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February 2021

From the Rector

I hope that this finds you well.  I am writing this in the middle of January, deep in lockdown. Our churches have remained open for individual prayer, but several of the PCCs within our benefice have decided that we should cease public worship for now. At the time of writing a lot still seems to be up in the air. We hope that there will be some public worship back in some of our churches during February—please see our website (Holyford.org) or contact me or a churchwarden for information. 

Despite not gathering in person as a church on Sundays, the services and prayers continue, individually in church, online, over the ‘phone and on Zoom.  Please be assured of my prayers for you all, every day.

There is a general feeling that we are on the ‘home straight’, but that the immediate future will still be tough.  President Joe Biden in his inaugural speech included a quotation from the Psalms: ‘Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30.5). This is an important and powerful prayer during this period of heaviness.  Yet we know it will pass, and joy will come in the morning.

February sees the beginning of the season of Lent; a time of penitence and preparation for Easter. It is about preparing for joy, but in a deep and measured way, with patience. As we hope and prepare for the future, we have learned over these past months that we are unlikely to return to normal with a whizz bang and a party (more’s the pity!) So we must be watchful of the expectations we place on ourselves and others.

The last words of St David to his followers, who were facing many challenges and problems, come to mind: ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’.  Little by little the heaviness will become lighter and the morning will come.  ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things’. We will get there.

With every good wish and blessing,

Fr Steven   (tel. 01297 553180)

January 2021

From the Rector

It is always tempting at this time of year to make predictions and resolutions. Whilst it is no bad thing to begin January with ideas or dreams of what we wish to achieve, it seems more difficult than ever to know or predict what will be likely, or even possible, as we make plans for the next twelve months.

            The only thing I can predict with any degree of certainty is that, unless I stop snacking between meals, my clothes shall grow even tighter during 2021…

            Setting to one side thoughts of biscuits etc., allow me to turn our attention towards the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What can they teach us about plans, resolutions and predictions?

Their plans, intentions and new year’s resolutions went by the board that first Christmas. Yet in all the uncertainty, Mary trusted and embraced her future with God, as she accepted the call to be the mother of Jesus. This upset various plans. After the shock of learning of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s compassionate intention to quietly release Mary from their engagement, is overturned.  After he learns the truth from an angel, the depth of Joseph’s goodness is revealed in his decision to heed God’s call and support his wife-to-be. He and Mary travel the long distance and begin their family in the temporary and uncertain surroundings of the stable. Soon after the birth, despite the visit of the Kings and the promising signs, they are forced to flee and become refugees. So begins the rather underwhelming and uncertain earthly life of God. Yet great things happen.

            The Holy Family clearly lived very much in the present during those days, dealing with what was in front of them calmly. I think one of the most striking things about the account of Jesus’ infancy is the remarkable equanimity which shines through as characteristics of Joseph and Mary. Their plans have gone out of the window, yet they remain calm, faithful and hopeful.  They had with them the child: Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.  God with us in good and bad, certainty and uncertainty, there in love for us however we feel, to share in whatever we take to him and no matter what form of words our prayers take. 

Our Christmas services went well across the parishes. My thanks to all those who attended for their patience and cooperation with the various Covid-measures we have in place. It has been good to hear that people have not only appreciated the services, but also felt safe whilst in church, and of course, at our outdoor Crib Service in Colyton. 

As we enter Tier Three restrictions (as of 31st December), our churches will remain open for public worship. We continue to have strict social distancing measures in place and everyone is taking great care to ensure the churches are places where we can feel safe and confident. We continue to pray for all who are unable to be with us in church at this time.

            We have aimed to provide access to church services for all, whatever situation you find yourself in during these times. Those remaining at home can join us via the online service, those at home without the internet can join us via the telephone service on Sunday afternoons. There are a range of services you can attend in church, too.  We have the usual Sunday services, often with music, provided by choristers at a safe distance; or if you are worried about gathering in larger groups, there are smaller, shorter Eucharists at St Andrew’s on Wednesdays at 10am or Sundays at 8am, or daily Morning Prayer (Mondays to Fridays at 8.30am), or Evensong (Tuesdays to Fridays at 5pm) where groups of around 5 to 15 gather.  You may wish to attend one of the smaller village churches, perhaps Southleigh or Northleigh, where there is plenty of room available for people to spread out. Details of our services and church opening times can be found via our website Holyford.org or Facebook page, @holyfordmission.

            Whatever lies ahead, we continue to celebrate the wonderful fact that God is with us. As you plan for what will hopefully be a brighter year, may you know God with you and continue to draw strength from the power of his love.

            With every good wish and blessing for the New Year,

            Fr Steven.

Angel Making

Angel making

Time and people resources mean that organising the placing of these in Churches is difficult so you are encouraged to share your photos by emailing to Charles.hill465@btinternet.com  or to Linda (lindajoychildrensworker@gmail.com) and they will be displayed here.

More Advent windows!

Musbury Advent windows

As of 9th December there are eight Advent windows on display in Musbury. The windows can be found in the four streets radiating out from the old post office.

More Advent windows

At 3 Colybank, Rosemary Lane and Needlesharp, 35 Queen St

Colyton latest windows

Christmas at St Andrew’s

December 2020

This month’s letter comes from Charles Hill:

This is being written early in the second period of lockdown this year when nothing in December can look certain and in this season of Advent our preparations for Christmas will be getting underway. Christmas is a season of hospitality and for many this involves the giving and receiving of food and drink and the sharing of time with friends and family.

Mary and Joseph must have been extremely grateful for the hospitality shown to them by the Innkeeper and although perhaps not meriting many stars the accommodation was no doubt a huge improvement over any alternative.  In turn, Mary and Joseph were able to offer simple hospitality to the shepherds and wise men and possibly others not recorded.   

The birth of Jesus was also a sign of God’s hospitality towards each one of us as a reminder that he invites us to be part of his family.  In the Eucharist (a celebration of Jesus hospitality to his disciples and their successors) the following words are sometimes said in a prayer after Communion ‘Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home’.

At the heart of hospitality is love. Love which seeks to recognise the needs of others and meet those needs either through own actions or by supporting others. Such hospitality can be shown in so many ways; through the offering and receiving of food and drink, through personal presence and presents! but also through a kind word by phone or other means, through the carrying out of a simple errand or just a smile (face masks permitting) at the appropriate time and other possibilities may well come to mind.  Through our own acts of hospitality our own love for others and that of a loving heavenly Father can become manifest.

I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas Season.

Charles Hill

PS  each week on Friday or Saturday an email is sent out to about 200 email addresses with details of what is happening on the Sunday and coming week.  If you think you should be receiving this please check your Spam folder as attachments on the email could be routing the email here. If you are not receiving such updates and wish to do so, please get in touch.

National Christingle Service

Sunday 13th December with other details to be announced

Please see https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/preparing-advent-christmas-2020-comfort-and-joy

Mission Community Carol Service

This will be a short service (5 carols) on 23rd December at 5pm via Zoom (incl telephone) and hopefully facebook too, aimed at the whole community

Open the Book

Rev Ann Stuckey who works with our team writes this blog to help adults with learning difficulties. She explains about her blog:

If you’ve wondered about making friends with your local residential home but not sure how to do this, then this website will help you do just that.

Visit the information page to learn how to go about making contact with your local home, how to set up a visit and ideas on what to do during that visit.

Visit the video page to see a tried and tested session in action. Be enthused with how much fun it can be to visit a home and take a session. Also the reward of the smile and interaction of the residents will stay with you for a life time.

Day of Prayer for Covid: Special Prayer

This prayer has been written for our Mission Community Day of Prayer by John Lees. Please pray this prayer on Advent Sunday, 29th November, and share it with others.

Almighty God

Who has cared and protected your people in every generation

We offer our prayer to you today

for this country and our leaders

for everyone who has to make difficult decisions

about the health and well-being of this nation.

We pray for everyone affected by Covid-19;

for all those who are sick and those who care for them;

for all those in hospital;

for medical staff, carers, researchers, for our emergency services.

We pray for our local community,

for all those who protect us and keep us safe.

We give thanks for all those who support,

serve and feed us in these difficult times.

Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Loving Lord, you taught us to love our neighbour,

and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.

In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful,

to tend the sick, and to assure the isolated of our love, and your love,

for your name’s sake. Amen.

When putting on a facemask…

We hope you may appreciate this prayer for use when putting on a facemask:

November 2020

This month’s letter is from Reader Jan Lees

The harvest is in.  The clocks have gone back. The year is turning, drawing to a close.  Later this month the church year ends and we begin again with Advent. It’s a time to consider endings and to look towards new beginnings – whatever they may turn out to be. 

Doing things differently because of the strange times we’re living in has been a mixed thing, hasn’t it?  I rather enjoy the slower pace of my life at the moment – the going out less, but when I run into a friend I haven’t seen in a while I don’t enjoy keeping my distance. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to give them a hug.

Advent is supposed to be a strange time, I think.  We’re supposed to watch and wait, to long for God to come to us, to hope for his coming.  But it’s hard to do that when we’re already thinking ourselves into Christmas.  We’re like time travellers with one foot in the departure lounge and one in arrivals…

This year will be different.  Quieter.  Make the most of it.  As we stand at the tail end of the church’s year do a little inventory.  There might be some things you should just let go.  Do that.  There will be some things you need to give thanks for.  Do that.  The year begins afresh any minute now.   And the new growth might be just like the old.  Or it might be something new and surprising.  God delights in surprising us, I think – delights in making all things new.  So we move on doing things differently – or maybe just doing different things.  Either way we’re not on our own.  God is with us every step of the way.  Enjoy the journey.

Jan Lees

Pastoral Reorganisation

The following announcement affecting Holyford Mission Community will be made in our churches:

“A Notice giving the objects of proposed pastoral reorganisation affecting this parish has or will be displayed near the main door and on the Church of England website. The Notice includes the last date by which representations regarding the proposed reorganisation may be made to the Church Commissioners.”

The notice reads as follows:

Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011

Draft Pastoral Scheme

The Exeter Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee has prepared a draft Pastoral Scheme for:

(i) the termination of the group ministry established for the three benefices of Honiton, Gittisham, Combe Raleigh, Monkton, Awliscombe and Buckerell; Offwell, Northleigh, Farway, Cotleigh and Widworthy; and Broadhembury, Dunkeswell, Luppitt, Plymtree, Sheldon, and Upottery;

(ii) the termination of the team ministry established for the benefice of Honiton, Gittisham, Combe Raleigh, Monkton, Awliscombe and Buckerell;

(iii) the dissolution of the three benefices of Honiton, Gittisham, Combe Raleigh, Monkton, Awliscombe and Buckerell; Colyton, Musbury, Southleigh and Branscombe; and Offwell, Northleigh, Farway, Cotleigh and Widworthy;

(iii) the creation of a new benefice of Honiton with Monkton, Awliscombe, Buckerell, Combe Raleigh, Cotleigh and Gittisham, the establishment of a team ministry for the new benefice, the cure of souls to be shared by a team rector and one team vicar, the appointment of the team rector and the selection of the team vicar;

(iv) the creation of a new benefice of Colyton, Branscombe, Musbury, Northleigh and Southleigh and the appointment of the first incumbent of the new benefice;

(v) the creation of a new benefice of Offwell, Farway and Widworthy

the housing arrangements for the three new benefices and their future patronage arrangements

in the diocese of Exeter.

The draft Scheme is on the Commissioners’ website www.churchofengland.org/consultation or you may obtain a copy from me.   Large print and/or audio copies are available on request.

  • Anyone may make representations for or against all or any part of the draft Scheme (please include the reasons for your views) preferably by email or by post to reach the Commissioners no later than midnight on Monday 7th December 2020.   Send your representation to rex.andrew@churchofengland.org or by a letter marked for the attention of Rex Andrew, Pastoral Division, Church Commissioners, Church House, Great Smith Street, LONDON SW1P 3AZ.
  • If they have not acknowledged receipt of your representation before this date, please ring 020 7898 1743 or e-mail them to ensure it has been received. For administrative purposes, a petition will be classed as a single representation and the Commissioners will only correspond with the sender of the petition, if known, or otherwise the first signatory for whom they can identify an address – “the primary petitioner”.
  • When making a representation, please indicate the nature of your interest in the proposals (e.g. parishioner, member of parochial church council, etc) and whether you would like an opportunity to speak to their Committee regarding your representation if the Commissioners decide a hearing should be held regarding the case.
  • If they receive representations against the draft Scheme, they will send them, and any representations supporting the draft Scheme, to the Bishop whose views will be sought.  Individual representors and the primary petitioner will then receive copies of the correspondence with the Bishop (including copies of all the representations) and will be told whether a hearing is to be held.  They and individual petitioners may comment further to the Commissioners.  Copies of all of the representations received and associated correspondence will normally be published on the Commissioners’ website if the matter needs to be considered by them.
  • If a hearing is held, anyone may attend the meeting of the Commissioners that considers the case and representors may have an opportunity to speak to their Committee. Otherwise, if a hearing is not to be held, the case will be considered in private and you will be informed accordingly.
  • When they acknowledge representations the Commissioners will let individual representors (and the primary petitioner) know the next few dates of their Committee’s meetings. They will confirm the actual date if a hearing is to be held nearer the time.
  • The Commissioners’ will decide if the draft Scheme should proceed when they consider all the representations on the basis of a paper prepared by the Commissioners’ staff and any points raised at the meeting.
  • The Commissioners will notify all representors of their decision and give a statement of the reasons for it.
  • If they so decide, any representor or petitioner against the draft Scheme may seek leave from the Privy Council to appeal against the decision.
  • Please see the Commissioners’ website www.churchofengland.org/consultation for further information about the procedure.

Revd Dr Adrian Hough
Secretary Exeter Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee

ah@exeter.anglican.org

Branscombe Patronal festival

The Dean of Exeter will be preaching at Evensong on Tuesday 3rd November at 6.30.