Benefice Newsletter

THE BEACON

OCTOBER 2019
You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5.14)

REMAIN OR LEAVE? By Andrew Hunter

Hamstead Marshall is having its own Brexit debate. In our case the question is whether to remain in the Walbury Beacon Benefice or to leave it.

Why the debate?

According to the PCC, our church, St Mary’s, will fail financially within 18 months, crippled by the parish ‘share’: our contribution to the financing of benefice, deanery, archdeaconry and diocese.

The PCC’s favoured solution is to leave the benefice and place St Mary’s in one of two trusts which exist to help churches in financial difficulty. We

would then not have to pay a parish share - but there would be negatives: we would have no clergy of our own and we would be allowed only six clergy-led services a year, taken by ‘absentee‘ retired clergy, acting in rota. We currently have about 25 services a year.

Is this the way forward? Inevitably, opinion is divided.

A few years ago, when I was second-string church warden to Robin Althaus, the same argument was put forward. We resisted for several reasons. Were we right to do so?

First and foremost, we believed it was our solemn duty at the very least to maintain the existing pattern of services (basically two each month) and

that to enter into an arrangement which would result in fewer clergy-led services would be incompatible with our duty to promote Christian worship and witness in the village. Is this argument still valid?

Secondly, we also believed that it was our duty to support and strengthen the benefice, not to weaken it by leaving it. We were all too aware of the many challenges facing rural parishes and benefices but we reasoned that we were all ‘in it together’ and that solutions lay through facing these challenges together,

not through individual parishes opting out. We thought it would be short-sighted and ultimately counter-productive to abandon the benefice. Were we wrong?

Thirdly, we considered the issue of pastoral care. We did not believe that, despite their best intentions, ‘absentee’ retired clergy acting in rota

could offer anything approaching the same level of pastoral care as the benefice clergy provide. No doubt the benefice clergy would offer pastoral

care to St Mary’s parishioners if we left the benefice but we thought it unreasonable and irresponsible to expect them to do this without making some financial contribution to the benefice. Were we wrong to think this?

Most readers will be well aware of the difficulties which many rural parishes have in funding their ‘share’ but are these difficulties good reason for

a parish to leave a benefice? Can it not be argued that, ultimately, the problem is not ours and that it is for the church authorities who imposed the

current funding structures on us to find a solution? Each parish should surely do its utmost to pay its ‘share’ each year but, very obviously,

parishes cannot contribute money which they do not have. If, or when, parishes fall short, rather than starting to dismantle the benefice, would it

not be better to leave the authorities who have created the problem to sort it out?

Thus the debate continues .… but what do you think Hamstead Marshall should do?

Jenny's Licensing service is on Saturday 2nd November 2019, at11:00am at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

Congratulations Jenny; we hope you have a wonderful day.

If you would like to go the service tickets are available at the link

https://2019-llm-annualservice-licencing.eventbrite.co.uk     

Once you reach the bookings page, please click on the Green “Register” box which is located just to the right of the LLM photo, then scroll down the list of ticket options to find the ticket type you would like to book.

Coffee Morning on Monday 14 October at The Old Rectory, The Croft, Church Street, Kintbury; from 10 'til12 noon.

We are pleased to welcome Mavis Reeves with her life long memories of Kintbury especially during the war. All welcome to join with us for what promises to be a most interesting morning. Gill Guy

Some Harvest musings by Rev'd Tim Wood

I made the comment recently that you always know when Autumn is here as our Church conversations turn to that of Harvest and we are in that place in our calendars once more.

Harvest can mean many things to many people from climbing coconut trees in the Caribbean, to being ankle deep in water in the rice fields of China, to parched crops in parts of Africa and elsewhere, those destroyed by flood, wind and fire.

In England, our calmer weather systems generally bring a more reliable harvest time, although frosts of course can affect the fruit harvest and lack of rain the yield of many crops. On the allotment and garden vegetable patch, much is gathered in, although main crop potatoes may still be in the ground and sprouts still have some way to go before being ready for the table at Christmas. Runner beans are just about at an end ( endless watering can trips too!!) ,  with some bagged up in the freezer to enjoy later on. It’s blackberrying time, with red fingers and scratched arms to prove it, but the apple and blackberry crumbles will make it all worthwhile. Jam making is in full swing, onions laid out to dry.

The wonderful view from the top of Combe hill is a great vantage point to watch the dust clouds from the corn fields and to pick up the smell in the air, as the combine makes its way up and down the field, sometimes obscuring the view on the roads. Animals and insects who had enjoyed a safe haven for a few months were sent in all directions, with some of what we called ‘harvest ‘ spiders , making their way indoors, with much shrieking when they were spotted.  I well remember from my time in Kent, the strong aroma in the hop kilns, not one that I personally liked and also the bedding of those minding the kiln fires 24 hours a day as the hops dried, literally turning green along with anything else at close quarters.

Despite advances in mechanised farming, many hands still get involved, with long hours being worked to pick at the right time and to beat any change in the weather. As our population increases, we look to greater efficiencies in our farming and to an extent are reliant on imported goods. Despite the apparent abundance of our Country, some still go hungry here and our foodbanks remain necessary.

In Exodus, chapter 23 vs 16 we would read, “You shall observe the festival of gathering at the end of the year when you gather from the field the fruits of your labour”.

In October then, we quite rightly come together to celebrate at our Harvest festivals. We continue to pray for a much greater fairness in shares for all in our World and we can each play our part in the continued provision to those less fortunate, through our generosity of giving, both locally and further afield.

With very best wishes to you all.

Rev’d Tim

Visit to Christchurch Cathedral cancelled Jenny Veasey writes “sadly I have had to cancel the Oxford trip owing to insufficient numbers/transport issues.”

The visit had been planned for the afternoon of Tuesday 15th October 2019.

Please let others know if they had expressed an interest.

Enborne's Patronal Festival began with a coffee morning in the barn at 10am on Saturday 28th September 2019. As usual nearly 2 hours of pleasant chat ensued accompanied by coffee and cake, some of which was Angelic! Mark led a brief discussion on St Michael whilst some of us remembered the 19thC hymn “Around the Throne of God a glorious band of Angels Ever Stand”. Not all the chat was theological; we heard of trips to Yorkshire, of journeys on the Swanage Steam Railway and of days spent on The Isle of Wight. Nearly £90 was donated to Church Funds.

On Sunday Evensong began with Roger Pope inscribing in the Porch with chalk blessed by the Bishop of Oxford the same inscription the Bishop

had placed in Kintbury and Hampstead Marshall (see the article in this issue). Evensong continued with familiar Hymns and Readings which included the story of Jacob's Ladder and St Michael's slaying of the dragon.

Jenny preached a most informative sermon using Jane Williams' book ANGELS as one of her sources. The appreciative congregation learnt much of the roles of the Angelic Host and of the controversies around their very existence. The Service ended with us sharing Angel Cake and memories of the flower Jacob's Ladder and our own Wall Painting in the Chancel restored some 30 yeats ago. From John King.

Advent bookstall from Shoemakers It is hoped that this will run at the November Benefice Service (3rd November) in Kintbury.

Summer Garden Party at The Old  Rectory, Kintbury. Gill Guy writes:

We were blessed with a lovely sunny day and over 100 locals joined us for the community event. Mark opened the Party after a fanfare and there were stalls with home produce, candles, books and cdc, toys, games,nearly new goods and a wonderful raffle supported by local traders, as listed. Teas with delicious cake was in abundance especially having been welcomed at the gate by Worzel Gummidge who agreed to leave the crows just for the Party!

Many thanks to all who kindly donated and to the team who worked tirelessly to make this a great success especially as at least £710 was raised too.

The raffle was supported by the following local traders: Blandys Restaurant, Bernies  Hairdressers, Corner Stores, Dundas  Arms, Manicure and pedicure, Deborah, Mildenhall & Bullock butchers, Newbury & Crookham Golf Course and Tweasles Hairdressers.

Crafting for Carers

‘Crafting for Carers’ has been running in Kintbury since last December.

The idea was conceived as a means of providing gentle hospitality to people who have a caring role, whether looking after a family member or working as a live-in carer for a local resident.  Sessions run on the first Monday of each month in St. Mary’s Room (the church hall), at Kintbury church, between 2 and 4pm, a time when carers are considered most likely to have some free time, even if not for the whole two hours. We offer tea/coffee, cake and the opportunity to chat.  A craft activity is also arranged.  There is no compulsion to take part but people say they enjoy having a go and find it relaxing.  Numbers vary, with some ‘regulars’ and others who come along while working locally.  There is no charge though some people offer a small donation, all of which goes to St. Mary’s Church towards use of the facilities.

The idea has been taken up by various people, who help with craft activities, refreshments and spreading the word.  If you are a carer you will be very welcome, and do pass the word to anyone you know who might be interested, across the Benefice and beyond.

For further details, please contact Keryn Parish at k.parish@hotmail.com .

Walbury Beacon Benefice event on 31st October

Come to our Light Party (Halloween alternative)

Thursday 31st October 2019 in St Mary’s room and Church , Kintbury.

From 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

Tea provided - Light procession (coats please) - Songs and games.

All Children welcome (accompanied by an adult please).

For catering purposes could you please e-mail: revtimothywood@gmail.com or phone 01488 699 261

or just turn up on the day – you will be very welcome.

Please bring a torch.

It’s back! Speaker’s Corner Venetia Dunlop writes

A series of 6 speakers, one a month from October to March. A fabulous variety of local speakers who are all interesting and entertaining. The topics are again brilliant covering people, places, sport, nature and ideas. 

6 evenings of entertainment with wine and nibbles, not only listening to Speakers but also time to meet and chat with neighbours and friends.

Next meeting: Tuesday, October 29th, 7.30pm.  John Handy ‘Horse Chestnut – a Gentle Giant’

Venue: St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall Parking: by the church

Cost: £5 (which includes a glass of wine, soft drink and nibbles)

Please email speakers.cornermb@gmail.com if you would like more details and information of the series.

2019 Ride and Stride Saturday 14th September Julia Wright reports

This year we decided to visit Stratford-On-Avon. Starting at 9.00 a.m.we ran the 5K (3.1 mile) Parkrun around the lovely Recreation Ground park beside the river Avon with 400 other runners; we then set off cycling around the lovely Warwickshire countryside.

After visiting churches at Alveston, Charlecote, Hampton Lucy, Wellesbourne, Loxley, Atherstone-on-Stour, Prseton-on-Stour, Whitchurch, Alderminster, Lowest Quinton, Long Marston, Dorsington, Welford-on-Avon and Weston-on-Avon we returned to Stratford to visit the Holy Trinity, URC, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist and wonderful Guild Chapel.

Stratford`s Holy Trinity was not only the busiest (Shakespeare's  tomb attracts hundreds of visitors), but the most impressive too, with all its carvings and dominating position overlooking the river.

After 40 miles of cycling we raised over £100 to be shared between St. Mary's Church, Kintbury and the Berkshire Churches Trust. Toby played 4 organs during the day with the best being St. James Church, Alveston and it`s 1898 organ bulit by Nicholson`s of Worcester. The sound from the church drifted around this delightful village on the river Avon with its array of large and well kept properties. Toby, Julia and Dave Wright

Pauline Pettitt adds: Can I just add my thanks to the Wright family and the people who sponsored them.  It's good to send a contribution to the Berkshire Churches Trust.

Removal of the old organ at Kintbury Jenny Veasey writes

Well - so far, so good!

We will have a pretty good record of the removal processes - Julian took photos as they went along and I took some of the team working whenever I went down to see how they were getting on.  The space at the back is amazing and we will have to think really creatively about how to use it, what goes into it, and what we do with the facade as presented to the body of the church.  The ceiling is surprisingly attractive - I hadn't particularly noticed it before.  The Chilton Foliat team did a great job of cleaning up as they went along, and after themselves. Thanks go to Charlie Debney who was there helping with the really tricky/heavy/awkward bits. It's also worth noting that Chris and other organists have had something of a narrow escape over the last 25 years or so, as after the last major overhaul, the whole of the incredibly heavy superstructure was supported by 4 screws into an inch of softwood, rather than being bolted into the original frame.

Bishop Steven visits On 8th September Bishop Steven, Bishop of Oxford paid an early morning visit to St Mary's Church, Kintbury before moving on to St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall to Jenny's All Age Service. The Bishop explained that he was cycling along the canal that day as part of his visit to Newbury Deanery which began earlier in the week travelling by boat along the canal between churches. During his visits Bishop Steven chalked “holy graffiti” on the door posts of both churches.

Diary dates – details inside this issue of The Beacon
Visit to Christchurch Cathedral cancelled was due to be 15th October.
Crafting for Carers – first Monday of month; St Mary's Room Kintbury.

Coffee Morning - 14 October at The Old Rectory,Kintbury  10am.

Speaker’s Corner - 29th October, 7.30pm Hamstead Marshall Church
Light Party (Halloween alternative) Thursday 31st October 2019 St Mary's Church, Kintbury 4.30pm
Jenny's Licensing service - 2nd November 2019, 11:00am at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford

Advent bookstall from Shoemakers - 3rd November at the  Benefice Service in Kintbury

Contacts:

Benefice: Priest-in-charge: Rev Mark Wilson,

'phone: (01488) 491105 or email:markajwilson1@gmail.com .

Office: email Deborah at wbboffice@gmail.com & for the Beacon by email.

Items for The Beacon to Penny at ian_fletcher43@btinternet;

or Phil at pji@crestednewtcomputing.co.uk or ‘phone (01488) 658767.

 

THE BEACON

SEPTEMBER 2019
You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5.14)


 REFLECTIONS ON THE RURAL MINISTRY

BY JOHN KING

INTRODUCTION

I first moved into a country Vicarage 72 years ago, and grew up there. In 1968 my father, the Reverend George King, wrote an article which later became a BBC talk entitled “Country Boy to Country Priest”. In 1969 I became a member of the Enborne congregation. For most of my life I have therefore reflected on the rural ministry.

THE RURAL MINISTRY PRE-1970

The Vicarage was the hub of village life and the Vicar at the centre of almost every activity. Almost every village had its Vicar. Each was responsible for one church and one congregation, possibly no more than 550 souls. The Vicar was the heart of village life. He was the Chairman of the school governors, the main driving force of village social life, and a key member of the Village Hall Committee. He played whist with the villagers, organised coach trips, and assisted with the annual Fete. He knew everyone. He baptised their babies, married their sons and daughters, and buried them in due time. He shared their joys and sorrows. The Vicarage was open to everyone who felt in need. It was an era before television and the modern welfare state. The Vicar and his wife dispensed baby food and vitamins, signed documents and provided a telephone service for all. My father helped the homeless and the traveller community, in an age when support was hard to find.

THE CHANGING VILLAGE

Those days have gone. The demographics of the village have changed. Enborne, for instance, had seven farms in 1969. The farming community provided the vast bulk of the congregation. If the village school has survived, the teachers are no longer resident in the village. They, too, often worshipped in the church. Many families had resided in the village for generations. This too has changed. Now the young on the completion of their education are forced to move away to find employment in new and better jobs. Property has become so expensive that few of the children can afford to live in the village where they grew up. The social composition of the village has completely changed. The Squire, Parson, Schoolteacher and the “Rude Forefathers” of the village are no more. Making contact between Clergy and people more difficult, the Vicars have disappeared, becoming Priests-in-Charge or House-for-Duty clergy. This is true of this area: once the Benefice area had seven Vicars or Rectors. Fewer people now marry in church, and fewer are buried after a church service. The great village funerals are increasingly events of the past

 so too the weddings. No longer does the village make its own entertainment. Local sports clubs provide rival attractions on Sundays. In the 1950s, for instance, local village soccer was played on Saturdays; the same was true of cricket. Supermarkets are now open on Sundays.

THE CHURCH’S RESPONSE

In part the Church’s response has been influenced by two developments: firstly, fewer people, despite the ordination of women, are coming forward for ordination; secondly, the suspect management of funds by the Church Commissioners. The Church has created Benefices and enlarged the Laity, neither response generally popular with country folk.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  1. The old times sadly cannot be recreated.
  2. We survive as a Benefice, or sadly churches will close. Indeed we must become more united, not less. We must help each other, for instance with the Parish Share.
  3. Finally, we must recognise the difficulty of the Clergy.

FURTHER READING: Ancient and Modern by Professor Richard Griffiths


MINISTRY LETTER

It is often interesting to look through the Church “calendar” for the month, to see which important (historic or legendary) figures from the past will be remembered and celebrated during the forthcoming weeks.  Doing some research as part of a module on Church History & Doctrine a couple of years ago, I was amused to discover that at one point during the Middle Ages, the list of saints who needed to have special remembrances had grown so extensive, and the monks were finding it took so long to pray their way through it each day, that they were running out of time to carry out their other regular tasks around the monasteries – or maybe that seemed like an absolutely unassailable excuse . . . . You’ll be glad to know that the list was subsequently extensively pruned.

So, whose name appears in September?  Still quite a few, but three which I found worthy of note – and of a diversity which reflects our rich Christian heritage:
St Matthew (21/09) – about whom we know absolutely nothing for sure – whose name is given to the first book in the New Testament – the “Gospel according to St Matthew”.  He gives us the story of the Wise Men, and a version of the Lord’s Prayer; he is usually thought to have been Jewish, as there is a lot of emphasis throughout his gospel on demonstrating the ways in which Jesus fulfils the long-held expectations of the Jews for the promised Messiah;
St Michael and All Angels (29/09) – the greatest of the archangels (although not the one whose name we tend to hear most frequently) , the others being Gabriel, Rafael and Uriel.  He is credited with defeating Satan and casting him out of heaven; according to British folklore, when he (Satan) fell, he landed in a prickly blackberry bush and cursed the fruit – so eat it after 29/09 at your peril . . . St Michael has flowers, pies, clothing, academic terms, fairs – and two of our benefice churches – named after him;
and now my personal favourite:
Hildegard of Bingen (17/09) – I could write a whole article about Hildegard, (perhaps I will sometime), and still not do her justice.  She was a truly remarkable woman and is one of my all-time heroes.  She was born at the end of the 11th Century – not a time when women had many opportunities open to them – and entered a religious order as a child; a child, moreover, who was already seeing visions.  She was elected as magistra, (leader) aged 36, and went on to found her own convent (against the wishes of the Abbot); during her long life she travelled extensively and independently on several preaching tours (very unusual for a female at that time); her advice was sought by princes and popes; she composed wonderful music which has survived into our times; she was a prolific and wide-ranging writer of many theological works, of historically and scientifically significant medicinal textbooks, and of the earliest known musical morality play.  She supervised, personally, the illustration, presentation and production of all her writing.
What a woman - my 12th Century feminist role-model!

Have a happy, fruitful (but beware of late-cropping blackberries!) and blessed September

Jenny


SEPTEMBER

As Jenny has said there are many commemorations in September, another is that of St. Mary the Virgin on 8th. St. Mary is patron saint of two Benefice churches, Hamstead Marshall and Kintbury. Pre reformation Kintbury had a statue of the virgin and money was designated in wills for 'the burning of a light before the virgin'. Kintbury again has a statue from Medjugorge, generously donated by Ann and Peter Hutley.

Hamstead was a field church and became a parish church in its own right in 1241 and combined with Enborne in 1926. The churchyard has an ancient yew which some think indicates a place of pre christian worship. Something in common with Speen Holy Well also dedicated to St. Mary.

Another commemoration is that of  Lancelot Andrewes 1555-1626. He begins one of his prayers with this: O my Lord, my Lord, I thank Thee for that I am, that I am alive, that I am rational: for nurture, preservation, governance: for education, citizenship, religion: for Thy gifts of grace, nature, estate: for redemption, regeneration, instruction.

14th SEPTEMBER

(appropriately Holy Cross day)

Don't forget Ride and Stride. Explore the churches and chapels of Berkshire and raise money for their preservation. For information or sponsorship form contact Pauline on 01488 658246: email:paulinepettitt@yahoo.co.uk

KINTBURY METHODIST CHURCH

Sadly the Methodist Church has closed its doors for the last time. The congregation of St. Mary's has worshipped alongside the Methodist congregation many times over the years especially taking turns until a few years ago to host the Covenant Service. We have also shared with them and our Roman Catholic friends in many ecumenical services in all three of our places of worship. Hungerford's gain will be our loss.

NOTICES

SUNDAY 8TH SEPTEMBER

Inkpen will join with Kintbury for 9.45 Eucharist

Please arrive by 9.15am to meet BISHOP STEPHEN

Wednesday, 18th September, 2.30pm

Inkpen 92 Group: A presentation on 'Jack O' Newbury by David Peacock

Saturday 21st September, 2.00pm-5.00pm

Garden Party at the Old Rectory, Kintbury. (proceeds for church funds)
Donations for raffle prizes, cakes, home produce & nearly new items, from 9th Sept

please drop off at Kintbury Café or Gilly Guy, The Old Rectory 01488 657169

Saturday, 28th September, 10.00am-Noon

Coffee Morning in Enborne Barn

SUNDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER -ST. MICHAEL'S DAY

PATRONAL FESTIVAL EVENSONG AT ENBORNE

 BENEFICE VISIT TO CHRISTCHURCH CATHEDRAL, OXFORD,

TUESDAY, 15 OCTOBER

Minimum 10, maximum 30: Please Let Jenny jennyveasey@hotmail.co.uk know by end of September (Cathedral needs confirmation of numbers)

3pm Arrive at Christ Church for a guided tour of the Cathedral

4pm Visit to the Picture Gallery (Trinity term) or Upper Library (Michaelmas term)

4.30pm Afternoon tea in the Great Hall £5:00

5pm Visit to the Treasury and Cathedral Shop

6pm Choral Evensong (Tues, Wed, Fri) / Choral Eucharist (Thurs)

7pm End of visit

There has been a choir in Christchurch Cathedral since 1526 when John Taverner was   organist. Lewis Carrol was a tutor here and 'Alice' the Dean's daughter.

Here is the shrine of St. Frideswide

Her name means 'Bond of Peace'.

STOP PRESS -   The LLM Annual Service and Licencing, will be at

11am on 2nd November, 2019 at Christchurch Cathedral.

Thank you Jenny for all the hard work you have undergone for your licence to serve us in the Benefice

END THOUGHT

Deeds are fruits; Words are only leaves: (Sunday Reading 1885)

Items please to:   Penny at ian_fletcher43@btinternet; or

Phil at philireland@waitrose.com.
 

'Alfred Martyn-Johns, a Brief Appreciation'  by Matthew

‘With respect…’, my old friend Alfred once volunteered to be an advocate for a person with severe learning difficulties.  At first, he thought that he would try to represent the person’s interests and that was it.  We met her together and over several meetings I was able to share with Alfred how she and I communicated non-verbally but often quite deeply.  Alfred thanked me for teaching him how to talk to someone in quite a new way and with respect.

‘With respect…’, Alfred was a Magistrate who had a conviction about how the law should be obeyed and observed.  He was also a convinced Christian, and, in discussion, it was obvious that his faith and his civic responsibility could not be separated.  Both made the man and informed how he lived, how he made judgements.  Alfred understood and respected charity, knew that it was essential to life.

‘With respect…’, Alfred often talked about his vocation to the Priesthood which was in formation up until the Second World War.  After his service, he was a changed person and felt that he could no longer pursue that path.  His faith must be pursued in different ways.  He became a farmer but always maintained his life within the Church.  He was a Churchwarden at St Mary’s, Kintbury for many years while maintaining his connection with the Church in his previous parish.  If you needed to know anything about the Church’s fabric, its Churchyards, Alfred was the authority to go to.  Being a little naughty, with respect Alfred you shouldn’t have done it, he kept some records at his home long after his retirement as Churchwarden.  He loved the Church.

‘With respect…’, without Edna I think that Alfred would have been lost.  They were a couple who lived, loved and worked together.  There was always a welcome in their home for visitors, for those they knew and for the waifs and strays that people whose names appear on Church noticeboards are visited by.  A particular joy was the welcome, coffee and biscuits offered to all of us who attended the Mothers Union on a Wednesday in their house.  There was companionship but also listening and the learning from the conversation about who needed help in both the Church community and also without it in the village.  To me it seemed important, but I know that it was a typical Martyn-Johns’ event, often repeated during the week.

‘With respect…’, Alfred was a farmer and after retirement, maintained a productive garden the produce from which was enjoyed at home and also shared amongst the neighbours: a charitable donation.

‘With respect…’, was Alfred’s way of starting a discussion when he disagreed with you.  I must admit that the first few times he said it to me it caused me some gentle but genuine alarm.  Such discussions could take a time to be resolved. I am only glad that we seldom met on PCC meetings!  From what I have written above, it should be obvious that his ‘with respect…’ was informed and considered.  It always was even when I thought him wrong.  With time, it became something to tease him with when I disagreed with him.  ‘With respect, Alfred…’ would often provoke a laugh.

With respect…’, over the last few years I have spent time with Alfred in his ageing when we have often shared worship together in the house.  I think his heart was happiest with the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, although he embraced the worship at St Mary’s in its modern guises with enthusiasm.  He accepted change and although not liking the idea of the Walbury Beacon Benefice soon became an active member of its combining endeavours.  Charity begins at home but reaches beyond it.  At home though, respect for the Prayer Book.

 

 'Alfred Martyn-Johns With the Utmost Respect ' by Cathy

I have been asked to write some thoughts and memories about Alfred but my memories of Alfred have always been those of Alfred and Edna and so inevitably these thoughts will be about them both. Our family’s friendship goes back to 1977 when with two children aged 1 and 4 we joined Mapledurham Church where Alfred was Church Warden and Edna was in the choir – both pillars of the church community and the local community.

When we met them they had the tenancy of Greendene Farm on the Mapledurham Estate and they always saw this as a God-given opportunity not just for themselves but for others. They always employed as many people as they farm could stand whilst ensuring that everyone had a satisfactory lifestyle, good conditions of work and farm cottages where possible. Their long term aim was to leave the farm in a better state than they found it. Farming of course required hard work and long hours. Initially they were on their own but eventually they were able to employ 6 people including 2 apprentices and their farm itself also became home to a number of students over the years.

Farming changed over the years – I can remember Edna bringing down a churn of creamy fresh unpasteurised milk for tea and coffee after the service in Mapledurham Church. We used to stand the churn in the urn of water so that both heated up during the service – I’m sure that health and safety would have something to say about that! Sadly health and safety did step in and we weren’t allowed this wonderful unpasteurised milk – not good for us!!

The farm started in small ways and progressed to 100 milking cows, 2000 pigs and 5000 laying hens – technically known as Mixed Farming and often referred to in the age of specialisation in the mid 1970s 1975 as Muddled Farming. Everyone in the family were mixed in together helping at different times and especially at Christmas when Alfred’s and Edna’s mums and local people dressed the turkeys for Christmas. Edna gave a warm welcome to all who visited the farm shop which she ran for 35 years selling cakes, jams, many local products and of course eggs, some of which, via airmen at Benson, would travel as far as Nigeria and Kenya! Alfred ran the farm but also found time to show hundreds of school children including many Danish the work at Greendene farm with Edna providing wonderful snacks to sustain them on their visit. In this busy family life they also gave love care and support to many, including Alf’s brother and their great friends Ann and Keith as they acted as guardians for their children.

One of their memorable highlights was when they had 3 fire engines in the farm yard practising how to move pigs in case of an emergency!

They have always both been interested in Church and Community. In Mapledurham, Alfred was on the district council and parish council, becoming chair of both, and a magistrate for over 27 years and chair for his final year. Alfred was church warden for 38 years at St Margaret’s Mapledurham and Parish Warden when St Margaret’s became part of a wider benefice of 6 churches and in his normal supportive way, he attended all the different churches.

The smooth transition from Mapledurham to Kintbury in 1994 when they retired gave them a new life and a new community whilst not forgetting the community in Mapledurham. In fact at both their Golden Wedding celebrations in 1999 and their Diamond Wedding celebrations in 2009 there was a mixture of Mapledurham and Kintbury friends. They never forget their friends. Since moving to Kintbury they have both shared in many community interests. Alfred included the Royal British Legion, the Kintbury Volunteer Group and 12 years as Church Warden. Alfred has always been fully supported by Edna - their life has been shared and seen as a joint life – they recognise the need each has of the other. It is this mutual love and support which in their generosity they shared with so many over the years.

For us as a family, Alfred and Edna have always been there since 1977.  When Marianne, our daughter had a serious accident and broke her elbow (a difficult thing for a violinist and a potential doctor) we had an unexpected phone call from Alfred saying that he had heard that Marianne had had the accident and he wanted us to know that he was praying for us. He always encouraged our children although he did have to have a quiet word with Mike our youngest child at the age of 3, about playing his tin drum too noisily during the service. However, thanks to his support we formed a band some years later which played for the family services - and this enjoyment of playing in groups added to the encouragement of all our three children to play their instruments to this day in bands and orchestras and, for Chris, still as a member of one of his church music groups.

Alfred’s encouragement did sometimes mean that there were sometimes, slight reprimands. As with Mike with his drum he would let me know when he thought something was not quite as it should be. Whenever Alf started a sentence with the phrase, ‘with the utmost respect’, I knew I had got something wrong but it was always dealt with, with the utmost respect. I was very fortunate to have Alfred  as a church warden and friend during my time in Kintbury. I benefitted enormously from his wisdom, his advice and his help. He was always willing to listen and would turn his hand to undertake anything that was needed.

It is with the utmost respect and love that I thank God for Edna and Alfred; for your friendship and care and for all they have meant to us both as friends and in the church and in the community. Alfred, Edna - you have made our lives so much richer by your presence and care. Now Alfred has moved to be with His Lord and as I thank God for him, I pray for Edna as she continues her life, surrounded by her family and friends and still a valued member of this community.

This September would have been Alfred and Edna’s 70th Wedding Anniversary!