Youth, Children and Families Development Worker

The Avon Valley Partnership of Churches, based in Fordingbridge, are looking for an enthusiastic person with:

  • Vision
  • Energy
  • Creativity
  • Good communication skills

A gifted leader and team player to help and inspire us, as we seek to create an attractive church community throughout the benefice for young people, children and their families.

The Avon Valley Partnership benefice is a group of people of all ages and a variety of backgrounds who are united in our love for Jesus and our desire to serve others.

We have seven churches that lie on the Western edge of the New Forest, UK, in the Diocese of Winchester. The benefice is large and diverse.

Remuneration will include salary and pension contributions.

Salary range £26-£29,000 pa.

There is an Occupational Requirement for the post-holder to be a committed Christian. Consideration would be given for a job-share with two part-time roles.

Closing date: Friday, 11th May, 2018

Interviews: 25th May, 2018

Start date: summer 2018

If you require further information about the role, please contact Kate Wilson  at or phone 07770944054

An application pack can be downloaded here:

Job Description

Vision Document

YC&FW Application Form

“I was there” a sermon preached in Godshill and Hale by Mark Ward, Epiphany 3, 21 Jan 2018

Do you remember Max Boyce – Welsh singer and comedian, still with us fortunately but no longer the feature of Saturday evening entertainment shows? Max, like his immediate peer, that other expert observer of ordinary life, Jasper Carrot, (and I was reminded of Pam Ayres whilst at Godshill) was a master of the shaggy dog story, able to make people belly laugh about observations of the totally ordinary. Jasper did it in his Black Country twang and Max in his sing-song south Wales lilt. Max would tell vivid stories like the famous win when Llanelli beat New Zealand, and at the end of the story he would declare, “I know, cos I was there”.

Do you know where you were on 22nd November 1963? Apparently many people do remember – (death of JFK)? I wasn’t quite two so maybe I can be forgiven for not remembering. But I can remember watching England win the world cup in 1966. My dad was decorating the living room of our tiny bungalow in the less fashionable suburb of Brighton called Portslade. It has combed plaster ceilings that looked a bit like shells but every section was different and the light caught them all differently which meant dad had to put a pencil mark on every section so he knew if he had painted it or not. The carpet and the 3 piece suite were covered in dustsheets and old curtains but the screen of the TV, rented from Radio Rentals, black and white, was not covered. I watched the whole match from the top of the folding wooden steps, which we only said goodbye to when he died aged 89 many years later. I now see similar ones in hip shops for sale as trendy shelving for several hundreds of pounds, however I digress.

But we do remember certain important things and our relationships to them, disasters, deaths and other out of this world events? I know where I was when I heard that the Herald of Free Enterprise had sunk, when John Smith died, and also Princess Diana.

So imagine you had been at that wedding in Cana and that you had seen the miracle of Jesus turning water into the finest Galilean version of Chateauneuf du Pape you has ever tasted. What would you have thought – trickster, some kind of magician. I doubt you would have thought – “ah ha – Saviour of the world”, but then when we meet someone for the first time who over a longer period becomes something famous, we have no idea of what they are going to be. I didn’t see Susan Boyle on “Britain’s got Talent” but I have watched a clip of the moment she stopped talking to Simon Cowell and then uttered her first faultless note, how wrong did they get her from first impressions. I wonder how wrong the people at the wedding got Jesus?

Of course he had many more “I was there” moments, what if you had witnessed him the day his earthly parents lost him at the temple – what would you have thought “typical 12 year old – needs a good clip around the ear for being so insolent and uncaring” – because that is how it must have come across “oh for goodness sake – where did you think I would be, don’t you get it, even after you both were visited by angels and then we had those rich blokes from the east who brought the gold, the frankincense (or frank as my 3 ½ year old grand-daughter Hannah insists) and myrrh – have you really forgotten who I am?” I don’t know if he used those words but that must have been going through his head.

And years later it carries on, healings, resurrections, mass feedings and then of course the ultimate appearances, the triumphal arrival on a donkey and the final appearance nailed to a cross, or so it seemed, until 3 days later.

What would you give to be able to say “I was there”?

Here we are just 4 weeks after Christmas, we have moved from Jesus the baby, to Jesus right at the beginning of his ministry. In just 10 weeks we will be standing here or elsewhere on Easter Sunday, a lifetime in 14 weeks, what a whirlwind.

But of course we weren’t there were we, we didn’t see any of it, it didn’t even take place in our country, we haven’t been able to get any of it on youtube to watch – yet here we are today and millions like us around the world even if we are a bit short on numbers here.

So how is it he lives on, well because he lives on in you and in me, in who we are, in what we do, because we come here and we remember week in and week out, because we do other stuff, smaller than his deeds but no less real for that – we collect food for the hungry, we go to visit those who are ill or alone, or lost, we pray, we remember. It really doesn’t matter that we can’t turn water into wine, that we can’t do miracles, although in many ways we do – miracles can be a phone call, a touch on the arm, a bowl of soup. But the key is – it’s not about us, it’s not about who we are but in whose name we do these things, what defines us our service in God’s name to others just as his actions at that wedding were not for his own benefit but for the host who was about to be highly embarrassed by the wine cock-up.

So who is it that we really want to be able to say “I was there”?

“And the righteous will answer him; when, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? The King will reply, I tell you whenever you did this for one of the least important of these sisters or brothers of mine, YOU did it for me.”

We want Jesus to be able to say “I was there” when we act in his name, when we do something unexpected, when we pick up the pieces that no-one else will pick up.

So to borrow from Max Boyce and offer this as something Jesus might say now:

When you visited the sick and the lonely,

When you fed the kids who were hungry,

When you helped build the bakery in Kinkiizi

When you had that conversation that wasn’t easy

When you remembered those killed a hundred years ago

When you welcomed in those you didn’t know

When you comforted those who had lost their brother

When you helped the addict to recover

When you left this house open for the rough sleeper

When you became the peace keeper

When you did all of this in my name







LENT COURSE 2018 – details and sign-up (Also details of Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday)

LENT 2018

Shrove Tuesday, February 13th: PANCAKE PARTY, The Church Hall, Fordingbridge, 5.30-6.45.  All welcome – no need to book, no charge.

Ash Wednesday, February 14th: HOLY COMMUNION & ASHING, St Mary’s, Fordingbridge, 11.30a.m., followed by the first of the Lent Lunches in the Church Hall.

SUNG EUCHARIST & ASHING, St Mary’s, Fordingbridge, 7.30p.m.


Bishop Jonathan of Southampton will be joining us for the whole of Holy Week (full details to follow in the Lent Programme), and there will be a Confirmation Service (including Baptisms of adults or children if anyone would like it) on Saturday, March 31st (Easter Eve), St Mary’s, Fordingbridge, 7.30p.m.  It will be an informal and joyful Service, beginning with the lighting of the Easter Fire on the Glebe Field, and then going into the Church.  Please speak to any of the Staff Team if you might like to be Baptised or Confirmed, or if you would like to know more.

OUR LENT COURSE – 2018 Final Details

There are three options for Lent Groups this year, beginning in the week of Feb 19th. 

Firstly, we shall be using ‘Love is the Meaning: Growing in Faith with Julian of Norwich’, based on a book by Ann Lewin, who is known to many people here. There will be groups in Breamore from 2pm to 3.30pm on Monday afternoons – at I Outwick Cottages, Upper Street, SP6 2BU; and in Fordingbridge, at the Rectory, from 10am to 11.15am Wednesday mornings  – 71, Church Street, SP6 1BB. 

‘Love is the meaning’ is the phrase chosen by the mystic 14th century writer Julian of Norwich to encapsulate all that had been revealed to her in the series of visions that led her to write one of world’s greatest spiritual books, her Revelations of Divine Love which continues to inspire countless readers today.  Its everyday imagery and warm intimacy set it apart from other great spiritual classics. Ann Lewin uses its homely qualities to provide the basis for an exploration of our own experiences of the spiritual life, and as we search for answers to life’s big questions: How can we hold fast to the truth of God’s love in the face of suffering and disaster?  Does prayer change anything?  How can Julian help us to speak freshly about God to our world?  What do we do when God seems far away and silent?  Can we actually believe that ‘all will be well’ as Julian did?  These and other questions are explored here.

Secondly, on Thursday evenings from 7.30pm to 9pm at Frogham Chapel, SP6 2HZ (turn right towards the school at the junction of Frogham Hill and Blissford Hill, and the chapel is about 100 yds along on the left – ask someone if you’re not sure!), we shall be using ‘Finding A Voice: King’s Speech Lent Course’ – Based on the 4 times Oscar winning film ‘The King’s Speech’, Hilary Brand opens her Lent Course with an engaging new examination of the fears that prevent our true expression as followers of Christ.  Sign-up sheets available in Church, or more details by contacting the Church Office.

Also, Fordingbridge URC are organising a Lent Bible Study Course. Monday afternoons, 2.30-4.00pm, using a Lent Book: ‘40 Stories of Hope’ – testimonies from prisoners and ex-offenders.  All welcome.

We can provide copies of the books, or they are available through Amazon, etc.

Canon Gary Philbrick

EPIPHANY GIFTS – A talk by our Girl Bishop

Kate Daykin has been our Girl Bishop from Advent to Epiphany this Christmas, and this is the talk she gave at the Allsorts Service on Epiphany Sunday, January 7th, 2017 (Posted with her parents permission).

My sister Florrie likes to play hide and seek with both my brother Ian and me. The game normally starts with either myself or Ian hiding, whilst the other one helps Florrie count to 10. Florrie loves then finding where we have hidden. It is then Florrie’s turn to hide, and I can guarantee that Florrie always choses the same hiding place where I have just hidden. I will count to 10, and then tell her that I’m coming to find her, this is when you start to hear giggling. I will look in a variety of different places first, whilst her giggles get louder and then head back to the hiding place where I had previously hidden, to find Florrie giggling and jumping out to greet me. This game can be very repetitive and boring for a 10-year-old but my 3-year-old sister loves it, and loves to be found.

Florrie turned 3 on New Year’s Day, and with the help of my Grandma Daykin I made Florrie an Olaf finger puppet from the Disney film Frozen. Florrie loves Frozen, it is a story about the power and meaning of sisterly love. It took me lots of time and care to make the finger puppet and I was so pleased with the puppet I had created. On the morning of Florrie’s birthday, she was so excited to open her presents, and she had a large selection of presents in all shapes and sizes, but I couldn’t quite believe that Florrie chose the small present that I had made for her to open first, saying, ‘this one is from you Kate’. Florrie eagerly opened it and it made me feel so happy when she opened it to see the excitement and delight in her face in receiving her new finger puppet. Florrie quickly put it on her finger and pretended she was Olaf. In seeing Florrie open her present and the happiness this brought her made me think how happy it made me feel and how I love receiving presents too. For Christmas, my Granny Amos gave me a bobble hat, my Grandma and Papa gave me a purple gillet and my Grandma and Grandad gave me a Lego Friends hot chocolate van. I loved all of these presents but thinking back I think I may have had more pleasure and happiness seeing my sister open her present that I had carefully made for her, rather than receiving my presents.

Thinking about giving made me think of the 3 Wise Men and their journey to Bethlehem. The 3 Wise Men wanted to find Jesus and followed the star to find their way to Bethlehem, I want to find Florrie in hide and seek but follow the giggles and knowing where I last hid to find her. I think both Jesus and Florrie want to be found, and love being found. The 3 Wise Men brought precious gifts to Jesus, and I think Jesus would have liked his gifts like Florrie liked her finger puppet I gave her. I think this will have brought pleasure not just to Jesus but to the Wise Men too. The process of giving brings so much pleasure, whether it be giving time to someone, for example me playing the repetitive and boring game of hide and seek with my sister, or giving an actual present, like Florrie’s Olaf puppet. Giving in itself is actually a gift to both the sender and receiver, and the bible teaches us that giving is an act of worship and we will be more blessed if we give.

Would anyone like to see Olaf?