1 July 2014
God’s creative spring is over and now Glorious Summer is upon us!
Sally and I have been privileged this year to be visited by a multitude of people interested enough to spend time in our garden at Brentor. They have been able to stroll freely amongst the carpet of bluebells within our tiny wood and sit in tranquillity beside the River Burn. They have also been entertained by Barry Hodge from Gulworthy and his mighty sound of music as well as by the more exotic oriental tunes from Gypsy Train. Lastly they have been fed with Devonshire cream teas and cake, so heartfelt thanks to all of you who helped us to raise much needed funds for Saint Luke’s Hospice and the Mary Budding Trust.
Many people ask me what a Reader does so I will try to explain in as few words as possible. A Reader is licensed by the Bishop to preach, teach and minister within a parish and Sally and I have both been licensed for all the parishes within the Tavy Mission Community; the Tavys and Whitchurch as well as Brentor, Gulworthy and Tavistock. We have been rigorously trained for two years and have a volunteer’s agreement to serve for up to 10 hours each week.
During this time of interregnum, I was inspired by a short editorial by the Rev Stephen Cook in the final issue of ‘The Grapevine’ (the Northmoor Churches Weekly News) for Palm Sunday. It reads:
‘The work of the church depends on volunteers and we need to be careful not to load too much onto those we have. Sometimes that means that when no-one comes forward we have to stop doing things. Then we can perhaps ask ourselves what we can do with the people we have rather than who can do the jobs we have: they are subtly different questions.’
Now that I have become a TACT representative I am taking a great amount of interest in the Christian groups working alongside us and was moved by the joyful energy of the open air Pentecost Service in Bedford Square.
This month of July will be the first time we can enter Saint Eustachius’ through the new glass doors. This is the result of many months of preparation and a lot of hard work so we should be very grateful that we can enjoy the fruits of their labours. If the view is as attractive as the image on the notice board I have struggled to put outside church each Tuesday morning, we will see lots of new faces to be warmly welcomed INSIDE.
If like me you are interested in discussing the big issues, why don’t you join Andy Barton at 8.00 pm on July 6 at his lively and enjoyable Beer and Crisps session in the Union Inn? You will find good company and an opportunity to ask those big questions about God, which we all search to answer.
Several people have asked about the Tavy Youth Group so now is your chance to see it in action during the Sunday All Age Service at CHICKS in Brentor at 9.45 am on July 6 when we have a short service of praise and worship followed by breakfast and an opportunity to see this wonderful place. All donations will be given to Chicks. Everyone, young and old, will be welcome.
The Dante Quartet will be at the Wharf this year but music lovers can look forward to the Carnival Concert on the 16th and then the Exon Festival which starts on the 29th. What a month to look forward to!
As I stated in my last editorial, our mission is to bring others to hear God’s message of salvation. Now we can be helped to fulfil this mission as our glass doors inspire all who pass by so close to step over the threshold and enter in!
May the Holy Spirit fill us all!
1 June 2014
This month sees a temporary departure from our normal ministry lead opening address in our monthly magazine. Instead, we are taking the opportunity of giving readers an update from the churchwardens as to how we are progressing through the vacancy.
Believe it or not we are now nearly three months in to the vacancy and things have carried on pretty much as they always have. This is in part thanks to Michael's detailed planning and expert coaching, but largely due to the great support of our congregations and the sheer number of amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes. We have also been blessed by our local clergy (both retired and not) who have stepped up to help us without hesitation.
Indeed, during the vacancy thus far we have seen some remarkable events and ministries. Firstly we experienced a fantastic and deeply spiritual Holy Week, where we enjoyed some new and unique aspects to the traditional services. And, at a time where one might expect attendance to stagnate or drop, we are seeing growth in a number of pioneering ways. Deanery Curate Andy Barton has brought about two new groups, one for children and one for adults. For the children Andy has put together a series of fun workshops which could lead to confirmation if the children want. For the adults there is an informal exploring faith group which meets up weekly where any questions or topics can be discussed.
A few weeks ago we had our annual visitation from the Archdeacon, where the churchwardens from the deanery and beyond were formally admitted for another year. The Archdeacon gave a very practical and encouraging sermon and reminded us of some of our duties – including some of the more obscure ones which raised a laugh or two among the assembled congregation. Central to his homily, though, were a couple of elements which struck a chord with us at this time of vacancy. He took time to point out the need to increase our church attendances and to work hard on developing our Mission Communities in a positive and embracing manner. Both of these topics are of course very much embedded in the list of interview questions for our new incumbent. So, how are we getting on with the search for our new incumbent? The short answer is that we are doing very well.
When the churchwardens met with the Archdeacon earlier in the year, we were all very mindful of the fact that research shows that congregations really start to decline after about 6 months of a vacancy. Having discussed this with the Archdeacon he was willing to support us with a shorter vacancy, provided that we could meet some key deadlines, especially in the production of our parish profile. Thanks once again to the support of many people we have achieved this, and our profile has been agreed (without amendment) by the Archdeacon. As a result I am delighted to be able to report that our vacancy is now on both the Diocese of Exeter Website and the main Church of England Website with a closing date of the 15th July and an interview date of 29th July.
So, as we move closer to choosing a new incumbent, we invite you to pray with us:
God our Father,
Send us your Holy Spirit at this time of uncertainty and change, fill us with wisdom, energy and faithfulness in prayer, that we may be true to our calling to bring new life to our community. And guide with your heavenly wisdom those who are to choose a new incumbent for our parishes, that the one whom we receive may be a wise and gentle shepherd of your people, ready to serve us with joy, to build us in faith, and to lead us by example in loving obedience to your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.