Church of England Christmas Advert

The Church of England has released a Christmas advert on YouTube inviting people to come to church this Christmas. See it here.


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Andrea Woods to become our curate

Dear friends,
I have some great news to pass on to you.

From July (well the very end of June) next year, our team here in the Benefice will be boosted by a Curate, or rather by Andrea Woods, who will become our Curate here. Currently, Andrea is Families and Children’s Worker with St. Andrew’s, Eaton and is an LLM (Reader), well known to many of the staff team in the Benefice already. Andrea is married to Tim, and they have two adult sons. You can find out more about them with this amazing video ( Please have a look.
Andrea is likely to be ordained on the 29th June 2019 and we will welcome her, Tim and family formally to the Benefice on the 30th June, when we will be having our annual Village Green service.


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Giving what's right, not what's left

Mark's talk at the Mattishall 10.30 service on 14th October on the subject of "Give what's right, not what's left" is now available in the Resources session. Note that Mark is due to speak on this subject at Yaxham and North Tuddenham on 21st October and at East Tuddenham and Welborne on 4th November.


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A Time for Reflection

Is it because “we look back” to summer, as the mnemonic for the change from British Summer Time goes, that autumn is a time for looking back? We have harvest – a time to look back at the year and give thanks for God’s provision. We have Remembrance Day, especially this year as we come up to the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 on Sunday 11th November with services in each village. We have our annual Memorial Service on the 25th November. All these events combine the flavours of thanksgiving, commemoration and remembrance, in different measure.

Therefore we will be continuing the sermon series started in September called “Generous: Our God. Our Call” as we use the Harvest time to reflect on our response to God’s generosity. For the details of this series please check back to September’s Benefice News or the website.

On the 28th October, there will be just one service across the Benefice as Bishop Jonathan comes to licence Sally as Assistant Priest, at Yaxham at 10:30. This licencing will not change the character of what she does, but is an outward mark of Sally’s own response to the generous God who called her into ministry. Over the last few years Sally’s role as a Priest who is called from the local community and stays here has developed, and so this new designation of Assistant Priest, shared with other Locally Ordained Ministers across the Diocese, will recognise that new role.


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Mid-Norfolk Foodbank

Liz Chappell, our local representative for the Foodbank writes.

With harvest starting in September, donations from churches and schools really boost our supplies and this time of year is a very important means of food requirement for the Foodbank.

The Mid Norfolk Foodbank is run from Dereham, with distribution centres also in Swaffham and Fakenham. Unfortunately, the necessity for food for those in real need is as great as ever, with over 2000 people in our local area receiving food parcels. The introduction of Universal Credit in Dereham this June has had the same impact here as around the country in increasing the demand for food. A quarter of our clients receiving food are those on low incomes unable to make ends meet and who have not got the reserves required to manage through the transition period.

We recently received a letter from someone in Dereham who received a food box. They said “I have to say what a great idea and conception it is for us to have Foodbanks, without them many people would go hungry through no issues of their own, just a bad situation or bad luck.

“I hope you never find yourself stuck without food any chance of getting any for over a week. Not everyone has family or friends that they can go to, so the Foodbank is that last life line for them.

“To those people who donate a little food, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Everyone one involved feel pride in the service you provide, free of charge. You have made a difference in my life and the kindness I have felt from the staff was overwhelming and made a shameful act (having to ask for free food) was made much easier and I walked away from there in Dereham not feeling shame but overwhelmed by kindness. You are true stars. Thankyou.”

Please continue to give generously. You can see what a difference it makes. If you would like to become a volunteer to help in this crucial work, either in our distribution centres or the warehouse please contact me or the Mid-Norfolk Foodbank online. Alternatively, see their website at


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Change in email updates

We have made a change to the day of the week that weekly email upates are set up. Previously it was sent out each Monday, but an enhancement to the design of the site means we can choose the day we want. We have chosen Friday as it is just before the weekend, i.e. when most stuff benefitting from reminders happens.


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Drop In Coffee Morning

We hold a coffee morning on Thursdays from 9.30 until 12.00 which is a nice place to meet new friends and to chat to those you already know. There is no specific charge but we do suggest a small donation of £1 to cover our expenses. We serve hot and cold drinks, as many as you want, cakes on the tables and at around 11am we serve toasted tea cakes. We have celebration events such as our Christmas Dinner and occasional buffet lunches which are all great fun. We can also arrange lifts for anyone unable to walk there or who is without transport so it is ideal for those who can not always get out and about.

The majority of people are aged over 50, however we have had some younger people come along recently and that is great. It is important for us to have events that cross the generations. It also means that we could then have some younger people who can help out in the kitchen.

At the moment anyone on the rota for helping out in the kitchen is on duty around every 4 weeks. This does not however give us much scope to cover holidays or illness so we would really love to have a few more volunteers on our list. The more people we have the less often each person is on the rota. It would be great to get us back to a situation where each person is only on duty once every 6 weeks.

It is actually quite rewarding being in the kitchen. Part of the duty is to greet people as they come in and ask what they would like to drink. If it is someone new you may be the first person they speak to. There are always at least 2 people in the kitchen together so you are never just left there on your own. It only involves making drinks, collecting up cups and washing up. Toasting the teacakes is usually done by one of the regular helpers, although it is fine for anyone to do that as well.

If you are interested in coming along and/or helping out just turn up on a Thursday and ask for Lizzie.

If you would like to ring me my number is 01362 850491.

(You do have to announce who you are as we have call guardian to stop all those nuisance calls getting through.)



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Return of the Prodigal Vicar - Mark's Benefice News Article

It’s good to be back writing to you again having reached the end of my sabbatical. Fiona and I had a very refreshing time while I was “off” and it has recharged the spiritual batteries, but I am glad to be back in harness and look forward to us all discovering what God has got planned for us.

First, and most importantly, I want to thank all of you who have worked so hard in my absence to continue the ministry and presence of the churches in our villages. I have felt so privileged that I could step outside of daily ministry so completely for three months and know that things were continuing without me.

This is entirely down to you all, the staff team, office and churchwardens and particularly Sally and Jackie Clay, to whom I had delegated my day to day responsibility. I am so thankful that I share my ministry with them and with you all here.

As well as the privilege of being able to spend three months doing completely different things, I also found real enrichment in the people I met, the worship I attended, the study I started, and the time with Fiona, friends and family. So, before the memories fade, I want to give you a flavour of my three months “away” and what it means for me to come back with recharged batteries.

My sabbatical plan

I had planned my sabbatical with four elements.

The first two were concerned with the question “How we might use Luke chapter 15 to inform the way in which we live as church communities?” I had become increasingly convinced that Jesus interaction with tax collectors and ‘sinners’ and his threefold response in the parables of the Lost Sheep, Coin and Son(s) had something to teach us as 21st Century Churches.

So the first element was academic study under the supervision of Professor Rev’d Steve Walton, a biblical specialist on the writings of Luke (the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts). I wanted to test whether it was reasonable to argue that we can apply Jesus’ method and his teaching in this chapter to the church today and if so how.

The second element was going to visit churches in the UK and in the USA and talk to church leaders to see what they thought about the question and how their churches lived out a Luke 15 shaped ministry.

In particular I was going to spend some time visiting the Desert Vineyard Church based in Lancaster, California because of the ministry of David Parker, until last year their pastor.

The third element was to go on silent retreat for a week. I know some of you are sceptical about my ability to stay silent for a whole week, but I had done this before and knew how important it is.

And the fourth element was to spend time with Fiona, family and friends doing “normal” things, like going away for the weekend. With one day off a week, six Sundays off a year, and a growing family, and no life together before ministry, this was going to be a new thing for Fiona and I.

A summary of what I did when

April 23rd – 11th May

I started my academic study supervised by Steve and quickly discovered just how far behind I had fallen in my academic learning over the 24 years since I left theological college.

12th May – 24th May

Flight to Los Angeles, visits to various churches in LA and an extended time at Desert Vineyard Church, staying with some of the leadership and experiencing their church life.

24th May – 31st May

New York. I had abortive attempts to connect with Church Leaders there, but did attend a Harlem Gospel Church. Fiona and I spent a few days being tourists in New York (much recommended).

1st June – 22nd June

Travelling around the UK to visit churches and leaders combined with study when back at “home”.

23rd June – 24th June

Birthday weekend (in London)!

25th June – 10th July

More visits, more study and writing a paper for Steve, summarising where my study had go to.

11th July – 18th July

Silent retreat at the Cenacle retreat centre, Liverpool

19th July – 22nd July

Completing sabbatical tasks, supervision with Steve and “weekend away” with Fiona.

What I have brought back

Unfortunately, the 24 years of not really studying theology in any depth really showed and it meant that I could not complete the study in the way I wanted. Instead of a proper academic paper, Steve got 9000 words on “what I would have said, if I had not run out of time to do the study really needed”. Despite this I have felt that my deep sense that this chapter is not just another one in Luke’s gospel but has something to say to us today and should shape our life together is correct and a view shared by others.

  1. Jesus ministry in Luke 15 and elsewhere in Luke was with those regarded as outcasts by his culture. He showed that the Kingdom of God was at work in them in a way the other religious leaders could not believe. This should make us ask questions about our own expectations where God is at work in our villages and our own willingness to welcome the outcasts of today.
  2. For Jesus his ministry was about “seeking and saving the lost”. This was his main thing. Is it our main thing (it should be)? How can we stop it being shunted out by all the other things we have to do?
  3. Are we trying to get God to fit our agenda, or are we willing to make God’s agenda ours? How do we ensure that we are seeking God’s will first rather than pushing ahead with our own plans and hoping God will bless them?

I have come back with a strong sense that the Holy Spirit is at work in the people living in the Mattishall and Tudd Valley, and that the harvest is still plentiful (Luke 10:2). I met many inspirational leaders of all stripes and was challenged by their examples. I have come back having clearly met God again, rediscovered his love, renewed my calling to serve him here, and with a strong desire to see him fulfil the plans and purposes he has for the Good News in these villages.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)


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Mark Experiment - article on Network Norfolk

To see the details on Network Norfolk about the Mark Experiment which will be running in ASM later this year go to  here


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