October's Pastoral Letter

Although the word has been whispered before in dark corners with regards more than one church

in the Chase Benefice, for the first time at a staff meeting the word REDUNDANT was openly discussed as a possibility for one or more churches at some stage.  This is tragic.  It begs lots of questions.  Why and how from such charming and relatively prosperous villages is it getting difficult to find folk to take responsibility for their church (that  in no way belittles those who have done so in the past) and what are those good folk doing who made their Christion vows in church on their wedding day or brought their children to be baptised or confirmed?  It is very sad.  "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?"  We can keep our Village Halls going, we can in one instance keep a pub going.  Can we keep our churches going?  It is recognised that our Church Councils need new members to assist, but new folk need to come forward.

Over twenty years ago I was asked to put on a concert at Warminster for the Wilts Historic Churches.  As part of that concert I rewrote the words of "The Slow Train" written by  Flanders and Swann about railway stations which had been so regrettably and sadly closed.  Stations in the song are replaced by churches which had been closed, reminding people what heartache redundancy causes, betraying the past and castrating a community's spiritual future.  The words are as follows and I hope it will cause folk to reflect and possibly even pray that such an event will not happen in our Benefice.

REDUNDANT

Melbury Stanford, Boveridge, Berwick Bassett, Antill Deverell,

No more will we go to morning service at Mannington,

We'll wander no longer to Turner's Puddle for Evensong,

No hassocks, no cassocks, no new hymns to learn,

At Salisbury St Edmunds or Old Netherton,

We won't be going again, they're redundant.

No more Bread and Wine from a Vicar at Brockleton,

No more sing loudly "O come all ye faithful" at Combe St John,

At Berwick St Leonard the bells have been sold,

At Mannington Abbas the walls are all mould,

We won't be going again, they're redundant.

In the churchyard and on the pathway, the grass grows high,

At Poxwell, Alton Priors and Dilton Old Church.

The altar's bare at Podsbury and Barriston,

No worshippers come, no hymn boards are ready, the organ's gone,

No one is waiting, no one arrives,

No Vicars, Church Wardens, no blushing young brides,

They've all passed out of our lives,

They're redundant.

Hinto Parva and Fisherton Delamere....they're redundant.

Alhampton and Monkton Deverell....they're redundant.

                                                   Robert Prance

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