A Letter from Sheila Banyard our Interim Rector
I was hearing recently about a group of schoolchildren who, as part of their religious studies lessons, were asked to consider
'If God is everywhere why do we need church buildings?' It's a good question, and perhaps one that can prompt us to think about places
which are somehow meaningful and 'set apart' in our own experience, whatever our personal beliefs. Many people speak of being somewhere
or in some situation where - sometimes to their surprise - they discover themselves lifted out of their ordinary perceptions of life and
connected with something deep within not usually encountered. These might not be religious settings but sometimes, even for those who
would not claim any particular spiritual belief, a church might be such a place.
TS Eliot famously wrote in his poem Little Gidding about kneeling in a place "where prayer has been valid" and where we might
encounter "the intersection of the timeless moment." Churches which are prayed in and loved often seem to exude that timelessness,
century after century of receiving and echoing and embracing people's joys and sadnesses. To be in such a place, letting the stillness sink
in, is to open up the possibility of connecting to a great chain of human experience, to the hope and solace that place has offered down the
ages and, Christians would say, connecting to the divine energy and presence we call God.
Some people like the idea of there being 'thin' places where the everyday and the divine are only a hairsbreadth apart.
In that great sense of timelessness there can be a feeling of being able to reach out and touch that 'otherness' beyond ourselves.
For some, it is ancient holy places that feel 'thin'- Iona, Lindisfarne or the crypt of Worcester cathedral; for others, it's the
beauty and wonder of the natural world or the most profound emotions of love and loss that might evoke such a feeling.
There could be many ways of answering the question the schoolchildren were set, but one would be to say that churches are
sacred spaces set apart to help us reflect on the 'otherness' of our human experience, spaces where people may encounter God in all
his holiness, and join their longings with those of generations past. They become 'thin' places by being prayed in, cried in and
laughed in, and by being places where people can search for meaning and purpose. It's not that God cannot be found elsewhere,
simply that churches are spaces where we might consciously allow God to find us and where we need do nothing except be there.
With all good wishes,
Praying around the Seven Parishes benefice
From the beginning of June I am going to be saying a simple form of Morning Prayer on a
Wednesday morning at 9.15am in each church in turn over the course of two months and anyone
is warmly invited to join me. It will be about half an hour altogether, with opportunity to
enjoy some quiet space and to pray particularly for the parish we are in on that day, as well
as for the benefice as a whole. Below are the dates for June and if you would like us to pray
for any particular people or situations connected with the host parish on that day, just let me know.
Please also feel free to come along if this would be a helpful opportunity to have a word with me about anything after the service.
June 7th Elmley Lovett
June 14th Elmbridge
June 21st Rushock
June 28th Hampton Lovett
July 5th Ombersley
Keeping in touch with the parish church
Would you like to join the Seven Parishes e-mailing list to help you keep in touch?
There is a weekly email with a thought for the week based on the Sunday theme, together
with details of services, other church events and news items. From time to time we also
send round details of special occasions or other information about parish activities which
might be of interest. Recipients can, of course, unsubscribe at any time. If you do not already
receive the weekly email and would like to add your name to the mailing list please contact
Nick Wright in the benefice office at email@example.com
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 July:
Sunday 2nd July - Racks Lane, Chapel Lane, Longheadland
Sunday 9th July - Uphampton, Northampton, Lineholt, Malvern View, Abberley View
Sunday 16th July - Doverdale, St Mary's Church, Sytchampton, Sytchampton School
Areas for August:
Sunday 6th August - Lincomb, The Winnalls, Acton, Mount Pleasant
Sunday 13th August - Sandys Road, Wellington Road, The Hamptons
Sunday 20th August - Oakfield Road, Woodhall Lane/Close