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

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,


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.

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,


September 2019

2019 Regatta Service at St Peter's, Seaview

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.


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 ( 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.


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.

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 28th 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


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


July 2019

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