Top Banner


Claire's Messages of February 2014

It’s been a good year for films so far with plenty of opportunities to see something that will inspire and move a wide range of people. Many of the most memorable films that reach our cinema screens and then our televisions focus on the story of an individual and their journey through life. The films Mandela, The Butler and 12 Years a Slave are poignant and important because they share with us what it is like to walk through life with all its ups and with all its downs. They share with us the reality that hope and redemption sometimes come at a greatn price. They are also reminders to us all that life is never quite as easy as we might think it should be and that we will often need the help and encouragement of others as we make our journey through life.

Thank you to everybody who helped with the Christmas hampers this year. We were asked to help fill thirty hampers this year, which is the most we have ever had to do. It would not have been possible to do this without the generosity of all of you who collected Christmas items and presents. The hampers looked wonderful and were overflowing with all the lovely things that you had collected. The financial donations from churches, organisations and individuals also helped to ensure that we could make sure that each hamper was really full of all the treats that we enjoy at Christmas. Thank you for caring and for wanting to make a difference.

We often talk about the Christian life as being a journey and we are encouraged throughout the year to think about this and what it means for us. Lent is a particular time when we can get together to explore what our faith means to us and be given the opportunity to look a little more closely at important elements of our faith. In the autumn Eva McIntyre wrote about our Lent project “This is Our Story” (please see page 5). This is something different from a usual Lent Course but it will provide the time and space to explore stories of the Old Testament and then to look closely at the Passion of Jesus as we work together on a short play based on the Passion which will receive its premiere at the Team Palm Sunday Service.
This is an exciting way of journeying through Lent and we hope that many of you will want to share in it. The “This is Our Story” Lent Group will meet on Thursday mornings during Lent 11am-12.30pm at Burford Rectory. The first session will be on 6th March and we will go though to 10th April, with the play being performed on Palm Sunday 13th April. Everyone is welcome to come along and share the journey – no acting skills necessary! If you need a lift to Burford Rectory please just ask and we can arrange transport for you.

Also during Lent we will be taking the opportunity to look more deeply at some aspects of our faith in the preaching that will be happening. This year we will not be having our Passionate for the Passion discussions, in place of a formal sermon, as we have done for the past two years. Instead we are going to be offering sermons and talks that will be based on a theme. This is often referred to as thematic preaching and allows us all to focus more closely on one particular idea or text. This Lent we will be using the Lord’s Prayer as our text and will look at a different phrase from the prayer each week. We will hopefully have the time and space to think carefully about what the words we say so often in church really mean and what difference they make to our journey of faith.

Lent is an important season in the Church’s year and I hope and pray that together we will journey well, learning and growing together as disciples of Christ, following in the footsteps of all the men and women of faith who have gone before us and whose stories have inspired and encouraged us.


“Pilgrim” – A Course for the Christian Journey

The Church of England has written a new discipleship course called “Pilgrim” that was launched in October. “Pilgrim” is described as an innovative and inspiring programme for enquirers, new Christians and existing Christians. It approaches the great issues of faith not through persuasion, but participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion in the company of a small group of fellow travellers. So far two modules, of six sessions each, have been produced – ‘Turning to Christ’, which looks at the questions in the baptism service, and “The Lord’s Prayer”. More information can be found at

The LMDG has looked at this course and would very much like to make it available in the Team after Lent. We hope there will be enough people interested in this course so we can get a good sized group so that we can learn and journey together. If you think you would like to journey with “Pilgrim” please let one of the LMDG know as soon as possible.


Revd Sian Messages of March 2014

If we ever want to take a look at what commitment looks like, we need look no further of course than to our own role model – Jesus Christ.

Whilst musing on Lent a few weeks ago, I could not get out of my mind the words, “And Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem’. This comes from the Gospel of Luke and the wholeverse is this: When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. (Luke 9: 51)

His prior words to the disciples (v. 22) ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’, these words show that Jesus knew just exactly what lay ahead of him and the horrific end to his own life that was coming. From the very beginning of his ministry (and probably for all of his life), from the temptations in the wilderness to the moment Pilate ‘handed him over to the people as they wished’ (Luke 23:25), Jesus knew what was coming. And yet in spite of the horror of it all he carried on, he continued his journey in order to carry out the will of God and ‘he set his face to go to Jerusalem’, his commitment was absolute.

Of course, we also see commitment in other places close to home: in members of our Armed Forces, the emergency services, the caring professions, in teaching and in farming, as those currently involved in the demands of lambing and generally caring for livestock would readily testify. Commitment always involves going the extra mile.

Going the extra mile is also something that Jesus said, - ‘and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile’ (Matthew 5:41) and it’s a rather large clue as to what God requires of us. The other clue is not so large and maybe not so apparent but notice that Jesus put all this in the present tense – he’s not talking about going the extra mile at some vague time in the future but right NOW. The opportunities are many and taking them right NOW is important. ‘Tomorrow may be another day’ and that’s a great thought when today has been rotten and we need to remember that tomorrow presents a lovely new clean slate but sadly, as we know only too well, there’ll be a time when ‘tomorrow never comes’. This is one of my very favourite poems that expresses well why Now is so important:

I was regretting the past and fearing the future. Suddenly my Lord was speaking: ‘My name is I AM’. He paused, I waited. He continued, ‘When you live in the past, With its mistakes and regrets, It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I was. When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, It is hard. I am not there. My name is not I Will Be. When you live in this moment, It is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM’

Revd Sian

Revd Sue's Message for April

During Lent this year, each Sunday in church we have been considering a sentence or phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. We have looked at it closely and in much more detail than we normally do, I expect, when we say the prayer day by day. The purpose of this is to think more deeply about and have greater understanding of what we say and this in turn will deepen our relationship with God. I find it awe-inspiring that millions of people all over the world say this prayer each and every day and that we do it because Jesus told us to do so.

The stories of the week leading up to Easter Day will also be very familiar to many of us: perhaps part of our childhood as well as part of our life as an adult. The week begins with Palm Sunday when we remember when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds cheering him and pleased to see him. As the week progresses we have other stories we recognise: the Last Supper when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples and washed the disciples feet, the story of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, his arrest, questioning by the Jewish leaders and then Pilate followed by his crucifixion and death. Following his burial in the garden tomb we have a day, as it were, in limbo when nothing happens but his disciples and friends are full of sadness and don’t know what to do. Then comes the joy and amazement of Easter Day when Jesus rises from the dead. I guess many of you know these stories as well as I do- they are all part of our ‘Big Story’ as Christians- they go to make up all the things that we remember that God has done for us in order to show us that he loves us. I do think that at this time of the year, however, there is great value in re-reading these Holy Week stories again and thinking about each one of them more closely and carefully, just like we have been doing with the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes something we read will stand out for us, challenge us, or even strike us as odd or something we had never even noticed before and through this God will speak to us in a way that we need, depending on our circumstances this year. This means that through the bible stories that tell us about Jesus’ life and death we learn and grow closer to God. Why not try it? This year in church we are reading from Matthew’s gospel.

During Holy Week we have all sorts of different events and services throughout the Team. These begin with a walk on Palm Sunday from St Mary’s, Tenbury to St Michaels Church, accompanied by our donkey on wheels, arriving in time for the Team Service there. I hope that the path this year is less snowy than last year! That service will include a drama which is a product of our Lent Course about story. We plan Holy Week events so that we have the opportunity to think about the sad and difficult experiences of that week as well and the joy and excitement of Easter- we can’t have Easter Day without Good Friday! So if you haven’t come to one of the mid-week events before, why not come and join us. Try something different and see if the contrast of sadness giving way to joy at the end of the week’s events allows you to see the Easter Day story in a different way. I always appreciate the light mornings, the joyful bird song that fills the air and the vivid colours of daffodils and new green shoots of springtime much more, having experienced the dark greyness of winter. Contrast, for me, helps to highlight difference and so appreciate change.

God bless you all this Easter and I hope that the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ transforms your life.

Revd Sue.

Claire's Messages of May 2014

It is hard to believe but our Link with Maramba Deanery is nearly nine years old! It really does feels like a lifetime ago that Kath Bills and I joined Walter and Hazel Gould as we headed south to meet the people of Maramba Deanery for the first time. We set off not knowing what to expect and how our link and partnership, if it got off the ground, might grow and flourish.

Kath and I remember the incredible confirmation service we attended where there were so many candidates and supporters that the small church was simply not big enough to hold everybody. So our service was held in a make-shift church of poles and palm branches that had been put up next to the original church. We soon discovered that Maramba had a big project – they wanted to build a new St Aidan’s Church that could more easily contain the many people who came to worship. Plans were drawn up and the work began. Over the past nine years as a Team we have worked in partnership with Maramba, supporting them as they realise their dream of a new church. They have worked so hard in raising funds and making sure the work is done to the best standard. It is testament to the commitment of their priests over the years, Canon James, Father William and Father Francis, that the new St Aidan’s Church is just about finished.

To celebrate the completion of St Aidan’s Church in the summer I shall be joining Chris Dovey and Mike and Bridget Hughes on a trip to visit our friends in Maramba, where we are looking forward to sharing in the service of dedication of the new St Aidan’s Church with Bishop Maimbo of Tanga. Clement, who visited last October, has already been in touch to say that I shall be leading their new English service at 6am on the day of the dedication!

Celebrating the dedication of a new church is always an exciting occasion and is another reminder of just how vibrant and committed the faith of our friends in Maramba is, and just how significantly the Church in Tanzania is growing. The Church of England recently published a report, From Anecdote to Evidence, which examined the findings from a national Church Growth Research Programme
(for more info see The report shares many good news stories of church growth and tries to identify what factors are associated with such growth, which can be helpful for us to reflect on: leadership; having a clear purpose and mission; being ready to self-eflect and learn continually; being willing to change and adapt; assigning roles to lay people as well as ordained clergy; actively engaging children and teenagers; actively engaging with those who might not go to church; good welcoming and follow up for visitors; committed to nurturing new and existing Christians; vision. That’s a lot to think about! As I wrote in our Team Annual Report, we recognise that it can be hard work being the Church in our part of the Kingdom; that we all try our best and are willing to keep going with what we know as well as being able to give something new a go. What we are above anything else is faithful and that is an important quality for any group of people trying to be Church and to share in God’s ministry and mission in the 21st Century.

Let us always be able to celebrate growth where we see it and let us be willing to join in the challenge of making church growth a reality wherever we are.

Revd Sian Messages of June 2014

Towards the end of March this year we had a wonderful Team Service at Nash Parish Church. We thoroughly enjoyed the singing of the joint choirs of St Mary’s Tenbury and St Michaels, the full church and the refreshments afterwards – it was a memorable occasion as I’m sure those of you who were there would agree. If you were there you may remember that I asked you all to write down where you find signs of the Kingdom of God in our communities and then what your Kingdom wishes are, that is, what you would like to see more or less of to show that the Kingdom is in our midst. Well here are the results of what you wrote: SIGNS OF THE KINGDOM that we see now (similar comments have been grouped together) 1. Friendship, fellowship and unity 19 (comments) 2. The way we treat each other 18 3. In creation 13 4. Caring for the needy 7 5. In the church and its work 6 6. In strength of faith 4 7. Working with children, our gifting, awareness of others in the world 2 of each 8. Happiness, continuity, service by some to others, ecumenical work 1 of each WHAT WE WISH FOR 1. Church and community working together more 13 2. Bigger congregations including children and families 12 3. Greater positive attitude towards each other 11 4. Different church practice 1 10 5. Friendship and unity 7 6. Peace 7 7. Churches and other faiths working more together 5 8. Communicating the gospel 2 9. That the church will be here for future generations 1 Clearly there is a great deal of food for thought here and some clear indications of what we should be doing. If any of you would like to be involved in taking this forward either by discussion and/or working with the LMDG then please let Claire, Sue or I know……. ‘your wish is our command!’

Revd Sian

Revd Sue's Message for July 2014

I am writing this article in advance this month because by the time it is due I will, hopefully, sunning myself in the Italian lakes and mountains whilst on holiday. Throughout the year we clergy spend some of our time reading books relevant to our role and faith which means we are constantly learning and developing. When my holiday comes, I put aside ‘improving’ books and read light stories to help me relax and unwind; this is a great pleasure for me since I love reading and enjoy a good story. However once back from holiday, I will again take up reading the type of books which nurture my faith

Many people are like me and love to read, but we don’t all learn most efficiently this way. We all have to learn in the way that suits us best. When I was at the hospice, I worked alongside a lovely volunteer who is well into her 80’s. She was and still is always very willing and excited to go on any training courses we offered. I was always amazed by this and very impressed that someone in her 80’s still wanted to learn. Her attitude is ‘When I am not learning I’ll be dead, and I’m not dead yet so there is still more to learn!’ I hope I still have this zest for learning and developing, should I be lucky enough to live into my 80’s.

Claire, Sian and I are all keen that we offer everyone in the Team a variety of opportunities to nurture and develop faith and grow closer to God. For each of us, developing our faith sometimes involves exploring our beliefs within a supported environment that allows questions and differences of opinion. This in turn lets us decide what it is that we believe for ourselves, rather than just things that we are told to believe by other people- it gives us a personal, living faith.

There are already bible study groups, house groups and prayer groups which meet in the Team throughout the month which are great but we are also going to offer the opportunity for you all to enjoy the Pilgrim Course which is a course that the Church of England has developed and the Diocese of Hereford is currently using in many parishes and has been very well received.

Pilgrim is a course for the Christian journey whatever our stage of the journey. It consists of several topics which are each looked at over six consecutive sessions. The first topic is called Turning to Christ and each session involves gathering as a group to look at a bible reading and then have discussions together around the topic. The first meeting, for example involves thinking about the attraction of Jesus Christ by looking at a Bible story about people finding Jesus and spending time with him. We would then have discussions about that and some of our own experiences. If you join us you do not have to talk if you don’t want to, you can just listen, but come, see and experience what goes on and you will learn and grow as you listen. It is always lovely to get together as a Christian family and while we are alive we need to learn and develop!

We are running a ‘taster session’ of Pilgrim on Tuesday 15th July 2-3.30pm in Tenbury Church Office- come along and see what’s involved without committing yourself: we hope you will like it and want to complete the first topic.

Pilgrim will then begin in earnest on Tuesday 9th September at 2pm and run for six weeks if this seems the most appropriate day and time for those who would like to attend. (9th,16th, 23rd, 30th Sept and 7th and 14th Oct- put these dates in your diary now)

I’ll enjoy a couple of weeks relaxing, but I look forward to renewed learning on my returnhope you feel fired-up too. God bless you all.
Revd Sue.