Rector’s Letter – September 2018
The Hymns and Pimms at Exton Church on Sunday 12th August was great, offering a pause for thought and prayer, a range of popular hymns, old and new, with some description of their original context and evolution. Many thanks to the Exton Churchwardens Mary LeCoyte and Pauline Aubrey for putting this service on and to all who helped in the evening.
Many thanks also to the Churchwarden of Luxborough Jennifer Duke for talking to Exton PCC earlier in the year, sharing positive experiences of trying new things in Luxborough, both the challenges involved and the rewards of seeing new possibilities for the churches today. This was a great encouragement to Exton PCC as they planned some innovative events for the year ahead.
In the past the challenge for Rector and Wardens was to faithfully follow the well worn tracks laid by previous generations. Today we must find new paths as the social, cultural landscape around us has changed beyond recognition, even on Exmoor.
One result of the changing social and cultural landscape is that the number of people regularly attending churches across the country continues to decline. This means the burden of the costs of maintaining the fabric and work of the church falls in greater proportion on those who remain committed to keeping them open and in good condition; contributing to the life of the Diocese, with a Rector and Curate on standby for the times they are wanted, for baptisms, weddings and funerals, Harvest Festivals, Acts of Remembrance, Christmas Carol Services. If you value the local church in your village please consider what contribution you can make to keeping them open as the local Wardens and PCCs work hard to ensure that they do.
Saying that, of course the point of having churches in each village is to be a reminder to us to keep in mind a wider perspective than the immediate challenge of celebration in which we are caught up; a reminder to pause for thought and prayer, as Jesus, our founder paused and went off to a quiet place to pray, even in the midst of; indeed often in the midst of the most demanding times. The important thing, perhaps the only thing, is giving ourselves the time and space to keep a still centre, a loving heart, whatever happens; allowing others to help us when that is beyond our own resources to achieve. The churches, their costs and their upkeep must never become another burden and challenge to that very thing which they are trying to achieve for us all.
On Monday 13th August I helped Laura Tasker, who leads the Exmoor Community Youth Club, host a family activity day organised by Somerset County Council’s GetSet Team and other agencies including Sure Start. The aim of the GetSet Team is to help give children, young people and their families the best possible start in life.
Around 65 people attended the day, many regulars from the Youth Club and it was enjoyed by all. It was also a useful opportunity for families with children and young people to see some of the help which is available to them. It was great to be part of the very practical modern way of ensuring the values of mutual encouragement and support for everyone in our community find a contemporary expression in our changing society.
If you or your family are facing difficulties there are ways of receiving support which the local church or village agent can help put you in touch with. These include a referral to the West Somerset Food Cupboard in Alcombe which exists precisely to offer immediate help if you find you are in difficulty. I hope that some of our Harvest offerings across the benefice can go to support the vial work of the Food Cupboard.
All the best David.