Rector's Page/News

Friday 1 November 2019

Rector's November Letter

Thou didst ears and hands and voices for thy praise design

In November the bell ringers at St John’s will be hosting the Cary Branch of Ringers for their annual AGM and service. We can be thankful that whether in the rural village church or at the centre of a busy marketplace, church bells have been calling the faithful to prayer and reminding communities of the worship offered on their behalf.

It is canon law in the Church of England “that in every church and chapel there shall be at least one bell to ring the people to divine service”.  There are at present over 5200 churches in England with rings of five or more bells and there are over 3000 bells cast in medieval times that are still rung. Bells are rung to summon the faithful to worship, to celebrate weddings and festivals and to mark national thanksgivings.  Muffled bells are sometimes rung at funerals and at times of local or national disaster.  During times of national emergency it has always been understood that church bells would be rung as a warning of invasion.

Have you ever been up to our bell towers in Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port on a Wednesday practice night and watched the ringing?  It is not as easy as just pulling on a rope.  It takes a lot of practice to learn how to handle a bell and to ring it so it sounds in the right place in a sequence.  After starting in repetitive rounds, at a given command, the ringers vary the bells' order, to produce a series of distinct sequences known as rows or changes. There are thousands of different methods which ringers learn off by heart, and each method has a name.

At the service we will be thanking God for the skill of our bellringers. I have been searching for some suitable hymns. One favourite is Angel Voices, with the verse:

               Yea, we know that thou rejoicest             
               o'er each work of thine;
               thou didst ears and hands and voices
               for thy praise design;
               craftsman's art and music's measure
               for thy pleasure
               all combine.

I for one rejoice at the skill of our bellringers and give thanks for their service to the church and for their craftsmanship in producing the lovely sound that calls us to worship. I especially want to thank our faithful bands in Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port for keeping this ancient craft going in our villages.

If you would like to learn I am sure our tower captains would love to hear from you.

Rev Sarah

Wednesday 30 October 2019

St John's Pumpkin Festival October 2019

St John's Pumpkin Festival October 2019

Pumpkins on display at the pumpkin festival held on Saturday 26th October 2019. See photo gallery.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween

The word ‘hallow’ means saint. Hallow is just an alternative form of the word ‘holy’. We use it in our Lord’s Prayer: hallowed be Thy name. Halloween is simply a contraction for All Hallows Eve, the  evening preceding All Saints’ Day. This was fixed as 1st November in the late 700s, and is the celebration of the victory of the saints over evil and darkness. It reminds us that though Jesus has finished His work, we have not finished ours. Jesus struck the decisive blow against evil, but we have the privilege of working in the mopping up operation. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1.5

Century by century the Christian faith has rolled back the works of darkness, ignorance, fear, and superstition bringing light and love

Our Medieval ancestors knew that after the darkness comes the dawn; for a moment there is darkness but then there is light. It is why they were able to mock the Devil. The custom arose of portraying Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. He is ridiculed because he has lost the battle with Jesus and he no longer has power over us. The stone gargoyles that were placed on the churches of old had the same meaning. They symbolized the Church ridiculing the enemy. They stick out their tongues and make faces at those who would assault the Church. Gargoyles are not demonic; they are believers ridiculing the defeated demonic army.

Similarly, on All Hallows’ Eve the custom arose of mocking the demonic realm by dressing children in costumes. Because the power of Satan has been broken once and for all, our children can mock him by dressing up like ghosts, goblins and superheroes. The fact that we can dress our children this way shows our supreme confidence in the utter defeat of Satan by Jesus Christ – we have NO FEAR! (The American tradition of trick or treating wasn’t recorded until 1927.  It probably originated as something fun for the kids to do especially when sugar and sweets were in short supply and were really special. Like anything else, this custom can be perverted into something more sinister.))

"He who sits in the heavens laughs; The Lord ridicules them" says Psalm 2. Let us join in His holy laughter, and mock the enemies of Christ on Halloween.

On Saturday 26th October St John’s Milborne Port is holding a Pumpkin Festival. If you would like to carve a happy pumpkin to fill the church with light, please bring it the evening before for display.

Rev Sarah

Sunday 1 September 2019

Our Rector's September Letter

I am writing this letter in August and already thinking ahead to our Harvest Services. Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1st August and was called Lammas, meaning 'Loaf Mass'. On this day, farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the first fruits of the harvest.

In many parts of England, tenants were bound to present freshly harvested wheat to their landlords on or before the first day of August. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is referred to regularly, it is called "the feast of first fruits".  At the start of the harvest, communities would appoint a strong and respected man of the village as their 'Lord of the Harvest'. He would be responsible for negotiating the harvest wages and organising the fieldworkers.

Nowadays Harvest festivals are traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. Harvest Festival reminds Christians of all the good things God gives them. This makes them want to share with others who are not so fortunate. In schools and in Churches, people bring food from home to a Harvest Festival Service. After the service, the food that has been put on display is usually made into parcels and given to people in need.

We will be holding harvest services in each of our churches in the Benefice but on the 29th September there will be a special service in Milborne Port. We will begin in Church House from 9.30 a.m., serving bacon butties for breakfast. From 10.15 a.m. we will gather in church for a short service of thanksgiving where we will sing some of the old favourite harvest hymns. After the service, perishable goods will be auctioned off to raise money for Christian Aid. Tins and non-perishable items will be taken to the food bank.  All the other Harvest events are listed on page 22. Everyone is welcome, especially if you are a farmer or allotment holder: we would love to see you.


Thursday 1 August 2019

A Message from Bishop Peter

A Message from Bishop Peter

On 20 July 1969 the world watched something extraordinary. This was when the Eagle lunar module landed on the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. This was the very first time that anyone had been to the moon. But astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had to do something hard. After years of preparation and their long and hazardous flight they had to wait. They were about to open the door of their lunar lander and step onto the unknown surface of a completely different world. But for now, their mission ordered them to take a pause, to wait and prepare for that ‘First step’. That hour-long downtime period was designed to let the astronauts recover from their space flight and prepare for their moon walk.

It is now well known that Buzz Aldrin spent his time praying, reading the Bible and taking Holy Communion. Aldrin was an elder at Webster Presbyterian Church, and before he headed into space in 1969, he got special permission to take bread and wine with him into space and to give himself communion. As the men prepared for the next phase of their mission, Aldrin spoke to the ground crew back on Earth. “I would like to request a few moments of silence,” he said. “I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in their own individual way.”

He then reached for the wine and bread he’d brought to space—the first foods ever poured or eaten on the moon. “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,” he later wrote. The words he read were those of Jesus: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in you, will bear much fruit, for you can do nothing without me.’

After the resurrection, as Jesus ascended back to heaven, he gave a promise to his disciples that he would be with them always, wherever they were and wherever they went.  As Buzz Aldrin took communion on the Moon he too was aware of that promise. It is a promise that is also true for us today and so whatever each day may bring let us remember to ‘wait’ before we step out into the day and ask that Jesus may indeed be with us. As we say in Communion: ‘The Lord is here.’ ‘His Spirit is with us.’

With warm greetings,

The Right Revd Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells

Saturday 27 July 2019

Duck Race at Goathill

Thank you to everyone who kindly supported our recent duck race event at Goathill. With your support we raised £484.97.

We hope you all enjoyed a happy afternoon!

St John’s Summer Fete

Thank you  to everyone who made the St John’s Summer Fete such a success: stallholders, everyone who donated goods and prizes, barbecued, made tea, ran games, set up and packed away – and to everyone who came: a big thank you! Special thanks go to Steve Davis who opened the fete, Susan Wales who MC’d, and Sew Easy for the wonderful display of quilts.

We raised £2,890.

Anne Salkeld and the Events Committee

Monday 1 July 2019

July Letter: Pilgrimage

I have just taken a group of year 6 children from Charlton Horethorne School to Wells Cathedral for a day of activities and their leavers’ service. It is an opportunity to gather children from different church schools to celebrate their experience of primary school and send them on to the next stage of their journey as they move on to secondary school.  It is a time to look back, be thankful and celebrate and also to look forward with hope. The Diocese calls these days ‘Pilgrim Days’. The children visit a special place and are given the opportunity to reflect on their school journey.

Are there any places in the world that you would love to visit? Take a moment to think about why. Perhaps you chose somewhere that is associated with someone special – for example, the town or country your grandparents were born, or where a hero of yours lives. Perhaps you chose a place you have heard a lot about and would love to see for yourself.

When Christians go on pilgrimage they travel somewhere that is special to their faith. It might be to places written about in the Bible, such as where Jesus and the early Christians lived. It may be a place where a miracle once happened or a saint is buried. Often the journey itself matters as much as being at the special place, because it gives the ‘pilgrim’ – the person on the journey – time to pray and think. Our children had great fun on the way to Wells.

By taking the time to go on pilgrimage, people can leave behind everyday concerns from back home and spend time in the presence of God as they travel to a place with special meaning. People have always gone on pilgrimage for many reasons – perhaps to say sorry to God for something they had done wrong (penance), or because they were ill and wanted God to heal them. They might be looking for an answer to a problem or difficulty, or they might be looking for peace or healing.

Pilgrimages are growing in popularity again. There have been television programmes recently following celebrities that have travelled the Santiago way to Compostella in Spain and the Via Fracigena to Rome in Italy.

You may not be able to travel long distances to special places this summer but why not make a short pilgrimage to one of our benefice churches? They are all oases of calm and prayer. Come and sit in these holy spaces and allow God to restore your soul.

Rev Sarah

Christian Aid in Milborne Port

Christian Aid Week was 12 – 18 May.  You will recall the envelope which was delivered to you.  It featured the story of Jebbeh Konneh in Sierra Leone who was eight months pregnant.  Her sister died in childbirth and Jebbeh was afraid that she could be next.  Contributions given during Christian Aid Week could help her community to build a health clinic so that mums like Jebbeh can give birth safely.  More information can be found at christianaid.org.uk.

You will be delighted to know that in Milborne Port, Goathill and Milborne Wick, £1,115.22 was raised during the week.  The number of gifts received was 223, 40 of which were gift-aided.  This will enable Christian Aid to recover a further £139.61.  I am sure that those who will benefit from your kindness would want to give you a heart-left ‘thank you’. 

Thank you too to the 32 collectors who between them managed to cover all the roads; we are immensely grateful to you for your time and effort.  We are also very grateful to the Butcher, the Pharmacy and the Co-op for hosting the collecting boxes.  These boxes brought in £341.85, so thank you to all who used them.  Special thanks go to Remous, our local printer, for continuing to donate the printed slips.  This saves the organiser a very great deal of time and effort and is very much appreciated.

Inevitably we will need two or three more members of our team for next year, so if you would like to help us please contact me on 01935 812209 or Anne Salkeld on 01963 250529.

David Johnson (Treasurer)

Saturday 1 June 2019

June letter: Pentecost Prayers

There are two significant dates for the Benefice in the church calendar for June. The first is the celebration of Pentecost; the second is the celebration of our saints’ days: St Peter and St Paul’s in Charlton Horethorne and St Peter’s at Goathill.  Look out for Goathill’s Duck race on the 29th June!

Pentecost (Whitsunday) is a major festival in the Christian church.  It is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday so this year it falls on the 9th June. When Jesus returned to heaven on Ascension Day, he promised that he would send believers a helper. Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames and wind to the followers of Jesus. Pentecost is recognised as the birth of the Christian Church. On that day the Apostle Peter preached a sermon which resulted in 3,000 people becoming believers.

Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is God with us, helping and empowering us to live a flourishing life that radiates the goodness of God. I don’t know about you but I’m constantly aware of my need for divine help. When you are feeling powerless or tired or like you are failing at life, you can have confidence as a believer that you're not alone. You can start each day knowing the Holy Spirit is there to help you. He is the power that sustains, energizes, and keeps you on a holy path.

On Tuesday June 11th the children at Charlton Horethorne School will be holding a reflection day to think about Pentecost. Don’t be surprised if you see red ribbon, flames, popcorn and bubbles drifting out of school that day!

The archbishops are inviting us to pray with Christians from around the world during the eleven days between Ascension Day and Pentecost (May 30th-June 9th).  We read in the Bible that when Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples met together to pray, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost. We too, wait and pray anticipating that the Spirit will show us new ways of living and loving.

On Monday 3rd June St John’s Church, Milborne Port will be open from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for quiet contemplation.  There will be a number or prayer stations to visit and gentle music playing. It is a sort of ‘do it yourself’ evening. Please pop in at any time or pick up a prayer journal from the back of church to help you pray over the 11 days.

Rev Sarah

Wednesday 1 May 2019

May letter: Christenings in the Church of England

I wonder how many of you have a Godparent, or perhaps you are a Godparent yourself. Godparents are really special people. They make serious promises at the christening of a child and many are part of a family for years. It’s such an important relationship that the Church of England sets aside a whole day to celebrate. This year, it will be on May 6th and if you are a Godparent you will be prayed for on that day. This is a good day to let your Godparents or Godchildren know how much they mean to your family.

Throughout the summer there will be a number of Christenings in our local churches. Parents want the very best for their children. They want them to make right choices in life, for themselves and for others.  Parents want the very best for them, and so does God. Godparents are among the most important people at a christening, who make big promises to encourage their godchild to grow in faith and commit to helping them understand how to live their life in a Christian way.

A christening is just the start of a journey with God and over the years to come parents and Godparents share this journey by:

  • Being there for the child to talk to about the bigger questions of life – questions about hope, faith and love.
  • Praying for the child through the ups and downs of their faith journey.
  • Showing them practically how to make those good choices in life.
  • Helping them to learn more about their Christian faith, through their church and in other ways.

Choosing the right people as godparents is a big decision for parents.   Godparents will be people who’ll be in touch with your family for many years to come. They may be relatives or friends of the family.   They’ll be people who you know you can trust and who’ll be there for your child to talk about the bigger questions in life; questions about faith, hope and love.

Because of the very special role they have in supporting a child’s faith journey, godparents must be baptized themselves and they should pray for their godchild through the ups and downs of their life and their faith journey.

It’s a demanding role, but help is always at hand, through your church, and of course from God, who will bless all you do to help your godchild.

So, on May 6th take a moment to thank God for your Godparent.

Rev Sarah

Christian Aid Week

Very soon a collector will call, or an envelope will appear on your doormat, asking for a donation to Christian Aid.  Over the last 10 years £17,618.46 (net of Gift Aid) has been very generously given from Milborne Port, Milborne Wick and Goathill, which has supported the work of this organisation in the poorest countries and in disaster areas throughout the world.  This year the focus is on reducing the dangers of childbirth.  Did you know that Sierra Leone is the world’s most dangerous place to give birth?  Your donation could help to build a health clinic in places such as this.

As usual our local printer, Remous, is generously providing the slips which will be left if no-one is returning to collect your gift, and Wayne the Butcher, The Milborne Port Pharmacy and the Co-op have once again very kindly agreed to host our collecting boxes.  We would like to raise more than last year (£1,102.03) but to do this we need your help.  Not only do we ask you to support this cause, but we also need more volunteers to deliver envelopes and slips.  If you are willing to give Christian Aid an hour of your time, please telephone me (01935 812209) or Anne Salkeld (01963 250529).  Thank you for reading this.   

David Johnson (Milborne Port Christian Aid Treasurer)

Wednesday 3 April 2019

April letter: Forgiveness

I have the privilege each week of leading collective worship (assembly) in our two primary schools. This term we have been thinking about the Christian value of forgiveness and have been listening to stories from the Bible that speak of people who have been forgiven. Most of us know that we should forgive those who hurt us, but when we are hurt most of us are tempted either to be a passive doormat or to strike back and escalate the cycle of violence.  We have been helping the children with more creative responses.

On Shrove Tuesday at Charlton Horethorne School we devoted the whole day to the theme. I always love reflection days in school as we are able to work with the children in mixed age groups and do some creative work with them. The day began early with a pancake breakfast cooked by parents. I think over two hundred pancakes were consumed! We talked about the beginning of Lent and what it means to say sorry. We then had great fun out on the playground burning Palm crosses to make ash for the Ash Wednesday services across the benefice.

I am always humbled by the depth of thinking on these days.  The children came up with some profound ideas about what forgiveness might mean. One child said they thought ‘forgiveness was a hug’, another said that Jesus ‘arms on the cross’ looked like they were opening to give us a hug. Spot on I would say! On Good Friday we remember that God loved us so much that he opened wide his arms of love to die on the cross and embrace us with forgiveness and love.

Do look out for the times of our Holy Week and Easter Services across the Benefice.

Rev Sarah

Saturday 30 March 2019

Pumpkin Festival

Pumpkin Festival

In October St John’s will be holding a Pumpkin Festival. Now is the time to start sowing seeds.  We would like to grow lots of pumpkins, especially for the children to carve.  Can you help us? If you have no space, I can let you have a bit of space at the bottom of the vicarage garden. There will be competitions for the largest pumpkin, best pumpkin pie and carving.

Rev Sarah

Monday 4 March 2019

Marmalade Festival

Many thanks to all who came to support the Marmalade Festival & breakfast held at Blackberry Cottage on 23 February. We are delighted to report that a total of £319.60 was raised at the event for Church funds. Thank you all for your generosity and we look forward to hosting a similar event next year ... so keep saving youir jars!

Maureen & Frank Wright

Thursday 31 January 2019

Preparation of New Electoral Roll

Every 6 years a completely new electoral roll has to be prepared. All persons who wish to have their names entered on the new roll, whether their names are on the present roll or not, are requested to apply for enrolment not later than 1st March.  The new roll will come into operation on the 17th March.

Having your name on the roll gives you the right to vote at our AGM and to be elected to our PCC. You can apply if you are baptised and aged 16 or over and you are a member of the Church of England or any Church which is in communion with it. You must live in the parish or have attended worship in the last 6 months before applying.

Sunday 27 May 2018

Safari Supper

The Church House Committee would like to thank everyone who participated in the Safari Supper held on 14th April. The sum of £588 was raised for Church House to help fund the floor refurbishment which had been completed the Thursday before the event.

Lent Lunches

Many thanks to all who came and contributed a total of £463.19 for Christian Aid. This is an excellent result even though the third lunch fell victim to the recent snow. Special thanks too to the cooks for all the delicious soups we enjoyed with our bread and cheese and to the helpers who served us so efficiently.

David Johnson

Sunday 25 February 2018

St John's Memorial Border

Have you noticed the work being done on the churchyard border leading to the Ball Court? We are establishing a Memorial Border for the Interment of Ashes. This will be a beautiful area to visit and remember loved ones, whose names will be inscribed in a Book of Remembrance on display in the church. The border has already been cleared and a marker stone installed. The planting has been professionally designed to give colour and shape throughout the year, and will be carried out shortly. Offers to sponsor a plant will be gratefully received!

Thursday 16 November 2017

Supporting SightSavers in November

For November 2017 we shall be supporting sightSavers. Formerly called the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind, they are an international charity that works with partners in developing countries to treat and prevent all forms of avoidable blindness.