Vicar's letter

Clergy letter November 2017

Dear Friends,

My late Father was a young man at the start of the second world war. He felt strongly about his Christian faith and decided that it led him to make a stand as a conscientious objector. Apparently, there were two tables at the call up stations; a queue to enlist, where no doubt a fair amount bravado was expressed, and an empty table for those who felt unable to enlist. No doubt he faced a great deal of abuse and shame then, and in the months that followed. However, he stood firm to his convictions and, after a tribunal, was allocated non-combatant duties building a railway in Wales. Later, in the darkest days of the war, my Father decided he had made the wrong decision and was accepted for military service manning the anti-aircraft guns in Hyde Park.

My Father never once spoke of these matters so that I only know the story from my Aunt, but it does express the mixed feelings that many of us feel on Remembrance Sunday. It seems to me that the choice to serve in our armed services is a noble one. To be willing to give your life in defence of the defenceless must be recognised and honoured. Yet sometimes we can regard such service in a slightly confused and embarrassed fashion because we know that war is not a good thing. But, of course, no one in their right mind wants to fight a war.

And we give thanks for the sacrifice of so many ordinary men and women who fought in the world wars and conflicts since. Some gave their lives courageously and willingly, others just because they had to be there and there wasn't really much choice.  They had to find deep within themselves the courage to do what they had to do.

Standing up for justice and striving for peace still requires sacrifice and courage today. With all the problems in our world it is tempting to insulate ourselves in a cocoon of our own comfort and material wealth. But we all need to engage with others on this small blue orb of planet earth. Wars in the future will be about scare resources and the environment. Avoiding them will be about living sustainably and adjusting our lifestyles to make room for others on our planet to have their share. It will be about international leadership that is generous and collaborative and that sees humanity as a whole. Real progress is being made across the world in development and the environment but there is still much to do. (To watch an interesting programme on this, first shown on BBC2, search YouTube for 'Don't Panic - the truth about population.' by Hans Rosling)

The world church is the by far the largest participative organisation on the planet and has a history of making a difference promoting community, education and health projects. Christians in every land across the world have a part to play promoting Jesus's values of love for the stranger and the enemy, of self-sacrifice and generous living. At Remembrance time I am reminded to give thanks for the sacrifices of others and to remember that peace making starts with me.

Every blessing


Vicar of the Joint Benefice of St Francis and St Lawrecne

Join us on Remembrance Sunday.

This year Remembrance Sunday Service is on 12th November at 10.00am and we are delighted to have Padre Garry Humphryes Chaplain 5 Rifles as our speaker, with our Curate the Rev Matt Levinsohn conducting the service. We do hope that you will be able to be with us on this important occasion.

 Our ‘Time to Remember’ Holy Communion Service is on the 12th November at 6.00pm at St Francis Church and will include the opportunity for remembering with thanksgiving loved ones who have died. All who have had a Funeral Services for loved ones conducted within the joint benefice of St Francis and St Lawrence in the last year will be personally invited. We will also read a list of names of all those people that parishioners would like to be remembered whether their death was recent, or longer ago. If you would like someone remembered in this service please write their name on the lists at the back of the Church or phone Jane in the St Francis Church office on 413644.

Please pray for Tessa and Sarah.

What a great send off we had for Tessa and Richard. Thank you to everyone who came and helped us mark the end of Tessa's fruitful ministry amongst us. Do continue to pray for Tessa and Richard as they start their new ministry near Bradford on Avon. I know, from my own ministry moves, it is a strange experience to have been in the centre of church and community life one day, and then not to be the next! There is a real sense of thankfulness but also sadness for both us and for them.

But we are delighted to have appointed the Rev'd Sarah Wood-Roe as the next Vicar of Stratford. Sarah studied theology at Durham, moving to Westcott House Theological College, Cambridge to train for ordination and complete her MPhil in theology and religious studies.

Sarah was a curate at St Aldhelm's Church, Brankscombe near Poole before becoming the School Chaplain at St John's School, Leatherhead. In the last couple of years Sarah had been an Associate Priest in the Clarendon Team Ministry

Sarah is married to Nick and they have two small children, Henry and Mary. They will continue to live in Salisbury, near the St Edmunds Art Centre.

Do pray for Sarah and her family as they prepare to join us at St Lawrence. You are all warmly invited to Sarah's licensing by the Bishop of Ramsbury on Monday 20th November at 7pm in Church and to the bun fight that will follow!