Letter from Sandy, Associate Priest

I always get excited at this time of year when everything in God’s creation awakens from the harshness of winter and the dark evenings are getting shorter. We have the snowdrops, crocuses and now the daffodils are poking their heads up and in sheltered spots they are even flowering. The evenings are getting lighter and the birds in the garden are becoming more active especially on days when the sun shines. Doesn’t it just lift your spirits! And all of this is the glory of what God has given us in creation.

I reflect each day in thanksgiving and gratitude to God for giving me the eight years of ministry among all of you and for all that we have done together. I would not be able to serve you without your great encouragement, help and love.

As we embark on the next phase of our time together we should thank God for his generous gift of love for each other as we enter the next part of our journey.

Many of you already know that the Reverend Helen Bailey has now left us and has been appointed to a new post as the vicar of Broadstone, in the Diocese of Salisbury. This means we are now in a vacancy and for the older individuals amongst us, we may be more familiar with the term interregnum. During the time of vacancy the churchwardens in our benefice at Minchinhampton with Box and Amberley are now legally in charge of the church parishes acting on behalf of the Bishop of Gloucester. The churchwardens will be meeting with Archdeacon Jackie Searle in February, when she will explain the procedures that need to be followed until we can appoint a new Rector for the benefice. The churchwardens are responsible for all the parishioners and the wider community in the town and villages and to keep them informed of what is happening during this time. The other Associate Priest for Amberley, Reverend John Spiers, and I are responsible for the worship services and the cure of souls, which basically means pastoral care. We meet regularly as a team with our Reader Linda Jarvis to discuss services and pastoral issues. So, I can assure you that even though we are in the vacancy it is ‘business as usual’. Our contact details are in the front of the magazines.

It does not seem that long ago that we were in vacancy and compiling our parish profiles with great enthusiasm.

This process will be taken up again as we revisit our profiles and combine them with our vision for the future. It will be a great adventure with God that we will be entering into as we journey through this process and rethink some of the opportunities and possibilities that our re-ordering has opened the door to as we consider just how our new space within the church could be used. Each week we have seen changes occurring as our re-ordering progresses. This last week the rood screen was removed from the front and replaced at the side opening in to the Lady Chapel where it looks absolutely amazing and has made the space even more intimate. It has also opened up our worship space so that now we can see right up to the High Altar, and in the future when we journey to the Altar for communion we can see with anticipation what is clearly before us.

But even with all these exciting changes please do be reassured that we will continue our worship and services as usual. The churchwardens and I, together with the retired clergy, are a team working together to ensure stability and continuity. We all need your prayers as we journey together and we ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we keep you. When you receive this magazine, Lent will have already commenced but if you are interested it’s still not too late to come along to one of our Lent groups; the details are on page 8. Lent is a time when we are reminded of the opportunity to reflect on our faith as we become open to God’s presence, or for some it may be a time just to spend with God in the stillness of their busy lives. This encounter may be just what you need to reaffirm a relationship that our Lord calls us to. As well as our Lent groups, each Wednesday during this time at 12 noon do come along to our Lent lunches which are simply soup and baked potatoes with or without cheese filling and donations going towards our Lent charities.

Whatever you do may I wish you a good Lent and remind you that Easter Day is on Sunday, 1st April when I hope to greet as many of you as possible in our new re-ordered church. All are welcome to join us in celebrating our Risen Lord. Alleluia He has Risen indeed!

With love and best wishes