Rector's letter - July 2020
During the interregnum, the LAMP Group Worship Team will be writing the Rector's letter. The Rev'd John Berry writes for us this month.
MARMITE, BAGPIPES AND BELLS
What links these three things? Well, of course, they all three can give rise to very contrary opinions.
You either love or hate Marmite.
For an Englishman bagpipes being played can bring similar reactions.
Being a northerner, I love a pipe band, even more if fifes are played with them. But I am not so keen on a single piper, unless he is playing from the top of the battlements of Edinburgh Castle, or across a glen or a loch in the Highlands.
Church bells, in my experience as a vicar, can cause similar reactions, even objections. If you live in the near vicinity of a church with bells and Sunday morning is your opportunity for a lie-in, then when the bell ringers strike up at 7.30am you can get rather annoyed. When I was vicar of St Peter's, Derby, in the city centre, the landlord who had taken the lease on the public house next door to the church, complained that the sound of the bells had spoiled the taste of his best bitter and demanded that they be stopped. A visit from the Chief Constable quickly sorted him out.
I have never learned to ring church bells, as my home church of Woodplumpton in the Fylde had only the one tenor bell. Since then I have always been too busy as a vicar to do more than encourage and praise the ringers. While I was Priest-in-Charge of Bampton w. Mardale, in the Lake District, we lived directly opposite the church, which had six bells. Sadly, one of them was badly cracked. Our children would wait for that bell and giggle with glee.
But it was there in that village that I realised the significance of the bells for the whole community. I had been visiting an elderly lady in the night as she came to the end of her life. She died at about 6.00am, and shortly after I left the family and walked home. As I drew close to the church I heard one of the bells begin to toll, slowly. I went into the church and found there the elderly sexton. He explained what he was doing. He described himself as the "Teller" or "Tailor" and he was informing the community of who had died. He tolled 3x3 for a man, 3x2 for a woman, followed by his or her age. People all over the valley would stop and listen, counting the strokes, and then would know exactly who had died.
Memories flooded back of a novel I had read and enjoyed. "The Nine Tailors" by Dorothy L. Syers, the story of a murder in the bell-tower of a church in the Fens. The author describes how old Hazekiah grasping the sallie of Tailor Paul, and gently swinging the great bell over the balance; 3x3 Teller strokes, or nine Tailors, the passing of a man. She also recounts how when the winter rains came down and threatened the sluices of the waterways the church bells at Fenchurch were rung, an action picked up by other churches across the fens, warning people of the dangers.
So, church bells have always meant to me:
A call to worship our Creator and Lord,
A time of sadness at the fragility of life,
A time of joy at the wedding of a young couple,
A warning of danger or attack.
They are part of the story of God's Church through the ages, and a reminder to be the same in our generation.
Thank you, Lord, for the bells and bellringers of All Saints, Emberton.
During the interregnum the church is here for you For enquiries about weddings, baptisms or funerals, or for any other pastoral need, please contact the Churchwardens: Maddi Forrester 714903, or Sheila Watts 07703 279165.
Improvements to the Church Building
New comfortable chairs and tables have been purchased for the gathering area, and these are to be stored in a new storage area in the south aisle.
We now have sound enhancement. A system was installed at the end of May 2019, and this will make a big difference at services and events in church.
All Saints’ new heating system now heats the church, and we are now beautifully warm for our Services in the cooler months! Come and see for yourself and enjoy being warm at All Saints'.
All Saints’ regularly supports the MK Food Bank, the Tearfund, and Crisis at Christmas. Various charities are also supported at the monthly Thursday lunches.
All Saints’ has an enthusiastic small choir, who lead the singing at Sunday Services. Choir members enjoy joining the Royal School of Church Music for some of their ‘Come and Sing’ events. The Choir is supported by the "Emberton Occasionals" at Weddings and special Services. For further details please contact Hilary Proud via the Rector.
There is an active band of bell ringers, who ring All Saints’ 6 bells before Services, and also practice on a Tuesday night 7.45 – 9.00pm. New recruits are very welcome. Please see the Bell Ringers’ page on this website, or contact Sheila Watts 07703 279165 for more information.
The Children’s Church meets in the Institute on the 2nd Sunday each month at 11.00am under the leadership of Maddi Forrester and Judith Taylor. See the photographs for some of their activities, and please contact Maddi Forrester, 01234 714903, for more details.
The Homegroup meets on alternate Monday evenings to discuss various aspects of the Christian message. The group includes people from other parishes, and new members are always welcome. Please contact Judith Taylor on 01234 240690 to find out more.
Friends of All Saints’
All Saints’ is supported by the Friends’ group (FOAS), who are a registered charity. They work with the Parochial Church Council to preserve and protect the fabric of the Church and Churchyard and to raise funds to assist with improvements to make the building suitable for use by the community for a wide variety of activities. Please see the FOAS page on this website.
A Brief History of the Church
It is believed that the building was constructed between 1340-1410. It is in the ‘Decorated Gothic’ style. Work began on the Chancel, with its magnificent east window and progressed through to the building of the tower. During this period, England was at war with France and the Black Death killed thousands of the population resulting in a shortage of skilled masons. This led to wages and prices soaring, which explains why the decoration becomes plainer on the west side of the Church.
Unusually we have a portrait in brass of Reverend John Morden, who was the priest when the Church was completed. His brass records that he gave two bells, one of which had the inscription ‘In Multis Annis Resonet Campana Joannis’ (John’s bell shall sound for many a year).
An interesting ‘rumour’, for which there is some corroborative evidence is that the remains of Sir Everard Digby, hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the Gunpowder Plot, lies buried in the Chancel.
By the mid 19th Century, the Church was in danger of falling down. Very extensive restoration work was undertaken by the Reverend Campbell Hulton - many of his relations and descendants gave generously to the scheme and are commemorated in the mural tablets and windows which are such a dominant feature of the Church interior. Restoration and improvements continue to this day, with the recent addition of cloakroom and kitchen, as we strive to bring the building into the 21st Century.
Rector: Post currently vacant
Churchwardens: Maddi Forrester, Cedar House, High Street, Emberton, MK46 5JB. 07769 923787
Sheila Watts, 28 Gravel Walk, Emberton, MK46 5JA. 07703 279165
Parochial Church Council Secretary: Janet Gamlen 01234 711729
PCC Treasurer: Warwick Clarke 01234 713174
PCC Members: Louise Cook, Candy Godber, Bill Moody, Hilary Proud, Libby Wemyss
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