Letters from the Diocese
The last time I wrote we were recovering from the effects of snow at the end of a long winter. How things changed! Now the grass is still recovering from the effects of a prolonged drought. At harvest time the roads are burdened with lorries full of straw as farmers try to garner from afar enough to feed their livestock over the coming winter, and our streams and rivers begin to fill again having been dry for too long.
Harvest is a time of thanksgiving, though, so maybe it should be time to count our blessings. Time to give thanks for the beauty of the snow, thanks for all the sunshine, I’m even thankful for the rain sometimes. Time to give thanks for our new Christings, Georgie and Harper; thanks for Elgan, and thanks for Miriam’s imminent return to us; thanks for Clive’s return to health after injury (without which you would not be reading this!), and thanks for all the hard work the wardens and others have put in over the last few months in the maintenance of our mission and worship – the list could go on and on.
And as the leaves start to turn, perhaps its time to give thanks for our extraordinarily bountiful measure of God’s creation. We really are blessed to live in such a lovely part of the countryside, and should never cease to praise the One from whom we have received it - Praise be to God!
(Revd. Peter Ward)
As Area Dean, I want to thank everybody who has worked so hard to keep the Ministry Area going during what will be, mercifully, a short interregnum of just over 3 months. From a selfish point of view, Miriam’s appointment will take the responsibility off me because, in an interregnum, a Ministry Area is under the care of the Area Dean. I am sure that, like me’ you are looking forward to welcoming Miriam and her family to live and work among you
I am particularly grateful to Peter and Jen and the Readers for covering so many services and to members of the churches who accepted the fact that they had to travel to another church to worship. The days of every church in a Ministry Area having a service every Sunday are almost gone because of a lack of people to conduct them.
I have enjoyed covering some of your services (especially when Jen has been my ‘pusher’!) and you have always made me very welcome – Thank you. However, I was only able to help because Bro Ystumanner currently have a part-time Associate Vicar, 2 Readers, 2 retired priests and a number of Worship Leaders. Those days are fast disappearing as they found out when Celia and I were out of action after operations (fortunately mine was a minor one and hers was a hip replacement) and Janet Fletcher’s move was to Aberdaron was announced.
All our churches have served their communities faithfully over the years but times have changed dramatically and we have to accept that and move on. Already the Church is totally irrelevant to many in our society.
When I was at St. Peter’s Machynlleth recently, in my sermon I told them about a bridge in Honduras. It was built in the 1930s over the Choluteca River and was designed to stand the worst storms imaginable and it has. In 1998 along came Hurricane Mitch which destroyed over 150 bridges in Honduras but the Choluteca Bridge remained standing and unharmed – a credit to its designers and its builders.
The only problem was that Hurricane Mitch was so violent that it totally changed the course of the river and the bridge was left standing forlornly on the side of the new river course entirely redundant and unnecessary.
Change is an inevitable part of life and those things which we think are permanent, secure and immovable are often sidelined. If we are not careful the Church, of all denominations, will become like the Choluteca Bridge – irrelevant and redundant.
Our churches and chapels have served their communities faithfully over the years but we have to accept that times have changed dramatically and move on.
We need to be positive, accept the changes and say as a previous Secretary General of the United Nations said – ‘For all that has been Thanks, for all that shall be, Yes.’
If we don’t do that as a Church we will in effect be saying ‘Like a mighty army moves the Church of God, brothers we are treading where we have always trod!’ That would be disastrous for the Church and its mission. You have a head start in your Ministry Area with the wonderful dual purpose building that is now St. Peter’s Machynlleth – use it to its full extent, it is a fantastic facility.
April 20th 2018
When I last wrote in February I foolishly suggested that winter was over! Ah, well, how wrong can you be? The snow has caused all manner of problems, including some cancelled services, but many stories of people helping one another in adversity have emerged too. I hope you have all managed to stay safe throughout this time.
Hopefully, the worst is now behind us. The grass begins to flush green, the brave spring flowers miraculously raise their heads from the snow, and we find ourselves in the season of new beginnings. As we get ready to welcome Miriam to our area we look forward to her new ministry with us.
Two millennia ago, Jesus’ disciples found themselves at the point of change. After the trauma of the crucifixion and the confusion, joy and hope surrounding the resurrection, the realisation will have dawned that they were going to have to find their own way forward whilst waiting for the promised Holy Spirit. As we celebrate Easter with praise and thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us, let us respond by using the gifts we have been given to share that joy and hope with friends, neighbours and strangers alike, that we may be recognised as His people by the Love and Joy and Peace which are the distinguishing marks of Jesus in His disciples.
May I wish you all a very Happy Easter.
I hope you all had a peaceful and blessed Christmas and the snow and ice didn’t have any adverse effects on you and your families. The Confirmation Service on the 10th of December had to be postponed, unfortunately, but that didn’t stop some hardy worshippers coming together to celebrate the Eucharist and enjoy the cake afterwards. The Confirmation Service will now take place on Sunday 28th January at St Peter’s Church at 10.30am. Please do join us on that day to support our four candidates at this very significant point on their spiritual journey. Hold them in your prayers.
This will be my last letter to you all as Team Leader and Parish Priest as I will be retiring at the end of January. It has been a huge privilege and honour to minister to the communities of the Dyfi Valley. There have been many ups and downs and the path has rarely been straight – the journey of faith never is. I have met some amazing people and done things that I would never in my wildest dreams ever imagined I could do. As you’ve heard me say on many occasions – this was never in my life plan - but as ever God never takes no for an answer and He has led me through it all. God has done that through you all who have loved and supported me through the most difficult of times and through the happiest of times. Thank you one and all.
If there is one thing I have learnt during this incredible journey it is this – trust in God – open your hearts and minds to Him and trust Him – He will lead you – He really does know what He’s doing. I don’t know where God will lead me in the years to come but I am sure He has plans for me, I may not always agree with those plans but I will trust Him and try and follow where He leads.
May God bless you and yours in all that you do in the future.
As many of you will know last month I spent two weeks in Uganda visiting schools which are supported by the Diocese through the Good Hope Foundation. I’d like to share with you some of that experience. I was apprehensive about the trip never having been to Africa before and not knowing what to expect. I needn’t have been concerned. As a group my five fellow travellers and I hit it off straight away and as soon as we landed in Entebbe and arrived at our hotel for the night, I knew this was going to be an experience I would never forget. Following a night’s sleep we set off on a 5 hour journey to Lira where we were to spend the next 9 days. We passed through villages of round houses, people selling their goods on the side of the road, children walking to school, bicycles and motor bikes carrying passengers and mattresses and wood and anything else that needed to be transported – Boda Bodas – taxis to us. Amazing scenes and this was only the
Over the next nine days we visited four schools where I was able to distribute some equipment for the children and teachers to use, bought by generous donations from the children of the primary campus of Ysgol Bro Hyddgen. The best thing was not the books and crayons though – it was the footballs!!! The welcome we had from the children was amazing with their singing and dancing and happy smiling faces. I was also able to pay for desks for two of the schools and uniforms for the children of one school.
We also visited the Therapeutic Feeding Unit at the hospital in Lira where malnourished children are treated – a very humbling visit. Money donated by the Machynlleth Mothers’ Union and Ladies Fellowship was given to the Paediatrician to help with the care of children and their families during their time at the hospital.
We were all invited to a wedding in one church, where Canon Emlyn Williams officiated at the marriage of Sebastian and Janet. The following day I was privileged to join with over 400 people at two services of Holy Eucharist at St Peter’s Church, Adyel. The first service was at 6am followed by a second at 8am, Canon Robert Townsend preached and I celebrated. What an experience – I have never felt such joy in worship before!!
I have so much to share with you all about my very brief visit to Uganda but there isn’t enough space in our magazine. The greatest thing I take from this visit is the deep seated faith the people have in God. Prayer and thanksgiving to God is at the very heart of their lives. The people we met were very poor and yet the generosity they showed to us and to each other both in material things and the joy and laughter shared with us showed a richness beyond belief. I thank God that I’ve had this opportunity to pray and sing and dance with the people of Lira and beyond and to learn from them what it means to worship God without reservation.
Please hold the people of Lira in your prayers as they hold us in theirs.
Thank you to all who gave so generously to help in the everyday lives of the children, their families, the churches and congregations I was privileged to meet.
With every blessing to you and yours