Dear Friends in Christ,
The Holy Week and Easter celebrations in The Monmouth Group of Parishes this year were varied, deeply spiritual and very well attended by parishioners and visitors. A few highlights for me were:
The Preaching: The opportunity and the privilege of having all the members of our ordained ministry team preach and participate in our services. We have a wonderful team of experienced and talented priests and, on your behalf, I wish to thank them for all they do to minister the Word and Sacraments of God’s holy church to us and for the pastoral care which they give to you and to one another. And a special thanks to Canon David Osborn, Steve Martin and Rev’d Owen Williams for offering two stimulating Lent courses.
The Altar Serving: We are blessed with a dedicated team of altar servers at St Mary’s Priory Church and St Thomas’ Church. Under the wise counsel of Colin Robinson and Tudor Griffiths we are served and supported by John Jones, Cass and Bev Lowton, and Abbie and Jess Williams. I am immensely grateful to Cass and Jess, who return to serve with us when they are home from their university studies.
The Music: Our organists, Ian Dollins and Robert Jones helped, as they do throughout the year, to enhance our worship and uplift our singing with their excellent playing. Ian, as Director of Music, at St Mary’s, encouraged a currently small choir to sing beautifully, especially the Good Friday Reproaches. We miss the late Colin Copestake and Derrick Cooling. If you or anyone you know would like to join the choir of the Priory Church, then do get in touch with Ian Dollins. Our family service at St Thomas on Good Friday was superbly led by our music group under the direction of Ruth Friend, to whom I am very grateful.
Warmth of Welcome: All four of our churches were lovingly prepared as places of welcome by our flower arrangers. Visitors commented particularly on the care and beauty of the flowers in St Michael, St Wonnow, as well as St Mary and St Thomas. Jesus calls us to love one another as ourselves. A well cared for church, is a sign of a congregation that takes care to offer the best in welcome to all who pass through the doors and to give glory to God. On your behalf, thank you to all the flower arrangers and polishers, the church wardens and those whose tasks are hidden in the doing, yet evident in the effect.
Baptisms: It was especially moving to be able to baptise Richard Roden at the Easter Vigil and young Jayden Horton on Easter Day. We shall be baptising one of the teachers at Osbaston Church in Wales School on Wednesday 3rd May in the school service; then, on Sunday, 28th May, four adults and some teenagers will be confirmed by Bishop Richard in a group eucharist at St Mary’s.
Yes, we had large numbers of visitors and regulars through the doors of all our churches this Holy Week and Easter Day – but what made our services so special was the prayerful joy; the smiles; the kind words of welcome and encouragement – indeed, the reality of the presence of the risen Christ among us. And for that, I give thanks to you all for revealing the light of God’s glory to me and to one another and to our visitors.
May God love you and bless you this Eastertide!