The Herald

 December - January 2020


Exploration of Advent Traditions

Advent in Latin means “coming”; it was used generally when referring to the arrival of a notable person or event. We do not now know when the period of preparation for Christmas that was named Advent first began; it was certainly in existence from about 480. The Council of Tours in 567 ordered monks to fast every day in the month of December until Christmas; in this it was perhaps similar to the season of Lent. Nowadays, we don't generally associate Advent with fasting. In fact it seems almost the opposite with the Advent calendars available that have a chocolate goody for each day as you open the little window or other tempting little treats. The Advent we now recognise came about in around 1900; it is relatively modern.

A few centuries ago, Advent was a time of penitence as you prepared for the birth of Christ, the reason being that we are so fallen God had to send his only Son to suffer and die on a cross to redeem us. We use the time to prepare ourselves for the great festival at the end of the season by reconsidering where we have fallen short of what we are and should be, what we have done and not done. Like Lent, Advent offers us the opportunity to review our lives and to take stock.

Traditionally, advent follows four themes: death, judgement, heaven and hell. As we look back at the year just past, we also look forward to the year that is beginning; it mirrors the secular New Year, but it also forms a link to the second coming of Jesus as we prepare ourselves for his first coming at Christmas.

There are two traditional dates for the commencement of Advent, depending upon your own understanding and preference. There is the traditional date that the majority of us adhere to, being the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and the additionally the 1st of December when we open the first door of our Advent calendars! However, in the Celtic church, Advent began on the 15th November, 40 days before Christmas; it was known as the lesser Lent. The Celtic church focussed on not two but three comings of Christ – the first being the incarnation of Christ. This is what Christmas is all about. The second was the coming of Christ into our own lives, about Christ being completely and intimately involved in our lives every day. The third part of the coming of Christ is his return at the end of all things, described in Johns' book “Revelation”.

There are books and devotions which can be used and followed as we step into the season of Advent and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. By following one of these courses, we make ourselves ready not only for his incarnation, but also we are ready to receive him into our lives and the celebrate the gifts of love and everlasting live that he offers to us. So much better a preparation than all those little goodies n the Advent calendar! Let's be ready as we wake on Christmas morning to greet Christ with joy and celebrate as we welcome him into our lives.

Jane Brooker


Christian Aid Canoe Trip

The Christian Aid canoe trip which Rev. John, Richard Stanford and I took part in raised an AMAZING £71,035.80 for the Christian Aid H.I. V. project in Kenya.  A big thank you to all who supported us. 

Jane M.


A report supplied by Jane M on the project for which the canoe trip raised funds

John and I visited the CA project in Kenya that Churches Together in both March and Wisbech are supporting.  We knew it was working with OVC’s – Orphans and Vulnerable Children, but we did not know much more. 

We arrived at ‘part’ of this project - ‘part’ as this is a huge undertaking.  The CA project is funded by USAID.  The funds we raise are matched 1:20 by USAID.  The local partner delivering in this section is called ‘Cheer Up’. They have been working with children for many years. 

There were things we were surprised to learn.  One is that there are only 3 case managers employed and 140 care workers who are all volunteers!  The second thing was the numbers involved.  They are currently working with over 7,300 children in 3,500 family units. All the children have been affected by HIV in some way.  Some have lost a parent or parents, some are infected and some have other family members infected.  This was a reminder to us that HIV is still having a devastating effect even though retrovirals are preventing deaths.

The way they are helping families become more economically viable – and so able to care for the children – is impressive.  There is no ‘one fits all’ solution.  It may be help in setting up a shop, it may be a cow to not only give milk for the family but some to sell, or even 5 merino sheep.   

This is only 1 of 27 local partners delivering this project across 17 counties.  Over 100,000 OVCs are involved. Seeing how CA is making a difference for families made us all the more committed to supporting this project.


Family Fair


A very big thank to everyone who helped in any way with the November 16th Family Fair.


Whilst we do all the advanced organising, this would be of little use without everyone’s help setting up St Peter’s, running the various stalls, providing items for those stalls, preparing food, serving customers, washing up and of course clearing up afterwards. With all this help we raised an excellent total, well up on last year, a breakdown of which you will see below.


As always, we made a point of speaking to all the stallholders that we rented tables out to again and all of them seemed happy with the way the day had gone which was an improvement on last year which was a little mixed. One has already booked for 2020 and booking forms will be sent out to our large list of possible stall holders in the New Year.


Because of the later date of the Fair next year, the name is being changed to St John’s Methodist Church Christmas Fair. Hopefully this change will attract extra paying stallholders and we can fill the whole church. If anyone can think of anything for an extra money spinner for next year, bearing the theme in mind, we would like to know - we do not claim to be the founts of all knowledge so if you should have an inspired idea please speak to one of us.


We will finish with an advanced notice. Next year’s Christmas Fair will be held on SATURDAY 28th NOVEMBER so please put that in your diaries and keep that day free.


Many, many thanks,


Andrew, Julie & Gill


FAMILY FAIR RESULTS 2019                                                 (2018)


Entrance Donations                            £  59.99                       £  18.85

Refreshments                                     £474.07                       £605.09

Cakes                                                  £  96.60                       £  38.20

Jams                                                   £323.30                       £283.75

Bric a Brac                                          £  65.94                       £  30.67

Books                                                  £142.23                       £  90.36

Bags                                                    £  26.50

Donations                                            £230.00                       £160.00

Lettings                                                £231.00                       £246.00


TOTAL                                              £1649.63                      £1472.92



As a footnote to all of the above, I would like to give a special thank you to Gill and Julie who had to take on extra this year due to my incapacitation! I love running around getting everything ready for the Family Fair but was just not able to this year. I will try and be 100% for next year.





Coffee Rota

Volunteers to join the Coffee Rota are needed urgently. If no more volunteers are forthcoming, it may be necessary to reduce the number of Sundays when coffee is served to possibly only twice a month.

 Please let John Harris have your name if you would be prepared to help from time to time.


The Martins MHA

The Martins MHA in Vinefields, Bury St Edmunds, is a wonderful place. Many can testify to the excellent care and life ("Outstanding" - CQC) of this our Methodist Home. The Manager Liz Fleming and the staff are really great, and are supported by a great deal of Volunteer input.

One function of the Volunteer Support Group,  which I Chair, is to raise money for the Amenity Fund to provide extras beyond the basic daily necessities of life for the residents. These life enhancing extras include outings, entertainment, gifts at Christmas, and the little things which are not routinely provided in a Care Home. Funds are raised by events such as Summer and Christmas Fairs, Firework Night and Coffee Afternoons, plus some donations and bequests.

But we are currently running at a deficit! We really need more funds.

Could you consider becoming a 'Friend of The Martins' and giving a regular amount such as £5 a month. Our Treasurer Roger Drew ( would be happy to provide the required form for you to fill in.

Also we have other opportunities available!

Could you help out at The Martins by taking the shop trolley round to residents on a Thursday?

Or would you like to help raise funds or lead Morning Prayers, or play the piano for services, or play games with residents and socialise?

If so we would like to hear from you.*

Rev Val Spencer, Chair Volunteer Support Group


*Vetting and some basic training will be given


Foxearth Meadows round-up

An island of biodiversity in a sea of intensively managed farmland, A Rocha UK‘s rural nature reserve, Foxearth Meadows, sits on the Essex/Suffolk border. To date, 438 species of plants, fungi, mammals, molluscs, birds and insects have been recorded on this 11- acre site, and the team continues to report to the Essex Wildlife Trust Biological Recording Centre to help build a fuller picture of UK nature.

As well as developing the area for nature, there is also a fast-expanding outreach programme serving the local community, coordinated by volunteer Rev. Andy Jowitt. Visitor numbers continue to grow, as does collaboration with local churches, schools and community groups.

Foxearth Meadows‘ recent programme has included two outdoor church services, and the reserve‘s first prayer walk. The team hosted two primary school visits and provided summer activities for secondary school pupils. Local history, natural history and photography groups have all enjoyed the reserve; other visitors have learned about the site's wildlife through bat and dawn chorus walks, dragonfly identification, moth trapping, FoxeART sessions and National Meadows Day open events.

Please pray for the small team to build on these connections, and that all who visit will be inspired to care for nature in their own context.

[Taken from the A Rocha magazine “Root & Branch” copies of which are in the Link. Do borrow a copy and read about A Rocha’s work]



‘IN GOD ’S presence is the fullness of  joy, at his right hand are pleasures for  everrnore. ’ (Psalm 16.11

We saw earlier how Jesus  helped people to relax in God’s presence, and  encouraged them to take time-off from their  mission to be refreshed. The Church today should also be such a community. For too long  in its history the Church has been over-solemn, hyper-serious, a folk too much beating their breasts for guilt, or unyieldingly stiff with superior respectability: a society unable to  enjoy life or ‘let its hair down’. It has been seen from the outside as a ‘kill-joy’ people. Is this not one of the reasons why so many people have been - and still  are - put off the Church? 

A local Churches Together held a mission in the 1990s. Among many activities a Barn Dance was arranged. This was well-attended by Church members and their guests, and the event began well with a light heart and  some lively dancing. Then the guest evangelist was invited to give a ‘message’, and the rest of the evening was taken up by his lengthy preaching - and the  dancing, jollity and camaraderie were drowned, as though they had no  importance.

Conversely, the congregation where I was brought up - Sefton Road  Congregational Church, Morecambe - understood the pattern of life voiced in the Book of Ecclesiastes 3.1:
 ‘For everything its season,  and for every activity under heaven its time. ’

Alongside the well-attended and ordered Services and dedicated Sunday School the congregation knew how to relax fully, as they held Saturday-night dances, hilarious concerts (there I learned the lyrics of ‘Yes! we have no bananas’, and ‘Down Mexico way’! ), as well as outings and games in the countryside.


The apostle, Paul, in his letter to the Galatians 5.22 listed the gifts of God’s Spirit; the first is ‘love’, and the second is ‘joy’!


When I was a minister in Oldham, Lancashire, in a sermon I drew - with a ‘heavy brush’ - a picture of sin. After the service Bill Deaville, a Church Member and park-keeper, husband and father of three boys, possessing a rare combination of firm responsibility and puckish humour, came into the vestry. I have never forgotten his words to me:


‘You know, Christianity is a happy thing!’


The Church must make sure to live as a community, a ‘centre’, providing both LOVE and JOY!


[Taken, with permission, from “Making Sense of Life” by Rev Malcolm Hill]




Ann Smythe and family would like to thank everyone at St. John's for their love and support during George's illness and since his death on 2nd. September.

Special thanks also to Rev. Ruth Ridge and Carol Whiteman for their pastoral care.

We are very grateful that donations in memory of George amounted to £520 and have been shared equally between St. Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmund's and Prostate Cancer UK.


Weekly Notices

If you are organising an event, an activity or an appeal, please let Beverly Richardson know so that it can be advertised in good time through the weekly notices.  Information can be emailed to




News from Storehouse

Storehouse continues to be very busy and sadly the numbers in crisis don’t look to be reducing, in Oct we fed 205 adults & 144 children. We were amazingly blessed by Harvest donations this year and we received 8,594 items in October, thank you to all who supported us.

Our Christmas preparations are well on their way. We aim to reduce some of the financial burden on individuals and families, plus put smiles on faces of people who find this time of year challenging. With this in mind we hope to give everyone the normal basic food items plus a bag of Christmas treats. However, we need your help in order to do this. A list of ideas for Christmas food treats is pinned up in the Link..

Please note that the closing date for all Christmas items is 10th December. We need to get the food in, sorted and distributed before Christmas. We wish to reduce the worry about Christmas for people but we can only do that if we can give them these items early. Giving out food on Christmas Eve is lovely but it doesn’t really bless people in the same way. So please spread the word that Christmas comes early to Storehouse!

Thank you for your generous donations,


Christian Aid article on the coming election

For dignity, equality and justice

The UK general election, on 12 December is an opportunity for us, as Christians to live out our faith. We can stand together with our sisters and brothers living in poverty, to ensure their voices are raised up to people in power.

We can pray together for Parliamentary candidates to hold the needs of the world’s poorest in their hearts.

And, whether on the doorstep, at hustings events or elsewhere we have countless chances to remind candidates asking for our votes that the scandal of international poverty is something millions of us care about.

We’ve produced this short guide to the general election with suggested questions to ask candidates.
You can read more about Christian Aid’s manifesto: A call to action, for dignity, equality and justice at

Yours in hope,

Luke Harman
Campaigns and Activism Manager
Christian Aid


Silence and Honey Cakes by Rowan Williams – A review

This is an absolute gem of a book, and very readable. Unlike some of Rowan Williams' other works, it is not too taxing on the brain; if you want to tackle one of his more challenging works try “Being Human”!

The title may seem somewhat obscure... you have to read the book to find out how Rowan Williams came to employ this particular designation. The book describes the growth of monasticism amongst the early Christians and the reasoning behind seeking solitude in the dessert. He goes onto explore the rise of the new monasticism that has developed in the last decade, linking it with the founding fathers but also examining the links between the original pattern of Christian discipleship and traditions with today's spirituality.

Behind the discussion and explanations, together with some little anecdotes from the early monastic schools and communities, you can feel the sense that the author finds the idea of separating ourselves from the humdrum business of the secular world both intriguing and appealing whilst acknowledging that you can never truly cut yourself adrift. Indeed it is clear that separating ourselves from the world is not the ideal state, rather we should engage.

Rowan tackles some difficult questions and never shies away from difficult truths. He examines carefully and gently what relevance the old ways of the founding fathers’ spirituality has for us today, and what new insights will the new monasticism have for us on our belief. How will this new movement, which is steadily gaining momentum within all disciplines of the Church, impact on the future of our Church and our faith?

This is a book which questions our role in the world in the world today and the relevance of monasticism. It seeks not so much to provide answers as to lead you to examine your faith and explore new expressions of that faith. One perhaps for the book club to will certainly raise thought provoking questions. The answers you seek will not necessarily be those you might expect!

Jane Brooker

Link to Hope

We prepared 44 shoe boxes this year and raised £201.72 which covered the cost of those boxes and allowed a little over.

In total 40,000 shoe boxes were sent. Full details will be shared in the next Herald

Daphne Harris


 The deadline for the February Herald is Sunday 19th January 2020


Any articles for the Herald would be most welcome

Please email any contribution to either Tricia Campbell  - or Gill Phillips - gillian.phillips  - or leave it in the tray in the Link.



Church Contacts:-

Minister                       Rev Ruth Ridge                07447091182

Senior Steward           Sue Rampling                   01787 377441

Lettings Secretary       Andrew Clare                    01787 372705

Church Office                                                       01787 373185


Church website:

Church email address:



Coffee Rota


Coffee Rota




Clare’s team


Salt Shaker House Group


Clare’s team

15 pm

Sue and Gill


Jan and Daphne


Tricia Campbell’s team




Clare’s team


Salt Shaker House Group


Paul and Jane


Clare’s team




Tricia’s team


Jan and Daphne


Clare’s team


Salt Shaker House Group