I’ve been thoroughly enjoying settling into Wichenford and into being a curate here. The job is intrinsically very varied: I’m sometimes asked about what my typical day looks like, but here no day is ‘typical’. However there are some rather interesting overlaps with what I’ve done before.
Neither David Sherwin (the vicar) nor I realised, before I started, that we both share a passion for the healing ministry. Thus I was surprised and delighted to discover that the churches here have been growing in this area over the past couple of months. I was also soon to discover it operating in a context which for me is unusual.
Three weeks ago, all of the services across the churches focussed on healing. I went with Jennifer Whittaker (the other minister in the team) to start the day with Matins from the Book of Common Prayer, with about a dozen in the congregation. Jennifer had prepared a set prayer for the time of ministry afterwards, which seemed ideally suited to the local context – but we were still a bit anxious about the likely response. After the BCP formalities, I preached, sharing some of my own story about why I have become passionate about this subject, and then Jennifer led the prayer ministry. We prayed for each other, and then invited others to come forward if they wanted. To our surprise over half did so. It was a real privilege – and a reminder to me that the liturgy is merely the wrapping for people to meet with God, so that whether it is in the language of 1662 BCP or 21st century New Wine, it is that encounter that is the most important.
I’ve also been enjoying settling into the house, Wichenford Oak. The view from the upstairs windows is beautiful – across a field of ripening barley to Wichenford church, with the Malverns in the background. However, whereas I thought I’d be in a biodiverse area, the hedge all along the edge of the garden is sparrow city… whatever the decline in numbers nationally, it hasn’t reached this part of Worcestershire.
It’s fortunate that I enjoy gardening because this is going to be a major ongoing task, partly to retrieve it from having run wild for the last year, and partly because of the nature of the soil. I’ve found that the question “What grows in heavy clay soil?” sparks many a conversation! Be warned: this theme may recur as frequently as bird-watching!
There are plenty of social events of one sort or another. This evening there was a “cheese and puddings” fund-raising event at Rob & Yvonne Pearce’s house: decent weather meant that there was a good turnout from people in and around the Broadwas area. Being the ‘new curate’ still provides plenty of conversational starters!
Despite all this, I have also managed to sneak a visit to Upton Warren, the local hotspot for birders…