From the Rectory August 2021

As you know, in May the bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, stepped back from his duties, and responsibility was temporarily delegated to the bishop of Southampton. Over the weeks there has been much speculation, exacerbated by limited information due to process, and fuelled by social media. Bishop Tim has announced his retirement in February 2022. I include below a copy of his statement. Please continue to pray for our diocese as we come to terms with this unprecedented situation; for its healing and recovery, for its future governance and leadership, and as the process of discernment continues.

Every blessing, FJohn.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Dr Tim Dakin, has today announced his retirement, having formally notified HM The Queen of his intention to step down. He will retire as Bishop in February 2022. Bishop Tim’s decision follows the conclusion of a series of facilitated conversations that have taken place over the summer to consider matters raised concerning leadership and governance. Bishop Tim said:

I have now received confirmation that Her Majesty the Queen has accepted my retirement as Bishop of Winchester. I wanted you all to hear my decision as directly as possible – and doing it this way rather speaks to our times. Some formalities and details need to be finalized but I’ll be leaving the Diocese in early February and handing over my responsibilities to others in the meantime. Please pray for all involved in this transition process.

Mahatma Gandhi said that “unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” I have always been clear that, as your Bishop, I should be there to build and foster togetherness across our Diocese, focused upon our life together in Christ, and upon our joint mission to serve Christ in our communities and to sustain Christian witness in daily life. Sadly, it seems it is no longer possible for me to fulfil this role.

The last eighteen months have brought enormous pressures to bear on us all, individually, as a country, within our families and communities, and as a Diocese. The painfully difficult financial decisions made over the last year have caused real anguish. In trying to secure a sustainable future for the growth of the Diocese, it is clear that I’ve not done enough to acknowledge what we have lost in this process. To those I’ve hurt or let down, I am sorry.

I realise that the steps taken to stabilize the finances continue to cause upset. Bishop’s   Council has received full reports in recent weeks from the Diocesan auditors and legal advisers, explaining and corroborating the decisions made by the Diocesan Board of Finance. None of this makes those decisions any easier to take. Nevertheless, I hope there is some comfort in the clarity now provided, and that faith can be restored in the relevant Diocesan staff and functions as the pastoral reorganisations proceed. Please continue to pray for all those involved. Pray too for all serving in the parishes and various projects: that the church and its witness may grow in the Diocese.

I could not have come to my decision, or indeed found a way through this recent period, without the love and support of Sally, my children and close friends. While I have not seen much of what has been said about me, my family and friends have seen more, and I have seen the effect it has had on them. They are the people who know me best, of course – and I’ve drawn upon their love and their view of me during these difficult times.

It has been a privilege to serve a Diocese that has Companion links across the world. I’ve been reminded of previous ministry experience: of the need to live on other people’s terms to see the world they see and to know the Christ they follow. I hope these links will continue to grow in strength and in significance. It’s also been a great joy to be part of a Diocese where education is taken seriously at all levels, not least, Further & Higher Education. All of us are called to pray and witness in such a way that the coming generations will find fullness of life in Christ.

I will remain proud of what has been achieved across the Diocese over the past 10 years. For there to have been a record number of ordinands at the Cathedral recently is a wonderful achievement for those involved in the School of Mission and in the parishes. I believe each and every one of our new clergy – and the many lay people who’ve received the Bishop’s Commission for Mission – will have a valuable role to play in the next stage of the Diocese as it witnesses to Christ’s mission in this region, in the life of the nation and across the Anglican Communion. The new national strategy for the Church of England offers an inspirational trajectory for such future developments.

As for me and Sally, we are planning a move to Plymouth, and we’re looking forward to making new friends, as well as to visits from old friends and from our growing family. Thank you for all we have shared. We will miss you. God bless you.

The Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin, will continue to fulfil Bishop Tim’s duties, following the recent announcement that he would step back until the end of August. The nomination and appointment of a Diocesan Bishop is made through the Crown Nominations Commission. Further information on the process for selecting the next Bishop of Winchester will be available following Bishop Tim’s departure.

 

 

From the Rectory July 2021

July is a month of mixed emotions for me. I was ordained deacon in Winchester Cathedral on 2nd July, and priested the following year at Christchurch Priory on 4th July. This July also marks the 3rd anniversary of my mother's death. For sports fans this month offers the excitement of the finals at both Wimbledon Championship and EUEFA EURO 2020.

Buckler's Hard occupies a unique place in maritime history. Originally founded as a free port for the trading of sugar, it has flourished as a shipbuilding centre, becoming famous for building warships for Nelson’s Navy, including three vessels that took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. St Mary's Chapel - No 82 on the village street - was built as a dwelling for shipyard workers, and for a short time it would serve as a school. Beaulieu River is considered to be one of the gems of the UK, and is rich in wildlife. The Yacht Harbour has recently undergone a major £2m redevelopment.

Our annual 'Sea Sunday' service will be held at the Chandlery at Buckler's Hard Yacht Haven on Sunday 11th July at 6.30pm. The service gives us the opportunity to think about, and thank God for, seafarers. Over 90% of world trade is conveyed by sea, thanks to seafarers. Theirs is a demanding lifestyle, subject to stress, isolation and loneliness, with long periods of separation from their families and loved ones; violent storms and bad weather an occupational hazard; piracy a possibility. I hope that you'll be able to join us for the service and to celebrate the role seafarers play in our daily lives. The preacher will be the Revd John Attenborough and Beaulieu band will provide the music. There will be a Collection for the work of “Mission to Seafarers”.

Following a recent one day OFSTED inspection Beaulieu School continues to be rated a good school. The staff and governors were delighted with their feedback, including the remarks about the kindness and understanding the children show to one-another. Knowing the children “inside out” is at the heart of the school's ethos. It was also noted that staff have high expectations of the children, and were ambitious for them to succeed. The school's strong links with its community and the many opportunities it    provides was also commented upon. It has been a demanding and challenging time in education during the prolonged Covid period. All the more reason to say: 'Well done and congratulations Beaulieu School!'. We send our best wishes to Katherine the   headteacher and her inspirational staff, the supportive governors, and the brilliant children.

It is with sadness that we record the death of the Revd Peter Murphy. Apart from a curacy in London, his impressive ministry was exercised in our diocese, including incumbencies at Hythe and Lyndhurst. He was a friend to many of us, and in retirement was pleased to officiate at Beaulieu; latterly, he would attend St Mary's Chapel. We shall miss Peter's wisdom, pastoral care, and humour, the latter invariably expressed in his art work and cartoons. May he rest in peace.

With my love and prayers,

Father John

From the Rectory June 2021

The pair of swans about which I wrote last month have become parents...four tiny, fluffy, cute cygnets nestle in the feathers of the Pen; two eggs are yet to crack open.

Following our benefice Annual Meetings, Adam Mills and Sally Brearley, Dr Graham Sterling, and Brian Hernaman and David Hughes were elected churchwardens. Thank you to them, and to those serving as PCC members this year.

On 17th June 1246, some 42 years after its construction was begun, Beaulieu Abbey was dedicated. The service was conducted by the Bishop of Winchester in the presence of King John's son, King Henry III, his wife Queen Eleanor, their son, Prince Edward, the Abbot Alcius de Gisors, and the bishops of Bath and Wells, Exeter and Chichester. Although the Cisterican Monastery is now largely ruined, nevertheless the remaining buildings and stones remind us of what was once one of the wonders of Christendom. Belinda, Lady Montagu's wall hangings in the Domus provide us with a vivid record of the Abbey's history. It was a seat of learning, religious works being copied and illuminated. Fugitives could claim sanctuary at Beaulieu, so long as they remained within the precincts. Although the monks were not medically trained, nevertheless a garden in the Cloister includes many medicinal herbs used to treat various complaints.

It is a privilege to worship in the monk's former Refectory. There has, in the history of the Church, always been a deep relationship between buildings and those who use them. Buildings can express our feelings of profound hope or faith. There has always been sacred space where God has spoken, and holy ground where the only appropriate response is worship; as T.S. Eliot expressed it in his 'Four Quartets', “where prayer has been valid”.

St Paul uses the image of a building in a more specifically spiritual way. He speaks not of a physical building, but of the people of God as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. He says that we are the building, and each one of us is a living stone. As such, we support each other by living for each other; by being there for one another. We give thanks for our Cistercian heritage, for the first monks who journeyed from Citeaux to Beaulieu, and for those worshippers whose prayers through the centuries have made this hallowed ground.

Congratulations to Marion Loveland who celebrates her 100th birthday on Sunday 6th June. Following the 9.30am service refreshments will be served in the Cloister – weather permitting.

 

With my love and prayers,

Father John

 

From the Rectory May 2021

As you know we shall be producing three editions of the Benefice News, the first of which appears later in the year. A more substantial Bulletin will now appear on the last Sunday of each month, offering news and the next month's diary. I am grateful to Sally and Elizabeth for producing this first edition.

As I write, a pair of swans are preparing for parenthood on the pond next to the Rectory. Their nest has taken shape over the weeks, the pen busily collecting feathers and twigs; she now perches expectantly... Just over the fence from them buds are bursting forth, the garden heralding new life and potential. Following further easing of the lockdown and greater opportunities for reunions, shopping and outdoor hospitality, we can feel optimistic, though we need to heed the warnings to be cautious.

Philip Baxter officially resigned as Director of Music in March 2020, and during the last year it has proved impossible to sustain a choir. Church and community choirs have been unable to sing together. In the wake of these imposed restrictions, it seemed sensible to disband our choir and to look forward to new leadership. I know you would want to join me in thanking the choir for their commitment and service. Having placed the advert for a Director of Music, I am pleased to say that I have already received some response.

The Easter season lasts some fifty days - forty days will lead us to Ascension Day - and culminates, on the fiftieth day, in the feast of Pentecost. Throughout the Easter season the Paschal Candle continues to occupy a prominent place in church, symbolising Christ's risen presence with us. On the Sundays of Easter, we discover in our readings from 'Acts of the Apostles' how the early Christians lived in the power of the resurrection, how the fledgling church began to find its feet; and we learn what faith in the resurrected Christ can do.

We look forward, with the cob and pen, to what gifts the future will bring us...

With my love and prayers.

Fr John.