Category Archives: News Releases

Barn Dance

Come to the free Barn Dance at St George’s on Saturday, February 25 at 7pm.

There will be dances suitable for all with clear instructions from caller Kris Lawrence and music by Cajun Boogaloo, and a guest appearance by Jackstraws Morris.

No charge, just come along and have fun. Bring your own drinks and snacks. There will also be a raffle and an opportunity to donate to church funds.

See you there!

The Farnham Poetry Competition is back and full of hope

The Farnham Poetry Competition 2023 has now opened and this year the theme is hope.

There is a children’s competition, open to under-16s, and an adult one, and entrants are asked to write a poem on the theme of hope – what gives them hope, what hope is, where we might find it, anything about hope. 

Poems should be sent by email to or by post to Farnham Poetry Competition, St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, Farnham, GU9 0LT, to arrive by 5pm on Friday, February 24.

 The competition is being run by the parish and is part of the Farnham Literary Festival which is being held across Farnham between March 3 and 12.

The children’s poetry competition is being judged by poet Coral Rumble and the adult one by poet Ellora Sutton.  The competition is free to enter and there will be prizes for the first prize-winners and runners-up in both categories. The winners will be announced at the poetry final evening on Saturday, March 11, at St Mark’s Church at 5pm, when there will also be an open mic for anyone to share their poetry, and the two judges will also perform their work.

Stella Wiseman, who is organising the competition on behalf of the Literary Festival, said: “We are living through extraordinarily difficult times at the moment and sometimes we can feel pretty hopeless. But there is hope around us and within us and this competition is an opportunity to explore where we might find it, what gives us hope, how we share that hope, really anything about hope.

“Last year, the poetry competition really showed the breadth of talent, ideas and sheer joy to be found in people and their writing and we really hope that this year will be the same. Please do have a go, and just enjoy yourselves writing.

“And once again we are delighted to have Coral Rumble and Ellora Sutton on board to judge the competition. They are both inspiring poets and we are honoured that they are taking part.”

Coral Rumble (left) and Ellora Sutton

Ellora Sutton is a Hampshire-based poet and museum person. She is the Creative Engagement Officer at Jane Austen’s House, and has been the Poet-in-Residence at both Jane Austen’s House and Petersfield Museum. Her work has been published in The Poetry Review, The North, bath magg, and Popshot, among others, and she reviews poetry for Mslexia. Her latest pamphlet, Antonyms for Burial, was published in 2022 by Fourteen Poems and is the Poetry Book Society‘s Spring 2023 Pamphlet Choice. She tweets @ellora_sutton, or you can find her at

Coral Rumble is a popular, award-winning poet, with five poetry collections, plus 170+ anthology contributions. The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat (picture book) was longlisted for Oscar’s Book Prize Award.

Coral won the Caterpillar Poetry Prize, 2018. Her collections have been promoted by education magazines and shortlisted for awards. Her verse novel, Little Light (2021) was a recommendation for National Poetry Day 2021, and was a chosen text for Empathy Day 2022. It has also been longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2023. Her debut novel, Jakub’s Otter will be published in 2023.

Entrants should state whether they are entering the adult or under-16 category. Adults with particular educational needs may enter the under-16s category (call 07842761919 or email for further information). 

The judges’ decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Free Barn Dance

Come to the free barn dance at St Mark’s , Upper Hale, on Saturday, October 15th, at 7pm, with local favourites Cajun Boogaloo, well known for their presence at festivals, clubs and pubs around the UK and in Europe.

There will be traditional reels, square dances, circle dances and a lot of fun for all ages and abilities, with clear instructions from caller Kris Lawrence. Those who don’t feel energetic or who need a rest can sit at the tables around the church. People are invited to bring their own food and drink, but tea, coffee and cake will be available for sale. There is no entrance fee but donations are welcome.

Come and join the fun – all ages and abilities welcome!

Cajun Boogaloo

Bring your pets to church

We invite barking, squeaking, chirping and maybe even a little slithering at church on Sunday, October 2 when the parish holds a pet service at each of its three churches.

Pets of all shapes and sizes will be welcomed to St John’s at 9.30am, St George’s at 10am and St Mark’s at 11am, for a service to celebrate our pets and ask for God’s blessing on them. Anyone who doesn’t want to bring their pet but still wants to celebrate them and have them blessed is encouraged to bring a photo of the pet. Children are welcome to bring toy pets and come dressed as animals too.

Rev’d Stella Wiseman says: “We decided to hold the service on October 2nd as it is a day which celebrates St Francis of Assisi who was known for his love of and care for animals and is often depicted with them. Our pets bring us great joy and are part of God’s creation so we want to celebrate them and give thanks for everything they give us. For many people having a pet is an enormous comfort and can help our mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. They can also be great companions especially to people who are on their own.

“We expect the services to be chaotic and great fun, so please come along! However, there will also be an earlier communion service at St George’s at 9am for people who prefer their worship without animal accompaniment!

To join in the fun, come to any of the three churches on Sunday, October 2.

Embodied worship

This month we are starting an Embodied Worship series which will help us experience the practice of our faith through our bodies. We will start with an invitation to go outdoors in the early evening of Thursday, September 15. We will meet in Farnham Park, at the entrance from Oast House Lane, from 7pm and spend some time simply being outside, listening, touching, smelling, seeing, even tasting the world around us.

In subsequent weeks there will be the chance to walk a labyrinth, discover journalling, try some multi-sensory prayer, make some bread and share it, and have a taster of Tai Chi.

Embodied worship reminds us that we are physical creatures and that everything we experience is through our bodies. Even our thoughts come through our bodies – our brains are physical parts of us. The rituals we use, our movements, the processes by which we respond to God, are all embodied and we worship an incarnate God, for God took flesh in an entirely radical way and was born in a human body.

For details, contact Stella Wiseman,, 07842 761919.

Celebrate Harvest with us

We will be celebrating Harvest this Sunday (October 9th) at all three churches (9.30am St John’s, 10am St George’s and 10am St Mark’s, please note the earlier start to include Apple Day) with collections of non-perishable food for Farnham Foodbank and a special Apple Day at St Mark’s too!

At St Mark’s, where there is a community orchard, there will be apple-pressing, apple pie, apple juice and apple-y music.

Harvest is a reminder of all the good things that the earth provides but it also highlights the inequality in the world and this year in particular we know many, many people are facing a financial crisis greater than we have seen for decades.

Rev’d Lesley Crawley says: “Harvest is a time when we not only celebrate the gifts of God’s earth, but think of others who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. This is a growing reality in Britain today, even though we are one of the most economically developed countries in the world. Obviously we want to give to help alleviate this need, but the church is also there to challenge and ask questions about why this should be the case and what we can do about it.”

The Foodbank is currently in need of tinned ham or minced beef; tinned carrots or peas; tinned or packet custard; UHT milk and UHT fruit juice.

Craft Market and Free Harvest Lunch!

We are holding a craft market and free harvest lunch on Saturday, September 17, at St Mark’s Church, from 10am to 2pm, with a free lunch served from noon.

Come and browse the stalls, full of beautiful craft items, listen to live music, and enjoy a free lunch which we are offering in conjunction with the Hale Community Centre and Community Fridge which is dedicated to sharing good food with everyone and reducing waste.

Everyone is welcome and admission is free.

Free Family Fun Day

Join us for a FREE family fun day on Friday, August 19th, 10am-1pm, at St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale (next to Tesco Express).

Free lunch provided, plus music, craft, table tennis and a chance for parents to relax and chat. Everyone welcome.

You can find out more by messaging us here or emailing Michelle –

See you there!

And yet… a story of ordination

Stella’s story

Well, it has happened. After a process lasting several years. I was ordained as a deacon at Guildford Cathedral by Rt Rev’d Jo Bailey Wells, Bishop of Dorking, on July 3rd.

This is both the culmination of a long time of discernment (the process of talking , thinking, praying about whether I had been called to be a minister in the Church of England), followed by study (more talking, thinking, praying and some writing too), and the beginning of new phase as I become a curate in the parish. This means a lot more learning, both on study days and on the job – learning to take services, including funerals, preaching more, being involved in pastoral care and the like – as well as doing my admin and communications job. As an Ordained Local Minister I don’t receive an income so need to carry on working.

Those are the bald facts, but behind these everything is slightly less fixed. It often is when we are trying to follow God. The path to this point has been winding, with hints of it many years ago, and if there had been women priests around in those days I might have started the process earlier. Then again, that might have been the wrong stage in my life as I have changed a great deal since then. I was pretty certain that the theology I heard preached in the churches I frequented then had to be true and it was only my lack of faith and discipline that caused me to doubt. Even as I delved deeper into faith I thought that I could somehow know the truth about God, could squeeze God into a box and then all I had to do was obey.

As you have probably guessed, it didn’t work out that way, and God somehow wouldn’t fit into a box or even a list of beliefs that I could tick off. The more I grasped at God and thought I had it sorted, the more God slipped through my fingers.

And yet. There is always an ‘and yet’. God is the ‘and yet’, the presence who can’t be grasped but is somehow here, around us, sustaining us, shining light through the cracks in our lives, piercing the darkness. Over the past few years I have become more at ease with the idea that there will not be clear answers on this side of death at least, but that this is OK.

I wish, in many ways, I could give you clear answers, ones you could tick off. I know how long I sought them. But if I gave you those answers you would probably find 100 reasons why they didn’t work for you, or maybe you’d tie yourselves in knots trying to accept them in the way you think you should, regardless of whether that was what I meant. I’ve been there.

I am more content these days to know that I won’t know everything, that I can’t define God. God continues to be more than the answers, more than a set of doctrines, more than orthodoxy. God continues to be, well, God, the source of being and of love, lifegiving and creative, extraordinary but rooted in the ordinary, rooted in community, in our relationships with each other.

One of my favourite stories from the New Testament is that of the two disciples who, after the death of their master, Jesus, were walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–32) and hadn’t heard about the resurrection of that same master. Jesus, the risen Christ – the Messiah – walked with them and explained what was said about the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament) and how he would suffer and then ‘enter into his glory’. They still didn’t know that he was talking about himself and it wasn’t until he was with them for a meal and took the bread and broke it that they recognised him. Then, just as they would have asked him a stack of questions, he disappeared.

How frustrating, and yet… And yet they knew him deep within, for they said that their hearts burned within them as they walked and talked with him. They knew on a deep visceral level and they recognised him in a simple, shared act of a meal together. After that meal, their lives could never be the same again.

God for me is found in mystery but is also found rooted in the everyday, in community, in simple, embodied acts, in what we do together as a church. That is something we all work out together and I look forward to doing so with you more and more.

Stella Wiseman

Pictured top: Stella (centre), family, friends and Bishop Jo (far right).