- ST ANNE’S CHURCH in the Parish of Calmore & Eling
Report on the Parish activities and changes 2020 to 2021
A year ago today we were about to come out of the first lockdown which had started on 26th March 2020. We went back in on 5th November last year and now we are coming out again, we hope for ever. During that year we saw our churches closed, reopened, closed again and now reopened, we hope, again, for ever.
A year ago the two churches of St Mary’s and St Anne’s were two of the four team churches of the Totton Parish. We have been reordered are now the two churches of the Parish of Calmore and Eling. A year ago our churches were ministered to by The Team Rector, Revd. Chris Steed and by Revd John Reeve. Now we are in a vacancy with no promise of an end in sight.
So, how have we fared as two Christian church communities in this last year and more?
Surprisingly well, as it happens.
Since the vacancy started last year we have been apart in our own homes mainly but together in Christ though prayer, through Zoom services and coffee mornings, through newsletters, through emails and by telephone. As a result, from Easter we have been able to resume Sunday Services and open our churches for worship and prayer.
None of this would have been possible without the support of some special people: the congregations who have stayed faithful and prayerful in their isolation and are now returning; our Licensed Lay Ministers Antony Sturmey and Terry Stanfield; our retired ordained ministers, Pam and Stuart Goddard; all those faithful servants who have kept our churches clean and safe and are now resuming their weekly duties. We thank you all, but particular thanks must go to Rita, Benny and Christine at St Mary’s who have assisted quietly and without complaint at funeral services here.
When the vacancy come upon us it fell to Tim Mole and me as churchwardens to lead our churches though the pandemic and through the parish reorganisation. It has been, as they say, a learning curve, one which we have ascended with the help of friends; at St Anne’s, Geoff, Pam, Kay, Simon and Ken have been stalwarts; at St Mary’s Rita, Phoebe, Jan, Christine and Terry are as constant as ever. It is a growing and fruitful fellowship both between our churches and within each church.
Our churches, especially at St Mary’s have grown outwards into the churchyards; yesterday morning, at St Anne’s I witnessed a very well attended coffee morning on the lawn by the church in lovely sunshine. Since last autumn, St Mary’s people have joined with a local residents group called Eco Eling to wild the churchyard for the benefit of nature. We now have beehives, birdboxes, bug hotels, a willow den, paths and wildflower areas, bulb planting and beautiful herb gardens among the graves. It’s a great blessing to everyone, friends, strangers, visitors alike. Do go out after this meeting and have a look around. It’s good for the soul.
Although we are in some sense isolated, we are not island churches. We are but two of 410 churches in 306 parishes in the Diocese of Winchester. The Anglican church has been hit hard by the pandemic and as a result finances, training and recruiting of clergy are in crisis. Despite the huge problems confronting our leaders, our Suffragan Bishop, Right Reverend Debbie Sellin and Archdeacon Richard Brand are supporting us through the vacancy and the transition to our new parish. We can best help them to help us by praying for them and by moving forward strongly as a parish without early expectations of the vacancy being filled.
I would be lying if I said that Tim and I have not found these times hard work, often testing and certainly relentless. Yet, God’s love, and your love has supported and uplifted us throughout and continues to do so. We thank you all. We look forward to your continuing fellowship in this coming year. Graham Norman