From the Rector - January 2016

Dear Friends,

One of the silly frustrations of modern life is how the feast of Christmas has been over commercialised. Not that I'm grumpy...but I first started listening to Radio 4 (years ago now) because Steve Wright was wishing people a Happy Christmas in October. I took great exception to being told by a major television network’s news programme on Boxing Day (St Stephen's Day) this year that "Christmas is all over for another year” when it had in fact only just started. All this may sound like a grump but actually, as most of you will read this in early January when it will still be Christmas, this is a preamble to wishing you a very blessed Christmas and a happy healthy New Year.

May I also take this opportunity to thank all those who gave us cards and gifts. It helped to make our first Christmas here very special.

On Sunday January 3"‘ we will say farewell to our Assistant Curate, The Revd Alice Goodall. As I'm sure you're all aware Alice has been appointed as Rector of Shelswell in the Diocese of Oxford. Alice has worked tremendously hard during her time here and I know she is much loved across our community and schools. We will also miss Joe who has been a committed member of our churches, great fun and a very handy person to have in the congregation when you need a server at the last minute. He also drinks espresso so is clearly a man of sophistication and style.

I will personally miss Alice far more than she could know (though I do tell her). She has been very supportive and informative and has also been tremendous fun. Above all that, I know that she has a deep love and care for our communities and for you.

One of the patrons of our Benefice (specifically for Semley) is Christ Church, Oxford. Alice is also going to a Christ Church '’living’’. This is particularly good for two reasons. The first is that Christ Church are a very good, supportive and generous patron to have and I know there will be this support for Alice. Secondly, Christ Church has a biannual Incumbent’s Conference, so I hope I will be seeing much more of Alice over the years to come. I attended the conference in September; I seem to remember Alice mentioning something about "an Oxford port lake" before I went. Sadly this was not true but I would be delighted to introduce her to some of my favourite watering holes from my time in Oxford

I hope you have all seen details of the Pilgrim Course which we shall be starting on January 7"‘ at Semley Rectory. Please feel free to come along. Booking isn't essential but it would be helpful to have an idea of numbers - so please let us know if you know you are coming.

Yours ever,


From the Rector - December 2015

It would be a delight to welcome you to any of our services over Christmas (or any time). Families and children are welcome at any of our services.

I wonder how willing you are to trust other people? Are others willing to trust you? There is quite a lot of trust around the Christmas story. There is Joseph - quite an incredible man amongst men. Joseph finding his fiancée to be pregnant could have refused to marry her but is persuaded in a dream to trust both her and God.

There is no doubt why Mary trusted him. He is a man of noble character, refusing to make a public scandal out of Mary's pregnancy.

Joseph knew Mary too, and in the depths of his heart he trusted her. Of course there were difficult facts to face but it took just one mysterious dream to set Joseph's heart at peace.

Then there is Mary herself. She puts her trust in the words of an angelic messenger although few people are likely to believe her story and she knows that to bear a child can only bring shame on her family. She trusted Joseph, and God too, resisting what passes for human respectability and ‘common sense’.

You can just imagine the tongues wagging in that little town. Perhaps that is partly why Mary and Joseph chose precisely that moment to set off to be registered at Bethlehem — it was a good excuse to get away from all the gossip.

We see the trust of the shepherds and of the Magi and later on of apostles and disciples.

Behind the human trust that we see so poignantly displayed in Mary and Joseph there is of course something much greater, the eternal trustworthiness of God and a word that can never be broken.

God is asking us to renew our trust in each other and to build a world in which not only individuals but whole nations display a genuine care and concern for each other, a world in which we are more concerned with our duties to each other than a fearful preservation of our own petty rights on our own little patch of turf.

But God is not only asking us to keep trusting each other. We are being asked to trust in something much more sure and certain than a vague hope in human benevolence.

God is asking us to trust Him.

The gospel tells us that Mary bears a son whose name is Emmanuel, or 'God-is-with-us‘.

This Christmas may we all grow in trust and faithfulness to God and to each other.

On behalf of all our churches in the Benefice may I wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas.


From the Rector - 18th October 2015

Alice GoodallI am pleased to announce that our curate, The Rev'd Alice Goodall, has been appointed Rector of the Benefice of Shelswell, a rural Benefice in North Oxfordshire. She will probably move early in the New Year, and her Institution and Installation will take place on 19th January 2016.

Further details will follow.

I know you will share with me in wishing her the warmest congratulations and will keep Alice, Joe and their family in our prayers now and in the years to come.


From the Rector - October 2015

Dear Friends

We are in the time of year when we celebrate Harvest. For our rural communities this is a time when we not only give thanks for what we have and for those who grow, rear, harvest and transport our food and drink, but also a time when we keep these people locally and internationally in our thoughts. For those of you who feel able, I would also ask you to pray for these people and industries at a time of struggle and uncertainty.

It has been a harrowing summer of watching desperation and frustration from dairy farmers' protests to mass migration from war zones. Whatever we feel the correct political solution to these matters is, and there will be many opinions among those who read this, for Christians we are called to be like Christ, who had compassion - 'suffer-with'. We must never forget the human story and cost behind other people's struggles.

Our thanksgiving will turn to remembrance in November. For the church we have the feast of All Saints and the commemoration of All Souls which are quickly followed more widely by Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

On Sunday 1st of November we celebrate All Saints in the morning and at 5.30 in the evening we have a Benefice service for All Souls at East Knoyle. Please come along if you would like to. If you would like us to remember somebody who has died by reading their name during prayers at that service, please add names onto one of the sheets in any of our churches. Alternatively, you can send an email from this website to the Benefice Office with your names - click here and when the new page opens, click on the 'Contact Form' tab to send your message.

Following the All Souls service we switch back to celebrating All Saints, with a party at the Rectory in Semley. This is a 'bring a bottle and a firework (under safe conditions) party'. To help with catering, please sign up on a list in church or email the Benefice Office. Please take care to sign the correct list.

At the risk of confusing things further we are going to introduce a 'benefice prayer list' of names of people to be prayed for during our services. These should be people who are ill (please make sure you have the person's permission) and those who have died. Please contact the Benefice Office to add names - email as above or 01747 830174. Please also let us know when a name can come off the prayer list.

I pray we all have a blessed time of thanksgiving and remembrance.


From the Rector - September 2015

Dear Friends,

l would like to begin by congratulating and thanking all those involved with the Children's Activity Week at the beginning of August. It was a brilliant week and I enjoyed meeting the children and helpers alike. Well done.

I have now been in post for a month. In my last letter i had to assume a warm welcome for myself and my family. We have not been disappointed.

We had a fantastic welcome on 27th July. I am very grateful to all the local clergy who attended. We had friends from far and wide drop everything and join us. I had friends from University: from previous parishes and from my last post at Dorothy House Hospice. Then a whirlwind of faces of people from our local churches, farms. schools, councils and groups. Some of whom I can now remember their names! Please, please, please keep telling me your names as we meet.

l have been pretty busy since. I am now wondering where I am going to find time to fit everything in when the 'lull' of August is passed and the schools are back and church folk expect things like the Parochial Church Council to meet again.

i am, however, looking forward to it. There is something of a fresh start about September. I'm sure it all stems from school days. Most of us will remember going back to school after the summer holidays. Some of us with disappointment that the freedom was over. Some of us relieved to get away from parental enforced labour or just glad to see friends that we had not seen for a while. I never really enjoyed going back to school as it usually ruined my birthday.

September will also see some of our young residents or family heading off to university. It seems fitting to me that I should be at the start of my ministry as many others prepare for their new starts. I invite you to join with me in praying for those who face new starts with excitement or trepidation and for those who long for a new start in their career. relationships. lives or faith.