#426: Under new management

Bertie your favourite Churchmouse here, on an emotional day. I failed to get the exclusive farewell interview with the Prime Minister that I had worked so hard to line-up- and I couldn’t even find Liz Truss to ask her my questions- but I have pulled in favours and manoeuvred and manipulated and begged and blackmailed in order to line-up this exclusive final interview with the Rector. Here we are…

Bertie: How are you?

Richard: Fine, thank you. How are you?

Bertie: OK.

So, there you have it. My exclusive final interview with the Rector. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to get me into the same room as him and allowed us to sit down together. It was well worth it, as I am sure you will agree.

And now, here is the news…


This Sunday there is only one service in the parish, at St Paul’s, at 9.30am. Please do join in on the livestream if you can’t be there in person- you can find that on YouTube, on the parish website or here: Parish Mass for Trinity VII | St Paul’s Parish (

There will be coffee after the service. Do please stay.

2.30 to 4pm on St Paul’s Junior School Field- please park in the School Playground on Murray Road- do bring along any outdoor games, and a chair, and something to drink, and some nibbles- and relax and chat and potter round in the summer sunshine (sunshine not guaranteed)

4 to 5pm: Afternoon Tea in the Parish Rooms- all welcome. Do please let Alan or Trish know if you are coming and if you could donate a cake-

And in other news…

At the Mothers’ Union meeting on Thursday 18th July Jean Vaughan will give a presentation on the charities that the MU supports within the Oxford Diocese.  You are warmly invited  to come and listen to what should be an interesting talk, whether or not you are a member.  Bring your sandwiches to St Paul’s Parish Rooms at 12.30pm and we will provide you with light refreshment. Please speak to me or Jean if you have any questions.  Teri Austen

Don’t forget Ruth Gibbs’ Walter Lecture on Thursday the 18th at 7pm… at St Paul’s. It will be well worth hearing and it’s always good to support members of our congregation whenever and wherever we can. Ruth works for OXFAM and will be talking on climate justice.


Please look out for the sign-up sheets (in church) and add yourself to help serve refreshments on a couple of days during the Exhibition fortnight. If you haven’t found the rota, please email and offer some dates. We are “on duty” daily 10.30-12.30 and then again 2.30-4.30; the coffee team covers the two Sunday morning slots. The church benefits from donations for the refreshments, helpers have a chance to see the exhibition while performing a neighbourly service in the community, and visitors are always pleased to see us!

The final Choral Evensong of the academic year will be on Sunday the 21st of July at 6.15pm- Rickey Simpson-Gray from St Sebs, Wokingham Without is coming to preach. End the year with the choir well supported- they will be in excellent voice.


We need more volunteers to help to manage and tidy the Churchyard on a Saturday morning once a fortnight- it is a fun and enjoyable way to spend some time and it makes a huge difference to the church and the community. No previous experience required- and there will be cake. Please speak to Andy Clark or Louise Cole for more info and to test it out.

And here is a special and very lovely book which Mary has sent in the link for- enjoy…

My Book of the Church’s Year, by Enid M. Chadwick (no date) (


Bertie here. My Editor has sent me back to try again because he is not entirely sure that my first interview was worth the rather large expenses bill I incurred producing it. So this time I have turned up with ten important questions which I have promised I will not leave until Richard has answered. We are sat eye to eye across a table and the light is bright in his eyes and I am going to get the truth out of him. This could be the interview which wins me my Pullitzer. My Gran is going to be so proud.

Bertie: Tell me the truth this time. You can’t keep avoiding the big questions.

Richard: To be fair, I answered every question you asked me before. You just only asked me one.

B: That’s not the point. My readers deserve the truth and so do I. I have ten questions and I need an answer to all of them. Tell me this. What is your very favourite cheese?

R: Oh, ok, I can answer that one. I actually really like a medium-mature cheddar on a Jacob’s cracker, with butter, and chutney on half of them but not all of them.

B: Now we are getting there. My second question. What is your second favourite cheese?

R: OK- I can do that one too… although it is a tricky one- should I say goats’ cheese or Stilton. I like them both a lot. It all depends on what time of day it is. I am going to go for… Stilton.


R: Goats’ cheese, then.

B: What about your fourth?

R: I suppose it would have to be a French hard cheese. Can I just…

B: And number five?

R: Erm, might I make a small suggestion. Your editor was cross with you last time and I have a tiny suspicion that he might not be entirely happy if you spend your ten questions finding out my top 10 cheeses one at a time. Shall I tell you some other things and then you can cunningly pretend that those were the question you asked me?

B: Oh. I like that idea. We should work together more often.

R: We should. We really, really should.

I am feeling really excited about the next stage of my journey. I am looking forward to getting to Norwich and helping to work out what the job is- how much of it is out and about in the Diocese encouraging people to try new things and be bolder in their mission and service, how much of it is managing and leading an excellent team of experts on things like the environment and new congregations and young people, and how much of it is applying for money for exciting new projects. I am looking forward to getting to know a new city and basically just continuing to respond to God’s call on my life, and applying the things we have learnt here together on a bigger canvas.

B: Thanks. OK, I can invent a question to go with that. What else?

R: It is really hard to leave a place where you have been so happy and well-supported as a family and so happy at work as well. But God has exciting new plans sometimes and, as people of faith called to discipleship and service, sometimes we just have to say yes. I will. Send me.

Next point, I firmly believe that God has new and exciting plans for the parish here as well. We have had a remarkable and successful and exciting and enjoyable time together since 2012 and we have learnt a way of doing things together and flourishing together. There are challenges to face still, absolutely, but we have done some excellent things and really changed the reputation of the parish locally. And those are all a very firm foundation for what God, even now, is preparing next.

B: This is all very helpful. We should have done this before…

R: We have, Bertie, we have. But don’t tell everyone. Don’t give away the secret.

Here is what I would want to say to the parish: keep going. Three different churches, three different styles of worship, three different feels to how the churches work but what binds them, us, together is a deep love of God and a real commitment to welcome and inclusion and making feel cared for and supported and valued and seen, by the church and by God most wonderfully of all. Woosehill are doing a superb job of being a neighbourhood church of the community, embedded and local. St Nick’s is one of the most friendly churches I have ever known- and part of that, I am sure, is about meeting in the village hall and that everyone wades in to help set up and ‘build the church’ Sunday by Sunday. And St Paul’s are really bucking a trend, showing that liberal Catholic churches which take the right things very seriously and are laid back about the things which do not affect how we meet God can grow in numbers, confidence, vision and impact. It has been quite a journey and I have loved (virtually) every minute!

How are we doing? Are you getting all of this down, Bertie, my old friend?

B: Oh yes. I have even turned on my voice recorder because I am a pro.

R: To the next Rector I would just say this: you are the luckiest priest in the Church of England. For the right person, this is a joy of a job. And it is has been for me.

B: Is that because they get to work with me?

R: Erm, yes, among other things. But not only that.

B: I do have one more question. Which is what happens to this email next, and to all of our faithful and committed readers?

R: Well that is simples- you’re staying here, aren’t you? It is just impossible to think of the parish without you now, and you can’t have a Bertie email without Bertie. So you’re staying. We had several applications to work with you because the perks are so cheesily wotsity wonderful- but a dream team of Cara and Louise Cole were the successful applicants.

The new canvases Paul Wallis is working on to go on the pillar next to the lectern in St Paul’s are about the angel of the Church, embodying the culture and values and faith of the Church- they show an angel’s wing but we did toy for a bit with just putting up a portrait of you, dear Bertram, because there is a real sense in which you are the embodiment of the parish- fun and caring, interested and kind, light of touch and yet caring very deeply about people and ensuring that everyone is included. It is not a coincidence to me that you really came into your own and found your place during the worst of the Covid pandemic. You play a very special role and you capture and hold something of who we are and are trying to become. You take the right things very seriously indeed and are relentless in ensuring that people know what is happening, and how to be part of it and making sure that everyone feels at home and welcome and wanted.

To answer your question, and thank you for the final time, you hold something precious in your little paws. Rectors come and go- but the call of the church to be warm and true and focused on God and serving the community goes on.

So, you ask what happens next?

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Bertie Email 427 will be out next Wednesday.

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