Little Malvern Priory
(Church of England)

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Reports from Our Friends

LITTLE MALVERN PRIORY & LITTLE MALVERN COURT GARDENS OPEN DAY

MAY 6TH 2019

Concerns had been expressed regarding the weather for our Open Day but we were blessed with a dry if cloudy afternoon.

Our visitor number were slightly down on the pervious year but still very good with over 300 being rec-orded.

The gardens of the Court looked beautiful and were very much appreciated by the visitors and ‘staff'. The tasty cakes on the Teas tables, the pretty array of flowering greenery on the Plant stall, the wide selection on the Book stall and the Card stall all contributed to the success of the event. Many compli-ments were also made about the flower displays within the church, and the atmospheric sound of the organ music all added to the feeling of tranquillity.

The organisers of the event wish to express there sincere thanks to all those who helped in any way to make this annual occasion so successful.

£1,776.37 was raised for the Friends of Little Malvern Priory.

Sarah-Ann, Prue and Roger

THE BISHOP’S CERTIFICATE

This past year I and four others in Malvern have been studying the Bishop’s Certificate course. The sessions took place in Saint Peter’s church ,North Malvern on Thursday evenings. We were taken on a journey through the Old Testament and on into the New. Very lively discussions took place during these meetings .Our knowledge of the background to many of the Bib-lical stories was explored in great detail and our understanding of events greatly enhanced. We also explored different types of Christian worship and compared them with non Christian faiths.

Each week we took it in turns to prepare a short act of worship which we could use to express whatever we thought appropri-ate for the topic of the evening. We also had to read often long and complicated passages of scripture to the rest of the group . This was very challenging for me as I shy away from reading and leading others in worship. It was also good for me as I gained much in confidence from the experience. It was very interesting to see how the others tackled the same problems and came up with very varied acts of worship. As a group we melded together and formed a great fellowship which is still continuing .

Our three tutors were excellent. All being specialists in different aspects of the Bible. Each brought a different aspect o help-ing to discern several meanings of the same passages from each one of them.

The course covered too much to go into it all but if you feel inspired look out for the date of the next course.

Age is no bar I was, and still am, at least 20 years older than my fellow students !!!! 

Valerie

 

 

A kind of loving?

 

‘My’ prisoners are rarely far from my mind – and this current obsession of mine gives me ever increasing insight into human experience and understanding of how we live and survive adversity. This applies equally to understanding how I have lived, survived, made my mistakes. I am far from being above or superior to these people who have murdered – I and they are all people who have struggled, to varying degrees, to survive and find our being. Just because I have not murdered does not make me different: we are ALL God’s children; we ALL deserve God’s love, and deserve respect from our fellow human beings. For we ALL have the capacity to love and to hate, and we all have the capacity to be compassionate to our fellow humans.

 Yet so many people are surprised at my loving to be ‘in prison’, and some seem to see it as a noble ‘charitable’ work – a bit like some see working in a hospice. I worked in hospices for some 10 years and, until now, it has been the most privileged and rewarding work I have ever done. ‘They’ gave me so much – and I hope they received from me. If anything, working with prisoners is even more so. At least people facing death are treated with respect and caring – although sometimes controlling – so I was one of many offering support and love. Whatever uncertainty I felt when I first worked with prisoners, I now approach them as fellow human beings and am open to sharing their human suffering. A small number appear confident, brazen and coping but this is very rare. Just to sit and listen to their life stories reveals a life of pain, rejection, lack of respect or love and a struggle to survive.

 The very high rates of suicide and self-harm rates in prison are well known. That is not because they are in prison but (invariably in my experience) self-harm and thoughts of suicide started years before or, in the case of those brought up ‘in care’, probably started then.

 Maybe I have an unfair advantage working with prisoners: I was brought up by multiple foster-carers and in a loveless family. I know what it is like to be denigrated at every turn – although I was not physically beaten frequently as were many of ‘my’ prisoners. Although from a middle-class family, I know what it was like to have less money than all my peers – and that led me to cheat London Transport systematically over months (when aged 11 or 12) to be able to catch up with some of my peers. Had I been caught, might I too have been put ‘into care and control’ and on to borstal etc? And at 16 I was on the point of leaving home – and school  - with no qualifications to live on the streets. That would have been preferable for me to staying at ‘home’. A teacher intervened and I then boarded at school where I was treated fairly.

 Looking back, there were three people at that time in my life who seemed to value me and two others whom I met only once who seemed to identify good in me. I had also had the only hug of my life that I recall from a 15 year old girl, when I was 13, and she seemed to like me. So I was lucky enough to find some self-esteem. I did not need to turn to body-building and brute strength to feel able to stand up straight.

 These experiences make it so easy for me to empathise from my heart with ‘my’ prisoners.  And when they begin to feel understood and accepted as fellow human beings, they open up their vulnerabilities, hopes and fears. A few cannot yet move beyond their physical fighting abilities, expressing loyalty to their mates, but so many want to make amends for past mistakes (like me) and support their fellow men.

 Like people facing death, they are a group of human beings facing the meaning of life, and the meaning of their lives in particular. It is an amazing privilege to work with them.

Hugh

 

Confessions  from a local Vicar

My wife and I live in the rectory by my church, but it is more of a community centre than a home.

Parishioners constantly ring or drop in, usually when we are about to have supper, but I feel if they need help I must see them. It can be anything from a bereavement to a mum worried about her teenage daughter. Increasingly they want me to be their therapist, but while I can offer support and prayer, I’m not a Californian self -help guru.  One woman confessed to having an affair and said “What shall I do?” If I’m honest I did feel rather  annoyed— it’s down to her conscience and it’s not my role to offer guilt-free solutions.

I usually know everyone at the mid-week service. They are committed Christians and also help to run mothers’ groups and the drop in centre for the elderly. These are my favourite parishioners: they know all the hymns they do the flowers, they support the whole community.  But on Sundays, it is different. There is a very good faith school attached to this church and competition has been rife. The pews are full of middle-class couples in their 30s suddenly donating huge sums and sending their children to Sunday school.

I always hope they mean it, but it lasts as long as it takes to secure their child’s place, then I never see them again.  It’s the same with weddings. Our church is very pretty and some are clearly atheists who just want to marry here for the photos. Of course  I support them, but I know it’s the last time I’ll see them.

I have very little time off. Sometimes when an elderly parishioner sees me heading home hurries over for a chat, my heart sinks . Even a Vicar want a glass of wine in front of the television after a long day.

 

 

 

 

          

 
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