It is very difficult to write a letter for this magazine, knowing that it will be my last. What to say? I do not want to give a long list of 'thank yous' for the same reason that I never do this at church annual meetings, the fear (not misplaced!) that I will omit someone who may therefore feel offended. I don't want to depart having caused upset.
So let me content myself with a few remarks about the strengths and weaknesses of our parish. It is easy to forget, except for the few who worship there, that there are two churches in Wentworth parish, Holy Trinity of course, but also Harley Mission church. A priest who I have invited to take a service there hit it on the head when he said, “they always look after the children there”. This is Harley's
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
I wonder when the last time was that a member of the 8.15 a.m. congregation at Wentworth had a baby? A long time ago, I am sure. So congratulations to Kay Atkin, a young woman who was both married and confirmed in Holy Trinity during the last few years, and who had her first child in January, a girl weighing in at 7lb 5oz. Congratulation to them both and to Stuart, Kay's husband.
Perhaps you will notice the great age of the two people whose funerals took place last month? Tom Kelly was 95 and from Hoyland, but his wife Doreen was born in Wentworth. I was interested to discover that she had been in service at Wentworth Woodhouse during the time of the Fitzwilliam’s; she must be amongst the last to have memories of that period in our village's history. Kathleen Smith lived latterly at Wentworth Hall (the old vicarage) and she too played a small role in
In the last few weeks prior to Christmas the Church of England was headline news on several occasions. Just one was a good news story, the choice of a new Archbishop of Canterbury who, as a former oil executive with experience in Africa, certainly breaks the mould for the type of person traditionally in the frame for this job. He will need all his diplomatic skills, for the other stories all came into the bad news bracket – no women bishops, no gay marriages, and falling numbers of Christians.
The reduction in the number of UK residents who claim a Christian affiliation affects the CofE particularly, for some Christian churches are holding steady (like the Roman Catholics) and some (such as those supported by immigrant communities) may be even be growing. Most of the loss is down to a sharp fall in Anglican worshippers and adherents. One knee jerk reaction to the conjunction of three issues – fewer believers, no women, and no gays – is to say that the decline is because the church is completely out of
This month is packed full of goodies, like a box of sweets. There are family reunions to look forward to at Christmas, there are parties or meals out, concerts in church, and all sorts of different and enjoyable services. I hope you enjoy it all. But, at the same time, that you remember what all this is for.
None of it would happen if it were not for the birth of a baby in a shack in war-turn Palestine just over 2000 years ago. Jesus, those who gathered around the manger learnt, was more than he seemed; He was God's very own Son. Those who met him in adulthood discovered the same thing, that an admittedly extraordinary man was even more, a Saviour sent from God. To me, his coming demonstrates one thing beyond all doubting, that Almighty God, seemingly so far away, so 'above it all', actually loves each one of us, humble, ordinary, and imperfect as we are. That is the message of Christmas, it is reason for happiness that wells out in celebration and in song at this time of year.
A different occasion which can leave people nursing a new, joyous and at the same time disturbing feeling is confirmation. It was a pleasure last month to attend a service at St Peter's Barnburgh where five people from Holy Trinity were confirmed by the Bishop of Sheffield. I hope and pray that, wherever they
November, when the clocks have gone back, is always rather a gloomy month. December should, of course, be even gloomier, but the Christmas festivities actually mean that it isn't. The Christian church does not help the November mood by holding three commemorations of the dead in the first two weeks of the month. These are All Saints Day (on the 1st), All Souls Day (on the 2nd) and Remembrance Sunday (which this year falls precisely on Remembrance Day itself, the 11th).
To take the last first, the original Armistice Day commemoration was established on the actual day when the war on the Western Front ceased in 1918. There is now no-one left alive who can recall that moment. But it has seemed right to the nation to continue to commemorate those who fought and died in 1914-18 as well as, of course, the many fallen in later wars. The day has taken on a new life in the light of servicemen's and women's
During the Olympics and Paralympics and, before that, the Jubilee, everyone commented on what a positive feel there was about the country, with a great deal of deeply felt patriotism on show. And, so many felt, how good it would be if those attitudes could be carried forward instead of the usual carping criticism which seems to blight national life.
And then comes a tragedy like the murder of two young policewomen in Manchester, and Britain seems to be not simply a self-critical place but one where the criticism is amply justified.
I must leave a deeper analysis of these contrasts to those better qualified. But let me just set against that terrible event a morning when I was the recipient of great kindness from