Benefice Newsletter

A very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year


Patrick Whitworth responds to Peter Bell’s piece last month        


Thank you Peter for your stimulating article about Pelagius. Advent is a good time to think about him and doctrine. The idea of a “doctrine–free” church sounds attractive. Most people don’t like the word dogma, but some doctrine is necessary to give Christianity meaning, definition and content; otherwise people will simply make up what they want it to mean.


There are four essential truths to Christianity and then one essential response. The four truths have each to do with a major festival. In Advent we will be considering the Incarnation: that is, as St John says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory of the only begotten Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth” 1:14. The doctrine is that Jesus Christ was human and divine. When he was promised to Mary and

Joseph, they were told: “you must call his name Jesus  (Saviour) for he will save his people from their sins” Matt.1: 21. In other words, Jesus’ great task, of which he spoke and for which he prepared his disciples, was delivering humankind from the consequences of sin. Now sin is not a Christian neurosis, but according to Luther and Augustine of Hippo, who debated with Pelagius, a condition of the human heart. As someone said, “ The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart”: that is we are selfish, inclined to wrongdoing, and are not perfect. Good Friday is God’s answer: his, if you like, Good Friday Settlement. The mystery of the death of Christ offers to all forgiveness, reconciliation, and an example of love under pressure and of unjust suffering.   It provides the basis of our acceptance through his death, not our doings. And we are told to remember this in the

Eucharist or Holy Communion service


The second part of Easter, alongside Good Friday, is the Resurrection of Easter Day  - surely the great hope of the 

Christian faith. Christ rose. He paid for human sin and guilt. His resurrection was actual. He promised a bodily life after death and a renewed creation, with all the plastic taken away! This too is doctrine, but it also grounds for hope.


And we are to respond with faith: faith in Christ, “who became like we are that we might become like he is” (Athanasius De Incarnatione 54). We may

know acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation but may also receive the Holy Spirit into our lives – recalling the third great Feast of the Church,

Pentecost. He comes to help and guide us.


On Friday evening there was a lovely event at St. Mary’s, Jon Snow interviewing Robert Harris about his new book The Second Sleep. The book seemed to have an apocalyptic theme, people surviving after a disaster of cataclysmic proportions. But in the scientific and digital desert that followed this catastrophe, `hope, direction and community was given by the church to a disorientated and disconnected humanity. The doctrine of the church, rightly understood, is life giving!  Happy Christmas!

Carols in the Hall at St Cassians on Monday 16 December at 7pm.

Traditional Carols are sung in the Hall in aid of the charity for the homeless in Newbury, set up by Brother Gus. We have mulled wine with mince pies

 and always have a happy time of fun and fellowship with many friends in the community. You are most welcome to join with us. From Gill Guy.


Speakers' Corner! on Wednesday, December 4th at 7.30pm.
'Sliding to Success: The Realities of Elite Youth Sport' with Annabel Chaffey


annabel2.pngAnnabel was a GB Bobsleigh Athlete between January 2014 & April 2018 during which she competed at the Lillehammer Winter Youth Olympic Games in February 2016.  She was also ranked as World Number One for the 2014/2015 and World Number Two for the 2015/2016 seasons.

At St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall; cost: £5 with a glass of wine, soft drink and nibbles. Park by church.


New Archdeacon of Berkshire announced The Revd Canon Stephen Pullin is to become the new Archdeacon of Berkshire. Stephen joined the Diocese of Oxford as Priest-in-Charge of Reading Minster in 2014 and is currently Acting Archdeacon. His collation will be on 29th February 2020.


Advent – the Season of Preparation, the Season of Waiting . . .

by Jenny Veasey

We have just acquired an Advent ring for Kintbury School to use during their assemblies in December.  The children will help to create an Advent wreath, decorated with greenery and four candles, one to be lit each week of Advent. 

As I was preparing some background information for them on this, checking my facts with my memory, the Church of England website with hearsay, it caused me to pause, and think about its meaning – which is, of course, the whole point of it.

The first candle, the candle of Hope, is dedicated to the Patriarchs – a word which is always a bit of a mouthful for Primary School children.  These are the ancient Biblical figures of Abraham, Isaac and others – the “fathers” of the Jewish race and religion whose covenant with God was part of His long-term plan to bring hope to humanity – and aren’t we just in sore need of that right now?  At the start of the New Testament, Joseph’s ancestry is traced right the way back, through King David of Bethlehem, to these Patriarchal figures, explaining the need for that long and well-known journey to David’s City to be registered for the Roman tax system.

The second candle, Peace, recalls the Prophets, more Old Testament characters whose role was not just to look forward to the future coming of the Messiah, but also to keep recalling the Jews to the covenant made on their behalf by Abraham, and the special part they had to play in bringing that Messiah into the world for all nations.

The third candle – Joy – is lit on what used to be called “Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday” – when some of the rules about fasting during Advent were relaxed for a day.  This candle belongs to John the Baptist; I think we tend to think of John as a rather way-out figure in the New Testament, living in the wilderness, eating strange food, wearing strange clothes and apparently always up to his waist in the River Jordan.  Maybe we forget that he was Jesus’ cousin, older than him by just a few months, but nevertheless, entering the world before the Messiah – and therefore able to claim a role as the last “Old” Testament prophet, as well as the first in the New Testament.

The last of the four represents Love – and is Mary’s candle.  That speaks, I think, for itself.

There is often a separate, white candle reserved for lighting on Christmas Day – when all these elements of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love unite Past, Present and Future in the Light of Christ as we celebrate once again His coming among us.

Wow - will I be able to convey all that to the children at Kintbury St Mary’s School in four or five assemblies? – well, probably not.  But I’ll have a jolly good try – and I know that they will listen with their usual attentiveness and maybe we’ll meet somewhere in the middle!

So I wish us all a Hopeful, Peaceful, Joyful Advent followed by a Christmas and New Year filled with Love and Light.  And turkey . . . .

Jenny Veasey



Jenny becomes an LLM. In a glittering and moving eucharistic service in Oxford cathedral on 2nd November Jenny Veasey was licenced as our LLM (Licenced Lay Minister) along with twelve others from the Diocese. The service was led by Rt Revd Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, and Jenny was supported by our Priest in Charge Revd Mark Wilson. Revd Tim Wood and Revd Matthew Cookson also attended.

A shared moment of joy & humour at Jenny’s Licencing at Oxford cathedral.

On Saturday 23rd November Enborne held a Coffee Morning in the Barn; once again organised by Phil and Roger. The age range of those attending was from 1 to 90! A pleasant morning was had by all. The Revd Tim drew the raffle ticket for Christmas-themed prizes supplied by Roger. The next Coffee Morning will be on the Last Saturday of January.

Remembrance in the Benefice
Reports on the commemorations held in our churches from John King, Gerald Atkinson and Penny Fletcher


Enborne’s Remembrance celebrations began with a Joint Service with Hamstead Marshall at the American Memorial in Hamstead Park. In a moving Service Tim and Jenny reminded us of the exploits of the 501 Division using the


opening words of their first Commanding Officer and a description of their exploits both in Normandy and Holland during 1944. Accompanied by a Bugler and regular Army Officer the 50 or so congration then went back to their respective Churches.

Jenny returned to Enborne Church to conduct a Service which had 2 parts. The first part was the traditional reading of the Roll of Honour this year delivered by a former Naval Officer, Paul Apps and the singing of the National Anthem. The Second part was at the graves of two Veterans who are buried in the Churchyard. Pat and Adrian Atwool placed a poppy on each grave.


For Valour – Remembrance in Inkpen

As usual the Service was most meaningfully led by Colonel Nick Freeman.  But what made it special for this year was that as well as commemorating the fallen, we paid tribute to Captain Robert Ryder V.C. who with his wife retired to Inkpen in 1977 and he lived here until his death in 1986.


He was awarded the Victoria Cross in March 1942 when he led the naval and commando raid to destroy the key base for German battleships at St. Nazaire in occupied France. Against all the odds the raid in which four other V.C.s were awarded was a success. Ryder's Motor Gun Boat was the first to arrive and after over an hour of furious fighting was the last to leave when, as his citation reads, "It was now full of dead and wounded. That it survived and was able to withdraw through an intense barrage of close range fire was almost a miracle,"  Churchill called the raid "brilliant and heroic" and Lord Mountbatten in a personal letter to Ryder wrote "I have never had more pleasure in writing to congratulate anybody than in writing to you for your grandly earned Victoria Cross."  Truly a great man.


The service was most memorable particularly as his two children were able to be with us. And it gave inspiration to the congregation of nearly one

 hundred which will remain with us for a long time to come.


Remembrance in Kintbury (Illustrated is Kintbury’s War Memorial at this year’s commemoration). As always the poignant sound of the Last Post echoing over the village evoked many memories in those present. At least one being a 'D' Day dodger!


After the reading of the names -from 1914-2010 and laying of wreaths, a congregation of nearly 200 young and old, filled St. Mary's Church. Mark

spoke of his visit to the National Arboretum, the significance of its careful construction so that the light illuminated the focal point at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. He then spoke of the chilling significance of thousands of engraved names of the fallen followed by an

empty wall for those who in the future will give their lives in serving their country.


“Sombre the night is: though we have our lives, we know what sinister threat lies there.” Isaac Rosenburg.

Advent Carol Service St Michael & All Angels’ Church Enborne.

Sunday 1st December 2019, 6:30 p.m. With the singers of the Enborne Consort,led by Jevan Johnson Booth.



CHRISTMAS QUIZZ for fun (yes you’ve guessed – no prizes!)
by Penny Fletcher


1) Which much loved carol supposedly came into being because mice damaged the organ?

2) Who popularised the Christmas Tree in England?

3) Why is Boxing Day so named?

4) In the 18th century only one Christmas Hymn was authorised by the Church of England because it was biblically correct. Which one?

 5) What was banned in 1647?

6) Why does the robin have a red breast?

7) Colly birds predates calling birds in the carol. What is a 'colly bird'?

8) Who does the partridge in a pear tree represent?

9) Which king was crowned on Christmas Day?

10) Who presented the first live nativity scene?

(Answers at the foot of the next page.)


O taste and see that the Lord is good!
Themed preaching in Walbury Beacon

One of the positive features of worshipping within a benefice, with a ministry team preaching and presiding across the different churches, is the opportunity for the team to preach and lead in different contexts, and for congregations to hear a variety of different voices and approaches.

One of the downsides of this, for all of us – preachers and congregations alike – especially when combined with the sometimes hard-to-fathom vagaries of the Lectionary, and a monthly, as opposed to weekly, service schedule, is an ensuing lack of continuity of Scripture reading, preaching and teaching.

So we are going to experiment in 2020, once we are past the seasonal festivities of Christmastide (ie after Candlemas at the beginning of February) and before we get into Lent, by moving away from the Lectionary readings and following a theme – “Time for a Feast” – right across Walbury Beacon for 6 weeks. These are not continuous passages from the Bible, but within the overall theme, key Gospel concepts are explored weekly in all the readings.


We hope this will refresh and extend us all – so let’s make it a 2-way learning experience – with lots of feedback and challenge for us, from all of you, please! From Jenny Veasey.


Bishop Olivia was welcomed at a service on Saturday 23rd November to mark the official start of her ministry as Bishop of Reading. The service took place at Reading Minster and followed a service of consecration as Bishop at St Paul’s the week before.

The declaration of assent. Bishop Steven with Bishop Olivia. (Photo credit Diocese of Oxford/Steven Buckley).


Christmas services during December in the Benefice

Sunday 1st - Enborne 6.30pm Advent Carol Service with Enborne Consort.

Sunday 8th - Hamstead Marshall 4pm All age worship, Carols & Christingle. Inkpen 4.00pm Christingle.

Sunday 15th - West Woodhay 11.15am Carols, Combe 3pm Carols, Kintbury 6pm Carols

Inkpen 6.30pm Christian Music with Mulled wine & mince pies.

Sunday 22nd Inkpen 6.30pm  Carols

Tuesday 24th Christmas Eve

        Kintbury 4pm Crib Service; 11.30pm Midnight service

        West Woodhay 6pm Crib Service

Wednesday 25th Christmas Day

        Avington 8.00am Christmas Communion

        Enborne 9.45am Family Christmas Communion

        Hamstead Marshall 9.45am Family Christmas Communion

        Inkpen 9.45am Family Christmas Communion

        Kintbury 9.45am Family Christmas Communion

        West Woodhay 11.15am Family Christmas Communion

        Combe 11.15am Family Christmas Communion

Sunday 29th Inkpen 8.30 Holy Communion

        Kintbury 9.45 Holy Communion

        West Woodhay Christian Chat


 Notice Board – other dates in December: 1st Advent Carol Service Enborne Church. See this issue for details. 4th Speakers’ Corner - Annabel Chaffey. See this issue for details. 11th Kintbury 7pm Carols in the Square 14th Hamstead Marshall Market 10am -12noon in Hamstead village hall; gifts, plants, cards, cheese, bread, cakes etc.16th Carols in the Hall at St Cassians. See this issue for details.

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

'phone: (01488) 491105 or .

Office: email Deborah at & for the Beacon by email.

Items for The Beacon to Penny at ian_fletcher43@btinternet;

or Phil at or ‘phone (01488) 658767