Life Magazine - August 2020
July was a month of changes, my age changed, I lost some hair! And we ate out for the first time in ages, at last we were allowed to open the churches for private prayer, and there was a funeral in the Parish church, but not until after much work to make it safe for people to enter. The high street was closed and a social distancing one way system deployed and masks the order of the day in shops. Also we bid farewell to Elizabeth and Geoff as they moved to Bournemouth, we are thankful to them for all their input particularly at the Mission church and we wish them God’s Blessings for their future life by the sea. But the rectory was soon filled with Ana and Kevin, see page 3 for Ana’s letter.
However the world changes, be it for Covid 19 or other reasons, we can be assured that God’s love for us will remain as strong as ever.
In the September ‘Life’ we will be remembering VE and VJ day with the memories of some of our church folk, and hopefully a report about Ana’s licensing on zoom. Roger.
The Bishop’s Letter
Time for a rest
I’m tired! I don’t know about you? And yet I am getting up later and going to bed earlier than I was accustomed to before the pandemic struck. I’m travelling less, indeed I still have an almost full tank of petrol and have had to call out the AA three times because the battery has died! I’m at home principally, but my working day has got fuller and more demanding as time has gone on. So, I’m planning a holiday! A retreat and some study leave. Having been ordained 24 years I have yet to have a period of sabbatical and I’m looking forward to it! It is not going to take the form I would have planned. There will not be the opportunity of a trip overseas or a residential conference to attend, but there will be plenty of time for family, rest, reading and reflection.
What about you? I know some of you might be feeling that our children have had one big holiday at home since lockdown but I can assure you that they, their parents and their teachers have all been working hard to ensure that learning can continue even though the normal patterns have been disturbed. Whether we have been working from home, furloughed or feeling alone in isolation, each of us will I expect have experienced something of the sense of weariness that heightened anxiety, change of routine and uncertain expectation brings.
So I want to encourage you to take some time off. There’s a fabulous little children’s story called, Jesus’ Day Off, which you might like read as an example of the need for even the Creator to re-create. The example of Sabbath rest which our Creator God offers us in the opening chapters of the Bible, speak to us of the need for taking time to put down the tools of work and take space to reflect and rest.
We have spent the past few months in lockdown in order to keep ourselves physically healthy. Let’s make sure that in these next few months we attend as much to our spiritual and emotional health, by discovering Sabbath rest!
With every blessing Bishop Ruth
A note from the Churchwardens
We, the Churchwardens of Street, Walton and Compton Dundon, would like to thank everybody who has supported us during the past few months. The Zoom services have been very successful. People have been contacting Church members who are not on the internet. As we have been told “We are all in it together.” Thank you again from Diane, Sandra, Pat and Trish.
Looking forward to meeting you……
“I long to see you…” Romans 1.11
Like Paul writing to the Christians in Rome, I am really looking forward to meeting you all in person soon. As I write the time of waiting is nearly over and I will soon be with you, although things will remain a little different for a while yet.
As many of you will have seen in the national news, churches are now able, once again to prepare to open their doors for worship. You will already have seen that the Parish church in Street has opened its doors for private prayer and there is a great deal of work going on in the background as we work towards the further opening our buildings for public worship. We are anxious to do this as soon as we can; like Paul, we want to see you all again; but we also want to ensure that we keep everyone safe and adhere to all the appropriate guidelines. I want to particularly thank our team of wardens (and indeed others) across our benefice who have worked so hard in the background preparing for the opening of our churches. As soon as we have more news to share on this, we will do so.
Meanwhile, Kevin and I will be moving into the Rectory at the end of July and my licensing service will be on the 11th of August at 7pm. As things currently stand, we are not yet sure whether this will be by remote video conferencing or in church with a congregation. Watch this space!
As I settle into the area, I am sure I will see many of you out and about. One of the other ways I hope it might be possible to meet is through a regular ‘Meet the Rector’ time when I will be available around the benefice for people to pop in and see me to introduce themselves, ask questions, or just come for a chat. Please watch out for more details in future editions.
Finally, I now have a landline which should have ‘gone live’ at the end of July. You can call me on: 01458 841373 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I long to see you!
Blessings and Peace, Ana Lawrence
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians. V 3-5. N.I.V.
As we come into August we look forward with eagerness to the arrival of Ana and Kevin. How wonderful that Ana's licensing takes place on the 11th August, the day St Clare of Assisi is remembered. Clare was the first woman follower of St Francis of Assisi. She spent her life in manual labour and prayer. They went barefoot, slept on the ground and were almost constantly in silence. Clare took care of Francis in his final days. A life of service and devotion. Just days later on the 13th we remember two other women. Florence Nightingale who fought prejudist to become a nurse and laid the foundation for professional nursing with the establishment of St. Thomas' hospital. Also Octavia Hill who we know as one of 3 founder members of the National Trust, but through her life she fought to alleviate poverty and keep open spaces for the poor in cities, especially London. All of these women were committed Christians and gave their lives for reform of one sort or another. As we welcome Ana, we give thanks for her and all our clergy who dedicate their lives to following God's calling and direction.
Life is slowly beginning to get back to some sort of normal, but it is certainly harder to come out of lockdown than it was to go into it. We are grateful to the Parish Church for the first tentative steps to opening up and we can watch and learn and maybe wait until more relaxation of the rules come into force. For us at Walton it is difficult as we cannot have a route around the Church as it is a central aisle. We are preparing though by beginning to put things in place and making plans. We do look forward to sharing time together again whether in a service or an informal gathering. We continue to be thankful for our zoom service which enables us to meet as a Christian family.
God bless you all and keep safe. Sandra
Compton Dundon Yew Tree Appeal
Our Yew tree has been a special feature of Compton Dundon for generations, and stood long before St Andrew's Church was even built.
Yew trees can live for several thousand years and our own is one of the oldest in Britain at 1700 years old.
The tree has recently received expert surgery and will continue to require regular maintenance to enable him (yes, the tree is male!) to flourish for generations to come.
St Andrew's Church has launched a 'justgiving' appeal to support the funding for this essential work. We welcome kind donations, however small, at http://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ComptonDundonYewTree. Do come and enjoy a quiet moment sitting under our historic tree. Nearby there is a lovely walk up to Lollover Hill, where you will be able to view parts of Street, Walton and further afield.
Sorry for taking time in responding to your mail. No matter how long it may take, we know that we have a relationship and we need to fulfil what GOD has brought together. You may be aware that facilities down here may be somehow a challenge, so may take some time to communicate but will make sure that we do. We are extremely sorry for taking such a long time.
We are so thankful for the email you wrote previously. We have been greatly affected by covid 19. According to today’s, 07 July 2020 covid 19 update by the Minister of health in Zambia clearly shows that the cumulative numbers of the virus are as follows:
Cumulative cases 1, 895
Cumulative recoveries 1,412
Active cases 441
From the statistics above, we may say that the rate at which the virus is spreading is quite slow. In the last eleven days, we recorded 300 plus new cases and 120 plus recoveries. We greatly thank GOD for HIS mercy. Though some of the economic activities have been opened to the public as we are operating under the new normal, the negative effect is still being felt especially on the tourism part. For the past one week, we have seen small increase in local tourists and this gives us hope that one day, things will be fine. Due to low tourists flow, a number of people especially the youths are engaging themselves in vegetable gardening utilizing the areas which were flooded.
We had our first Sunday service at church on 28 June 2020. The government allowed this by following the health guidelines of washing hands, wearing of face masks, maintaining social distance, no hand shaking and reducing number of hours of worship and other guidelines that may reduce the spread of the virus. Luckily, there has been no case in our district. We pray that the ALMIGHTY GOD will prevent this as we continue praying for the world at large. Before reopening of churches, our priest used to circulate the reading (chapters) for every Sunday. Other members of the church used to have prayers in small groups that is in sections and families. Radio and TV prayers have been so helpful.
We are happy to hear that you will have the new vicar Rev Ana Lawrence after a long time. May GOD bless you all for the great job. Happy to hear that the vicar’s husband visited Zambia in the Central diocese. We hope he enjoyed the trip to Zambia.
Thank you for the funds that we received previously. We managed to complete the beam filling, bought and fixed window glasses air vents and others. Because of the pandemic which has affected our income generation, we have agreed that every member who is in formal employment should be contributing a pocket of cement every month for completion of the house. Because of higher rentals, we want to work on the floor, inside doors and if possible electrify the sitting room so that the priest can shift into the house. We are seriously under pressure but GOD will see us through.
How have you been doing? Has your area been seriously affected with new infections? We pray that GOD should protect HIS people. We are seeing a number of activities being opened such as the premier league, restaurants, shops and others. This gives us hope that things will get back to normal one day.
Thank you again for getting in touch with us all the time. Stay blessed and warm greetings.
Thomas Edison: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
In January 2019 my husband and I moved into a retirement apartment and we are very happy there. One of my good friends was concerned that I would miss my garden but we have a beautiful garden here which some enthusiastic and knowledgeable residents work hard to keep beautiful. So I was not missing my garden, or so I thought.
One day my little dog pulled me down a lane off Strode Road. Not being in a hurry I went with and investigated and lo and behold I found a row of allotments and suddenly I missed my veg patch!!! I read the notices and thought that I could always put my name down and see what happened. Long story short I was allocated my allotment last October and to say it helped save my sanity during lockdown is no exaggeration. It was a complete joy to go and dig and plant and carry water up from the artisian well and watch everything spring into life. There were days when I felt hopeless, crying out to the Lord for mercy for our world trying to comprehend the sheer scale of darkness and sickness. I thanked the Lord each day for my dear little dog who needed walking and my allotment which always gave me something to bring hope and gratitude to my heart. I was so grateful for the Lords provision to me and continue to enjoy my allotment even now we are freer to do more things. At one point I had lots of lettuce all ready to pick at the same time and it gave me a great excuse to knock on people’s door in the development and leave a lettuce whist checking they were ok. Another joy was sharing the joy of a new puppy which arrived to the family whose garden backs on to my allotment. For days I could only hear them as the fences are really high. Whoops of joy and much giggling were very infectious and I could only imagine the scene. Then I met a family walking a puppy along the bottom of the allotments and it was ‘my family’ as I had come to regard them. I now know many more locals I have seen regularly as they take their daily exercise and I walk Blue to the allotment. It used to take me 5 minutes now it can be 30 as we stop and have a socially distanced chat, but it doesn’t matter. No one was rushing anywhere anymore, but I guess that will change.
One of the great positives to come out of this past few months has been how communities have come together and I have enjoyed being part of our community here and serving those who asked. It was great to meet once a week to clap for carers and say hi to our neighbours across the road.
Life goes on the puppy will grow into an adult dog, folks will go back to work, I will meet less people on my walks as they will also be working soon. I feel so lucky to be retired and to have time for people, so often I find this is a gift people appreciate. As we move into our new normal I pray we will all still find time to say hello to our neighbours and look after those most vulnerable and be Jesus in the place we live, work, play sport basically wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Lets live out this bible passage John 13 vs 34-36, A new command I give you:Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Suzie
‘Build it and they will come’
In the cult baseball film Field of Dreams, Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a voice in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come.” Eventually, despite the mockers, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land in Iowa and the ghosts of the greatest players start to emerge from the crops to play ball. There is something about Ray’s vision that reminds me of Nehemiah’s unswerving faith that with God all things are possible.
In 445 BC Nehemiah, an Israelite official serving in the Persian government had never even seen his ancestral home. When Nehemiah finally visits Jerusalem he is devastated to find a city in ruins. God breaks his heart and gives him a vision to rebuild the walls. Rather than moaning or complaining he rises to the challenge and asks the King for permission to return home. Despite the huge opposition and ferocious challenges, God’s people rebuild the walls in record time. Build it and they will come – the Exiles returned. The spiritual renewal of God’s people was inextricably linked to the physical restoration in the land. They knelt and repented, remembered and rejoiced.
“You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9: 5-6 (NIV).
It was with Kevin Costner and Nehemiah in mind, that we set about creating our new veg patch in our front garden earlier this year, and whilst our ambitions were quite humble, it has already become a magical place to dig and play, to listen and build friendships. A place where the community gathers. In allotments and gardens of all sorts – urban and rural, big and small – people are drawn together to marvel at the breathtaking miracle of a tiny seed sprouting, to commiserate when it all goes wrong and to share in the deep joy of tasting God’s Kingdom fresh from the ground.
We’re certainly not going to win any horticultural prizes, but we love getting our hands in the soil. When it comes to growing fruit and veg we are almost complete novices. For example, in our eagerness to make the most of the small space we’ve planted everything WAY too close together, so it is now starting to resemble a dense rainforest with children swinging from the branches and cats hunting in the undergrowth. We are a million miles from mastering companion planting and polycultures, and we don’t really understand how broken our international food systems are, but there are a few important lessons that we are learning quickly:
Our soil is precious, and so is our community.
Teeming with microscopic life, God is in the dark, rich organic matter. Worms and springtails, bacteria and fungi, all death and life meets in the soil. All around the world, the degradation of our nutrient-rich topsoil risks much more than the global food supply, in the ‘fragile skin’ of soil around the earth are beautiful and dynamic ecosystems which reminds us all of who we are and where we came from. In some ways the degradation of community life over the last few decades feels not dissimilar, which is why it has never been more important to return to the land and connect with one another. When our children pull up a plump fresh beetroot for our dinner, or enter into an imaginary world crouched down amongst the squashes, the joy of God’s design seems to pop like fresh peas (I estimate that 70% of our peas are eaten whilst being harvested). Every day during lockdown our children have treated the veg patch like a big colourful buffet, all memories of beige food forgotten as they nibble on bright green coriander, sniff shiny red strawberries and pick zingy yellow courgettes.
Growing in amongst the rows of mistakes, failures and problems have been some very tasty and rewarding successes; but the thing that has surprised us the most, is the way our community has grown too.
When we first bought our house ten years ago, the only thing we weren’t sure about was that it had no back garden, but it did have a front garden that was surrounded by the other houses. Our garden sits at the heart of our community. Like so many people, during lockdown we’ve spent a lot of time outside, building and growing, digging and resting.
Bit by bit we’ve started to notice that our little veg patch is already attracting loads of unexpected but very welcome visitors…
A hummingbird hawkmoth skilfully weaves through the flowers while our kind neighbour waters the strawberries. A friend pops by to drop off some ‘lockdown brownies’ and dwells a bit longer as he talks and I rake. Nanny pops in to take mountains of lettuce and rocket off our hands, not wanting anything to go to waste. Two ramblers pause to chat, both experienced allotment holders, keen to encourage us, while juvenile Red Kites tumble and soar in the sky above. My daughter sits and writes a poem about the colours all around her, while my son takes tentative bites of a baby spinach leaf – slowly overcoming his fear of ‘green’ food. Our Romanian friend arrives and recognises Red Orach (an ancient hardy annual with bright purple leaves), a wonderful reminder of her life long ago. Chilli plants are exchanged for books, sourdough is traded for tadpoles, and celeriac is swapped for a mango seedling.
Our veg patch is becoming a haven for wildlife, but also for humans too.
In Isabella Tree’s book ‘Wilding’ I was struck by the gravitational pull of the wild, as many rare and endangered species found their way home to the Knepp estate, thriving in the natural habitats as the land was slowly rewilded. In our own little garden, I’ve been struck by the gravitational pull of a small patch of soil, as our community has gathered in our very own natural habitat and our very souls are slowly rewilded too.
Build it and they will come.
Build a bug hotel, and the bees and beetles will come. Build a pond and the newts and damselflies will come. Build a log pile and the hedgehogs and grass snakes will come. Build a veg patch and the community will come… and if we build Churches like this, then the Kingdom will come.
This reflection was written by Chad Chadwick for the Wild Christian email, ‘Nature and Community.’ Chad is the Diocese of Peterborough Children & Youth Missioner and leads a Missional Community in Rushden (Northants)
Ed, This interesting article is taken with permission from an article page from the charity ‘A Rocha UK’.
REPORT FROM THE MISSIONS & CHARITIES COMMITTEE
Holy Trinity Street (Parish and Mission Church)
During the 2019/2020 fiscal year the tithe money was distributed as follows:
Zambia Parish Link: £1,200
Open Doors £1,952
Mercy Ships £1,953
During December 2019, Mercy Ships donations were being fund-matched by UKAid so £1,793 of the above amount was sent early and therefore the donation was doubled. Praise God!
Additional bucket collections during the year were made as follows:
Cyclone Idai: £437
Tearfund The Big Quiz £188
Toilet Twinning £172
ZAMBIA LINK REPORT
Mfuwe parish in Eastern Zambia has been our link parish since January 2018. It is a rural parish at the gateway to the South Luangwa National Park.
Initially this year communication with the new pastor Rev George Mwanza was difficult but then the Parish Treasurer James Chiwoleka Mbewe took over the link communication, which has been good. Both men are based at St. Agnes church which is the parish centre where some Christians work in the safari lodges. The parish has seven congregations and 15 lay readers who are mainly subsistence farmers.
We send £100 monthly to the Diocese, £90 is then sent on to Mfuwe to help them build a house for their rector. James has been really good at sending us photographs of the progress of this as the roof, windows, doors and floor have been done. It is hoped this house will be completed in the summer in time for the Eastern Zambia celebrations of their silver jubilee in June. A bill of quantity for the priest’s house is available from Jane Tompsett, who is our Zambia Link Representative.
St. Agnes hosted the first of a two-part training for leaders of the church that focused on secretaries, wardens and treasurers. The training was on stewardship, entrepreneurship & financial management of the church. They also hosted the harvest weekend celebrations.
After the severe floods in January 2020 we also sent an added donation of £194.80 via the Bath and Wells Diocesan urgent Eastern Zambia relief appeal. This will support 5.5 families of 6 people who have lost their homes for a month, so thank you.
James Chiwoleka Mbewe, the Mfuwe Parish Treasurer wrote: “We want to take this opportunity to thank you for the great support and for the resources that you sent us, contributing greatly to the level where the house is. Please pass our great thanks to all those that have contributed. We pray that the ALMIGHTY GOD will continue supporting this relationship through HIS son. Amen.”
NEW COMMITTEE MEMBER
The MCC committee members for 2019 were Suzie Williams, Elizabeth Cottell and Jane Tompsett. Elizabeth is standing down in 2020 so the committee needs at least one more member. It is not an onerous task; we only meet once or twice a year, primarily to discuss, decide and make recommendations to the PCC re the tithe recipients. If you have a heart for evangelism, missions, community outreach and sharing Jesus, you are the right person for the job!
Please speak to Suzie Williams or Jane Tompsett if you are interested. (There is a list of those who have already shown an interest.)
OTHER MISSIONS & CHARITIES NEWS
Compassion - the youth continue to support Gustavo Gomez from Mexico
We once again sent shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, approx. 130 this year.
We sent £1,115 the Rev Farag Hanna and his family in Melbourne last year. We continue to pray for him and his wonderful ministry - see the article about an Iraqi convert in February’s LIFE magazine. Some members of the congregation individually support them financially.Elizabeth Cottell Missions & Charities Committee March 2020
A Country Walk
Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made and it was very good.
We recently walked along the footpaths and lanes from Sainsbury’s across the moors. Being a different habitat from our usual walks the flora and fauna proved to be interesting.
Lots of rosebay willow-herb followed the line of the hedges along the country lanes. There seemed to be lots of thistles flowering. There were bulrushes in various stages of development, from last year’s seed heads through to new buds. Lots of grasses adorned the banks along the ditches.
On the day that we did the walk there were lots of peacock butterflies, a colourful addition to the hedges, especially where buddleia was growing. There were also other butterflies throughout the walk. Dragon flies were whirring around, doing their acrobatic moves, looking like tiny aeroplanes. Flying ants were emerging every so often like a cloud of smoke from the ground.
When we walked along the lane by Sharpham Park we stopped to watch the deer as they munched the grass. Some of the stags had grown large antlers that looked very impressive when they held their heads high
We watched buzzards as they seemed to be following us, flying and soaring overhead. Through the binoculars we saw a great white egret, wading by the reeds. Herons occasionally flew low from one destination to another.
While we were walking we saw a few other people, but what was most noticeable was the traffic on the lanes and also the air traffic. The lockdown is definitely easing. Pam Harmsworth
Churches open for prayer
The Parish Church: Wednesdays – 11am until 1pm
The Mission Church: Saturdays – 8am until 10am
We are pleased to tell you that the two Street churches are now open at the above times for private prayer, silence and reflection with the Government restrictions in place, i.e. masks, sanitizers, and social distancing.
The committee have been busy with all the necessary cleaning, notices, organising stewards, and both churches have been blessed.
A warm welcome will await you before you enter the church to ‘be with God’. Roger and the team.
My Tearfund Challenge
During the month of July I challenged myself to do 28 hours of exercise, including Zumba dance classes (via zoom), bike rides, and brisk walks.
My aim was to raise £200 for Tear Funds Covid-19 emergency appeal.
I feel very blessed at this time to live here in England, we can easily social-distance and we have access to clean water and soap. Many people across the world don’t have these things that I too often take for granted. I will still happily accept donations from anyone who feels they would like to give. At present I have raised £220 for this worthwhile cause. Thank you to those who have already given. Julie Day.
‘WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD …' HEBREWS 11:6 NIV
With God, it usually comes down to one question: 'Are you going to trust Me?' If not, expect a rough ride!
You cannot tell by looking at a person how much faith they really have. Faith is like a bucket of water – you find out how much is inside when you bump it. When circumstances bump you, you spill out what you are full of. Maybe you have just lost your job or had a financial reversal – bump! What spilled out, doubt or faith? Maybe you got some bad news from the doctor and you are going for tests – bump! What splashed over the side? While you cannot tell by looking at people how much faith they really have, you can by listening to them.
Bumps are going to happen; to expect otherwise is to set yourself up for disappointment. Count on it, you will be tested. And the purpose of the test is not just to reveal your faith, it is to refine it. God does not test your faith in order to know how much is there – He already knows. He tests it so that we can know – and work on it! Think of the hardest thing that is going on in your life right now, then ask yourself, 'Is this circumstance shrinking or stretching my faith?' If you want to impress the Lord, really impress Him, think carefully about these words: 'Without faith it is impossible to please God …'
From the daily readings in ‘The Word for Today’. This booklet of devotional readings is published every three months and is available free of charge through the generosity of supporters, from: UCB Operations Centre, Westport Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 4JF.
Tel: 0845 60 40 401. Email: email@example.com
UCB is short for United Christian Broadcasters, who also produce Christian radio and TV programmes available on DAB digital radio, TV and online. Details at ucbmedia.co.uk