From the November magazine
The Licensed Lay Minister writes...
Going on holiday is a great opportunity to learn new things. About the country you are visiting, about its people and culture, about the people who are travelling with you or even from a book that you at last have the time to sit and read.
As I write this it is three weeks since I travelled to Turkey where I learnt a lot, more than I had bargained for and possibly more than I wanted to know. It is slightly unnerving to now see several of the places that we visited in South Eastern Turkey appearing in the news as the fight against IS rages on the Syrian/Turkish border. If our trip were to be starting today I am sure it would be cancelled. How quickly things can change.
We travelled with a group from a Cambridge University College of about 20 ranging from 19 years of age to over 60. This diverse group proved to be very lively and informative companions and we were blessed to have experts in Byzantium History, Turkish History, Ancient History, Theology and even a Geologist to add to the rich learning experience that our trip became.
We visited many beautiful Churches and Mosques, all equally welcoming and with their own stories to tell. I learnt a lot about the Orthodox Church and we were privileged to be able to stay a few nights in two different Monasteries. This in itself was an experience, from the simple meals that the Monks shared in silence with us to attending their daily services.
The area we visited is not well frequented by tourists and as a large group we were very noticeable. The majority of the time the people we met were friendly and welcoming but that was not the case everywhere and at times there was a palpable air of hostility. We even had a chair thrown at us as we crossed the main square in one town. It was an uncomfortable feeling.
An evening spent with a Monk who painted a very bleak picture of what was going on, especially of the persecution the Christians in that area face and who was particularly critical of the role the UK was playing, did nothing to allay fears.
I did not feel afraid in the way that some of the members of our group did, both young and old. We took time to give everyone the opportunity to express their fears and those who wished to prayed together afterwards. It was here that I learnt something that troubled me then and still does now.
Those of us who were not afraid had attempted to calm the fears of others by being reassuring but this had been seen as being dismissive and not giving credence to their fears. This was not the intended outcome and apologies were made.
So how do we best reassure someone who fears something that we do not. Fear of spiders and heights, for example, may not be logical and rational. It is of no comfort to be told they will not hurt you or you will not fall. Logic and rationality do not allay such fears. It is even more difficult when in an unfamiliar and unknown situation. What are the right words to say? It was handing over the fears to God and asking him to allay them that brought the most comfort to our group.
At all the Monasteries we visited we asked what we could do to help in their current difficulties, and without exception they all said to pray for them. So I ask you to join me in praying for the Monastaries and Christians of the Tur Abdin.
Church Matters for November 2014
There is some good news about repairs to the church. In October's Church Matters column I reported that we might need to apply for a Faculty (a long process leading to permission from the Chancellor of the diocese to carry out work to a church) before the programme of Quinquennial repairs could begin. I'm now delighted to record that we shall not have to make such an application and can go ahead with the repairs. Also, the PCC at its meeting in the evening of September 24th accepted a paper about the proposed repairs and the recommended contractor and our architect, and I should, by the time you read this, have made some progress in getting the work started.
You'll no doubt remember that Pitstop had to stop the provision of a food bank service because of the flooding and that we consequently decided to support the food bank that operates out of the North Leatherhead Community Centre on Saturday mornings. All of the Harvest Festival gifts brought into church have been distributed in this way. Please continue to support the food bank with gifts brought into church. You'll find the food bank box in the north aisle, just inside the door. We continue our support for Pitstop in other ways.
I hope that you'll have heard the news about our new bishop. He is the Rt Revd Andrew Watson; he is 53, has been Bishop of Aston since 2008, and has previously worked in parishes in Notting Hill and Twickenham. He will be enthroned in Guildford Cathedral in February next year as our diocesan bishop, and until then Bishop Ian will continue to hold the reins. The Church Times reported that "before moving to Birmingham in 2008, Bishop Watson studied at Corpus Christi College and Ridley Hall, in Cambridge, was an assistant curate in Worcester and then Vicar of St Stephen's, East Twickenham, in London. He is married to Beverly, who is also ordained, and they have four children, aged 15 to 24. Besides being a keen amateur musician, Bishop Watson enjoys walking and is the author of three books." I wonder if we'll be able to get him to join one of our Saturday walks. They start at 7.30am from the church hall.
The Mothers' Union was brave enough to ask me to talk about a Churchwarden's Life at their October meeting. We had a lively time and covered some serious topics - the things that keep me awake at night as well as some light hearted ones. One of the questions I was asked to respond to was "do churchwardens work only on Sundays?" After the meeting I reflected on this and looked through my diary. Dear Questioner, I do work on other days, honestly I do, and it's just that you're more likely to see me on a Sunday.
The Leadership Team had a visit from David Warby of the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service on 3rd October. It was another activity to help us to improve our fire safety procedures. Following the arson incident in the lower vestry on 8th August the police and fire services have been really helpful in following up the crime and supporting us generally.
Notes from the Belfry
To mark Sheila Fordâ€™s 80th birthday & 30 years' service as Verger in Leatherhead, 965 changes of Grandsire Triples was rung on 12th October by the following:
- Rosemary Hall (Sheila's granddaughter)
- Mike Todd
- Peter Ford (Sheila's husband)
- Emily Hall (Sheila's granddaughter)
- Susan Hall (Sheila's daughter)
- Rex Woodland
- Mike Bale (conductor)
- Andrew Hall (Sheila's son- in -law)
On Saturday 27th of September a fleet of cars left Leatherhead (or nearby) to journey East for our outing. This was to follow the River Stour valley from Ashford to Canterbury.
The first Church was SS Gregory & Martin at Wye, so after a welcome cup of coffee at the King's Head we rang the 10 bells (a similar weight to our own bells) and "went very well".
St Lawrence at Godmersham was the next stop with 6 bells. A ground floor ring (no stairs to climb).
Chilham was our next port of call, a pretty village where we rang on their 8 bells. Down the road, the Woolpack Inn served a good (and very filling) lunch. The weather was fine, and we were lucky, as a guided tour of Chilham Castle gardens was booked, and proved to be most interesting.
St Mary's Church in Chartham followed where the 6 bells were soon ringing.
Then on to Canterbury, where in the small ringing chamber of St Dunstan's Church congestion was eased by climbing through a window on to the church roof! This ring of 6 bells was the last visit of the day.
A most enjoyable (though tiring) day. I know that all who came on this day out will join me in thanking Julian Steed for a well organised trip.
He even booked fine, (but not hot) weather.
Afternoon Bridge Tea
The Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church will be holding their annual Bridge with Afternoon Tea on Wednesday 12 November 2014 from 2pm - 5pm. To book a table, please contact F Fleming on L375957.
Between 1st and 3rd October Linda, Lesley and I went to Ladywell Retreat Centre in Godaiming. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful, and the Sisters made us very welcome, and made sure we had plenty to eat. Our Conductor was The Revd David Eaton who made it very interesting. During the debates we were allowed to speak; otherwise we had to remain silent (can you imagine us three keeping quiet) which was very difficult. If anyone gets the chance to go, it is well worth a visit.
Other news:5th November (no fireworks but sparklers allowed): Sue will be coming to demonstrate cake decorating. As December's magazine might be out early please remember that on 3rd December we will have our Christmas tea, with the Church Hand Bells to entertain. All are welcome to any of our events which begin at 2.30pm.
Report on a Cathedral Links meeting Tuesday 7 October 2014
At this meeting we were informed that the Â£1.3m for the necessary works to remove the acoustic plaster from the cathedral ceiling vaults has been raised and this will enable the cathedral to apply for a Â£4.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
They will know by February whether this has been accepted. Further funds are needed to refurbish and clean the organ and this amount is expected to be in the region of Â£800,000! Fund raising events are in place to begin this appeal.
As a matter of some interest, when Sir Edward Maufe, the architect, designed the building he did not plan for an organ to be installed, assuming that by its completion, there would be some "other" form of music! Now the adapted organ needs a rebuild and a new case.
A Christmas Quiz with Frank Haslam, Friday 5th December
On behalf of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society I will be hosting a Quiz at The Letherhead Institute at 7.30pm on Friday 5th December. Tickets will be Â£10 including a Fish & Chip Supper, bring your own drink. I hope you will support this fun pre-Christmas event in aid of the Society, which as you may know funds our Leatherhead Museum.
By the way, the quiz won't be a history exam!
More details nearer the time in the weekly news-sheets. Please put the date in your diary.
Frank Haslam, Website Editor & Membership Secretary, Leatherhead & District Local History Society
Fair Trade in Leatherhead
This year we have been able to send Â£200 to Traidcraft Exchange, the charity which helps people to transform their lives through trade. Traidcraft's whole ethos is one of fairness and justice; their aim is to plant seeds of hope for the future for people and communities across the world.
Traidcraft is the largest retailer in the UK of fairly traded products; they sell to traders, like us at St Mary & St Nicholas, with a recommended selling price for customers which is 10% above our buying price, and it is that 10% which has enabled us to send money to their charity.
Leatherhead Methodist Church will soon have their Fairtrade stall. And there is a monthly stall on Sundays in Christ Church URC. Leatherhead is a Fairtrade town - look out for the Fairtrade mark when are shopping, or visiting local cafes.
A recent venture for Traidcraft is called Clean and Fair: the world's first Fairtrade marked household cleaning range, using fairly traded palm oil produced by smallholders in Ghana. We now stock the Lemon Citrus Washing Up Liquid; there is also Lavender & Aloe Vera Handwash, Lavender Breeze Laundry Liquid, Lemon & Lime Multi-Surface Cleaner, and three fragrances of soap, all of which are manufactured in this country using the imported palm oil. Traidcraft are also using UK companies which make recycled sponge scourers and washing up brushes, and pass on part of their profit to Traidcraft; there are also recycled toilet rolls and kitchen towels: we stock all of these. So you can help to save the planet at the same time as you help producers in the third world!
Christmas is approaching - we shall shortly have the Divine Advent Calendars, and a range of Christmas cards, as well as some special treats. There are lots of toys and gifts in our catalogue: if you order through our stall we will save you postage and delivery charges.
Thank you for your support - we shall have two stalls in November and December, and look forward to seeing you!
A Heart Full for Romania
From the moment we arrived at the village a large group of children ran excitedly to see and hug Tim Poole. He runs a charity, Heart for Romania, and has visited the country many times, and it was obvious how much they love and value him and all he does in changing the lives of so many. It really wasn't long until our hands were grabbed and we were tugged and hugged from all angles! We have already fallen in love with this place and we know this is only the start of long term friendships. The children and families in Csekefalva are wonderful. So hospitable and kind. We were invited into houses with a whole family living and sleeping in a room no larger than your average living room, offered coffee and cake while you look around an empty space with seemingly random treasures that they've collected. The roofs look like they could be blown off with a gust of wind and we know that so many of them leak in the wet and snowy seasons. There's no electricity, no toilet, no shower or bath. There are no beds or bedrooms and any sofa is shared for sleeping. We saw used nappies hanging up to dry as each one is precious to them. And yet these beautiful people are smiling.
They open their hearts and home and share them with you. What a challenge.
The need is so great and we are so thankful to have been able to take a van full of supplies to help the families, especially as winter is approaching. We want to say a special thank you to Charlie Milner and Martin Cole, our faithful van drivers, and to Wilsons Van Hire in Epsom for their generosity in supporting this trip. We could not have done what we did without it. The van was full of shoes, clothes, baby baths and toiletries, school supplies, play equipment, buckets full of washing lines, pegs, towels, medical supplies, brushes, flannels and so much more. We wish we could show you the excitement over the buckets!
We spent three full days in the village. The main reason for our visit was to get alongside and support the mums, teaching them practical parenting tips and giving them much needed supplies. Most of the parents were brought up in the local orphanage and were not parented themselves. Over and over again the women said how wonderful it was that we came, that no one had come for them before. It was a real privilege and a blessing for us to befriend these women and their families.
We spent our time encouraging the mums by washing and bathing the babies. We had a morning pampering the women with hair, nails and make up, we played games with the children, and took a school assembly. A team of guys were busy building a new home for one family. One of the highlights of our time there was organizing a BBQ for the entire village. A scrumptious stew was made over a fire and over 150 gathered on the hill to eat together. This was a precious moment as it was the first time they have ever all shared a meal together.
Another important time for us was spending the afternoon visiting every home with a bucket full of supplies. If it wasn't for this we would not have seen and met the most vulnerable on the edges. In one house there lay an elderly sick gentleman whose wife was desperate to see him well. She was overjoyed that we could offer them a packet of paracetamol. We're humbled at the thought they only cost 30p. There are many people who are suffering from various illnesses who can't afford to visit the hospital or purchase medication. When Tim visits he is always busy making trips to the dentist and the doctors, and people are desperate to see if he can help.
One of the most challenging moments was meeting Thomas. He came in with his family to get some new shoes and winter clothes. His hands and feet were black with dirt and his smile was shy. He was just one of many children in the village who owned no shoes. I can't imagine what they do in the bitter cold snowy months. We sat him down and washed his face, hands and feet. Our team was busy finding him clothes, underwear, socks, a hat, a scarf and coat. And then we saw his foot had a large deep wound on one side. We could only try our best to wash and dress it, but we knew this needed medical attention. Another trip Tim would have to make tomorrow. Thomas' courage was commendable, and his smile was wonderful. He loved his new shoes! How fantastic to have done this for over 100 children that day!
Reprinted from the B@titude website ( www.batitude.org )