I feel very honoured to be the present incumbent responsible for writing the regular monthly letter on the 50th anniversary of the Capel and Beare Green Village Magazine. I believe it was one of my predecessors Reverend Trevor McCabe who 50 years ago came up with the idea of developing what was very much monthly ‘church news’ into a magazine which encompassed all the village news as well. A terrific idea which has stood the course of time, providing our village communities with a platform for communication and information which is of interest to us all. Congratulations on this special anniversary and this special anniversary issue!
50 years later our church continues to serve the parish in any way that it can and like the Reverend McCabe we long to see ‘Church in the community: Community in the Church’ which is a bit of a strapline for us. It is wonderful to be able to welcome so many into church for the most meaningful occasions in their lives, whether joyful or sad and to share people’s lives and journeys along the way. It is a credit to our community that we are able to safely leave the church open every day so that anyone can quietly drop in and sit and absorb the silence and stillness for a few moments to escape the ever changing world. Church such as ours provides a ‘spiritual space’ hallowed by people’s histories over the centuries and soaked in prayer. God is a very real presence in our lives, a constant amidst the storms of life, yet He is a living God who seeks to draw us to him and move us forward into the future.
With that in mind, we are seeking to embrace the future and to let God lead us into his plans for Capel and surrounding parishes. As you know a few years ago St John the Baptist became one third of the Surrey Weald Team of Churches, which has been a great blessing in many ways. The Diocese has now asked our church to explore some more pastoral re-organisation and to look at uniting with St Margaret’s Church in Ockley. They are part of a united benefice made up of the parishes of Ockley, Okewood and Forest Green otherwise known as OOFG. Okewood and Forest Green will now merge with Ewhurst and become a new benefice and the plan is that St Margaret’s Ockley will join with Capel becoming a united parish but still part of the Surrey Weald Team. Well by now you are probably very confused and I will let you know more next month as the consultation process develops and community notices will be put up. But basically I will be serving across both Capel and Ockley on a full time basis instead of half time as I currently do (in theory)! There will be some adjustment for both churches on service times but otherwise occasional offices such as baptisms, weddings and funerals will be taken by me with occasional help from other clergy within the team as needed. Both churches will continue to hold their own festival services and other important markers in the church year, so in many respects and regarding the question of finance we will still be two churches, but united in our management and pastoral oversight. Personally I think this is an exciting opportunity for both our parishes, to be able to build on our individual strengths and to support one another on our weaker areas. We have already begun to get to know one another enjoying a service at St Margaret’s in the summer and you will notice in the calendar they are joining us for a service this month. As you will see October is a busy month again and by the time you read this we may well have celebrated Harvest. Later this month we remember all those who have died in our service of remembrance for the bereaved as we commemorate All Souls Day’. Please do mark in your diaries the date for the 2nd art exhibition from the St John’s Artists and friends.
In the meantime please be assured of my love and prayers and always a special welcome for you at your parish church.