Saturday, 31 March 2012

A.P.C.M. 2012 – Vicar’s Report.

The last year has been an incredible busy one both in the life of this Parish and for me as your Vicar. Somewhere back in the dim and distant past of last April both Veronica and Cathy suggested that we ought to hold a regular meeting so that we could keep up to speed with everything that was happening. It was and indeed is an excellent idea that somehow just never quite managed to become a regular, diarised event. It was nearly always a case of brief conversations after morning service or at the Saturday shop, doubtless it was probably my fault, so to them I say sorry and I will try to do better.

The growth that we have experienced in the last year is a testament to the hard work that so many of you have put into the life of our church and the very friendly way you welcome visitors. It was said to me a few weeks ago that one of the nicest things about coming to St. Augustine’s was that you were accepted immediately and were welcomed into joining in with everything that we do, unlike some parishes where for the first year or more you were virtually ignored and were not allowed to do anything. Yet again this year we have met our monthly commitment to the Diocese and even put something back on reserve after we had paid all our other bills

I suspect that there is not now one of you who has not heard of Bishop Stephen’s plans to invigorate the diocese through the discussion document ‘Transforming Presence’ and its related proposals. For us this has seen the introduction of some of you leading the intercessions at Mass. It is meant to have seen you leading the reading of the epistle and psalm at midweek services, though I have to say that most of you seem generally rather reticent about volunteering to do so. Doubtless this is a reflection of the fact that it not seen as the ‘catholic’ way of doing things, whereas an evangelical colleague was recently complaining that he hardly ever got to do anything at a service as the laity wanted to do everything. Well I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Seriously though we do have to start looking at a greater involvement in those parts of the service that are not required to be lead by the clergy; going forward there are going to be less and less full time stipendiary clergy such as myself and those that we do have are all going to be looking after more than one parish. Transforming Presence opens the discussion on various ways that clergy and Readers as well other lay ministers might be deployed, nothing is yet decided but all things are open to consideration.

In the last few months you will know that locally St. Andrew’s, Romford from which we ourselves were a church plant has now been put with St. Edwards and is to have a Team Vicar who will serve under Fr. David (Vicar of St. Edward’s) and also be the Town Centre Minister. St. Nicholas’, Elm Park is now classed as a house for duty parish as is the Ascension, Collier Row and St. Mary’s, North Ockenden (these two events took place several years ago now).

So do I know what the future holds for us? Simply put, the answer is No. There are many ideas floating around and I am certainly involved in the discussions at a local level, but the fact that we are in growth and have consistently met our parish financial targets over the last few year’s means that we are not considered in need of urgent action, unless of course they want to try and add to my workload. A thought that makes me grateful that I opted to retain my freehold as it means I have the right to refuse. Frankly I am not sure where I could fit in anymore work let alone taking on a second parish. A new site is all due to come into our parish, as is the development at Roneo Corner and possibly part of that along Crow Lane. Thus the parish of approximately 8,500 souls that I took on nine years ago now will grow to at least 12,000 and most likely more. Consequently I will not just need all of the help that I get from Fr. Mervyn and Joan Cotton, but from some of you as well. Please therefore pray for God’s discernment in your lives and if you feel that you may be being called to a more active role in the life of our parish, then come and have a no commitment chat.

At this point it is, I think, only right that I thank Fr. Mervyn and Joan for all their help, prayers and support. They may not think that they do much, but I honestly could not cope without them, especially as I often wind up on short notice cover at the Queen’s hospital and where there will shortly be a vacancy in the already over stretched regular team.

After them must surely come my grateful thanks to both the PCC and indeed my family. I think I say something like the next couple of bits every year because it is the truth and I cannot think of any other way to put it. Firstly, then to the PCC members – no one on the team gets an easy ride. From grounds maintenance to social events, from cleaning brass to washing plates, from the cut and thrust of a good debate to the mind numbing tedium of some of the complexities of Diocesan regulations everyone plays a part and I am eternally grateful to you all. Of special note this year though is the fact that both Mary and Doris have decided to stand down from the PCC. I shall miss them both greatly, as I have come to value Mary’s pithy comments and occasional miss hearing of where we have got to in the meeting and Doris’ help and advice, especially given that she was one of the two parish reps who appointed me to this living. Yes it’s Doris you have to partly blame for my coming here nine years ago now. Secondly, a big thank you to Jan and the family for putting up with the stranger who occasionally sits down to meals with them when he is not locked away in his study muttering strange threats to his electronic nemesis or rushing out the door shouting bye, can’t stop I’m late for another meeting!!! In the last twelve months we have had the pleasure of sharing Vicky and Mark’s wedding with you and now by God’s grace we hope to share the baptism of their first child.

These, it is true are family events, but all of you are a part of our family and so we feel it is only right that you be there with us.

On the subject of maintenance we had our church quinquennial inspection last summer (five yearly inspections) and the building was judged to be in a good state of repair and decoration. My thanks for this must go to Mr. Maintenance (he did not want to be named) and to everyone who pitches in from time to time with extra cleaning or grounds work.

Looking forward to the coming year we know we have some very interesting challenges to face. The events taking place around the world are likely to continue to have an effect at national, regional and local level, causing yet more problems with fuel and food prices.

The departure of some clergy and laity to the Roman Catholic Church last year and of some more this year will continue to impact on us at Diocesan and local level. This July should see the General Synod vote on the legislation to create Women Bishop’s, an innovation in the body of Christ that may well result in problems and departures if proper provision is not made. The current debate raging in the press over ‘Gay Marriage’ is likely to cause further division. The end of the Freehold system about which I wrote in last year’s report has, as predicted, meant that clergy are less inclined to move causing a certain amount of gridlock in some places (if you move you lose the right to a freehold if you currently have one).

On the subject of our outreach our churches involvement on the governing bodies of both Rush Green Junior School and Rush Green Infants Schools respectively continues to be much appreciated by both the staff and Barking & Dagenham Council and provides us with another means of outreach into the community as does my continuing involvement with the Queen’s Hospital. I cannot express too strongly how important that it is that we continue to be outward facing in our mission and ministry to this community

The future holds many challenges for us as individuals and as a part of the Body of Christ here at St. Augustine’s, if we are to continue to bear fruit for the good of the kingdom we will all need to keep on pulling together, both spiritually and, at times, physically. Like any family, we will have our moments, but it is how we deal with those moments in love for each other that will mark us out as His people.


Those of you who were at the meeting will have heard our Treasurer, Geoff, say that he will definitely not be seeking re-election as Treasurer next year.

We have less than a year to find a new Treasurer, especially if they are to be ready to work alongside Geoff when the new Church Financial year starts in January 2013. Please pray for God to reveal a new person to us and if you feel it could be you then please chat to Geoff and to myself.

Training is available via the diocese as this is a very important position which we MUST fill in order to comply with our charity status and indeed just to pay our bills.

May God bless us all on the journey ahead.

Fr. Martin.

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Today Father Martin presided and preached and Father Mervyn read the Gospel and concelebrated. As the clocks went forward last night we wondered if people would forget and arrive late for Mass – we needn’t have worried.

After Mass we adjourned to the hall for refreshments and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting & Vestry. Father Martin thanked the Churchwardens for their service during the last year and a vote of thanks was passed to Kathy who, after seven years in position, was not seeking re-election. The two Churchwardens for the next year are Veronica and Carol. The Treasurer gave notice that he would not be carrying on after 2013 and that gave us a year to find a suitable person to take over the role of Treasurer. After the reports, four new members were elected to the Parochial Church Council.

St. George’s Day Dinner

Saturday 21st April at 7.15 p.m.for 7.45 p.m.

Tickets limited to 40 persons and are available from Father Martin at a cost of £12 (wine NOT included)

Monday, 19 March 2012



Why not try reading in church either the Bible readings or even doing the Intercessory prayers?

Cathy is looking at ways of expanding the Bible reading rota to include more people so if you would like to try reading then contact her. You always get the readings in advance to make sure you know what you are doing and so you can practice any tricky names.

Father Martin would also welcome those who feel they would like to read the intercessions.

In addition, we always need sidesperson’s each Sunday to hand out the pew sheets, organise the offertory and bring the bread and wine to the altar plus tidy up after the service (not an exhaustive job description I hasten to add). Without them the Churchwardens have just a little bit too much to do. Contact either of the Churchwardens or let them know at the APCM that you would like to be a sidesperson.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


St. Augustine’s was filled to capacity for this mornings Solemn Mass for Mothering Sunday. Our Guides, Brownies and Rainbows were there for Church Parade and the Rainbows carried in their new banner which Father Martin then blessed. Our Scout Group were unable to be present as there was a Scout District Camp.

Father Martin presided in Rose Vestments  whilst Father Mervyn read the Gospel and concelebrated. In his talk, Father Martin asked the people present who had iPads, iPhones, iPods, and got those who did to tell the rest of us us all about the different functions that were available on these gadgets. He then introduced iMum giving illustration of how iMum worked to the benefit of her children. At the conclusion of his talk he told us that Mary, the mother of Jesus was Mother of us all and today we honoured her as well as our mothers..

The posies, made by the Guides yesterday afternoon, were then blessed and distributed to the children to give to their mothers together with some special Mothering Sunday cards. Those whose mothers had died were invited to light a votive candle for them. Flowers were place around the Statue of Our Lady

At the end of Mass we presented back the flags to the Rainbows. Brownies and Guides and sang two verses of the National Anthem. Then for the first time since the beginning of  Lent the organ played a stirring voluntary as the Colour Parties led the Choir, the Servers  and the Altar Party out of church. (the organ is only used for accompaniment during Lent)

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Services for Lent & Easter 2012

Stations of the Cross

Wednesday 14th March at 7.30 pm.

Thursday 22nd March at 7.30 pm.

Friday 30th March at 7.30 pm..

Palm Sunday—April 1st

Assemble in the Vicarage Garden at 9.50 am (or the Hall if wet).

Holy Week

2nd, 3rd, 4th April Mass with devotion each evening.

Maundy Thursday-Mass at 8.00 pm and vigil until midnight.

Good Friday

Stations of the Cross at 10.00 am

Midday—Procession of the Cross from the Y.M.C.A.

1.00 pm Hour of devotion at the foot of the Cross.

2.00 pm Liturgy of the Day.

Easter Sunday

5.30 am Vigil Mass with full ceremonies.

10.00 am Sung Mass of Easter.

6.00 pm Evening Prayer with Benediction (Sung).

Easter Monday—Said Mass at 10.00 am in the Lady Chapel

All other Services as normal.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

It’s Arriving Again!

Just when you thought it was safe the

May Fair

Arrives at a Church Hall near you.

The date is

May 5th from 10.00 to 1.00

with loads of stalls and loads of customers (that includes you).

All you have to do is be there either helping on a stall or buying all those books and plants and toys and collectibles and tombola’s and whatever else you want.

Quality goods only being sold by quality people for a quality cause.

Our version of a May Fair (Market)

Simples (as they say).

Now  check out the stalls and where you can help with providing goods to sell or your time to help sell them.

May Fair Runners and Riders

Just a first stab at the usual list of stalls and those who are running them.

Books/CD’s Mad

Tools Alan

Tombola Pamela and Tom

Toys Pauline

Jewellery Wendy

Plants Maureen W./Vera Nearly New ???????????

Raffle Mary R./Doris

Cakes Maureen F/Pat

Toiletries Gwen


Electricals ???????????


Today Father Martin presided and Father Mervyn concelebrated and preached. He took as his theme the Gospel pointing out that people visiting the Temple were often cheated in several different ways. The Money Changers gave a very poor rate of exchange whilst the officials would often turn down a sacrifice which had been brought by one of the faithful so that they could sell a suitable animal at an inflated price. Jesus was angry at the way the temple had been turned into a market place and at the way people were cheated.

After coffee, the cremated remains of Jo Molesworth were interred in the church grounds. After a brief service in church we went to the garden of remembrance for the interment.

Yesterday’s Saturday Shop took £207

Sunday, 4 March 2012


On this second Sunday in the season of Lent Father Martin presided and preached. He took as his topic “The Anglican Covenant” which was defeated yesterday at the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.


FROM THE MARCH EDITION OF “THE PIONEER” (the St Augustine Church Magazine)

In recent weeks it seems that as Christians we have been under permanent attack. The media has been full of stories about how we are being marginalised by the courts and by parliament, indeed the broadsheet Sunday papers on February 26th led with the governments Equalities Minister saying that “The church has no place in saying who can marry”. This statement is telling in so many ways, firstly in that the minister herself obviously holds no religious convictions of her own or she would know that historically up until the mid Victorian era the church was the only body that could determine who could marry legally in this country.

Turn to the back of any copy of The Book of Common Prayer and you will find something called The Table of Kindred Affinity, which lists all the different classes of relative that a man or a woman cannot marry for example – a man may not marry his - mother – daughter – adopted daughter – father’s mother – mother’s mother – Son’s daughter – daughter’s daughter – etc… In an era long before we knew anything of genetics and the problems of DNA corruption the church knew that inter breeding within families caused horrific problems.

Still everything is alright now since we have discovered how to play at being God as we experiment with cloning and gene therapy. Worse still in the last few days it has been revealed that certain ‘clinics’ in our own country and abroad are providing no questions asked abortions if the foetus turns out to be the wrong sex and that for a very substantial fee they can genetically ensure the gender of a future child by gene manipulation and artificial insemination

Secondly the ministers statement is telling in that it says that the traditionally held values of a marriage as being between a man and a woman are no longer seen as acceptable by the people we have elected to govern us. I do not propose here to rake over old ground, each of you will no doubt have your own views, but the biblical understanding of a marriage is fundamental to our faith in a way that the secular concept of a civil partnership is not.

Whilst the Church of England remains wedded to the state in the person of the monarch we can continue to call this a Christian country even though many others, even in the Christian family, would not so regard it! Parliament is still commenced each day with an act of worship and so were all regional and local council meetings before a judge decided to say otherwise. Thankfully at least the Local Government Minister managed to devolve power to each local authority so that it could determine its own practice. None have so far said they intend to do away with prayers, though many will place it before the formal start of a meeting so that those who do not wish to be a part may absent themselves.

These are very obviously issues that should concern us and upon which we should have an opinion and speak out, yet the greater majority of our Bishop’s and even our Archbishop of Canterbury have been noticeably quiet. Mercifully the Archbishop of York and our dear Queen Elizabeth have been rather more vocal in defence of Christian values and our role in society.

Our recent 4th Friday Discussion Group looked at the question of ‘Banker’s Bonuses’ and the Welfare State’. In its discussion the group looked at how the State had taken over from the Church in helping people suffering hard times, unemployment and sickness as well as at how the Church had been in the forefront of education.

Views were expressed to the effect that we seem to be coming full circle in that within in our area two churches are forming a “food bank” in which we will be hopefully getting involved in due course, to help those whose incomes are insufficient to feed their families. We also discovered that many Christians are still involved in education outside the realm of church schools, trying their best to bring the Christian Gospel to those who would otherwise not hear it

The Lenten season, which we are now in, asks us to renew and repair our individual relationships with God and to prepare ourselves to receive the greatest of all gifts, our salvation. Such a renewal is not without cost both in terms of time and effort as well as finance. The Church has always taught its members to make full use of Lent through the three-fold discipline of Prayer, Fasting and Giving.

If we look to the first disciples, the Apostles, we can see that Jesus called them to follow Him and that they did so immediately. They came to know Him through His ministry and teaching and so deepened their relationship with Him. They made sacrifices in His service. They gave generously of the things they had. They responded in this way because they recognised the call of God and His great love for them. When finally they saw His love expressed on the Cross and the proof of the power of that love at the Resurrection, they realised the full extent of His love for them.

The Apostles had approximately three years in which to get to know and learn from Jesus personally and if we look at the scriptures we see that even in that time they never really got to know him that well. The events of that first Easter and particularly their reaction to it together with the events that led to Pentecost show quite clearly how little they really understood. Jesus constantly caused them to question their values and to re-determine them in the light of the events that unfolded around them. And it is no different for us today

Peter’s reaction to both the events of the Last Supper and his subsequent denial of even knowing Christ are a prime example of this very point. Lent is a time that should be equally challenging for us; we should use it to question our own faith and our understanding of it in the light of our own values in order that we might become better disciples of His.

The world in which we live and move as Christians is very quick to impose on us values that have nothing whatsoever to do with those of Christ. We are tempted to chase after material possessions, which we can often neither afford nor in truth need. To adopt a set of moral values towards our fellow human beings that reflects the ‘I’m all right jack’ culture of self before others. Such a culture is totally against all of Christ’s teachings and the best way that we can defend those teachings is by being seen to be active in our support of them. For some of us that will mean a very physical presence in giving our time to local events or organizations and not just those that are openly Christian. However, our local YMCA is very keen to recruit some more practicing Christians onto its governing body and our PCC is to give some thought about our church becoming a corporate supporter.

It is frequently said that no one person can change the world, however as we know this not entirely true, but that should never deter us from trying, from praying and speaking out. From maintaining the values that Christ calls us to uphold, rather than paying lip service to them once every so often in church, before we walk out the door in a false self pretentious glow to forget all about them until the next time we walk back in. If the values we profess to uphold in church are worth so little to us in comparison to the values of our secular world then we should not be surprised when at the time we hear the words ‘I do not know you’ as we are cast into the outer darkness.

This Lent, as we observe the three-fold discipline that is asked of us, we should try to use that to support our calling to be disciples of Christ and to uphold his values. Christ has called us to be his followers; we now ought to use the extra opportunities for prayer that Lent gives us, to get to know God better. To think of the Sacrifices we need to make to our secular values in order to be better followers of Jesus and his values, to respond to the love of God as we should, to walk in the light and not in the darkness that we might hear at the end of our mortal life ‘Well done thy true and faithful servant, enter into the joys of your Lord’.

May God be with you and grant you a holy and prayerful Lent,

Fr. Martin.