Letters from the Diocese
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
I hope you have enjoyed the summer, even if the weather has not been what we would have liked. The main topic of our conversation seems to be “the weather” – I am no exception! Then I see the news from various parts of the world – there’s nothing like seeing the stark pictures from some places in the world to stop me in my tracks and make me realise that I have nothing at all to complain about!!
We pray for the people of Texas, parts of Sierra Leon, Japan and South Asia who have all suffered from the catastrophic effects of flooding and landslides; often the poorer communities taking the brunt of it. If you can spare a donation to Christian Aid to help them alleviate just some of the suffering it will be gratefully received.
In October I will be going out to Uganda as part of a group of people from the Diocese to visit schools in villages around the town of Lira in Northern Uganda. The schools are supported by the charity Good Hope Foundation which is supported by our Diocese. The project at present is to provide toilet blocks in the schools. The Foundation also provides education supplies for the schools – pens and pencils, exercise books etc – for the children. There are photographs on our website which will give you a better idea of the schools and the area we will be visiting – www.machynllethstpeters.co.uk
As a part of our contribution towards the school supplies, the collection from the Harvest Thanksgiving service at St Peter’s Church, Machynlleth, on Sunday 24th September will be donated to this
cause. The money will be taken out to Uganda and the items bought there - more for our money and less to carry! I’ll be taking plenty of photos to share with you on my return. Please keep our
party and the people we will be visiting in your prayers.
With every blessing to you and yours
Yet again my heart has been breaking at the tragic loss of innocent lives in a despicable act of terrorism in Manchester. But at the same time my heart was warmed by the kindness and generosity showed by friends and strangers in response to such an awful event. The words that have stood out in the sea of floral tributes in St Anne’s Square touched a chord with me - “Stand Together”.
In Machynlleth we know what it is to be touched by tragedy and how our community stood together to get us through that terrible time.
“Together Stronger” was the slogan that became synonymous with the Welsh team at the European Championships last year.
“We can do this together” seems to have been my mantra in our Ministry Area over these last 3 years. Uniting as one parish hasn’t been easy, we dislike change, it’s unsettling, we have to think more, even change the way we think. But change is inevitable and once process starts it can’t be stopped.
When Jesus entered the world He caused a few changes. He planted a new vision; He formed a community of disciples and taught them the ways of God and then He had to leave them. He knew full well the challenges that lay ahead for the disciples, concerned about them staying unified and He turns to God His Father in prayer (John 17). As Christians we’ve broken unity on a regular basis – from one community of faith, we became two, Catholic and Protestant. Then Protestants became Methodist and Baptist and Anglican and so on. But Jesus didn’t pray that all believers would agree – He must have known that wouldn’t happen!!
Our unity isn’t in Buildings or denominations – our unity is in Jesus Christ and that unity is vital. Jesus says, “This is how the world will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for each other”. When we come together as one body our prayers and deeds are a potent force to be reckoned with.
“Together Stronger” – perhaps we as a church should adopt that slogan because together as Christians we can go a fair way in carrying out God’s instructions.
Together stronger as Christians with God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit – we are unstoppable.
With every blessing to you and yours
I recently spent the day at Coventry Cathedral, I had never been before and I was spurred on to visit by our Lent course two years ago written by Bishop Andy. He featured a statue in the old Cathedral entitled “Reconciliation”.
I have walked around church and abbey ruins before and have been impressed by their Christian and social history but it didn’t prepare me for the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. Even before I found the statue I was looking for I was struck by something, I’m not sure what, but something quite powerful in this open space surrounded by broken walls and windows frames. As I walked around stopping to read and reflect on the prayers in each part of the Cathedral, trying to imagine what it was like on that night in November 1940 when the incendiary bombs fell ripping the city apart, I looked up to one of the window frames to see the sun glistening through small pieces of stained glass. It stopped me in my tracks! These small beautiful coloured pieces determined to stand their ground through all the horrors of war - determined to shine in spite of the horrors that continue today. This place wasn’t a ruin – broken and dilapidated, it was alive with prayer and love and hope. That was what I felt as I walked into the Cathedral; the very powerful love and hope that we all have through Jesus our Lord.
We arrived at the right time to share in the daily Litany of Reconciliation before the Altar which held the cross of charred wood, with the words “Father Forgive” on the wall behind, fervently praying for peace and reconciliation in our troubled world today. We were humbled to share the Eucharist with strangers in one of the Chapels in the new Cathedral. I was able to stand and admire the beautiful statue; “Reconciliation” which I thought was going to be the highlight of my visit. But it wasn’t. The one thing that I will keep with me always is that sign of hope in those tiny broken pieces of glistening stained glass. For me, the symbol of God’s love and forgiveness for us all, shining through the broken glass, overpowered the hatred rife in the world today,
Alleluia, Christ is risen
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
With every blessing to you and yours