When I was appointed as your priest, I was appointed to the benefice of Saint Thomas, Leesfield. I have been thinking a lot recently about the various parts of this parish, and of the parish as a whole. The parish is very diverse, comprising three centres of worship and three Church of England Primary Schools, but we are one parish!
We recently had our Annual Parish Meeting, where we talked about the whole parish, were presented with the Annual Parish Report and elected wardens, deputy wardens and PCC members for the coming year. Prior to the meeting the parish electoral roll was updated, the list of all the members of our parish.
Currently Ruth and I are preparing some adults and children for confirmation, which will take place at our parish confirmation service in mid July. Some of the children come from St Thomas congregation and some from St Agnes, and not all attend the church schools in the parish, but we are all preparing together for their confirmation.
It is natural that each church has its own congregation. We are used to the time of the service on Sunday, and to our building and we are part of the congregation at that particular church. Generally that works well on Sundays. We do have occasional parish services at particular times of the year, when we all get together at St Thomas – as that is the bigger building. St Hugh’s day in November is when we gather as a parish at St Hugh’s, where the church is within the school.
There are occasions, particularly during the Christmas and Easter seasons, when services, weekday services, are held in one or the other church. For example the first communion of Christmas, the midnight service, is held at St Thomas and the Christmas morning service is at St Agnes. Congregations for these services do rather reflect the place where they are held.
Some of our organisations are based in one or other of our churches or schools – especially the uniformed organisations. The ladies of Leesfield, though, is a parish group.
>>>>>>>>>> Vicar’s letter Continued
While it is natural to feel more ‘at home’ in one or other of our churches, we do need to remember that we are one parish and we are members of a both churches. It isn’t like school where the children are on roll at one of the three church schools and can’t move around. We should all feel welcome wherever we go in the parish, and it is our responsibility to make sure that both congregations are really welcoming to those who do not usually attend.
So, within the parish the various parts have their own identity – and that is good. But we do need to hold on to the fact that we are one parish. This is going to be increasingly important as we move towards the time when decreasing numbers of clergy becomes more and more of a reality.
If we are to continue to be the Body of Christ in this place we must, I believe, remember we are all part of the whole parish of Leesfield!