Lesley Crawley presented a 60-second sermon on BBC Radio Surrey/Sussex on Sunday, May 21st and was interviewed by Kevin Duala, talking about mental health and the importance of getting outside. The sermon considered anxiety, neurodiversity, the importance of accepting ourselves as we are and how God loves diversity and inclusion.
Come and join us at St Mark’s Church on the second and fourth Friday of each month from 7-9pm for our ‘youth club for all ages’, aka Friday Night Games Night. The next ones are: April 14 and 28, May 12 and 26.
We have table tennis, pool, board games, jigsaws, art and craft, modelling, food, drinks and lots of chat and general socialising. It’s open to all ages and we range in age from children to 80+. Anyone of primary age and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
We are inclusive and welcome everyone. Please let us know if you have any particular needs or dietary requirements. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more
It’s February, the month of Valentine’s love, pancakes and the first signs of Spring. It’s also a month when lots starts happening in the parish – well, does it ever stop? But here we are coming into Lent, with Lent courses which this year focus on the TV series The Chosen, a Questioning Faith course which will lead to confirmation in the Cathedral on Easter Eve, Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, with services of ashing, and our Pancakes and Temptations service. Then there is a barn dance on February 25th, and an invitation to enter the Farnham Poetry Competition – this year the theme is hope.
Take a look inside the magazine for more details where you will also find a response to the bishops’ proposals on equal marriage, the Church Cat, prayer, thoughts on faith, events and reports from local groups.
On Sunday, August 21, we are celebrating Pride at all of our three churches and online, here on the website.
Our services are just six days before Pride in Surrey which takes place in Camberley on August 27. Both Pride in Surrey and our Pride services are an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQI+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equality, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception.
Rev’d Stella Wiseman, a minister in the parish and Inclusive Church Ambassador for Surrey, explains some of the thinking behind this: “The Christian response to LGBTQI+ people has not generally been one of welcome – far from it sadly – and unsurprisingly the Church as a whole has not felt like a safe space for many people. In fact, Christians have used the Bible as a weapon and the church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanizing of LGBTQI+ people.
“Our support for Pride is not just a way of saying sorry for the Church’s harmful actions – some of which have led to the death of some of God’s beloved children – but also an opportunity to denounce oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves. For when we dehumanise others we reduce our own humanity.
“In these services we repent of the past and we look with hope to the future. We stand with people who identify as LGBTQI+ and proclaim loudly that all people are loved by God and all people are welcome here. God is Love and we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.”
There will be special prayers and readings and invited speakers at all the services. Among those we will be welcoming are Merinda D’Aprano, published author, poet, spiritual director, preacher and retired headteacher; Ash Brockwell, an artist, poet, writer and lecturer; singer and artist Heather Golding; and Suzanne and Declan DeWitt Hall from Where True Love Is, who will take part in our online service
Please join us on Sunday, August 21. There is a service at St John’s Church, Lower Hale, at 9.30am, one at St George’s, Badshot Lea, at 10am, and one at St Mark’s, Upper Hale, at 11am. And, of course, we are online too: https://badshotleaandhale.org/online-services/
Members of the parish will also be at Pride in Surrey, both in the Pride parade and at the Christians at Pride stall.
Your July/August magazine is here, filled with Ordination news, the Fete, information about what is going on in the parish, reflections, an article about the pop-up museum exhibition at St Mark’s, changes to the craft market, pride services, news from our local MP, prayer, new advertisers.
Your June magazine is here, filled with Jubilee events, the Flower Festival, information about what is going on in the parish, reflections, an article about coping with deafness, news from our local MP, prayer, new advertisers.
This Sunday (August 8) we are celebrating Pride at all of our three churches and online, here on the website.
Like Pride Month, which takes place in June, it is an opportunity to celebrate LGBTQI+ people in their fullness, to look back on strides toward equality, and to imagine a world where celebration and full inclusion is the norm, not an exception.
Lesley Crawley explains some of the thinking behind this: “Christians have historically punished and ostracized LGBTQI+ people, scripture has been weaponized and the church has contributed to the political, relational and spiritual dehumanizing of LGBTQI+ people. This has resulted in deep pain, bullying and death and rightfully many people have been put off the church forever because of the cruel behaviour of Christians.
“As Christians, we give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride gives us an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology while also becoming more fully human ourselves.
“In these services we repent of the past and we look with optimism to the future. We stand with people who identify as LGBTQI+ and proclaim loudly that all people are loved by God and all people are welcome here.
“We thank God for the immense diversity of human beings and the love God has for us all. We recognise the way stereotypes have limited us all in terms of being able to be truly ourselves. We celebrate love in all its forms and we thank the God of Love that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Please join us this Sunday. There is a service at St John’s Church, Lower Hale, at 9.30am, one at St George’s, Badshot Lea, at 10am, and one at St Mark’s, Upper Hale, at 11am. And, of course, we are online too: https://badshotleaandhale.org/online-services/
Our May magazine is out now, a bumper edition this month with information about the elections for Surrey County Council members and the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner. Please read their statements and please vote; if we don’t bother to have a say we can hardly complain about the people who are elected.
There is information too about events going on this month including our Farnham Flower Festival (online again, of course) which is being sponsored by our favourite florist Florescence, and plans for the fete in July. Please get involved in both. There is news about new rooms to hire, an article on grief, information about taking part in Christian Aid Week and much more, plus, of course, lots of great adverts with services, offers and classes.
Happy Easter from the Easter Bunny, Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny, A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny, Quite-Small Bunny, Smallest-Bunny-Of-All (very loudly) and, of course, the Chocolate Chicken.
May you know the blessing and hope of Christ this Easter!
Holy Saturday isn’t as sunny as Good Friday, but the bunnies still manage to get in a walk. Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny wants to show them the difference between a park and a recreation ground (which she is careful not to call a ‘rec’ for fear of getting Quite-Small Bunny’s hopes up).
“Wow! This is huge!” says A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny. “I hope we won’t get lost.”
“Don’t worry, I’m with you,” says the Easter Bunny. “And I know the way.”
“Look!” shouts Smallest-Bunny-Of-All. “We can climb the trees!”
It’s quite a long way up for their little legs, and A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny is, well, a bit of a worrier about whether they are safe, but from their tree they can see a long way.
“What’s that?” asks Quite-Small Bunny? “Down there on the ground?”
“It’s the chocolate chicken!” yells Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
And it is! The Easter Bunny is overjoyed to see her.
“Can I place an order for eggs?” she asks.
The bunnies are in a reflective mood. Before they tuck in to a hot cross bun (they are only little bunnies so they need only one between them), the Easter Bunny tells them a little bit about Good Friday.
“So Jesus showed everyone a different way and people didn’t like it, is that right?” asks Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot-And-Wants-To-Know-Even-More Bunny.
“That’s right,” says the Easter Bunny.
“What way was that?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“It was a way of love,” says the Easter Bunny.
“Is that why our bun has a kiss on it?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
The Easter Bunny gives him a hug.
Smallest-Bunny-Of-All hopes that the bun also has chocolate in it. Good thing the Easter Bunny can’t read her mind.
After yesterday’s confusion about ship wrecks and recreation grounds, the bunnies investigate the houses further and discover, to the delight of the children at least, that there is another playground.
“Just a short play,” says the Easter Bunny, “I want to go to the Maundy Thursday service this evening.”
“Evening is years away!” says Quite-Small Bunny.
“No, it’s only a few hours away,” Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny corrects him.
“Whose going to baby-bunnysit us when you go to the service?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“The chocolate chicken can!” shouts Smallest-Bunny-Of-All from her high perch.
‘If only,’ thinks the Easter Bunny.
The Easter Bunny and her family investigate what else there is near the church they found yesterday. There seem to be lots of houses and people, some of them playing games, and this all makes A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny, well, worried.
“Supposing they don’t like bunnies,” he says.
“Everyone was very welcoming at church when we went on Sunday, weren’t they?” says the Easter Bunny. “And there’s plenty of space in all these big green fields.”
“They are recreation grounds,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “Or you can call them ‘recs’.”
“I want to see the rec, I want to see the rec!” says Quite-Small Bunny. “There might be lost treasure.”
It takes the Easter Bunny a while to realise that he thinks he is going to see a ship wreck.
To cheer him up she promises them all ice cream.
“Can I have a chocolate flake in my ice cream?” asks Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
That reminds the Easter Bunny of a problem. Just where is that chocolate chicken?
It’s a beautiful day and the Easter Bunny takes her family for a walk, this time to another part of north Farnham where she has seen another church.
“It’s a lovely place to live,” she tells them as she leads the way down the road.
“Can we have a burrow in one of the parks here?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
“They are recreation grounds,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “The park is a very big area over there,” she says, waving a paw in what she hopes might be the right direction, as she doesn’t always know quite as much as she makes out (shh! don’t tell anyone).
“A big park might be a bit too big for little bunnies,” worries A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“I don’t mind, as long as there are flowers and playgrounds,” says Smallest-Bunny-Of-All . He scampers off into a clump of daffodils.
“I also want to live somewhere where there are chocolate eggs!” he calls.
That reminds the Easter Bunny of a problem…
There has been a disagreement about what to do today. Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny wants to study the spring flowers for a school project.
Smallest-Bunny-Of-All wants to visit the playground.
A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny doesn’t like disagreements and is feeling a bit upset.
Thankfully Quite-Small Bunny has a solution: “Let’s do both.”
The Easter Bunny thinks that this might give her a greater chance of finding a chocolate chicken.
It’s Palm Sunday and the Easter Bunny and her family want to go to church.
“Here’s the door,” says Quite-Small Bunny.
“Will we be allowed? We’re not like most of the people here,” says A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
For once Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny turns to her mother for the answer.
“Of course,” says the Easter Bunny, “this is a church where everyone is welcomed, whoever we are.”
“Come on in,” says the vicar, “you are very welcome.”
The Easter Bunny hopes that a chocolate chicken has also found her way here.
During the service a small voice can he heard singing ‘Sleeping bunnies’. It’s Smallest-Bunny-Of-All’s favourite song.
The Easter Bunny and her family stop off for a rest on a park bench.
“Where are all the people?” asks Quite-Small Bunny.
“They are having to stay inside and keep safe because of Covid,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny.
“Do we have to do that?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny.
“Can we go and play in the park?” asks Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
Meanwhile the Easter Bunny is considering the journey ahead. She doesn’t seem to be as fit as she used to be. Maybe she has spent too much time watching TV and eating biscuits during lockdown.
Also, she still hasn’t solved the problem of the chocolate chicken.
The Easter Bunny and her family are off. They are making their way around the parish, heading for church on Easter Sunday.
But where are they today? And why are they? Who exactly is the Easter Bunny?
Well, since you ask, the Easter Bunny has been investigating her family history and so far has got back to her Great-great-great-great-great-great-and-quite-a-few-more-Grandad in the middle of Europe in the 17th century when he used to carry eggs in a basket to give children at Easter.
“We don’t have to lay the eggs ourselves do we?” asks A-Bit-Of-A-Worrier Bunny. “Don’t be silly, bunnies don’t lay eggs,” says Big-Sister-Who-Knows-A-Lot Bunny. “Will we have to ask the chickens for eggs?” asks Quite-Small Bunny. “Let’s give them chocolate eggs!” says Smallest-Bunny-Of-All.
The Easter Bunny tries to remember whether she knows any chocolate chickens.
You may have read or heard national media reports on the Church of England in decline and dire consequences ensuing. Well, not on our watch. The parish has been bucking the trend and is seeing growing congregations both online and in person.
Though we were shut for many months last year because of Covid, we’ve seen new people coming to church when we have been able to be open and lots of people joining in online with our services, groups and festivals we have run.
Lesley Crawley says: “This has been a time of extraordinary change for us all and we have had to adapt to the challenges and respond in a way which meets the needs of those around us. Going online had been one obvious response and it is something we should have done years ago, alongside our services in church. There are lots of people who would like to come to church but can’t for whatever reason – disability, caring responsibilities, ill health, shift work and the like – so being able to access online services when they like is a real bonus. What’s more they can take part by recording readings, prayers etcetera.
“We’ve also really involved people in the services in the churches themselves, ensuring that it’s a whole-church event rather than just the same people standing up the front and speaking. So we have families doing drama for instance, or reading poetry and they have really enjoyed it.
“But it’s not just the numbers, we have also thought carefully about how we relate to everyone around us. So we have, run online events – our latest is a poetry festival – and looked at how we can use the buildings better, make them more accessible, change the way we do outreach, really get serious about church health and develop ambitious plans for the future. We have seen this as an opportunity to understand what our community wants from us and how we can share God’s love with everyone so that everyone feels welcomed and valued whoever they are and whatever their circumstances.”
Watch out for more changes and growth as we continue to seek God’s will and respond to people around us.
Picture: New growth by Agatha Valenca on Unsplash
Serving the Villages North of Farnham: Badshot Lea, Hale, Heath End & Weybourne