Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Musbury harvest flowers

Musbury church looked beautiful for the harvest festival service with some lovely floral displays such as these:

October 2021

As we begin October we well and truly enter into the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, as the poet Keats put it. Each season has its own character. Autumn is a particularly beautiful time. Although it is sad to bid farewell to the summer, we know that a new depth of beauty will reveal itself through the bare branches as the leaves turn and fall.

            At the very end of October we begin a period of remembering and thanksgiving. Halloween has become a caricatured, pagan celebration, when we think of ghosts and ghouls, tricks and treats. This is all good fun, but it is far from what All Hallows’ Eve is really about, which is the first day of three where we celebrate and give thanks for the saints and all the faithful departed.  In the Holyford Mission Community we shall be keeping the feast of All Saints on Sunday 31st October. There will also be services for All Souls at Colyton on the Sunday evening (6.30pm) and on Tuesday 2nd November (All Souls’ Day), to which all are welcome. If you would like to remember someone who has died by having them named in the service at St Winifred’s on 31st October, there will be a list in church where you can write their name, or email the office:  office@holyford.org.

            In September I was involved with the celebrations of an Anglican martyr, born and bred in Devon: Bishop John Coleridge Patteson. He founded the Church in Melanesia (Solomon Islands) and was murdered on 20th September 1871 on Nakapu when he was mistaken for a blackbirder (slave trader).  Patteson was by all accounts well-loved by the native people of Melanesia. He brought them the benefits of education and taught them the Christian faith, and won their deep respect because he didn’t force British ways and customs on the islanders but encouraged them to keep their culture.  Patteson is still very well-known and honoured in Melanesia today. When I visited there in 2017 lots of people wore t-shirts with his name and picture on and children are often still given his name at baptism.

            The Melanesian Mission UK is a charity which supports the work of the Anglican Church in Melanesia. In September they held their annual AGM at Exeter Cathedral, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury.  To mark the 150th anniversary of the martyrdom of Patteson, a new pilgrimage route has been established from Feniton (where he was born) to Exeter Cathedral, which has some of his relics; the pulpit there has scenes of his martyrdom is carved on the panels around it.

            The Christian faith is very strong in Melanesia. There are several religious communities there, including the Melanesian Brotherhood, a monastic order that was founded by a Melanesian policeman, Ini Kopuria in 1925. It is a very popular community as men (there is also a separate order for women) can take vows for a few years at a time, rather than take vows for life. I was privileged to spend some time with them when I spent a few weeks in the Solomons.

Saints are not simply things of the past, and the Brotherhood has produced its own, modern-day saints. In 2003 seven members of the Melanesian Brotherhood were kidnapped as a result of ethnic conflict in the Solomon Islands. The Brotherhood had been very active, trying to persuade the various parties involved to lay down their weapons. They worked hard to restore peace and encourage disarmament. One of the Brothers went to negotiate with one of the leaders. When he did not return, six of the Brothers went out to find the one.  None of them returned alive. They are martyrs because they lost their lives for love: for love of God, truth, justice, and their neighbour.

Like leaves from a tree, they turned and fell, but new growth came and the Brotherhood is as strong as ever. The winter of conflict turned into a spring of peace, thanks to the ministry and witness of the Christians inspired by Patteson. And it all started in Devon.

This year St Andrew’s, Colyton will be hosting a meeting of the Devon Companions of the Melanesian Brotherhood on Saturday 30th October. There will be a service at 11am followed by a picnic lunch and meeting.  If you would like to find out more, you are very welcome to come along.

As always, there is lots going on in the six churches within the Holyford Mission Community, especially in the lead-up to Advent and Christmas.  As I write, plans are coming together for the celebration of Branscombe’s Patronal Festival around St Winifred’s Day in early November—do keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for details, or the church notice board for services and events.

With every good wish and blessing,  Fr Steven.