From the Interim Rector
Introducing The Worcestershire Severn Parishes
Over the past nine months in the seven parishes we have been preparing the way, through a mix of conversation, consultation and prayerful reflection, for the process for appointing a new Rector, hopefully during 2018. As part of this, there have been further discussions about the name of the Benefice. Its legal title is the Benefice of Elmley Lovett with Hampton Lovett and Elmbridge with Rushock and Hartlebury and Ombersley with Doverdale, but ever since the parishes came together informally several years ago there has been a wish for a simpler name to use as well. This is something that most benefices with lengthy titles find themselves pondering and many value a shared, 'umbrella' name which is easier to remember and communicate, and to which everyone can relate in some way. 'The Seven Parishes' has served us well, but the inauguration of the new Benefice last year, plus a steer from the Church of England that it's good for titles to include a geographical identifier of some kind, encouraged us to consider further.
As a result, after much discussion especially with churchwardens and PCCs, we have decided to call ourselves 'The Worcestershire Severn Parishes'. With the River Severn forming much of the western boundary of the Benefice and every parish having at least one stream or brook which flows into the Severn, this was seen as a wonderfully lively connecting feature. It also resonated spiritually for people when thinking about biblical themes to do with the water of life and the unifying water of baptism. Many also liked the play on words, as well as the continuity, with the familiar 'seven' (parishes) and (river) 'Severn'! Finally, 'Worcestershire' helps locate the parishes geographically in relation to the great length of this mighty and famous river.
Of course, each parish continues just as before with its own ancient name and distinctive community, with each church having a unique ministry within that community, but 'The Worcestershire Severn Parishes' gives us a fresh way of speaking about the parishes together as a Benefice family and using a shared name helps to symbolise our support for one another. We note, though, that this is an informal name (as 'Seven Parishes' has been) and that for now the legal title of the Benefice remains the one that lists each of the parishes individually.
A further aspect of preparing to advertise for a new Rector this year has been undertaken by a group representing each PCC. They have engaged in the significant process of drawing up a 'profile' of the Benefice which will form part of the material available to clergy who want to consider the post. We thank the many people who have contributed to the thinking and effort that went into this task and particularly the group which co-ordinated the work. A prayer for the parishes has been included in the profile and all who wish are warmly encouraged to use it over the coming months. We are invited to pray for all who will be involved in the appointment process, all who may consider applying for the post and for each of the parishes in the Benefice as they move into a new season of life together. As we seek a new priest we pray, above all, for God's grace and guidance in responding to the privileges of ministry and to the call to be his faithful people in each place:
Generous and faithful God,
you invite us and send us
to share the living water of Christ:
draw us ever deeper into your love
and into our common life as your holy people,
that your grace may flow through us
to bring joy, hope and peace
to the communities you call us to serve;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wishing you peace and blessing during 2018,
Keeping Lent, Holy Week and Easter
Since early times Lent has been a season of prayer and contemplation in preparation for Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.
Many people value the special opportunities it offers to meet with other Christians, both for worship and to reflect more deeply on scripture and the
great themes of faith. This year, as in the past, there will be various ways to share in this 'pilgrimage of prayer and discipline',
as one of our Lenten prayers says, to help us 'grow in grace and learn to be God's people once again.' Some of the key dates are below -
do put them in your diary and you are warmly invited to join us whenever you can. Details of the services for Holy Week and Easter will follow.
14th February, 7.30pm at Elmley Lovett.
Benefice service of Holy Communion, with imposition of ashes, to mark the start of Lent.
Lent discussion groups
This year we shall be looking at The Lord's Prayer using the Pilgrim course material that we have enjoyed before. This prayer is one of the greatest treasures of the faith and it has been said that the whole of the Christian gospel is contained in it. Here's a chance to step back and explore these treasured and familiar words afresh. There will be three venues, with five weekly meetings at each one, and the groups will follow the same sessions so it would be possible to 'mix and match' your attendance. Any contributions towards costs will be gratefully received and it will also help with planning materials and refreshments to have a rough idea of how many people might attend, so please look out for further details of who to contact. The groups will meet on:
Mondays at 10.30am at Hartlebury Parish Hall, from 19th February, with elevenses.
Tuesdays at 7.30pm at Cutnall Green Tearooms, from 20th February, with a simple supper.
Thursdays at 12.30pm at Claire Gathercole's, Ombersley, from 22nd February, with a simple lunch.
Wednesday Morning Prayer
Alongside the regular Sunday services we shall be continuing to say Morning Prayer on Wednesdays at 9.15am at different churches in the benefice (as advertised). Might this short, simple service be a helpful anchor point for your own prayer and reflection during the season of Lent?
We meet on the First Thursday of each month in the Narthex at the back of St Andrew's Church. 10.45 to 12.30.
This is a chance to have a cuppa while stitching, knitting or doing whatever takes your fancy, this may even include bringing a newspaper and keeping the rest of us up to speed with what is happening in the world!
Occasionally we work on joint projects or create towards a fundraiser.
Please do just drop in and join us or give me a ring for more information
Praying the Parish
If you have a particular need or things to be grateful for, please let either of us know:
Rev Canon Dr Sheila Banyard 01905 773134 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Batelen 01905 621294 email@example.com
Angie Randle 01905 620753 firstname.lastname@example.org
or James Homer 01299 851637 email@example.com [lay reader with pastoral responsibility for 7 Parishes]
Areas for February:
Sunday 5th February - Apple Tree Walk, Holt Fleet Road, Parsonage Lane
Sunday 12th February - Sinton, School Bank, Ombersley School, Hawford, Hawford School
Sunday 19th February - Boreley, Mutton Hall, Comhampton, Dunhampton