In 'The Country Parson', George Herbert stresses how important it is for the priest to adapt to the community he serves. We may have changed the style of presentation or the means of engagement to fit in with the culture, but the work of the church is unchanged - to tell the stories of faith, to build one another up, to work for the good of the whole community.
In February the parish faithful went away for a weekend. Some 40 of us went to stay in log cabins in the New Forest, to worship together, to share meals and time together, and Eileen even had her 90th Birthday (she had been dropping hints for nearly a year!). It used to be that Sunday worship was the expression and offering of all the week’s shared life and happenings. Now it seems to have become the only meeting point of our lives.
This annual time away allows us to re-connect with one another and simply be. Its near enough to Salisbury to be easy for day visitors, and we try to keep the price down. This year we had children’s work laid on as well which made it a truly family friendly event. We’ve already booked the dates for next year.
One of the groups I work with has been running some inter-generational projects, for primary and secondary children, young mums and olders (that’s the group the church can provide!) We’ve done kite flying, IT and cooking, and last month it was the turn of art with a difference.
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust encouraged us to use rubbish from our bins to make a mural. It was amazing to see it come together on the blank canvas, and how rubbish could be transformed into something beautiful. It mirrored what went on in the group - as people got to know one another, and saw how we all had something to share to making our community beautiful.
Finally, to a situation GH would have recognized - a Confirmation service in our Cathedral of teenagers and adults. This January we had 5 candidates from the parish confirmed, which is the greatest number since 1998 (and the time before that, was 1993 - and you have to go to the 80’s before it's regularly that large). I imagine Fugglestone-cum-Bemerton would have produced 1 or 2 a year from its 300 population, and then, as now, it was a great occasion and honour to go to the Cathedral and be prayed for by the Bishop.
Everyone thought it might be an April Fool’s joke but it wasn’t. Many churches, us included, have held Palm Sunday processions around their neighborhood to re-enact Jesus entry into Jerusalem. Sometimes we’ve done it with a donkey, sometimes we’ve given out chocolate eggs. This year we decided to hold Fun Church down on the grass in Gainsborough Close, and hoped that the weather would be kind. We were re-telling the story of Moses and the Israelites escaping from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea - and there was lots of running around and falling over!
Our website is updated every three months or so. Please carry on visiting so we can keep you up to date with the news from Bemerton Parish.