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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The General Synod 2014

Our prayers should be for everyone in Iraq and Syria!

Last week, I attended the General Synod of the C of E for the final part of the Women Bishops saga. Thank goodness that is behind us! Although I sometimes ask myself what I am doing in that impressive chamber in Church House, it is times like Tuesday morning that make it all worthwhile.
I listened to a panel discussion about Iraq and Syria between an imam (the first time a Muslim had ever addressed Synod), a bishop from the Coptic Church (Egypt based), an Anglican aid worker and the Bishop of Leeds who has recently been pushing our Government to do more for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Although I spent nearly 10 years working in the Middle East, such discussions just reinforce the complexities of the region. To share just a few learnings:

-          The Islamic world is as shocked as we are about what is going on with IS

-          Whereas Christians were the target of IS, now the Sunni Moslem communities are experiencing the same atrocities. If someone refuses to join IS, they are beheaded or even worse, their children are killed.

-          Christian and Islamic leaders are working together for peace.
It was so encouraging to see leaders of the Coptic Church and Islam sharing a platform for peace and it was equally encouraging to see our own Archbishop and an Islamic leader clearly working together. The message was clear: mutual respect and love will be the basis peace in those countries and the wider Middle East.

 On Friday, I was equally encouraged to listen to Canon Andrew White (‘the vicar of Baghdad’) speaking in Wareham. He has spent years working for reconciliation in Iraq and is now based in Israel and working for reconciliation between Jew and Palestinian. Although he shared a number of shocking stories about the plight of both Christian and Moslem, there are two key messages I took away:

-          As Christians, we should not be taking sides but should be praying for all parties, for peace and reconciliation.

-          A quote from Henry Longfellow: our enemy is the person whose story we have never heard.

According to Andrew White, this quote underpins all successful reconciliation. Indeed, we all have a story that probably drives our own behaviour.
I finished the week feeling that there is hope for the Middle East and that as we move into Advent, this is the time to share our real hope. Let’s continue to pray for peace and reconciliation, and expect it!
Ian Bromilow

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Christmas Tree Festival at Milton Abbas


As the Christmas Tree Festival in St James Church last year was so successful, we are pleased to announce that we will be holding another event this year beginning Saturday 13 December and continuing through until 6 January 2015. The theme this year is'Peace'. You are asked to choose a poem or song about peace and display it with your tree.
On Saturday 13 at 5.00pm there will be a Family Carol Service followed by mulled wine and mince pies. We do hope you will be able to join us.
It is a great chance for sponsors to show the theme in an imaginative and festive way and be a part of a unique mixture of heritage, community expression and fun. During the festival and throughout the Christmas period, the public will be invited to wander through the forest of decorated trees and soak up the festive atmosphere.
Families, individuals and organisations are invited to support this sparkling event by providing a tree in the Church either artificial or real and decorating it in keeping with this year's theme of 'peace' together with an appropriate poem or song. There will be a charge of £5.00 to cover the cost of the extra electricity used during that period. Please contact Unity on 01258 880240 or  for further information.
Warm wishes

Saturday, 22 November 2014


 “Blaze, Spirit, Blaze!”  Co-operation is a wonderful example of the Christian gospel in practice and that is what we are exploring in our cross-Benefice teenage group, who have chosen for themselves the name “Blaze”.  The group consists of about 14 young people form the Winterborne Valley and the Redpost benefices and we have one member from Bere Regis too.  We meet once a month, alternating the venue between the two Benefices.  A good quantity of cake or pizza is consumed as we engage in conversation, Bible study and creative activity.

 The four subjects the group has chosen for discussion this Autumn have been:- 'friendship', 'the nature of God', 'sacrifice' and 'love is..........'.  Discussion is lively, imaginative, challenging and thought provoking.  e.g. from session1 “if you want a friend then learn to smile”, “if you want a friend then first be a good friend.”  Session 2  “if all human beings are made in the image of God then God exhibits both male and female characteristics”,  “if God is continually creating then creation continues to change”. Session 3 “if the 'just war' principle justifies war on the basis of defence, then why do defenders usually end up as aggressors?” “our generation will continue to commemorate Remembrance Sunday because human beings will continue to engage in warfare.  

We wait to see what our fourth session produces!  You can see some of the creative work produced by 'Blaze' as it is to be displayed in our churches.  See it and be challenged!
Rev'd Caroline

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christmas Services in the Winterborne Valley and Milton Abbas Benefice

Christmas Services in the Winterborne Valley and Milton Abbas Benefice

Carol Services
Sunday 7th December, 10.30 am - St Nicholas, Winterborne Clenston                                  
Advent Carol Service  - Start your preparations for Christmas here!
Thursday 11th December, 6pm – St Mary’s, Winterborne Whitechurch
The Dunbury Church of England Academy Carol Service.
Saturday 13th December, 5pm – St James, Milton AbbasFamily Carol Service
          Come and sing carols surrounded by all the illuminated Christmas Trees 
Sunday 14th December, 6pm – St Mary’s, Winterborne Whitechurch
A Community Carol Service for everyone!
Tuesday 16th December, 6pm – St Mary’s, Winterborne Stickland - 
            A Dickensian Carol Service
Sunday 21st December, 6pm – Milton Abbey The Abbey Carol Service
            A traditional carol service in a magnificent setting.
Monday 22nd December, 6pm – St Andrew’s, Winterborne Houghton
            A community carol service followed by mulled wine (don’t
        forget your Christmas Jumper)  

Christmas Eve Wednesday 24th December,
10.30am – St Mary’s, Winterborne Whitechurch –
           The Christmas Party Crib Service – an interactive nativity for the young, the very                            
                 young and the young at heart. Have some fun telling the Christmas story together!  
4pm – St Mary’s, Winterborne Stickland –
           The Christingle Crib Service – Family friendly service to celebrate the coming of the
                 Light of the world.
6pm – St Catherine's Chapel, Milton Abbey Woods –
             Early Christmas Communion by Candlelight.
11.30pm - St Mary’s, Winterborne Stickland –
             Midnight Holy Communion – Greeting the Christmas Morning together.
Christmas Day Thursday 25th December,
9.30am – St Mary’s, Turnworth –
             Holy Communion – Celebrate the birth of Jesus together.
10.30am – St Mary’s, Winterborne Whitechurch –
           Morning Worship – a short family friendly service to celebrate    Christmas together.
                  (No Holy Communion)
11am – St James, Milton Abbas -
             Holy Communion – Celebrate the birth of Jesus together.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Well deserved recognition!

St James Church, Milton Abbas, features at the launch of a new national awards ceremony
The Christian Funders Forum (CFF) held its first ever Christian social action Awards Ceremony on 12 November at Lambeth Palace, residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Awards celebrated the transforming projects that churches and Christian organisations have implemented to serve their communities around the UK and abroad.
The Christian Funders Forum is a group of executives and trustees of grant-making foundations who meet regularly to assess examples of best practice which they have discovered.  They include the Andrews Charitable Trust, Christian Initiative Trust, the Cinnamon Network, The Jerusalem Trust, The Joseph Rank Trust, and the Laing Family Trusts. 
The Joseph Rank Trust nominated three projects from a list of ninety for the category of best adaptation across the UK of a church building to meet the needs of church and community.  St James Church, Milton Abbas, Dorset, was nominated and (together with Freshwater Methodist Church, Isle of Wight,) became runner-up to Sharpe Memorial, Parkhead, Glasgow – an exciting new building project which facilitates the feeding, clothing and education of those in need in the east end of Glasgow.
Colin Rank, chairman of The Joseph Rank Trust, announced that the Trust's decision to nominate St James Church had been made because it was a role model on how to cope with the complexity of providing new community facilities within an important historic church.  The Trust had supported the project and wished to encourage others to go and see what had been done.
Matt Bird, founder of the Cinnamon Network, opened the ceremony in the Guard Room of the Palace, welcoming over 100 guests at the inauguration of this new way of working together to support excellence in Christian mission.  His prayer set the scene for some really exciting projects – half-a- dozen of which received an impressive engraved glass Award plaque.  Apart from Sharpe (passionate about God, passionate about people); there was Make Lunch (providing meals and more during the holidays for those who depend of free school meals); Willowfield Parish Church Belfast (meeting community needs); Longdon Community Church Preston (Inside Out - meeting the needs of the world); Youthscape Luton (work with self harming youngsters); and Way Forward, a Mustard Seed project spearheaded by Steve Rawlings (prison mission).
It was brought to our attention that only 50% of churches have a toilet.   Churches lacking basic facilities are likely to be used for no more than an hour at a time (short services and short meetings).  There are Christian funding organisations keen to help encourage new initiatives.  We spread the gospel by the way we care for those around us.  We need to seize the opportunities!
For further information please contact Tom Roberts on 01258 880313 /

Sunday, 16 November 2014

It must be Christmas!

The first of several Christmas Fairs and Coffee Mornings around the Benefice took place in the Parish Rooms at Winterborne Whitechurch on Saturday. It looks like it was a very busy morning! Well done to all those who were involved in the planning, setting up and running of such  successful morning. 
The Parish Rooms are really proving to be an asset for the St Mary's and the Whitechurch community.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Plea!


Christmas food list:
Any tinned meats
Mince pies & custards
Christmas cakes (small to medium please)
Christmas puddings (small to medium please)
Biscuits – we are happy to receive boxes of biscuits but actually packets of biscuits are better to distribute
Children’s selection boxes
Chocolates – again we are happy to receive boxes but we can distribute them better if we receive small to medium boxes or single bars.
Any snacks and nibbles
And lastly for the children  Christmas crackers!   
Subject: plea
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2014

Dear all

I came across an unsettling situation the other day which I’ve been carrying around with me all week and I thought that I would share it with you. 

I drive past a house every day and it presents itself as a neat little home, well-tended and looked after by its owners.  Nothing wrong with that except one morning I see that the front door has been bashed in.  Later on during the week somebody tells me that the person within had a visit from the Bailiff and that they had carted away many items of value leaving the householder on the doorstep distraught.  How fragile are some people’s lives.

I’ve passed this house for many years and never once thought that this might happen. You see it happening on the telly and the given impression is that it’s only in the big cities.  We’re far removed from it and therefore it doesn’t concern us.  It’s certainly not within our community!!  But, the reality is that it is here in our community that people are experiencing difficulties and for some the ultimate reality is the bailiff will come calling.  For many of us we will only ever get to see this type of situation if it unfolds in front of us.

Debt, a sum of money that is owed or due (owing money, in arrears, behind with payments, late with payments, overdue with payments, overdrawn; ) is becoming one of the biggest issues facing the 21st century, we’re bombarded with information to buy, buy, buy, and for some this temptation is just too great.  We then add to the mix Christmas.  It is possibly one of the most painful times for families who are on a low income.  Every family wants to have a really lovely Christmas with presents under the tree for the children and food on the table.  If you are on a low income this is something very difficult to achieve and can in some cases result in debt trying to achieve it.

Many people who come to the Foodbank are working zero hours contracts, they don’t know from day to day if they have work.  One man we have works 4 different part time jobs to keep his family going, during the year he lost one of these jobs so he had to rely on the Foodbank until he could find another part time job to replace it.  People are made redundant, they might get an unexpected bill which they cannot afford, they get sick; many companies don’t have a sickness policy which means you first have to self-certify before Statutory Sick Pay can kick in.  This all takes time and when you don’t have much in the cupboard for some it’s just simply too long. Then food prices start to rise!

Do you know that statistics say that there are over 13 million people in the UK are living below the poverty line and that 330,000+ are children!!!!

To try alleviate some of the worry and debt that some people will face over the Christmas period we would like to offer a lovely Christmas food parcel. The parcel will have the normal food items that go out during the year but we would like to put in a few surprises, a Christmas cracker or two for the family boxes, a Christmas cake, some mince pies, or perhaps some nuts and cheesy treats etc.  Some of the items that we thought would be nice to have are listed below.  If you feel in your heart that you would like to give a item on the list please put your donations into any of the Foodbank collection bins in the Co-op, Morrisons or Tesco’s.  The local churches also have collection bins.  If however you would like to personally drop off your donation, please pop into to see at the Foodbank.  We are open on a Tuesday and Thursday from 10 – 12 o’clock.

I look forward to seeing you and thank you.

Gail Del-Pinto


Sunday, 9 November 2014

We Will Remember Them

Both St Mary's Church, Winterborne Whitechurch and St Mary's Winterborne Stickland were full for the Remembrance Day services. It was great to have so many Cubs and Scouts helping us to remember the price of war.

Wreaths were laid and the names of the fallen, recorded on our war memorials, were read out. The traffic stopped as two minutes silence was held.

               We will remember them.
The Inquisitive Mind of a Child
Author Unknown

Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today.
The poppies, child, are flowers of love
For the men who marched away.
But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because, my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.
The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief,
For the men who never came back.
But why, Mummy, are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child,
For the world is forgetting again.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Breakfast in the church!

St Mary's Church in Winterborne Stickland is certainly showing a way forward for small rural churches. Far from being left behind, the church members have had the vision for the church to provide a warm and useable space beyond Sunday services - not just for the popular Monday Coffee Pot - but for other small group meetings. The church has lost none of its spiritual dimension with the removal or repositioning of a few of the pews. It remains a very special place of worship but it has a modern kitchen and open spaces for chairs and tables or play space for children.
Alan, our Rector, tested out the latest arrangements by hosting the deanery clergy chapter breakfast meeting in the church this week. This begins by joining together with a communion service and this is followed by a breakfast meeting. So St Mary's proved an excellent venue.
The new kitchen is sited behind the organ and a space has been created by moving some of the pews. There is still room to add chairs for a larger congregation if they are needed. 

The new kitchen has already proved its worth for the Monday morning Coffee Potters - who raised much of the funding for the project.

The new space at the back of the church will be so useful - and it looked very attractive this morning
 . Perhaps other small groups in the village will see the church as an attractive place to meet during the week. We will have to wait and see!
 I hope there was a well satisfied chapter this morning!