Monday, 23 December 2013


Decorations in  the South Aisle were made at crafty coffee mornings.
I have stopped. This a breathing space - a reflective time before the next round of carol and crib services and the Christmas eucharist and worship services that will preoccupy the Rector@6. Blogging has had to be put to one side as I paddled hard to keep afloat.
The frantic run up to Christmas is whirling around me and I need to stop. We have a target time - 12.30 on Christmas Day - so think of us then. Then, The Rector@6 should have finished, the front door will be shut, fire lit, dogs walked (are you reading this my two lovely sons?),Christmas lunch will not be cooked but we can prepare it together - for a late afternoon meal. We will turn inwards for a short time and celebrate as a family.
This first Christmas for The Rector@6, has been a huge learning curve for both of us. The amount of  tasks that have had to be remembered - or followed up on  - or needed reminders, - seems endless. Thank God for our good health.  I have run a star making session in one church which was challenging but enjoyable. We are still struggling to keep our musicians as no one has stepped forward to lead our music group. I am struggling to keep up with producing the pew sheets that go out each week with notices, reading and service times on them - for 6 churches. I make mistakes, which bothers me but I must learn that: - 1) I will improve with practise and 2) I am only human!
What I have realised is that this is probably the hardest Christmas period that we will experience (hopefully). We have had to cope with accepting  "This is the way it is always done"  - which might not be explained to us until a little too late. Despite this, one village is trialling a worship style service with no holy communion at it (this is available half a mile down the road at two churches and all the other churches in the Benefice). People have dropped away from attending the church over the years, many were of other denominations (such as Methodist ) and they had wondered if the Christmas day Celebration could be done differently. The Rector@6 has risen to the challenge and put together a service specifically for this. We will see if they come on Christmas morning.
The contrasts in this benefice are huge. Yesterday I attended Sunday morning worship in the form of  'coffee with carols' with chequered table clothes and informal seating, in our small ancient village church and in the evening I was listening to carols in the Abbey - complete with well rehearsed choir. I sat where the monks had sat hundred of years ago and soared with the music, up to the vaulted ceilings . The Abbey is in our benefice but not part of the benifice - it is a Church of England 'perculiar' (google that - I'm not even going to attempt to explain it!). Suffice to say, next year the carol service should fall into the Rector@6's lap.
I am grateful for this time to pause. The New Year is already lining up fresh challenges but I'm not thinking about these yet. Now is the time to reflect on what Christmas really is all about.
Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Monday, 9 December 2013

A gentle reminder.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

Psalm 65:8 New International Version
I'd had enough on Sunday - another cold, empty church left me searching for some sort of faith. Yes - I had lost it and I was wondering why we were here. The rural idyll had lost its charm and I was wanting a 'get out of jail' card. I see very little of the Rector@6 on a Sunday and when he suggested that we spent Sunday evening at another church, my thoughts were very unbecoming for a Rector's wife. He had in mind to travel out of parish, some fifteen miles to a small town. Here, he wanted to become an anonymous worshipper at an evening service, at a church that was attracting some of our parishioners. I, being the dutiful rector's wife (oh yes!), agreed to go with him. I reckoned that I would, at least, get some time to talk with him in the car.

It is very strange to go to a different church now. We parked up outside and watched the people go in - teenagers (with their parents!) and old and young alike, went through the glass doors into a modern, brightly lit foyer. Nothing like our churches we said to each other. We decided to venture in and we found that we were ignored by the crowd gathered round the tea and coffee counter. We made it into the main church unaccosted. There we were surprised to find that it was a traditional church that had had a face lift. It was warm, carpeted and had chairs and not pews. Yet the structure was a traditional church. As we took it all in, the welcome commitee realised we had broken through and we were welcomed and given a  leaflet which included a sermon outline - 'transformed to be sure'.

The whole evening was centred on assurance. Were we struggling with it? ..well I was. Did I have an inconsistent Christian life? - oh yes! Was I failing to appreciate the indwelling of the Spirit?... Actually it felt more like a kick up the **** for me. It was the wake up call I needed to carry on for a bit longer.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Rector's Christmas Present

The rector's Christmas present always causes me such a headache - but this year I think there is an obvious choice - long johns! I probably shouldn't be discussing the Rector@6's undergarments but I imagine keeping warm is a common problem for rural rectors and vicars. After three services in three churches yesterday, where the heating hardly functioned or wasn't functioning;- the Rector@6 was feeling the cold quite severely. Sometimes it can feel like the church services are being sabotaged because the heating has not been turned on ...but it is usually a genuine mistake or mal function (or so we are led to believe).

The ultimate Vicar's onesie
How can we expect to fill these beautiful churches, if it is a test of endurance to make it to the end of the service without suffering from hyperthermia or frostbite? The cost of keeping the building warm is too much for small churches that are struggling to pay their share. Should we move out and leave the building to the Historic Churches Trust? Should we just shut the doors and leave it to decay? Often there is not another public space in the village. Many of the churches are located in the centre of the village. What a statement to make - if the doors are locked and the building left empty. What a burden for the small congregations to keep them open.

So the Rector@6 struggles on and I will consider purchasing him a set of thermal long johns. Or should I modernise him and follow the fashion trend of a onesie. If you are not sure what a onesie is - it is the adult version of a babygrow - an all in one stretchy suit and they are fashionable amongst the youngsters at the moment. They come in all sorts of designs. Perhaps I could market a 'vicar's onesie'. Throw a surplice over the top and you are ready to go! Do you think they would catch on?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

In the Rectory dog house.

Our Tess was a year old last month. She arrived in this world just after we knew that my husband's first incumbency was going to be in Dorset, so she was named Tess - after Thomas Hardy's 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. She is the daughter of our collie and has the same loving nature as he has. Living in a rectory affects all members of the family, including the dogs. They have had to cope with long periods of being shut in the kitchen when there are house groups here. It is surprising how many people don't like to share their seat with a large, ungainly collie or a wriggly pup. Those longing gazes that watch every mouthful of biscuit eaten with the coffee, and the inevitable dribble that lands on shoes, just doesn't appeal to some of our visitors.

For other visitors, they provide a wonderful distraction, or comforter through difficult times. As the Rector@6 and I grow into our roles, so do the dogs. Recently they have been learning to sit quietly in church when they come with us to morning prayer in the church. I'm rather proud of how well they are accepting this. Tess does insist that she sits next to me on the pew and Jed lies at my feet. It is surprisingly reassuring to have them there....when they are quiet. Unfortunately they haven't quite got used to the idea of other people joining us and will emit loud resonating barks if the church door opens. This is not good practise!

The canine numbers at the rectory  have doubled recently. We are dog sitting two vicarage dogs from Hampshire, while their owners visit family in Australia. In a moment of generosity, the Rector@6 and I offered to look after the two dogs. We thought that with our nice, large garden and being surrounded by open countryside, we could offer them a home from home. We have made it to the end of week three! I'm not sure who is the fittest - but regular walks must be  taken by both the Rector@6 and myself because neither of us can manage four dogs on our own. This was a little thing that we failed to realise when we made the offer. So come rain or shine (fortunately plenty of the latter) we are tramping over the stubble fields. We have found that these two visitors are not like our collies. They come back on most occasions then suddenly one disappears across the field, or into the hedge, despite our frantic blowing on the dog whistle. For the first week, I expect the village thought there was a man hunt or police emergency because of our frantic tooting on the whistle from across the fields. We had been assured that both dogs came back on two bursts of the whistle - well our Tess does now!
The pheasant shoots have started around us now so we have had to keep clear of all the farms where this happens. We have had to keep clear of all hedges, rivers and woodland. But we have managed to have four dogs who all respond to their name and usually return for a titbit and our Tess thinks she is in seventh heaven!  She will miss them when they return home next week. We will not miss the Labrador instinct to role in anything smelly and then saunter away laughing at us. And I have to admit that one of our visitors (no names here) a thief! So far we have lost: - a pack of butter, a frozen apple cake, a mixed box of left over party cakes, a third of  Tess's stored dried food, bread and the vegetables being put out for compost heap. She can delicately pick the remaining apples from the low branches of the tree and shares them with all the other dogs. At least she is getting plenty of fresh food to supplement her dried diet!
It has been quite an experience - our Jed is not impressed with his harem in his house and I am afraid to say, has cause a couple of 'incidents'. We all still have all our fingers and the dogs have all their ears but two of them keep a wide berth of each other and will take every opportunity to curl a lip across the room at the other. Fortunately, it is only in the house and they can be walked off the lead together, without problems.
If rectory visitors thought we took a long time to get to the door before - we take twice as long now, as each pair of dogs needs to be put in their respective beds, before we open the door. Otherwise our visitors may be sent hurtling backwards down the steps, as four black dogs come flying at them! We haven't had many visitors lately (the continuous barking at times, or the loud shouting, may have deterred a few).

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Spiralling around life.

It's interview time for the Rector@6 - time to answer to the big boss. After six months, new incumbants get an entry interview with the bishop to discuss how things are going. A little while ago, one very good friend asked me how it really was for me and I declined to answer then, but now, I think I can. Things are slotting into place - I don't feel settled but I don't feel unsettled - so I suppose that is good. I miss Devon hugely but I am getting to know the area around us a bit more. Because we have been running back to Devon when we do have some time off, this has prevented us exploring our new surroundings as quickly as we might have done. I have been unready to rent out our Devon home and we have needed somewhere to escape from the telephone. So we have kept our house and done some very necessary repair works on it - and God has done some necessary repair work on me! We have been approached by a family who may be interested in renting the house after Christmas - and I know that it will be the right time to let it go.
Following the format of the Rector's interview, I will put my side:-
My Wellbeing.
The house is an on-going annoyance - there is still work to be done on it, some as a result of the quinquennial inspection, some because things were not kept in good order or finished properly. It has made it difficult to really settle and hopes of changes to the bathroom or kitchen are completely dashed so I will continue to sport burns on my hand from our badly sited oven. I have to accept the 'that will do' attitude but it doesn't endear me to stay here - we have owned our own home for too many years to accept this.
I haven't looked for a new job as yet - but I have ventured out into the world of horses and I am learning all the time. Almost exactly a year since giving up teaching, I am back in the local school as a volunteer. I shall see how that goes.
I'm tired and I miss weekends and two clear days to play - we miss days off quite regularly and because I have commitments, the Rector@6 can't just change the day off at late notice because something comes up, and expect to spend it with me. We haven't got this right yet
We like the parishes and the parishioners (which is fortunate) and we are getting involved in various local activities - including the pantomime.
My New Post - Rector's Wife
It wasn't included in the Rector's job description and I didn't intend being a full on rector's wife but it is hard to avoid. There is just so much to do and so I am now acting as the Benefice secretary to try and help the Rector@6 get to grips with the parishes.
How do I feel about this ministry after 6 months - well I certainly wasn't born to it!
My Induction
I have hardly met another vicar's wife. I don't think there is anything for spouses - or at least I haven't heard about it yet. Dorset is very good at keeping secrets. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right places. It would be good to meet others who know what it is really like behind the rectory/vicarage door.
My development
I 'get' the rural living but not the 'eating, sleeping and talking' church all the time. I remember life before this
and I miss it. I miss laughing - thank goodness for the pantomime group, my dogs and a good bottle of wine (this is not cause for concern...yet!).
I have found I can organise craft workshops. I would like to sing and play more music but I am worried about standing on people's toes. I'm learning that I am seen as being useful for feeding information to the vicar (in a roundabout way) - so I try not to get too involved.
I'm also learning that:-
I can't really have an opinion.
I can't get too involved with only one church.
It's not a good idea to have bright ideas!

I feel my life is spiralling around - revisiting uncomfortable places with a more open mind, returning to the world of education and learning new skills in old hobbies. I have started building a spiral pathway in our garden to mark this stage (and to remove some of the moss ladened turf). I find I can escape the world when I throw myself into a new garden project (- I will keep you updated on the progress) - and I do need to escape at times.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

        We Shall Keep the Faith

               by Moina Michael, November 1918

              Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
              Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
              We caught the torch you threw
              And holding high, we keep the Faith
              With All who died.
              We cherish, too, the poppy red
              That grows on fields where valor led;
               It seems to signal to the skies
               That blood of heroes never dies,
               But lends a lustre to the red
              Of the flower that blooms above the dead
              In Flanders Fields.
              And now the Torch and Poppy Red
              We wear in honor of our dead.
              Fear not that ye have died for naught;
              We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
              In Flanders Fields.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Night for Services of Light and Ghost walks

Well, we have survived our first season of Halloween in the village. As far as we are aware, no eggs were thrown and no flour pelted at unwary villagers or our door.  But then, it would take a brave soul to venture up the rectory path, which is some distance from the road. If they made it through the darkness (we have no street lights in our village), our security light would have blinded them as they reached the front door, thus setting off the rectory dogs in a frenzy of barking and clawing at the door! We are a friendly rectory!

Halloween and its increasing commercialism is worrying. The growth of this as a 'festival' is often blamed on America with 'trick or treating' being adopted as one of our 'traditions', but as John MacArthur says in 'Grace to you':-
"The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween.""
I have always believed that we should have an enlightened approach to Halloween. Leaflets written by J. John, have been placed in our churches that set out six reasons why Halloween is not harmless.
(An outline of this is linked here.) No one handed them out or engaged us in discussion to make us think about them. It is important that we think about how we respond to this. As a teacher, I saw the build up to fireworks night (Nov 5th) celebrated in school through art and drama - remembering Guido Fawkes attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, - how unsavoury is that celebration? Now, with all the health and safety regulations, the family bonfire night is declining. It is as if, with our clocks going back here in the UK, the darker evenings encourage the need to party, to celebrate, to get together and have fun. Halloween is the next date on the calandar - the evening before All Saints Day. For Christians to be superstitious about the evening, makes it too important, Light will overcome Darkness. This excellent clip sums it all up.

 So, in our village on All Hallows Eve (not Halloween), the drama group laid on a ghost walk which involved people being taken around the village and stories being told..and then 'things' happened. There was no attempt to say these were true stories and The Rector@6 accompanied the walk in his yellow jacket. It was drama and ended with a bowl of soup in the pub and a music band and a lot of laughter. The Church remained lit up as a place of light in the darkness. It was fortunate that the Service of Light had taken place an hour earlier in the church. It was a case of the two groups in the village not being aware that they were running two events on the same night. It had been a well attended service and gave people a chance to light a candle and remember loved ones who had died. The Rector @ 6 was at both events. The real problem of Halloween is the thuggish behaviour that results from unattended young people roaming the streets. If more emphasis can be placed on the value of Light in the world, if we could celebrate this with fun and laughter as well as respect, I think the world would be a better place.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Rest Days

As the Rector@6 and I struggle to find time to take a day off, the Rectory dogs have taken over the sitting room. I walked into the room this morning and they gave me just the merest nod of acknowledgement as they lounged on our seats. In the old days, they would have jumped off quickly, with embarrassment at being caught up on the furniture. Standards are definitely dropping!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Autumn Fruits

The last church harvest festival was last Sunday - an evening service followed by a hearty supper. These events draw in people who don't usually come to church and it is lovely to be able to share both worship and food with them. The Rector@6 has one more harvest service to attend and that is at the local school. He does enjoy these events. With harvest over in our churches, I have spent this morning peeling, cutting and slicing apples for freezing and drying.What a bumper year for apples and other autumn fruits and vegetables! I have invested in a new toy - a dehydrator. It consists of five drying racks through which warm air gently circulates. It sits in the corner of my kitchen, wafting delicious apple and strawberry scents into the air and warming the room. The resulting apple rings are so scrummy that they disappear rather quickly - not much chance of building up a supply for later in the year. The last of the British strawberries are not so good for eating on their own so I am drying them and I have ground them up to make a sort of strawberry dust, which is great sprinkled on cereal, porridge or cheesecakes. They are worth drying just for the smell!
Now the Rector@6 has also got rather excited about this glut of apples and when he heard that a friend had a press, they spent a happy afternoon squashing apples and dreaming of cider. A demijohn of murky sandy -coloured, liquid sits in the corner of our kitchen, gently burping out a bubble now and then. After the Rector's other attempts of home brewing (click here to read more), I have banned him from hiding this away in any dark corners of the house. This has not stopped him from secreting away containers of rotting apple skins and cores. They appear amonst the cake tins and the plate cupboards. He assures me that these will turn into wonderful apple vinegar. I fear that they may walk out of the cupboard on their own, if the amount of mould is anything to go by! I will keep you updated on their progress.
 'All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above:
then thank the Lord ,
O thank the Lord, 
for all his love.'

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Seasonal changes

It's one of those days where you just have to get out and walk. The clear, clean air adds a sharpness to my thinking. The breeze whispers gently in my ears and clears my head of the doubts that go round and round in my head. Was it really meant to be so challenging? Was it really meant to be so stressful on our marriage? Will we survive this settling period? But, like the fields around us, there is a need to clear the ground to begin another cycle of growing. This has meant that the once productive field must be ploughed and harrowed again. This process involves digging deep and turning over new earth, breaking up the lumps and bumps and trying not to bend the harrow or plough in the process. The barren, chalky subsoil must not be exposed so the valuable top soil must be nourished and not lost in all the upheaval .
As I walk alongside the huge, manicured fields, the dogs relish the space and race down the furrows - we all enjoy this walk, high up above the rest of the world. It can leave you raw and exposed if the weather turns against you, but today, it is on our side. Bright autumn sunshine creates contrasts of dark shadows and shafts of light piercing through the remaining leaves that are clinging to the branches. A few berrries still remain in the hedgerows but summer is over. We are not fooled by these occasional servings of sunshine - the damp, misty mornings tell us otherwise. But today I can revel in walking without a coat or a care in the breeze!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Property matters - a room with a view

Now you might think that I have been a little quiet about the rectory and the property matters. The repairs from the long overdue quinquennial inspection are slowly being completed. This involves us being available (often at very short notice) to let the varying tradespersons in. Therefore, the saga drags on. I have actually given up in my heart and accept that this is where we are for now – which is what I expect most vicarage families do after a few encounters with the building contractors. But I am disappointed at the lack of care for the incoming families. There was no inspection of the remedial works carried out and, at times, we were surprised by the work quality - but we do have a front door without a hole in it now. We were staggered to hear the amount of money that has been spent on this house so far.  I did put pen to paper to the property department to comment on our moving experience and we then received a visit – for which I am grateful. I hope that some of our comments may lead to other families settling into their new homes more easily. It is things like making sure the septic tank is emptied before we moved in – we lived for weeks wondering if drains always smelled like ours when you had a septic tank – only to find (once located ) that it was merrily overflowing into the rose bed! I won’t divulge the details of the conversation we had with the tanker driver who came to empty the tank – suffice to say it took him an hour and a half instead of the usual twenty minutes. 
On that delicate subject, I did say that I would update you on our smallest room upstairs. I have written about this before (click here forprevious loo observation). We have had a second floor re-laid – which involved levelling the floor due to damage from removing the first new floor.  The question of the hand sawn chipboard toilet plinth is being discussed, as is the ‘decorative’ pipe work. But we have redecorated and should you shut the door and rest awhile, you will be transported to a calm oasis - where you can contemplate in peace. The pipe work may no longer offend the eye as you should be distracted by the view!

Monday, 30 September 2013

The first harvest festival

There is nothing like a busy day and a good night's rest to put life in perspective! The first of several benefice harvest services is over. The small village church was alive with flower arrangers on Saturday and people bringing donations of fresh produce. It certainly looked like a bumper year for crops. The Rectory garden was able to provide raspberries, sweet corn, runner beans, apples, tomatoes and spinach. This is the first time I have had a garden harvest for many years. Being new in the village, I was aware that people have been decorating the churches for years and I didn't even realise they had started until the Rector@6 happened to pop in and found a hive of industry. I did know that there wasn't a regular harvest loaf maker so I decided to spend my Saturday morning making one. Kneading bread must be one of the most therapeutic activities there is! All those teaching years with salt dough and play dough paid off, and I was pleased with the result.

The church really did look splendid. In a village surrounded by farms, there is a particular relevance to Harvest festivals. We have all witnessed the long hours the farmers have worked to bring in the crops as the tractors thundered through the village to empty their trailers. We have watched the changes in the weather - hoping that it won't affect the yields. The fields are already ploughed and replanted and so the landscape has changed through a spectrum of colours from the green ripening shoots, to the golden stalks, to the dusky yellowing stubble and back to the rich brown or chalky white soil that village is built on. The flower displays reflected all these colours and also remembered the harvesting of the sea with some poor little sardines that had been washed up on a beach and brought back to the village, dried and added to the church displays!

A traditional service attracted regular and not so regular churchgoers and the church was full. What a difference it makes to sing hymns of praise with so many voices! If only these rural churches were full more often as they can radiate such warmth and sense of community. Yet many people are moving away from wanting to recognise or believe in a God who loves them. Attending church doesn't seem relevant to their lives as they are struggling to make ends meet or are busy working to provide for their families. And yet this church will be busy on Monday morning with people coming for a chat and coffee at the regular coffee morning and bric-a-brac stall run to support the church building fund. The harvest lunch that followed the service, was bustling with people. So I suppose the Church has to look at its changing role in these small communities. It is very much wanted to carry out the 'matching and dispatching' of parishioners. It is wanted for traditional festivals like Easter, Christmas and Harvest. It is wanted because it is there and has been there for hundreds of years. It's strange how the focus of a church very quickly becomes fund raising and then they are perceived as always chasing money. Perhaps it is even more important for rural churches to turn and look outside the doors of these beautiful buildings and seek out where they can serve best.

I nearly forgot to mention that on our return from holiday, we had difficulty getting to the rectory front door due to the arrival of fifty or sixty yellow squashes that seemed to be breeding on the doorstep! They had been there all weekend. Nobody will own up to  placing them there we can't thank them but they made us laugh!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Why would anyone want to be a vicar....or a vicar's wife?

The honeymoon is over and the clouds are rolling in. We knew it had to come to an end but the reality of the life we find ourselves in, is hard to take. We ended our summer holiday with four days next to the beach with no television, internet or telephone. We thought we were energized, refreshed and ready to go, but the coal face is a lot harder than we anticipated. I have been alongside The Rector@6 through 3 very, very long days and the contrast with the peace and silence we had experienced last week was vivid. So many voices, so many personal agendas, so much talking and being talked at. I hope that this really isn't the Kingdom of God because right now, I don't want to be part of it. I feel bruised and exhausted and I can't imagine how The Rector@6 feels. Right at this moment I want to go home......I will write more when things are more in perspective and I am less tired. I write so that I can reread this at a later date and know that things did get better.

The problem of being the vicar's wife is that you feel no one comes as a genuine friend, they all eventually want to tell you where the church has gone wrong or how it could be better if it was done this way or that way. I suspect this is in the hope that I will pass it on. I am tired of talking about church.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

So that was the summer

Our last summer walk from Corfe Castle to the coast at Swannage.
Summer is over. I am sitting next to a roaring fire and through the window I can see the predicted gale tossing the trees so violently that they are forced to surrender their leaves. The Rector@6 and I are on our summer holiday. We have had some time to explore Dorset and now we have escaped back to Devon to put up our feet for a day or two. (At this present moment The Rector@6 is changing the light fittings in this room.)
The real summer has been full of shows, festivals and harvesting. Our rectory has been filled, each week in August, with a lunch and then evening summer course run by the rector. In between all of this, we have managed some lovely days out. Pictures are better than words.....and at the moment I seem to have very few words to write. Maybe it will be easier after our 'summer' holiday.
 For now, here is a taste of our new life.

The beaches are varied and glorious!

We live in the countryside where Thomas Hardy was born and where many of his books are set.

We are next door to an amazing annual steam fair!

We managed to get to the Christian Greenbelt festival for one day!

The weather has been good and the natives friendly! Here is our Faith, Hope and Love lunchtime course sharing lunch in the rectory garden. We had five sunny Tuesdays in a row in August / September - allowing both the evening and lunchtime groups to eat outside. It has been good to get to know so many people and I hope they will feel enthused to work together to build up our six rural churches. It has been good to talk - now the work begins!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Busy Rectory Bees - needing Confirmation advice

The pace of life doesn't seem to slow down at the rectory. Just when we can see a gap in the calandar, there are unexpected visits from our sons and other family members. It is such a joy to be on the visiting radar, as living in Devon, we were just that little bit too far for an easy drive for the rest of our families. The summer is full of village shows and we have tried to get to most of them. The Rector@6 still hasn't quite got broad enough shoulders to ignore remarks about his occasional lack of attendence at one or another show. These comments show such little understanding of how hard he is working, and whether the comments are in jest or not, they upset the Rector@6 and me. If they could only see behind the rectory door! Finding his way through the business of six parishes and getting to understand the people and how they work, is a very time consuming business.

As autumn approaches, thoughts are turning to harvest services /suppers (each parish wanting their own), Christmas (yes Christmas!), Advent courses and the post Christmas visit from the Bishop for a Confirmation service. The latter service means that the confirmation classes must be completed during the Christmas period. Of course the Rector@6 won't be doing this all on his own, he has a team of clergy who have to work together to cover the six churches of the benefice.

I am now taking on the role of Benefice secretary !!!!!! Ok - so I was going to have my own life - but it is just not possible and keep a sane husband. While we remodel the benefice website, it is easier to have this job under the rectory roof for a short period (it is not for ever!). I have also been going through some of the resources available for Anglican Confirmation. I am so disappointed by what I have found. Has anyone used up-to-date, none indoctrinating, challenging, exciting material for teenagers' Confirmation classes? It is a serious business but surely we should be tapping into the teenage energy and encouraging them with up-to-date understanding of the Anglican church and how we (The Church) recognise their gifts and can use them. There must be something out there that makes the Church of England look relevant to the average teenager!
If you can help, or can recommend anything, or can ask anyone you know who might have suitable material - please contact me. Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places but we do want to see our young people spreading their wings.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Six monthly audit and lots of faith, hope and love.

I can't believe we have been here for six months! Our life was upturned and redirected in February, when we moved to this small rural village and my husband began his first incumbancy as the rector of six rural churches. I can't believe how different one English county can be from another. Here we are surrounded by thatched cottages and vast fields of crops. Despite living in the countryside before, never has the onset of harvest been so obvious to me. We are surrounded by acres of wheat and barley that stretch as far as the eyes can see. Now, after a short, intense sunny spell, the tractors seem to be working continuously to bring the crops in. The thundering tractors race through the village from dawn until midnight (- when they are actually obliged to stop). As you look over towards the farms, it looks like there is a dust storm rising out of the fields - centred on a huge harvester monster that continuously crawls up and down the field. And so the crops will be brought in and the circle of ploughing and planting will start again.

The Rector has now had six months to listen and watch the six churches in action. When he came here, he promised to make no changes and to get to know the people and parishes in his first six months. This has required patience from those folk who wanted things to change or move on, or were worried that the new rector was going to shake up the familiar. It has been a great time for us as we have tried to attend most village events and the Rector@6 has tried to attend most parish meetings. It has also been a very busy and tiring time!

Often in August, being the school holidays, many church groups take a break so the Rector@6 decided that this was a good time to run a short course to get to know people on a different level. He advertised the York course 'Faith, Hope and Love' - to run in the Rectory garden with a bring and share supper. It has been a great opportunity to listen to people and where they are in their churchmanship, their faith journey and their relationship with the parish church. The Rector@6 would thoroughly recommend this course to other ministers starting out somewhere new. It has proved to be very popular - so much so -  that we have had to run it in two sessions, either with lunch or supper. It has made for a very busy August hence the lack of blogging on my part!

I am settling down into a routine of helping with and riding the big horses over in the next village. This is my escape from parish life, as they are outside the Rector@6's parishes. And I need it! We seem to eat, sleep and talk church in the Rectory. This settling-in period seems such an intense time but then that is the same with any new job - but I am not employed in this job - I just live in it!