Parish Letters

Collective Worship in Schools and Religious Education


Philip Davies

It is over two years since I finished working with the Peterborough Diocesan Board of Education where my work was particularly to advocate on behalf of and to work with others in making provision for worship in school assemblies and Religious Education in the classroom.  Both Collective Worship and RE are compulsory in all maintained schools and, when done well, I think make a tremendous contribution to children’s learning and to their spiritual development.

We have two Primary Schools in our Benefice and both take the provision of Collective Worship and RE very seriously.  I enjoy regularly contributing to school assemblies, trying to find ways in which the Christian tradition and bible stories in particular can speak to the lives of children today and help them to make meaning of the world in which they are growing up.  Common values, respect for the views of others and to consider life as more than just the day to day with a wider perspective that can be motivated by the living out of faith based values.  In both schools there are themes such as courage, justice and hope that provide the framework for the daily focus of school assemblies.

We are also asked to contribute to RE lessons and groups of children regularly visit the Churches.  I remember the wonderful discussion when we hot-seated an empty chair with all the questions the children wanted to ask if God was sitting in that chair.

The County RE Syllabus, in line with statutory requirements, includes the teaching about Christianity in every year group, the learning about 5 other major world faiths, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism, before children reach the age of fourteen and considers also the perspective of those who do not have a religious faith, including a humanist perspective.  I believe the background of this good RE gives children important skills and knowledge and a wider understanding in preparation for their adult lives in our complex and changing world.

From the Curate


Karin Voth Harman

In the years when I was a teacher, the end of August was an incredibly anxious time. I was kicking myself for not having done more lesson preparation over the holidays, whilst dreading the effort of learning new names, and establishing discipline over new classes. And when I thought of all the beginning of year meetings ahead of me, I’d pretty much lose the will to live.

A week or so into September, and it was a different story. I was back to work - winging it, perhaps, but getting my teeth into it, inspired by the newness, no longer afraid.

Your experience of September might be quite different, but for many of us, it still feels like the start of a new year. It’s a time to start new initiatives in our businesses, new patterns of activity in our families, new evening classes or hobbies.

As you sink your teeth into work of whatever kind, remember that your church is there to support you if you find yourself asking things like: ‘Is this really what I’m on earth to do?’  ‘How do I resolve the ethical dilemmas I face at work?’  ‘How can I prioritise things other than money?’

Harvest Festivals, in roundabout ways, encourage us to deal with some of these sorts of questions, as we honour those who work in food production, and think about questions of food distribution. Hope you’ll be able to join in your village church’s Harvest celebrations.

Whatever your line of work, we are planning this autumn, to use church services to help you think about how your faith (or lack of it) influences your effectiveness in the workplace and your work/life balance. So do join in the discussion, and feel free to contact Philip or me if there are any particular issues you’d like to discuss.

We want Sunday morning to make a big impact on Monday morning.


Christian Aid. Why?


Philip Davies

Throughout May we have had a number of different opportunities to give financially to the work of Christian Aid. Since last September their regional youth intern, Olli Fricker, has spoken regularly in our local schools about the projects he has been involved with, including the IF Campaign.

Nearly 20 years ago I spent 3 days at a Conference listening to the Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutierrez and since then I have felt a much keener sense of why Christianity really should have a priority for the poor at the centre of its thinking and of its activity.

A critical requirement for the liberation theologian is “How you can say to the poor, God loves you.” Gutierrez would point to the heart of Jesus and his commitment and care towards all those in need, including the very poorest. Two key important New Testament texts would be the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and the parable of the Good Samaritan.

In the first we read of the great gulf between the dead man who in life had everything and the poor man, Lazarus, who had nothing. It seems in the story that there is now nothing that the rich man can do to change the situation which he did nothing about in his life.

In the Good Samaritan a rich lawyer asks how can he inherit eternal life and Jesus says eternal life is to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves. The lawyer asks “Who is My Neighbour?” and in reply Jesus turns this question round when, at the end of the story, he says to the lawyer “Who was neighbour to the man left for dead?” The rich lawyer is told to go and be like the Samaritan, the outsider, the stranger, and bring compassion and care to all who are broken and battered by life.

Philip Davies


Moving Forward


Philip Davies

During 2012 the Oundle Deanery recommended to the Diocese of Peterborough that two new groups of churches should be formed, one based on the current Nassington group of parishes and one based on the King’s Cliffe, Bulwick, Blatherwycke and Laxton group.

Our PCCs have agreed to this recommendation and from May our current Benefice will also include the villages of Collyweston and Easton-on-the-Hill.  To enable this to take place I have given up my responsibilities with the Diocesan Board of Education, including the advisor work to schools on Religious Education that I have been involved with since 1998.  I will of course miss this work but it does seem to be the right time to move on and now become full-time in Parish ministry to serve our group of six villages.

Karin and David are also committed to this new ministry, recognising the new challenges it brings for each of us.  We are grateful that there are a number of retired clergy across the new Benefice who will be able to assist us in ministry and in Sunday worship.  We also recognise that additional lay involvement in leading worship and pastoral care will be important as we seek to strengthen ministry in each community.

We have now a Benefice plan which highlights specific areas for development.  The growing of the pastoral community is central to this, and this is supported by our Benefice Pastoral Group.  This year they have organised a food basket for the back of King’s Cliffe Church and liaised with Oundle Mind and Bromford Housing Support who provide essential support for a number of people in our communities.  Karin has been particularly involved with supporting Katy Weeks and the work of Underground.  King’s Cliffe PCC have supported the training of Chris Klompas as a youth intern.  He has been working at Underground and also as a classroom assistant at the Middle School.  We work very closely with all our local schools and support them through taking assemblies, leading special services and contributing to RE lessons.  Along with many others in our communities we recognise the great responsibility we share of providing the foundation for children’s learning and development through our local schools across the Benefice and the way they are preparing children for life in our complex world

Preparing to Live Again Through Easter


Philip Davies

The creative arts are well represented in our communities: local artists, the directors and producers of drama productions, actors and musicians.

We also have a number of poets who show life as it is and in poetry express feelings and responses to all sorts of situations. Putting into words the experience of Resurrection and thinking about how the followers of Jesus responded to the Resurrection is helped by the work of artists, dramatists and also poets.

In her book “Seeking the Risen Christa”, the Christian feminist Nicola Slee, considers the impact of being raised up and particularly the way people respond to facing personal suffering, serious illness in others and to tragedy.

She writes

Wherever there is a lifting up from the mud and the gutter,

And a holding of tissue destroying mortality close to the heart and the lungs;

Wherever one weakened hand reaches across intolerable pain or loss to touch another who does not speak the same language;

Wherever the imperative of care endures despite any difference it can make ...

And so the poem continues inviting the reader to include their own experiences of “wherevers” and of lifting up, of compassionate touch and of reaching out in love.

We can add our own “Wherever” and by doing so draw closer to the experience of those who suffered with Jesus and, through the experience of resurrection, found they could face life again and live once more with hope.


From the Curate


Karin Voth Harman

If you’ve tried Church and found it too traditional or static or not very child friendly, this may be the month to give it another try … because we’re mixing things up in March …

On 10th March, MOTHERING SUNDAY, we’ll celebrate mothers in a variety of ways across the villages.   At 10.00am, King’s Cliffe Church will celebrate a Communion service with CHAOS (Sunday school) for the children, and flowers everywhere.  At 11.00am in Bulwick, I’ll be hosting a very informal Family Service to celebrate with those who want to include children throughout the service. Bulwick style hospitality and refreshments will follow!

The following Sunday 17th March, is our THIRD SUNDAY SERVICE and we’ll be celebrating our children and young people that week, giving them a chance to talk about what it’s like to be growing up in 2013. Come to King’s Cliffe for church with a difference from 10-10:45am.

There will be plenty of chances to mark Holy Week and Easter, but one new ‘departure’ will be a twist on our usual GOOD FRIDAY PILGRIMAGE on Friday 29th March. The church at King’s Cliffe will be open for silent prayer from noon till 1.00pm. The walk will set off from outside the church at 1.00pm. We’ll pause at Blatherwycke Church for a short reading of the Passion story at 2.00pm. And then journey on to Bulwick where we’ll be greeted with hot cross buns and coffee. At 3.00pm there will be a short family-friendly Communion service with activities for the children, followed by more refreshments and a chance to make an egg for the Bulwick Easter Egg competition. You’re welcome to join in at any church, and at any point in the walk. There’s something about walking together which is very powerful, and something about Good Friday more powerful still – so fingers crossed for good weather and a good turnout!

Hopefully by the time you receive this Gazette it will feel like Spring – Congratulations on getting through a long winter, and hope to see you at Church sometime in March!


Preparing for Easter


Philip Davies

Preparing for Easter

Yes, Christmas has only just finished and the decorations put away but this year Easter Day is in March (just) so I am already thinking about preparations for Easter.

First the season of Lent: we will have a service in King’s Cliffe Church at 9.30am on Ash Wednesday, 13th February to mark the beginning of Lent.  Afterwards we can delay any Lenten abstinence by coming to the monthly coffee morning.

During Lent there will be two special Third Sunday Services in King’s Cliffe Church at 10.00am on Sundays 17th February and 17th March.  These are good opportunities to worship in a more informal and interactive way.

Mothering Sunday is Sunday 10th March so please look out for the special services in our churches on that day.

Nearer to Easter is Holy Week when we think about and reflect on the suffering of Jesus and, in doing this, partly because suffering is a very human condition, we can draw very close to God.  The drama of the arrest, trial and death of Jesus asks questions of us about how we understand the world and what the purposes are within it of a loving God.

On Easter Day our churches are usually full of people and full of colour and life, celebrating the hope that the way of Jesus brings fullness of life for all. So we do have much to prepare for!

Philip Davies


From the Rectory

Advent and Christmas Worship

Across the Churches of our Benefice there are many special Advent and Christmas services and you will be very welcome at each of these. (Details can be found by clicking on services.) Most of all in our services we seek to make real the love of God.

A Reflection for Christmas

Jesus, you are born into the midst of life as it is and as one of us.

You are not protected from the troubles and tensions of the world;

The extremes of wealth and poverty,

The contradictions between city, town and country,

The tensions between human greed and the needs of creation.

Yet as a vulnerable baby you become a gift to us,

Showing us how to create love in the midst of poverty and injustice,

Joy in the midst of struggle and need.

So gift us to recognise you in our midst

And generously to offer ourselves in love to one another and to your creation

That we may help to bring to birth more of your love and joy, and peace to all people.

Philip Davies


Sermons and Talks in Church

Most of the weekly talks given in the Church services can be found on the church website at

Each talk is prepared to reflect the bible readings that are set for the week and to consider them in the context of the issues people are facing and the issues that face humanity at this time. They are never the last word on any of this but are always offered as a first response.

Recently in a talk, John Barratt raised a number of big questions for us to think about. Big questions about faith and belief, about the world we live in, about life and death. The questions included:

  • How does God`s glory in the heavens fit with discussions in “The Sky at Night” and Professor Cox`s television programmes?
  • Is generosity more fulfilling than meanness?
  • Where do we find divine activity?
  • Who is this Jesus who died a criminal`s death?
  • Does our life in God`s kingdom end at physical death?

One way of considering these questions and talking about them with others would be by meeting up and an opportunity to do this will be in King`s Cliffe Church on Thursday 8th November at 7.45pm for 8.00pm. Of course there will be many other questions to raise and an hour of discussion cannot possibly be long enough to do more than scratch the surface but it seems a good place and a good time to begin to think a bit more about the questions together.

Philip Davies


From the Curate

Well it’s the second week of August as I write, nearly the end of my fantastic first year as your Curate. Philip is on holiday, and I was planning to get out and take charge – greeting more newcomers to the Sovereign Grange homes, dropping in on cricket or cooking for kids at The Underground, checking in with the housebound, or bereaved …. But frankly, I’m finding it difficult to tear myself away from the Olympics. I can only hope that you too have been glued to your tellies, captivated, like me, by sports you barely understand. I hope many of you have, like me, experienced the novelty of a London where people smile, talk, and hand out free ice creams as you get off the train. Perhaps you were lucky enough to get tickets – but even at home in front of our tellies many of us have felt right in the thick of the drama.

The challenge, of course, as everyone’s been saying, is how to keep Britain from sinking back into the doldrums once that cauldron stops glowing. And I, for one, will soon be out there taking up the Olympic challenge to ‘inspire a generation’. We’ve got a big year for our children and young people coming up. Many of you have been involved in helping to ‘save’ the Underground. It has secured funding for at least another 12 months and is now actively working with almost every other local organisation to provide ever more opportunities for children and young people. From September the Church will host a trainee youth worker for 12 months who should allow us to do even more.

So many Olympic competitors spoke of the difference the crowd made at these London Olympics. We are the crowd for our local young people – let’s get involved in cheering them on. From Twiglets, to Sunday school, from Toddler Zumba to youth clubs most nights of the week, there are many opportunities to give your children a fan club, and to volunteer yourselves to help bring it on. Feel free to contact me at any time with your ideas, concerns or offers to help!

Revd Karin Voth Harman