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

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 – 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 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:”

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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£18,454 Raised in 2018 Alone!

A magnificent £18,454 has been raised by Pat and Neil Hodges through their quizzes and other fundraising charitable events this year. What a brilliant total! However, added to the grand total since Neil started keeping records in 2011, they have managed to raise an eye-watering £103,685.

The bulk of the money has been raised from quiz nights in Simpson Village Hall, but some has come along via Church events and quiz nights in the MK area that Simpson folk attend and support.  A long list of charities have been helped through these events, many of them local, including humanitarian, medical, environmental and children’s causes, but also animal charities, plants for the village, a water bore project in Kenya helping thousands of people to get fresh water, the arts, the RNLI and medical detection dogs.  Some of the money raised has also gone to St Thomas’s Church.

Modest as always, Pat reflects that it has been a joint effort with all those who bake, supply raffle prizes, make teas, set up and most importantly come along and support the events. However, we all know that without Pat and Neil’s hard work, initiative and leadership, not to mention the amount of time they dedicate to these events, they simply would not happen.

Pat gives credit to others who have also held fund-raising events in the village, but she doesn’t have details of the proceeds of these.

For the past 2 years, MK Deanery has also benefitted through the Deanery quizzes Pat and Neil have organised, which has enabled us to work with Citizens:MK. We are indebted to Pat and Neil, not just for the money raised, but also for the fun we’ve had in the process.

A huge thank you must go to Pat and Neil for their generosity of time and their commitment to helping others in need.  Over and above that magnificent fundraising total, it’s the community itself which benefits from their caring and involvement, and no amount of money can buy that.

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‘House the Homeless’ Day of Action: 16 March

Three of our churches/partnerships are Member Institutions of Citizens:MK, a diverse alliance of community organisations acting together for a thriving, inclusive and fairer Milton Keynes. On 16 March, Citizens:MK partnered with the YMCA Milton Keynes for a day of action to promote awareness and support for the new strategy of MK Homelessness Partnership and MK Council in addressing homelessness in MK. The aims of the Day were to:

1.Educate MK residents (including children) about homelessness and what city organisations such as MK Council, voluntary organisations and businesses are doing about it;

2.Celebrate the achievement of MK Homelessness Partnership (MKHP) producing its first ‘Strategic Review December 2017’, and MK Council approving a new ‘Rough Sleeping Reduction Strategy’ to reduce the number of people sleeping rough to zero by 2021; and

3.Collaborate in building power to support MK Council and MK Homelessness Partnership in achieving their goals.

First, at lunch time, pupils from three local primary schools enjoyed a facilitated Q&A session with four people who have experienced rough sleeping.

At 7.30pm, guests had an opportunity to quiz those in positions of leadership in addressing homelessness: Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Council; Gamiel Yafai, Chair of MK Homelessness Partnership; Simon Green, CEO of YMCA MK; Lawrence Morgan and Suzanna Raymond of the Citizens:MK’s ‘House the Homeless’ campaign. Guests asked questions about the recommendations in the Strategic Review and their personal experiences of developing and delivering them.

At 9.00pm, 55 guests attended a ‘House the Homeless Assembly’ at which Gamiel Yafai received a Citizens:MK Gold Award for MK Homelessness Partnership for developing a strategy with the goal of ending homelessness in MK. Our 3 church Member Institutions (Christ the Cornerstone; St Frideswide’s and Stantonbury & Willen Ecumenical Partnership) sent members to support this community action.

Towards the end of the Assembly, a film was shown of Summerfield School Choir singing a song about homelessness, ‘We Will Fix You’. It was a really moving rendition, and there was much blowing into tissues at the end of it.

After the Assembly, Ian Roberts and band played live music to entertain ‘Sleep Easy’ volunteers as they prepared to bed down in the cold to raise money for the YMCA. Although the temperature didn’t get below freezing until 6.00am, the one-night volunteer ‘rough sleepers’ felt the chill and discomfort of sleeping rough in winter.

Truby’s Garden Tea Room, sponsored by Meals by Malik (a local Muslim Woman caterer) and the owner of a small Muslim led printing company Good Response, provided meals for those sleeping out and refreshments for those attending the Assembly.

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In the past couple of weeks there has been a run of graffiti attacks on churches and monuments in the Milton Keynes area. They seem to have been focussed on the eastern edge of MK, from Newport Pagnell, through Willen, to Wavendon. The police are involved and stories are appearing in the local news.

Local people are understandably upset and feel personally attacked. It can be particularly difficult for people visiting the graves of loved ones. It’s really important, however, to take proper advice before attempting to remove graffiti from stonework. It’s possible to cause more damage.

Please be aware of the possibility of an attack on your church or churchyard. If there is an incident, please report it to the police and to Archdeacon Guy (

In the meantime, please pray for those affected and, as Matt Trendall says “for the love of Christ to change the hearts of those who are doing this”.

All the best,



St Mary’s Wavendon has become the latest church affected by the recent spate of graffiti vandalism on Friday 9th March – following attacks in Newport Pagnell, Willen and Broughton, the artist(s) in question sprayed aggressive messages on the outer back wall. All the graffiti has the same tag: ‘NU Gambian Manz’.

Whilst we are sad at this outbreak, and encourage all to be especially vigilant at this time, at a church prayer meeting on Monday night we felt strongly that this is a moment to follow Jesus’ example and ‘pray for those who persecute us’, that we may be children of our Father in heaven. So can we urge our fellow believers in MK not just to pray for justice and protection but also for the love of Christ to change the hearts of those who are doing this? With our love, blessings and grateful thanks.

– Matt Trendall



On Saturday morning 3rd March I was getting ready to clear snow from the steps at Willen Church in readiness for church services on Sunday. A member of the local community who knows me, phoned to say that she’d discovered the church had been defaced with graffiti of an incitement to racial and religious hatred nature and had already alerted the police. Since then we have been subject to two or three more attacks, all of which have been reported to the police, and which have evinced considerable feeling amongst local residents. I gradually learned that we were not alone – a number of other local prominent and public buildings have also been violated in this way. The graffiti is more than simply youngsters doing damage for kicks – it would appear to have some political or vengeful motivation from some quarter that feels impugned.

My feelings, some of which will be reflected in other’s reactions are a mixture of anger and feeling violated; shocked that such an assault has happened in what has previously been a graffiti-free area; wanting to protect the sensitivities of my flock from obscene language on entering a place of worship; vulnerability and helplessness not knowing how to prevent such a thing due to the churchyard being a public thoroughfare; frustration at not being able to remedy the mess immediately; feeling responsible as a guardian of a local piece of heritage; wanting the perpetrators to be apprehended and possibly punished; wondering what the heck some of the words and phrases actually meant (!); trying to work out the mindset of the perpetrators; being practical and dealing with what I could straight away (ie dealing with the police).

I have been able to communicate with the wider local public via social media – mainly something called “Next Door Willen” which I’d already signed up for late last year. I have appealed for restraint, especially as I think the perpetrators were trying to stir up an aggressive reaction against perceived enemies. But also social media has helped keep the local community informed about what was happening “behind the scenes”. The incident(s) have demonstrated how much affection and good will there is in the local community for Willen Church and how incensed they have been over the vituperative defacement of an important part of the local heritage. This is a sentiment that encourages me and reassures me that we may be able to draw on this as needed (eg to make a financial appeal for ongoing maintenance needs). The police were initially very responsive and supportive and I imagine they are working in the background with all of these local incidents.

Finally, dealing with all of this has taken a great deal of time and part of my frustration is that I have had to be diverted from what is more important such as caring for my flocks and providing spiritual leadership. The aftermath of the incident entails much communicating and chasing of support agencies including our insurers, architect and conservation companies. It seems out of proportion to the amount of time it must have taken to perpetrate the crime in the first place!

– Paul Smith

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