St John's is a Grade 2* listed building, designed by Philip Hardwicke and completed in 1823. The design is based in St. Paul's in Covent Garden, London, with many internal design features referencing our Patron St. John the Evangelist, such as above the front entrance in the porch are words from St John's Gospel, 'God is spirit and whoever worships him must worship him in spirit and truth.'
The sanctuary is the focal point that draws the attention of both visitor and worshipper. The Baldachino or canopy is gilded with 9 Carat gold. The Greek text above the altar contains more words of St. John's 'The word was made flesh and dwelt among us'. At the base of the altar pillars can be seen the eagle of St John. The chalice and snake represent an attempted poisoning of the saint. The arabesque above the altar is a common ornament for classical buildings and shows the risen Lord with the banner of victory.
Above the font a hanging on the east gallery is the oldest ornament in the church; a royal coat of arms worked in wool cross stitch which was made by the two sisters of Revered Peter How, Rector of Workington, and presented to the church.
The ceiling is decorated with sixteen shields, one group showing the arms of St Mary's Abbey, York, to which the parish belonged until 1544. The arms of the see of Chester to which the parish of Workington belonged until 1856, the arms of the Diocese of Carlisle and the province of York. The light, airy Georgian building is one to be proud of.
St. John the Evangelist is the name given to the author of the Gospel of John, also known as John the Apostle. John, along with his brother James, worked as fishermen for their father on the Sea of Galilee. They were mending their nets when both John and James were called by Jesus to follow him. John remained close to Jesus thrughout his travels round Galilee and beyond, witnessing Jesus's teachings and healings at first hand.
John was one of only three of the disciples who went with Jesus up a mountain to pray, prior to them travelling to Jerusalem where Jesus knew what fate awaited him, and was also present at Jesus' appearance to the dsciples in the Upper Room following his resurection. After this John travelled and was involved in healing miracles, and wrote letters of guidance to the early church. Following the deaths of Saints Peter & Paul, he moved to the Turkish city of Ephesus where he died c. 100AD, believed to be the only disciple not to be killed for his faith, but to have lived into old age. His feast day is celebrated on 27th December.
The Very Revd Dr Frances Ward is the half-time Priest in Charge of St Michael’s and St John’s Churches in Workington, Cumbria. She is also a theologian, researcher and writer, preacher, speaker and teacher.
From 2010–2017 she was the Dean of St Edmundsbury in Suffolk, a member of the General Synod and a Trustee of the Church of England National Society. From 2006–2010 she was a Residentiary Canon at Bradford Cathedral, engaged in inter-faith work with Muslim women.
Her 2019 books included Full of Character: A Christian Approach to Education for the Digital Age (Jessica Kingsley Publications 2019) explores the education needed in a world of increasing automation for young people to flourish in their humanity, drawing on Christian theology. James Woodward writes that it’s ‘a gem of a book’: “The text will stimulate you into thinking differently about the nature of character and what shapes or mis-shapes it. It will invite you into a wider horizon of understanding about human flourishing and deserves to be engaged with seriously so that we can mine our hearts and minds in exploring a theology of education that commits itself to changed practice.” Holy Attention: Preaching in Today’s Church, co-edited with Richard Sudworth was published by SCM Press (2019).
Previous publications include Lifelong Learning, (SCM, 2005) and Theological Reflection: Methods (with Elaine Graham and Heather Walton) (SCM, 2nd Edition 2019). Her book Why Rousseau was Wrong: Christianity and the Secular Soul was published by Bloomsbury in January 2013.