Weekly News Sheet

Partners is the name of our weekly newsletter.

You can pick up a paper copy of Partners at any of our Churches, and it will give you all the information you need for the coming week. Alternatively you can download a copy of this weeks edition here.

Download the current editions of Partners 

25 February

Who Cares Training Fe18


Download last week’s edition of Partners

18 February

Live the Mission (Diocese of Winchester newsletter)

Live the Mission March 2018

Prayer Link (Churches Together)

Prayer Link March 2018




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If you have an article or information that you would like to have included in Partners please e-mail it to Fiona or Gail at church.office@fordingbridge.com specifiying the dates that you would like it to appear.  

Please ensure that all articles are sent to the church office by 9am on the Thursday before publication.  


Good News – A sermon preached by the Archdeacon of Winchester at St Mary’s Fordingbridge on the First Sunday of Lent

Archdeacon Richard Brand, February 18th, 2018

Mark 1:9-15

Come Holy Spirit: what we know not, teach us; what we have not, grant us; what we are not, make us; for your love’s sake. Amen.

You may have come across articles this week stating that the Church of England is encouraging a reduction in plastic use through Lent. I only heard about this on Thursday but found I had ‘fallen into righteousness’ as it were, because my wife had already committed to a plastic free Lent. In the success column: we have bamboo tooth brushes; we’re back using the milkman; we’re taking our own bags to fill with fruit and veg at the grocer’s; in the failure list there’s: washing up liquid, medicine containers and bleach, and I’m sure there will be others; but we’re doing our best and it’s an eye-opening exploration at times; for example, I’m still to be convinced by the bars of shampoo!

I’m also aware that there’s a real danger of Lenten practices being self-defeating in many ways. For example, how often does the keeping of our Lenten commitment result in pride and boasting rather than deeper holiness? I’m not against anyone using Lent to help with a long intended detox or diet that will do them physical and mental good; but the main plan surely is something about holiness? I don’t mean holiness in some kind of otherworldly nirvana, but in terms of ending Lent walking more closely with God, living lives nearer to how we think God wants us to live them, becoming more the people we believe God wants us to be. Which leads us to this morning’s gospel.

If you enjoy a good bit or narrative and story then our 1st Sunday of Lent gospel this year will have disappointed you. Mark’s version of both the baptism of Jesus and Jesus’ time in the wilderness is pretty perfunctory; we don’t have John the Baptist protesting that he should be baptised by Jesus and there are no locusts or sandals; and Satan is robbed of his leading part in the various temptations of Jesus. All this is because Mark isn’t particularly interested in all that, what Mark wants to tell us is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. And with these two short paragraphs Mark brings his prologue, his introduction to an end.

Mark then moves straight into the ministry of Jesus; and he tells us Jesus’ first words; words with which Jesus tells us why he has come:

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

The word for ‘good news’ will be familiar to many of you, the Greek word for ‘gospel’: ‘Euangelion’. In his book Meeting God in Mark our former archbishop, Rowan Williams explains something of the background to this word and how it would be understood in Jesus’ time. It was a word to do with official pronouncements of news so significant that it would have the effect of changing the status quo. Williams writes this:

‘A euangelion, a ‘gospel’, a good message, is a message about something that alters the climate in which people live, changing the politics and the possibilities; it transforms the landscape of social life.’ [rpt]

If this is what Jesus came to do, to bring us good news about something that alters the climate in which people live, transforming the social landscape for the good, then it’s a little hard to argue that the Church should stay out of politics or any other realm of life. If the good news of God in Christ has nothing to say to the whole of our lives then it isn’t good news.

This year St Mary’s, along with the rest of this benefice of the Avon Valley Partnership, is setting out as one of the three diocesan pilots involved in what we’re calling ‘Benefice of the Future’. With the help of extra Church Commissioners resourcing we’re wanting to prove that multi-parish rural benefices can be as powerful a place to proclaim the good news of the gospel as any other part of the church. With the help of God we pray we’ll discover better ways of working far more closely together as churches, sharing gifts, strengths and resources; and be churches which better serve our communities, grow in strength and be generous in giving away resources to places of greater need. As such we can be part of fulfilling the vision +Tim has introduced for all that we’re looking to do as a diocese which is ‘Sustainable growth for the common good’. And as such we can change the status quo.

Earlier I spoke of how our Lenten discipline can sometimes become all about us and a form of opportunity for self-improvement rather than holiness, and I wonder whether there’s not something rather similar that we can end up doing as churches? At their best our churches help us discover more of God’s transforming love, help deepen our discipleship and help strengthen us in our engagement with the world, so that we daily live out what we believe in.

But there can also be a tendency for our Christian faith to be too closely tied up with the particular church we go to. We especially discover the limits of this whenever there’s suggestions of changing anything to do with the building, or suggestions of joining more closely with another parish. We end up back in that position of being all for change, so long as it doesn’t make a difference.

Part of what the project of Benefice of the Future is encouraging is to take seriously ‘sustainable growth for the common good’ and trying to find what might we do differently in our rural benefices and churches that could make this happen? What do we need to develop to make this more likely? And to me some of the most important questions are ‘What are the particular, perhaps unique, gifts our church can contribute both to our neighbouring churches and our community? And ‘Can we recognise and thank God for the particular gifts our neighbouring churches can offer?’

There’s an account of Mother Teresa meeting Bob Geldof. It stems back to that time when Mother Teresa’s work in the slums of Calcutta, working with those suffering from leprosy was at its height, and Bob Geldof was at his loudest in working for change for Africa’s starving and dying populations. When they met Geldof said to Mother Teresa “What you do is incredible, there’s no way I could do what you do.” And her reply was, “No, you couldn’t do what I do; and I couldn’t do what you do.”

Coming to church, saying our prayers, reading our bibles, keeping a good Lent: surely it’s all about what the Psalmist describes as ‘the beauty of holiness’. It’s all about God and the kingdom of God. For the church to better serve God and God’s kingdom we believe in this diocese that this is something to do with aiming for sustainable growth for the common good. Not just about us, but ‘a good message …that alters the climate in which people live, changing the politics and the possibilities; it transforms the landscape of social life’.

I’m delighted that the Avon Valley Partnership is part of the Benefice of the Future initiative. If you want to know why you were chosen, invited, it’s because we see in Gary, your leadership and in you, the kind of people, the kind of benefice that already has so much of the outlook and vision we’re wanting to grow; people, Christians, seeking faithfully to live out what you believe in; not just for yourselves but for the world.

So may it be,



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, 16th February, 2018

Interviews: March 2018

Start date: summer 2018 or earlier

If you require further information about the role, please contact Kate Wilson  at kate.wilson501@gmail.com 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?