A Thank You Video

Special Services

On September 4th, we came together in a parish-wide service at St Nicholas’ to celebrate the work that Anthony and Steve have done for us. At the service, members of the parish promised to help with various aspects of parish life, in line with our Parish Plan and vision. Many of the couples who have been married in the last two years returned to join us for this uplifting sung service, which was followed by a drinks and a barbecue afterwards on the Rectory lawns.

This video is just a little thank you for the work of Anthony and Steve and their families.

The Curate Writes…


We have just been away for the first time in a new caravan!  It was an unexpected gift from some dear friends and we have been so blessed already by having it.  However, can I tell you how nerve-racking hooking up the caravan to our car was the first time.

The night before, I was excited to go away, however, as I lay in bed I began to worry. What if we hit a neighbour’s car as we manoeuvered out of our drive?!  Would our old Seat blow up towing?  Would we be driving along the M3 and suddenly see an identical caravan overtaking us – and then realise it wasn’t an identical caravan – it was in fact our caravan!?

I was filled with uncertainty and it’s not a nice place to be. We only have to look at the news or even our own Parish and see that we live in uncertain times.  What should be our response?  I think the key is in our Hebrew reading that repeats and repeats the word ‘faith’.

Elton Trueblood wrote these words, and I think they are profoundly true:

“The deepest conviction of the Christian is that Christ was not wrong.”

Faith involves certain beliefs. Faith involves an attitude of hope and confidence. But, at its core, faith is trusting a person. Yes, there is uncertainty in life, but there is faith in a person – Jesus Christ.


From the Curate…


In 1856, as he looked out across the Bristol Channel, the world looked very different to the Revd John Ashley than it does to us today.  Ashley saw hundreds of sailing ships at anchor far from the shore.  He devoted his life to preaching the Good News of Jesus to those at sea. The ‘Mission to Seafarers’ was begun.

Today the legacy of Ashley’s visionary work continues with seafarers continues with vigour, dedication and energy.  There are over 100 ordained and lay chaplains across the world.  At sea there are many tragedies and chaplains are there to help.  As the chaplain to the port of Dunkirk notes ‘an essential part of the role of the chaplain is to maintain a presence throughout all the different stages of an emergency situation; constant, calm and reassuring to those in need’.

They need our prayers and our support as they work in the margins of our society.  As we know St Paul travelled a lot by sea, sometimes successfully, and as we read Acts, sometimes horrendously unsuccessfully (as he was shipwrecked).  What was constant in his travels, however, was his faith in Jesus Christ.  No matter how hard the situation, he kept focused on Christ, even as he faced death in Rome.  It is this perspective that the Seafarer’s Mission gives to seafarers.  No matter the storm, that if they have faith in Christ, all will be well.


Read more about the Seafarers Work here.

The Curate Writes…


Last week I was on a residential course.

The first things we were asked to do was to draw four pictures, each indicating part of who we are.  Apart from revealing that I am no Monet, I drew myself as a child of God, then a husband, then a father and then a priest.  And as I sat in my room on the course and contemplated the news headlines that as a nation we have voted to leave the EU, I reflected on the passages that we had that Sunday.

Our Galatians reading was written to a Church which is strictly wanting to define who is in and who is out. While, our Gospel reading described how Jesus is rejected by a village.

Whether you voted ‘Leave’ or “Remain’, as Christians we could do a lot worst but to read and re-read again the Galatians passage. Ironically, it is a passage I have read as part of the course this week. What course do I find myself on this week?  Bridge Builders – how to deal with conflict.

The essence of the course is that conflict – disagreement – is inevitable.  It is not how you avoid it that matters as a Church, but how you handle it well and almost embrace it as a sign of a healthy Church.  I believe looking at the breakdown of the vote in Crawley that the churches have a role to bridge build.  Finally, Jesus describes how he has no place to put his head – he is a nomad or pilgrim with no home apart from as a child of God – so then too am I.  I am off for a while to a new church – St Peter’s in Brighton – to learn more and experience how they are bridge building to the homeless in Brighton.

Let us love one another – and build strong bridges,


The Curate Writes…


In the Home Group that meets at Saxon Road, we have started looking at the Ten Commandments this week.  One of the questions that we were asked to think about was, ‘What kind of legacy in life would you like to be remembered for?’  There was a variety of answers, but our reading from Acts today offers one of the best legacies, attributed to St Barnabas; he was ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’. Not bad!

As we prepare, Anthony and I, to move on to pastures new, there is an inevitable moment when we both pause and think about what we will leave behind.  One of my mentors wisely said these words to me as I began ministry – ‘Steve, show me a middle-aged vicar and I will show you a building project’. For we all want to leave a legacy behind and when the middle-aged vicar has stopped hoping to change the people by bringing them closer to God, he reverts to wanting to alter the building – much easier to control and change!

So as I sit in my study at St Barnabas’ and think of Worth Parish, I think about the Vision Day and the writing of a plan – and I believe that we are in a position to develop and grow, while loving each other.  The Church is much more than a building, but all of you. Yes, we are sad on one hand, that as the Burstons’, we won’t be hands-on in the mix with you, but at the same time we are excited about what God has been doing, is doing and will do in Worth Parish – we have all been given gifts and how we use them will determine our legacy.


On The Move – Clergy Announcements

Clergy, Special Services
Dear Friends,
Those parishioners who were at the Special Parochial Church Meeting last night will have heard me announce that I shall be moving to a new role in September.  That role is as the Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey and the announcements can be found by following these links:
It has been a wonderfully rich time being a parish priest here in Crawley and I am deeply grateful to all of you who have supported my family and me in so many ways in the past five years.  There will be time over the coming months for me to express that gratitude in person – and I do hope you will be able to come to the ‘farewell’ on 4th September.  That farewell is likely to be for both the Burston and Ball families as, following my departure, Steve will be assigned a new training incumbent.  For 4th September, we are planning a Parish Eucharist at St Nicholas at 10.00 a.m. followed by lunch on the Rectory lawn.
Our move comes at an exciting time for the parish as we work to deliver the vision expressed in our Parish Plan, Growing Through 2016 and 2017.  The energy and commitment that so many of you have already displayed to taking forward that vision of growth in Christ, re-imagining ministry and serving the common good is a huge encouragement to both Steve and me as we focus our efforts on supporting and enabling you to flourish during this time of change and, of course, some uncertainty .
The decisions taken yesterday about seeking an early appointment to the Associate Vicar post, exploring the appointment of a families and children’s worker and the possible revision of parish structures in response to the Crawley Review are all elements that should help to enhance the mission of the church in this time and place – but it is your contribution, individually and collectively, using your God-given gifts, that will be decisive for the future.
Wishing each of you every blessing in that shared endeavour,

Lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil

Season of Prayer
A recent book, The Marshmallow Test, by Walter Mischel, distils 40 years of research in the area of self-control.  The author’s now-iconic psychological experiment took young children and placed them in a room with a series of tempting treats such as marshmallows or cookies.  They were told that if they waited and resisted eating the tempting treat until the temarshmallow-testster came back in, they would be rewarded with two treats rather than just one.  As you would expect, the results were mixed and many gave in to the temptation; some in seconds, others were more ingenious (One test had cookies with cream in the middle.  One boy opened up the cookies, licked the cream and carefully placed them back together.  When challenged he informed the tester he hadn’t touched the cookies!  “I don’t remember taking the test!”).
Temptation comes in all shape and sizes.  In today’s world that has never been truer.  We are hit by temptation from every angle – and what might seem to you quite innocent or not even a temptation can be to someone else an all-encompassing obsession.  What is clear is that temptation will come.  We haven’t the space to unpack the concept of “evil” today, but our prayer asks God not lead us into temptation or, as some translations write, “trials”.  The suggestion in the Lord’s Prayer that God might lead us into temptation seems to contradict the Letter of James 1:13  (Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one).  I don’t think there is a contradiction, rather that the prayer recognized that, in this world, temptation is inevitable because things are far from perfect and asks that when temptation comes that God be with us as we face it.
Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson (known as Bill W.).  Bill W. was an alcoholic who had ruined a promising career on Wall Street by his drinking.  He also failed to graduate from Law School because he was too drunk to pick up his diploma.  His drinking damaged his marriage, and he was hospitalized for alcoholism.  Through a church-led movement Bill W. managed to fight his temptation and remain sober.  What he began ended up being the 12 steps programme and it has helped many people with a variety of different addictions.  One of the most important aspects of the programme is the realization that you cannot do it yourself –  you need to attend meetings and you need the help of a Higher Power.
The same is true for us Christians and that is what the Church, at its best, has to offer.  Times of temptation highlight for us our need for community – to be part of a group of believers with whom we can share our lives, where we can give and receive encouragement and support and where we can develop and strengthen our faith.  On our own and isolated, without support from fellow believers, we are far more at risk of succumbing to temptation and then to continuing to indulge in it.  As we’ve said: none of us is free from temptation; it comes in all shapes and sizes and from all quarters!
So on this, the final day of our novena of prayer in which we have joined with countless others up and down the country praying for the re-evangelisation of this nation, we invite you to pray for God’s Church to be this loving and supporting safe place and to for us to know that God is always with us in our times of trials and our hours of need.  Today we also ask for your prayers for the newest community in our parish – that of Forge Wood (from amongst whose residents we have already had our first baptism and marriage enquiry) and for Forge Wood Primary School as it prepares for its first intake of children in September (in temporary accommodation).

The Curate Writes…


This week, in between appointments that could not be changed, Anthony and I have been together for last three days, surrounded by all the amazing ideas that people floated at the Vision Day – alongside the nine main priorities that were identified on the day. We have talked, reflected and prayed into these as we have attempted to write a plan that does justice to these ideas and can be implemented by us all.

A phrase I read in the past, that came back to me at this time, was that Churches must do these three things; honour the past, negotiate the change of the present and build for the future. And that is what I believe the plan (that will be revealed in the coming month) seeks to do. But a plan is just a plan.  A plan for a church needs the Holy Spirit, the advocate, helper and counsellor, whose sending we celebrate this Sunday in our readings.

For Peter and the disciples things were changing pretty quickly as fear turned to courage.  They held onto their experience of Jesus’ life as they built for the future. And as our reading from Acts points out, the Holy Spirit doesn’t just fill a few selected leaders, but the Holy Spirit fills us ALL. May we build on the momentum from Everyone is Welcome, the Vision Day and our new plan.


Thy Will Be Done; On Earth as it is in Heaven

Season of Prayer

Do Not Worry .. Matthew 6 25-34

Today we reflect on perhaps the hardest part of the Lord’s Prayer to really mean when we pray it – ‘thy will be done’. Why is that hard?  Because, we live in a society that tells that we are always in control, where everything is possible for us, right here, right now.  You only have to find out what makes you happy and then you must go and grab it with both hands and then you will be truly happy, nothing can be denied you.  But, as we grow older and sometimes (not always!) wiser, we learn that material things do not bring happiness and not everything is possible.
Matt Haig, in one of the best recent depictions of the struggle against depression and anxiety sums up modern culture like this;
The world is increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. (Reasons to Stay Alive).
A revolutionary act.  That is what is at the centre of this phrase in Matthew’s record of the Lord’s Prayer – an act that tells us not worry. Why?  Because God is in control and not us – “thy will be done”.  We just have to concentrate on God and then our worries will subside.  That sounds easy, but it is not.
“Thy will be done” means letting God be in control of lives.  These words are positioned in the Lord’s Prayer so that we place God at the centre and in control before we make our petitions of daily bread, forgiveness and protection.  Sometimes our prayer life can be only a list of our hopes and desires that we entreat, or command, God to do under our directorship.  This part of the Lord’s Prayer means sometimes having our prayers go unanswered (even the ones that seem so right).  And sometimes it means dying to our dreams, knowing, however painful it is, that God is in control and still has good plans for us (even if we can’t see them).
Sometimes we all pray for really good things with really good hearts and that prayer does not get answered.  God is silent.  We don’t know why.  Most of us have got on our knees and prayed with our hearts and soul for healing for someone we love, for the clock to be turned back.  And to what seems our most important prayer– God is silent.  We (the clergy) cannot point you to an explanation that has all the answers, for nobody can.
We can only point you to a person.  We can only tell you at the heart of the Gospel is an unanswered prayer.  Jesus kneeling in the garden prayed “Father if is it possible may this cup of suffering and pain be taken from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.”  This is the most desperate prayer every prayed, from the most discerning spirit that ever lived and from the purest heart that ever beat.  A prayer that pleaded to be freed from the most unjust suffering ever known and … it was met with silence.  The cup was not taken away.  But from Jesus’ unjust, unwarranted suffering came the hope – the light of the world that remade human history.  The ultimate answer to every human anguish, including every unanswered prayer, is a sin stained, blood soaked cross where God suffered.  We don’t know why God sometimes says “No”.  Every one of us knows the anguish of wanting a “Yes” but getting a “No”.  We only know that God’s “No” on the cross to his only Son was turned into the greatest “Yes” of every human being that ever lived. Thy will be done…
As we share in the nationwide wave of prayer for evangelization, we focus our attention today on the area of Maidenbower to the north of Pallingham Drive up to Maidenbower Park (plus Bowater Road, Birchwood Close, Bassett Road and Stable Close) and east of Lucerne Drive (including Boleyn Close).  The Brook School, where Steve is a governor, is within that area.  Please pray for the school, for the Headteacher (Fi Dowley), for the staff and the current pressures they face, for the children and all their families.

Thy Kingdom Come

Season of Prayer

In Matthew 16 13-19, Jesus asks the disciples who they think he is.  All the people they think he is – John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah – are good people to be.  However, it is only when Simon Peter says that he is ‘the Messiah, the Son of the Living God’ that things shift in the passage.  At this moment Simon Peter has seen the glory of God revealed in Jesus. When this happens, Jesus tells them that the way that God will continue to reveal His glory, after he has gone, is through the Church.

There is a dilemma when we look back in history – sometimes we would like to eliminate the Church as the chosen vehicle to tell people about the gospel.  For, after all, hasn’t the Church embarrassed us all in some shape or form?  The Church seems to have given Jesus a bad reputation, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, from the defense of slavery through scripture to the Westboro Baptists who picket service men and women’s funerals declaring God’s judgment on them, and even the child abuse in our own Diocese.  At each stage the Church has taken the blame, the stain, and has to live with it – one could be forgiven for thinking that the Church has little reputation or right to speak up.

We can either pretend that we are not the Church, so that we don’t have to carry the baggage of lots of bad decisions by lots of people, or we can take on and re-claim the name for all those people who don’t know what the Church should actually be.  As we pray ‘thy kingdom come’ let us keep in mind that Jesus is the hope of the world and the Church is how God has chosen to bring in His kingdom and make Jesus known.

And Jesus himself tells us that God’s kingdom comes in unexpected ways; it doesn’t just come with a great clap of thunder at the end of time, it grows in our midst, secretly.  It comes through in quirky little moments when people do extraordinary things, take extraordinary risks and leads you to think “Ah yes, that’s a life in which God is real”.

You may have seen the story this week that prompted a mother to post this on Facebook:

 ‘I would like to say a massive thank you to the lady in the photo (sorry didn’t see her name) who helped me today at Morrisons in Basingstoke.  I have two children that are both registered blind and are also autistic.  As you can imagine shopping is not an easy thing for me to do, at the checkout both girls decided to go into meltdown and this very kind lady decided to help instead of judge.  It doesn’t happen very often!  She distracted my daughter by letting her scan all my shopping.  A dream come true for Holly who loves playing ‘shops’.  It melts my heart to come across people that are prepared to go the extra mile, and little acts of kindness makes a massive difference to my world.  I hope this gets back to her and she knows how much we appreciate it. Amanda xxx’.

These acts of love and service are what should define the Church.  Imagine a Church doing that – Jesus did!

Please pray that Jesus may be made known in the area of Pound Hill and Worth to the north of Worth Road & Turners Hill Road and south of Worth Park Avenue/A2220 which includes the Church of St Barnabas and Pound Hill Junior School.  As you pray for the School please remember the year 5 children that are on a residential trip to the Isle of Wight, the Headteacher, Anthony White, and all those who work or study at the school.