From the Rector - December 2016

Dear friends,

I hope that you have a holy Advent Season and on behalf of all our church communities in the Benefice, I also pray you have a holy and blessed Christmas and New Year. I hope to see you over the Christmas period.

I also hope you have already seen news about our revision of the pattern of service, but I am aware that some people, who I expected might have, have not. I have therefore given my space over to one of our Churchwardens, Bob Thackray, who will explain the changes below, and for which I am very grateful .............




From Bob Thackray

When a group of parishioners from the five parishes that make up our Benefice met in May 2016 to discuss the possible revision of the Sunday service rota, the last thing that any of us expected was speedy agreement.

The first step was to try to understand why any change was considered necessary.

The Benefice has one priest, Richard. Those others who often take services are retired clergy who help us out of the kindness of their hearts. They will continue to do so whenever they can, but we must have a rota that can, if necessary, be operated by one priest with the help of lay leaders. With that in mind, the timings have been altered to make possible the journey from, for instance, East Knoyle to Charlton between services.

We have all noticed with some frustration the Sundays when there seem to be identical services at the same time at churches that are little more than a stone's throw apart. The new rota needed to ensure that there is one of each type of service somewhere in the Benefice on each Sunday. A balance should also be achieved between the two ends of the Benefice.

Within the bounds of these two principles, the working group quickly came up with a workable solution that gave each parish the range of services that they requested. Compromises had to be made over exact timing, and parishes had to accept that some of their services would be on different Sundays in the month — but beyond that, all fitted in well.

It is hoped that the new arrangements will provide much more for families with children. The 9.30am Sung Eucharist each week will develop to include ‘Sunday School’ activities for children in another space and also a musician and choir of adults and children moving around the Benefice with this service.

There will also be a Family Service each week for those who like something less formal which includes both children and adults throughout the worship. The Family Communion at Charlton on the third Sunday will provide a bridge for children between Family Service and the Sung Eucharist.

All 8.30am communions, 11.00am Matins and 6.00pm Evensong services will follow the Book of Common Prayer.

We have created a rota that covers the four Sundays of each month. When there is a fifth Sunday, and also on the Sundays following Christmas and Easter, there will always be just two services, a Sung Eucharist with no provision for children at Sedgehill, and a Family Service run by a team from across the Benefice at Charlton. The real hope is that churchgoers will pick the services that suit them best, wherever they are held. We are one Benefice and can keep our parish allegiances whilst moving around to worship in ways that best suit us.

The new rota will begin on 1st January 2017 with a Benefice Sung Eucharist at Sedgehill at 9.30am and a Family Service at Charlton at 11.00am. This may seem the worst possible day to launch anything new, but you are urged to put aside your headache from the night before and to venture out to one or other place. As an incentive, the hospitality following the Sedgehill Service is legendary, whilst Charlton will be serving a restorative cup of tea or coffee from 10.30am.

See you there!

Bob Thackray

PS. Click here to view, download and/or print a copy of the new pattern of services.