February - March 2020

We are stopping production of the Magazine

As we come to the end of the current year’s Parish Magazine subscriptions, we have decided to stop production, so this will be the final issue. The number of folk who subscribe is slowly dropping year by year, and with the increased amount of information held on our website, plus the quarterly newsletters that now go out, we feel it’s time to change the way we keep in touch with you all.

Instead of the bi-monthly magazine, there will be a monthly hand-out in church, giving dates for the coming month and highlighting any specific news or events coming up in the next few weeks. All rotas will move to a separate booklet, to be issued every 4 months.

A copy of that hand-out will be posted on the website. A quarterly newsletter will also go out by email, with paper copies available in church for those who prefer something to hold and we will continue to post all dates and events on our website – www.stjamesoldmilverton.co.uk.

If you are not currently on our emailing list and would like to continue to receive news from St James, please let Sue Fairhurst have your email details by contacting her on sue@fairhursts.me.uk or write to her at the address in the front of this magazine.

May we take this opportunity to thank Simone for producing the magazine for us in recent years and everyone who has contributed items. Thank you to all of you, too, to for your ongoing support for all we do here at St James.

Quiet Afternoon for Lent: Saturday 4th April

Are you thinking of coming to help with Churchyard clearing on the 4th April and/or the Lent Lunch which follows? If so, think about staying on for the afternoon and joining me in Church for some quiet time.

This is an opportunity to step out from the hustle and bustle of life just for a little while and find some space to be with God. It’s exactly what it says – some quiet time with no difficult questions or long discussion, simply space either for your own thoughts or some straightforward ideas you might like to focus on.

The heating will be one, but please also make sure you have a warm layer with you. There will be access to the Parish Room for loos. Tea, coffee and cake will be provided to help us focus!

The afternoon will run from 2pm till 4pm, but feel able to come later and to stay for as little or as long as you feel able.

Speak to Sue for more information.

Christian Message

Dear Friends,

Lent is nearly upon us. If you’ve never been to our Ash Wednesday service do try and come – it’s at 10.30am On Wednesday 26th February. It’s quite a solemn service, with Felicity marking the foreheads of those present with ash (created from the burning of the previous year’s palm crosses) and reminding us of our mortality with words from Genesis 3.19: ‘You are dust and to dust you shall return’.

Lent is a time when we are called to acknowledge our sins, to repent of them and to set our hearts and wills on changing the way we live our lives. For much of the Christian year, our focus is on praise and the blessings of our faith rather than on repentance, so it’s not something that comes very easily to most of us. It might help to know that the word used in the Greek of the New Testament for repentance literally means a ‘change of mind’, a transformation of the way we look at things. So Ash Wednesday gives us the opportunity to recognise our need to turn back to Christ and to have our lives turned round by him.

During the period of Lent many people will give up something, others will take on some new activity. I am going to suggest that this year, you do both by apparently doing nothing – to give up some precious time in each hectic and committed day, and fill it with stillness, time for reflection and prayer. We have the perfect example of this in Jesus himself, who regularly took time out, away from the crowds and the disciples, to be with God in prayer and reflection. It takes real discipline to ignore the jobs list or the demands of those around you, but just a short time of stillness (fifteen minutes, or up to half an hour if you can manage it) gives you a real opportunity to recharge your spiritual batteries, know God’s presence with you and strengthen you to live your life in his service.

I wish you a still and reflective Lent. With love, Sue

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

The beginning of the New Year is an opportune moment to thank the many people who contributed, in whatever capacity, to the running of St James during 2019. These volunteers include clergy, visiting preachers, the members of the PCC and the other committees, organists and the members of the rotas (flowers, cleaning, mowing and coffee). We even have a volunteer clock-winder. Without so many volunteers, some with multiple roles, we would be unable to function as we do. So thank you all very much for all your time and hard work - it is very much appreciated.

As you would expect December 2019 was a very busy month at St James. The Hamper Raffle and Cake Sale at the beginning of the month raised £476 towards the costs of educating the two secondary school students we are supporting in Malawi, an increase of more than £100 compared with the sum raised in 2018 (£372). The Christmas card tree raised £58 for the same cause. So thanks and congratulations to everyone who contributed to making the event such a huge success. It is worth noting that the money we have raised this year is more than enough to pay the secondary school fees for a year for our two students; a stark reflection of the disparity in the economic situation here and in Malawi. According to the International Monetary Fund Malawi was the world’s fourth poorest country in 2018, while the UK was the 26th richest country.

In the run up to Christmas St James again took part in the Decorated Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary Magdalene, Lillington, which always attracts visitors to the church. Our tree, one of about 30, was noteworthy for its wonderful stars and we also provided some volunteers to welcome the visitors.

Our own Christmas decorations were much admired. They provided a splendid backdrop to the well-attended and welcoming Christmas services. As expected there was a spike in attendance with over 260 attending our four services. The church was full for the Carol service which was enhanced by some lovely singing from Sue Fairhurst’s

choir of 25. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent the church was nearly full for what was billed in the notices the previous Sunday as an “Informal Nativity Service”. Informal it certainly was - there were 19 children in church (some dressed in character) who participated in Sue’s well planned service. The older members of the congregation also seemed to appreciate the service. The communion services - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – together attracted 87 worshippers and were both very happy occasions.

A year ago in this letter we mentioned that we had planted a goat (pussy) willow sapling (which came with a commemorative plaque) donated to the Diocese by the Woodland Trust to celebrate the centenary of the Coventry Diocese in 2018. We can report that the sapling is alive but still smaller than the plaque! Hopefully, it will soon outgrow the plaque.

The Pay Back Unit has been active again on our behalf and has cleared the brambles and other vegetation from the SW corner of the old churchyard and we are now hoping for another marvellous display of snowdrops to match the one in 2019. If it remains mild we may not have too long to wait. We are again very grateful to Gus for his persistence in organising this work.

This year Lent will start on February 26th with our Ash Wednesday communion service. As always the diary of services and other events for next two months is at the beginning of the magazine.

Finally a sales pitch. The Management Committee will be holding their annual fund-raising event on Saturday evening, March 7th, to help finance the costs of running and maintaining the Parish Room, a facility much used by St James. This year’s event will involve supper followed by a quiz. As always it promises to be an enjoyable evening and the food is always good! More information is available elsewhere in the magazine, so please come along if you can.

With love
Michael and Carol

One Feeds Two: Kids Meals at Cook on Warwick Street

Are the grandchildren coming to stay? If you’re thinking of buying in something for them to eat, this may be of interest:

Cook, at 89 Warwick Street in Leamington, works in partnership with an organization called One Feeds Two. For every kid’s meal they sell, they also provide a school meal for a child in Malawi. School meals encourage attendance (the children know they will be fed), aids concentration (you can’t learn when you haven’t eaten all day) and help empower a generation with the education they need to raise their communities out of poverty. To date, this organisation has provided over 1,800,000 meals. Read more at cookfood.net/one- feeds-two.

Christian Bookshop

Did you know that there is a Christian Bookshop in the town?

The Christian Resource Centre as it is known is at 2 Radford Road on the junction corner with George Street, Althorpe Street and the High Street and sells Bibles and theology, general Christian books, gifts, cards and music.

There is also a great range of Christmas cards, many charity cards, advent calendars and candles, it also has a wide range of Christian themed Christmas books for children of all ages and for adults too.

There is a wide choice of Advent devotional books as well.

Please do come and browse the store, there is also tea, coffee and cake available.

The shop could really do with your support.


Temporary disability / Sporting injury ?
Just have difficulty walking or carrying shopping ? Going on holiday / have visitors with difficulties ?

These are all good reasons to visit Shopmobility, and hire a scooter or wheelchair for either short and/or long term use.

​Difficulty walking around Leamington Spa ?

Shopmobility provides scooters and wheelchairs

£5 per day, or unlimited use for just £20 per year. Long term wheelchair and scooter hire available too.

Open Monday-Saturday 9.30am to 4.30pm at Level 4 of the Royal Priors Shopping Mall Car Park

​01926-470450 admin@leamingtonshopmobility.org.uk

Eco-tip – Holiday Planning

At this time of year, many of you may be dreaming of sunshine and starting to plan your holidays for the year. Perhaps we should think about whether our holidays need to start at the airport? Flying can be one of the most unsustainable options for travel. There are a lot of ‘no fly’ holiday suggestions on line these days. Train travel, for example, can be a much more rewarding, low stress alternative, bringing us closer to the countries we visit and reducing our contribution to climate change. As an example, Eurostar usually generates around 50% less carbon omissions when compared to flying alternatives. Why not rediscover the pleasure, romance and adventure of train or ship travel? (www.seat61.com/ explains how to travel comfortably and affordably by rain or ferry where you may think flying is the only option). Wherever you go you can make a positive difference to people and the environment by taking sustainable holidays. Try googling 'sustainable tourism’ or ‘responsible tourism’ or ask your travel agent. Surprisingly cruises can be one of the least sustainable options – carbon emissions can be up to 7 times higher than flying an equivalent distance. There can be a high cost to the ocean – A typical one-week voyage can create 50 tonnes of rubbish, One million tonnes of grey water, 210,000 gallons of sewage and 35,000 gallons of oil contaminated water. Some of this may be treated, some will go straight into the ocean! The adventurous amongst us might be interested in Christian nature conservation organization ‘A Rocha’ who have centres in Canada, France, India, Kenya and Portugal. Activities are wide ranging – have a look at www.arocha.org/en/get-involved/centres. You can also look at online tools to reduce impact on Climate change in choice of travel on www.resurgence.org/resources/carboncalculator or climatestewards.org Wherever you go in 2020 and however you travel, have a great holiday and enjoy our planet, perhaps taking some of that restful time to think about how you can help to sustain its beauty for future generations to enjoy.

December 2019 - January 2020

A Christmas Message

Dear Friends,

In the run up to Christmas last year I read that the average household expects to spend £174 on food and drink for December 25th alone. Over the course of our lives it is estimated that we will each spend around £54,000 on Christmas!

People prepare for Christmas in different ways but the trend towards consumerism seems to be ever on the increase. Christmas is certainly a time for giving presents, after all it has its origins in God giving us Jesus. God’s gift to us is himself.

But God’s present to us is not something that we can measure financially and it isn’t something that is gift wrapped with lots of glitter and glitz. Each year the decorations and the displays seem to come a little earlier and the survey certainly suggested that each year we spend more and more on purchasing Christmas.

When God gave himself to us in Jesus he could have done it in the most spectacular and glorious way. Had he come according to earthly standards the cash registers would have been ringing well in advance. God’s ways, however, are so often different from our own. Yet while they are often different they are, nevertheless, perfectly in tune with our needs. And our need is not so much presents but presence. The incarnation is the gift of God’s presence, Emmanuel – God with us.

It’s not always possible to be with our friends and loved ones at Christmas. And sometimes a gift or a card can help bridge this gap. But sometimes we can be misled into believing presents are a substitute for our presence. Yet it is the latter can make all the difference as we real Christmas story reminds us.

At Christmas we see God giving himself to us. Let’s hope that the next survey of spending at Christmas finds that actually we are spending more time with each other, giving ourselves more freely to each other and giving our presence to those we love.

When the baby that came at Christmas grew up one of the last things he said to his followers was:

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

William Smith

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

Having told you in the last Parish News about repair work commencing on the Tower and reminding you about the final Tidying Up session in the churchyard on October 26th, sadly neither event has actually taken place. Heavy rain caused the abandonment of work tidying up the churchyard and unfortunately it is also the weather that has delayed the start of work on the Tower. The latter will now happen in the Spring, all being well.

What we have achieved was a very successful Fire Drill one Sunday morning. Everyone was evacuated by one of the three exits - the main door and both vestries - and it was all done in under 2 minutes ! On this occasion the weather was kind and the sun shone – so nobody got wet.

In October an Eco Fayre was held at St. John’s Church in Kenilworth one Saturday morning. Geoff Wiggin and Carol went along to see what they could learn. There were all sorts of relevant stalls and demonstrations, ideas on recycling and a talk on Warwickshire County Council’s Waste Management. There were representatives there too from TWAM (Tools with a Mission) and you may recall a few years ago they were also at the Old Milverton Horticultural Show . They collect donated tools (NOT broken ones), refurbish and sort them into trade kits and then send them across the world for livelihood creation as part of a Christian Mission. There is a collection point in Kenilworth and they also need volunteers to help with the actual refurbishing work for which training can be given. Please speak with Carol for more information.

Lillington Church are again holding their annual decorated Christmas Tree Festival and we are once more participating. Opening Day is Saturday, December 7th in the afternoon so do find time to go along and have a look – some of the ideas are just wonderful.

By the time you read this our Advent Sunday Service will have taken place, followed by our Cake Sale and Hamper Raffle – in aid of

African Vision Malawi and the two boys whose education we support. And then before you know it we will be into the Christmas season and all our various services, details of which are elsewhere in the Parish News.

We wish you all a Christmas of joy and peace and may you find ways to make 2020 a happy and fulfilling year.

All good wishes, Michael and Carol

A letter from Malawi

I have recently received this letter from Innocent, one of the two boys we are supporting through school in Malawi. Innocent is the youngest in a family of 3 boys and 2 girls. His father died some years ago and his mother married again, so Innocent went to live with his older brother. This brother is a small farmer, with children of his own to support and so Innocent has been unable to follow up his education immediately after leaving primary school as there was no money to cover the cost. He is now 18 years old, and just starting his third year of secondary schooling.


Dear St James

I am writing this scripture in order to thank you for your assistance and your encouragement. I am fine and my education is going well. I am preparing to start Form 3, so I request you to continue to help me. I hope you, my friend, are going well in everything that you want to achieve.

I send all best wishes to you and all your friends when we come near to approach Christmas.

Your friend Innocent Salawira

Recycling wrapping paper and Christmas cards

Recycle wrapping paper and Christmas cards with your cardboard. We cannot recycle foil wrapping paper, glittery wrapping paper, glittery cards, ribbons, bows and tape.

What to do with extra recycling over Christmas?

Put extra recycling in a sturdy bag or small box (please keep each material separate) and place beside your red boxes and bags. Please flatten or cut large cardboard into pieces no larger than 1m x 1m.

Christmas tree recycling

Please cut your real Christmas tree into pieces and put it in your green bin for collection throughout January 2020. Make sure all decorations, tree stands, pots and netting are removed.

If you don’t have a green bin please take your tree to Princes Drive Recycling Centre in Leamington Spa or Cherry Orchard Recycling Centre in Kenilworth.

Check your collection changes online warwickdc.gov.uk/christmasrecycling

Eco-tip – Autumn Gold

Many gardeners view the piles of dropped autumn leaves as a nuisance. Perhaps this is due to the labour involved raking them up or it might be simple ennui as the season changes and cold weather makes its approach. Either way, dead leaves should actually be looked upon as a boon. Leaf litter mulch in gardens has numerous attributes and mulching with leaves is an inexpensive and renewable way to achieve garden gold. Read on for some interesting leaf mulch info to get you composting that spent foliage and cleaning up the garden and yard.

What is Leaf Mulch?

Mulch is any material that is placed atop the soil to moderate its environment and enhance the landscape. There are many types of mulch, and leaf mulch is comprised of exactly what it sounds like, leaves. This organic mulch will decompose and needs to be replaced eventually but, in the meantime, it improves the soil’s fertility and its organic content. Mulching with leaves is a win/win in many situations where you want more rapid decomposition and is generally a free commodity to anyone that has access to deciduous trees.

The avid gardener spends quality time amending his or her soil and getting ready for the growing season. Some purchase compost, manures or buy soil additives. The cheaper and more ecological solution, however, is to use what nature gives you for free. Using leaf litter for mulch enriches the soil and perpetuates the cycle of life by renewing plants.

So exactly how is leaf mulch good for plants?

The benefits of leaf litter mulch are abundant. Applying leaf mulch buffers soil temperatures to keep soil warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, thereby protecting plants. It improves soil fertility as it decomposes, which reduces the need for fertilizing. Leaf mulch can aid in retaining soil moisture too, lessening irrigation needs. Leaf

mulches also suppress weeds, reducing the amount of weeding for the gardener or the need to use herbicides. It can also help reduce soil erosion in certain instances.

Tips on Mulching with Leaves

The best way to use leaves is to shred them. You can do this in a number of ways but it is best to let them dry first. Once dry, use a lawn mower to chop them into little pieces. Dried leaves as mulch break down more quickly and shred easily. You can also use leaves that have been moist and developed into leaf mold. These are partially decomposed and can be worked into the soil.

Using leaf litter for mulch is an easy way to recycle the debris in your garden. To use the dried leaves as mulch, spread them at a rate of 3 to 4 inches around trees and shrubs and 2 to 3 inches over perennial beds. You can use them to insulate rose bushes in November/ December; just pull them away before the bushes start spring growth. Work leaf litter into vegetable beds to increase porosity and add valuable nutrients. The smaller the leaves are shredded, the quicker they will break down and the less likely they will mat and mold.

Composting with Leaves

Using leaf litter as mulch has many benefits, but you can also simply compost the dead foliage. You can use any composter or simply a pile of leaves contained within a chicken mesh surround. Rake the leaves and pile them in an area that will get wet on occasion. Leave the pile for about 2 years and it will become rich, crumbly compost ready to amend your flower beds. As in mulching, it’s best to cut the leaves into finer pieces for quicker composting.

Keep the leaves moderately moist and turn the pile as often as you can. For a balanced compost, mix in some grass clippings to add nitrogen. The proper ratio of nitrogen to carbon is 25 to 30 parts carbon (leaves) to 1 part nitrogen (grass). Keeping the pile warm, moist and aerated will guarantee juicy soil in the future and the fine

shreds break down quickly for fast compost that will benefit the whole garden.

I can’t think of anything better than leaf mulch if you have trees on your property. Free exercise and free organic mulch to nourish your garden year-round! So, don’t rake and bag those fallen leaves, turn them into leaf mulch instead. Now that you know how to use leaf mulch in gardens, you can take advantage of the fantastic “green” benefits mulching with leaves provides.

Geoff Wiggin

A Christmas Prayer

Lord, as I enter into the fast-paced season ahead, help me walk slowly and quietly. Let me stop and listen to the angels sing of the greatest news ever told. Let my heart, mind and soul join the chorus. "Glory in the Highest!! The Messiah has been born!"

Among all the bright sparkling lights and cheery holiday tunes, let my spirit travel once again toward Bethlehem to honour and worship Jesus, my King, The Prince of Peace, the Lord of Hosts, Mighty Counsellor, Son of God, the Lamb. All Your love, mercy and power somehow made flesh in the tiny form of a humble baby born in a manger. Let me worship the only one who is worthy to take our sin away and open the gates of all eternity!

by Daphne Kitching

October – November 2019

A Christian Message

Then Jesus said to his disciples "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field". Matthew 9 v37,38.

Dear Friends,

I can scarcely believe that Harvest time is here again, yet even as I walk round the fields with our dog I see that most of the crops are' safely gathered in'. What is more, there are already signs of the crop that is to follow, the whole cycle is beginning again; for all this we give grateful thanks to God -the Lord of the harvest.

These days we need to remind ourselves that our thanks should extend globally when so much of the produce on the supermarket shelves comes from so many other countries. Alongside our thanks we also need to pray for all those, both here and abroad, whose harvest has failed, largely due to extreme weather conditions associated with climate change.

To show our concern and to admit our share in the collective responsibility for factors leading to climate change, Coventry has become an' Eco- Diocese' and we at St James are now registered as an Eco- Church.(We shall be hearing more from Geoff Wiggin about this).We are seeking to get more positively involved in the ' ground work 'of what nature does both here and worldwide. A good harvest can only happen if all the environmental conditions are as favourable as possible and God has given each of us the ability to contribute positively to them in some way.

Jesus, however, when speaking to his disciples, was using the farming term 'harvest' to refer to the 'harvest of souls'. Similarly in the parable of "The sower" the word of God was the seed and we humans were, and still are the wheat and the weeds. So who will be the workers ?

When I was younger I assumed that we were asking God to send missionaries abroad to "preach the Good News about Jesus". I gradually realised that the need was as much at home as away and what is more the call comes to each of us as Christians. The good grain of the wheat is being asked to bring in further crops of good grain - the 'Harvest of Souls'. We are to be the Harvest and the workers !

If we are to bring to others what it really means to be a Christian then we have not only to "talk the talk" of the Gospel with them but we have also to "walk the walk" i.e. by showing them God's love for the whole of his creation, not only with our lips but also in our lives.

Even as we give thanks to God for this year's harvest of every kind, so we remember those who are no longer with us to celebrate. Especially we remember those who died in the two World Wars, who gave their lives for a freedom that they never lived to share. We would thank them endlessly for their sacrifice and we can only do this with integrity if we are prepared to do all that is humanly possible to care for the world that they fought for and that God created for us all.

With love to you all, Felicity.

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

Two major summer events have occurred since our last letter. The first was our Patronal Festival Service on Sunday 28th July, with 44 attending. As always this service was special and Anna and her team excelled themselves with a magnificent display of flowers in the church. Unfortunately, the inclement weather prevented us from having the traditional drinks and nibbles outside in the churchyard after the service, but this did not detract from the enjoyment of the refreshments provided by the Social Committee, so many thanks to Veronica and her team. We are fortunate at St James to have such accomplished flower arrangers and caterers.

The second event was the Old Milverton Horticultural Show and Fête on Saturday 7th September when, as in recent years, St James had a stall. This year children visiting the stall were able to design and make their own badges. This activity proved popular judging by the number of children walking around the show wearing badges of their own design. Thanks are due to Sally Begg, Ali Foster, Jane Marshall and Sarah Vincett for organising this activity. In addition, the church was open and we had many visitors, some of whom come as family groups once a year at the time of the show to visit the church and the graves of their relatives. Visitors also had the opportunity, for a small fee, to ring the church bells.

Autumn has arrived and although recent mornings have been cool we have had some marvellous, warm sunny days. The Saturday scheduled for churchyard clearing, September 14th, was one of those days and a group of a dozen volunteers made good progress in tidying up the churchyards, helped along by Sarah’s refreshments. All the work in the churchyard, including mowing the grass, is undertaken by volunteers so a big thank you to all those who give up their time to maintain the churchyard and to Gus for organising the work. The final churchyard clearing for 2019 will take place on Saturday 26th October and your assistance, even if for only part of

the morning, in tidying the churchyard before winter arrives, would be very much appreciated.

As always St James would welcome new volunteers for managing the churchyard and for other church activities. Anyone interested who has yet to volunteer at St James and might be interested please speak to one of the churchwardens or other PCC member.

Our All Souls service will be held on Sunday November 3rd, with our Remembrance service the following week (Sunday November 10th). There are more details of these services, along with all the other services in October and November elsewhere in the magazine.

Do not be surprised if one Sunday you see scaffolding around the church tower. We are embarking on a planned programme of repairs to some of the tower’s eroding stonework. The tower is not falling down though!

Like all modern organisations your PCC is very concerned about your health and safety! As a result we will have a practice fire drill sometime soon. You will be asked to leave the church quickly and in an orderly fashion by one of the three exits, namely the door you entered by, or one of the two marked emergency exits. The target is for everyone to be out of the church within 2.5 minutes.

All good wishes Michael and Carol

Ride and Stride Thank You Michael Rayner and Geoff Wiggin

A big thank to everyone who sponsored our cycle ride in aid of the Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust on Saturday September 14th. Your sponsorship raised over £500. This sum exceeded our expectations. So thank you again. The good news is that St James will receive 50% of the total sum raised.

For the record we covered 52 miles and visited 27 churches to the east and south of Royal Leamington Spa and we can prove it with a photograph of the two of us standing outside each church visited. Ian Joyce, who is a friend of Geoff’s, rode with us and was our photographer.

We finished at 6 pm at St Mary’s Warwick before returning to our starting point at St James, Old Milverton, where we had started just after 10 am.


‘We are in a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about that. Surely we all have a responsibility to care for our blue planet’

Sir David Attenborough

Eco Church is an award scheme for churches of all denominations in England and Wales who want to demonstrate that they care for God’s earth and who want to get better at ‘going green’ in all areas of their life at church (and beyond). It is a response to the biblical mandate and a demonstration of the Christian hope for God’s world.

Each participating church completes an online survey about how it operates in five different areas of its life and work. Answers to the survey questions score points towards an award – the more a church does, the more points it scores. The award has three levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold.

The Diocese of Coventry registered as an Eco Diocese last year and a lot of churches have registered, with several already achieving awards, for example St Marys, Cubbington.

We have registered and submitted our first survey. Our current scores are as follows:

Worship and Teaching – 68/100 (Silver level!)
Management of Church Buildings -78/260 (Bronze level)
Management of Church Land – 45/155 (Bronze level)
Community and Global Engagement – 34/230 (below award level)
Lifestyle – 35/160 (below award level)

With relatively small initiatives and changes in the latter two areas, we could soon be ready to apply for our Bronze award and onwards?

The Morning Worship Service on October 27th will have an Eco Church focus and there will be time either during the service or afterwards to ask questions and discuss ideas for our church. Please do come along – everyone’s help is needed as the problems facing our damaged planet involve us all.

They lay on the table, side by side

They lay on the table, side by side,
The Holy Bible and the TV Guide.
One is well worn and cherished with pride. Not the Bible, but the TV Guide.

As the pages are turned, what shall they see? Oh, what does it matter, turn on the TV.
So they open the book in which they confide. No, not the Bible, but the TV Guide.

The Word of God is seldom read.
Maybe a verse before they fall into bed. Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be,
Not from reading the Bible, but from watching TV. So then back to the table side by side
Lay the Holy Bible and the TV Guide.

No time for prayer, not time for the Word, The plan of Salvation is seldom heard. But forgiveness of sin, so full and free,
Is found in the Bible, not on the TV.

Looking at You

Active social life may help cut risk of dementia

If you can continue a healthy social life during middle age and onwards, you might be able to prevent the onset of dementia.

It has been found that people of 60 or over who see family and friends almost every day have a 12 per cent lower risk of developing the disease. According to the research done at University College London (UCL), frequent social contact builds cognitive reserve, or greater brain resilience, against the damage that occurs in neuro- degeneration.

As one scientist explains, “Dementia is a major global health challenge, with one million people expected to have the condition in the UK by 2021. But we also know that one in three cases are potentially preventable.”

Our bankrupt young

The number of young people who go bankrupt has soared, increasing tenfold in just three years. People from ‘Generation Z’ (aged 18 to 25) now make up one in 15 of all personal insolvencies. Back in 2016 only one in 100 insolvencies involved a young person.

As one accountant explained: “In this climate of low interest rates and relatively easy access to credit, young people without financial experience may be more susceptible to the temptations of easy money.” The rise of the gig economy and zero-hours contracts have also played a big role, for without a regular income, young people find it much more difficult to budget.

Are you worried that your child likes gaming too much?

Then you are not alone. Half of all parents are worried that their children are addicted to computer games, as more and more family routines are disrupted by hours spent online.

Many families admit that it is especially hard to get boys to break for meals, or to go to bed, especially if they feel close to winning a game.

The survey was done by Internet Matters, the e-safety group which says that peak gaming age is 11 to 13, when some children play for nearly six hours at weekends. Fortnite was named as the most worrying game.

Smile Lines

The sermon

A little girl became restless as the preacher’s sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Mummy, if we give him some money now, will he let us go?”

Family Bible surprise

A little boy was fascinated as he fingered through the pages of the old family Bible. Suddenly, an old leaf that had been pressed between the pages fluttered out. “Mum, come quick!” he cried. “I think I just found Adam's underwear!”


While walking through the churchyard one day, our minister came across his six-year-old son burying a dead sparrow. With sonorous dignity the son was using the prayer that he thought his father always said: “Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.”

August – September 2019

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

How is your prayer life? That’s a question my Spiritual Director regularly asks me and my usual answer is that it varies: sometimes I can be very structured about prayer, finding it fairly easy to keep to a routine but at other times it feels quite difficult to focus.

So I’d like to ask you the same question: how is your prayer life? Is it something you do daily, occasionally or only in church on a Sunday? I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty if the answer is ‘not often’ but I do want to suggest that prayer matters. How can we be in a relationship with God if we don’t talk to him? We wouldn’t treat an important relationship with another person like that, so why do we assume it’s OK to ignore God or only to share the emergency moments with him?

Our God is a God who wants to draw close to us: right at the beginning of the Bible we read that God would walk in the garden with Adam and Eve – he’s always there, just waiting to hear what we think, to share our highs as well as our lows, and to offer us his love and care. If we are to get to know God better, we have to talk to him. Indeed, I would suggest that if we don’t want to have a conversation with God, we should perhaps be asking ourselves what our faith is actually based upon.

Modern life is busy for all of us, however old or young we are – and to pray effectively we need to stop the busy-ness sometimes. Jesus often went away on his own to pray: his advice was to ‘go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father’ (Matthew 6:6). Jesus’ whole life was built on his relationship with his heavenly Father, a relationship that was founded on prayer, and it sets us our example of how to relate to God.

It’s not easy but, like all disciplines, the more we try the easier it becomes. August is often a relatively quiet time when many of our regular activities take a break, so I encourage you to use the extra few minutes you may have this month to have a go at developing or starting a regular conversation with God through prayer.

There are no rules to this conversation: no complicated words are necessary. One of the most helpful phrases I have come across is ‘pray as you can, not as you can’t’. Just be yourself and use whatever words come most naturally. As an idea to get you going, try a ‘handful’ prayer – the five fingers on your hand can represent five people and/or situations you want to pray for. Wherever you are, you can call those five things to mind and talk to God about them, placing them in his safe and loving hands.

Here’s a simple prayer that I find helps me to still my thoughts and focus on God. My prayer this summer will be that all of us grow closer to God and so be renewed and refreshed as we come to know his presence in all aspects of our lives.

You, Lord are in this place, your presence fills it. Your presence is peace.
You, Lord are in my heart, your presence fills it. Your presence is peace.

You, Lord are in my life, your presence fills it. Your presence is peace.

With love to you all, Sue

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

Well, summer appears to have arrived at last so with the children breaking up from school, let’s hope it lasts. We do hear some saying “We could do with rain” though, so maybe some of that as well - if it could arrange to do it at night !

Going back to mid-June, there was a really good attendance for our Churchyard tidying up morning and lots of necessary jobs were achieved. So, many thanks to all those who came and helped. Please make a note in your diaries that the next one is on September 14th and come and join us then.

It was followed a week later by a Family Service and Picnic afterwards in the churchyard. Quite a small number actually came but quality if not quantity – and it was an enjoyable get together with pleasant weather and the children had fun exploring the churchyard.

Bishop Christopher attended the Deanery Synod meeting on July 1st which was held in St. James. He spoke on ‘mutual flourishing’ and the decision making process around women priests, in particular siting tolerance for others viewpoints. Veronica and her team provided splendid refreshments and tasty nibbles which people were able to enjoy out in the churchyard prior to the meeting.

Please note that our Summer Evensong services are starting at 6 p.m. this year. The next one is on August 25th, there not being one in July as it coincides with our Patronal Festival weekend. These services follow the old Prayer Book format and we are finding more and more people are coming and enjoying the peace and space they afford. Do come and see.

On Saturday, September 7th the Old Milverton Horticultural Show is taking place from 2 p.m. in the village. We are having a stall so do come along and support us – and enjoy the other activities on offer at the Show. It is always a good, very traditional afternoon out.

Lastly, do remember our Harvest Festival is on Sunday, September 29th with a service at 10.30, followed by lunch in the Parish Room. Tickets will be available later in August.

In the meantime enjoy the rest of the summer, either at home or away on holiday.

All good wishes,

Michael and Carol

P.S. We have an update on the amount of money that Guide Dogs for the Blind have raised from re-cycling crisp packets, which we have been collecting for them. It is not just us, of course, but they have raised £927.00 at the last count - so hopefully it is well worth doing.

Thanks and keep bringing them to church

Ride and Stride

Are you feeling energetic? This annual sponsored cycle ride, organized by Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust takes place on Saturday 14th September this year. By walking or cycling around your local churches, participants raise money for both the Historic Churches Trust and their local church.

If you think you’d like to have a go, speak to Michael Rayner or Geoff Wiggin for more information about what’s involved.

Looking at your Community

Plastic, plastic everywhere

Did you know that you are eating plastic? On average, each one of us now ingests about five grams of plastic each week – or the equivalent of eating a credit card.

Such is the rather startling news from WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). Research at the University of Newcastle in Australia has found that we are consuming up to 102,000 tiny pieces of plastic less than 1mm – around 250 grams – each year. Nearly 90 per cent of that is coming from our water, both bottled and tap. Other foods with high plastic levels are shellfish, beer and salt.

Alec Taylor, Head of Marine Policy at WWF, said, “Plastic is polluting our planet... and now we know it’s also polluting our own bodies.”

The long-term effects of plastic ingestion on the human body are not yet known. In the meantime, Britain has taken 15 billion plastic bags out of circulation, and recently banned microbeads in cosmetics.

The Government is also considering a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles. At present, Britons use 7.7billion single-use plastic water bottles a year, less than half of which are recycled. This means that 16 million bottles are binned every day in the UK.

Roadworks and more roadworks...

The M6 has just achieved an unenviable status: it is now the worst road in Britain for delays.

So says the recent analysis of government traffic and roadworks. It found that motorists using the UK’s longest motorway (running from Rugby to Gretna) face delays on more than 210 million journeys during a three-year period of roadworks up until December 2021. That puts the M6 ahead of even the M25, Britain’s busiest motorway, where drivers face disruption on 86.2million journeys.

The study, done by digital analysts iprospect, found that the A14 from Suffolk to Leicestershire is the worst A road, with 39million journeys facing delays up until the completion of a £1.5billion upgrade that will finish end of 2020.

Growing crisis in social care

More of us need more help. Fewer of us are getting it. The crisis in the social care system in England continues to grow. Local council spending in real terms is now £700million below what it was in 2010/11.

The findings come in a recent report from the King’s Fund think tank, which found a two per cent rise in new requests for adult social care since 2015/6. Yet with 1.84million applications in 2017/18, there are actually 13,000 fewer people being given help.

More disabled adults of working age are also seeking help. In 2015/6 there were about 500,000; in 2017/8 there were 524,000. All in all, the report concluded: “that increasing need among working-age adults, an increasing older population and high levels of existing unmet need are combining to put immense pressure on our care and support system, now and for the future.” The report also warned that 22 per cent of older people say that they need support, but do not get it.

Hands off

Queen of Grace

Fair is her foot and smooth is her hand, And graceful her form upon the strand, Winsome her voice and gentle her speech, Stately her mien on the ocean beach, Warm doth she look, and mild is her face, While swelleth her lovely breast of grace Like black-headed seagull up and down On the gently heaving water’s crown.

The shield of God’s Son doth cover her, God’s Son’s inspiration over her, The word of God’s Son is feeding her, His star is a guide-light leading her.

From an ancient Celtic poem

You have been speaking to me, Lord, about my children and grand- child. You loaned them to me for a season. Now I am to take my possessive, managing hands off – strictly off. You will perfect them in your way and in your timing. Years ago, you began this work. It is your business to complete what you start. You have promised that you will. It’s as good as done. - Catherine Marshall

Looking at You

Going to Uni this autumn? Or not?

This month thousands of school leavers will be anticipating with excitement the prospect of going on in October to what they insist on calling ‘Uni’. School is over, exams have been taken, required grades achieved, courses chosen and now the promised land of fun and freedom and a bit of study lies ahead.

But among them is a minority who, unknown to parents or even themselves, are anxious about it all. Will I settle into a new environment? Will I make friends? Or will I desperately fail my parents and family? Do I really want this?

By the end of the first year most students have come to terms with the highly individual nature of university life. Some will find adjusting difficult. Isolation and loneliness, as we all know, are extremely stressful. If the problems persist then professional help should be sought, perhaps through the university Student Health Team. Unrecognised, or hidden, this anxiety can have serious consequences.

What can parents and family do to identify and help those potentially isolated students? We can make ourselves available on the phone or internet – a familiar voice in a new setting. We can pray for them. We can make sure, on their home visits, that they actually talk about their new life – study, friends and leisure.

Answers may not come readily, but there is one point you can make that helps to put anxieties into perspective. If they have discovered that university life is not for them let them know that they can leave. They have a choice! Many are reluctant to do this because they are aware that parents have largely financed their education, and they have let them down. Assure them that is not so – love is not like that. If ‘Uni’ is not for them sit down together and look at the options. There is plenty of life outside of Uni!

Your child’s sunglasses

Our eyes are ten times more sensitive to UV light than our skin, and eye damage from UV light builds up and can lead to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration - the UK’s biggest cause of blindness.

No wonder, then, that the Eyecare Trust has urged parents to take care. Children’s eyes have bigger pupils and clearer lenses, and so allow up to 70 per cent more UV light to reach the retina than adult eyes. “Our message is: ‘protect your children’s sight now, or they could lose it later.’”

It is important to buy good quality sunglasses for your children that show either the European Standard (EN 1836:2005) or the British Standard (BS EN 1836:2005). All British Standard will carry the CE mark.

Never buy your children sunglasses in toy stores or street markets – you have no proof that they are of the correct standard. More info at: https://www.eyecaretrust.org.uk/

iPads and toddlers

You may want to keep your toddler quiet and amused, but you risk damaging their mental health if you allow them to go onto social media from as young as two years old.

That is the stark warning from Barnardo’s. In a recent report the charity expressed alarm that so many parents are now using iPads and iPhones to keep their toddlers “quiet”.

Too much time online can delay an under-five’s ability to talk, leave them with very limited social skills, and make them lose interest in other activities. Parents then believe their child has autism or learning needs when, in fact, the problem is ‘lack of parental interaction’. Young children can also too easily access ‘inappropriate’ images and be exposed to grooming by paedophiles.

The charity report concludes: “It is evident from official statistics that we are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis.” Already one in 18 two-to-four-year-olds have a mental health disorder and one in eight five-to-19-year-olds, which is equivalent to three children in every classroom.

The charity says that social media should not be allowed before the age of 13.

When you are stressed, so is your dog!

The old adage that dogs take after their owners may be more true than we realise. For a new study has found that when dog-owners suffer from on-going anxiety, so do their dogs.

Scientists measured the concentration of cortisol, a stress hormone, by taking a few centimetres of hair from a number of dogs and their owners. A direct correlation between the level of stress in any dog and its owner was found.

The dog’s character was irrelevant, researchers said. Instead, “we found that the levels of long-term cortisol in dog and owner were synchronized. Owners with high cortisol levels have dogs with high cortisol levels.” In other words, owners’ personalities have a huge effect on their dogs.

The study was carried out at a university in Sweden and published in the journal Scientific Reform.

June – July 2019

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

A tourist visiting Italy came upon a construction site. What are you doing?’ he asked three of the stone masons who were working nearby. “I’m cutting the stone,” answered the first. “I’m cutting stone for 1,000 Lira a day,” said the second. “I’m helping to build a cathedral,” said the third.

I like this little story because it reminds me that I can easily be like each of those stonemasons. As a member of the church it is sometimes easy to see no further than the immediate task. Some jobs do feel like chores and nothing more. Other areas of what I am involved with are dominated by money and this too can cloud everything. And then there are occasions when I remember to look upwards from the narrowness of these perspectives and I am reminded of Kingdom I am serving. I am reminded that together all these little jobs, these minor concerns are part of a bigger picture.

It seems obvious that all three of the stonemasons were building the cathedral but only one of them was able to stand back and appreciate this. Only one of them retained the bigger picture - the vision for the Cathedral. I really enjoyed being at the Annual Meeting at the end of April this year. There was a real celebration of a church that was growing and full of enthusiasm and active involvement. But there are always issues that can cloud our vision and every church has them from time to time. The Diocesan Vision statement reminds us that we are here fundamentally to worship God, to make disciples and to transform community.

I believe that this is, or should be, what we are all about at St James. God has blessed us with everything we see, smell, touch, taste and delight in. Christ has revealed God’s personal love for each one of us. To be blessed and enriched in this way is good news. But it isn’t just one way. We don’t just open our mouths like little birds waiting for the next feed. We are called to share the good news of God with the world. Growing in our faith and having the confidence to share

this positively with others is essential for the future of the church. There seems to be great enthusiasm at St James to invite others to “Come and see.” The transformation of community is also a wonderful opportunity to serve and make a difference. What can I do and we as a church fellowship to be part of this transformation? Some churches help other churches who are struggling to survive, some are actively involved in attempts to tackle poverty and inequality. Sometimes it might be something as little as a phone call to someone who may be lonely.

It is easy to get bogged down in the cutting of stones. It is easy to think of things in terms of pound signs. But like those stone masons building the cathedral we too need to stand back to see the bigger picture. May God grant us this generous vision for the church as we move onward.

Wishing you all every blessing


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

With Easter being late this year our Lent services continued in April. The Lent Lunch was held in the middle of the month and those attending enjoyed the excellent food provided by Veronica and her team. The Special Good Friday service was much appreciated by those who went and was as usual, followed by coffee and hot cross buns in the Parish Room organised by Nicola. Our thanks are due to both Veronica and Nicola for organising these occasions. The Holy Communion service on Easter morning was a very joyous occasion and there were 80 in church, both adults and children. For the 10 children present Sue Fairhurst’s provision of Easter eggs, as part of her address, no doubt helped their enjoyment! The record breaking good bank holiday weather has now faded into the past but I am sure that in the future at Easter, the meteorologists will always remind us of the exceptional weather over the Easter weekend in 2019, especially when Easter is cold and wet as frequently happens.

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting followed the morning service on April 28th. William (our Vicar) chaired the Meeting for the first time and the attendance, at 40, was the highest that anyone can remember. You had clearly responded to the request to attend (highlighted in large capital letters) in our letter in the April/May edition of the Parish News, so thank you to all who came. Whether or not there is any link between the large attendance at the Meeting and William chairing the meeting is unclear! Those attending participated in the various elections and heard about the activities at St James in 2018. The committee reports will be posted on the St James’ website in case you missed the meeting and/or want further information about those activities.

As many of you will know every six years we have to revise the Electoral Roll to take account of those leaving and joining the congregation at St James and this task was undertaken by Janet Bogyor (our new Electoral Roll Officer) and completed prior to the Annual Meeting. The outcome of this review is that there are now 86 people on the Electoral Roll of whom eight live in the parish. Comparable figures for the old Roll were 78 and six respectively.

Our second churchyard clearing morning of 2019 will take place on Saturday June 15th - please come and help if you can. Bring what ever you need in the way of tools and, as always, there will be refreshments. We will be starting from 9.30 am. The small group who came in April achieved much in terms of tidying up the churchyard as I am sure you noticed on your way into church at Easter.

A final reminder that as usual we are holding four Evensong services this summer but, as an experiment, the services will start at 6 pm and not 6.30 pm as in previous years. The aim is to give people a longer evening afterwards. As always details of all our services and other events are to be found elsewhere in this Parish News.

We are now looking forward to some good summer weather – it is warm and sunny as I write - especially for the family picnic after the special family service on Sunday June 23rd and for the patronal service followed by drinks and nibbles in the churchyard on Sunday July 28th. We look forward to seeing you there.

With love
Michael and Carol

Peace to the End

The peace of God to dwell with you, The peace of Christ to dwell with you, The peace of Spirit dwell with you, And peace dwell with your children too, From the day we have here to-day To the last day of your life’s way, Till come the day that ends your way.

From Poems of the Western Highlanders

When going through an old pile of my Mum’s papers, I came across this poem: perfect for the time of year when we’re all busy tending our gardens!

The Lawns of Eden

(Miles Kington & the Sunshine Band, c.1975)

Who mowed the lawns of Eden, who kept the gardens trim? Adam never volunteered, I’m sure it wasn’t him
Who pruned all the fruit trees to which Genesis refers?
Did the Angel Gabriel have some secateurs?

Satan in his serpent skin was busy tempting Eve,
He had lots of nasty gardening wiles hidden up his sleeve.
He scattered weeds and tares about, and greenfly that he found, But none of Satan’s weed-seeds ever fell on stony ground.
He never helped with digging, and he never used a rake,
He couldn’t if he wanted to, being dressed up like a snake!

Who mowed the lawns of Eden, who kept the garden green? Eve was not a gardener, and the cherubim weren’t keen.
The heavenly host was small then, because nobody had died, But none of them liked digging, even though they’d never tried. I bet the saints and martyrs would have loved to dig and hoe, For martyrs up in heaven act the same as down below!

Who mowed the lawns of Eden, who helped the garden grow? Who made it a paradise? I’ll tell you ‘cos I know.
God, he fixed the garden, first one that he made,
He pruned all the roses, and was handy with a spade.

On Sunday nice and early He went out to smell the dew, (There wasn’t any church then, so he’d nothing much to do.) He wandered to the potting shed, behind the tree of life,
And he got his spade and trowel out, His fork and pruning knife. He looked after Eden and He watched the lilies grow,
And Eden’s still a paradise where gardeners can go.

Who mowed the lawns of Eden? God mowed the lawns and more. Adam couldn’t help him ‘cos his rib was still quite sore.
The beasts that got created never helped in any way,
The lion lay down with the lamb, bone idle all the day.

God built all the trellises for clematis to climb,
Cut back the wisteria and trained the columbine.
He kept the kitchen garden, and he tended it with care, He had so many jobs to do, you’d always find him there.

So when I get to heaven, I’ll ask St. Peter if I can Potter about Eden, just to help out the ‘Old Man’

Looking at You

How to fill in a form

Solomon took a census of all the foreigners residing in Israel, after the census his father David had taken; and they were found to be 153,600. He assigned 70,000 of them to be carriers and 80,000 to be stonecutters in the hills... (2 Chronicles 2:17-18)

We can spend much of our working life filling in forms of one sort or another. Sometimes we struggle to complete an online form and have to use the telephone help-line. The young people who help us on the end of the line can leave us feeling that we are obviously idiots.

Do you like filling in forms? No, of course not! No-one does. There are a few censuses in the Bible, which are a type of form. The above quotation is about authorities getting information to use for their benefit to get people in work.

Do you always have to give the details they ask for? No! If you just bought an electric iron does the manufacturer really need to know your name, address, date of birth, number of people in your house and cat’s mother’s name? If not, then why are they asking for such details? Always be careful about what information you give out, and to whom.

Sometimes if you are in debt you are asked to fill in a budget form. Again, be careful. Do they really need to know your employer’s name and address and your bank details? On the other hand, do not forget to include every item of expenditure. If you just put down your earnings and the amount you spend at the supermarket it may look as you have plenty of money. Remember bus fares, school meals, rent, telephones and all the rest.

There is never enough space on most forms. They must know email addresses are usually long. Then there are questionnaires asking you to rate the experience. Was the webpage helpful? Why was it helpful.... and suddenly you are being asked to answer yet more questions and give away more information about yourself... be careful. As a general rule, try and give as little as possible, just sufficient for the task in hand.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. Now please complete the 18- page satisfaction survey and include your bank account number, inside trouser leg measurement and bank card. Oh, and don’t forget the name of your cat’s mother!

Are you getting fresh air?

Worldwide, the news is not good: seven million people die of air pollution each year. Here in the UK, there are at least some simple steps you can take:

Leave the car when you can: there is actually less pollution walking or cycling along a busy street than going in a car. Larissa Lockwood, head of health at the charity Global Action Plan, explains that cars can be “toxic boxes. The pollution comes into the car via the ventilation, and it can’t get out again.” So open the windows of your car every so often.

Open your windows at home: The Royal College of Physicians warned (back in 2016) that indoor air pollution (from plastics, paints, furniture and air fresheners) can affect your health. And it seems that when you buy new furniture, that ‘new house smell’ is essentially toxic chemicals. Personal care products such as deodorants and cleaning products also contribute to poor air in your home. Instead, switch to more natural products, use creams rather than sprays, and ventilate your home. Open your windows on a regular basis.

April - May 2019

An Easter Message

Dear Friends,

Are you lovers of good stories ? If you are, then hopefully you will know what it is to become so immersed that you begin to 'live' in the story, you become part of the action, you feel the excitement -the fears - the sorrows. You get to know the characters - to love some of them and to dislike others, there will be those whom you trust and those whom you fear. As the story unfolds you laugh or cry with them as you read and you carry them with you, often long after you have finished the book.

We thank God that his Spirit moved the Gospel writers to tell the story, to set down all they had remembered about and had shared in, the life of Jesus. They wanted others to know as much as possible about him so that after the few who had known him really well had long since gone - those who followed could enter into the stories and experience Jesus as a person through the words.

In the two millennia since then millions of people have shared in his life in this way and come to know Jesus as a living person, as' the living Word of God'; they have come to love him, to believe in him and to follow him. During the coming weeks we shall once again be invited to be part of the story. As we read and listen to the Gospel we shall accompany him, watching in wonder on Palm Sunday as he rides on his last journey into Jerusalem, we want to cheer with the crowds but we are holding our breath, fearing for his safety.

We shall join with the disciples on Maundy Thursday to have our feet washed also .Then on Good Friday we shall go with his Mother Mary and the other women to stand , overwhelmed with sorrow, weeping at the foot of the cross and wondering ,like them, why Jesus' life had to end this terrible way.

Early in the morning on the first day of the week we shall go with Mary Magdalene and with Peter and John to the garden tomb. We find not Jesus but two angels who say "He is not here - he is risen!". He is risen? Yes, he meets Mary in the garden -he is risen indeed - what a heart-stopping moment !

What glorious joy ! Suddenly and amazingly the ' Life of Christ' story moves from tragedy to triumph our 'Hero'- our Saviour Jesus , the Son of God, has slain the dragon of evil and vanquished death, giving us the possibility of new life with the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life with him.

Best of all, as his earthly story comes to a close, we shall not be leaving him because he steps right out of the book and into our lives. He is not leaving us, he says " I will not leave you, I will be with you always even unto the ends of the earth". We have accompanied him on his journey and now he asks to come into our hearts to walk alongside us, to share our story for the rest of our life's journey and onwards to Eternity. Alleluia !

With Easter Blessing and love, Felicity.

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

As we write this we are almost halfway through Lent – so hopefully those of you who are taking part in the Lent Bible Reading Challenge are enjoying learning more of the Bible and addressing some of the questions contained in the leaflet.

On Saturday, April 6th there is the first of our Churchyard Tidying Up Days taking place – so do please come along from 9.30 a.m. and help, bringing your own tools. Refreshments will be offered mid- morning. With all the high winds we have had recently there is a lot of tree debris to be removed from around graves – so no doubt a bonfire will be on the cards for those who enjoy being involved in having one !

On Saturday, April 13th we will be holding a Lent Lunch in the Parish Room–12.30for12.45p.m. Therewillbealistatthebackofchurch for anyone to sign indicating they will be attending. Please speak with Veronica particularly if you have any dietary requirements.

Our Easter Services are listed in the Diary for the coming two months at the beginning of this Parish News. We look forward to seeing lots of you at some or all of these services starting with our Palm Sunday one on April 14th, then a 7.30 p.m. Holy Communion service on MaundyThursday. TheGoodFridayserviceisat10.30a.m.onApril 19th followed by coffee and hot cross buns in the Parish Room and then Easter Sunday’s Holy Communion service is on the 21st – which by coincidence is also the Queen’s birthday !

A reminder that the new Electoral Roll, as required by Church Representation Rules, is being prepared. Forms have been sent out to everyone on the existing Roll. Please make sure you return yours by April 5th to Janet Bogyor, the Electoral Roll Officer, or hand to either of us.

Finally – and very importantly – on Sunday April 28th following the morning service and coffee we are holding our Annual Parochial Meeting. Do PLEASE COME and hear what has been going on at St. James over the past year – have your say – and vote in your

Churchwardens and members of the Parochial Church Council for the ensuing year.

With all the strong, cold winds and rain in quantity that we have had recently it calls to mind Shelley’s words –

‘Oh Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind ? ‘ A very happy Easter to you all
Love, Michael and Carol

February newsletter from Leamington Night Shelter

This is an abridged version of the latest newsletter from Leamington Night Shelter. The full letter, including photos is on our notice board in the porch.

Since our newsletter last year, Chris Johnson, our co-founder, has taken retirement. We would like to thank Chris for all that he has given to the starting up of the shelter which began in February 2009. We had a retirement party which was held for him at the night shelter in July last year. On our 10th Anniversary on 15th February 2019 we were very pleased to honour Chris by designating him The Ambassador for the Leamington Night Shelter.

This last year homelessness seemed to be more visible. Thankfully there is more help if you are homeless this winter. A direct access hostel began in September 2018 which is for rough sleepers and they are open 7 days a week. The other night shelter still operates on a Friday and Saturday too. Although we have noticed a slight drop in the number of clients visiting us there is still very much a need for our Leamington Night Shelter. In fact it is more than a Night Shelter as we also offer help to vulnerable and needy people who have somewhere to live. Poverty is not just about homelessness, it covers many aspects and being in debt is one of the hardest things to get out of once you start. The fact that we give food away is welcomed by our clients.

We have now been operating the Leamington Night Shelter for 10 years. From October 2017 to September 2018 we were visited by 160 new clients who had not visited us before. The total number of different people coming to us during that time was 390 and of those 86 were rough sleepers. It is interesting that we had an increase in new people this year, 160 as above, compared to our previous year which was 125 new people. It seems that the need for food, shelter and much help has not gone away. The total number of meals given out over last year was 2868 and the average number of people

visiting us at the Shelter each time we are open was 33, including an average of 12 people sleeping over. At each time of opening we give a hot meal of meat, potatoes and vegetables, and a pudding with custard. A simple breakfast of cereals, toast and hot drinks is given and when the weather is cold we often give hot porridge too. Sandwiches are given away in the morning, if our clients would like these too.

A good sleep is needed too for our clients, and one comment we received the other morning, after enquiring if he had slept the night was “yes, I always sleep well here”. There is another downside to this too, as in the morning, some of our morning volunteers have great difficulty getting our clients out of their sleeping bags to clear up! There are always two sides to every story!

Following on from the thanks given overleaf to all, it is worth saying too, that we could not do any of this without the help of the Radford Road Church who have supported us unstintingly since October 2009, and we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to them for all that they have done for us. One of the best side effects of running the night shelter is that we meet so many kind individual people who want to help.

Thank you all again,
From Margaret and all at the Leamington Night Shelter

Easter prayer of thanks

Gracious, loving Father,

Thank you for the wonderful reality of Jesus’ resurrection on that first Easter Day.

Thank you that, because Jesus is alive, life has meaning and purpose.

When we don’t understand why some things happen, when life is difficult, when we are struggling through pain and loss, help us to know your risen presence and love in our lives.

Help us to choose to trust you.

Help us always to be thankful for your amazing Easter gift of life and hope.

In Jesus name, Amen.

By Daphne Kitching

February 2019 – March 2019

Christian Message

Dear Friends,

The Christmas tree has been taken down, the cards, decorations and lights have all been put away and life feels very much ‘back to normal’ doesn’t it? Even though the tips of the bulbs are beginning to peep through in the churchyard, spring still seems a long way off and, as we move into February, I find myself wondering how to hang on to the excitement and hope of the Christmas message as everyday life and the news from near and far threatens to overwhelm us.

One answer is to throw ourselves into the practical tasks that need doing, tackling that list of ‘things to do’ both around the house and as part of our church life, but that can be very inward looking. I know that if I’m not careful, all those practical jobs can become my sole focus and I forget that being ‘church’ is much less about what we might think of as housekeeping and much more about reaching out to others in love, both those within our church community and beyond its boundaries.

But how do we hold on to the inspiration and enthusiasm to do that? May I suggest we look no further than our Bibles: to Jesus’ simple message of love for our neighbours, of being willing to share what we have, of standing up for those who are unable to speak out for themselves. Going back to Jesus and his words to his followers always lifts me: it puts my worries and concerns into perspective and reminds me that we all have a part to play in God’s purpose, and in helping to create his Kingdom. His words are like the seeds we sow this time of year, seeds that may appear to do nothing at all for a while, hidden beneath the compost, before the miracle of growth starts and we see the new green shoots appearing on the surface. In a similar way, the seeds of God’s message sown in us as we read his words may at times appear to be dormant. And yet they are growing and the day will come when, with God’s grace, those seeds will burst forth into new growth, new hope, and we will be part of the

movement to bring about his new kingdom where God will rule supreme. Those seeds are there in each of us. They are our skills and our talents, all that we are and can be, available and ready to be used by our Heavenly Father as he sees fit.

I will be inviting you to take part in a Bible Reading Challenge once again this Lent (and yes, there will be stars!). Please give it a go and allow his words both to inspire and to challenge you to step out and meet him on the path towards Easter.

With love, Sue

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

First, we would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year. The start of 2019 is an opportune moment to thank everyone who contributed to the running of St James during 2018 in a wide variety of capacities; based on a quick count we have around 40 volunteers, some with multiple roles. Without so many volunteers, we would be unable to function as we do. So thank you all very much for all your hard work.

In November we received one of the saplings (with a commemorative plaque) donated to the Diocese by the Woodland Trust to celebrate the centenary of the Coventry Diocese. We planted the very small goat (pussy) willow sapling in the same area where we planted the daffodils in the autumn of 2017. Eventually we should have a tall tree (65 ft) but at the moment the plaque is much bigger than the tree!

The Pay Back Unit have been busy recently and have cleared the brambles and other rampant vegetation from the SW corner of the old churchyard, revealing a mass of snowdrops. We are very grateful to Gus who managed again to obtain the services of the Pay Back Unit (if that is their correct title).

As you would expect December was a very busy month at St James. The Hamper Raffle and Cake sale at the beginning of the month raised £372 towards the costs of educating the two secondary school students we are supporting in Malawi. So very many thanks to everyone who contributed to making the event such a success. On the same weekend St James was the venue for a concert given by the Stoneleigh Ladies Choir. The programme was a varied one and much enjoyed by the audience which included some of our congregation, some local residents and those from further afield.

St James took part in the Decorated Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary Magdalene, Lillington (9th to 23rd December) and contributed a tree, one of about 30. Our tree was noteworthy for some innovative decorations to celebrate the centenary of the Coventry Diocese. We also provided volunteers on some afternoons to welcome visitors and provide refreshments. It was a bit of a challenge locating and turning

off about 30 carefully concealed battery packs when it was time to close the church. The event attracted many visitors to St Mary Magdalene.

Our own Christmas decorations at St James were marvellous and much admired. They provided a splendid backdrop to our Christmas services. Attendance of nearly 300 over the Christmas season exceeded expectations and there was a lovely friendly atmosphere at all the services. The church was full for the traditional Carol Service and the congregation certainly appreciated the performance of Sue Fairhurst’s choir and I hope that the congregation’s singing was up to the required standard! For the Christingle service on the Fourth Sunday of Advent the church was also nearly full and there were over 30 under the age of 16 who participated actively in Sue’s well planned service, which was much enjoyed by young and old alike. The communion services on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day were both well attended and very happy occasions.

In February a complete review of our Electoral Roll is due to take place. Janet Bogyor, our Electoral Role Officer, will be sending out letters/forms inviting people who are currently on the Roll to confirm that they wish to continue to be on the Electoral Role and to re- register. This is something that has to be done every six-years. I am sure that Janet would appreciate a prompt reply to her request.

While mentioning February, the Parish Room Committee will be holding their annual fund-raising event on Saturday evening, February 16th to support the costs of running and maintaining the Parish Room, a facility much used by us at St James. It promises to be an enjoyable evening and more information is available elsewhere in the magazine.

As always the diary for the coming two months is at the beginning of the magazine. March will see the start of Lent with the Ash Wednesday communion service on March 6th and the lent quiet day on Saturday March 23rd. There is a special Family Service on Mothering Sunday, March 31st.

With love
Michael and Carol

Priors House: Room Visits and Holy Communion

You will see from the diary in the magazine that on the fourth Friday of each month I take a service of Holy Communion at Priors House residential home. We have a regular congregation of residents and many of them stay afterwards for a cup of tea and a chat.

I also go to Priors House on the third Friday of each month to do ‘Room Visits’. I go round the home and drop in on people in their own rooms for a short chat. I have a growing list of ‘regulars’ as well as trying to make contact with new residents to introduce myself and let them know about our communion service. I really enjoy these visits: there are some very friendly and interesting people there, but there’s never enough time to see everyone.

One or two of you have expressed an interest in coming along to Priors House – you would be most welcome to join me either for the Holy Communion service or on my Room Visits afternoons. If you think it’s something you might like to try this year, do speak to me. It doesn’t have to be an every- month commitment, your company would be welcome whenever you were able to join me.


A letter from Eddington Bwalo (one of our Malawi students)

Dear Sponsor

I would like to write this letter in order to inform you about my life at Namitete Secondary School. Life at Namitete is very nice and there is a lot of things are very good here. Last term I performed well in many subjects. I was at position three in my class and this term I would like to pass above the last term’s results. I wish to work hard in order to continue passing well.

I scored English 78%
Chichewa 85% (the national language of Malawi) Physics 82%
Biology 83%

Yours, Edington Bwalo

Edington is the 5th born son in a family of 8 children. He is 15 years old and he lives with his parents at Kachita Village and went to Kafutwe primary school. His parents, who are farmers, were unable to pay for him to continue his education but, through our sponsorship, he is now able to continue his education at Namitete secondary school.

Edington hopes to be a lawyer after school. He likes Sciences, English Maths and Bible Knowledge. His hobby is reading different books and he tells us that his role model is Mr M’chezime who is a lecturer.

His parents welcome the support offered to their son and are keen to encourage his ongoing education.

Looking at You

How to get the best out of life in a village

Have you recently moved, or are planning to move, to our village? Villages can be beautiful, with pretty cottages and roses at their doors. But villages can also be lonely places. So – here are some tips for how to survive – and enjoy village life!

1. Make the most of your children. Children provide parents with an instant social network. Think of the school gate, the sports pitch, all those play dates and sleep overs. Get to know the other parents!

2. Join in. The village may look quiet, but you will be surprised... think village noticeboard, Women’s Institute, local exercise classes, theatrical productions, cricket matches, tennis tournaments, fete, flower show, regular church life. Every event will need volunteers, and would welcome you. So, what are you waiting for?

3. Get a dog, a horse, chickens... Well, at least get something that has fur or feathers, because country life revolves around animals. And while you are out walking your dog, riding your horse or chasing your chickens up a lane, you are bound to meet other animal lovers.

4. Volunteer. In towns, you have organised services, in the country you have self-help. So, offer to help people, to give lifts when needed, and even to pick up prescriptions. Youth charities and wildlife trusts need you, and so do parish councils wanting the village to be tidy.

5. Take up gardening. It is the UK’s favourite hobby, and if you start gardening you will meet all sorts of people as they pass by your home, as well as other gardeners – who are in the main very nice people!

6. Come to church We promise to give you a warm welcome, and you can get as involved as you like! We do flower arranging, coffee mornings, bell-ringing, openings for visitors, tending the church graveyard, and raising money for the roof, to name but a few. Best of all, we worship the living God who loves us and knows each one of us, and who wants us to call Him Father.

December 2018 – January 2019 

A Christmas Message 

Dear Friends, 

In the run up to Christmas last year I read that the average household expects to spend £174 on food and drink for December 25th alone. Over the course of our lives it is estimated that we will each spend around £54,000 on Christmas! 

People prepare for Christmas in different ways but the trend towards consumerism seems to be ever on the increase. Christmas is certainly a time for giving presents, after all it has its origins in God giving us Jesus. God’s gift to us is himself. 

But God’s present to us is not something that we can measure financially and it isn’t something that is gift wrapped with lots of glitter and glitz. Each year the decorations and the displays seem to come a little earlier and the survey certainly suggested that each year we spend more and more on purchasing Christmas. 

When God gave himself to us in Jesus he could have done it in the most spectacular and glorious way. Had he come according to earthly standards the cash registers would have been ringing well in advance. God’s ways, however, are so often different from our own. Yet while they are often different they are, nevertheless, perfectly in tune with our needs. And our need is not so much presents but presence. The incarnation is the gift of God’s presence, Emmanuel – God with us. 

It’s not always possible to be with our friends and loved ones at Christmas. And sometimes a gift or a card can help bridge this gap. But sometimes we can be misled into believing presents are a substitute for our presence. Yet it is the latter can make all the difference as we real Christmas story reminds us. 

At Christmas we see God giving himself to us. Let’s hope that the next survey of spending at Christmas finds that actually we are 

spending more time with each other, giving ourselves more freely to each other and giving our presence to those we love. 

When the baby that came at Christmas grew up one of the last things he said to his followers was: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” 

William Smith 

Churchwardens Letter 

Dear Friends, 

Like it or not we are now truly well into autumn, headed for winter and, dare we say it, Advent and Christmas. However, before we think of the future, let us not forget a memorable Harvest Festival service in October followed by a splendid and well attended lunch. Veronica and her team provided an exceedingly good meal which nearly 40 people appreciated. As a bonus £284 was raised for the charity ' Facing the World '. 

On a dry Saturday morning at the end of October there was a really good turnout of people who helped tidy up the churchyard and our thanks go to all those who gave of their time and energy. Before the wind blew ever more leaves off the trees around, everywhere looked very spick and span! Sadly no sign yet of the new version of the Community Pay Back Unit people to clear the really overgrown parts of the old church-yard but we live in hopes they will come before too long. 

That afternoon we were sad to say ' Goodbye ' to Robin Lock. It was good to see so many people in church who came to support Marie and the family. Robin had been a staunch supporter of St. James for many years - having been in his time Churchwarden, Gift Aid Secretary, on several Committees and responsible for distribution of the Parish News. We shall miss him. 

At the beginning of November we held a very moving 'All Souls Service'. We remembered a large number of people who are no longer with us but had connections with St. James, lighting tea light candles for them all. People had come from far and wide to remember loved ones and it was good to see the church so full. We hope they all felt comforted and supported. 

Then on Remembrance Sunday we had a very large attendance and the service was movingly led by Sue Fairhurst. In addition to our own 

Poppy arrangement, members of Old Milverton W.I. had most beautifully added their own decorations around the church. 

By the time you receive this magazine we will have held a Confirmation Service with Bishop John confirming both young people and adults. Please pray for them all as they become full members of the church. 

Hopefully too you will have come and joined in the Hamper Raffle and Cake Sale after the service on December 3rd. The monies raised go towards our support of two students through African Vision Malawi. 

We'd like to say a big welcome to both Janet Bogyor as our new Electoral Roll Officer and John England who has become our Gift Aid Secretary. We are grateful to them both for agreeing to take over these important jobs. 

Finally St. James is taking part in Lillington Church's decorated Christmas Tree Festival in St. Mary Magdalene starting on December 9th. Do go along and have a look - there are always some very novel ideas - people are so imaginative! 

We wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas and that we may all tread safely into the unknown of a New Year. 

With love,

Carol and Michael

Looking at You

The loneliness of our young people 

With Christmas coming, and with it the annual 'celebration' of family happiness and parties and get-togethers, many of our young people will be feeling even lonelier than ever. And that is very lonely indeed. 

A recent survey has found that 16 to 24-year-olds experience loneliness more often than any other age group. Two in five admit to being lonely often or very often, as compared with only 29 per cent of people aged 65 -74. 

The survey was conducted by BBC Radio 4's All in the Mind, in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust. Claudia Hammond, the presenter, said she believes the research reveals an 'epidemic of loneliness'. 'To help them to connect with others, young people today have social media. They are more connected than ever before. But this can bring its own problems. If you're feeling lonely, looking at pictures of other people appearing to have endless fun isn't going to help...'

Don't cook and sleep at the same time 

This is frightening: one in seven university students has fallen asleep with food cooking on a stove, thereby risking a potentially bad fire. Between 2012 - 2017, 911 accidental electrical fires took place in English halls of residence.

These figures, provided by the charity Electrical Safety First, help to highlight some of the dangerous quirks of student life. Such as: 56 per cent of students admit to having cooked while drunk, and 25 per cent per cent have put a knife or fork into a toaster. Really, it is a wonder that so many of them survive to graduate! 

Shared meals are more fun 

One in five people over the age of 70 in the UK eat all of their main meals alone. This can have a detrimental effect on their health, as they tend to skip meals, or eat erratically. 

The survey was carried out by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), one of Britain's largest volunteering charities. Now the RVS has launched its Cooking for a Crowd campaign, which aims to praise the work of hundreds of volunteers across the country who run 76 lunch clubs and serve more than 50,000 meals each year. 

The lunch clubs offer members a regular chance to eat a hot and healthy meal in the company of others, and provide an opportunity to make friends, build a support system and maintain social connection. 

Taking yourself on holiday 

After Christmas, when you begin to think about the New Year, who are you planning to go on holiday with in 2019? 

It seems that more of us are opting for solo holidays, in order to get away from everyone. In the past seven years, the proportion of people going on holiday on their own has risen from six per cent in 2011 to 15 per cent in 2018, according to a study by Abta. 

Abta suspects many people go alone to 'boost their mental health'. Being alone, you don't have to argue over the choice of destination, the itinerary or even the activities, once you are there. And the increase of Wi-Fi, smart-phones and travel apps all make it easier to keep in touch with home, while you chill out, far away. 

Looking at God An On-Going Story 

We all like a good story. When God wanted to grab our attention, He gave us a book of stories. The Bible is full of God’s encounters with people. At Christmas, we remember the story of Jesus born in Bethlehem. But this story begins back in Genesis and as we go through the Old Testament books, there are many pointers to Him. 

Some prophets announced His coming, stating where He would be born, what He would be like and what He would do. They prepared the way for the arrival of the Holy Child. 

Perhaps, Mary, on seeing her old cousin Elizabeth pregnant, reminded her of the amazing conceptions and births which God had given to Sarah, Rachel and Hannah. And now the angel Gabriel had announced that she, of all women, would bear the Messiah. No wonder Mary praised God with all her heart. 

The Christmas story is so attractive, with memorable ingredients: angels; poignant dreams; a pregnant mum on a long and tough journey; the lack of a clean room at an inn and a stable for a birth. The story has a wealth of characters: an innocent young girl, a kindly older man, bright angels, rough shepherds, wealthy men from the East and a tyrannical ruler out to kill the baby. And over all hangs that mysterious lone star that marked the place where Jesus lay! 

But the story of Jesus doesn’t end here. He grew up. Jesus became the teacher and miracle worker - He became the Messiah. It culminated with His death, resurrection and ascension. This is a story of sacrificial love. A Saviour who died on a cross to remove our sin and give us eternal life. 

And the story hasn’t finished, as WE are its final part! Our response to the Christmas story determines our future. Are we living in the light of Christ, in service, worship and prayer? We are now part of God’s continuing story and the last chapter has still to be played out. We are involved in it. Now, that is something to celebrate! 

October - November 2018

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

The “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" is with us once more, bringing with it the glorious colours of Autumn, Harvest Festivals and Remembrance. As we both celebrate and benefit from the harvest of what has been sown and grown over the past year we also share the ' harvest' of memories of events, good and bad, from the years gone by. These are the legacy from those who have gone before us.

On November 11th, Armistice Day, we shall celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War, an event recorded in books and on film hundreds of times but now  there remain very few alive who actually experienced it. We shall stand at our Old Milverton War memorial on Remembrance Sunday along with others  throughout our country and across the world all honouring our promise to the fallen, of not one but two World Wars , that "we will remember them".

As I hear the words and the names read out, I look up at the blue sky through the trees watching some Autumn clouds drifting past and I think of "our lads" who never came home to the beauty of this place and I feel an immense and deep sadness. I am sure that I share this feeling with most who stand in silence to honour and remember.

In the 'Autumn' of my life I ask myself -and God - what kind of legacy am I leaving , what are we all doing to prevent more conflict and to bring peace and reconciliation into our world ? It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of such a task bearing in mind that “we are but mere droplets in the flowing river of life's history" (as someone said recently).

However there is hope! On September 6th this year Coventry Diocese celebrated the Centenary of the official creation of our Diocese in its modern form, having been previously part of Lichfield and Worcester Dioceses. Less than thirty years later came the bombing and destruction of Coventry Cathedral on November 14th 1940 and the seeds were sown in the heart of our new diocese - not for revenge but for reconciliation with the aggressor Germany. 

By the grace of God this reconciliation was eventually reciprocated despite our country's retaliatory bombing. From the seeds of the first moves towards reconciliation has grown a deep and (we pray) lasting friendship between us and gradually friendships  with many dioceses throughout the world-- a 'Harvest' beyond imagining and no doubt the working of the Holy Spirit. 

Our continuing part to play in this work is to strive for peaceful reconciliation in our own lives and in the lives of those around us and those with whom we may have lost contact over the years. This is something we can all do at home, at work, at school, at college, at church. Wherever there is hurt and misunderstanding, intolerance and prejudice, even hatred, we can become a channel of God's peace and do something to bring about a change for good -however small.

This can be our legacy, underpinned by Christ's words “Father forgive " and "love one another as I have loved you". Remembering alone is not enough - we have to act as well.

With love,


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

It was certainly a summer of records with high temperatures and drought reminding those of us with long memories of the summer of 1976. For those of us who like the heat it was a wonderful summer! The sun shone on the day of the Old Milverton Annual Flower Show and Fête and we had visitors to our stall from near and far, including the USA, and record sales. We took £133 from the sales of St James merchandise. 

The first part of September was memorable for two services. The first one, on September 5th, was The Institution, Induction and Installation of The Reverend William Smith as the vicar of St Mary Magdalene, Lillington and St James, Old Milverton. The service was led by the Bishop of Coventry and the Archdeacon Pastor and was held at St Mary Magdalene’s Church. The service was full of symbolism and involved the churchwardens from both churches. It was well attended by the congregations of both churches with some local councillors also attending.

The second memorable service was on Sunday September 16th when we held a Special Service of Welcome for William with the participation also of the Archdeacon Pastor. The visitors included our sponsor Michael Heber-Percy and members of his family and the Town Mayor of Royal Leamington Spa. Hopefully, many of you had the chance to meet William and his family, as well as our visitors after the service. The view I heard expressed was that it was a lovely service with the atmosphere and buzz of St James being much appreciated. 

Both services were followed by refreshments and the Social Committee was involved on both occasions. They served the refreshments at Lillington while Veronica also produced some splendid samosas and a large celebratory cake for that occasion. The Bishop in his subsequent letter mentioned the high quality of the refreshments!! In Old Milverton Veronica and her colleagues produced some amazing nibbles, which were devoured with relish, so well done and thank you.

With the onset of autumn it is time to remind you that this year’s Harvest Festival service will be on Sunday 14th October, followed as usual by the Harvest Lunch in the Parish Room. The proceeds will go to the charity Facing the World, a very worthwhile cause and one which we have supported in the past. Speak to Liz Burkinshaw if you would like further details of their work which involves providing life changing surgery for severely disfigured children in developing countries. Other forthcoming services also highlighted elsewhere in the magazine are the All Souls Service and the Confirmation Service, both in November. 

There is a final churchyard clearing morning on Saturday 27th October so please do come, if at all possible, to help get the churchyard tidied up before the onset of winter. Hopefully by then what was called the Community Pay Back Unit will also have cleared the far part of the old churchyard that is difficult for us to keep clear as part of the normal mowing/clearing regime. 

I remember after one of the first services I attended at St James saying to my wife in the car afterwards (we were living in Leamington, so some years ago) that there was a rota for everything at St James (cleaning the church, mowing the churchyard, church flowers and coffee). Not quite true but rotas are one of the ways we can spread the work around and manage to operate as a church without any paid assistance. As always we would welcome any additional volunteers. The more people on a rota the less often it is your turn! So if you can spare some time to help please speak to us.  

With love

Michael and Carol

Ride and Stride Thank You – Michael Rayner

A big thank to everyone who sponsored my cycle ride in aid of the Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust on Saturday September 8th.  Your sponsorship raised £385 before the inclusion of any gift aid contributions. This sum was way beyond any expectations I might have had. So thank you again. The good news is that St James will receive 50% of the total sum raised.

For the record I covered 54 miles and visited 24 churches to the east and south of Royal Leamington Spa, with Broadwell the most easterly and Wellesbourne the most southerly points reached. The route involved climbing nearly 2,300 feet – you tend to forget there are some hills in south Warwickshire!

Christmas Hamper Raffle and Cake Sale

We will once again be having a hamper raffle and cake sale this year.  This will be on Sunday 3rdDecember in the Parish Room after the service. Donations for the hamper and offers of cakes will be very welcome – please bring hamper items from the beginning of November and cakes on the day.  The money we raise will also go towards our support of two students through African Vision Malawi.

Looking at You

National Grandparents Day - 7th October  

Parents may have to wait a few years to become grandparents, but it is definitely worth it.  Spending time with your grandchildren nourishes both your body and soul:  the physical energy you use to keep with them keeps you healthy, and your emotional bonds with them will reinforce your own emotional well-being.

Grandparents can do SO much for their grandchildren: giving them time and attention, as well as providing them with a strong sense of belonging to the family.  This all helps build emotional security for their future. 

Tell your grandchildren their family heritage – reminisce about your family’s events and history. Where did your parents and grandparents come from?  What did they do? Did they fight in the World Wars?  Do you have old photos to show them?

Tell your grandchildren about what it was like going to school when you were young.  Tell them stories about raising their mum or dad. Show them pix from the family album, sing the same songs to them that you sang to their mum or dad; read them the same favourite stories.  Tell them of your family traditions, from everything about the best way to make tea to how you always decorate the Christmas tree. By doing so, you link your past to their future, and greatly enrich them.

Grandparents can really be God’s special gift to children.

Take hoarding seriously

How much stuff do you have?  Do you find it really hard to throw things away? You are not alone!  But the problem is so serious for some people that hoarding has now been classified as a medical disorder.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) says this could benefit thousands of people, because they will finally qualify for medical help.

But lots of us like our stuff without being ill.  So, what does it take to ‘qualify’ as a real hoarder?   (About 2 to 5 per cent of us exhibit some symptoms.)  WHO defines it as someone with an ‘accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of, or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value.’ For example, a hoarder might have a cup of tea – but then be unable to throw away the used tea bag.  

Signs of a problem hoarder include: keeping items of absolutely no value, such as junk mail and old newspapers; struggling to organise themselves and make decisions; an over-attachment to various items; and increasing difficulty with everyday tasks.  

The results can be awful: living spaces fill up with clutter that makes the proper use of the room impossible, and even dangerous.  Such impairment will slowly ruin a person’s personal, family, social, educational, and working life.  

Anyone who is a serious, compulsive hoarder needs help.  The mental health charity Mind may be useful for starters:  www.mind.org.uk 

Luke 12:15 reminds us: ‘…life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Danger ahead for our children

Next time you are at the school gate, have a look at the children coming out.  How many are overweight?  Recent data from Public Health England (PHE) has found that one in ten children are classed as obese when they start primary school, and one in five of them is obese by the time they leave for secondary education. 

As one NHS doctor warns: ‘The growing obesity epidemic poses problems for the NHS but is also extremely worrying for the nation’s health.  Obesity in childhood paves the way to obesity in adulthood, and overweight or obese people are at greater risk of illnesses.’

Looking at God

Psalm 121 – the God who knows and cares

A man asked a friend about the two greatest problems in the world. The friend responded, ‘I don’t know and I don’t care!’ ‘You got them both!’ the man replied. 

Psalm 121 presents a God who both knows and cares about our problems. As the first Song of Ascent (Psalms 120-134), it was used by pilgrims going to the great festivals in Jerusalem. Just as this road was full of dangers, this psalm speaks to our problems and set-backs, whether illness, family or work issues, or fear. 

Where do we look for help? ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains…My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ (1,2). The hills speak of a Creator God, who is bigger than our troubles, for whom nothing is beyond His reach. 

What is His care like? 

 It is constant: ‘He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber’ (3). God is never off duty in His care, as we are constantly His concern.

It is close: ‘The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand’ (5). God is not watching us ‘from a distance’ as the songs says! His care operates at close quarters, to take the heat out of situations, or when circumstances are dark and uncertain. 

It is continuing: ‘the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.’ (8). God’s care is all encompassing, through life and eternity. We are not immune from difficulties, but in the bigger picture, God will use these in His eternal purpose for our lives. The psalm is fulfilled in Jesus, who has secured eternal life for us. 

So let’s trust His care for us, and not be like the lady who asked: ‘why pray when I can worry?’

Smile Lines

Three elderly church ministers, all hard of hearing, were playing golf one sunny spring morning. The Methodist minister observed, ‘Windy, isn’t it?’  ‘No,’ the Baptist pastor said, ‘it’s Thursday.’  The Anglican vicar agreed: ‘So am I!  Let’s go get a pint.’

My young grandson called the other day to wish me Happy Birthday.  He asked me how old I was, and I told him, 62.  My grandson was quiet for a moment, and then he ventured: ‘Did you start at 1?’

Confidence is that feeling you have just before you fully understand the situation.

Interviewer: ‘If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?’
Applicant: ‘The living one.’

A bishop was quite concerned about a decision he had just made, so much so that he went to his archdeacon to ask his opinion of it. ‘Yes, I'd say it's your worst decision yet,’ the plain-talking archdeacon replied.
Confused, the bishop ventured, ‘Yet?’  
To which the archdeacon replied, ‘Well, it's not so bad that I think you're incapable of making a worse decision.’

August - September 2018

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

I’m writing this in mid-July, on a day when England have been playing football, there’s both men’s and women’s international cricket going on and Wimbledon is in its second week.  It’s really hard to know what to watch or listen to first!

What strikes me most about all these sportsmen and women is their commitment, not just as they compete on the day, but in the preparation that has brought them to this point in their respective sporting careers.  Whether they win or lose, I can’t help but admire their dedication and focus as they strive to be the very best they can be in their chosen sport.

St Paul talks about races in the Epistles:  He says:  “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.” (1 Corinthians 9.24)  And the prize we are aiming for? – that is “the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.14)

So, what must we do to train and strive for that wonderful prize of coming home to Christ, knowing his love and grace surrounding us?  We can do quite a lot on our own but, like any athlete, we can achieve so much more with the help and support of others.  No successful sportsman works entirely alone:  they all have a network of support behind them.

I’m sure you all know my preference for a game played with a somewhat smaller ball (red or white) than with a football, but even I’ve been carried along on the wave of enthusiasm for Gareth Southgate and his team.  Listening to the television pundits talking about his team and his style of leadership, I’ve been conscious that all the words they use reflect a group of people who are supporting and encouraging one another; that there is a positive energy and momentum around the whole team that makes everyone feel part of the adventure.

Can we learn from that in our Christian lives?  I think we can.  The journey is different for each of us, the difficulties and challenges we face often very personal, but the support and encouragement of those around us can help us immeasurably.  I can think of many times I would have found it almost impossible to keep going without the support and love of my brothers and sisters in Christ and I’m sure you can too. That means we are all both the athlete and a member of the support team, striving to be the best we can be in terms of living out our faith and supporting others as they do the same.

At St James, we have the privilege of being a team that, just like our current England football team, can create a really positive environment in which each and every one of us is part of the greatest adventure of our lives – of coming closer to our amazing and wonderful God day by day until we, like St Paul, can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4.7)

Wherever you are over this summer, pray for your fellow team members at St James and give thanks to God for our loving and caring church family as we all run the race, our eyes firmly fixed on Christ. 

With love to you all,


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends,

Firstly, a big thank you to all of the 16 people who nobly turned up to help with tidying the churchyard back in the middle of June.  Given that certain of our regular helpers were away it was a great effort and lots of good work was done.

On June 24th our Informal Family Service was a success with 34 adults and 17 children at the service. 20 adults and 11 children stayed on for the picnic in the churchyard afterwards on a gloriously sunny and warm day.

As I write this letter we are now looking forward to our Patronal Festival service on July 29th and hope lots of you will be able to come and join us. Drinks and light refreshments will be served afterwards - hopefully again in a sunny churchyard.

If you've been in Church recently you will have noticed a display over along the north wall of the nave. This is a Centenary Time Line of St. James Church which has been painstakingly and beautifully put together by Ali Foster and her helpers.  Do please go and look at it - take time to see it all, visiting it several times maybe to take everything in.  And thank you to all the members of church who have contributed memories, photographs and other items which have helped to make it so interesting.  It will stay in church until after the 'Welcome service' for our new Vicar, the Rev. William Smith, on Sunday September 16th so you will have plenty of opportunity to see it.  Drinks and refreshments will be served after this service so that as many people as possible can have the opportunity to meet William and his family.

William's service of Institution, Induction and Installation is taking Place on Wednesday, September 5th at St. Mary's Church, Lillington at 7.30 pm which anyone can - and is encouraged to - attend.

With best wishes,

Mike and Carol

Riding for the Disabled

Each year, we give away a percentage of our plate income to support a local charity.  The PCC decided to give the money for 2017 to support the creation of a new Training Centre for Riding for the Disabled. Below is the thank you letter received recently by our treasurer, Sarah.

Dear Sarah

Thank you very much for the donation of £1581 to RDA from St James Church. We really appreciate your support for RDA and the new National Training Centre Project.  Your donation equates to 553 virtual bricks and we will ensure that ‘St James Church, Old Milverton’ is included in the Buy a Brick Thank You Book when the centre is complete.

This will be the first ever RDA National Training Centre and will be on a 30 acre equestrian centre site in Warwickshire.  The facility will include both an indoor and outdoor riding area, stabling for 20 horses, training and conference rooms and offices.  Building work has now begun with the aim of opening the site officially in 2019.

Our fundraising campaign is working towards raising £1.6 million from donations such as these, which we are so grateful for.

Thank you again for your support,

Yours sincerely

Catherine Stuart-Yapp

Fundraising Officer

Riding for the Disabled

They also sent us a lovely thank you postcard, which you will find on the board in the porch.

Looking at You

Beware taking your pills abroad

Are you going abroad on holiday?  Be careful which medicines you pack – what is legal in this country may NOT be legal in the country to which you are going.  And, as figures from the Health Survey for England show that 48 per cent of us are taking prescription medication, this will affect very many of us.

Officials at the Foreign Office strongly advise you to check the rules online before you travel.  For example, even Vicks and Sudafed are illegal in some countries. In others, such as Greece, Diazepam, Tramadol, and codeine are controlled drugs. Sleeping pills, anti-anxiety pills and strong painkillers require a license in Singapore.   

So – do read the travel advice for each country before you go.

What is breeding on your tea towel?

You will never look at your kitchen tea towels in quite the same way again: they could be harbouring bugs which will give you food poisoning.  

Here are the gruesome details: recent tests on tea towels found that E.coli is more likely to be found on towels which have been used for both dishes and drying hands.  Damp tea towels are the worst - with up to a third growing E.coli on them. 

The bugs found were of coliform bacteria, (a group which includes E.coli); enterococcus spp, and staphylococcus aureus.  Food poisoning bugs can be fatal for the elderly, the very young, or infirm. 

Government guidelines recommend changing and washing tea towels, dish-clothes, sponges and oven gloves on a frequent basis, and letting them dry well before re-use. Homes that are vegetarian have fewer bugs on their tea towels. The study was carried out at the University of Mauritius.

Is it safe to breath in your home?

Is your home polluted? A recent study has found that indoor pollutants are all around us, and that they may lead to up to 9,000 deaths a year.

Dozens of personal care products have been given the thumbs-down for what they can do to the air-quality in your home: nail varnish, deodorants, gas stoves, wood burners, scented candles, home cleaning products and even soft furnishings, according to the campaign group Airtopia.

As the average person spends 90 per cent of their time indoors, it can become a serious problem. Especially as evidence from the USA and Europe suggest that air pollution can be up to five times worse in your home than outdoors.  So – go open a window!

How pocket money can affect your children

Most children get their first experience of handling money through their regular allowance.  So, how you give, and what you give really matters, for research has found that our ongoing attitudes to cash, saving and spending can be formed as early as the age of six.  

Rooster Money, the children’s money app, finds that parents are commonly giving their offspring close to £10 a week by the time they are 14. Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, a leading child psychologist, advises that there is no harm in giving children chores to do in exchange for the money.  

‘Learning consequences and responsibility are the important thing. Money is the consequence of something: hard work. Once you have it, you have to be responsible. Children need to have some money in order to learn about it. They need to learn about spending and then having to replenish their resources.’

As for their future? ‘Our ideas and values about money are hard to shift.  And those will have come from our families.’

The Squirrel Problem in Church

There were four churches and a synagogue in a small town: a Presbyterian church, a Baptist church, a Methodist church, a Catholic church and a Jewish synagogue.  Each church and the synagogue had a problem with squirrels.

The Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about their squirrels.  After much prayer and consideration they determined the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will.

At the Baptist Church the squirrels had taken an interest in the baptistery.  The deacons met and decided to put a water slide on the baptistery and let the squirrels slide in and drown themselves.  The squirrels liked the slide and, unfortunately, knew instinctively how to swim so twice as many squirrels showed up the following week.

The Methodist Church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creatures.  So, they humanely trapped their squirrels and set them free near the Baptist Church. Two weeks laterthe squirrels were back when the Baptists took down the water slide.

But the Catholic Church came up with a very creative strategy.  They baptized all the squirrels and consecrated them as members of the church.  Now they only see them at Christmas and Easter.

Not much was heard from the Jewish synagogue. They took one squirrel and circumcised him.  They haven't seen a squirrel since.

Smile Lines

A young curate lost his voice at the local football match one Saturday and, being due to preach the next morning, he thought he should call in and consult his vicar. So he rang the vicarage bell and the door was answered by a very attractive teenage daughter. ‘Is your dad here?’  the curate managed to whisper. ‘No,’ she whispered back, thinking she had got the message.  ‘Come on in!’

Hospital patients’ comment about the new curate: ‘He can stay longer in an hour than most people do in a week.’

The curate was giving his young daughter a cuddle before she went to bed.  As he picked her up and hugged her tight, she said: “Daddy, you’re so strong!  I really think you’ll be God one day!”

A curate consistently arrived late for work until his long-suffering vicar asked him what was wrong. ‘My problem,’ explained the curate, ‘is that I sleep very slowly.’

When Columbus started out, he didn’t know where he was going. When he got there, he didn’t know where he was. When he got back, he didn’t know where he had been. And he did it all on other people’s money.  Can’t help thinking that Columbus reminds me of some teenagers who go on family holidays...

June - July 2018

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

"May is such an exasperatingly fickle month, sometimes sunny, sometimes stormy and sometimes more than a bit frosty." Thus wrote our beloved writer of the monthly magazine gardening article "Garden Cuttings" in May 2008 and this year has been no different in its, almost daily, extreme variations.

I am writing this mid May and reflecting on the similarities between our changeable climate and our mood changes which can vary so widely from day to day reflecting the life events, both personal and 'global', which can affect us so deeply. There is so much information pouring into our consciousness that it is often hard to maintain a stable balanced outlook on life and the strength of our faith can be affected similarly.

As you read this in June the weather may be more settled but world affairs may be moving into an even more unpredictable phase, largely dependent on the mood changes of presidents and leaders of nations. We listen to or read the news bulletins and wonder "Is this real or is it ' fake news' ?" and " in whom do we put our trust ?"

We turn to God and cry "You are Almighty, you created the heavens and the earth, please can you do something to bring justice and peace into the world ?" but our pleas seem to remain unanswered and our faith can begin to waver. Our faith can be as fickle as the weather and as changeable as the climate of popular opinion, as Jesus knew all too well from the days of his Passion.

Just before his Jesus' Ascension to his Father in Heaven the disciples, desperate to be rid of the occupying Roman army, asked Jesus " Lord, at this time are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" and Jesus replied " It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses ----to the ends of the earth." and that moment he was taken from their sight.

Then - as now- God's agenda was different from man's and he had other more important work for his followers to do. The task would seem impossible but the disciples were given the promise that God's power would be given to them through his Holy Spirit and the Spirit would be with them always to the ends of the earth.

Ten days later at the Feast of Pentecost, which we recently celebrated as the church has continued to do for 2,000 years, the disciples received God's gift of the Holy Spirit and they were changed. They became empowered to go out into the world as apostles, set forth to tell the Good News of Jesus and his sacrificial gift to mankind - the potential through belief in him to be reconciled with God.

 We too receive the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and again at our Confirmation. As believers, we too are indwelt and empowered by the Spirit. If we have just come to faith we can ask God for his Spirit to come into our lives to grow us as new messengers of his love.

God does not take away all our trials and tribulations but through his Spirit he ' weathers the storms' with us. Amidst the busyness and concerns of daily life we can forget the promise that Jesus made yet he continues to walk alongside us. Strengthened by his Spirit our faith can grow and deepen as we put all our trust in our Heavenly Father, the one who we really can trust, the one who is not fickle but unchanging.

We also are given the power to go out and tell the Good News.

With love, Felicity.

Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

The announcement just before Easter that the Rev. William Smith, currently a Team Rector, based at St Michael Stoke in Coventry will be our next vicar ended what at times had seemed to be an almost endless and bureaucratic process. The various stages of this process have featured regularly in these letters since the middle of last year!  William will start his ministry in Lillington and Old Milverton in September so we can now look forward to welcoming our new Incumbent. Planning is about to start for his Institution, Induction and Installation Service in Lillington on 5thSeptember.  There will also be a Special Service of welcome for William at St James on Sunday 16thSeptember. More details nearer the time.

Holy week and Easter followed soon after the last Churchwardens’ letter was written. The services followed our usual schedule. However, this year Sue led a new Good Friday service which included time for reflection at various stages during the service and this format was much appreciated by the congregation of 40. Holy Communion on Easter day was a truly joyous occasion and the church was nearly full with 83 people present, including 11 children of various ages.

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting took place in church after the end of the service on Sunday 22ndApril with 31 people in attendance. All the reports presented at the meeting, including the accounts and reports by the Churchwardens and the various PCC committees are being put on the church website so you can consult them at your leisure! The main event at the Meeting was that Lib Cook stood down from her position as Churchwarden after five years and Carol Lane was elected in her place. Lib’s retirement was marked at the meeting with suitable presentations. 

Over her five years as Churchwarden Lib worked tirelessly on behalf of St James and has contributed greatly to the life of our church for which we are all extremely grateful. So thank you, Lib, for all you have done. Fortunately, we are not losing Lib who will continue to be involved in the life of St James. On a personal note Lib’s help was invaluable to me in my first year as a Churchwarden. I am looking forward to working with Carol who fortunately for me knows the ropes as she has previously been a Churchwarden at St James. 

Spring came rather late this year and we have had a mixture of cold, rain, wind and even some warm sunshine. The wet conditions for much of the time have hampered the attempts by the members of the mowing rota to cut the grass in the churchyards, both old and new. Hopefully after the hot, dry and sunny bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May, something of a meteorological record, we may be able to catch up with the grass. Sue Fairhurst’s plant sale and coffee morning, held in glorious sunshine on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend, was a great success and raised over £210 for church funds. A big thank you to Sue for all her hard work and to everyone who attended and then spent the rest of the weekend planting up their gardens.  

Two forthcoming events to highlight.  On Sunday 24thJune we are having a midsummer picnic in the churchyard after the family service, so please stay and enjoy one another’s company. On Sunday July 29thwe will hold our Annual Patronal Service which will be followed by drinks and nibbles in the churchyard. We hope to see you at both events.    

With best wishes Mike and Carol

Looking at You

Good diet

Good for the NHS:  it seems that overweight folk who are given diet coaching by the NHS are losing an average of more than half a stone each. The programme includes overweight patients being sent for around a dozen classes on diet, cooking and keeping fit, costing about £435 per head over a period of nine months.  The Health Service has found that the measures will pay for themselves, by preventing thousands of cases of diabetes.  

Help with homework

A quarter of British parents do not help their children with homework, as they fear the embarrassment of not knowing how to do the work themselves. Just one in ten UK mothers and fathers spend the equivalent of at least an hour a day assisting their children with school work.  On average, British parents spend about 3.6 hours a week helping their children. This compares to parents in India, Vietnam, Columbia and Malaysia, who spend seven hours a week helping their children. The Campaign for Real Education, which carried out the survey, warns “It is a tragic situation, where children are not getting the right support.  Children who suffer the most are ones whose parents can’t help them. We need an adult literacy and numeracy programme.”

Our new vicar!

Thanks to Roderick Clark, Reader at St Mary Magdalene, for this article.  He has been to talk to our new vicar, the Revd William Smith, visiting him in his efficient-looking study, which looks out over his current church in a busy part of Coventry.

William Smith is definitely a Leamington lad. He was born in the (now defunct) Warneford Hospital and lived first in the parish of St Mark’s. Although he attended Roman Catholic schools [St Bede’s in Binswood Avenue, also now defunct, and Princethorpe College], he was baptised in Leamington Parish Church and for a while the family worshipped here. However, as with most young children, he liked to be heard – and they decided to stop taking him! Instead, the family’s weekend included a visit to a boat club, where they were active members– and William still maintains the boat which first came into their possession when he was aged twelve. The family, by the way, included his sister, who now lives in Cubbington. He enjoyed an old-fashioned ‘outdoor childhood’, exploring the natural world and loving to talk with friends as they sat by Old Milverton churchyard and looked over towards the Saxon Mill restaurant – he then lived in The Fairways.

Art and sport were his loves at school – certainly not religious education. He played as a flanker in the rugby First XV, took Art, English and Economics at ‘A’ Level – and would have studied Fine Art at university if he had had his way. But teachers conspired to push him towards the more ‘reliable’ legal profession, and he so took a law degree in Wales. At university, he met for the first time people who went to church of their own free will – and for the first two terms attended Christian Union meetings and a local parish church. After a summer term of spending time elsewhere with a wider circle of friends, he found that he really wanted “to make sense of life”; he started to visit on his own a whole variety of different denominational churches… and ended up joining the Gospel Hall (now Saltisford) which his grandmother had attended, impressed by the sheer hospitality of its members.

As his personal journey of faith developed, he got involved with the youth work there. He attended the 1984 Mission England crusade (led by the American evangelist Billy Graham) in both Bristol and Birmingham (at the Aston Villa ground), and he decided, after all his searching, to make a personal commitment to follow Christ. The picture of a Rolls Royce car above his desk – a sign of his financial ambitions – no longer mattered.

After graduation, he decided to take a gap year, becoming an auxiliary nurse on a psychiatric ward. Much of this involved simply chatting to patients in the day room – people who felt unable to connect with the Church but who were hungry for God. It was at this point that he felt a call to some sort of Christian ministry and enrolled to take another degree – this time in theology at Aberystwyth. He followed this with a qualification at Durham to teach Religious Education.

It was about this time that William’s future wife, Tricia, appeared – a French and German language specialist who was also training as a teacher. She took a job at the Blue Coat Church of England School, he at the (then) Woodlands boys’ comprehensive, both in Coventry. They then settled on the Church of England, attending St Paul’s Church in Leamington.  William says it was stimulating and exciting to teach RE (not the most popular of subjects) in the tough environment at Woodlands school. Having to take a house assembly every week he found “massively helpful”. 

But it was not to last for long. He thought he’d teach for a few years and then perhaps seek full-time church work – but the vocations adviser hurried him on to a selection conference, and after just one year in school, he was back studying for ordination in Nottingham. Tricia took a job near Derby and in January 1993 the couple were married, while William was ordained in July the same year.

As he’d never travelled further than Dublin, or even tasted a curry, he agreed, as part of his training in Nottingham, to take a three-month cross-cultural placement in India to broaden his horizons. Arriving in Mumbai, he felt so outside his comfort zone that he would have flown home on the next flight. But after a fortnight he found his feet as he undertook his task of providing ‘distance’ theological training to Christian clergy, and also did a bit of travelling. Tricia went out for the final three weeks and the whole adventure proved to be highly significant in William’s spiritual development. He’s returned to India a dozen times, continued to make and maintain links with several churches in the region and masterminded the building of a children’s home. He has encouraged his churches to be involved, including with child sponsorship, and particularly delights to see Indian pastors who have never travelled abroad arriving in Britain on cultural exchanges. 

Tricia and William have two children: Benedict, now studying theology at Cambridge - thanks to a wonderful RE teacher, explains William (nothing to do with his father?); and Rebecca, in her pre-GCSE year at school in Coventry. Both have been choristers at Coventry Cathedral and in their home churches.

William served as a curate in the Team Ministry of Caludon in eastern Coventry (Revd George Warner was his training incumbent); next he was Vicar of St Giles’, Exhall for twelve years; then he moved back to Caludon as Team Rector, overseeing four churches as well as running one of them, Stoke St Michael’s. He loves the “sheer variety of parish ministry” – but work with families and young people most of all. At present, he’s making sure everything is in place for his departure and finishing the training of two curates. He says he’s sad to be saying goodbye – and his departure will add to everyone’s responsibilities.

One thing we will be sure to notice is our new Vicar’s love of painting. This isn’t just a hobby (along with the ancient boat) for his weekly day off. He calls it a major feature of his ministry, and I saw beautiful banners and cards which he has produced for use in the worship and ministry of the church. I feel we shall all be seeing this in the not too distant future!

William Smith will be “instituted, inducted and installed” as our new Vicar at an evening service on Wednesday, 5th September at St Mary Magdalene. Please put the date in your diaries and come along to welcome him to our parishes.

Smile Lines

The vicar at a local church experienced some technical problems with the sound system one Sunday. Instead of starting the service as usual with ‘The Lord be with you’, he said: ‘There’s something wrong with this microphone.’ Not hearing this, the congregation responded: ‘And also with you.’

Judge: ‘Have you ever been cross examined before?’   
Accused: ‘Yes, your honour, I am a married man.’

At her wedding the bride tripped and fell into the arms of the vicar.  ‘That’s the first time I’ve held a fallen woman,’ he quipped. To which she retorted: ‘It’s the first time I’ve been picked up by a vicar!’


Gaynor, a member of St Mary Magdalene’s, is one of the folk behind the African Vision Malawi Charity through which we are supporting 2 boys through secondary school.  This is an article she wrote earlier this year for St Mary Magdalene’s parish magazine:

When I visited Malawi last September it was encouraging to see signs of change and improvement in the area that African Vision Malawi supports.  I travel out to Malawi in May this year, together with Eileen , our school links officer and Sarah who was our Country Manager in Malawi for 3 years. I pack jumpers, blankets, hats and school resources as well as footballs and skipping ropes, cramming in as much as I can into the 5 cases I take with me. 

This year’s trip is very exciting because during the half term week in the UK, 4 teachers will be flying out to join us.  They are all teachers from schools who are in partnership with schools in Malawi and they will experience for the first time what life is like for Malawian teachers and pupils – which of course will be very different from school life here.  We hope that they will be able to encourage, support and help the teachers in their partnership schools with fresh ideas using the limited resources that the teachers and schools have.

Our trip is also tinged with sadness.  Just before Christmas our Project Manager for SAMs Village, Arnold, died suddenly at the age of 37.  Arnold was a very special man who always went the extra mile to support African Vision Malawi and to improve the lives of his fellow Malawians.  He was quiet, hard-working but with a wonderful sense of humour.  It was a tremendous shock to us all and our team out there were heartbroken and distraught. Arnold is sorely missed and will be very difficult to replace.  Jeremy Thorn who worked with us in Malawi last year and who has volunteered in other countries with VSO has just flown out to Malawi.  He will support our team and help to select a replacement for Arnold. 


The exciting news is that we are just about to start our first training sessions at SAMs Village and 12 candidates have been chosen to train as tailors.  The training will take 4 months during which time the trainees will receive food and materials for the course.  As well as being trained in tailoring skills they will receive help in Business Development so that all trainees will have a full understanding of setting up their own business, being part of a cooperative or seeking employment in their new field of expertise.   This will include Financial Training and access to the Opportunity Bank of Malawi. Successful candidates will then have the means to support and educate their families and not be totally reliant on farming.  We want to hold more courses as funds become available.  

Last year the funding for feeding the children at our Community Based Children Centres (Nursery Schools) was transferred to another area.  Thanks to everyone’s help and the involvement of the communities, the majority of children are now receiving a bowl of nutritious porridge each day.   I visited  most of them last year and also saw the new Centre at Funsani being built, which I am glad to say is now completed and up and running with many children attending each day.  Feeding these children is vital if they are to remain healthy during their early years. Thankfully, the local communities are playing their part to achieve this.  The children's bowls and spoons now need replacing as does one of the fuel-saving ovens.

Without your help and the help of people like you, we cannot continue to do the work we do and enable the people of Malawi to become self-sufficient and healthy.  We are making a difference but there is still much to do.  Please pray for us and thank you so much for your support.

Gaynor Cook.

Looking at your Community

THE WAY I SEE IT – what is triggering the violence?

The first four months of this year were full of news reports of stabbings, and even killings, among young people in north London. Almost all of the victims and perpetrators were teen-agers, some as young as thirteen.

My grand-daughter, who teaches at a comprehensive school in the area, tells me that she and her colleagues are convinced that a major factor in this tragic situation is what we now call the ‘social media’ – Facebook, Twitter and the rest. They are the constant diet of almost all children from primary school age to secondary, and the teachers believe that online taunts, insults and challenges to respond to them are a major trigger of this violence. 

No increase in police numbers could possibly monitor every street spat that ends with a knife being drawn – a spat usually about nothing significant at all. ‘You’re stupid!’ ‘You’re fat!’ ‘Keep away from my girl-friend!’ ‘You’re scared to come out and face us!’ It’s pathetic that young boys, and a few girls, are prepared to risk their lives over such insults. But when they are put online, for all to see, the insult becomes a public humiliation, and no teen-ager wants that.

Sadly, there’s no way we can dis-invent the social media. But somehow this menace must be tackled.  Apparently, half the children aged six have access to this world of confusion. Which suggests parents might be more alert to the dangers. The truth is, insults and threats can’t hurt you if you don’t read them. But try telling that to the addicted! This looks like a long, slow battle for civilisation.

The Windrush Exhibition - a tribute to the migrants

This month (June) marks 70 years since the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks carrying hundreds of migrants from the Caribbean. The British Library opens its special Windrush Exhibition this month (1stJune to 21stOctober).  Key exhibits in the Windrush Exhibition include ER Braithwaite's original typescript of To Sir, With Love, the autobiographical novel that became a film starring Sidney Poitier.

Get on your bike!

It seems that cycling is great for keeping old age at bay, and it also rejuvenates the immune system.  

A recent study has found that cyclists do better at preserving their muscle mass and strength with age, while maintaining stable levels of body fat and cholesterol.  The study was done at the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham.

Studies published in “Aging Cell”

Pollock et al (2018). ‘Properties of the vastus lateralis muscle in relation to age and physiological function in master cyclists aged 55 – 79 years’. 

Duggal et al (2018). ‘Major features of Immunesenescence, including Thymic atrophy, are ameliorated by high levels of physical activity in adulthood.’

No need to cut the grass weekly

How often should you cut your grass?  That depends on how much you want to help the bees.  It seems that the ideal ‘gap’ is two weeks.  This helps improve the habitat for the pollinating plants that need bees to survive.  Cutting the grass more often than every 14 days destroys dandelions and clover and other plants which the insects need for pollen.

Two weeks is ideal – it gives time for the grass to attract a greater diversity of insects. The number of bee species and the abundance of lawn flowers were up to 2.5 times higher when home owners mowed lawns every two weeks compared to once a week.  

Don’t be a martyr, though – as three-weekly cuts are also not recommended. The high grass then makes it more difficult for bees and other insects to access flowers. 

April - May 2018

A Christian Message
Dear Friends

‘Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
is hung with bloom along the bow.
And stands about the woodland ride
wearing white for Eastertide.’

I’m writing this at the end of March, having just come in from spending a couple of hours in the garden. It’s a bit damp and cloudy today but the birds are singing, the daffodils are coming out creating splashes of bright yellow colour and my heart lifts at the thought that it won’t be long before the blossom will be out, Eastertide will be with us and spring will well and truly be under way.

This is the time of year when I recognize most clearly that I am my mother’s daughter.  She talked a lot about feeling closest to God when she was outside, either in her garden or walking the hills of the Lake District and she instilled in me a real love and respect for the natural world. I think we miss an opportunity to walk with God if we shut ourselves off from that world.

The bible tells us that when God created our world he ‘saw that it was good’; in the psalms we find ‘All the earth shall worship you, sing to you sing praise to your name’ and in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages his listeners to observe the beauty of the lilies in the field, clothed by our heavenly Father.

As the weather improves, I want to encourage you to go outside with no other purpose than to be aware of the wonderful world we live in.  Sit in your garden, hear the birds sing and smell the earth and the plants around you (if you can’t do that without noticing the weeds and feeling obliged to do something about them, then go and sit in the churchyard or someone else’s garden!).  

Jesus walked a lot.  If he’d ridden horse or lived in an age with cars, I reckon his impact would have been much less.  By walking, he had time to notice the people sat by the side of the road, the workers in the fields, those lilies of the field.  Walking prayerfully allows us to feel at one with the world God gave us, to be thankful for its endless variety and to know that it is good.  So, if you’re the restless type and sitting still isn’t your style, then go for a walk.  Walking plays a part in many religions:  pilgrimages are as much about the chance to reflect on those things that are on our hearts as we walk as they are about arriving at your destination. Feel the ground beneath your feet, the sun and wind on your face and know that God walks with you.

I’m going to finish with a quote from one of my Mum’s Garden Cuttings, written over a number of years for our parish magazine:

‘On a day when the sun shines and the sky is blue, 
stand underneath a cherry tree and look through its 
blossom-filled branches.  As beautiful a picture as 
you will ever see.’  

Thank you Creator God, for this wonderful world you have given us.  May we never take it for granted.

With love,


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

After all the recent bad weather news now for some really good news. We have received the following email from the Archdeacon which was included in the notices on Sunday 18th March: 

“We are pleased to inform you that the interview panel met on Wednesday 14th March and made a nomination to the Bishop [for the post of vicar], which the Bishop has accepted. We hope to be able to give more details next Sunday, but our expectation is that our next vicar is likely to be starting in September.” 

A big thank you to all those involved in running the familiarisation day in Old Milverton and to those who attended the lunch to meet the three candidates. The candidates felt welcomed and well-informed in equal measure. The interview panel read your written comments for which many thanks.   

Lent started early this year and Felicity’s Ash Wednesday service took place on St. Valentine’s Day. Illness and bad weather at the end of February led to the postponement of the meeting of the Bible Book Club and the cancellation of the monthly Wednesday service. Fortunately, the weather relented for the two baptisms held during the regular Sunday services, the second of which coincided with Mothering Sunday. The bunches of flowers distributed to mothers young and not so young by the children during the service were much appreciated, so a big thank you to Queenie and her assistants for the flowers and associated work.

After some initial experiments with the timers on the new heaters we hope you have noticed some improvement in the temperature in church on Sunday mornings this winter, even during the recent cold weather. We have been running the four new heaters 24/7 and the temperature on Sunday mornings before the congregation arrives has reached 10-11 degrees C!

Anyone who has visited the churchyard during the last month will have seen the wonderful display of snowdrops following the clearance of the brambles and other vegetation last autumn. Now the daffodils we planted last autumn in the new churchyard are coming into flower, so spring must be coming. Spring means the start of the churchyard mowing season. Gus has arranged for the mowers to be serviced and distributed the mowing rota. The first churchyard clearing day is on the morning of Saturday 7th April, please come and help keep the vegetation under control, even if you cannot come for the whole morning. Coffee, cake and biscuits will be available.    

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting will be held this year after the Sunday service on 22nd April when there will be no sermon!. Please stay on after the Service and hear what has been happening at St James in the past year. 

Finally, if you forget your reading glasses on Sunday mornings, do not worry. We have reading glasses of different strengths available at the back of church, so ask whoever is on duty if you need to borrow a pair for the service.

With best wishes Mike and Lib​

Coffee Morning and Plant Sale

Saturday 5th May, 10.00 – 12 noon at 23 Brese Avenue, Warwick, CV34 5TS

We will be selling a variety of bedding and perennial plants. Even if you don’t need any plants, come and join us for coffee and cake! Proceeds from the sale will go to St James.  If you have any plants to offer for sale (for the garden or house), please speak to Sue Fairhurst or Sarah Vincett.

Can you help?

We have two areas of church life where we hope you might like to get involved this year.

Coventry Diocese Centenary Display: This year marks the centenary of our diocese.  We would like to put together a display that tells the story of St James over the past one hundred years.  This will consist of photographs, written comments and possibly an audio recording to play through the sound system. We need a team of people to help gather information, create displays and come up with ideas of what we might include.

Fund-raising: We would love to be more organised in terms of fund raising – for specific projects for church, (such as our recent fund raising efforts to purchase new pew cushions), to ensure we continue to raise sufficient funds to support our Malawi students through school and for more general fund raising to keep St James functioning effectively.

We need people to help co-ordinate these activities as well as folk with fresh ideas and a willingness to help put them into action. The more of us that help, the lighter the commitment for each person. Please have a think about whether you might be able to help, and speak to one of the churchwardens.

African Vision Malawi:  an introduction to our new students

I’m sure you all know that in September last year we committed St James to support two young people through secondary school through the charity African Vision Malawi.  This is a very short biography of our two students that we have received from the charity.

Edington Bwalo

Edington is the fifth born son in a family of eight children. He is 15 years old and he lives with his parents at Kachita village. He went to Kafutwe primary school and has been selected to go to Namitete secondary school. Edington wants to be a lawyer after school because he believes in justice and he wants to contribute to his country by promoting justice. He likes Science, English, Maths and Bible knowledge. His hobby is reading different books because he has learnt that in order to be a lawyer, he needs to be reading very hard and is willing to learn different things. His role model is Mr M’chezime who is a lecturer. His parents are food farmers and welcome the support towards their son’s schooling. They say they will take a great part in encouraging their son in education and any other responsibilities as parents.

Innocent Salawira

Innocent is the youngest in a family of five children. He is 17 years old. He lives with his brother who is married and has three children. His father died some time ago and his mother has remarried. Innocent went to M’bang’ombe primary school and has been selected to go to Robert Blake secondary school. He is from Masimini village. Innocent has been raised by his brother who says that it is difficult for him to pay school fees and he has nothing to sell to send his brother to school as he has a lot of responsibilities for the care of his family and his brothers and sisters. He is a small farmer. Innocent want to be a soldier so that he can protect his country. He likes reading and has said that he will work hard at school to achieve his goal.  

I have sent an introductory letter to each of the boys, telling them a little about St James, and we have had our first letter back from Edington, who writes:

Dear Sir / Madam
I would like to write this letter in order to inform you about my life at secondary school. Namitete secondary school is very comfort and always be free. At Namitete secondary school we learn different subjects. One of the subjects that I like is French. I like this subject because it is a strange subject in my life and it is also language subject. I’m promise to work hard in order to come up with bright colours.
Yours faithful,
Edington Bwalo

​February - March 2018

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

It was a bitterly cold and dark morning, the first Monday in Epiphany, and I set off with our dog Jazz for her early morning walk in our nearby spinney. The smell of damp earth and dark dead leaves drifted up as Jazz scampered after her ball and rummaged in the undergrowth and it all felt very wintry.

Then I had a thought, "Now Christmas is over - how about looking for snowdrops to brighten the day" and as we walked I began to see, here and there, tiny thin spears of leaves and some stems bearing small tightly closed white buds. I was delighted, here were our ' signs of hope' our yearly promise that even in the dark days of Winter  we can begin to see that the new life of Spring will indeed be on its way.

As you read this letter the snowdrops will be lovely drifts of white flowers and early daffodils will be greeting us as well.  The Church will be celebrating Candlemas (February 2nd) the feast commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the Temple, forty days after his birth. This was the occasion when he was greeted and welcomed by Simeon and Anna who had been awaiting the coming of the Christ -the Messiah - for most of their long lives.

In many churches in the west the new beeswax candles are blessed, distributed and lit, then carried in procession into the church to the singing of the Nunc Dimittis, the song of praise sung by Simeon. This is to celebrate the entrance of Christ, the "True Light", into the temple.

This new young Life was bringing Light and Life and Love into the darkness of the world. This Light was and is our sign of hope, our sign of God's continuing presence with us and to quote St John "In him was life and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."

When our daily news bulletins contain far more darkness than light and we are continually asked by others," Where is God in all this ?" Indeed we may be asking ourselves the same question and hope may seem faint - then read the opening verses of John's Gospel. We need to remind ourselves of the- Good News and to look for signs of hope, for signs of light in the darkness.

Think of the snowdrops pushing up through the dark shrouds of last year's leaves into the daylight and take heart, our God, Emmanuel, is indeed with us. Furthermore we whom his Spirit lights he calls to bear this light out into the darkness, to give light to the world and to share our hope.

With love,


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

A happy new year to you all. I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas season here at Church and your own family celebrations too. We are delighted with the numbers of people who came to St James during the Christmas period the total being 220.The services began with the Carol service and I always enjoy listening to the choir that Sue produces for this service. I think we had a record number in the choir and the singing was excellent. This was followed by the nativity service on Christmas Eve and we had a very large congregation including 28 excited children. The theme of the nativity evolved as Sue directed them to take part and parade around the church dressed as various appropriate characters.

The midnight service was again well attended and on Christmas Day, there was a lovely atmosphere amongst the family of St James.

This has been a very busy year for many members of the St James PCC and the administration team as we have tried to continue with “business as usual “since Charlotte left to minister from Coventry Cathedral earlier in the year.  The most work has been fulfilling all the requirements to produce a huge document of 36 pages, including St Mary Magdalene, giving information to the applicants concerning the requirements needed to become the vicar of both churches. We have had many meetings with representatives from both churches which have all been courteous and friendly and we are happy with the document. The post is about to be advertised in the Church Times and we hope to be able to interview prospective candidates early in March. Of course without the support of Sue and Felicity there would have been much more disruption for us at St James and we are indebted to them both.  We are now looking forward to working with a new vicar and hope we are guided in our choice by your prayers. Geoff, Mike and Lib will be at the interviews but other members of the church communities will be able to meet them the previous day when they look around the two churches

With best wishes Lib and Mike​

Looking at God

‘Lenten Valentines’

During this month Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, share the same date! It seems an odd mix, yet there is an obvious link: love! Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, is about learning how to love God more, as we give Him space in our lives. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ experience in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit (1), where He was tempted by Satan, but demonstrated the path of real love.  Jesus is tempted to turn stones into bread. Love gets to the heart of human need, not just satisfying physical desires. Satan tempts Jesus to worship him. However, worshipping God is the beginning of love and results in sacrificial service to meet the needs of others.  Finally, He is tempted to put God to the test, by jumping off the Temple. Only real love can change hearts by practical love and care.

Lent teaches us how to live out the love of God in practice, as we follow Jesus in the way of the cross.

Valentine was Christ’s follower, committed to sharing God’s love with others. We know little about him, except that he was a priest who lived in the 3rd Century AD and was martyred on February 14th. Emperor Claudius felt that soldiers in the Roman Army were distracted from their duty by their wives, and so attempted to outlaw marriage. It is believed that Valentine married couples in secret. He also helped Christians in Rome during times of persecution.  He demonstrated the importance of showing real love in action.

In trying to understand the meaning of her revelations from God, Julian of Norwich found:

‘What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning.’

A letter from Pauline Wanjiru (our Langalanga scholar)

Dear St James

It is my great hope that all is well with you.  How is the church and the Sunday school doing?  How was your Christmas celebration?  I do hope you all enjoyed it.  I celebrated my Christmas at the village with my family members.  This is always a great day for me which I also celebrate my birthday too.  I invited some few friends to celebrate my birthday with me as I turned 24yrs old.

Early this year, I started my internship in one of the organisations here in Nairobi and through it I had an opportunity to learn more and to put all the knowledge learned in class into practice.  I was not lucky to secure a permanent job thereafter and so I applied for another three month internship in a different company.  All that time I have been learning and enhancing my accounting skills.  In both companies I ensured I have delivered the best in all the tasks given.  Last month I was lucky to join one of the companies where I am now working as an assistant accountant.  It really felt so good after such a long duration of internship.  The company is involved in re-drying of fruits and packaging them according to customers’ specifications.

It is all because of your support that I have been able to come this far.  I know there is no good word that can express how grateful I am to all members of St. James Church for all you have done to my life.  Once again I say Thank you.  I know this is just a start for the big dreams that I have in my life.  Thank you for always being there for me especially at a time when I was hopeless in my education.  May the almighty God always bless you and expand your boundaries.  I always think of you and the much love that you have given me.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.


Smile Lines


First friend: ‘Who are you working for these days?’
Second friend: ‘Same people.  The wife and four kids.’


A teacher was finishing a lesson on the joys of discovery and the importance of curiosity.
‘After all,’ she declared, ‘Where would we be today if no one had ever been curious?’
One child quietly spoke up from the back of the room.  ‘In the garden of Eden?’


A teacher saw a student entering the classroom with very dirty hands.  She stopped him and said, "John, please wash your hands. My goodness, what would you say if I came into the room with hands like that?"
Smiling, the boy replied, "I think I would be too polite to mention it."


She texted her husband from home on a cold winter’s morning: ‘Windows frozen, won't open.’
He texted back: ‘Gently pour some lukewarm water over it.’
She replied five minutes later: ‘Computer really screwed up now.’

​October - November 2017

A Christian Message

Dear Friends,

As we move into October the "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is well on its way. Harvests have been "safely gathered in" and Festival celebrations continue to take place as we give thanks for the bounty of God's creation that we experience in this country.

Yet even now as the fields around  our church have yielded up their crop - this year it was beans to be processed into animal fodder - over the newly ploughed brown earth we soon begin to glimpse the tips of green spears as next year's crop begins to germinate and grow; signs of hope for the future.

November will bring with it the chilly reality of Winter and the season of Remembrance when we bring before God our thanks for those who gave their lives in battles on our behalf - dying that we might live. We bring also treasured memories of those whom we have loved and see no more and we give thanks for the lives and example of the saints who have gone before us. Yet like the new life beginning after Harvest, we keep in our hearts our hope that ultimately we shall be reunited in a new life in eternity with our Creator. 

We thank God for our seasons constantly changing yet ever repeating the cycle and with them the Church's year. The liturgy, the pattern of our Bible readings, our prayers and hymns, continually reminds us of the Old Testament history leading up to the coming of the promised Messiah. Likewise the New Testament tells the Good News of Jesus and the birth of the early churches.

We need these continuing patterns of worship and learning as constant reminders of what it is to be a committed Christian, what it is that our faith is based upon when much of life around us brings all of our belief into question.

Yet we are not moving in circles in our daily lives (despite it often feeling so!) We are following our Saviour who calls us to come in his footsteps to a closer walk onwards with God. We are a pilgrim people sustained by God's love and his eternal changelessness, moving towards eternal life and enjoying the changes of the seasons as we go.

With love


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

We were so lucky this year to have a beautiful day for the village show. We had a stall there and opened the church for those who wished to come in and ring the bells if they wished. 51 people rang the bells and their comments were amazing. One lady said it was something she had always wanted to do, but never expected to have the opportunity. We now seem to be turning to colder weather, but I look forward to the leaves changing to incredible colours as they fall.

Bible book club has continued, ably led by Sue who has been very patient with questions concerning the readings from the Old Testament we have been studying. I find it fascinating and rather daunting how little seems to have been learnt over thousands of years about many matters but particularly concerning land and territory.

Our harvest festival celebrations will have taken place when this magazine is distributed and we are so fortunate to have such a wonderfully talented social committee who produce meals and refreshments for us throughout the year. I told a friend this recently who looked puzzled and asked me what food was to do with coming to Church! It made me realise how often food is produced by different people such as church clearing days, after service coffee, after cremated ashes, to mention some of them and I would like to thank you all. Sue is sorting out a morning when we could have a coffee morning once a month and bring friends along too.

Sadly we seem to have quite a lot of the congregation who have needed operations and others who are not too well at the present time. The prayer team are very aware of this and I would like us all to pray for them. We also have had the wonderful gift of many new babies arriving safely to the delight of new grandparents and aunts and uncles. We wish them all long and fulfilling lives.

Charlotte left at the end of July and was delighted with her last service with us. We were able to celebrate with drinks and nibbles outside in the churchyard followed by a presentation to her of flowers and a cheque from us all. Since that time Geoff, Mike and myself have had several meetings with representatives from Mary Magdelene church Lillington to ensure we do our very best to choose the right person to be vicar of both churches. This follows a strict order of protocol that has to be followed which meant producing a parish profile that Jane and Ali worked at so well and we owe them a huge thank you. The PCC at both churches have to be in agreement with what the wardens are doing before the post is advertised in the Church Times, and at the present time we are waiting for confirmation from the Diocese that all is correct.

We have recently had a meeting of the worship committee when we go over the services for the coming months and discuss any slight changes we might make. We hope you will continue to enjoy our services and stay for coffee and chat after the communion service on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.

With best wishes to you all

Lib and Mike

Christmas Cards for members of St James

Many of us give individual cards to our church family at Christmas, but we thought it might be good to spend our money differently.  As last year, may we suggest that you write on a single piece of card with a message to all of us, and hang in on the ‘tree’ that we will set up in church.  We’ll even provide the card to write on!  Instead of buying lots of cards, there will be a box where you might like to put a donation towards the African Vision Malawi charity through which we are now supporting two young people through secondary school.

Cards and tree will be available to use from the beginning of Advent.

Christmas Hamper Raffle and Cake Sale

We will once again be having a hamper raffle and cake sale this year.  This will be on Sunday 4th December in the Parish Room after the service.  Donations for the hamper and offers of cakes will be very welcome – please bring hamper items from the beginning of November and cakes on the day.  The money we raise will also go towards our support of African Vision Malawi.

Post Cards Collection

A big thank you to all who have given their post cards to the collection to raise funds for the work of the churches in South Sudan. Last year a total of £2000 was raised from the sale of cards which will be a great help in giving to those in need the simple everyday items that we take for granted like writing materials and school books. Please keep the post cards coming in especially as we send and receive many less these days.

Smile Lines

​Make a date

Meeting with our new enthusiastic young curate, I asked if I could have a church service when I eventually die. "Of course," he said, grabbing his date book. "What day do you want?"​

The Cow and the Bible

A religious farmer lost his Bible out in the field.  A few days later he went to answer a noise at his door. Standing there was a cow, with his Bible in its mouth.  The farmer raised his eyes to heaven and thanked the Lord for this miracle.   "Not really," said the cow. "Your name was written inside."

Looking at your Community

Plastic-free, please - More than nine out of 10 of us would welcome a plastic-free aisle in our supermarkets.  Such an aisle would offer products in strictly non-plastic packaging. A recent survey by Populus has found growing concern about the staggering amount of plastic packaging being thrown away.  We have so far produced over eight billion tonnes of plastic since the early 1950s, but recycled only 9 per cent. 12 per cent has been incinerated, and 79 per cent dumped in landfills or the natural environment.

December 2017 - January 2018

A Christian Message

Dear Friends

As any year draws to a close, we all tend to find ourselves looking back at the more significant moments in the past twelve months.  It’s a chance to remember the good things that have happened, the successes that both we individually and our family and friends have achieved.  It can be sad too, as we find ourselves remembering friends lost in the past year.   If you’re anything like me, it’s also a time where you come face to face with your regrets, those ‘should have’ moments in life that we all experience and perhaps it makes us stop and ask some of the bigger questions of life – the ‘why’s, ‘what’s and ‘what if’s.

But it’s also a time to look forward.  This is a ‘gateway’ time of year, a time to stand on the threshold of a new year with all its new beginnings and new opportunities.  And that can take quite a bit of courage, especially when we have worries about what that New Year holds in store, be that financially, physically or emotionally.

In the Prayer Dairy, which you will find elsewhere in the magazine, I have included that well-known quote from M. Louise Haskins’ ‘The Desert’:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give
me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’  And
he replied; ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand
into the hand of God.  That will be better to you than light,
and safer than a known way.’

We can look to the future with confidence because God stands with us on this threshold.  The enduring hope of the Christmas story reminds us that Jesus travels this way with us each and every day.  As John’s gospel says ‘the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world’.  His light can dispel our fears and worries for the future, help us to put behind us the regrets from the past year, and it invites us to travel on a daily journey with him into the future.

I encourage you to find just a little time between Christmas Day and New Year to pick up your bible and read the first 14 verses of John’s gospel.  They are full of hope and promise, words that can help us to put our hand into the hand of God and to step confidently out into the New Year knowing that whatever it brings, Christ is by our side to be our light and to bring us his love and peace in our lives.

With love and prayers to you all for both a joyous Christmas and a new year filled with hope,


Churchwardens Letter

Dear Friends

There were two especially noteworthy events in October, one in church and one outside. The first was the Service of Remembrance for all Souls on Sunday October 29th, at which we remembered those who have died and gave thanks for their lives. It was a lovely service with over 50 people attending (some of whom had come a long way) to remember those whose names we read out during the service. The second event was the first of the monthly Coffee and Chat mornings on the previous Tuesday morning. This event was also well attended with plenty of time for a chat! If you are free on the morning of the fourth Tuesday of the month please do come along. All are welcome. By the time you read this the second Coffee and Chat morning will have taken place.

The last Churchyard Clearing in 2017 took place on a Saturday morning in October with over 20 people involved and a very wide age range among the participants. This Churchyard Clearing session was slightly different from the usual mornings of pruning shrubs and battling the brambles, as we planted 750 daffodil bulbs in the rough grass along the southern edge of the new churchyard. Thanks are due to Gus Marshall for his superb organisation and supervision without which we would not have been able to complete the task before coffee time. We now have to wait until the spring to see what a good job we did, or did not do!

At the end of the mowing season the churchyard was looking in good shape thanks to the regular work of the mowing team and some favourable weather. We are very grateful for the time and effort put in by the members of the mowing team – new volunteers are always welcome. We have also benefited from the work of some of the offenders doing community service who have made inroads into the mass of brambles and other vegetation growing among the graves in the far corner of the old churchyard. Thanks are due to Gus’ perseverance for organising this.

By the time you read this letter the Bible Book Club will have discussed the Acts of the Apostles at its meeting on 16th November. Some challenge. Plans for the next meeting will be announced in due course.

In the last two letters we gave updates on the process of appointing a new vicar. At the time of writing our last letter we were awaiting feedback from the Diocese on the content of the Parish Profiles (St Mary Magdalene and St James). The feedback duly arrived in early October and since then Geoff, Lib and I have met our colleagues from Lillington to agree our response to the changes requested by the Archdeacon. As I write this letter, just before Remembrance Sunday, this work is still ongoing. The good news is that the Diocese has given us dates for advertising the post in the Church Times, short-listing the applicants and interviews (March 2018), so hopefully some light at the end of what has seemed to be a long tunnel.

Not long after the traditional Service of Remembrance comes the start of Advent. Christmas is fast approaching with all the associated preparations.

With best wishes Mike and Lib​

Looking at God

What about the first Christmas?

How did the early Christians celebrate Christmas? The simple answer is: they didn’t!

Christmas was first celebrated as late as 336, during the reign of Emperor Constantine. The first Christians didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birth or any other birthdays, regarding them as pagan customs to be avoided. However, the resurrection was central to their faith and they celebrated this event every Sunday.

By the 4th century however, many Christian groups observed Christ's birthday, although on different days.  So, in 345, Pope Julius I officially fixed the date of Christmas as 25th December. Why was this date chosen?

Early Christian tradition said that Jesus’ birth was announced to Mary on 25th March (the Annunciation), nine months before 25th December.  As time went on, the Annunciation became more associated with Mary than Jesus’ birth. It was also believed to be the day on which Jesus died (14th Nisan in the Jewish calendar).

In the setting of Passover, as Jews from all over the Empire travelled to Jerusalem for the Festival, it would make sense for the Romans to take a census. Also at Passover, many lambs would be sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem. ‘He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th March, upon which day also He suffered.’ (Augustine).

The date of Christmas may also have been chosen because the Roman winter solstice and midwinter festivals took place at this time. 'Saturnalia' honoured the god Saturn and 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti' (‘birthday of the unconquered sun’) celebrated the sun god Mithra. Here we also see the Christian church ‘redeeming’ a pagan festival, by investing it with new Christian meaning.

This Christmas, let’s not forget that we celebrate a real gift in real time for everyone: ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ (2 Cor 9:15).

TWAM - Tools with a Mission

Tools with a Mission is a Christian charity enabling people to earn a living and support themselves and their families.

In many countries people have few skills, little education and no means of earning a living.  A switch from aid dependency to self-sufficiency is impossible without help.

TWAM started over 30 years ago and has since provided this help by collecting and refurbishing tools and equipment no longer required in the U.K. and sending them overseas. Through collectors and 7 refurbishment centres across the U.K., teams of dedicated volunteers and supporters help transform thousands of lives every year.

There is a centre in Kenilworth and another in Coventry.  TWAM are looking for sewing and knitting machines, bicycles, as well as tools generally, and also computing kits.  If you can help with donations, please speak with Carol (427240) and she can put you in touch.

Looking at the You

Are you dreading the Facebragging this year?

You’ll remember it from last year’s build-up to Christmas: how some of your friends on posted photographs on Facebook of their impossibly beautiful Christmas decorations, home-made delicious food and perfectly turned out children. 

How do these women, also with full-time jobs and numerous children, still ‘do’ such a perfect Christmas?  Do they really follow all those Christmas craft suggestions in the women’s magazines?  When do they whisk up that perfect Christmas pudding, and hand-make all their decorations, Christmas cakes and mincemeat?   How do they find time to shop in amazing little shops for exquisite presents?  Never mind then attending numerous Christmas parties, with nails and make up just perfect. 

Just remember there are two sides to Facebragging. 

You will see:  perfect food, home-made holly wreaths, colour-themed decorations, presents wrapped and beribboned, children singing like angels, and looking adoringly at Mum as they help with Christmas preparations.

You won’t see:  the jam jar propping up the Christmas cake from behind; the sticking plasters on fingers who were wrestling with the holly leaves; the strange bulges on the other side of the presents, and the fact that the name tag is lost, so no one knows who it is for anyway, the video of the children’s fight at the back of the church, and how Mum threatened them with no Christmas at all if they did not shut up, stand still, and smile for just ten seconds...

Don’t worry about the braggers.  It is only bragging.  Enjoy your Christmas the way it comes – however chaotic and confused.  It is Christmas – peace on your family, and goodwill to all of them, however difficult. 

THE WAY I SEE IT:  The Love that in a Family Dwells
By David Winter

Christmas is, beyond doubt, the family event of the year. For holidays and weekends we go away, but at this one time of the year most of us get in our cars to join some or all of the family somewhere. 

Being human, there may be the odd squabble or falling out (and if we believe the television drama, not much else), but in fact they are usually treasured get-togethers.

This family element of Christmas probably originates from the story of the birth of Jesus. There must be hundreds of famous paintings of the Holy Family gathered around the manger – Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.  It was a little family from which, in the Christian story, vast blessings flowed to the whole human race. The Son of God had an earthly father and mother, and grew up in an ordinary home in an ordinary town. His later life was extra-ordinary, but his home life was utterly normal.

Family lies at the heart of our whole culture. It is created by two things, choice and inheritance. Around the family table are some who are there because by choice they married someone, and others are there because they were born into the family. It’s usually a happy mix. We are glad we chose our partner, and we are glad to be members of this family, and probably another one as well. In his poem, ‘Christmas’, John Betjeman spoke of ‘the love that in a family dwells’. It’s not a bad idea once a year to celebrate it.

Smile Lines

The name of God....

​A little boy arrived at the gate of heaven.  There he met an angel. ‘Before you come in, can you tell me God’s name?’ said the angel.  ‘Oh, that's easy,’ the little boy replied, ‘His name is Harold.’   ‘What make you think His name is Harold?’ the angel asked incredulously.  The little boy explained: ‘Because at Christmas we sing  “Hark while Harold’s angels sing...” and also, when we pray, we say:  “Our Father in Heaven, Harold be Thy Name...”’

Christmas presents

Catching her in the act, I confronted our three-year-old granddaughter.  ‘Are you opening your little sister’s presents?’ I demanded.   ‘No,’ she innocently replied, ‘I'm just helping her learn to share.’

Old News



St James The Great

​Old Milverton, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire