Parish News and Events

Bishop Stephen visits the parish (27th Sept 2007)

Bishop StephenExtract from his blog which can be found here.

On Thursday I spent a great day as part of my pastoral visit to the Ridgeway Benefice, comprising the parishes of Chiseldon with Draycot Foliat, Ogbourne St Andrew and Ogbourne St George. Particular thanks go to Charlotte Frost for organising my programme and to the parish priest, Roger Powell, and to all my hosts. Alan, John and I have established a pattern for making pastoral visits of at least two days in a week, with opportunities to meet individuals and groups within the community as well as to share in worship and to meet PCCs. This has been my first and I am very encouraged.My day began with a men’s breakfast in Chiseldon, the food prepared by a team of men led by one of the Readers, reinforced by a serving army officer who responded to need because we had many more men than expected, forty-two altogether. From there I went to lead worship in one school, to bless the new foyer and teaching area and to resolve the quiz about the name and spelling of a bishop’s hat.

It was hard hats thereafter as I visited the Makins’ racing stables and saw the beauty of creation in liquid motion - not me but some real equine winners. I then went for coffee with Mary at Rockley, bereaved of Peter only seven weeks ago - a plucky lady who has made a difference in her community these forty years. This all made me ready for lunch at school in Chiseldon. Lunch happens in shifts so I needed more than one grace. I was very impressed by the food cooked on site, by the imaginative play areas and by the computer suite. Roger’s children, Ben and Sophie, seem happy there, too.

A trip to the pub where the landlords sponsor parish activities and a toddler group was followed by tea with Silver Threads, a gathering for older people in the church hall sponsored by the church. I would have stayed for the bingo except that I am innumerate.

Instead I went up onto the downs to have spectacular views on the Ormond farm and learned much more about the reality of dairy and sheep farming - thanks to Tim, Jemima, John and Polly and two hundred mixed holsteins and friesans and two hundred and fifty sheep .

The next stop was a delicious meal at the rectory. The icing on the cake was a special performance of dance put on for me by the older Powell children, Benjamin and Sophie. The youngest, Samuel, for whom walking is still a challenge, chose to do sit-down dancing with me in response.

The day was completed by a visit to the bellringers at Ogbourne St George before a meeting of the combined PCCs of the benefice. People were able to be very honest in conversation with me. A nine-year-old who had to be present because Mum is a PCC member asked the most pertinent question: what is a bishop for? I would value as many contributions towards an answer as possible. I am working on a paper about this myself to share on the blog. Watch this space..

Many thanks to all the people of the Ridgeway.