The Revd Wyn Beynon

Wyn's e-Pistle: January 2015
Dear Friends,
I’m writing this after my third Christmas in post as Priest in Charge. It’s been a busy couple of years and 2015 looks like being full of new challenges and opportunities.
There will be a general election this year, and the Church of England will be electing a new General Synod. We live in “interesting times.” The threat of terrorism is ever with us and our world gets no better nor more peaceful. There are real issues of poverty and environmental sustainability in our own nation. I have no quick fixes for any of these - and nor does anyone else! Just as our politicians are preparing the “manifestos” so I'm laying out my own dreams for the way forward.
I’m the “Vicar” of 3 parishes, but there are 5 parish churches with their 5 congregations. But my responsibilities go further. I am also a Training Incumbent and it’s a joy to work with Gary as he works his way through his year as an ordained Deacon in the Church. Next summer he will be ordained Priest and his ministry will change again. I also work collaboratively with The Revd David Morris across his 7 parish churches and also play my part in sharing with other clergy in the Droitwich Deanery and Diocese of Worcester.
The effect of all this is that my post is quite a different one from previous incumbents of either The United Parish or Bowbrook. In reality only half my time is available for the United Parish with its three congregations, as Feckenham, Stock & Bradley Green and the time required work with Gary and David together with Deanery and Diocesan commitments makes up the other half. So the consequence is I’m not able to be present at all events in the way that previous clergy might have been. Whilst I am sorry not be able to be more of an “old fashioned” country Vicar, actually the opportunities to exercise my priestly ministry are greatly stimulating… but I know the job is almost undo-able, even by Superman! Actually it is do-able… but it isn’t completable. There is always more! But with wonderful parishioners and lots of different aspects to the work it’s a privilege to be the Parish Priest. Knowing that the job has no end both energises me and gives me a sense of perspective that keeps me sane!
There is much to celebrate in the past year but I want this newsletter to be about what we might doing in 2015 - this is a “serving suggestion”, not an exhaustive list! It will evolve and change.
We will welcome The Revd Sue Barrett back to a more formal relationship with the Parish and she is going to look at ways of developing our youth and children’s work.     
The Revd Gary Crellin has been developing our links with the school.
I’m hoping to be a more frequent and regular visitor at Parklands Nursing home.
I hope there will be a “home grown” Lent Course this year.
Maybe something along the lines of “messy church” might emerge too!
Stock & Bradley Green
2015 sees a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the building of the present church - though of course there was an older medieval chapel on the site. Hopefully our celebrations will engage with many in the parish and suggest ways forward for a smallish (but not that small!) congregation.
Mr Peter Taylor is now licensed to administer the Chalice and it’s good for the clergy to be able to share the ministry in this way at Holy Communion.
is a 5 year process of growth in the United Parish. Worship, Buildings and Welcome are all part of that.
Stoke Prior
The Tower presents us with a major challenge - and also a very big opportunity to engage with the whole of Stoke Prior parish. There’s a lot of good will. So watch out for developments in the New Year.
We’ll be think about ways that the building can be improved - and continuing to develop our worship and work with young people.
Upton Warren
We will seriously think about how we might encourage the increasing numbers of young families in the village, and developing a ministry of welcome - perhaps a history weekend too!

THE WYCHEBROOK GROUP – Salt of the Earth: Waters of Life
This the informal name for the Bowbrook and United Parishes. It’s a brilliant name - Wyche reminds us of the Salt heritage of the United Parish and the Brook of the many streams that run in to the Bowbrook. We will continue to develop our shared life across our 12 parishes with The Revd David Morris.
A group for the differently-abled - we're developing this slowly and so watch out for details.
Open the Book
is made up groups of folk who go into our lower schools to act out Bible stories. Children love to see the Open the Book team come to school across many of the parishes - so it’s time we got a group going in the United Parish too!
Healing Ministry
Praying for health and healing is normal part of any parish’s life. We shall be looking at a regular place for prayers of healing after one of the evening services at Stoke Prior. Watch for details
Contemplative Prayer
A group meets regularly but many more parishioners need the benefit of silent contemplative prayer - so this will be developed too. This is probably the most important thing of all.....
Enquirers Group
We have many young people who approach us for weddings or baptism and we shall be developing ways to get them thinking a bit more about Christian Faith.
Worship Renewal
Our Liturgy and Worship needs to be the best we can offer. It isn’t simply about booklets - it’s about how we approach services and commit ourselves to worship.
The Church of England, Anglicanism & Inclusive Church  
Health Warning: Here, I guess, I shall be controversial!
The Church of England is at a strange time in its life. Whilst we rejoice in the appointment of the first women Bishops, we are also appointing a conservative Bishop who believes in male headship only. He would be most welcome in our parishes so we can show him a better way! Not only do we have The Revd Sue Barrett in our Parishes, we also benefit from the ministry of The Revd Sheila Banyard as Rural Dean and The Revd Barbara Wheatley who is Sheila’s Curate. The Revd Rita Holden ministers in Droitwich and you’ll be interested to know that both the new Team Vicar and the new Curate in Droitwich are women too - so by the summer there will be 6 women and 6 men ministering in the Deanery!
I passionately believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that I work towards an inclusive church in which gender, wealth or poverty, mental ability, physical ability, race, sexuality, health, age or background should have absolutely no bearing on the fact that everyone is welcome just as they are.
I have a gay daughter of whom I am immensely proud. I know that there are many other parents in the parishes with gay children.
So I’m coming out!  I may be “straight” but…….
I long for the day that I can conduct same sex marriages in church. I am an obedient servant of the Church and so will not break the rules on this, or anything else. But we can pray with anyone, and I am hoping that soon we can, at least, openly and freely offer a service of prayers and blessing for same sex couples. I rejoice that we’ve already baptised the children of two same sex couples in Wychebrook group.
I appreciate that this will not commend itself to everyone in our parishes, but like so many other changes, this one will not come about without some uncomfortable and even painful times. But I am increasingly aware that more and more people are realising that sexuality is not chosen but given and we must celebrate each person just as they are. My own acceptance of the given nature of homosexuality took a long and painful time - over 25 years. So I understand those who find this so difficult. As a young man I was not as kind to gay people as I should have been and I say that to my shame.
I am deeply disappointed by the CofE's House of Bishops who in 2014 have done 2 things which reduces their credibility and godliness in my eyes:
  1. Last February they issued a statement that was hurtful and damaging to the whole Church in the harsh and cruel way they reduced the status of gay people in the church. The Bishops argue that they did not do this - but they did, as any gay person will tell you. They were hurt, and I was hurt. I couldn’t speak for long time after I read the statement, I was so upset by it. I have no idea why they needed to say it at all.
  2. During 2014 a report by Lord Green has suggested a whole raft of measures to groom leadership and management “talent” within the Church. It treats God’s Church like a large industrial corporation, suggesting a goal driven and success based Church. This is, as I understand it, being implemented without debate, and £2 Million has been found to fund this. Bishops and Deans are to qualify with business MBAs! The report throws in various things about prayer and spirituality, but always as an afterthought, it seems to me. (I have read the whole report!)
We are blessed that our own Bishops (though properly loyal to their colleagues) are kinder, wiser and more godly than the House of Bishops as a whole.
I would like a public discussion in our parishes. Could we become parishes that could join a group called Inclusive Church? This is a voluntary organisation in the Church of England for parishes that wish to make it plain that everyone is welcome to take a full and open part in the life of our churches, because we will not discriminate against anyone “on any level on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality.” You can find out more on their web site:  
I believe in a Church that welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful (but not literalist or fundamentalist); which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh to our generation; and, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.
I can’t tell the parishes that they are inclusive… and the PCCs can’t tell us either. It has to be a consensus of everyone - perhaps at the Annual Parochial Church Meetings in the spring? Or do we want an exclusive church where only certain people are welcome? It’s a straight choice, if you’ll forgive the pun!

The Church is working its way through these challenges at the moment and we cannot stand to one side. It’s for us to take the Church forward when some of the Bishops are holding us back.
That’s my challenge to our parishes!
I am an Anglican. That’s not NECESSARILY the same as Church of England, which is a term that contains many different flavours of faith. But Anglicanism was the theological school that developed the genius of the CofE. Today there are several kinds of movements in the Church of England who have very effectively reduced the influence of thorough-going Anglicans.
  • Anglicans believe that the Bible tells us all we need for salvation - but is not infallible or literally true.
  • Anglicans believe that Christ is really present at Holy Communion and that we are growing in him.
  • Anglicans believe that children and adults who are baptised are really members of the Body of Christ by God’s grace, freely given.
  • Anglicans believe that the Church should be comprehensive - including those who struggle to believe - and without definable boundaries
  • Anglicans rejoice in the ordained ministry of Bishops, Priests and Deacons as well as the Priesthood of All Believers
  • Anglicans do not believe that God turned his face away from Christ on the Cross but that God is always facing his world.
  • Anglicans do not believe God is angry with us but, on the contrary, believe that God passionately loves every one of us.
  • Anglicans believe that Christmas is as important as Good Friday and Easter because God’s incarnation hallows the whole creation and draws us up into the life of the Godhead.
  • Anglicans look to scripture, our shared tradition and the use of reason in equal measure to shape our understanding of the world
I long to see the Church of England return to its roots, to be open-heartedly Anglican and robust in proclaiming the profligate love of God which is abundant and endless and for everyone. It is an unconditional love, not dependent on my making up my mind or believing the right things or praying the right prayers. God’s love is freely given. Freely received, or rejected. The Anglican view is that the gospel might be accepted or rejected. It is not concerned with numbers, or targets, or success. There are times it needs to be business-like - but it is never a business! Our “business”, if we must use that word, is to be a holy people, not a proselytizing sect! My job is to be a Priest, which might include leadership and management, must never be confused with those useful tools.
So here’s my dream - of a robust but gentle Church in which all sorts and conditions are welcome for who they are without judgement or discrimination. Then, and only then, can we be an effective sign of God’s love, God’s kingdom, a Kingdom People,  in our world, in our parishes and in our communities.
May God bless us all in 2015!

© Wyn Beynon  2015