Welcome to the June edition of "Good News For Ashford"
MESSAGE FROM THE TEAM RECTOR - JUNE 2021
In last month’s message, I was saying that being a multi-church parish serving a single place – as is the case here in Ashford – isn’t actually all that common in the Church of England. So it’s understandable that people sometimes struggle to make sense of it.
I remember a church meeting sometime after Christmas when I was challenged directly with the question: what benefit do we get from being part of the parish – ‘we’ here being ‘our particular local church community’? And I’ve heard different versions of that question subsequently, in different contexts. I’ve got plenty to say about it, but I’ve been conscious that my words haven’t always got through to the person who’s asked it. Somehow, we seem to be talking at cross purposes.
That may be because we are working with two different models about what it means to be a multi-church parish in mission. And I think which model we have in our heads makes a major difference to how we approach many aspects of church life – including Mission Action Planning, which I’m speaking about to our congregations on Sunday mornings at........
Many thanks to everyone who supported this year's Novena of Prayer around the parish between Ascension and Pentecost. The number of days corresponds precisely to the number of our church buildings - nine! - and it seems a really good tradition for us to support, leading up to our parish celebration of Pentecost.
Ann Town, from Willesborough, attended many of the services. After one of them, she wrote: 'The prayer on the back of tonight's sheet mentions "may we complete your circle of love, holding hands with strangers and friends, excluding no-one from the song." This is how it has felt for me this week of Novena. Each Church has been so welcoming, different in their style, but so the 'same'. Made me think of a flower and its petals, each slightly different but part of the flower.'
Little Squeakers is our baby and toddler group that came out of the need for a term-time group for the people who came to Make Lunch. St Mary's church Great Chart and Singleton had been running a lovely toddler group at Great Chart village hall on Wednesday mornings for years, but for various reasons attendance had dwindled and it was no longer viable to be kept open. When we noticed the many mums with young children at Make Lunch, we decided that a group at St Francis would be the perfect location. Did you know that St Francis is often depicted with doves and that a baby dove is called a squeaker? That is where our lovely group name refers to and also children make squeaky noises too.
We were very sad to have to close last year for lockdown and tried staying in touch with our mums via our Facebook page.
When restrictions lifted and support group for parents with babies were allowed, we did an extensive risk assessment and invited some mums with non-mobile babies to attend our baby group. They really appreciated our efforts to make them feel safe and welcome and valued being able to meet other mums who had given birth during a global pandemic to share their experiences...........
MakeLunch will be running again during the summer holidays, following the refurbishment of the St Francis Hall kitchen.
We have heard back from Transforming Lives for Good and, provided that the government does not change guidelines (!), we will be in a position to return to running Make lunch.
As usual, we will be running Makelunch on Tuesdays and Fridays right through the summer holidays - this equates to ten sessions. However, we cannot run this much-needed activity without volunteers.......
A prayer for our participation in Mission Action Planning
Jesus Christ, we long to be fruitful in your service. Stir up in us good desires, and show us what you long to see for your church here in Ashford and how we can contribute to that. Send your Holy Spirit upon us, into our hearts and into our midst, to lead us and guide us, that God may be glorified in this place. Amen.
Week beginning 6 June
For Geoff Abasolo-Munnery, his wife Theresa and his daughter Frida, as they prepare to move to Ashford and a new home here in readiness for Geoff to start as a curate in the parish next month. May they know Christ’s presence in the midst of change and the many practical challenges of moving house.
For local businesses starting to re-open and welcome the public. Enlarge our experience of community life and help us see one another as fellow workers in your wider kingdom........