RECTOR'S october pew LETTER



Rector’s October 2018 Newsletter




Apologies – this is a long one but I’ve been away … so forgive me.




Sabbatical.  I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity for a sabbatical over the summer.  I have returned reinvigorated and with a renewed sense of calling to serve you all here in Buckingham.  I spent some time rebuilding my vintage Landrover and 5 days in Wales on a silent retreat.  I played a few games of cricket, saw much more of my family, read widely and enjoyed evenings away from meetings and my computer.  The highlight was our ‘trip of a lifetime’ driving all around California for 4 weeks that included visits to some well-known churches.  Of course it was business as usual while I was away and I am so thankful to the wonderful and dedicated team led by Danny who incredibly managed to adopt not one but 2 children while I was away!




What did I learn?  The forest fires in various places around California (that claimed many lives) caused us to rip-up our planned itinerary and live day to day.  We had to drop the idea of travelling in a campervan and stick to a hire car and motels.  Dropping the campervan idea was tough:  this was to be the most exciting part of the trip and letting go of that vision wasn’t easy.  What was incredible is that having committed these changes to God in (quite a lot) of prayer, not only did we find peace but we can now see that we ended up with a better, more enjoyable trip – Romans 8:28 at work.  God was sovereign over it all and turned our little ‘disasters’ round for the good. God is good and prayer works.




Reflections on my Sabbatical.  In brief: I’ve returned so thankful for this wonderful church.  I missed you all - the people, the services, the relationships - and being away made me realise just what an amazing church family we have.  I visited many bigger, richer, more glamorous churches but I didn’t visit any ‘better’ churches. 




Two things really resonated with me: first was that we needed to renew our reliance on - and expectation for - more of the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.  If we try and do things in our own strength, we’ll fail.  Second, I’ve been convinced that if we are to grow our ministry amongst youth and young adults (a notoriously difficult demographic to reach) we must make more use of our young people in leadership positions.  This has chimed with the successes of Holiday Club and Soul Survivor which has led to an influx of youth thanks to Emma King’s vision.  One recent visitor to the 6pm asked me “where do all these young people come from?”!




Challenges.  There is so much to celebrate and give thanks for.  There are also some challenges that lay ahead for which I’d value your prayers.




·         Finances.  I was aware before I left on sabbatical that planned giving had dropped off.  We are not over-spending (indeed we are underspending) but for some reason our budgeted income is well below target.  We are in a four week series on giving and so far the response has been very encouraging.  If you haven’t completed a giving form yet, or reviewed your giving, do please pick up a form from the back of church and hand it in to the office.  More details at


·         New ‘Kids’ Team Leader’.   Tom Brice has stepped down after a successful year in the role.  It is a great shame but the competing pulls of his ‘day-job’ and family life proved insurmountable.  Please pray that we can find someone who loves kids, is a faithful bible teacher, full of energy and enthusiasm and has a proven track record leading volunteers and children’s work.




·         Operations Manager Role.  Due to various reasons – including financial – we were unable to renew Rosie Hayes’ contract as Operations Manager.  This was a new role which she did generously for several months unpaid before taking it up as a paid half-time role.  We have learnt a lot from this time and are reflecting on what shape the job should be in order to make it workable when we can re-advertise.  I am deeply grateful to Rosie for all her hard work.




·         Service Timings.  You’ll remember me saying several months ago that we were examining options to make the family service (9.30) more accessible.  Well, for various reasons it all got too difficult so we dropped the idea.  We’ve now had a significant amount of feedback from Holiday Club parents (who don’t come to church) that if they were to come, 9.30 would really not work at all but an afternoon time would work much better.  I think we should therefore look again at options, the most obvious of which is to move the family service to an afternoon time and move the 6pm forward an hour.  Messy Church (which in September over doubled in size) would need to move midweek or to a Saturday. Remembering that we must be appealing to those outside the church and not just making it comfortable for those already attending, I’d be grateful for your ideas.




·         Discipleship.  We’re still grappling how better to make disciples who in turn make disciples.  We’re trying to think through how we support the congregations’ ministries as opposed to the congregations supporting our paid ministries.  In essence we want to work out how we end up with a church full of missionaries!




Serving.  Serving (in some capacity) is pretty much a non-negotiable for anyone who is physically/mentally able to and would say they are a disciple of Jesus.  Serving is also a great way for newcomers and regulars alike to get to know others.  It may be once a term serving tea or it may be week-in week-out helping to clean the church or helping in our busy office.  There is a ‘you-shaped’ hole somewhere for almost everyone in one of the many service teams.  We serve (and give) as a response to the love of God as shown to us on the cross through Christ’s death.  It shouldn’t be a heavy-hearted ‘well I suppose if I must’ but a joy-filled response!  If you are not serving somewhere and feel able to do so please ask me and I can advise you where might be a good fit.  I do appreciate that there will be some who for various reasons simply cannot and that is fine!




Having made this plea, I am aware of some comments about people being ‘sucked’ onto rotas to serve and then being forgotten about.  I am pretty sure that in every case the people concerned haven’t been in a connect group which makes keeping track of folk very hard indeed in a church of our size.  Where we definitely don’t have it right is that people can get on a rota in areas of service where there aren’t ‘teams’ and so don’t have leaders to look out for team members and their welfare.  We need to rectify this and an idea is below.




Service/Congregation Teams.  We’d like to create a team for each congregation comprising reps for clergy/LLMs, worship/band, wardens, welcoming, hospitality and production.  The idea would be that each team would take responsibility for the vision/direction of a particular service and then be responsible for delivering it.  The 11am team is in effect already running which is why this service runs more smoothly than the others.  To illustrate what I mean, we’d have a team on hospitality under a team leader.  The team leader would be on the ‘Service Team’ and help us decide what sort of hospitality is needed and how best to deliver it.  They’d then run the rota and make sure everyone was on board, trained and supported.




Fabric Issues.  Our new Fabric Committee Chairman – Tim Jones – has made a cracking start. 


·         The side chapel re-ordering project proceeds cautiously as we reflect on the views of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) whose approval we need. 


·         The kitchen project stalled over the summer but the PCC has now agreed to proceed with two storage units just outside the kitchen door which will store everything to do with refreshment-making, crockery and cutlery.  This will free up several cupboards-worth of storage space in the kitchen.  A new dishwasher has been funded by an anonymous donor and we’re fundraising to afford associated installation costs.  We spent a considerable sum quite recently on the new stainless steel ‘plant’ and none of what we’re planning now makes that upgrade redundant.  The key thing is that we’re not just making it more modern and safe but creating extra capacity for future growth.  The kitchen is currently working at full stretch and needs improvements to meet with modern standards. 


·         We had dropped the idea of replacing our chairs as we were hoping that we’d be embarking on building a new school with a new worship centre/church plant.  Sadly this ambitious plan was premature so is on hold for the foreseeable future (until the next phase of new-build estates is signed-off).  I’m afraid therefore that the issue of buying replacement chairs is back on the agenda so we’re hoping to have some more samples in due course.  The DAC has stipulated that they cannot be upholstered and favours steel frames (as used in many cathedrals).


·         A new outside noticeboard should be in place in the next few months.


·         The glass doors will have some words of scripture engraved on them in time for Christmas thanks to a legacy.


·         We’ve abandoned plans to create a below-ground baptistery and are now looking at a mobile above-ground option which would double up as a communion table.




Connect Groups.  We have some 18 connect groups and I’d really encourage you to join one (or form one) as they really are such a crucial part of our discipleship and pastoral care.  Revd Michael Greig is the person to speak to.




Mission Trip to India.  I am praying about whether I might lead a small mission team to Pune in India early next year.  If you’re interested please let me know.




Christingle.  It is early days but if you’d like to be involved in helping to prepare the 400 christingles or indeed being in the production or part of the welcome team please let the Office know.




SOS Shelter.   We are opening the SOS shelter from 1st November.  We need a team of 3 males plus 1 or 2 females to be on stand-by to attend if we have a female guest.  Also, a ‘room keeper’ to attend guests’ departure to get the room ready for re-use.  The room may only be used a handful of times over the winter so this is not onerous but is demanding when in use!  If you feel called to help please email Paul Burgess at




New to SSPP?  If you are new and haven’t yet completed a ‘Welcome’ card then please pick one up from the back of church, complete it and post it into the red letterbox.  If you don’t, we’ll be unable to keep you updated on forthcoming events and you’ll miss out on dinner at The Rectory.  If you’d like more information on us just visit or ask to meet one of the team after a service.




Barn Dance.  This is on Saturday 13th October in BPC.  Great fun for all ages.  Tickets are selling fast so get yours from the Office soonest.  Bring your own alcohol.




GDPR – have you forgotten?   A significant number of the church family haven’t consented to be contacted by the church.  Please could you do so (forms at the  back of church) or else you’ll receive no communications from us whatsoever!




GDPR – Non-consent.  Many of the church family have indicated that they do not wish to be communicated with by the church.  I must say I am left scratching my head as to why this should be so as I cannot see why a member of the church should not wish to receive occasional emails about their church family.  If that is you and you have some concerns then do please speak to a member of the office staff as I’m sure we can reassure you that it is quite alright to ‘consent’.






Some forthcoming events …




·         Monday 1st Oct 8pm – Prayer & Praise in BPC


·         Thursday 4th Oct 10am – Daytime Alpha starts in BPC.


·         Friday 5th Oct at 5pm on BBC2 – ‘The Debt Saviours’ all about Christians Against Poverty’s amazing ministry.


·         Monday 8th Oct at 7pm in BPC – Praying in Colour creativity evening.


·         Saturday 13th October – Barn Dance


·         Sunday 14th Oct at all our services:  One of our mission partner Chris Courtman preaches and feeds back on his and Fiona’s years in Peru.


·         Monday 22nd Oct – Men’s Curry Night


·         Saturday 20th Oct - Women’s breakfast in BPC at 9am.


·         Sunday 28th Oct – 11am – Revd Gussie Walsh’s farewell Eucharist at BPC.




With much love,





Poster found in a Church in France:


"When you enter this church it may be possible that you hear "the call of God".


However, it is unlikely that He will call you on your mobile.


Thank you for turning off your phones.


If you want to talk to God, enter, choose a quiet place and talk to Him.  If you want to see Him, send Him a text while driving."




A final thought to ask yourself at the end of each day:




“Did I offer peace today?


Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?


Did I say words of healing?


Did I let go of my anger and resentment?


Did I forgive?


Did I love?


These are the real questions,” Henri Nouwen