Steve Writes

As we head into the autumn, it’s a time of new beginnings for many of us. Perhaps a new school or class, starting at university, beginning a new course or job. It’s the latter for me of course and, for Wendy and me, it’s a new home (very kindly prepared for our arrival by some superb decorating efforts of church members!) and a new church family to get to know in a new place to live and serve.

As is always the case when we start on a different phase of our life – as individuals and as a church – there will be unexpected and surprising things that we couldn’t have imagined a short time ago. One example is the way a stream of people from Faringdon who normally wouldn’t walk up the path to All Saints’ are doing so, mobile in hand, because of the Pokemon stop not far from the entrance!

One of the things the Parish Profile said was ‘We are looking for a new vicar who can help us grow further in our faith, prayer, love and care for each other, and for our neighbours who do not yet know the love of God in Jesus’. Aiming to grow under God’s good hand is an important starting point for the fresh vision that the Profile also looks for. Seeking God’s vision for his churches at All Saints’ and St Mary’s will include listening and praying. Listening to where we are at the moment in our following of Jesus and to what possibilities we long to explore to help others discover the love of Jesus for them.

I’m looking forward to listening to the stories of faith that we have and hearing what God has already been doing in the lives of his people at St Mary’s and All Saints’. And we can all join in with praying – asking God to help us see his way forward, but also praying very specifically for God to grow his church here – and that includes praying regularly by name for someone you long to become a Christian.

Just as having a Pokemon stop on the Church path couldn’t have been imagined a couple of months ago, so we’ll find that there are new ways in which God is wanting to grow his church and change us and those around us with his love.

Steve

Homegroup Meetings in September

Day and Dates Time Place Contact Subject
Monday 12th & 26th 7.45 pm 28 The Pines 240 532 Ephesians
Tuesday 13th & 27th 2.30 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Beatitudes
Wednesday 7th & 21st 7.45 pm 2 Leamington Gate 615 009 Philemon
Every Thursday 7.30pm 2 Ferndale Street 241 161 Romans
Thursday 8th & 22nd 8.00 pm 10B Coxwell Street 242 753 John 16 & 17

There will be some changes in the arrangements for the Home Groups this coming autumn.

  • John and Avril Coleman have reluctantly given up leading their group owing to pressure of work. Members are invited to enquire about joining any of the other groups listed above.
  • The Denhams’ group on Wednesday is relocating to 2 Leamington Gate (see above).

Prayer Calendar for September

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

Thurs 1st Mission of the Month – Scripture Union.
Fri 2nd For Lynn Treneary in South Sudan at this time.
Sat 3rd Sunday School and Pathfinder leaders as groups restart.
Sun 4th Saints Alive this morning.
Mon 5th Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 6th Home Groups restarting this week.
Wed 7th All Saints’ PCC this evening.
Thurs 8th For all who help run our Churches.
Fri 9th The Flower Guild.
Sat 10th Ride+Stride today.
Sun 11th St Mary’s Patronal Festival; United Service this evening.
Mon 12th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Tues 13th Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Wed 14th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Thurs 15th ‘Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 16th All churches in the Vale of White Horse Deanery.
Sat 17th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sun 18th Families bringing children to baptism today.
Mon 19th St Mary’s PCC this evening.
Tues 20th For Steve and Wendy as they continue to settle in.
Wed 21st The Music Group.
Thurs 22nd Choir practicing this evening.
Fri 23rd For all Christians in Nepal.
Sat 24th Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max & Paul.
Sun 25th Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Mon 26th For Stephen Croft, the new Bishop of Oxford.
Tues 27th Wardens in both our churches.
Wed 28th The work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Thurs 29th Open the Book’ team today at the Infant and Junior Schools.
Fri 30th The Wisbey family.

Meetings for Prayer in September

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.

In addition to those listed below, there is Morning Prayer in church every Thursday at 9am.

Friday 2nd 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 6th 2.00 – 3.00pm Julian Meeting (18 Eastfield Court)
Tuesday 6th 7.15 – 8.15pm Mission for Faringdon (Barber Rooms)
Friday 9th 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 13th 8.00 – 9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 16th 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 16th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Wednesday 21st 10.30 – 11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 23rd 7.40 – 8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Tuesday 27th 8.00 – 9.00pm Julian Meeting (Call 244 905 for venue)
Friday 30th 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

Mission of the Month for September – Scripture Union

Scripture Union was founded nearly 150 years ago with the aim of connecting people with God and each other. From a group of 15 children meeting in a room in London, the registered charity now has an international presence working in over 120 countries.

The national office for Scripture Union is not that far away from us here in Faringdon, being based in Milton Keynes. From there are coordinated training courses, holidays and missions (including beach missions), focussing especially but not exclusively on children. The charity in the UK also works with families, schools, and community groups.

One of the strengths of Scripture Union is its ability to “keep up with the times”, recently developing websites and resources appropriate for the digital age to enable people to connect with God and the Bible wherever they may be and at whatever time of the day they choose. They state on their website that “the context may change but the needs of children and young people remain the same”.

The stated goal of the charity is “that all may come to a personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, grow in Christian maturity and become both committed church members and servants of a world in need. In short: Using the Bible to inspire children, young people and adults to know God.” This summer the Wave holiday club for the children of the Faringdon area put this into action, using the SU resource ‘The Guardians of Ancora’ as its theme for the week.

SU also works to appeal to children at times of secular events such as Halloween, for the third year providing a resource called “Light Parties – Christian Alternative” – teaching children the origins of the event and helping them to know Jesus as the Light of the World.

For adults, SU has responded to changing health demographics by developing resources for people experiencing dementia and memory loss. These resources include memory boxes, CDs of inspirational and memorable music as well as resources for carers and those helping the person to maintain their engagement with the Bible and prayer life.

It is clear that SU is a charity wholly suited to 2016 and beyond, building on all the experience gathered over the years to maintain a relevant and accessible approach to achieving its mission.

This short write up cannot do it justice, so I recommend that you look at www.scriptureunion.org.uk if you would like to know more .

For more information about Scripture Union contact Kate Butcher

Missions News

NEWS ABOUT CHRISTIAN AID, OPEN THE BOOK, CMS AND WATSAN

Christian Aid Thank You

This year we have raised a total of at least £4,028.32 (including Gift Aid and £1,091.41 from the house-to-house collection) for Faringdon, which is an excellent result. Many thanks to all who helped, for your time and effort.

Julie Campbell

Open the Book

Thank you for the interest and prayer support that has undergirded the Open the Book team as we have taken the stories in the Bible into the Infants and Junior Schools. We are looking forward to this next term as we share some of the Parables of Jesus with the children. Please continue to pray for the team, the school staff and the children as we do these assemblies on alternate Thursday mornings beginning on 15th September.

Church Mission Society

First we give thanks to God for the response to the CMS stalls at summer gatherings. Hundreds of new people explored God’s call at New Wine. They all came with some burden, a burden to serve and to follow Jesus. A lot of people did not know what their calling was and it was a privilege to be able to offer signposts or pointers.

CMS thanks our church for the prayers we offer that support this work. One elderly pensioner who did not have e-mail, said he was moved by reading The Call newspaper and came to find the stall because what he had read had awakened something in him. The next copy of The Call will be out now or soon, copies will be in the Church.

David and Liza Cooke are still sending their blogs while they travel round the country visiting their Link Churches. They heard from Eldoret that one of the mothers whose teenager had been fitted with a wheelchair in February had phoned again to give her thanks. It is the rainy season and she would have had to carry her daughter around, or the daughter would have had to crawl around in the mud, picking up diseases in those conditions. Life had been transformed for them and the mother just had to thank the church again and again. David and Liza hope to continue with their work of reconciliation in this country.

Lynn Treneary, our Mission Partner, is in Maridi in South Sudan in very difficult conditions. The economy has collapsed, the South Sudan pound has depreciated by close to 90% and inflation is approaching 300%. This makes basic commodities unaffordable for many people, hunger and malnutrition have reached critical levels. A quarter of a million children are reported to be facing severe malnutrition and 7 of the 10 states have reached the “malnutrition emergency rate”.

There is still periodic fighting in and around Juba and many have fled their homes. The electricity is on and off so that Lynn does not always get e-mails, nor can she send them. Letters from the Wycliffe Bible Society say that they have evacuated some of their translators from Juba but some have remained to work with the local translators. You will remember that when Lynn was with us at All Saints’, she said that she would stay in Maridi whatever happened and she has done that.

We need to pray daily for Lynn and for the bishops, church leaders and pastors, who in a horrendous situation are ministering to their people as best they can, keeping the light of faith and the voice of hope alive in a dark world .

Latest news (12th August) is that the Government and Opposition have agreed to accept a Regional Protection Force under the control of UNMISS to protect the airport. This might restore confidence and enable people to return to their homes. Please pray.

So much of this fighting takes place because different groups of people cannot live together and accept each other. Jesus said that only in following Him will we find the way to live together. He prayed, “I pray for those who will believe in me, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” Please pray daily for Lynn and all those who are taking this message to the people in South Sudan. In All Saints’, we meet to pray as a group, together, every third Wednesday in the month at 10.30am, (coffee if you come earlier), do join us any month if you can. Lynn knows we are praying and that helps her to keep going.

For more information about CMS contact me on 243 388

Joan Plumptre

WATSAN: Sculpture on the Farm at Farmer Gow’s

Now the school holidays are over (but hopefully not the summer!) why not plan a pleasant outing, perhaps with children or grandchildren, not far from Faringdon? Farmer Gow’s at Longcot, SN7 7PR, are hosting a special event from 24th September to 9th 0ctober, 10.00am – 5.00pm daily, featuring a Sculpture Trail with over 300 amazing sculptures and paintings, including some from Zimbabwe. There will be daily demonstrations by resident sculptors and painters, in addition  to the regular attractions of the farm with its café for light refreshments.

The cost of admission is £8 for adults, with concessions for children, seniors and families (with discounts for online booking and unlimited repeat entry). For further information and precise directions please go to www.farmergows.co.uk.

A proportion of the proceeds from sales of the sculptures will be donated to WATSAN, and the Hope & Faith school in Ngombe, Zambia. There will be stands featuring both charities at the entry point to the trail, so do come and say “Hallo”!

We in WATSAN are so grateful for the faithful support of All Saints’ over the last few years, which is an enormous encouragement to us as Trustees, the two bishops of Kinkiizi and North Kigezi dioceses, who oversee the projects, and the Team in Uganda who carry out the work on our behalf. It has enabled them to complete several schemes which were in the queue for funding.

But there is always more to do! We hope that proceeds from the Sculpture Trail will go towards essential work at a primary school of 400+ children at Rumbugu, where there is currently only one tap which provides water intermittently, and the sanitation situation is so dire that the boys’ latrines have collapsed completely and the girls’ block looks set to go the same way shortly. Remedial action to rectify the water situation and build new latrine blocks will cost in the region of £20,000. So far we have raised £1125 towards it.

Licensing of Revd Dr Steve Bellamy as our new Vicar

All Saints’ Church was full to overflowing on the evening of Thursday 28th July for the licensing of the Revd Dr Stephen Bellamy as Vicar of Faringdon & Little Coxwell by the Right Revd Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester. In addition to many members of the congregations of All Saints’ and St Mary’s there were also present clergy and other representatives from the Diocese of Oxford, the Simeon’s Trust (the Patron of All Saints’), the Vale of White Horse Deanery, and other Churches in Faringdon.

Civic representatives at the service included the Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, councillors of the county, district, town and village and many local organisations. We were also very pleased to welcome a number of people from Steve Bellamy’s previous parish of St Nicholas’ in Durham (subject of the book The Church in the Market Place by Archbishop George Carey, writing about his time at St Nic’s).

It was a joyful and moving service with a thought-provoking sermon by the Bishop saying that parish churches exist to serve everybody in the community – from birth to death – and the challenge is to get Jesus’ message out of the church building, down the churchyard paths and into the town and village. He said that we are already doing this but there are still challenges remaining to communicate with people in both existing and newly-developing areas of the town. This task is not just for the clergy or the “professionals” but for all church members.

The Bishop continued with some brief thoughts about the Lord’s Prayer, pointing out that Jesus’ understanding of God as “Father” was revolutionary and would become a recurring theme in the New Testament, especially Paul’s epistles. He urged Steve to pray at all times – in tragedy and in triumph, and not to be afraid to ask for things, or for guidance when at a loss to know what to do next.

He concluded by alluding to a few points made by Steve in his recent General Synod Election Address in which he said he wanted:

  • to serve the elderly and also have a focus on children and young people;
  • to show that a person can be both a Christian and a proper scientist;
  • to build congregations confident in their faith.

The anthem “I will dwell in his secret place” was then beautifully sung by an augmented choir, which included a member of St Nic’s. Following this Steve’s Institution, Induction and Installation took place.

Afterwards the Barber Rooms were packed for a time of refreshments, giving an opportunity for renewal of old acquaintanceships and much lively conversation.

Steve is no stranger to Oxfordshire as he took a chemistry degree at Jesus College, Oxford. After a period working in pharmaceutical manufacturing with Boots in Nottingham, he trained for the ordained ministry, was a curate in Liverpool and Southport, before becoming Chaplain to the then Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard. He moved as vicar to St James Birkdale, and was then at St Nic’s for eight years.

Steve was a founder member of the Society of Ordained Scientists and took a PhD in the theology and ethics of new genetic technologies such as stem cell research. Steve and his wife Wendy both enjoy a wide range of music. Steve likes to watch football (Spurs and Blackburn Rovers), cricket (Durham) and rugby (Wales), and astronomy is his lifelong hobby. Wendy particularly loves it when all the family is together, she enjoys a good whodunit, and visiting National Trust places.

Thank you from Wendy & Steve

Wendy and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was involved in planning for my induction service and taking part in any way. We so grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received, for all your cards and many expressions of kindness and promises of prayer as we settle in to this new calling. Some fantastic work has been done by a dedicated band of folk who have worked so hard inside and out of the vicarage to prepare it for our coming, thank you for that labour of love which has been such an obvious sign of welcome.

Special thanks also to our churchwardens and the parish reps, not only for the great job they’ve done during the interregnum for also for the way they were so helpful in our initial discernment about coming. And I know how grateful everyone is to our dedicated ministry team and all who’ve worked alongside them in keeping on faithfully serving God through the work and witness of All Saints’ and St Mary’s during the interregnum, thank you for all you have done and continue to do in sharing the good news of Jesus.

Wendy and I look forward very much to getting to know you all and to settling in to this community. We’re delighted to be with you and we believe that God has good things in store for us to enjoy as we work together to connect new people with Jesus.

Our Priesthood

I was talking with someone in the Barber Rooms after Steve’s installation last month and we were trying to find a word that summarised our feelings – the service had been so uplifting and, to my mind, had illustrated very clearly that we ARE a priesthood of all believers (remember the last two articles I wrote in the magazine?).

From outside All Saints’ we were called by the bells, then inside we were greeted joyfully as we entered our church where it was so apparent that we were a very happy multi-talented crowd whose priesthood or ministry had worked so well during the inter-regnum and who were looking forward to continuing that priest-work with Steve and Wendy.

Well, the word that came to me to describe my feelings was ‘Hope’ – I felt that there was a feeling of confidence in the future of our work together under Steve’s leadership.

The Bishop and Steve were very clear that such work can only be effective by our efforts moving outwards from our church buildings to operate among the people of the two parishes. And one of the outstanding differences between the Christian priesthood and others is that in other religions the priesthood’s work is usually limited by the boundaries of the temple, shrine, sanctuary or holy place. It is concerned only with services, sacrifices and worship. No Israeli priest was expected to go amongst his fellow Jews to minister to them, to bring comfort, help or healing. No Buddhist or Hindu priest would dream of doing such a thing.

But we have a new kind of priesthood, one given to us by Jesus Christ. It is his own priesthood, as he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free’.

He sent his disciples out to preach and heal, and told his church ‘to feed his sheep’. And in telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, he showed the difference between the old priesthood and the new.

From its formation the Christian Church began to do what no other religious body had ever done before, and set up a ministry of teaching, helping, healing and shepherding amongst their neighbours.

I feel sure that the church’s success in winning over the hearts and minds of people was in a large part due to its pastoral ministry. This priesthood of the Christian Church – both clergy and laity – was a new phenomenon, and the success or failure of the church’s mission was, and is, a reflection of the degree to which its pastoral work is emphasised or neglected.

Today we have plenty of opportunities to exercise our individual priesthoods and it is heartening in Faringdon to see this work in action in so many aspects of our church life. Let us thank God for this and for all those amongst us whose personal examples in word and action are affecting for good the lives of those with whom they come in contact. This is truly priestly work and the scope for it is unlimited. By using our lives and abilities in almost any way in the service of Christ will fulfil our priesthood and help us to be worthy of the vocation to which we are all called.

Max Young

We believe in One Lord Jesus Christ . . .

In the Nicene Creed some of its truths are expressed in a down to earth way; i.e. in a concrete or literal manner. But there are some truths which cannot be stated that way at all! Our language has to be much more that of symbol, metaphor or analogy. Indeed some of its statements are a mixture of the concreteliteral and the metaphor analogy! The very expression Jesus Son of God is just that.

Moreover, we have to acknowledge that this Creed, like the Bible itself, was compiled and written long before the scientific era of recent centuries and to-day’s world. It does not mean (as some claim) that modern science, biology, psychology, etc., or the latest historical study, disproves the biblical truths, or shakes the Creedal beliefs. Rather it means seeing and understanding all these great truths of Faith with, as it were, wider eyes and minds.

After all, these are (as I tried to show in the second article) all expressions of a great Creator’s mind. Bringing this way of doing theology to the study of God’s holy Word, and also to our holy Faith, using all that new disciplines and studies teach us, far from denying or changing this Faith, actually enhances and enriches it; giving it greater depth and meaning. Many great scientists, philosophers and historians, etc. strongly acknowledge and believe this.

We come then to this second crucial Creedal declaration which is about JESUS. We profess our faith in “One Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father”. It states that there is only ONE Lord Jesus! It means that there is only one sure and certain mediator between humankind and God; and between the whole cosmos and God. For we live in what the Bible calls a fallen world; marred, distorted and sadly spoilt by wrong doing, sin and evil. We have to acknowledge this with utter realism, when we think about the Cross and how Jesus died for us. We are affirming that Jesus is the only One who can bring about our most certain reconciliation with our Father God.

In Ephesians 4:5 St. Paul wrote: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all”. Jesus himself said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). In some way, whether in this world or the next, that truth has to be real for every single soul. There is no other way; no other philosophy or religion can do it adequately and completely! Does this mean that the other great world faiths like Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, have nothing to teach us; and do not have meaningful understanding of God and genuine access to him? Certainly not! But it does mean that we believe the Christian faith can fully complete their differing paths, bringing a fullness of faith and enrichment. And always in humility, we must gratefully acknowledge the immense goodness and truth in them, and learn from them. We are all brothers and sisters in our humanity, and in God.

But why “the only Son of God”? Here again we are using very limited human language to describe supernatural divine nature. The Bible teaches us both in the Old Testament and supremely in the New, that every human person is made and meant to be a child of God; a son or daughter of our Father Creator. And that we don’t just know it, but live it fully and happily in his great love. So to make this absolutely possible and truly real, God actually came to live here amongst us.

The theologian and Bishop, Augustine of Hippo (in the 5th century) put it like this: “The Son of God became the Son of Man so that all the sons of men might become the sons of God”. Nowadays we have to put it this way: The Son of God became the Son of Man, so that all the sons and daughters born of man and woman, might become the sons and daughters of God. This means affirming what the Bible teaches in Genesis 1:27 that we are all made in the image of God; actually sharing something of his eternal divinity and nature. It also underlines the truth, stated earlier, that there is only One Sure Redeemer, One Sure Saviour.

In his life here amongst us Jesus is our perfect role model and representative; the one who by abundant grace, can help us be truly sons and daughters of our Father God. The writer to the Hebrews (12:2) put it like this: “looking to Jesus the author (or pioneer) and perfecter of our faith”. St Peter expressed it this way when it seems many were doubting or even rejecting Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?” (John 6:68). Bishop Richard of Chichester, in a beautiful prayer, describes Jesus as Friend and Brother in heaven. How true!

Later we shall look at what it actually means to be both fully and truly human, and fully and truly divine, when in his incarnate life (taking our flesh) Jesus shared our earthly journey. We can only do this by carefully exploring that earthly life and ministry as portrayed so strongly and graciously in the holy Gospels.

Finally, the phrase describing Jesus as “eternally begotten of the Father”, is again using human analogy and language to convey a divine reality. To conceive, bear and beget children, is one of the most joyful and beautiful gifts of our human life. The children given to us are for this life only of course. In Heaven we shall all share the eternal life of another family, closer then to our Father God and Christ his Son.

The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is similar to our human ones, but for them it is a fully eternal union in a bond of holy and perfect Love. Hence our Creed uses the very poignant telling phrase eternally begotten. And it reminds us of the privilege and joy, yet huge responsibility, of bringing children into our world; and bringing them up, and how much we need the parenting God to help and guide us. Moreover as St. Paul and others remind us, it underlines the truth of our adoption, our sonship and daughtership, into the very being of the Godhead, and into the Church and family of Christ. (Note Romans 8:14-16 and Galatians 4:4-6).

Next time we shall look at the outstandingly beautiful and meaningful words that follow, describing Jesus as “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God”.

Now, while God’s gift of time, moves on;
And we, in this world’s space, cry out our spoken Creed.
So may our Faith flow out in prayer and generous love;
And God our Father evermore be praised,
In his true dear, and only Son, our Lord.
“Jesus, my Lord and my God”

Amen.

George Abell