The benefice comprises four adjacent parishes: Farleigh, The Candovers with Bradley, Northington and Wield. The parish of Farleigh has four churches; Cliddesden, Dummer, Ellisfield and Farleigh Wallop. The parish of The Candovers with Bradley has three churches; Preston Candover, Brown Candover and Bradley.
The parishes together form the benefice of Farleigh, Candover and Wield which is served by two full time Priests: the Rector, David Chattell who takes primary responsibility for the Parishes of The Candovers with Bradley, Northington and Wield and the Assistant Rector, Stephen Mourant who has primary responsibility for the Parish of Farleigh.
Parish Prayer/Bible Reading Diary
The August - October edition is now available. We include prayers for our communities, those in need, and some of our regular church events across the benefice.
We are planning to employ a part-time benefice administrator, who will take on a lot of the administration Stephen currently does. Plans are almost complete – getting in place a job description, contract, handbook, application form, finances, timescale etc – and soon that role will be advertised across the benefice. You may have an interest as it would suit someone working from home for just a few hours a week, but will be vital, in due course, in managing service rotas, much of the wedding and some funeral administration, and serving the Lord by freeing clergy to focus on other pastoral areas that remain undeveloped. We pray that God will call the right person to this role – it could be you!
As we climb out of lockdown and re–engage in Sunday worship, may I make some observations for us all:
First, engaging with the Lord as we begin worship; many people, on arriving in their pew, do spend a few moments in private silent prayer, engaging with the presence of Jesus by His Holy Spirit. Personal preparation for worship is essential – bringing our worries, our pain, our unexpressed frustrations, thanks, praise, joy and sorrow before Him with whom we have to do, who knows all our weaknesses and our needs.
Second, being aware that others have needs and to be wise to spatially distance, whilst metaphorically giving others a hug or “virtual” handshake, engaging corporately with them as we approach the Lord in praise.
Third, to listen. Our temporary loss of congregational singing gives time to reflect on what inspires us: we are allowed choirs to lead us, and a “scratch choir” at some services, made up of those who can sing in tune and who can be appropriately distanced from each other in our church chancels, can add a new dimension to meeting with the Lord – as well as saying hymns together, or different people reading a verse each – can enable congregational participation in new ways, using the words of a hymn to express our worship, praise, struggles, and hopes.
Fourth, to give: of ourselves in worship and service, for it is not solely about the words, but our voices, our bodies as living sacrifices,(Romans 12:1-2), our hands as offerings of peace and skill, and of our substance as we give to God what belongs to Him, and then more, as we remember that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, but of His possession of us.
The biggest obstacle to overcome as we move back into Sunday worship is fear. Many are fearful of catching the virus, or that by carelessness could unwittingly contribute to its spread; at the same time, risk assessments have to realistic, but that is dependent on assumptions too.
We all live just one heartbeat away from eternity, and He calls us to live in faith, not fear; in hope, not despair. “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” says Psalm 34:4. That does not mean that we live recklessly, but circumspectly, knowing one day we will all come to an end of our finite existence, but walking with assurance that we are His, and because Jesus rose from death to life, we have a living hope that transcends the despair of this world and the ungodly system and culture within which we live.
With autumn coming, we have a Bereavement Remembering Service again on 1 November – advertised elsewhere -Remembrance Sunday, and our run into Christmas. We don’t know yet whether we can hold our Carol Services as in previous years – possibly if we have limited & ticketed attendance, we may have to hold more than one when one would have sufficed – we’ll see!
May I encourage you to pray personally much more at home: too many never set aside time to pray and seek the Lord; the consequence is stunted, shallow experience of the Holy Spirit of God, and a huge lack of spiritual power when difficulties arise. If God has more for us, why do we settle for less than the best?
May God bless you all as we look forward to all God has for us.
Prayerfully as always,