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Rev Nick Williams The Vicarage, 2 The Grange, East Malling
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Brothers and sisters in Christ, arriving in a new benefice, especially one as different from my old benefice as this one is, always gives rise to what the Chinese would doubtless term interesting times. There are uncertainties and much tip-toeing around on all sides as we all get used to working with each other in the service of the gospel of Christ . That being said, it’s a privilege to come to you as your new Vicar and a humbling experience to be called to minister in a benefice that has so many capable people who have worked hard demonstrating their skills and talents looking after the benefice for the year or so you have been in interregnum. It’s a privilege as well to take over from someone like Fr Jim who accompanied you on your journey of faith for so many years and left the benefice in such good condition and Fr Derek who has been ‘minding the shop’ together with all the other retired clergy during the interregnum. Having looked at the lists of people who have roles in the three parishes I am acutely aware of how many people there must be to thank, far too many to name individually. So please take this short message as a ‘thank you’ to all of you, with a particular and personal ‘thank you’ to all of those who have worked tirelessly in their spare time re-decorating the Vicarage. I can assure you that Mrs Williams will make good her promise to bring you cake at the very earliest opportunity!
I’m sure however that there are many of you wondering how things will change. It is after all the habit of new Vicars to change things and whilst Fr Jim and I might have been members of your long line of vicars who were police officers I’m sure that we will both have our own unique and perhaps ‘individual’ ways of doing things. Well, let me provide those of you for whom this is a worry with a small amount of reassurance, I would really like to get to know you, the benefice and the wider parishes before even thinking of changing anything. I hope you will see me out and about in the benefice and will feel confident enough to come and talk to me about your hopes, aspirations and even the little things that niggle all of us. I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas and I’m willing to ‘borrow with pride’ from each and every one of you, so come and talk or even come and dream!
It is however only fair to warn you that I do have an agenda. That agenda is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as we possibly can. Everything that we do is subordinate to that one simple calling and it should be the lamp that lights the path to the decisions we make. There will be ‘interesting times’ ahead for all of us but together I am certain we can do great things in the service of Christ, and I look forward to accompanying each of you on our journey together into the future.
Yours in Christ
Rev Nick Williams
Thank you to all who took part in our latest quiz which raised £110 for church funds. The winner with 48 points was Clara Wilson-Green, the runners up with 47 points were the Scarlin family
The Church of St John The Baptist 12th Night Quiz 2015 Questions and Answers
This year we feature Famous People. (Dead, Alive and Fictitious)
1 Who celebrated over 63 years as Monarch, in 2015? Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth
2 Who left his boots at Walmer Castle? Wellington
3 Jacob’s twin? Esau
4 Baptist preacher and Bible salesman, whose name today inspires thoughts of “Sun, Sea and Sand” ? Thomas Cook
5 Which leader of the Peasants’ Revolt has a road named after him, in Maidstone? Wat Tyler
6 In 1605, he was fired up to be a Bright Spark? Guy Fawkes
7 Musical siblings whose name links them to Joseph, husband of Mary? The Carpenters
8 Who sang to President John F. Kennedy, on his birthday ? Marilyn Monroe
9 Which Singer & Performer celebrates this year with “ 75 at 75” ? Sir Cliff Richard
10 Architect immortalised in song by Simon & Garfunkel? Frank Lloyd Wright
11 Which Goodie became a well-known Twitcher? Bill Oddie
12 Who reputedly drove out all the snakes from Ireland? St Patrick
13 50’s Singer……Cider Maker from an Italian Lake? Perry Como
14 Who was the first Girl Guide? Agnes Baden Powell
15 Fictitious spy, with adhesive qualities? James Bond
16 She sounds like she could rustle up some swans in sequins…? Darcey Bussell
17 Classical violinist with another – unexpectedly jazzy – string to his bow? Yehudi Menuhin
18 Who was Jerry Mouse’s dancing partner in a 1945 film about two sailors on leave in Hollywood? Gene Kelly
19 Who took A Long Walk To Freedom? Nelson Mandela
20 Former Genesis drummer who drove over lemons to literary fame ? Chris Stewart
21 We can bank on this Canadian to keep our interest going…? Mark Carney
22 Who was the inventor of the Televisor and the Noctovisor? John Logie Baird
23 Who said “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”? Sir Winston Churchill
24 Prolific writer of letters, to the Ephesians, Philippians and many others..? St Paul
25 Vogue photographer and subsequently pig farmer, as famous for his sausages as for his photographic art…? Norman Parkinson
26 Slave trade abolitionist, with links to our Benefice? William Wilberforce
27 American songwriter who had 3 Oscars, 4 wives and 6 Grammy Awards..? Burt Bacharach
28 Which railway enthusiast refers to himself as a “Former Future Prime Minister”? Michael Portillo
29 In the painting by David Hockney, who are Percy’s companions? Mr & Mrs Clark
30 In August 1963, who had a dream? Martin Luther King
31 Which war-time Band Leader gave dance lessons on the radio? Victor Sylvester
32 Who is Alexander Armstrong’s pointless friend? Richard Osmon
33 Which Kent artist has his studio ‘up the garden path’? Graham Clarke
34 Which comedian and raconteur invariably ended his TV shows with the words “Goodnight, and may your God go with you” ? Dave Allen
35 Author and presenter, who in 2014, celebrated 50 years in a different career to either of those…? Alan Titchmarsh
36 The Great-Great-Grandfather of this American President has a memorial in All Saints Church, Maidstone..? George Washington
37 Of whom was it said “He’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know”? Lord Byron
38 Potty man from Peru, did go on to be doubly famous…? Michael Bentine
39 Think of a city in Italy, the bird which sang in Berkeley Square, and selfless devotion to her patients, and who comes to mind? Florence Nightingale
40 He started out as a fish porter in Billingsgate Market – but not a lot of people know that !
Sir Michael Caine
41 Builder Extraordinaire, he didn’t take single passengers..? Noah
42 Who was the most famous recipient of the Maidstone Medal, in 1897? Edith Cavell
43 Which television presenter shares his programme with his dog, Nigel? Monty Don
44 He studied Law in London, and went on to be the prime mover towards India’s Independence; what is the meaning of the name he adopted as his first name? “Great Soul” (Mahatma)
45 Author who became famous for stories about a bear belonging to his young son…? A.A. Milne
46 Which American film star developed his own pasta sauces, and donated the whole of the profits to charity? Paul Newman
47 Local Boy Makes Good …..writer, art critic, painter and philosopher, born in Maidstone in 1778..? William Hazlitt
48 Which famous pianist had the first names Wlaziv Valentino? Liberace
49 Immortalised by such diverse figures as Thomas Malory, Mary Stewart and Walt Disney, who was “The Once And Future King”? King Arthur
50 12th century Chancellor and Archbishop who preached under a yew tree in the churchyard at Capel, in Kent..? Thomas Becket – accept ‘a Becket’
PRIESTLY PONDERINGS email@example.com
Now is the time to say “Goodbye”. My retirement begins in early October following my final service at East Malling on the 11th October at 10am. Of course, you are most welcome to join my wife and I for that occasion so that we can say goodbye to as many of you as possible
It is a little short of 14 years that I have been your Vicar here in Wateringbury and I just can’t believe how quickly that time has passed by. I arrived in the January of 2002 and was immediately made welcome by the community and I thank you all for that. I am so aware of how fortunate I have been to be so intimately involved with the community, particularly through Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals (and you can imagine how many of those I have conducted over these years!). I have always viewed my role as one of being the servant to others and this has always been a privilege and a joy. I have taken the community very seriously and enjoyed a strong relationship with the many groups, organisations and institutions which form a strong community here in Wateringbury (This especially includes our School, uniformed groups and local businesses). I have found the community have always been supportive of the Church too. For all of this I offer you a most sincere thank you.
Moving on into retirement will be interesting, challenging and exciting. I have many hobbies and interests that I am looking forward to pursuing and so I shan’t be bored. I shall be standing to one side and allowing my successor an opportunity to establish themselves and I respect this protocol. This, of course, is difficult for my wife and I because we have established many friendships and acquaintances but we understand how important it is. However, we shall take away many very happy memories of our time with you all, it has been such a joy for us both.
Wateringbury has been a most wonderful place to serve and to be a part of and work in. There is something so very special about it which includes its diversity, friendliness and joy. I find the people here genuine and sincere and I have only ever experienced much support, respect and love. You are all so fortunate to be a part of this most fantastic community. Take good care of it and value it. It’s worth looking after.
Jean and I thank you all for the past 14 years and pray that God will Bless you all for the future.
Priestly Ponderings June 2015
About 2.7 billion people, over a third of the worlds population, live on less than U.S.$2 a day. It causes 21,000 child deaths per day. Over the last year, there has been an increased awareness of the plight of the poor and 2015 will be a particularly significant year for poverty. In May the Pope called on the United Nations to initiate a “worldwide ethical mobilization” that would address the plight of the poor. The Millennium Development Goals (agreed by the United Nations in 2000 and whose aim was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015) are to be revisited and redefined in 2015.
Although some people feel the UK economy is picking up, this isn’t true for many. The number of people using foodbanks continues to grow (One estimate reaches 1 million).The Bishop of Truro and Frank Field MP chaired the all party parliamentary group which produced the report ‘Feeding Britain’ calling upon the government to eliminate food poverty in Britain by 2020. ”Listen to God: Hear the Poor” was an initiative launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster last April when the Archbishops were encouraging churches to join them in praying for the work of the Church helping those in need.
Churches in our Diocese are encouraging us all to raise awareness of poverty by understanding the reasons and discovering how God blesses the poor. So important, however, is to explore how we might respond. So communities and parishes are encouraged to explore the theme in creative, innovative and eye-catching ways, involving local communities where possible. Already a number of folk in our church at Wateringbury have undertaken “Living Below the Line” challenge (living on £1 per day for 5 days) to enable them to experience the hardships of life in poverty. There has also been conferences where we have learned more about poverty and what can be done to tackle it. We also manage our own food bank scheme.
Poverty is challenging and complex. Over the years, countless lives have been transformed when poverty is confronted. The challenges may seem overwhelming, but we really can make a difference as we seek justice for the poor and food for the hungry towards our commitment to tackle the causes and effects of poverty in different parts of the world.
I pray that Challenging Poverty will provide opportunities to make that difference.
Rev Jim Brown
WHO SHOULD YOU VOTE FOR?
It’s only a few days away and you will be called upon to vote for a new Government. Who will you vote for and why? The current election campaign is much the same as I have ever experienced in my lifetime. All the usual political sound bites. It’s all about our Nation, our economy, our health service, our education system and so on. But I want to focus on what our nation might be doing for the “common good” and not just about ourselves looking inwardly. Despite the fact that the church is encouraged to contribute to the political debate more actively, I have to disappoint you because I shan’t be advising you which party to vote for!
It seems strange to me that we continually ignore the fact that there is a side effect to globalisation, i.e. that problems that once would have stayed local now have far reaching effects worldwide. For example, a bank lending too much money in one country can now affect the world economy and not just their own nation. But we still operate as a nation as if no other country is affected by our decisions or problems etc. We tend to ignore the issues that affect us all as a species of humanity, Climate Change, Human Rights, Demographics, Terrorism and Pandemics, Human Slavery, Species Loss and much more. We make little or no progress to solving such issues because we are not organised to do so. We operate as a number of nations in just the same way as we did 2 or 300 years ago, organised in to 200 or so individual states. It’s all wrong because we end up looking inwards. These worldwide issues need our attention but you are unlikely to hear them debated during the current election campaign. I can’t find these issues in any of the major parties’ manifestos. It’s no good simply blaming the politicians either because they are responding to what we tell them we need. We tell them we need more wealth, more prosperity, faster economic growth, a better health system, etc.
It needs to change so that countries can work together to solve the really serious problems we face. So perhaps we could start by asking our politicians when they knock on our doors what their manifesto says about global issues and the “Common Good” and not just the domestic matters that we are so familiar with. It might take them by surprise but it needs to happen!
Jesus was a tough political commentator. He taught us not simply to concern ourselves with being rich, having a big house or a well paid job. Jesus would want to know how his nation would help other nations for the benefit of others. So I ask, What does my country do to contribute toward the common good? What does my country do to help other countries and address the global issues which concern us all. We cannot live in isolation from such issues. I want to be a part of a country that is actively “Good”, which is not the opposite to bad but the opposite to selfishness. So when we meet our politicians on the doorstep please ask them “What is it that can make our country “Good”?”
We can change the world by being “Good”. I really do want to live in a “Good” country and I hope you do too! Revd Jim Brown
The important message of Easter
I have been asked so often “Why does the date of Easter change each year? Why can’t we set the date?” The reason the date of Easter changes is as follows:
Easter Day is the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after the vernal equinox.
As you might expect it’s not quite that simple – firstly the ‘full moon’ is not the observed astronomical full moon, but rather a ‘paschal’ or ‘ecclesiastical’ full moon that is calculated by formula to avoid the variations in the astronomical calendar, although the two usually correspond to within a day. The vernal equinox is also fixed as the 21 March. This formula was first established by the First Council of Nicaea convened in 325 AD by Constantine. The resulting tables are now used in all Western Christian churches. (The eastern Orthodox churches use a different means of calculating Easter which can result in it falling on a different day.)
I am sure you will agree that the formulae has all the hallmarks of something established by a committee! As far as I have been able to determine there is no deep theological reason for it and neither would there be any theological objection to fixing Easter more closely – to this end the second Sunday in April has been suggested which would fix Easter between the 8th and 14th April – although agreement on this would require the establishment of a new committee…
None of this is really important, it’s what we are celebrating at Easter as Christians which truly counts beyond a date in the diary! Every Sunday we celebrate the Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, but we focus on that event each year at a feast day called Easter ( “Easter” is a word derived from the Easter, the Teutonic goddess of spring).
We do not need to complicate these facts anymore than I have done so already. Easter has a very simple message which is that Jesus Christ died for us all on the Cross by seeking forgiveness for our sins. Through this one act we have been forgiven all our sins. Now that is worth taking seriously and far more important than a date in the diary!
May the Risen Christ be with you all this Easter.
Rev Jim Brown
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A Christian View on Tax Avoidance
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint is an ex- HSBC head who has recently stepped down from a leading financial services body. This is amid claims that he was in charge of the HSBC when it enabled tax avoidance. During my articles in the Rostrum I am very unlikely to become involved in politics, particularly party politics. But this is a different issue and is a matter of Ethics which should engage us all. When this issue emerged a few weeks ago it was natural that fingers should point at Lord Green, who also happens to be an Anglican Priest and has been since 1988! He has written books on the ethics of business, he was appointed as a trade minister in the government and has been appointed by the Church of England to chair a report on leadership training for senior clergy which has proved unpopular with some church members. This clearly causes the church a degree of embarrassment but it’s opposition to tax evasion, or aggressive tax management strategies, remains firm. And so it should!
As a priest in the Church of England I firmly believe that our faith, and any normal respect for humanity, requires us to work with and for the poorest in our society, the less able and those who have needs. It grieves me to think that thousands of British bank customers have deposited billions of pounds in Swiss bank accounts in order to avoid tax. This is an avoidance of our responsibility towards the “Common Good”.
The Christian perspective is quite simple, everything we have is fundamentally God given. Every Sunday, upon receipt of our offertory collection in church, I use the following prayer: “All things come from thee and of thine own do we give thee”. Or to put it another way, God created everything and so everything is fundamentally God’s. So, however much of the worlds resources we appropriate for ourselves, or however much we label as “ours”, God’s ownership is primary. At best our ownership is simply temporary stewardship. Therefore, all that we have in our private Swiss bank accounts needs to be justified because all that we do have we actually have on loan. The big question is what we do with this money. Or, let’s put it another way, for whom is this money good news?
The Revd Jim Brown