Holy week in this parish started with Palm Sunday service all indoors without the procession along Stony Stratford High Street because of the weather, followed by the Parish Singers giving their annual Lent Cantata, which this year was ‘The Last Week’ by John W Petersen. The Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services were solemn, sad and beautiful as we recalled the terrible but saving events of Holy week. The Easter Vigil last night was hopeful as we lit the Pascal Candle and caught our first glimpse of the empty tomb and this morning’s service was joyous as we celebrated the risen Lord.
Below are some photos of the Easter Garden in St Mary & St Giles Church this year.
This year the Young Christians coffee morning was in the Parish Hall which was lovely and warm in the snowy weather. The duck race, which is traditionally held on the river Ouse near the weir at the Mill field was indoors because of the dangerous condition of the river, so the three winning ducks were drawn at the end of the coffee morning, during the Lent lunch.
The line of pennies raised £33.19, the duck race raised £124, bric a brac stall £61.87. These funds will go to the Parish Lent appeal which is the Additional Curates Society. The residents of Fegans court knitted about 100 chicks containing creme eggs, and £122 was raised for MK Foodbank. £71 was raised on the refreshments for the church restoration fund.
One of our younger members of the Parish is taking part in a volunteer’ programme at Walsingham. In January she sent a newsletter and some photos to show what she is doing, this now forms an exhibition on the noticeboard just inside the West door at St Mary & St Giles Church:
For those of you who are not sure, I am 21 years old, have just graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Musical theatre, and am now working at The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. I am currently on a volunteering programme called Yr4God, along with two other young people, which is a scheme here at the shrine, dedicated to equipping young people to serve God. The scheme is aimed at 18-25 year olds, who are are seeking somewhere to serve God, grow in their faith, and be open to an exciting and challenging ministry.
We are part of the ministry team here in Walsingham and take part in the Laying on of Hands, Sprinkling, all the masses and services, and generally help around the shrine. Our biggest input to the shrine, however, is the work we do with the youth that come on pilgrimage here. We have organised a weekend programme for 6 to 16 year olds that works alongside the regular adult weekend programme, but is tailored to suit the ages of the youth that attend pilgrimage each weekend. We also plan and organise all the big pilgrimages throughout the year; Bible Week, the Families’ Pilgrimage, Adoremus, the Children’s Pilgrimage, The National Pilgrimage and the Youth Pilgrimage.
I decided to apply for the Yr4God scheme because I felt called to do something More to serve God. I felt that Walsingham was the place for that. As someone who has been brought up going to church I have always had a strong faith, but growing up as a ‘church-goer’ was quite difficult. Thanks to my own parish, and to Walsingham, I have come through that and am a much stronger person because of my faith, however I have unfortunately seen friends drift away from that, so while I am here in Walsingham I really want to show youngsters that it is ok, and fun, to go to church and to have a faith. I want them to realise that if they have God in their life, He will help them to be stronger people and show them how to live a more fulfilling life. As I would like to be a teacher in the future, I also think I am gaining excellent experience to equip me for my future studies and career.
Since arriving in Walsingham, it has been super hectic!! We started here at the beginning of October and Bible Week was in October half term, so we had to get going with the planning for that! Our theme for the week was Ephesians so we decided to pick out themes to teach to the kids, with a different theme for each day. Through the use of drama, art, games and fun, we taught them about the importance of Unity, both within our own community and with our faith; we taught them about living in the light of Christ and how we can share the light with others; and we taught them about the armour of God and how we can put on the armour of God to help us fight the bad things in life. At the end of the week, a nine year old boy stood up in front of the nearly 200 people attending the pilgrimage, and spoke about what he had learnt that week. He spoke with such knowledge, confidence and ease; it really gave us the boost we needed to do well for the rest of our year in Walsingham. We were off to a flying start!
A few weeks later was the Families’ Pilgrimage, so as soon as Bible Week was out of the way we were back to planning for our next big thing! The theme was all about being a workshop for the Lord, so we started by having Joseph in his workshop, and showed the annunciation through his eyes. The weekend then went on with gusto, working the same way as a usual pilgrimage would but, of course, with a twist. All the services, masses, readings and teachings were aimed at the children – and the adults enjoyed being big kids! We had everything from painting nails to puppets, from workshops to water guns. We all had such a fabulous time and really enjoyed working with all the children (and adults!) that attended, and meeting so many fantastic people.
Then, as Christmas drew nearer, it quietened down quite a bit. We took a trip to Birmingham to do a Youth Mass in the cathedral, and we also had our 18-30 Pilgrimage, Adoremus. We caught up with old friends, met new ones and generally had a great time in, and out of, worship. For the last couple of weeks before Christmas we worked around the shrine: in the sacristy, the garden, the refectory and norton room, the shrine shop, and in reception, still only just getting to know everyone and how the Shrine worked – we had been so busy with planning we were only just getting used to the place! On our last night, we had a wonderful Christmas party and then I was back home for Christmas! What a lovely end to the season. I know I saw most of you over the Christmas holidays, but for those I didn’t see, I hope you had a great Christmas and new year!
I have now been back in Walsingham for a couple of weeks and very pleased to be back! We have been carrying on with working around the Shrine and helping out, and getting on with the planning for our next big Pilgrimage which is The Children’s Pilgrimage. Last weekend, we were down in Barkingside, East London, where we had to do sermons for both a Family Mass and a Youth Mass. We had a wonderful time away, and thoroughly enjoyed being involved with other parishes, and helping them with their youth work.
From now until February it will stay quiet but as soon as February hits, it will get very busy again! So I will make sure I send you another update of my time here in Walsingham very soon
Love to all and God bless,
There are plenty more photos in the exhibition at the church.
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
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
Scotland the Brave
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
Encore request – Colonel Bogey March
Encore request – Anniversary Waltz
Pomp and Circumstance
Solo – Dave King played ‘Elizabethan Serenade’ on the piano
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)
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.
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 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.