Marriage and love

St Francis Bideford

A congregation of friends and family gathered at St Francis, Bideford to witness and affirm the marriage between parishioners Bob and Leigh.

The weather was kind – not too hot, not too cold!

Ethan and Hannah – two of Leigh’s grandchildren handed out the service sheets – a quite fabulous blue flower on the front. Who, I wonder, is the graphic designer? After the service Georgia helped by ringing the bell to celebrate.

John, Bob’s son, read two prayers from  A Common Prayer by Leunig. Here they are, timeless, sensitive, deep and gentle.

Dear God,
We pray for balance and exchange.
Balance us like trees.
As the roots of a tree shall equal its branches
so must the inner life be equal to the outer life.
And as the leaves shall nourish the roots
so shall the roots give nourishment to the leaves.
Without equality and exchange of nourishment
there can be no growth and no love.

“Love one another and you will be happy.”
It’s so simple and difficult as that.
There is no other way.

Pentecost – camellias and candles

As we have only one service per month those at St Francis can often miss major festivals. This month we transferred Pentecost a few weeks!

The day was very overcast and all agreed it was an added bonus to the service. Judith had cut beautiful camellia sasanqua flowers which matched perfectly the red, orange and hot pink candles on the altar.

The Paschal candle was processed for the last time, the light passed from it to the Pentecost candle.

As the Gifts of the Spirit were described a votive candle was lit from the large red Pentecost candle and placed into a red glass, until we had all seven gifts – knowledge, understanding, wisdom, reverence, awe, counsel and courage. The lack of light – it was so dark we had to lean toward a window to read our service sheets – made this fabulous little church glow with the warmth that only candles can produce. And if that wasn’t enough, we learned a whole lot of unaccompanied songs and chants – the Spirit surely moved in that place.

St Francis’ AGM report

Members of Bideford congregation sitting round table, holding meeting
Bideford AGM at Judith’s

After our service on Sunday we convened for our AGM and morning tea, at Judith’s, where as always we were handsomely treated to a wonderful morning tea.

Although our numbers were down it made for a very amiable meeting, giving us the opportunity not only to cover a range of topics in good depth, but to vote absent people into positions of responsibility!

Plans were discussed as to the next phase of cleaning and restoring this fabulous little church. Monies for this being ‘earned’ by weddings and burial plots.

A good discussion was held about how we could provide pastoral care for locals and how new comers to the district could be welcomed.

Services with a special theme were suggested and these will now be talked through and diaried into the monthly services we hold.

Being on the Masterton Parish website was another topic raised with the realities of poor internet connections in this part of the Wairarapa.

Full of scones, raspberry jam and coffee the meeting finished with farewells to the duckshooters who had wandered through, the new puppy Marge and to our affable hostess. Wonderful.

P.S. Who took the minutes?

Autumn at St Francis, Bideford

Parishioners sit round table
Bideford parishioners sit round Judith’s table for the AGM
Spider's web with dew on it
Spider’s web, with dew, at Bideford Church
Spider's web, wet with dew
Spider’s web (2) from Bideford Church
Layer of mist covering rows of grapevines, Bideford
Mist over vineyard, Bideford.
Grapevines visible from Bideford Church
Grapevines near Bideford Church

Liz Greville took these lovely autumn scenes at St Francis, Bideford, where she took the monthly service.

Liz writes:

The AGM!  We endured fresh coffee, fabulous homemade raspberry jam and cream on warm scones – gosh life is difficult!