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Letter from the Rector – June 2013

I write this after the first snow has fallen in Shropshire in May since 1979.  I often sympathize at this time of year writing summer Rector’s Letters, with the script-writers for The Archers, as they try and plot forward a radio soap-opera with a strong agricultural story-line with no idea how to deal with that perennial topic of farmers’ conversation (and lament) the weather.  Too often the series has fallen foul of the notorious Ambridge micro-climate whereby Borsetshire has stunningly average English weather for the time of year, whatever that may be, whilst outside the delivery range of a pint of ‘Shires’, the rest of the country has been engulfed in decidedly unseasonal blasts of cold, sweltering heat, or Biblical-grade flooding. (more…)

Letter from the Bishop – June 2013

You may have noticed the recent survey that revealed that Britain is becoming a more peaceful place. Research indicates that rates of murder and violent crime have fallen more rapidly in the UK in the past decade than in many other countries in Western Europe.  The UK Peace Index, from the Institute for Economics and Peace, found UK homicides per 100,000 people had fallen from 1.99 in 2003, to 1.00 in 2012 with Broadland, Norfolk the most peaceful local council area and Lewisham, London the least.  (more…)

Letter from the Rector – May 2013

There is a moment in St Luke’s Gospel when Jesus sends out seventy of his disciples to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. You can find it at the beginning of Chapter Ten.  He gives them very specific instructions; to travel in twos, to travel light with no bag, no money, with nothing on their feet, and to greet none that they meet on the road.  He warns them that they will be few to perform the great task with which he is entrusting them, and that they face great danger, like lambs going out among wolves.  They are to seek out those who suffer, and establish lasting relationships with them.  They are to warn of the coming of the Kingdom, which some will seek and others reject, although it is not for them to pass judgement.  Above all else they are to prepare people for a coming encounter and relationship with Jesus himself. (more…)

Letter from the Bishop – May 2013

April saw the introduction of huge changes in many areas of our local and national life which will affect all of us to some degree or other. I am thinking of the introduction of the universal credit, with all the associated changes in the benefits system; the changes in social housing provision, including a cap on local housing allowance and the introduction of under-occupancy rent increases; the changes in disability-related benefits; tax changes and all the changes in our National Health Service with the start of the Clinical Commissioning Groups which are now responsible, between the 211 of them, for 60% of the NHS Budget. It is hard to think of a time when so much has changed all at once. We are certainly in uncharted waters! We all know people who will find life much harder as these changes begin to take effect. (more…)