St. James Vicarage,
BREAM, Lydney Glos. GL15 6E5
All of you will by now have learnt of my impending departure from Bream for the parishes of Shipton Oliffe and Shipton Sollars with Hasleton and Cold Salperton in the Cotswolds.
I hope I may write another letter - in the May issue of the magazine before I leave here, probably oh 14th May. My institution has been provisionally arranged for Friday, 23rd May. This is not therefore intended to be a "goodbye" letter. It ought though, judging from comments and questions put to me since my announcement, to be a letter of explanation.
The summary of my report to the Annual General Church meeting included in this magazine will indicate some of the reasons but I might here say one of two other things.
After eight and a half years it will not be thought that I have run away, particularly since this is the third opportunity to move, the first invitation to do so coming three years ago. I remained and continued to remain in the belief there was a great deal to be done and that we could do it together.
Well, some things have been achieved but not as much as I had hoped. I have recently expressed my concern and indeed doubts about the rightness of my staying here. The alternatives became clear; to settle down to the next five or eight years when I should have reached retirement age and accept that there was nothing more I could do or move and accept another challenge. At my age to have accepted the first would have been to invite stagnation, to accept the second is to invite stimulus.
Of course I have also considered another aspect; that of my ability to cope with a new and challenging situation. However the call has come and I have felt in all the circumstances that both the parish and I will benefit from the change. I.hope we may feel we have both benefited from having shared in the work and worship of this parish church these past several years.
Your friend end Vicar
ANNUAL GENERAL CHURCH MEETING:
Statement of Accounts This again showed a steady increase in income and a balance of £237 over expenditure. Also maintained was the increase in both Overseas and Home Missions - the amount donated last year approached £400. Creditable though this was there could be no cause for complacency as the,coming year would place a heavy burden on the parish, The Diocesan Quota was being increased to £725 from £496.
Heating and lighting were proving costly items to maintain, and the exceptionally mild winter allied to the bringing of Evensong to 3.00 p.m. had minimized these expenses.
The purchasing of a new Roneo duplicator and the voluntary work of producing the magazine would cut down costs, but clearly a great deal more financial support would be necessary if the church is to continue to maintain its separate ministry and the upkeep of its building. .
Nor did this become less urgent with the receipt of a legacy of £7,500 from the will of the late Mrs. Lucy Blower. It was imperative that this capital be wisely stewarded against future requirements for which normal weekly giving could not provide.
On looking through the reports I have given over the past eight years I find a constantly recurring theme, that of the need for a greater increase in the commitment of time, talents and money by all those who claim to be members of the Church of England in this parish. It was, I think, a Bishop shortly due to retire who said recently that when one finds one is saying the same things over and.over again in without noticeable effect it was time to retire. If my mentioning of this gives some indication of my reasons fro leaving you you would be right to think so.
This is not to say that I have any regrets about coming here any more
than I should be able to say I leave without regrets. We have not been
unhappy here. Furthermore, I believe the Lord put me here and, I have
tried to remember I am answerable to Him for what I have and have not
done. What is also true is that, whilst we cannot claim huge congregation
we have better ones, and over the period these have remained constant.
I say "over the period" because since we changed to e 3.00
p.m. Evensong to economise on fuel there was a marked decline in attendance,
the first since my arrival here, and I cannot let it pass unremarked
upon. It is not only that I see the reaction ,of members to this change
but also the likely reaction, to other changes which one may have felt
to be necessary in the future.
In any event, failure to worship is evidence of a spiritual decline as, it is also failure to witness. Unbelievers ,are not likely to be impressed, certainly not convinced, of the truth and power of the Christian faith when those who say they are members of the Christian Church neglect their worship and show no apparent concern about this. I recently expressed the hope that the return to the 6.00 p.m. service wou1d see members coming back. Some members have expressed doubt - the habit they remind me is easier broken than resumed. Well, I have said that if I saw a marked decline in the congregations I should ask some searching questions of myself regarding my ministry. And I have. This too has influenced my decision.
I think the parish needs another voice.
Now on the financial side, if I may return to this for a moment.
You are considerably better off than when I came - witness the balance
in hand.Then, you were "in the red". The fact that in the past
few weeks you have profited from the bequest of the late Mrs Lucy Blower
by some £7.500 means 'you are in a financial situation better than
any you have enjoyed. You will appreciate that coming at this time when
I was being considered for another parish made made me think. After the
financial strain of these years and the constant struggle to raise money
for the church restorations and renovations, and the churchyard maintenance,
this would seem to be answer to prayer and a justification to stay on
but whilst it has come for you it has come too late for me to change
I have spoken about spiritual decline. I was of course talking of numbers and of my disappointment with others. I hope it is true of many here that they feel more sure of God, have laid hold more firmly of eternal life and have had awakened within them a longing to go on to know Christ, and I am encouraged to do so because of the response to our Lenten mid-week meetings. I began the preparation of this course to prove something to myself, as a challenge to myself. The response was wonderful and a great sense of fellowship was revived. Here again it might have seemed an indication that I had been too impatient, that I ought, after all, to stay put I have also remembered that "one man plants, another waters, but God gives the increase". I cannot now look forward to the work here as I could at my first Annual General Church Meeting; but only express the hope that having "planted" (if I have) some other will bring along the "hose" in the form of a fresh approach.
As to the future of the parish church here, I am perhaps not the person to say what it will do but I will say what I had in mind had I been staying.
One of the things emerging from our Lenten meetings ha been the recognition that We have made little or ne effort to consider the changed circumstances of the mid 20th century and to meet their challenge. In this we are lagging behind those churches which clearly are and where the Holy Spirit is evident.
For example the holding of three separate services in the same building for three different congregations, especially when it requires that I prepare two different sermons. Why continue Matins at 11.00 a.m. when the Sunday morning could be better taken up with Sunday School and a young peoples Bible class (to which of course older people would be welcome)?
Where and how else in these days are we going to ensure that our children and young people become men and women of conviction and possessed of Biblical knowledge?.
Parish Mission has been the theme of our meetings. Many and varied as
are the ways in which we can fulfil this our first and indispensable
need is to organise and equip ourselves for the ministry. We need leaders;
people with conviction, compassion and initiative; with a knowledge of
the world around, of the Bible and of the Christian Faith. This is something
our present use of Sunday cannot hope to meet.
The way is through sustained teaching and for this we need to change. All over the country today Christians are meeting in house groups for prayer and study. Economics have been partly responsible, for heating and lighting are costly for the handful of congregation to maintain; but if economics drives us back to the deep things that will be to the good.
The Vicar expressed his thanks and those of the church to the Wardens, the Church Treasurer (Mrs Johnson) who was absent ill, and to Mrs. M. Thompson, the Church Secretary, for their continuing services.
Appreciation too of the work done by the Choir Leader (Mrs. J. Macpherson) who also served with Mrs., M. Kear and Miss E. Harper as Sunday School teachers. To Miss Harper for her invaluable work as producer of the magazine, involving the stenciling of the Editor's material and the duplicating and assembling of the pages. In this she was assisted by Mrs. G. Miles to whom we are indebted.
Thanks were also recorded for the work of Mrs. M. Miles in floral decoration and to Mrs. W.O. Davies for her weekly floral contribution and to all those ladies who have contributed in this way throughout the year; to Mrs. J. Miles, Magazine distribution organiser and Electoral Roll Officer; Mesdames L. Smith and S. Cassidy the church cleaners; Mrs. L. Edmunds (altar linen ) and Mrs. B. James (Communion vessels) .
Please note -
In the absence of Mrs. Musselwhite (ill) no report was presented by the Mothers Union but the Editor wishes to express appreciation of their devoted efforts on behalf of the church.
Churchyard Maintenance Fund
A separate statement has been prepared and can be seen at the Post Office in the High Street and in Parkend Road.
At a well attended service on Good Friday at the Parkend Road Methodist Church the Vicar preached and the service was conducted by the Methodist Superintendent, the Rev. Morris.
At the parish church congregations were slightly up on last year.
Floral decorations were again in the hands of Mrs. M. Miles. Mrs. J. Macpherson and Mrs. W.O. Davies assisted. The effect was beautiful and we have had many compliments about this.
Vestry (rear) Curtains.
These have now been made by Mrs. Musselwhite and completes the refurnishing begun some two years ago. The effect is most pleasing on entering the church.
Mrs. M. Johnson
On Sunday morning, 23rd March, the gift of a Parker pen was presented to Mrs. Johnson, our Church Treasurer for the past twenty years, as a token of appreciation of the services she has given in that capacity. The gift was made on behalf of the Church Council and members by the Vicar.
From the registers
16th March Louise James
6th April Carina Louise Roberts
John Richard Beavan and Brenda Elizabeth Puddy
Alan Edward Newman and Linda Elizabeth Vaughan
8th March William Edward Bradley 71
8th March Gertrude Davies 69
27th March Louisa Kate Lucas 98
4th April Sarah Jane Meek 66
5th April Laura Annie Treherne 90
Remembrance and Condolence
We inadvertently omitted mention of Miss Maud Wintle, sister of Mrs Steadman and the late Pat Wintle, who died recently at Mitcheldean. She formerly lived in Mill Hill and was a generous supporter of the church. Our sympathy is expressed to Mrs Steadman.
April 13th & 20th Mrs. E. Musselwhite
April 27th & May 4th Mrs. W. Thompson
May I say how grateful I am to all who contributed to a most generous Easter gift. It really was very kind of you all.
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