On Sunday evening there was a candle lit evensong led by our Rector Amanda Denniss followed by a reception to thank all of those who help so much to keep the church going in Easton. A wonderful evening for everyone.
Anna Burness spoke as follows:
We are so delighted to see so many familiar and some new faces here his evening. Thank you all for coming on a dark evening to celebrate our church at the centre of our community. As you know our parish of the Itchen Valley is blessed with four wonderful churches in Martyr Worthy, Itchen Abbas, Avington and our own St Mary’s here in Easton.
Tonight is our chance to thank all of you who treasure this church. It is rather telling that there are so many of you that it would take a very long time to mention every name, so forgive me if I just mention a few.
…..four categories:…… Administration, Housekeeping, Social and Worship.
As so often these things overlap and some don’t fit neatly, for example our amazing bell ringers. These are a faithful bunch run by Judy Bishop – who incidentally has also organised the flood lighting outside. My children have grown up with the Thursday evening bells since we moved here almost twenty years ago and they ring out over the valley at Sunday services, weddings and funerals and at special times of national remembrance. Thank you for the giving of your time and skill: we do not take it for granted.
On the administrative side, the overall running of the parish is done by the PCC, but the issues concerning St Mary’s specifically are in the hand of the District Church Council, and that ranges from all maintenance tasks like light bulbs, to major ones like the five yearly quinquennial inspection this year, to ideas for fundraising events and evenings like this. We are grateful to this committee and to our treasurer David Anderson who cannot be here tonight.
On the housekeeping side, there are a lot of unsung heroes and an extraordinary amount of volunteers filling unglamorous rotas: The church yard gardeners under Alison Canfor, the cleaners under Sue Kennedy, the brass polishers, the wonderful flower team lead by Penelope Kellie who make our church look stunning Sunday after Sunday, the families helping with putting up the Christmas Tree and crib and so on.
Did you know that many residents of Church Lane take the responsibility to unlock and lock the church for a month at a time? It is just wonderful that any visitor or parishioner can come in here at any time during daylight hours. Thank you all.
Well, the social side… this is something we can be justifiably proud of. When you hear the urn spluttering into action you know that the coffee team is there again to serve refreshments after every main service, and often something special for example at christenings. And as you will see when we uncork the bottles after this service, we have a well established team of willing helpers organised by Jill Croft and there have been countless occasions when we have been able to enjoy each other’s company with generous plates of food and drink.
And often there are younger ones helping too, children making duck biscuits and cakes for the Duck Race in May – and talking of that occasion, another group hard to categorise; the guys donning those fetching waders herding plastic ducks down the river or Robert doing the commentary on his megaphone.
But most importantly: our worship. When I spoke last year we were eagerly awaiting a new priest and we are so delighted to now have Amanda here as our rector.
There aren’t many of our regular, sizeable congregation of children here today, it is after all the first Sunday of half term.
But for those of you who don’t know we have something called the Ark which is a Sunday school taking place during the main service here in Easton at Sara and Frits’ house opposite. We are so grateful for the committed team of mothers and helpers who keep this going
Then we have chalice assistants and intercessors, lesson readers and sidesmen without whom there would be no communion, no prayers, no words of scripture and no welcome by the door, no hymn numbers up on the wall, no candles lit, no sounds system turned on.
And without our organist David – and John here tonight – we would not be able to sing our hymns of praise. Thank you all for what you do so faithfully.
Finally, there are we, our verger Sara Janssen and your church wardens Theo and myself with a finger in every pie and we want to thank you all for your love and support.