This page shows some notable events in the life of the church family in 2000.
September 2000 - Autumn Roundup by the Vicar, David Eaton
Sunday Service Plan
Staffing and Union of Benefices with Mickleham
Marriage in Church after Divorce
Parish Church Vestries
At this year's Annual Meeting I gave a presentation on the new Prayer Book, called Common Worship, that the Church of England is introducing this Autumn. It will replace the Alternative Service Book (ASB) that we have been using since its introduction in 1980. It will complement, but not replace, the Book of Common Prayer, first introduced in 1662.
Common Worship is authorised from Advent Sunday (December 3rd). The ASB ceases to be authorised from 31st December 2000. I do not anticipate this will be a difficult transition since the new book is based on the ASB services we already know.
The Church Council has agreed to purchase Common Worship in booklet form and to use to use its CD ROM to download material as we need it. This means separate booklets for each of the services we use. We could have purchased The Main Service Book in its entirety with all the services, many of which we do not regularly use.
This option would have been twice as expensive and meant handling a book of nearly nine hundred pages. We think the single service booklets will be easier to use, as well as cheaper. You will be able to purchase the Main Service Book personally if you wish at £15 a copy.
Worship Survey [actions]
Earlier this year I conducted a Worship Survey to which there was a good response. The results, which I published in this magazine, suggested a need for more non-eucharistic family worship in the Parish Church at 10.30am.
The Council have responded to this survey by agreeing to increase Family Worship. This form of service will now take place on the first Sunday of each month, but on other Sundays throughout the year as well, so that in all there will be around eighteen Family Services each year. We looked at various options but concluded this level of increase, on an occasional basis, was about right. We hope it will make our worship more user friendly, particular for younger families.
Sunday Service Plan
As I mentioned above, we also need as a parish to be more attractive to younger families and people. This means more of our attention and resources should go to meeting that need than has hitherto been the case. We are probably too heavily centred on eucharistic services and those of mature years, although the Eucharist should remain as the core service in our pattern of worship.
None of these reasons on their own is determinative in reducing and changing services but together they make the case. It is because of this a new pattern follows this autumn.
We also looked at the pattern of worship at All Saints which at present means a weekly communion service at 9am. We concluded that it was appropriate to reduce the number of services to usually the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays only. This is a tough and sad decision for regular All Saints' worshippers but the reason is that the size of the congregation has continued to decline and is now averaging around fifteen. On this projection, despite the dedication of regular attenders, the question of viability comes into view.
Staffing and Union of Benefices with Mickleham
The Union of Benefices with Mickleham has arisen following an approach by the Diocese through the Archdeacon of Dorking. Discussions have taken place and a joint working party of Incumbents and Churchwardens prepared a report.
It looks as though this report will be accepted by both PCCs and take full effect in 2002. It will mean pastoral reorganisation so that Mickleham, as a small parish which cannot continue on its own, can nevertheless remain independent although part of a large pastoral unit.
The two parishes will have one Incumbent based in Leatherhead, and would in effect be run as one unit. This will mean a reduction in stipendiary staffing from three to two across the two parishes. A House-for-Duty Priest in early retirement is likely to live at Mickleham, with Incumbent and Assistant being in Leatherhead.
However, the Assistant is for some periods in the future likely to be a deacon, for a year before being priested. This would leave for a period only one full time stipendiary priest. We need to increase lay leadership but these levels of full time staffing mean both Leatherhead and Mickleham need to look at the rationalisation of services against clergy, in particular, available to take them.
Marriage in Church after Divorce
The Church Council discussed the recent House of Bishops Report Marriage in Church after Divorce at its June Meeting. This was as part of church wide consultation process.
The position of the church is that marriage is a lifelong commitment and this remains the ideal. But the Report seeks to find a way forward for the church when approached by couples for marriage when one or both have previous spouses still living. The set questions asked of the Council were:
(i) "Do you accept the principle that there are circumstances in which a divorced person may be married in church during the life-time of a former spouse?"
Voting: Laity: 18 for
Clergy: 2 for
(ii) "Do you support the recommendations of the Working Party contained within the Report as the right way to proceed ?"
Voting: Laity: 16 for, 2 against.
Clergy: 2 for
The minority view was of unhappiness with exactly the same form of words for a second marriage as for a first. These outcomes have been passed on to the Diocese in the consultation process. This is a Report only and after consultation the House of Bishops will issue guidelines for use in the parishes. The final decision in such matters will lie with each incumbent, and a set of pastoral criteria will be recommended to incumbents to use when in discussion with individual couples.
No incumbent will be expected to act against his or her own conscience.
Parish Church Vestries
By the time you read, this I hope that the work on refurbishing and creating vestries in the Parish Church will have been completed.
What will have been achieved is that a new Clergy Vestry will have been created in the old organ loft - finding an alternative use was implicit in the granting of the Faculty to remove the organ some years ago.
The ground floor Churchwardens' Vestry will have been greatly improved and is shared with Verger, Chalice assistants and servers. A much better sink and cupboards will have been installed for the use of flower arrangers. Hot water will be available. Previously a small space was being used by too many people, with inadequate hanging space for robes and other storage needs. All this constitutes the completion of phase two of Church Improvement. Phase one was the reordering in the nave of the Church.
All this work has been made possible because the PCC has saved in separate restricted funds monies received in recent years by way of bequests. It shows how important bequests are and what they can achieve. and how prudence over the use of funds pays off.
A plaque commemorating those who had made bequests may be found in the Chapel of Remembrance and Hope up to the time of the Nave re-ordering. The new vestries will be dedicated at the morning service on September 10th. The Clergy Vestry will be dedicated to the memory of Anthony Hill and the Churchwardens' Vestry to the memory of Kathleen White, who will have been the two major funders - but we also remember with thanksgiving others who have made bequests towards this work.
August 2000 - Holidays - Oberammergau
Holidays are looming large for all of us. What a relief it is to have some time of rest and refreshment with friends and family to look forward to after the past few months of work and school.
It is important we all have times of rest and renewal to recharge our batteries, to give quality time to our families, and to have time for ourselves to read, relax and have some fun. The words of the Psalmist remind us that God seeks to renew and revive us:
'The Lord is my shepherd; I lack for nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me to water where I may rest;
he revives my soul;' (Psalm 23: 1-3)
The holiday season is an opportunity to let God bring new life to us in different ways. Some of us from this parish have recently returned from a little holiday cum pilgrimage in Austria and Germany where we went to see the Passion Play at Oberammergau in Bavaria, South Germany.
This play is only performed every 10 years. As well as a number from our churches in Leatherhead, we were joined by other friends from Betchworth, Bosham, Peaslake, Cheltenham, Nottingham and as far afield as Liverpool! There were 25 of us in all.
We flew to Salzburg and spent a few days at the ski resort of Kirchberg in the Austrian Alps. For many of us it was our first trip to the Alps and we were all quite bowled over by the beauty and majesty of the mountains. They were so huge on the horizon, When we went up in a cable car to the top it was quite breathtaking how much more splendour there was to see. Ranges of snow capped mountains as far as the eye could see. In the meadows around our feet there were intricately formed wild Alpine flowers, all different colours and shapes.
On Whit Sunday we all left Kirchberg and travelled over the border to Germany ready to see the Passion play the next day. We were billeted on different families in a nearby farming village. I was woken by the cows mooing as they were milked at 5am a few yards below my bedroom!
The day of the Passion Play had dawned. It was an all day event starting at 9.30am and ending at 6.30pm with a 3 hour break for lunch. There were 2000 in the cast and 5000 in the audience. We had excellent seats near the front and so had a good view throughout. The production was quite wonderful and even more powerful than any of us had expected.
It was both theatre and opera. The music was beautiful, composed by Rochus Dedler and Markus Zwink. There was a chorus of 50 who sang prologues at key stages to link the religious history of Israel, presented in the form of tableaux, with the Passion narrative.
It made us aware how time and time again people experienced the saving intervention of God in their moment of greatest need.
It was very moving to see so many children taking part in the play - some little more than a year old in their mothers' arms. There were often donkeys, sheep and goats on stage and the village people wore simple clothes of the time of Christ. It felt as if we were reliving the life of Christ as it would have been 2000 years ago. Yet through the music and the acting it touched our hearts and our own human condition today.
So often we use our heads to try and understand the story of Jesus' death and resurrection, and not our hearts. The harrowing scenes of love, betrayal and desertion taking place a few metres in front of us made us painfully aware of what it is to be human. To realise there are threads of our own experience of life weaving into the life of Jesus.
This production spoke right into our hearts and helped us know something of the heart of God who loves each one of us uniquely. I hope you all have a time of rest and renewal at some point over the summer months and discover in your heart more of God's abundant love for you.
July 2000 - First at Pentecost
It was the first time that three churches had ever joined together for Morning Communion in Leatherhead, and extra chairs had to be brought into the Parish Church on June 10th for the 2000th celebration of Pentecost.
The Vicar, Rev David Eaton, Methodist Minister Ian Howarth and URC Minister Brian Treharne shared in leading the worship, the form of which was in the Methodist tradition.
The preacher, Rev Brian Treharne, told his fellow Christians that they shared a commission from our Lord. He called on those present to act as witnesses for their faith. "We have to know what the Bible teaches, but it must be verified by our own personal experience. We must tell others what God has done in our own lives."
June 2000 - WORSHIP SURVEY
David Eaton writes: I am grateful to all those who completed a copy of the Worship Survey on or about Mothering Sunday this year. Over 100 replies to the self-completion questionnaire were received and thanks go to Helena Hill for tabulating the results and drawing conclusions.
Some of the findings are given below by the Editor:
- 50% of respondents were over the age of 60
- 40% were aged 31-59
- 60% attended weekly
- just over 50% usually attended both 10.30 Communion and 10.30 Family Services
- 25% usually attended only 10.30 Family Services
- 25% usually attended only 10.30 Communion Services
- 62% said 10.30am was the time of Sunday service that suited them best
When asked if they would like to see more informal family worship each month that ran for about 45 minutes with a music group and contemporary music:
- 55% said the present pattern was about right i.e 1st Sunday informal Family Service, other Sundays Communion
- 29% said they would like to see more informal family worship
- 16% had no strong feelings either way
Children in Church
When there is a Family Service:
- 56% preferred children to be there throughout as at present
- 33% preferred them to be in for part of the service and then going out to Sunday Club or Crêche for their own activities
If there was to be more informal Family Worship:
- 63% preferred one main service each Sunday with Family Service on more than one Sunday each month
- 37% preferred two main mid-morning services on most Sundays each month, i.e. Family Service and Communion
Two 10.30 services [at the Parish Church]?
If there were to be two services most Sundays mid-morning:
- 61% preferred one Communion Service in church and one Family Service in the hall, both at the same time and sharing Sunday Club facilities
- 39% preferred these to be both in church one after the other, one of which offered Sunday Club facilities
If there were two services, one after each other most Sundays mid-morning, how should Sunday Club provision be arranged?:
- 58% said at Communion only
- 42% said at Family Service only
April 2000 - Easter 2000 - the first Easter of the Third Millennium.
No single event has affected so many people for such a long period of time as Jesus giving of his life on the Cross, and His Resurrection from the dead.
There is a special sense in this Jubilee Year of a fresh start, of renewal, and it is up to us to seize this moment, to commit ourselves to God in a new way, and to share our great treasure with others.
But there is a danger in coming to think that Easter is to be celebrated only once a year. It is just as much for a damp miserable morning as it is for the joyful flower-filled Easter Day - it is to be celebrated every time we remember the risen Christ.
And what can we learn from Easter 2000? When He appeared to his disciples after His Resurrection Jesus promised "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). That is true for us, today. What can we say but 'thank-you', for the greatest gift we can imagine receiving, and step out with the confidence that comes of knowing we are God's beloved children.
With all good wishes for a Joyful Easter,
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February 2000 - Common Worship
In 1662 the Church of England published The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) which we still use today. It was largely the work of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer although he drew on the tradition and liturgy of the church before his time to compile it.
There had also been a period of revision leading up to the BCP with the publication of other prayer books before the firm form came into being.
In 1980 the Church of England published The Alternative Service Book (ASB) which we use today for our main communion services and at Baptisms, Marriages and Funerals. It is a measure of the pace of change in our own day that the church has embarked on a revision of the ASB which will be published later this year.
A new service book is to be published and authorised called Common Worship. This new prayer book will include revision of ASB services. For example:
- there will be new Eucharistic Prayers of Thanksgiving for use at the Communion Service, which the priest says to consecrate the bread and wine
- there are revised Baptism, Marriage and Funeral Services. Because these services are based on the ASB there will be familiar territory as well as new material
- but in addition Common Worship will included material from The Book of Common Prayer and there has in part been a return to Prayer Book usage. For example in the Calendar, 'days after Trinity' is now preferred to 'days after Pentecost'
- the new services will be published in single service form, as individual booklets, but a Sunday Service Book is to be published which will include services regularly used by churches on Sundays, including BCP services. The Church Council will be looking at what is available and deciding which form will best suit this parish.
An important point to grasp is that authority from the House of Bishops to use the ASB will come to an end at 31 December 2000. We will, therefore, be bound to move on the Common Worship at or before that date.
Juliette and I will try to make this as easy a transition as possible, and we have begun through the use of the 'Come and Celebrate' Communion Service. This includes some of the new Eucharistic Prayers which will be incorporated in Common Worship. I also expect the 'Come and Celebrate' format to be similar to that used in Common Worship.
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February 2000 - The Receiving of Communion before Confirmation of children
We have as a parish been considering whether to prepare and admit children to receiving communion before they are confirmed.
This practice is now permissible in many dioceses of the church including our own. We have had a period of discussion and information gathering.
The practice of admitting children to communion before confirmation recognises that to be baptised is to enter into full membership of the church, and therefore to be able to enjoy the fullness of membership by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion. (Holy Baptism is itself a sacrament and usually it is children who receive it).
By receiving communion children are brought deeper into the life of Christ and it can be an important part of their Christian nurture.
Sacraments are by definition mysterious and their full meaning cannot be fully explained. Children have a spiritual awareness of their own. Recent research has shown that all children have a spiritual awareness and it is adults who throw off this way of looking a life, and believing in God, presuming they have outgrown them. Perhaps in this children have something to teach us all, as well as being innately spiritually sensitive.
However, as a Christian community we have not had one mind about how to proceed. Members of the older generation have, understandably, been reluctant to see change from a practice which they have grown up with of only admitting children to communion after confirmation.
But it is to be noted that parents of children attending Sunday Club were strongly in favour of admission before confirmation. A survey showed over 80% in favour.
It has been the responsibility of the Church Council to come to a decision about how to proceed. The Council has taken the issue very seriously and recognised the strength of argument on both sides.
Because of this at its January meeting it decided that a two thirds majority would be needed to proceed with change. When the vote was put the majority in favour of change was more than two thirds. As Chairman I didn't vote myself.
Consequently Juliette and myself will now begin to put in place preparation to allow children to receive communion sometime this year.
I shall underline this is not an open door for all or any children to receive.
They will need to undergo a period of preparation and they will need the support and co-operation of their parents.
They will need to be judged ready to embark on this serious step.
This year the numbers of children involved are likely to be in single figures. The PCC decision and the preparation programme will be sent to the Bishop for his approval before we take the next step. I believe this is a significant change for us as a parish to have undertaken. I hope if you are apprehensive you will be willing to reserve judgement and support the children involved.
It is clearly most important to nurture the coming generation in faith. Other parishes have found this an effective way of doing so and a cause for great celebration. I am confident we can join them.
We offer our prayers and support to all those being confirmed this month from our parish at Guildford Cathedral on 16th February at 8pm. Interestingly, these are all adults.
My feeling is that by coming early to receiving communion children will be that much more ready and wanting to come to confirmation. The preparation involved will pave the way for preparation for confirmation. So that, by whatever route, we have cause to rejoice that Christian adults and children are entering more deeply into the things of God.
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