Sponsored Walk

by Bill Rowell

Before the clocks go back I am intending to walk between as many as possible of the churches of the deanery. I’ll keep a note of my total mileage, and photograph each church I visit – frankly, I’ve no idea how well I’ll do, but I’d love you to sponsor my attempt!
This is the deanery in which Thomas Bray was born and baptised – the founder, over three hundred years ago, of the mission society USPG (for whom I used to work). So half the money I raise will go to USPG, and the other half to whatever church or group of churches you wish as my sponsor. If you would like to sponsor me, please complete the sponsor form from the link below. I’ll be walking whenever I can fit it in between 20th September and 23rd October, with a last walk on 24th October, which, all being well, will be from Shelve, via The Marsh and Middleton, to Chirbury.
Completed sponsor forms can be sent to me at 17 Croft Road, Welshpool, Powys SY21 7QD, or emailed to wkrowell@btinternet.com. I haven’t yet set up an on-line giving page, but when I do I’ll pass details round!
Thanks! – Rev Bill Rowell, Rural Dean.

The full document is here, and includes a taxpayer declaration box.

Disturbing The Bats?

By Allen Marsden

Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

For the last few months, the bats have had St. George’s much to themselves….until now. Recently, a visit to the chancel by yours truly and my friend “Henry” took place (and we found plenty of evidence that the bats are keeping very well, thank you). This was followed by a funeral and then our first 10h30 Morning Service since lock-down back in March, ably led by Mary and Val.

The West End Room (WER) has been seeing some action too as Covid-19 restrictions start to ease. Since mid-July, the church has been open twice a week for private prayer, with the WER turned into a substitute for the Lady Chapel. We’ve put arrangements in place to ensure that visitors can enter and use the WER in as much safety as we can reasonably provide. These include Mary’s super high-tech sanitiser-dispenser…worth a visit just to have a squirt. With the help of candles and soft background music, it’s possible to have some peace and quiet to meditate and pray. Two volunteer stewards are stationed in the front porch to keep a discreet eye on the WER to ensure all necessary precautions are being met.

It’s true we stewards aren’t exactly swept off our feet by the number of visitors and we’ve yet to have to keep a queue in order, but those who have come along do seem to appreciate the opportunity. It’s “early days” and word has yet to get round – and there are still those who unable to leave home or who are reluctant to go into enclosed spaces, no matter how safe these are made.

And we’ve discovered there are other benefits. On the many fine days, we sit just inside the porch. With the doors wide open, we get the chance to chat with the many passers-by – and make a fuss of their dogs. Then we can explain why we are there. We mention plans for church services and how we have no minister but hope to appoint one soon – and we show the village that St. George’s is getting back in business and that we are keen to play our part in people’s lives. No “hard-selling” as we’d put people off and they’d stop walking through the churchyard. It’s a bit like being the sower of seeds: let’s hope they don’t all fall on stony ground

So if you pass by the church and see two stewards sitting in the porch, looking friendly, then please take pity, stop and have a chat! And even better: come inside, have a squirt of sanitiser and treat yourself to some peace and quiet while you meditate and pray undisturbed.

Allen Marsden

Church & You Survey

From: York St John University

The Coronavirus, Church & You Survey

You are invited to take part in this national survey…details below

The Covid-19 pandemic has obviously had a profound effect on churches. The lockdown has severely restricted ministry in areas such as pastoral care, fellowship groups, and serving the community. On the other hand, for those with online access, worship has taken on new and creative forms over the last few weeks. Many clergy and ministry teams have risen to the challenge of operating in the virtual environment.

As we pass the most severe period of lockdown, it seems a good time to assess how churchgoers have responded to the experience, and what they think the future might hold. How well have people coped with the pandemic? Has it strengthened or weakened their faith? How has it been for clergy and ministry teams trying to work in this new environment? How have those receiving ministry found this novel experience? Will virtual ministry become part of the post-pandemic landscape, and will this be a good move for your church?

We have developed a survey over the last few weeks in discussion with bishops, clergy and lay people which we hope will enable you to record your experience of the pandemic, the ministry you have given or received, and what you think will happen to churches in a post-pandemic world.

In an article to launch the survey in the Church Times, the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, wrote: “This survey is an attempt to go beyond anecdote… It will capture evidence of both excitement and fears for the future, of where stress levels have changed, and whether personal faith has weakened or grown.”

This is an online survey, which we estimate it will take you about 20-30 minutes to complete. Most of the questions simply require you to tick boxes, though there are options to specify your particular circumstances, and an opportunity at the end for you to tell us your views in your own words. Alongside questions about the pandemic and ministry there are sections which ask about you: these are important because they will allow us to see how the lockdown is affecting different sorts of people in different contexts.

The survey can be completed on mobile phones, though it is more quickly completed on devices with larger screens such as tablets or computers.You can access using the following link: https://tinyurl.com/ycsq9fy2

Please forward this link to any churches or churchgoers you feel might want to take part in the survey and support this research. We should have some initial results within a few weeks and will make these available as widely as we can.

The Revd Professor Andrew Village,

York St John University a.village@yorksj.ac.uk

The Revd Canon Professor Leslie J. Francis,

Visiting Professor York St John University

Elizabeth and Rubens

By Jackie Winwood

I attach a picture of our rather large Montana clematis (Elizabeth) and found this appropriate poem which I thought was rather nice-

Photo by Jackie Winwood

Ode to“Elizabeth and Rubens” Clematis Montana

Elizabeth and Rubens were a good pair
until I went and cut down all Rubens hair
now Rubens in my garden is no longer there
and Elizabeth looks like she needs some care

Lamsdorf POW Camp

By Mary Worall

Lamsdorf in the 1940’s

My uncle was a prisoner of war , He was taken at Dunkirk and was then in different camps over the next four plus years,
This I found near the end of his recordings, I was taken with it, I reread it on VE day,
This was written on the end of one bed in Stalag V111B. (Lamsdorf Silesia)

(1) Now I’ll tell you of a tale of some prisoners of war,
who were captured not far from St. Valeris Shore.
On the 12th June as you will recall,
we were battered to hell by the Dutch conger balls

(2) They took us to Langsdorf, our home to be.
Where instead of our grub we got 2 hours of PT
Two loaves between ten, and a bowl of coffee,
Oh! I’ll never forget that place called Stalag V111B.

(3) From Langsdorf they sent us to work in the mines,
At first it all looked good and so fine,
The people and miners , they all looked so glam
and all the words spoke were ‘come Englanders come’

(4) And for our pay they gave us two Marks
Oh how we cursed the dirty old sharks
cigarettes and tobacco we could not get
the boys haven’t got over it yet.

(5) But there come a day when prisoners no more
and we shall board the ship for dear old Blightey’s shore.
To drink wine and whisky not forgetting the rum.
and no more to hear them say ‘come Englanders come’

I put this into my book on May 14th, when waiting to go to work.
I wonder who wrote this and which camp they were moved to.

He added other poems that he collected from people and used a tiny little bit of pencil to put it all into a small children’s note book.

The spellings and English are just as it was. It did me good to reread this precious diary.

N.B. Ed. There’s a huge amount of very interesting information about this camp, and the ‘Long March’ across Europe endured by the prisoners. You can find it here.

Pontesbury Cemetery

From The Church Wardens

Pontesbury Cemetery: an update

There has been some discussion of our local cemetery in “social media” recently. This has led to some changes which may affect all who visit the cemetery. But first, it may help if we set out the background….

We are fortunate to have a cemetery in Pontesbury that’s near the centre of the village, with sufficient consecrated space for some years to come. The cemetery is actually an extension of the Churchyard that surrounds St. George’s Church and so it’s the property of the Church of England, and it’s the responsibility of St. George’s Church to ensure it is available for use.

There are costs involved in keeping the cemetery in a fit and safe state. We need to ensure that boundary fences, walls and gates are sound, that bushes and trees do not encroach, that pathways and landscaped areas are suitably laid out, and the grass is kept down. Fees are charged to meet the cost of individual burials and these provide a small fund to help meet the costs of maintaining the cemetery. But – we get no financial help from head-office! In fact – like just about all churches across the country – we have to pay our way. Churches that don’t meet their costs face having to share their Minister with neighbouring parishes – or even…closure.

So we could say that we run the cemetery on a wing and a prayer. This task falls to a very small, ageing group of volunteers. We tackle jobs ourselves when we can, to save money – and we are very grateful to those who keep parts of the cemetery and individual graves neat and tidy. When we have no choice, we do pay for work – but we have to keep within our budget. It’s very true that with more money, we’d pay for more work and make things even better.

We do know that despite our best efforts at maintaining the cemetery, not everyone is happy at times. The recent “social media” discussion is evidence of an issue regarding upkeep around grave-stones. Criticism travelled quickly and before we knew it, we found ourselves without anyone to cut the grass. So now, we are faced with a choice: pay for more time than before to keep the grass down (with money we don’t have), or leave the cemetery to become a “wild area” (fine for birds and other wild life but not for human visitors and liable to create other problems).

We will let you know what we decide to do in due course. But we would ask you please to contact us by phone (details below) if there is an issue that you need to discuss about the cemetery. We can’t work miracles but we will do what we can! Pontesbury Cemetery is a very special place of peace and quiet which we can visit to remember our loved ones. We all want to keep it that way, don’t we?

Your humble, ageing volunteer Churchwardens,

Mary Worrall 01743 791069

Allen Marsden 01743 791822