Benefice Newsletter


JUNE 2018
You are the light of the world. (Matthew 5.14)


“The creeping things of the earth will give you lessons” (Job 12:8) – a reflection by Penny Fletcher

The earthworm is a prime example.

The earthworm presents us with one of those paradoxes in which God delights. It is, unless one is another earthworm, a rather ugly creature, not a thing of physical beauty, it is however vital to life on this planet. Its beauty is in its very life.

Why so vital? It breaks down decomposable matter into fine humus and aerates the soil,.thus its name - "nature's plough". Without this humus we could not sustain life. Their burrowing brings oxygen down into the soil, their tunnels allow rainwater carrying organic and inorganic nutrients deep into the soil where the roots lie. The roots then take up the water and the minerals and recycle them back to the herbaceous plants and woody trees. (The original recycling plant.)

It works in hidden darkness beneath our feet creating the conditions for growth. Unseen, or if seen often thrown unceremoniously across the garden.

CHARLES DARWIN WROTE: "It may be doubted whether there are many other creatures which have played so important a part in the history of the world."

Yet he is ugly, weak, vulnerable, but God sent a weak and vulnerable baby to be our salvation.

How can we emulate him? In 1934 T.S. Eliot asks if the church has failed mankind or mankind the church. He points out that all gods have been forgotten except usury, lust and power. That the church decays within and is attacked without and therefore must be forever building because there is much to get rid of and much to restore.

Sound familiar? Pick up any newspaper today and what is it sure to contain – money scandals, sex scandals, politics, the media, the power of the damaged people we make icons for modern living.

God is forgotten or declared a figment of our imagination. That sums up a large slice of life today -so how does contemplating the earthworm help?

It is our job to take that world decay, break it down and turn it into rich earth for growth. We are often weak, vulnerable, ugly in our dark side which we prefer to keep in the dark sometimes hidden even from ourselves.

We are God's earthworms - we work in the hidden way of prayer, for the world, the church, individuals known and unknown. Our prayers are not seen, they work away beneath the surface of the world's business, undermining the usury, lust, power, seeking to turn them with God's help into generosity, love, responsibility and compassion. Breaking them down in little unseen ways, because that is the way God wants us to work. On the whole we cannot change the world in one go, unless we are a modern St. Paul. There is only our own weak, very weak faith and faithfulness. Our fear and unwillingness to take on board the filth of the world and aerate it with intercession.

The earthworm unseen, performs tasks vital for the continuation of the world's nurture and well being and we must do the same. Without knowing what we may or may not achieve we have to go on, burrowing amidst the rottenness of our world turning it into rich compost by the loving action of prayer.

Like the earthworm, in the roots of life we will be burrowing with prayer, love and trust right into the dark areas of modern life. The earthworm doesn't know the world depends upon its labours - it just knows that that is what it is created for.

Perhaps as a Christian Plough it is our job to destroy - the apathy that threatens, the false perceptions of our faith; to aerate - bring fresh insight to those who hold no concept of God, build - by nourishing with prayer the soil of daily life. Like the worm we do it because it is our life's work as Christians.

Penny, as well as being an editor of The Beacon, is a Third Order Franciscan.               

If you feel you would like to discuss the ideas in this article or past or future articles why not let Jenny Veasey know and she might be able to arrange for them to be future topics for Faith Group meetings? 

Letter from the Ministry Team Jenny Veasey writes:

As a governor, I am occasionally able to inveigle my way in to the school to “help”.  In reality, this involves doing some of the things I really enjoy – making a mess in the “mud kitchen”, looking for mini-beasts, building the most enormous tower possible (until it collapses – sometimes with a bit of sly assistance), reading stories, or listening to a 4-year old working his way through a story about a very dilapidated toy rabbit – “Poor Old Rabbit”.  By the end of the book, we were both very good at recognising that particular phrase, even if we might still be a bit wobbly on the difference between “was” and “saw” – a pesky little pair of words, lurking sneakily in the middle of sentences, apparently with the sole intent of causing confusion.

I am left, pondering, as indeed I spent so much of my professional life, on the extraordinary and wonderful nature of “learning”.

My great-niece has just had her second birthday; recently, her parents and I took her to the playground.  Laboriously, using hands, feet and knees, with a heave behind and a haul before, she clambered up the steps to the top of the slide.  Before launching herself downwards, she paused proudly, gazing over the wall at the nearby allotments – “Look at ME – I can see EVERYWHERE”.  My niece gasped and said, “Where did she get that?  We’ve never taught her ‘everywhere’”.

They hadn’t taught it – but Margot had learned it.  And what an exciting, horizon-shifting concept to acquire.

Teaching – and learning; we’re all involved in it, all the time – it’s how we know we’re still alive.  The best teachers are continuous learners – and good learners are (often unconscious) teachers.

If you’re a parent – you’re a teacher – and my goodness, aren’t you also a learner!  Don’t your children frequently astonish you with the things they do, and say and just – somehow – know? 

When I go into Notrees on a Wednesday morning I learn lots, every week, about tolerance, and humour, and optimism (yes, really) – and about just getting on with life as it is here and now.

In our church year, we have worked our way through Lent, Holy Week and Easter – learning about our own reactions to these events as we go – now we can briefly relax and enjoy the many surprises of the Resurrection period.

But the next learning events are looming up – Ascension Day (how did He do that?), Pentecost (what? Wind and Flame and the Holy Spirit – REALLY?) and Trinity Sunday – and I am happy to offer a prize to the first person who can satisfactorily explain, or teach, the mystery of the Trinity.

So – we are all continuous learners, (thank God), and occasionally, (by the grace of God), teachers as well.  And sometimes, just sometimes, we are lucky enough to experience, or share, or watch, one of those mind-expanding, horizon-shifting moments.

It’s called living – thank God.


Rev. Sue Webster's  Departure.

As all of you will know by now Rev. Sue has been appointed to the Hermitage team in a Stipendiary role.  After five years in Walbury Beacon Benefice many tributes have been paid to Sue for the enormous contribution she has made to this Benefice.

Before she begins her ministry in the Hermitage she will have a very well deserved three month Sabbatical in order to ‘recharge the batteries’.

I want to put on record my thanks for all she has done over the past five years in WBB. Most notable are her excellent work in Enborne school and her work at Inglewood. Her contribution at Team meetings has always been thoughtful and at times challenging. Perhaps most importantly she has done an enormous amount of Pastoral Care throughout the Benefice and I know how much this has been appreciated.

We wish Sue well as she and Robin move on to pastures new.

By Rev. Mark Wilson, Priest-in-Charge

Service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D Day
Rev’d Tim Wood writes

On Friday 7th June at 10.30am, we will be holding a service in St Swithun's Church, Combe to remember the very special events of 75 years ago. Combe Hill was used by troops in preparation for the invasion and destruction of German Batteries at Merville. Our intention is to move from the Church after the service, for final prayers and Blessing at the memorial on Combe Hill.

We hope you may be able to join us on this special anniversary.

News from Enborne by John King

Annual Spring Concert on Saturday 27th April. This year's was given by a local group, Sing For Fun, a choir of 35 people including a few with Enborne connections. It was a fundraiser for church funds and Breast Cancer.The Group lived up to their title singing as though they enjoyed every minute. There was a variety of songs on offer which led many of the audience to join in some singing and others with less vocal talent accompanying the songs with brisk handclapping. Over £ 700 was raised.

The Garden Party on Saturday 22nd May at Willow Tree was a great success. It raised just over £340 for the church. The sun shone and the rain kept away. The Pimms and the eats were greatly appreciated and every one thought it was a great way to meet up, enjoy each other's company and raise money for the Church. Our thanks are due to Roger Pope and family for this lovely event.


West Woodhay Church invites you to the


Saturday 29th June

at the Village Hall 9 - 10am

Come and enjoy a bacon roll or toast & jam with tea and coffee. Chat to your neighbours.

Listen to our guest speaker

Tell your friends, let's make this a village event

Retiring collection
Everyone in the Benefice is warmly invited.  All that is asked is that those who intend to turn up contact Paul Harris so that sufficient provisions can be purchased at email: Tel: (01488) 668971

Informal get-together with refreshments for all those, and others, who couldn’t come to the Crown after Tony Atkin’s funeral

Meg Atkins writes: “I am having an OPEN DAY to celebrate Tony’s life at White House, Heads Lane, Inkpen Common, RG17 9QS on

Saturday 22nd June from 12 noon to 4pm.”

It would be helpful for Meg to know numbers so please email her at .

Prayers and Bears

Meets every first Thursday of each month in St Mary's chapel, Kintbury church, at 1.45pm with singing and a story before moving to St Mary's room for craft activity and a social time, finishing at 2.45pm.

Our next meeting is on Thursday 6th June, 2019 when the theme will be “Listening to God, Samuel”.

Themes for future meetings include a picnic (July), St Mary (September) and Harvest (October).

Children’s Benefice Service at Enborne

On Sunday 23rd June at 9.45am. Our theme for this service is “Giving”.

Further details to follow shortly.

Normandy early July 1944 by Phil Ireland During the Second World War my father served in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He was always grateful that he trained as a Wolseley car mechanic before the war which meant that he could go into the RAF as an aircraft mechanic. Although he didn't land in Normandy on D-Day he did go within four weeks of the invasion and was pinned down for several weeks while the Allied forces tried to capture Caen and they could move on into Europe.

This poem is his story but also reflects the experiences of millions of people involved in the invasion and the subsequent liberation of Europe.

Our thanks to them all.

Normandy early July 1944

What was Normandy like for you Dad?

Mum said you never talked about what you saw,

Or the things you did in the war. Much.

But just a little. A flavour; that was all.


What was Normandy like for you Dad,

As you crashed your way to Arromanches-by-the-Beaches?

What was Normandy like for you Dad?

As you crashed your way through the storms of nausea

And the thrashing waves of sea-sick;

First afraid you’d die then afraid you wouldn’t.


But we stood there today, Dad, in the glorious

Summer sun and looked along the Mulberry;

Along where you would have come;

Towards the foe and total victory;

And you without a gun.


What did you see Dad?

 As you waited patiently,

 as only you could do,

For eight whole weeks, for the mighty enemy rout

In the bag-like Falaise gap.

Eight weeks under fire, from Adolf Hitler’s best,

As you waited for Caen to fall.


What was Normandy like for you Dad?

Was it like the generals said in Max Hastings’ book?

Or was it like deaths in the bocage for ordinary Tommy Atkins?

Or was it somewhere in between? Somewhere in between.


We came down from Rouen today

To stand where you once stood

But we made it back again that evening,

like you never could.


Yes Dad.

As the rhymes of childhood once asked,

“Who won the war in 1944?”,

Now I know the answer Dad.

It was you, Dad, it was you.




Notices and diary dates for June

Sunday 2nd June, 2019 Benefice Service at 10.30am. at St Michael & All Angels' Church, Enborne. Including farewell to Revd Sue Webster.

Thursday 6th June, 2019 Prayers and Bears, 1.45pm
St Mary's Church, Kintbury. See inside for details.

Friday 7th June, 2019 Service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, St Swithun's Church, Combe at 10.30am and then  the memorial on Combe Hill. See inside for details.


Saturday 29th June West Woodhay Breakfast in West Woodhay Village Hall from 9am – 10am. See inside for details.


Saturday 22nd June Open Day to celebrate Tony Atkins' life

from 12 noon to 4pm. See inside for details.

Sunday 23rd June Children’s Benefice Service at 9.45am at St Michael & All Angels' Church, Enborne. Our theme for this service is “Giving”.



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.