Rector’s Ramblings – May 2014

Medieval Churches – blessings or burdens?

As always, there was a busy build-up to Easter around the Benefice. Last year we had snow on Palm Sunday. This year, there was glorious spring sunshine as we made our way up to Keyston Church singing ‘All Glory Laud and Honour’. Our churchyards are wonderful green spaces and I greatly enjoyed helping at Molesworth with the church spring clean. As I neared the end of AGM season, I found myself giving a great deal of thought to the importance of these wonderful medieval buildings and their churchyards. They are, I think, much more than a Christian place of worship. They are a symbol of community, almost certainly the oldest building in the village, and they hold the memories of that community on headstones and plaques and in the love and care with which they have been built and sustained by successive generations of villagers.

However, the stark reality is that these buildings, for which our Parochial Church Councils are trustees, have considerable overheads which are often shouldered by a small group of people. Without the support of the wider village community, they sometimes struggle to keep afloat financially and, if they feel unsupported, their morale drops. The level of support varies enormously across the Benefice. Just like every householder, the PCCs are responsible for insurance (ranging from £700 to over £2000 across the group), utility bills, and short and long-term maintenance. In addition, they are required to contribute to the cost of having a full-time minister (me). You may feel that someone like me is not necessary to the life of your community and that my activities are irrelevant to you personally. But if you have a child at Brington pre-school and primary, your child knows me well, and I’m a school governor too. And if you’ve been to a baptism, wedding or funeral locally, I will have helped the family prepare and they will have been able to use the church building for a very important family occasion. But setting aside whether I’m considered valuable, ask yourself how you would feel if your church closed? Would it matter? Sunday worship would stop but, more importantly, your community would lose the right to use the church for those very important occasions, baptisms, weddings and funerals, when communities come together.

So please consider how you might support your parish church – in practical ways by helping with maintenance, perhaps. If you are Christians who worship elsewhere, perhaps you might support your parish church on the Sunday’s when it has worship. If you are not Christian but value the building and what it represents, your donation as part of your charitable giving would help cover the overheads allowing the congregation to focus their giving on covering ministry costs. And if you are a tax payer, gift aid adds another 25%. Or you might have good ideas for fund-raisers that would not only help support the church but also enliven village life.

It may be that in the next month or two you will receive a letter from your parish church asking for your support. Please take a moment to read it and consider how you might be able to help ensure the future of a very precious medieval building which is part of the fabric of your community.

Rev Brenda

 

Rector’s Ramblings – April 2014

When the Bishop came to tea…
Well, we certainly had an Ash Wednesday to remember this year. Bishop Stephen went down a storm at Brington school where he visited Hedgehogs class and then joined us for our Ash Wednesday service. There are some photos on the Ely Diocese Facebook page at
https://www.facebook.com/elydiocese If you don’t do Facebook, don’t worry. It’s public and you won’t have to subscribe. He also thoroughly enjoyed inspecting the tractors and other machines at the farm run by the Tebbitt family in Old Weston followed by a wonderful afternoon tea, and then met parishioners from around the villages at the Racehorse in Catworth. I was very pleased that he came and was able to have a taste of life in a group of parishes that is a long way from the centre in Ely. 

It can sometimes feel like we are disconnected from the rest of the Diocese and I think it is important to make an extra effort to remain involved. That’s why I volunteered to be a clergy delegate on the Diocesan Synod which meets three times a year. This is the forum at which Diocesan policy is decided and sometimes there are issues which directly feed into what happens at General Synod which is the decision-making body of the Church of England. Back in November 2012 there was a huge fuss in the media when the proposal to permit women bishops was narrowly defeated at General Synod. Well, a new proposal is on the table and each of the Diocesan Synods have to vote on whether they are happy for it to proceed to General Synod. At our most recent meeting that vote was taken, after a balanced discussion, with only a handful voting against, and there was a real sense of being involved in an important decision as well as optimism that this time it will go through and proceed to Parliament. With all its flaws, I still think democracy has a lot to recommend it!

Rev Brenda

Rector’s Ramblings – March 2014

The season of Lent

In the Christian calendar the season of Lent begins this month and, as with Christmas where we count the down the Sundays to Christmas, so we count down the Sundays to Easter, five in all before Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Lent is traditionally a time of reflection on the state of our spiritual health and in the past people fasted. Today, few go that far but many folk, Christian and non-Christian, give up something for Lent – chocolate, biscuits, alcohol – often giving what they would have spent to charity. The idea of fasting, of course, is bound up with the discipline of spiritual reflection so it’s important to set aside time to do that too. This year we will be having a series of midweek evening Lent services which will move from church to church around the group, almost like a pilgrimage. You can find the dates and times on the services page in the middle of the magazine. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which this year is March 5th and we are really pleased that Bishop Stephen, Bishop of Ely, will be out and about locally and he will be at Brington school visiting the various classes and then joining them for their Ash Wednesday service. There are two other services that day. In the morning Tony Levene and I will be at Keyston and then in the evening we will join with others from around the Deanery for a service at Kimbolton led by the Bishop and the Rev Stephen Bowring. In Holy Week, there will be services around the Benefice as we mark the episodes in the Easter narrative, starting with our Palm Sunday procession to the church in Keyston which will begin at the Village Hall. If anyone has a co-operative donkey who could join us for that we would be delighted!

Rev Brenda

Rector’s Ramblings – February 2014

Spring is on the way!

I don’t know about you but I love this time of year. As the season turns the days begin to lengthen and there are signs of spring as the daffodils push through and the snowdrops come into flower. I’ve been observing the flowering patterns of wild flowers for many years but there’s not much around at the moment with only a few species – white deadnettle, shepherd’s purse, groundsel and daisy – keeping going unless there is a particularly hard frost, so in the winter months I tend to concentrate more on the birds. At any time of the year I am drawn to the north Norfolk coast and at this time of the year it is a magnet for migrant birds overwintering. Even on the coldest day it’s still wonderful to sit in a hide trying to work out which wader is which and identifying (rather more successfully) the ducks – teal, wigeon, tufted duck and gadwall – and then there’s the thrill of seeing rarer birds like the beautiful pintail, smew and goldeneye (very aptly named). Calling in at Welney on the way home, there are the wild swans – Whooper and Bewick. And my own garden is busy every day with a lot of traffic to and from our feeding station and the surrounding trees. God’s creation is truly wonderful and I never cease to marvel at it. And we are part of that creation too. Sometimes we get so absorbed in our busy lives that we forget to raise our heads and look around and when we do that we run the risk of losing touch with the rhythm of nature, missing out on so much that is life-giving. So next time you go out, take a good look around, sniff the air and listen to the birdsong. It’s food for the soul.

Rev Brenda