I have just returned from a two-day meeting of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England to review the developments in the “Living in Love and Faith” project. This project will produce resources that will help the Church to learn how questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of what it means to embody a Christian vision of living holy lives in love and faith in our culture. It is seeking to find a way through our deep differences on these matters.
The meeting began and ended with expressions of great sorrow and distress about last week’s publication of “Pastoral Guidance on Civil Partnerships for same sex and opposite sex couples.” As you may be very aware, this and the resulting comments have caused a great deal of hurt to many people, both within the church and in wider society. An apology, signed by the Archbishops on behalf of the Bishops, is due to be issued on Friday.
Whilst this statement was generated when I was on sabbatical, I share in the corporate responsibility for its production. I am very sorry that it was published, and indeed produced in the first place, and for the deep personal pain and sense of rejection that so many have felt by its content and tone.
I and a number of my colleagues asked that the document be withdrawn, but this was decided against by the majority. Whilst I accept it expresses the existing official position of the Church of England on the place of sexual activity in our lives, I cannot grasp why it needed to be stated now and in this way, particularly since we are currently in the process of questioning, learning and reflecting as part of the “Living in Love and Faith” project.
I recognise that some hold that the current teaching is exactly what we should be saying; others feel that we can say it, but in a way that suggests it is an aspiration; and still others want the Church’s teaching to more clearly reflect the ways in which sex is part of relationships that are not, or not yet, marriage.
Personally, I would hope that we can move away from this narrow focus on sexual activity towards encouraging relationships which embody and reflect God’s love for us, in which we support one another, and those who seek our help, whether single or in a faithful and committed relationships, to deepen lives in which we ever more truly know and show the fullness of God’s love for us all.
The Church was decorated beautifully by our flower team this year for Christmas. What with our Knitted nativity and over 35 Christmas Trees on display the Church looked spectacular.
We had record numbers attend our services over the Christmas period.
Our Crib Service was celebrated with over 400 people (inc 140 children). We had some very special guests including soprano Chrissy Johnston who sparkled in her beautiful red diamond dress, singing carols. We were also joined by some furry friends in the form of donkeys and sheep who joined in with the Nativity.
We were delighted to be asked to be part of the Aldeburgh Christmas Festivities this year. The organisers very kindly donated 10 real trees and decorations for the event. So on Thursday 7th December all the local organisations were invited to decorate their trees and the Church groups, Brownies and The Red House decorated the larger trees. It was a day of baubles and tinsel galore.
Saturday the 8th kicked off with a Victorian Market in the Church Hall selling lots of wonderful Christmas goodies and mince pies and mulled wine. The Church bells rang at 1pm to announce the start of the Church activities. We had crafts and Christmas fun happening in the Children’s corner, Dickens readings in the Trinity Chapel. The Red House scratch choir singing carols throughout the day. Also the flower team were hosting make your own Christmas decorations demonstrations with the chance to win the end results in a raffle. We had many many visitors throughout the day to come and join in and see the Christmas Trees and of course our knitted nativity.
Our thanks must go to the organisers of the event who really helped us make this day very special for our Church. Also a huge thank you to the lifeboat crew who helped set up the trees.
On Sunday 6th October we celebrated Harvest Festival. Our wonderful flower team had decorated the church beautifully. The Brownies had decorated bags and presented them during the service. Afterwards a lunch of soup and pie was served in the church hall prepared by Sandra Saint. Sandra is a huge part of our church community. We can always rely on Sandra for a tasty homemade lunch. It was her birthday too. A birthday cake was presented to her made by Elder Fran Smith. Happy birthday Sandra from us all.
Aldeburgh primary school visited the church on Monday 7th for their Harvest Festival Service. It was a wonderful celebration of harvest thanksgiving with the children reading poems they had written and leading us in songs such as the Harvest Samba! The children also gave a very interesting presentation on the history of harvest festivals and we they helped to lead our prayers using boxes of breakfast cereals.
Revd Johanna Mabey had the great pleasure of going to Aldringham Court Care Home to lead their Harvest Festival celebration. They sang favourite harvest hymns together and joined in saying prayers of thanksgiving to God for all the good gifts He gives us. Many thanks to Elaine at Aldringham Court for her beautiful harvest themed display – it was a very joyful service!
On Saturday 27th July 2019 at 1pm our Revd Jo took her first wedding service since being ordained. A very special couple to boot too – Jo’s godson Tom and his now wife Lynsey. So plenty of knowing eyes watching the beautiful couple start their journey together. A very special day for so many reasons.
WELL DONE JO & MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO MR & MRS SUNDERLAND.
On Saturday 21st our first Harvest Messy Church took place in the Church Hall. Revd Johanna Mabey and Elder Fran Smith led the amazing Messy Church team to make this ever popular event fun and enjoyable for all. It was our busiest Messy Church to date: 40 children and 37 adults attended the morning full of arts and crafts and baking.
The next Messy Church Event will be the celebration for Christmas on Saturday 14th December at 10am in The Church Hall. Please do get in touch with Revd Johanna Mabey if you would like to help. Thank you so much to everyone who gives their time in helping. We really couldn’t do it without you.
Please take a look at the photos below to see the fun had by all.
On Sunday 1st September we held our annual pet service. This service was led by Revd Johanna Mabey. This is the time to bring along your family pet to join in with the service. As you can see from the photos below a variety of animals came along with their families. We heard their stories and then the animals were presented with a certificate of blessing, followed by squash and biscuits in the church hall.
It is that time again when the seaside town of Aldeburgh is decorated with carnival explosions of colour. This year the theme is to celebrate 100 years of the wonderful Aldeburgh cinema. There are windows decorated with oscars, giant Jaws (the shark ones) 007 Octopussy, Harry Potter and lots more.
The Revd Mark Lowther led the annual United Carnival Songs of Praise on the green next to the Moot Hall. It was a well attended service with the addition of hand selected people that spoke to Mark about their carnival experiences and what they were doing at this year’s carnival.
We are delighted to welcome James as our new Benefice Assistant Curate.
James was ordained on Saturday 29th July at Bury St Edmunds Cathedral. We started him working the very next day at our Patronal Festival which James acted beautifully as Deacon. We were also joined by the Dean of our Cathedral The Very Revd Joe Hawes. Afterwards we all got the opportunity to chat with James for a bring and share lunch in the Church Hall.
Dru and her team have been very busy decorating our beautiful church for Easter. I am sure you will agree that the flower arrangements are just stunning. Thank you all for creating such a beautiful and welcoming church for all of our Easter visitors.
Please take a look at the photos below.
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