Ovingdean News January
I hope your Christmas, however you celebrated it, was joyful and I wish you a very happy New Year. It was so lovely celebrating Advent and Christmas with you all at St Wulfran’s Church, at the Village Hall and around the Christmas Tree on the green. A huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make Christmas so special yet again in Ovingdean. We raised a good amount of money for Off the Fence, one of our local homeless charities, and the funds raised will go to helping some of the most vulnerable in our city.
New Years are all about new beginnings. One of the things I would like St Wulfran’s to consider in 2023 is to register as an Inclusive Church (www.inclusive-church.org). Inclusive Church is a network of churches, groups and individuals united together around a shared vision of church as a place that celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.
I think actions speak louder than words (or badges) and my personal experience of St Wulfran’s is of being welcoming and affirming to all - and what a blessing this is. I am able to say with confidence to people who are disabled, people of all ages, genders, those who have been divorced, those who support women's ministry, refugees, people of different nationalities and people from the LGBTG+ community that they will be safe, affirmed and loved at St Wulfran’s. St Wulfran's has done much work to get to this place. Not all churches are like this and many people have had very difficult experiences that have kept them from knowing and following Jesus.
Formally identifying ourselves as an Inclusive Church would I think be a lovely and encouraging sign, especially to those who may think church isn't a place where they are welcome. I also think it would be a great place from where we can make the case for the investment needed to make St Wulfran's and our churchyards more accessible to older and those with mobility impairments. Please get in touch and let me know what you think.
I’m pleased to say work on the heating and ceiling project is progressing well and I would like to give my personal heartfelt thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on this project and all those people who have given so generously to help us cover the costs. Thank you so very much. The Diocesan Advisory Committee now requires us to wait for one year before work on conservation of the listed Kempe ceiling can start. This is to give us time to make sure the new heating system is doing what it should do and not causing any further damage to the ceiling. During this time we will also need to undertake some further checks on the roof to make sure it remains as water tight as possible. It's not too late to donate if you are able - there is much to do - just get in touch with me or one of the church wardens. Thank you.
On the topic of money, the rising costs of living are not going away anytime soon, and some of you may be struggling, especially after the expenses of Christmas. I encourage anyone who is worried at the moment about money to reach out for support and get practical help, for example, from Moneyworks 0800 988 7037 www.advice brighton-hove.org.uk.
Work on improving Daphne's field and the woodland area continue and as part of this we have planted an Oak Tree and dedicated a bench (thank you to the anonymous donor) giving thanks for the life and service of Queen Elizabeth II. The bench marker reads: 'In honour and to give thanks for the life and service of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last' (John 15).' The hard work of the Churchyard Volunteers and the gardeners continue as we try to keep these areas attractive, well tendered, peaceful and welcoming to wildlife. The Community Payback Team is kindly supporting us in these endeavours and their work includes helping to develop part of the woodland area for children’s ‘forest’ education. I’m hoping we can start to use this woodland area in the late spring, bringing a new play and education resource to the village. If you are interested in knowing more about ‘forest school’ in Ovingdean please do get in touch with me.
Next month I would like to talk about the census and what it is telling us about faith and religion in the United Kingdom. I’m keen to explore what we can do individually and together in response to challenges it poses and again I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts or reflections on this.