The wedding 'season' starts for us on 23rd March. It has been a pleasure to welcome so many couples to our beautiful church over the years. And also to reflect on the fact that far more people are getting married here now than did when I was first here in the early 1990s. We hope that all those involved later this year have a lovely day when it comes; that the fact that they have been married in church and with God's blessing really does become helpful and meaningful to them; and that those couples who will be attending Sunday worship take something worthwhile away with them.
Around 35 weddings this year so far is less than this year, but still a lot. This puts a good deal of pressure on the wedding 'team', who include the ringers, the choir, Richard Taylor and Chris Hayes on the day itself; and also Janet Sinclair-Pinder, Jim Gelder and Carolyne Gregory in the preparatory stages. I hope that, if they ask for help, you will give it to them. Incidentally, I have been asked by one or two couples to come out of retirement to take their ceremony, which I will do, always assuming the new Vicar has not been appointed.
I did mention various study options last month. We are no longer sure if we can fit in the Moving On sessions before retirement, but we will give this further consideration. Sylvia and I will definitely be running the enquirers' or Start! Course, hopefully starting around the second week of March. If anyone else is interested in knowing more about Christian beliefs or else in preparing for confirmation, please let me know ASAP.
The Church Electoral Roll is a list of members who have the right to elect churchwardens and church council members (a right rarely exercised by most of you, I have to say!). It is worth stressing that, for all other (and probably more important) purposes, the Church of England has nothing resembling a membership list. Our parish church, like all the thousands in this country, is open to all to worship in, to say their prayers in, to be baptised or married in, or to be buried from. No-one, in all these instances, will ask for evidence of membership. This is given not by a list, but through baptism and, often, confirmation. In short, church membership is a spiritual, not an administrative matter. However, every so many years the Electoral Roll has to be completely revised, and this is one of those years. Our new Electoral Roll Officer will be making sure that all those currently on the roll are invited to join the new one. If you have NOT been on in the past, and would like to be, please contact Stephen Oxer. You can do via Steve Clapham if you like.
I have told the PCC that I shall be retiring on and from Sunday 5th May. This will be the last day that I shall be taking Sunday services at Harley and Wentworth. In some ways, being a Bank Holiday weekend, it isn't ideal, but it does enable all our sons and their families to be present for 'Dad's Last Stand', which, for some heart-warming reason, they want to do. I'm sure I shall be talking about the mixed feelings associated with retirement again before 'signing off', so enough about that for now.
Finally, Easter is at the end of March. It is a long-standing church discipline that all Christians make their communion on Easter Day. I hope that you will try your best to do so, either here or, if you are away, wherever you are staying. We all enjoy Christmas, but Easter is the absolutely key day for our faith. Without Christ having risen from the dead, our faith is null and void. It is right to celebrate together the hope that is in us.
With best wishes,