H. B. Sandford, as treasurer, headed by four contributions of £50 each, and ten others from £25 to £10 each. Thus within my first ten years upwards of £4,000 had been raised, and the whole of the extensions paid for.

The memorial stones of the south aisle were laid in the presence of a large assemblage. After a statement by the vicar, stirring addresses were given by Archdeacon Eyre and the Rev. George Sandford, the venerable Vicar of Ecclesall, the latter of whom gave deeply interesting reminiscences of his ministerial work in Heeley before the church was built. The first stone was laid by Mrs. Blakeney and the second by Miss Leila Roberts (grand-daughter of Mrs. Blakeney), who acted on behalf of her aunt, Miss Roberts, Park Grange, unhappily detained at home by sickness. The stones bore the respective initials, "M.B." and "J.R."

The church, which had again been closed for several weeks, was reopened in June, 1897, among the special preachers being Archdeacon Eyre and the Revs. Alfred Pearson (afterwards Bishop Suffragen of Burnley) and W. Ruthven Pym (afterwards Bishop of Bombay). Archbishop Maclagan, who had promised to preach later at the Dedication Service, was prevented from coming by sudden illness. In a kind letter expressing regret, he said: "I have had no summer holiday this year, and no doubt the work of the Lambeth Conference was very trying as well an anxious."

Amongst several special gifts to the Church must be mentioned the fine brass lectern, given by a lady in memory of her parents who were Wesleyans; a costly velvet cover, with richly-embroidered frontal, for the communion table, given by a lady member of the congregation; a carved oak pulpit, the gift of young people whom I had prepared for Confirmation; the very beautiful memorial window of stained glass at the west end of the north aisle, given by Mrs. Young Mitchell and her family, bearing the following inscription: "To the glory of God, and in loving memory of Young Mitchell, artist, who died at sea, February 7, 1882"; the excellent clock, placed in the tower at a cost of £90. 10s., under which is a tablet inscribed: "To the glory of God and in commemoration of the happy reign of Queen Victoria, A.D. 1837-1901, the Clock of this Church was erected by members, and friends of the Men's Sunday Afternoon Service. 'Love the Brotherhood: Fear God: Honour the King'." The clock was started by the Master Cutler, the late Mr. Arthur R. Ellin, who said that as a boy he was present at the consecration of the church. Later on, a large fireproof safe was provided for the church registers.

The old organ, despite certain improvements, was poor and altogether inadequate for the enlarged church. At the close of 1905 I receive the munificent offer of £250, and also a sum of £30, towards a new organ, provided an efficient one was erected. Mr. J. W. Phillips, organist of St. George's, was invited to draw up a specification, and it was decided to ask Mr. A. Keates, of Sheffield, to give an estimate. The result was "a first-class modern organ", with twenty-six stops and other accessories, in a fine oak case, which was dedicated by Dr. Quirk, Bishop of Sheffield, on September 6th, 1906. The total cost was £585, the whole of which was raised within twelve months.

Early in my twelfth year (1899), a parochial mission was held, the missioner being the Rev. G. A. Sowter, Rector of St. George's, Birmingham. Mr. Sowter's earnest and pointed pleadings were attended with much blessing. In St. George's Church, Birmingham, is a prayer desk, bearing on a silver plate the inscription: "Presented to this Church by the parishioners of Heeley, Sheffield, as a thank-offering for blessing received in a mission held by the Rev. G. A. Sowter, November 11 - 21, 1899". Mr. Sowter subsequently became Vicar of St. James's, Hatcham, London, where, in 1911, he suddenly passed away in the midst of his years and labours, much beloved.

In March, 1904, there took place what local papers called a "unique event". It was the centenary year of the Bible Society, and I had invited a well-known Wesleyan minister, the Rev. Frank Ballard, to give an address to men in the church on the Sunday afternoon, at a special service. Someone who disapproved of my action evidently communicated with Archbishop Maclagan, who wrote to me saying that "to allow a Wesleyan minister to give an address in the church would be contrary to law, and might give great offence, if not to my own congregation, yet certainly to my neighbours", and suggesting that the address be given in the schoolroom. I replied to his Grace with particulars of the nature of the service, expressing the hope that under all the circumstances the arrangement might be allowed to stand, lest real injury should be done to the cause of truth and Christian unity, adding: "Should your Grace forbid the address in the church, I will at once, great as the paid and disappointment may be, ask Mr. Ballard to forego his visit, and arrange to take the service myself". The Archbishop, in a kind reply, said he did not wish to take any further steps to hinder the preaching of the Wesleyan minister in the church, but having said what he believed to be the state of the case, he left it in my hands.

Suffice it to say that Mr. Ballard gave an excellent address, to a crowded congregation, on the importance of diligent Bible study and the work of the Bible Society. I said a few words from the reading desk, welcoming the preacher, drawing attention to a remarkable address, just published, by Archbishop Maclagan on "Christian Unity"; and also expressed the high admiration and affection of Churchmen for John Wesley, his character and work, and remarked that our service that afternoon was a truly Catholic service, in the best sense of that much-abused word.

The event created widespread interest, and gave rise to a lively correspondence in the Sheffield Telegraph, not the least interesting feature of which was an animated discussion between Dean Dolan, Roman Catholic priest, and the Rev. G. C. Ommanney, Vicar of St. Matthew's, in the course of which the latter offered to present a Prayerbook to the dean for his instruction in English Church matters.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to be on friendly terms with Nonconformists of the parish, and to share in some of their gatherings. This has been done without any sacrifice of principle on either side. Nonconformists have ever given me a warm welcome to their homes, and not seldom sent contributions for the work of the Church. During my long ministry at Heeley I have visited large numbers of their sick and dying.

Feeling that far too much time is spent in contentions concerning the scaffolding, when we ought to be engaged in gathering out and building up living stones in God's great Temple, I arranged, in the spring of 1912, united meetings for the deepening of the spiritual life. These, held in our church room, were largely attended and much appreciated. The subjects and speakers were:

Afternoon.
Opening address by the Rev. W. Odom (Vicar), "The Dignity of Christian Discipleship".
(a) "The Fatherhood of God" (2 Cor. vi, 17, 18), Rev. G. Graves (U.M. Free Church).
(b) "The Sacrifice of Christ" (Gal. ii, 20), Rev. W. Seed (Wesleyan).
(c) "The Teaching of the Holy Spirit" (St. John xiv, 26), Rev. G. E. Wiles (Primitive Methodist).
Evening.
Address by Rev. W. Odom on "Creed and Conduct".
(a) "The Christian in the Sanctuary", Rev. G. E. Wiles.
(b) "The Christian in Business", Rev. G. Graves.
(c) "The Christian in the Home", Rev. W. Seed.

With the month of March, 1913, it pleased God to send to me the great trouble of my life by taking to Himself my devoted wife, who for thirty-five years had shared the labours, joys, and sorrows of my pilgrimage. To the Church and parish the loss was great; to me it was unspeakably so. What it was and what it meant will be found in a succeeding chapter. I will only now say that since her Home-call I have abundantly proved the truth of the Divine promise, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be".

One of many proofs of the deep and loving sympathy of a host of friends is the beautiful memorial window in the east end of the church, of which an illustration appears in this volume. Dedicated on September 11th, 1913, by the Bishop of Beverley, Dr. Crosthwaite, who had known me from the time of my ordination, it is considered a fine example of a devotional art. The tone of the colouring throughout is subdued, but most effective, and altogether the window adds greatly to the attractiveness and dignity of the church. That such a memorial, the outcome of so many kind hearts, should be in the church in which it has been my privilege to minister for so many years, is to me a great and abiding joy. The window contains five large lights, the centre one representing Christ as the Light of the World, the others with figures of the Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, surmounted by elaborate canopy work. In the tracery above appear the sacred monograms, with angels bearing the traditional symbols of the Evangelists. At the foot, finely lettered on glass, is the inscription: "To the glory of God and in loving remembrance of Mary Odom, born 12 August, 1849, died 5 March, 1913. Also to commemorate 25 years vicariate of the Rev. William Odom. September, 1913".

Early in November, 1915, I had a gratifying and altogether unexpected surprise in the offer of St. Paul's, Sheffield, vacant by the death of Canon Gilmore. Archdeacon Gresford Jones, Vicar of Sheffield, in making the offer, which was expressed in the kindest terms, said that St. Paul's Church stood next in seniority to the Cathedral itself, and the congregation rightly asked for one who would be a true pastor, as well as preacher. Need it be said that so weighty a matter caused me much anxious thought. My decision was thus announced to those to whom I had ministered so long:

"May I say very frankly that the post offered me has many attractions. Not to speak of a fine church, an excellent vicarage house, and a largely increased income, it would be a great privilege to follow such pastors as John Edward Blakeney, Walter Senior, and other good men whom I knew so well. The pastoral work of a parish with only one-sixth of the population of Heeley would be considerably lighter. Moreover, there would be special opportunities of service for Church and City.

"In this our parish of Heeley there has been only one change of vicar in nearly seventy years. For some time I have felt that a change might strengthen the church, and that a new voice and fresh methods might draw to this our church many who do not now attend. For the unspeakable help and kindness received during twenty-seven changeful years of ministry here I am deeply grateful, and I value more than words can say the confidence of my many friends. No parish could ever be to me what Heeley is. Past difficulties and tender memories bind it very closely to my heart. Never before have I realized greater difficulty in making a decision than during the past twelve days. With much prayerful and anxious thought, I have sought the counsel of many friends. The Bishop, who has been most kind, expressed a strong desire to see me at St. Paul's, and I am assured that the congregation there would give me a warm welcome.

"I felt, however, that I must regretfully decline the offer. My reserve of strength, I fear, would not be equal to the somewhat difficult task which lies before the vicar of St. Paul's. Were I ten years younger I would not hesitate. And so for a little longer I must give to Heeley what remains to me of time and strength. In any case it cannot be much longer, as I am feeling increasingly the strain of the last two or three years. Never have I devoted more time, or made larger sacrifices for God's work in this parish, than during these later years, and I need the constant prayers and loyal support of all. I have the conviction that my work as a parochial minister will close in Heeley, and would only add that so long as my ministry here shall last I will strive, by God's help and for Jesus' sake, to be your servant, and the servant of the parish. I hope that in the best interests of both St. Paul's and Heeley I have been led to the right conclusion. Amid earth-born clouds it is not always easy to see the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father, but I humbly trust that what I have done is in accordance with His will."

At the Easter Vestry of 1916, I had announced that it would be the last vestry at which it would be my privilege to preside. Perhaps I may repeat what I then said:

"For nearly twenty-eight years I have ungrudgingly given my time, strength, and no small portion of my income to the work of God in our Church and parish. For some time I have been feeling that my strength has not been equal to constant and increasing calls. The last year has been one of exacting labour and much anxiety. Here in seventy years there has only been one change of vicar, and after twenty-eight years of service I feel strongly that the time has come for me to make way for a younger man.

"After careful thought, and taking counsel with the Bishop, who has been most kind, I propose (D.V.) to give up parochial work at the close of the summer. It will not be easy to sever myself from work I have loved and to say 'good-bye' to Heeley, where so many of my best and happiest years have been spent, and which has so many tender memories. All my hopes have not been realized, nor has all been accomplished that I desired, but, thanks to a host of generous friends and earnest workers, difficulties have been overcome; something has been attempted and something done.

"I need not assure my friends that there will be little danger of my rusting out. I hope to spend my remaining years in Sheffield, where I shall have ample opportunities of sharing in the work of the Church. During my few months here my time and strength shall be fully devoted to the work and interests of the parish. I trust to leave the various parochial organizations in a fairly healthy condition, free from debt, and am sure that in this I shall have the hearty co-operation of the congregation. More I will not now say, save to ask the prayers of all that a good man may be sent in my place, one who shall be a blessing to the Church and people of this large parish."

In June, 1916, the Bishop of the Diocese (Dr. Hedley Burrows) was pleased to confer upon me an Honorary Canonry in the Sheffield Cathedral, an honour which for many reasons I greatly appreciated, but at the same time realized that it brought with it increased responsibility. It was a matter of rejoicing that the distinction came before the close of my work in Heeley, so giving the parish a share in it. I was deeply touched by the large number of kind congratulations and good wishes received from my clerical brethren and many other quarters, and also by the warm welcome given me by my brother canons. A London vicar, in a warm-hearted congratulatory letter, said: "You are hardly likely to remember that you married us years ago at St. Simon's." Some of my clerical brethren expressed thoughts present in my own mind, as the clerical secretary of a great Church Society, who, writing from London, touchingly said: "My first thought was of the joy it would have given to the loving, faithful partner of your life. Perhaps she knows."

The weeks passed quickly, and the ordeal of the coming severance was keenly felt. My resignation, the wisdom of which was confirmed by my medical adviser, took effect early in November. On the last Sunday of October I bade farewell to my flock, the church which I had seen transformed and in which I had spent so many happy hours, and the parish in which I was witness to so many and great changes. In the morning my text was, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; .... Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." – Hebrews xiii, 7,8. In the afternoon my message was addressed to the members of the Bible classes and the Sunday scholars, and in the evening I took as my closing text St. Paul's words, "Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." – Acts xx, 32.

The appointment of my successor rested with the Crown. In reply to enquiries made by the Prime Minister I ventured to suggest that the parish needed a strong man physically and mentally, with tact and sympathy; one with experience of working-folk and young people; also that a clergyman of evangelical views, with preaching ability, diligent in pastoral visitation, who would maintain friendly feelings towards Nonconformists, would be very acceptable to congregation and parishioners alike. As these pages are passing through the press it is to me a matter of rejoicing to know that the living has been offered to and accepted by evangelical clergyman*, who has had much experience in large town parishes. A new voice and fresh methods, combined with the faithful preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God, may be effective in drawing to the House of God many who hitherto have not attended. "Herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth" (St. John iv, 27).

[ * Footnote – The Rev. Edwin Arthur Miller, L.Th. (Dur.), Vicar of Christ Church, Bradford. ]

Much time has been devoted to the day schools, which for nearly 120 years have had an honourable share in the work of education, and which in efficiency and results, notwithstanding obvious difficulties, were never more successful than at present. At a meeting of the managers the following resolution, proposed by Mr. S. Roberts, M.P., as chairman, was unanimously passed:

"The managers desire to place on record their regret at the retirement of the Rev. Canon Odom, who for twenty-eight years has acted as manager and correspondent for the school, and to thank him for his very valuable services, and also to wish him every happiness and prosperity in his well-earned period of rest."

As will be seen from the statement given, the contributions for parochial, missionary, and charitable objects during the twenty-eight years exceeded £20,000. Within the same period the baptisms numbered 10,663, and the weddings 2,377. The serious sick cases visited, involving a very large number of visits, exceeded 2,000. Of those visited 812 passed away. The number of Parish Magazines sold during these years was more than 280,000 copies, involving no small amount of labour -

"They are old companions, the pen and the worn right hand;
Miles they have travelled together over the paper land."

But the labour was one of love, and there are few things I miss more than the monthly sending forth of a Parish Magazine. In a neat oak case in the Vestry are twenty-eight bound volumes, giving my successors full details of Church and parochial work during the years – a record of "something attempted and something done". Although quite aware that "parochial activity need not always involve spiritual vitality", and allowing that spiritual results cannot be measured by figures, nevertheless to some extent these do help to indicate the life and work of Church and parish. If the parish be poor it is well for minister and workers to read for their encouragement the letter to the Church in Smyrna (Rev. ii, 8-11); and if it be rich, to study for their warning the letter to the Church in Laodicea (Rev. iii, 14-22).

It is a source of deep thankfulness to recall that in the closing year of my Heeley ministry it was my privilege to present for Confirmation fifty-six candidates, of whom several were adults, and that for the year the number of communicants on the Roll and the attendance at Holy Communion were, despite the absence of a large number of young men in the Army, and other drawbacks, the highest in the history of our Church.

The parish owes much to the curates* who have assisted me during the long term of years, nor must I omit to express my gratitude to the Church Pastoral Aid Society for its most generous help, apart from which the work could not have been done. My clerical colleagues, who varied in temperament and other matters, were spiritually-minded, earnest, loyal men, and to all, especially those who ministered for the longer periods, I have been much indebted. I fear that some of them thought me too strict in the smaller details of Church work, but I held strongly that method and attention to small matters were essential to the welfare of the Church. I remember one saying, "Mr. Odom, I think you are painfully precise", which was certainly more than could be said of him, and which I regarded as a compliment. From first to last I have had thirteen curates; all, except the last three, became beneficed. Three passed away in the midst of their years. Of my Scripture Readers, four left for college and were ordained, of whom one is dead and the others are rendering valuable service to the Church.

[ * Footnote:
CURATES OF HEELEY, 1889-1917
Charles James Geikie, 1889-91
Walter Norton Wright, M.A., 1891-96, Vicar of St. Stephen's, Sheffield;
Joseph Turton Parkin, M.A., 1892-94, Vicar of Wadsley, 1894-1902, died December 1902, aged 51 years;
John Thomas Forde, 1894-97, Incumbent of Turlough and Balla, Ireland, who died suddenly in July, 1915;
Arthur Thomas Prout, 1897-1904, 1906-9, Vicar of Newbiggin-on-Lune, Diocese Carlisle;
Robert Henry Chaplin, M.A., 1904-6, Vicar of Hindolveston, Diocese Norwich;
Marshall S. H. Spink, 1909-12, Rector of Torrington, Diocese Lincoln;
Frederick Henry Collins, M.A., 1911-17;
Arthur Thomas Reed, B.A., 1913-14;
Archibald Charles Vincent, 1914-17.

OF SCRIPTURE READERS three must be named:
William Cummins Unwin, 1891-95, left for St. John's Divinity College, London, now Vicar of Loppington, Diocese Lichfield;
George Tilley, 1895-1906; after more than ten years of earnest, diligent, and acceptable labour he retired to Skegness;
Matthew Henry Gaskell, 1907-12; after nearly five years of faithful and most devoted service he entered St. Aidan's College; after a very successful course of study he was ordained in 1913, and is now Curate of St. Michael's, Birkenhead.

DEACONESSES, who did excellent work amongst women, girls, and the sick:
Miss M. Leslie, 1901-5;
Miss C. Clegg, 1913-17. ]

"There is nothing we receive with so much reluctance as advice," writes Addison, but for all that I will venture to offer a few suggestions to my younger brethren in the ministry – elder ones may not need them. Be exact in keeping the Church accounts; looseness in this matter may lead to difficulties. Pay all bills promptly; keep a separate church bank-book; it is better to overdraw your banking account than to keep tradesmen waiting for payment. Publish fully the Church accounts, so that your people may see how their contributions are applied. Be particular in small details of ministerial duty; don't imagine because a matter appears small it may be put on one side; don't promise to give a call and omit to do so, poor people have good memories. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is much." Answer letters promptly, and make diocesan and other returns without undue delay; editors of diocesan calendars and secretaries of Church societies could unfold strange tales. Be punctual in beginning services and meetings, and in keeping engagements; to wait for late-comers is an injustice to punctual attenders. Keep your eyes open in church and schools to see that everything is clean – "done decently and in order." Don't put off until to-morrow what ought to be done to-day. It is well to have in mind Ruskin's motto, "TO-DAY" – engraved on his watch and also on the paperweight of his writing table. Beware of raising money for church building and other definite spiritual purposes by means of unscriptural and unworthy methods, such as fêtes, whist drives, dances, and entertainments in which the comic element is prominent. These things often prove a scandal to the parish, and certainly lower the Christian standards of stewardship and responsibility. Beware of self-advertisement – "He is not the best carpenter that makes the most chips." By all means magnify your office; give all prominence to the message with which you are entrusted, but let the messenger, as far as possible, remain in the background. Read the Ordination Services from time to time. Take care that every sermon preached carried with it a message from God; something for those "who hunger and thirst after righteousness", and a clear answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" The preacher's business is not to suggest doubts, but to declare certainties. Pastoral visitation, especially that of the sick and aged – the shepherding of the flock – should be regarded as of paramount importance. It is indeed a high privilege to take light to doubting minds and comfort to mourning hearts. Little acts of kindness, and the sympathetic visit to the sick and dying, will be remembered long after the eloquent sermon is forgotten.

Without exception, I have been favoured with excellent churchwardens, generous business men who had the true interests of Church and parish at heart, ever my loyal friends whose names* I shall always recall with gratitude. Contention found no place among us. After talking over matters needing attention, all of importance were brought before the Church council, with the invariable result that everything went on smoothly, and as a rule my suggestions were approved. In most congregations cranks may be found, but if a vicar exercises tact and discretion, and takes his people into his confidence, there need be none of those unhappy differences which at times arise.

[ * Footnote – The following are the names of wardens during my vicariate, 1888-1916:
Charles Hall (died 1894)
William Bradwell Wolstenholme (died 1910)
John Cliff (died 1908)
George Henry Beverley (died 1908)
George Smith (died 1914)
John Samuel Dewsnap (died 1915)
William Powell (died 1916)
J. J. Watts (died 1916)
George Henry Leighton
Frederick Cooling
William Henry Trippett
James A. Bishton
Charles B. Turner.]

Whilst approving bazaars and parochial sales for special objects such as church and school extension, I felt years ago that moneys required for the stipends for assistant curates, and the expenses of divine service, ought to be raised in some other way. It was therefore resolved by the Church council to set apart a certain Sunday each year for the purpose of special collections, after the example of our neighbour, the Rev. W. J. Cole, Vicar of St. Mary's. In 1909, our first venture of faith in this direction was made, when I hoped for £60. The offerings amounted to £62. 16s. This plan has been continued to the time of my leaving the parish, eight years, during which the offerings amounted to £504. 5s. 6d., showing an average of £63 yearly.

We had, however, a yearly jumble sale in aid of our Sunday School funds, which proved highly satisfactory, on a Saturday afternoon, and the clothing, &c., contributed by friends, was cleared out in less than two hours. The total proceeds of this in twenty-four years amounted to £390, averaging over £16 each time.

The following is a summary of contributions and collections for church and school extension, parochial, missionary and charitable objects during the twenty-eight years ending October, 1916:

 

£

s.

d.

Expenditure on Church and Sunday School extension, including new north aisle and vestries (1890), south aisle (1897), church room (1889), freehold land and Sunday Schools, Hartley Street (1893), new clock (1901), new organ (1906), class room (1907), memorial window (1914)

5,944

5

0

Less amount due on Hartley Street premises, of which £50 is promised

250

0

0

Amount of contributions

5,694

5

0

General Church expenses, Choir and Organist

3,583

19

8

Ministerial, Curacy, and Layworkers Funds

4,155

16

3

Sick, poor, and aged Widows

1,524

15

8

Sunday Schools

1,434

2

0

Medical Charities, War and Relief Funds

623

9

10

Home Missions (including £970, C.P.A.S.), diocesan and other societies

1,189

0

5

Overseas Missions (including £792 15s., C.M.S.), and Bible Society

1,006

5

0

Men's Bible Class, Church Lads Brigade, temperance, parochial mission work, &c.

802

2

8

Total raised in 28 years

£20,013

16

6

This sum does not include the liberal grants of the Church Pastoral Aid Society to the Curacy and Layworkers Fund (£190 per annum), nor grants from Diocesan Societies and Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Curacy Stipend Fund, nor yet the contributions to the Mission Church whilst under my supervision.

The following is a summary of collections and contributions to Church and charitable objects during my last year ended Easter, 1916 – a gratifying contrast to the £56 of the year before my ministry in the parish began:

 

£

s.

d.

Church expenses and Choir

136

10

0

Seatholders for ministerial fund, and Easter offerings

32

14

0

Curacy and Layworkers Fund

101

4

5

Sick, poor, and aged Widows

49

8

6

Sunday Schools

45

14

1

Church Pastoral Aid Society

48

13

6

Church Missionary Society

35

17

0

Belgian Homes Fund

98

0

0

British and Foreign Bible Society

5

5

6

Church Zenana Missions

3

10

0

Sheffield Medical Charities

16

15

0

Queen Victoria Nursing Association

1

13

0

Red Cross Society and Serbian Relief

7

10

6

C.E. Men's Society Rest Hut for Front

22

4

9

C.E. Men's Society (Branch)

2

3

9

Colonial and Continental Church Society

2

8

0

Diocesan Board of Finance

10

0

0

Church Lads Brigade

14

7

5

Church Lads Brigade – Uniform Account

29

15

7

Men's Sunday Bible Class

5

15

10

Band of Hope

4

13

8

London Jews' Society

2

3

6

Sheffield Church Conference

2

2

0

Christian Knowledge Society

1

1

0

Diocesan Rescue Mission

0

10

6

Total for the year

£680

1

6

The closing scene of my Heeley ministry is described in the following extract from the account of the proceedings in the Parish Magazine (January, 1917), bearing the initials "A.H.B.":

"Tuesday evening, the 12th of December last, a goodly company of parishioners and friends assembled in the church room, which had been tastefully prepared for the occasion, and our company of the C.L.B. formed a guard of honour to the Lord Bishop of Sheffield. The gathering was presided over by Mr. C. B. Turner (the vicar's warden), who called upon the secretary to acknowledge the correspondence. In doing so, Mr. A. H. Booth voiced the appreciation which the committee felt for the support accorded to their efforts, and especially for the kindness expressed by the subscribers. Sympathetic letters were read from the Archdeacon of Sheffield, Canon Houghton, Sir W. E. Clegg, and others unable to be present.

"Mr. Turner proposed a resolution expressing appreciation of Canon Odom's long and faithful ministry as Vicar of Heeley, and of his notable services to the Church life of the city. Not many present, he said, could measure the magnitude of the task which the Canon undertook when he opened his ministry in the parish, twenty-eight years previously; but all realized the strenuous work that had accomplished so much in the face of so many difficulties. Mr. G. H. Leighton, treasurer to the fund, seconded the resolution, and warm applause supported his testimony to the parochial work, especially the ministration to the sick and poor, who had ever received Canon Odom's chief care.

"The presentation comprised an address and a cheque for £68. 10s.* The address was in album form, beautifully illuminated and bound in morocco gilt, with monogram of the Canon. It contains about 300 names of subscribers, including:
The Archbishop of York
The Lord Bishop of Sheffield
The Archdeacons of Sheffield and Doncaster, and many clergy
Mr. S. Roberts, M.P.
Sir W. E. Clegg
Mr. W. H. Brittain
Mr. J. Newton Coombe
Mr. J. Wycliffe Wilson
Mr. T. Firth
Mr. E. Willoughby Firth
Mr. W. Chesterman
Dr. Favell
Mrs. Blakeney
Mrs. C. Bullock
The Misses Newbould (Bournemouth)
Miss Roberts
Mrs. Cole

"The frontispiece of the album consists of a portrait of Canon Odom, and in addition there are four fine photographs of Sheffield Cathedral, Heeley Church (exterior and interior), and St. Simon's Church. The inscription reads:

"Presented to the Rev. Canon William Odom, together with a cheque, on his retirement from parochial work, after twenty-eight years faithful ministry as Vicar of Heeley Parish Church, Sheffield. The subscribers desire to avail themselves of this opportunity of expressing their grateful recognition of his services as vicar during such period, and of his work for the Church in Sheffield generally. They desire also to assure him of their best wishes for his future health and happiness." – Signed by members of the committee, C. B. Turner, J. A. Bishton, Churchwardens; F. Clement, W. Fisher; G. H. Leighton, hon. treasurer; A. H. Booth, hon. secretary.

"The presentation was made by the Bishop, who dwelt chiefly on matters additional to the parochial work of Canon Odom. 'While taking the deepest pains about his own parish,' he said, 'he had been able to give some time – and every man ought to give some – to the life of the diocese as a whole. That was a very great advantage, which he was thankful to say the diocese would be able to retain. The Canon had made very real contributions to the historical records of the city. His book on Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was full of information, and from the Life of Archdeacon Blakeney, he (the speaker) learned more about Sheffield than from any other book he had read. When the choice of an editor for the Diocesan Calendar had to be made, it was at once evident that Mr. Odom was the right man for the post. Canon Odom had been one of the most faithful pastors that it had ever been his pleasure to know.'

"Canon Odom, in reply, expressed grateful thanks for the kind and generous tokens of regard and affection. That was an occasion when words utterly failed to express one's feelings. He thought of the very beautiful painted window which kind friends had placed in the chancel three years ago, as a memorial to his devoted wife, and in commemoration of the completion of twenty-five years of his ministry in that parish. And now was being added the crowning act of kindness in which so many friends had joined. This expression of regard would bind him as with hoops of steel, not only to Heeley, but also to Sheffield. He had only tried to do his duty, and he expressed his indebtedness and gratitude to the many loyal and faithful co-workers who had been associated with him, not a few of whom had entered into rest."

[ * Footnote – Other tokens of regard had previously been presented. From the Mothers Meeting a leather attaché case and a fountain pen, and from the members of the Girls' Friendly Society a neat silver-mounted oak timepiece. The members of the Mothers' Meeting also presented Miss Kathleen Beetham (the Canon's niece), who, since Mrs. Odom's death, had acted as secretary and treasurer, with a silver-mounted brush and comb. ]

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"Not myself, but the truth that in life I have spoken,
Not myself, but the seed that in life I have sown,
Shall pass on to ages – all about me forgotten,
Save the truth I have spoken, the things I have done."

* * * * * * * * * * * *

What more shall I say? Only this, that the work of God and His Church have ever had the first place in my thoughts and deeds – "Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." The words of the Psalmist have found a constant echo in my heart – "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy House, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth." Most humbly I would adopt words of the late Archbishop Maclagan, written near the close of his episcopate, words which exactly accord with my present feelings: "How wonderfully God has blessed me through all the changing scenes of life. I have had my trials and my sorrows – times of sickness and loneliness: but out of them all the Lord delivered me, and brought me to this hour. How often and how woefully have I failed to keep Him in remembrance or to walk worthy of my high calling! And yet He has borne with me in all my faithlessness and feebleness, and has heaped His blessings upon me. Quid retribuam? Nothing in my hand I bring – simply to Thy Cross I cling."

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Full Contents

I

Sheffield in the 'Sixties
The author's reminiscences of 'Old Sheffield' and its inhabitants.

II

The Church in Sheffield, 1866-1916
Brief history of the church in Sheffield and its development, timetable of subjects and tutors from an Educational Institute Class List of 1866, clergy names, benefactors, details of churches/parishes, etc — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.

III

Memories of St. Simon's, 1877-1888
Details of this parish in one of the most densely-populated areas of Sheffield, anecdotes, names, etc.

IV

THIS PAGE: Christ Church, Heeley, 1888-1916 - Part 2 (Part 1 is here).

V

Heeley and the War
Names of congregation members fallen in the Great War, including one VC (Sgt-Maj J C Raynes, Royal Artillery, with citation given), together with extracts from letters written by servicemen giving accounts of conditions at the front (France, Belgium, Egypt), their experiences in battle, and thoughts of home; also an account from a survivor of the sinking of the hospital ship 'Anglia' in the Channel.

VI

Recollections – Men and Things
Many names and anecdotes of clergy, laymen and others known and befriended during the author's ministry — this chapter has been split into two pages, the link taking you to the first of these.

VII

Books and Travel
Author's favourite reading, details and a bibliography of other published work, and travel.

VIII

In Memoriam – Mary Odom
A very personal tribute from the author to his wife, Mary, who died in 1913.

IX

"God and Cæsar." A Sermon preached before the Mayor and Corporation.
Text of a sermon preached at Sheffield Parish Church in 1887.

X

"Public Worship – its Methods." A Paper read at the Islington Clerical Meeting, London, 1903.
Text includes the author's observations on the principles established at the time of the Reformation, the dangers of a return to 'mediaevalism', and public worship as laid out in the Book of Common Prayer.

Names of Subscribers
(the names of over 250 subscribers listed alphabetically by surname, of interest to those who may be "ancestor hunting" (in many cases only initials are given, not christian names).
Please note these are only the names of pre-publication subscribers as printed in the book, but many more individuals are mentioned in the text whose names have not been indexed. Throughout this transcript most names have been highlighted in bold at least once (not necessarily if they are repeated). If searching for specific surnames, place names or any other information through the various chapters, make use of the Find or Search facility in your browser while on each page.

Illustrations from the book — click thumbnails for enlargement in a new window
(for chapters and contents, see list above)

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral - click for enlargement

Interior of Sheffield Cathedral Church
(St Peter & St Paul)

Leonard Hedley Burrows, Bishop of Sheffield - click for enlargement

The Bishop of Sheffield, Leonard Hedley Burrows, D.D.,
to whom the book is dedicated

St Simon's Church, Sheffield - click for enlargement

St. Simon's Church, Sheffield (covered in Chapter III)

Exterior of Christ Church, Heeley - click for enlargement

Christ Church, Heeley: exterior
(the author's time at Heeley is covered in Chapter IV, beginning on the previous page and finishing on this)

Interior of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Heeley Church: Interior

Floor plan of Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Floor plan of Heeley Church,
dating the various extensions

Whit-Monday at Heeley - click for enlargement

Whit-Monday at Heeley
(no date given, but possibly ca. 1916/1917)

Heeley Vicarage - click for enlargement

Heeley Vicarage
The individuals are not named, but could well be Rev and Mrs Odom

Rev. Canon William Odom - click for enlargement

The author,
Rev. Canon William Odom

Memorial Cross, Heeley Churchyard - click for enlargement

Memorial Cross for Mary Odom,
Heeley Churchyard (see Chapter VIII)

Memorial Window, Heeley Church - click for enlargement

Memorial and Commemoration Window, Heeley Church

Dedication - click for enlargement

This copy of the book includes a handwritten dedication
from the author to the Bishop of Sheffield, 1917



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