September Magazine

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

As always thanks to all who have contacted us, please keep in touch  and send us comments and articles for inclusion.

Pauline & Bob - co editors..

Updated 3rd September 2021




Dear Friends,

Let me tell you about a man who did something that is an example to us all.


Imagine that your Vicar was six going on seven once more. We are back in Beijing, and she is on her way to get the nib of her fountain pen replaced. Having just been given the pen by a kindly great aunt and, being elated by being able to use it at school (something not permitted to us till year five), I had overdone things. I pressed much too hard as I wrote, and soon the nib of the pen split. So, my Great Aunt sent me to get a new nib at the shop where she had bought it.


There was an old man, sitting behind the counter drinking tea from an elegant red clay tea cup. He looked at the nib, told me that I pressed the pen too hard, and overdoing things was the source of many problems. He got out a huge pen that was thicker than his thumb, with an extra-sized nib. He pressed the nib on a pile of rough brown paper; a gap appeared in the middle of the nib and a blob of ink drop out. “This is what you did. You need to put the pen down gently. Be gentle with things.” He showed me what to do. He moved the pen on the rough paper, drawing lines, strokes, curves, circles, and dots with ease, then elegant calligraphic characters flew out of the huge cumbersome nib of the pen. The pen was no longer a writing tool, it had become the extension of his hand, gliding gently with life. He then took my pen, claimed that “It doesn’t need a new nib, I shall fix it in no time.”


At the time, I admit, what made the most forcible impression on me was the ice lolly I bought on the way home. I didn’t realize then how the experience of the old man, his skill and his sense of things would influence me. Often when I write I think about that gliding pen nib on rough brown paper, a heavy cumbersome pen that became alive because someone knew how to use it well. The pen was a part of the old man’s creativity, his pleasure, not merely his business. He obviously didn’t make monetary profit his primary goal, indeed he took time to instruct a silly girl, taught her the correct way to hold a pen, and taught her also not to over-pressure things around her. All this, rather than merely selling her a new nib. His was a life of care and benevolence, not of straining after profit. He was a man who taught me a lesson about our relation to others and to the world we share.


He must have been gathered to his fathers many years ago. He would not have approved of our casual and careless ways today. Our throw-away society makes us devalue the things around us, disconnects us from our world, and makes us pursue gain without consideration for it. Now that combating climate change has become a global priority, we can see that the old man was right. To be more like the man I met all those years ago in that little shop in Beijing is to live a life that recognizes that no one is too insignificant to be noticed, and that nothing is too small or too slight to be treasured and used with care. For the earth and everything that is in it is the Lord’s. It is only ours to conserve and sustain, not to over-pressure and destroy.




Random Ponderings by a Recognised Parish Assistant

We've been having a real turn-out at our house, ahead of a much-anticipated visit from daughter and grandchildren. It's amazing what one finds on these occasions. There's plenty of junk, out-of-date magazines and so forth, and we wonder out loud why we ever hung on to some of it as we drive it to the council dump!  There are also, of course, the things we will never throw away, such as old photos and letters from people dear to us. Many bring back happy memories, especially the ones with notes on the back giving dates and names! But we've never been terribly good at labelling things, and some just turn out to be baffling. Here is a sweet baby – but which baby was it? Here is a picture of the family having fun – but where on earth were we? Here is a letter from someone, signed with just her first name – and we have no idea who she was. I dare say that, at the time, we were quite sure we would remember all about these people and events. They probably seemed very memorable at the time. But memories do fade, and sometimes we need to take the trouble to make sure something, or someone, really is remembered – not to mention the importance of passing things on to future generations.


Jesus knew (better than some of us do sometimes) how easily we forget. His own people, the Jews, needed constantly to be reminded of God's faithfulness to them in times gone by, and God had instituted the Passover festival for them to re-enact their ancestors' final meal in slavery in Egypt on the night he had set them free. As Jesus and his disciples took part in this ancient tradition, we are told he transformed it into something new. He knew how little time he had left; he knew that, for him, the next step would take him to the Cross. And so he took bread, and wine, and shared it among them with the words we now know so well: “My body … given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19).


So, as we come to Church for Communion, and take the bread and wine, they help us remember what Jesus has done for us:


we remember that on the Cross he died our death to bring us back into fellowship with God, which is 'the new covenant in [his] blood' (Luke 22:20);


we remember that through his Spirit he gives us life – that all who turn to him are born again into his kingdom (John 3:3);

and, simply, we remember him – the one who loves us so much that he came to be with us, and will never leave us (Matthew 28:20).


                                                                                                                        Hilary Longstaff


 Bible Study - An invitation for you


St Mary's Bible study group, which had to stop meeting together in March 2020, re-started earlier this year via 'Zoom' on the internet, hosted by the Vicar. We soon got used to meeting each other on computer screens, and have been doing a shortened version (about an hour) of our normal Bible study meetings. We greet each other, open with a short prayer, and then read at least one of the Bible passages from the previous Sunday, and have a friendly discussion about what it means to us and how it applies to our daily lives. We finish by sharing topics for prayer (in confidence) and everyone is free to pray as they wish (aloud or silently) for a few minutes before we close with a blessing.


We are quite a small group, varied in age and Christian experience, and would welcome new members very warmly. You don't need any previous Bible knowledge, and we would love you to join us and share your thoughts as we learn from God's word together and seek to know him more.


Meetings re-start for the Autumn on Monday 6 September at 7 pm. To arrange to take part on Zoom, please contact the group leader, Hilary Longstaff, phone 07775 811 694.


Support Safeguarding Sunday


The Church of England is supporting this year’s Safeguarding Sunday, on 10th October, by encouraging local churches to use their regular Sunday service to think about what safer places look like.


The ecumenical initiative from the specialist safeguarding charity External link opens in new tab or windowthirtyone:eight provides bespoke resources, including films and animations, prayers, preaching notes, children's activity sheets, hymns and songs and a safeguarding pledge. A short sermon for use on the day will be provided by Bishop Jonathan Gibbs, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding bishop.


Bishop Gibbs said: “Whether churches can give just a few minutes or dedicate their whole service, Safeguarding Sunday is a really helpful and important way of focusing on all the work that goes on 365 days a year in our churches to make them safe places.


"From our children’s and young people’s activities to clubs for the elderly and foodbanks, our churches are involved in every community. Protecting vulnerable people is at the heart of the Christian message.


"Safeguarding Sunday is all about creating an opportunity for churches to show their communities that they take this responsibility seriously.”


Canon Paul Hardingham considers how various people respond to God.


The Parable of the Sower


This month we are looking at the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20). It’s the story of a farmer who sowed his seed in different type of soils. These represent the different responses of the heart to God’s Word (v15-20):


1) The hard heart: ‘like seed along the path…as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.’ (15). Some people, when they hear the message, get distracted eg social media, work or relationships. Personal priorities prevent them from hearing God.


2) The shallow heart: ‘like seed sown on rocky places…since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.’ (16,17). These are the people whose heart isn’t open to the message. When things become uncomfortable or discouraging, they are ready to quit.


3) The crowded heart: ‘like seed sown among thorns…but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.’ (18,19). This soil is most relevant for us today. People crave status, comfort, security and personal desires alongside the things of God. It’s a heart that is worried about life getting out of control!


4) The open heart: ‘like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.’ (20). This represents the open heart that listens and accepts Jesus’s word, and is ready to follow Him however difficult things become.


What kind of soil is our heart? Are we hard, shallow, crowded or open? Do we have a heart of faith to follow Jesus in every aspect of our lives?


Jean Piggales

When Jean first came to the hall as caretaker things were very different. The hall was in use much more throughout the week and there were two flats.

Jean very soon had the measure of the job and couldn’t have looked after it any better. Eventually, with Dave helping with small repair jobs, they became an unbeatable double act and so much more than caretakers.

Jean kept the hall clean and tidy as if it were her own property. Broken catches were mended, drains unblocked, plumbing sorted by Dave and the church informed as soon as bigger problems emerged. When cleaning days at the hall took place Jean and Dave were there helping as well.

All queries and bookings for the hall were taken by Jean and money banked. The building was opened and closed appropriately every day, which was a huge commitment, but also a great benefit to the church. This was clearly demonstrated when Jean took a rare holiday and cover had to be provided. 

Over the years her family grew up, and grandchildren were cared for, seeing the flat as central to their family. Over the last few years as it became obvious the hall could not be financially sustained in its existing way, Jean and Dave never faltered in their dedication, maintaining everything until it closed.


We as a church owe them a huge debt and wish them well in their retirement and hope they enjoy a peaceful time in their new flat.


Jenny Lomas




  The Revd Dr Jo White considers Holy Communion


Reflected Faith Series: the Bread we eat


The majority of Sunday morning service in churches throughout the world are based on the Last Supper of Jesus.


At the Passover meal, on the night before His death, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, "This is My body given for you;"  (Luke 22:19a). He also took wine and passed it to each of them and said, "This is My blood, given for you."


These two elements, the bread and the wine, continue to be the central focus for Christians: doing what Jesus asked us to do, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’.  (Luke 22:19b)


What we call this service varies between denominations and even between churches within the same denomination.


It is a way of giving ‘thanks’ as Jesus did (the word ‘Eucharist’ comes from the Greek by way of Latin, and it means ‘thanksgiving’), reminding us not only of the tremendous sacrifice that Christ had made on our behalf, but also recalling the love and joy that Jesus brings to the community.


The word ‘Communion’ comes from something done with others – the community. It's done with Christ. It's done with other worshippers. In sharing the meal, 'I' becomes 'us'.


The word ‘Mass’ comes from the conclusion to the traditional service – which was in Latin: ‘Ite, missa est.’ ‘Go. You are being sent.’  Today we use similar words, ‘Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.’


At the moment many churches, especially the Church of England, are only giving bread to the congregation with the priest alone consuming the wine.  So the meaning underlying the taking / the giving of bread is more crucial than ever. In some denominations the bread is literally the ‘daily bread’, whilst in others it is a ‘wafer’ or yeast free bread – as was used at the original Passover.


This month: Have a look at the bread that is placed into your hands the next time you ‘receive’.  How does it reflect receiving Christ into your life?


The Church of England’s investment and climate change

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) recently updated General Synod on their progress against climate change measures agreed in July 2018.

The Church of England Pensions Board, Church Commissioners for England and CCLA, which collectively make up the NIBs, had agreed with Synod:

  • to work with companies in which we are invested to meet our climate hurdles,
  • to start to divest in 2020 from companies that are not taking seriously their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low carbon economy;
  • to ensure that by 2023 they have divested from fossil fuel companies that are not prepared to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement;
  • and to seek and scale up investments in renewable energy and low carbon technology.

The NIBs in January 2020 committed to their investment portfolios being net zero no later than 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement. As asset owners and a fund manager with holdings across all aspects of the global economy, the NIBs’ journeys to net zero are reliant on influencing change in the real economy and policy environment as a whole, rather than solely implementing carbon-saving measures themselves.






Service of Holy Communion each Sunday at 10.00am


Sunday 5th September       


10.00am                                 Holy Communion

                                                At which the congregation will be able to

                                                sing (with face coverings)


6.30pm                                   Evensong

                                                At which the congregation will be able to

                                                sing (with face coverings)


Monday 6th September        Bible Study will resume via Zoom

                                                (See Hilary’s article for link)


Tuesday 7th September       10.00am Service of Holy Communion resumes


Sunday 26th September     Harvest Festival 10.00am

                                                Gifts of non perishable foodstuff can be brought

                                                to this service which will be given to the Foodbank


Sunday 10th October           Safeguarding Sunday


 The Ven John Barton on God’s search for us.


Let Jesus Christ find you

Jesus said, ’Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.’ John 14:1-6

We come to church regularly to meet God. But actually, God comes to meet us. He comes to us personally though His Word; and in Holy Communion, Jesus arrives under cover of bread and wine, saying ‘this is My body; this is My blood’.
The whole Bible is the story of God searching for us, not the other way round. It begins with Adam and Eve running away and hiding, and that’s how it continues to this day. But it ends with a dramatic vision of reunion.
In the meantime, humanity is invited to stop, turn round, and face God who is in pursuit. ‘Turning round’ is what ‘repentance’ means.

Becoming a Christian is letting Christ find us; being a Christian is becoming an apprentice in His workforce.

Not long before His crucifixion, Jesus taught His apprentices about His death – and theirs. “I’m going to prepare a place for you, and I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.”

When we contemplate dying, it may seem like a journey into the dark. But we will not go alone. Never alone. As we reach out into the darkness, Christ is reaching out to us. Just as He has been reaching out to us throughout our lives, so He is there to grasp us as we breathe our last. “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

For the disciple, death is a union – a reunion with Christ. It’s the most natural thing in the world. So, we pray that at our end, we may reach out into the darkness, to find we are grasped by the One who has already prepared a place for us


 Canon Paul Hardingham considers an urgent problem.


Climate Sunday is this month


Sunday 5th September is being designated Climate Sunday, ahead of the UN’s climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow during November. How should we approach the challenge of climate change?


We have damaged God’s creation: God delights in His creation: ‘God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.’ (Genesis 1:31). However, we have damaged this world and impacted people, created in His image. The burning of oil or gas and cutting down forests is increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere. The global average temperature could increase by 1.5˚C in 2030, resulting in significant damage to our planet. Already, increasing temperatures are melting ice caps, raising sea-levels, changing rainfall patterns and creating extreme climate events. It’s the 70% of the world’s poorest population who are being impacted most!


Hope is found in Jesus: He has an intimate knowledge of the workings of creation. ‘For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.’ (Colossians 1:16,17). Our hope for the future lies in what Jesus has done and continues to do in the world. He is the one who sustains creation and will bring everything to completion.


An invitation to respond: Simple everyday actions can help to sustain our planet, including recycling of waste, energy saving and changes in our lifestyle and diet to help the planet. We can fix our eyes on Jesus, as we pray for our world for our world leaders, gathering in Glasgow, asking that they may reach a good agreement for the future of our world.


26th Sept        Wilson Carlile, founder of the Church Army


Wilson Carlile was born in Brixton in 1847, and did not set out to become an evangelist. Instead, he was brilliant at both languages and music, and excelled as a businessman. That is, until an economic recession and serious illness brought him crashing down and finished his career, aged only 31. 


Not surprisingly, a serious breakdown followed, when Carlile questioned everything that he had been attempting in life. This search for a new meaning brought him to faith in Jesus Christ, and so turned his world upside down.  He later wrote:


I have seen the crucified and risen Lord as truly as if He had made Himself visible to me bodily sight. That is for me the conclusive evidence of His existence.  He touched my heart and old desires and hope left it. In their place came the new thought that I might serve Him and His poor and suffering brethren.


Wilson approached two Christians whose passion for ministry was already well known: the Americans evangelists Moody and Sanky, who were at that time in England.  Wilson attended their meetings and supplied music via his harmonium. In return, he learned a lot about effective outdoors evangelism. 


Carlile then prepared himself for a life of ministry. He was confirmed into the Church of England, studied at the London College of Divinity, ordained in 1880 and served his curacy at St Mary Abbots in Kensington. But Carlile wanted more than comfortable parish life, and soon began outdoor preaching again.  He wanted to reach the poor, unchurched, of the community.


Carlile left Kensington to work in a slum mission, and by 1882 he was busy uniting the local Anglican parish missions into one organisation. Here his business skills in planning and organising proved invaluable, and soon he had founded the ‘Church Army.’  He then founded two training colleges, to train both men and women evangelists. After slight hesitation, the Church of England agreed to incorporate the Church Army into its structure, and even created the office of Evangelist for the Church Army captains and sisters.


In the years that followed, Church Army has done great work in evangelism, as well as in social and moral welfare. It helped support the troops during World War 1. Carlile remained honorary chief secretary until retirement in 1926.  He died in 1942.


Be careful with Covid, urges Bishop of London

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, has encouraged churches and individuals to continue to take precautions to protect the vulnerable from Covid-19.


“Many will welcome the possibilities now before us. However, this is a difficult point in the course of the pandemic. Despite vaccination rates, cases are up, hospital admissions are up and long covid remains an ongoing concern. Therefore, our approach needs to be cautious and careful.


“Taking personal responsibility means taking precautions to protect those more vulnerable than we consider ourselves to be. Local church leaders know their communities and their own circumstances, and we will support them making local decisions to keep themselves and their community safe.”


David Pickup, a solicitor, considers an all-too-common problem.

When someone splashes you

… a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out … Deuteronomy 8:7

You have just been to church to get some more parish magazines and take them to the village shop, as they have sold out again. It is raining hard, and the main road is flooded again. A car drives through the puddle, soaking you from head to toe. You go home muttering to yourself, irritated that now you have to change your wet clothes.

There are worse things in life than being soaked by a car, but it is not nice, and it could even be an offence. Inconsiderate driving is defined as driving ‘without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road’. A person using a pavement could be included as someone using the road.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 goes on to say: ‘A person is to be regarded as driving without reasonable consideration for other persons only if those persons are inconvenienced by his driving.’

If you are soaked, then you certainly are inconvenienced! If you yourself are convicted of careless or inconsiderate driving, then you could be fined up to £5,000, and your driving licence endorsed with 3 to 9 points.

Who is to blame for the flood? If a drain or a roadside ditch is blocked or not repaired then either the owner of the land adjoining the road or the highway authority, usually a local authority, may be responsible. It may depend on whether the ditch is part of the highway. But certainly floods on roads can be dangerous: vehicles may try to avoid the water and then collide with other traffic.

If there is an area near you which regularly floods, it may be worth contacting the local parish council or highways department to see if they are aware of it. Public authorities have limited resources, but it may help to tell them. As always this is a light hearted guide, and if in any doubt get advice.



In praise of motorway services

What have you got in common with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Eric Clapton?

You have all visited the Watford Gap Services on your way up or down the M1.

Back in the early 1960s, the M1 transformed the way that bands could travel, and visiting the service station was an integral part of their trip. In the 60 or so years since motorway services opened, they have also become part of life for tens of millions of us.

Motorway services not only provide a much-needed break from the road, they are also a great place for people-watching. All sizes, shapes and varieties of people can be found in one. As one journalist put it: “a motorway service station is the ultimate human zoo.”

Not everyone used motorway services back in the 1960s. Many people just pulled over onto the hard shoulder and unpacked a picnic. There was even the true story of the family who pulled their car onto the central reservation of the motorway to have lunch – and survived to tell the tale.

Motorway services also confused people. One distraught couple, heading north, reported their car had been stolen. The police found they had crossed the pedestrian bridge, and then could not find their car in the south-bound car park.

Today there are 111 service stations in the UK. The law states that they must not be more than 28 miles apart, or 30 minutes of travelling time. By law, they must provide two hours of free parking, free toilets, and a free play area for children.

The first two motorway services were Watford Gap and Newport Pagnell, both of which opened in early November 1959, along with the M1.



Children and tea-drinking

Put the kettle on. Children should begin to drink tea from the age of four, in order to combat later stress, obesity and heart disease.

So says the results of a recent study which appeared in the Nutrition and Food Technology journal. It says that green tea and the more traditional black tea contain compounds which can aid concentration and cognitive function.

As one doctor said, “Including three cups of black tea daily as a part of a healthy lifestyle could help to preserve physical and mental health in childhood… and into old age.”  Parents could offer tea as a substitute for sweet and sugary drinks for children.


If you can’t sleep well, then walk

A recent study by the Universities of London and Sydney has found that brisk walking for 150 minutes a week may reduce the risk of an early death caused by poor sleep.

Lack of sleep has links to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. But according to the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines ‘eliminated most of the deleterious associations’ of poor sleep with early death.

The WHO recommends 150 minutes brisk walking, or 75 minutes of running a week.


September Crosswords Clues (answers next month)

Clues Across

1 ‘Through [Christ] we have gained …. by faith into this grace’ (Romans 5:2) (6)

4  Deprives of sight (Deuteronomy 16:19) (6)

8  The words of a hymn do this (mostly) (5)

9  Faithful allegiance (1 Chronicles 12:33) (7)

10 Belgium’s chief port (7)

11 Where John was baptizing ‘because there was plenty of water’ (John 3:23) (5)

12 Imposing height (Psalm 48:2) (9)

17 Jesus’ tempter in the wilderness (Mark 1:13) (5)

19 Comes between Amos and Jonah (7)

21 ‘Your will be done’ …   as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10) (2,5)

22 Gale (Matthew 8:24) (5)

23 Axle, eh? (anag.) (6)

24 ‘Out of the… I cry to you, O Lord’ (Psalm 130:1) (6)


Clues Down

1  Popular Christian author and humorist, Plass (6)

2  Transparent ice-like mineral (Revelation 4:6) (7)

3  Method of compelling surrender by surrounding target of attack (2 Chronicles 32:1) (5)

5  Expose (Isaiah 52:10) (3,4)

6  Lonny (anag.) (5)

7  Utterance (1 Timothy 1:15) (6)

9  Husband of Deborah, the prophetess (Judges 4:4) (9)

13 Burial service (Jeremiah 34:5) (7)

14 What Christ threatened to do to the lukewarm church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:16) (4,3)

15 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net (John 21:11) (6)

16 His response to Jesus’ decision to return to Judea was ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11:16) (6)

18 There will be weeping and gnashing of … (Matthew 8:12) (5)

20 Walkway between rows of pews in a church (5)

Send your answers with your name to  External link opens in new tab or


August Answers


1  Mosaic; 4  Scales; 7  Cana; 8  Claudius; 9  Sadducee; 13 SLM; 16 Self-confident; 17 Sad; 19 Radiuses; 24 Shepherd; 25 Bind; 26 Astern; 27 Arthur



1 Mock; 2 Sandalled; 3 CICCU; 4 Share; 5 Aide; 6 Equal; 10 Décor;11 Caned; 12 Elihu; 13 Sherebiah; 14 Moth; 15 Uses; 18 Ashes; 20 ASEAN; 21 India; 22 Apse; 23 Eder

Winner  Peter Warren




Rearrange these letters to form the names of 10 offices held by people who did important jobs at St Mary's (e.g. Church Hall Secretary.) Answers may consist of one, two or three words.



















9.     GOR STAIN





Answers to August Anagrams:      Winners:  Wyn Hirst and Bill Davison


Test cricket grounds - answers


1.     OLD TRAFFORD     2.     THE OVAL         3.     LORD'S     4.     HEADINGLEY     5.     EDGBASTON


6.     RIVERSIDE              7.     ROSE BOWL    8.     TRENT BRIDGE   9.     SOPHIA GARDENS



                                                                                                 Compiled by Peter Warren

 Send your answers with your name to  External link opens in new tab or



How much is that doggie in the rescue centre?

There are going to be a lot of homeless young dogs this autumn. That is because almost one in five people who bought a lockdown puppy last year are now thinking about giving up their new pet.

Research from The Kennel Club found that many owners are worried that they will be unable to give their dog a suitable home when they return to full-time work in the office. The result is a “looming welfare crisis faced by this pandemic pup generation.”

The Kennel Club also found that many new dog owners want to see more places open up for dogs. Accessibility is becoming an increasing priority for dog lovers, and so the Kennel Club is calling on establishments from all sectors to become more dog friendly. The campaign ‘Open for Dogs’ is stressing the benefits of welcoming canines to businesses and workplaces.


David Pickup, a solicitor, offers some tips for holding a successful church meeting.

How to make the most of a church meeting

Open and close every meeting with a prayer. It can be a very simple request for a blessing and guidance. You could select a Bible verse from the daily reading to go with it.

Apologies for absence. These are just an acknowledgement that someone knew the meeting was on, but was not able to attend.

Quorum. A quorum is the minimum number without which you cannot have a meeting. It is usually a third of the total.

Ex officio. This simply means members who are automatically members and are not elected. There is no difference in voting rights.

Chair. There should always be a chair and preferably a vice chair. The chair has a second or casting vote.

What is a good number? The importance of each member increases as the size of the group reduces. If you only have four people, then each member’s attendance is essential.

Time. It is often true that the earlier the meeting starts, the sooner it ends.  Thus, a 7 pm meeting ends at 8, 7.30 at 9 and 8 and 10 pm. The chair should say “we aim to finish at 9 (or whenever)”.

Elections. If you have the same number of candidates or fewer than the number of posts, you do not need an election. So, if you need two members on the sandwich subcommittee and two people stand, you do not need an election.

Proposer and seconder. This is not necessary.

Voting. You only need a vote if there is a disagreement. If everyone is happy with fish paste sandwiches, you do not need a proposer, seconder or vote. But you do need fish paste.

Minutes. A minute is a brief record of what was decided and why and any relevant comments. For example, “It was decided we would have fish paste sandwiches again, but Mrs Bloggs said she would like tuna next year.”

Every so often stop and ask, “what did we actually decide?” And if you manage to decide something, who is going to do it and when? Some minutes helpfully set this out in an extra column.

Aob. Unless it is urgent, any other business should be discussed at the next meeting. The purpose of an agenda is to set out what will be discussed. Members can decide on whether to attend based on the agenda. It is unfair to discuss cucumber sandwiches if it is not on the agenda. Some meetings – usually annual ones – should not have an aob.

Next meeting. Agree a date, time and place.

End with the Grace. Thank people for coming. Keep a sense of mission. We are humbly and obediently serving God. Fish paste is important but not that much.

As always, this is a light-hearted guide, and refer to the church rules and regulations. There are plenty of good books and websites on holding meetings.


Peter Brierley considers the numbers of female clergy. 

Female clergy

In 1992 the Church of England voted to allow the ordination of women.  Since 2014 they have also been able to become Bishops. The percentage of female clergy across all denominations in the UK in 1992, the first year it was counted, was 7% (of which 5% was Church of England).

By the year 2000 it was 10% for all denominations, by 2008 19%, by 2016 21% and in 2019, the latest year available, it is 24% (but 29% for Church of England and 23% for their senior clergy).

The Salvation Army has the largest proportion of female officers – an estimated 49% in 2020. The United Reformed Church has also had a high percentage – 36% in 2020.

Likewise in 2020, the Methodist Church of Great Britain had 36%, and the Church of Scotland had 28%. In 2020 the Baptists had 15%, New Churches (especially Vineyard, Newfrontiers and Pioneer) 16%, and Pentecostals 15%.  The Roman Catholics and the Orthodox have no women priests at all.

How do these percentages compare with female leadership generally?  Globally there are 21 women serving as the head of state or government in 193 countries, which is 11%. In the UK, of the top FTSE 100 companies only 5% of the CEOs are women.  Of the MPs returned in the 2019 general election, 34% were women.  In the UK regular Armed Forces, 11% are women.

One can always make other comparisons, but by these few examples, the percentage of female ministers is at least comparable to, if not better than, other sections of British society.


St James the Least of All

On the perils of taking a wedding


The Rectory

St James the Least of All


My dear Nephew Darren


As with many of your ideas, your intentions are admirable; it is just that they don’t work.


So it was with the recent wedding in your church, where you allowed the happy but quite mad young couple to try and imitate the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was kind of them to want to celebrate Will and Kate’s recent 10th wedding anniversary, but it did not seem to occur to anybody that your church, converted from a 1960s warehouse, is fractionally less impressive than Westminster Abbey. And I feel that a backdrop of a car park and canal make a poor substitute for the Houses of Parliament and the Thames. Finally, even 43 very enthusiastic young people can hardly pretend they are a congregation of several thousand.


However, I do applaud your decision to invite me to take it, in order to impart a degree of gravitas to the proceedings, though of course I would not presume to upstage the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Although were he to ask my advice on how to run the Anglican Church, I have several helpful suggestions to hand.) But even I struggled to keep things on a proper course when the bride, lacking a horse-drawn carriage, simply walked up the lane with her ancient pony. (Which then tried to bite me at the church door!)


Her arrival was greeted with music. I will pass no comment on this, as the Bible says we are to make a joyful noise, not necessarily music, unto the Lord. I am sure that drums and kazoos and guitars all have their place – somewhere or other.


It was a pity that the groom, unlike Prince William, had not thought to get to the church on time – or indeed, at all. It was fortunate that the bride’s mother found him in that pub nearby, or really, we would have struggled to complete the wedding.


Your loving uncle,





By the Revd Peter Crumpler, a Church of England priest in St Albans, Herts, and a former communications director for the C of E.


Learning lessons from a graveyard

If you’re looking for a quiet oasis away from the bustle and busyness of everyday life, there’s a place where nature, heritage and the life histories of hundreds of local people are on peaceful display.

Take a walk in your local cemetery.

The chances are it’s a place where nature abounds, where socially-distant peace can be found, and you can meditate on the deeper issues of life.

It’s true that graveyards seldom feature in most people’s favourite places to visit. Many find them morbid, reminding them of their own mortality.

Or they can prompt memories of loved ones no longer with us, and the sadness overcomes the happy memories of the life shared together. Others simply rush past cemeteries or graveyards, without even noticing that they are there.

But walk among the gravestones, read the inscriptions and you find the stories of people’s lives.

Samuel Ryder, the Hertfordshire seed merchant who devised the United States v Europe Ryder Cup golf tournament, is buried in the cemetery opposite the church where I minister. When I visited recently, someone had left golf balls on his grave.

In the same cemetery, there are more than 200 plain white graves of local and Commonwealth service people who died during the two world wars, and a memorial to the many local soldiers who died in the First World War.

To wander around any cemetery or graveyard is to enter into the lives of generations of families. To see the grave of the still-born baby close to the child who died in infancy, both near to the grandmother who died in her nineties. The husband and wife who died within months of each other, are alongside the wife who outlived her spouse by decades.

I’m always struck by how people are described. Most are defined by their family relationships – beloved grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, wife, husband, son or daughter.

Others are described by their roles in life – actress, golf professional or for the war graves, by their ranks. How long, I wonder, had the young men and women been in uniform before meeting their deaths – and being remembered ever after as soldiers? In some cases, it may have been just a few months.

What, I find myself asking, would I like to have written on my gravestone? How would each of us like to be remembered? How can long lives be summed up in the few words you can fit on a gravestone?

And what is it that we are doing in life that will be of lasting value? Cemeteries are places that can make you consider your own life and think about what is important in it.

Many Christian funerals begin with the words of Jesus Christ, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’

It is a promise I hold to as I walk the paths around the graves.

The Revd Peter Crumpler is associate minister at St Paul’s Church, Fleetville, St Albans.


Just how dangerous is cannabis?

If you have a child or grandchild, it’s quite possible they will have tried cannabis. Known in various forms as pot, weed, skunk, Ganga and marijuana, it’s the most widely used illegal drug. One in three 17-year-olds have experimented with it and some are now regular users or addicts. Described as the ‘gateway drug’, one in 10 cannabis users have gone on to hard drugs.

Some claim it’s a harmless recreational practice, less damaging than alcohol. It has been legalised in 18 American States, including California. Take a tourist bus tour of San Francisco, and your guide will point out the shops which are licensed to sell the drug. It is argued that the illegal use of pot was so widespread that licensing its sale was the only way to break the chain of criminal activity involved with its production and distribution. The American TV documentary series Murder Mountain suggests otherwise.

Recent research has cast doubt on the ‘harmless’ claim: not only does early use of cannabis increase by 37% the chances of depression in adulthood, but the drug actually causes long-lasting damage to the thinking skills and behaviour of developing brains – worse than teenage drinking. Regular use may affect the respiratory and immune systems and even the ability to procreate. Whether or not it causes cancer is an open question, but it is usually mixed with tobacco, which is undoubtedly carcinogenic.

Evidence that cannabis may reduce certain kinds of pain has been examined by the Multiple Sclerosis Society, which reports that although cannabis may benefit some with MS, it has been linked to mental health problems such as anxiety, memory loss, panic attacks and psychotic episodes.

Just before he died in 2020, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks published Morality, a searching and sober analysis of behaviour in the West. In a chapter on widespread drug use, he wrote “I think of the lives that might have been saved, if figures of authority and influence had cared enough to say ‘No’ more firmly.”



Harry Secombe – genius for buffoonery

One hundred years ago, on 8th September 1921, Sir Harry Secombe was born in Swansea. The comedian, actor, writer, singer and TV presenter was one of the stars of the anarchic 1950s radio series, The Goon Show.

His family belonged to St Thomas Church, and his elder brother, Fred, became a Church of Wales priest. Later in life Sir Harry was a presenter of religious programmes, such as the BBC’s Songs of Praise and ITV’s Highway.

He met Spike Milligan during the war in North Africa and later bumped into him again at the Windmill Theatre, where he was doing comedy routines. There they also met Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine – forming the team that eventually produced The Goon Show. A natural clown with a “genius for buffoonery”, Harry was the focus, and he moved on to star in a series of films, including Oliver!

He was also a talented and popular tenor. He was knighted in 1981, referring to himself as Sir Cumference in reference to his size – he was later forced to diet for medical reasons, and died at the age of 79 of prostate cancer. His tombstone bears the inscription “To know him is to love him”.


Dead Sea Scrolls – brought to light 30 years ago

Thirty years ago, on 22nd September 1991, photographs and transcripts of the Dead Sea Scrolls were made available to scholars generally for the first time.

The Scrolls – ancient, mostly Hebrew or Aramaic manuscripts of leather, papyrus, and copper – were first found in 1947 near the shore of the Dead Sea. They come from various sites and date from the third century BC to the second century AD.

The decision by the Huntington Library, which is in San Marino, California, to make the Scrolls public was hailed by its director, Dr William A Moffett, as a bold move “equivalent to breaking down the Berlin Wall”. Up to that time access to the scrolls had been restricted to a fairly small group of ‘authorised’ scholars.

The Huntington photograph collection was created by philanthropist Elizabeth Hay Bechtel in 1980, with Robert Schlosser taking the actual pictures. After her death in 1987 they became the property of the library, with no agreed restrictions on their use – unlike the official collections, which certain experts reserved for their own use “to ensure scholarly accuracy”.

Last year the Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC, confirmed that all 16 of the fragments it owns are modern forgeries.


Remembering Dante

Dante Alighieri, the Italian ‘supreme poet’, died 700 years ago, on 13th September 1321. Regarded as the most important poet of the Middle Ages, he is best known for his Divine Comedy, widely considered the greatest literary work in Italian and an influence on such English writers as Chaucer, Milton and Tennyson.

Born in Florence in about 1265 but exiled from the city in 1301 amid political turmoil, Dante – a forerunner of the Renaissance – established the use of the vernacular instead of Latin in literature and helped standardise the Italian language.

His work and life were inspired by his love for Beatrice Portinari, whom he first met as a child: he claimed to be overwhelmed by her beauty. He never knew her closely, and when he was 12 his family arranged for him to marry Gemma, a member of the powerful Donati family. But Beatrice remained his inspiration, appearing in the Divine Comedy as a guide and depicted as semi-divine, in the style of a muse-like guardian angel.

The word Comedy does not indicate humour, but belief in an ordered universe: in this case it depicts a pilgrimage from Hell to Paradise, beginning with moral chaos and ending with a vision of God.


Take a break

Here is a good tip if you are trying to learn a new skill: take short, regular breaks as you go along.

US neurologists helping people to rehabilitate from strokes have found that short breaks allow them to replay what they have learned, which cements the new skill in their memory. As one explained: “Manipulating replay activity during waking rest may be a powerful tool to help people learn new skills faster.”


 All in the month of SEPTEMBER

It was:

700 years ago, on 13th Sept 1321 that Dante Alighieri, Italian poet, died. Regarded as the most important poet of the Middle Ages. Best known for his Divine Comedy.

125 years ago, on 24th Sept 1896 that F Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist and short story writer, was born. Regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.  Best known for his novel The Great Gatsby.

100 years ago, on 8th Sept 1921 that Sir Harry Secombe was born. This Welsh comedian, actor, writer, singer and TV presenter was one of the stars of the 1950s radio series The Goon Show.

80 years ago, on 1st Sept 1941 that Nazi Germany ordered all Jews in Germany and its occupied territories to wear a yellow Star of David badge.

75 years ago, from 20th Sept – 5th Oct 1946 that the first Cannes Film Festival was held.

65 years ago, on 16th Sept 1956 that Play-Doh went on sale in the USA. It was originally sold as a wallpaper cleaning compound, but was then relaunched as a modelling compound when the inventor’s nephew discovered that nursery school children were using it to make Christmas ornaments.

60 years ago, on 11th Sept 1961 that the World Wildlife Fund (now the World Wide Fund for Nature) was founded in Switzerland.

50 years ago, on 15th Sept 1971 that Greenpeace, the international environmental group, was founded in Vancouver.

30 years ago, on 6th Sept 1991 that the Russian city of Leningrad was renamed St Petersburg, restoring its original name.

25 years ago, on 27th Sept 1996, that the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Afghanistan, ousting President Burhanuddin Rabbani, and executing former President Mohammad Najibullah.

20 years ago, on 11th Sept 2001, that the 9/11 terrorist attack on the USA took place.  2,973 people were killed.


Dress codes

Has this past year changed your preference in what you wear? Almost a third of workers want to ditch formal dress codes when the pandemic ends and more of us return to the office.

That is the finding of a recent study by recruiter Randstad, who found that the notion of ‘dressing for success’ has been weakened by the pandemic. After a year of working in casual clothes at home, many of us feel considerable resistance to ‘getting dressed for work’ again.


Hoodies in the office?

What will keep us safer in the office as we return to work? Better ventilation. And in many cases that is best achieved by more open windows, all winter. And that could mean wearing something warmer to work – such as a woolly jumper or hoodie.

Such is the conclusion of a report from the Royal Academy of Engineering on how to reduce the risk of infection indoors. It was commissioned by Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

As one scientist put it: “If someone is comfortable and working effectively wearing a woolly jumper or a hoodie, why do we need to get worried about it?”



 Lester Amann considers the lesson of the caterpillar and the butterfly

Becoming new


When a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, it’s hard to believe it’s the same creature. But at both stages of its life, it has a body that is perfectly suited to living in a particular environment.
This insect can help us understand the afterlife and the significance of the resurrected Jesus. Paul, on his journeys, discovered that some members of the church in Corinth were confused about life after death. So, Paul, wrote a lengthy letter to them to explain the importance of the resurrection of Jesus, and how it affects our future existence.
Paul doesn’t mention caterpillars and butterflies but describes a seed becoming a plant. By just looking at an individual seed there is no knowing what it is going to look like! But out of its death comes a beautiful new life form.
Paul points out that all living beings have a body that enables them to live in a particular environment. There are earthly bodies for living in a physical world and a spiritual body for living in the heavenly realms. And so God will give to us a new spiritual body to enable us to live with Him in heaven.
Of course, all butterflies eventually die, but in our resurrected body we will not be subject to decay or death. How do we know this? Jesus said: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Jesus pioneered the way for us. He died on the cross, arose from the grave, and so opened up the way for all believers in Him to go to Heaven. Thanks be to God!


Some Benefactor!!

In Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire stands the parish Church of St. Vigor’s, which had fitted to it a clock which had a curfew and day bell!   Cutting edge technology at the time!

Realising the clock would need repair and maintenance in the future a local resident, Richard Wright, bequeathed a small pocket of land in 1525 to a trust for the upkeep of the parish clock.  He could not have foreseen the massive windfall that his legacy would have some 500 years later to the parish,

The original clock was replaced in about 1775, and at some point in the 1800s the so called Wright’s Clock Land Trust swapped its pockets of land for a 17 acre field outside the village. In recent years the field was rented to a local farmer who paid the trust £1,400 a year.

With the expansion of Cambridge and biomedical research and technology, the fields became targets for developers and a few years ago the trust turned down an offer of £750,000 for it!!

South Cambridge then changed half the field’s status from agricultural to business land and the trust decided to sell nine acres during the lock down.

The trust’s steward broke the news to the six other fellow trustees on a Zoom call, that there had been an offer of £18.5 million!!  Apparently, there was a sharp intake of breath as they were astonished to say the least.. I bet they were, hope they were sitting down!

Fulbourn now faces an unusual problem of how to spend the money. The investment alone is generating £200,000 a year, considerably more than the local council’s annual revenues, and the trust still owns eight more acres of land worth a few more millions.

The trust can only spend the money in Fulbourne, but last year it changed its constitution to allow it to do more than maintain the church clock. However, its munificence is still restricted to work throughout the church and churchyard, and by giving grants to advance any purpose with charitable public benefit in the parish.

For example, the trust has already bought new IT equipment for the village school and paid for extra staff. They are preparing to install a new heating system and solar panels at the church and floodlights at the local tennis club. They are also considering buying a house for the curate, creating an arts centre and restoring the village windmill, but this will scarcely dent the trust’s coffers.

All this from the benefactor Richard Wright in 1525 about whom nothing else is known.

Barry Lomas


Photo:  David Gant, of the Wright’s Clock Land Trust, which has sold a field in Fulbourne to a Cambridge college for £18.5 million as a site for offices


 When Fiction becomes Fact??


Many churches around the country face similar problems, falling numbers, leaking roofs and lack of funds.


One church, however, has a very unusual problem. St Mary’s in Whitby stands proudly on the cliff top overlooking the harbour and the sea but that is not the problem.  It is Whitby and its long association with the Dracula story. In the classic story Dracula arrived by ship from Transylvania, and ever since its publication the town and the local shops have been full of memorabilia relating to the subject, plus the now famous Gothic Association.


However. back at St Mary’s things are not so good. Each summer, increasing numbers of tourists arrive expecting to see Dracula’s grave !?  The church staff, now tired of repeating the same answer, have instead resorted to putting up notices around the church… “Please do not ask staff where Dracula’s grave is.  There isn’t one. Thank you”  Even this has not stopped some tourists becoming verbally aggressive towards the volunteer staff.  They have now resorted to a new sign “Sorry it is not here… it’s not anywhere! In fact, it’s not anywhere because Dracula is FICTION.....”.


Will it solve the problem? I for one doubt it.  If any of the visitors had read the book (some hope) by Bram Stoker…..spoiler alert!   Dracula dies when turned to dust in his Transylvanian fortress rather than having a traditional church burial.


Fact or Fiction??


Barry Lomas



Smile Lines


A preacher went into the pulpit one Sunday morning wearing a pair of new bifocals.  The reading portion of the glasses improved his vision considerably, but the top portion of the glasses didn’t work so well. In fact, he was experiencing dizziness every time he looked through them. Finally, he apologised to the congregation. “I hope you will excuse my continually removing my glasses,” he said. “You see, when I look down, I can see fine, but when I look at you, it makes me feel sick.”


A man went into a drop-in medical centre where the diagnosis was done by a computer. The patient keyed in his symptoms. The machine whirred and buzzed for a few seconds and then presented its findings on the screen. It said simply: “There’s a lot of it about.”


My three-year-old was saying his nightly prayers in a very low voice. “I can’t hear you,” I finally whispered.

He said firmly, “Wasn’t talking to you.”


Before setting off on a business trip to Birmingham, I called the hotel where I’d be staying to see if they had a gym. The hotel receptionist’s sigh had a tinge of exasperation in it when she answered.

“We have over 100 guests at this facility,” she said. “Does this ‘Jim’ have a last name?”

From a church notice sheet: 

PLEASE NOTE: ‘From this Sunday the evening service will begin at 8pm. This will continue until October.’



A little girl had been to Sunday School for the first time and was asked by her mother how it compared with her new primary school. “Oh, I like it much better,’ she said.  ‘There are no exams there, you go only once a week for an hour, and at the end you go to heaven instead of high school.”

It was our Harvest Festival Sunday. My husband had cut his ear while shaving. We arrived at the church just in time to sing: ‘First the blade and then the ear’.

The sentence, ‘Are you as bored as I am?’, can be read backwards and still make sense.


A young man rang his mother to announce, with great excitement, that he’d at last fallen in love and was contemplating marriage.  He went on: “Just for fun, I’m going to bring over my girlfriend and two of her friends. I would like you to try and guess which one I’m going to marry.” The mother agreed. So, the next day her son arrived at his mother’s house with three beautiful young women. They sat on the sofa and chatted for a while with the family. When his mother went out to the kitchen to put the kettle on for tea, her son followed her. “Okay, mum,” he said. “Guess which one I would like to marry.” She replied at once: “The one in the green dress.” Her son was astonished and asked how on earth she had guessed. The mother shrugged. “That’s easy. I don’t like her.”

How different churches cope with adversity

When a Methodist minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “That was an experience, how do I learn from it?”

When a Catholic priest falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “I must have done something really bad to deserve that.”

When a Presbyterian minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “That was inevitable, I’m glad it’s over.”

When a Baptist minister falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “Which one of my deacons pushed me?”

When a vicar falls down the stairs, he picks himself up and says, “Will I need a faculty to get the staircase repaired?”


The views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of St Mary's, it's clergy or the Church of England.