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

Why go to Church on a Sunday?

I know a lot of people who used to go to church regularly at times in their lives but now see no need of it. They have, like myself in the past, for one reason or another got out of the habit of attending Sunday services. However, they would still call themselves Christian, or at least have an orientation for their lives that has some place for the spiritual clothed in the language of God and Jesus. As I think about this I ask, why go to church on a Sunday? What is it that it provides for the human psyche, what good does it do? There are so may answers from a religious perspective.... We go to church to worship God: but does God really require our worship at a set time on a Sunday morning when many people I meet say that they are closer to God on the Duver! We go to church to learn about our faith: but after years of church attendance have you not 'heard it all' many times over!! We go to church to gather with other Christians in fellowship; but when many of us leave family at home on the one day of the week when we could be together in order to get to church somehow this fellowship is diminished.

Sometimes I feel that it is my 'Job' to encourage people to come to church, and sometimes I am a lot wiser than that! But reflecting on things today as I walk with the Haven Pilgrims round Seaview in the pouring rain and sit steaming in Lilys Cafe, I have an answer for this time....

Why go to church on a Sunday? Because you are worth it!!! Because the Sunday service is a space cleaved out of the rushing of the world for you to be still. Because as the service flows over and around us, slowing us down, little pockets of silence open where our true selves can find nourishment. Come to church because it is a hard thing to do, come to church because it is an antidote to shopping. Come because the rituals of the week are what help us to be human.

Yes, you can come for the welcome, for you are welcome and do come for the preaching, for you may be surprised. But mostly why not come to give yourself a moment when your worries are not centre stage, where your trials of life find perspective and where God is the focus for this precious hour in the week. Come to say thank you, to pray and to be fed. Come again; you may, like I was, be really surprised how much you have missed it.

God Bless,

Ali

March 2020

Good New for St Helen's Church!

Drawing of St Helen's Church

In June 2017, when the Phoenix Choir came and performed in St Helen’s Church, we launched our Tricentenary Appeal. Our aim was to raise over £89,500 for the installation of a toilet, a kitchen facility, exterior lighting from the church to the car park and lychgate, and to improve disabled access to the church.

We have held many events, concerts, a flower festival, and we have asked many organisations for grants.   As things stand today, we have reached the staggering sum of £85,000!!!  

So …………… with only £4,500 left to reach our target I feel sure that work will definitely commence, and hopefully be completed, this year!

We just wanted to say a very big THANK YOU to everyone in the community who has supported us through this time.  We really couldn’t have got this far without you.  Watch this space for further updates and look out for the building work commencing (hopefully) very soon!

Rose Gillett

12 February 2020

Living the "Good" Life

First a question: Which countries do you think receive more blood donations, those who pay you to donate it or those who don't? The answer is, those who don't pay. In this fascinating statistic lies a vitally important fact of human nature that economists, behaviourists and our present commodity-driven consumerist culture all ignore. That deep in our root and bones, we are better motivated by generosity than greed and we are intrinsically altruistic.

The following story is told (in his own context) by Yanis Varoufakis in his economics book 'Talking To My Daughter About The Economy', which I got for Christmas in an attempt to become more aware of the economic world we live in and how we got here.

"The early evening sun is beautifully setting and a father and his daughter are sailing their mermaid in to the shore, they are coming to meet friends and have a picnic on the beach and during the meal one of the young cousins makes them all laugh with his crazy humour. During the meal a boat gets caught around another's anchor and the single elderly gentleman calls out for help from the sea, the young daughter fit and courageous dives into the sea and swims out to help him."

Yanis explains this story by talking about how we can all see the 'good' things in it: the sunset, the friends, the humour and the selfless help of a stranger - the putting ourselves out for others. He then asks us to imagine these things as 'commodities' like humour which becomes the job of the professional comedian and imagine if the gentleman in the boat had shouted out,' I need help, I have £10 here for anyone who will swim out and help', a selfless act becomes a transaction for payment.

In our present culture we may have forgotten the difference between 'goods' and 'commodities', we may even have lives that are much more about financial transactions than they really should be for our wellbeing. However it is actually obvious to us, if we stop and think, that sunsets, friends and neighbours to care for are the real 'goods' in our lives. In church services we might call this 'love of God and love of neighbour' and they are the vital commandmenfs for a life lived in all its fullness according to Jesus. The lessons taught by the Way of Jesus in all He says and does are that we should live in the good and only rarely in commodities - giving them unto Caesar what is Caesar's.

So, at this start of a new year, think of all the things that you do 'for nothing' the things that cannot be priced. The hours that can't be logged like raising children, passing of skills in sport or clubs, volunteering, making things, acting, dancing, gardening, sharing food, walking, playing ... and give them the value they truly deserve, for they make a 'good' life, anc they are PRICELESS.

God Bless,

Ali

February 2020

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 23nd when Father Christmas makes an appearance. All ages can enjoy the Christmas Tree Festival and the singing of the Community Choir on the 6th, and the Light up a Life services for the Hospice are Carols, poems, food and fundraising for everyone. On the 22nd 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 22nd 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 21st 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

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