FORTHCOMING PARISH EVENTS
NEWS AND INFORMATION
ET UNUM SINT As a teenager in Altrincham, North Cheshire (now in Trafford, Greater Manchester!), and being confirmed at the age of 13 in St George’s, I used to cycle from home to school past St Vincent de Paul’s RC church, and curiosity finally got the better of me…I braved it and went in to have a look round, knowing it to be a very busy place on Saturday evenings for Vigil Mass (fulfilling Sunday obligation) and Sunday mornings, and why was that? What I discovered has stayed with me all my ministry…the importance of learning and knowing the Faith, and the part played in that by the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) pamphlets, not to mention the requirement to go to Mass at least weekly. We have some akin to that in the CofE, though decades later, ‘Gospel Imprint’ being one of a few, but we still seem hung up on ‘church-going’ rather than a deeper sense of discipleship, ‘learning our trade’ as it were. The decline in those seeking to be Confirmed has also been of sad note; an opportunity missed, alongside and probably correlated with, the decline in choirs, servers, youth clubs and uniformed groups. We have much to learn from the different denominations of Christendom, be it in prayer life/style, music, governance, ethos or social action. At its best, ecumenism seeks to draw from each church its strength(s) and share in being united, without uniformity, that together we might be more effective in mission. Every year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on 18th January, the Confession of Peter, and concludes on 25th January, the Conversion of Paul , or Saul of Tarsus to become St Paul. During it, Christians pray, study and worship together, and affirm the unity that was Christ’s injunction, ‘that we might be one, as He and the Father are one’ (John 17:21-23), summarised in our title, from Pope John Paul II’s papal encyclical. So, this year, let’s take to heart Jesus’ request, and seek that unity which is his and his Father’s will, within and between all our churches, and not least here in CTND, Churches Together in Newmarket & District, as we renew the covenant between us all and God without corporate gathering other than in prayer. Mark
Bishop's Lent Appeal In these challenging times across the globe, we are able to reach out and support friends in Christ who are facing far worse difficulties than we are. I am so grateful for the generous response to our previous appeals to support our link diocese, Kagera, and our commitment to serving our brothers and sisters in Kagera continues. The theme of the Bishops' Lent Appeal 2021 is supporting key workers in Kagera, providing food, health care and spiritual support: - Farmers, to support subsistence farmers across Kagera, and those who are helping them develop better ways of making the most of their land.
- Doctors at the Diocesan hospital, undertaking specialist training to reduce patients' need to travel many hours to find specialist treatment.
- Priests leading their communities, helping with training and transport, for example, £850 will buy a motorbike so a priest can spend less time walking, maybe 10 or 20km between churches, and more time serving.
Bishop Mike has produced a video introducing our 2021 Lent appeal which can be found HERE. Clergy and PCC secretaries will be receiving information packs, including a brand-new Lent Challenge booklet. Churchwardens should also have received an email with copies of everything. More information can be found on the diocesan website, www.cofesuffolk.org/bishops-lent-appeal . Alternatively, please contact Chris and Anji Dawkins, Kagera Link Coordinators, for more information, email@example.com
FREE-WILL ENVELOPES There are still several sets of Free-will offering envelopes in St Martin's Church. If you cannot get into the church to collect them, please contact me by phone or email and I will arrange delivery. John Pascall (01638578372; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nominations for charitable giving for consideration in 2021: Could you please send nominations for this year’s giving to me by the end of February. A summary of what the nominated organisation does is also helpful to allow others to make a considered decision about their votes. Thank you. John Pascall (email@example.com)
Group and Committee reports for the 2020 Annual Report Could you please send me reports of activities of groups/committees for inclusion as soon as possible. Thank you, John Pascall, (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Good News I thought people would be pleased to hear that the bucket collection for the Children’s Society at the Christmas Tree Service on Christmas Eve raised £149. John Pascall
Message from Bishop Martin Dear Brothers and Sisters, I want once again to thank you for all you are carrying through this time, practically, emotionally and spiritually, and assure you of my continuing support and prayers. I realise that for many of us we are entering this next stage with much less energy than we did back in March, and perhaps more apprehension given the virulence of the current virus variant. We are grateful that the Government has not prohibited public worship. This reflects the Government’s data that apparently there have been only 47 cases of Covid-19 linked to places of worship through the whole pandemic and across some 30,000 individual places of worship. This has been due, of course, to the incredible diligence and care with which protocols have been followed. Now with this new variant, we must make doubly sure we maintain all proper procedures both during acts of worship and in arrangements for arriving at and leaving services. I do recognise that for some, clergy, wardens and PCCs, holding physical services may not feel safe. Key personnel may feel particularly vulnerable, and some congregations may not wish to risk gathering physically. The decision to hold physical services must be a local decision, of incumbent and PCC. I have decided to grant a blanket suspension of the obligations to hold a service of Holy Communion in at least one church in each benefice on all Sundays and principal Feast Days, for the duration of the national lockdown. Of course, if physical gatherings are suspended, then provision needs to be made or continued online and by other means that you have devised during this time so that the spiritual life of the community is sustained. And many of those who do continue with physical worship will also be continuing with online provision. I want to stress that no one who feels vulnerable, clergy or laity, should have pressure placed on them to contribute to physical acts of worship. We must recognise our calling to make decisions ‘with all humility, and gentleness with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4.2-3). Whatever decision each church makes, we will all need to focus our energy on continuing the mission and work of the Church in our communities, who will need us now more than ever. Epiphany blessings.
CONTINUED WORSHIP IN CHURCH A message from the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chairs the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, following the statement by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson at 8.00pm on Monday 4 January, detailing new restrictions in England to control the spread of Covid-19: “The Prime Minister’s words underline the severity of the situation for the country, as the virus continues to spread rapidly. At a time like this, the Church is here to offer comfort and spiritual support to everyone. We have a duty to care for each other, but particularly those who are vulnerable or who may be most at risk. .“The Government has chosen not to suspend public worship in England at this time and we will continue to follow the guidance and ensure that churches remain as safe as possible. The Government guidance on the safe use of places of worship makes clear that those attending a place of worship must not mingle with anyone outside their household or support bubble. “However, some may feel that it is currently better not to attend in person, and there will be parishes which decide to offer only digital services for the time-being. Clergy who have concerns, and others who are shielding, should take particular care and stay at home.” I would urge everyone in our churches to pray for those on the front line in our public services - the NHS and those working in social care, for schools and many others on whom we depend; and for parents and carers of children at this anxious and stressful time.” There is hope. The vaccination programme is underway and, as Christians, we have a deeper hope in God that comforts us beyond fear itself. As we have been remembering this Christmas Season, even in the midst of our darkest fears, that hope brings light.” The Bishop of London
MESSAGE FROM REVD HARDY Just to bring you up to date with the outcome of the SMENN working group meeting on Tuesday 29 September (Feast of Michaelmas), I need to let you know that the discussion indicated a present need - before we go any further down the road towards benefice unification - for further reflection at St Mary's (both at PCC and at congregational level) on the whole subject of women's priestly ministry, given that, as things stand, a future incumbent of a united benefice (or team ministry) made up of our respective parishes might very well be female. This possibility is a matter of genuine concern to a number of congregants at St Mary's (although not necessarily a majority), and must, therefore, be given proper weight and consideration, according to the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (2014) and their Five Guiding Principles of the Mutual Flourishing of Ministries within the Church of England. As the archdeacon of Sudbury remarked at the meeting, there is now a formal process to be gone through (by St Mary's, and in particular by St Mary's PCC); further details of which will be publicised in due course. I can tell you now that the substantive discussions about this crucial issue won't take place at St Mary's until after Christmas, and I do not expect any decision to be made until March or April 2021. However, even if the formalities of the 'marriage' of our benefices (to keep the archdeacon's favourite image) are now on 'hold' until further notice, that is no reason to discontinue our very successful, informal 'engagement', which has seen all sorts of good things happen, to the wider benefit of our common life around the SMENN parishes over last couple years (and more), as was explicitly made clear in the various positive responses I received to the 'Appreciative Enquiry' questionnaire which I circulated to PCC members some three months back. I hope and pray, therefore, that we will be able to carry on collaborating and enjoying each other's company as long as possible, whatever decision St Mary's congregation and her PCC may reach after mature deliberation around the following question: does my/our theological conviction lead us to seek the priestly (or episcopal) ministry of men and women equally, or of men only? Undeniably, though, the extent to which that will be the case 'going forward' (as they say) will, in part, depend on which way St Mary's decides to answer, the question. And that applies whether or not my successor as incumbent and/or priest-in-charge is a woman (but especially if she is a woman) - whenever that time may come (and I must point out I'm not planning to leave Newmarket/Exning anytime soon). In other words, this is a decision with implications for our life together in the parishes of North Newmarket and Exning. But I fully recognise that it is one that must be taken properly and formally, on grounds of conscience - the consciences of those individuals within our church community who cannot accept, on theological grounds, the priestly ministry of women: they are owed that courtesy. I realise that, depending on your point of view, this communication will come as a bit of a shock - to some, though to others of you it will not seem so surprising. Be that as it may, and speaking as 'head of the household', I'm sure that it's better for our family members to be absolutely open and honest about their scruples at this stage, in order to clear the ground for progressing the amalgamation plan, rather than jeopardise it when we are far advanced in working out the details. We can't agree the finer workings of our ongoing relationship as benefices before we've agreed the principles on which it is to be based. Yours sincerely, John Hardy
OFFERINGS TO THE CHURCH VIA STANDING ORDER . Here are the details if you would like to set up a regular payment through your bank to the parish. If you wish to gift aid your payments, please let me know & I will send a gift aid statement to you if you haven’t already done one.
Account Number: 44358318
Sort Code: 60-15-47
Account Name: Exning PCC
Please put your name as reference
Environmental Issues: This year sees events that will have an impact on the global environment. A new President of the USA will be inaugurated later this month, and the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference will be in November, in Glasgow. Pray for these, and other large global events, for the organisers, for the decision makers and that they will have a good and lasting impact.
Prayer for Creation for January: Lord, we pray: Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Let there be love on earth, and let it begin in my heart. Let there be miracles on earth, and let them begin with my faith. Let there be a sustainable future for your children, and let it begin with my actions now. Amen