St Catherine's, Sacombe
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From the Rector
Following a very special ‘first’ Easter in the Benefice, I have several friends who ask how I’m coping with a ‘slower’ pace of life and ministry? They certainly don’t believe me when I say what it’s really like! Of course life is different if not slower. There is a wonderful sense of community here, linking us as churches, schools, community groups and every person in one way or another. It also means that changes affecting people might sometimes need explaining in more detail. One such change appeared in the latest edition of the PS News written on behalf of the Church Council regarding St. Mary’s Churchyard. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, this is a very sensitive issue for some with loved ones buried in our beautiful churchyard who wish only to remember them as they see fit. Please read the article if you haven’t.
Jesus said; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22 v 37-39)
It is our desire as a church community to be known for our love of God but also for our love of the wider community we serve and care for. This is why, amongst many things, a team of volunteers gather on a monthly basis to lovingly maintain our churchyard as a place of extraordinary beauty and peacefulness. It is also true that the desire for very different expressions of grief is a difficult balancing act for us to navigate. To help guide what is and isn’t appropriate we have the St. Alban’s Diocesan Churchyard Regulations. The key to understanding the need for these regulations is to see our churchyard as a public ‘shared space’ that needs to be equally helpful to everyone despite the reality that we are all so different. Let me explain; although there are stages within the grieving process that everyone passes through, the reality is that many of us experience grief in different ways and wish to express it in equally different ways. For example; some treasure an actual place to ‘remember’ and others carry their memories in their minds; some hold closely to objects and others incredibly loosely. We’re all different and different is not wrong but it is different.
With such differences already evident, it is not surprising that our expectations of a churchyard and the grave of a loved one are also very different. For some, the grave and surroundings might be an almost ‘tangible space’ where their relationship will continue. Hence, the need for it to be very individual and unique to reflect their loved one. For others, it might be a place they will visit occasionally on the date of birthdays or anniversaries but no more than this. It means a great deal but their memories may be accessed in a different way.
So what am I saying? St. Mary’s Churchyard is a beautifully cared for public space for everyone to grieve and remember their loved ones in. For this to be achieved, it is not possible for everyone to be free to express their grief in their own personal way, but for everyone to find a way to express their grief in accordance with the St. Alban’s Diocese Churchyard Regulations. Please help us to help one another. Talk to us before you think about a new headstone. Let us share a conversation that helps the churchyard work for everyone even if some current methods of remembering need to be taken away. Lets talk. We’re ready to listen. Thank you.
Alan Comfor,t Rector
We hope you will join us at our services and other events in 2015.
See News on the right for pieces on what is going on in the benefice, including our weekly news sheet and seasonal service list.
May all who visit our ancient Church of St Catherine experience the peace of Jesus Christ, which has inspired the worship of Almighty God through the generations in Sacombe.
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