Meet the Candidates

There will be a General Election on December 12th.  As Christians we are called to play our part as members of society.  For some, this means standing for election, but all of us have an opportunity to engage positively and vote.  We are therefore organising an Assembly with our partners in Citizens MK.  This will be an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that our members are most concerned about, to listen to what the candidates have to say, and to ask questions.

It’s really important that we get as many people there as possible, so that we can show how much we care.  The issues that our members will raise will be:

  • Mental Health – the top priority identified by MK Deanery
  • Climate Change – a Diocesan priority and a big concern for local schools
  • Refugees – which has been a big priority for us as churches since 2015
  • Hate Crime – which is a big issue in our diverse city
  • Fair Work – which is about the way people are treated by employers

If you want to know more and book a ticket, please see Eventbrite

This is an important opportunity to speak to people who may have the power to make a difference.  We want to have a positive relationship with the MPs in Milton Keynes – whatever party they may belong to.  This will be a way to build that relationship so that we can work together with them for a better MK!

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Thoughts Following the Funeral of the Late Bob Cross

Last week I attended the funeral of the late Bob Cross, Churchwarden for many years at the Cross & Stable Church, Downs Barn , and also for Stantonbury and Willen Ecumenical Partnership (SEP) as a parish. Bob was also a member of Deanery Synod for many years, and through that became a personal friend and a source of encouragement.

Thanks must go to Rev Dr Sam Muthuveloe, recently licensed as Minister at the Cross and Stable Church, and also to Rev Peter Green, retired minister and also member for retired clergy on Deanery Synod, for arranging and leading the service, which was both moving and uplifting, and recognised the manifold ways in which Bob had sustained and influenced the congregation and the partnership over a great many years, as well personally.

Different things will move different people, but the one of the things that stood out for me was the way in which Peter turned to coffin and personally thanked Bob at the end of each of the points he made. It was a moving tribute to their deep and abiding friendship and drew in those present to make it a communal offering of thanks for a life well-lived.

Dr Sam’s explanation of the reasons for coming together for a funeral service was something I had not actually heard in a service before, and I felt was of enormous value and comfort to the family and mourners alike, and gave everyone something to think about, or hang on to, in days to come, particularly the emphasis on grieving.

Bob’s brother Jim decided to speak only of the way in which Bob had had a major impact on his life, starting at an early age when their father left to fight in the war. I don’t think I was alone in wishing he had had time and opportunity to tell us more, and this is something I feel is only just starting to change compared to other countries I have lived in, where opportunities besides the funeral service and wake for coming together to remember and reminisce are a valuable part of the grieving process.

I was startled and fascinated in equal measure to hear about how Bob and Jim learned how to shoot a real gun – at ages 6 and 4 respectively (relating this immediately to my own grandson who is 4 years old!). I never knew that Bob went to Sandhurst, and through the eyes of his family saw what a successful and amazing life he’d led. However, Bob’s success was hardly surprising in light of what else we learned, which was of the courageous way in which, aged only 6, Bob protected his little brother by standing up to his grandfather for what he felt was right. That was the one thing which spoke to me of the way Bob lived his life: with courage, fortitude and integrity.

Bishop Steven encourages us through the Common Vision process to learn to listen to God and to one another to become the kind of Church we are called to be: more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous. I see many examples of the wonderful ways people express compassion for one another in their daily lives, and there seems to be a greater sense of the value of contemplation in listening to God and to one another in a world filled with loneliness, increased isolation and mental health distress. The call to be courageous, to stand firm for what you believe in no matter what the personal cost, was demonstrated by Jesus and led to the cross. From a very early age Bob showed he was not afraid to live his life with that kind of courage.

Rest in peace Bob, knowing you have run the good race. You will be greatly missed.

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Annual ‘Ride & Stride’: Saturday 14 September 2019

The Buckingham Historic Churches Trust (BHCT) has given grants of over £1,000,000 towards the repair and restoration of over 300 churches of all denominations in the County since its foundation in 1957, and continues to do so at the rate of some £60,000 each year.  Indeed several churches in MK Deanery have benefitted from some generous grants from BHCT. 

The annual ‘Ride & Stride’ is its main fundraising event, held on the second Saturday in September.  This year it will therefore take place on Saturday 14 September. As part of this year’s activities there will also be a horse ride in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks later on Sunday 29 September.  The horse ride will take the same route as last year, starting at Campbell Park and passing four listed churches in the Ouzel Valley before returning to Campbell Park. Entry has been opened up to a larger number of clubs this year, so the Bucks Historic Churches Trust is hoping for a much larger number of participants.

The BHCT needs to find quite a number of marshalls to help around the course.  If anyone can help out, or if you can suggest anyone who might be willing to help, please ask them to get in touch with Nina Newton, the Deanery ‘Ride & Stride’ organiser for Milton Keynes, at ninanewton1632@gmail.com.

If you’re new to ‘Ride & Stride’ and would like to get contribute in other ways (such as sponsoring a walker or rider on Saturday 14 September) or just need further information, here’s the link to find out more – https://bucks-historic-churches.org/.) Anything you can do to support either event would contribute towards the restoration and repair of our beautiful churches.

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Willen Church Sleepout to Help the Homeless: Saturday 14 September 2019

The church of St Mary Magdalene is hoping others will join them in highlighting the problem of homelessness in our city with the Big Sleepout event which will take place overnight NEXT SATURDAY, 14 September outside Willen Pavilion.

Please email willensleepout19@gmail.com for registration and sponsorship forms. You can read more on Facebook on the bussheltermk page and the Willen Sleepout page on Virgin Money Giving is available for making donations.

Rev Dr Paul Smith, Team Rector of Stantonbury and Willen parish LEP will be taking part himself in support of the MK Bus Shelter, both to help raise awareness, as well as to offer some financial support. He says,

“I would like to invite you to sponsor me. Any amount, however small, will be welcome. It is very easy, as you can go online and pledge your chosen amount. Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSmith385.”

If you could download the Willen Church sleepout poster and display it in your church too, that would be really appreciated!

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‘WithIN’ – A Conference on Everyday Faith: Tuesday 8 October 2019

This conference is a Watling Valley Ecumenical Partnership (WVEP) initiative in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford and HeartEdge/St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The name “WithIN” refers to being WITH God, IN the world.  The keynote speaker will be the Revd Sam Wells.

The day session will start at 9.30am with worship led by the St Martin’s Singers, and will end between 5-5.30pm.  An evening session has been planned for those unable to attend during the day.  This will start at approximately 6.30pm with worship by Testament, and end by 9.15pm.  It is hoped that exhibitions and stalls will be available for folk to look at between 5 – 6.30pm.

As well as having a keynote speaker, there will be a variety of workshops to choose from, looking at the various aspects of everyday spirituality and aiming to be practical, accessible and fun. There will even be a workshop that teachers may find useful.  Workshop leaders include  Barry Lotz, Ruth Maxey, Jonathan Evens (HeartEdge, St  Martin’s), Charlie Kerr (Diocese), and Tina Molyneux (Diocese).

WVEP expects the day to be free, although donations would be welcomed. Tea/coffee/Lunch will be provided, as well as light refreshments in the early evening.  Lunchtime will include ‘Great Sacred Music’ with Sam Wells and the St Martin’s Singers.

Booking is via Eventbrite. All are welcome, and WVEP hopes to encourage a wide range of participation.

Please advertise this event as widely as possible!

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World Refugee Day

You are Welcome!

Thursday June 20th: To celebrate World Refugee Day meet us at 6pm at the MK Rose in Campbell Park for a short ‘gathering’. Deputy Mayor Andrew Geary to attend.

 6.30pm onwards at MK Gallery event space (short, accessible walk from the Rose) for informal celebration, conversation, nibbles and soft drinks.

Come to both or either.

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Good News About Benjamin!

If you read my previous article about Benjamin and the power of touch, you will probably have been wondering how he is. I’m thrilled and delighted to be able to report that eventually he got the results of his bladder biopsy, and this showed that it was clear. On top of the good news that the cancer has not returned to the organs previously affected (so he can still keep his remaining kidney), this is just wonderful news. Thank you all for your prayers. God has used him in a powerful way, for which we give thanks and praise.

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CHRISTIAN AID WEEK: 12 – 18 MAY 2019

Christian Aid Week runs from 12 – 18 May this year.

To quote from the Christian Aid website:-

“Everyone is equal in the sight of God. Yet we live in a world where poverty still persists.  Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive. But together we have the power to transform lives.

For over 70 years, we’ve been standing with the poorest of our neighbours. We work in 37 countries, with people of all faiths and none, to stand up for dignity, equality and justice. 

Together we can create a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.

Our voices and actions are stronger together. And with your help, we can make an even bigger difference.”

Together with its supporters and partners, Christian Aid aims:
  • to expose poverty throughout the world
  • to help in practical ways to end it
  • to highlight, challenge and change the structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.

Christian Aid supports and helps communities to thrive. It tackles the root causes of poverty so that women, men and children the world over are strengthened against future knocks. And if disasters happen, they get people the help they want straight away.

What is your church doing this year?  For ideas, please visit the Christian Aid website at https://www.christianaid.org.uk/Christian-Aid-Week.

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Conducting Occasional Services at HMP Woodhill After November 2019

The Rev Canon Alan Hodgetts (Managing Chaplain at HMP Woodhill) is retiring in November of this year. He is wondering if there are clergy in the Deanery or wider MK area who might have an interest in conducting occasional services at 10.30am on Sunday mornings after this date. If so, he is more than happy for you to email him directly at alan.hodgetts@hmps.gsi.gov.uk with an expression of interest.

There are 2 levels of clearance: A basic clearance will allow 3 visits per annum and the priest/minister would be supervised; A full clearance would allow several visits and more flexibility.

Expenses would be paid and for retired clergy a ‘sessional’ arrangement may be possible.

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