LiFT 28th March

Good evening all,

Well it has begun – we have entered the Triduum – a wonderful word for the three days that make up Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day. I was explaining to some folk earlier today how we risk viewing this as three separate days, and several separate services, but that doesn’t do it full justice – the Maundy Thursday service is the beginning of one long liturgy that stretches through until Easter Morning, with its ups and downs, its hard and its marvellous moments. We haven’t got one this year, but this time also might include an Easter vigil that is traditionally on Saturday evening. There is one in the cathedral if you are interested (8pm) which is a beautiful service, I recommend it.

We have our Easter sunrise service at sunrise on Sunday (6.15 start) I believe there is a little confusion about the start time but it doesn’t seem to matter how clear I am, other messages leak out! I’m not complaining, I’m laughing – all will be well. The only thing that could go disastrously wrong is if you were thinking of coming and you don’t alter your clocks – they go forward one hour on Saturday night! so please don’t forget otherwise you will arrive just in time for a cup of coffee before the drive back home! This sunrise service is very special and I hope to see as many of you there as possible. If you’ve never tried it, then come along – we meet in the carpark at the top of the Blorenge.

I must confess the next couple of weeks are feeling like a mixed blessing – clergy are traditionally instructed by the bishop to take six days off after Easter – doing no work until the following Sunday, which is great, except that we are moving house. Suddenly that week is going to be extremely busy! The movers arrive on Monday 8th April and we will be in the new vicarage on Thursday 11th. I will endeavour to get my study sorted as a matter of priority but please bear with me if I’m a little bit chaotic for a couple of weeks. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can find it in one of the zillion boxes I anticipate unpacking!

Lastly can I let you know that today the local wardens of all the churches received a large and I hope comprehensive survey about the communications that happen in each and every one of our churches. I am hoping to capture the detail as well as the big picture, because I suspect there is a lot happening that I don’t know about, and there are things that we could help with and make easier across the Ministry Area. I worry that sometimes things slip through the net and I really do want all our churches and communities to thrive – one of the essential ways to make this happen is if everyone knows what is going on! It is not the warden’s task to fill the questionnaire alone, I would like as many people as possible to have sight of it, so that we get the most comprehensive picture. If you have anything you would like to say or any other kind of contribution to make, please ask your local warden for sight of the document and feel free to add your bit. There are no right or wrong answers and I certainly don’t want anything missed out or censored 🙂 

oo, not lastly, because this is lastly – there will be no Just Five Minutes and no LIFT until the week beginning 15th April. I will keep an eye on urgent matters during the week of the move so please don’t hesitate to be in touch if there are urgent pastoral needs. Emails that are about other stuff may take a little while to get back to, let me know if something becomes urgent and I seem to have missed it. 

It’s a little premature, but if I don’t see you on Sunday, may I wish you a blessed and bountiful Easter, my prayers are with you, and I look forward to what is coming next in our church lives (Leading your Church Into Growth, for those of you who don’t mind a spoiler! Google it, and get excited!)

With my love, Sally xxx

Please note that Friday is usually my rest day. Emails received on Friday may not be responded to until after the weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

Outlook-tnfh0f3e.png

Heartfelt Thanks

Good evening lovely people,

I wanted to thank you all for the way you supported, encouraged and took part in the Lent Walks with me. I rather naively thought that you might wave me off, would hopefully greet me when I arrived, but that I would be walking alone. That couldn’t have been further from the truth! I had company for every walk – sometimes too many people to talk to everyone properly! For most of the walks I really didn’t have a clue which of the routes would be best, but I had help with those, and some experienced walkers to give me all the guidance I needed. Thank you to you all, whatever you did, you were amazing. Every single church greeted me like an old friend, and I was really overwhelmed with your kindness and all the energy and time that you all offered along the way. Thank you so much.

What did I learn? Well I discovered that our communities are linked by a series of tiny lanes that make so much more sense than the more main routes. I learnt that whether it’s raining or bright, the countryside is beautiful. I found out that walking is a great way to get to know people. I realised that despite my lack of self belief, I can actually walk for miles!

I have always loved rural ministry, it has been about the people and the communities – there is beauty in the small, the hidden, and the intimate. Now I love the scenery, the rolling hills, the sense of space, the height and depth, and the amazing way that for being just a few miles outside a village or town we can be in peace and tranquillity. The interconnectedness is of course about people, but it’s also about hedgerows, lanes, flowing water, and a sense of shared understanding. 

Care of God’s acres is a huge responsibility. The spiritual care of those who care for God’s acres is equally huge, and I am so pleased to be able to be part of the team offering this care. On my walks I saw God at work in every field, every cloud, every animal, every person. How lucky we are to be surrounded by such beauty. I am not blind to the challenges, or the hidden difficulties, but I do trust God that he wants his church to continue to grow in Monmouthshire, and we are all part of that good news.

I’m sure there will be lots of things that have yet to surface that will excite me and help with my ministry, but for now, I make this prayer below my own. If you would like to pray it too then please do (it is from the URC).

With my love and gratitude for you all, Sally xxx

God of field and mountain 

we hold before you the rural communities of this land.

We pray for congregations and people witnessing to the Good News

in villages, hamlets, and in isolated farms and homesteads.

We pray for those who live in rural areas, and for all who serve our churches.

God of valley and stream

we hold before you the work of the countryside:

farmers, labourers, those who make and maintain equipment,

auctioneers, veterinary surgeons, cleaners, publicans, teachers,

doctors, nurses, bus drivers, rangers, foresters,

all their families, and so many others.

God of forest and moor

we hold before you those who visit our countryside, and those who live and work there.

May each person ‘see beyond the view’ both to stand in solidarity with rural issues,

and to discover you and your purpose for their lives, more fully.

In the name of the One who retreated to the quiet places.

Amen.

© The United Reformed Church

Please note that Friday is usually my rest day. Emails received on Friday may not be responded to until after the weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

Outlook-kt4f0gw5.png

LiFT 21st March

Good evening all,

I hope this letter finds you well and that your week is unfolding in ways that work for you?

I must confess to being a little bit tired – in a good way. The walking has been wonderful but I’m ready to finish now – just two more to do – tomorrow (Friday) from Wolvesnewton to Usk, leaving at 9.30am, and then the grand finale from Usk to Llanbadoc on Saturday leaving at 9.30. If you’re able to join me that would be amazing! I have been overwhelmed by the level of support, care, and joy this has all involved and will write to you separately when it’s all over, to share my reflections and tell you what I’ve learnt. It really has been tremendous so far. (Please don’t let that be a jinx now, I’ve been accident and blister free up to this point!)

What else do I want to share? Oh yes! I’m sure you know but just in case, we will be welcoming William, our new vicar, at a special licensing service on Tuesday 30th April, 7pm. It will be in Usk and you are all warmly welcome to come along. The bishop will be conducting the service and there will be suitable evening refreshments after the service. We will from that date have a full team which is very exciting. Will and I move house during the week beginning 8th April, so that week will be utterly chaotic, and I suspect he following week will be a little strained – we have a lot of stuff! I will be working those weeks but bear with me if I’m a bit slow to get things done – I may not be able to find what I need! 

Finally, can I let you into a little secret? We’ve begun the planning for the Leading Your Church into Growth events! There will be lots of publicity and details after Easter, but the team planning it are very excited! The sessions are going to be lively, relevant, encouraging and above all helpful, and I know that we will start to see some wonderful things developing for the people amongst whom we live and work – there is so much potential around us, don’t you think?

We have actually already started the plan because we pray the prayer for growth every week in our intercessions or some other part of our service. Please let me know if you need another copy, and please keep praying – churches that speak positively about their future and talk about growth, grow! There is evidence to support this ststement 🙂

God of Mission 

Who alone brings growth to your Church, 

Send your Holy Spirit to give Vision to our planning, 

Wisdom to our actions, Joy to our worship, 

And power to our witness. 

Help our church to grow in numbers, 

In spiritual commitment to you, 

And in service to our local community, 

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And so, I need to stop now – I have a big walk tomorrow which needs proper preparation, by which I mean, some rather good cheese, a glass of something, and some rubbish tv. 

Much love to you, and please be in touch if I can help at all

Love Sally xxx

Please note that Friday is usually my rest day. Emails received on Friday may not be responded to until after the weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

Outlook-m35fys24.png

LiFT 14th March

Good evening my friends,

How is your Lent progressing? Walking my way through it, as I am, is proving to be a wonderful activity. I don’t mind the rain or the uphill bits, and I’m loving the company, the everchanging views, and the opportunity to understand our Ministry Area from a different perspective. I read a book recently called The Three Mile an Hour God, which was all about how Jesus did all his work at a walking pace. He walked between towns and villages, he travelled light, and lived simply. Travelling the length and breadth of our beautiful area at three miles an hour is changing my perspective on lots of things, and I must confess that I did not expect the experience to be so emotionally and spiritually profound. I have three walks left to do, suddenly three miles an hour seems to have been very fast!

I am delighted to let you know that Rev’d Sue is back at work. We’ve missed her!  There are still challenges to our Sunday rota, and I thank you for your patience and generous approach to the temporary changes that have been necessary as a result of multiple clergy unavailability.

Before I close this letter to begin my rest day, please can I ask for your prayers? I am increasingly aware that many in our churches and wider communities are carrying burdens that are quietly unspoken but tough. Sometimes when we carry things alone they become heavier, and also harder to share. Let us pray for all those who are privately coping with things that are not of their choosing and which feel tough. With that in mind, if you’re feeling heavy laden, then please don’t feel you have to continue on your own with it, as a clergy team we are always willing to listen and we have a strong team of pastoral visitors if that suits you better.

Matthew 11 – 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Heavenly Father,

Draw close to you those for whom today is hard.

Bring them comfort, Show them your love,

Help them to rest in you. 

We ask for your blessing on all those we know,

And we thank you for your unwavering 

desire for us to know you and love you.

In the name of your Son Jesus Christ,

Amen.

You know where I am if you need me!

Love Sally xxxx

Please note that Friday is usually my rest day. Emails received on Friday may not be responded to until after the weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

Outlook-50sjpnpz.png

LiFT 7th March

Good evening all,

It’s a late one today – all sorts of things have distracted me today, all important, and all good, the sorts of things that remind me why I love what I do!

I spent two days in Cardiff with Rev’d Sarah, Rev’d Bill, Kay our Lay Chair, and Jan and Neville our two MA wardens. We were taking part in some training to help us think about the next steps in our mission and discipleship for the Ministry Area. I would dare to say that at the training we set a gold standard – we were the only team from across the whole of Wales that had lay and ordained people learning and planning together. We really did set a wonderful example!

There will be some things to look forward to after Easter, when we will be planning and beginning to lead some sessions from the well received programme called Leading Your Church into Growth (we have been using their prayer in all our services for several weeks now). We also have a plan developing for how to celebrate the good news of all our churches, but we are waiting for Fr. Will (or just plain Will, which ever you prefer to call him) to arrive. Won’t it be wonderful to have a full team? 

(Please let me know if your church isn’t praying the Prayer for Growth and you would like more copies – that’s easy to sort out, and it is important that we are all praying before we begin this exciting development).

On top of a busy week there is a busy weekend coming up – on Saturday I have a family birthday, a walk, and some rugby to watch. Then on Sunday it is Mothering Sunday, another walk, and some more rugby! I expect I shall see some of you, and if I don’t I hope you have a good weekend. I’m now going to shut my computer for a much needed rest day tomorrow. Thank you so much for honouring the clergy rest days – you are awesome at it. I hope you too find a way to switch off from the daily routine and responsibilities and make a little space and peace for yourself? 

2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

With love,

Sally xxxx

Please note that Friday is usually my rest day. Emails received on Friday may not be responded to until after the weekend. Thank you for your understanding.

Outlook-lmhhc54k.png

New Vicar for the Ministry Area

Bishop Cherry is delighted to announce the appointment of Revd Dr. William Ingle-Gillis, as a Vicar in the Heart of Monmouthshire Ministry Area.

Will, originally from Texas, has served in Monmouth Diocese since his ordination at St. Woolos’ Cathedral in 2004. He has served as Curate in the Rectorial Benefice of Caldicot; Priest-in-Charge in Caerwent, later forming the Wentwood Ministry Area; then again as Priest-in-Charge of Maindee & Lliswerry, later becoming the Ministry Area leader of the Beechwood Ministry Area.

In addition to holding several small Diocesan roles over the years, Will has taught ordinands in Cardiff and currently serves as a Diocesan Vocations Advisor. In his spare time he enjoys science fiction, language learning, travel, writing, and cookery (not least American slow-cook barbecue!). He is currently working on a book based around daily prayer with the lectionary readings.

Will is looking forward to returning to rural ministry, and to joining the lively, innovative team in the Heart of Monmouthshire.

He will take his final service in Beechwood on Easter Day and be licensed on April 30th in St Mary’s Church in Usk.