Benefice of Seaview, St Helens, Brading & Yaverland
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Drawing showing the extent of the Anglican Benefice of Seaview, St Helens, Brading & Yaverland on the Isle of Wight

Benefice Blog 2018

Christmas

As I write this in November, we are approaching Remembrance Sunday and thinking about the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. I'm sure you have heard the story of Christmas 1914, where a general truce was not officially called, but soldiers on both sides along the front line left their trenches to cross No-Mans Land; to offer one another friendship on Christmas Day. This act of humanity shows there is so much more to Christmas than just presents, food and parties. It is a time when we look for the best in each other and celebrate common humanity together. It is more than just a winter festival and a holiday, because Christmas remembers the birth of the man who gave to the world these stunning words of peace: 'Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you" . These words echo through the centuries, calling on all of us to be the best that we can be, and leading us to forgiveness and new peaceful beginnings this Christmas time.

So this Christmas and always in your churches all are welcome. Whether you are a frequent church goer or not, join us here to celebrate humanity, community and peace.

God Bless,

Ali

December 2018

Thank You

Sometimes I wonder if all people think we do in church is ask for money to try and keep the roof over our heads. I would love to say that this is completely untrue but in fact it isn't! We do spend quite a lot of our time on the committees of the church and with all the wonderful volunteers raising money to keep the fabric of our beautiful buildings from falling down. Every bill for the maintenance of the church is paid for by the local church, we receive no funds from the Diocese or National Church to do this. We keep these precious historic buildings in trust for the whole community thanks to coffee mornings and collections, concerts and donations.

So this is a piece to say THANK YOU... thank you all, for all you do to help us do this. Recently St Helens church received some very generous donations and has now raised half the money needed towards their refurbishment plans and are beginning the long and difficult process of grant applications to large organisations for the rest. They are also able, thanks to this generosity to do some very much needed work in the South transept to decorate the walls. This is not just a coat of paint, oh no. It is the removal of old paint and cement plaster and the re-plastering with lime plaster. This ensures that the precious fabric of the church can 'breath' and it is a specialised and costly business.

Walking into St Helens church today to work on plans I was struck once again by the deep peace and living silence that these churches hold in the heart of our communities and I am so thankful that through your generosity we are able to keep them open. I hope that you will appreciate the work that we are doing and continue to support us not just with money but also with your time and skills if you can.

In all the churches we are always looking for help and we will be advertising times when we will, all together, be painting, decorating and tidying the churches, halls, graveyards and gardens. If you have some time that you could spare us then we will provide the tea and butties!

So, look out for the exciting opening of the Undercroft kitchen at St Peters in Seaview, and for the decorating of the upstairs hall, Join us to refurbish the St Helens graveyard labyrinth and look forward to the £40,000 refurbishment of the St Marys organ just in time for Christmas. All this is possible because of You.... THANK YOU

God Bless

Ali

November 2018

The View from the Vicarage .... Theology

Sometimes you will hear me say how much I love 'Theology'. And by this I mean that I love talking, thinking and debating about ideas of the mystery some people call God!

It used to be simple.... Everyone had the same beliefs aligned to particular cultures and countries (500yrs ago). But then we started moving about and encountering other ideas of God and life and the Spirit and the afterlife..... And we started to mix our ideas and to form our own belief systems outside of the normal religious establishments. So now there is so much 'out there', so many possible ways of seeing the meaning of our lives, of relating to others and the world around us.

Some people are happy to flow along with this without too much problem, others (like me), want to try and figure things out and find a belief system that works to live a fulfilling life.

As this view is 'from the Vicarage' it won't surprise you that the starting place for my exploration is Jesus and the religion that remembers his name, Christianity .... But I don't like to be confined and I acknowledge that ideas of God have to always be provisional.... Because we can never truly know ... if the word 'God' means anything, then it definitely means something much bigger than my tiny brain can hold! So....

With all that in mind I would like to invite you on an exploration and am starting the following evenings and opportunities. They are not courses, you will not be taught. They are not bible studies, they are much wider than that... Please do talk to me if you are at all interested and I will keep a list for numbers.

Theological Book Club... reading books, fiction and non fiction, together and sharing what we think, once a month at the Vicarage. First meeting Monday 5lh November 7pm (on the first Monday of each month after that. The first Book is 'The Shack' by Paul Young and I have some copies if you would like to borrow).

Living the Questions evening gathering, using set material to explore fascinating questions around the Christian faith... be prepared to think new thoughts! Monday November 19th 7pm at the Vicarage (and every 3rd Monday after that).

See you there

God Bless

Ali

October 2018

'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God'

It is all about Happiness... we all want to be happy. Of course we do, but happiness is a slippery thing. There are things that we know 'make us happy' but sometimes they just don't 'work' any more. There are people we are usually happy to be around but sometimes they don't give us the happiness we are looking for. We can be happy in a new house, a new job, and a new relationship for a while but why does that fade over time?

There is a lovely little cartoon on you tube that explains this beautifully (Headspace/Happiness). 

* It tells us that happiness is only found in the right here and now... how could it be anywhere else? But as we spend most of our lives and thoughts in remembering the past and dreaming about the future happiness can just pass us by.... remember happiness is a moment.

* It reminds us that happiness can't be sought or chased or forced... it just happens often when we are not expecting it.

* And it teaches that the surest way of allowing happiness to happen is to forget about our own happiness and to go and help another person be happy!!!

In our present 'me,me' culture this sounds a little odd ... but it is the absolute Truth.

This little cartoon is made by a Buddhist who is trained in meditation but the teachings of Jesus that instruct us in church are identical.

Jesus said... if you want to find your life you must first loose it... give it away to others.

If you want to find the peace and joy you are striving for…. then seek first for the Kingdom of God…. Seek first for the pleasure and joy of loving and serving your neighbour.

I know it all sounds very worthy doesn't it and a little counter intuitive.

But... as we practice this, live it and remind each other then Happiness will sneak up on us and curl up in our lap!

God Bless

Ali

September 2018

The new Haven Churches Benefice is Born
THE HAVEN CHURCHES
THE BENEFICE OF SEAVIEW, ST HELENS, BRADING AND YAVERLAND
Providing a spiritual harbour for ALL
Drawing of Ship

Just to let you all know that the churches of Seaview, St Helens, Brading and Yaverland are now operating as a united team (called a Benefice in Church of England speak). The Priest in Charge is Rev Alison Morley and there is a nice big team of retired and licensed clergy who are taking services and adding their expertise and pastoral care.

The new team is called the Haven Churches and our tag line of  " Providing a spiritual harbour for ALL" reflects the way that the team and the congregations are committed to keeping the churches as open and inclusive, safe places for care of our spiritual human nature. Our human nature is often described as being made up of Body, Mind and Spirit and the churches of our Parishes have a clear obligation to care for the human Spirit. We use Christian language to describe this mysterious Spirit but we recognise and appreciate others religious and non religious language and are open for everyone who would like to find a space of tranquillity when the storms of life stir up the Spiritual core of our beings or challenge us to search for a deeper meaning for our existence.

We have a new web site that can be found at www.havenchurches.org.uk where our services are listed, recorded sermons are posted and everything that you would need for organising a Wedding, Baptism or Funeral can be found and a facebook page where events are shared at https://www.facebook.com/alimorleyrev/

Your church is staying just as it always was, rooted in the best traditions…. BUT it is also changing fast as we look forward to the Spiritual care of our 21st century lives, come and see.

God Bless

Rev Ali Morley and Team

19 August 2018

Responsibility for the Natural World

One of the things that is most obvious to us all who live and work in these parishes is the sheer beauty of the place and the most constantly voiced thankfulness that I hear is that we are so lucky to be here. Yes we are lucky but we are also responsible.

All of us have a responsibility to care for, to tend and to respect the natural world around us and in the church we add to this that this natural world is a glorious awesome gift from the mystery we name God that must be cherished. So much of what we do has an impact on creation, the way we shop, all that we consume and throw away. However this impact is mostly hidden from us and as we live surrounded by beauty, the sweat shops and factories that produce our consumables around the world pollute the environments of others and scar the earth. We are not so naive that we don't see this we just don't join up the dots. The environmental movement has lectured us again and again to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and although we may be getting somewhere with the last two (Council obligations and Bootsales, Wightbay and charity shops!) there is no evidence that we have reduced our consumption at all.

It seems to me that our consumption is something to do with an emptiness that has crept into our lives, it is an attempt to find contentment, even love. As our sense of living worthwhile lives gets attacked by the media, social isolation and materialistic values that judge us on the size of our car or wallet, so we look for short term fixes like a trip to the shops or an Amazon session to help us feel better. I have felt this many times myself and I wonder how our churches can help to give us creative ways to address this longing.

The most fundamental thing that the church offers is the radical, society changing, life fulfilling teaching of Jesus that is preached every week... but this is not purely an advert for Sunday services! The church as a spiritual harbour for our lives gives a breathing space were we can think a little more clearly about what is truly important. Where we can pause and reflect and by offering pastoral support for people who are struggling and social gatherings for us to find nourishment in relationship, we can prioritise love and care.

With all this in mind do keep your eyes open for lots of new things that will be developing this theme. The new Eco Church Sunday afternoon gatherings at St Helen's Church, the Book Group and new house groups starting in September.

We in the West have forgotten that as human beings we need nourishment for Body, Mind and Spirit or our lives can spin out of control into a relentless unsustainable consumption. Our churches offer that food for the Spirit; come and see.

 
God Bless,
 
Ali
 
August 2018
 
Leading Your Churches Into Growth

Recently the Diocese has been encouraging all the churches to think about how we grow in numbers attending church and in our love for our communities. Some members from our churches gave up their valuable time to attend a weekend course called LYCiG (Leading Your Churches Into Growth) and they hosted meetings at the beginning of this year to tell you all what they discovered. We have been thinking how we can best use some of what we have learnt, and pass on some of the really good encouragement. Because so much of what we will be thinking about affects the whole life of the church it seems that the best place to look at this is in the PCCs but also much wider than the PCCs so......

You are  all invited to one of the following meetings *
Monday 9th July 6.30pm St Helens (St Catherine's Chapel)
Tuesday 10th July 6.30pm St Mary's Brading (Church Hall)
Thursday 19th July 6.30pm St Peter's Seaview (Church Hall)
All of the meetings will be an hour long
with a glass of something and nibbles (PCC after)

The small planning group have been responsive to feedback already received and would like to assure you that the material that we are using is really practical and well suited to our churches and we are sure that you will enjoy it. It helps us to discuss ideas and think about positive actions that the churches can easily take and it is encouraging as we reflect on all that we are already doing.

For myself I have spoken clearly in my sermons about how I see the church as a very special place in our community, as a Haven for those in need and those seeking meaning for their lives. Growth is about letting people know that Love can have a place and a name, about welcoming all people and being visible in that welcome. This LYCiG material, appropriately used, can help us with this. See you there!

God bless,

Ali

* (PCC members please attend the one in your church before your meeting).

July 2018

New Benefice

Well, it is all now official, and a new 'Benefice' has been born as the churches of Seaview, St Helens and Brading and Yaverland are now a working partnership.

This grouping of churches, with myself as the vicar for all of them, will take a little while to settle but try not to worry as I come from a valley of eight parishes and ten churches so have some experience of churches working together!

My understanding is that the key to a vibrant united benefice is 'difference', with each church shining out in their own way. Each of the churches has strengths that are distinctive, histories that have shaped them and the surrounding communities that they serve vary in culture. This focus on the local is maybe a shift from the view of the recent past that advocated monopoly thinking and economies of scale at the expense of diversity. However it is now thought that unity in difference is in fact a more creative and encouraging model for not just church but in the secular world too.

As each church looks to see what they are best at so it is necessary to be honest about the weaknesses too and as a benefice explore how each community can offer help to the other. We will also be looking at ways in which we can work creatively together and enjoy a wider fellowship across the churches. We will be observing how that liberates more people for niche events and services such as evensong, new theologically challenging and exciting house groups and groups developing Christian Spirituality, as well as like minded people to continue and enhance deeply rooted service to our communities.

Most importantly as spring turns into summer we think about how this new Benefice reflects the creative power of love; love between us and for those around us. How our churches can continue to be a haven for those in spiritual, physical or emotional need. This is a quality of our Being and not our Doing and a new start gives us a perfect place for reconciliation and restoration as we follow Jesus' teaching and forgive one another and serve one another.

It begins!!!!

God Bless,

Ali

June 2018

Thank You

Just a short piece this month as I arrive to say a heart-felt thank you from myself and Phil for your welcome as we arrived in the Parishes. It is for us a very happy return home to the Island that we love and to communities that we are very much looking forward to being a part of.

The  main  priority  for  me,  as  your  priest,  is  that  I  am  available  for everyone in the Parishes, for those who attend church regularly as well as those who do not and for those who look to the church as a place of blessing and a spiritual anchor in stormy times.

Our beautiful churches speak, in their presence and their architecture, of the historic longing of people for connection and meaning. They belong to everyone, as do I. I am really looking forward to supporting the PCCs and our local ministry team as they continue to do their valuable work sustaining the fabric of the churches and offering pastoral care alongside uplifting worship. I will also get involved in the community, in the schools and supporting local clubs and businesses wherever and whenever I can.

So with that in mind please do invite me for tea, for a chat, or a dog walk on the beach!

God Bless

Rev Alison (Ali if you wish)

May 2018

Names

I find names fascinating. The process by which somebody is given their name is so haphazard that it can hardly influence the person, and yet we treat the name as an insight into a person's character or abilities. That is not always true, and sometimes names seem to have been chosen to confuse. The names given to English Acts of Parliament for example: If you see a title such as "For the Preservation of Game" you can be pretty certain that it empowers certain people to kill as many pheasants as they can manage in a morning and afternoon, which is a pretty roundabout way of being impressively "green".

This month starts with Easter Day - the Christian commemoration of that event which we believe is the hinge of human history - when we celebrate the Resurrection or Raising of Jesus Christ from death to life. The name "Easter" is thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon, either alluding to the idea of the light of the Risen Christ which was symbolised by the rising sun (in the east), or like many other instances, taking over former pagan celebrations previously connected with this time of year - there was a cult of a pagan god called Eostre - and the Celtic missionaries from lona and Lindisfarne who brought the Christian Gospel to the English were adept at attaching the new ideas to the best of what was reassuringly healthy and familiar.

But what do we make of the name of that other more sombre festival which came just at the end of last month - "Good Friday" ? Whatever can be "good" about the commemoration of the judicial murder by crucifixion of a man whose judge had said was innocent of any crime? It could only be "good" if what happened was of far greater significance than first appeared.

Yes, we Christians believe that Good Friday is good because it tells us four things: first, the evil things we do have consequences (we know this of course, for they hurt us and those we love, and God himself). Secondly, we find it impossible to deal with all the consequences of evil, no matter how hard we struggle. Thirdly, because Christ did not deserve any punishment - he alone of all mankind never sinned - his death on the cross has dealt with all the consequences of sin. The Prayer Book puts it like this: "he made there by his one oblation of himself once offered a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world."

Nobody has sinned or ever will in such a way that their sins have not been dealt with by Christ's sacrifice. And that's the fourth thing we learn from Good Friday: Though we could not deal with the consequences of our sins God sent his Son to do what we could not do.

How do we know that this is true? Because though Christ died on the cross on that dark Good Friday afternoon, after three days God raised him from the dead on that first Easter morning, when the women who had known and loved him went to the empty tomb, just as the day was dawning, and met him on the way.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Michael Taylor

April 2018

A Friendly Smile and a Word of Welcome

Our beautiful Island, the place we call our home. So full of opportunities to go and meet like-minded people - sailing, swimming and sports clubs, art, historical and cultural societies, coffee mornings, lunches, churches. I'm sure many of us have our regular 'ports of call' where we like to meet up with our friends and have a natter.

How do you choose which groups to join, where do your interests lie, what makes you want to 'give it a go'? Initially, it's often something you're already interested in, want to enjoy and know more about. Sometimes it's an opportunity to try something new - learn a new craft, improve your physical health, stretch your mind, deepen your understanding or faith. Maybe someone has encouraged you to join, to go with them and be introduced into the group. It always helps when you know someone who's already there. Sometimes though, you decide to try something new, where you don't know anyone who already goes. It can be a daunting experience. 'Will anyone speak to me? Will I be made welcome, or will I go home having shared a joint venture, but having an isolating experience?' Maybe no one really spoke to you beyond a brief 'Hello', before moving on to talk to their friends, instead of introducing you to them. Do you feel encouraged to go again?

We've all of us experienced going along somewhere full of expectation, keen to join a group, but have not really felt welcomed. We've tried it for a week or two, and then not wanted to go again. Maybe we'll try something else, or maybe we won't bother.

I think most people do enjoy going out, are welcoming to others, sharing their company, sharing their interests and making a new circle of friends. But we don't all find it easy. We are so lucky to have so many groups and activities in our villages. Could you be the one to offer a friendly smile and a word of encouragement to others? Could you perhaps ask someone to go along with you, to share your time, your interests and your friends? And if you do, do you know that they'll feel welcomed and want to go again? And if you see someone new at your group, will you welcome them and help them feel at home?

After all, a friendly smile and a word of welcome can go such a long way towards building up a new and lasting friendship.

Mary Jackson

March 2018

Does Christmas ever end?

"When will she take the Christmas tree down??!!" was a comment overheard in church which reminded me there are different views about when Christmas ends. Twelfth night on 6th January which is Epiphany? Or, as soon as possible after Christmas before the dust settles and the needles drop? Or, as late as possible to ensure the festive spirit lasts into the new year? I do not know the right answer but the official church view is that Candlemas on 2nd February is the end of the Christmas and Epiphany season when we celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the temple. But surely the real question for us as Christians should be, not when, but does Christmas ever end?

Sylvia Beardsmore

February 2018

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