Benefice Newsletter


MARCH 2020

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

Following the devastation in Australia and politicians shameful, denigrating  comments on Greta Thunberg, here are some extracts to remind us of the theology of world faiths regarding our environment.

(Personal view but thank you Lord that some of our young people still have the courage and passion to protest about  real and not imagined threats and attitudes of destruction! -Yes, OK, CND when I was 16, Ed)

The Islamic Declaration: Islam is a very practical world view. It seeks in all its principles and injunctions to give pragmatic shapes to its concepts and values. Such Shariah institutions as haram zones, inviolate areas within which development is prohibited to protect natural sources and hima, reserves established solely for the conservation of wildlife and forests form the core of the environmental legislation of Islam. The classical Muslim jurist, Izzard Din ibn Abdas- Salam used these aspects when he formulated the bill of legal rights of animals in the 13th century. Similarly other jurists have developed legislations to safeguard water resources, prevent overgrazing, conserves forests, limit the growth of cities, protect cultural property and so on. Islam's environmental ethics are not limited to metaphysical notions it provides a practical guide as well. We are not masters of the earth; it does not belong to us to do what we wish. It belongs to Allah and He has entrusted us  with its safekeeping.

The Hindu Declaration: Centuries of rapacious exploitation of the environment has finally caught up with us. A radically changed attitude towards nature is now not a question of spiritual merit or condescension but of sheer survival. This earth, so touchingly looked upon in the Hindu view as The Universal Mother, has nurtured mankind up from the slime of primeaval ocean for billions of years. Let us declare our determination to halt the present slide towards destruction, to rediscover the ancient tradition of reverence for all life and even at this late stage to reverse the suicidal course upon which we have embarked. Let us recall the ancient Hindu dictum. 'The earth is our mother and we are all her children'.

The Jewish Declaration:  “WHOEVER IS MERCIFUL to all creatures is a descendant of our ancestor Abraham.” (Bezoh 32b). In the sacred writings of Judaism, Jews are described over and over again as “merciful people, the children of merciful people.” (Yebamot 79a, Shabbat 133b). The Talmud even tells us (Shabbat 151b) that heaven rewards  the person who has concern and compassion for the rest

of creation, but this assurance of reward is not the major moral thrust of Jewish teaching. Our  tradition emphasizes that Jews are commanded to do what is moral, “not for the sake of receiving a reward” (Abot 1:3). The good is necessary even when it does not rebound to our immediate, personal benefit.  Adam swore to live in harmony with those whom he had named. Thus, at the very beginning of time, man accepted responsibility before God for all of creation.

Buddhist Declaration:  inn the words of the Buddha Himself: "Because the cause was there the consequences followed; because the cause is there, the effects will follow". These few words present the interrelationship between cause (karma), and its effects. It goes a step further and shows that happiness and suffering do not simply come about by chance or irrelevant causes. There is a natural relationship between a cause and its resulting consequences in the physical world. In the life of the sentient beings too, including animals, there is a similar relationship of positive causes bringing about happiness and negative actions causing negative consequences. As we all know, disregard for the natural inheritance of human beings has brought about the danger that now threatens the peace of the world as well as the chance to live of endangered species. Such destruction of the environment and the life depending upon it is a result of ignorance, greed and disregard for the richness of all living things. This disregard is gaining great influence. If peace does not become a reality in the world and if the destruction of the environment continues as it does today, there is no doubt that future generations will inherit a dead world.

THE CHRISTIAN DECLARATION: To praise the Lord for his creation is to confess that God the Father made all things visible and invisible; it is to thank him for the many gifts he bestows on all his children.  Therefore, in the name of Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead, Christians repudiate: -- All forms of human activity - wars, discrimination, and destruction of cultures - which do not respect the authentic interests of the human race, in accordance with God's will and design, and do not enable humans as individuals and as members of society to pursue and fulfil their total vocation within the harmony of the universe; -- All ill-considered exploitation of nature which threatens to destroy it and, in turn, to make humanity the victim of degradation. In the name of Christ, who will repay everyone

for good works, Christians call upon all men and women to pursue: A synthesis between culture and faith;-- Ecumenical dialogue on the goals of scientific research and on the environmental consequences of the use of its findings;-- The priority of moral values over technological advances; -- Truth, justice and the peaceful coexistence of all peoples.

'Praised be my lord by our mother the earth who sustains us and keeps us: and brings forth fruits of different kinds. flowers of many colours, and grass.'(St. Francis of Assisi)



In our hectic 21st Century lives, I can think of a number of people, including myself, who could do with at least one of those every week – if not more.  So it is unexpected to learn that the name, and the concept, pre-date us by several hundred years.

Laetere Sunday (a Latin word meaning “rejoice”) is the 4th Sunday in the Church season of Lent – the six(ish) weeks which lead up to, and prepare us for, the great events of Easter.  Lent: traditionally a period of great solemnity – fasting, no meat, fish only on Fridays, repentance & confession – with no decorations in churches and altars (and indeed priests) draped in sombre purple.  But six weeks seemed like a long, long time to keep this up, so there was a little island of relief – of Refreshment – in the middle, when the rules were relaxed, the church colours were changed to pink and everyone rejoiced, albeit briefly.  Another name for the day, therefore, is Rose Sunday – reflecting that change of Church colour.

It was a Sunday when, even in Protestant churches, the Virgin Mary – mother of Jesus – was remembered – especially relevant for us, here in Walbury Beacon, where we have two churches, Kintbury and Hamstead Marshall, dedicated to “St Mary the Virgin”.

For some churches it was a time to reflect on their association with the Mother Church in Jerusalem – the city where the Christian Church was first established at and after Pentecost.

It became a Sunday when wealthy families would make an effort to travel to their local “Mother Church” – usually a minster, or the cathedral – instead of attending their parish church.  And as “the family” was away from home, their servants had a day off; they would use it to walk home to visit their own families, often picking flowers on the way, as a gift for their mothers.  If their employers were generous, they might even have been allowed to bake a traditional “Simnel Cake” to take home with them; these are often decorated with eleven marzipan balls – the apostles minus Judas Iscariot.

Thus it became a day for celebrating all these different aspects of motherhood – “Mothering Sunday” – not just “Mothers’ Day”.  The date varies from year to year because the date of Easter varies according to the Festival of Passover and the lunar calendar – don’t ask – and therefore the dates of Lent vary.  This year Mothering Sunday is Sunday 22nd March – 3 weeks before Easter Day on 12th April.

Mothers’ Day is a great invention for which we must thank the Americans (and maybe the greetings card industry?).  And Fathers’ Day.  And Grandparents’ Day.  Is there a Great-Aunts’ Day? – as a devoted great-aunt myself, I think there should be.  Perhaps I will invent it. 

But Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, Rose Sunday is a whole lot more than Mothers’ Day: so let’s enjoy both occasions – any excuse to “laetere” – rejoice!



Our Lent course this year starts on Monday 2 March and will run for 4 weeks. We'll be in St Mary's room, Kintbury at 7.30pm and our course is entitled Journeys. Through DVD's which capture others experiences of God and their responses, we'll take the opportunity to consider how their reflections speak to us. We very much hope you will be able to join us.'


  6thMarch –    Enborne –     Phil Vockins at Foxgrove Plants. 01635 40554

13thMarch –    Inkpen –        Meg Atkins, White House, Heads Lane. Tel: 01488 668253

 27th March –   H'Marshall –  Venita Dunlop, Setherum House, Benham Park. 01635 38491

   3rd April –    Kintbury –      Revd Mark Wilson at The Vicarage. Tel: 01488 491105

Please will you kindly let the hosts know if you will be attending. Thank you.


CANDLEMASS. A lovely and beautiful celebration of this festival, marking the end of Christmas, took place in Enborne on 2nd February.  With the Church suitably bedecked with numerous candles, the Ministry Team in an inspirational Service, combined to remind us all of the meaning of  Candlemass and to lay the foundations for our Benefice Pentecostal  worship also to be celebrated at Enborne. Candles were lit for all the Churches and schools to be taken to each Parish and returned to Enborne at  Pentecost.  Thank you to all the Ministry Team.


'May we whom  the spirit lights, bring light to others.'


                                                      THY KINGDOM COME

'This year, we will be joining in the Archbishops' initiative for 10 days of prayer, leading up to Pentecost. Our prayers will culminate at our Benefice service to celebrate Pentecost on Sunday 31st May. We also hope to have a bring and share lunch together.

Please watch subsequent editions of the Beacon for further detail'



After Candlemass we followed the theme of Food and Feasting. On February 9th in a Lay led Service the Congregation thought  about the purposes of food in the Bible. Three were indentified as  of particular merit. Firstly,The purpose of food was to provide  sustenance i.e. the feeding of the five thousand and the provision of manna   in the desert show; secondly, Food was at the heart of celebrations as  seen in Levi's feast and the calf at the return of the Prodigal Son; thirdly and most interestingly,  food was seen as a means of  identification  as Jesus revealed Himself on the road to Emmaus. On February 16th,  in a thought provoking Sermon,  Mark preached on the feeding of the five thousand.


The Enborne Coffee Mornings. The next Coffee Morning is in the Barn on Saturday March 28th from 10am until noon. Roger and Phil are delighted with the success of these mornings. They have proven to be a great success not only in bringing people together but in providing opportunities to discuss Church affairs and to share in local gossip as well as generating funds for Enborne Church.  John King



Rediscover the power of pilgrimage

2020 has been designated the Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage by the Association of English Cathedrals. The Festival of Christian Pilgrimage runs from Sunday 13 to Tuesday 15 September. Speakers include the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who was recently appointed Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, both of whom have written extensively on pilgrimage; and the Revd Dr Dee Dyas, Director of the Centre for Pilgrimage Studies at the University of York.


 The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs division has published advice to parishes on practical steps to reduce the risk of infection from Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The guidance, written by Dr Brendan McCarthy, the Church of England’s Adviser on health issues, drawing on the latest Government advice, is available on a dedicated web page which will be updated as necessary. Although there is not currently Government advice suggesting churches should suspend the use of the Common Cup, parishioners with coughs and sneezes should certainly be encouraged to receive Communion in one kind only and to refrain from handshaking during The Peace. “We also advise against the practice of ‘intinction’ – when the consecrated bread is dipped into the wine - as this could represent an infection transmission route.”

Deanery Synod, February 17th 2020

Parish Share: Mark Bennet reported that Parish Shares had been paid in full to the Deanery so it had been possible to claim the rebate.

Terry Winrow   associate area dean,  and Mark Bennet area dean  are coming to the end of their three year term of office

Deanery Synod Representatives: Next year’s APCMs will be the time for elections for Deanery Synod members. 

Archdeaconry Day:     Bishop Olivia has two priorities -  Young People & Schools and The Environment.

General Synod Report: Kathy Winrow attended as a member from our area. Discussions included: “Living in Love & Faith” – the somewhat controversial issue, the report of which is due to be published soon. (You have probably been aware of the controversy around this as reported recently in the media.)   Kathy believes that no one yet knows how the church will come to a conclusion at the end of this project. Every parish will be encouraged to lead their own discussions, and these need to be held in love and faith.                                                                                                                      

Climate Emergency: It was proposed that the target for net zero emissions should be brought forward from 2045 to 2030. However, Kathy acknowledged that churches with much older buildings might find this very difficult. All churches should set their plans in motion.

Children & Ministry: Kathy suggested that we look for the document on the C of E website for more details on this. There was, she said, a general decline in church attendance by the under 16s although some churches were reporting growth in this age –range, and this included liberal catholic churches as well as evangelical ones. (More details concerning the issues mentioned by Kathy Winrow can be found on the C of E website) The meeting then split into groups The proposal that the Area Dean’s Visitation should include looking at finances   was the starting point of a finance discussion. There is an understanding of the difficulties faced by rural churches. The  help  given to the Kintbury Fabric Committee by Ven Christine Allsopp (of the DAC and also the Archdeacon’s advisor on fabric.) was mentioned as having been very useful to Kintbury.  Terry suggested that a directory of those with specific areas of expertise might also prove very useful. Theresa Lock


Speakers Corner

7.30pm.Tuesday, March 10th 2020,  Hamstead Marshall Church

 Jim Flint ‘Mid Atlantic Village’


Lent 2020- Journeys

7.30pm;St. Mary's Room, Kintbury, 2nd,9th,16th,23rd March


Thursday Mornings 10.00am-11.00am

One of our priests is available in St, Mary's, Kintbury, side chapel


Friday Evenings 7.00pm

St. Mary's Church, Kintbury: simple service, prayer, study of St. Matthew




    For the Madonna’s cloak of bluebells and the Genesis scent of woodlands; 

Thank you Lord.

We dance in joy with your creation.

       Bless all who seek to work with you for -

                     ‘The trees of the earth are for the healing of the nations’                             



Even if you are on the right track,

you will get run over if you just sit there


Priest in Charge: Rev'd Mark Wilson. (01488)491105.
Benefice Office: Deborah at
for the Beacon by email. Items for Beacon to Penny at;
or Phil at