Benefice Newsletter for Sunday 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany

Message from The Rector

Since last week there have been a lot of discussions taking place about what we can do to continue to be a functioning church during the time that we’re not physically together in our church buildings. One idea that has emerged is a weekly Zoom Coffee Morning and we plan to launch that this week. On Tuesday Jan 19th, from 10.30 to 11.30, anyone is welcome to spend a few minutes, or even the whole hour, as part of a Zoom gathering. Make yourselves a cup of your favourite beverage and join us at any time between 10.30 and 11.30 (clicking on ‘Enable Computer Audio’ when it pops up) and you will find friends to chat to. Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

There’s no agenda, just a chance to get together – it’s the closest we can get to ‘after service coffee’ at the moment.

It is also possible to join in on the telephone. Obviously, you won’t see everyone, and they won’t be able to see you, but you should be able to hear everyone clearly and they you. You will need to ring any one of these numbers:

020 3481 5240

020 3481 5237

020 3051 2874

… and then, when prompted, enter these numbers:

Unlike the computer video there is, I’m afraid, a cost (the phone-call) but it’s good to know that those without computers will be able to join in if they wish. Please do pass the message on to anyone you think might appreciate it.

While we’re not meeting in church, these pew-sheets will also contain some extra things to read. This week Canon John Giles begins a series of articles about some saints who still speak to us over the years and he begins today with Botolph – probably a pretty unfamiliar name but someone with a very strong local connection. John’s piece is further down this pew-sheet and it’s well worth reading – thanks John.

Most of you will have received information about how and where the Covid vaccines are to be administered and for those registered with the Aldeburgh Surgery it will necessitate travelling to Woodbridge. For some, that journey may be difficult. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would appreciate a lift and we will see what we can do.

And finally, some personal news. This coming April, I will be 65 and plan to retire as Rector of the Alde Sandlings Benefice later in the year. My original plan (hatched a while ago) was to stay until the end of August and, having missed it so much last year, have a ‘proper’ Sandlings Summer with the Festival, Carnival, Lifeboat Service etc etc. We simply don’t know at present how normal this summer will be and how many of the regular summer events will be possible, but I would still like to stick to my original time-scale and retire at the end of August, with August 29th being my last Sunday.

Another important part of my decision to stick to this timescale is that our curate, James, will be attached to the benefice until at least June 2022. His presence should help to make the transition as smooth as it can be and I know that, with his dedication as well as that of Nicky, Sheila and Jo – and my wonderful retired colleagues – I will be leaving the benefice in good clergy hands.

I know that I’ll miss this beautiful and inspiring part of the world a great deal, not to mention the many people that I’m now very happy to call friends. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to serve here. Ro and I plan to do ‘something completely different’ to mark the fact that we will both be retired. We will be renting a house in France (the Minervois to be precise) for a year from the beginning of October – and who knows what may follow.

But August is a long way off and there’s lots to do before then. Onward!

With love, as ever


Almighty God, in Christ you make all things new:
transform the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace,
and in the renewal of our lives make known your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns
with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading
1 Samuel 3.1-10
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’

Second Reading
Revelation 5.1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.’

Gospel Reading
John 1.43-end
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’


Sermon for 17th January – The Second Sunday of Epiphany by The Revd Sheila Hart

It is not insignificant that the central themes of the readings for this Sunday are about the calling of God.

In their effort to cover the main events of Jesus’ life in some sort of chronological order, the Church has chosen to follow the Baptism of Christ with the theme of vocation and the call of God.

As James wrote in his sermon last week, those of us who were baptised as babies will remember nothing about the actual event, apart from that which has been recalled for us through the adults who were present and, perhaps photographs of the event in the family album. Among the promises that were made on our behalf at our baptism is the sense that, not only is baptism the rite of entry into the Church, the Christian family, but that it is also our entry into a life of service and witness in the world, to ultimately be confirmed by us, after a time of nurturing, growth and maturing in our faith, at our confirmation when we affirm the promises made on our behalf at our baptism and pledge ourselves to a life of Christian service through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That is the ideal, but, as we know, it is not always the reality. But it is our hope and prayer for all those whose baptism we have witnessed over the years in our churches.

After Jesus’ baptism, he went through a time of testing in the wilderness and then began his earthly ministry. But what follows our baptism?

For many who are baptised in our churches, there appears to be little that follows baptism as we hardly see most of them in church again and so we can feel that our prayers for them are in vain and perhaps we question the sense in our baptising children at all. But, as Christians we live by faith, not necessarily by sight and, as the saying goes, ‘hope springs eternal,’ so we continue to baptise, and we continue to pray for those who have been baptised and their growth in faith and we are sometimes surprised by what God does with them in later life as a result.

In our readings today, we have examples of God’s call on our lives. Samuel was a much longed for child and one who, as soon as he was weaned was dedicated to God, brought back to the temple at Shiloh and given to Eli the priest to be brought up in the service of God. He was a child when he heard God speak to him for the first time, in the dead of night and before he was old enough to really understand the faith and know God for himself. When he hears the voice of God, he thinks it is Eli who has called, and he runs to him to discover what he wants. Eli, on the third time Samuel comes to him discerns that it is God whose voice the boy has heard and instructs him to go back to bed, and if he hears it again to say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’ We know the end of the story that eventually Samuel is called to be one of the greatest prophets of the Jewish faith.

In our gospel reading we read of the call of Philip and, his bringing Nathaniel to Christ. And in our reading from Revelation, we read of the call of the faithful to life with Christ in glory.

But what about us? How does God call us?

I, like Samuel, had a strong call, or vocation to teach when I was only three years old. I barely remember it, but apparently, I stood in front of my mother and announced that when I grew up, I was going to ‘become a teacher like my daddy.’ Now one could dismiss this as just a little girl who idolised her father having a desperation to ‘follow in his footsteps’ so to speak and wishing to copy him in every aspect of her life. Yet, for me, it was something which became a part of my aim and ambition throughout my early years and my education. I played schools with my dolls and teddy; I taught them to read; from the age of 11 I went to school with my father when I broke up for holidays before he did, to help in the reception class, hearing the children read, under the careful eye of their teacher and I loved it. Ultimately, I went to Teacher Training College and became a teacher.

At the age of 15. I had a call to preach and, having battled for several years with the idea of my being too young to preach, just as Jeremiah did when God called him to go and prophesy to the people of his time, I eventually responded and became a Local Preacher in the Methodist Church.

During that time several people who knew me well challenged me to think about ordained ministry, but it was not until we moved to Suffolk in 2003, that I could ignore the call to ministry, and I was ordained Deacon in 2008 and the rest is history, so they say.

God does not force us to do anything we don’t want to, but he does keep chipping away at us until we can ignore Him no longer.

The Gospel reading is about Philip who, having met Jesus himself, goes off to tell his friend Nathaniel and encourages him to come and meet Jesus for himself. One could interpret this as ‘a call to evangelism’ for Philip. I feel, however, that we are all called to share our faith with our friends and, indeed, this experience of the past year has been a wonderful opportunity to share with those whom we know are finding it tough, how our faith in God is helping us get through this pandemic with hope for the future.

The reading from Revelation gives us glimpse of the ultimate future for those who believe and the hope that is set before us. Isn’t that more than enough to motivate us to share our faith with others?

So, to sum up: We may not all have a specific call to ministry as Samuel did, but we do all have a responsibility to grow in faith and share that faith with our friends and neighbours – not through Bible bashing, but through sharing faith and hope and love with those who really need it. Amen

Post Communion

God of glory, you nourish us with your Word who is the bread of life:

fill us with your Holy Spirit that through us the light of your glory

may shine in all the world.

We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Another interesting series from Canon John Giles

Saints for Suffolk – This week – Saint Botolph

We all need a break from Covid, and to think what happens post-Covid. Can we learn from the past and so build for the future?  Maybe some Christian heroes from the past (and some not all that long ago) can show us today where we come from, and where we should be going.

First stop: B for BOTOLPH. Go to Snape Maltings. Don’t go shopping; miss out the Plough & Sail; don’t gaze down longingly at the grand old-timers moored by the quay. Instead go through and look out over the marshes to Iken Church.  For there, almost certainly, was the monastery of Saint Botolph, dated round about 654 AD, as mentioned by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

We have two solid pieces of evidence: First the stone shaft of the Anglo-Saxon Cross, now to be seen in Iken Church. Such crosses didn’t happen by accident. They marked centres of Christian worship and outreach. Some pretty serious Christian life was going on, on that little knoll from which the present church looks out over the River Alde.

Second piece of evidence: the 7th Century graves uncovered by the Barber’s Point Dig of 2010, all of which pointed to Christian burial. Just across the river from Iken, those concerned were no doubt part of the Christian community living there.

Behind all that is the figure about whom sadly we know so little, Saint Botolph. He was one of that band of early missionaries who brought the Christian faith to Suffolk and East Anglia, one with Felix, Cedd, and Etheldreda at Ely.  We live in a countryside won to the Faith by these great missionary figures of the past.

Ten years ago, the bones at Barber’s Point were blessed, using an old Anglo-Saxon prayer:

May the blessing of God be with us and those buried here:
May the blessing of the saints be upon us and them,
And the peace of the life eternal;
Unto the peace of the life eternal:
As it was;
As it is;
As it shall be, evermore: O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.
O Thou Trinity of grace! With the ebb and with the flow.


And lastly the poem ‘Iken Church’ by Aldeburgh’s “beloved physician”,
Ian Tait:

‘From the river’s edge
The sunlit tower invites you
To a pilgrimage.

Larks rise to meet you.

Round the tower in flint and stone
Saints wait to greet you.’

We live on hallowed ground. Even in the midst of Covid here is something to remember and celebrate.

John Giles


Useful information to help during these times 
If you are finding life difficult at the moment and need someone to talk to there are always people available to listen.  You are, of course, always welcome to ring Mark or another member of the clergy team but in addition here are a few helpline numbers that are available
(thanks to Parish Nurse Ali Cherry for the information):

Silverline:  Need help? Call us ANYTIME on: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Age UK Advice Line: 0800 678 1602

Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year.

Suffolk Mind: 0300 111 6000. Offer telephone counselling service for the over 70’s

Daily Hope:   The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 
0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.


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Other useful numbers:

For short term help with tasks such as shopping

Aldeburgh Good Neighbours scheme: 07773 031064

Aldringham Good Neighbours scheme: (covers Thorpeness also): 07521 047843



Food Banks at the East of England Co-op 

Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities and have an even more vital role to play as we navigate our way through these unprecedented times. The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.

Update from the Trussel Trust Organisation

Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last few months due to Coronavirus, so any donations are much appreciated.

You can find out which items your local food bank is most in need of by entering your postcode here – By clicking on the food bank’s name, you can also find out where to drop off your donations.

You should also check the food banks website or social media pages for any changes to opening hours or operations as a result of the Coronavirus before dropping off donations –

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, then please visit the food bank’s website (under ‘Give help’) or you can donate to the Trussell Trust centrally by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or emailing

***There is also a local foodbank run from the United Church in Leiston.  We are investigating if and how we might be able to help them and should have some more news soon. ***


Weekly Benefice Newsletter 

If you would like something added to the weekly newsletter that is relevant to the Benefice, please do let Claire know and we will do our best to include it the following week. Whether it be a story to tell, or tips or recipes or a notice to be added to spread the word.
Please send Claire your content by Thursday at 4pm if you wish for it to be included in the Saturday newsletter.


Friston Christian Website 

Emma Steadman (Lay Elder at Friston Church) has created a blog website – This includes regular updates and news from St Mary’s, Friston, and daily readings and prayers, where you can contribute with posts and request prayers. Do take a look!

Butterfly Garden – Priors Oak

You have probably visited Trudie Willis’ wonderful ‘butterfly garden’ at Priors Oak on the Aldeburgh/Aldringham Road.  Trudie opens it for charity about six times annually and this has included openings for Aldringham church. 
Trudie has now published a book about the garden called The Wildlife Garden at Aldeburgh, available from the Aldeburgh bookshop at £7.50.
A good read in these ‘covid times’.

A book with a flower on it

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For our online services each week we need two readers who can record themselves on their phone, tablet or computer and email the result to Claire or Mark.  If you haven’t done this before and would like to join the list, you would be very welcome. 
Please let Claire or Mark know of your interest.


✞ Pilgrims Together on Wednesdays ✞

The Pilgrims worship together every Wednesday.
You are all more than welcome to join them via Zoom.  
The worship starts at 6.30pm (Zoom call opens from 6.10pm) and the call is then left open after the worship time for people to catch up.  The worship is about 30 minutes long.  We have a different worship sheet each week which goes out on a Monday ahead of the Wednesday.  
People are more than welcome to email 
to receive a copy or be added to our mailing list.


Fun Quiz Night on Zoom 

Sue and Richard Bodek have kindly organised a Quiz Night this
Saturday 16th from 6.45pm – starting at 7pm.
There will be 8 rounds of questions kindly compiled by a number of our Pilgrims members. Halfway through we will have a break to relax and enjoy together, if you wish to, a glass of whatever you fancy (or maybe a mug?) and a nibble on something. Not to be taken too seriously – we will be marking our own answers – and the question compiler’s ruling is final! Prizes – fun, fellowship and a 2-week world cruise [NOT!]’

Please do get in touch with the Pilgrims if you would like to join and they will send you the Zoom link.

 A date for your diary 

Saturday Morning 23rd January (time to be confirmed)

We are delighted that the lovely Chris Theobold, from The Parrot will be joining us to lead us in a Zoom biscuit making venture, followed by a time to share our efforts with each other over a mug of tea / coffee… once they have come out of the oven!  Ingredients list, Zoom link and further details to follow…Or if you would prefer just to come along and enjoy the conversation and watch the Zoom kitchen experience, rather than bake, then you are more than welcome to do that too!

As with all Pilgrim events, ALL ARE WELCOME

Please do forward this information to those locally in our community who you think would like to join with us.


✞ Friston Sunday Services on Zoom ✞

Friston will be holding a live Zoom service for all those who
wish to join on Sunday starting at 9.45am. 
It will be a Common Worship Morning Prayer.  All are welcome!
The meetings start from 9.40am every Sunday morning

Please do get in touch via the Aldeburgh Parish Church Website if you would like to join and we will send you the Zoom link.

The Week Ahead
Next Sunday 24th January
The Third Sunday of Epiphany