Ovingdean: October 2021
The seasons continue to turn and we find ourselves firmly in Autumn, that time of gathering in the harvest, reflecting on the gifts of summer and of course preparing for winter.
We have much to be grateful for in Ovingdean blessed as we are with our rich natural environments and our well managed farmlands providing excellent local food. Frequently I talk with people walking through our beautiful churchyard who are often on a few hours retreat from the busyness of Brighton. Many of these pilgrims aren't church goers but again and again they talk to me of an experience of deep spirituality and sacredness felt in our downlands, woodlands, fields and our course in our ancient church. I have this experience myself every time I leave my front door. Creation has been described as the 5th Gospel and Ovingdean reminds me each day that the earth is sacred and has value because God has made it and declared it good. The former Archbishop Rowan Williams reflected: ‘Receive the world God has given you. Go for a walk. Get wet. Dig the earth.’
This is a good point perhaps to say a big thank you and well done to all who helped organise our incredibly successful Flower Festival that drew in many hundreds people to the church. The flower displays were beautiful and the workshops for children, the concerts and services were all greatly appreciated and extremely well attended. In addition our wonderful Church yard has been just awarded a Silver Gilt Award by South and South East Britain in Bloom. A big well done and thank you for all the dedicated care and hard work shown throughout the year by the churchyard working party.
Our Harvest Festival is on Sunday the 3rd of October and is an All Age service where everyone is welcome. As well as giving thanks for the harvest and the goodness of the earth, we will also consider those who do not have a fair share of the world's resources, who go hungry, who are homeless and who are refugees. The food collection will be for our ongoing support of the Whitehawk Food Bank and we will be taking donations to support the work of the Tear Fund in helping those most in need throughout the world. Please support these collections if you can.
In October and November we will also be considering our care of creation, linked to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow between the 31st of October and the 12th November. In preparation for this conference we will be holding a special Climate Sunday service at 6pm on the 24th of October and there will be an environment themed All Age service on Sunday the 7th of November at 10am. Please come along and join us in our efforts to establish a cleaner, greener and fairer future.
I’m pleased to say that our healing services will be recommencing and Reverend Mary will be holding the first service on Sunday the 17th of October at 6pm. With so much loss, illness and worry through this long pandemic period we hope this service will be a place of support, love and healing for anyone in need.
Finally, at St Wulfran’s we are taking some time in this Autumn season to think about the life and work of the church in the next few years. Covid 19 has disrupted worship patterns and community life for quite some time now and we need to consider what we have learnt through this experience and how we want to proceed going forward. In this context the good news is that St Wulfran’s is doing extremely well in many ways, with buoyant numbers and worship patterns starting to return to normal. We still have challenges though, for example we would like to see more younger people attending church services and whilst our numbers are good, we still have room for more. Work is underway to consider these challenges and opportunities and we hope to produce our ‘Mission Action Plan’ in November describing how we will seek to sustain and grow Christian faith in the coming years. If you would like to know more about this work please get in touch with me.