News & Events

Christian Comments, April 2017

Posted by on May 7, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day whilst driving home from church, I flicked on the radio and heard what sounded like a very exciting discussion going on. The debate was between some very passionate protagonists. I wondered what it could possibly be that had so animated this panel of learned and wise individuals? World hunger, poverty, war, politics, ethics, economics. No, they were in fact arguing about Marcel Duchamp’s extraordinary submission to an art competition in Paris in 1917. I know, the current affairs of today! Duchamp took a mass-produced toilet and signed it – declared it art, called it ‘Fountain’ and, according to the panel, divided the art world into two camps lineated along the lines of: ‘It is Art’, and ‘It isn’t Art’. They did forget my own personal camp, the – ‘Who Cares if it is Art’ category however. The panel concluded that whatever it was, it was a significant ‘artistic’ milestone. Even though it added nothing to human knowledge, well-being or progression. I arrived home and immediately asked my wife, who went to Art College, whether Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ was art? She looked at me deeply, thoughtfully, and then asked me: ‘Define what is Art?’ All those years at Art School not wasted then, I thought quietly, secretly, and expressionlessly. Basically, in our modern world it can be concluded that Art is anything people want it to be. If people think an American urinal is beautiful and worthy of a place in a museum, then it is. And who am I, or any of us, to say it is not. So here’s the conundrum: how do we deal with a world where growing numbers of people no longer recognise divine authority or knowledge to guide them in life? Authority is shifting from what is divine into the heart of oneself, not God. What the Human Being wants and thinks is the only thing that truly matters. In Politics, the people know how to vote; in Ethics the person does what feels good; in Economics we produce ever more to keep the customer happy. The source of authority in the universe belongs to us. We no longer need to rely on God – It’s all about the Human Being, our choices. It’s all about us. That is a lonely place – and I feel the shame of it, of a humanity that still relies on weapons to decide arguments, withholds resources from those in need, pollutes, destroys and agitates. I cannot think of a time when God was more needed by humanity. Thank God then he sent us Jesus, Jesus who gave Himself up to death on the Cross so we can know we are never abandoned, never alone, never not loved, even if we choose to abandon God ourselves. Jesus asks God to ‘forgive us, because we know not what we do’. We must choose, seek, listen and pray, for God is listening. I lament our arrogance and self-reliance. ‘I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax, it has melted within...

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Christian Comments, March 2017

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day I attended a wonderful service at Winchester Cathedral at which the new Dean was Installed. I love the Cathedral and its worship. There is something about it that sort of floats my boat – I am very passionate about our Cathedral and the mission it serves to the county. By a sort of accident however, I ended up taking my daughter’s boyfriend along with me to this service. It’s a long story, so I will not explain. At the end of the service, which was quite long, he told me that he had never actually heard a Cathedral choir before, and found the music amazing; and the spectacle of the installation thought-provoking. He then went on to ask ‘who was the fellow with the big stick’? He was referring to the Bishop of Winchester, his description only mildly less dubious than enquiring about the fellow in the pointy hat. I have been thinking a great deal recently about something this rather tellingly illustrates. My daughter’s boyfriend was not ill disposed towards the church. In fact he rather thought it all very compelling. He was not dismissive of the theological, ethical and cultural significance of Christianity – but he just didn’t know anything about it. ‘Who’s the guy with the big stick’, is nearly as glib as was reported to me recently – but might not be accurate – that David Beckham (the ex-footballer) had said that he wanted his children baptised, but hadn’t yet decided what religion. Anyway, the point clearly being made is that the message of God’s love is a universal one. Many people understand their existence in relation to God – they are spiritually hungry and inquisitive – but the church has not for some unfathomable reason engaged them. Church has passed them by, yet their lives are full of need and desire, looking for meaning and answers. They have somehow missed the incarnational, inspirational empowering message of Christ. Why? I cry out – WHY! Now that might need a little bit of unpacking – and in reality I do not have the answers – but here’s what I think. Christianity is not just a Sunday morning expedition in the realm of God, it is not something we leave behind when we step out into the world on Monday morning. It is the spring-board into the market places, the work places, the homes and shopping centres where prayer (especially prayer) and Christian presence can and will make a difference. A disciple that is a true follower of Christ, who is confident that God loves them, and us and the world, has the answers to all the questions and anxieties and despair anyone could possibly have – Christ is the answer to all our hungers, all our fears, all our anxieties. We should see our faith as an adventure that is liberating and fulfilling. We need to encourage – especially the young – and nurture the tradition we have inherited. We need to tell those that have not heard, and invite them into the family of Christ – all of you tell someone about your faith, and tell them Jesus sent...

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“Now and Then.” A little Saxon Church its neighbours and its visitors…

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

Over 14,600 people visited the big house during December and also enjoyed our display of Christian Christmas Traditions, here at All Saints, Hinton Ampner. Many came to the Services, sang carols, listened to readings and saw our advent candles lit. So much so, we all but exhausted the quiz with its questions about the true meaning of Christmas! It was a joy to look on as parents explained the story behind the Nativity Scene and learnt about it; the meaning of the wreath, and the origins of Crackers and Christmas Cards, or simply enjoyed the tranquility of All Saints and its Christmas Tree, hung with angels and twinkling lights. Every day the first arrivals opened one of our advent calendars, read out the Christmas story, and hung a message on the tree for others to read. Thank you to everyone who bought Christmas Cards and also to Cheriton Village Stores, Hinton Ampner House and Bramdean Garage for selling so many more than we dreamt possible. To think that in houses all round the world, families and friends enjoyed 1200 of our cards showing the beautiful Nativity Scene! The money from sales is apparently going towards regular maintenance and an audio and lighting improvement project; we can’t wait! All very different from the young Saxon days when King William ordered the Domesday Book. Back then the village was known simply as “Hinton” and the Benefice looked very different too. We looked up to our neighbours in Beauworth with their three churches; Bramdean and Kilmeston had two Lords. Aldred’s wife ruled in Kilmeston, while Bramdean even had two freemen. “Miles the Porter” was one of its Lords. As to Cheriton and Tichborne: marshy places in the Itchen valley, Miles the Porter always took the visitors via the high...

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Rectors Report February 2017

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in news and events | 0 comments

Since the last Forum meeting on Oct 31st 2016, there have been three funerals, one at Cheriton, Tichborne and Bramdean respectively. There have been no weddings and two baptisms. Christmas was a particularly wonderful and busy time so thank you to everybody who gave so much time organising and delivering services and supporting the mission here. The period was complicated for me this year because I developed a flu in the early part of December. I then, as the month progressed lost my voice, which meant by Christmas day I had to invite the congregation at Bramdean to ‘Join with me as we whisper our Christmas day service’. It has taken some time to feel that I am back in my stride, and back to normal. We did see many wonderful services across the Benefice during the Advent/Christmas period. Again, the Crib which was great fun to be involved with – but a lot of preparation. The Midnight services also seem to have been very well received again this year. Christmas Day itself, services were very well supported and brought many from our communities into the church. To everybody that made our churches so welcoming and vibrant – again thank you. I continue to write for the Christian Comment in the Hampshire Chronicle – the coordinator of which is leaving the Diocese a little before Easter. It has been intimated to me that a new coordinator needs to be found, I am pretty reluctant to take on that role. I am on the board of Governors at Cheriton School. I take assembly there once a fortnight. I am a member also of the Diocesan Board of Education and the Executive Resource Group of the DBE. I continue to be on Diocesan Synod, and have just completed my first year as Area Dean, which is a very interesting piece of work, but at times rather challenging. One particular joy, on the 25th Jan we licensed the Revd. Clare Welham as the new Priest in Charge of the Bishop Sutton, West Tisted and Ropley benefice. Clare is lovely, and previously was the Chaplain to Harrogate Ladies’ College. I invite you all to pray for her, and her ministry as she takes on a set of parishes that require a lot of love and attention. Caroline and I now offer some hours a month to the Cathedral as Chaplain, and Jan does the same for HMP Wincher’s chaplaincy dept. I have been variously involved in supporting Alresford and the Arle Valley as they no longer have an incumbent. I have taken a number of Funerals and Holy Communion services for them, as required. They do have a very good and dedicated Ministry team so this has not been a particularly difficult thing to do. On December 11th we welcomed the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester, at Cheriton Church. He was warmly received – which was a bit of a relief. Also, while we had him, he was asked to licence the Revd. Jan Brookshaw as our associate Priest, which he duly did. We have an ongoing structural project at Bramdean, a lighting project at Hinton Ampner, as well as an archaeological project at Kilmeston church. We also have the sale of the Parish Hall in Cheriton. At the time of...

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Christmas at All Saints, Hinton Ampner

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in news and events | 0 comments

“No room at the Inn,” and not much in the stable, with Shepherds, Magi, Mary, Joseph, the heavenly host and a baby using the manager as a cot! But, there is always room for you in our delightful little Saxon Church, at this important time in the Christian year, to see our Nativity Scene and much else besides.   All Saints, Hinton Ampner’s display of Christian Christmas Traditions including our beautiful Nativity Scene begins on 3rd December. You are very welcome to join us for the Services too; National Trust Carol Service on 9th December, All Saints Carol Service Sunday 18th and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Last year we welcomed hundreds of visitors all keen to share in the true meaning of Christmas and this year we also welcome the Cheriton Singers. Take home a memento of your visit and share it with family and friends. Christmas Cards of this beautiful nativity scene with “Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year” are now on sale at Cheriton Post Office and Stores, Bramdean Garage and Hinton Ampner House, in aid of All Saints. They work out at just 60p each in bundles of 10. Profits will be used for the regular maintenance of All Saints Church, the installation of a sound and audio loop system, and improvements to our church lighting. Details of all our Christmas Services and the many activities in the Upper Itchen Benefice are here, and there’s definitely room at the Inn for...

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Christian Comments, November 2016

Posted by on Nov 28, 2016 in news and events | 0 comments

The other day, whist I was walking back to my car after watching Southampton FC play Sunderland at St Mary’s, alongside me was a father walking briskly with his young son. Southampton had been victorious, in a rather bland game beating Sunderland 1-0. The previous year when the two teams had met, Southampton had beaten Sunderland 8-0. The father described this victory to his son – concluding that the game was comical. The young boy eagerly asked his father – ‘why has the Saints only scored one goal. Surely Southampton should have done better than that?’ His Father entered into a discourse about the merits, tactics, formations of the current team – the boy periodically repeating his father’s words. The lad, trying to keep up, skipped along by his father’s side. The father informed his son that Southampton has met Sunderland on 67 occasions since 1931. Southampton has won 26 games, drawn 17 and lost on 24 meetings. The boy exclaimed ‘That’s comical! We beat them 8-0 – that’s comical, we should always win’. Again, his Father eagerly, and with great passion, imparted his knowledge to the boy, knowledge gathered over many years of watching his football team – a team he clearly loved. This too, I assume, was to be his son’s inheritance. I was struck by the passion with which the father spoke to his son – I was struck by the eagerness of the boy to repeat, assimilate and affirm the deep allegiance so obviously held by his father. It was clearly a very important moment in the life of both the father and the son. I remember thinking, two thousand years ago we are told, that wherever Jesus went, ordinary people, the people in the stands who could come close, did so – they wanted to hear Him speak, see Him act, join Him in prayer – the eagerness of the ordinary people that came close to Him, testified wherever you look in the Gospels. I imagined all Christians to be the little boy learning their faith from the Father – I dare to dream of a day when all humanity feels the passion and the brilliance of what has been given by God through His Son Jesus to us all. I realise we are far from that paradise. I believe there is a spiritual hunger that all humans feel – which can sometimes be filled by the distractions of the world, football teams, cars, houses, careers, power, wealth – all of which are transitory, illusionary – comical. The Christian has one task – make God known in the world, and if need be, use words – to misquote St Francis. Actually, that’s also pretty unfair, there is no dichotomy between words and actions. The two are really important, the task is to make sure our actions live up to our words. We have a duty to proclaim and to draw people near – and as we approach Christmas, that peculiar commercial proposition awkwardly associated with the birth of God amongst us – let us proclaim, let us act, let us pray for all humanity to know God, love God through Jesus...

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Personalised Christmas Cards, in aid of All Saints Church, Hinton Ampner

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in news and events | 0 comments

Personalised Christmas Cards, featuring the Nativity Scene at All Saints, printed with “Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year” and “Your address and telephone number”. Priced at 60p per card, minimum order 100 cards (A6 size 150 x 105), cheques payable to “Hinton Ampner PCC”. Please order early to guarantee Christmas Posting Abroad. Enquiries to David Templeman, 01962 793009. This personalised offer closes early November, but don’t despair, cards of the beautiful nativity scene will also be on sale at Cheriton Village Shop, Bramdean Garage and Hinton Ampner House, cash only, for bundles of 10. All profits will be used to maintain All Saints. The stable was designed and built by our local carpenter, figures and crib were all made possible through your generous donations and this card is produced by our local printer. All Saints welcomed hundreds of visitors last Christmas and with your support, at this important time in the Christian year, our visitors and all who receive our Christmas card, will share in the true meaning of Christmas. Help make this possible by buying the 2016 All Saints Nativity Scene Christmas Cards, with personalisation (minimum 100), or without, in bundles of 10 at an outlet near...

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Christian Comments, August 2016

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in news and events | 0 comments

Recently I took part in a trial online annual review of my ministry. One of the online sections asked me to rate myself against a number of set criteria, 7 is good – 1 is bad. Are you good at this/are you bad at that? The problem is, I constantly want to rate myself low – exceeding low standards is easy, I’ve made it a life time goal. The idea that online assessment can produce a varied impression of a Priests abilities might seem a developmentally curious proposition. But the idea is sound because importantly it is of course true, that some kind of analysis has to take place. The examination should produce new ideas, which then have to triumph over old ones – this might be where this all falls down. But new ideas are really important, remembering that new ideas can only triumph if they 1st are based on new knowledge – or 2nd are responding to new outlooks, new perspectives, new horizons – this too might be a little tricky. A few weeks ago I met someone at a dinner party who seemed very happy to tell me how good they were at everything. The individual was very confident, without doubt the life and the soul of the party – he was the sort of person that gives me a nose bleed. He had lots of ideas – he seemed determined to share them all with me. He described himself as an ‘Ideationist’, trained in ‘Cleverism’, trained in the best techniques to generate ideas. Hedonic John as I like to call him, seemed to be almost entirely bereft of social/emotional buffers. He was living proof that being constantly happy is not an inherently good thing. I strongly resist the theory that the more reserved suffer maladaptive psychological characteristics. Rather, that it is better to have a range of emotions and feelings which allow you to ride the ever ebbing and flowing tide of this world’s realities. Hedonic John slapped me on the back and said ‘I love you sort of people, Vicars, your all very funny’ (He clearly didn’t know many vicars) but went on – ‘funny you may be, but you’re a relic’. When we boiled it all down my new best friend wasn’t really in a position to understand Christianity because he had never effectively been told about it, he perceived it through a very particular lens, a modern view strongly influences by aggressive atheism and a supermarket approach to spiritual wellbeing. That may be true but in this modern age the Christian message is a new one, many have never heard it – all Christians are called to proclaim and to do so loudly and without fear. In Matthew 28.19 we are clearly told ‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. Unequivocal, uncompromising, new every morning, new in every...

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Ringing to celebrate the Queen’s 90th!

Posted by on Jun 17, 2016 in news and events | 0 comments

All across the Upper Itchen Benefice church bells tolled out in celebration of The Queen’s 90th Birthday. At the All Saints Service the bell ringing was led by Bruce Newson and David Elton. Visitors were invited to join the congregation in peeling “Happy Birthday to The Servant Queen and to the King she serves”. It proved very hard work, and became so popular that queues formed in the grounds of Hinton Ampner House. As they waited many took in The All Saints Exhibition and and the challenge of the Quiz on “The Queen’s Role as Head of the Church”! Every visitor was given the order of service marking this special event, which included prayers especially chosen by the Queen. One visitor, a teacher remarked, “Thank you, I have so enjoyed the day and will share the order of service with my pupils in class tomorrow and tell them all all about it!” Many had seen the event advertised on the Church of England web site Celebration Map (www.churchofengland.org/) and travelled down specially, to take part in the fun of a very special and happy...

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