Category Archives: News Releases

Celebrate Christingle

There will be a Christingle service at St George’s Church on Sunday, February 2, at 11.30am and everyone is welcome.

Christingle services take place any time between the beginning of Advent and the festival of  Candlemas on February 2.  The idea of the Christingle – where the story of God’s love and care for the world is told through the symbols of an orange, red ribbon, fruit and sweets and a candle – goes back almost 275 years to a church in Germany. These days it is usually associated with The Children’s Society which exists to help children suffering from poverty, neglect and danger in the UK.

The St George’s Christingle will take place at Worship for All, a weekly Sunday service at 11.30am which is particularly suitable for families with children.

 

Picture by Richard Gillin on Flickr.

Special atmosphere and Santa at SHIP party

Families from Sandy Hill met Santa Claus and showed off their dance moves at a party at St Mark’s on the Monday before Christmas (December 23).

The families, from the Sandy Hill Inclusive Partnership (SHIP), enjoyed a party which included table tennis, pool, art and craft, music and dance provided by the performing arts school Boogie Pumps, and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus who brought gifts for all the children and their parents too.

“It was a really special atmosphere,” said Francis from Boogie Pumps, who led the children in a dance session involving hoops, pom poms, baby sharks and a lot of energy and enthusiasm, while the general consensus among the families was that it was “awesome” and “we’ve been spoiled!”.

More than 100 presents were provided for the children following the annual Farnborough Business Park Christmas Gift Drive, collecting brand new toys, clothes, vouchers, make-up and jewellery for some young people. Members of St Mark’s, St John’s and St George’s churches had also donated enough presents for the SHIP adults to take home a bag of gifts each too.

A big thank-you to everyone who gave so generously, and to everyone who helped put on the party, including Waitrose who provided some of the food. It was great fun and a lovely start to Christmas. We are looking forward to other events with SHIP in the new year.

Celebrating on the way to Bethlehem

The villages of Badshot Lea, Hale and Weybourne were visited last Friday evening (December 20) by a host of angels, as well as a crowd of shepherds, sheep, kings, musicians, donkeys and a young couple in search of a place to rest and give birth to a baby.

They were all taking part in A Journey to Bethlehem, a re-enactment of the Christmas story in which two groups walked from St George’s and St Mark’s to St John’s, playing music and singing carols on the way. Along the two routes they met angels, shepherds, inn keepers and kings and followed a star – and two donkeys, kindly lent for the occasion by Folly Oak Donkeys – until they reached a stable constructed outside St John’s where baby Jesus was lying in a manger.

This was followed by a celebration in the church in which children recounted what they had seen on the journey and Cllr Alan Earwaker, Farnham’s Deputy Mayor, joined everyone in singing carols and playing the kazoo, before the evening ended with prayers, hot chocolate, mulled wine and mince pies.

“This was the first time we had tried A Journey to Bethlehem and what a wonderful celebration it was!” said Lesley Crawley. “It was lovely to see children and adults alike dressed up as some of the characters we read about in the Bible at Christmas, and to see everyone having such a joyful time. We are living in an age of division and anxiety and the story of God coming to earth in the form of a child, born into poverty in an occupied country, is one that can bring us hope and light. We wish everyone that hope and light this Christmas.”

Emily’s extravaganza

Emily the Edwardian organ will take centre stage in a ‘Christmas Carol Extravaganza’ concert at St Mark’s, Hale, on Saturday, December 14 at 11am, thanks to the generosity of many local people.

Carols as you have never heard them before will be played on this much-loved organ, which has been renovated following a fundraising appeal. Anyone who donated at least £10 to restore Emily has been invited to the concert which will be followed by a free lunch. However, some tickets are still available at the door – just come along at 11am on December 14 for a festive concert plus lunch.

Emily the organ is named after local benefactor Emily Mangles who left money for it to be installed in St Mark’s Church in 1912. Over the years the organ had begun to deteriorate and an appeal was launched to restore it. An initial £23,000 was raised for the restoration work but when this took place in the summer, some further problems emerged costing a further £2,000. An appeal was launched and many people responded generously.

Lesley Crawley says: “Thank you everyone who has given money to restore this lovely organ which means so much not just to the church but to local villagers past and present. And do come and join us to celebrate the restoration at our Christmas Carol Extravaganza on December 14. I know you are in for a treat as some very skilled organists show just how versatile and fun organ music can be.”

The Christmas Carol Extravaganza and lunch will take place at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, Hale, GU9 0LT, from 11am. Please bring donations to the church or you can also give online at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/help-emily-the-organ

 

A Christmas Carillon at St George’s

Christmas kicks off at St George’s Church, on Friday, December 6, when the Carillon Singers stage a concert there from 7.30pm.

The Carillon Singers are a four-part, 30-strong choir, and on December 6 they will perform a varied programme including traditional favourites such as The First Nowell and O Come, All Ye Faithful, together with new songs, poetry recitals and a guest performance by a young musician.

The Carillon Singers have become known in the area, giving regular concerts in their ‘home church’ of St George’s, other churches, halls and residential homes, raising funds for charities and other organisations – one of which is Children in Distress, a charity helping sick, disabled and terminally ill children in Romania.

For 25 years the Carillon Singers have been under the musical leadership of Ralph Earwicker but now have a new musical director, Sam Rolles. Sam brings a wealth of musical experience in performing, teaching, composing and conducting. He has arranged some of the pieces for the St George’s Christmas concert especially for the Carillon Singers.

Entry to the concert is free but there will be a voluntary collection for charity.

For further information on the Carillon Singers visit www.carillonsingers.co.uk/

Sam Rolles
Sam Rolles, new musical director of the Carillon Singers
Pictured top: The Carillon Singers at a concert in St John’s, Midsommer Norton. 

175th birthday service at St John’s

A bishop, a mayor, an archdeacon and clergy and church members old and new joined the celebratory service for the 175th birthday of St John’s on Sunday, November 24.

St John’s was consecrated in November 1844 and the service on Sunday – which was led by the Bishop of Guildford and attended by the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans – marked the climax of several months of birthday celebrations which have included a flower festival, an arts and crafts festival, talks, concerts, a lot of reminiscing and, of course, cake.

St John’s was also delighted to welcome the Archdeacon of Surrey – the Venerable Paul Davies – as deacon, and former St John’s clergy the Rev’ds Paul Smith and Jennifer Paterson. Paul Smith led the intercessions while Jennifer read the New Testament lesson – Acts 2:37-47 which shows the church in action 2,000 years ago, sharing the same gospel of Jesus Christ that is shared today.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Rev’d Andrew Watson, preached at the service about the many changes that had gone on in the past 175 years, including the fact that traffic on Castle Street could sometimes be slower now than it was when local resident and inventor John Henry Knight was the first man fined for speeding in a car – in 1895, travelling at nine miles per hour. The Bishop also spoke about the future and the sense he had of God’s plans for the church in Hale.

There are plans underway to use St John’s not just for services but as a hub, responding to needs in the community. Rev’d Lesley Crawley is working on a long-term project to develop the church and has been talking to local residents, groups, charities, schools, businesses and other organisations, to discover what is most needed in the area. She said: “Our 175th birthday has been a wonderful reason to celebrate this beautiful church and we have loved welcoming friends old and new to St John’s. It has also been an opportunity to focus our minds on the future and what we believe God is calling us to do here in Hale. I am very excited as I look forward to seeing the church grow and develop. Here’s to the next 175 years!”

Afterwards there were snacks and Prosecco and the Bishop and Lesley Crawley cut the birthday cake made by parishioner and member of the choir June Jasper.

There is a communion service at St John’s every Sunday at 9.30am, and on the first and third Sunday there is also a ‘Taizé service at 6pm, using liturgy featuring prayer chants and silence and based on the Taizé monastic community in France.

This Christmas there will also be a carol service on Sunday, December 15 at 4pm; a ‘Longest Night’ service – for people who find Christmas difficult – on Wednesday, December 18, at 7.30pm; a Crib Service on December 24 at 3pm; Midnight Mass on December 24 at 11pm; and a Christmas Day service at 9.30am. St John’s will also be the meeting point for the Christmas event, ‘a Journey to Bethlehem’, on Friday, December 20, when two groups will walk to the church from Badshot Lea and from Upper Hale and arrive for a short service attended by the Mayor.

Top 10 Carols!

It’s that time of year again – time to vote for your favourite carols and hear them sung at St George’s Church on Sunday, December 1, in the annual Top 10 Carols.

This year there are two chances to take part in Top 10 Carols – at Worship for All at 11.30am, and at a Top 10 Carols service at 4pm.

All you have to do is write the name of a favourite carol on a voting slip (to be found in each church), pay £1 per vote, and put the money and voting slip in an envelope and place them in the box provided. You can vote as many times as you like as long as you pay £1 per vote. If you are casting votes for carols to be sung at Worship for All, write Worship for All on your voting slip.

The 10 carols with the highest number of votes will form the running order for a Top 10 Carols Service at Worship for All and at 4pm.

So come along, pay your pound or two or ten, vote for your favourites and enjoy a rousing Christmas sing at St George’s.

 

An invitation to our 175th birthday service

 

Come to a 175th birthday service at St John’s Church, on Sunday, November 24, at 9.30am, bringing to a climax several months of celebration.

Everyone is invited to join in a celebratory service, marking 175 years since the church was consecrated in November 1844, and just as a bishop, Charles Sumner, was at the first service, so a bishop will be at this service 175 years later. The Rt Rev’d Andrew Watson, Bishop of Guildford, will lead the service and preach, and the Archdeacon of Surrey, the Ven Paul Davies will also be there, along with former clergy and members of the congregation.

There will be traditional, favourite hymns, a Communion service and afterwards birthday cake and a chance to reminisce about the past and look forward to the future.

Join us on November 24 at 9.30am, at St John’s Church, GU9 9AB, to celebrate the past and look forward to the next 175 years.

 

Picture by http://www.post19.com

Join us on a Journey to Bethlehem

As the schools break up this Christmas, everyone is invited to join ‘A Journey to Bethlehem’ – a short re-enactment of the journey Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem on the first Christmas, complete with angels, shepherds, kings and even a couple of donkeys.

On Friday, December 20, at 7pm, two groups of adults and children will make their way from St Mark’s Church in Upper Hale and from St George’s Church in Badshot Lea, to St John’s Church, Hale. Among the groups will be shepherds, angels, kings, donkeys, Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus, and on the way they will meet more members of the traditional Nativity cast, including an innkeeper with no room at the inn, and a star to guide them.

Everyone is invited to join them on the route and to join in the carol singing as they go.

The two groups will converge on St John’s Church for a short service at 7.30pm, followed by refreshments.

Hannah Moore said: “This will be a lovely start to the Christmas holidays for children and adults alike. Come and join us as we remember the journey that Mary and Joseph had to make, and Jesus’s humble birth when God came to earth in human form. Another name for Jesus is ‘Emmanuel’ which means ‘God with us’ and that is just what this Christmas story is all about.”

Everyone is invited to arrive at either St Mark’s or St George’s at 6.30pm, ready to leave at 7pm and make their way to St John’s at the bottom of the Upper Hale Road. Children are particularly encouraged to wear nativity costumes with suitable footwear for winter weather. There will be marshals but please also bring torches to light the way.

Picture above ©anyka6 via Canva.com

 

 

Journey to Bethlehem front

‘When I hear The Last Post I think of him’

St John’s Church, Hale, was packed on Saturday night when people of all generations gathered for the Farnham Festival of Remembrance, to pay tribute to all who have suffered and died in armed conflict and to pray for peace in a divided, war-torn world.

The Festival featured the Royal British Legion and other representatives of the armed forces in the form of A Company, 4th Battalion, Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment; the Sea Cadets of TS Swiftsure1 Battalion Aldershot Army Cadet Force; and 229 (Farnham) Squadron Air Training Corps.

Civilians were represented by the Mayor of Farnham, Cllr Pat Evans; the British Red Cross; St John Ambulance; the Guides; and three local schools – Badshot Lea Infant School, William Cobbett Primary School and Farnham Heath End School.

Music was provided by Farnham Brass Band; TS Swiftsure; the combined Parish choir; Frances Whewell; Wendy Edwards; Liv Jasper;  Sara Burnie; and Dexter and Archie Dedalo-Skilton, Kyle Manson-Hing and Paris McCann, all extraordinarily talented musicians from Farnham Heath End School.

Narration was by Town Crier Jonathan Jones; and a service was led by Rev’ds Hannah Moore and John Morris, with additional reading by Bob Skinner, one of the leaders of Weybourne Community Church. The whole festival had been organised by Simon Alexander, to whom huge thanks and praise must go.

Each brought to the occasion a unique element, from the stirring percussion of the Sea Cadets to the moving tribute of the member of the Army reserve who spoke of his friend ‘Socks’ (so called because one time he forgot his socks when he was deployed) who was killed in Afghanistan. “When I hear The Last Post I think of him” he said.

There was the thoughtful poetry from William Cobbett pupils, the solemnity of the moment when the Guides processed in with the Torch of Remembrance, accompanied by Liv Jasper singing When the Lights Go On Again. There was so much more, including heart-rending poetry from World War One; a simple and beautiful poppy installation by children from Badshot Lea Infant School; memories of World War Two; and the building of a drum altar, draped with the Union Flag and the standard of the Royal British Legion, and topped with a Book of Remembrance of local people who had died in World War Two.

Intertwined with this was the sense that peace is a fragile thing and we must never stop striving and praying for it. In Aftermath, written by Siegfried Sassoon in the year after the end of the ‘war to end all wars’, Bob Skinner read the line: “Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’”

The young people sharing in the festival and receiving the gift of remembrance from older generations, seemed aware that this gift was a responsibility too and that the hope of peace lay in their hands as much as anyone else’s.

Above all, as prayers were said in front of the drum altar, there was an understanding that , however dark the world is, the suffering God is there in the midst of the darkness.

“Have you forgotten yet?…
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.”
                                                                                    (Siegfried Sassoon, March 1919).

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