Vicar's Letter September 2018


Dear Friends,


There are in English many words we can use at parting.  I want to use several of them as I move away from Stonehouse.


Literally, “travel well.” Perhaps I mean “move on well.” I would hate to think that any of you will stay the same after I’ve gone. Not that I’m claiming to have had a great effect on any of you! But all of us are changing constantly whether we like it or not. All of you, please have the courage to embrace that change, to reject the comfort of familiarity and to look for what is right and good in new situations, among new people, in new ways of thinking about one another and about God. Farewell to you as individuals; farewell to St. Cyr’s Church (do I need to say, the people not the building?!) as you go on changing.  There will, in due course, be someone else living in Stonehouse vicarage. All of you have a part to play in that appointment. For a few of you, that will involve consultations and meetings; for all of you it will involve prayer. So what should you pray for. Most of you, I’m sure, will know better than to pray for someone much the same as me! Please pray for wisdom and discernment in those who have the responsibility of making the choices – the choice of whether to apply or the choice between candidates. You have seen considerable changes within the Stroudwater Team over the last year. Ask God to show you - and those representing you in making the appointment - what is lacking in the present team of clergy.  And pray that He will send the right person to make up that lack, whatever it may be in God’s eyes. Then don’t expect him or her to be perfect!  Particular qualities and talents will be there. Others will be lacking in him or her, and it will be your task to do those jobs, probably tackling things that you didn’t realise you could do!  Farewell from me!


In origin (as we look back five or six hundred years) “God be with ye.” That is my prayer for you; I hope it is your prayer for me. I trust that it is your prayer – constantly – for one another. It is far too easy within God’s Church to ignore God altogether. As the team has established patterns of services across the 15 churches, it has been a struggle to ask congregations the question not “what do you want?” but “what do you see God wanting in your community?” We are tempted to ask, ‘What do we want to do with the church building’, rather than to ask, ‘Why has God given us this building’; what does he want us to do to it and with it. If (as always) we are short of money to do those things which need doing, it is tempting to start fundraising, rather than to ask God how He intends to give us what we need. God be with you, as you try to bring the gifts of God to this parish; God be with you as you consider what ought to happen with the building we know as St. Cyr’s but are inclined to think of as “our” Church; God be with you as you struggle with the apparent lack of resources, whether his response be through unexpected gifts or challenging your own levels of giving. Goodbye from me!


From the French “à Dieu” - “to God.” It is often used to signify a final farewell; we say Adieu to those we love who have died. I am not actually planning to die just yet however little control I have over that date! It is interesting that we commend people to God as we see them separated from us almost as if going to God means leaving the earth. Christians believe that things can be, and pray that they will be, “on earth as in heaven”. Commending you “to God” does not mean praying for you to die, but it does suggest a stage further on than asking that God be with you. It means moving, even while living in this world, from the things of the world to the things of heaven, not to death but to life in all its fullness – here on earth as in heaven. Adieu, my friends, from me.


God bless you all. I look forward to being able to say that personally to many of you at my farewell services on 16th September at 9.30 and 3.00. God bless each and every one of you.

Charles Minchin