View from the Rectory - July & August 2019



This is the last issue of the Parish Magazine edited by Sandra Clarke. After nearly eight years of dedicated service Sandra is bidding farewell to the labour of typing, filling awkward blanks and patiently enduring the Rector’s inability to meet deadlines! We are deeply indebted to Sandra for her stewardship of the magazine which has been distinguished for maintaining a consistently high standard as well as  variety of content. At such  a juncture we say a heartfelt THANK YOU as well as consider our plans for the future. Many parishes are dispensing with the printed format and putting everything online. Parts of our  magazine already appear on the Parish Website and it is important that we continue to develop this medium. However, the printed and the electronic media are quite different even when the content is identical. Engagement with the latter is generally intentional whereas the former is frequently accidental. A magazine may catch the eye of someone in the church hall, in  a waiting room or on a shop counter,  in a way that a website cannot. Considered in terms of The Parable of the Sower, the magazine is like the sown seed. Much of it falls on fallow ground but some is received to the extent of taking root and bearing fruit.

For many of my nearly nineteen years here I have been aware of the paucity of community in this parish. Social organisations, including churches, thrive when they exist in sufficient number to feed off and enrich one another to the extent of becoming principal characteristics of a locality.  Small towns and some larger villages fit this model but in spite of our ancient rural roots we are primarily a dormitory suburb where privacy is highly prized. Some of our key organisations, including the church and the sports club have a membership comprising many from outside of the parish. This suggests that they appeal to particular niche interests and there is a view that all of society is moving in this direction so that  where you live will soon have little relevance to your social or worshipping commitments.  I consider this to be a bleak view and one which, for all the evidence to the contrary, is unlikely to prevail. There will surely come a reaction against suburban isolationism and a realisation that connectedness in  locality is an essential part of our humanity whose lack cannot be supplied by online or niche communities.  Our Parish Magazine, with its contributions from the Women’s Institute, Town Women’s Guild, Rotary and Parley First School, in addition to church news and information, is therefore an important part of the fabric of community and all the more so following  the closure of the Stour and Avon Magazine.   

From September responsibility for editing and compiling the Magazine will be shared by Sheila Thomas and myself.  We will continue the search for an editor in the long term but in the meantime we consider it to be a most worthwhile use of our time and resources. Of course,  a magazine can only ever be as good as the available content, so we appeal to you, the readership, to supply us with items of interest, travel stories and personal life experiences too.  There are so many fascinating  lives in our midst with stories enough to fill many editions. We need to hear them and thereby enrich each other’s lives. Sheila and I also have some ideas about how to generate more community content and we look forward to testing those out in the coming months. However, in the first instance, the priority is to learn the ropes, develop a monthly timetable for bringing things together, and for my part at least, become more disciplined with deadlines. I’m sure that Sheila will help in keeping me to task! St. John wrote,  In the beginning was the Word,  the creative utterance of God which sustains all life.  Our ultimate calling is to bear witness to that Word who became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.  From the days of quill and vellum, to Caxton and his printing press, to the computerised technology of our time, the written word has provided a record of witness that has transformed countless lives and communities. I hope and pray that we will prove its worthy custodians.

Charles Booth


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