The Benefice of St. Bartholomew
Welcome to the website for the Benefice of St Bartholomew
- Written by Tony Gowers
The Benefice of St Bartholomew covers almost 30 square miles in the south west corner of Wiltshire. Most of the Benefice lies within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its exceptional landscapes and superb scenery. The Benefice includes the following parishes: Donhead St Mary with Charlton, Donhead St Andrew, East Knoyle, Semley and Sedgehill.
This site will tell you about our six Churches: St. John the Baptist Church in Charlton, St. Andrew's Church in Donhead St. Andrew, St Mary's Church in Donhead St. Mary, St. Mary's Church in East Knoyle, St. Catherine's Church in Sedgehill and St Leonard's Church in Semley.
The site also describes:
- The services and events which have been arranged for the whole Benefice - click here for more details.
- The activities organised for children and younger people in the Benefice - click here for the information.
If you have an item you would like to be included on this website or have suggestions on how we can improve the site, please click here.
Latest News And Forthcoming Services & Events
My Journey from Donhead St Andrew to Everest - Illustrated Talk - 26th April 2014
- Written by Tony Gowers
An illustrated talk 'My Journey from Donhead St Andrew to Everest Base Camp' will be given on 26 April 2014. Details are as follows:
Speaker: Elizabeth Hockney
When: Saturday 26th April 2014 at 7.30 pm
Where: St Andrew's Church, Donhead St Andrew
In her talk, Elizabeth will recount her recent trip to Nepal to trek to Everest Base Camp.
Refreshments will be available from 6.45 pm; a raffle for fine wine will be held during the evening.
Tickets: £10 for adults; £5 for those in full-time education - on sale by telephoning 01747 828201 or 01747 828446, and from Ludwell Stores (www.ludwellstores.co.uk)
The ticket price includes savoury and sweet canapés, served during the interval.
In aid of the St Andrew's Church Development Appeal. Click here to read more information about the Appeal.
Songs of Praise - St John's, Charlton - 4th May 2014
- Written by Rev. Alice Goodall
A service of Songs of Praise will be held on Sunday 4th May 2014 at 4.00 pm in St John's Church, Charlton. Come and enjoy your favourite hymns !
If you play an instrument, we would love you to join the St John's music group for the service - please get in touch with Theresa - telephone 01747 829188, or click here to send Theresa an email from this web site - when the new screen opens, select the heading 'Contact Form' to send an email.
And why not email us your favourite hymn - click here, and when the new screen opens, select the heading 'Contact Form' to send an email. If you'd like to, please tell us why you have chosen it. Alternatively, write it on a slip of paper, and either put it in the box at the back of St John's Church, or post it the Rev Steve Morgan, Semley Rectory (address details here) We don't promise to sing them all, but we will do our best !
Do come and join us - all are most welcome.
Donhead St Andrew Family Service & Workshop - 10th/11th May 2014
- Written by Tony Gowers
The next Family Service at St Andrew's, Donhead St Andrew, will be on Sunday 11th May 2014 at 9.45 am when we will be thinking about the Good Shepherd.
If you are 4 to 14 years old, then come along to our workshop on Saturday 10th May from 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm at Lilac Cottage, Charlton. This is your chance to chat to an alpaca, say hello to the sheep and their lambs, and find out about felt-making & spinning. It will lots of fun!
Book your place by telephoning Tamsin on 01747 828 525.
Children's Activity Week 2014 - 'Flight' Theme
- Written by Gerry Purdue
The 2014 Children's Activity Week will be based at Semley School as usual between Monday 4th August and Thursday 7th August inclusive. Booking forms will be available on 28th April in both Semley and Ludwell schools, for return as indicated on them by 9th May 2014. Alternatively, they can be obtained from Gerry from 28th April either by telephoning 01747 830419 or e-mail - click here and then fill in the Contact Form. Places are available for fifty-five children, aged between 5 and 11 inclusive on 31st August 2014, who either live in our Benefice or attend one of our schools.
We've lots of activities planned, many of which will, as usual, be in keeping with our 'Flight' theme: Nick Crump and Lizzie Bryant will be back with us, both of whom will lead flight-related, model-making activities; we will visit Mere Down Falconry (www.meredownfalconry.co.uk) on the Thursday where children will be able to get very close to all the birds of prey, including their famous Benji (pictured here on the left); and we are hoping to drop in to Chaldicott Barns in Semley to see how paragliders are put together. In addition, of course, we'll have all our usual fun activities, which will include cookery, modelling, painting, and pottery.
The Children's Activity Week Organising Team
From the Rector - April 2014
- Written by Rev. Steve Morgan
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
I thought I would use my article this month to explain some of the work that the churches in our communities do, to explore some of the challenges they are facing, and to share with you what they plan to do about them. All in 1000 words or less; I promise!
Turning first to the work of the church. The central purpose of the church is to worship God; our Sunday services are the main focus of this, more about these later. The Church also has a mission to serve the community in which it stands. The Church's physical presence is pretty obvious: our buildings are the tallest and largest in our villages. But the services they offer to the community may not be so obvious. The churches organise many different things including: visits to the housebound and bereaved, hospital visits, prison visits, music groups, youth groups, support groups for those who care for others, social events, holidays for young people, summer activities for children, help those in crisis or who are suffering injustice, not to mention keeping up the fabric of ancient churches and governing our local schools. And it is not just the clergy who do all this – there are many many other people who give their time for nothing.
You may wonder why I am telling you all this. It certainly isn't so that we can congratulate ourselves, nor is it to ask for money! The reason is that many of you will have heard talk on the television or in the papers about how the church is declining in national influence and power. This is undoubtedly true and it has been going on for quite some time now. I for one am not at all bothered by it! What matters to me is not representation in the corridors of power, but service on the ground. The institution of church may be declining, clergy and congregational numbers may be down, and money may be very tight indeed, but God will still carry on regardless. When things are tight like this it can feel as if we are being forced to our knees. Being on your knees is quite a good place to start if you are a church.
The Church has not always had national influence and there are places in the world today where it is penniless and powerless; yet in these very places it is a source of hope and inspiration for people, providing for their needs and standing up for justice. South Sudan is a good example. It is a desperately poor country, a place where a young girl is ten times more likely to die in child birth before the age of 15 than to complete her primary school education. The church in South Sudan walks alongside the people and lives with them, offering basic education, welfare, justice, work with the elderly and so much more. There is a remarkable similarity between the work of the Sudanese church and our own – even though the contexts are quite different and the conditions far less severe here in Wiltshire. Our mission is exactly the same – identify the need, meet it and don't count the cost. I for one have no real worry about the future of the Church of England. In 25 years' time it will be a very different institution from now, but it will still be here and the work that it does will still be necessary – so on we go!
Our churches in this Benefice (Benefice by the way is the church word for a group of churches served by one group of ministers or priests) have the great advantage of being physically in the centre of their communities. Whilst there is a lot going on in our villages that has nothing to do with church, the churches have the great advantage of being a public space that is available for anyone to come into. In some of our villages it is the only public building.
Many people lament the loss of community in our society. In the countryside, we do not have such a problem of fragmentation as in the cities. This is in part because our communities are not as diverse and it is easier to find common ground. Lack of diversity has both advantages and challenges! But it is also because of the effort that many people put into the events and activities which bring us all together.
The Church also has a mission to bring people together in one accord. We had a great time of celebration in Donhead St Mary just a few weeks ago when both churches – St Mary's and St John's Charlton – had large congregations celebrating their communities in the context of worship. When we gather together like this, we find out what the needs are that the church can meet – and so it goes on.
Many people have said to me over the past few years that they like the large church services when we all gather together. Christmas and Easter are always great times of large congregations. For this reason, we are going to have a few more joint services where we can all gather together as one community. This Easter each of the three churches in the Donheads will be the host for one of the main Easter events. Palm Sunday will be in Charlton, Easter Saturday in Donhead St Andrew and Easter Day in Donhead St Mary. It should be a great time of gathering, of singing and of worship.
In 1897, the death of Mark Twain was announced. He wrote his famous words in the New York Journal the day after. 'Reports of my death are an exaggeration.' Reports of the death of the church are also greatly exaggerated. It still lives, it still worships the living God and it is still quietly serving behind the scenes.