St Mary The Virgin, Mudford
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A monthly letter

October 2018

Dear All

Four years ago I came to live in Marston Magna. The time has flown by and I have very much enjoyed being Rector of these five Somerset parishes. I still remember coming for the interview and being shown around Marston Magna Church and strips of sticky tape being pointed out for the proposed toilet for the disabled and the servery. I thought what a go-ahead parish. Just the sort of parish I want to be part of and just what rural churches need to be able to offer, more than a weekly religious service.  I had left both my previous parishes with similar plans afoot. It was a joy to visit one of the churches in Suffolk and see what had now been completed. The appearance of the Church had not changed at all, but the added facilities had made a big difference to the continuing life of the Church.

Should such plans be completed, Marston Magna will be the first in this Benefice to offer what all of us expect in other public places. Mudford Church has water and a servery and hopes to install similar facilities but, as yet, the architect has not found a solution in another Grade 1 listed building.

What I could not understand in Marston Magna was a reluctance to follow up this exciting proposal. Now, at last, a small group of enthusiastic people have been appointed by the Parochial Church Council to investigate the possibility of providing disabled toilet under the tower, leaving some room for storage. The servery is planned to go at the back of the Church on the right with a matching bespoke wooden storage cupboard on the opposite side. No pews will be sold or leave the Church.

The provision of such facilities in rural churches is very much in tune with the Diocese, who actively encourage such provision and so help to ensure the future well-being of both ageing congregations and the provision for activities suitable for children. I have found it very embarrassing over the years at special occasions like weddings christenings and funerals, when I am asked where such faculties are and have to say there are none! Such facilities will make life much easier for those who provide coffee and refreshments after services and concerts, where at present everything has to be brought into the Church and taken away afterwards.

None of this can happen overnight. Naturally there are numerous planning hoops to go through. Finance will, I hope, come partly from grants but a lot of fund raising will have to happen too. However, I think these villages have shown their generosity in raising money for our Benefice Projects and I hope will support the activities we will come up with, to make improvements to what the Church can offer the village. You can rest assured that everything will be done tastefully and in sympathy with this ancient and beautiful building.

Diary Dates

Harvest Services

Saturday 6th October Chilton Cantelo 9.30 followed by Harvest Coffee morning in the Church

Sunday 7th October Marston Magna 9.30 Harvest Supper Tuesday 9th Marston Village Hall

                                Mudford 11am followed be Harvest Lunch  Mudford Village Hall

Sunday 14th October Ashington 5pm

Concert at Rimpton Church 7pm Friday 26th October with refreshments

Rev'd Barbara

September 2018

Dear All

Music can be an uplifting part of daily life.  Younger people listen to music most of the time.

Music has been an important part of worship for thousands of years. In recent centuries organs have been installed in churches. Our problem now is it is not always possible to find musicians to play them and sometimes pay those who can. I heard a comment once from someone that they do not go to Mudford Church as the organ was not used. O that it could be! At Marston Magna we have recently gone down from three organists to one, so like Mudford, the electronic machine will sometimes have to be used. We need people to learn to use this. Is there anyone out there who could play the organ or piano, one of which we also have at Marston Magna? At Chilton Cantelo the person who played has moved. Rather than carrying on singing with no accompaniment we have decided not to sing. This reminds me very much of much of my life, and I suspect many more have the same memories, when I used to go to a said service at 8 o’clock. That left lots of time in the day to do other things, so if a short, said service is something you would appreciate, remember Chilton at 9.30 the second Sunday in the month.

This doom and gloom is not the whole story. We also have bells at Marston Magna rung every Sunday. Our excellent ringers had a much-needed holiday in August. Mudford bells have been away to Bridport to be retuned and have been rehung. There is a national movement this year for more people to learn to ring and thus have all the bells in England ringing to mark the end of the first World War on Remembrance Sunday. If anyone is interested in learning to ring, please contact me. We have a peel of bells in three of our churches.

We still have the advantage of several excellent organists and the Benefice Choir. I heard so many remarks of appreciation for the music after out last service with the Benefice Choir at Rimpton, when we celebrated Lammastide. The next special service is the Patronal Festival which we hold annually at Marston Magna, to remember the dedication of three of our churches to St Mary. At this sung service, using the Book of Common Prayer, the Benefice Choir will lead the singing. The preacher will be the Rev'd Tim Horsington, who many of us know from the interregnum and who often covers for my holidays. The service will be followed by refreshments. Do come and hear the choir and the organ

5pm 9th September. St Mary's Marston Magna

Rev'd Barbara

August 2018

Dear All

One advantage of not teaching (my former career) any more is being able to go on holiday when you wish. Hence while I hope everyone involved in education, be it for employment or as a parent, is enjoying August, I have been fortunate to have visited Russia, just before the World Cup. GUM, the biggest shop in Moscow, or maybe the world, was decorated with footballs. Returning via Frankfurt we met the Ladies England Team queueing at a hold up at customs. They were a super lot and my school friend has a photo with them.

I had not gone for the football but to see the wonderful buildings and museums of St. Petersburg and Moscow. We also passed through the vast country as we cruised from St Petersburg to Moscow via the rivers Neva and Volga, and various canals and locks (huge!)

Russia has an enormous number of churches. Sadly, 60 percent were destroyed in the communist era. Those left have been or are being restored. The onion domes are a variety of colours, green, blue, gold, and often decorated with stars - a most beautiful sight. Even the monasteries are now being rebuilt and many people deciding to live as monks and nuns.

All the churches we saw were of the Russian Orthodox tradition in which icons are of great importance. These have nothing to do with the things we have on our computer screens. Icons are holy pictures of Christ and the saints. The iconastasis or picture stand is a screen separating the altar (heaven) from the nave (earth). This is covered with icons. These pictures have a unique style which seeks to convey the heavenly as much as the earthly. They have a formalised style rather than naturalistic. They usually represent the incarnation. The belief that God has made known his love and reconciled people to himself by coming amongst them in the person of his Son and making himself vulnerable, not only to the physical and mental conditions of human life, but also to hostility and a cruel death.

Many of the icons depict Mary pointing us to her baby son. Some show the Transfiguration. I have copies of depictions of both of these in my study. Icons are symbols of the truth that the whole creation is to be redeemed. They teach faith in a way like the stained-glass windows and murals of our medieval churches did. They are treated with the greatest reverence. People cross themselves and burn candles before them. They are censed in the services but are not worshipped. The devotion shown to them is directed not to wood or paint but to the one whom they represent. They have been described as “dynamic manifestations of man's power to redeem creation through beauty and art, part of the transfigured cosmos.” Nicolas Zersov. Their painting is as much an act of devotion as their contemplation.

Icons can often be found in some Anglican Churches today. If you visit Sherborne Abbey you can see an Icon of St Aldhelm, an important saint in our area.

I will be giving a talk on my experiences in Russia in the autumn to the friends of St Mary's, Mudford, but you do not have to live in Mudford to come to this. I will give the date nearer the time.

Rev’d Barbara


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