Thursday, December 22, 2005

St James the Great, Eve Hill Posted by Picasa

St James the Great, Eve Hill Posted by Picasa

Ecumenical Service

On Wednesday 18th January there is an Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving. In
January each year we mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - a time
for us to recognise our common faith with Christians of other denominations.
This year's service is at St Francis's, Laurel Road. The service starts at
7.30 p.m. and the preacher is well known to people at St James's - the Revd
Dr Caroline Wickens! Caroline is a minister in the Methodist Church so do
take this chance to hear her.

Fr Andrew Posted by Picasa

2006 Towards Team Ministry

2006 is a new year for St James’s and for the parishes in Dudley. Over the last three years the churches have been exploring how they might work more effectively together. And just prior to Christmas, representatives from the different parishes reported back to Bishop David on their decisions. Although there are technicalities to be sorted out (and often the devil is in the detail) it is likely that by the end of this year we shall have become part of a team ministry.
Now a change of name in itself can be purely cosmetic. But the creation of a team goes beyond corporate re-branding. Much that is already happening will of course continue. And so if a team is working well, many in the parishes will not sense the change – services will continue, for example, in each parish in the team. On the other hand, team working can lead to coordinating activities so that resources are used more effectively. All resources are God given, of course, and all are to be cherished and used wisely. Yet there is no resource more precious than human lives. And that means the time given by laity and clergy alike. There would be little point in a team ministry if it absorbed even more time discussing and replicating provision across the churches. It should create space for fresh opportunities.
Nor is a team ministry simply a clerical affair. The clergy, myself included, will be devoting time to a new pattern in our working relationships. That will include no doubt a joint rota of services to ensure that cover is adequately arranged. But it will have other implications as well. Elsewhere in the magazine this month there are details about Confirmation preparation which is taking place across the new team.
In Ghana it is said “No matter how sharp the knife is, it cannot cut itself.” Team working is just that essential to function at all in life. And many I know already contribute tirelessly to the team-playing that makes for our life together at St James’s – church cleaning, visiting, supporting, to name but three.
Meanwhile if you have concerns or questions about the new Team Ministry and how it will affect St James’s do please speak with me or the wardens. We are at the start of a significant year for us together. And it is my prayer that 2006 will be a year in which each of us can find joy.

Fr Andrew

We're new on the web

Welcome to the St James Eve Hill web log. We are just in the process of revisiting our web site so do watch this space in the weeks to come.
We are preparing for the celebration of Christmas in the parish. If you would like to join us services on Christmas Eve are at:

Crib Service 6.00 p.m.

Midnight Mass 11.30 p.m.

On Christmas Day our main service of Holy Communion is at 10.00 a.m. with Communion also celebrated at 8.00 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 6.30 p.m.

We wish you a peaceful and joyful Christmas.

With every blessing

Fr Andrew Wickens
St James Eve Hill Dudley

Thursday, December 01, 2005

An African Christmas

For us as a family, Christmas this year will be our first in a long time out of Africa. In November and December, the rains come to East and Central Africa and farmers are busy ploughing and planting for a harvest the following Easter. Christmas comes as a welcome pause in this cycle but it is a brief one. On the day itself there will be chicken stew and perhaps some biscuits to share. The next day people return to their fields to cultivate. Meanwhile the cow, the goat and the chickens (less one!) will need feed. That difference in lifestyle and expectation represents a huge contrast. It is more startling for us than the sheer temperature difference. Kenya enters its hottest day-time month in January yet can also experience some of its coldest nights as the upland air chills overnight to the verge of frost.
This year during Sundays in Advent we are opening a window upon the people of Angola. And over Christmas we at St James’s are inviting you to join Christian Aid’s Child of Africa appeal. Christmas is all about a hope that has come for the world in the life of a child. Children like Servina and Eduardo have hope today yet they often have to care for siblings and work the land rather than attend to their own education. I hope that you can be inspired by their stories of hope and join in the appeal.
Although this year we will miss that African Christmas there are many things we hold the same. I remember driving a pick-up packed to bursting with members of the Mothers’ Union singing carols with gusto as we swayed around precariously on hardened and rutted mud tracks. Most of the tunes were familiar even if the Bemba words were not. In Kenya we even enjoyed Christmas by candlelight – and not just because the electricity had failed again. The church was decorated with candles to celebrate the Saviour’s birth.
Faith, in other words, is universal, even if its expression varies from place to place. Now that place for us is St James’s, Dudley. And we look forward to celebrating the coming season with you as together we learn once more the hope we share. May you have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.

Fr Andrew