Interregnum news: 18 September 2022 thumbnail

Interregnum news: 18 September 2022

The following Interregnum newsletter was printed and handed out at both churches in the Parish on 18 September:

Now The Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton is in an interregnum period between Parish priests, the Parochial Church Council (PCC) is compiling the parish profile and the person specification for applicants. Part of this process includes considering whether this Parish wishes to retain or rescind the Resolution under the House of Bishops Declaration relating to the ordination of women priests and the consecration of women bishops. This includes deciding whether to remain members of The Society and Forward in Faith, as The Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton is currently a Forward in Faith and The Society parish.

In 1992 Forward in Faith was formed in response to the General Synod of the Church of England resolving to ordain women into the priesthood. In 2010 The Society under the patronage of
St Wilfred and St Hilda was formed in preparation for the anticipated consecration of women bishops (The Society is supported by Forward in Faith).

The decision to pass the Resolutions A & B under the Ordination of Priests (Women) Measure was made by Fr Cavell Cavell-Northam and the PCC only in the early 1990s, and the Parish established a relationship with Forward in Faith. After Fr Cavell’s retirement, a Forward in Faith priest Fr Ross Northing SSC was appointed by the PCC as incumbent Rector of All Saints Calverton and Vicar of St Mary & St Giles Stony Stratford (the two parishes merged to become The Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton on 1 January 2012). In 2015 the PCC passed a resolution under the provisions of the House of Bishops Declaration when the first women bishops were consecrated.

In this interregnum, although by church law ultimately it is the decision of the PCC of the Parish of Stony Stratford with Calverton, it has been decided by the PCC that the views of the congregations of this parish shall inform its decision-making regarding the appointment of a new parish priest. For this reason the PCC has arranged a meeting at 5:00pm on 8 October 2022 in
St Mary & St Giles church in which you can learn more about the respective perspectives of Forward in Faith and The Society as well as Anglo-Catholic priests who are in favour of the ordination of women.

The meeting will be chaired by Area Dean Rev. Tim Norwood with four speakers:

You can ask questions, hear comments from others and reflect on your perspective before telling the PCC your views via a questionnaire which will be handed out at the end of the meeting for return by 16 October 2022. If you are unable to attend the meeting, you will be able to obtain a copy of the questionnaire on Sunday 9 October in both churches.

Your responses to the questionnaire are anonymous unless you choose to write your name and contact details at the end. Only members of the PCC will see the raw data collected by the questionnaire. The PCC may or may not choose to publish the analysis of the data when it announces its decision. It will not publish anything which identifies and connects your name with your views on this topic.

Written by Anna Page, PCC member (September 2022)

The following history of the PCC decisions has been written by Fr Gary Ecclestone.

The PCC has made four separate and discrete choices over the years:

  1. Back in the early 1990s under Fr Cavell it passed Resolutions A & B under the Ordination of Priests (Women) Measure and then petitioned the Bishop of Oxford for extended episcopal care under the terms of the Act of Synod. The Act of Synod created new Episcopal Sees to ensure there were enough bishops to care for traditional Anglo-Catholics, which were Richborough, Ebbsfleet and Beverley referred to as the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, as their work crossed the boundaries of the various individual dioceses; they worked under the direction of the Archbishops at the invitation of Diocesan Bishops. The Diocese of London revived the See of Fulham to provide local arrangements in London. At this point the Bishop of Oxford invited the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (whom the legislation had nominated for the purpose) to have pastoral and sacramental care of the parish.
  2. Once the Parish had done that it was eligible to affiliate to Forward in Faith, which it chose to do. Membership of FinF is purely optional but FinF resources the work of traditionalist parishes and bishops, it has a full time director, part time researcher and produces a monthly magazine ‘New Directions’ it acts to represent the movement to the wider church and as an umbrella organisation coordinating events and activities alongside other organisations such as ACS, the Church Union etc. Forward in Faith has individual members and corporate (i.e. parish) members.
  3. In 2015 that legislation was superseded upon the CofE’s decision to consecrate women to the episcopate. All parishes that were cared for under the previous provisions needed to pass a new Resolution under the provisions of what is called the House of Bishops Declaration. This was done by the PCC once again. The See of Ebbsfleet remained available for the Bishop of Oxford to call upon, which he did.
  4. As part of the new arrangements it was necessary to form a new body (The Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda – referred to usually as simply The Society) which would gather together those Bishops to whom the Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops could look to provide pastoral and sacramental care for Declaration Parishes. These bishops included the Provincial Episcopal Visitors. The Bishop of Fulham, and those bishops serving in dioceses who are traditional Anglo-Catholics i.e. Chichester, Lewes, Burnley and Wakefield. The Archbishops invite these bishops to consecrate new bishops to serve the Declaration Parishes. This ensures that our bishops continue in the unbroken apostolic succession and therefore ensures sacramental assurance for traditional Anglo-Catholic Anglicans. The CofE also makes provision for traditional Evangelicals, currently by way of the Bishop of Maidstone.
  5. Having passed a Resolution under the House of Bishops Declaration (and only then) PCCs then have the opportunity of formally affiliating with The Society. Affiliation is not obligatory.

The PCC is now faced with ONE legal decision and TWO pastoral decisions:

The legal decision is as to whether the PCC wishes to retain the current Resolution under the House of Bishops Declaration or not. If it does the Parish will continue to be cared for by the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (or in fact his successor the new Bishop of Oswestry). If it does retain the current Resolution, then the PCC can subsequently review the TWO pastoral decisions, whether it wishes to remain affiliated formally to Forward in Faith and to The Society both of which are optional. It could even decide to suspend membership of those organisations pending the appointment of a new Parish Priest for further discussion with them once they are in post.

If the PCCs votes to rescind the Resolution previously passed under the House of Bishops Declaration, then affiliation to FinF and The Society would automatically lapse and the episcopal care of the parish would revert to the Bishop of Buckingham.

The Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – statement from the Bishop of Oxford thumbnail

The Death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – statement from the Bishop of Oxford

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Statement from the Bishop of Oxford:
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, issued a statement following the announcement of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday 8 September 2022.

“Her Majesty the Queen has been a cherished presence in all of our lives and for the whole of our lives. She has been our example and a rock for the nation and commonwealth. Her devoted service has given stability to the nation throughout this Elizabethan age. Her deep, personal Christian faith has been an inspiration to many, including me.

The whole nation will be united in mourning for our beloved Queen in the coming days. We will need time to grieve and to share our grief with others. We pray at this time for the Queen’s family and especially for Charles as he prepares to become King. This will be a season for deep reflection in the life of our nation as we look back in thanksgiving and forward in hope.

This United Kingdom has deep foundations in Christian faith. A key part of our faith is the distinctive hope of resurrection from the dead: that our life in Christ endures beyond death and for eternity. As we grieve and pray, we also look forward together in hope to that new and eternal life with God.

We have prayed through all of our lives: God save the Queen. We now entrust Her Majesty to her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and commit ourselves afresh to his service and to God’s eternal kingdom.”

Both St Mary & St Giles church and All Saints have a photo and flowers for the late Queen. St Mary & St Giles is open during the day every day for prayer and reflection.

Online books of condolence – the two official online books of condolence can be found at and


Platinum Jubilee Bring and Share Lunch 5th June 2022 thumbnail

Platinum Jubilee Bring and Share Lunch 5th June 2022

On 5th June 2022 the nation celebrated our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we decided to mark the occasion with a Bring and Share Lunch at St Mary & St Giles.

Chatting before lunch
Chatting before lunch

We decorated the church with handmade bunting and beautiful red, white and blue flower arrangements.

Platinum Jubilee Flowers
Platinum Jubilee Flowers.

Many people got into the Jubilee spirit and dressed in red, white and blue.

Choosing food

Volunteers moved the chairs and set up tables at the back of the church after the Sunday morning service whilst people chatted over their  teas and coffees in the parish hall.

Ready to fill plates

The food started to arrive and just kept coming – we had to set up another table to put it all out!

The celebrations started at 12 noon.

Welcoming everyone
Welcoming everyone

Everyone was so generous with the food so there was more than enough to go round, with quiches, salads, sandwiches, pastries, bread, cheese and biscuits, crisps and much more – even some hot dishes.

Bring and share feast
Bring and share feast

The bakers amongst us excelled in supplying 3 special Platinum Jubilee Trifles and plenty of delicious homemade cakes.

Jubilee Trifles

Friends and family were invited and given a warm welcome.

Food and fellowship for all ages
Food and fellowship for all ages

Everyone who came had a wonderful time. It was a great way to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Enjoying lunch together

Enjoying lunch together

Churchwardens, PCC and Deanery Synod Members Elected April 2022 thumbnail

Churchwardens, PCC and Deanery Synod Members Elected April 2022

At the Annual Vestry and Parochial Church Meetings in April 2022, the following were elected to serve as Churchwardens, PCC and Deanery Synod members:

Peter Eales (SMSG)
Deb Kidd (SMSG)
Jill Barby (All Saints)
Richard Hearne (All Saints)

PCC Members
Rhian Parsons (SMSG)
Graham Brown (SMSG)
Dick Martin (SMSG)
Susi Whitehouse (SMSG)
John Hickman (All Saints)
Anna Page (All Saints)

Deanery Synod Members
Bob Scarff
Mike Parsons
Anne de Brois

In addition, at the PCC meeting following the APCM:
Bob Scarff was elected as Treasurer and Vice-Chairman
Susi Whitehouse was elected as PCC Secretary
and Gwen Yates was co-opted to the PCC as one of the Parish Safeguarding Officers

Father Ross’s retirement thumbnail

Father Ross’s retirement

Although Father Ross’s actual retirement date is not yet fixed, it has been agreed with the Bishop of Buckingham and the Standing Committee of the Parochial Church Council that his final Sunday services in the parish will be held on the following dates:

All Saints 11:15am on Sunday 6th February 2022 with a Farewell Reception immediately following

St Mary & St Giles on Sunday 13th February 2022

09:30 Parish Mass

16:00 Evensong & Benediction with a Farewell Reception afterwards.

Sunday 29th March 2020 thumbnail

Sunday 29th March 2020

This morning’s Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent:


“Take away the stone”


Over the past two Sundays and this morning we have heard those wonderful long Gospel stories of the encounters of three people in varying degrees of need with the Lord.


First we heard of the Woman of Samaria – a woman whose heritage stems from the deportation of the Kingdom of Israel into Assyria where her ancestors were forced into mixed marriages and the faith of their Forefathers’ was corrupted by pagan practices. This woman knows enough of her heritage to know that her marital state is more than complicated. Yet she comes to see Christ as her deliverer, and as the source of her future hope.


Last Sunday, we heard of the healing of the man born blind, and in that very moving account we see how he has been blind from birth, and of how, once he has been healed, he experiences a lack of support from those who know him, rejection by the spiritual leaders of his people and even to a certain degree rejection by his parents. The account concludes with his encountering the Lord once more, but this time the Lord, having heard of the rejection he had experienced at the hands of others, sought him out, and the encounter between them is so tender.


Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him.


And this morning we hear the final of these three encounters, that of Jesus with Lazarus. Of course, the encounter is also with Mary and Martha, and it is to their encounter with the Lord that we turn first.


We are used to thinking of Martha as the one who is distracted by all the domestic work that needs doing as part of welcoming a guest; and of Mary as the one who takes the spiritual path of sitting and listening to the Lord. However, in this encounter Mary has to be coached out of the house, as she is sitting there consumed by grief. Then when she does come to meet Jesus, she is seemingly accusatory in her opening words to the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” It is Martha, however, in this encounter, who pours forth that wonderful declaration of faith: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”


Then there is the encounter with Lazarus. It is a remarkable encounter, at least in the telling, because we are not told what they said to each other after the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead. The Lord orders that the stone sealing the tomb be taken away, he prays, he says loudly, “Lazarus, come out.” And Lazarus emerges still bound with bandages. And then Jesus orders those gathered to “unbind him, and let him go.” But we are told nothing else.


So we must look at the episode with closer eyes – in particular I want us to think of the matter of the stone. The stone represents all that inhibits life, Lazarus has been sealed away from life, cut off from those he knows and loves not only by death, but by physical barriers – human constraints keep him isolated – for the bodies of the dead, in Jewish Law, are unclean; and if you came into contact with one, you became unclean. But the Lord orders that the stone be taken away, that the barrier preventing life, human socialisation and love be removed.


Perhaps in that there is something for us to ponder in our hearts this morning with Our Lady, as England is rededicated at Noon today as her Dowry. The stone had to be taken away for life to begin again. That stone inhibited life, love and social interaction. At times in our lives that stone can be symbolic of the situation that we find ourselves in.


Like the woman of Samaria we can be in a moral mess, and can have made our lives so complicated that we worry that we have no future, no chance of forgiveness, nor even a life that is filled with hope rather than despair.


Like the man born blind we can be blind, not only physically, but also blind to the real identity of Jesus Christ. Like the blind man it may be that we have had signs of real hope, only to have them dashed by the intransigence or weakness of others.


Like Mary we can find ourselves at one point very close to the Lord, and then subsequently distant from him. Like Martha we can find ourselves distracted by so many things – even in parish life, by what we think is important in our Parish Churches, that we lose our spiritual perspective; but then like Martha through the experience of some deeply personal event come to a greater love and knowledge of the Lord.


Like Lazarus we can be kept bound and sealed off from life – that is our real life in Christ. It is the enemy who so often does this with his lies and schemes. That stone – whatever it is most be taken away at the Lord’s orders.


And so we must make our appeals to him, we must hammer on the doors of heaven with our prayers.


In this land at the moment we are facing one of the worst contagions since the Spanish Flu of 1918. Yes, we must abide by what the Government is asking of us, but as Christians who believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, we should have recourse to prayer. We must pray that God would take this pestilence away, for common-sense to prevail amongst all people, and for all those affected by this virus, and those who care for them in the NHS and in the wider community. May the Lord take this stone away, may he order that we be unbound and set free ……….that life may be set free.


Let us pray:

Lord, enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify thy most honourable and majestic name of the Father + and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


Tuesday 24th March 2020 thumbnail

Tuesday 24th March 2020

Dear All,

The Archbishops have now issued a letter to all clergy in which the main points, as they affect our common life are as follows:

  1. Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own. For the priest this means celebrating the Mass at home. I have pre-empted this by setting up at altar in the Rectory and tried to make it as much like a chapel as I can. I hope to start live streaming, which is permitted, as soon as I have mastered the technology.
  1. Emergency baptisms can take place in hospital or at home, though subject to strict hygienic precautions and physical distancing as far as possible.
  1. There can be no weddings in church buildings until further notice.
  1. Funerals can only happen at the Crematorium or at the graveside. Only immediate family members can attend (if the crematorium allows – Milton Keynes Crematorium appears to be allowing up to ten mourners only) – that is, spouse or partner, parents and children, keeping their distance in the prescribed way.
  1. Foodbanks should continue where possible, under strict guidelines, and may have to move to be delivery points not places where people gather.

The diocesan bishop has added:

  1. That Pastoral Care of the clergy will be mainly left to the Area Deans
  1. That the priest should restrict most of his pastoral care of his people to using the telephone and internet. There is no guidance yet on the Anointing of the Sick and Dying. In the absence of that, which is worrying at best, I shall seek to administer that Sacrament with the guidance of the medical profession sought by the patient and/or their family.
  1. On Parish finances: he writes: “We recognise that for some their parish finances are significantly dependent on Sunday collections, lettings and fundraising events and will be issuing advice to help following a consultation with deanery treasurers. Please support the need to sustain parish and diocesan income at this time when the Church’s ministry is needed as never before.”

To all of the above, as your Parish Priest, I would add that sometimes that which we value most can become taken for granted and we can so easily become distracted by things that not of God, and sometimes by things that frankly are the work of the enemy. This period in the desert where we are unable to worship together in our Parish Churches may well, if we embrace the spiritual opportunity, become a period of real growth as disciples of Jesus, from which renewal can flow. All of us are experiencing a great sorrow and a time of great uncertainty, and yet this is a time to have faith, for this problem will end and when it does, as Christ’s Disciples we shall commit ourselves, as our first priority, more fully to the worship of Almighty God and to making our second priority sharing in the continuing mission of Christ the Redeemer. We cannot think that Parish Life will just resume as it was, for God is going to change us through this time and draw us back to himself.

Joel 2:13

And rend your heart and not your garments ” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.

Nehemiah 1:9

but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’

Every blessing,

Fr Ross

Friday 20th March 2020 thumbnail

Friday 20th March 2020

I am sorry to have to relate to you that, following the Prime Minister’s announcements this evening, further restrictions have been placed upon what is permissible in terms of the Mass. I have received new instructions from the Bishop – these are requirements, not guidance.

I am only allowed to celebrate Mass with just one other person present and with the Church doors locked. That person may not act as a Server. After the Mass, I can unlock the Church so that it is open for private prayer.

All Baptisms and Confirmations are deferred. There are further restrictions on Weddings.

I cannot visit the sick and housebound at home, care homes or hospital (the latter only with the consent and direction of health professionals).

All this is really distressing, but I have no choice, but to comply.

Naturally and rightly I have informed the Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council first.

Below this message from me is a copy of the Bishop’s Letter to you.

Please pray:

O God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, and of all creation visible and invisible, in thine ineffable goodness, look down upon us, thy people gathered in thy Holy Name. Be our helper and defender in this day of affliction. Thou knowest our weakness. Thou hearest our cry in repentance and contrition of heart. O Lord who lovest mankind, deliver us from the impending threat of the Corona Virus. Send thine angel to watch over us and protect us. Grant health and recovery to those suffering from this virus. Guide the hands of physicians and preserve those who are healthy. Enable us to continue to serve our suffering brothers and sisters in peace that together we may glorify thy most honourable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

I shall be giving thought to what is possible in terms of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at specific times in order that we can come to church in small groups – whilst sitting six foot apart – to spend time in private prayer; and I am completing a booklet of prayers for the week beginning this coming Sunday, and will be issuing ones for the whole week ahead each Sunday during this time of uncertainty, in order that you can pray in church or at home with some formal structure so that you know that you are engaging in the worship of the Church.

With the assurance of my prayers.

Every blessing,

Fr Ross


From the Bishop of Ebbsfleet
to all parishes under his oversight

Concerning Public Worship and the Celebration of the Sacraments
in relation to the current international pandemic

20 March 2020

St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord
In three short weeks, here and in many places around the world, life has been radically changed. Our
daily patterns of life and work are being changed to protect the greater good; the institutions and
services of our common life are under unprecedented pressure; and the lives of the world’s most
vulnerable—the elderly, the poor, the homeless and those with health conditions—are threatened.
Little surprise then that the Church should find itself deeply affected, and having no choice but to find
new and untried ways of living through this time and looking to the future.

I am sure that you will all recognize the wisdom of Her Majesty The Queen’s appeal yesterday that as a
society we should come together ‘to work as one’, concentrating our combined efforts, focusing on
our common goal. ‘We 
all have a vitally important part to play’, she said ‘as individuals.’
Paradoxically, at a time when our individual lives are being pushed 
apart by the absolute necessity to
maintain universal good hygiene and a safe physical distance from one another, we are discovering that
only acting in a really 
collaborative way will have the impact that we all need. We are all being taught
by this experience to recalibrate the connections between our individuality and our community,
between being one and being many – whether as people, as families and as nations.

Of all people on earth this should come as 
least surprise to the disciples of Jesus, whose profound sense
of calling and responsibility as the Son of God was entirely shaped by the love of his Father and the
salvation of his brothers and sisters. So Christians can recognize in our present crisis not just that
human generosity which appears in times of danger and trial, but the 
reality of what it means to be
human, and to be created in the likeness of God. To be human is to be one 
and many.

And that should remind us Christians of a second reality: that our life together as Christ’s Body is not for
the sake of ourselves but for the life of the world. If in these coming months the Church has to
experience being forcibly pulled away from the consolations of our routine life and worship—forced
for the first time that any of us can remember, into a kind of collective eucharistic fast—it may be so
that we can rediscover the mission God has given us: to be real witnesses in 
this world—currently so
fearful and anxious—of the joy and peace of the 
world to come, God’s kingdom.

Plainly none of this will happen if we do not use the time that we now have on our hands to learn
afresh how to pray. Not just prayers for all the different ways in which people are caught up in the
present crisis; but prayers that turn our hearts toward God. The Psalms frequently exhort us to
praise God’s mighty power and his loving intimacy. We may have to be physically distant
from one another, but God is 
not distant. ‘He is’, says St Augustine, ‘nearer to us than our
innermost parts’. (
Confessions 3.6.11)

In recent days, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the bishops, have
implemented changes in how we must practice our faith for the coming months. I too have
written to all the clergy of parishes under my oversight setting out the necessary changes that
need to take effect in the pastoral and liturgical ministries we share. Your parish priest can provide
you with copies of the archbishops’ letter and mine. I ask every worshipper to embrace these
arrangements. They will be kept under review in the light of expert health and hygiene advice.

Of course the most dramatic change is the suspension of all public acts of worship, and thus
the lack of access to celebrations of the Eucharist. All clergy and lay officers will however
strive to keep our churches open wherever possible so that, especially on Sunday mornings, those who
wish to can visit to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I do not underestimate what a loss this will be
to you all. Nonetheless the clergy have been encouraged to celebrate the Eucharist and to pray
Morning and Evening Prayer, in church without a congregation. Some churches will make
arrangements for live-streaming of these acts of worship to support the laity: I hope to do so myself.

But above all I encourage you to keep Sunday carefully as the Lord’s Day, to read slowly and
prayerfully the readings for that day’s Mass; to pray the Rosary, the Litany, the Jesus Prayer; to
prepare in your home a shrine or prayer station, with a crucifix and images of the Lord and the saints;
and to expressing to the Lord in prayer your desire to receive Holy Communion even while you can’t;
desiring to be united to him, and filled with his Holy Spirit. It will be a blessed and joyful day, when
we can assemble again to celebrate Mass together!

Thank you for everything you will do to support your parish, and its wider community in the coming
months. Please show a special care and concern for anyone who might struggle. And do not be afraid
to ask for prayerful support yourself. Shop responsibly; be generous to charities helping the most
vulnerable; encourage your families as often as you can with words of faith and hope; pray for those
afflicted by the virus; and those who risk their lives to help them.

Two prayers for you to use at home before Passiontide begins:

Almighty God, it is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power, and by your
outstretched arm. Nothing is beyond your power. We turn to you in our need, to ask your
protection against coronavirus which has claimed lives and affected many. We pray for those afflicted.
May they soon be restored to health. Grant this through Christ our Lord. 

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and
necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us, through Christ our Lord. 
Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

With love and every blessing:
The Right Reverend Jonathan Goodall

Monthly Newsletter January 2012 thumbnail

Monthly Newsletter January 2012

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.

Welcome to our Parish website! thumbnail

Welcome to our Parish website!

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.