WELCOME to the St Mary's 2015 news archives, where you'll find details of events that took place in 2015, most recent first. For latest news, please see our current news page.
GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS:
Preparing the Christingles and Decorating the Church
Thursday, 24 December, 2015
Thank you to everyone who has been busy working so hard behind the scenes to get St Mary's ready for this year's Christmas celebrations, as well as to those who have donated to the cause.
We had a wonderful production line going on Monday to prepare the Christingles for this afternoon's service at 4pm, always popular with the children and their families: make sure you arrive in good time to be sure of a seat! Then, on Tuesday, our team of flower arrangers got together to make everything look suitably festive.
Both teams — and the results of their efforts — are pictured below, photos (including the Christmas tree on the right) courtesy of church warden Sue Moore.
More than 200 adults and children packed St Mary's on Sunday afternoon (6th December) for Carols, Mince Pies & Mulled Wine courtesy of Henlow Events to mark the end of the St Mary's Family Crib Festival and to celebrate the first ever public switching-on of the village Christmas tree lights.
The church was open throughout the weekend with a fascinating exhibition of crib sets (see below for photos) displayed in almost every nook and cranny we could find, on shelves, tables and window ledges — anywhere there was space! The sets ranged in style from traditional to contemporary, from olive wood carvings and clay models to recycled Christmas cards, some custom made for the occasion: all were on loan from members of the congregation and local community groups including Raynsford Academy and the Henlow Rainbows. Thank you to everyone whose creativity, enthusiasm and support made the exhibition possible, especially to the children whose imaginative flair added a special dimension to the whole occasion. Special thanks must also go to churchwardens Sue Moore and Carol Donnelly for co-ordinating the festival, and to the Henlow Events Committee for providing refreshments.
After the refreshments and carol singing, ably led by organist Philip Jewell, we made our way along Church Street to the Christmas tree, at the corner by the parish pump, where the lights were switched on — to a round of applause — by soon-to-be-retiring Parish Council Clerk Mr Bert Schrier. Thank you to Steve Dixon for the tree and to Henlow Parish council for the lights.
Some of the Cribs on display
These pictures show just a selection of the cribs on display, offering us a wonderful reminder of the mystery of the incarnation, of the joy surrounding Jesus' birth and the message of Christmas: Emmanuel, God is with us! The number of cribs was such that it isn't feasible to include all of them here. We apologise to those whose sets are not featured and, if you missed the festival, hope that this taster whets your appetite for the future.
The following announcement was made by the Churchwardens in both parishes on Sunday 1st Nov 2015:
We are pleased to announce that Sue has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Wilts in the Diocese of Salisbury. Sadly, however, this means that she will be leaving us here. But don't worry - she's not going yet, she'll still be here for Christmas. Her last Sunday here will be at the Benefice Service in Langford on January 31st and we'd love to see as many of you as possible on that occasion, please, for her farewell.
We're very sorry to see her go, of course, but we take this opportunity to offer her our congratulations and best wishes in her new role. We will miss both Sue and Phil very much and thank both of them for all they have done in their six years with us.
This year at St Mary's we have decided to support the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Appeal, the world's largest children's Christmas project run by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief and development agency. The concept is simple: you fill a gift-wrapped shoebox with presents suitable for a child, enclose a £3 donation to cover shipping/admin costs using the special envelopes provided (or make the donation online), drop off the shoebox at a collection point, and Samaritan's Purse make sure a child in need receives it.
You'll find all the info you need online at operationchristmaschild.org.uk or in the leaflets available from St Mary's, which include full details of how to pack your boxes, what should or should not be enclosed as gifts, donation envelopes and labels to indicate whether the package is for a boy or a girl. If you'd like to be involved but would prefer someone else to shop for you, please see Sue Moore or Carol Donnelly, who will be wrapping boxes with the Jumping Dolphins and can easily add a few more items to their shopping lists.
Filled shoe boxes can be brought along to our family service in November: 11am as usual on the first Sunday, which this year falls on November 1st. What will yours contain?
SUMMER FAYRE FUN
and another fundraising success!
Sunday, 7 June, 2015
Thank you to everyone whose hard work helped to make this year's Summer Fayre so successful, with fun & games, competitions, delicious cakes, lots of plants and so much more, all made all the more enjoyable by the bright and sunny weather which allowed us to have so many stalls outside. A special well done to those who managed to hold things down whenever the breeze picked up and congratulations, of course, to all our prize winners.
Whether you baked cakes, donated prizes, distributed flyers, sold raffle tickets, took part in the activities, helped set things up, looked after the stalls, served refreshments or cleared up afterwards — whatever it was you did — without you and your support the Fayre wouldn't have been the success it was, bringing in a grand total of more than £1,800 for church funds.
IT WAS PATSY'S DAY
Monday, 1 June, 2015
It was Patsy's day and it was a packed church at St Mary's as members of both parishes gathered to wish the Revd Patsy Critchley a fond farewell on her retirement from the Benefice on 31st May 2015. Patsy came to join us as Assistant Curate towards the end of 2010, having previously served as curate in the Benefice of Shefford and Meppershall.
Patsy's ministry with us has been gratefully and warmly received as she has not only led our Sunday services — frequently challenging us with thought-provoking sermons — but has also touched many people's lives by conducting baptisms, weddings and funerals as well as helping with small groups.
Canon Sue invited Patsy forward at the end of our Sunday service and thanked her for all that she had contributed to the life of St Mary's and St Andrew's, then the Church Wardens presented Patsy with cards, flowers and gifts as a token of everyone's appreciation for all her hard work and support over the past five years.
The presentations were followed by a delicious bring-and-share farewell lunch: as always, a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the lunch or helped serve, rearrange the furniture and clear up afterwards, with further thanks to Jim Dickson for these photographs.
OH YES WE DID!
Panto Time with the Jumping Dolphins
Saturday, 10 January, 2015
Sue Moore writes:
The Jumping Dolphins Club had a special festive treat on Tuesday evening when Henlow Pantomime Dame and St Mary's Choir member Randall Perrey wrote and produced an interactive version of Aladdin for them to take part in.
Dressed in appropriate hats, the children (and some of the adults) acted out the story while Randall narrated in suitably dramatic fashion.
The result was a riotous romp through the story, which, of course had a very happy ending.
The Jumping Dolphins meet every Tuesday in the church at 6.00pm — all children welcome to bring their parents along.
Photographs courtesy of Sally Amner & Donna Jones
CHRISTMAS THANK YOUS
Saturday, 3 January, 2015
Thank you to everyone who helped in so many different ways with this year's Christmas services: to those who decorated the church and made Christingles, contributed towards the cost of the flowers, decorated the Christmas tree (thanks in particular to the Carlisle family for the tree itself), put together the crib beneath the altar in the Lady Chapel, made the Advent wreath and kept the candles refilled in the church.
Thank you to Hilary Woods for the Christmas cake for the raffle, which raised £63 for church funds (it was won by Sue Silver). Thank you to those who made coffee before the Raynsford service and to those who provided and served breakfast on the Sunday after Christmas. Thanks also to our Sacristan and his faithful assistant for their preparations for our services and to the Churchwardens and sidespeople for their ministry of welcome to the many new faces seen at St Mary's over the festive period, as well as to the choir for their Advent and Christmas singing which so enhanced our worship, to the junior bell ringers whose hand bell performance wowed the congregation, and to Canon Sue and Revd Patsy for all their hard work in leading our services and providing us with so much food for thought in their sermons.
Last but not least, of course, thanks be to God for the wonderful gift of himself in Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us: the greatest gift of all and the very reason for our celebrations.