Bishop Alan is sleeping out for the Church Urban Fund next weekend. He writes
"As you may be aware, I am doing the Church Urban Fund Advent Sleep Out again this year. I’m going to be sleeping out at Great Yarmouth Minister next Friday 2nd December to raise money for CUF and also for the project to help homeless people in Yarmouth that our own CUF worker, Anna Heydon, has been working on with local churches.
I realise that there are many demands on our finances at this time of year, but if you, or any of your congregations felt about to support this worthwhile cause, then you can donate online via this link:
It would be wonderful if we could beat the target CUF have set us of £1,000. However, I quite understand if you’re not able to donate, but would value your prayers for all involved on 2nd and for the work that CUF are doing here in Yarmouth and in many of the most deprived communities around the country.
With all good wishes at the start of this Advent season
Posted: Mon, 21 Nov, 2016 (6 months ago) - by Martin
On Saturday St Mary’s Church Tasburgh had their gift day, and on behalf of St Marys PCC, I would like to say a big thank you to everybody who came to the church throughout the day to leave there donation, and for anybody else who had already given a donation beforehand. We have been so encouraged by the response thank you. We had a steady stream of people throughout the day who came and enjoyed coffee, tea, cake and chat, and had an opportunity to look through some of the archived documents dating as far back as 1616!
A big thank you also for all who came and supported our evening of entertainment, it was a lovely evening. Thank you to everybody that took part and performed. There were some real talents on show, and we were blessed by them, and your willingness to perform on behalf of St Marys Church.
When we have a total amount of money donated we will let you know how much was raised.
Thank you to all who have contributed to the ShoeBoxes this year. There were over 50 fron Newton Flotman and about a hundred from Tasburgh (Thank you to Jane Rae and team for a stupendous effort) Will let you know the grand total when I know.
In 1994 in the tiny central African nation of Rwanda, their world fell apart. A plan to wipe out the Tutsi population was put into action. Horrendous brutality and murder was unleashed as extremists announced on national radio to “kill every Tutsi, from babies to old people”
Amongst the horror of the genocide, Immaculée Hedden survived against the most incredible odds and with the testimony that God made a way for her in a seemly impossible situation. Her book Under His Mighty Hand details the powerful story of what happened to her.
Today she is married to Richard Hedden and they are UK co-ordinators of the Rwandan Orphans Project Let the Little Children Come to Me. They also work to encourage forgiveness and reconciliation.
Uhumuliza is a Rwandan word, which means comforter. One day when Immaculée was praying and asking why she had been through so much suffering, she felt God spoke to her and said: look at the prophets of old in the bible, have you seen their suffering? Yes, I have seen your suffering but I am going to change your name, you shall have the name Uhumuliza. Through your life story I will bring comfort and restore hope to many. Immaculee and Richard are coming to tell their story at Newton Flotman Church on the Evening of Remembrance Sunday at 7pm.
In her last service, Jenny Cooper reminded us of our calling as Christians to be light for the world (Matthew 5.14-16) She gave us that wonderful post communion prayer as a special prayer for the Tas Valley Churches
Father of All,
We give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off,
you met us in your son and brought us home.
Dying and living. he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory.
May we who share Christ's body, live his risen life.
We who drink his cup, bring life to others.
We whom the spirit lights, be lights to the world.
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,
that we and all your children shall be free
and the whole eath live to praise your name.
In Christ's name we ask it. Amen.
As we think about how we can be light for God among our neighbours, friends and families and workplaces, I commend to you "The Mission Track" - a wonderful course which I am priveleged to colead with Dave Lloyd on behalf of the Diocese. It's a three term course with fortnightly meetings on a Monday evening starting on September 19th. There are going to be some great national speakers including Lawrence Singlehurst and Pete and Kath Atkins as well as speakers engaged in creative mission in villages, towns, cities and areas of new housing from around the diocese. Find out more from the diocesan website HERE, download a flier and list of speakers from from the bottom of the homepage of this website HERE... or give me a ring to talk through how this course may benefit you.
Posted: Sat, 10 Sep, 2016 (9 months ago) - by Dawn
Two friends went through university together but separated after graduation, eventually losing touch with each other. One of them went on to become a judge, the other took a very different path and ended up a criminal. One day the criminal was brought before the judge. He had committed a crime to which he pleaded guilty. The judge recognised his old friend and now faced a dilemma. He was a judge, so he had to be just, he couldn’t let the man off. Yet he didn’t want to punish him because their friendship had meant so much. So he told his friend that he would fine him the correct penalty for the offence. That is justice. Then he took off his wig and robe, came down from the bench and wrote a personal cheque for the amount of the fine. He gave it to his friend, saying he would pay the penalty for him. That is mercy.This story, used by Nicky Gumbel on the Alpha course, illustrates something of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The crucifixion brought both justice and mercy as Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin. In so doing he gave us a fresh start and opened the way to friendship with God. As we celebrate not only his death but his resurrection this Easter, why not renew your faith at one of our services – or perhaps come along for the first time and discover the good news of God’s love, forgiveness and freedom – the gift he offers to all who recognise their need of it.
May you know God’s blessing this Easter! Sally, Dawn, Martin, Jenny and David
On 17th July, people from all over our six villages gathered to say thankyou to Rev Jenny Cooper for er years of service in this area. We enjoyed tea together, presented our gifts and celebrated Jenny's ministry in a service of thanksgiving.Jenny has been a wonderful minister and colleague. Her work has included particular ministry in our residential care homes, encouraging prayer and in aministration including managing this web site. She will be sorely missed... Our prayers go with Jenny and her husband Chris as they move soon to be closer to grandchildren.
In a warm address Jenny commended the words of Matthew 5.14-16 ("You are the light of the worls") to us as a parting message together with this prayer
Father of All, We give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off, you met us in your son and brought us home. Dying and living. he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ's body, live his risen life. We who drink his cup, bring life to others. We whom the spirit lights, be lights to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, that we and all your children shall be free and the whole eath live to praise your name. In Christ's name we ask it. Amen.
What a wonderful message and prayer for us all. Thank you Jenny.
Recently, I (like every clergyman in the Church of England) received this exciting invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York:
"As we travel around the country, we are continuously encouraged by the faithfulness,commitment and courage of all our Partners in the Gospel. Your ministry in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, often in testing circumstances, is an inspiring testimony to the transforming work of our Lord. We thank God for our partnership in the Gospel.
Like us, you will know that ministry is empty and barren without prayer. That is why we are t…. inviting you …. to join us in a week of prayer for the evangelisation of our nation. In the week leading up to Pentecost (May 8th - 15th, 2016) we long to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches.
Our hope is for all Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ for all of us to have confidence to share the Gospel for all to respond to the call of Jesus Christ to follow Him as disciples, to live out the Gospel and to seek God’s Kingdom from day to day
At the heart of our prayers will be the words that Jesus Christ himself taught us - ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer that is reassuring enough to be on the lips of the dying and yet dangerous enough to be banned in cinemas. It is famous enough to be spoken each day by billions in hundreds of languages and yet intimate enough to draw us ever closer into friendship with Jesus Christ. It is simple enough to be memorised by small children and yet profound enough to sustain a whole lifetime of prayer. When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory."
So true! Sow can we take part in the Tas Valley?
Firstly, we are encouraging everyone to use a resource called “trypraying” for that week. Try praying has produced a booklet as a resource for people who are not regular prayers or churchgoers to try praying for a week. It is also available as an app. Christians are invited to use the booklet for themselves during the week of prayer 8th-15th May and also pray about who might like to have the book passed on to them at the end of the week so they can try praying too. You can get hold of a copy of the book by putting your name on a list at the back of church (they are £1 each) OR single copies can be ordered for free or the app downloaded on their website. There's lots of inspiring video shorts there too so do take a look: www.trypraying.co.uk
In addition, there will be times of prayer each day of the week covering all our villages over the course of the week - Come along whenever you can. (see the events with the distinctive "Thy Kingdom Come" logo on this website)
So could you list the ten commandments? Do you think they are still useful today? Some people see them as a set of rules to restrict us. But what if instead we explore them as principles that bring freedom and fulfilment.
In the next ten weeks sermons in the Tas Valley will focus on unpacking and expanding the ten commandments which that have been shared for millenia. We'll be drawing on material from J John's "just10" which provides a culturally relevant, practical application for modern lives: 'What can we actually do today to keep these commandments?' There are also cell notes available in the resources on this site)
Lent is usually about 'giving stuff up', isn't it? What if you could add something transformational to the traditional?What if you could give up chocolate and give the money to your favourite charity? What if you could turn the TV off and spend more time helping your neighbour? What if Lent was a preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness that reflected God's amazing generosity? Well, that’s where 40acts – the generosity challenge from Christian charity Stewardship - comes in. This year the Tas Valley Churches are encouraging people to take up the 40 Acts challenge - You sign up to receive 40 emails to nudge you towards a generous act each day, and, if you wish, 40 blogs to read and ponder. In 2015 over 74,000 joined in, creating a wave of over 2.9 million acts of generosity in more than 180 countries worldwide.You can also do 40acts as part of a group by contacting Sally or one of the cell leaders. Lent begins on Feb 10th Why not sign up to receive the daily challenges by email for 2016 at www.40acts.org.uk
In the Tas Valley, we will have a 40 Acts Sermon Series starting on Feb 7th to help us with the challenge to do Lent Generously Ash Wednesday the 10th February is the start of Lent and there is a service at Swainsthorpe Church at 7.30pm to which all are welcome. There will also be some resources to download at the bottom of the Tas Valley Website homepage.
40 days, 40 Acts of Generosity. Take up the Challenge!
Thank you to all who have shown an interterest in my progress at General Synod. I made my maiden speech in response to the Report of the Church Buildings Review Group and the Church Times published an article that I wrote on this subject with a bit more detail. The way we manage our church buildings in the Church of England at present isn't sustainable in the long run and we need to look for some new models. You can download my article from the bottom of the homepage of this website.
The consultation period on the church Buildings Review runs until Jan 29th 2016. Please pray for the Church of England in this area which is vital for the health of the church in rural areas. (You can find the report in the resources section of this website) Please send your comments to andrea.mulkeen@ churchofengland.org.
The christingle is one of the more newer Christmas customs in this country. It only came into Britain in 1968 – and perhaps you might think it was invented as a gimic to entice children into church. Not at all. The custom has much older roots in the small German town of Marienborn. A bishop conducting a closing act of worship for a youth festival on Christmas eve presented the children with a decorated orange topped with a candle. He call it “Christ-ingle” (“Christ-light”) and asked them to take it home and light it in a window as a visible symbol of Christ’s light shining in the darkness. Over the centuries the symbolism has developed. Today the orange (symbolising the world) is encircled by a red ribbon symbolising Christ’s blood. Four cocktail sticks are inserted laiden with sweets and fruit symbolising all the corners of the world and the fruit which comes from each. Still, at the centre remains the lighted candle reminding us of Jesus, the Light of the World. For me watching children holding lighted christingles in the dimly lit church is one of the most magic moments of the Christmas season. But the real magic is in the difference Christ can make in our lives. Today the Christingle Service is held in support of the Children’s Society whose work is shining light into the darkness of needy children’s lives.
The picture s from this year's Christingle Service at Tasburgh - Freedom Cafe's First Birthday. Other churches still have Christinle services to come (See the worship section o this website)
If you bring a christingle home from one of our christinle services, or perhaps make one yourself – you might like to light it again at home with a prayer, just as those who received the very first christingles did.
Christingle Prayer In the darkest places, Lord and the darkest moments of life Shine your light of love and goodness, peace and joy, So that, whatever obscures it, It will finally win through. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Wishing you a Christmas full of Christ’’s Light and Joy. Sally, Dawn, Martin, David and Jenny
We are all very sad to hear of the recent death of Rev Philip Wood (Team Vicar in the Tas Valley Team Ministry from 2004-2008). Phil had had special leadership responsibility in the parishes of Saxlingham and Shotesham but also ministered across the whole team. His hallmark was his love of Jesus together with personal warmth. He was prayerful and a great listener. He also become deeply involved in village life – and found it impossible to work only for the half time for which he was paid. Highlights of Phil’s time in the Tas Valley included supporting the initial development of the “Monday Mardle” in Saxlingham, helping David Sochon in his selection and training for priestly ministry and leading Alpha and a new Saxlingham cell group. We all enjoyed Phil’s engaging informal style in leading worship. He was extremely adaptable to different preferences within our benefice. His sermons were thought-provoking - and always included a new joke.
Phil and Yvonne are deeply loved especially in Saxlingham and Shotesham. Speaking for myself and the staff team, we could not have asked for a more supportive colleague. There were many tears when he left the Tas Valley to become the vicar of Happisburgh in North Norfolk. He served there and was a popular vicar until 2013 when he retired due to a rare condition which affects the immune system. He died suddenly in the early hours of 28th October.
Please remember Phil’s wife Yvonne and his children Paul, Michelle and Daniel in your prayers. Phil will have a family funeral in his home town of Mansfield. Friends from the Tas Valley are warmly invited to the funeral at Happisburgh Church on Friday 20th November at 12 noon.
Til we meet again Phil. We know you will rest in peace and rise in glory.
Posted: Mon, 19 Oct, 2015 (2 years ago) - by David
It is time once again to launch the annual Shoe Box Appeal for children in need in Central and Eastern Europe. The information leaflets and posters are in churches and the final date for handing in the boxes will be on Remembrance Sunday November 8th. Newton Flotman Cafe church packed 25 boxes at a packing party on October 18th in the school and in Tasburgh, there are packing parties most weekends Contact Jane Rae for details 470692
Last year we sent over 400 boxes from the Benefice and with your help we hope to match this or achieve an even better amount this year. David Lancaster Tel.01508 493159
Posted: Tue, 29 Sep, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Sally
The Special Me Group visited the Norwich Foodbank in September and helped out in the warehouse - sorting out trolleys of food and crates of pasta and packing boxes. They were really impressed with the work the foodbank is doing. Well done to all!
Posted: Thu, 30 Jul, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Sally
Thank you to everyone who helped with the fabulous Junior Heroes Holiday Club which was held from Mon 27 - Thur 30 July. Special Thanks to Martin Hartley (otherwise known as Captain Y-Fronts) who organised and led the event. Also to Newton Flotman School and staff who provided a fabulous venue and were helpful in every way. About 50 children were involved over the week including teen helpers and the under 5s group the mini-Marvels.
Bible stories, drama, games, crafts and songs were all part of the fun as we learned about some of the Junior Heroes whom God used to do great things in the bible.
Posted: Sat, 27 Jun, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Sally
Today was an amazing daty in the Tas Valley. The sun shone on Tasburgh and Saxlingham church fetes - and for the Great Swainsthorpe Bake Off. Thanks for all you helped to make these such superb events. Pictured: Cakes from Swainsthorpe Bake Off. Yummy!
From 21st-28th May, the Tas Valley Team Ministry held a week of 24/7 prayer. People came and went all through the day and night praying in many different ways from silent contemplation to noisy toddler pass-the-parcel praise. The people involved were of all ages and from all our six villages and beyond. Fantastic prayer stations were created for people to use by the cells, the Emmanuel Group and Saxlingham Chapel so that there was something for everyone. Many of these will be used in the Prayer Space in Newton Flotman School.
One of the users of the Prayer Tent was Bishop Alan who writes
“Beautiful birdsong accompanied me for an hour that passed so quickly. Wonderfully creative aids to prayer around the tent,but in the end, just sitting still and quiet was a gift - why don't I find such hours more often? Encouraging to hear and see more and more churches making use of the gift of prayer - so simple and yet so easily forgotten or neglected.
Thank you Tas Valley for setting such a good example and providing a prayerful space. May God bless you and keep you. +Alan
Posted: Sat, 28 Feb, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Sally
Thank you to all those who contributed so generously to the finances of our churches in 2014. We were able to pay our parish share allocation of £75000 in full. This mostly pays for the parish clergy. Special thanks to our treasurers and to John Torbit who pulled all our efforts together.
Posted: Wed, 25 Feb, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Martin
Have a look at the freedom Cafe facebook page. Here you will be able to read the latest information about freedom cafe, as well as being able to leave any comments as to your experience of it. www.facebook.com/stmarysfreedomcafe
Posted: Thu, 18 Dec, 2014 (2 years ago) - by Sally
Preston (CofE) Primary School was treated to a live Nativity complete with sheep and ponies in the village of Tasburgh. The event was organised by Rev Martin Hartley, the Open the Book Team and friends. Stunning performances from a graceful Gabriel, shocked Mary and Joseph, chatty shepherds, reluctant innkeeper and determined wise men - not to mention a wonderful storyteller. (Loved the red hair Rach!)
New Village Shop Vending Machine in Newton Flotman?
Posted: Tue, 9 Sep, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Christopher
New Village Shop Vending Machine in Newton Flotman?
As part of St. Mary’s Newton Flotman’s Growing for the Future project, the PCC is exploring how the church building can better serve the village. One of the ideas the PCC is looking at is the possibility of installing a village shop vending machine in the church tower. The BBC reported on the installation of a similar village vending machine in Derbyshire, (see that report online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-26680076)
Newton Flotman & Tasburgh’s village shops closed a while ago, and anyone wanting to buy the basics such as milk, bread, toilet rolls etc. has to trek to Mulbarton, Long Stratton or the outskirts of Norwich. That’s not always easy or convenient.
To find out if a new type of village shop vending machine, open 7am-7pm and selling essential fresh foods and groceries, would be of benefit to the village, the PCC is undertaking a survey. The survey, and a stand explaining how the church tower could be adapted to improve its use for the community, will take place at Newton Flotman’s Village Fete on Sunday 7th September. The survey will also be sent to every household in Newton Flotman & Swainsthorpe via the parish magazine Partnership, and is also available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BWSX9JL.
Please do take part and let us know what you think. Thanks!
What does it mean "WeAreN"? - In Mosul, the Arabic letter "N" has been daubed on the homes of Christians and other minorities to identify them as targets for persecution by ISIS. (The Arabic word for Christian is "Nasrani") This symbol has been picked up around the world as a way in which we can identify with those who are persecuted and speak up for them. The Church of England is encouraging all Christians to display this message as a sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters. You can go to www.churchofengland.org/iraq to download the poster and/or to find more ways to pray, act and give to stop the slaughter.
Nearly 70 children and 30 adults werre involved in 4 days of fabulous fun at thethe Jungle Jaboree Holiday Club, held at Preston Primary Scholl, Tasburgh from 29 July- 1st Aug. Games, drama, messy forfeits, crafts and songs were all enjoyed bu our tigers, elephants, monkeys and crocodiles (5-11s) while Little Parrots (preschool) had their own programme with their parents and carers. The week finished with a fabulous carnival parade and barbeque. The teenaged Explorers sold a newsletter documenting the week which was also sold in aid of our charity Christian Aid which does lots of which with people living in poverty in rainforest areas. Overall we had a great time and raised £200 for Christian Aid. Many many thanks to all our helpers who worked so hard to make the week possible.
Posted: Thu, 22 May, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Sally
WHO CARES? starts with local churches listening to the deepest hurts of our local communities, by a simple one question survey "What hurts the most?" Or put another way, "what is the one thing in your life which you find hardest to handle?"
It is an initiative across Norfolk which starts in June 2014, with churches surveying their congregations who then ask their friends and can conduct the survey through their existing church activities as well as surveying in our villages. Each church can then respond to the survey in the most appropriate wat, adapting our church activities to what we learn - prayer and pastoral and faith-sharing activities. We want to answer the question "Who Cares?" with the answer "God cares and your church cares"
If you would like to help with this initiative please contact Sally Gaze, Marin Hartley or Andy Cox.
Newton Flotman Church is seeking to learn how we can better enable people to worship God and serve each other better in our village. Read some of the ideas which have been put forward in the downloads from this site (See Reports). Come along and join in the process on 18th May 9am-12 at Newton Flotman School. We would love for you to be involved as we seek to listen to God for the Future.
Posted: Thu, 27 Mar, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Martin
Connecting with the Cross during holy week.
Ever since becoming a Christian I have struggled to connect with Holy week, and I can’t put my finger on why this is. What has now been over 2000 years of people putting their faith in Jesus Christ, comes down to the events that we remember in Holy week. Perhaps that’s part of the problem for me, too much going on with the wide range of emotions that can be experienced during it. A few weeks ago a seemingly straight forward request started me thinking about how I might be able to connect with holy week in a different way.
Travelling back from a Mission shaped Ministry session, I was asked whether I could bring a wooden cross back with me that was going to be used in the Sunday service. After managing to fit myself and this not so small cross in the back of the car we started for home. As we were travelling and were discussing the topic we had been looking at that evening, I was becoming more aware of how awkward and uncomfortable and how inconvenient this cross was becoming. This got me thinking about what it would be like to have to carry a cross around for a week.
This thought stayed with me, and so decided to do just this for Holy week. I then talked to the Rector Sally Gaze about this and she said she would like to do it as well. When I was thinking about what sort of Cross it needed to be, I spoke to a member of St Mary’s church Tasburgh and asked if he could make two wooden crosses for us, and John said no problems. When thinking about the cross, I felt it needed to be made out of soft wood so it might show some of the knocks and bumps it will no doubt incur during the week. I also felt it would be good if people were able to either write on it or to pin prayers to it, and these would be carried around through the week.
I’m hoping that through this experience, I will be able to Connect with the Cross during holy week in a different way, and one in which will help me grow as a disciple of Jesus. I’m sure that it will also give an opportunity to talk to others about the Christian faith and share the good news that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
Posted: Mon, 27 Jan, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Sally
We are delighted to welcome Jessie Walrond to work in partnership with the Tas Valley from January 2014. Jessie will be commissioned for her work on 9th February in the Praise Service at 6.30pm in St Peter's Swainsthorpe. Here is Jessie, telling us a bit about her adventure. Please do watch and please do pray for Jessie as she begins this new ministry.
Posted: Tue, 14 Jan, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Martin
Finding Out More About the christain faith
What is Alpha?
The Alpha course is an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith. It's relaxed, non-threatening, low key, friendly and fun. There is a meal together at the beginning of each session which gives you an opportunity to get know each other. Listen, learn, discuss and discover. And ask anything. Alpha is a place where no question is too simple or too hostile. And it's supported by all the main Christian denominations.
What is involved?
The Alpha course consists of a series of talks looking at topics such as "Who is Jesus?" and "Why and how do I pray?" After each talk we divide into small groups for a time of discussion.
Who is Alpha for?
Alpha is for everyone, especially:
Those wanting to investigate Christianity
Newcomers to the church
Those who want to brush up the basics
Parents bringing children for baptism
Those considering baptism or confirmation for themselves
What will it cost?
There is no charge for the Alpha course, although you may be asked to make a contribution towards food.
When and Where?
Why not come along to an Alpha taster eveningon the 29th Jan 2014, and see what Alpha is all about. We will be meeting at the New Rectory, Churc Hill, Tasburgh, NR151NB, at 8 PM. The course will then run for eight weeks each Wednesday evening
At the time of writing, we've enjoyed over two weeks of intense summer sunshine here in Saxlingham Nethergate. Booootiful!!
Eratosthenes, an Egyptian librarian who lived around 2,200 years ago heard that the sun could be seen shining at the bottom of a well in the town of Syene on the longest day of the year. He surmised that to make a reflection in a well, the sun had to be directly overhead on that day. And a sun directly overhead would cast no shadows from upright columns or posts. Yet on the longest day of the year in the city of Alexandria, where he lived, he observed that straight columns did cast shadows. He decided to travel to Syene himself to verify that what he had heard was true. At midday on the longest day of the year, he looked into the well and saw the sun reflected. And sure enough, the posts in Syene cast no shadows. He reflected on that. After a while, he began to see a bigger picture of what these seemingly unconnected facts meant. Surprisingly, it went against what nearly everyone believed at the time. In the third century BC, nearly every scholar believed that the earth was flat. But Eratosthenes reasoned that if the sun’s light came down straight and the earth was flat, then there would be no shadows in both Alexandria and Syene. If there were shadows in one location but not the other, then there could be only one logical explanation. The surface of the earth must be curved. In other words, the world must be a sphere. That’s a pretty impressive mental leap, although it seems perfectly logical to us today. After all, we’ve seen pictures of our planet from space. But Eratosthenes made that ‘big-picture’ discovery.
How well do you see the ‘big picture’? A world map published by the National Geographic Society has this notation: “Earth’s mass is 6.6 sextillion tons.” And what supports all that weight? Nothing! The planet we inhabit spins on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour as it hurtles through space in its orbit around the sun. The Old Testament character Job repeatedly thought about this ‘big picture’ stuff. “God stretches out the north over empty space. He hangs the earth on nothing!” Job said in chapter 27 of his book. Job marvelled at the clouds that didn’t break under the weight of the heavy water inside them and the horizon “at the boundary of light and darkness”, but called them “the mere edges of God’s ways”. For Job, the heavens and the earth pointed him to God the Creator. This goes against what many believe today - but I'm with Job. It thrills me to know that the same God who created and upholds the universe by the “word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3) is with us in our everyday lives.
(Thanks to John C. Maxwell for some of these thoughts - Ed.)
Our new curate, Martin Hartley will be ordained deacon in Norwich Cathedral on 29th June at 11am. All members of the Tas Valley Churches are warmly invited to attend.
Before training for ordained ministry Martin was a Church Army Ofﬁcer working as a Community Evangelist in Bedfordshire. He is a pioneer curate which means that at least half his time will be spent reaching out beyond the bounds of traditional church with the love of Jesus.
On Sunday 30th June, we are having a special Beneﬁce Communion Service to celebrate this new ministry, followed by a bring-and-share lunch to welcome the whole family. Please come to worship and to lunch. Martin is married to Rach and they have four children at home - Dorrie, Willow, Noah and Honey. Martin also has two grown up daughters included in the picture below. Please keep them all in your prayers as they move to Norfolk.
I want to tell you about a particularly spectacular rainbow that I saw when driving down in Hampshire some years ago. It was huge and it was close and I will never forget it. It was over and in the field alongside the M3 where I was driving. The wonderful thing was that I could see both ends of the arc and the colours were so vivid against the dark menacing sky. I just stared in awe (whilst trying to keep my eyes on the road ahead!). At the same time, dozens of other vehicles were zooming along the motorway in both directions and I wondered how many people in those vehicles noticed the beautiful rainbow and how many were oblivious to the marvellous sight just a few hundred feet away from them. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to succumb to ‘tunnel vision’ when driving isn’t it.
It’s like that in life too. We can become so engrossed in our own lives, our own problems perhaps, our own desires and thoughts; and be so busy barrelling along at top speed that we miss the glory of God’s loving presence beside us.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
- Psalm 19
The Psalmist reminds us that the rainbow of God’s presence surrounds us constantly. So today, as each of us travels along our own highway of life, going about our daily chores, routines, jobs and whatever, let’s try not only to be conscious of our own personal world but also of the created world which declares the glory of God and the splendour of His everlasting presence with us. Let’s not miss the rainbow!
"When you see a rainbow in the sky, have you ever stopped to wonder why?
Is it there to decorate the sky? What does it mean?
It’s a sign of God’s love! And He placed it there to prove
That as long as time shall last, He will care for you."
Posted: Wed, 15 May, 2013 (4 years ago) - by Barbara
Work is about to begin on reglazing and repairing the west window at Tharston Church.
The window is glazed with Victorian glass using painted and stained quarries with a decorative border all round. Because the lead which supports the glass has lifted, it allows water to seep through the window leaking across the cill and into the vestry during heavy rain, such as that we experienced last autumn and winter.
Clearly water ingress to any building is not good and the PCC have decided to undertake a programme of repair. The cost to the Church will be in excess of £2 500; this is in addition to the normal daily running costs of Tharston church of about £8 000 per annum.
If any parishioner would like to send a donation, however small, towards this work to help to keep your Parish Church in good repair to pass on to future generations, it would be very gratefully appreciated. Please send whatever you can to the PCC church treasurer, Chris Lawson, Holbrook, The Street, Tharston.
Posted: Sat, 11 May, 2013 (4 years ago) - by Sally
The key word for our Benefice week of Prayer this year is BLESS. God’s desire to bless us, to bless his world and for us to learn to both speak his blessings and to be a blessing to his world. Over the last year, a number of people have been committing themselves to regularly pray for blessing on our local area. We have begun to learn about what that means - the joys and the cost. We are called to keep on blessing - in our prayers, in our words and in the way we practically care for others in all we do.
I particularly encourage you to join in our week of 24/7 prayer, planned for Tasburgh Rectory from 22nd-29th May. Anyone can sign up for hour long slots in the room at Tasburgh Rectory – a chance to pray alone or with chosen friends - or you can come to one of the special services or events there. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a regular churchgoer. The room is equipped with lots of aids to prayer – so you can light candles, listen to meditative music, paint on the prayer art board, follow a labyrinth, enter your prayer requests in a book etc. Being in a room dedicated to prayer like this is often a very moving experience. We will be joined by our new curate Martin Hartley for part of the week and our prayers will include a house blessing for the Rectory at 2pm on the last day. You can see what’s happening and book a slot here.
Posted: Sat, 11 May, 2013 (4 years ago) - by Sally
Back in 2009, the various PCCs and the cell APCM agreed to explore seeking a Bishop’s Mission Order for the Tas Valley Cell Church. The main benefits of this are -
recognition by the diocese of the Cell Church as a new Christian community, equivalent in some ways to a parish church within the life of benefice, enabling the cell church to plan for the future with confidence
appropriate and supportive oversight of the cell church and benefice helping the cell church to grow in complementarily to the other forms of church in the benefice
ensuring proper provision is made for ministry in the cell church including representation in the appointment process of a new incumbent should that arise in future
The draft text of the BMO has been with the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee since Autumn 2012 and we hope that they will soon be ready for the final consultation involving the deanery, cell church and all the benefice parish churches.
Giving, Stewardship & Charitable Status - Becoming a charity has been necessitated by the fact that Norwich diocese can no longer claim the tax back on our donations on our behalf. We hope to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation after our General Meeting on 8th May - Read the Annual Report or come along to the meeting to find out more.
To celebrate the completed conservation work at St Martins and to acknowledge midsummer, an early evening picnic with musical entertainment will take place from 6.30 p.m. at St Martin’s. Please bring your own picnic, as the SVA will provide just the music (and shelter if inclement weather threatens).
Saturday 13th July Village Fete and Dance
By popular demand, the fete this year will again be on the playing fields from 2 p.m. There will be games, events and the tug of war should be back.
In the evening there will be music, dancing, a hog roast and a bar from 7.30 until 11 p.m.
Saturday 21st September Harvest Supper with Ceilidh
By kind permission of Ed Howard at Hill Farm. Following the outstanding success of this event last year there will be another chance to sup champagne, celebrate harvest and twirl your partners. Start 7.30 p.m.
Saturday 7th December Murder Mystery Evening
Trinity Hall 7p.m. Listen to the clues and work out the telling questions to ask. Can you identify the murderer? Can you work out the motives? A supper and brainteaser to test your powers of deduction.
And don’t forget the Shotesham entry for:
The Norfolk Village Games: heats 9th June at Framingham Earl High School and County Finals 14th July at UEA Sportspark.
When the snow was still with us, I spent a very cold Friday evening a few weeks ago, sitting in a barn on a farm in Suffolk, chatting with a teenage girl at a youth weekend I was helping at. The other youngsters were playing pool, table tennis and badminton all around us (it was a large barn!) We’d been talking for just a few minutes when she told me that a couple of years before, her life had been completely transformed by Jesus. He had become her closest friend! It was lovely to hear her talking about Him. I asked her a simple question; “What would you say was the most wonderful thing about becoming a Christian?” She replied without hesitation. “Real hope.”
Actually, you may feel that the word ‘hope’ doesn’t say very much – it doesn’t sound very certain. We might say, “I hope everything works out for you” or “I hope the weather stays fine” but there’s little or no confidence that things will ‘work out’ or that the weather will ‘be fine’. Its fingers crossed time! If you’re in the habit of buying a lottery ticket, you hope to win I’m sure. The odds of winning the EuroMillions Lottery jackpot are 1 in 76,275,360 – a fairly faint hope I think you’ll agree. And what about feelings of hopelessness? They are extremely powerful, bringing down even the sturdiest of individuals, and can lead to severe depression and sometimes even thoughts of suicide.
Everyone needs hope and love. Alexander Pope once said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” It is my belief that our society needs a hope revolution! Of course, whatever we are placing our hope in, in this life, will eventually be gone. But here’s a true saying and one to ponder…. “If you have been reduced to God being your only hope, you are in a good place.” My teenage friend had found that place. She'd discovered that in Jesus real hope is found. Why? And how can she be so sure? Because everything God promises He does. The Bible is jam-packed full of God’s wonderful promises (around 3,000 of them!) Yes, everyone needs love and hope; and in God both are abundantly found. Over the Easter period we are reminded that Jesus was amazingly raised to life again to bring us real hope – to bring you real hope. Have you discovered it?
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13)
Upside down is fun! Stanley, our youngest grandson, is just 2yrs old and absolutely loves to be held upside down. We were playing together recently and he kept calling out “Again!” “Again!” as I turned him over and over.
It's funny how beetles and creatures like that
Can walk upside down as well as walk flat;
They crawl on a ceiling and climb on a wall
Without any practice or trouble at all,
While I have been trying for a year (maybe more),
And still I can't stand with my head on the floor! By Aileen Fisher
There are a lot of things that intrigue me about Jesus. One of the aspects of His ministry that has always produced jaw dropping, head scratching responses is His upside-down teaching about life. On our journey through life our thought patterns and responses to life’s events can become deeply engrained. But Jesus interrupts us in the midst of our routines and calls us to a new and better way. But beware! This encounter with the ways of Jesus is challenging. Here are some of Jesus’ paradoxical propositions… “To live you must die.” "Blessed are those who mourn.” “To rule you must serve.” and “Suffering has purpose.” It is statements like these that make some people think that Jesus is strangely out of touch, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Rather than relying on our upside-down instincts, we need Jesus to turn us the right way up. As Stanley’s mum tells me from time to time, “It’s not good for him to be upside down for too long!”
On behalf of everyone, Adrian and I would like to thank Chris Martin, David Lancaster, David Sochon and all the Pastoral Leadership Team for their pastoral care, servant-hearted leadership, teaching and worship leading. We are truly blessed to have such a great team. Special thanks also to the church wardens who do so much for little recognition and have been a great personal support to the clergy as well. Much gratitude also to Vicky Ball who has now been our wonderful voluntary Benefice Administrator since April 2004.
2011 has been a challenging year in the Tas Valley Benefice. Many individuals have gone through hard times and in that I include our family with Katies time in hospital and learning to live with her Sturge Weber condition afterwards. We have through a very trying time been so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayer from you all. Thank you so much especially to Adrian Miller for his outstanding care and to all who visited us in hospital, sent messages and gave practical help.
As we have moved into 2012, Adrian , Chris and I have been seeking to listen to God for his work in the Tas Valley. The key word for me was BLESSING - Gods desire to bless us, to bless his world and for us to learn to both speak his blessings and to be a blessing to his world. For Adrian the word was BREAKTHROUGH ? an encouraging word for many of us after a difficult year. Chris had a picture ? a bottle of overflowing champagne! ? This is a lovely picture of the overspill of Gods blessing reaching beyond the church into our communities. So we move into 2012, expectant to see more of Gods work in our midst and encouraged to both receive Gods blessing and to pass it on through what we do, say and pray. Here is an ancient and beautiful prayer for us to receive for ourselves and to pray for others:
The Lord bless You and keep You The Lord make his face to shine upon You And be gracious unto You The Lord lift up His countenance upon You And give You peace.
Tas Valley Benefice helping Norwich foodbank – from this Lent
Posted: Wed, 1 Feb, 2012 (5 years ago) - by Sally
Norwich Foodbank is a church-backed crisis food bank project to offer emergency food parcels to needy people across Norwich. Foodbanks provide three days of emergency food to individuals and families in real crisis, before the statutory authorities can get involved. The Foodbank also supports existing local charities working with distressed and destitute people by donating food in bulk.
In the three months August to October Foodbank fed 824 local people in crisis that is an average of 275 a month, an increase from an average of 230 a month for the previous three months. 90% of the people helped only ever need one or two food boxes from the Bank due to working closely with care agency partners.
Food is collected at collecting points in churches, schools and outside supermarkets. It is then gathered in a central warehouse and sorted for use. Local care professionals in the Norwich area refer people to the Foodbank centre using a food voucher. At the centre clients exchange the voucher for food supplies. They are given a hot drink and are directed to the appropriate professionals to help with their crisis.
After hearing about a successful Foodbank project at Shotesham at the last wardens meeting, the churchwardens felt that our churches are ideally situated in the community to help by providing a dropping off point for contributions. A box/basket will be available in each church porch donations together with a list of suitable foodstuffs to be donated.
Please spread the news about this wonderful opportunity to donate to Norwich Foodbank starting this month.
Further information about Norwich Foodbank and suitable foodstuffs to be donated are listed at www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk
Sally Gaze (Team Rector)and Jane Blease (Shotesham Churchwarden)
One of the things I am really excited about in 2012 is learning to pray for blessing. The sense that we were being called to do this began back in May last year – and has not gone away. I began to hear more and more stories of churches who had committed themselves to praying for blessing on their local area and the difference this has made.
We can all learn more about prayer and in January and February there is going to be a special focus in sermons and cells on how Jesus taught his disciples to pray – The model of the Lord’s prayer: Look out for the special prayer cards which will be appearing at the back of church and in cells groups soon.
I would also like to ask if some people are willing to join me in setting aside 1 hour a week for 52 weeks to pray specifically for God to bless our area. If possible this hour should be at the same time every week. A structure for prayer and notes with areas for prayer and news updates will be provided to help you – following the sort of pattern written about in “The Grace Outpouring” – a book which I know has inspired many of you as it has me. If you would like to do this, or simply to find out more, please e-mail me on email@example.com or phone 470762. We hope to start on Sun 29th January at the Gathering Service.
Posted: Sun, 18 Dec, 2011 (5 years ago) - by Sally
Thanks to all who worked so hard for our Festival of Angels at Newton Flotman Church. One of our visitors made a video of their visit and put it on youtube for all to enjoy. It captures the mood and moment really well. You can see it here.
Posted: Mon, 28 Nov, 2011 (6 years ago) - by Sally
One of the loveliest sights at Christmas is of a child delighted with a gift. Some people even say, “Christmas is really for the children”. However, the older I get the more I love Christmas for other reasons: The angels tell us what Christmas is all about and their message tells of joy, not just for children, but for everyone. A Saviour to rescue the world from greed, from war, from hunger, from debt, from addiction, from illness, from death. And the sign of this great rescue is not a jolly bearded santa bearing countless presents but a baby lying in a cattle trough. I love the trimmings of Christmas – the tree and puddings and cards and carols and parties and presents - and I look forward to seeing friends and family enjoy it. But I would rather there were no presents than we should not know the joy of the message of the angels.
So when we celebrate, let it not be just that children are delightfully excited or even that a baby was born long ago. If we celebrate, let us celebrate with the angels. Let it be that the baby did not stay in the manger but died to make the angels promise come true. Let it be that he has invaded our lives with purpose today, making our picturesque traditions pale into insignificance, striding over our shallow sentiment and overturning our cash registers, wielding his peace like a sword and rescuing us from the lies of materialism into reality. This Christmas let us take some time out from the consumer rush to be silent and alone - hear in our hearts the song of the angels and celebrate with them the joy which God has prepared for us all.
Wishing you a wonderful and joyful Christmas Sally
Many churches these days host Christmas tree festivals - but Newton Flotman PCC realised that there wasn't really room in their church for many Christmas trees without displacing the Christmas congregation. If only Christmas trees could fly! Then, while organising an exhibition of local wedding dresses, Sharon Poyser had an idea which everyone thought was brilliant. Why not fill our church with angels at Christmas?
Angels would be great at bringing the Christmas message. They could come in many shapes and sizes and they could fill the air as well as floor space. As the months have followed, ideas are growing. People are embroidering and sticking and carving an amazing variety of angels.
The village is getting involved and many of the clubs and businesses are creating an angel to represent their organisation. The school and preschool are making hosts of their own. St Mary's Church, Newton Flotman will be open for a Festival of Angels from 9th-13th December with coffee, cakes and special craft workshops taking place on Saturday 10th from 10-4pm and angelic carols on Sunday at 11am.
All are welcome to come and enjoy the heavenly hosts.
£3000 has been granted by the diocesan mission fund to support Hannah, in her year with us.
New Member for the Tas Valley Team
We are really pleased that Hannah Pye has decided to spend a year out with the Tas Valley Benefice. She will be supporting the ministry of the church in a number of ways, especially with our young people and our musicians. At the same time she will take this opportunity to explore her vocation.
We need to be able to pay Hannah’s expenses and pay her a modest bursary. To this end we are raising £6000. £3000 of this we hope to raise from a diocesan grant and we want to match this with £3000 from donations.
What To Do
If you would like to support Hannah, either write a cheque (made payable to the Tas Valley Cell Church) and send to our Treasurer, Vicky Ball c/o The Rectory at Newton Flotman - or ask for a standing order form, and send that to Vicky.
Many thanks for your support at the Fete. Big thank you to all of
you who brought along cakes, bottles, books, plants, prizes etc.
was a great day and our thanks to the Rt. Hon. Richard Bacon MP and his
wife Victoria and their children for spending so much time with us.
Tony Talby is still counting the money and as soon as we have a final
figure we will let you know.
Finally a big thank you to Tracy,
her sub-committee and the Project Ideas Group (PIGs) for providing us
all with another fantastic village event.
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