As we look back over the last year, I am so grateful. I am full of gratitude for all the ways that we in St David’s and St Timothy’s continue to proclaim Jesus as King, to worship, to pray and to show love to our community.
As we do this with more than our full share of burdens, troubles, ill health – mine, again included – and, again so many bereavements. We’ve had the deaths of dear, faithful and generous parishioners like Rita Somers and Raye Clutton. These were parishioners who came Sunday on Sunday, ‘hell or high water’ and who gave us so much time in our parish (in time, prayer and money). Fo others among us, grief has come to close family and friends. The twelve months or so that has passed between this Eastertide and last years has been bitterly hard.
And yet, despite all the ways life can be so hard, here we are, strong in the faith, standing as living signs that there truly is overwhelmingly compassionate, loving good news at the heart of this life. Its why there really are so many good things happening and so many good people making those good things happen in our church family. I know that you do it all for God, and so I am not here to thank you personally, it’s nothing to do with me and everything to do with you and how you live out your own response to God’s call and God’s love.
So my gratitude is a celebration of the loving commitment to Christ that we see in our parish. We celebrate the dedication of our Parish wardens, Stephen Adams, Jean O’Keefe, Jacquie Snook and Gayle Hook; I personally could not have asked for more faithful, humble, get on with the job, roll up your sleeves, no fuss, no drama fellow church workers. We celebrate the work of Karen, our secretary and Peter our treasurer without whose hours of tireless commitment to our parish we could not practically function. Nicola plays and sings her heart out each week adding so much depth to our worship. Our Sunday school workers at St Timothys and St David’s do such amazing work, especially in very trying circumstances (the phrase about tins and sardines in St Davids comes to mind with the number of children in our Vestry).
Messy church is now well into its 3rd year. This is not a marginal activity, but a core expression of who we are as a christian family. It requires so much planning and work but it is so worthwhile. Through Messy churchwe touch families and children in new ways with the Good news of Jesus. We have no option but to fully engage with this type of Evangalism and outreach. Many people now come from 3rd or 4th generations of families who have had virtually no exposure to the Christian story. Church on a Sunday morning alone cannot baptise new generations into the core basics of the Christian message. So I celebrate things like Messy church which does this through art, craft, songs and shared food. Well done for your support for this.
And I of course celebrate the work of gardeners, cleaners, dishwashers, and all the hands that do the unglamorous but wholly necassary work that keeps us alive and well as a community.
One of the greatest humanitarian challenges since the second world war came to Ely last summer. Three refugee Syrian families came here under the governments own resettlement of vulnerable persons scheme. I want to congratulate the high generosity of so many of you towards them, especially Barbara Cuddihy who has led our pastoral response (friendship, hugs and cups of tea, practical help). Many others amongst you have also dug deep into your pockets to help. Please contine to pray for refugees and asylum seekers in our community. There are so many forces at work who want to spread lies and misinformation about them. Come and see – come and meet their children, listen to their stories of bombs and grief and loss beyond imagining. I know that many of us are finding it hard to make ends meet here in Ely, but most of us have circles of friends and family who are there to reach out. Do tell people that as a church we will respond to any request for help, friendship, support, from anyone. Its what we do as a church. I am proud that we extend that compassion to people who literally have no one to help. This work is in Jesus’ name.
Holy Week 2017
It is often said that a diagnostic test for the well being of a parish is the amount of support shown to the celebration of Holy Week. Last year we broke Holy Week attendance records. This year we have done it again. We have had the best ever supported liturgies during the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday celebrations. I cannot emphasise enough how important this time of devotion to Christ is to a Christian. Again we had the biggest Easter fire and our dear Fr Chris, who gives so much, all for free, gave us fireworks again this year! If you cant go over the top for Jesus, what can you go over the top for in life.
This year Jean O’Keefe has continued to secure thousands of pounds of funding and investment in our parish buildings, and we are all in debt to her and to Diocesan officers like Sarah Perons for this. We had hoped to have St Davids repainted by this time, but investigations revealed the need to repair poor drainage and roof damage first that would have marred any repaint work. We have now done that. Both of our buildings are now more structurally sound than they have been for a long time. St Timothys has also been repainted: its hall area has been refloored and new radiators. We can now move forward with the repainting work needed for St Davids. This will be expensive, and we will need a fund raising strategy to cover these costs.
Music in the Parish
For a long time St Timothys pipe organ has been in a great need of repair. Last year the PCC came to the decision that the most sustainable and cost effective solution was to replace it with a low maintenance digital organ. Last month the parish secured an organ from a sister church in Barry, and due to its larger size and volume capacity, that went to St Davids, and the St Davids digital organ was moved to St Timothys. What this means is that both churches are now set up with the core, reliable musical resources they need to support our celebration of our Liturgy.
All for Jesus
All for Jesus. Thats the truth of it. All that we do, and try to do, should always be for Jesus, should always be an expression of our love for him. I look forward to working alongside you, taking the fight to the enemy, and being a real force of light and goodness in this parish in his name in the next year.
With stella singing-music-Exultet from Nicola and Victoria, fireworks from Fr Chris, biggest Easter fire we’ve had, an amazing Easter homily (from John Chrysostom) and the Hallelujah Chorus on our new organ.
Yesterday evening, at St Davids church, the wonderful children of the Pencaerau school choir, and the Bethel Children’s choir came and sang to a full house at St David’s. Joining them were Vivien Care and Stephen Hamnet, both profesional soloists who both gave stirring performances. All done in aid of parish funds. We are most grateful to all of them.
Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.
The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion – the sharing of bread and wine – in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.
In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first – confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants. However, from the First Sunday in Advent – November 27th – everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year.
Announcing the change in a pastoral letter, the Church’s bishops said,
“In the Church today, there are many who believe that the witness of the Church to Jesus Christ, and the process of nurturing children and young people in the Christian faith, would be immeasurably strengthened by recovering this earliest symbolism. Baptism alone should be seen as the gateway into participation in the life of the Church, including admission to the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
“In conjunction with advice from the Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales, and from the Governing Body, the Bench of Bishops wishes now to re-adopt the practice of the early Church with respect to admission to Holy Communion. It is our conviction that all the baptised, by virtue of their Baptism alone, are full members of the Body of Christ and qualified to receive Holy Communion.”
However, the bishops warned that, as children under five were not allowed alcohol, they should only be offered Communion in one kind, the bread. Parental permission would also be required for older children to receive the wine so parishes would need to keep clear records.
The bishops said the policy would lead to a strengthened understanding of the rite of Confirmation.
“It will be no longer the gateway to Communion, but take its proper place in the sacramental acts of the Church as a channel of God’s grace, affirming disciples of their place in the fellowship of the Church and commissioning them for service in the Church and world.”
Most, but not all members of the Parish are possibly aware of the, “Virtual Fair Gift Day”; a fund-raising activity which provided important and essential funding for the parish, which actually helps us to meet our financial obligations throughout the year.
Unfortunately, year on year, support decreased considerably and last year donations were down to half of that received in the initial years. This prompted a re-appraisal of the scheme, which as yet, has not resulted in any new ideas of how we propose we might move forward on this or similar.
At the commencement of the scheme, it was hoped that parishioners would put aside a small sum of money each week and then donate whatever had been ‘put aside’ as a Gift Day offering.
The background to the scheme as reminded over the years is as follows:
“Some years ago, it was our practice to hold a bazaar in the run-up to Christmas and this was organised and run by a small band of ‘volunteers’. Sadly, because of the busy-ness of life, the bazaar was often poorly attended and it was realised that it was those then who had worked so hard setting up the Bazaar were often the ones who attended and spent on the stalls which they had only just set up. Such a huge commitment on their part.
With reluctance, it was decided that it would be easier for most people to put a little aside each week throughout the year, perhaps 40p/50p which would then be donated in a lump sum of about £25 to the Parish at the Virtual Fair, or to place their donation into the normal collection plate, suitably enveloped and labelled.
It is course possible for taxpayers, to enable the Parish to regain the tax on donations by the process of Gift Aid; simply write your name/address OR your ‘weekly’ envelope number on your envelope.”
Many people have maintained their commitment to this scheme and have put ‘that small amount of money aside’ and others waiting to hear when they should make their donation. So if you are amongst those willing to maintain this system of offering, we would be really grateful if you could bring the donation to Church on the First Sunday of Advent, which is the 27th November. Hopefully, the sums raised may then be banked before the Church annual account closes on 31st December.
It would be lovely to see your continuing support for this Gift Day initiative.
RECEIVING COMMUNION AND BAPTISM
This month the bishops of the Church of Wales issued a joint statement on baptism and the Eucharist. The Press Release (see pages 10/11) states that receiving communion should be open to every baptised member of the Church – even very young children. This ruling comes into effect on Advent Sunday this year.
In the period between now and Advent Sunday, we will explore how we can best implement the teaching that our Bishops have given us. Bishop Richard of Monmouth has stated that, in practice, it will mean that baptised children from the age of five should be helped, through first communion preparation, to understand how to receive Holy Communion. All adults who are baptised will be encouraged to come to a simple preparation session so that we can explain what Holy Communion means, and how you go about receiving it at the altar.
What about confirmation?
Confirmation will remain an important sacrament that every parent and godparent who’s child is baptised promises to embrace. If you are baptised as a child, your parents and godparents promise to bring you up in the faith to the point where you can make (confirm) the baptismal promises for yourself – promises that have already been made for you.
This is why every adult who asks for baptism must be included in a confirmation programme, because the promises to God made at a baptism can, for adults, proceed straight to confirmation. At confirmation we confirm our desire to follow Christ for the rest of our lives. God confirms that decision with the grace and help of His Holy Spirit. I know that some of you will have heard of parishes where adults are baptised but are not guided towards confirmation. But this should not happen. An adult who desires to make the life-long promises for him or herself at baptism needs to follow these promises through to confirmation and will have no problem doing so if they mean what they say at their baptism.
Holy Communion, like baptism, does not depend on a child (or adult) understanding what is happening, as the action of God comes first in both cases. It’s what God is doing that matters most, not what we understand. We don’t wait until children understand about nutrition before feeding them. The basic thrust of what the bishops are saying is: if you baptise them, you should feed them.
This principle is true. In any case, children, in my experience, readily understand that to receive Holy Communion is to receive Jesus. It is that simple. It is that profound.
Do I understand how that can be? No.
Do I trust Jesus when He tells me that it is so? Yes!
As we move towards, what are for us, the new guidelines about receiving Holy Communion do encourage friends and family to come and talk to us clergy. We are here to help you.
In addition to our usual expenditure this month, we committed ourselves to purchasing a new organ – well, new for us anyway; the cost of a brand new organ is extremely prohibitive, so we had to do some scouting around and eventually we found a very suitable second-hand instrument for £5,500.
However, shortly before confirming our purchase, we heard that a church in Barry is having to close, due to building subsidence and they were very reluctantly selling their organ as they were relocating into a smaller hall. The instrument was an absolute bargain which we could not miss and agreed to its purchase for £3,600. We are extremely fortunate, as it is a very high specification instrument, better than the one that we had first looked at, and our organist Nicola tells us that it has many advanced features and even superior to our present organ in St David’s.
You may ask why we should purchase a new organ when we have a long list of things that we could spend money on? Well unfortunately, the organ at St Timothy’s is now showing its age and, (just like an old car) maintenance costs would be very high. Not only that, Nicola plays it to the best of her ability, however there are so many problems with it, that she has to, ‘make-do’ in order to produce the sounds that she should. It is apparently so bad that an organist who is not familiar with the instrument, would find it almost impossible to play properly and it would be wrong of us to put a visiting organist in this position.
Furthermore, when an organ does reach this stage, it is on borrowed time – and it must be remembered that the organ at St Tim’s is of the bellows and pump variety … and when problems do occur, as they will, it would be extremely costly to put right! In view of this, the decision was made at the last meeting of the PCC, that that we should purchase a new instrument. After this decision, the Finance Committee then considered the financial implications of such expenditure and it was concluded that the necessary funds could be made available.
Musically, the organ that we would like to purchase, has a far greater ’range’ with many superior features suited to a large church, however it would not be best suited for St Tim’s, as it would be too powerful and its advanced features wasted within the smaller accommodation there. It would however be extremely well suited to the greater proportions of St David’s, where its superior features would be better suited, especially in consideration of the larger congregations, and would come into its own during the major festivals and also the large number of weddings and funerals.
Plans are now afoot and in due course, the organ should be removed from St Tim’s and potentially we may be able to get some spare parts/scrap value for it. The present organ at St David’s will be relocated to St Tim’s and the newly purchased instrument will be fitted into St David’s. These are of course subject to the normal ‘Faculty’ documentation through the offices of the Diocese.
It goes without saying, that the movement and installations will be undertaken by a firm of professional organ fitters and the physical move under the experienced care of Mason’s Removals and it is planned that the work will be completed before we catch up with the planned redecoration of our churches.
September the total income into the parish was £3,588. This included £1,658 that we gave by Gift Direct and also the older system of the weekly envelopes (September 2015: £1,869). In addition to this, £296 was received from loose collections on Sundays (2015: £415). Surplice fees, (i.e. fees received for weddings and/or funerals) continue to be an essential source of income – £330 for the month, which is not a good place to be, as we really shouldn’t need rely on these fees simply to ‘pay our way’.
We also had our harvest festival this month – and £702.48 will go to Water Aid; a long standing decision by PCC that whatever we collect on Harvest Sunday will go directly to Water Aid. A number of people who missed the service have asked if they can still donate? – Well the answer to that is a simple, ‘Yes’; just put your donation in an envelope marked ‘Harvest’ or ‘Water Aid’ and we will send it on. (If you’re a tax payer … remember to put your name on the envelope so that we may reclaim 25p in the pound. A £5 donation would become … £6.25! )
I’ve also been asked about people who did not give on Harvest Sunday – but give a once-a-month donation to the parish. We’ve thought about that too. A proportion of all monthly donations in September is included in the amount we are giving to Water Aid, (for all of you that remember GCSE Maths – we take the monthly donation, divide by 30 and multiply by 7).
Along with the associated Gift Aid, this will allow Water Aid to fund a number of good things. For example, a hand-pump bringing safe clean water to a whole village costs £200, a rainwater harvesting tank to catch and store clean rainwater for use in the dry season costs £340, and £597 could train local people to maintain and fix a village water point, ensuring that it works for the long term.
This is so brilliant, as we are not only helping the third world by providing them with the water that they need today, we are also helping them to provide for themselves in future years!
What a beautiful legacy for the future, so thank you everyone who has help us to raise such a fantastic sum of money to support “Water Aid”.
Once again a coach load of passengers from our parish, with many of our regular friends from St Peter’s Church in Fairwater and the Church of the Resurrection departed for one of our regular lunches at the Abercrave Inn.
It is quite amazing the degree of support that these trips get, and as in almost all previous trips, all thirty eight seats of the coach were filled!
It must be said that it is a very relaxed trip, with plenty of chat and catching up done, in between watching the scenery go by. Traditionally we travel outward by the ‘pretty route’ via the A470 and beyond, and returning by the faster M4 route.
The outward bound route provides ‘on-board entertainment, in the guise of Gayle Hook (accompanied by whoever is brave enough to volunteer to help her), both careering up and down the bus, almost performing a choreographed dance together, actively relieving folks of their small change in exchange for raffle tickets… This is followed soon after by the exchange of those same raffle tickets by the lucky winners, who then carefully choose the most alluring gift wrapped prize in the bag of goodies. Once again, Gayle and partner’s choreography as delightful as ever…
It has to be said however, that homeward bound, the coach is very much quieter; of course stomachs full, everyone ‘talked-out’, and helped of course by having enjoyed a glass or two of luncheon wine, some have even been known to give in to the opportunity to take, ‘forty winks’.
On arrival back home, they have been known to remark … “What! Back already?”
What has not been mentioned however is the splendid lunch that is provided at the Inn. The selection of starters, main courses and puddings is really impressive and believe me, portion sizes are so generous and cannot be faulted. The food is well prepared, well presented and well served by very friendly and helpful waiting staff. All of which adds to what was a lovely, lovely day out … In the country.
All that remains to be said, is a very big thank you to Pauline Boughton and Gayle Hook for organising this lovely day … once again.