A Parish Rep writes ….

So we have a name at last – Hooray!  Our new vicar will be the Revd Dr Stephen Bellamy. Steve is currently the vicar of St Nicholas’ church in Durham. The announcement heralds the birth of a new chapter in the lives of our two churches and we look forward to welcoming Steve and Wendy to Faringdon & Little Coxwell.

Throughout the search we were brilliantly guided by John Alderman, Rachel Gibson and Ann Brown of the Simeon Trust, our patrons. On the home front a lot of hard work was done by many people, not least the team who produced the Parish Profile.

From the start John had explained that this was about discerning who God had already chosen to be our next vicar. For this accountant, used to dealing with facts and figures, that was a daunting prospect!

Meanwhile a lot of people were doing a lot of praying and those prayers were being answered.

The morning of the day the candidates were due to arrive started rather unusually for me, as I found myself helping to deliver a calf in the barn beside my office. The calf was stuck and we needed to get her out. There is nothing like a birth to remind one of how miraculous life is but also sometimes how fragile it can be. We got the calf out but there was no sign of life. Then with a lot of encouragement she started breathing. There was a tiny spark of life.  On that particular morning the successful delivery of a calf in such unpromising circumstances was a timely reminder that God really does have everything in his hands and that we must trust in him.

When it came to the interviews the concern was that we would all agree.  The people with responsibility for making an appointment are the Patron, the Bishop and the Parish Reps.  If anyone of them disagrees with a suggested appointment they are entitled to say no and it is back to square one! Our prayer was that God should make the choice clear to all of us.

Sure enough our prayers were answered in emphatic style, as it was clear to everyone who we should invite to be our new vicar.

So we now look forward to a new era in the lives of our churches. With the development of the town we are undoubtedly on the threshold of a time of change and hopefully of growth in both parishes. As Parish Reps we are delighted that God has led Steve to us and that in him we have the right person to lead the benefice forward.

I walked across the farm a couple of days after the interviews and came across that cow & calf. The calf head-butted her mother’s udders to encourage the milk to flow and swished her tail as she took a drink. That tiny spark of life was now burning brightly…

Douglas Lines

Home group meetings in May

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Monday

9th & 23rd

7.45pm 28 The Pines 240 532 Life on the Frontline
Monday

9th & 23rd

7.45pm 1 Haynes Close 241 975 Fruitfulness on the Frontline
Tuesday

3rd & 17th

2.30pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 TBA
Wednesday

11th & 25th

7.45pm 7 Badbury Close 241 860 TBA
Every

Thursday

7.30pm 2 Ferndale

Street

241 161 Revelation
Thursday

12th & 26th

8.00pm 10B Coxwell Street 242 753 TBA

Prayer Calendar for May

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Sun 1st Saints Alive this morning. Rogation Service at St Mary’s.
Mon 2nd Thanks for the appointment of Steve Bellamy.
Tues 3rd The Wisbeys as Matt goes to Thailand.
Wed 4th Psalms Course continuing  this month.
Thurs 5th Ascension Day.
Fri 6th The Flower Guild.
Sat 7th Sunday School and Pathfinder leaders.
Sun 8th United Service this evening at the Baptist Church.
Mon 9th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Tues 10th For the appointment of a new Bishop of Oxford.
Wed 11th The Wardens and PCCs during the Interregnum.
Thurs 12th ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 13th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Sat 14th Ministry team: Paul, Max, Barbara, John, Helen & Graham.
Sun 15th Day of Pentecost. Start of Christian Aid Week.
Mon 16th Christian Aid envelope collection during the week.
Tues 17th Street collection today for Christian Aid in Faringdon Town centre.
Wed 18th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Thurs 19th Choir practice this evening.
Fri 20th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sat 21st Christian Aid Coffee morning and concert in the evening.
Sun 22nd Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Mon 23rd Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 24th Preparation for the Wave this summer.
Wed 25th Music Group.
Thurs 26th ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 27th Allsorts this morning.
Sat 28th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Sun 29th David & Liza Cooke, ex-CMS Link Partners, visiting us today.
Mon 30th For all who are preparing for exams.
Tues 31st For all refugees fleeing persecution.

Meetings for Prayer in May

All Saints’ seeks to have an active and regular prayer ministry with a number of informal meetings during the month to which all are very welcome.

Tuesday 3rd 2.00-3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 3rd 7.15-8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Friday 6th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 10th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 13th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 17th 7.00-7.30pm Interregnum Prayers (Lower Asset Room)
Wednesday 18th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 20th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 20th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 24th 8.00-9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 27th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

 

For further details contact:

Mission for Faringdon (1st Tuesday evening): 241 975

Julian Meeting (Tuesday afternoon): 01865 820 511

Julian Meeting (Tuesday evening): 244 905

CMS Prayer Group (3rd Wednesday morning):243 388

Parish Prayers (Friday am) and Prayers for the World (Friday pm): 240 509

Interregnum Prayer (3rdTuesday evening): 358 394

Mission of the month for May – Christian Aid

Christian Aid Week: the week we love every neighbour

Picture a young mother of four. Her husband has left. She has no land. No assets. No savings. And the only work she can get is backbreaking manual labour for as little as 74p a day. Her home has been flooded several times, and last August it flooded again. This is Morsheda. She’s our neighbour, and she desperately needs our help.

From 15th -21st May, All Saints’, Faringdon and St Mary’s, Little Coxwell will join with more than 20,000 others across the country for the sake of people like Morsheda.

Your help and support are needed for the following:

Sunday 15th May

9.00am:   Morning Service at St Mary’s
10.30am: Cake Sale after service at All Saints’
6.30pm:   United Service at Faringdon Baptist Church

Sunday 15th – Saturday 21st May

House-to-house collection in Faringdon and Little Coxwell. Contact Julie Campbell or Peter Foot if you can deliver and/or collect Christian Aid envelopes in your neighbourhood – every street is important, so your help is essential.

Tuesday 17th May

9.00-11.00am: Street collection in Faringdon town centre – volunteers needed.

Saturday 21st May

10.00am-2.00pm: Coffee Morning in Little Coxwell.
7.00pm :               Instruments & Voices Concert at All Saints’, followed by refreshments in the Barber Rooms.

For more information or to volunteer your help contact
Julie Campbell (242 589) or Peter Foot (358 394)

Missions News

News from the Church Mission Society

This is the month for comings and goings.

First up is the return of our Mission Partners, David and Liza Cooke from Kenya. They will continue supporting the work they were doing in Kenya, but at their own expense and not with CMS. As our Link Partners, they are coming to say goodbye to All Saints’ Church on Sunday 29th May. They will speak at the 10.30am service and stay for coffee to meet people. There will be a Bring & Share lunch after the service in the Barber Rooms, to which we hope members of the congregation will come and share memories of the Cooke’s time with us, and to say goodbye. We hope that quite a few will be able to come to this, even though it is the Spring Bank holiday. Could you please let Joan Plumptre know if you will be able to stay for the lunch and say what you can bring to share at the meal (243 388 or bobjoanplumptre at btinternet.com).

Second is the Coming. Many of you will have met our new Mission Partner whom we have promised to support financially, spiritually and emotionally. Lynn Treneary came to visit in April and met the CMS Prayer Group and others over coffee after the Civic Service. Lynn hopes to go to the South Sudan later in the year and we hope that she will be able to visit us again to speak at a service before she leaves the UK.

Lynn will be working at the Chaima Christian Institute in Maridi, a town near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a college offering courses in theology, social work, business administration and agriculture as well as vocational training skills, placing a particular priority on training young people and women. Lynn will be teaching English, a critical skill for all those looking to improve their situations.

She will also be heavily involved in the local church and the flourishing Mother’s Union. Lynn has already served as a short term Partner between 2013-2015 in this Institute, a time when the area was affected by the civil war. As a member of the diocese leadership team, Lynn helped with the relief efforts and liaised with Médecins Sans Frontières in their work.

The CMS Partners were evacuated to Uganda at the request of the College because of the fighting and later, Lynn felt that she was called by God to return to South Sudan as a long term Mission Partner. So she hopes to fly out later this year. The picture and article about her work is on the notice board in Church – do read it.

PLEASE remember to support the visit from David and Liza on 29th May as they say goodbye.

Joan Plumptre

 

News from the Wisbeys

Did you know that 21st February was International Mother Language Day? If not that’s understandable, particularly given the number of crazy international days that are around but for us in our work, International Mother Language Day is an important one in our calendar. Every year SIL (the organisation we work with; see www.sil.org/) and other organisations around the world with whom we partner, use this day to try to raise awareness of the millions of people around the world who are disadvantaged just because of the language they speak.

But did you know, even the term mother language (or mother tongue as it is often called) has its own complications. Some people, when they say mother tongue, literally mean the language used by the mother in the family. Some people use it to mean the most common language in the family, which might be the father’s language or it might be a different language altogether. And still others use it to mean the language that the child is most familiar with. This might seem like a strange question for English speakers who have grown up in monolingual households, but for many people around the world it is very common for the definitions given above to result in 3 different answers! A mother and a father may have different first languages, coming from different tribes or people groups within a country. The family may now be living in a different area from where they grew up and so the language used around them, in the market or at work and school, may be a different one. This multilingual scenario, although odd to many of us, is actually a very common scenario all over the world.

This year UNESCO Bangkok (one of the key partners Matt’s team works with) have collected stories showing the importance of the mother-tongue in education. One story from Bangladesh included this powerful extract:

“I cried when my mom dropped me off on my first day of school and didn’t stop until my teacher spoke to me in Kok Borok, my mother tongue… Now I am an MTB-MLE teacher at a pre-school in my village and the children who come to my school from Kok Borok-speaking households no longer have to have the same fears of being stuck in an environment where everything is incomprehensible.”

Thank you for continuing to partner with us to support minority communities around the world. Your support enables us to continue to promote the importance of using communities’ languages to enable them to engage with education, pursue their own development goals, and ultimately reduce inequalities.

Please pray for:

  • University revalidation of Masters programmes.
  • Matt’s teaching and contribution to the work of Wyciffe.
  • Matt facilitating at LEAD Community of Practice event in Thailand in May.

Love from Matt, Liz, Levi and Anya

For updated news on the Wisbeys see http://wisbeys.blogspot.fr/

Sometime by Patrick Zentler-Munro

Sometime

They all prayed for me,
and I felt them so
just before I went under.

The power of prayer brings
the gift of answer, and
the strength to carry on.

Everyone moves on and so must I:
push away the old regrets
and go into pastures new.

Patrick Zentler-Munro

George Abel suggested we print this poem in memory of Patrick. It is taken from Patrick’s book “Dolly Mixture & Other Poems”.

The Nicene Creed: : its Origin & Development

In this article we shall look at why in 325AD it was necessary to formulate such a creed at all, and how it needed to be added to within just 50 years.

Try to imagine, if you will, being a new Christian in a period say about a hundred years after the last books of the New Testament were written, i.e. about 200AD. Perhaps, through the encouragement of a parent, friend or work colleague, or may be a Christian minister himself, you have become a Christian – baptised and confirmed. Now you are part also of a worshipping community meeting most likely in a home, for very few church buildings if any were around then. For you, the historic Jesus of Nazareth whom you learnt about (not exactly in an Alpha Course but something similar) and who gave his life sacrificially for everyone and for you, is really and truly alive. He is someone you can truly believe in and trust; with whom you can converse and talk in helpful prayer, and know personally as a real friend and companion. He is someone whose life and teaching you wish to emulate and follow, giving richer purpose and worthwhile meaning to your life. Moreover, he enables you to live a moral life of genuine goodness, purity and unselfish love. And, because you know only too well that you often fail him, and let him and others down, he can still ‘clean up’ your heart and conscience and give you a fresh start.

You have discovered and learnt – perhaps very gradually, for this is profound ‘stuff’- that this Jesus whom you love wholeheartedly, was (indeed is) not only a truly real and fully human being born of Mary, but also in some almost incredible way is nothing less than divine . . . God himself. And as you grew in this remarkable faith and way of life you, like many others who really think about it, were sometimes puzzled by the question: what do I make of this enigma that Jesus is both human and divine? Can it really have been possible, and if so, why? How can I explain it e.g. to my own children as they think about matters of faith, the serious questions of life, and make their own choices as they must; or to folk who want to know why I believe what to them is strange stuff! [If you the reader have not thought along these lines I will be very surprised. I certainly have and still do!]

It was these kind of issues and questions that not only the ordinary thinking members of churches faced, but much more so, the churches’ leaders and teachers, the Bishops and Clergy. Moreover, the questions faced were not only about the nature of the historic Jesus, but of the one eternal God himself, and the nature of the Christian Church too. Remember that this was the era of countless gods and diverse often strange religions, and where both were brought into the civil and political arena, and often where the gods were made by law to be worshipped. Remember also that at this time you would certainly have had the Hebrew Scriptures (our Old Testament now), but not a complete New Testament; perhaps just one or two Gospels or first editions of them, and a few only of the Letters of Paul and others. It is many years before the official Canon of Scripture (the Bible as we know it now) was promulgated after much debate as to what writings might or might not be included.

It was to give the best possible definitive answer to all the endless questions and debates about Jesus and God and Church that prompted the Churches’ Bishops to gather in prayerful Council. The earlier shorter creeds needed amplification. There had been far too much often unseemly, even heated and acrimonious, debate! Ideas had been expressed by many that did not fairly and fully represent the New Testament portrayal of Jesus. Some ideas were quite way out, plainly wrong or heretical. Some went so far as to claim that humankind can sort out his own sinful state and moral dilemma himself, not needing Jesus as the absolutely necessary Saviour. They saw Jesus as a great teacher and example, but no more than that.

Hence, after long prayerful debate, the first Creed of Nicea was drawn up in 325AD. The Bishops in Council believed that the Holy Spirit would guide them, just as Jesus had promised, to lead the Church, and so us also, to a better understanding of Saving Truth in Christ (See John 16:13). They followed the pattern of those first Apostles who had wrestled with major issues concerning the very existence and purpose of the Christian Church and its Faith (See Acts 15:28).  They believed that God would speak through them and confirm their conclusions.  And we too can believe and trust that this first Catholic & Ecumenical Creed (i.e. world-wide and representative of all the universal Churches), in seeking to affirm the Christian Faith, as revealed and taught in God’s Word of Holy Scripture, has the guidance, ‘seal and approval’ of God’s Spirit.

However clear in content, and healing after tough debate as this Creed certainly was, it was soon felt that improvements should still be made!  Hence in 381AD, at another mainly Eastern Council held at Constantinople (the eastern capital of the Roman Empire – now called Istanbul in modern Turkey) it was decided to strengthen the earlier definition that Jesus was also God as well as Human. That the work of the Holy Spirit and the nature of the Church should also be included in more detail, and some other statements enlarged. Strictly speaking we should call the Creed we now recite on Sundays the Niceno-Constantinopoitan Creed of 381AD. However, we’ll stick to the more familiar and easier title “The Nicene Creed”.

Dear loving Creator and life-giving God, the birth of every baby is a thing of wonder, miracle and joy.  Yet always it is preceded by uncertainties, and often pain and anxiety before the final pain of delivery. But then follows the overwhelming joy of a unique new child, loved by you, and delightfully lovable by mother, father, and all.  The pain and fears have passed.  A new life has begun, with a future of good hope in a journey for ever with you Lord.

Dear Lord of the Church, the story of how your Church wrestles with the eternal truths of the Christian Faith is just like that. Those early centuries were marked by strong hopes, but also frequent pain; yet eventually the birth of a richer truth and understanding of your holy Word. Help us Lord, each one of us in our own personal journey and faith, and in our common life together in Christ, to know that your guidance is constant and unfailing. That in the confusions and divisions still of to-days’ Church you do not leave us, and that a greater fullness of truth, harmony and unity, love and peace is not so far away. So please keep us faithful to the task, and thank you Lord for your dear Son’s sake. Amen.

George Abell

Realising our Prayers

I forget who it was that said “Prayer is always hard work”, but I’ve met quite a few people who were worried that they found it difficult to pray. In some ways I don’t think it was ever meant to be easy, as say picking up a phone that’s ringing and being put straight through to God. Like many things in our lives, it’s worth as much as the effort we put into it. Casual prayers, though sometimes rushed in the busy-ness of the morning, or repeated rather robotically in our tiredness as we go to bed, undoubtedly have a value, because they at least recognise that we depend on a Power beyond us. But to be frank, they’re  mere shadows of what prayer is, and of what it could mean to us if only we took the time and trouble to go for it seriously.

But the main difficulty, I think, isn’t in the saying of prayers, but the realising of them. What do I mean by that? Well, what a difference it would make if , as we pray, we could get some real feeling that there was a listening Presence around us that made us know that we weren’t just talking to ourselves.

We shouldn’t  be too tired or lazy to pray, as we so often are. We shouldn’t start with a massive weary sigh as we struggle to collect and concentrate our thoughts. And we shouldn’t end our prayer sessions with the horrible misgiving that the whole thing is just a meaningless, lifeless repetition of old familiar words, that we just say  without really believing that they’ll be heard or achieve any good.

But, sadly we don’t often perhaps get that sense of getting through to the unseen. Earthbound, we don’t seem able to lift our thought above the level of everyday life, to convince ourselves that there are any other realities or that the universe contains any state of life beyond our own. So we knock and knock at a door that never opens. We ask and ask, with no hope that we shall ever receive. We search  and get tired of searching, since it seems that we’ll never be able to find.

Now what’s the reason for that? To be honest, it may be all our own fault. Prayer isn’t often a disappointment if we take it seriously. But if we can only spare a couple of minutes for it, are we being serious? Do we really expect that we can snap our fingers and instantly switch off our thoughts, from the busyness of the lives we are living, and in the twinkling of an eye – possibly a very sleepy eye too – be aware of the glories of the spiritual world about us – aren’t we expecting too much? It takes a fair time to get to have a quiet mind and tune in to try, in an attitude of patient stillness, to listen for that voice that we so desperately want to hear answering us.

Even so, we may never seem to get through, as it were, to the other side. We do get through, but we may not be able to realise it. In that case, obviously, it’s no fault of ours. It only means that we are among those who are asked to have that greater faith – those promised that greater blessedness for believing without seeing.

It depends, I think, partly on the make-up of our personality. We may find that prayer is fairly easy for us and the realisation of the unseen is never very difficult. If we are by nature something of a mystic, if we’re artistic or musical, love poetry or drama, we may have that kind of make-up. But we may be very different – essentially practical, as many of us like to think we are – someone  who wastes no time in sentimentality or dreams, but who gets things done. If so, we will likely be useful in the world as it is, but possibly find it hard to pray. Our prayers are just as good as anybody else’s, but we’ll find it difficult to realise them.

We should remember, however, that we can’t choose the times when the clouds break and the sun comes shining through, but we can be ready for them, and I’m quite sure that prayer time isn’t the only time when we can get through to the unseen, or the unseen can get through to us. We may not have felt God near us then, but haven’t we felt something thrill within us when we, say, were walking down a country lane or by the sea; laughing happily with a friend or playing with a child; reading a book or sitting quietly alone with our thoughts? I have – have you?

If we’ve had that experience we can never say that we have not realised the Presence of God. The pity is that we are so slow to recognise it for what it is, to be thankful for it, and to wait eagerly, hopefully and reverently for the time when our personal clouds break and we shall feel the light and warmth of God’s Presence again. I pray that this happens in God’s good time for you.

Max Young