A Letter from your Associate Priest



Dear friends


I love swimming, but I am not a hardy swimmer. I’m not one of those who swims outdoors all year round. I do like to take an opportunity though when I can. It was obvious from about the third week in September that the weather was going to change, so I took advantage of one of those still glorious sunny and hot days to have a last swim in the sea. Off we went, Graham, Zinnie and I. Zinnie was happy to paddle and fetch the ball, but still quite cautious of going in anywhere near her tummy and couldn’t understand why I wanted to go in deeper. I left her on the beach attached to her lead with Graham and went off to have my swim in peace or so I thought. I’d had a swim and then was floating having a lovely chat with a local when I suddenly turned round and found a dog next to me. So, the great news is that Zinnie can swim – she’s not sure how – she did look quite astonished, but she has a very strong doggy paddle and she survived! It’s not something she’s repeated yet. A docile paddle in the river is still the norm, but at least I know instinct can kick in if needed. Instinct is quite important to our survival – keeping ourselves and those we love from harm, making sure we have food to eat and water to drink, warmth, shelter etc. When we look at all that has happened and is still happening around us this year, it’s good to see that our instinct in the main has been to help each other. The mantra’s that the government have come up with are things that make sense to most of us – Stay home, Save lives, Save the NHS to Hands, Face, Space. All we can do is try to keep each other safe, both physically and mentally. As a Christian my instinct tells me to pray, it’s not an easy thing, as St Paul says in his letter to the Romans, ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs to deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit pleads for God’s people according to God’s will.’ (Romans 8:26-27) It doesn’t look as if I’m doing much, and it doesn’t seem as if my prayers are answered, but it is the natural place to be. I only know that as I groan and search for the words, God is groaning alongside me, alongside you and alongside the whole world in its pain. The God of creation is the same God who’s Son Jesus Christ died in agony on the cross, who was not defeated in death and therefore gives us hope; hope to pray for our leaders in the decisions they make, hope that this beautiful, wounded planet will eventually recover and hope in the life that is to come.


Parish and Benefice news


We’re entering the time of remembering in the church season. This is a chance to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us, In past years we have had services to mark All Souls’ Day (2nd November). This year there will not be a service at this time, but different ways to remember, open to everyone who has loved ones that they see no more. During November, in Affpuddle churchyard, in the Peace Shrine, there is the chance to build a ‘Cairn to Remember’ – bring a pebble or pebbles which may or may not have your loved ones names on and place them in the shrine to build a cairn. And in Bere Regis churchyard, near the South door, there will be the frame of a cross to fill with pebbles, again with or without names on. Hopefully, this way, we can socially distance and safely remember our loved ones as we walk through our churchyards, stopping for a moment or two to remember in peace, love and thanks.


Sunday 8th November is, of course, Remembrance Sunday. You will see elsewhere in this magazine the outline for the short act of remembrance on that day at the memorial. It seems more important than ever that, as our world becomes increasingly more volatile, we concentrate on this theme of remembering, both corporate and individual, as we confront issues of war and peace, loss and self-sacrifice, memory and reconciliation, forgiving and forgetting.


I also wanted to write a bit about West Purbeck Benefice of which we are part.

The last 18 months or so was meant to be a time of adjustment and settling into the workings of a new benefice. Three parishes (Affpuddle, Bere Regis and Wool) working together for the common good, being led by Carol Langford as Rector and assisted by Revs Jenny Alidina and Judy Hill, bringing together Lay Licensed Minister’s Jonathan Haigh and Brenda Pitfield from Bere and Affpuddle with Jenny Hunt and John Matthews from Wool. You of course welcomed me to join that team in October, and I thank you for that welcome. More readjustment. It was then announced that when the Lulworth parishes became vacant in May 2020 there would be a proposal by the diocese to form a larger benefice of seven parishes. We had already been working together covering services and occasional offices as required. Again, readjustment and understanding needed. We have looked at service patterns and worked to make them manageable for everyone, we had started to look at a benefice vision and how mission could work across the benefice. Then change happened again, but this time with a global pandemic. Who could have foretold that. There’s that word again, readjustment. We then received the devastating news that Rev Carol is now off on long term sick leave because she has a brain tumour.


Where does this leave us as a benefice? – readjusting, feeling our way forward, trusting in God, praying for each other and working together, of which I’ll write more next month.


With Hope and Blessings