comprising the parishes of Buckland St Mary, Churchstanton, Corfe, Otterford and Pitminster
Most children learn the Christmas story through taking part in a Nativity play, but coming to grips with the Easter story is not quite so easy. This year, our churches - led by our Youthworker - brought 'The Easter Experience' to Buckland St Mary School. Each of the stories of Holy Week - Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey; his last supper with his friends; his death on a cross; and his empty tomb - were brought to life with story-telling and with things to touch and do. Hands washed in water. Bread shared together. Touching the love which streams out from the cross Each child in the school heard the story and was able to relive the experience and to relate it to their own ideas of things hoped for, lost or refound
This year is turning out to be a record for the Blackdown Benefice as we celebrate mariage with no less than 22 couples (our previous 'big' year was twelve weddings, and we normally have seven or eight). So this year we were able to invite those preparing for their wedding to a marriage preparation day in Corfe Village Hall, led by Revs David Ager and Sue Green. A good number of our couples were able to come and enjoyed a fun day with lunch, having the chance to talk together about what marriage meant to them, and about their hopes and dreams for their future together.
Churchstanton Church lies well away from its village, surrounded by fields, so it seems a good place to celebrate the agricultural festivals and to pray for our farmers (who need our prayers after the last twelve months of dire weather). We began in January, on one of the few sunny and not-too-cold days this year with Plough Sunday. A lovely old plough was brought and dispayed outside the church. We sang hymns specially written for Plough Sunday and a lively service, including a Plough Sunday poem remembered by Churchwarden Alice Hodges from her childhood, and a (lively!) dialogue between a farmer and God written by Reader Peter Hopcraft. Prayers were written on ribbons and then everyone went outside and tied their prayer ribbons on to the plough.
This year, Adam Green was once again in Sri Lanka between Christmas and Easter, this time training people to care for the archives of the Methodist Church. Sue was able to visit him while he was there.
They visited our link church at the highest town in the island, Nuwara Eliya (over 2000m, and capable of being quite chilly at times, despite being so close to the equator!) They were warmly received by their new priest, Father Jebam David and his wife Juliet. On Sunday morning, Sue assisted Father Jebam with the morning services (English at 8 am, Tamil at 9.30 and Sinhala at 11.30, finally finishing at 1 pm!
From Nuwara Eliya they were picked up by Bishop Dhilo and his wife Harshini and journeyed to Batticaloa on the easte coast, a town directly affected by the recently-ended civil war. There they were able to meet with an inter-faith group on progress made since the war ended, and also visited an Anglican pre-school for poor Tamil children. On their return, the congregation of Pitminster church generously gave over £100 on one Sunday morning, and this has been sent to Batticaloa to buy some much-needed toys for the children