Reflecting with Pamela – May 2017

Annual Priest Address

The best place to start is always by giving thanks to God who is our provider, enabler and sustaining force through life. Without him we are nothing and have no solid purpose in our life journey.

 Because of Him we are able to be the people whom we are; setting out into the unknown and wherever life may take us we will find the path we need to tread. 

Thank you to each and every one of you who has been on your journey at All Hallows’ over this past year. You each have your own story to tell. Your contributions to the life of the church and wider community have been valued greatly. Thank you for putting the time, effort and commitment into what you have done. 

We are the people of today who help to prepare the ground for the people of tomorrow just as in 1931 the people at the first church of All Hallows’ had their vision from God which enabled them to prepare the ground and sow appropriately for the next generations. 

Our story in this present era will never get lost or forgotten because it is precious and vital and it has the exciting potential to help lay the foundations for what lays ahead. 

I clearly remember my very first sermon; preached on our Patronal Festival. The Lord’s Vineyard was the hope for each of us to play our part in.

There was much needing to be done and with careful planning, good seed going into well prepared soil, we had a positive chance to ensure that we played our part in making substantial, and sustaining things take shape. 

The vineyard continues to be fertile at All Hallows because it is God’s vineyard but now needs, what we might call a ‘crop rotation’ in order for the soil to get replenished instead of beating it into submission with over use and the result of this is, that the vineyard is no longer able to produce the best out of what God has planted in the first place. 

In a short while, we will be sent out as the disciples were on that first Pentecost, to go out into the world preaching and teaching so that all would come to know, believe, and live out the good news of Jesus. We are all capable of sharing that good news as Ambassadors of Christ whom we swore our allegiance to. 

Over this past year, your personal initiatives to live out the Gospel in your neighbourhood, in your work place, in schools and through involving yourself in community outreach will have enhanced your physical wellbeing let alone your spiritual growth. 

It is easy to feel, at times, that one is getting nowhere fast and it often takes another person, to see the positive strides which one has made.

Remember, to welcome that person along the journey with you, it is best not to try to walk in complete isolation. If we do that, we miss the opportunity to learn from one another and what a waste of a gift that is. 

Very recently, I attended my final school assembly at Mandeville School with staff and children who have become an integral part of my ministry as a priest. When it came to the ‘good byes’ a multitude of thanks were being exchanged in both directions, me to them and them to me. It has been a joy and blessing to me to acknowledge and value how much we have all learned from having shared a journey of hope, and trust and love together for these past many years.

You and I sit on the proverbial ‘hill top’ at present scanning the horizons for solid signs for our future. We do not know what tomorrow holds and this is uncomfortable because it brings uncertainty. 

This is the opportunity however, to dig deep and find that strength within ourselves to grow our roots more deeply through faith and trust in God who does not forsake his children. You will know very well I am sure, the story of the Exodus.

People cried out to God to relieve them of their suffering but once removed from their present dangers, they cried out in anger and despair about what they didn’t have and that they preferred to go back to the discomforts of what ‘had been’ instead of trusting in God to provide for what lay ahead. 

Our past years together has been one of moderate security, I say moderate, because it hasn’t all been easy. We are not a parish church which is lavish in material goods but one that has often had to struggle to get the books to balance let alone enough people to share the work load. Through God’s Grace, however, and pulling together we have ensured that what has needed to get done, has got done. 

You will have noted, I am sure, that our cloth has needed to be cut quite substantially in order to make ends meets. I am grateful that this has never caused people to grumble unceasingly but I appreciate also, that our limited resources has caused us to be more inward focused than outward reaching.

I take this opportunity to thank those who have encouraged us to look beyond ourselves; Rosemary, Paula, Jane and all who highlight attention towards the Shooting Star Chase Hospice; to John, Rosemary and their team of helpers who raise funds for projects within the church while drawing talent and community together through music and entertainment and Quiz evenings; to Mary Bala who oversees the hire of the church hall and ensures our health and safety and Child protection policies which enable our community within the church hall to be kept safe; to Diane Varney and the team of planners and helpers who focus our actions on parish outreach at our two seasonal highlights; Christmas and the Family Fun Day and last mentioned but not least appreciated, Ronnie, Sandra, Veronica, Brenda and the team of providers and enablers who extend community hospitality at the annual Caribbean evening and raise funds for much needed equipment or funding for church or hall.

The next era in the life of All Hallows’ will need an equal amount of diligent care and attention. The ‘old blueprint’ may well be referred to from time to time as the past story is always relevant and should not readily be discarded. 

But too much attention focused on the past, prevents movement to the future. 

The blueprint for the future, as it presently stands, looks like the following: This is as clear as I can speak at present. Please do not add to it or take from it.

The facts are as explained: the suspension of the living will take place which enables the Bishop to look at the Parish, its mission and ministry and decide in consultation with the PCC and or a designated group of church members, a way forward; Martin in conjunction with the Area Dean, Steve Newbold , is working out a rota of available lay and Ordained to cover the Sunday Service

; if in an emergency, and your loved one is in hospital or on the way to the hospital via ambulance etc, and a priest is needed after Pamela leaves the parish, ask directly on admission to call for a priest (Hospital Chaplains are on call 24/7). In order to streamline our church worship so that it is workable with what and who we have to hand, both Wednesday 7.30pm and Sunday 8am Services will be suspended pro tem. Do not see this as ‘forever’. It is a temporary measure until the Bishop makes decisions.

The 10am Service will be a Said Service of Holy Communion with a Sermon. The Gospel Singers will be on leave after the 4th June until decisions are made about the future for All Hallows’. Our Organist, Fred, will finish on the 4th of June as he covers at the Swedish Church in London during the whole of the summer. Martin can make contact with him in the Autumn to see about music for Festival Services if Fred is available

. Rotas are presently being made to accommodate the 10am Service up until the end of August. Adults only will give Service to the visiting clergy. Once the summer is over, Martin will take on responsibility for Servers Rotas and Scripture/ Prayer Rotas

.  John Thorndycraft, health withstanding, will take charge of weekly Intercession Sheets and News sheets. 

If there are any parents who will require my support for church school forms in the near future, I am happy to oblige you. My new address will be made known to the church family. 

You will appreciate, I hope, from what has already been made known to you, that as much attention as possible is being put into place to enable your spiritual and practical needs to be met. 

There will be tasks needing attention in the church by different people to take hold of. Martin needs the assistance of one more person to grass cut as Gareth will be moving.

 Please don’t wait to be asked to help out. Be of generous and unstinting spirit.
The church is the responsibility of every member; not a few and an Interregnum can be good positive fun if different people contribute their talent. 

Do you remember my comment about the vineyard, my first sermon preached at All Hallows’? Well, I want you to seriously take to heart that the Lord’s gift to us is this place of worship you find yourself in this morning. It is not our right that we have this place but a privilege. Please respect the privilege.

Good seed needs to continue to be sown here. Whatever decisions the Bishop makes for All Hallows’, don’t neglect the tasks at hand. Work with the Bishop, not against him, that God’s will, will be done.

And now in closing, a prayer from me to you …

’I have done what God has given me to do. God grant that you will do what God gives you to do’.

Blessings upon you and yours and me as we are sent out into the world this Pentecost.

Revd Pamela Heazell