As some of you will be aware, the advertisement for the appointment of a new Vicar appeared in the Church Times for two weeks running during October. We don’t yet know how many people responded but the deadline for applications is 9th November and there is a meeting chaired by the Bishop on 16th November to draw up a short-list. Lizzy Hendry and I will attend this as the delegated Parish Representatives and it is important to be aware that we do have a veto over any candidate so there is no chance of someone being short-listed or eventually appointed who doesn’t have our support. Interviews of the short-listed candidates will take place in Wrecclesham on 28th and 29th November.
We are hoping and praying that we will get a good response to the ad. Some parishes in a similar situation have recently had difficulties in attracting candidates but we will just have to have faith and wait and see.
We are about six months into the Vacancy now and it is appropriate to reflect on how things are going. We are extraordinarily blessed to have Rev. Sandy Cavalier to take most of our services and the gaps have been neatly filled by Lizzy’s very efficient contacts among local clergy. Some people have commented on how interesting and inspiring it can be to have different clergy presiding and preaching and we are very grateful to all those who have come along to take our services.
On the administrative side a small group has met fortnightly to deal with anything that might arise and Sue Davies has been a wonderful help in keeping things going. Her knowledge and experience are invaluable and she seems able to deal with anything that the Church of England can throw at us!
Lizzy and I have been really conscious of all the support we have been getting from so many people and it is great that individuals have stepped forward to take on different things. As we hoped, the Vacancy has engendered a feeling of togetherness amongst church-goers which I’m sure will continue as we get nearer to the arrival of a new Vicar. It is a difficult time and can be unsettling for some people and we would like to thank everyone for their support, whether practical or moral. It is exciting that things are at last beginning to happen.
The Christmas season is approaching and activities and services in the church will be very much the same as they were last year. One additional attraction this year is a concert – ‘Advent Joy’ – on Sunday 3rd December at 2.30pm in the church when the Chase Singers will present a selection of Advent and Christmas favourites which hopefully will be appreciated by everybody. It will be followed by a delicious afternoon tea! Do come along if you can (tickets £10, children free), it should be a lovely start to the festive season. Details of the Christmas services will be published in due course and there will be something for everyone to enjoy, young and old, regular churchgoer or not. The culmination will be Midnight Communion on Christmas Eve which will be presided over by Bishop Christopher Herbert. Christmas is a time when we instinctively feel the need to get together and what better way to do it than in celebrating Jesus’s birth.
In a sermon a couple of weeks ago Rev. Haydon Wilcox emphasised the importance of our all encouraging and supporting each other. He preached from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Let us recall and use regularly some of the words from the special Vacancy prayer:
God, our Father,
Guide with your heavenly wisdom
those who are to choose a new incumbent for this parish,
that the one whom we receive
may be a wise and gentle shepherd of your people,
ready to serve us with joy,
to build us up in faith
and to lead us by example in loving obedience to your son,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ.