Monday, September 24, 2012

St Michael's Church Open Morning

Saturday 29th September
10am to 12noon

Select bric-a-brac, paperback books, home-made cakes & scones, plants and garden produce.

Please bring your friends and family to browse, find a bargain and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What do you think about the Bishops Stortford North Development Plans?

Developers have announced plans for large new housing developments on the north side of Stortford, in the areas around the Hadham Road, Cricketfield Lane and Dane O'Coys Road.  The proposals are for around 2,200 houses.

What do you think about the proposals - are you for or against?

If you are not sure, there is a chance to find out more and give your feedback at two events planned for next week.

The events will be held at the Charis Centre in Water Lane on Friday, September 21 from 2pm to 7.30pm and on Saturday, September 22 from 10am to 4.30pm.

For those who know that they are opposed to the developments (and this includes several of our church members), an internet petition opposing the development went online this week.
The Save our Stortford group says: “Bishop's Stortford is an historic market town. It is in danger of being over-developed and over-stretched if large scale housing developments on Bishop's Stortford countryside go ahead."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back To Church Sunday - 30th September

Millions of people who don't go to church would say yes to an invitation from a friend. What if you were that friend? Who would you invite?

'Back to Church Sunday' has caught on in churches everywhere because it is so simple. Since 2004 a quarter of a million people have said "Yes" to the prayerful invitation of a friend. Each year more churches take part and more people come back per church. In 2011 in the Church of England twenty more people came to each church - across all denominations about 77,000 extra people altogether. And at its heart it is the oldest idea of all, the one that made shepherds leave their flocks, fishermen leave their nets, and tax collectors climb out of trees. Someone invited them.

Back to Church Sunday can help you take the shortest step in evangelism: inviting someone you know to something you love. Taking part is as simple as 1 2 3:

1. Collect an invitation from the church
2. Invite a friend who hasn't been in a while to our Patronal Festival
3. Come with them and then take them out for a coffee or a bite to eat afterwards.

Back to Church Sunday 2012 is on 30th September. Let's get those invitations out now!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

More photos from Belize

Toby has sent me a few more pictures since he is struggling to log into blogger!  I post them on his behalf, along with his captions:

"The beach Cabana at Hopkins, where we stayed for 4 nights."

"The Bishop's House, where I lived in 1965/6. Still his house today."

"The home of Sue Harris, who organised the Fyffes boat collections their end."
There is one more photo with the caption "Indiana and Mrs Jones at a Mayan Temple site".  I have tried to add it to the blog several times but it only downloads the top half of the image, so I will tease your imagination instead!


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toby's Trip to Belize

As mentioned in last week's newsletter, Toby and Madi returned from Belize last Monday and I spoke to Toby on Tuesday.  He claimed to be suffering from jetlag but sounded bright and jolly and any tiredness was certainly not apparent!

I asked him to forward to a few photos since I was sure that others in the congregation would like to see them so he's now emailed a few.  Most don't need any explanation (which is good, since Toby hasn't included any captions!)  Others, I have labelled according to what I can recall from our chat on the phone.

Toby and Madi send their best to all at St Michael's as they now truly begin their new life in Deal.


Upmarket accommodation ...  Toby and Madi borrowed a car and went exploring Belize for much of their time before returning to Belize City in time for the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Anglican Cathedral.

Bed and breakfast on the beach ... Toby commented that the most difficult part of the holiday was mastering the art of clambering in and out of the hammock!

'Cave Tubing' 300 feet underground along a river in a rubber ring.

Zip wiring!

A bar in Belize.  The Belizean national bird is the Toucan however ... and he tells me he's brought one home and named it Lulu ... 

Hmm, not sure where this is but it looks beautiful!

Toby, Madi and the Bishop of Belize at the Festive Service to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist in Belize City.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cross-posted from St Michael's Discussion Forum.

The St Michael's Men’s Group arranged "An Evening With Toby Marchand' (our vicar)  on Thursday 12th April in the Charnley Hall, following the format of that well know Radio 4 programme "Desert Island Discs".  The event was a great success, attracting an audience of 35 members from the congregation. 

Toby had chosen eight recordings of music and narrative pieces interspersed by questions put to him by Mike Ashwood. The music included:
  • a Jazz piece from Belize (where he first met Madi when they were both on VSO duties there), 
  • a cello work and other classical works (Elgar’s Nimrod’, the’ Dies Irae’ from Verdi’s Requiem and ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ from Rossini’s Petite Mess Solenelle). 
  • Amusing extracts from ‘Beyond the Fringe’ (Take a Pew) 
  • a speech by Martin Luther King 
  • a performance by the Monks at Chevetogne in Belgium near which Toby had spent many rewarding times at a nearby retreat. 

Toby spoke of his early life, his travels and his ministry at his various churches, and provided us with an insight into his plans for retirement (which included furthering his proficiency playing the cello).  

The book he chose was Dante’s Divine Comedy and his luxury item an everlasting supply of ice cream! 

After answering a few further questions from the audience we concluded with a ‘Ploughman’s Supper’. It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening which will provide many happy and interesting memories for all who attended.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

St Michael's Festival

I think that everyone who attended the St Michael's Festival held on 18/19/20 May would agree that it was an enormous success. The sheer variety of events, activities, exhibitions and music is a testament to the talent and energy of everyone who took part, and reminds us of the incredible gifts that God has given us to celebrate the work of the Church and our Lord.

The festivities commenced on Friday with a flower festival and exhibitions of creative arts and crafts, shown in the church and the neighbouring Windhill Chuches Centre. The following day there was a family fete in the churchyard. Attractions included a bouncy castel. face painting, stalls selling cakes, plants books and bric-a-brac. There was also a barbecue and ploughman's lunches available.

During the evening, the entertainment continued with a "Music for Springtime' concert. 

On Sunday, the Very Rev Dr Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans Cathedral, was guest preacher at the morning's Parish Communion.

The festival culminated with a Songs of Praise service at 6pm , during which the congregation sang their top ten favourite hymns. The two most popular by vote across across all of the parishioners were Be Still for the Presence of the Lord and Father of Mankind.

Here are are a few of the photos taken at the festival that maybe give a flavour of this joyous celebration.

A selection of the precious silverware used at St Michael's

One of the many flower arrangements

Flowers in the Lady Chapel

Part of the Mothers' Union display

Flower arranging and cake artistry 

Replica historical costumes

Model railway display
A 10ft St Alban

Bishops Stortford Decorative and Fine Arts Society

Rev'd Anthony looking rather fierce!

The Boys Brigade display

An example of cross-stich artistry

All about St Michael's (displayed at the local Library)    

"Infograph" about St Michael's
Display from St Michael's School

One of the studies by Anthony Cleyndert for the Windhill Churches Centre stained glass piece.
Barbecue and drinks

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Festival next weekend and Toby's retirement

Things are really hotting up now.  Our grand Festival, which has been planned for months and which everyone has been working really hard towards, starts next Thursday with the Ascension Day service, and then really kicks off the following day when the church is going to be open to visitors and we hope lots of people will come to visit the exhibitions and see the Flower Festival displays.  A dedicated team of chaps was on duty this morning under the direction of Beryl to help shift table tops and display boards ready for setting up on Thursday, and we have all been encouraged to sign up to help as stewards and generally to pitch in and help make the whole thing a success.  It would be nice if we get some fine weather.

Personally, Rowena and I are looking forward to it, but like many of these things, at this stage we are saying to each other that we will be glad when it is all over!  Rowena is displaying some costumes that she has been making and the house has been full of them for the past few months, so it has been rather all pervading...  I am sure the dresses will look wonderful.

But then the following week we will be wishing Toby and Madi a fond farewell as Toby retires and they move away down to Kent.  It is going to be a momentous change for them and of course also for us, and St Michael's will seem strange without them.  Whoever is eventually appointed as Vicar will have a hard act to follow.....  But we will have a bit of Toby left behind!  Robert Stokely and I have been working on a book of Toby's sermons which Toby has selected from those he has preached over the years he has been at St Michael's, and that is due to be published shortly.  I am looking forward to seeing that come to fruition and I hope Toby will be pleased with the way it comes out.

And on top of all this it's Christian Aid Week and then the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to follow....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Church AGM this Sunday

This Sunday 22nd April sees the church's AGM (actually called the Annual Parochial Church Meeting -APCM), which will take place after the main morning service, at 11.30am. This will be the last APCM chaired by Toby, before he retires next month, and it is a chance to review the year that has gone by and to look forward to the next 12 months. We are looking for people to serve on the Church's governing body - the Parochial Church Council or PCC. If you would be interested please let one of the Churchwardens (Phil Smith or Jenny Klincke) know. The PCC will play an important role in process of appointing a new vicar.

An AGM might not sound like a whole lot of fun, but it is an important meeting in the life of the church and if you have not attended before, why not give it a try? We usually whistle through the business pretty quickly....

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Holy Week and Easter Preparations

There's just so much going on at the moment in the run up to Holy Week and our Easter celebrations. There was a good set of rehearsals yesterday for the plays we are putting on - the radio plays called The Man Born to be King by Dorothy L Sayers, written in the 1940's.

The first one is being performed this morning, Palm Sunday, and I hope it goes well. It's amazing and really quite impressive to see what voice acting talent we can produce from within our own congregation, and John Emmett has worked really hard and deserves many congratulations for masterminding and directing the whole thing. I am sure it is going to be quite moving.

The other three plays will be performed on Good Friday, and then the last one on Easter Sunday itself.

And meanwhile the Choir are busy getting ready for this evening's performance of Faure's Requiem, which is a beautiful and much loved work, and should be a good way to reflect on the events of this special day and to get ourselves ready to observe Holy Week and to celebrate Easter.

All this plus our usual round of services and other events, and then we are also preparing for our Festival in May and for saying farewell to Toby and Madi - it's a pretty busy time!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Who should get the money?

We have our annual budget setting meeting coming up in the Missions Committee this Monday 12th March.

Now that might not sound very exciting but the Committee fulfils an important role for St Michael's, as it is the group which decides which charities at home and abroad we are going to support during the year. We have a list of over 20 charities that we support on a regular basis and we have a budget of several thousand pounds to distribute. This is money that is given by the church membership as a whole and we decide how it is going to be spent.

We support many charities overseas, ranging from more traditional missionary societies such as USPG and the Church Mission Society, to other such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Anti-Slavery International. At home we support local charities such as the Stort Valley Trust and nationwide ones such as Falcon Camps, which aims to help those people from deprived backgrounds, who would not otherwise do so, to have a summer holiday.

If you are a member of the congregation and think that there is a particular charity that we should support, leave a comment here with some details and we will consider it. thanks - Roger S

Monday, February 06, 2012

St Michaels in the snow

We woke this morning to find a winter wonderland in February!  The snow was crisp and deep, and had cleaned the air and the countryside into purity: I had to take my camera to church!  It was a little dark on the way up for the 8 am Eucharist, but the church lights looked very warm in the cold.  We were a merry little band who celebrated in Our Lady Chapel.

We expected that the Christingle Service may also be down on numbers, but parents pulled their various offspring up the hill on sledges and pelted each other with snowballs, all of which added to the fun of the occasion.  There were a good number of people wandering round church in their socked feet having taken off their boots!  A good orchestra even made it through the snow - although no cellos, as they are a tad difficult to throw on your back.  As soon as I've parents' permissions, I'll add some pics of the children looking (reasonably) angelic with their Christingle candles.

We celebrate Christingle in February rather than at Christmas for two reasons: the first is practical, for in the business of Advent and Christmas, Christingle and the collections for the Children's Society can get lost; the second ties in with the Church year for this is the closest Sunday to Candlemas, the celebration that marks the end of the Christmas/Epiphany season with the Presentation of the Christ child in the temple.

Unfortunately, Company on Sunday (our monthly meal for mature members) could not take place in its usual fashion since many of them had to stay home.  A few of us did gather, though, and invited others to come to the feast.  I and some of the other 'children' did line up outside to throw snowballs at Rev Derek as he left!

And now as I write the snow is falling from the yews like rain and I very much doubt the children will be able to enjoy another snowball fight: it's been a nice change from the norm.

Fr Anthony

Sunday, January 29, 2012

News from St Michael's - January 2012

Harlow Foodbank – It urgently TINNED MEATS so please help if you can by leaving them in the blue crate in the Publicity Area, or contact Harlow Food Bank at
The Man Born To Be King – This ground-breaking series of twelve short radio plays by Dorothy L Sayers telling the life of Jesus was first performed in 1942 on the BBC.  Now, in 2012, St Michael's is planning to perform five of them during Holy Week (1st-8th April) as an act of worship.  But to do so we need people to take part by reading one or more of the roles (no learning of lines is involved). There are a lot of parts, big and small. This has the potential to be something really special, so if (a) you can read and (b) you are interested in participating or want to know more, please sign the sheet at the back of the church.

Ecumenical Lent Home Groups – This Lent, the ministers of CTBS would like to invite you to join with other churches to reflect and pray together using the York Course ‘Handing on the Torch’.  If this is something you would like to be involved in, either to host (open your home to others), lead (guide the conversation with the help of a book) or join (come along to listen and share), please contact Anthony ( by 14thFebruary). Please give days/times that you’re available, and whether you’d like to host and/or lead and Anthony will arrange the groups.