Welcome to our website for the
Three Valleys Team Ministry
Both Nicola and I thank you for your support and good wihses during my recent ilness. I'm pleased to say I'm more or less back to full working now.
Society and the way we live
Because it’s what we know we tend to think the society we live in is the norm for all societies. However, you only have to look around the world to see that there is a variety of different kinds of society and that is even more true if we look into history. The Spartan’s believed in a society that emphasised overcoming hardship and it was geared to fighting. The very word ‘Spartan has come to mean tough and austere. The Athenians experimented for the first time with democracy, The Romans saw themselves as generally superior to everyone else and were dedicated to an expanding empire. The ancient Israelites were very keen on justice and mercy and wrote codes of laws to protect the widows, orphans and the dispossessed. They invented the 'Year of Release', Deutoronomy 15 vs 1ff, when debts were cancelled and slaves had to be released. Reading the Old Testament will quickly show you that the ancient prophets were always berating the Israelites in the name of God for not sticking to these laws. There was an echo of this recently when the church and others tried to persuade governments to declare a Year of Release for third world debt.
Why am I telling you all this? It’s because I read an article in the New Scientist the other day called ‘The Perils of Seeing Ourselves as Biological Machines’ (John H Evans, New Scientist 6 Aug 2016). In the article Evans has looked at the debate as to whether our belief systems about who or what we are give us better or worse ways of constructing our society. Christian theologians have long claimed that if we reject the idea that humans are made in the image of God we risk regarding them simply as machines, devaluing them as individuals and regarding them as 'things' to be utilised as society may see fit. It seems they may have been right. Evan's results showed that subjects who felt more at home defining humans simply as biological machines were more likely to condone things like suicide to save money, less willing to stop genocide, less likely to object to the use of torture, or the taking of blood from prisoners against their will if someone else needed it and so on.
Now this is a large area to research in but it seems to me that if we want to have the sort of kind, tolerant society, focussing on justice for all then our personal beliefs about who or what we are seem very important. Perhaps here is some real evidence that religion is not necessarily the root of all evil as many like to proclaim it to be today. Even with the faults in the way religion is sometimes used perhaps we can say that it is demonstrably the root of good, encouraging us to create the kind of society most of us would prefer to live in where individuals are valued, lives matter and we really do strive for peace and justice for all.
From our Team Vicar Colette Annesley-Gamester July/August 2016
The Role of Clergy in our Community
Church of England Priests serve everyone in the Parish – whether or not they attend Church, have a faith – or none. Our duties include regular Sunday services for Church ‘members’ as well as Baptisms, Wedding and Funerals for those who wish to use the Church building or who would like to have a Minister conduct a service – for example, a funeral at a crematorium.
Clergy commonly go into Primary Schools to lead worship, take School Assemblies, teach aspects of the Religious Education syllabus and frequently serve as Foundation Governors for Church of England Schools.
Outside our Church and School duties (which are explicitly religious), we also have a remit to look after the pastoral and spiritual care of all parishioners who live within the geographical location under our License. Here the ‘Three Valleys Benefice’ (made up of the former Gifle Valley, White Hart Vale and Wriggle Valley Benefice) now includes 17 Churches with 19 separate Parishes and around 6,500 parishioners including the Franciscan Community at Hilfield Friary. The term ‘clergy’ comes from the Greek ‘kleros’ meaning ‘a lot’ as in duties ‘assigned by lot’. Typically, the place where we live and the people whom we live alongside will determine the nature of the duties we’re ‘allotted’ or asked to perform.
As well as the ‘usual’ Church of England duties, we are available for public occasions: outdoor Remembrance Services, monthly and annual Agricultural events, most Community events: Fêtes, Open Gardens, Street Fairs. We try to support fundraising activities and, generally, to be out and about locally whether that is shopping in local stores, joining sports and social clubs or popping into the pub for a pint. We all have our own particular gifts and interests: panto, poetry, quiz nights – amongst others.
As 21st Century Priests, we augment our ministry by having an online presence and you can find us on Twitter or other Social Media platforms. Our public role as Christians is to help build strong local communities within the Three Valleys where we are all neighbours. Do feel free to have a conversation when we’re out in public or find us via the Three Valleys Team website: www.threevalleysteam.org
The Role of Church Wardens in our Community
Colette L Annesley-Gamester
From our Team Vicar: Colette Annesley-Gamester June 2016
The Servant Queen and The King She Serves
As a Brownie, I remember with wonder and great excitement Street Celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. Her subsequent Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012 brought with them bigger parties, wider media coverage and the question of whether Elizabeth II would make history by exceeding Queen Victoria as the longest serving monarch. This year, we celebrate that landmark as well as Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday by giving thanks for her life-long service and duty to the Nation.
On Christmas Day 2014, in a departure from royal protocol, The Queen spoke - not just of her sense of duty but made explicit reference to her faith. It was striking how naturally she talked about Jesus Christ identifying him as ‘an inspiration and an anchor in [her] life.’ In another unabashed public reference to her Christian faith in 2015, the Queen explained:
‘Despite being displaced and persecuted throughout his short life, Christ’s unchanging message was not one of revenge or violence but simply that we should love one another.’
She went on to acknowledge:
‘Although it is not an easy message to follow, we shouldn’t be discouraged; rather, it inspires us to try harder: to be thankful for the people who bring love and happiness into our own lives, and to look for ways of spreading love to others, whenever and wherever we can.’
Whether we identify as being Christian, attend Church or not, hearing what motivates the Queen and gives her inner strength enables us to consider who are our own role models and what we do on account of their example. Plus, significantly, for whom might we be role models and what will we leave as a legacy from what we have said and done that might in some way give encouragement or inspiration to others?
As people join in the various Birthday celebrations for the Queen across the Wriggle Valley, those events will themselves contain their own message about each of our distinctive communities and how we seek to serve our neighbours. Wishing everyone joyous and blessed celebrations in giving thanks to The Queen for her life, faith and service.
I hope that you will find plenty of useful and interesting information in here.
The Reverend Tony Gilbert
Tony with his wife Nicola