#364: And now it’s got even colder!

Hello! Bertie here, back from a very lovely weekend on retreat with a lovely group of people from the parish. Music, silence, speeches, jigsaws and the most amazing food- it was heaven on a plate. Thank you to Mary for organising it, and to the whole group for such a lovely and relaxing time.

Here is the news- 10 things you need to know

Here are some comments from those who went on the Lenten Retreat to encourage you to go on the next one, and because those sorts of events are so important to the spiritual health and flourishing of the parish- I rediscovered the gift of silence; we went home too soon; God does answer prayer- he did today; I felt very safe within the group; I felt very supported by the group; an oasis of peace- greatly exceeded expectations; sense of community, calmness, and the presence of Christ.

How is your Lent going? Why not discuss it with a friend from Church this weekend, saying what you have found or discovered, what you are finding tricky and what you are looking forward to about Holy Week this time round. Lent is not only or primarily a solitary endeavour- let’s walk the road together. Radio 3 are broadcasting Compline at 9.30pm every Monday evening during Lent and Radio 4 has their excellent Lent Talks each Wednesday evening at 8.45pm.  They will, of course, be obtainable on BBC Sounds.

Mary Cassidy has sent this link in for our Lenten engagement: Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 7 – Suffolk Vicar (

Maybe you could talk about it all over the Lent Lunch, which happens this Saturday from 12 to 1.30, a simple lunch raising money for our three charities- Soulscape, First Steps and USPG.

This Sunday– 8am, 9.30, 10 and 11. The focus for the 3rd week of Lent is John 4.5-42, the amazing story of the Woman at the Well. And don’t forget that the week after (19th) is Mothering Sunday and we won’t have a service at St Nick’s that week so that that congregation can come back to the Mother Church at 9.30am. In the evening of the 19th we have our next Sung Evensong with Sermon on the topic of People Jesus Met- where the special guest preacher will be the Rector (not again I hear you cry- but he did ask very nicely, and bribed me with some Gouda so I slipped him onto the list).

Meditation Group Tuesday 14th March, St Paul’s Church.

Arrive from 1pm for 1.15pm start


Here is Bishop Olivia writing on the Diocesan Mailing for International Women’s Day: plus, as a bonus, a fab interview with Laura Wheatley Downs, the Vicar of Crowthorne, and some commentary on how the Diocese of Oxford is recovering from the pandemic.

  Embrace Equity
Why is International Women’s Day even a thing, in the 21st century?
Here are a few reasons: misogyny, domestic abuse, violence, rape, social and economic disadvantage, coercive control, FGM, honour based killing, poor access to education, child marriage, inadequate healthcare, death in childbirth, lack of affordable childcare, glass ceilings, objectification, harassment, everyday casual sexism, and plain old prejudice.  

And of course to think of us as a homogenous group is a mistake. Some people are very fond of saying ‘Women think… Women like…  Women want…’ But we are not all the same. Some of us are white; some of us are well educated.  Among us are women of colour, disabled women, economically and educationally disadvantaged women, gay women.

Some of my sisters face unbelievable barriers to being taken seriously and considered on an equal footing with men, and in accessing the education, healthcare, and employment opportunities which they deserve. And sure enough, as women, we are not equally represented at all levels of religious organisations, the commercial sector and civil society here in our advanced Western economy, let alone in other parts of the world.

The theme for this year’s IWD is Embrace Equity. This theme recognises that not only is the playing field not level, but that there is still a huge amount of work to do in creating a culture in which women can flourish and fulfil their God-given potential.  

Women and men are created in God’s image. Women are not a mistake or an afterthought or lesser beings. We are equally loved by God;  equally valued by God and equally saved by Jesus Christ.       Rt Revd Olivia Graham, Bishop of Reading      

Read more.     Fully and truly ourselves
The Revd Laura Wheatley Downs shares her journey to ordination and discusses her PhD on shame and reconciliation.

Read more.     Church attendance in 2022, by Dr Bev Botting Bev Botting has analysed October 2022 church attendance figures in the diocese.   The data shows that, overall, on-site church attendance recovery from Covid lockdown seems to have slowed down, and by October 2022 was at 81% of the 2019 level. That’s an amazing achievement after the disruption of COVID and all of the ongoing demands.

We know the overall picture is still quite fragile. Recovery is taking longer than anticipated. Our findings suggest that numbers grow when appropriate provision is made and shrink when it is withdrawn.

PAUSE is Soulscape’s interactive prayer space for young people at school.

Running in Emmbrook 24th – 28th April 2023.

Carving out space during the busy school day for personal reflection and prayer, it invites young people of all faiths and none to think about what and who is important in their lives. There are opportunities to remember people loved and lost, opportunities to explore hopes and dreams and opportunities to recognise and let go of regrets. PAUSE is a time to ‘be’, an opportunity to stop looking at the clock.

We have many volunteering opportunities – be part of the set up or/and take down team; be present in the space for 1 hour or a couple. If you’d like to join the team or find out more please contact Andrea

It is a privilege to be in school and a much valued space. We’d appreciate any time you could give to support us and our young people. We look forward to hearing from you! Michelle x

Calling All Gardeners

There will be a plant stall at the Christian Aid coffee morning in May so please could you sow a few extra seeds or dig up some of those self-seeded plants in your garden to ensure that we have lots to sell on the stall.  Further instructions on delivery etc will follow nearer the day.  If you have any queries please get in touch with Teri Austen.

This poster is for a new group starting in Winnersh to support the families of those with dementia:

Finally, attached are the first outcomes of the St Paul’s Survey on Worship and Music– thanks to those who sent in your thoughts and ideas- we have held onto everything and some things will be ongoing- in particular, we are doing some work on recruiting more sidespeople and servers, and also on the range of hymns we sing- if you have any further comments or suggestions, please do let Richard know- here are the headlines of what people said and how we are responding as a parish…

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