From the Rector - January/February 2017

Dear Friends,

As you may know, our magazine Editor was ill over the Christmas period, and consequently there was no January edition of the ‘Parish News’. I therefore have to say two things. The first is a very Happy New year to you all, and the second is a thankful recognition for all that Suzanne does for us and to encourage you all to pray for her and her family as she recovers.

It seems that every February I end up writing something about Lent. That then is where I will briefly start. Easter this year falls on April 16th (April 23rd being the latest possible). I am sure many of you are very aware of this fact as it may have implications for work and for things such as school holidays. In this short piece I simply want to flag up that on Ash Wednesday (1st March) there will be a joint Sung Eucharist with imposition of ashes (isn't that a lovely phrase?) at 7.00 pm at Donhead Saint Andrew. For those unable to make that there will be a said service at 10.00 am at Sedgehill. There will also be a pancake party at the The Rectory the night before (28th February from 7.30 pm)

However, I am feeling that there is a festival that gets missed in February that deserves just a little mention here, if you will indulge me!

You may all know the gospel story of the Presentation (you can find it in St Luke Chapter 2 if you have forgotten the details): Mary and Joseph come to the Temple with their baby to make the offering required under the law for a first-born son. They are greeted there by an old man and an old woman - Simeon and Anna - who recognise the significance of the young child and say mysterious and unsettling things. This child brings hope and promise, but he is also ‘destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel’. The whole point of ‘celebrating the Presentation of Christ in the Temple - often known as Candlemas - is that it points in two directions at once; back - to the Christmas story of Christ's birth; and forward - to his Passion on Good Friday.

All through life there are bit-part characters. People who pop up from time to time, who don't seem to have much of a part to play, but who, in the cosmic scheme of things, are enormously important people. People like Simeon and Anna.

Both of them are mentioned only once in the Bible and they both have only a walk-on part. But it's such an important part that neither of them have ever been forgotten. They were both elderly people. We don't know quite how old Simeon was, but we're told Anna was eighty-four and had been a widow for many years. They had something else in common too. They were both very spiritual people. Simeon was someone who was able to listen to God, for he'd already heard from God that he wouldn't die before he'd seen the Messiah. Anna never left the temple. She worshipped with fasting and prayer, night and day. When Mary and Joseph came into the temple with Jesus, both Simeon and Anna instantly knew this baby was the long awaited Messiah. There must have been hundreds of little families every year, coming to make their offerings. Why did both Simeon and Anna single out this family as being different? I think because they'd both spent a lifetime waiting upon God. Being silent before him, praising him, praying to him, listening to him, reading his word in the Scriptures. Their whole lives for many years had been immersed in God, so that when the moment came, they recognised it.

I am convinced that what will bring people to God is a genuine love for each other, inside and outside the Church, and prayer. Prayer not only for people to come to Christ, but the very prayerfulness of the community itself. If we want to be ready, if we too want to begin to recognise the holy in the ordinary, the holy in the everyday, then we need to spend regular time alone with God. And gradually, imperceptibly, as He draws us closer, we too shall begin to spot God amongst the everyday and others will see Him in us.



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.

From the Rector - November 2016


Dear Friends,

This month I would like to use my letter to tell you about two changes that we are making across the Benefice. In recent months we have recruited and trained a group of people to be a Lay Pastoral Visiting Team. They are available across the Benefice. If you would like a visit from one of the team then please let us know in the Benefice office on 830174. If you think someone else would benefit from this service please try to discuss this with them before you ask us to visit, as we will need their consent. If you would prefer to see someone from outside your community or would prefer to see someone of a specific gender then we are very happy to try to pair you with someone most suited to you. This does not mean that I am not happy to visit. I enjoy visiting and if you specifically would like to see me I would be happy to visit. If you need a specific kind of visit such as Home Communion please do ask and we will be very happy to arrange it.

Changes to the pattern of services from January 2017:

From the first week of my taking office I have been asked how I am going to change the pattern of services. I requested at Parochial Church Councils that I had some time to get to know how things work here. The background to this is that in recent years the Benefice has gone from having three full time members of staff to having one (me). The pattern of services when I arrived had regular services at 8.30, 9.30 for 10, 9.45, 10, 10.30, 11 and 6pm. On one of our Sundays there are three services at 9.45 and one at 10.30. This means on that Sunday we need at least four different people to be available and willing to take these services every month. In January I asked each PCC to appoint four people to meet and discuss the needs of their own church and community and also to think how all services work across the Benefice. In May we came together as one large group to think how we could go forward. We decided to change all (bar one) main service time to 9.30 and 11 and retain an 8.30 and 6pm. We have worked very hard to try to make sure that there are a range of services available each Sunday and that they are less in competition with each other than they are at the moment. This means that if there are five services a Sunday, which usually there are, l am able to do 8.30, a 9.30 an 11 and a 6pm. The gap between 9.30 and 11 means that there is a gap of 30 minutes which means I have 10 minutes to say goodbye, 10 minutes to drive to the next church and 10 minutes to prepare. The 15 minutes at the moment is not very satisfactory. Each week there is a Sung Eucharist at 9.30 and in time it is envisioned that this will have a Sunday School/Children's Church and a small choir attached to it that will move around the churches. Please study the new pattern carefully so you know what to expect. l hope you will find the new arrangements helpful.

Yours ever,


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

From the Rector - October 2016

Dear Friends,

I sit to write this to you the morning following my fortieth birthday party. I'll take this opportunity to thank everyone who gave cards and gifts and passed on best wishes. It was greatly appreciated. Especial thanks go to Gerry Purdue and David Morgan who put up a "mini marquee" not once but twice due to fierce gusts of wind on the afternoon of the event. Thanks also to guests who had arrived from Bedford, Kent and France who held on to it until they arrived.

There are some similarities between my last parish which I left at the beginning of January 2010 and this Benefice. They are both rural, similar population numbers and similar demographics. One of the main differences seems to be the time one leaves a party. The party last night wound up just before 2am. With the exception of a former next door neighbour from Frome, Anna and I, the seven others left at the end were all from that last parish. There was something quite lovely that people I haven't served for six and a half years made such an effort. There was something nostalgic about having the "old gang back together".

Although there is a very sentimental part of me that always misses people and places of all the areas i’ve lived and worked that isn't what my reflecting on this is about. My thoughts have been about the nature and inevitability of change.

Our former neighbour from Frome now lives in Bedford. Of our seven friends from Sussex only two still live in the same village. The concept of change can be a very difficult one for people to grapple with especially when accompanied by a sense that things won't be the same again. On the other hand life is about constant change and development from the moment of our birth. We can sometimes forget this just as we can sometimes forget that we are called to grow with God.

I found myself saying at a wedding recently that I suspected that ultimately couples either grow together or they grow apart. We know that relationships and friendships and family life in one sense just happen and that, like my group of friends, we can meet after a long time and continue from where we left off. Yet we also know that all manner of relationships at times require work, patience, perseverance and forgiveness. They benefit from sharing joy and sadness and being together to lament and to celebrate. My conclusion is blindingly obvious and you would have seen it coming a mile away; we also need to spend time being aware of the presence of God and working to deepen our relationship with him. I just wish you and I would remember it more consistently!

Yours ever,


From the Rector - August 2016

Dear Friends,

Over the next few weeks. as mentioned previously, we have some major celebrations of our church communities.

On August 14th at 10.30am we have our Patronal Festival for the church of St Mary's East Knoyle. The president and preacher will be The Rt Rev'd Dom Giles Hill OSB. Abbot Giles has been my spiritual director since 2003. Born to a Methodist father and a Roman Catholic Mother, and educated by the Christian Brothers, it is scarcely surprising that Giles became an Anglican. When his father died at a young age. Giles became the bread-winner for his family comprised of Mum and two younger sisters. He worked as a Verger in Exeter Cathedral, and in due time entered Alton Abbey in 1967. Professed in 1969. it was not until I986 that he was ordained priest. He was elected as Abbot in 1990. in which he has served ever since with a three year interlude from 2010-13. He has an historical concern with the details of the Holocaust. reads detective and historical fiction, principally by British authors. Enjoys Irish whiskey and English beer; loves pasta, and won't eat chicken or lamb.

On August 21st at 10.30am we celebrate our Benefice Patronal of St Bartholomew. This service will take place at Semley Church. The president and preacher will be The Rt Rev'd john Kirkham who was educated at Lancing College and Trinity College. Cambridge. After training for ordination he was ordained to a curacy in lpswich. The positions he has held since include Chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich, Chaplain to the Bishop of New Guinea, Assistant Priest at St Martin in the Fields and St Margaret's Westminster, Chaplain to Archbishop Ramsey and Archbishop Coggan, Diocesan Director of Ordinands for Canterbury, Bishop of Sherborne in our own Diocese of Salisbury, and Bishop to the Forces. He was also Chairman of the Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education. Thanks also go to The Venerable John Holliman for helping to arrange Bishop Kirkham’s visit.

On September 4th we welcome The Rt Rev'd Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury to preside and preach at the Patronal Festival of Donhead St Mary. The first Bishop of Ramsbury was Aethelstan, appointed in 909. The ancient title of Bishop of Ramsbury means that Bishop Edward is responsible for the Wiltshire parts of the Diocese of Salisbury (as well as one parish in Dorset and four in Hampshire). He was ordained in 1982, after studying for a doctorate at Exeter College. Oxford. He has been a parish priest in rural, suburban and urban parishes. In Salisbury he is particularly keen to promote the rural church. He was previously Canon Treasurer at Canterbury Cathedral where he was among other things responsible for the training of Bishops and Priests from around the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Bishop Edward is married to Sarah. They have four grown up children. He claims to have played just about every sport apart from golf and beach volleyball. (information from the Diocesan Website).

We hope to welcome you to join in our celebrations.

Your ever,


From The Rector - July 2016

Dear Friends,

There is much to reflect on following the historic decision to leave the European Union, particularly the tone of the debate from many involved on either side. I have decided to use the space for my usual article this month to publish a joint statement made by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the morning of the 24th June.


Statement from Archbishops on EU Referendum Result

24 June 2016

On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the Referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain's future is to be outside the European Union

The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister David Cameron has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.

The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.

As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.

The referendum campaign has been vigorous and at times has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage - being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.

As those who hope and trust in the living God, let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minister David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.

From The Rector - June 2016

Dear Friends,

We are trying something new for this year in the Benefice of St Bartholomew. In recent years the only one of our churches that kept a "patronal festival” has been Donhead St Andrew. For this year we have made all of our patronals benefice services, meaning that in most cases the only service on that day will be at 10.30 am and we encourage people to attend and celebrate with each church. l believe patronal festivals are important as they are a way of recognising the importance of each church community; the truth that we are connected to something larger than each community while celebrating each particularity. This is not without difficulty as many of our Patron Saints’ days fall very close together and one is always squeezed by other major events for the church such as Christ the King and Advent Sunday. We also have seven patronals for the benefice which creates its own questions. The list for this year looks something like this:

June 26th:  St John the Baptist, Charlton

July 31st:    St Catherine's, Sedgehill

Aug. 14th:  St Mary's, East Knoyle
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d Dom Giles Hill OSB, Abbot of Alton Abbey

Aug. 21th:  St Leonard's, Semley - Benefice Patronal of St Bartholomew
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d John Kirkham, Retired Bishop of Sherborne and Bishop to the Forces

Aug. 28th:  St Andrew's, Donhead St Andrew

Sept. 4th:  St Mary's, Donhead St Mary
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev’d Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury

Nov. 6th:  St Leonard’s, Semley
President & Preacher: The Rt Rev‘d Nicholas Holtham, Bishop of Salisbury

The practice of adopting patron saints goes back to the building of the first public churches in the Roman Empire, most of which were built over the graves of martyrs. The churches were then given the name of the martyr. Soon, Christians began to dedicate churches to other holy men and women - saints - who were not martyrs. The people we call saints are often heroes of the faith, so to speak, people who have been important for one reason or another and are part of our story. The holy lives lived by the saints are themselves testimony to the saving power of Christ. At a point in time a Saint (with a big S) became people who were officially recognised by the church. Saint simply means holy. The Church of England, in our calendar, recognises Saints (with big S) and some of those heroes of the faith which we don't call Saint but we still recognise as part of the Christian story. Interestingly the Church of England does not only remember English heroes of the faith in addition to the major Saints; nor do we stop at British examples of faithful Christians. In fact we don’t even stop at Anglican holy men and women but we remember people such as Cardinal Newman who left Anglicanism to become a Roman Catholic, George Fox the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), William and Catherine Booth founders of the Salvation Army, Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan Friar arrested as an 'intellectual’ and murdered in Auschwitz, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer the Lutheran pastor regarded as a Martyr, among many others. These are as well as holy men and women from our own part of the church, many of whom were modern day martyrs such as the Martyrs of Uganda, poets like Christina Rossetti and George Herbert. and social reformers such as Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce and Josephine Butler.

Yours ever,


From The Rector - May 2016

Dear Friends,

May brings events to look forward to in the Benefice. However, it also sees the return of Christian Aid Week - 15 to 21 May 2016 - which I hope you will be able to support.

Susan Durber, Christian Aid’s Theology Advisor, writes:

Have you ever looked up at the stars at night, into a sky clearer than you can ever find in a big city and felt suddenly incredibly small, but somehow part of something huge and awesome too? And has it crossed your mind that people all around the world are under the same sky, people with whom you share planet Earth, people who, like you, look up and wonder?

Most of us have at some time in our lives stood and looked at the heavens, at the moon and the stars – and felt a sense of awe. Perhaps this is why Psalm 8 is a favourite among the psalms – not just because there’s relatively little about smiting enemies and all of that – but because we’ve all stood there. We’ve all looked at the sky, at the heavens, on a dark and beautiful night and drawn breath at the beauty and hugeness of it all, and wondered.

Trinity Sunday is a kind of staring up into the great theological sky – of sensing, even if we can only bear it for a moment, the huge, thumping wonder of the great story and truth of our faith. On this day we are drawn to those who write star-like poetry about the God who is three in one, the holy Trinity of love. It is a day to draw back and let our spirits gasp before the wonder of all of creation and the wonder of the God who created it – the God who was made visible and present in Christ and who is still sweeping with passion, warmth and power among us to this day.

A Trinity Sunday at the end of Christian Aid Week is also a moment to look around at the faces of all those others who share the Earth and sky, the days and nights, with us. It’s a time to look at the beauty and the suffering of the earth and to respond to it. And it gives us a new sense of the greatness of what it could be to be a human being, in the light of the great story of our faith. It lifts us up, and we remember once more the true glory of God, and the true dignity of all human beings.

There are those around the world, those who look at the same stars as us, who
can tell us better than any how we have forgotten our vocation to care for creation and how to give praise to God. There are people in many lands who could tell us
how the seasons are changing, how the rains can’t be predicted as they once could, how the harvests are failing, and the glaciers melting. There are those in Bangladesh who can tell us how the sea is rising, how their familiar ducks are no longer flourishing, and how their houses need to be built on better foundations for when the floods come.

They are human beings like us, only a little lower than the angels, precious in God’s sight, people who lift their eyes to the skies as we do and marvel at creation. The writer of the book of Proverbs was convinced that God had ‘made firm the skies above’ (Proverbs 8:28) and ‘assigned to the sea its limit’ (8:29), but there are those who would tell us that the sea is moving, that the rivers are turning to salt. The people whose houses must be built again will remind us, like the psalmist, of our true dignity and our true purpose within the creation which God has made.

We are part of the same earth as they are, dust of their dust, and like them only a little lower than the angels. Before it is too late, we must look again at the beauty and wonder of the world, and find again the vocation that God the Trinity, has given us.



From the Rector - April 2016

Dear Friends,

A few days ago I was asked whether we were ”settled into the Rectory, now?" It's a kind question showing care for your Rector and family. It struck me because it was a question for the first four to five months I was asked several times a day every day. It prompted me to reflect on my first few months. I believe we "settled in" very quickly but there has, at least up until now, been a major event or season to plan and prepare for. No sooner had I arrived than we were planning for Harvest festivals across the Benefice; Eucharists, Evensongs, lunches and suppers. These were not at an end when we started to think about Advent and then Christmas including the thought of post Christmas with a reduction in staff. From January we started our Pilgrim Course. Plough Sunday and Candlemas followed and then Lent with all its intricacies of Lent courses, Lent Lunches and special services leading up to Easter. Then there is the season of the APCM — The Annual Parochial Church Meeting with endless minutes, accounts and reports to paw over and meetings to attend. With five parishes in the Benefice we have five meetings between the beginning of March and the end of April.

I often think that Christmas is over too quickly and so I emphasise the Christmas — Epiphany season taking us up to Candlemas on the 2nd February but every Clergyman and Benefice Administrator is mentally deep in thought about Lent while still in January. People often think that Eastertide is too long; weeks and weeks of it. Yes, there are still things to prepare for - Beating the bounds and Rogation on the 1st of May and our Pentecost service and picnic on May 8th. However, there is a profound sense of pause with Eastertide. I like to think a God given time that in the business of life we can all take some time to reflect on His glory and recall His love for the world and each one of us without having to rush on to the next thing.

May I take this opportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard to prepare for the Easter feast, worship planners and leaders, servers, flower arrangers (and display designers!), cleaners and church beautifiers, rota compilers and compliers and re-arrangers. Thank you all and more besides.

We will be having an Open House at The Rectory in Semley on Saturday 2nd April from 2.30pm to 5pm. Drop in (and out) during this time for a cup of something and to say hello.

May I wish you all a blessed Eastertide.



From the Rector - March 2016

Dear Friends,

March this year seems such a full month. The first Sunday is Mothering Sunday and we'd be delighted to welcome you to any of our services. We then quickly move into Passiontide where the church takes us through Jesus’ approaching his last weeks on earth before the Resurrection. The following Sunday sees Palm Sunday with the retelling of the "triumphant entry" into Jerusalem. Yes, we have a donkey! (at Charlton). We then turn in a very special way to walk with Jesus in the week before his crucifixion. Holy Week is viewed as a special time where we make an effort to join part (or all) of that journey. There will be a simple said Eucharist on Monday - Wednesday. This is followed by the Sacred Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. These are all considered "red letter days" in the Church of England where we are all encouraged to take part as fully as possible. These are the highlight of the Christian year (and include two of my three favourite services in the whole year).

Obviously these services are spread around the Benefice of six churches. Maundy Thursday is celebrated in Semley. The Eucharist and foot washing is followed by a watch until midnight ending with a very short Night Prayer. The Good Friday Liturgy takes place in East Knoyle. On Holy Saturday (I wonder how many TV channels will incorrectly call it Easter Saturday?!) we have a beautiful service of the Easter Vigil. When the candidates to become Rector were interviewed by representatives of Semley School Council we were asked the question "What is your favourite service of the year?" Both of us answered that it was the Easter Vigil. This is the most important service of Easter and the first Eucharist of Easter. It is very different to the norm and it is a beautiful celebration. This year it is at Donhead Saint Mary.

I encourage you to take part in these services as fully as possible. Please do move around the Benefice and support each other (and your clergy!)

This is a tiring time for the clergy and may I take the opportunity to thank our retired clergy for all they will do during the celebrations and the rest of the year.

By the time we get to this point in March I can wish you a Happy Easter.



From the Rector - February 2016

Dear friends,

In just a few short days the churches season of Lent will be upon us. i will only just have taken down the decorations from Christmas (we will have been celebrating the season of Epiphany until Candlemas (February 2nd) - we're very modern in our house.

Epiphany is all about a showing, a manifestation. It's the season when we are told who Jesus is. The wise men visit showing the significance of Christ to all the nations. Jesus is acclaimed as the Son of the Father at his baptism and he performs his first miracle of turning water into wine. l suppose there is an appropriate link with the short turn around into Lent and into Easter as this is a season which focuses on why Jesus came to us. in fact there is some evidence to suggest that the church season of Lent originally followed straight on from the Epiphany but soon became attached to Easter as this was the main celebration at which baptism happened and it became a time for examination of conscience, penitence, fasting and study.

It's very easy to imagine that what we are used to is the norm. On the Sunday before Palm Sunday (which I would call Passion Sunday) it was traditional in my home parish church to bless a basket full of nails and distribute them to the congregation as an aid to meditation for the following two weeks. When I was ordained I had to phone a friend and ask where I could find the prayer to bless the nails. Needless to say he was bemused and l was surprised to find the rest of the Church of England did not do this as standard. Our Churchwarden sent one to her son, who was serving in the RAF and stationed in Northern Ireland at the time. The security machines were not expecting them either.

Whatever you're used to you are very welcome to come and experience any of our services as we move through Lent, Holy Week and Easter. Even if you just want to see what we do, you will be very welcome.

During Lent we will be having Lent study groups. These will take place on Wednesdays during Lent starting on the 17th February.

Donhead St Mary at Glebe Cottage, next to the church at 9.30am

East Knoyle     Feb 17th Coopers Ground at 7.30pm
                         Feb 24th 3 Mallet Close at 7.30pm
                         March 2nd Church Cottage, next to the church at 7.30pm

This year we will be looking at a course called The Joy of the Gospel by Dr Paula Gooder based on Pope Francis’ acclaimed book of the same name. Dr Gooder is the Theologian in Residence for the Bible Society and also holds a number of honorary positions such as Canon Theologian of Birmingham and Guildford Cathedrals, Lay Canon at Salisbury Cathedral, a Six preacher of Canterbury Cathedral, Vice president of the Bible Society and Visiting lecturer at King's College, London. She is a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) in the Church of England and a member of General Synod.

All welcome!