After 40 years’ of dedicated and much valued service at All Saints’ Joy Blake is retiring as our Organist and Choirmaster in April, when we will have the chance to thank her for all she has so willingly offered to God and His people here.
Every day the media and advertisers parade before our eyes and ears ‘must have’ gadgets, expensive fashions and accessories, luxurious holidays, new models of cars, offers of loans and credit . . . Do you feel that modern life is a maelstrom of information and news related to money, finance, economics, giving the impression that this is the most important, perhaps the only, area of life worthy of our attention? Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “How does all this relate to my Christian faith?”
In this book, his first full-length one, the Archbishop of Canterbury looks at several incidents as Jesus travels to Jerusalem towards the crucifixion. He argues against a tendency to judge success and worth purely on the basis of what can be measured financially. He feels strongly this has distorted and corrupted society and has led to a fundamentally unchristian view that a healthy bank balance or even a strong economy is “the goal”, an end in itself, rather than to be used as a means to do good. The Archbishop believes that the more interconnected the world becomes, the greater the tendency for power to be held over individuals and nations by economics, by money, by flows of finance; these are forces which he defines collectively as “Mammon” a word, derived from Aramaic, and used in the New Testament to mean the power of wealth or riches.
The book is intended mainly for individual devotional use during Lent and is a challenge to Christians—and non-Christians—about their attitude to and use of wealth. But the Archbishop also makes comments applicable to the UK in the light of Brexit, when he says: “It is essential that the new United Kingdom outside Europe is not built to a design drawn by Mammon . . . materialism is not the answer to the challenges we face. Rather we need a deep sense of the priority of the human person, whoever they are and wherever they come from. We need to remind ourselves that Mammon always deceives his followers. A campaign fought on his agenda will lead to division and despair.”
He finishes the book with a challenge to each of us: “Who is on the throne of your life: Mammon or Christ? What might God be calling you to do next?”
Definitely worth reading—hurry to the Mustard Seed and buy your copy!
Review by Keith Thrower.
Dethroning Mammon; ISBN 978-1-4729-2977-8 (Pub: Bloomsbury Continuum)
This new book by Jeff Lucas, published this year, is a commentary on the life of Elijah. One of the most important men of the Old Testament: some said that Jesus was Elijah returned from the dead, Elijah was there at the Transfiguration of Jesus, but he was no super hero, always triumphant. He had a period when he hid in a cave, fearful of death from his enemies and wishing he could die. But God was there, always calling him forward, saying, I am here with you, take courage, follow me.
This book is an encouragement to those of us who have periods when we feel disheartened or that God is far from us. The motto of the school in Uganda where I taught for a few years, was “Never give up”. That too was true of Elijah, who learned that, whatever he felt like, God never left him.
GOOD NEWS for a New Year
UK ratifies Paris Climate Agreement
In November, during the UN climate talks in Marrakech, the UK government ratified the Paris Agreement. Let’s celebrate!
A quick catch up
One year earlier in Paris, 197 countries met at the UN climate talks. They collectively agreed the Paris Climate Agreement, which was to limit the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C, although they hope to further limit that to 1.5°C.
So far 110 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, including China and the US, two of the largest polluters. In November these nations once again gathered for another set of UN climate talks, this time held in Marrakech, Morocco. It was hoped that these talks would put action to the promises made in Paris last year.
This is an incredible achievement and presents us with a great opportunity to congratulate the UK – Theresa May and Nick Hurd, Minister of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – on their commitment to ratifying the Paris Agreement.
But what does this mean?
The Paris Agreement is a commitment to move faster towards a clean energy future so that the poorest communities can thrive. Our ratification is a great step in turning that promise into action.
While it is great to celebrate this achievement, the announcement also gives us a great opportunity to show we support our government in making this commitment to tackle climate change, and to stand in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate. We can do this by thinking about they way we live.
Is our lifestyle aligned with the commitment our government has made? How can we show love and respect to those living in poverty who are particularly vulnerable to climate change?
If you are looking for some ways to do this why not check out www.lifestyle.tearfund.org
From EARTH & FAITH (edited from Tearfund)
Books reviewed this month The Way of Blessing and Life to The Max
The Way of Blessing by Roy Godwin
In The Way of Blessing you are invited into a spiritual pilgrimage to the windswept hills of Wales, and to the small praying community of Ffald y Brenin, where the deaf hear, the blind see, the lost are found and the broken receive healing.
Roy reveals how God longs to bless us and has given believers the authority to bless others, and teaches how to do it. He shares how this ministry began, stories of miraculous healings, and ways you can usher God’s manifest presence into your community.
Price: £9.99 available now from the Mustard Seed
Life to the Max by Jon Cox
This is a life story of the founders of the organisation Adventure Plus, based now in Clanfield, which aims to help young people to experience the fun, the challenge and the fulfilment in a life of following Jesus Christ.
It begins in 1986, when Jon was in his early 20s chatting to a friend, also in his 20s. His friend said “there’s got to be more to life than this”. Jon thought, how terrible to be bored with work and life in your early 20s and he thought of the many youngsters, also drifting through life with the same feeling. He felt that God was calling him to encourage people to ‘live the adventure of faith’.
From that day on he tested that calling, looking to positive guidance in his daily bible reading and his specific prayers for God to give him the ability he needed. His whole journey has been an adventure, experiencing amazing answers to prayer. It has taken him to the Sudan, Canada and different parts of the UK and now to Clanfield, where he runs adventure weeks for many young people, reaching a few thousands each year, and encouraging them to ‘grab life and live boldly’.
It is making a difference to these young people, because Jon and his helpers are learning to make room for God and to rely only on him in their busy lives.
As Adventure Plus is near to Faringdon you could easily see more of what they are doing in Clanfield. The book, which will inspire you and can be ordered from the Mustard Seed, costs only £7.
Your PCC met informally over coffee on 23rd August. This gave the opportunity to meet with our new Vicar, Steve Bellamy to look at the way forward, air our thoughts and reflections and to ask questions. They also had plenty of time to chat, but in a useful, structured way.
At their meeting on 7th September, the PCC began by constituting a Standing Committee which would normally meet 1-2 weeks before each PCC. This Committee will prepare Agendas and has the power in Church Law to consider and transact business on behalf of the PCC, within the guidelines of spending limits set by the PCC.
The celebration of Harvest and a Harvest Lunch was planned for 2nd October. Details of this will be in the church notices.
To help us get to know one another better there will be a special ‘Members Page’ on the church website. We will all be encouraged to have our name and photo on this page and for those who don’t feel able to put the photo up themselves, help will be provided to take and then load the photo. We will then be able to put names to the faces we meet in church. This page will be password protected, so it will be for church members only. The Friendship List, which so many of you find useful, and gives contact details of those who wish to be on it, will continue as usual.
Steve is setting up new Vision and Strategy Group which will think, discuss and pray about what God may be calling us to do and be as his church at All Saints’. This group will in due course bring some ideas for consideration by PCC and the church as a whole.
We also need a Baptism Preparation team to welcome and prepare families who bring their children for Baptism. A group for men is being formed which aims particularly to reach men of working age outside as well as within the church. (see the notice elsewhere about the talk and quiz with food on 7th October). In addition, a meeting to encourage men already linked with All Saints’ in their discipleship will run occasional Saturday morning breakfasts.
The newly appointed Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, will be welcomed in the Dorchester Area at 3.30pm on Sunday 9th October at Dorchester Abbey and all are invited to attend. In order to get to know us he will be visiting all the Deaneries between November and June 2017.
Half way through the meeting, time was given for study and prayer. This will be a feature of all future meetings. From the October meeting onwards, the booklet ‘Gospel Centred Church’ will be studied.
Janet Deane is setting up a group to look after the gardens around the Barber Rooms (see note below). The PCC is grateful to Janet for volunteering for this, to carry on the work which Jo Harbour began, and also to all those who are presently helping. If you could help in any way please contact Janet. You don’t need to be a good keen gardener, just willing to help, as most of the work is keeping the area under control in the summer months.
There is now a Pastoral Order in place regarding marriages at St Mary’s Little Coxwell and All Saints’ Faringdon. This means that couples with a connection to one of the churches, can get married in either church.
Looking forward, the services for the Christmas period are being discussed, and details of all the activities will be in the pew sheet and the magazine nearer the time.
Garden Area around the Barber Rooms
I have taken on the responsibility, through the PCC, of organising a team to look after this area. The gardening should involve mainly the months of March and October, with tidying-up in between. We know that Jo (Harbour) had a vision for this garden and I am hoping we might get an idea of this through contacting her daughter.
Please let me know if you are interested. You too could become a ‘Barber Gardener’ and join the team!
Janet Deane (see Church Directory)
Harvest Festival Donations 2016
I am writing to you as your congregation kindly donated food to us last year, to update you on where that food went and to let you know our needs should you be considering donating to us again this year.
The Faringdon Food Pantry is organised by Churches Together in Faringdon and relies primarily on donations from our church congregations in town, together with annual donations from some of our surrounding parishes including All Saints’.
We provide food to those in our community who find themselves in need, for whatever reason, be it job loss, benefit problems or ill health. Those receiving food are referred by local agencies and are from within our community.
In the last year we have delivered to Faringdon, Stanford-in-the-Vale and Southmoor, although we serve all the villages which fall along our stretch of the A420 and are within the (Anglican) Oxford Diocese Deanery of Vale of White Horse. We have delivered 2,493 items to 57 families, approximately 170 people.
We would greatly appreciate your support again this year including delivering the items to us in Faringdon, from where we unpack and sort for distribution. A specific time can be arranged to suit you on this.
All food should be tinned or dried with at least one year sell by/best by date clearly visible (no split packages). Buying items in twos helps makes meals for a family easier.
We now try to stock only specific items (see note below) which helps us manage our limited storage space, avoid wastage and generally makes running everything so much easier!
If you have any questions or would like further information please contact the pantry via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or Faringdon Baptist Church on 01367 243 455
Faringdon Food Bank
c/o Faringdon Baptist Church
The Library, Gloucester Street
Faringdon SN7 7HZ
The list of items required is fairly extensive. If you wish to donate to the Food Bank during the Harvest Festival service on Sunday 2nd October, please check first with the list of items on the notice board in the Barber Rooms and provide only those items requested (avoiding pasta if possible). If you wish, you can make a financial contribution instead.
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.
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.
Trinity 5 BCP
8am All Saints 26 June 2016
1 Peter 3. 8-15
Today’s Prayer Book Epistle –from the 1st Letter of St Peter, chapter 3, verses 8-15 was almost certainly written for the weekend after the EU referendum!
After a bruising and divisive campaign – millions of our fellow citizens will be disappointed by the result – and I am writing this homily on Polling day before the result is known.
For whichever side wins – there will be many who will be now be disappointed. This is not a party political point – it’s a simple fact.
And the truth is that whichever way we voted – we in this small island will still need to learn to live together whatever our views, and we will need to try and heal our divisions.
I believe the Church and individual Christians have an important role in a post referendum Britain, and I think our role is beautifully summed up by these verses from the first letter of St Peter.
So perhaps you will forgive me if I simply go through them again – but perhaps allow a slightly more modern translation of the Greek original to amplify the beautiful cadences of the Book of Common prayer.
St Peter starts with these words addressed to the Christian community in our dealings with each other
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
The NRSV pew bibles which we use translates this in another way
8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Whichever way you translate it – the message is clear
We are to treat each other – even our opponents – with sympathy, compassion and courtesy. That’s our starting point. And for a Christian, it’s not optional, it’s mandatory. That is what the Lord expects from us and nothing less.
But then St Peter goes on to say something even more important
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
This is a complicated sentence – so this is what the NRSV makes of it
9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.
As Christians we are called to respond to abuse – not with more abuse – but with blessing
We are called to be a blessing to other people
And that applies in all circumstances – when we are debating politics – when we are debating religions – when we are driving a car – when we are cross and tired and coping with our colleagues at work or our family, friends or neighbours at home.
St Peter takes this calling so seriously that he even quotes from the bible at this point – so the next 3 verses are a quotation from Psalm 34
“Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.”
So let us seek peace and pursue it, so that we can bring healing to our divided land and become the Blessing for others that God has called us to be. Amen.
John de Wit