Parish of Caversham, Thameside and Mapledurham Parish Info St Peter St Margaret St John Contact Us

September 2017

In this newsletter:

Rest and renewal

The children have finally gone back to school! (I need not say more to any parents of children reading this, or those who remember what it was like). For them, the long summer holidays are a time for excitement, activity and play. The challenge for parents is keeping them occupied. And that can mean that we parents miss out on the time for our own rest and renewal.

Whether you have young children or not, I wonder whether this summer has allowed some time for rest and renewal for you? It strikes me that this is an essential ingredient to life: time to break out of the routine of life, to change gear and have the space to walk life differently. Rest and renewal is a biblical idea also – sabbath stems from the 7th day of creation, when God rested from the work of creation. He was able to look upon all that he had done, and exclaim that it was good.

Ordained ministry brings its own privileges – making yourself available to people, whatever their needs or desires, is a great joy to me. Being available to people at the high and low points of life, leading worship that lifts people to God, leading people as they grow in faith and discover their vocations under God, are all things that continue to inspire me in my ordained life. But I, like most clergy, find that the pace of life, with the heavy workloads, long hours each day, and the constant 24-7 availability is not only a huge privilege but also a burden as year after year the demands take their toll. A good holiday is very welcome (our time in the Alps this summer was lovely by the way!), but you come to realise that you need more than that after a time.

In response to this, the Church of England has for many years operated a policy whereby clergy are invited to take a time of sabbatical away from their responsibilities for up to 3 months every 10 years. The concept of sabbatical (which as a word has its root in the same word as sabbath) is to provide for Rest and Renewal, but also Re-creation so that we might return to our roles Refreshed (the 4 R’s). Sabbatical is not an extended holiday, but a time of work when our ministry takes a different focus. We are encouraged to have a longer than normal holiday, but also to discover some new aspects to ministry, away from our normal setting.

2017_09_Newsletter_1To my shame and annoyance, after 23 years of ordained ministry I have never had a sabbatical. The Bishop has agreed that I can take a sabbatical from my role as Rector for 3 months from mid-July to mid-October next year. I intend to have a good holiday, take one or two retreats, and review where my ministry has come to and, under God, what might follow. I do hope there will be some space to look at other parts of the Church and learn some new things that might help this parish when I return.

For us as a parish, my sabbatical will of course mean there is no Rector working for 3 months. That is quite different however from not having a Rector during a time of vacancy. I will still be the Rector, with all the responsibilities that involves, but I won’t be working with you. I have agreed with the Bishop that Penny will take over the majority of the role of Rector during this period, including chairing the PCC. Ahead of my starting sabbatical, she and I will work through the maze of issues to ensure that life in the parish continues as near normal as possible. I will brief each CLT on the implications of my absence for each church, and hopefully write a little more in CTM News in due course, as the need arises.

Do please talk to me if you have any questions about my time away from the parish, or issues you think might crop up (don’t assume I have thought of everything!). I will be putting in writing, in due course, the practical arrangements for whilst I am away.

And please do hold me in your prayers as I prepare for this time of rest and renewal, as I will be praying for you whilst I am away.


Re-membering the Kingdom: All Saints, All Souls & Remembrance

The season from All Saints Day to the Sunday before Advent is called the Kingdom season. The focus of our services, culminating in the final Sunday which we call Christ the King, is on our membership of the Kingdom of Heaven where Christ rules alongside his Father.

Remembering that our calling as people of faith, to an eternal home in heaven, is vital for all Christians. Otherwise our sights can be fixed on our earthly lives alone, and we ignore the hope of the Gospel – that all those who are known to Christ will have a place in heaven.

The word remember is a dominant one in this season. November of course contains Remembrance Sunday, when people all around this country stop to remember with gratitude all those who have laid down their lives in war. We will once again have our usual services, which will include acts of remembrance. The British Legion will also gather by the river bank in Caversham for their annual act of remembrance.

Remembrance Sunday is preceded by All Saints day and All Souls day. We will be celebrating All Saints on 1st November at 7.30pm at a sung Eucharist in St Peter’s. All Souls will be celebrated at St Peter’s on Sunday 5th November at 6.30pm at a special service to remember our loved ones. St John’s will have their service the same day at 3pm.

2017_09_Newsletter_3All Saints and All Souls are not only times for remembering loved ones, but a time for re-membering. For a putting back together the members of the household of God. All Saints invites us to see our place not only as a member of a local church, but as part of the wider Church of God present not only now, but throughout time. All those Christians of previous generations are our brothers and sisters in eternity. All Saints always has been a major festival for the Church, a so-called Red Letter day when all Anglicans are meant to be in church. Might you this year find space in your diary to come to our All Saints day Eucharist at St Peter’s, to re-member yourself as part of the eternal Body of Christ?


Greyfriars update

In the last issue of CTM news I wrote about the proposal to invite a team of people from Greyfriars who live locally to join St John’s.

On 9th July, I gave a short presentation at all Greyfriars services, outlining something of the recent journey of St John’s and our hopes for the future, and inviting everyone (particularly those living north of the River Thames) to prayerfully consider whether God might be calling them to move from Greyfriars to St John’s. David Walker expressed wholehearted support for the partnership, and reminded the Greyfriars congregation that the proposal was in line with Greyfriars’ vision to become a ‘resource church’ which aimed to encourage and strengthen local churches.

On 16th July at 4pm at St John’s we held the Vision Meeting, at which interested people could come and hear more, ask questions, and pray. Approximately 35 people came, including six children. I encouraged people to pray over the summer and to be open to God’s call.

It is still early days, but so far three families have clearly sensed God’s call to come, and several more have told us they are praying. Some have come along to the 9.30am service, and on 16th September we have a ‘Pizza Party at Penny’s’ at which those considering coming will have an opportunity to meet our Church Leadership Team and chat informally. Our Harvest Festival on 8th October will also be an occasion at which we encourage those considering joining us to come to the service, join in some fun activities afterwards, and then enjoy a Bring and Share lunch with us all. Harvest Festival could also be an outreach event for our community – our longing is that numerical growth at St John’s will not just be ‘transfer growth’ from another church, but new growth as people in our community discover the life that Jesus offers us and are drawn into God’s family.

Please keep praying for this partnership, for the Greyfriars folk to be open to hear God’s call and respond, and for the St John’s congregation to be open to whatever the future holds for us. Please pray for the forging of new friendships, a sense of adventure, and a humble and ever-deepening trust in God as he builds and shapes his church.

Loving God,
Though our destination is not yet clear,
May we trust in your graceful promises;
Though we are uncertain of ourselves,
May we be rooted in your loving regard;
Though our attention is inclined to wander,
May we hear the things you are saying;
Though we often neglect your influence,
May we be convicted of your power to change,
In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Penny Cuthbert

Grow your faith

2017_09_Newsletter_2The start of the autumn seems a good time to gently remind each of us of the need to pay attention to our own walk with God, and to ask how our faith is growing. When was the last time you thought about what you believed, and what God might be asking of you? In the last few years, we have been actively looking at providing resources to help each of us grow in faith.

We have a series of housegroups dotted around the parish, meeting in people’s homes. Each housegroup is different in style and size, meets on a different day. But they share a common purpose – to be a place where Christians can meet in a smaller group than the Sunday congregation, and pray, discuss their faith and learn with and from others. Each housegroup decides what it will study each term, including study books, passages of scripture, or reflecting on what others believe, sometimes using video and audio recordings. Each of our housegroups are open to new members joining them. Can I encourage you to be in touch with the clergy if you think being part of a small group might help your faith grow.

For the last year we have been running the Alpha Course – firstly at St John’s, and more recently at the Rectory. Three separate groups have completed the course, and I think largely enjoyed the material as they look at some of the central and basic questions of the Christian faith, for example Who is Jesus?, What happens when we pray?, Why is there evil in the world? The course is suitable for those who already have a Christian faith and want to grow it, and for those who are very sceptical about Christianity or would call themselves an atheist or agnostic. This autumn we will have a term not running Alpha, whilst other activities take place, but can I encourage you to consider whether Alpha might be for you as we prepare for a new course in January.

If you can think of other ways we could help you to grow your faith, or other groups that we could start, then do speak to your clergy about this. I would like us to become a parish where we have a rich variety of opportunities for people to take part in small-group faith encounter and nurture. MY dream is to see every member of our churches involved in a group regularly, supplementing what we provide in worship on Sundays.



We have announced in the pew sheets over the summer our intention to prepare candidates for confirmation, ahead of the Bishop’s visit to St John’s on November 15th. This is the final call to any person who thinks that confirmation might be for them. We will have a group of young people being prepared, but as of yet no adults have come forward. I am aware that there are a number of adults across the parish who do not receive communion, despite coming to church regularly. Please don’t feel frightened in collaring one of the clergy to explore whether you can be prepared for confirmation!


Dates for your diary

Events are also listed on the Forthcoming Events page and the Parish Calendarwebsite editor.


20 September 7.30pm PCC, Church House
24 September 9.30am Harvest St Peter followed by Harvest Brunch. Tickets £5
29 September 6.30pm Parish Barn Dance, St John’s
1 October 11.15am Harvest St Margaret
8 October 9.30am Harvest St John
14 October 4.00pm Organ recital by David Old, St Peter’s
29 October 9.30am Parish service at St Peter’s. No worship elsewhere
1 November 7.30pm All Saints service, St Peter’s
5 November 3.00pm Remembering a Love One service, St John’s
5 November 6.30pm All Souls service, St Peter’s
12 November Remembrance Sunday services
15 November 7.30pm Confirmation at St John’s
18 November 2.00pm Christmas Fair, St John’s
22 November 7.30pm PCC, Church House
2 December 10am-3pm Advent Quiet Day, St John’s
9 December 10.30am Christmas Market, St Peter
9 December 3.00pm Sainsbury Singers concert, St Peter’s

Other newsletters are in the newsletter archive