Graham Scott-Brown writes

The Interregnum . . .

 The expectancy, nay more, certainty that spring is on the way and will be followed by summer, life, growth and fruitfulness.

Over the years I have seen muntjac deer in my garden only twice but recently there has been a visitor on a regular basis. It comes almost up to the window at the back of the house and has a special penchant for mowing the violet patch there. Margaret loves it but I can’t help thinking “what will happen this summer?” If this brazen intruder comes right up to the house to browse on my violets what will it do to my peas, beans, lettuces, courgettes and spinach out of sight at the bottom of the garden. (Can anyone lend me an air gun, but don’t tell Margaret!) So, expectancy is tinged with anxiety.

What will the New Broom do? What will they not do that I think they should do? The parish profile says that “We need someone who can think strategically and work with the congregation to implement necessary change”. Will I like it or will it move me out of my comfort zone? Also we need someone who will “challenge us to take the good news of Jesus to the residents of Faringdon more effectively”. What will that involve?

I have enormously appreciated the variety in worship that the interregnum has brought us (Barbara chanting the Te Deum antiphonally, so many people rushing forward in the Church to proclaim their allegiance to Jesus and other unusual events). I look towards the end of the interregnum with great expectancy not untinged with anxiety.

One thing gives me courage. In heaven they have never heard of interregnums. Jesus is king of kings, unchanging, for ever and ever. Just as in the first three chapters of Revelation he knew exactly what was happening in each church, their strengths and weaknesses, and what their especial needs were, so he knows us both individually and corporately and what our special needs are now.

“Lord Jesus send us the person of your choosing, the one fitted to bring life and blessing to Faringdon.”

Graham Scott Brown

All Saints’ Wardens Write

Our Advent, Christmas and Epiphany celebrations went wonderfully well, thanks to the very many people who contributed their talents in one way or another. We reprised the successful Mince Pie Tea, following which the Christmas tree was decorated by several of the guests, and had splendid services for Christingle, the Carol Service, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Epiphany.

The Church’s year continues. Churches Together in Faringdon will be running a Lent course on the subject of Pilgrimage. Please see the Upcoming Events page for details of where and when the various ecumenical groups will meet, and contact the hosts as soon as possible to book your place (some venues may have limited space). All Saints’ house groups will not meet during this period so do please join one of the Lent groups.

The search for a new vicar is continuing. The Open Meeting on 5th December, attended by members of both congregations and others from the town and village, was very helpful in focusing our minds on what should be included in the Parish Profile, and we were grateful to David Williams, our Area Dean, and Charles Chadwick for chairing and facilitating it. The PCC Working Group used the findings from that and other meetings and worked very hard on preparing the Profile which has now “gone to print”, following the Section 12 Meeting with Bishop Colin and both PCCs on 20th January. Advertisements for the post of Vicar of All Saints’, Faringdon and St Mary’s, Little Coxwell will be in The Church Times and Church of England Newspaper twice during February and also on the diocesan website, with a closing date for applications of 24th February.

We hope then to be able to shortlist and arrange interviews for mid-March. The Parish Representatives are David Wilson and Avril Coleman for All Saints’ and Gill Hudson and Douglas Lines for St Mary’s. Please do not pester them for information about candidates, however, as it all has to be kept confidential! Just keep praying for them during their deliberations and for the person we believe God has already chosen to come here. There are a number of opportunities to pray together about the appointment.

The Barber Rooms talks continued with a very interesting presentation by John de Wit on Iconography on 15th January, including a description of his recent work, St Andrew, which was commissioned by and presented to St Andrew’s Church, Shrivenham, at their Patronal Festival on 29th November. Peter Foot will give the next talk on Pilgrimage on Friday 26th February (which fits well with the Lent group studies).

With all best wishes,

Katie Foot & Andrew Sargent

St Mary’s Wardens write – December 2015

We are now in the season of Advent, a time of waiting – waiting for Christmas, waiting for God’s kingdom to be established. The Church has traditionally seen Advent as a time of reflection and a time of waiting for God. Of course, for most of us it is a busy time of getting ready for Christmas, and that pushes out any chance of quiet waiting. December at St Mary’s and All Saints’ is a busy month too, fitting in special services and anticipating large congregations. We all need to make time to wait for God, especially this year when we are seeking a new Vicar.

Then January is a time for new beginnings. New Year Resolutions are usually forgotten by the time we go back to work. What we need is to put into practice the thoughts we had during our Advent waiting. New ideas, new energy and new commitment – if they are from God – will help our churches to be a stronger witness in our communities.  This is something for each one of us, not just the wardens or the PCC or the retired clergy who are so generously stepping in and taking services.

We must also thank God for giving us the strength, the knowledge and his wisdom to guide us on our path to find a new Vicar. We do believe that God already knows who will be our next Vicar, and with His help and continuing prayer we will be led to the right person. We are holding an Open Meeting on Saturday 5th December at 2.00pm in the Barber Rooms, led by the Revd Charles Chadwick who is a Diocesan Parish Development Advisor. We have invited guests from the local area and businesses, and we would be delighted to welcome as many as possible from either congregation or community to come and listen and have a chat about the recruitment process.

Part of the role of being church warden is to ensure that services run smoothly and that cover is available to take services. Sometimes you have to think laterally. The Remembrance service was a first for St Mary’s as we had no organist. However, with the use of modern technology we had organ music played via a smart phone and Bluetooth speaker. As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” The only minor incident was when the wrong button was pressed, interrupting Paul Winchester mid flow with “Abide with me”.

With our prayers for all at St Mary’s and All Saints’ for a happy Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Gill Hudson & Julie Bathe

All Saints’ Wardens write – November

October was a big month in the life of our church, and a time for looking back in gratitude. October 11th, Charles’s final Sunday, was a wonderful day – hectic but wonderful. All Saints’ was gloriously decorated for Harvest, the combined choir sang the beautiful Irish Blessing, and we said an emotional farewell to the Draper family. Little Coxwell had said their farewells to Charles and Jane the previous week. Then a bring-and-share lunch in the Corn Exchange – a wonderful spread and more farewells. At the 6.30pm service All Saints’ hosted the Deanery Confirmation Service, and this was Charles’s final service as vicar. Bishop Colin gave good value as usual, the combined choir reprised the Irish Blessing, and yet another mouth-watering spread was laid out. Charles also stepped down as Area Dean, so Jeremy Twynam, Deanery Lay Chair, made a presentation. The Wardens would like to extend a huge “thank you” to everyone who helped make the day such a success.

Amid all the excitement, please do continue to pray for the confirmation candidates from All Saints’: Ben and Kathryn Smith, Gloria Zentler-Munro, Helena Cryer, Kitty Marlow and Henry Marlow. This was their day, and a way-marker in their Christian lives.

Now we must look ahead. Our established pattern of services continues, thanks to the good offices of our retired clergy, as do the various house groups, prayer and other meetings listed elsewhere in this magazine. The civic Service of Remembrance takes place on Sunday 8th November (note the earlier start time of 10.00am), followed by the Act of Remembrance around the War Memorial in the Market Place. We barely draw breath before Advent muscles its way into November, marked by the annual Churches Together Advent Carol Service at the Blessed Hugh on the afternoon of Sunday 29th. New things are also starting. A monthly Tuesday evening prayer meeting for Faringdon began in October, while the occasional Barber Rooms Talks get underway on 27th November.

Meanwhile, the PCC is pressing on with the painstaking business of finding a new Vicar. You might like advance warning of an open meeting at 2.00pm on Saturday 5th December about the recruitment, facilitated by the Revd Charles Chadwick, a diocesan Parish Development Adviser, to which both congregations are warmly invited together with civic leaders.

But an interregnum (vacancy) is a time for the church members to grow in confidence. Every member of our church family needs to ask what they can do to build up our common life, no matter how small that contribution may seem. Together, under God’s guiding hand, All Saints’ and St Mary’s can become a stronger and more vibrant witness to our Faith.

Katy Foot & Andrew Sargent

Charles writes – October

So the time has come.  Farewells are always very hard, but for all of us the time comes for change and new beginnings.

We have loved our time in Faringdon, and it has been an amazingly fruitful and rewarding time.  Our boys have loved growing up in All Saints’, and enjoying being part of a church where children and young people are so strongly included and valued.  We are especially grateful for all the children’s and young people’s leaders who have encouraged them and helped them, along with the many other young people in our congregation.  As a whole family we have felt very much loved and cared for, especially in the years when we were struggling to care for our autistic son James at home.

I’d also like to thank All Saints’ congregation for such a wonderful commitment to our work together, especially in the challenging times such as when we had to face the extra cost of excavating “the 341” – it has been amazing the way everyone has pulled together!

I have also loved ministering at St Mary’s.  The small congregation at Little Coxwell have been consistently helpful, positive and affirming – facing and meeting every challenge and it has been always a pleasure to be there sharing in worship and fellowship.

There are of course many challenges ahead.  With the completion of the Barber Rooms, a new chapter has begun for All Saints’.  Faringdon itself is changing – the growth and new building is making a huge difference to the character of the town, and the task of being a church for the whole community is an ever changing challenge.  At the same time the Barber Rooms themselves are creating many new opportunities to welcome and engage with the community around us.

I am confident that All Saints’ and St Mary’s will meet whatever challenges lie ahead, trusting in God’s help and guidance.  And it’s not about waiting for a new Vicar – the work of the church will continue through the vacancy, with new initiatives as well.  For example, the second of our newly restarted “God in our Lives” evenings will happen later this month, and a new initiative is currently being planned – the PCC have invited Pam de Wit to lead Training sessions on “Welcome Everybody” in January – a very important initiative – do get the dates in your diary! Of course it will be all the more important that everything is undergirded by prayer.  A new prayer evening is planned in October and monthly thereafter.

So it’s good to know that though the Drapers are leaving, the journey for All Saints’ and St Mary’s is continuing without a pause!  It only remains for Jane and I to say thank you so much for all we have shared together and our love, prayers and warmest wishes to you all,

Charles

Mission of the Month for August – Innovista

Innovista exists to see more people in Europe, Russia, and Central Asia experience the hope of Jesus. To this end we identify local missionaries in their 20s and 30s who are presently engaged in mission through the local church, before training them to bring lasting change to their communities through their churches, ministries and community initiatives.

This is the group who know the language, culture, history and unwritten rules of their context the best. They’re the group for whom investment now will have the biggest impact: on them, on the ministries they lead, and on those who they witness to, both now and in the future.

Closer to home, our Thrive initiative seeks to help young people bring hope to life in their disadvantaged communities. The first Thrive team was launched in Barton, Oxford, and consists of a core team of five, including two full-time staff and a placement student who live on the estate. Living in the community provides the opportunity to engage relationally with the most disadvantaged and disengaged young people and to provide positive role models for them, many of whom are from chaotic households.

Ben Smith

See www.innovista.org for more information.

Charles writes: April 2013

I’m writing this with snow on the ground and more snow falling. “When will Spring come?” we all keep saying! We all feel better when we finally leave winter behind and the new growth of Spring really gets going – it’s like a turning point in the year.

Easter Day is an even bigger turning point in the church’s year – as we move from the seriousness of Lent to the joy of the Easter season. From Easter onwards, we celebrate that Jesus is risen for always – and the risen Jesus is with us and will never leave us. Much to celebrate – whatever the weather!

This year April is also a vital turning point for our parish. In mid April tenders are due in from the builders for the Barber Rooms building project – just in time for our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Tuesday 16th April. So it will be a special Annual Meeting this year! In the second half of April, we will be examining the tenders and preparing to make our response. If all goes well, we could be ready to sign a contract in early May.

In view of this we are setting aside Sunday 28th April as BARBER ROOMS SUNDAY. Do join us if you can at any of our services that day for a review of the project and a look at our way forward.

So April is crunch time for us at All Saints’! In view of that, it seems a good time for a quick review of what this project is all about.

On Mothering Sunday this year, we thought about the church being a family for us all – with God as our Father, and all of us brothers and sisters in Christ. We thought about Jesus’ call – to “Love one another as I have loved you.” As time goes on I realise how important this is – for all of us in the church to get to know each other, to build relationships with each other, and to care for one another.

But I’m also realising more and more how our buildings militate against this. Our beautiful ancient building is wonderful for worship, but not so well suited to meeting more informally. To get to know each other, and to share and learn together, we need a very different kind of place to meet.

We are already painfully aware of this – we desperately need a proper venue for Alpha Courses, training courses such as “Growing Leaders”, larger meetings such as “God in our lives”, meetings with groups of Baptism families and Wedding couples – as time goes on, it feels more and more of a struggle not having a suitable venue for any of these kinds of meetings. With groups of Baptism families and Wedding couples, it will be a particular advantage to have this facility next to the Church, so we can meet informally, but also take the opportunity to help them to familiarise themselves with the Church building as well.

And it is exciting to think of the many new opportunities the Barber Rooms will give us to meet together – regular bring and share lunches, coffee mornings, fellowship meetings for older members, informal prayer and fellowship evenings, and so on. We will have a real opportunity to build up the life of our church family, and to be a community where people feel far more involved and included.

Last, and far from least, we still have a desperate need for meeting rooms for our children. At the recent Licensing Service in Stanford, Bishop Andrew spoke eloquently about the vital importance of investing in our children and young people. In my new role as Area Dean, I’ve been learning more about the life of churches across the diocese, and it is sad to find out that many have very few children and young families. I am delighted that All Saints’ is different, and that we have many children and young families involved in the life of the church. And yet – the children’s work remains a struggle with only two meeting rooms – one very small, and the other without disabled access. If it’s right to maintain our large and costly Church building that is suited to the needs of adult worship, then it is surely also right to invest in a building that is much more suited to the needs of our children.

I firmly believe that the time will come when we wonder how we ever managed without the Barber Rooms! But our moment of decision is now. As Gandalf says to Frodo in “Lord of the Rings” – it is our generation that is called to meet this challenge! Once again I would like to thank all of you who have already shared generously in this project – through your pledges, through your gifts, and through your enthusiasm – including making all that wonderful marmalade! Do join us at our Annual Meeting, and on Sunday 28th April, so we can now move on and share in this moment of decision together.

Do join us also to pray – on Tuesday 2nd April, we will meet again for our monthly Appeal Prayers – meeting at Church from 8.00 – 9.00pm. We are still very much aware that we can only tackle this project in humble dependence on God, seeking to follow his leading, and depending on his provision and his blessing in all that we do.

The Easter message is a message of joy – joy in the victory of humble love over hatred and cruelty – joy in God’s generous love that reaches out to all with love and forgiveness – and joy in the new life and hope that the risen Jesus gives us. This is a joy we want to share – with each other, with those who we welcome from outside, and with our children and young people as they grow up in an uncertain world. May this whole project enable us better to share that joy, as the risen Jesus calls us to.

And a very happy Easter Season to you all!

Charles

 

Charles writes: March 2013

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!”

We began the season of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, with these words from the prophet Joel – a call to wake up – a call to action – a call to stand up and be counted. It’s a very appropriate message for the beginning of Lent. Lent is surely a time to sit up – to take stock of where we are in our faith and discipleship – to be honest with ourselves and with God. As Joel says later on,

”Even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart.”

It feels very much where we are at All Saints’ as we enter the final stages of the Barber Rooms Appeal. As we prepare to go out to tender, we still have a funding gap of about £50,000, and we all need both to unite in prayer as grant bodies are still considering our applications, and to join in with our fund-raising activities. Perhaps it is a time especially for us to be aware of our dependence on God’s goodness for this whole project.

But of course the life of the church is very much more than just the Barber Rooms. Our ongoing life and ministry and mission is even more important. This spring is the time for us all to have a fresh look at our involvement in the life of the church.

Once every six years, the Electoral Roll – that is the membership roll – of the church is completely renewed – the old roll expires, and everybody has to rejoin. This month we are renewing our roll at All Saints’ and at St Mary’s. The renewal begins on 1st March , and concludes on Sunday 17th March. Joining the Electoral Roll allows you to vote for members of PCC and Deanery Synod at our Annual Meeting, and in effect therefore makes you a voting member and therefore part of the decision making process of the Church of England. (You do need to be baptised and aged 16 or over to join the roll.)

But at a local level, it’s about wanting to be part of our church family, and being involved in the way that is right for each one of us. To help us to think about this, at All Saints’ we are running a “Church Membership Sunday” on Sunday 3rd March. On that Sunday, we will be thinking about church membership at all our services at All Saints’ – 8.00am, 10.30am and 6.30pm.

From that Sunday, we will be giving out church membership leaflets, with suggestions of ways that each one of us can be involved in the life of the church. There is also a copy of this leaflet at the centre of this magazine which you can pull out and use. The leaflet contains a response sheet, where you can tick boxes to indicate areas you might be interested in, and the Electoral Roll form itself is included in the response form. A larger print version of the whole leaflet will also be available in church. There will be a box for response forms in Church, or you can send your form directly to Maggie Bohm, who is the All Saints’ Electoral Roll Officer (her address is on the form). Please make sure your form is returned by Sunday 17th March.

In a small congregation, issues about church membership are more straightforward. Gill Hudson is Electoral Roll Officer for St Mary’s, and she will have forms for St Mary’s Electoral Roll from 1st March. We will also be having a focus on church membership at St Mary’s – but this will be after the renewal of the roll, at our 9.00am Morning Worship on Sunday 14th April.

If you would like to be on the Electoral Roll, do please make sure you don’t miss out on all of this. And if you’re part of All Saints’ we do hope you’ll be able to join us on Sunday 3rd March.

It is a great privilege to be part of the church family – to be nurtured by the support of others, and also to be able to participate and contribute to the life of the church ourselves. May this month may be a time that helps all of us to find ways we can both give and receive, so that we can all flourish together as God’s family in this place.

Charles

 

Simon writes: February 2013

Type, delete, think, try again, correct a spelling … that’s what usually happens when I write for the magazine. Some would call it writers block! But I don’t think it is just journalists or authors who get that feeling of being stuck or lost for words.

Many of us feel at sea when we are asked about our faith or to explain who Jesus is and why he came. We also feel lost for words.

The apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians scattered across modern day Turkey “in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:16).

So how do we ‘give the reason for our hope’? That’s where our Lent course comes in. Across the churches we thought that we could do with some help in explaining and sharing our faith. So we’ll be running “Lost for Words” – a course for those who would like some help to share faith naturally.

The aim of the course is simple: To learn to speak about our faith with anyone, in a relaxed, natural, helpful way, so they may discover and respond to God’s love for them. The course will run on Monday evenings (7.30-9.30pm) and Tuesday afternoons (2.00-3.30pm) at the United Church beginning on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th February for five weeks.

How encouraging it would be to get to Easter feeling encouraged and confident about sharing our hope in Christ!

If you’d like more information, pick up a flyer in church or speak to me or John Seedell.

 

Charles writes: December 2012/January 2013

This month, a new church year begins, on Advent Sunday, 2nd December. Then, as we celebrate Christmas, we begin again the journey through the life of Jesus, from his birth through to the Cross and Resurrection, at Holy Week and Easter. And of course, a few days after Christmas, we celebrate a new calendar year…

This will be a year of many changes. In particular, we hope this coming year will be the year when we see our plans for the Barber Rooms become a reality – when we see the actual building going up.

What else will this coming year be like for us as a church?

We have decided on a simple one word theme for this coming year – “REFRESH”. What does that mean? In brief, it means that rather than trying to start new things, we would like to REFRESH the things we already do. We’re not after changing things for the sake of it – rather about allowing ourselves the freedom to look at what we’re doing in fresh ways, and to be creative and imaginative about the things we do.

2013 is also the year when we are required to renew our Electoral Roll (our church membership roll). In Spring 2013, everyone will come off the Electoral Roll, and everyone has to join afresh. This is a good opportunity for us all to look afresh at what church membership means to us all. There will be more on this in February and March.

As the year goes on, there will be other areas of our church life we’ll be focussing on, looking at where we can refresh what we do together.

To undergird all this, we have felt it will be good to go back to our roots in our preaching and our worship in the coming few months. For a Christian church, that means focussing again on the life and teaching of Jesus. So this month we are beginning a new sermon series, based on the Gospel of Luke. We will begin on Sunday 9th December with John the Baptist, and will continue the story right through to Easter. During my ten years here, we have never focussed on Luke’s Gospel before – it has a great deal to teach us, and I am very excited about the opportunity it gives us to encounter Jesus afresh.

Finally, of course we all need refreshing ourselves, in our lives and in our faith. I hope Christmas will be a time for all of us to have some time off to be refreshed, and to encounter afresh the wonderful message of Immanuel – God with us – God coming to us in the birth of Jesus. In the new year, on Sunday 9th January , as we remember the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove on Jesus at his Baptism, we will be having another Service of Communion with Laying on of hands, when we invite everyone to stay for a moment at the Communion rail for a short prayer for the refreshing life of the Holy Spirit. So may we find God refreshing each one of us, ready to embrace the challenges the new year will bring.

Jane and I send you all our very warmest wishes for a joyful Christmas and a happy new year.

 

Charles