The Revd Wyn Beynon

Wyn's ePistle January 2017

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all that you are and do in the 5 parishes of which I'm privileged to be Priest in Charge.

2017 has the makings of a tumultuous year in the nation, in the world and also in the Church of England.

Last summer I met a Vicar from near Manchester who told me about a 14 year old girl in his congregation. She was a very enthusiastic young Christian, and was part of their Parish family with her very involved parents. She committed suicide.

In her suicide note she explained she was gay. She thought that God didn't love her and that no one in the Church, not even her family, would understand or support her. It was a tragedy. Had she spoken she would have found more love and support than she realised.

But she didn't know that. So she didn't speak.

Let's not just say "Oh we're very welcoming here, everybody knows how friendly we are."
We have to smile, say "hello" and reach out our hand.
We have to make it plain.

So I'm saying this, as plainly as I can:

If you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex you are not rejected, and not just tolerated. You are welcome, just as welcome as anyone else. Just as you are and you don't have to change. Because God loves you just as you are. And so will we.

If you are poor and haven't got posh clothes or you are unemployed and feel a bit of a failure, you are not just tolerated: You are welcome, just as welcome as everyone else. Just as you are and you don't have to change. Because God loves you just as you are. And so will we.

If you are of a different race, if English isn't your first language, or if you struggle with a disability, you are not just tolerated: You are welcome, just as welcome as everyone else. Just as you are and you don't have to change. Because God loves you just as you are. And so will we.

You're also welcome if you are grumpy, angry, going through emotional crisis, depressed, or your life's in tatters. You are welcome, just as welcome as everyone else. Just as you are and you don't have to change. Because God loves you just as you are. And so will we.

Perhaps too many people stay away from Church because they judge themselves to be "not good enough", or think others will judge them "not good enough"..... whatever "good enough" is!

None of us is "good enough", that's the whole point! It's not about being good enough. It's about accepting ourselves as we are, because that's what God does. Yet what a mess the Church has made of that simple message - and turned the family of God into a competitive school of "pass and fail".

What matters is the unbounded, unconditional, unconditioned love of God. And that is what the Good News of Jesus Christ brings us! And we who have received that must offer the same to all people without fear or favour, without ifs, buts or maybes.

As Christians we must LIVE that truth..... it is the only thing we have to offer our world, and it is essential.

Each of our parishes, and indeed each parish church, have priorities that are unique and distinct. As the Priest in Charge my priorities are to encourage and support, and to offer my "Ministerial Priesthood". This means developing three important areas: Holy Communion, Contemplative Prayer and the Ministry of Healing.

When these three things are nurtured, grow and are understood they will enable us to be much more what God wants us to be in our communities.... salt, that unobtrusively flavours life.

I shall have more to say on these three things as the year goes by!

What follows is just a quick snapshot and there is so much more that could be said......

This year Feckenham is having an Away Day on 30th September to look at what it must be doing in the next few years. However the Day will really be a culmination of a lot of work done between now and then. There are 5 "Workstreams":

  1. Worship - liturgy, music

  2. Heritage - the building and how to maintain it

  3. Pastoral Care - how we look after our neighbours

  4. Nurture - encouraging growing in faith

  5. Service - all the practical housekeeping jobs that means we can do all the above! But Service also means being actively engaged in doing things in the community, and beyond.. so continuing to work as part of the village community, supporting the foodbank and the link with Morogoro etc.

And it isn't just the PCC doing this - everyone will be encouraged to take part in one of these Workstreams - and to be there on 30th September - please put the date in your diary now!

The PCC has already started looking at how to get mains water into the church so that we can have a proper servery and a loo!

This will be a big project for a small church - but it will be done! This is a real opportunity to work right across the parish. There is much good will.

In 2013 the UNITED PARISH made a list called "Dreaming Dreams" - where nearly 50 ideas were collected describing how we would like our Church to look in 2018. We won't manage all of them but maybe some.

The Tower Friends worked amazingly hard and raised £33,000 towards the project of repair and enhancement of St Michael and All Angels' Church. Next year they hope to finish the fund raising and get a good grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A huge "Well done, and thank you"! It is very important to note that this has been a partnership between regular attenders and others who wouldn't see themselves in that way but are very keen to support the place of the Parish Church in the community. I believe that this partnership is exactly what the Church is about ... an open and welcoming community with NO obvious boundary between "ins" and "outs". I can't emphasise that enough.

The same is happening in Wychbold where community representatives asked the congregation to help at the village fête in 2017. That is another example of rubbing out boundaries. Later in 2017 Wychbold will begin to fund raise to replace the heating system... and hopefully add some solar panels invisibly on the tower roof!

Again in Upton Warren the community asked to use the church for a harvest supper. It was fabulous, and plans are in hand for more events. That is the result not least of a monthly Saturday morning "coffee and cake"... and the sound system is now installed too!

I hope this year that we will develop a new service for families who are about to have, or recently had a child baptised. There is a long established and successful "Open the Book" group who go in to Feckenham School regularly and I hope we can establish one for Stoke Prior and Wychbold Schools too this year!

Entrust your life to the Lord of open spaces
and the time of adventure;
to the life that pulses
through rain drenched streets and mountain heights,
to the love that sustains us through feast and famine.
Let God's hope be a clearing sky before you,
a compass in your heart guiding you to where you belong.