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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 2019

St Helen's Church receives Eco Church Gold Award

The following Press Release was issued on Friday 6th December 2019.

Gold Award Logo

At the beginning of November, the Church of England's Environmental Working Group chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, urged that the Church must move much faster in its response to climate change. He said. "The church needs to recognise this is a climate emergency and speed up its actions . . . . We ought to ensure every church is an Eco Church, and that in every congregation every Christian is asking questions about how we can live more lightly." In response to this, dioceses all over the country have been signing up with A Rocha as Eco Dioceses and Portsmouth is following this lead. At present there are fifteen registered churches and four bronze awards in the diocese. In the whole country, throughout all denominations, there are over 2000 churches signed up to the scheme and just ten churches have the top award of Gold. St Helen's Church, in the rural parish of St Helens on the Isle of Wight, is one of those and one of just four churches in the South of England to have achieved this. The other Church of England churches are St James's, Piccadilly and Hillfield Franciscan Friary. The third is a United Reformed church in Edenbridge. 

Although a small rural parish with seemingly limited resources, the St Helen's congregation has demonstrated passion and commitment in response to the climate emergency, under the leadership of Revd Ali Morley. Ali’s enthusiasm for Eco Church has been infectious and one project has quickly led to another. Surveying the flora and fauna of the churchyard over the year led to plans for the construction of a pond, for tree planting (with help from a free pack from the Woodland Trust) and the protection and monitoring of the resident glow worm population. A disused labyrinth in the churchyard was lovingly restored and is used for prayer and contemplation. Assessing the congregation’s individual carbon footprints led to a desire to promote sustainable living. The need to reduce single-use plastic consumption led to the setting up of the plastic bottle refill station: the church buys eco-friendly products such as shampoo and household detergents in bulk and sets up a stall at church coffee mornings to enable the community to refill their empty bottles. In order to reduce plastic consumption at Christmas, an afternoon craft workshop was organised to make sustainable Christmas gifts.  The pressing need to plant more trees led to a seed-planting project with St Helens Primary School as part of a long-term commitment to the village’s children. Ali has also worked with school and youth groups on plastic reduction with the aid of a large dolphin named Trashy, who collects crisp packets.

These and other projects have been devised and put into action at monthly Eco Church Sunday afternoon gatherings – which always include environmentally-themed worship and a shared LOAF (local, organic, animal friendly and fairly traded) meal.  A monthly steering group helps to keep all the projects progressing and shares the organisational workload.

The principles of Eco Church are embedded in the worship and spiritual practices of St Helen's Church, with a monthly Eco Communion service and quiet times to refresh and meditate at the weekly Thursday Contemplative prayer gatherings.  A book club and theology group provide opportunities to reflect on the theological implications of the climate crisis and the church’s response.

St Helen's Church has demonstrated how rich the offering of the church can be in promoting environmental awareness and sustainable lifestyles within both the congregation and wider community. Resisting fear and paralysis this little church, embedded in a three hundred year history, insists that we can make a difference, empowers and encourages others to take action with confidence and joy and looks forward with hope to a more sustainable future for all the Earth.

6 December 2019

Eco Church Web Page

Christmas in the Haven Benefice

The churches of the Benefice offer something for everyone this Christmas, so don’t feel that you have to just stick to the village you know. Each service is lovingly created to welcome everyone, and to set the tone for the season of Peace and Goodwill for all people. From the majestic splendor of St Mary’s in Brading to the intimacy of St John's Yaverland, and with Candles at St Helen's and traditional carols with the Choir at St Peter's, Seaview the Benefice is working together to invite you to something lovely this year.

Sun 1st The Vine
St Helens
7pm Light up a Life
Fri 6th St Mary's 7pm Christmas Trees Concert
St Peter's 7pm Light up a Life
Sun 8th St Mary's 2pm WI Carols
Sat 14th St Mary's 6pm Light up a Life
Sun 15th St Peter's 10am Carol service
St John's 3pm Carol service
Sat 21st St Helen's 5pm Solstice service
Sun 22nd St Mary's 9.30am Nativity Eucharist
St Helen's 6pm Carol service
Mon 23rd St Peter's 6pm Carols round tree
Christmas
Eve
St Peter's 3pm Christingle
St Mary's 4pm Christingle
St Catherine's 6pm Family carols
St Helen's 9pm Evening mass
St Mary's 11.30pm Midnight mass
St Peter's 11.30pm Midnight mass
Christmas
Day
St Catherine's 9am All age Communion
St Mary's 9.30am All age Communion
St Peter's 10 am Christmas Praise
St Helen's 10am All age communion
St John's 11am All age communion

All the services are open for everyone but if you would like a service for younger children then look for the Christmas Eve Christingle services and the Community Carols Round the Tree at St Peter's on the 23 nd when Father Christmas makes an appearance. All ages can enjoy the Christmas Tree Festival and the singing of the Community Choir on the 6 th, and the Light up a Life services for the Hospice are Carols, poems, food and fundraising for everyone. On the 22 nd the morning Dress up Nativity at St Mary's gives you a chance to get the tea towels and dressing gowns out and be part of the fun service, and for an atmospheric Candletit carol service with area for smaller children to play, then St Helen's on the 22 nd at 6pm is the place to be. St Catherine's Family carols mixes tradition and imagination and Christmas Praise at St Peter's is a service for children with the communions on Christmas day having places for small children to move about or things to do

On the 21 st we will be celebrating the longest night with a Solstice service in candlelight with no electricity as we experience the darkness of this turn of the year. Bring torches or lanterns and all ages to this short service with songs and food.

This year we are also having a 9pm ‘Midnight Mass’ at St Helen's for those of you who, because of children’s ages or for your own convenience, find staying up till 12am difficult. All the atmosphere of a midnight service at a comfortable time.

We look forward to seeing you,

God Bless

Ali

27 November 2019

All Change

I am writing to announce that Rev Kath Abbot will be leaving the Benefice to take up a new post as House for Duty Priest for Wroxall. This sad news for us but wonderful news for Kath and the family and for Wroxall. We hold them all in our prayers and wish her well for the future.

These words from Kath, "I shall miss everyone in the Benefice especially the Brading folk as I have grown very fond of you all and I wish everyone well for an exciting future and thank you very sincerely for your support and opportunities you have given me to exercise ministry with such fab people."

Kath will be leaving her duties in the Benefice after the service on the 29th December 2019.

God Bless

Ali

19 November 2019

Past Parish News

Photograph of Past Editions of Parish News

A recent Parish News meeting discussed the publications past and future and celebrated its success. The following notes are for everyone to see so that we can continue to support it in the years to come as the current editor seeks to divest some of his responsibilities.

1.The Magazine makes a profit each year of approximately £4,000 that is donated back to the churches.

2.The advertising is a job that is an annual collation of ads and income and we need someone to take this on.

3.The distribution team is working well and if you would like to help with this then do please let Paul know.

4.The management of the income from subscribers and keeping the lists on the computer is another job that would be easy for someone else to do.

Do please consider if you may be able to help in any way.

A big thank you to Paul, Mary, Sue, Beth and Diana for all they are doing

God Bless

Ali

4 November 2019

Celebration of Publication of Biography of David Sheppard

Photograph of Biography of David Sheppard by Andrew Bradstock

Many will remember David Sheppard, the Bishop of Liverpool who formed a ground breaking partnership with his Roman Catholic counterpart, Archbishop Derek Worlock, a generation ago.

Photograph of Celebration of publication of David Sheppard Biography - 1

For the last four years Andrew Bradstock has been researching Sheppard’s biography.  This has  now been published by SPCK under the title  Batting for the poor: the authorised biography of the celebrated cricketer and bishop .

Photograph of Celebration of publication of David Sheppard Biography - 2

Andrew and  his wife Helen live in St Helens and worship in the benefice.  They invited all who were interested to join them for tea and cake in the undercroft at St Peter’s, Seaview, on the  morning of Sunday, 3rd November to celebrate the pubication of the book. .

Ali

4 November 2019

The Redecoration of St Peter's Church Hall

Photograph of Redecoration of St Peter's Hall October 2019 - 1

Thank you to everyone who helped decorate the upstairs hall at St Peter's ready for a wedding reception held there in October.

Photograph of Redecoration of St Peter's Hall October 2019 - 2

With a small and enormously dedicated team we got the job done (church goers, a volunteer from the community who saw it in the Parish News and some 'men from the shed').

Photograph of Redecoration of St Peter's Hall October 2019 - 3

The youngest at 22 was a nearly a quarter of the age of many of the rest of the team but age was absolutely irrelevant as everyone gave of their all and worked so hard to achieve a wonderful result.

Photograph of Redecoration of St Peter's Hall October 2019 - 4

A comment from one of the ladies... 'I painted this hall at 40, and at 60 and now again at 80, I don't think I will be doing it at 100!!!' and a comment from the youngest helper.... 'If you ask me who would be best to get a job done, working all day, 20yr olds or 80yrs olds, give me the later any day!' ..... Respect!

Ali

4 November 2019

Our Cultural Understanding of Time

One of the biggest philosophical questions of our age is our cultural understanding of Time. All kinds of things have changed through human history that have changed our view of time. The building of cathedrals used to take generations to finish. Imagine starting something that you hoped your great grandchildren would see finished. The building of empires to last a lOOOyrs and the industrial revolution which was the great hope for the future. Then on a personal level we are now living longer and longer lives, young people are maturing later, picking up responsibilities and having children at a much older age.

Different religions around the world have viewed time in very different ways. Many religions have a veneration for ancestors, and a hope that in the future they themselves will be remembered as people of honour. Others see humans as intimately part of the great age of the earth and the flowing river of the endless life of the universe. In western civilisation, as it has developed in a Christian framework, somehow time has become shortened. It is truncated at both ends so that the tale is told of an earth that is no older than 10,000 years and the future is limited by the biblical idea of the End Times. Now of course most people outside America don't believe this but somehow we have still lost a sense of a long future and for planning for generations to come.

In our planning, our building, our farming and our politics everything is based on short term returns and this is having a terrible impact on the environment and also our lives. The philosophers that I mentioned are trying to grapple with why we may have lost our vision for the future and how we might regain it before we create the 'end times' through our own actions, a vision that in the past has been seen as purely the work of the gods. They ask the following questions. Do I think that the earth is just in the middle of its lifetime, with 4000 million years behind it and 4000 million years to go? Do I think that human beings have a future on this planet? Can you imagine 45,000 years in the future (that is just about as far as most Sci-Fi goes!) and what sort of lives will humans have in just 2000yrs time? These are not frivolous questions, they matter deeply because if we can't imagine a peaceful, fruitful and sustainable future for humans on this planet then how can we work towards it?

The Christian faith can be read as a time limiting narrative but it can also be read as an expansive hope for a peaceable future with human beings evolving beyond selfishness and greed. While some people look forward to a 'new heaven and a new earth', others of us look for a renewed earth and call out with the prophets for justice and peace as we learn that we are brothers and sisters; a humanity full of potential and with a long future in which to fulfil it.

It is time to look to the future, to plan for a long, long future and to live as the ancestors that our great, great grandchildren would have us be.

God Bless,

Ali

November 2019

Blessed are the Outsiders

I wonder if some of you remember that old Henry Fonda movie 'Twelve Angry Men' (it is easy to get online!). There is a moment at the beginning when the jury room is filling up and Henry Fonda's character is standing at the window with his back to the room. It is clear from the buzz of conversation that all the other 11 men are convinced that the boy is guilty of murder and Henry feels that he is not so sure. The whole play is an analysis of human nature when it comes to the influence of others, the need to identify with the pack, the way that we are led by others. At one point one of the characters jumps up and says, 'don't change your mind because others have... what do you think?'. Towards the end there is the great line, 'Well......You're alone': but I won't give away the plot by telling you who says that!

One of the teachings of Jesus that we have been wrestling with this month is this saying from the Beatitudes or Blessings.... 'Blessed are you when people hate you, revile you and exclude you on account of the Son of Man'. (Luke 6:22)

As humans, evolved mammals, we have a very great need to be part of the pack. Being excluded, a lone wolf, is a very scary place to be. Ask our new puppy, she knows that outside the pack she is very likely to get eaten! This need has driven humans to great atrocities as people will do things in a mob or under orders that they will never do as an individual. Martin Luther King knew this in the 1960s America as the mob was lynching black people and he was adamant that his movement for civil disobedience would not become a mob. He preached that every man and woman must come to the rallies because of their own conscience.

This is the danger of reading Jesus too simply today, the earliest Christians came out of their normal lives and were welcomed into a new sect and the 'world' hated them for that. But, then they are loved in a new group, their identity had become one that is formed by being against others. When we looked at Jesus teaching we saw that he does not stop at calling people into a new safe group, especially one using his name. He is calling us all to a new evolution of humanity. One that is not afraid to be alone. One that stands up for their beliefs in all conscience, unmoved by the need to be loved by other people.

In this time when the search for identity on the internet is out of control, Jesus makes great sense. By all means we must speak out for the truth we hold dear, gather with others in campaigning and creating, but we must beware of falling into cosy gangs that define enemies. We must each of us alone stand apart, as Henry Fonda's character did and listen to our own conscience.

We have been led by our culture and our genetics to believe that we are anything but 'Blessed' when others hate, revile and exclude us but maybe we need to face ridicule if we are to live the lives that we are called to.... To follow the difficult paths of justice and peace that our understanding of God leads us into. But beware.....if you have found a cosy group of like minded people to walk that path with you, then maybe it is time to step out alone again, on the unexpected and uncharted journey of life that Jesus is describing.

You can hear a  sermon about this on the pod cast here.

God Bless,

Ali

October 2019

A New Season in the Haven Benefice

The Book Group
The Benefice book group will meet on Monday September 2nd at 7pm at St Catherine's chapel. There are lots of books there from Rev All's library to look at and please bring your suggestions. The group will meet to plan the next quarter's books to read, discussing them on the first Monday at 7pm in October, November and December at the Undercroft in Seaview.

The Theology Group
This group has been studying the progressive Christian course 'Living the Questions' and has really enjoyed it. For the Autumn season until Christmas it will be using material drawn from the 1980s BBC series the Sea of Faith by Don Cupitt. This fascinating exploration into the western worlds' loss of Christian faith will be updated by Ali into a new interactive course with video clips and lots of time to chat. It will give us a nice basis for understanding how the church is now where it is and we will debate together a way forward for the teaching of Jesus in the Spiritual age we now live in. Please do come along and invite friends on the Third Monday of the Month at 7pm in the Undercroft in Seaview.

Eco Church Programme for September
Sunday 8th 9.30am at St Mary's Church and 10am St Helens Church followed by Eco Church 11am to 12pm. Stephen Dominy, Regional co-coordinator for Christian Aid to preach on the environment followed by a discussion about how we can be involved and connected to global environmental campaigning.

Saturday 14th Ride and Stride - a day long walk through the Haven Benefice visiting the churches, beginning at Yaverland at 10am.

Saturday 21st at St Mary's 12-5pm and Sunday 29th at St Helen's 12-3pm  Community Apple Pressing Days. Bring your windfall apples and plastic bottles to squeeze and freeze your own apple juice.

Sunday 22nd 10am St Helen's Harvest Festival and 3.30pm Ecochurch with soup and apple cake! And a special visit from a local naturalist to look at what animal homes to make and habitats to improve in our churchyard as we prepare for winter.

Saturday 28th at 12pm St Helen's Harvest Lunch at the community centre. Eco church in October will be all about FOOD!

Sunday 8th 11am Barry Downer will be licenced as an Associate Priest to the Haven Benefice by the Venerable Peter Leonard at St John's Yaverland, with refreshments after.

Why not treat yourself to a new experience this Autumn and join us on a Thursday evening for Contemplative prayer, every week at 6pm in St Catherine's Chapel .

PLASTIC AWARENESS PROJECTS
Everywhere, around the country and the world, we are becoming aware that Plastic is causing huge problems for the natural environment and we want to do something about it..... BUT ..... controlling our plastic usage and turning back the tide is really not easy for any of us. The way we select food and cook, the way we buy products for our homes, and the way we like to shop - all these things have become reliant on single use disposable plastic and even if you are recycling your plastic this is just a small part of the solution.

We are working on Reduction, Reusing and then RECYCLING, and we want to have fun seeing how much change we can support each other in achieving as we move our personal lifestyles to Zero waste. The following things are planned;

1.  Every church coffee morning in the Haven Benefice, look out for the REFILL STATION.   This  is  an   opportunity   for  you  to  bring   your  own household and hair product bottles and Refill them for a reasonable price. The intention is to begin to see how refilling works and develop patterns of consumption that high street shops can begin to offer.

2.  Workshop events developing and making new reasonably priced plastic replacement products that can be sold at the coffee mornings. Waxed  wraps, knitted  scourers  and  soap  bags, muslin veg  bags for shopping etc.

3.  Raising awareness with the supermarkets of the desires of the public to have the opportunity to make plastic free purchases. Supporting and advertising the supermarket 'Plastic attacks' where we are offered the opportunity to unwrap our plastic covered goods and leave the plastic for the store to dispose of. Remember to take your paper and fabric bags and reusable plastic containers to use at the fresh produce counters.

The Haven Benefice Churches are committed to helping us all live happier, more sustainable and much more skilled and creative lives as part of our passionate commitment to environmental justice. We take our commitment for this from the teachings of Jesus and his call for radical social justice and harmony.

God Bless,

Ali

September 2019

2019 Regatta Service at St Peter's, Seaview

Photograph of Regatta Service 2019 - 1

The love that makes a community...
We thank you for our loving community in this village and, at its heart, our church.  We ask you to bless friends and family who share our worship here today and all who are dear to us.  Bless and care for all your people: especially we remember those who have neither family nor friends or a safe place to be.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We thank you for our history and our traditions. For sails that glow like coloured jewels in the sunshine; the sleek warm wood of the rowing boats and dinghies lovingly made and maintained over the years.  For the week’s activities on the water as we master the waves, and for the beach sports: feeling the wind in our hair and the breeze on our faces.  We rejoice in our health and our strength and we ask you to keep safe all those who have neither power nor hope in this world.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We ask you to acknowledge all the ways we have served one another and helped others; kindnesses given significant or small.  Those small acts known only to the giver and to your Self, Lord.  Guide all in this community and in the world; doing good, not for adulation or accolades, but for its own sake.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

We delight in the winning: in the glow of pride reflected in our silver cups, in our smiles, in our eyes and in our faces.  It is good to use and utilise these gifts from God.  Gentle Jesus, help us, also, to accept defeat.  To understand that losing is a gift also; building resilience and resourcefulness and harnessing humility.  It is in just BEING in this world that matters.  Contentment in taking part, and being a part, without working solely for reward.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer

Lord, we thank you for the gift of time.  Time away from everyday life and daily cares: time to stop and reflect.  Whether on a yoga mat in the Bay, walking along the shoreline or out at sea.  Time to be: with others;  with ourselves  … with You.  Bless and sustain all people in the world who have no time: no time away from war, from work or from their worries.

Lord in your mercy
Hear our prayer  

Finally, Lord, we thank you for the opportunity to be able to give as well as to receive.

Having absorbed summer all this week and flushed with its warmth, we ask that You help us now to carry with us the strength, the knowledge and the memories made: in service to our other communities.  To touch the wider world with a little of Seaview’s magic and to make a difference.

We ask that You thaw the hearts of all who are hopeless, bring peace to the anxious and weary; reveal Your love in the hearts and lives of all Your people.

May we find community within ourselves; a meeting of mind, body and soul, in order that we are strengthened in Your goodness to make a difference.

We thank You for our Regatta week, well played, and the Seaview summer, sustaining us and carrying us forward…. 

… Until the next time.

Merciful Father
Accept these prayers for the sake of Your son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen

Photograph of Regatta Service 2019 - 2

Photograph of Regatta Service 2019 - 3

Photograph of Regatta Service 2019 - 4

Gilly Meadows

25 August 2019

Eco Church

The driving ethos behind eco church is the desire for the church to be active in the world, following the way of Jesus in our real lives and a hopeful, creative vision for the future. It is about speaking out for justice and lives renewed by the simplicity and love that Jesus taught us. It is about doing something, making a difference and supporting each other in our desire to build a world of justice and beauty for all.

It seems that we are on our way to achieving our Gold Award for Eco church at St Helens as so may things are now up and running and 'boxes have been ticked'. This is a considerable achievement and it is proving to be great fun and inspirational. We have surveyed our churchyard, we have created a natural recreational space (labyrinth), and we have created a regular Eco church meeting. We have put things in the Parish News, attended fayres and gone on Lobbies to London and we have an active web site (thehavenecochurch.com). We are praying for the earth and its natural habitats and some of our liturgies and special services have that focus. The things we have yet to achieve are:

Checking our cleaning products are eco friendly, and tea and coffee are fair trade, and looking into ways to reduce plastic use and bulk buy organic food. Looking into native tree planting (where and what - and would St Helens school be interested?). Making Bat Boxes, Bird Boxes, Bug Hotels and Hedgehog boxes. Inviting speakers and looking at our personal environmental 'footprint' and thinking about digging a pond, (where and how and what design). We are also looking at LOAF and locally campaigning for a reduction in single use plastic.

LOAF.... One of the Eco church commitments is to promote LOAF food... that is Local, Organic, Animal friendly and Fairtrade. Something that is becoming evident is that the UK needs to think again about it's food production and as a nation of gardeners, it is terrible that over half of our food is imported. There is a growing interest in local small scale food production here on the Island and on educating school children in the art of horticulture with free green houses for schools (from APS Salads) and small scale intensive agriculture (from the Modern Kitchen Garden) and eco church is part of the networking, and that strengthens our local food economy. Follow updates on the web site.

Action on Plastic... As part of Eco church we are also committed to campaigning for environmental issues. The following campaign has been  initiated on the Island and is something that you may be interested in joining. Follow updates on the web site and watch this program if you want to be inspired. On the Last Saturday of the month from 9.30 to 11.30 at Supermarkets around the island, a peaceful and hopeful protest involves bringing your reusable containers for the food you buy,  removing the packaging from your regular shop and putting it in trolleys at Customer services. The first event was in Sainsbury's in June and the second at Tesco in July.

UPCOMING EVENTS

AUGUST
Sunday 11th 10am Eco Sunday Communion followed by Eco church 11am to 12 noon A walk round the churchyard to look for places to plant trees and dig a pond and place animal homes. Wildlife management plan.
Sunday 25
th 3.30pm Eco Church Making animal homes.

SEPTEMBER
Sunday 8th 10am Eco Sunday Communion followed by Eco Church 11am to 12 noon Stephen Dominy, Regional co-coordinator for Christian Aid, to preach on the environment followed by a discussion about how we can be involved and connected to global environmental campaigning. Putting the animal habitats in place.
Saturday 14th Ride and Stride walk through the Haven Benefice visiting the churches. Beginning at Yaverland Church at 10am.
Saturday 21
st and 28 th Community Apple pressing days (TBA)
Sunday 22
nd 10am St Helens Harvest Festival and 3.30pm Eco Church. The food we eat... looking at LOAF and fair-trade and a possible food coop.

If any of the above interests you or you have skills or time to offer then please do contact me on 07500 007437

Whatever else eco church is, mainly it is about US doing all we can.

God Bless

Ali

August 2019

What are the Commons?

In our family we have recently been reading and discussing a book about Piracy.  In it piracy is not sanitised and made noble but it is however seen as an inevitable act of rebellion against the removal of rights and liberties from the common man (seaman in historical terms). The Author stresses that there is an idea called 'the commons'. This is space that is not in private or corporate ownership or bound up in copyright. It is thought, music, land, invention and food production that is FREE, free to use and enjoy by all people. In the book he describes the historic land enclosures and the annual beating of the bounds within the parishes that was literally the beating down of fences that encroached on the common land where the ordinary people lived and farmed.

(Please click here to see Kester Brewin speaking at TEDxExeter on Pirates.)

Over the centuries we have lost so much in the privatisation of our lives to the point where our children travel all over the world looking for freedom; freedom to light a fire outside in a field with friends, to wander over land without fences. We look in this country for places of freedom, sailing on the sea, playing on our beaches, places were no one seems to be in ownership and we are treading on nobody's toes! Another place that is truly 'common' is the church. Your churches are yours by right and heritage.  You can enter and you have a right to be part of the services that take place there. You should never feel that you are entering a closed club or a private building.  You should never need a welcome (although you will surely get one!) because it is your space to wander in, sit in, create in, pray in. This weekend at St Helens Church we have enjoyed the 300yrs celebration flower festival and were entertained on Saturday night by the 'Scottish Fiddlers'. They played music from 300yrs that was 'common'. The tunes they played were for the ordinary people, for the sailors, the fishermen, for isolated rural communities to dance to. As we listened so it seemed the music was in tune with all we are trying to achieve in our churches. The inclusion, the community, the extraordinary beauty of a community bringing their talents and creativity together in the flower arrangements, the hospitality and the music.

God Bless

Ali

July 2019

Healing

At the end of last month our beloved vicar Jill Carman died. She was suffering from terminal cancer but still her passing was a shock to us all. On the day before she died she jointly lead a 'Service for times of Need' in St Catherine's chapel where she prayed for all those there and offered blessing by the laying on of hands along with the Revds Ali and Michael. The service was peaceful and the people present were moved by the quiet peace and gentle encouragement that it offered.

The service was a recognition that life is not easy and that there are many griefs and trials to be born in our mortal lives and in the lives of those we love. We are not promised material blessing or physical healing from God but we are offered a firm psychological hand to hold and a path to wholeness and well-being that may include the restoration of our lives. The following words are from the forward to the service that was developed in the lona community in Scotland.

'We all stand in need of restoration and in this ministry we recognise that this also has a social dimension. The healing of divided communities, the healing of the earth itself, has a place alongside the mending of broken bodies, hurt minds and wounded hearts and of the hurts and divisions within ourselves. So too our prayers are complementary with the work of medicine and other forms of healing, which are also channels of God's loving and transforming action. In this service anyone may name particular people and places and situations for which prayers are specifically asked. We do this because each person and situation is known to God, not as a problem to be solved but as a focus for God's acceptance and love. We are nof seeking to change God but to change the world; and we trust God that our prayers will be heeded, although we do not know when or how that will happen'.

The prayers that we said offered this plea,
God of compassion and love
we offer you all our suffering and pain.
Give us strength to bear our weakness,
healing even when there is no cure,
peace in the midst of turmoil,
and love to fill the spaces of our lives

For Jill there was 'Healing when there is no cure' and we are thankful for this even as we acknowledge that it is hard for those of us left behind; for her beloved family whom she adored and her village and church community whom she served with grace and fortitude even in her pain.

As we live in this fleshy, mortal world where life is a precious gift for a season so we dare to say that death can be a healing and that there is love and grace in mourning.

God Bless,

Rev Ali

PS If you ever want a place to talk about death and dying then please do contact the church, we are here to help in many practical ways and to offer a listening ear for as long as you need it.

June 2019

What does "Inclusion" really mean?

On our Haven benefice web site we say that we are an ‘open and inclusive church’. For those people who know about these things it means that we are fully accepting and welcoming of all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race or culture. Which means, to put it clearly so that we can't be misunderstood, that we in these churches recognise that God's grace and blessing, love and acceptance is for all people. The Church of England is a present undergoing a long hard look at itself with regards to its attitudes towards the Blessing of same sex civil partnerships and theological responses to the growing public debate around sexual and gender identity. As yet here is little clarity and guidance from the governing centre of the church but with the appointment of our new archdeacon, who comes to us with his male partner, it seems that individual churches need to speak out.

A sermon on Pride that I preached last year, that is available on this web site, makes clear the position I hold. This is that it is not enough to be quietly inclusive, we need to make this known. The reason for this is that the assumption of the public is that the church is discriminatory and if we don’t say that we are not, we will be colluding with a picture of God's exclusive favour that we fundamentally disagree with. We hold this inclusive and graceful understanding of God as a cornerstone of our witness to the world and of our love for all creation.

We in the Haven Benefice welcome our new archdeacon and his partner to the island and look forward to his wisdom and insight among us. His installation service is on the 18th May at the Minster in Newport at 5pm.

God Blessing

Ali

May 2019

Or the sermon can be found on the sermon podcast site.

About Us

A year from my arrival in the parishes, the comments below are now published on the web site under the title About Us . They are the fruit of our time together and the way that we see these churches serving their communities into the future....

In a world of busyness, change and growing meaninglessness, the Parish churches of Seaview, St Helens, Brading and Yaverland offer a Haven of peace, stability and progressive Christian search for Faith. In order to do this we prioritize the following things....

We are committed to maintaining our beautiful historic buildings and sensitively enhancing them so that they remain open for anyone who wishes to enter any time of the day. We offer rituals of meaning that hold a space for thanksgiving, celebration and mourning and are very pleased to try and ensure that these baptisms, blessings, weddings and funerals are personal and relevant. We like to work with parishioners to help them craft these ceremonies so that they are contemporary and meaningful. We prioritize pastoral care and being agents of compassion in our communities.

We understand our role in the community as one of Serving and Blessing.

We appreciate that we are just temporary stewards of these holy places and respect the traditions of the historic church. We offer services on a Sunday from the Common Worship book and many of them are sung communions. Our clergy and choir are robed for these services and our tradition here is middle Anglican. In addition to our Sunday services we have week day communions that are quiet and more informal and a Thursday evening contemplative prayer service that draws on the ancient monastic traditions of silent meditation and contemporary understandings of the mind and human thriving.

We understand our worship as one of enriching the lives of people so they can live life in all is fullness.

We are passionate about being relevant to present day society and to developing new ways in which the teaching and life of Jesus can be visualized in an increasingly secular society. We understand that much of the language, theology and imagery of the historic church now has little resonance with contemporary society and the culture of younger generations. We are moving forward with progressive theology and looking at ways in which science, philosophy, psychology and politics impact the historic beliefs of the church. We are open and inclusive, and see God as manifest in all things, present and active. We ore comfortable with interfaith dialogue and respect other faith traditions and believe in working with all people of good faith towards a world infused with peace and love. We ore committed to working for a society of justice and especially for environmental healing worldwide and on our Island.

We understand our Faith as developing and moving forward into exciting new expressions of belief centred on the Life and teachings of Jesus and God present in all creation.

If anything in the above sparks your interest do come and see what we are up to or contact me for a chat anytime.

God Bless,

Ali

April 2019

Mean Bean Challenge 2019

Mean Bean Challenge BannerA big "Thank You" to everyone who sponsored the Haven Benefice team of three to undertake the Mean Bean Challenge of eating nothing but rice and beans for five days during Lent to help people who face a daily battle against hunger and poverty.

As a result we raised over £750 for Tearfund. 

Once again many thanks.

God Bless,

Ali

28 March 2019

Whose Church is it Anyway?

I recently went to a morning's workshop in a church building and found we had been locked in. When I queried this I was informed it was to keep us safe "as people sometimes wandered in from the street to use the toilets". Sometime later I learnt that this same church only allows church groups to use its facilities; and locks its doors to the general public, except during services. I felt incensed and provoked to write this article and revisit my own attitudes to church buildings.

I was brought up to believe that church buildings were God's House and therefore needed to be treated as such - kept spotlessly clean, tidy, and silent when in use. And when not in use to be locked away from anyone who might perchance wander in, and not give the building the respect it deserved. So ingrained was this teaching that I carried it with me into adulthood, albeit subconsciously. During a recent discussion with a group using the church I am ashamed to say that I heard myself say — "No, I have not unlocked the inner doors to the toilet but access can be gained from the outside". This article is the result of my shame and need to revisit this view.

St Peter's is the Parish church of Seaview, and therefore belongs to the Parish. But what does this really mean? I have come to understand that every member of the Parish is a church member and therefore has right of access to the building — not only on a Sunday but at all times, - by appointment and arrangement for weddings, baptisms and funerals, and by spontaneous desire, when Parishioners feel the need to sit in the peace and quiet of the church or it's gardens. That is why as a worshipping community we aim to maintain it to the highest possible standard, and keep the gardens well cared for - for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone in the Parish and elsewhere.

But, of course ownership brings responsibility and we are grateful to those in the community who help us with cleaning the church, looking after the garden, providing and arranging the flowers and locking and unlocking the doors, delivering the Parish Magazines and financial support through coffee mornings and donations.

Some years ago I visited an abbey in France. It was a hot day and in the cool of the courtyard I found a jug of ice-cold water and a plate of home made cookies. Next to them was a sign welcoming visitors and offering hospitality in Christs' name. Yes, the church is God's house and as such should be a living example of Christ's love for all. We hope that is true of St Peter's and that you will find us a living, loving community of which you are a part. And by the way please feel free to use our toilets!

Sylvia Beardsmore

March 2019

Not just Sunday morning
There is so much more to spirituality and a life of faith than just Sunday mornings! There are books to read and practices of prayer to learn and lifestyle choices to be debated and shared. A healthy spiritual life helps to support us mentally and physically and gives life meaning but it also takes a bit of time and space to help it grow.
 
The churches of the Haven Benefice offer lots of opportunities for people to come together in free activities that anyone is very welcome to come and be part of. They are listed in our new leaflet available in the churches and summarised for you here.
 
Why not have a new beginning this year?
 
Happy New Year,
 
God Bless,
 
Ali
 
February 2019
 
The Book Group Meeting at 7pm on the first Monday of every month in the Undercroft of St Peter's Church, Seaview and 10.45am in the church hall, Brading on the first Wednesday of the month. The book group is designed as a drop in discussion of the book of the month. The chosen book will be advertised by email, on the web site and in the pew sheets. If you fancy having a look at the book just let Ali know and come along to the discussion.
 
Film Club Meeting at 7pm once a quarter at times and venues to be advertised. The chosen film will be advertised by email, on the web site and in the pew sheets.  After the film there will be a discussion and refreshments for those who wish to stay.
 
Prayer Group at Brading On the Second Monday of the Month, 7pm in St Mary's church or the hall. A prayer group meeting to share the concerns of the world near and far. Lay led on rotation, this is a gentle time of refreshment and fellowship. Open to all, just pop in.
 
Bible Study Seaview  A friendly and informal look at the readings for the coming Sunday held in Seaview at 10.30 am on Monday mornings. Contact Sylvia for more details on 612600.
 
Wednesday Morning Communion Services St Catherine's Chapel St Helens 9.3Oam and St Marys Church Brading 10am. A short said service for quiet contemplation and fellowship
 
Contemplative Prayer Thursdays at 6pm in St Catherine's Chapel, St Helens. Using the ancient monastic practices of contemplation, this time of silent prayer for 30 minutes with time for sharing over coffee after, is designed for those seeking to learn more about how to pray silently.
 
'Living the Questions' Theology Evening Meeting at 7pm on the Third Monday of every month in the Undercroft of St Peter's Church, Seaview. With video material and with lots of space for discussion and questioning, this is the gathering for you if you would like to expand and deepen your horizons but it is also accessible and light.
 
Eco Church and Creation Spirituality The last Sunday of  the Month at St Helen's Church 3.30-5.30pm Nature study, Crafts, Shared Meal and Thanksgiving. All ages welcome and especially designed for families Please text Ali (07500 007437)  if you would like to be part of this so we know for food. 
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