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Around the Deaneries: Bradfield

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This is a text-only version of an article first published on Monday, 24 March 2014. Information shown on this page may no longer be current.

AREA Dean the Revd Will Watts (right) describes his mainly rural deanery and some exciting forthcoming church anniversaries.

The Revd Will Watts, Area Dean of Bradfield Will, Priest in Charge of Basildon with Aldworth and Ashampstead, says: "I believe the work and vision of the Church is done in the local churches.

The Deanery Synod is a forum where churches and benefices can share ideas and focus on what they do best. "In Basildon, the original church was by the river and is still there, under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.

For more see http://tinyurl. com/nc2ohlp. "We have services there five or six times a year.

Basildon expanded in the 19th Century because of the clay pits for brick making and people weren't going down to church so they built a tin chapel here in 1911. "The current building, St Stephen's, dates from 1965 and 50th anniversary celebrations will be held next year.

Will says: "We replaced the pews with chairs and put carpet down.

We now have a building that is much more user friendly.

I'm told that the village has changed a lot.

It used to have a garage, a couple of shops and a couple of pubs. "It's now got one pub but it's lost a lot of what used to make it a community.

The school is thriving, they have built a new classroom, but a lot of people work in Reading and London and despite its rural setting it functions more as a commuter village. " St Stephen's is bridging the gap in facilities.

Since 2009 it has housed a post office twice a week in the hall, complete with a café with home made scones and cakes. St Stephen's is not the only church in Will's benefice to celebrate a big anniversary next year.

St Mary's, Aldworth has a rich history and will be celebrating its 700th anniversary in 2015.

"There is a piece of paper dated 2nd August 1315 in the library at Salisbury Cathedral.

It's from when St Mary's opened and we have a copy of it.

It's a very interesting church," says Will, proudly announcing that it features in Simon Jenkins' England's Thousand Best Churches"It contains unique stone effigies to the De la Beche family.

They were high ranking civil servants during the reign of Edward 2nd and Edward 3rd.

One was the Constable of the Tower of London. "Will and his team are in the process of putting together a permanent exhibition and a series of events to take place throughout 2015.

He is also in contact with the family of Laurence Binyon, the poet who wrote For the Fallen in 1914, in tribute to those who died in the First World War.

"We are hoping to restore the grave," says Will.

"The church has an extension with a toilet and kitchen.

Last autumn we started breakfast church, replacing a thinly attended family communion.

Now we get about 30 people each time and some of them have never been to church before.

We don't get the same group of people every time. "Vital Statistics: Area Dean: Will WattsLay Chair: Christoper NewmanNumber of Churches: 26Number of Benefices: 8Number of Clergy: 16News from Aldermaston and Woolhamptonby Becky Bevan

The Butterfly and bee nectar garden ;Weddings continue to be a large part of life in the Bradfield Deanery with the parish of Aldermaston with Wasing conducting 80 ceremonies last year.

Couples who live outside the parish must attend church for nine months before the ceremony in order to qualify to have a church wedding which means that St Nicholas' church Wasing has a congregation of over 100 under 40s.

Marriage Preparation days gather around 40 people at a time to help couples explore what it means to get married in church.

Aldermaston with Wasing PCC has two members who came to church to get married and stayed. The Butterfly and Bee nectar garden in the churchyard at St Peter's Brimpton was a huge success last year and volunteers are already preparing the ground for this year's planting.

The picture above shows the blessing of the garden last June. The Bradfield Deanery Spiritual Development Group exists to put on events across the deanery on subjects relating to faith and life.

The group also organises small group discussions and Quiet days.

A new venture this year is a monthly discussion group called 'Let's Do Theology'. St Matthew's Midgham has opened up overgrown scrub land to create a car park.

A toilet has been installed in a disused boiler room, and a kitchen area built in the church.

These low cost improvements open up all sorts of new uses for the church and help to protect its future. St Mary's Aldermaston has moved its once-a-month Family Communion service to a nearby school so that a new children's church can be set up.

The church building has no meeting room or toilets and so nowhere to run separate children's activities on a Sunday morning.

While plans are developed to improve the facilities at St Mary's the decision was taken to move to school once a month to cater for the growing number of children in the congregation.

The first Sunday at school saw 18 children enjoying Sunday Club and a packed school hall for worship. The Revd Becky Bevan is Priest-in- Charge of the Aldermaston and Woolhampton Benefice.

Church thrives in Thealeby Ann TemplemanPERHAPS the most exciting new initiative is Family Church in Theale. Mums said they wanted their children to 'have a bit of God. ' We have had Pancake Church, Light Up Church and Championship Church.

We have driven in tractors around Theale and Englefield on a Prayer Safari and let off balloons over Theale in Pentecost (Lift Off Church) with messages telling people "God loves you. " We meet at 4pm monthly on a Sunday, starting with a craft activity and then have a short interactive all age service with action songs and which usually features our new church orchestra. Average attendance is about 70 people who don't attend on a Sunday morning.

It has been a great way of introducing our baptism families to church. Also new is our monthly non-Eucharistic Morning Worship service which has drawn in a significant number of new people who find this service much more accessible than the Parish Communion service.

This service is slightly shorter than normal, with well-known hymns, a drama sketch, and a children's song. Sunday school takes place every Sunday, and has expanded to two groups for different ages.

We now have a church orchestra, consisting of adults and young people who accompany one hymn at our new monthly Morning Worship service and the same song at Family Church. This has been a brilliant way of discovering some hitherto unknown talent and bringing different age groups together.

The new Junior Choir meets weekly before senior choir.

(The combined choirs are pictured above. ) Trinity Bunnies is our new Toddler Group, which attracts 60-70 mums and toddlers every Tuesday morning.

As well as the usual craft activities and The Wheels on the Bus, we also have a Bible story and some Christian action songs. A slightly different initiative is Theale Friends; this is a joint befriending scheme with Theale Futures.

It matches up the lonely and housebound with people willing to visit them regularly. We have funding from West Berkshire to support this.

It's been a great joy being involved to develop all our community links; the Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic Torch and now the Commemoration of World War I have provided wonderful opportunities of working with the Parish Council, schools and local businesses. The Revd Ann Templeman is Priest-in-Charge of the Theale and Englefield Benefice.


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