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

February 2018

In this newsletter:

St Johns-Greyfriars Partnership – The Launch

What a cracking day we had on Sunday 4th February, as the team from Greyfriars who have sensed a clear call from God to come and join us at St John’s were commissioned, sent out, and led by Bishop Andrew on foot through Reading, across Christchurch footbridge, and into St John’s.

2018 02 CTM news1Richard, Jo and I were present at Greyfriars for the sending out, and heard Bishop Andrew preach from Mark 16, encouraging us to be an ‘outdoors’ church rather than an ‘indoors’ church. David Walker (Vicar of Greyfriars), and Harvey and Katie (their wardens), accompanied the team on the walk, along with a good number of friends from Greyfriars who wanted to support and encourage them in their new venture.

2018 02 CTM news2A group from St John’s met us on Christchurch Bridge, the boundary between Greyfriars and CTM parishes, and under Bishop Andrew’s leadership we all publicly declared our faith together as an act of unity and a symbol of ongoing partnership. We also had our photos taken, and rather than asking us to say ‘cheese’ Mark Carpenter encouraged a shout of ‘God is good, All the time, All the time, God is good!’ Shouting a declaration like this seemed to me to be a fitting response to the Bishop’s exhortation to us to be an ‘outdoor church’, visible, and unashamed of who we are in Christ.

Meanwhile Mike was holding the fort at St John’s, and on arrival there the newcomers were greeted with music, cheers, and helium balloons! The newcomers publicly declared their desire to follow the call of Christ and, with their brothers and sisters at St John’s, to learn and live the way of Christ. Friends from Greyfriars pledged their continued support, and the new, united St John’s congregation promised, with the help of God, to accompany one another on the journey of faith, supporting each other in friendship, love and prayer. Bishop Andrew then commissioned the united St John’s congregation and presided at communion.

We sang with gusto:

“Lord of the church we pray for our renewing; Christ over all, our undivided aim.
Fire of the Spirit, burn for our enduing, Wind of the Spirit, fan the living flame!
We turn to Christ amid our fear and failing, The will that lacks the courage to be free,
The weary labours, all but unavailing, To bring us nearer what a church should be.”

2018 02 CTM news3
How we long to become the united, Christlike church that God longs for us to be!
The church service was followed by a party in Caversham Hall, a lavish ‘bring and share’ lunch, with plenty of time to chat with old friends and make some new ones. We also celebrated Sam Smith’s 8th birthday, with song and cake!

Over the next few months we will give time and opportunity for building strong relationships. We have already set up mixed small groups, which in January looked at Bishop Steven’s course on The Beatitudes. Through Lent we will follow a course called ‘Everybody Welcome’, which as well as helping us get to know one another, will help us think deeply and creatively about our hospitality, and how we might respond to the needs and culture of our community.

In terms of our Sunday worship, those joining St John’s have felt strongly that initially we should all worship together as one family at 9.30, and our enlarged Sunday Club will now meet in Caversham Hall. Second Sundays will continue as All Age Worship. In addition, from April we intend to trial a monthly 7pm Contemporary Worship Service, and a monthly 4pm Café Church, which we hope will be more accessible to those in our community unfamiliar with traditional church. We aren’t yet sure exactly what shape this will take, but we are seeking God’s guidance, and happy to take a few risks, trusting that he will make things clear as we go along. Our longing is that growth will soon begin to come not just through ‘transfer growth’ (Christians joining us from other churches), but through people in our wider community hearing the good news of Jesus and responding to his love. For this to happen we will all need to ponder how we can become a confident ‘outdoors church’.


Day-trip to Oxford

John Dudley is putting on a day-trip to Oxford on Monday 23rd April. We will travel by coach leaving Caversham at 10am and arriving about 11am. There will be free time in the City, before we gather together at Christ Church Cathedral at 2.45pm for a Tour of the Cathedral, a visit to the Picture Gallery, the Treasury and Afternoon Tea in the Great Hall, before Choral Evensong at 6 pm. We expect to be home by 8.15pm. The cost should be less than £25. To book and further details from Revd John Dudley 0118 954 6664 or

PCC Away Day

On Saturday 27th January the PCC met with members of the three CLTs and the PMC team and its MIT team, to spend a day considering our vision as a parish. It is a number of years since the parish last considered this, and much has changed since then.

There were just over thirty of us who met at Caversham Heights Methodist Church for the day. We were lucky to have an external facilitator with us in Rebecca Scott-Saunders from Windsor. She helped us think through our journey as a parish over the last few years, how God has been at work amongst us, and our hopes and dreams for the parish going forward.

With such a big group it would have been impossible to create any piece of work in detail, but we did give one another the opportunity to dig into some of our common understanding of where we now are as a parish, in the light of PMC, and where God might be leading us. The day flowed very well, and everyone contributed well. There was a significant amount of positivity about the changes that have gone on in the parish, and how we are naturally becoming more aware of what God is doing in Caversham.

The PCC has not yet concluded its vision setting process, but when they do we will share it with you via Church Forums. Please do continue to pray for the PMC team as they help us to focus on our mission plans for the future.


Trying something new for God

At this week’s Deanery Synod the Area Dean, Graeme Fancourt, encourage every parish over the next six to take a risk and try something new for God, that will in turn be good for us. The focus needs to ne on hard to reach groups, and how we might better engage with them. To assist us, and entice us, the Deanery is offering a small grant of £250 to 8 carefully selected parishes. This is an experiment in mission that may not work. In fact, Graeme said he hoped some of the projects will fail so that we can learn from the failures. The only restrictions on the project are that they must be simple and quick to implement (they must be completed by the end of this Summer), and the riskier the projects are the more likely they are to get a grant.

We have to submit our idea by March 10th, which is a very tight deadline, given that our PCC needs to endorse the decision. Can you think of a hard to reach group that we could try to engage with? IS there something we could do with a little bit of money that might make a big difference to one group of people? Why not suggest it to Mike or Penny.

Annual Parochial Church Meeting

Once again our Annual Parochial Church Meeting will soon be upon us on 15 April – please make sure that date is in your diary as we gather at St John’s for our now familiar pattern of a meeting within an act of worship. As we gather as three churches together, we are invited to thank God for all that he is doing in this parish, and to commend to God our hopes, aspirations and those elected for the year ahead.

For the last few years I have encouraged you to ensure you have read the annual report and accounts in advance of the meeting, as we will not be reading them out at the meeting. The report and accounts will be available on the parish website in due course, or you can request a paper copy from Caroline Smith.

We will have a number of positions to elect people to. We will need to ensure we have our full compliment of six Churchwardens, and there will be vacancies on the PCC to elect. Please can I urge you to consider therefore whether you would be willing to stand for election to these important positions in the life of the Church in this parish.


Rector’s Sabbatical

In September I wrote about my forthcoming period of sabbatical, away from the parish turning my hand to some other aspects of ministry, as well as enjoying a longer than normal holiday. Thank you to those who have already passed on messages on encouragement and support.

I do understand that my absence as Rector might cause concern for some about how patterns of ministry will be sustained. With a full-time member of the clergy absent for three months, we will together certainly need to consider how our pattern of worship is sustainable.

The plans I have discussed with the PCC include asking Penny Cuthbert to take on the Acting Rector role. She will, in the majority of cases, be able to make all the day to day decisions about running the parish that I would normally make. There will some decisions of a formal or legal nature which will need to wait until I am back, because the rules of the Church prohibit Penny from making them. I will ensure Penny is clear about these boundaries, and I have discussed with the Area Dean how he might support Penny in anything urgent that crops up.

I have agreed with Judith Ryder that she will take the lead role in ministry at St Peter’s during my absence. My time away comes at a natural point in Judith’s curacy for her to take on more responsibility. Judith will be in charge of all worship, including its planning, be the lead clergy person on the CLT, and have oversight of all ministerial matters at the church. However, we should not confuse this role with being the Rector. Judith will clearly work under Penny’s direction, and she will be expected to consult with Penny, the St Peter’s Churchwardens and CLT, over any matters that need approval from others. Marion Pyke will continue to support ministry at St Peter’s, and especially during the busy month of August when full-time clergy have their summer holiday.

I am sure there are issues that I will not have thought about in my pre-sabbatical planning. Please do not sit on any concerns, but approach me and make sure we are all well planned.

In terms of my own plans for sabbatical, these continue to develop. We are now booked on a family holiday to South Africa to visit Rachel’s mum and some cousins, for all of August.

I have a retreat booked in October, and will be visiting some parishes who are 3-4 years ahead of us in the PMC cycle. I have also decided to walk the Thames Path from the Thames Barrier in Woolwich back home.

My last Sunday working in the parish will be the 15th July, and I return to the parish ministry on Sunday 28th October.

Please do continue to pray for me and the parish as we prepare for this change of circumstance.


Holy Week and Easter

Easter falls on the 1st of April this year, so we will all be encouraged to become a fool for Christ! As this is relatively early, Lent will soon be upon us with Ash Wednesday this coming Wednesday.

Besides our usual pattern of service, which we outline below, of particular attraction to many of us will be our Palm Sunday celebration. We are lucky to have secured Bishop Andrew for the day, and he will lead us in on a Palm Sunday journey from Mapledurham to St John’s church, following the steps of Jesus as he enters the city. We will walk behind two donkeys, and the day will include worship and refreshments in each of our three churches. The timings for the day are:

10.00am Worship at St Margaret’s
10.30am Depart Mapledurham
12.00pm Arrive St Peter’s, followed by lunch and Holy Communion
1.30pm Depart St Peter’s for St John’s via the Thames riverbank
2.30pm Arrive St John’s for worship and refreshments

A group of us have busy planning the day, and it looks as though it will be great fun, and help us see the Palm Sunday drama differently. Please do try to come to this and walk with us all, or some, of the way (we will organise transport for those who can’t walk the whole distance), or if you don’t feel able to walk, meet us in one of the churches for worship and refreshment.

St John’s will be holding a Mothering Sunday tea at 4pm on March 11th. Everyone is invited, and all mother’s are especially welcome!

Palm Sunday 25 March

10.00am Palm Sunday journey with Bishop Andrew, starts in Mapledurham

Monday 26 March

St Peter’s 7.30pm Holy Communion

Tuesday 27 March

St Peter’s 7.30pm Holy Communion

Wednesday 28 March

St Peter’s 9.30am Holy Communion
St Peter’s 7.30pm Holy Communion

Maundy Thursday 29 March

St Peter’s 7.30pm Sung Eucharist with foot washing and Watch until midnight
St John’s 7.30pm Holy Communion and Supper
St Margaret’s 7.30pm Holy Communion and Supper, Trench Green Hall

Good Friday 30 March

St Peter’s 12pm Three hour devotional service: spend time at the foot of Christ’s cross, led by Rev Judith Ryder and Rev Mike Smith
St John’s 10am Easter fun & crafts
St Margaret’s 10.30am Good Friday worship

Easter Day 1 April

St Peter’s 6am The Easter Liturgy: celebrating the resurrection at dawn, starting in Caversham Court
St Peter’s 9.30am Easter Day Holy Communion for all the family
St John’s 9.30am Easter Day Holy Communion for all the family
St Margaret’s 11.15am Easter Day Holy Communion for all the family

Dates for your diary

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

14 February 10am Ash Wednesday, morning service at St John’s
14 February 7.30pm Ash Wednesday, St Peter’s
25 February 6.30pm Journeying through Lent with Mark choral service, St Peter’s
26 February 4.00pm Sunday@4 – Community Prayer Meeting, St Johns
4 March 12.30pm St Margaret’s Church Forum
7 March 7.30pm St Peter’s CLT, St John’s CLT
11 March Mothering Sunday in all churches
11 March 4pm Mothering Sunday Tea, St John’s
12 March 7.30pm St Margaret’s CLT
18 March 6.30pm Entry into Passiontide service, St Peter’s
21 March 7.30pm PCC
25 March 10.00am Palm Sunday journey with Bishop Andrew
15 April 9.30am Parish-wide service & APCM, St Johns

Other newsletters are in the newsletter archive