Sunday, 1 July 2012

free eXchange cafe - pilgrimage - 1 July 2012

Today we celebrated the launch of the Bishop's Olympic - Seeking Gold - Dorset Pilgrimage Trail. Bishop of Sherborne, Graham Kings, was joined by triathelete, Revd James Stephenson, to dedicate the route which begins at the shrine of St Candida/ St Wite /St Gwenn- an ancient place of pilgrimage known as a centre of healing and prayer for more than 1000 years.

A happy coincidence too that the launch occurred on the same day as the free eXchange cafe which is held in St Candida and Holy Cross on the first Sunday each month from May-November.

The cafe is a local community event - we meet each month to connect with neighbours and share in the free exchange of ideas - and at the same we share and swap surplus plants and produce - all with good coffee or tea and pastries!

The 'Seeking Gold' pilgrimage route links up ten Dorset churches - each with interesting historic references - encouraging Olympic visitors to collect a pilgrim badge from each church.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Return of the Bells to Whitchurch

An exciting day as the lorry bringing our bells arrives at the church. With lots of help from the ringers and villagers the bells and all the new fittings are unloaded and carried into the church. The bell hanger from Taylors, sets up the hoists and gradually all the new parts are lifted up to the ringing chamber. Then one by one the bells are raised up to the frame. Over the next few days the wheels and clappers are fixed in place.
Another week and the bells should be ready to peal out again over the Marshwood Vale.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Bellringers Visit Taylors Bell Foundry

The bell ringers organised a trip to Taylors Bell Foundry to have a tour around the foundry and see our bells. Work is progressing well ,the new headstocks have been cast and the new wheels will soon be made. The bells have had resin casts applied so that they move more smoothly and tuning has been done. The highlight of the day was watching our new 6th bell being cast. In fact two bells were cast on the same day so there were also supporters from St.Mary Castro Church, and everyone found it a fascinating process. It is amazing that bells are cast in exactly the same way now as they have been for centuries. Our bell ringers have now seen history being made.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Bells Come Down for Refurbishment

The last time the bells were removed from the tower was over eighty years ago. They have been taken down and sent to the bell foundry for a major overhaul and hopefully will not need further attention for another eighty years!
The work was undertaken by Paul White and his work force and they did an excellent job, although we were all holding our breath as the first bell (the tenor and heaviest of all ) was lowered. It was a fascinating process and we are now looking forward to their return, in the new year, when once more the bells will ring out over the Vale.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

The Friends of St Candida - Launch!

On Tuesday 30 August, 'The Friends' was formally launched by our Patron, Lord Hall of Birkenhead (Tony Hall) with a talk on his life and work. He drew interesting parallels between his life at the BBC and at the Royal Opera House, giving the memorable example of the need for both a news correspondent in a war zone and a soloist on stage in front of several thousand people to get it right under pressure! He talked about the importance of the outreach work undertaken by Covent Garden seeking to bring opera to millions of people who would not otherwise have the experience and of his determination as Chair of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad to ensure that Britain delivered its promise to add a rich cultural dimension to the celebration of next year's Games in London. After the talk, we all adjourned for tea in the garden at Candida House. It was just about warm enough!

Over tea, Nick Mayhew Smith, author of 'Britain's Holiest Places' (in which our church is given 11 stars!) sold copies of his book and donated £10 for each one sold. It was most generous of him to come down from London to attend our inaugural event.

Many thanks to all those people who have already joined the Friends. At the time of writing we have 60 members and we hope to welcome many more. It is important to stress that the aim of the Friends is not solely to raise funds. Of course it is important that in our turn, as many generations who have lived in the village and the Marshwood Vale have done in the past, we should look after the fabric of a wonderful and iconic building. The church means so much to so many in the community, some churchgoers and many who are not. Many projects lie ahead. The
bells, much loved and rung unfailingly by our team of bell ringers, are about to be taken down and will undergo a major refurbishment, the first since 1926. The medieval 6th bell will be heard no more as it is honeycombed and is to be replaced, although it will remain here. The floor, the organ, the electrics and our antiquated and temperamental heating system all require radical attention. So we do face some substantial fundraising.

But it is equally important that the church should be a meeting place for the whole community. In addition to the weekly services, the weddings, christenings and funerals and the recently revived healing services, we want to encourage further and wider use through the Friends. Already the free exchange cafe, our excellent annual Flower Festival and the concert series are drawing more people in. The Friends plan to put on 3 or 4 interesting and attractive events, home or away, each year. On October 22nd, the Whitchurch Purcellians will welcome Friends to to join them for their Gala Concert. She'koyokh, who were such a hit when they played in the village hall some years ago, will be returning to play their Jewish-gypsy-Balkan-Turkish folk music ( It is an occasion not to be missed. More details elsewhere in the magazine.

A final word of thanks to Tony Hall. We are grateful to him for agreeing to become our Patron, especially at such a busy time with the 2012 Olympics looming. His lively and stimulating talk has given the Friends a resounding start.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

free eXchange cafe - 10 July 2011

How wonderful it was to see more than 60 people comfortably talking over coffee and croissants at the free eXchange café on Sunday, 11 July. We had people from all around the Vale stopping by to join in, including two riders on horseback - Shelley and Wendy from the Three Counties Bridlepath Group. With so many ancient pilgrim routes leading to Whitchurch, the church is perfectly located to include in a ride, walk or cycle trip - particularly on a café Sunday when coffee and croissants await!

We hope YOU will join in next time. Even if you can't make it, feel free to stop by the church anytime and check out the latest postings on the eXchange board - it's filling up with goods for freecycling and skills and services ready for eXchange. Special thanks to all our café helpers: Clare and Rachel Colby, Yvonne Welch, Nick Ziebland, Briony Blair and Sam Milburn, Michael West and Jane Skinner for creating the mask-making table around the theme of 'Surprise'. Thanks also to Barry Welch for taking photos (you can see them on our website), and to Ken Tubb for making terrific signs! Special mention to Sue Herman for picking up the pastries at Felicity's Farm Shop and to Martin Legg for delivering more invitations with the newspapers. For more info please contact the café organisers: Richard Colby, Stephen Skinner, Betsy West or email

The next free eXchange cafés are scheduled for the following Sundays:
7 August
4 September
2 October
10:30am - Noon

St Candida and Holy Cross Church
Whitchurch Canonicorum
Near Bridport

Monday, 18 January 2010

The Churches' Ministry of Healing

by Revd Stephen Skinner, Golden Cap Team Rector

Our Team Council and Whitchurch P.C.C. have decided to introduce a monthly Healing Service starting after Easter. Before commencing this Service we feel that it would be helpful to write about this area of Christian worship and ministry. I have had involvement in prayers for healing since my days as a Curate in Chatham and found it to be a very inspirational experience – both for myself and for those for whom I have prayed. At the same time, I am well aware that it can be controversial – not least because of what I regard as some of the abuses of certain practitioners. I was Diocesan Healing Adviser for 10 years in the Carlisle Diocese, so can offer some advice arising from much experience!

The basic starting point for Christian Healing lies in the ministry of Jesus. We read in Luke Chapter 4 that “the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them”. The Gospels have many stories of Jesus healing people, from lameness, blindness, dumbness, fevers, psychological disorders and even death itself! Sometimes we are given the story in considerable depth – such as in John Chapter 9: “The Man born Blind”. In such fuller stories we often discover that Jesus not only healed people physically but also perhaps emotionally, relationally and spiritually.

This observation leads me to one of my key beliefs about Healing – that it is in the ideal of God’s purposes designed to be ‘holistic’. In other words, it is to bring about a restoration of the person to health in its fuller sense. One of the reasons that many are unhappy about healing as practised by Christian Ministers is because of sensationalist stories of someone’s physical healing, which later appears to be only temporary, under the pressure of the moment. Actually when I pray for someone at, for example, a Healing Service, I prefer to invite them to say what they want us to pray for – and stress that it could be for healing in a relationship, from a bad memory or healing forgiveness in relationship to God. This broader emphasis is much more healthy; consonant with Jesus’ practice.

Another point to make about Jesus healing style is that it was rarely sensationalist. He often prayed in a low key way, in relative privacy, in people’s homes or quiet places. Afterwards Jesus often urged them not to tell anyone else about what has happened! Clearly he didn’t encourage the crowds to adulate him as a great Faith Healer. So I conduct healing prayers in a gentle, relaxed and unpressured manner. God is the healer, not me, so the outcome of our prayers lies within His underlying purposes. The Healing Services that we will commence in April at Whitchurch will inspire a spiritual atmosphere in which God’s Spirit will be invited to operate. So if you attend it should feel peaceful; despite, we hope, a powerful sense of Christ being present with us.

Revd Sue Langdon will be conducting these Healing Services, along with Win Maynard. Sue will write further on this topic in March’s issue.

(Editor: Originally written for the February 2010 Golden Cap Team Magazine.)