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....