Missional Church ala 1955

“This is my parish”, said the Reverend Father, his beer half drunk, his cigarette pointing to the bar.”

The title under one of the photos says, “THE CHURCH MUST COME TO THE PEOPLE.” IN A SOHO PUBLIC-HOUSE, THE REV. TONY REID TAKES A BEER AND TALKS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY”. The article, which Jonny Baker and I found on display this week at the new photographers gallery in London, is from Picture Post, 1955. I sneaked a photo or two and these will enlarge if you click on them.

Missionsohopage1Rev. Tony Reid was given freedom for his missional work in the pubs by Father Patrick McLaughlin, the Rector of St Annes in Soho who founded The Society of St Annes in the clergy house that was bombed out during the war.

According to Wikipedia, The Society was begun late in 1942, when McLaughlin and Shaw asked the Bishop of London (Geoffrey Fisher, later Archbishop of Canterbury) for permission to use the St Anne’s clergy house as a kind of mission centre for thinking pagans”. The Society drew a lot of key thinkers including CS Lewis. Sounds like it was good soil for the mission action that came during the 50’s. Always good to see talk lead to action.

Best quote for me from that Picture Post article is toward the end:

“It was in Brussels in the 1930's that he [Patrick McLaughlin] saw the church in social action. He spent some weeks studying the process of going out to the people, of taking your empty church as a fact, but your parish as the real and living church.”

My questions for the mission geeks out there:

1. What Catholic mission(s) did he see in Brussels in the 1930s that so inspired him?

2. What ever happened to Rev. Tony Reid?


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Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name "Precious" :-)


  • Info on this blog:
    Picture Post Newspaper – first issue was in 1938; last issue in 1957
    Hilde Marchant – female British journalist; seems to have been well known for her work on women’s issues in the UK during WWII
    Frank Pocklington – worked as camera operator for various tv series; last work was on “Mysterious Universe”
    Reverend Tony Reid – not a whole lot; I emailed the parish of St. Anne’s in Soho and am awaiting a reply
    If you’re really really interested in this, you may do better to email the history department at Oxford or Cambridge for information regarding Reverend Tony Reid. That or hope you have some readers who are history buffs who love to research quite obscure persons.

  • thanks
    it’s encouraging to me to know that someone else has sat in pubs in the past in their dog collar and thinking of it as their parish!

  • Why don’t you people just use Google? Picture Post was the foremost weekly picture magazine in Britain. It’s journalists and two of its’ photographers went into television journalism and transformed it in Britain. Frank Pocklington photographed at least 70 of Alan Whicker’s best known award-winning programmes. He retired in 1989 after winning an International Emmy for photographing ‘Six Days in My Lai’

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