From the January magazine
The Licensed Lay Minister writes...
PLACES OF WELCOME
Our son Fergus has inherited the family four-poster bed. But during its history it has lost the original canopy, and although fitted with some attractive frills we all thought it would be even better to replace what had originally been there. So when Fergus visited us one week-end I phoned a friend to ask if we could drop by and look at her four-poster to get some ideas.
Although my friend had lots of family with her for the day, including her American daughter-in-law who was organising a big Thanksgiving celebration, she invited us to tea. We walked in to barely-organized chaos. Most of the family were on the point of leaving, but everyone was welcoming and hospitable. While we went ahead to look at the bed her sister-in-law rekindled the fire in the hearth, threw on some more logs, made a pot of tea and rustled up enough cups. I had brought a cake with me, which we shared.
We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours with our friend and her family, and as I left I thanked her for accommodating us at very short notice when she already had so many people there. "I like 'short-notice'" she said, and I knew what she meant. We took them all "as we found them", the house wasn't looking organised or tidy, but the welcome was warm and we felt embraced by all the love.
There is a world of difference between a "house" and a "home". A house is judged as a building. Fashion magazines, television ads, and stores would want us to believe that our houses should meet all the latest standards in decoration and furnishings in order to "Keep up with the Joneses"; to be show places exhibiting the current ideas of fashion and taste.
We were much happier to be welcomed to our friends "home", a place of love and kindness and hospitality where what mattered was people not the furnishings.
As I write this the future of Leach Ward in Leatherhead Hospital is uncertain. It has been temporarily, or perhaps even permanently, closed. Not because people don't need it, not because people don't get better in our cottage hospitals, but because the "books don't balance". And indeed perhaps the management could be made more efficient, and money might therefore be saved. But for me the purpose of Leatherhead Hospital is to care for the sick and make them better, not about saving money.
The same is surely true for the church. I am a realist, and do understand that balancing the books is important, but I honestly believe that the only question that really matters is "what is its purpose". I do not believe we should be competing in the market place, trying desperately to appeal to the greatest number of people. Our role, the whole essence of our existence, is surely not to entertain people, but to worship God. It seems to me that we can easily become pre-occupied with worldly success.
Was Jesus successful by 21st century norms? He was born in poverty and died in agony on a shameful cross, and many of his followers were put to death, but they started a religion which has lasted 2,000 years. Surely we need to get our priorities right, to draw people in by the love we have for one another and for the world Jesus came to save. Perhaps we should also stop worrying over-much about falling congregational numbers, or the finances, but rather rejoice instead in the worship of Almighty God. This we love to do in our ancient and beautiful church, and long may we continue to do so. But we should be aware that the church in its impressive size and presence can in fact, put off the insecure and fearful from entering. Significantly, Jesus was not born in a palace, but a shed, a place of welcome and accessibility for rich and poor, weak and powerful alike.
We should remember always that homes are much more than houses, they are for people. In the same way hospitals are not intended to be financial institutions, they are there to care for the sick. Similarly churches are not called to be successful, but to show the love of God in the world and to worship him.
2014 ended on a high note, with some wonderful and joyous Christmas Services, and it was lovely to see our beautiful church in full use by so many people and decorated so gloriously. From Christingle through to the New Year, via concerts, family services, early Communion, midnight Mass, baptisms, weddings, quiet prayer, coffee times and candlelight, we have been able to welcome so many people of all ages.
Our Church family has grown and changed, as families do, and we are delighted for Christine, Kuhan, and Theo that their baby twins arrived safely on 25th November. We look forward to meeting Joshua and his sister Joshika soon and welcoming them to church. We were also delighted that Holly and Ben had such beautiful weather for their wedding, and trust that Graham and Nicky adjust happily to the role of in-laws! Donald continues to make progress and Jan is taking good care of him, but he must take it slowly, now that he is home. We all send him our best wishes.
The New Year is a time for looking to the future and we are on course for making our own Parish future exciting and rewarding. The Quinquennial repairs are well under way and the Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church have generously offered to help with the cost of repairs. I went with our architect, John Bailey, to view the extent of the work in progress and I must say one has a very different view of things from the top of scaffolding. It also showed me just how skilled, careful, and knowledgeable are the builders carrying out the work. Hopefully the work will be finished by the end of the month.
In general the normal cost of running, heating, lighting, and maintaining our church is reliant on the giving of our congregation; that's you and me. What we put in the collection is basically what keeps us viable, so perhaps one of our New Year resolutions can be to increase that amount as we are able. Just using a gift aid envelope makes a huge difference, providing an extra 25p for every Â£1 given, - "Simples!".
The consultation documents for the plans for refurbishment have been submitted to the Architect and the next step is to produce costed plans. At this stage, progress seems slow, but there is continual work ongoing. Work is ongoing, also, in finding a Family and Children's Worker. The closure date for applications was the end of December and we look ahead with confidence.
The heating problems have finally been sorted out and the boilers are functioning properly. It took seven visits and a great many phone calls, but we at last have a warmer church building just as the coldest weather is likely to hit. I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year!
The Story of B@titude
The story started around 2004 when a group of friends began to see a gap in provision for families in Leatherhead. There were three or four very good charity shops, but none of them specialised in children's clothes or equipment, and there was only one children's clothes shop in the town.
An opportunity came to look at a shop that was closing down on the Kingston Road, and when we looked at it it was perfect in every way. The location was ideal, it was really well equipped, the size was great, and so the dream was born.
We wanted it to be a shop with a difference, to really serve the families in the immediate area but also further afield. Children's clothes can be very expensive and we set ourselves a target that nothing would be unaffordable. To be able to achieve this we knew we needed something extra to happen, and a group of friends including one business supports the shop by sponsoring the rent.
The shop opened on 24th January 2005. It has exceeded our expectations in so many ways. We have made many friends in the community, and we could not have achieved half of what has happened without the generosity of people continuing to donate great quality clothes, toys, equipment, and small items of furniture.
Having a small tea and coffee area has been a very important aspect of the shop; it has given mums and dads a chance to relax while children can play in the play area. It has become a bit of a gathering place, and community meetings sometimes take place in the shop. We also enjoy the company of the older generation who come in for tea and a chat and who feel they benefit from mixing with young families.
B@titude is more than a shop. We have many other projects within the community such as sewing and first aid courses, driving lessons and counselling in our wonderful cabin. One of B@titudes core values is to respond in any way we can. For every problem there's a solution. We feel very blessed to be able to serve our community in many ways and are overwhelmed by people's continued generosity. This is a very resourceful, lively community and we are delighted to be part of the Leatherhead story.
Our Mission is to:
- be present in the community
- bring people together
- create safe spaces
- develop relationships
- encourage creative and diverse solutions
- to help identify potential and actively support people's dreams
Our Values are:
- Freedom to be ourselves Hope
And the name? The name comes from the account in the Gospels of one of the most famous stories. Matthew 5: The "Beatitudes" A talk that seemed to challenge aspects of social justice, commitment to one another, and values of life.
We are very excited to be celebrating our 10th Anniversary next year and look forward to the community joining in with the celebrations. Please visit our website.
Giving a Legacy to your Church
Each year around 5,000 people leave a gift in their wills to a Church of England parish. In total, parishes receive over Â£50 million each year -money to finance mission projects, maintain beautiful church buildings, or enable some other aspect of church life. These gifts make a real difference to the future work of the Church - as regular giving is often consumed maintaining the existing mission and ministry.
Legacy giving should be seen as a natural part of Christian stewardship -which simply means how we manage the resources, wealth, and possessions that have been entrusted to us.
If you would like to know how to leave a gift to our Church there are leaflets available or, if you wish, please contact me for a chat in confidence.J Rosser, Legacy Officer L602039
Leatherhead Community Hospital
On Wednesday 5th November the staff of Leach Ward at the hospital were called to a meeting in the evening and were told by their employers CSH (Central Surrey Health) that the Ward would close on 1st December and that 10 inpatient bed places would be transferred to Dorking Hospital and 5 to NEECH at Epsom. This was unexpected news and the ward staff, many of whom live locally and have worked at the hospital for many years, including one case of 35 years, were now expected to work in Dorking or Epsom.
Leach Ward is the last remaining inpatient ward in the hospital and has been used for rehabilitating patients transferred from local acute hospitals prior to going home. Leatherhead has had a community (cottage) hospital for over 100 years, the first in 1892 in Clinton Road, the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in 1904 in the Epsom Road, and now the present hospital built in 1940. When I came in 1968 the hospital had 52 beds in 3 wards, 2 operating theatres, and busy outpatient clinics. The League of Friends of the hospital has invested Â£2.5 million since its formation in 1960, money donated by grateful patients, legacies, and the community, and used to improve the infrastructure, supply equipment, furnishings, and amenities for the patients. Currently the Friends have allocated Â£500,000 to refurbish the x-ray department and supply new equipment, but are awaiting confirmation on the future provision of services for the hospital.
In relation to the closure of the 15 beds at the hospital the CSH supported by the Surrey Downs CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) state "the decision to move the beds from Leatherhead was based on recruitment issues. We are blessed with a number of Community Hospitals (Leatherhead, Dorking, NEECH, and Molesey) but are facing increasingly tough decisions both financially and keeping the recruitment levels over a number of sites." The CCG will be reviewing the situation in the spring together with relevant local groups, stakeholders, and the community.
It is of concern that the closure of the beds has been implemented at this time with winter approaching and the subsequent pressure on hospital beds. At the request of the CCG the League of Friends conducted a feasibility study recently into the potential uses of the hospital, the conclusion of which was "There is considerable potential to expand the existing services." The Friends believe the hospital has a great future in serving the community.
The Leatherhead Residents Association will be holding a public meeting in the New Year to discuss the bed closures. This is your chance to have your say. It's YOUR hospital!
Dr Fred Meynen