December 2014 / January 2015

A Letter from your Lay Minister

Dear Friends,

By the time you read this letter we will be in the season of Advent, and Christmas will not be far away. Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting older, or just working too hard, but 2014 seems to have gone by so quickly and I can hardly believe it is nearly a year since we said goodbye to Brian.

It is of great concern that after all these months we are no nearer to finding a replacement for Brian. You will all be aware of the latest developments in the saga of the Vacancy at Freemantle. I can only make guesses as to how things may progress, but I think we have got to face up to the prospect of not having a new Priest in Charge until after Easter 2015. Although having said that, Easter 2015 will be quite early with Easter Sunday falling on 5th April. Please can I ask you all to continue to pray that a new priest will soon be appointed for our parish. You may wish to use “A Prayer For The Interregnum” which appeared in last February’s Parish News but can be found at the end of this letter.

Looking back over 2014, I really think that we can congratulate ourselves for how well we have managed without a priest to lead us since Brian retired. We have maintained the usual number and variety of services on Sundays and on weekdays, and all the major festivals have been properly observed. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Eileen and Terry for all that they have done to help and support us, both in leading the Eucharistic services and in pastoral help and guidance. Eileen and Terry have, in addition to the usual Sunday services, also taken several baptisms, weddings and funerals.

We must also express thanks to Tony and Gwen and the members of the PCC for all their hard work. I know from experience that being a church warden or a PCC member during a vacancy can be very demanding. There are a number of tasks which a Rector or priest in charge would normally undertake without any of us knowing, which during a vacancy have to be covered by the church wardens or others. It is also good to note that, throughout the year, we have maintained our usual social and fundraising events. These events are of utmost importance to the life of our Parish, and are so important for raising morale, and providing an opportunity to meet socially and even have a bit of fun! My grateful thanks go to all who organise and help at these important functions. I won’t mention any names for fear of missing someone out, but you all know to whom I am referring, and they all deserve a “pat on the back”!

It is with a note of great sadness that three longstanding and very loyal members of our congregation have died in very close succession during October and November. We remember Alan Judd, Mervyn Coombs, and Dilys Thomas with much love and fondness. They all made an enormous contribution to the life of our church in one way or another. They will be dearly missed. Please continue to remember the friends and relatives of Alan, Mervyn and Dilys in your prayers.

Looking ahead to 2015, we will barely have got Christmas out of the way, before we find ourselves in the season of Lent. The octave of Christmas officially ends on Candlemas day, 2nd February, and Ash Wednesday falls on 18th February. I am hoping that once again we will be able to put together our usual programme of lent groups. I am already looking at leading a Thursday evening group which will reflect on music and worship. Hopefully we will find someone to lead a Wednesday afternoon group as well. Last year’s Lent groups appear to have been a great success, with excellent attendance, and I very much hope that that can be repeated in 2015.

It just remains for me to wish you all a peaceful and blessed Advent, a truly wonderful and happy Christmas and a delightful and prosperous new year.

With many blessings to you all,

Malcolm Harper