St Peter / Balsall Common

Churches Together in Berkswell & Balsall Common

The programme for the 2023 Lent 'Breakfasts' series of talks & reflections is here: (More about CTTB after that).

Not in Polite Society
(for more information or copies of the talks handouts, please contact CTTB or the Rector of Berkswell directly)

Organised by Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell

A series of 5 talks by different speakers on

Feb 25, March 4,11,18 and 25

These Talks and Discussions have been developed jointly by the six churches in Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell. They are held in the Methodist Church Hall, Station Road, Balsall Common CV7 7EE on Saturday mornings of Lent. The first of the talks will be held on Saturday 25 February 2023. All are welcome – whether attending a church or not.

The discussions will be chaired by Revd Mark Bratton, Moderator of Churches Together in Balsall and Berkswell.

We welcome a donation to cover expenses and the surplus after deduction of costs will go to charity.

So why not put these dates in your diary and come along and enjoy the discussion. You will be very welcome

For information about Churches Together events please contact

Hon Sec Canon Claire Laland on




25th February – 25thth March


The speakers this year have been asked to address a topic that we tend to avoid talking about in ‘polite society’, but which is nevertheless important and necessary to reflect on from a faith perspective. It used to be said social etiquette dictated two topics could not be discussed in polite society: religion and politics. Today, many more have been added to the list of topics which find people either speaking past each other’s shoulders, failing to engage properly, or getting very personal. But only through talking about things we find difficult, might not understand or agree with can we get our own thoughts straight and build bridges between polarized people and groups. The novelist Marilynne Robinson has recently observed that the growth of ‘cancel culture’ in the social media age is symptomatic of a post-Christian reluctance to revere the consciences of those with whom we may profoundly disagree on important matters. This has led to a widespread tendency amongst disputants to reduce the value of the other person to the content of their opinions and thus to dismiss them utterly in an unforgiving way. The word ‘polite’ in popular parlance means something like ‘respectable’ and ‘decorum’, but originally meant showing tact and consideration for others. Perhaps today we have to be ‘impolite’ order to show the respect that people deserve as one’s made in the image of God and destined for that fullness of life that Jesus came to bring all human beings in his promised kingdom.

25th February – Dr Chantal Meystre

Death - Chantal will share her personal journey through a career with the dying. The aspirations as a Christian doctor; the reality of the work and coping with constant loss. How can we reconcile God’s love with observing the pain of bereavement? She will ask ‘What is the point of death education for the population?’ and explain the rationale behind The Omega Course, a local venture to support the development of a compassionate community.


Chantal qualified from Leeds in 1980 with an interest in Palliative Care after a baptism of fire as a student medical locum. She spent a year at All Nations Christian College in 1983 returning to train in palliative medicine. In 1997 she became Clinical Director and Lead for The Integrated Service Directorate for Palliative Care in Warwickshire and Medical Director of Myton Hamlet Hospice, later moving to Marie Curie Hospice, and Heartlands and Solihull Hospitals. Hospital care for the dying is where her heart really lies. In 2012 Chantal graduated as an Integrative Psychotherapist. She has an interest in medical staff stress and Boarding School Syndrome and their effect on relationships, empathy and compassion, both within the workplace, and in the person’s private life. Chantal co-founded the Omega Course in 2016, a Community Public Health initiative delivering death education to the general public. She worked in Coventry Community through the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

4th March – Professor Mark Johnson

Racism-Scientists meeting after the Second World War universally agreed that the concept of ‘Race’ had no scientific merit – as St Paul said, we are all one blood. And yet – we have Holocaust Memorial Day, Racial Justice Sunday, and an ‘International day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’ (March 21st) – and yet, we ‘don’t talk about Race’! And what have the papers recently been full of? I would like to unpick just what this concept, this topic is, and just why, perhaps, we *should* talk about it and understand it. What you cannot name, you cannot control or combat.


Mark Johnson, Professor Emeritus of Diversity, De Montfort University, formerly at Warwick University and now Honorary Professor of Diversity, Coventry University. Mark moved from South London to help create the national Research Unit on Ethnic Relations at Aston University and moved to Warwick when the Unit transferred and became the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations: after 15 years he was asked to set up and run the Mary Seacole Research Centre at De Montfort University, specializing in research about diversity in health and care, and developed the NHS Specialist Evidence Collection on ‘ethnic health’ issues. He continues to advise the NHS Race & Health Observatory, and work with European colleagues on issues relating to migrant health.

11th March – Canon Peter Holliday

Wealth - Peter will offer some definitions of wealth before examining ideas of wealth in the Old and New Testaments as well as some stories. He will ask why wealth is a questionable subject in polite society. Peter will examine changing cultural norms looking at the relationship between wealth and capitalism, markets and money, concluding by considering wealth from the perspective of the Kingdom of God.


The Revd Peter Holliday holds degrees in economics and theology and is a Chartered Accountant. He has been chairman of a quoted company and was Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon from 1993 to 2000.Since 2000 he has been Chief Executive of St Giles Hospice near Lichfield and in 2008 became Deputy Chairman of the national hospice charity, Help the Hospices. Peter was Chancellor’s Vicar and subsequently Canon Custos of Lichfield Cathedral before his recent retirement.

18th March – Rachel Christophers

Dementia - A diagnosis of dementia has an impact not only on the person concerned, but also on their family, friends and neighbours. With a bit more awareness, we can all play an important part in creating more dementia-friendly churches and communities, keeping connections with people living with dementia and their families as patterns change. If we understand a bit more about dementia, we’re better able to stay in step together, moving from facts to feelings, from head to heart, keeping heart and soul connection through changing patterns. Some good reasons to come to this session might be: • I’m affected by dementia – either me or someone close to me has dementia • I know people affected by dementia – in my family, at church or locally • I haven’t had direct experience of dementia – and I’d like to understand a bit more.


Rachel moved to the Midlands from Kent on her marriage in 1958. She loves the natural world and is concerned for the big effects of climate change on our planet. She is a life-long Anglican, a great grandmother, a retired teacher and counsellor, and part of a team offering support in spiritual accompaniment in the Birmingham diocese. Her husband lived with dementia for over ten years and died five years ago. Rachel and her family learnt much from him through this unchosen journey.

25th March – Canon Mark Bratton

Gender - The topic of ‘gender’ is so contentious currently that a national bioethics committee cannot discuss gender-related topics because its members disagree so vehemently about its nature and implications for individuals and public policy. In his talk, Mark will attempt to define gender, examine the distinction between sex and gender, and the debates about the relationship between them. He will then attempt to address the debate through the lenses of the biblical and Christian traditions, in particular from the Christian understanding of the human person being an integrated totality of body, mind and spirit. He will argue that the modern debate is a manifestation of an ancient one regarding where the true identity of a person resides.


Mark Bratton was born and brought up in Beirut Lebanon and educated in England. Following a short career as a barrister, which included a stint as a project research assistant at the Law Commission, Mark trained as an Anglican priest, serving in university and parish settings. He is currently Rector of St John Baptist Berkswell, near Coventry. He has represented the Diocese of Coventry on General Synod (the Church of England's 'parliament') twice and led a project exploring the ethical, legal, scientific and theological dimensions of advances in human genome science (cf. God, ethics and the human genome CHP 2009). He is a regular reviewer for the Journal of Contemporary Religion. Mark has served on several ethics committees, including the Warwick University Health and Social Sciences Ethics Committee, the Warwick University Animal Welfare Board, the Coventry Research Ethics Committee and the United Kingdom Clinical Ethics Network (UKCEN). He is currently a Non-Clinical Co-Chair of the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Ethics Forum. Mark has a special interest in the relationship between religion, ethics and law. Last May he was made an Honorary Canon of Coventry Cathedral.

What is CTTB?

A collaboration of all our local  mainstream churches, including:

St. Peter's Church of England,  Balsall Common

St. John Baptist Church of England, Berkswell

St. Mary's the Virgin Church of England, Temple Balsall

Methodist Church Balsall Common

Blessed Robert Grissold Catholic Church, Balsall Common

St. Swithin's Church of England, Barston

(Major activities include the Christian Aid Week collection, Lent Breakfasts, monthly Saturday Coffee Mornings, and Christmas Carols - all of which are beginning to get back into the swing post-Covid! Especially the monthly Saturday coffee morning.)

For information about Churches Together events please contact

Hon Sec Canon Claire Laland on