St. Mary's, North Tuddenham shut with immediate effect

St. Mary's, North Tuddenham shut with immediate effect

We have been advised by the architect for St. Mary’s North Tuddenham that the church building must be closed IMMEDIATELY as the tower is considered unsafe. This means there will be no worship there for the next two weeks at least until we are able to assess the exact state of the tower and possibly beyond this.

Please pray for the community and congregation of St. Mary’s as we find out in more detail what the issues are and how they might be corrected.

I would be grateful if you could pass this information on to anyone else who might be worshipping with us in the near future.

We will of course keep everyone updated as soon as we know more.




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Hebron House

Hebron House

One of the two recipients of £250 from the ASM Christmas Fayre was Hebron House, which is "a safe, nurturing and intensively supportive community environment in which to rehabilitate from drug and alcohol dependency and the life-dominating problems that serious substance misuse can cause" and where one of our Little Angels ladies, Louise Henman, works. If you would like to see something of the marvellous work Hebron House does (and has been doing for many, many years), please have a look at their video here.


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How do we respond in these times of uncertainty?

How do we respond in these times of uncertainty?

I am not a political person. I avoid reading the papers and would not choose to watch the news on the TV. However, it is surely impossible to avoid the uncertainty, confusion and conflict dominating the UK news now. It can be overwhelming, leave us feeling anxious, fearful, frustrated, even angry. 

We will all respond to differently, depending on many things but as Christians, how should our faith influence our response?

The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds says this:
“... in these current dangerous circumstances of division, insecurity, and growing fear, the Christian tradition has something more to offer: hope.”
“...Christians are not driven by fear; we are drawn by hope. It is a hope that comes to us from the future: resurrection. It is a hope that should not be confused with fantasy. It is committed to the life of the present — in all its complexity and muckiness — but refuses to see the present reality as the end or the ultimate.”
“Christians must love the light by looking at the world — and our politics, and our media — in the light of the Christ who is the light of the world. Don’t just look at Jesus: look at the world through his eyes, say what you see — always with the humility that we might be myopic or wilfully blind — and be trustworthy and faithful.”

These are excerpts from a lecture the Bishop delivered earlier this month on “How Christians should respond to populism”.

I must confess, I don’t even understand the title! However, what he says here works for me. It reminds me that we are part of a far bigger picture, an infinite and eternal timeline, way beyond the arguments between Theresa and Jeremy, the UK and the EU, in or out. It reminds me too that when we try to look at the world through the eyes of Jesus, the perspective changes. Jesus sees through the flaws to the potential, past the bickering to the heart of those striving to do their best job amidst the turmoil. However, I think we can safely say He won’t be happy with the lack of compassion, the personal criticisms and the division it is causing between friends, families and communities.

When it all gets too much, we have a mighty weapon in our armoury – prayer. Perhaps we can share this one together:’


Gracious God,

As we move through uncharted waters, we look to You.

You are our anchor and our hope, help us to keep our eyes on You
 For all involved in negotiations and decisions please bring wisdom, tolerance, integrity and empathy.
You are our anchor and our hope, help us to keep our eyes on You
Lord, as nations in the United Kingdom, may we always be people of hospitality, compassion and kindness, welcoming the stranger, the lost and loving our neighbours as You call us to do.

You are our anchor and our hope, help us to keep our eyes on You
Lord, remove all fear of the future from our hearts and help us to look at the world through Your eyes. In Jesus' name, Amen


Jackie Clay      


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Drop In Coffee Morning

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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Andrea Woods to become our curate

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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A great opportunity….

A great opportunity….

Paula & Derek Finlayson are known to many of us at ASM. As well as being lovely people, their story is remarkable and their passion and obedience in serving God and spreading the Gospel is amazing.
They are currently serving with YWAM and are undertaking training which
formalises their position as missionaries with that organisation... on boats! These are not luxury cruise liners by any stretch of the imagination!
Paula & Derek have sold all they have to fund their missionary work over the years. Their income is minimal and without further support they will struggle to maintain the missionary life to which God has called them. However, their faith is huge and have stepped out in this once again.
As a church, we review our mission giving year on year (at PCC) and will be praying hard about how to use our ‘tithe’ for 2019. The funds we have
(in essence 10% of our Total Voluntary Donations) are already committed for this 2018.
However, we know many of you will have formed relationships with Paula and Derek and already support them in prayer, so we felt it essential to open up the
opportunity to all, to support them directly in their missionary work.
I can provide you with more information if you would like it.
If you would like to support them, either with a regular or one-off amount, please speak (in confidence) to Barbara or myself.


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Giving what's right, not what's left

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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Other News from around the benefice

Other News from around the benefice

On the 16th September, there was a wonderful rededication service at All Saints, Welborne to mark the completion of the work to fix the tower and to provide a toilet and refreshment facilities. This will open up more uses of the church. A big thanks is required to Dean, Linda and Richard, who gave many hours and considerable effort to bring the project to completion.

Yaxham is looking forward to having supplementary heating installed this autumn, which should be completed by December. Mattishall’s long journey to replace the failing wood burning stove has progressed one more step along the road to approval.

G.A.T.E has received £1507 thanks to Jackie Crip’s 10K run and Mark completed his sponsored walk around the Benefice. Please pass money on to Janet Clark for G.A.T.E and your PCC treasurer for Mark’s journey.


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A Time for Reflection

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

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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ASM Communicates - Sept 2018

ASM Communicates - Sept 2018

September 2018


During the amazingly hot summer this year, the characteristic coolness of this ancient building was actually a blessing but as Autumn creeps in, our thoughts turn again to how chilly we might feel when we come into church! Well, our Boiler Team (Sue, Barbara, Ken & Steve) have been thinking about little else!  Here is an update from the team:
“We are finally seeing some progress!   The PCC met recently and it has been agreed to pursue one of the quotes received to install a new oil boiler, outside tank, convert two existing radiators and upgrade some pipework.  This will enable us to achieve an acceptable level of heat in the cold weather.  (18C degrees inside when outside temp at -1C degrees).

A Faculty Application has been submitted and we are awaiting the Diocesan Advisory Committee’s decision at their meeting on 20th Sept.  If the DAC gives approval there will then follow a consultation period (28 days) after which full approval can be granted.   Once this has happened we will be in a position to order materials and arrange a date for work to commence.  Please pray for approval as everything hinges on this for us to be able to proceed with the work. 

The work itself is likely to take approximately 3 weeks to complete.  This may cause some disruption to regular and one-off events between now and Christmas but we will do our utmost to keep disruption to a minimum.”

If you would like any more information, please speak to one of the team. They have worked so hard to get the project to this point and I would just like to say a huge thank you to them for all they have done.
We will keep you all updated as things happen.

As always, cost has been central to all of the discussions. We will share the detail once it is fully known We believe that, thanks to the money already generously donated by the church family to the boiler fund and the special projects fund which has been held in reserve for this time, the shortfall will be in the region of £10,000. However, once again ASM has been amazingly blessed….

Cynthia Wake Legacy:  On her passing earlier this year, Cynthia continued to bless the church massively by leaving a legacy to ASM of £20,000. It has been proposed that up to 50% of this should be put towards the boiler installation. Whilst Cynthia was never one to put her creature comforts first, we believe she would approve of  the  plan to finally make the church useable and comfortable throughout the year for outreach activities such as Little Angels. She was also very aware of how cold those of us of advancing years find it on a Sunday morning in mid-winter! The other 50% of the legacy will be held in a fund in her name to be spent on other projects, under the control of the PCC. However, first and foremost, we believe this should cover the shortfall on the boiler project and we are so very thankful for that.

We will be talking more about finances over the next few weeks, as our committed outgoings continue to exceed our income.


In July , we focussed on prayer with an emphasis on the value and compulsion for us to come together as a church to pray. We distributed a little survey to look at how we would be most willing and able to commit to this, so that it becomes ‘habit’ for us in the best possible way.

We had around 25 completed forms and we are very grateful to those of you who took the time to respond. The trends were fairly clear and the preferred options by some way were for a Sunday evening once a month and a Saturday morning, with light breakfast, again once a month. We are keen not to compromise the ladies & men’s breakfasts which are already established, so will be ensuring those can still continue. Please watch this space as we will be sharing details very soon, with a view to starting next month.

We have so much to be thankful for and so much still to do but it is essential that we listen to God to hear how He wants us to proceed so this will be central to our prayer time together.

Autumn activities
Between now and Christmas Day, we have no fewer than nine events which give the opportunity for reaching out into the community:
Friday 5th October - Harvest Supper
Sunday 7th October - Harvest Service 10am with bacon butties! As last year, invites will be sent to all organisations and businesses in the village.
Wednesday 31st October  5pm - Bright Party
Sunday 11th November - Remembrance Service
Saturday 24th November  - Christmas Fayre
Sunday 25th November - Memorial Service
Sunday 2nd December - Christmas Activities afternoon (before the Village Green tree-lighting)
Sunday 23rd December 6pm - Village Carol Service by candlelight
Monday 24th December 4pm - Christingle
11.10pm - Midnight Communion

Alongside, Little Angels and Drop-In continue to  run weekly, building relationships and serving in an amazing way.
Many opportunities to serve and extend a hand of friendship, showing the love of Jesus in the way we welcome and care. And lots of baking (and eating!) opportunities too! Please put the dates in your diaries and let the office know which ones you would like to be involved in, by baking a cake, in the arrangements and/or at the event. Many hands make light work and the blessing comes from the serving.

Thank you for all you do and all you are in this church.


With every blessing




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Change in email updates

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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Dereham Fridge

Dereham Fridge

Dereham Community Fridge is hosted by Green Pastures Bookshop, 20 High Street Dereham, managed by Love Dereham and in partnership with Breckland District Council.

The fridge was set up to give businesses and individuals the opportunity to donate good quality food items that are past their ‘best by’ date, but within their ‘use by’ date, which would otherwise be thrown away. ANYONE is then able to visit the fridge and take something out that they can use. The primary aims are to reduce food waste and to give people access to good quality free food. There are times when the fridge is full and there are times when it is empty, the idea is to just come along and see if there is something you can use. Any food that passes its ‘use by’ date is then used for animal feed and compost.

For more details on how you can get involved please see the contact details and opening hours below.


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

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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