- It is Harvest Festival at our Sherborne churches today (Lillington and Longburton hold theirs next Sunday). So may I thank you in advance for all the harvest produce I know you will be bringing to the services? Today’s gifts will be taken tomorrow, Monday, to a stall on the Parade, by the Conduit, to be sold between 8.30 am and 12 noon. All proceeds will be for the work of the Sudan Medical Link which supports the Episcopal Church of South Sudan in carrying out its primary healthcare responsibilities to the people and communities in the dioceses – buying and sending medicines, training medical workers (especially community midwives), furnishing and equipping clinics in outlying areas, and contributing towards the salary of the local health administrator. Even though there has been unrest in South Sudan we know that the Medical Link has been able to continue its valued work without interruption.
- Our Annual Day of Prayer and Gifts for the Abbey, Castleton and St Paul’s is being held on Saturday 7 October. If you are on the Electoral Roll you should by now have received a letter from me about Gift Day. If you haven’t, or you are not on the Roll, you should be able to find the letter at the back of the Abbey, or obtain a copy from the Parish Office. It contains all you need to make your gift.
May I take this opportunity of thanking all those of you who helped with the delivery of the letters within the town? You have saved us a fortune in postage.
Now all I can do is to ask you to consider carefully and prayerfully how you are going to respond. Above all, do please set aside some time to pray for the success of the Day, and for the work of the Parish (and indeed the whole Benefice). You can come to the Abbey at any time on Saturday between 9.30 am and 4.00 pm to offer both your gift and your prayers. Or you can visit Castleton Church with your gift and to pray between 10.00 am and 12 noon. Members of St Paul’s Church are warmly invited to bring their gifts to either church. And if you will be away on 7 October, you can of course deliver or send your gift to the Parish Office, or place it in any Sunday collection, using the ‘dotted’ envelope. If you lose it, write GIFT DAY on another envelope! Very many thanks.
- Pack Monday Fair this year is on 16 October and, as usual, the Social Committee will organise an all-day café in the Digby Memorial Church Hall. The event could not operate without a team of willing helpers. Please read the appeal for volunteers above, under FUTURE EVENTS. Thankyou.
- It is time to be thinking about Confirmation 2018. We will be hosting at the Abbey a Confirmation for candidates from the Benefice and from amongst the Anglican students at Leweston School. We don’t have a date for the service yet, but ought to begin preparing candidates after half-term. I would be glad to hear from the parents of any young people who are interested in being Confirmed next year, and also from adults who – for one reason or another – have never got round to it! Email me at email@example.com
- About two dozen of us travelled to Portsmouth Cathedral last Monday for the licensing of our erstwhile Assistant Curate The Reverend Dr Richard Wyld as Bishop’s Chaplain. We received a warm welcome from the Bishop and the Dean, and were all invited to a lavish reception afterwards. I confess I had never visited that part of Portsmouth – “Old Portsmouth” – before, and found it both quiet and atmospheric. The Isle of Wight appeared very close! It was good to see the memorial to The Rt Revd Neville Lovett, first Bishop of Portsmouth and later Bishop of Salisbury – uncle of our own Margaret Lovett and brother of my predecessor, Margaret’s father, The Reverend John Lovett. Margaret tells me that her parents were married in the Cathedral – before it became a cathedral!
I forgot to ask Richard if he is a good sailor, as he will be accompanying the Bishop to the Isle of Wight regularly. The Bishop preached exactly the right sort of sermon for the occasion, which included a fulsome tribute to Richard’s “exporting parish”. I was honoured to be asked to read the First Lesson. A good time was had by all.
- Abbey Shop Manager Phil Prout is already stocking the Shop with books for Advent reading, which I will review shortly. Meanwhile I would like to recommend a new book written by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster with a Foreword by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Hope in Action by Cardinal Vincent Nichols is about hope in a world which seems full of hopeless problems, by which we too often feel defeated. This is not a book for those who prefer to withdraw into an unreal, rose-tinted world. It is about sexual violence and abuse, human trafficking and slavery, religious extremism and the world’s victims. It is also about Christians as agents of mercy, mission and hope. Simply written but full of profound wisdom, it is a book which Christians of every denomination should read. It is available at the Abbey Shop at the discounted price of £6.95.
- Several times over the last 15 years or so Sandra and I have done a house-and-car swap with good friends who live in southern Spain. The Finca Robano enjoys a staggeringly beautiful location, about an hour from Malaga airport. Part of the journey is east along the coast road; the other part climbs up into the mountains past the village of Sayalonga. The Finca itself provides incomparable views to the coast, south, east and west. Built into the top of its very high hill, there is no view to the north until you walk up the path behind the house to see – more mountains and valleys. It is so hard to describe the beauty of the place.
Our friends are keen to do another exchange in 2018, but we doubt that we can manage it. So they have asked if anyone else in Sherborne would like to negotiate a swap. It would probably need to be for three weeks minimum to make it worthwhile, but a fortnight might be possible. Next September would be ideal (it can be very hot mid-summer). You can invite visitors (cheap flights from Bristol via Easyjet). The only costs are air fares and then your own living expenses – and the same would be expected at this end. I have always found it very cheap to add our exchange partners to my car insurance policy for the specific period of their stay. They do like to invite family to come to stay whilst they are in residence, but have always left the Vicarage looking immaculate. Mutual watering of plants and care of cats (if any) are an obligation – and in the case of Finca Robano, looking after the swimming pool. Interested? Contact me to arrange a conversation.