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Monthly letter


It has been quite a year of changes for the Benefice.

We have said farewell to our curate, The Revd Graham Buckle as he has moved into a new ministry in the Diocese of Lincoln. It was wonderful that we had a good group of people travel to see Graham Installed into his new living. From all I hear Graham is getting on very well and is enjoying this new way of living, as a full time stipendiary minister in the Church of England. We certainly continue to wish him, Davina and their family, well and hold them in our prayers.

We had to say farewell to another priest this past year, sadly this time as our brother in Christ, The Revd Vic Read died last year. Vic had been an amazing help and support to me in my time in this living and to you all throughout two previous vacancies. I already feel his loss in the workload of the Benefice as well as in his words of wisdom and support. Vic is now with God in the heavenly kingdom that he believed in and worked for so diligently over many years, we rejoice in this knowledge and we pray for Pat as she comes to terms with her life without Vic’s presence.

We have also had a change in the administration of the parish as Carolynn Tomalin decided to resign from being our Administrator towards the end of last year. I would like to record my thanks to Carolynn for her great help and support for the first 5 plus years of my ministry and also to acknowledge the support that she gave to all the parishes through the last Interregnum and prior to that to Canon Bridget Smith. Carolynn had accumulated a great amount of knowledge of the people and the working of this Benefice throughout that time and was a wonderful support to me as I began my time here and as life in the Benefice evolved.

Change is inevitable, as we live our lives; individually as well as being in the community of faith that is the church. And so now we have to learn how to be a five parish Benefice with only one Priest, and with a new Administrator.

Yes, we have a new administrator, Mrs Shirley Williams who started in February and is learning the role at this time. Please pray for Shirley that she may find this to be a satisfying and enjoyable opportunity helping us in our Benefice.

One thing that has not changed is that I continue in the role of Rural Dean, indeed last year I was licenced in this role for another five year period. It is a challenging role but also a very rewarding one, seeing how the churches in the Towcester Deanery are engaging in the wonder of building and caring for God’s Kingdom in the parishes in this area. Some of these ideas that others are using are worth considering by us, and I have brought these to the attention of the gathered PCC’s.

We are also being encouraged by the Bishop and in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to share the Good News with others, to pray and to participate in the wonder of seeking to bring more people to know Jesus Christ in their lives. This is the Growth Agenda. We are planning to engage in this with our event on 27th May, the Thy Kingdom Come – Prayer and Walk as well as by having our Churches, where possible, open and available for prayers. We are simply seeking to find ways by which we can pray for people to come to know Jesus and then, by the means of Christian living to witness to Jesus amongst our communities. I hope and pray that this is something that we can engage with.

As we bring people to know Jesus there are opportunities to deepen faith and knowledge of Jesus, we continue to have our Lent Courses and also, later this year we are going to have a Confirmation Service, before which there will be, for want of a better expressions, Confirmation Classes. I am still at the point of simply wanting to hear from people who are interested in being confirmed.

As usual in my annual report I want to take a moment or two to say thank you.

There are so many people who do magnificent work to care for our churches, both the buildings in which we gather and by which we maintain a presence in our communities, but also in the gathered people who are the true church, the family of God.

Amongst the many I would like to pick out a few to name who have been and continue to engage in a recognised and licensed ministry.

We have a couple of Pastoral Ministers in the Benefice, Mollie Dunkley and Sara Hughes whose care and support of others continues on wonderfully, even through times of change and sometimes difficulty in their own lives. I am sure that as I offer my thanks you will be joining with me in this thought.

Also, though with great difficulty with his own health this past year especially, Peter Byng has continued to take on a share in the ministry and mission of God in these parishes, across the Benefice. We often talk about sacrificial ministry; I certainly think that this can be said of Peter’s dedication and commitment to his ministry as a Reader in the Church of England. Thank you Peter.

It is wonderful to be looking ahead also, for we are going to begin to receive the blessing of a new ministry in our midst as Clare Ray will be licensed as a Reader in September after having been giving time and effort for these past three years training. I look forward to working alongside Clare as she grows into this new way of being a witness to Jesus Christ and a minister amongst God’s children, us all in these parishes. Thank you Clare for the dedication you have already shown through your training and for being willing to hear God’s call to become a minister as a Reader.

Of course, there are many more who give a great deal to our life as Church in these parishes. Our Churchwardens for this past year [and more]:

  • Abthorpe – Richard Tomalin

  • Paulerspury – Mollie Dunkley and Jane Sawbridge

  • Silverstone – Peter Coles and Judith Paybody

  • Slapton – Caroline Coke and Andrew Young

  • Whittlebury – Peter Nicholson and Raymond Pearson

Also, to those who have served as Deanery Synod Representatives over these past three years, some are not going to stand again this year for their own, reasonable and understandable reasons, these are Amy Crawfurd and Lesley Franklin from Paulerspury and Raymond Pearson from Whittlebury, however, to all who have and may well continue to serve at Deanery level, thank you.

I firmly believe that all of us share in the life of the Church, of being a part of the kingdom on earth, the kingdom that Jesus proclaims when he says, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near’ and that we all, in our own ways, actually take part in the life of the church. So it is that we know how much we depend on each other, on the many and various talents and abilities that we have all of which go into the wonder of the life of Church in our parishes and across the benefice. To everyone then, I offer my thanks and also a challenge that you continue in your participation in the wonder of being the church and ask yourself the question, what does God want for me, with me, through me?

We are a part of the most wonderful and fulfilling families in the world today, building for the world tomorrow reflecting on the experiences of yesterday. We are the Church of God, we know Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord, therefore let us truly know that we can rejoice in God together as we witness and share Blessings to and with others.

And so finally, from me I say, thanks be God.

Revd Paul



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