Parish of Exning with Landwade

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Having completed my first year in the Parish, I now have the opportunity to reflect on the life of the Parish during 2015.

From my point of view, it has been a very busy year. I find myself constantly trying to be realistic about what can be achieved in my part-time role as Priest in Charge. In fact, the operation is only possible because of the tremendous support from other members of the Ministry Team, the Churchwardens, and so many other people within the church family. It is not possible to name them all, but they know who they are ! 

Last year, I made particular mention of our two Self Supporting Ministers, Colin McCarty and Peter Gill. They have given me tremendous support during 2015, for which I am very grateful. In March 2016 Colin laid down his Licence to the Parish. Although no longer formally linked to the Parish, I hope he may be available to help us occasionally when the need arises. Our two Lay Readers, Susan and Phillip also provide great support not only in leading services and preaching, but also being involved in so many other activities in the Parish.

We still have the benefit of four Lay Elders assisting in the leadership of services. When Janet Langham decided to step down as an Elder, I was delighted that John Sparrow agreed to become one, and since his Commissioning by Bishop Martin in September, he has very comfortably fitted into his new role.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit my report last year, and review progress on the hopes and aspirations I had in arriving in the Parish in early 2015.

I had in mind a Five Year Plan for the Parish – in terms of enhancing our Worship of God, in ways of growing our own Christian faith, and of others who may join us, our Outreach into the Community and the upgrading of our Buildings. 

In fact, the Plan is still in draft form, and to a certain extent has been overtaken by events. However, I do believe that much progress has been made during the year.

Our Worship in both St Martin’s and St Philip’s continues to be of a high standard. The musical input from our Director of Music, Christine Conway Jarrett and her Deputy, David Pugh are an important aspect of our regular Sunday services, and those at Festivals. We had a training morning at St Martin’s in July for those involved in the various aspects of our Communions services. During 2016, Peter Gill and I will be reviewing all the Liturgy Booklets (many of which have been in use for the last 15 years or so).

The Family Services at St Martin’s have evolved during 2015, with a new style and a change of musical input, and 2016 sees another exciting development with a change of timing to 9.30am, preceded by Breakfast from 9am. He hope and pray that this new format will attract newcomers, and more young families, to join us. 

The Evensong services at Landwade during the warmer months were well supported, with a high calibre of visiting preachers, including our new Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley.

Our outreach into the Community is already significant, but 2015 has seen the reintroduction of a monthly Communion service at Kingfisher House, in addition to that already provided at Exning Court by Marion Roberts.  Our work in the local schools, primarily led by Susan Allison, has continued strongly during the year, and we are planning to take ‘Open the Book’ assemblies to both Exning and Laureate Schools during 2016. Susan and Peter Gill have also been into Paddocks School, and we hope to build on that link in the coming year. Our traditions of such things as the Crib & Christingle service, and the Annual Duck Race, foster much goodwill in the Exning community, and this was enhanced this year by the introduction of our first ever Christmas Tree Festival, which was a great success. MBC continues to be an important aspect of reaching out to those outside the church, as are the various events at ECCH, including Exning Cinema, Tea & Entertainment, and this year, the Murder Mystery Evening.

We are always looking at ways in which we can get more involved in the large housing estates which fall within the Parish. I have recently starting attending a Social Group which now meets monthly at the Studlands Social Club, and I hope that we can build on the links made through that.

On the Pastoral front, I know that some wonderful work goes on in the background, and I am grateful to Peter Gill who has agreed to keep a watching brief on this aspect of ministry within the Parish. Much of the visiting to the sick and elderly is done informally, but I would particularly like to thank Pam Morter, who is so good at keeping in touch with those in need, and of course for the work she does in organising the ever popular monthly ‘Songs of Praise’ service at St Philip’s.

In terms of our Buildings, 2015 has seen the beautiful new carpet in the Chancel at St Martin’s, and a refurbished Kitchen in ECCH.  Work has also continued on the removal of the rendering to the exterior walls of St Martin’s, which greatly improves its visual appearance, and we have to allow time for the walls to dry out, but I hope that in the longer term we will be able to redecorate the interior. Also at St Martin’s during the year we have obtained two Archdeacon’s Temporary Licences, firstly to position the Godly Play Cupboards in the Chancel, and secondly to re-arrange the layout of the Lady Chapel. Towards the end of 2016, we will need to decide whether these changes should be permanent, in which case we shall have to make formal applications for a Faculty. The proposal to locate the Exning War Memorial in St Martin’s Churchyard will also be progressed during 2016. At St Philip’s it was expected that the work to the roof would have been carried out during last Summer, but having consulted the Diocesan Architect this has not yet taken place. Redecoration of the interior there will need to be delayed until the situation regarding the roof has been resolved.

There have been various problems with the radio microphones ever since I arrived, and there has been much discussion during the year on improvements to the Audio systems at both churches, and the introduction of Monitor Screens at St Martin’s, as finances allow.

We have made some progress on our communications and publicity, including the setting up of a parish Facebook account, but there is still more work to be done. Something which has been done very well is our excellent Parish Website, which John Saville has very competently managed for a number of years. John has expressed the wish to step back from this, and I am delighted to say that Adrian Whitaker has agreed to take this on during 2016.

I mentioned last year the Parish’s tradition of fostering vocations to various forms of Ministry. During 2015, the process of putting John Pascall forward for Lay Reader training started, and I expect that in 2016 this will come to fruition. There are one or two others who are considering different vocations, and these may develop further during 2016.

Our close cooperation with our friends in the adjoining parish St Mary’s had started before I arrived, but has been further developed in the last year. We have had a meeting of all the Churchwardens & Treasurers from both Parishes, and on Advent Sunday we had our first joint service at St Mary’s, and in May 2016, a similar joint service will take place at Martin’s and we plan two more during 2016 on Fifth Sundays, which we expect to be at St Philip’s and then St Agnes’.  We also held a well-attended ‘Pilgrim Course’ and plan to have another one, possibly next Autumn. I   n March 2016, representatives from both Parishes attended an Away Day at Clare Priory, looking at the ‘Growing in God’ initiative from the Diocese. The results of that will form part of my report next year.

In some ways, this has been a rather sad year, with the health of some of our church members deteriorating, and for some losing their battle, and moving on to be with the Lord. I am very aware as a newcomer of the many people who in the past have made this church community what it is today, and I give thanks for all of them for their individual contribution to the life of this parish.

I very much look forward to 2016, which I expect to be very exciting year with many new initiatives in prospect, and I am grateful to you all for your enthusiasm and support.

Revd Andrew Rycraft (Priest in Charge)






Firstly, can I take this opportunity to thank all of you for giving me such a wonderful welcome to the parish. It has been very heartening to be so warmly received, and within a very short space of time you have made me feel at home here.

For obvious reasons, I am not in a position to report on the Parish for the year 2014, but I do owe a debt to all those who have kept the Parish going during the vacancy, so that when I arrived in January 2015 I was delighted to find the parish in such good heart.  I know that a number of people have contributed to this, and I am anxious not to name names through fear of leaving someone out, but I think particular mention needs to be made of the two Self Supporting Ministers, Colin McCarty and Peter Gill, who have very competently kept the ship afloat since my predecessor, Joyce Williams left in 2012. Not only have they led the regular Sunday services, but they have also conducted a large number of Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals during that time, and been generally available when needed.     

I have also been impressed by the work done by the wider Ministry Team of Lay Readers and Lay Elders, who add such richness to our Worship and other activities.

As I am not in a position to reflect in detail on the Parish during 2014, I propose to take this opportunity to convey my vision for the future of the Parish over the next few years.

Although I have only recently arrived, I am very enthusiastic about the potential for the Parish, and would like us to consider formulating a Five Year Plan – in terms of enhancing our Worship of God, in ways of  growing our own Christian faith, and of others who may join us, our Outreach into the Community and the upgrading of our Buildings. The latter will I believe have the effect of facilitating the other aspects of development.

As a first step in this process, I propose that we establish some Committees – reporting to the PCC but not restricted to PCC Members. I don’t feel particularly comfortable with the word Committee, so I would be interested if anyone can suggest an alternative word which sounds less bureaucratic. This approach will I believe enable smaller groups of people to consider issues in more detail than is possible at full PCC meetings. I have in mind committees to cover: 1. Worship   2. Mission, Pastoral & Outreach  3. Buildings.  We already have a Finance Committee, the Hall Committee, and a Standing Committee, as the need arises.

In terms of enhancing our regular Worship of God, I would also like to initiate some training for those who lead Prayers, and for those who assist and lay the Altar for Communion. I would not propose to change anything just for the sake of it, but I do believe we should set ourselves high standards in our approach to the worship of God. Some discussions have already taken place within the parish about the possibility of an alternative service, at a different time from the regular services, which might suit those new to church, or those who prefer a more informal type of worship. The monthly Family Services at both St Martin’s & St Philip’s are both well established, and since I have been here I have experienced these services led by Susan Allison, and have been most impressed. I think we could do more to publicise these services, and I shall be discussing how we can do this, and also how we can encourage, by personal invitation, young families to attend.  Baptism families are an obvious source of contact, and I have initiated the idea of Baptism Visitors, to visit and befriend baptism families so that they feel warmly welcomed into our church family, and I see that as not only an important part of our outreach into the local community, but also an opportunity to encourage young families to join us on a regular basis.

In terms of growing our Faith, I am impressed by the existing Bible Study group, and the quite recently established ‘Topical Teas’. I shall seek to encourage and develop these groups, and also to consider whether the time is right to start Faith Development courses, such as Alpha, or the latest CofE ‘Pilgrim Course’.

In terms of buildings, I was interested to read Simon Pettit’s Annual Report of 10 years ago. He reported on the recent addition of a toilet at P & E, and work starting on toilets and disabled access at the Community Church Hall. He did say at that time that attention needed to be turned to some smartening up of St Martin’s. I assume that this then resulted in the addition of the kitchenette, and the work on the Vestry. As a newcomer, I do see St Martin’s building as ripe for some further improvement. The new carpet in the Chancel will be the first step I believe in the next stage of development, all of which will need to be discussed by the PCC. I would like us to discuss ways in which the interior of the building could not only be improved in appearance, but perhaps be made more functional for worship and any other activities. The outside appearance of St Martin’s has clearly been much improved in recent years by the exposure of the attractive flint external walls, and there remains more to do, as finances allow.

I am delighted that it’s possible (thanks to the volunteers who lock and unlock) for St Martin’s to be open at least for part of the year. This is even more reason why we should want to be proud of what people will find, and the impression they will get that this is a flourishing church community, seeking by its witness and worship to be the Body of Christ in this parish.

 As you all know, St Philip & St Etheldreda’s has a rather special and intimate atmosphere. The building has been lovingly maintained, and has excellent facilities. The re-roofing, which will take place in the next few months, should ensure that it will be wind and watertight for many years to come. The monthly Songs of Praise is much loved by those who attend, and always seems to be full to capacity. I am aware that a lot of hard work goes into making all this happen. St Philip’s is also a very comfortable meeting place for PCC meetings, Music Builds Communities etc.

Exning Community Church Hall is also a great asset to the parish, and to the local community, and it’s a wonderful way in which the church can be seen as a key element in the community, by having the Hall available for public use, and also by the events and activities, such as The Cinema, Tea & Entertainment, the Community Concert etc. laid on by church members but supported by the wider community.

I am aware that the parish has a history of fostering vocations to different forms of ministry. I shall certainly do my best to continue that tradition. If anyone feels that God may be calling them into a particular type of ministry, be it pastoral visiting, working with children & young people, being a Lay Elder, Lay Reader, entering Ordained Ministry, or any other aspect of Christian service, please do come and see me to talk about it. Also, if anyone believes that someone else might be being called in this way, similarly please have a word with me.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those people who, for various reasons, are laying down a particular role in the life of the parish. Firstly John Pascall, who has been Churchwarden for many years, and taken the church through some difficult times, is taking a well deserved break. Janet Langham, a long-standing Lay Elder, feels it’s time to step down, but I am delighted that she has agreed to assume the title of ‘Lay Elder Emeritus’ and I hope that in that role we will not have seen the last of her assisting at services. Also, Janet and Joan Datson have looked after the flowers at St Martin’s for the last eight years, relinquishing this task after the magnificent displays which have graced the church this Easter. Sarah Price is also taking a break from her work with young people at ‘Rock Solid’.

I think it’s a sign of a healthy church when the same people don’t have to keep doing the same jobs for ever. It gives the opportunity for other people to come forward to fulfil those roles, and enables people to change direction if appropriate.

 Some of you may remember my first sermon preached both at St Philip’s and St Martin’s back in January. I emphasised those words ‘Come & See’ which Philip said to Nathaniel.  I really feel that God has given me these words as a focus for my ministry in this parish. But it’s something that you all need to join in with. As I said in my sermon:

‘If you’ve found something good in coming to Church and following Jesus Christ, don’t keep it to yourself. Think about whether there is someone that you want to say to :-‘Come and See’.  Just like Philip said to the very sceptical Nathaniel ‘Come and see’ – Come and see for yourself. And the challenge for us all is - to make sure that if someone does ‘Come and See’ they find something that is worth coming to see – by welcoming them, making them feel at home, making them feel loved, and helping them to meet Jesus for themselves’.

We also need to expand how we publicise what is happening in the churches – certainly by the use of the Notice Boards, but also I would like us to consider making more use of up to date methods of communication such as social media, and making full use of our excellent parish website.

I very much look forward to being with you for the next few years, and enjoying what God has in store for all of us.         


Revd Andrew Rycraft (Priest in Charge)




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