All Saints’ Church Wardens Write

The summer is traditionally the time when church life quietens down while everyone goes away to recharge their batteries. That might not happen this year at All Saints’ and St Mary’s!

June saw a very successful Queen’s birthday weekend at All Saints’. Hundreds came through the Church to admire the lovely flower displays and enjoy tea and cake. Very many thanks to all who organised, arranged flowers, baked and served teas, rang the bells and welcomed at the door. It was a sterling performance.

July will be a busy month. On the horizon and approaching rapidly is Stephen Bellamy’s service of institution and induction at All Saints’ at 7.30pm on 28th July. You are all most warmly welcomed to attend – if it is a squeeze, so much the better. It will be a big day requiring a lot of preparation, and marks the formal start of the next chapter in our church life together. (If you happen to bump into Steve and Wendy before then, do offer a warm personal welcome but remember he has not yet started work!)

The induction comes at the end of The Wave, a week long holiday club for children run by Churches Together. This very worthwhile event is held (almost) every year and is a huge opportunity to share our love for Jesus with these youngsters and their parents. Some of these families will go on to Messy Church, and only God knows where he will lead them from there. At least one warden is signed down to help!

Steve’s first Sunday coincides with the open air morning service in the Market Place which jointly celebrates The Wave week and the FollyFest. He is thrilled to have this unique opportunity to meet and speak to the wider community. Do try to be there if you can to support Steve and CTIF.

Our eyes are very much looking towards the future. In our parish profile (still available on the church website) we identified a number of key areas in which we believe we are being challenged as a church. As he gets to know us, Steve may want to add other areas to the list. Together we will need to identify and embrace the way forward in order to see growth in individual lives, our church community and God’s kingdom in Faringdon.

Andrew Sargent & Katie Foot

All Saints’ Churchwardens write

As we write it is chill and damp, but by the time you are reading this the summer should be well and truly here. Whatever the weather, the month will be dominated by two important national events, HM the Queen’s 90th birthday and the referendum on European membership.

At All Saints’ we will take our part in the royal celebrations. Over the birthday weekend of 11th-12th June the Church will be open and serving refreshments in the Barber Rooms. If you can contribute, either by baking or by helping to serve, please speak to Katie Foot. The All Saints’ Flower Guild is planning a flower display in the Church in honour of the occasion. We are also hoping to mount an exhibition of photographs of the Church and church events taken over the last 90 years. If you have any interesting photographs the Wardens would be delighted to hear from you. The Church bells will also ring out as part of the nationwide celebrations; this seems particularly appropriate as they were dedicated in 1926!

Regarding the referendum, it seems appropriate to urge all the members of All Saints’ to take this decision seriously. Try to understand the issues and pray about how you should vote. On a personal note, we would ask you to think of wider concerns of social justice rather than simply whether you will have more or less in your pocket. There will be a debate in the Corn Exchange on 3rd June at 7.00pm (speakers: Ed Vaizey MP and Baroness Royall of Blaisdon PC (For) and Jonathan Russell and Charles Crawford CMG (Against)). See also Think Pray Vote for more information.

On a very different note, June sees a change in our CMS Link Partners. This link with the mission of the worldwide church is important, helping us to look outside our small sphere. On 29th May we say goodbye to David and Liza Cooke who have been working in conflict resolution in Kenya. Then on 5th June we welcome Lynn Treneary at the morning service: do stay afterwards to chat with her over coffee. Lynn is beginning her service with the Chaima Christian Institute in Maridi, South Sudan.

Andrew Sargent & Katie Foot

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

Helen Wilson writes

The Interregnum . . .

When my three sons were little their grandpa, my late father, used to come and stay for week-ends. He was the boys’ only surviving grandparent and took that role very seriously. He adored them.

He would always phone after he had arrived safely back to his home in Wales and he invariably said the same thing about his grandsons: ‘Weren’t they good?’ Now they had been many things: noisy, lively, argumentative to name but a few. They were and are wonderful but, when they were small, ‘good’ was not top of my list of adjectives to describe them.

My father meant it though and, in his eyes, they were indeed ‘good’. He exemplified what the Bible means by saying that ‘love covers a multitude of sins’. He loved them exactly as they were and they really were good in his eyes. Such was the love he unfailingly showed me too. In fact, according to him, I lived in sinless perfection as a child – the unfortunate thing is that I distinctly remember otherwise!

We have just celebrated Easter – the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us. Through the cross of Christ, we experience forgiveness. As it says in Psalm 103:12, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’ Christianity does not deal with guilty feelings; it deals with guilt itself.

The same Psalm goes on to say: ‘As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him’. We know that we get so much wrong but when we come to God and say sorry, we find complete and total forgiveness. This means that we can each imagine God, as my father did, looking at us and saying, ‘Aren’t they good?’ It is special to be reminded of that love, to thank God for it and to bask in the awesome wonder of His compassionate forgiveness.

Helen Wilson

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.