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December 2020 ~ February 2021

Rector’s letter December 2020
I think you are very brave!
Why? Becasue God was nudging me
Reflections on ministry during COVID-19 and the future
Welcome to the Parish of the Barkwith Group
How do you stream a service?
Our Church Annual Meetings 2020
Weddings & Funerals

Rector’s letter December 2020

Dear Friends,

As we draw to the end of another year, we will I suspect, each and every one of us, reflect and look back at 2020 and what it meant to us. It was a year we could never have imagined … 2020 a year that has changed our lives in so many ways … 2020 a year that has caused so much suffering through loss and grief … 2020 has changed permanently the fabric of our society and the way we live our lives now.

It’s very easy, at this time, to look back and see only the negative effects of the COVID19 pandemic. There were, of course, so many. However, woven into the darkness have been those amazing chinks of light…. those chinks of goodness and neighbourliness.
We have demonstrated to all that we are not just the 21st century greedy materialist consumers, history might have labelled us. We are a people who can look after each other, putting others before ourselves. Not just family and friends either! Many have supported their extended communities, people they may not have known before. Is it the wartime spirit? Or just the goodness that is inherent in each and every one of us, just buried by the pressures of our lives before the pandemic.

In writing articles like this, I always reflect on the words I penned last year and sometimes, just occasionally, a few prophetic words pop up:

Last year I wrote - ‘[Relationships] whether through blood ties, or church family or the family of a village community, are important in underpinning the love we show to our fellow human beings. Our world is difficult and desperate in so many places, so we should find Joy in every place where people come together in a common cause for the common good.’

I have seen and found great Joy in many of the communities that form part of our wide church family, and across all the villages I minister to.

We are not extraordinary people living in special places, but normal people living in normal communities. Just passing through an extraordinary times. Yet in this extraordinary crisis we have each found great personal joy in just serving our fellow human beings, helping those who cannot help themselves. I can’t imagine the joy and relief felt by those in our villages who realised they were not alone.

Foremost in the minds of many at this time is of course the great celebration of Christmas, now approaching rapidly. As I write this letter it’s Advent Sunday, the start of the Advent season. Advent is a season of expectation leading us into that other time of great joy, the coming of the Christ child. In Jesus we are brought together, for our love and care for each other is key to a Christian understanding of the world. But it is, I would suggest, more fundamental than that. It is key to what underpins our humanity too, the quality that binds us together as communities … and Jesus is the ultimate symbol of that love and bonding.

As we now walk through Advent towards Christmas we know this year will be different. There will be no great Carol Services this year, a lack of Nativity plays in our churches and schools. When we are in churches or groups our numbers are greatly reduced. And yes we can all complain about it and shout it’s not fair! Yet in the midst of our Christmas let us not forget what we are really celebrating ...

... a small baby coming into the world in very difficult circumstance, with no friends or family to help the mother and father. A small baby coming into the world to offer a new way to be and to live. A small baby who was not restricted by the lack of things in his early childhood, if anything it strengthened him and helped him show he understood the problems of the world ... so that small baby was not so small after all ... and, as we know changed the world!

In this edition of the Wolds Witness, we look back on some of the things we have done to get us through as Church. Everything we have done is to grow and continue to develop our faith. As new faces appear and we continue to adapt to new ways to worship, new ways to minister I am confident that we will secure our future.

Let this year be a year when we reflect on what we were, what we have become and what we want ourselves to be in the future.

Years like this thankfully, don’t come along very often. However when they do, let us use them, and learn from them, and grow more as forward thinking Christ-like people.

As Jesus Christ our saviour did, let us now, in our time, change the world too!
Wishing you all a Very Happy, Safe & Peaceful Christmas

I think you’re very brave!

“I think you’re very brave!” Probably isn’t the ideal response to have when, as a clergywoman, you tell your Bishop what your plans are for the next few years!

But I suppose it isn’t a recognised ‘clergy path’ to start researching church life, and applying to do a PhD in your 60s! My experience of different types of ministry - hospital chaplaincy, running a busy parish and Deanery, as well as being a spiritual director, and retreat and quiet day leader, has given me a real interest in how people see their local church and their own walk with God, and how important it is to them. When rural ministry changes, as the areas priests are called to minister over get bigger and bigger, this also becomes something of real importance to everyone involved with their local church.

You can’t always take time to prepare in advance for a change of career. Ministering during Covid left me very little time for anything else, so I finished working in my parish of Waddington at the end of September and moved back into our house in Tealby. Then I began to make my PhD proposal a reality, and finally submitted it at the end of November.

Tealby had been our home during the time I was working in the Chaplaincy at Grimsby hospital, and it’s been a real delight to return here, back to my roots in the Lincolnshire Wolds. We have an interesting garden, complete with labyrinth! And the new addition of a summerhouse (or ‘shed’ as our neighbours call it!) will be really useful next year, when I’m hoping we can become part of the Quiet Garden movement, with days of peace, contemplation and reflection hosted in Tealby.

I hope to be able to tell you more about my research in the near future, and am looking forward to welcoming new friends and old to Shepherd’s Hill soon!

Revd Annabel Barber

As a ministry team we are very much looking forward to welcoming Revd Annabel as part of the team. Annabel will be licensed as Associate Priest to the Benefice of Walesby and the Benefice of Barkwith at the Tealby Evening Service on Sunday 20th December. The Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey, the Ven. Mark Steadman will be preaching and licensing Annabel to her new ministry.
Fr Chris

Why? Because God was nudging me!

When talking about the training Martin, Janine and I are taking at Lincoln School of Theology, one of the first questions we are asked is “what do you do?” By the end of the academic year we will have:

Written Essays totalling 15000 words

Undertaken over 800 hours of private study

Spent 19 Saturdays at Edward King House in Lincoln, latterly via online lectures and tutorials

Learned an alarming number of new 4 syllable words (Theologians never use 1 when 4 will do.)

Started the study of Spirituality, Discipleship, Old and New Testaments, Ministry and Mission.

This is a reduced schedule: I should have also been attending Reader Training groups every fortnight and undertaken 30 hours service time at another church. Unfortunately these have both fallen victim to the Coronavirus lockdown, as has a local, much valued, support group.
The next is often “What’s it for?” I’m afraid my flippant answer is often “I get a badge. And a scarf.” Although there’s another two years more demanding study before I get that far.

The third question is “Why?” For me, it was a growing sensation that God was nudging me - now was the time to do more. For many years I’ve felt Bible study: lent courses were particularly enjoyable, but always wanted to know, and do, more. My main focus, on a weekly basis, for Bible study was preparing to lead the Morning Service or preparing a reflection for the Tuesday communion. Matters reached a head when I was introduced to The Homilies Project, a resource prepared for parishes where “a licensed and theologically trained leader,” or a Reader or Priest is not available. There were two choices: to follow the provided text or Reader training. I chose to investigate Reader training.

It’s been a challenging 12 months. Filling in the copious paperwork asked challenging and personal questions. An existing Reader, who read our applications commented it might be worth mentioning the bible, or Jesus, somewhere in there ... Discernment Day, when candidates give a presentation on why they feel they are called to lay ministry and are grilled by a panel of both lay and clergy leaders tested my conviction still further.

Last September 12 of us gathered in Edward King House. Reporting back to Rev. Chris I said I had little chance of completing the year, and if I did, I wouldn’t enjoy it: amongst other considerations, everyone except Martin and I had dogs. How wrong I was. Studying alongside these 11 remarkable people has been rewarding beyond words. I still feel, as I did the first time I met them, that they all have more to offer than I. But I know we offer each other support, encouragement, comradeship. We laugh, learn and pray together, and with the whole Lincoln School of Theology family.

Writing essays is not as easy as I remember, bookshelves and credit cards are both groaning with the piles of unexpected reading material, having to re-assess the whole way you practise your religion is not easy or pleasant. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Kathy Jago
Reader in Training

Kathy and I are now well into our second academic year of training at Lincoln School of Theology - except that we haven’t been anywhere near Lincoln as all teaching sessions are online via the ‘Big Blue Button’ (which is LST’s version of ZOOM).

We had a delayed start to the academic year, as did most students at colleges around the country, but have now had 3 sessions including a non-residential residential weekend (thank you covid).

The teaching is still very good but challenging, both academically - we haven’t studied at this level for about 40 years - and theologically - there is still so much that we don’t know. Usually by about 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon I feel that I am fighting the urge to say “Please Sir/Madam, my brain is full!”

We really miss the fellowship of our fellow students. Although we all have different backgrounds and occupations, we all have a common purpose at LST, to train as Readers or Ministers and we really bonded as a natural self-support group last year. We are also expected to ‘do’ much more in supporting worship this year.

Recently Martin and another colleague were ‘asked’, with less than a week’s notice, to lead the Morning Worship in the virtual Chapel before our study day began – there are typically about 50 people, including many clergy, in the congregation, so no pressure there!
However, this was relatively straight-forward: Kathy’s group have the onerous responsibility of leading worship at our next [non-] residential weekend which includes Evening Prayer on the Friday evening, Morning Worship, Evening Worship and Compline on the Saturday and Sunday Morning Worship.

These weekends are wrapped around the study days, “intense” and “challenging” are understatements. Our next commitment is the addition of study groups. Hopefully, as these are small groups, they will move to face to face very soon.

We are currently studying a module called ‘Using the Bible today’, which essentially teaches us how to interpret scripture and give it relevance in today’s world. The module concludes with a 5,000 word portfolio, due on 9th January and, although I must admit to being rather apprehensive about the portfolio, the current study sessions are so good and are really enabling us to discern so much more from scripture than we were able to last year. The current 4-syllable theological terms of choice are exegesis and hermeneutics...

But what are we doing with this newly acquired knowledge? Well, despite the recent lock-down we have both been encouraged and supported by Revd. Chris to undertake some preaching, and lead intercessions at some of the forthcoming Walesby Group Services, including leading a Service of Lessons and Carols in Walesby on Christmas morning. Our favourite challenge is leading the Monday evening Thy Kingdom Come worship – the opportunity to reflect on a topic of choice is liberating. There’s still a long way to go, but God willing, with the help of the Big Blue Button, we’ll make it.

Martin Jago
Reader in Training


Monday evening worship via Zoom.

When Revd Chris asked me to write about the ministry that we have provided during lockdown, I found myself reflecting on a roller coaster journey of emotions and a huge learning curve, but with an overall sense that God has been providing for us and guiding us during these past months.

One of the hardest things I did in late March was to “nail” a notice onto the Church door at Normanby explaining that the church would be closed until further notice, this felt wrong on many levels. Surely at a time of national crisis the churches should have their doors open to receive people, to allow us in to pray, it felt as if God was being shut out (or shut in maybe?). BUT of course we, as ministers, and all of us, as the people of God, were still here. We just had to discover new ways of reaching out to each other. New ways to communicate and worship that didn’t involve meeting in a building on a Sunday.

At the start of lockdown there was a huge flurry of activity but as the wonderful community spirit of help and generosity took hold in each village and was supported by, but not led by the church, then we were able to turn our thoughts to ways of sustaining worship and contact with our congregations. Revd Chris asked me to pick up on the pastoral ministry by managing requests for prayer and keeping in touch with those who were struggling.

Over the months we have received a huge number of prayer requests. (And please do continue to contact us for prayer.) We made it known that we were available to talk by phone. This was supplemented by sending cards and letters to a large number of parishioners and distributing weekly pew sheets containing a printed service for those without access to the internet.

Kathy Jago assisted me in producing a weekly poster with a message of hope, e-mailed out to churchwardens for church notice boards. Revd Chris` IT skills came to the fore and he started streaming a Sunday service of spiritual communion. We hope that you have enjoyed these, they take a huge amount of Revd Chris` time to prepare but seem to be very well received.

When not taking part myself, my husband Chris and I have really enjoyed joining in these services at home, having a cup of coffee as we awaited the start, then that feeling that we are all joining together. I con-celebrate (say the Eucharistic prayer and bless bread and wine) at home as Revd Chris says the Eucharistic prayer on line. That is special too, as although you are unaware that I’m doing it, I found that it is another way of joining with you all as a priest.

Via our website, you can also connect to weekday services, Revd Chris reads morning prayer online six-days of the week and I record Compline three-times a week. As Easter approached, many of us were missing the build-up to Easter that walking through Holy week brings so I wrote and recorded a series of reflections for Holy Week through to Ascension Day.

At Easter many of you helped to spread a message of hope by decorating Easter crosses and wreathes for church gates and house doors to give out the joyful message that although life may be far from normal that Jesus is risen and the church is alive.

Between Ascension Day and Pentecost we engaged in the national 10 days of prayer initiative, Thy Kingdom Come. This was done in conjunction with other Groups across the Deanery via a zoom link each evening and was so well received that it is still continuing as a prayer service attracting up to 30 people. It’s been a great way of getting to know others from outside our own Group of parishes. Confidence has built amongst those attending and some now take turns in leading the worship.

Similarly, the monthly Tuesday evening communion held in Walesby is now a fortnightly Zoom service of worship and prayer and to my delight one of our oldest congregation members joins us for this. As a result of all these streamed services there have been some wonderful new friendships formed, for example a lady from Canada joins us in worship online every day. Although thousands of miles away she has become a friend and a regular member of our virtual congregation.

Funerals and weddings have taken place in some of our churches but obviously conducted under the restrictions prevailing at any one time.

You may feel that I`m listing all this to say “Haven`t we all done well” but no, rather, I`m using it to illustrate some of the new initiatives that have been started as a result of churches being closed and public worship restricted; things that this time last year we would never have thought we would have been doing.

We experienced something of the new norm when, in July, our churches reopened for a few months for private prayer and worship. After a lot of preparation, we held services in some of the larger churches whilst still maintaining the online worship links for those who preferred to stay at home.

Those of you who attended services will know how different it felt, keeping our distance from each other, wearing masks, no singing, sanitising our hands, pews and books and of course, no coffee or socialising afterwards. For all that the services offered were well supported, the weekly evening service at Tealby at a new time of 5pm was particularly successful and Sunday morning Communion at Brookenby was also well attended. Reflecting on this, we feel that offering a choice of both in-person and on-line services may be something that many of you would value in the future.

The demand for an online daily act of worship has been proved, so again we have looked at whether this can be sustained long term and we believe that it can. I hope that you can see that we are trying to find the best ways of offering worship opportunities to as large a number of people as possible, not just at set times in set places but, by the use of technology, at times to suit individuals.

In parallel with all the changes due to Covid-19, the Diocese of Lincoln has started to consult on “Resourcing a Sustainable Church”. This is because it is likely that for financial reasons the number of stipendiary clergy in the Diocese will need to be reduced over the next 3 to 4 years. As a result, team ministries, comprising lay and ordained ministers, covering wider areas may become the norm. What we have learned and trialled in the Walesby Group and in the wider Deanery during the last year has therefore been invaluable to us in being able to look positively at how our ordained and lay resources, and our buildings may be used creatively to ensure the continuity of sustainable ministry in our villages

To help us in our thinking we would like to hear your thoughts on what we have provided over the past few months, and in particular those things that you would value us carrying forward

Revd Elaine
Please send responses to myself or Revd Chris by e mail or letter

The day after the “Zoom” picture was taken, we were very sad to hear of the death of Tony Morris.Tony and his wife Steph have played an active part in our virtual church throughout the pandemic and he will be missed. We offer our condolences and prayers to Steph and the family.

Welcome to the Parish of the Barkwith Groupy

St Mary, Hainton

The Heneage Memorial St Mary Hainton

St Mary, East Barkwith

On 20th of September at a service at St Mary’s Church in East Barkwith, Archdeacon Mark led us in worship and preached at Holy Communion, during which I had the honour to be licensed as Priest–in-Charge of the Parish of the Barkwith Group. This is in addition to my role as Rector of the Walesby group and Rural Dean of Westwold, and, after many months of discussions with Bishop David, the Archdeacon of Lincoln and the Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey.

The Barkwith Group is a single parish which was united in 1976, when the churches of the 7 villages of East and West Barkwith, East and West Torrington, South Willingham, Hainton and Sixhills dissolved their PCC’s and became united under one PCC with 7 parish churches. In the intervening years the Church at West Barkwith was demolished and the Church at West Torrington has been closed and is currently up for sale.

There are currently 5 parish churches in the group including the magnificent Grade 1 listed Church of St Mary, Hainton which houses the mausoleum to the Heneage family.

I am very much looking forward to working with the Barkwith group to grow God’s people and his Kingdom in these tranquil rural villages.

With the expansion of our Ministry team including the forthcoming licensing of Revd Annabel Barber to both the Walesby and Barkwith Groups and the granting of Reader PTO (Permission to Officiate) for Quin Hough, also now ministering in both groups we have a growing team very able to minister to this larger area. This will be supplemented further as we expect that Kathy and Martin Jago will both be licensed as Readers, and there are a number of prospective Authorised Lay Ministers (ALM’s) hoping to complete their training soon. The Revd David Post who has voluntarily kept the group going of the past few years has just had his PTO renewed and will occasionally work in the Barkwith group alongside retired URC minister Paul Fuller from South Willingham and I welcome working alongside them in their ministry’s.

Strong and collaborative team working is going to be the future for our diocese, and I would like to hold us up as a model of what it could look like in a successful future.

The Walesby and Barkwith Benefices will not be legally connected, but we will start to work with a commonality of approach in both the areas of Governance and Liturgy.

May I thank all the Churchwardens, PCC members, Church Officers and Congregation of the Barkwith group for their welcome and support as I now take on this new role amongst them, and may God bless us all.

Fr Chris

Licensing Day .

All Saints, Six Hills

St Martin, South WIllingham


Mid-March 2020 I had no idea ... December 2020 it now seems second nature. What a long way we have come in such a short space of time!

Throughout this pandemic our gathering via ‘virtual church’ has meant we have been able to keep in touch and be fully part of worship in our communities.

This I believe has helped us to stay together and remain connected ... but more than that, I believe honestly it has helped many to explore and deepen their faith.

Logistically Brookenby Church has been literally a ‘Gift from God’ to us. A flexible space in its layout to meet easily ‘COVID19 Secure guidelines’ and it also has the ability to live stream through a solid and very fast Internet connection. Without either we could have managed very little communal Sunday Morning Worship.

As I write this, I am looking at the Youtube statistics for Morning Prayer which is streamed 6 days a week. On average 20 separate computer devices have connected to it each day. Some of those I know are individuals and some I know are couples. Let’s say that’s 25 people who have prayed with me 6 days a week since March. Twenty five people who have walked with me through the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Daniel and the New Testament books of Hebrews, Luke, Acts, Philippians, 1 Timothy and Revelation.

It has been an incredible journey for all of us, not just something that has passed the time when we have nothing much else to do. It is something that is now an important part of the start of each day, helping us to hear God in the world through the words of Scripture. We had no tradition of this prior to the pandemic, and I dare say it wouldn’t happen in a church building either.

Some other virtual highlights of the last 9 months have been our Harvest Service was watched by around 130 people and our Remembrance Sunday service watched by around 160.

Now, the hard task is to decide what we continue with and what we leave behind. That is a question for the new virtual church as well as the traditional physical church ... without doubt ‘future church’ will be a mixed economy of traditional and contemporary styles and a mixture of physical and virtual gatherings. Please keep all your church leaders in your prayers as we try to discern God’s will in this.

Fr Chris

Our Church Annual Meetings 2020

I thought I needed to write to say a big thank you for your comprehensive cooperation with the delayed Annual meetings for 2020.

Our church annual meetings are the time in the year when we elect our Churchwardens, PCC Members and present reports and financial statements to the wider church community. Normally these meetings, and the required elections, must be held by May 31st. However, in 2020 the deadline was extended by a legal instrument of the Bishop to November 30th because of COVID19.

Yet as the pandemic and its restrictions rumbled on, this looked a very ambitious target. In the end, through a combination of online meetings and meetings in churches of other parishes where we could achieve the required secure environment we completed the task.

May I thank all of you who took part, especially the PCC of Tealby for hosting 3 annual meetings, and Croxby, Kirmond le Mire and Stainton le Vale for coming together to have a joint annual meeting using ZOOM. A new but successful experience for all!

At the moment I understand that we will have to repeat the annual meetings by May 31st 2021. Hopefully, by then, in a more normal and warmer environment.

Fr Chris


William Gaunt & Daisy Clark: Tealby Church 5th September 2020


June Brenda Dennett: Funeral at Lincoln Crematorium 27th April 2020
Florence Annie Audrey Wilson: Funeral and Burial, Tealby 20th May 2020
Bernard Roach Funeral and Burial, Tealby 12th August 2020
Anthony David Firkin: Funeral at Tealby followed by
Committal at Grimsby Crematorium 16th November 2020
Ann Jacqueline Hewitt: Thanksgiving service and
Interment of Ashes at Tealby 17th November 2020
Doreen Mary Mitchell; Funeral at Lincoln Crematorium 20th November 2020
David Earling Smith: Funeral and Burial, Claxby 1st December 2020