All posts by stellawiseman

Celebrate Harvest!

Don’t forget it is Harvest Festival tomorrow (Sunday, October 7). Come along, sing your favourite harvest hymns and celebrate the bounty of the Earth.

You can share that bounty too – please bring tinned or dried food for the Foodbank, particularly instant mash, tinned meat, sponge puddings, jam, tinned tomatoes, UHT milk, long life fruit juice, tinned potatoes, chocolate and pasta sauce.

The times are: 9:30am at St John’s, Hale; 10am at St George’s, Badshot Lea; 11am at St Mark’s, Upper Hale; 11.30am St John’s for All; 11:30am Worship for All at St George’s.

There will be cake sales in aid of Christian Aid after the services at St John’s and St George’s, and at St Mark’s it will be Apple Day, from 10am. Read more here

A legacy rather than a tax

Wills and what happens to our money and possessions after our death is not something most of us like to think about. Nor is the idea that money from what we leave may well go in inheritance tax. Wouldn’t it be better if some – or all – of what we might pay in tax could go to a cause we supported – even, perhaps, the parish?

There is a way of doing this – by making a codicil to your will, including a legacy for the parish but leaving the rest of your will unaltered, you could free your beneficiaries from a tax burden and help the parish. If you leave such a legacy  – however small or large – via a codicil, the legacy will be completely exempt from Inheritance Tax.

Wendy Edwards, one of the LLMs in the parish, is happy to make a codicil to your will free of charge if you would like to add a legacy to the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale to your will.

Click here to find out more.

“A youth club for all ages”

It’s like a youth club – but for all ages. That was the conclusion we drew at last Friday’s Table Tennis Club at St Mark’s.

Eleven of us met in the back of the church and spent the evening playing table tennis and pool, drinking tea, coffee and squash, eating biscuits and Bakewell tarts and chatting. We ranged in age from 12 to ehemty-ehem, we came from a range of places and backgrounds and we gelled. I certainly came away feeling I had made new friends and that this was the start of something.

We started the Table Tennis Club because we wanted to play table tennis and it seemed like a good idea. Thanks to a grant from the Farnham Institute we were able to buy a table tennis table, bats and balls, plus some comfortable seating. We added a small pool table when someone generously gave one away on Freecycle, a website where people offer all sorts of unwanted and useful items, and then we launched the club.

I don’t think I’d realised how sociable it would be. As there is – currently at least – just one table tennis table and one pool table we had to take turns which meant we talked. “Why don’t we have board games?” asked one person. “And I’d like to play chess.”

Why not indeed? I am going to look out my chess set and we definitely have Yahtzee somewhere. Scrabble and Upwords were also mentioned. Should we look for a Nintendo Wii which would make some sports more accessible? I recently met a woman in a wheelchair who could beat anyone at Wii 10-pin bowling, and I’m told Wii table tennis is fast and furious.

We met on the last Friday of the month as a trial and from now on we are meeting on the first and third Fridays of the month, which means that we will be at St Mark’s between 7pm and 9pm on Fridays, October 5 and 19, then November 2 and 16, and December 7 (no meeting on December 21). To join in you don’t have to be good at table tennis, pool, or even Upwords. Just drop in any time. It’s rather like a youth club but for all ages.

Stella Wiseman

 

 

Collection to help refugees

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:25-36)

FHR collection Oct 18It is time to sort through our wardrobes and cupboards again ready for another collection organised by Farnham Help for Refugees in UK and Overseas and taking place on October 5 from 3-7pm in St George’s Church.

The clothes, toiletries, baby items and medical and other equipment which are collected in (see above for what is needed) will then be distributed to other groups who have direct links to refugees either in this country or overseas. For instance, a car full of supplies, particularly toiletries and feminine hygiene products, always goes down to Portsmouth where the Red Cross distribute it among refugees already in the country. Other supplies are taken to groups such as High Wycombe Helping Others which sends container loads out to countries like Lebanon and Greece which are currently home to thousands of refugees, particularly from Syria.

Members of the group also take clothing and supplies overseas themselves which gives them a clear idea of what is specifically needed. One of the members of the group was on the Greek island of Lesbos last month where thousands of people continue to arrive seeking refuge from war and persecution in their home countries.

Another member is Penny Hardcastle from St George’s who will be driving to Calais with a car full of contributions in October which she will pass to the organisation Help Refugees. She will also stay to help with sorting and food and clothing distribution.

This will be Penny’s second trip to Calais – the first last December opened her eyes to the plight of desperate people there. “Calais is very depressing,” said Penny. “Most of the people there have fled from life or death situations and they way they are treated by the police is terrible. It was bitterly cold when I was there and there were people out there with no shelter. They don’t have tents because of the police brutality – they are forced to move on so don’t have time to put up tents. They sleep in the woods. It snowed when I was there and then there was torrential rain and that was even worse.

“But the people were so positive and friendly and there was a lot of camaraderie among them. Most of them were men – the families don’t tend to be there – and many had friends and family in England. I met one man who had a business in Birmingham and had been deported and just wanted to get back there. I met intelligent, skilled people who want to contribute.”

Among the items that Penny will be taking to Calais are men’s winter clothes in small-to-medium sizes and shoes in sizes seven to nine (40-43). “The men tend to be of slim build – partly how they are and also they have often walked for many months – and they don’t have the large European feet. Clothes to fit teenage boys would be good. The men want to look nice, to maintain their dignity.

“It may feel like a small thing, turning up at the collection with a pair of shoes say, but it really does help. And these are all dignified humans. If I were in that position I would like to think that there were people who would want to help me.”

To find out more or to offer help with sorting and packing, contact farnhamhelpforrefugees@gmail.com

penny in calais

Penny in Calais last year.

Celebrate Apple Day!

Everyone is invited to celebrate the fruits of the Hale community orchard on Apple Day, Sunday, October 7, at St Mark’s, at 10am.

The celebrations will be held in the orchard, which is next to the church, and inside the church hall, and everyone is encouraged to bring their apples and put them in the apple press for freshly pressed apple juice.There will be apple songs, apple pancakes and apples dipped in chocolate, all followed by a celebratory harvest festival service in the church. The Bishop of Dorking, the Right Rev’d Jo Wells, will join in the celebrations and harvest festival.

Rev’d Lesley Crawley explained how the day has come about: “In December 2014 we planted 11 fruit trees to create a community orchard at St Mark’s. Each tree was adopted by a different community group and all except one have thrived since they were planted.

“Our first Apple Day was in 2015 because we were so delighted that our trees were bearing fruit and so we decided to celebrate! Since then we have celebrated every year by having apple pancakes, apple-y music and apple pressing. It is a great atmosphere with children and adults pressing the apples, drinking the juice, eating pancakes, listening to the music and chatting. This year with have the Bishop of Dorking joining us for the celebrations at 10am and staying on for our harvest festival at 11am. Please come and join in the festivities.”

Anyone who wants their apples turned into juice is asked to bring apples that are in good condition, picked from the tree and washed, along with clean two-litre plastic milk cartons, including the lid, to put the juice in.

Come along and celebrate!

Play table tennis in church!

We have a new table tennis club at St Mark’s, starting on Friday evening (September 28), 7-9pm.

The club is open to all ages and abilities and everyone is welcome. If you don’t know how to play or are a bit rusty, we can give you some tips, but if you are a skilled player we’ll be happy to pick up tips from you too!

We also have a small pool table so you can play on that while waiting for a turn at table tennis – or play table tennis while waiting for a game of pool.

After this Friday, it will take place on the first and third Fridays of the month – October 5 and 19, November 2 and 16, December 7 (no meeting on December 21).

The club has been made possible by a donation from the Farnham Institute which paid for the table tennis table and some soft seating for anyone waiting.

For further details of the club call Stella Wiseman on 07854 426297 or email news@badshotleaandhale.org

‘Corner Chat’ offers company, cuppas and chat

A new venture is starting in Hale, offering a place for people to come and have a chat and a cup of tea or coffee in comfortable surroundings.

‘Corner Chat’ will take place on alternate Tuesdays from 10am to noon in the Sumner Room at St John’s Church, Hale, starting on September 18, and everyone is welcome whether they just want a bit of company, a hot drink and a biscuit, or some support.

“The idea is to provide a safe place in Hale where people can find company and enjoy friendly conversation on a regular basis,” said Wendy Edwards, founder of Corner Chat and a Licensed Lay Minister in the parish. “Everyone is very welcome, whatever their age. We have many people who come to St John’s regularly to tend loved ones’ graves, then there are parents from Tootsies Nursery in Monkton Lane and people just passing by.”

They won’t be formal bereavement sessions but bereavement support will be available if required. “We will all support each other as much as we can as we chat in the Sumner Room,” added Wendy.

Corner Chat will be on Tuesdays, September 18, October 2,16, 30, November 13, 27, and December 11.

For further information contact Wendy Edwards on 01252 406772 or 07740 082460 or at llm.wendy@badshotleaandhale.org

Photo of Wendy Edwards 23.01.18 (1)(1)Sumner Room

Pictured: Top – Have a welcome drink. Picture by Nicole Honeywill. Unsplash.
Above: Wendy Edwards; the Sumner Room at St John’s.

Out of the comfort zone and across the Channel

Jonathan Jones is a familiar sight around town – often in green frock coat, wearing a tricorn hat and ringing a bell as befits his position as town crier. From time to time we have seen him dressed in Victorian garb presenting a Dickens and/or Christmas readings evening at St Mark’s Church – he has long been associated with the parish. But just swimming trunks, hat and goggles? This is what he donned in August to take part in a sponsored swim across the English Channel to raise money for Aspire, a charity which supports people with spinal injuries.

The swim was relay-style from Dover to Cap Griz Nez in France, and involved a team of six swimmers, with an observer on board to ensure that everything is done correctly. “Each swimmer takes it in turn to swim for an hour,” said Jonathan. “Once the first rotation is completed, that same order must then be maintained for the rest of the crossing. If, for any reason, a swimmer is not able to take their turn, in the correct order, the team is ‘disqualified’ and the swim abandoned.”

Jonathan was the fifth swimmer. “So just after 8am I got myself ready, which included applying Vaseline to those parts that might chafe owing to the salt water, i.e. under the arms and, for men with beards, around the neck.

“As the swimmer before me, Annie, touched the board, I had to jump over her, into the water behind, before then turning and resuming the swim.

“The sea temperature was just below 18℃ (a public swimming pool is normally 29-31℃) and it was, to say the least, a bit of a shock to the system as I entered. I quickly composed myself, and got into a good rhythm (54 strokes per minute), with the intention of covering at least three kilometres in the next hour.”

As well as a choppy sea, the swimmers had to contend with jelly fish and floating debris, including a lot of plastic which Jonathan was told is increasing each year.

He added “Also, as a consequence of global warming, the sea is now getting a lot warmer, a lot sooner. Our ‘cold water’ qualification, where we have to swim for two hours in Dover Harbour when the sea temperature is 16℃ or less, now has to be done in June, whereas, several years ago, it would be done in July, but by then the sea temperature is too high.”

In between Jonathan’s swimming sessions he rested on the boat. “Once out of the water, the important thing is to get some warm clothing on, particularly on the head and feet, and then to get your wet costume off. You have only five minutes to accomplish this. After that, you start to shiver as blood returns to your extremities, and your hands shake so much that you are incapable of doing up zippers or buttons. Hence a ‘buddy’ system, whereby one of the other swimmers is nominated to help you prepare for your swim but, more importantly, assist once out of the water and with getting dressed, before then providing you with a hot drink. All the other swimmers were perfectly alright after a further five to 10 minutes, but it took me about half-an-hour to fully recover.” At 68, Jonathan was one of the older swimmers to take part.

Resting on the boat gave Jonathan a new perspective. “There is a certain beauty to behold out there, in the middle of this vast expanse of water,” she said. “It was a beautiful clear sunny day, and as we watched the sun rise just after 6am, and the gloom lift, the coast of France became clearly visible in the distance, though somewhat still far off. Apart from the steady beat of the boat’s engine, there was a peaceful sense of tranquility in all that vastness, which left an indelible memory that I will forever savour and cherish.”

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They had to swim with the tides, which did not all turn as expected, and the final swimmer landed at Wimereux, 14 kilometres south of where the team was heading. However, they reached the other side in the correct order in 14 hours and 29 minutes. The return took two-and-a-half hours.

Jonathan said he decided to take part in the swim “primarily because of the challenge it posed, and the opportunity of taking ourselves out of our comfort zones. But secondly, to raise monies for the Aspire charity, which provides much-needed support to people with spinal injuries, and which, since 2009, has been organising these Channel relays. Between the six of us, we will have raised over £20,000 for Aspire.”

He has further watery ambitions: “My personal goal is now to complete the six-hour qualifying swim in Dover Harbour sometime next summer. After that? Well, the oldest person to successfully complete the crossing was a 73-year-old South African heart surgeon. So, in 2023/24, God willing, I may attempt to enter the record books. Watch this space!”

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jonathanfjones

Being intersex in the House of God

On Sunday, August 5, Sara Gillingham, an intersex Christian, came to talk to us at St Mark’s in one of the first sermons in our inclusion series this month.

She spoke movingly on her experience of being intersex in the House of God. This is what she said:

Thank you so much for inviting me here today just to share some of my experience of Church as someone who is born intersex. Firstly, I want to share a bit of my own story, before I reflect on Church and faith.

Just to explain what ‘intersex’ is, as it is often confused with LGBT, particularly Transgender. “Intersex” refers to people who are born with any of a range of biological sex characteristics that may not fit typical notions about male or female bodies. Variations may be in their chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries.

About 1.7% of the population is born intersex, across a very wide spectrum. Much of the problem is that there is very little awareness about ‘intersex’, and the secrecy surrounding us is often shaming and stigmatising. Often children are subject to surgeries that are not medically necessary, simply to alter their bodies to fit others expectations. It may be that intersex children, like other children, also have medical conditions that do need treatment, so it is important we differentiate between the two. We now know from research how harmful these non-medically necessary surgeries are to children’s physical and mental health.

I am a survivor of non-consensual surgeries. I was of an age that I remember some of the surgeries and the times when I was recorded or examined in front of medical students. The nature of these surgeries was kept secret from me by doctors and family, despite my asking about them on numerous occasions throughout adulthood. It was only seven years ago that I retrieved my medical records, which explained the secrecy. I have grown-up with the knowledge of knowing that I was somehow different, often with a sense of stigma as the secrecy surrounding me suggested I was somehow shameful.

It is my faith that has helped me endure those ‘dark days’, by showing there is a light out in the darkness. I often drew upon scripture such as :

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 

Many Christians born with Intersex traits find solace in the stories about eunuchs, for instance the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 : 26-40 where God acts to include those previously excluded.

Also they may emphasis in Genesis 1:27 that “God created human beings in his own image…male AND female he created them.

I personally do not feel the need to identify myself so specifically in biblical scripture, as I feel like everyone else I was created in the image of God. I do frequently turn to Psalm 139 which I find very affirming :

“You it was who fashioned my inward parts….You know me through and through, my body was no mystery to you, when I was formed in secret, woven in the depths of the earth’.

However, I know there are others in the Church that have a very different biblical interpretation and who call upon scripture to enforce their binary understanding, and label such people as myself as having ‘a disorder’. This is label that leads to the stigmatisation and non-consensual surgeries I have spoken about. I have also been labelled as being the embodiment of sin, and have been told by Christians to my face and in social media just in this last month alone, as being possessed by Satan with calls to ‘repent’.

I was invited to share my story in the Regional Shared Conversations on Human Sexuality over two years ago, where many were challenged by my physical presence. I had one member of clergy, who led a large team in his own parish, avoid eye-contact and actively avoided just me when sharing the peace at communion. I had people after hearing my story start to pray uninvited, that I be cured. Some embarrassment followed when I asked what being ‘healed’ may look like. It is this hurtful response that brings me in to fellowship with many people who have physical and mental health challenges.

The belief that is core to my faith is that Christ healed by helping people escape discrimination by restoring them as equal members of the community, no longer being marked as ‘IMPURE’.

So Church can be an extremely painful place for me. But I feel called by “God” to try and make use of my pain, and for this reason I am now on Deanery and Diocesan Synods. It is something I find difficult to do, but also at times hugely rewarding and uplifting as people who have remained silent for some many years also find the courage to speak out.

I am currently working with bishops as they prepare a new episcopal  teaching document and pastoral guidance on human sexuality, which will also include ‘intersex’. This again is a bruising experience at present, but I hope greater understanding will reap fruit in the future.

Church can also be a very healing place, and it is important to me and my well being. My own church community at Holy Trinity in Guildford has become my family, and has enabled me to flourish. It is my faith and my church that have given me the courage to find my voice, and put my experiences to good use.

Also being invited today, to one of an increasing number of safe and affirming churches, is both moving and joyous. Most of all we must not lose sight of this, as for many this is what they understand as Church.

So thank you.

Amen

Sara Gillingham

sara crop