St Mary & St Giles crib scene, Christmas Day 2012
Tuesday 5th June was the day for the Stony Stratford Street party celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and many people in the Parish got involved with enthusiasm. As the High Street filled with people enjoying their picnics, sing-along music just outside the church, the unveiling of the large knitted Union Jack flag, and many other activities, the Parish Hall was used to serve tea, coffee and squash to anyone who needed refreshment, and later, a welcome respite from the drizzle. The church was open for prayer and for people to see the Jubilee flowers. Several people politely asked to make use of the facilities, and several made complimentary comments about the hall. Quite a few hoped that cream teas were being served, so were told that this will happen again next Sunday afternoon at the church, while Folk on the Green is in progress. There was a wonderful sense of community coming together to celebrate and socialise throughout the event, and it was lovely to welcome so many into the church and hall. £139.15 was raised from the refreshments for the Restoration Fund Disabled Access project.
On Monday 4th June St Mary & St Giles Band gave a special concert with cream teas to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. The band had been practising for weeks, indeed we started planning this concert about 8 months ago and even had a specially arranged piece as part of our programme. We had decided that in this Jubilee and Olympic year, the concert would be themed to fit both occasions – so we had regal and Olympic inspired music to entertain people while they enjoyed their cream teas. It was special for the band, because some of our former members returned to play with us, which was lovely.
Even before the 3pm start we had many people sitting expectantly in the church, and some buying cream teas. And they continued to arrive in large numbers through the next 2.5 hours, so that the original team of 3 serving cream teas was quickly expanded to 5 who were kept extremely busy while the band played. Even at 5.30 pm people were arriving, and at 6pm we only had 6 cream teas left (we had made loads of scones). The audience was very appreciative and supportive which made the atmosphere at this concert very memorable.
The programme was:
- National Anthem – God save the Queen (833)
- Entry of the Gladiators
- Anniversary Waltz
- Solo – Jacob Collins played ‘Purcell’s Trumpet Tune’ on the Willis Organ
- ‘Elizabeth Suite – III March’ (Youth March of Britain – the Princess Elizabeth) by Eric Coates – specially arranged (by Lesley Salter) for the occasion from the original piano arrangement
- Tico-Tico bird in the Cornmeal – conducted by Jacob Collins
- Behold, the Lord High Executioner
CREAM TEA BREAK for the band
- Colonel Bogey March
- Chariots of Fire
- La Rejouissance
- Fairest Isle
- Scotland the Brave
- Irish washerwoman
- Guide me, O thou great Redeemer (233)
- Solo – Jacob Collins played ‘Czardas’ on the violin
- We are the champions
ANOTHER CREAM TEA BREAK for the band!
- The Dam Busters
- Pie Jesu
- Mission Impossible
- Encore request – Colonel Bogey March
- Country Gardens
- Encore request – Anniversary Waltz
- Pomp and Circumstance
- Solo – Dave King played ‘Elizabethan Serenade’ on the piano
- Hallelujah Chorus
- Rule Britannia
- National Anthem – God save the Queen (833)
This concert was to pay for the Jubilee Beacon, and it more than covered the cost and made generous donations to the Organ and Restoration funds – the total raised was £770.50, the most we have ever raised at a Band concert. Special big thanks go to Lesley Salter for organising the event and conducting the band, the willing team of helpers who served refreshments, the band for playing and all those who helped set up and tidy up afterwards.
At 10pm the band gathered again, this time outside the tower for the short dedication service for the Jubilee Beacon, lead by Fr Ross, who stood on the large throne chair which since the Stony AHA events in May has stood beside the tower. Local people gathered on both sides of Church street to sing, listen to the prayers read by Fr Ross and the band before the beacon was lit.
The band played:
- Land of Hope and Glory (Pomp and Circumstance)
- Rule Britannia
- Guide me, O thou great redeemer
- God save our gracious Queen
The beacon was lit at about 10.15pm and stayed alight until midnight. Apparently some beacons north of Stony Stratford could be seen from the top of the tower, though the one in Campbell Park further south couldn’t be seen, and people spilling out of The Crown at 11.30pm stayed for some time looking at and photographing the beacon.
The Parish celebrated her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in style this long weekend. The flower arrangers were very busy in the days leading up to the weekend and did a splendid display in St Mary & St Giles, which is resplendent in red, white and blue. Some of the arrangements are in memory of parishioners who have died.
On Sunday morning Fr Ross lead the special celebration service in All Saints, Calverton (at 11.30 am) and repeated the service in St Mary & St Giles, Stony Stratford later that day (6pm). The Parish Singers sang the psalm and the anthem – Purcell’s ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ during the service, and a small group of the hand bell ringers played ‘The Angelus’ at the end of the service before the voluntary.
An event for your diary:
“An Illustrated Talk on our trip to Ethiopia – 8pm Wednesday 23rd May in the Parish Hall. Admission Free – Coffee & Tea provided. Many people generously donated to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital earlier this year and since we returned from our visit to Ethiopia we have been asked if we can share our experience. The country is known for poverty, famine and civil war, but we found the people very friendly and there is a rich history and culture, interesting wildlife, beautiful mountains and much more. We were very impressed with the Fistula Hospital and the other charity we visited Hope enterprises for street children, both Christian organisations. We hope you can come and enjoy the pictures and talk. (There will be a voluntary collection for the Fistula Hospital & Hope). Ray & Jenny Rowlson”
On Saturday 10th March St Mary & St Giles Church hosted the Buckinghamshire Handbell Festival, with 12 teams from across Buckinghamshire coming together to ring handbells. It was a very relaxed, enjoyable afternoon of music, with more than 150 ringers of all ages (there were 3 teams of school children, including our Church school St Mary & St Giles CE Junior as well as more experienced ringers). The theme for the day was Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which resulted in some imaginative interpretations of the theme, meaning that only one piece was chosen twice, with different tunes.
The programme was as follows:
- Massed ringing – National Anthem
- Launton Handbell Ringers
- Belmont Handbell Ringers
- Chiltern Handbell Ringers
- St Michaels School (Stewkley) Handbell Ringers
- Woburn Trefoil Guild Handbell Ringers
- St Mary & St Giles CE Junior School Handbell Ringers
- MK Trefoil Guild Wednesday Handbell Ringers
- MK Trefoil Guild Thursday Handbell Ringers
- Buckingham Handbell Ringers
- Bedgrove Junior School Handbell Ringers
- Leckhampstead Handbell Ringers
- St Mary & St Giles Church Handbell Ringers
- Massed ringing – English Country Gardens
I took these photos using a very good Nikon and an unfamiliar zoom lens which I had difficulty focussing, so some of the photos are not great, but they still capture a flavour of the day and the sheer enjoyment which the ringers gave themselves and each other as well as the audience sitting in the gallery. For the complete set see the Photos on Flickr, below is a small sample:
The Stony Stratford Christ is veiled in purple as we began Lent today with Ash Wednesday.
The Lenten Weekly Schedule is as follows:
- Sunday 9:30 am Parish Mass (other Masses as announced)
- Monday 9:00 am Mass
- Wednesday 9:30 am Mass
- Thursday 7:15 pm Stations of the Cross & Mass, 8:00 pm Lenten Study Group: “He’s not a tame lion”
- Friday 12:00 noon Angelus & Litany, 12:15 pm Mass
- Saturday: 12:00 noon Lent Lunch in St Mary & St Giles
Everyone is encouraged to read The Apostles Creed every day, and cards with the Creed are available in both churches.
Thursday’s Masses: (from Fr Ross) This year throughout Lent I am going to try something slightly different thanks to a tip by Fr Gary at Hanslope & Castlethorpe. He pointed out that any Celebration of the Stations of the Cross has within it everything that is contained in the ‘Introductory Rites’ and ‘The Liturgy of the Word’ of the Mass and that therefore a celebration of the Stations of the Cross could then be followed by the Preparation of the Altar and the Gifts and the Mass continue as usual.
Lent Boxes for our Appeal (The Antony Nolan Trust) are available as are the Lenten Devotional Booklets on the theme of peace. Lists have been posted for the Lent Lunches to be held on Saturday’s at St Mary & St Giles in aid of our Lenten Appeal. There are also lists posted for the Footwashing and the Watch on Holy Thursday.
The Lent Course based on the works of CS Lewis and using two films “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Shadowlands” will begin on Thursday 1st March. The church library at SMSG will feature a selection of CS Lewis’ works.
Lenten Sacrifice – Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the traditional ‘three strands’ practised each Lent. Some might find the suggestion below a helpful way of implementing those ‘three strands’. Please note, these are suggestions, not commandments:
- Abstinence – no meat can be taken by those 14 and older on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays
- Fasting – a limit of one full meatless meal by those 18-59 on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
- Self-Denial – voluntary acts of self-denial are recommended on weekdays during Lent
- Prayer and Charity – can include daily Mass, Scripture study, Stations of the Cross, almsgiving and showing mercy and kindness to others
The holy sacrament of a winter wedding took place in St Mary & St Giles Church today. It was a joyous occasion. A few hours later snow is falling, and the church building takes on a different kind of beauty.
From Fr Ross:
John Knight was Rector of Calverton from 1640 to 1661, and “during his incumbency the Chapelry of Stony Stratford was dissevered from the ancient Parish of Calverton”.
So reads the entry on the list of Rectors of Calverton in All Saints Church. Until this point in history Stony Stratford was divided along the High Street and the ancient Manorial Benefices of Calverton and Wolverton both built chapels to vie for the travellers along Watling Street. Both chapels were successful and there is a long history attached to both chapels and the ground upon which they were built. However in the 17th Century it was decided by the Diocese to create a new parish of Stony Stratford and the later fire at the Chapelry of St Mary Magdalene was to lead to the rebuilding of St Giles and the enlargement of the Parish of Stony Stratford. In the 19th century Wolverton again built a Chapelry under the patronage of St Mary the Virgin in the south part of the growing town which at that point still remained with Wolverton Parish. This Chapelry subsequently became a parish in its own right, but then in 1967 following the fire at St Giles the Diocese, after much debate, decided to close St Mary the Virgin and restore St Giles while rehallowing it under the patronage of “St Mary the Virgin & St Giles” but the Parish Church quickly became known simply as St Mary & St Giles.
Time moves on and with the impending development within Calverton Parish what was once “dissevered” is now once again made whole. As from the 1st January 2012 the individual parishes of Calverton, All Saints & Stony Stratford, St Mary & St Giles are integrated as one Ecclesiastical Parish with two Parish Churches and one Parochial Church Council. This parish, which is once again made whole, will be known as: “The Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton”. The ancient title of “Rector” will be preserved and that of “Vicar” cease. People often ask what the difference is between a Rector and Vicar, and in terms of the Freehold of the Benefice there is no difference. However, essentially the title “Rector” belongs to the original parishes that were created with the emergence of the Christian Faith. The title “vicar” tended to be applied to those Incumbents who had parishes that had been carved out of ancient manorial Benefices (as locally) or where the parish had been founded by a monastery and a priest served there under the authority of the Abbot. The scheme, to effect the merger of our Parishes as one, is so worded as to maintain the Freehold of the present Incumbent of these Parishes (namely myself). However, after I retire, leave or whatever, the Freehold will disappear and the new Parish Priest will be on a system called “Common Tenure” as with all other parishes – effectively this is a form of licence rather than the Freehold.
Meetings will be held early in January to effect changes to Bank Accounts, and a little later to elect 2 Churchwardens for each Church and then to elect the new combined PCC. This clearly, will be a busy period and your prayers and encouragement would be much appreciated.
This “making whole” of our parishes is a time of opportunity for us all. For the last forty four years the two parishes have been linked and for the last fourteen held in plurality. Now, we can work together as one integrated and whole parish for the spread of the Gospel in what is a challenging time for us all as the parish population grows from approximately 8,000 to around 24,500 over the next ten years. In such a situation we need each other, but more importantly we need the grace of God to be with us as we grow together and as we reach out together in his name.
It would be very easy just to see this merger as a way of reducing meetings and paperwork. While it does do that it is not the prime reason. The prime reason is to free us to engage in mission and to pool our resources. We face change to geographical landscape of our united parish that we can barefly imagine at this stage, but we also face the change and challenge that comes with new people. The ancient Parish of Calverton built a Chapel to welcome new people (both visitors and those who stayed) and that Chapel which grew into a Parish Church continues to see that as a huge part of its mission (as it always has done – encouraged by its outstanding incumbents). So the two parishes have a history of seeing Worship and Mission at the centre of their life. This must continue to be so. Over the next ten years and possibly more, many, many new people (families and individuals) will come among us. They must continue to find within us the warmth of Christian love within the firm foundation of the Faith of the Church. I rediscovered something written by St Benedict recently: “Love without dogma is empty. Dogma without love is cruel.” He was, of course, echoing many other spiritual writers who have said similar things, but in a world that at times seems devoid of a spiritual compass people do need parish churches where the faith is taught and believed, but also where there is love and forgiveness. Our formerly dissevered parishes have always had a tradition of firm faith and pastoral sensitivity and this must continue to be so.
Please pray for our Parish and for the Churchwardens, Treasurers, Secretaries and I as we deal with all the practical matters that the merger entails. But also pray for each other that every one of us will be firm in faith, hope and love.
In the monthly newsletter for January 2012 Fr Ross explains about the merger of the two parishes of All Saints, Calverton and St Mary & St Giles, Stony Stratford. Historically the two parishes have close ties and this merger will “free us to engage in mission and to pool our resources”.
The full newsletter message about the merger follows in the next post.