LiFT 18th July

Good evening my friends,

How are you today? 

I was thinking about what to share with you in this letter this evening and it occurred to me that I needed to seek your opinion please. My diary is obviously full of all sorts of lovely things that are going on in local churches but I tend not to share them, only really publicising things that are specifically ministry area wide events. I think when the number of churches was fewer, and I began writing to some of you, I did remind you of the local specific community and church events.

Anyway, the question is – would you like me to include in this email a weekly reminder of the various church events and special things that are imminent or should I keep things simple? The recent comms surveys that you filled in have produced a wonderful amount of information and we are beginning to look at this and dig into it a little, but one of the comments was about needing things to be simple and relevant. So over to you – would you like me to try to include local church stuff?

With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is another Big Breakfast planned for Saturday 27th July in the Memorial Hall in Usk, 8am-11am. Local produce cooked and served, at the amazing price of whatever you think it is worth and you can afford. The food is amazing, and the atmosphere is friendly and fun. Come alone or bring family and friends, we would love to see you.

Finally I would like to thank you for all your encouragement and support at the moment. It doesn’t go unnoticed that so many of you quietly go about doing wonderful and important things for the work of the church, so that I can spend time doing what I do. Sometimes I wish my admin load was lighter, but every day I have conversations and opportunities to pray about things and people, situations and events, that make me very glad to be amongst you, and very sure that God is working his purpose out amongst us, and for us, in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Please continue to be your positive, prayerful, encouraging selves – you’re awesome!

Be assured of my prayers and love,

Sally xx

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.

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LiFT 11th July

Good evening lovely people, I’ve made it to Friday!

I almost feel as though I haven’t been here this week, with a whole day in the diocesan office and two days in Usk primary school interviewing to appoint a new head teacher. It’s such a daunting and important task, and the responsibility is a real privilege. They were a tough couple of days but being in the school is such a joyous thing to do. The children speak about their faith and beliefs with such ease, I always come away refreshed and encouraged. 

What do I need to tell you for the coming week? Well my diary looks a little less pressured which will give me a chance to catch up on all that has been neglected – an opportunity to catch my breath. Those moments are critical aren’t they? I wonder whether I should actually build them into my diary, so that I can know that there is time I can lurch towards, when all the important but less urgent things get their due time. From the autumn I will be scheduling a monthly day which I am going to call my discernment day. It will be a time when I can step away from all the day to day stuff and spend time with God, praying and seeking his purpose and will for us. This will tie in perfectly with trying to navigate our way through the conversations that we have begun as part of the Leading Your Church into Growth sessions. It’s too easy to just keep going, and just as we have talked about whether we are in “maintenance” or “mission” mode with our church lives, I need to do something similar for the life of the Ministry Area. Space to see the bigger picture and time to pray and reflect are essential parts of any growth plan, be it ourselves, our work, or our churches. This discernment day will replace my monthly quiet day which hasn’t really been working because I didn’t always see the importance  of it. In practice the day probably won’t look much different, but it will now be more likely to happen because I’ve recognised why I should do it! I am a work in progress!

I think the last thing to mention is a prayer request please. Over the next week all the year six children in our primary schools will be taking part in events, services, and parties to mark their final days in primary school and their transition to senior school. These are big times in their lives and I know that both staff and children would be very grateful for your prayers for them as they plan to say goodbye and prepare for new starts and bigger worlds. Please pray too for their families as they watch their little ones begin to mature and spread their wings.

I think I’m on top of emails, just about, but if I’ve missed anything that you would like a quick reply on, please can you re-send. Sorry to ask, but I worry!

With love to you and yours, and please be in touch if you think I can help with anything.

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.

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LiFT 4th July

Good evening my friends,

As I write this the house is filling up with young people, all intending to eat their way through the night, watching the election results. I’m undecided about joining them since losing sleep won’t affect the outcome so I could sleep well and wake up to exactly the same scenario as they stay awake for, but I do rather enjoy their company, so we shall see! There’s something energising and encouraging about being around young people who have opinions, aspirations, and hope. Our lot look after each other well too, and I like nothing better than to hear the stories of things they’ve done together, and how they are forging their own paths. Who do you like to spend time with? Who energises you and gives you hope? It’s important we spend time with those who build us up isn’t it?

Will has now left us for his sabbatical. He’s arrived safe at his mum’s and has already begun to write the book he has been planning – a book of prayers to use with the Anglican rosary. Let’s hope he gives us a good deal when he publishes!

Tuesday saw the third of our Leading Your Church Into Growth evenings. We are taking a break for the summer and restart on 3rd September. The conversations were interesting and by the end of the evening there was a strong desire for us to explore how to make our services more accessible for those who are new to church or for those we might like to invite to church. We considered the need for our booklets to be easier to follow, how we might use technology, and whether a greater variety of service types might be possible, amongst other things. 

No concrete plans were made or promised, but all the above and more are possible and we have the resources and energy to explore them properly and actually make some changes. If you have any ideas and would like to be part of the conversation, then please let me know. Change can be hard if we don’t understand it, or feel it is foisted upon us, so please do join in, if you have time. It is worth saying too, that we have no intention of scrapping the wonderful worship that is already happening. It’s all about balance! 

And that just about sums up my week. Next week’s diary is bursting at the seams, so apologies if you email and I’m slow to respond. If it’s really urgent, please mark it as such and I will reply the same day if I can. Something else that is all about balance!

Please know that you are in my prayers, specifically or generally. If there is something specific you would like me to pray about, please let me know. It’s always my delight to pray for you.

With love as always,

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.

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LiFT 27th June

Good evening friends,

Gosh there’s a lot going on at the moment – lots of it is positive and forward looking, some of it is sad and needs gentle care – all good stuff in terms of ministry but lots to hold and lots to pray about.

This week is an especially important weekend in the life of the church generally and for us locally. On Saturday there will be ordinations in the cathedral at 10.30am. These services are a wonderful reminder to us all that God calls us in different and amazing ways. Some are called to serve in their communities as essential lay people, with ministries so varied and essential to the life of the church. Others are called to be “set apart” in the words of the ordinal, to minister as ordained people. Thank goodness there are those who are willing to listen attentively and respond to whatever call God asks of them. 

This weekend Bill Savage will be ordained as a priest, amongst colleagues, friends, and family, and will then have his first service of Holy Communion/Holy Eucharist/Mass on Sunday 30th June, 10.30am in St. Jerome’s Church, Llangwm. This will be Bill\s first time consecrating the bread and wine for us, and offering God’s blessing, so it promises to be a joyous and emotional service. The singing will be glorious, the choir are on good form, and there will be refreshments in Bill’s and Lyn’s garden just along the lane from the church. Please bring a plate of food with you if you would like to stay for a bit to eat. There is plenty of parking in a field on the lane and transport back and forth the church if it is too far to walk. Please do come to the cathedral and/or St. Jerome’s. Both will be a moment to give thanks to God, and celebrate all our ministries, as Bill takes his next steps in his.

Please do keep all those being ordained this weekend, and their families, in your prayers. We can sometimes forget that ordination affects a whole family, I certainly could not be who I am without the support of all those around me.

Finally a quick thank you to all those of you who have offered positive feedback on the summer rota. There are a few little details to iron out, with regard to who is leading some of the services, but other than that I think we will manage very well this summer. Being able to make best use of our priests, and also having a structure that will cope with holiday and illness, as well as other surprises that occasionally come flying our way, is a relief to those of us who try so hard to provide the services that churches want, and has allowed us to plan ahead a little better than before. Critical constructive feedback is always welcome!

Whoops, one last final!! On Tuesday 2nd July at 7pm we have the third of our Leading your Church Into Growth sessions before we break for the summer. Please come along, even if you missed the first two – we are having some excellent conversations and digging deep into thinking about how our churches can flourish for the future.

With love and thanks to you all, I couldn’t be in a better place, with a better bunch of people! Thank you 🙂

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.

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LiFT 13th June

Good evening friends,

Well Thursdays come round quickly don’t they? How are you?

You will have read by now my email about changes to service times for the summer. Please look out for the rotas which will be sent in the next few days. Thank you for the kind words about being willing to consider this change and give it a try. No system is ever perfect, but I do want us to use our clergy on Sundays in an effective way, and I want you all to have services that fit your community and are of the best quality we can offer. 

Other news? I am sure you have all heard about the death of Rev’d Sheila Toms. A much loved priest in this area and so much wider. I can confirm that her funeral is to be in St. Cadoc’s Church Raglan, on Thursday 11th July, 4pm. This service will take the form of a requiem mass. There will be a cremation the following day, Friday at 10am, Langstone Vale Crematorium. 

Next Tuesday sees the second of our six sessions looking at the Leading Your Church into Growth material. Feedback has been very positive and if you didn’t manage to come to the first session, don’t worry you will soon catch up. We will be meeting in Llanfair Kilgeddin Hall at 7pm, on 18th June and hope to see you there. If you attended the first session, and are able to come to this next one, why not bring a friend or two to help the conversation along? The more the merrier!

Finally can I just let you know that there will be no LIFT next week – I have a couple of days owing that I am using to go to Oslo with Will. We will be away from Wednesday to Friday. We had planned to go in the middle of winter to experience the short days, night sky, and snow, but instead will find out what a long day and sunshine is like, I hope!

Please will you keep the LYCIG events in your prayers, so that we can continue to grow a positive culture around the future of our churches. Also, your prayers for all those bereaved would be hugely valued. We seem to have a lot of loss amongst us at the moment.

With my love and payers for you all, 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.

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Support for Raven House

A quick reminder that next Sunday we will be collecting for Raven House prior to organising the charity to collect our donations the following week.

The box is at the back of church and you can pop in any day to add to the collection if Sunday is not a good day for you. (We empty the box daily to store items safely).

LiFT 6th June

Good evening friends, 

We’ve made it to Thursday, and I am very much in need of a day without having to check my diary and my emails tomorrow. You know I love what I do, and I cannot imagine being anywhere else, doing this with anyone else, but this week has been very very full! Tomorrow I will be having coffee with a friend, tidying the house, catching up on some studies, and maybe having a nice meal with Will. How do you ensure you wind down, take stock, and recharge? I know I’ve said this before but I wonder whether you make space and time to be away from church at all? That’s not away from God, but away from the jobs, and the stuff, so that you can just dwell, and restore yourself?

As this week has progressed, I have begun to reflect properly on Tuesday night, when we launched Leading Your Church into Growth. I’ve had a chance to read the feedback which was immensely positive, and I’ve had several messages from people thanking me, and making reference to how they are already trying to think about church a bit differently. My overriding thought is about the energy and excitement in the room – that recognition that this wasn’t about making more work, or doing more, but about thinking carefully about what we have and where we are with God. It’s so easy to think about what we don’t have – not enough clergy, not enough money, not enough time. But we do have each other, and we do have God, and we have his love and hope for us. And that seems to me to be a good starting point! God is on the same side as us in this – He doesn’t want his church to die. He may want it to look a bit different though 🙂

What do I need to tell you? Actually, I don’t think there’s anything that is of huge importance in the coming week. Perhaps I could ask you to pray though please. There are several significant and very private pastoral needs that I am aware of, which means that there are undoubtedly considerably more – often I’m one of the last to know when things are not going well for people. Please can we pray for all those struggling privately, those who are anxious and alone, those who are trying to understand what God is asking of them. I know that many of you are faithful pray-ers and we are becoming a powerful prayer force, a sort of engine room of prayer for the Ministry Area. Thank you all.

If you need me, you know where I am, please be in touch with any of the ministry team – we will help in any way that we can.

With much love,  Sally xx

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.

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LiFT 30th May

Good evening my friends,

How are you this week? And what’s on your mind and in your prayers? It’s been a week full of meetings and planning for me, all good things because the meetings have for the most part been about people and hopeful things. The planning stuff has been good too, LYCiG has been part of that, along with some things for the summer. The Leading Your Church into Growth sessions will start on Tuesday (4th), 7pm and I know it’s going to be a hopeful and encouraging evening so please come along. If you aren’t sure, then might I suggest that you invite someone to come with you? Then you can both be a little uneasy together – that feeling will only last a moment, as we will greet you with refreshments and you will soon be in conversation with all sorts of people. Come along and be part of the change, part of the future, part of our hope. 

When I was thinking about what to tell you this week, I really wasn’t sure there was much to say. Some weeks are like that. Lots of people are asking if we have settled in to the new vicarage and I have to confess that there are still a few boxes and rather a lot of pictures that need sorting out! The problem is that I’ve got used to just working around those items, they may never get sorted hahaha!

There’s no point in chattering on when there’s nothing to tell you of any importance, so I’ll finish there for now. I’m off to Windsor for the day tomorrow to meet up with an old (not royal) friend. I hope you’ve got something good planned for the weekend.

Please do pray for our Growth sessions, and let me know if I can pray for you.

With my love,

Sally xx

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.

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