1. Last Sunday I had the pleasure of presenting seven candidates from the Abbey to the Bishop of Sherborne for confirmation. We enjoyed a lovely service at Holy Trinity, Weymouth, and received a very warm welcome. Our candidates were Sarah Boswall, Sue Bradshaw, Victoria Drury and her chorister son Oscar, Andrew Henderson, Tom Spenlove-Brown and Mark Whyte. Please pray for them and the seven candidates from Holy Trinity, and four from St John’s, Weymouth. There is a photograph of all the candidates with Bishop Karen on the noticeboard at the back of the Abbey.
Next year we will be due an Abbey Confirmation which, by tradition, we share with Anglican candidates from Leweston School. The latter are prepared by the School’s honorary Anglican Chaplain, The Reverend Lesley McCreadie. More details in due course.
2. One of the Confirmation candidates, Sue Bradshaw, is married to John, and they are well-known to the Abbey congregation and beyond. John, who chairsSherborne Churches Together, is blind, and until a year ago was accompanied to the Abbey by his Guide Dog, Sabre. Sabre is still with them, but in retirement, and now John has received a new Guide Dog, Carter. Carter still has his “L-plates” on, and it is important he is not distracted. So if you see John and Carter in the Abbey, or in town, please do not make a fuss of either of them (especially Carter!). It will simply discombobulate Carter, and in turn disorientate John. Thank you so much.
3. Ascension Day this year falls this Thursday, 30 May. It is the pivotal Feast between Easter and Pentecost. Indeed, the latter doesn’t make sense without it. So I hope you will want to celebrate the Ascension of Christ with us. There are two opportunities to do so. There will be the 12 noon Holy Communion (Book of Common Prayer) in the Lady Chapel. Then comes the Parish Sung Eucharist with the Abbey Choir at 7.00 pm. I do hope you will be at one or the other. In addition, weather permitting, the Abbey Choir will be welcoming Ascension Day by singing from the top of the tower at 7.00 am – and then consuming a huge breakfast courtesy of Sherborne School.
4. The Feast of Pentecost – Whit Sunday – is on 9 June. Sherborne Churches Together are marking the occasion with a Pentecost Picnic on the Abbey Close. You will find more details above.
5. A reminder that a Presentation Fund is now open for Paul Ellis, who will retire as the Abbey’s Director of Music at the end of the academic year (31 August). I have told Paul that it would be a shame formally to mark his retirement at the end of August itself as the Choir will still be in recess, and many people will be away. We therefore have agreed that we will make the weekend of 6th-7th July the official marking of his retirement. The Choir will give its customary end-of-year concert in the Abbey on the Saturday at 7.30 pm. They will sing under Paul’s direction for the last time at Evensong on the Sunday. That is when I hope to make a Presentation to Paul, to express our gratitude to him for his magnificent contribution to Abbey music and worship. You can send or deliver your gift to the Parish Office. Cheques should be made payable to Sherborne Abbey, and either on the envelope or in an accompanying note should be clearly marked Paul Ellis Presentation. Please note that Gift Aid does not apply in these circumstances.
6. A Presentation Fund is also open for Philip Prout, who will be retiring as Church Hall Manager at the end of July. Please follow the procedures set out above but this time make sure your contribution is clearly marked Philip Prout Presentation. We don’t want to get the two presentations into a muddle!
7. Finding a successor to Phil as Church Hall Manager is now a priority. It is not a full-time job (and he has indicated that he would like to retain the role of Manager of the Abbey Shop in the Close). But it is a thoroughly practical job which involves dealing with all those individuals and organisations which want to book the Hall (with their manifold demands) as well as ensuring that the Hall and its facilities are always in immaculate condition. Sometimes, it has to be said, our users do not always help us with this. So a long fuse, diplomatic skills and considerable stamina are required.
That having been said, this paid position might well suit someone who is not frightened of hard work, and who can be flexible about working hours. A job description is now available from the Parish Office. Phil is happy to have informal conversations about his role. Equally, I would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like a similar conversation with me.
8. Our pilgrimage group to Santiago de Compostela returned last weekend. The Reverend Lesley McCreadie reports as follows:
Our week on the Camino began with a 33km walk in 30° temperatures, so a gruelling start to our pilgrimage. The scenery was outstanding and we were fortunate to meet some very interesting people from all over the world. We walked through valleys, across medieval bridges, along the path of a Roman aqueduct and up one or two hills! We visited some interesting churches and became familiar not only with St James but also St Roque and St Marta. Six days of walking brought us to Santiago in our bright yellow T shirts. We concluded our pilgrimage with a celebration of the Eucharist in our last hotel, a former monastery. Our thanks to all those who held us in their prayers as we journeyed through this beautiful part of Spain.