Rector’s Newsletter 20th June 2021

Dear friends

I recall in the early days of the pandemic spending a lot of time on zoom with one of the Bishop’s PAs who was acting as secretary to one COVID response group that I was chairing. It was only after many online encounters that I thought to ask him in passing where he actually was? I discovered to my surprise that the whole time I had been interacting with him, he had been staying with his parents in Surrey. Few anecdotes sum up quite so well how much some of our working lives have changed. We were planning how best to support the neediest people in Coventry to safeguard them against the ravages of the virus, but in his case from over 100 miles away.

I share this so that you might understand mine and Fran’s thinking with regard to our home in Tywyn. It was my plan to visit regularly (I have never been sure about how regularly), travelling over on a Wednesday night, working from there on Thursdays and Saturday mornings, while enjoying our day off together on Fridays by the seaside or in the mountains, before travelling back on Saturday afternoon ready for Sunday. I am hopeful that this will work because technology means it doesn’t really matter where someone is if you are going to meet with them on zoom, telephone or email them. Nevertheless, it is important that you all understand that while I may not be readily available on Fridays, I remain ready to talk or correspond on Thursdays and Saturdays as much as if I were in the Deanery. After all, Tywyn has a better Wi-Fi signal than Habberley or Shelve!

Church Café at Minsterley

The PCC at Minsterley would like to reopen the church café in the autumn. Historically, the café has been much appreciated by locals and has been important in providing an opportunity for isolated people to experience community. We believe we have a reasonable stock of volunteers, but what we don’t have is a coordinator, someone to take responsibility for the overall running of the café. This is a role that might be shared by two people potentially. If you would like to know more, please speak to Greg or one of the churchwardens at Holy Trinity.

Alpha

We are planning a Deanery Alpha taster over the summer for anyone who thinks they might like to take part in an Alpha course or invite a friend along, but don’t quite know what they might be letting themselves in for. Further details available from Mark Hackney at mark.hackney@hereford.anglican.org

June 21st

We are going to go ahead with the “Welcome” service on Monday at 7 p.m. preceded by a buffet supper at 6 p.m. The government decision not to further lift restrictions means that there will be no congregational singing and face masks will need to be worn, but otherwise the service will unfold as planned. Do join us if you can.

Letterhead designer

Many thanks to Robert Pither who has come forward to offer his assistance.

Good Neighbours

Many thanks to those who have come forward to volunteer for Good Neighbours. There is still a pressing need for befrienders who will occasionally visit or telephone people living on their own. At present, the coordinator is unable to meet all the requests she is getting for a befriending service. If you feel you could spare an hour or so a week to befriend someone in Minsterley or Pontesbury, please let Greg know.

Colin Willcox

Many will be saddened to hear of the death of Colin Willcox, a former PE and geography teacher at Mary Webb following a long battle with cancer. The only way we feel we can sensibly manage this and any other large funeral that takes place at St George’s under COVID restrictions is by reserving seats for the family and then counting people into a capacity of 120. Anyone arriving after that limit has been reached will be invited to stand outside.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens
Let your glory be over all the earth
Psalm 57.11

Rector’s Newsletter 13th June 2021

Dear friends
After many long months, this week I have finally been able to take in person assemblies. I can only do one class at a time and only in Pontesbury School (Minsterley are not ready for me yet!) This meant that I found myself telling the story of Jesus calming the storm no less than seven times over three mornings. The children were delightful, incredibly well behaved and the Bible knowledge of Year 1 was extremely impressive. One can never be quite sure how much of the overarching Christian story children may have grasped. Gone are the days when children know that the answer to any question a Vicar asks them is Jesus. I remember in my last parish attempting to tell a school hall full of children the story of one of Jesus’ healing miracles. I reached the point in the story where I asked them what should the man do? How could he get someone to help? One child confidently put her hand up and told me he could Ask Alexa. Sigh! I was reminded of the Church of England advert from a couple of decades back when the Mario brothers were all the rage. The advert read: does your child think the saviour of the world is a plumber or a carpenter? There is much work to be done. Please do pray that our children will hear the Good News in an accessible and understandable way.

Live recordings
Once again, we must express our gratitude to Alistair Bates for recording and then uploading the service from Minsterley last Sunday. The service wasn’t posted as soon as we had hoped because of technical difficulties, but is available to view now on either the St George’s or Stiperstones websites. Feedback, as always, is gratefully received. The next time we hope to record a live service is on Sunday July 11th from Pontesbury.
Evensong at Habberley
Please note that throughout the summer months, Evensong at Habberley will start at the new time of 6.30 p.m. All welcome.

PCCs
This week, we have PCCs at Habberley at 2.30 and Minsterley at 7 p.m. Both meetings take place in the respective churches.

June 21st
Plans are now well advanced for a special service on Monday June 21st at 7 p.m. at St George’s. This is an opportunity for the whole family to come together and welcome Greg and Fran and celebrate the start (albeit four months later) of their ministry. It will be a wonderful opportunity to meet all our new friends at the same time and to bid our old friends from Coventry a fond farewell. There will be a buffet supper served from 6 p.m.
Letterhead designer
It appears that the Stiperstones benefice has never had its own letterhead. Greg would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has the design skills to come up with something suitable.
Good Neighbours
Many thanks to those who have come forward to volunteer for Good Neighbours. There is still a pressing need for befrienders who will occasionally visit or telephone people living on their own. At present, the coordinator is unable to meet all the requests she is getting for a befriending service. If you feel you could spare an hour or so a week to befriend someone in Minsterley or Pontesbury, please let Greg know.

Harvey Trudgett
We mourn the passing of Harvey Trudgett, a former crucifer at Minsterley, who died on 29th May. His funeral takes place at Shrewsbury crematorium on Tues 15th at 1.15 p.m.. Please pray for his wife, Maureen.

Rector’s Newsletter 4th June 2021

Dear friends

The Diocese and Deanery have agreed that our group can have a House for Duty Priest from 2022 to work three days a week in the Stiperstones benefice. This will be a huge help to me and I am grateful that the undertaking given me at interview has been made good. However, there is a catch (isn’t there always?). We will have to pay for it. This means that we will need an increase in income in 2022 of between 25 and 30%. Given that income has been artificially depressed in 2020 and 2021 by the pandemic, I am hopeful that this will not be too onerous. Inevitably, I have spent quite a lot of time talking about money over the last couple of weeks to get this deal in place. Now, therefore, seems a good time to reflect on what giving to church is all about. It is easy to think of it as a membership fee, like the National Trust or a yoga class. We pay either by direct debit or whenever we attend. An alternative way of thinking of our church giving is as a charitable contribution. The church, like Battersea Dogs Home, is a good cause that deserves our support and without it might not keep going. While both of these attitudes are understandable, neither do justice to the Bible’s view. The Bible tells us that everything we have comes from God in the first place and that we simply give back a little of what he’s given us. Or as St John puts it: “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4.19)

Live recordings

Our second live broadcast will take place this Sunday from Holy Trinity Minsterley. The service will be available to view from 6 p.m. via either the Pontesbury or Stiperstones websites. A review this week noted the importance of having the liturgy on screen, ensuring consistency of sound and ensuring the preacher’s face is lit properly. The delay between recording the service and posting it is a reminder to us of how much hard work Alistair Bates puts into such a fantastic job of editing. We would be pleased to hear from anyone who would be prepared to operate a camera on this or future occasions. Please contact Greg or Alistair.

June 21st

Plans are now well advanced for a special service on Monday June 21st at 7 p.m. at St George’s. This is an opportunity for the whole family to come together and welcome Greg and Fran and celebrate the start (albeit four months later) of their ministry. It will be a wonderful opportunity to meet all our new friends at the same time and to bid our old friends from Coventry a fond farewell. There will be a buffet supper served from 6 p.m.

Good Neighbours

Are looking for additional volunteers to run errands and visit those living alone. Anyone who thinks they might be interested in joining the current team of 15-20 volunteers who volunteer in Pontesbury and Minsterley should contact Greg.

Eco-church

A small group met last week to consider how Minsterley and Pontesbury churches might make progress towards the Eco-Church bronze award. Holy Trinity is reasonably close to be ready to apply, needing to do more with the wider community. St George’s is further back and will need to investigate what it can do to ensure its building and its land use are more eco-friendly.

Harvey Trudgett

We mourn the passing of Harvey Trudgett, a former crucifer at Minsterley, who died on 29th May. His funeral will take place at the crematorium later this month. Please pray for his wife, Maureen.

28th May 2021

From the Rector, The Reverend Greg Smith

Dear friends

One of the most powerful books I have ever read (and which I commend to you wholeheartedly if you can find a copy) is Jackie Pullinger’s Chasing the Dragon. Jackie is an amazing woman who felt called by God when she was in her early 20s to travel out to Hong Kong. There she found herself working in the infamous Walled City. She was surrounded by men and women hopelessly addicted to opium, people forced to pay for their drugs through prostitution or gang membership. She targeted the most hopeless with the good news of Jesus, the gang leaders happy to let them go so useless were they. I relate this story because of its connection with Pentecost. Initially, Jackie Pullinger had very little success until one day someone reminded her of the value of praying in tongues. Convicted that it was rude to neglect a gift that God had given her, she started to pray in tongues for the people she was working with. There was an astonishing change in her ministry. Suddenly, scores of people flocked to join her and over the years, she built up a world-renowned ministry to drug addicts. I wonder what gift, if any, that God has given you that you might be rudely neglecting?

Live recordings

We hope you enjoyed last Sunday’s Pentecost service from Pontesbury. Many, many thanks to Alistair Bates, who spent some 6 hours editing the service for broadcast (hence the delay in posting it). If you have any thoughts about broadcast, please email Greg or join us for a review on Wednesday 2nd at 6 p.m. via zoom. Our next live broadcast will be from Minsterley on June 6th. Again, there will be a delay until the evening before the service is available to view via either the Pontesbury or Stiperstones websites. This Sunday, a pre-recorded service for Trinity Sunday, will be posted at 10 a.m.

Family Service

This Sunday, May 30th, the whole family of six churches will gather together at St George’s Pontesbury at 10.30 for a group service. Pam will be presiding and Greg preaching. We will have a combined choir from Pontesbury and Minsterley. It would be wonderful to see the church full for this special occasion.

June 21st

Provided the government’s roadmap to unlocking remains on track, a special service is planned on Monday June 21st at 7 p.m. at St George’s. This is an opportunity for the whole family to come together and welcome Greg and Fran and celebrate the start (albeit four months later) of their ministry. All are welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

Good Neighbours

Are looking for additional volunteers to run errands and visit those living alone. Anyone who thinks they might be interested in joining the current team of 15-20 volunteers who volunteer in Pontesbury and Minsterley should contact Greg.

Eco-church

A small group met this week to consider how Minsterley and Pontesbury churches might make progress towards the Eco-Church bronze award. Holy Trinity is reasonably close to be ready to apply, needing to do more with the wider community. St George’s is further back and will need to investigate what it can do to ensure its building and its land use are more eco friendly.