“I believe we should go to the moon,” stated President Kennedy before Congress on May 25, 1961, fifty-five years ago this week. Since the mid-1950s the world had watched with concern as the USA and the USSR strove to launch the first human into space. Then on April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin stunned the Americans by spending 108 minutes orbiting the earth in Vostok 1. Although three weeks later Alan Shepherd became the first American in space, Kennedy felt very keenly that he could not let America come second in the so-called space race, hence his backing for this extreme scientific challenge and his appeal for massive funding. JFK was assassinated in 1963, but the die had been cast, and under Presidents Johnson and Nixon America remained committed to landing a man (and only men) on the moon by the end of that decade. Thus it was that on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong climbed down from the Apollo 11 lunar module on to the surface of the moon, watched by millions of people all around the world on crackly, shaky black and white television broadcasts. It’s worth stopping for a few seconds to consider that this amazing feat happened only sixty-six – 66! – years after the Wright Brothers made the first ever powered flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. That day they flew four times: Orville began with a distance of 120 feet in 12 seconds, and Wilbur ended up flying 852 feet in 59 seconds. From a solo flight of less than a minute in 1903, to 1969, when three men travelled about half a million miles to the moon and back in eight days: that’s an almost unimaginable development in the short span of 66 years, less than a single human lifetime. Few people are aware that there is also a physical connection between the two flights. Ivonette Wright Miller, the Wright brothers’ niece, who was seven years old when they first flew (and fifteen when she joined her beloved Uncle Orv for her first flight in 1911), was instrumental, along with her husband, in arranging for two small pieces of the original Wright Flyer propellor and wing to travel to the surface of the moon in Apollo 11, underlining the direct link between the Wrights and the space programme. Today those same tiny fragments are displayed in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, in the very same building which houses the Apollo 11 command module. But for us now it’s back down to earth with – the latest news from Christ Church.
THIS SUNDAY, MAY 29 …
** 9am: Holy Communion
** 11am: Morning Worship with baptisms
** 6.30pm: Jazz Vespers, the perfect way to spend your Sunday evening
AND COMING UP …
** Bank Holiday Monday, May 29: still time to sponsor John Gilbert, who is running a 10k race to raise money for Islington Giving, which works tirelessly to tackle local poverty and inequality. See http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/jxg
** Saturday, June 4, 7.30pm: Peacebuilding and Bach. The brilliant Rev Donald Reeves will talk about his experiences as a peacebuilder in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, interspersed with some short organ pieces by Bach whose music has sustained him during his exhausting efforts. Free; retiring collection for his work. “Inspired and inspiring – true food for the soul.”
** Sunday, June 5: pop-up Credit Union stall after both morning services as part of Credit Union Month. Details in the noticesheet, or see Sam Yung for more information.
** Wednesday, June 8: Next Highbury Lunch Club for any and all over-60s. (NB NOT June 1, as this is half term!)
** Sunday, June 12: Garden party after the 11am service to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Can you bake some scones? See Michelle for details.
** Non-perishable or cash donations for Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants always welcome: see Christine O’Brien.