A Letter from Rev Clarissa

(You can watch Rev Clarissa read this letter here.)

My friends and Church family,

This is my overdue pastoral and introduction letter.

Thank you all so very much for your warm and kind welcome; both Lloyd and I have felt so at home here and are excited with the great things that God will be doing with and through us as we pray and grow together.

Yes we are living in a bewildering, liminal season of life. In the words of Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair”.

This has not been the ideal entry into a new post of ministry. It has been a very busy time for us. Especially as the confirmation for our move date came on the Thursday and we moved on the Friday. Added to that, we were still in the process of settling two of our five children into university. So not just a new start in a new house, but quite a new start in a new ministry too!

New beginnings are great. I personally find them inspiring and exciting, however with new beginnings there are inevitably endings.

As I drew close to leaving Frome, I became aware of how much love I have for the people there and the love that has been shown to us as a family during my four years in ministry.

However, there has been much joy as my long awaited licensing took place. And my, what a very special event. Archdeacon Simon lead a beautiful service, Joined by friends from Frome, family and friends from abroad, and of course the lovely welcoming folks of Cotford St Luke, Hillfarrance, Heathfield and Oake. In the words of those who looked at the church website: “what a perfect fit” and “they seem like a really friendly lot”, Praise indeed… and I fully agree.

About our children

Simon, age 25, lives in Malvern and runs his own music business

Jake, age 24, lives in Canada. He’s in his fourth year studying medicine and plays basketball for
his college.

Samuel, age 20, is training to be a physiotherapist at Cardiff University

Ruby, age 18, is studying Fine Art at Falmouth university

Benjamin, age 17, is studying drama and stage management in Bath

They are all looking forward to meeting folks and of course, seeing their new home.

For me this new beginning and although strange, it feels natural and right.

Matthew 7:7-11 stands out as a true guideline for my calling and the prayer element of this passage is something close to my heart, when Jesus asks, “How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”

My greatest desire is to encourage others in their prayer life to deepen their personal relationship with God and then to share His love and all that Jesus is about with those they meet. 

I truly believe that God has a calling and purpose for each and everyone of us. For each of us that calling will look and sound different, but His voice is clear and can be heard when we are prepared to listen and respond to His voice.

Several months ago Graham my former incumbent said: ” I have found your perfect Job.” Then I had a deep sense of God nudging me to knock, and maybe, just maybe, that door would indeed be opened for me. The opportunity I speak of was, of course, the vacancy of Rector here.

I did respond, and the rest is history. I found the whole process affirming and truly sensed God’s hand in the proceedings.

And so here we have it, a new ministry for your Rector and a new chapter in the life of the Deane Vale benefice. I deeply hope that you find me approachable, prayerful and above all here to serve God as a Christian among Christians and non-Christians alike. I am looking forward to getting to know you and the community in which we live and serve.

I am always open to new God-given ideas and am excited to hear what you have to say about our role as the Body of Christ in our community; I believe as we work together as a team following the teachings in the book of Acts, we will see God move in an amazing way.

I am also looking forward to being alongside you as you discover or continue to explore your own God-given vocation; be assured we all have one.

I am often out and about in and around the neighbouring villages with my dog Miss Wilson, aka Peppa. I am never too busy for a chat, but if I am for any reason at that time I’m sure you’ll understand.

It is sometimes so difficult to encounter God when life becomes unpredictable and we feel stressed but, let us not forget we can meet him in our hearts and listen to the ‘still, small voice’ of the Spirit of God. The lockdown days are with us again; let us continue to find ways of supporting those in need, being a positive and encouraging voice, and praying for the concerns and needs of the local and wider communities.

At the moment we are planning to have a weekly online Sunday service and Heathfield will be open for private prayer and meditation. I will also be praying in the sanctuary in St Luke’s Centre (SLC) from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 10am. You are welcome to invite anyone to make known their prayer requests by phoning or emailing me or posting it through the SLC letter box.

We have temporarily appointed pastoral contacts in for this time from each Church to keep me informed of the needs particularly of those who are vulnerable and alone. They are Marcia for Hillfarrance, Corinne for Oake, and Dawn for Heathfield. Phil and Lyndsey have kindly passed on information of those in this Cotford St Luke. I am grateful for their support.

So much is happening and certainly we may become alarmed, apprehensive and even anxious to say the least. The ray of light in this dark season is that the star shines brightest when the nights are darkest. People are bringing forth the best in their hearts and lives. As our poet William Wordsworth says in Tintern Abbey: “that best portion of a good man’s (woman’s) life, His (Her) little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”.

Goodness of heart, gentleness and thoughtfulness are as golden as the autumn leaves, and that is a sign of light in these most difficult of seasons.

Please visit our Church website for ongoing information, pass on information to those who may not be Techie. Since the first lockdown, regular collections in our Churches has ceased. If you would like to make a donation to help in God’s work through the church’s mission and ministry in our communities please do so by contacting either myself or one of the churchwardens.

We are still Church. We want to love God with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. We will continue to do this. As Jesus exhorts us: we want to be people of Faith, not Fear. We will do all we can to reach out and help!

Please take care and do stay safe!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all now and always.

With my love, prayer and blessing to each one of you,

Clarissa