Thanks to those who have been in contact,  please keep in touch about the magazine by sending an email to . 

Thank you..   Pauline and Bob editors.....


September Magazine

This is the sixth Parish Magazine on St Mary's website.

Pauline & Bob - co editors..




Dear Friends,

In this pandemic, John Donne’s famous saying “No man is an island” has assumed a new meaning.  We are all connected physically. I want to make a related but different point about ‘no man is an island’.  We are connected not only physically but also, and more importantly in the eyes of God, spiritually. A smile could brighten up another’s mood, a careless implication in a word might hurt someone’s feeling, a simple kind gesture would make someone’s day. What we do, will make a ripple that seems small but that can turn into a deep wave. 

John Donne’s poem continues,

 “No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.


Any man's death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.”


Dean Donne emphasised our connection with other people. St. Paul reminds us that we are one living body connected in the living Christ.  If any part of the body dies, we are not merely diminished, but we suffer pain, and lose something of ourselves because of it.  In a strange way, as the world attempts to sever all possible pathways in order to stop the spread of the virus, we discover how intricately we human beings are connected and how those connections are essential to our well–being, to our very identity as human beings.  The human race, with its all differences of ethnicities, cultures and languages, is yet an organic body, a single whole because we are all related to God through Christ. The only way to flourish is to seek to live in balance and harmony with others, and to remember that we are all one.  If we trust in the mercy of God, I believe we shall overcome all evil.




What’s in your hand?


September is usually the time when we get back to our normal routines after the summer break. With the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s very different this year! However, it is still a good time to consider how God can use us to make a real difference in our workplace, school, family, friends and community. He equips us with everything we need to make His love known.


When God gave Moses the job of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, He asked the question, ‘What is in your hand?’ (Exodus 4:2). Moses was holding his staff, which represented his livelihood (what he was good at); his resources (his flock represented his wealth) and his security (which God was asking him to lay down).


God asks the same question of us: What has God given you?  Our gifts, temperament, experience, relationships, mind, education can be used in the work God has given us to do. How will we use them to make a difference in the places where He calls us to serve Him? 


John Ortberg, in his book It All Goes Back in the Box, speaks of Johnny, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome. He worked at a supermarket checkout putting people’s items into bags. To encourage his customers, he decided to put a thought for the day into the bags. Every night his dad would help him to prepare the slips of paper and he would put the thoughts into the bags saying, ‘I hope it helps you have a good day. Thanks for coming here.’ A month later the store manager noticed that Johnny’s line at the checkout was three times longer than anyone else’s! People wanted Johnny’s thought for the day. He wasn’t just filling bags with groceries, he was filling lives with hope!


What has God given you that will help and encourage others?

Canon Paul Hardingham


Random Ponderings  by a  Recognised Parish Assistant


Here is a quote, from a well-known Christian leader. If you haven't come across it before, can you guess who wrote it, and when?


I will pray to God that he may be gracious and preserve us. Then I will fumigate to purify the air, give and take medicine, and avoid places and persons where I am not needed in order that I may not [endanger] myself and that through me others may not be infected … If God wishes to take me, he will be able to find me. At least I have done what he gave me to do and am responsible neither for my own death nor for the death of others. But if my neighbour needs me, I shall … help him.


Had a guess? A modern bishop or community leader? A voice of reason during one of the outbreaks of infection in Victorian times? A comment during the Spanish flu epidemic?


The answer: The year is 1527, the occasion is a visitation of the plague, and the writer is the great Reformation leader Martin Luther, urging community and church leaders to follow his example in staying put, avoiding the spread of infection, and supporting their neighbours in their hour of need. His words are quoted in Tom Wright's excellent new book, God and the Pandemic.


To quote Bert the Sweep in 'Mary Poppins', “What's 'appening now 'as all 'appened before,' although pandemics being (thankfully) very rare, they always take us by surprise. Tom Wright points out that it is all too easy for Christians (and others) to jump to wrong conclusions: 'It's a sign of the end of the world!' (no, it isn't), or 'It's a punishment for sin!' (Jesus himself tells us this is not true – in Luke 13 1-5 he says that those affected by untoward events are no worse, or better, than anyone else). We may even feel like lashing out – at people who don't 'social distance', at the Government for perceived mistakes, even at God for letting it all happen in the first place. But what does the Bible say?


Firstly, the world is not yet as it should be. 'All creation is groaning' as the world awaits its final deliverance from sin, suffering and decay (Romans 8:20-25).


Secondly, like Luther, we can bring our troubles to our loving heavenly Father. 'Are any among you suffering? They should pray,' says James (James 5:13).


And finally, like Luther and like Jesus, we can reach out to others, and so let the love of Christ shine through our lives in the world (Matthew 5:16). How much a thoughtful word or an act of kindness can mean at a time like this!


One day, it really will all be over. In the meantime, 'the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us' (Romans 8:18).


Stay safe, and may the grace of God be with us all.                                                                               


                                                                                                                          Hilary Longstaff


Consultation Evening


There is a consultation event taking place on 11th September in the church hall at 7.00pm in order to discuss two things:


Firstly, you may recall that the financial position of the church is very serious and action needs to be taken. As part of our deliberations, we have to consider the sale of the church hall.  At the consultation we will explain the financial position in detail and explore the options open to us.


Secondly, it is important that we take positive action to plan for the future, and as part of this process, we will discuss your vision for the church and how that can, in a few words, clarify what we want to achieve moving forward.


We ask that everyone interested in St Mary’s prays for this meeting and the decisions we come to, that we may be led by God and discern his will for the church.


                                                                                                                   David Dorman-Smith

News from the Church yard August 2020

We decided to try a garden tidy up in early August, our first since the lock down started. In the first few months of the year we had been very lucky with the weather and managed a considerable amount of work. Then the lock down arrived, and as I am sure you understand if you have a garden, weeds and plants don’t stop growing!

So, you can imagine the work that lay ahead for our volunteers on that Saturday morning in August? But two things fell into place - firstly the weather, as we arrived to a lovely sunny morning, and secondly the number of willing helpers who turned up.  My thanks to you all.

First to arrive, as normal, was Jean Woodward, who was also the last to leave, and she was soon followed by others.  We did have to make a number of changes to our routine though.  An area was allocated to each volunteer to enable everyone to social distance, and as we have a large church yard this was straight forward.  I asked each person to bring their own green recycling bag to fill, and to take it home with them at the end of the morning. Fortunately, it was Acklam’s turn for green waste collection the following week!

Our tea break was also different as this was held outside, but the sun was shining and social distancing was maintained. Sadly, doughnuts proved to be a problem so individually wrapped chocolate biscuits was the solution -  not sure how long I will get away with this?

Then it was back to more weeding.  My problem as we came to the end of the morning, and it was a good problem to have, was stopping people working.  I am always met with the same reply “I am just going to finish this bit before I go”.

As we did our weeding, our church warden, Bob Willis, was carrying out one of the many jobs that no one tells you about when you take on the warden’s role.  Basically, you are responsible for everything, and on this occasion the church yard head stones!   Every year all the head stones have to have a “topple test”.   In simple terms each head stone is given a push, and if it doesn’t move its present angle has to be measured and recorded.  Would you believe he has an ‘app’ on his phone which does this by holding the phone against the head stone.  The new angle then has to be recorded, and this is where Pauline Simpson comes in by following Bob around the church yard with a table on which she has the records and plan of the yard!!   Quite a sight to watch, as Bob shouts out the numbers Pauline records it all. (As Bob and Pauline are the editor’s not sure if all this article will make it into print). Interestingly. some of the head stones over time actually move back towards the upright position, such is the way the ground moves.

Please look out for details of future garden dates, and if you can spare a couple of hours to pull out some weeds, I would be very grateful.

Again,  thank you to all who came along.

Barry Lomas

Ed   We are looking to have another tidy up on  Saturday 19th September even though our Head Gardener is on a well earned holiday,  (ie from writing articles for this magazine!!!)


Sunday Service update

As I had said in the August magazine article on services, singing wasn’t allowed, but that changed slightly on the 6th August when it was stated that professional singers or groups could resume singing as long as they followed the usual distancing rules etc.  This meant that cathedrals and colleges could have sung services but given the 2 metre rule it may, depending on the building, mean that not all the choir could be there at the same time.

As from 20th August it was announced that amateur singers and choirs could sing again, obeying distancing and other rules regarding handling music, cassocks etc, though they would not have to wear a face covering whilst singing. The peculiar thing is that the congregation are still not allowed to sing even with a face covering!

At St Mary’s the choir stalls, with the 2 metre rule, can only accommodate four people and the number of choir members able to attend the present Sunday services is low, plus importantly,  it would not feel right for a quartet to sing a hymn and the congregation not to be able to join in, so at the moment there won’t be any singing in St Mary’s, but this will be reviewed at the end of each month in the hope that the people who decide these things can see their way to allow everyone to sing.

Another easing was that those who either read or do the intercessions can do so again, and also, anyone doing any spoken parts of the service can do so without a face covering.  However, they must have a face covering at all other times.  This means the vicar can do most of the service without a face covering but must wear one whilst administering the communion wafers etc.

The Sunday services have settled in now and all who attend seem to know what they are doing with all the safety protocols being observed.  We have had several new faces appear at the Sunday services and the hope is that they will continue to come to St Mary’s.   

Bob Willis


Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat!


Due to the Covid19 situation this Christmas at St Mary’s will be different. Many of our traditions will be suspended but some new things may happen as a result of the changes.


We will not be having a Christmas Tree Festival, which as you know we have held since 2011.  Apart from bringing the community together and celebrating what Christmas means in Acklam, it has also raised considerable funds for our church, as well as enabling us to donate to a local charity each year.  Last year we raised in total £2481. Of that total, half was deposited into the funds of St Mary’s.


You will be aware that fund raising in all its forms across the country has barely happened since Lockdown. While that has implications for all sorts of institutions and charities it also has significant repercussions for us as a church.


There is no easy answer and I am not proposing an instant solution, but I am suggesting introducing a little idea for this year which could raise a small amount of money.


Instead of everyone in the church community sending Christmas cards to their church friends, the idea is that the money they would normally spend on cards (or even more if they wish….)  could be donated to the church.   In return, a greeting from those individuals, couples, families, friends, those local and those who have the magazine delivered elsewhere, could be sent to the magazine editors and printed in the December magazine.  Details would be provided for making a donation to the church and once that is received the greeting would be inserted.


In that way the church would benefit from a series of donations which would support the church in a small way.


This is an idea to help the church in these challenging times when our previous ways and traditions are in limbo. There may be people who do not wish to share their greetings in this way and that is a personal decision, but for those who are interested please can you think about it over the coming months and look out for further details in the magazine during the Autumn.


Three things are certain:


Christmas is coming – and the goose is getting fat - along with the turkeys and chickens ! ;


Christmas is coming with the same timeless message from down the centuries;


and  -  Every penny counts!!.

      Gillian Dorman-Smith


This idea is just a proposal at the moment….. Watch this space


Gorse – cheerful and perfumed, but prickly!



The old saying ‘Kissing is out of season when the gorse is not in bloom’ is based on the fact that it is a rare time of year when a flower or two cannot be found. The bush itself, growing on heaths and moors is well-known for its vicious spikes. This is its answer to the problem of producing leaves that will withstand wind, rain and hungry animals.


The golden yellow flowers are at their absolute best in spring when the bushes, growing often to a height of seven to ten feet, seem to glow in the countryside. They attract bees and other pollen-seeking insects and many of us enjoy the rich coconut-like perfume as well as the joyful colour. The sharp foliage gives protection to several species of bird as they nest deep in these bulging bushes, and larger animals such as sheep and cows, if grazing nearby, will take advantage of gorse as a very effective windbreak.


In the past, gorse, also known as ‘furze’ or ‘whin’, was used as fuel as it burns very readily when dry. This has caused many serious moorland fires in recent years, but gorse is fortunately a resilient species and quickly sends up new shoots from the burnt stumps that remain. It is also apparently somewhat susceptible to frost, but will recover quickly with new growth.


A member of the pea family, its seeds are set in brown, somewhat unattractive pods, which on a hot summer’s day can be heard popping, or they may be provoked into doing so when held in a hot hand. However, what might surprise us even more is that in the past, in country districts, it was used for drying washing, as the thorns would allow nothing to escape, even in the strongest of winds!


Have you ever wondered how you can be certain about who and what God really is?  

One Christian put it this way: “I’m reminded of the story of the little boy who was out flying a kite. The wind was brisk and large billowing clouds were blowing across the sky. The kite went up and up until it was entirely hidden by the clouds. Then a man came by and asked the little boy what he was doing, staring up at an empty sky. “I’m flying my kite,” he replied.

The man replied: “What kite? How can you be sure it is still there? You can’t see a thing.”

The little boy agreed that he could see nothing, “but every little while I feel a tug, so I know for sure that it is still up there and is connected to me!”

When it comes to God, you don’t need to take anyone else’s word for it. You can find Him for yourself by inviting Jesus Christ into your life. Then you too will know by the warm wonderful tug on your heartstrings that though you can’t see Him, He is up there, and that He lives in you. You are connected!


The Rectory

St James the Least

My dear Nephew Darren


My dear Nephew Darren

I think your idea for both our Confirmation groups getting together for a weekend away – socially distanced, of course – was excellent and our meeting last week drew most of the plans together. We didn’t take any minutes, so let me record the decisions I believe we made.

Since all of us have to sleep far apart at the centre, I am prepared to spend the nights at a local hotel. By chance, I have found that there is a four star one only a few miles away, so I have booked myself in. As the dining area in the youth centre may be cramped, I am also willing to have dinner each evening at the hotel, thereby creating more space for the rest of you. An additional sadness is that, since breakfast at the hotel is not served until 8am, I will not be able to join you either for your pre-breakfast dip in the nearby stream. It would be grossly unfair to expect you to pack lunch for me, so I will arrange for the hotel to provide me with a picnic hamper for one which I can have while you all enjoy your cheese and pickle sandwiches.

I think it will be an excellent learning experience if you prepare all the teaching sessions yourself, but be assured that I will always be on hand to give the advice of experience. That large armchair near the fire in the common room seems to be the best place for me to sit, so I can keep an eye on proceedings, while I take on the responsibilities for stoking the fire. This reminds me; do make sure that the young people are encouraged to saw enough logs each morning for me to fulfil my obligations.

Naturally, my arthritis will prevent me being able to accompany you on your afternoon hikes, but I will cheerfully park my car wherever you leave the minibus, to provide a second vehicle in case of emergencies. I do not mind in the least waiting all those long hours until you get back; I have already found an attractive tea shop in the village.

I am fully aware that not sleeping or dining at the centre, not being responsible for preparing the teaching, nor being involved on the walks will mean that my contributions will be ever so slightly limited, but these are sacrifices I gladly make in order to give you further experience in your ministerial career.


Your loving uncle,





 If biblical headlines were written by today’s media


On Red Sea crossing:
Pursuing Environmentalists Killed


On David vs. Goliath:
Psychologist Questions Influence of Rock


On Elijah on Mt. Carmel:
400 Killed


On the birth of Christ:
Animal Rights Activists Enraged by Insensitive Couple


On feeding the 5,000:
Disciples Mystified Over Behaviour


On healing the 10 lepers:
“Faith Healer” Causes Bankruptcy


On healing of the Gadarene demoniac:
Local Farmer’s Investment Lost


On raising Lazarus from the dead:
Reading of Will now to be Delayed




An English lady, making plans to visit Switzerland for the Christmas holidays, wrote to a country hotel for a room reservation. She ended the letter saying, (as she very Britishly phrased it,) that she preferred accommodation as close as possible to a “WC “ The innkeeper’s English was sparse, so he took the letter to his friend, the parish priest, and asked his help with the interpretation of the phrase “WC.” The priest mulls this over for a long time and then finally it came to him; “I’ve got it!” - he said “she means our Wayside Chapel.”

Very pleased to have his problem solved, the innkeeper hastened to write back to the English lady:

Dear Madam

It is with great pleasure that I am able to inform you that we have lovely room reserved for your visit and that there is indeed a WC to attend your devotions. It is located only 2 miles from the Inn in a beautiful grove of pine trees which gives a feeling of serenity to the visitor. We will be most pleased to arrange suitable transportation for you during your stay with us.

It may surprise you to know that our WC holds over 200 people at a sitting and for the convenience of tourists, it is open on Thursdays as well as Saturdays. It is a good idea to go in as early as possible in order to get a good seat as sometimes standing room only is available which is especially hard on some of the older ladies.

On Sundays, a good number of people take picnic lunches to the WC and make a day of it, while others take a bus or a horse carriage and usually arrive only just in time. I would recommend Madam arranges to go on Thursday evenings when there are no regular services, but there is an organ accompaniment. Although the WC dates back to the 12th century, the acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds may be heard in the hall

It may also interest you to know that our daughter first met her future husband, who was a guest at the hotel, in the WC and they were later married there by our parish priest. We are also very proud of our unusual bell, donated by a wealthy visitor which rings every time somebody makes an offering. Unfortunately, my wife has a rather delicate condition and so she has not been able to attend regularly; as a matter of fact, it is almost a year now since she last went. It grieves her very much not to be able to go more often as you can imagine.

In conclusion, we hope your stay with us will be most happy, so please let us know if you wish a special seat reserved for you for the season at the WC. There is a small service charge, but it will ensure you an upholstered seat. We also suggest you bring your camera as the evening candle lighting ceremony in the WC is very colourful and it’s beautiful sight to see the light playing on the fountain

Some come with cheer - some with charity - but all leave satisfied.

Your Obedient Servant



The Spirit of Fruitiness


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)


It was quarterly review time for Max, a personal banking manager. He sat opposite his area manager, cup of tea in hand, as shoppers pootled along the High Street below”. “So”, the area manager began, “How do you feel things have been going since we last met?”


“Pretty good,” answered Max. “I’ve definitely been feeling calmer at work; you know, less stressed… I guess more at peace with myself.”


“I’ve noticed that too,” she responded. “You do seem calmer; less irritable. I’ve not really heard you complain about anything. Can I ask why you think this is?”


That conversation happened just a few months ago, and Max was able to share how he’d recently become a Christian, and what a difference God was making in his life. When God’s Holy Spirit makes Himself at home within us, our lives change. St Paul calls this ‘the fruit of the Spirit’.


Fruit is a great metaphor. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we stick onto the outside of our lives, like baubles on a Christmas tree. Rather, it flows out from us, as we soak up the nutrients of God’s Word and His holy presence. We cannot force out this spiritual fruit by tapping into our inner resources or by trying harder. This really is about God changing us, as we ‘keep in step with the Spirit’.


Healthy fruit is a sign of a healthy tree, and it shares its harvest with the surrounding ecosystem: birds, insects, Homo sapiens, and even our mortal enemies, wasps… Paul has already shown us how sin dehumanises and robs us of life, but the Spirit makes us more like Christ, the most fully alive human of all. And when we are like Him, it’s good for everyone.


Fruit brings blessing. It’s a manifestation of the life of God’s kingdom, bringing the sweetness of His presence to the people and places where it’s tasted. In that way, it furthers God’s mission. The fruit in our lives is a signpost to the life-giving God.


So today, do not hide your fruit under a bowl! Instead, put it out on the table, that people may taste your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.


Crosswords Clues (answers next month)


8       Where the Ark of the Covenant was kept (1 Samuel 7) (7,6)

9       Part of the body on which blood and oil were put on (Leviticus 14) (3)

10     Uncomfortable (3,2,4) 11     

11     ‘Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have — ’ (Malachi 1) (5)

13     Where Paul said farewell to the elders of the church  (Acts 20) (7)

16     ‘Jesus bent down and — to write on the ground with his finger’ (John 8) (7)

19     Prophet from Moresheth (Jeremiah 26) (5)

22     Comes between Exodus and Numbers (9)

24 and 2 Down    ‘The boy ministered before the Lord under — the — ’ (1 Samuel 2) (3,6)

25     There was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2) (4,3,6)


1       Rough drawing (2 Kings 16) (6)

2       See 24 Across

3       Underground literature (including Christian books) circulated in the Soviet Union (8)

4       Lo, mash (anag.) (6)

5       The Bible’s shortest verse: ‘Jesus — ’ (John 11) (4)

6       ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her — (Isaiah 49) (6)

7       Can be seen in a dying fire (Psalm 102) (6)

12     ‘Send me, therefore, a man... experienced in the — of engraving’ (2 Chronicles 2) (3)

14     Second city of Cyprus (8)

15     United Nations Association (1,1,1)

16     One of the women who first heard that Jesus had risen from the dead (Mark 16) (6)

17     Braved (anag.) (6)

18     — of Evangelism, outreach initiative in the 1990s (6)

20     ‘Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and — in their own sight’ (Isaiah 5) (6)

21     ‘Neither — nor depth.’ (Romans 8) (6)

23     What Jesus shed in 5 Down (4)

Send your answers with your name to


Answers to August Crossword

Winners:  Peter Warren & Mabel McGurk

ACROSS: 1, John. 3, And James. 8, Near. 9, Omission. 11, Theocratic. 14, Asleep. 15, By-path. 17, Stalingrad. 20, Backbone. 21, Baca. 22, Whose eye. 23, Seth.


DOWN: 1, Jonathan. 2, Heavenly. 4, No meat. 5, Justifying. 6, Maid. 7, Sins. 10, Acceptable. 12, Marriage. 13, Shadrach. 16, Plenty. 18, A bow. 19, Echo.

Anagrams                                                                           NON-NATIVE TREES


Rearrange these words to form the names of 10 non-native trees to be found

in the U.K.   Solutions may consist of one or two words.




5.   MY COARSE                 6.  PAUL STUCEY     7.   KURT OKAYE           8.    SPRAUNY CROWE



                                                                                                     Compiled by Peter Warren           


Answers to August    Anagrams                                        Winners:     Mabel McGurk, & Bill Davison


 1.         INGLEBOROUGH     2. ROSEBERRY TOPPING                 3.     FOUNTAINS FELL


4.         PEN-Y-GHENT         5.  CAPTAIN COOK'S MONUMENT     6.    WHERNSIDE


7.         BLAKEY RIDGE       8.  GREAT SHUNNER FELL                 9.    SUTTON BANK



Send your answers with your name to


With  back to school in mind….




Mother to young daughter after first day at school:  “Well, dear, what did they teach you today?”

Daughter:  “Not much.  I’ve got to go back again tomorrow.”




A second year student explaining to a first year student how to write essays:  “When you take stuff from one writer, it’s plagiarism, but when you take it from many writers, it’s called research.”




Student essay:   Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, but he mostly lived at Windsor with his merry wives.  This is quite usual with actors.


Off to uni…


 Smith:  So your son is in college?  How is he making it?

Jones:  He isn’t. I’m making it and he is spending it.


Writing home


A boy was sent by his parents to a school a long distance from home.  He had been strictly enjoined to write home regularly and tell them all about himself and his new life.  At the end of the first week, his first text arrived: “There are 370 boys here.  I wish there were 369.”



Archbishop of Canterbury tweets….

Prayer is not about sending requests into the sky.  It’s about allowing God to make us more like Jesus Christ.


Thank you

'Barbara Wood would like to thank everyone for their messages of sympathy and their kindness shown on the recent death of John Wood'.


St Birinus   Apostle of Wessex


Did you ever feel that God was calling you to do something big for Him, even though you were not quite sure of the details? If so, Birinus is the saint for you.


He was a French Benedictine monk who in 634 was made a bishop at Genoa, and sent by Pope Honorius 1 to extend the evangelisation of England. (Augustine had arrived in Canterbury about 35 years before.)


Birinus landed at Hamwic, near Southampton. His original plan was to evangelise Wessex and then penetrate up into the Midlands, where no preacher had ever yet reached. But Birinus soon found the West Saxons so pagan that he decided to concentrate just on them.


Birinus had little to help him become the apostle to Wessex. So, he simply used what he did have: his own two feet and his voice. He wandered around preaching at every opportunity, trusting in God to help him. And He did: Birinus became known and respected, and soon a big breakthrough occurred: for political reasons the King of Wessex, Cynegils, wanted to convert to Christianity, and he asked Birinus to help him.


So Birinus instructed and baptised King Cynegils, who was then able to marry the Christian king of Northumbria’s daughter, Cyneburg, and in due course Birinus baptised their family as well.


In return, Cynegils gave Birinus the town of Dorchester (upon Thames) to be his diocesan see. It was a perfect location: a Romano-British town right on a road and a river, in the midst of a populated area.


During his 15 years as Bishop of Dorchester, Birinus baptised many people and built churches all over the area, with the king’s blessing.

Before he died in 650, Birinus dedicated a church at Winchester. It was a glimpse of the future: for Winchester’s growing importance made it inevitable that in time it would also become the ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom.



All in the month of September


It was:


400 years ago, on 6th September 1620, that 102 English Puritans (now known as the Pilgrims) set sail aboard the Mayflower from Plymouth, for a new life in America. After a perilous journey they landed in what is now Provincetown Harbour, Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 11th November. They had intended landing in Virginia, but were unable to reach it because of heavy seas.


150 years ago, on 20th September 1870 that Rome was captured. Italian forces defeated the Papal States and captured the city of Rome at the end of the wars of Italian Unification. The Papal States were dissolved. Rome was annexed, and it became the capital of Italy in 1871.


125 years ago, on 28th September 1895 that Louis Pasteur died. This French biologist, microbiologist and chemist was one of the main founders of the field of medical microbiology. Best known for originating the pasteurization of foodstuffs to eliminate micro-organisms that cause disease. Pasteur saved the French beer, wine and silk industries and developed vaccines against anthrax and rabies.


65 years ago, on 22nd September 1955 that Britain’s first independent television channel, ITV, was launched. It ended the BBC’s monopoly. Regional franchises were rolled out across the whole country by 1965.


60 years ago, on 27th September 1960 that Sylvia Pankhurst, suffragette leader, died.


50 years ago, on 19th September 1970 that the first Glastonbury Festival was held, at Worthy Farm near Pilton, Somerset. About 1,500 people attended (compared to 135,000 today). It became an annual event from 1981 and is now the world’s largest greenfield festival. The first festival was billed as the Pilton Pop, Blues & Folk Festival.


40 years ago, on 22nd September 1980 that the Solidarity movement was created in Poland, with Lech Walesa as its leader. It was the first independent trade union in the Soviet bloc.


25 years ago, on 3rd September 1995 that the auction site eBay was founded (as AuctionWeb).


20 years ago, on 17th September 2000 that Paula Yates, TV presenter (The Tube, The Big Breakfast) died of a heroin overdose, aged 41. Wife of the musician Bob Geldof, she was also noted for her relationship with the musician Michael Hutchence. She was the daughter of Hughie Green, host of the talent show Opportunity Knocks, though she did not discover this until late in life.


15 years ago, on 24th September 2005 that the IRA decommissioned its last remaining weapons in front of independent inspectors.




Psalm 23 – a psalm for the pandemic


There are few psalms as personal and real as Psalm 23. It records David’s experience of God as his Shepherd going through dark times. In the midst of the effects of a global pandemic, this psalm speaks to the fears that can overwhelm us.


He Knows Me: ‘The Lord is my shepherd…’ Just as a good shepherd knows every sheep in his flock, so God know each one of us intimately.


He Provides for Me: ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures…’ Just as the shepherd knows the needs of his sheep, so God will provide what we need in our lives and circumstances.


He Guides Me: ‘He guides me along the right paths…’ Just as the shepherd leads the sheep to the best pastures, so God provides the best for us, as we listen and follow Him.


He Protects Me: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley…’ Just as the sheep have no need to fear danger when following the shepherd, so we live knowing God’s presence and protection.


He Comforts Me: ‘your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ As the shepherd’s rod defends the sheep, and the staff enables him to control the sheep, so God comforts us through His Word and discipline.


The final verses of the psalm (v5-6) offer the security of knowing that our lives are in His hands, even through death, as He leads us to the home we’ve been looking for all our lives.


Some years ago, a great actor was asked to recite Psalm 23, but asked one of the other guests to do the same. His remarkable rendition was followed by the other man, an older Christian speaking from the heart. Afterwards the actor said: ‘The difference between us is that I know the psalm, but he knows the shepherd.’


Has lockdown damaged your eyesight?


Are you suffering from ‘coronavision’? It is perfectly possible.


Lockdown led to many of us staring at our television or computer screens for long periods of time. And that could have strained our eyes, warns the College of Optometrists.


By this summer one in five adults in Britain had reported a deterioration in their eyesight. Symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty in focussing, and red or painful eyes.


As one optometrist explained: “Working from home, video calls with friends and family, watching more TV, time spent looking at your phone – all that screen time adds up.


The good news is that this is unlikely to cause any permanent harm to your vision.”


Nevertheless, the College urges people to get their eyes checked if they feel on-going discomfort. They also advise that when you are looking at a screen, you rest your eyes every 20 minutes, blink regularly, use eye drops, position your screen below eye level and increase the size of the text.


HYMN:  The story behind … ABIDE WITH ME


One of the most famous hymns in the world came out of Brixham, near Torbay, Devon, in 1847. 


In those days it was a poor, obscure fishing village, and the vicar was the Rev Henry Francis Lyte. It was a discouraging place to be a pastor, but Henry felt that God wanted him there, and so he stayed, though it was lonely work, and he suffered constant ill health.


By the time he was 54, Henry had contracted tuberculosis and asthma, and he and his family knew he was dying. It would have been so easy for him to look back on his life and feel a complete failure.  What had he ever much accomplished? And yet – and yet – Henry knew that in life it is not worldly success that matters, but how much we respond to Jesus Christ, and how much we follow Him. 


In September of 1847 Henry was preparing to travel to the south of France, as was the custom for people with tuberculosis at that time. One day before he left, he read the story in the gospel of Luke about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were met by Jesus on the day of His resurrection, and they invited Him to stay with them because it was getting late. “Abide with us”, they said “for it is towards evening.” 


“Abide with us - for it is toward evening.” These words struck a chord with Henry, who knew that it was getting ‘towards evening’ in his life. So, he sat down and wrote this hymn as a prayer to God – (the following are just some of the verses)


Abide with me


Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.


Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.


I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;

Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.

Where is death’s sting?  Where, grave, thy victory?

I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.


Shortly after Henry wrote that hymn, he preached his last sermon. He was so ill he practically crawled into the pulpit to do so. A few weeks later, in Nice, France, he died, and so of course he never knew that his hymn would go on to become greatly loved the world over. 



If we find it difficult to cross the Atlantic just now, it was even worse 400 years this month. On 6th September 1620, 102 determined Puritans climbed on board the Mayflower and set sail from Plymouth. They had 30 crew to steer them across 3000 miles of open, perilous ocean.

Those Puritans, or ‘Pilgrim fathers’, could never have dreamed that their journey would become one of the most influential in world history. Their courage and purpose for the voyage would help shape the very history and culture of the USA.

The Pilgrim fathers themselves were in search of religious freedom and a new life. Years before they had rejected the Church of England, due to its Roman Catholic past, and in 1608 they had moved to Holland, where they could worship freely. But life was very hard there, and so the New World beckoned to them.

They had originally intended to use two ships, but the Speedwell sprang a leak shortly after sailing, and so they crowded as many as possible into the Mayflower. After a long and difficult 10 weeks at sea, they reached America, but could not reach their intended destination, Virginia, because of heavy seas. They finally landed in Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod, Massachusetts on 11th November.

That presented the next great challenge: the bitter, harsh winter of Massachusetts.  Half of the Pilgrims perished that first winter, of hunger and cold. Without the help of the local Indigenous peoples to teach them food-gathering and other survival skills, all of the colony would probably have perished.

After months of hard work, by the ‘Fall’ of 1621 the tiny colony had its first harvest. They celebrated this great achievement with their new Indigenous friends. It became Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had been convinced that God wanted them to go to the New World.  They wrote: “We verily believe and trust the Lord is with us, and that He will graciously prosper our endeavours according to the simplicity of our hearts therein.”

The Mayflower was one of the earliest pilgrim vessels, and so became a cultural icon in the history of the United States. This year, until coronavirus put a stop to things, many celebrations in the USA, England and the Netherlands had been planned.


Are politicians the oldest profession?



A surgeon, an architect and a politician were arguing as to whose profession was the oldest.  Said the surgeon: “Eve was made from Adam’s rib, and that surely was a surgical operation.”


“Maybe,” admitted the architect, “but prior to that, order was created out of chaos, and that was an architectural job.”


“But,” the politician pointed out in triumph, “somebody had to have created the chaos in the first place!”




Politician to aide: “About their charge that I’m indecisive – do you think I should answer it, or let it go, or answer it in part, or what?”




Old politicians never die. They just run once too often.




Admirer to political candidate:  Great speech sir! I really like the straightforward way you dodged the issues.


Public office


If you want to find out what’s wrong with a man, elect him to public office.




Politics:  the career of plundering and blundering.  – Disraeli




What this country needs is fewer people who know what this country needs.


Political career


American teacher to students: “Be diligent and steadfast, and you will succeed. Take the case of George Washington, our first ever president. Do you remember my telling you of the great difficulty that George Washington had to face? The big problem that could have been the end of his political career?”


“Sure,” said a student.  “He couldn’t tell a lie.”


Do you need to have someone or a situation to be prayed for?


Ring Norma Crane on 01642 813945 to let her know you prayer request and she will contact others in the chain and they will pray on your behalf.


If she is unavailable ring:       Brian Livingstone            01642   279272