A Christmas carol extravaganza!

Come and join our Christmas Carol Extravaganza on Saturday (December 8) at St Mark’s, any time from 10.30am.

The day starts with coffee at 10.30am followed by carols from 11am and a light lunch at 12.30pm.

There are plenty of favourite carols to join in with – O come, O come Emmanuel; Silent Night; Hark! the herald-angels sing; Good King Wenceslas; The Holly and the ivy; O come, all ye faithful, and many, many more. There will also be ‘Christmas Rhythm’, a piece by Geoff Willis with eight Christmas carols hidden within.  The audience can have some fun identifying them.

All the pieces and carols will be played  on ‘Emily’, our treasured Edwardian organ, with other instruments sometimes to help her out.  Bob Shatwell is MC, and he’s leading ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ at the end, so anything could happen!  Donations welcome in aid of Emily. There will also be a raffle.

Emily is 106, and has a few tricks! You’ll hear surprising sounds you wouldn’t expect. A short demo will reveal her eccentricities, and the need to raise funds.

Global crisis – local solutions

“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.”

How can we reduce our impact on the environment? Are there are any steps we can take locally? Wendy Edwards has some suggestions:

The advice: “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time”  is possibly from 1950s America. The members of the Baltimore Grotto Caving Club were concerned to avoid harming the underground caves which they explored so the quotation was a helpful reminder for them.

I am a not a great photographer, so I am more likely to take away memories from any experience rather than photos.

I was brought up never to drop litter and to take my rubbish home with me. It seems that many would do well to adopt this habit. I find it scandalous that motorway litter-picking workers place their lives at risk on motorway verges, collecting litter thrown from cars near motorway service stations.  ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ seems to be the mentality of thoughtless car occupants when they lob their coffee cup or sandwich wrapper out of the car window.

I do my level best to recycle properly at home and at the dump and to be careful about what I put in my recycling bin and non-recycling (land waste) bin each week.

I am also a vegan.  I have enjoyed a healthy, varied plant-strong diet for five years now. As a vegan who wishes to further reduce her impact on the environment, I was delighted to discover the tiny but perfectly formed vegan café called Okomoko at 18 Downing Street, Farnham.

It has a Facebook page which you can find here, and it is open some evenings for themed evenings.

Upstairs there is a zero waste zone, run by the very helpful Annabel and Sarah. Here, at Keep (as in Keep Old Containers) you can take your own containers in to collect some of your weekly shop. For example, you can fill an airtight jar or biscuit tin from home with some beetroot/ mixed vegetable or potato crisps. In the UK, we munch our way through six billion packets of crisps a year and throw the non-recyclable plastic packets into our non-recyclable bins, so they end up in landfill and can take more than 30 years to decompose, sometimes much longer.

Walkers, our biggest crisp manufacturer, has pledged to make crisp packaging 100 per cent recyclable by 2025, but if you want to do your bit now, then do consider buying your crisps at Keep. They also try to help animals and the environment and prevent excess packaging by having various products e.g. fabric conditioner, washing-up liquid, floor cleaner and multi-surface cleaners in huge pump-action containers so you can fill up and re-use your existing containers.

When my Ecover washing up liquid at home runs out, I will keep the container ( I usually throw it away in my recycling bin and buy a new one but re-using it is much more sensible) and I will refill it with their environmentally friendly, vegan, washing-up liquid which is certified as not tested on or harmful to animals.

Some popular brands are harmful to fish. For reasons unknown to me, young fish never seem to have the popular appeal of puppies, lambs, piglets or kittens, but neither they nor their parents or siblings deserve to die because we humans wish to wash our dishes in a liquid which is but poisonous to fish or because we do not bother to look at the back label on the bottle. There is a warning on the back of many bottles – “harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects”.

The cost for the all-surface cleaner on sale in Keep, above Okomoko, is 30 pence per 100 ml (so just £1.50 for a 500 ml bottle I supply myself; not a bad price at all) and Annabel says that the Environment Agency was very impressed with the speed with which it killed bacteria as tested in the Okomoko café kitchen downstairs. The café has the maximum hygiene rating of 5. So, these products are effective at killing germs while saving the lives of the fish we may not give a second thought to as we plod on with our housework or washing up.

For Keep, visit the Facebook page here or follow the shop on Twitter (@keepzerowaste) and they do pop-up shops in various locations too, and are happy to give talks.

It may not cost you as much as you think to start buying environmentally friendly, animal friendly, effective cleaning products from a local supplier, while also reusing your old containers. Sounds like a win-win situation for humans, animals and our beautiful planet, and that gets my vote every time.

 

Wendy Edwards

 

Pictured are Annabel (left) and Sarah in Keep.

 

St John’s receives Eco Church award

St John’s Church has received a Bronze Eco Church award in recognition of both its commitment to reducing its carbon emissions and of its encouragement of local wildlife.

The church uses renewable gas and electricity and has installed swift boxes on the side of the church to encourage swifts to nest. Swifts have suffered a dramatic decline of 50 per cent in the last 20 years, in large part because of a lack of nesting places, and boxes such as those at St John’s and St George’s in Badshot Lea, are being used to encourage the birds to breed.

Lesley Crawley said: “We are delighted to have received this award for St John’s which means that all three churches in the parish now have the bronze award. The world is in environmental crisis as global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise and species numbers decline. Only this week the Met Office has warned that summers could be five degrees hotter in the UK by 2070, with summer rainfall decreasing and sea levels rising. It is up to all of us to do something if we are to save our planet.”

Eco Church is run by A Rocha UK (ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/), a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world. The Eco Church award scheme encourages churches in England and Wales to look at how they express their care for the world in worship and teaching; in looking after buildings and land; in engaging in both the local community and global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of the congregation.

There are three levels of award – bronze, silver and gold – and all three churches in the parish are now working towards a silver one.

 

‘Tis the season to sing carols

Advent is here which means Christmas is on the way, and what better way to start your celebrations with a bit of carol-singing?

Join us on Sunday afternoon (December 2) at St George’s, Badshot Lea, for Top 10 Carols. Sing your favourite carols and help raise money for the St George’s heating fund. All are welcome – whether you can sing or not. Come along from 3.30 to 4.30pm.

 

Come to Christingle

Come to Christingle this Sunday at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, at 11am.

Christingle is a celebration that takes place sometime between the beginning of December and February 2.

We create ‘Christingles’ out of oranges, sweets and dried fruit stuck in them using cocktail sticks, red ribbon around the oranges and a candle which we light. At this point, Bob, the churchwarden who is also responsible for health and safety, looks anxious and claims we are going to burn the church down but he’s joking (aren’t you Bob?!), but we are always safe.

The orange represents the world, the red ribbon (or tape) symbolises the love and blood of Christ, the sweets and dried fruit represent all of God’s creations, and the lit candle represents Jesus’s light in the world, bringing hope to people living in darkness.

There are prayers and songs and a lot of fun and it’s aimed at everyone in the family. Come along at 11am, join in and also raise money for the charity The Children’s Society.

Candles of Hope shine a light on human rights

 

St Mark’s Church will hold Candles of Hope on Saturday, December 1 – an evening of music, readings and art in aid of Amnesty International.

Organised by the Farnham branch of Amnesty International – the movement which campaigns to end abuses of human rights across the globe – Candles of Hope will feature Jay Parrack’s Voices Community Choir;  Anna Carteret (poetry reading);  Wildflowers (a capella); Richard Lane (classical violin); Frances Whewell (organ);  Bob and Lesley Shatwell (folk violin and double bass); Heather Golding and Caroline Walker (voice and flute); and Jonathan Adams (acoustic guitar and voice). There will also be an art display and refreshments will be on sale.

Admission is free but donations are welcomed. The evening begins at 7.30pm.

Helena Walker, one of the event’s organisers, said: “Candles of Hope’ is an uplifting evening of live music and inspirational poetry, along with an art exhibition and refreshments.  It offers the opportunity to celebrate the work of Amnesty International and learn more about Amnesty’s involvement with human rights issues around the world.  Everyone at the event will be invited to sign greetings cards which will be sent to people who are currently being supported by Amnesty International.

“Since 1961, Amnesty International has campaigned for the release of prisoners of conscience around the world; for some years, the Farnham members of Amnesty have taken a particular interest in Vietnamese prisoners and we will be welcoming a group of Vietnamese friends to the event.”

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than seven million people, campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. It investigates abuses of human rights, lobbies governments and other powerful groups such as companies, tells the stories of people affected by abuses, and mobilises supporters to campaign for change and support the victims of injustice.  It acts on the principle that it is “better to light a candle than curse the darkness”.

For information on the Farnham Amnesty group, email farnham.amnesty@gmail.com

Christmas at St Mark’s

Friday 14th Dec at 6pm – Informal Carols by Candlelight

Monday 24th Dec at 5pm – Crib Service (especially for youngsters, come dressed as your favourite nativity character)

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 11am – All age Communion service

 

Christmas at St John’s

Sunday 16th Dec at 4pm – Nine Lessons and Carols by Candlelight

Thursday 20th Dec at 7:30pm – Longest night (when Christmas hurts)

Monday 24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service (especially for youngsters, come dressed as your favourite nativity character)

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 9:30am – All-age Communion

 

Christmas at St George’s

Sunday 16th Dec at 11:30am – Worship for All Carol Service

Sunday 16th Dec at 6pm – Candlelit Carol Service

Monday 17th Dec at 6pm – Carol Singing under the lit tree at St George’s (inside if wet)

Monday 24th Dec at 3pm – Crib Service for Toddlers

Monday 24th Dec at 5.30pm – Crib Service for all ages

Monday 24th Dec at 11:30pm – Midnight Mass

Tuesday 25th Dec at 10:00am – All-age Communion

Shh! It could be a vocation…

In which a member of the parish fesses up…

There is something I have been keeping quiet about over the past couple of years – my vocation. Shh! Don’t say that too loud. Someone might hear.

It has always seemed like a big word, a big deal, something other people had. I was willing to accept that we all have the vocation to be the person we were born to be and to be that in the fullest possible way. Actually, that is a pretty big deal, especially as so much can get in the way of that vocation. But over the past few years I have had a growing sense that part of following that vocation, part of living my life to the fullest, could mean being ordained into the church.

No. Not me. That was something that vicars did and vicars knew the answers and could explain the Trinity and always believed in God, and never swore. I didn’t know the answers, wasn’t sure that it mattered that the Trinity is inexplicable (in my opinion – see, I don’t know), and had days when I wasn’t sure whether God was just something made up to make us feel better or, far too often, feel worse. Though obviously I never swore….(just ask my colleagues).

And yet… I kept wondering and I kept being encouraged in this wondering by Alan and Lesley who seemed to think that I might be suitable vicar material (and vicars obviously know the answers so they must have had a point…). And before I knew it, somehow I was being referred to the Diocesan Director or Ordinands for the Diocese of Guildford, a delightful and perceptive man called Rev’d Canon William Challis who shared my sort of sense of humour. So began a series of meetings in which we discussed faith, the church (not necessarily the same thing) and laughed a fair bit. Meanwhile we were both doing some discerning.

I assumed that William would discern that I was not suitable material and we’d agree that this was not part of my vocation and I’d say a sad farewell, glad I had kept quiet about it as how embarrassing would that be if people knew I didn’t fit the criteria, or that I had even assumed I might have done?!

But we kept on, looking at those criteria for selection and discussing subjects such as faith, mission, leadership, spirituality, vocation. It was challenging but fascinating. References were sought and given, William came to visit the family, and it seemed that he thought I was suitable after all. Suddenly I was faced with going on a Bishops’ Advisory Panel, or BAP, three days of intense scrutiny with other potential ordinands by a team of assessors who would make recommendations about us all.

As the months that this process took progressed, several things became a little clearer. The first was that I could be a vicar and still not know everything – still have days of doubt, still be human, still be me. After all this is an opening up to God and being led by God, I am not expected to do it on my own.

The second was that ordained local ministry would be a better fit than having my own parish. This would mean I could stay in the parish here (hooray!) as part of the team. I would be part-time and self-supporting (ie. non-paid) so I’ll have to keep working elsewhere to bring in the money. That will be OK though as I am rubbish at boundaries I will need help here.

The boundaries issue was one of the points made in the report which came back from those BAP assessors who were really quite nice and not the Harry Potter dementors that I had envisaged. They also came back with a resounding yes! I start training next September on the Guildford Local Ministry Programme with a view to ordination in 2022.

The other thing that has dawned on me is that I am responding to a loving God. A separate, though intertwined, process has been going on over the past few years. With the help of those actually very wise and knowledgeable vicars here in the parish I have gradually been losing my perception of God as an angry taskmaster whom I could never please, and finding that God is a gracious outpouring of love for us all, a God who can help us step into our vocations and allow all of us to live our fullest lives.

Stella Wiseman

 

Write yourself into the story

How can we access the Bible, make it come alive?

That is what  ‘Write yourself into the story’ is exploring next Tuesday evening – November 27 – at St Mark’s, Hale, from 7.30pm.

Basically, ‘Write yourself into the story’ is a way of reading the Bible and then responding by using your imagination and words to draw you into it and make it become alive for you. It is a simple process and open to everyone – you don’t have to be a writer to join in, and you will be talked through the process step-by-step. What you write will be a personal response and everyone’s will be different. And as those who attended the last session can tell you, it can be enlightening and fun. We also learned from each other when we read out and discussed our writing – though there is no obligation to do so.

Come along and join in. There may even be cake…

For further details, call Stella on 07854426297 or email news@badshotleandhale.org

 

 

Picture by Ben White, Unsplash.

Serving the Villages North of Farnham: Badshot Lea, Hale, Heath End & Weybourne