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  • Pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum
    Published: Tuesday 11 June 2019 09:25 AM
    Author: Martin Allen

    St Mary’s pilgrimage to the National Memorial Arboretum was well attended and took place on a fine day on Saturday 18th May, appropriately just a few weeks before the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.  Set in 150 acres of park and woodland, and bordered by the serene River Tame, the Arboretum and its 350 memorials were designed to provide a national focus for Remembrance, not just for the military, but also for all rescue services and many other associated organisations.  The visit started with a short service in the chapel and then we dispersed in all directions either to seek out memorials relevant to our own respective families, or simply to admire the beautifully constructed and tended monuments and statues.  Some took the internal land train to enjoy a 50 minute tour of the site with an audio commentary whilst others followed recommended tour routes described in the official written guide.  Central to the site is the Armed Forces Memorial which is a stunning and captivating piece of architecture listing on Portland stone panels some 16,000 names of those who have been killed on duty since WW2.  Sculptures and statues within the large circular construction bear silent witness to the cost and scale of armed conflict in recent years. Particularly heart-wrenching are the memorials dedicated to the Burma Railway, Polish Forces and “Shot at Dawn”.  (There are no words to describe the distressing feelings evoked by a visit to the latter memorial).  Despite moments of sadness tinged with gratitude to those who had given their lives for us, all in all Alan Newton organised a wonderfully thought-provoking and informative day in the company of good church friends.  Individual return journeys are already being planned to visit the numerous monuments still to be seen.     

  • Hub-in-the-Pub
    Published: Thursday 17 January 2019 09:15 AM
    Author: Ann & John Duthie

    This evening (14th January 2019) Hub in the Pub adopted the form of a humorous interview between Rev John Stopford and Rev Antony Dutton.  Antony summarised his journey into ministry.  He credits Whitegate Primary School for his basic religious literacy and explained how during a school trip to Rome he was amazed by the amount of religious devotion which he witnessed, but was unable to make it his own experience.  He said he went up to university as an angry agnostic searching for answers in both the pub and cathedral. 
    Still seeking answers, he then returned to Chester to study theology and whilst there he was influenced by one of the Melanesian Brothers.  He was also strongly encouraged by Rev Lesley Eden, with whom he often shared the Evening Office.  Around that time a chance remark by Bishop Peter encouraged him to take the plunge and train for ordination.  This he did at Cuddesdon College, Oxford, where he ‘met people as weird as himself’.  During his ordination at Chester Cathedral he had a profound experience when the Bishops laid their hands upon him: he felt ‘he went from terror to bliss’. 
    Following his Curacy at Malpas and the inspiring lead by his training incumbent, Ian, he moved on to St John the Evangelist, Great Sutton, as Vicar.  Asked about the highs and lows of his ministry there, he said that he had a very rewarding funeral ministry, but had mixed views about baptisms, particularly with difficult two-year olds.  He thinks sermons are very important, but likes to keep them very focused.
    Antony named two challenges he faces: one being the lack of general religious literacy and the other trying to encourage young people into church.  He is in the process of writing his PhD in church history whilst enjoying his Parish Ministry.  Antony chose the Ankawa Foundation as his chosen charity, which supports Christian Communities in northern Iraq (www.ankawafoundation.org).
    Thanks go to David Hughes and his staff for the excellent food.

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