Tag Archives: St Mary’s

SMB

T Minus 33

Today we will get ready as usual to go to church. We are members of St Mary’s Church Bletchley (SMB) a lively Anglican Church in South West Milton Keynes. It’s a routine which I have followed for almost 26 years. To quote from an earlier post

I came through the door of St Mary’s at about 11am in early November of 1988. I had chosen the wrong service!

I was looking for a lively and engaging service – but found something old fashioned and a little dull. I might never have returned but for a friendly man in a red sweater by the name of Tony. He suggested that I might prefer the 9:45am service as it was more modern than the 11:15 I’d just attended. He gave me a service book so I could see what it was like as long a I brought it back next week.

Of course I did and so started a relationship with the church that has spanned more than a quarter of a century.

St Mary’s is not stuffy, it is not old fashioned, it has a wide range of people of all ages, from a range of backgrounds and cultures. It is not a stereotypical Anglican Church. Having said that it doesn’t completely espouse tradition, thus throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

Anita and I were married there, we have brought up family there. We have shared in the ups and downs of church life (no church is perfect!), but we have been happy there. I have taken my share of responsibilities and roles; youth leader, drama team member/leader, sides person, deputy Churchwarden, webmaster, PC operator, volunteer present wrapper for Christmas Food Cupboard, member of the Christmas Choir and above all member of the PCC. Anita has played in the music group and served in the crèche and on the “Sunday School” rota. Matt has helped out with the same.

As we bid farewell to so many friends and familiar faces it is going to be strange and sad. More than any other last we have so far this is the biggest.

We will share a lunch with some of our friends at St Mary’s at the end of the 11am service – it will be a great send off but a “bitter sweet” experience I am sure.

God will still be there wherever we go but we will miss our St Mary’s family very much. It is highly unlikely we will ever be part of another church for so long (as a couple for 20+ years).

Whenever we return (and we will when we come back to the UK) it will be as visitors. Nonetheless the wonders of modern technology will allow us to be visitors from afar throughout our time in Tanzania. In that sense we will always be part of SMB.

Update: It was great to chat to so many SMB folk today and say our goodbyes. It was lovely to share a meal with some of them and to read their comments in cards.
We were presented with a lovely photo of SMB which we will place in our new home – a reminder of the place I have called home for a quarter of a century.

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Last Rites

T Minus 47

Today was my last communion at St Mary’s a church In I have been part of for over a quarter of a century. We are leaving the church formerly in two weeks time as the summer holidays break.

The term rite is perhaps a somewhat old fashioned term for a religious ceremony like communion. St Mary’s is far from traditional. It has been part of my life for almost all of my time in Milton Keynes. It will be really sad to leave in two weeks time.

Communion occurs once a month in the mornings and is a celebratory event as we remember the death of Christ mirrored in the wine and bread consumed and recalling the Last Supper and the crucifixion on a Good Friday. To Christians this is an important event and an opportunity to share as a community. Together with special services (Easter / Christmas etc) and Evening services I must have taken communion almost 300 times at SMB over the years. I have also assisted in the distribution on occasions.

Month by month it has measured my own life. My first communion was as a single man, I have taken communion engaged to Anita, we took our first communion as a couple in SMB at our wedding. We took communion as new parents and as parents of teenagers.
It was sad today to watch and reflect as familiar faces went to and from the communion rail, realising that soon this community will be far away. 20140706-143507-52507121.jpg

Good News

T Minus 75

The following article appears in our Church Newsletter “Good News” today. It’s a summary of the past few months and our goodbye to SMB.

Tanzalongs

We’re moving to Tanzania!

In a whirlwind of a week in early February I applied for a teaching job, was interviewed and offered that job within 5 days. I had been mulling the job over for a couple of weeks but this job was no standard teaching job.

This job would entail a move…….. a move from Milton Keynes to the city of Mwanza in northern Tanzania.

It would mean moving from my current job in leafy Oxfordshire to a city in the mountains on the shores of Lake Victoria. Moving to Isamilo International School in Mwanza.

Above all it would mean leaving family and friends, a church I have been a member of since 1988 and the comforts of home.

 

I have long held a desire to teach in Africa – so now I am realising a dream. I never believed that pushing on the door would see it burst open before me. We believe that God has called us to this place and so on 22nd August we’ll be flying out. It’s going to be exciting but scary but we’re all looking forward to it. There has been lots to do to get ready and only 6 months to do it in.

Isamilo is a British Curriculum School catering for children from 3 to 18. the children get free places at what otherwise would be a fee paying school. Having said that the fees for all are much reduced as the school
aims to reach parts of Tanzanian society that could not otherwise afford such education. Furthermore each week, in the words of their website, they run a

“Saturday School, which was born out of a desire to actively help disadvantaged youngsters from the wider community and to share the privileges enjoyed by students at Isamilo. It is run by teachers and pupils who volunteer their time for about two hours on a Saturday morning. They teach English and then run football, basketball, music and swimming sessions for about 150 disadvantaged children and young people. It takes place on the school site.”

This is one if the things that attracted me to the school. My contract is initially for two years but I would hope to extend to at least 3 (allowing my daughter to complete her IGCSE’s and possibly two more to complete  A levels. So this is hopefully a long term commitment.

Anita, as many of you will know has lived in Africa before, having spent two years in Malaŵi in the ’90s. My own African experience is limited to a week in The Gambia. However, last year I spent almost a month travelling in the developing world, through Cambodia and Vietnam as part of a school trip. IMG_2097It is this that rekindled my desire to travel and teach abroad and led me to pushing some doors.

Anita and I are convinced that God is in this and has smoothed the path for us even when it seemed impossible. The children have found it harder and we would value prayers for them as we make this transition. To their credit they are embracing the changes but it’s tough.

We were initially looking to rent our house out although the practicalities of this soon dawned on us – unfortunately rental would not cover our existing mortgage and the lower wage in Tanzania made remortgaging a no go. So we put our house on the market. Due to issues with our solar panels, selling was not straightforward. But God has worked in this and the loan of funds to buy us out of our contract was very quickly followed by a sale. More miraculously, our buyers are looking to rent out our property and have agreed that we can be tenants until August.

The last few months have been spent clearing, sorting, selling and storing so much accumulated goods. In the end we leave in August with everything squeezed into 8 x 23kg bags and any hand luggage we can take on the plane. Everything else has to go.

The next few months are going to be scary and exciting, stressful and exhilarating. We’re leaving behind a house we have lived in for 17 of our 19 years married and a town where between the 4 of us we have lived for 83 years!
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We are really going to miss St Mary’s. I came through the door of church at about 11am in early November of 1988.
I was looking for a lively and engaging service – but found something old fashioned and a little dull. I might never have returned but for a friendly man in a red sweater by the name of Tony. He suggested that I might prefer the 9:45am service as it was more modern than the 11:15 I’d just attended. He gave me a service book so I could see what it was like as long a I brought it back next week.

Of course I did and so started a relationship with the church that has spanned more than a quarter of a century.

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Members of One Way Drama Team – circa 1990

Morning Star (25a)

Morning Star Trip as Youth Leader in 1992

In that time I have been a Youth Leader, ran the Drama Team, been a steward, was Deputy Churchwarden for 5 years and a member of the PCC for most of the last 22 years. I have worked on the PC at the back of church and sung in Christmas choirs. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with each and every one of you with whom I have served and will miss you all.

Anita served in the Children’s team and in various Worship groups as well as the Drama group and Christmas choir – I know she feels the same as I do.
Being part of church Sunday by Sunday does require time and effort but brings rewards and we would encourage anyone to get involved wherever you can.

The children have benefited from the strong and committed work of the Children’s and Youth teams. We want to thank all of you who have been part of this valuable ministry over the years.

Leaving St Mary’s is going to be hard. We will be having an Open House on Saturday 19th July and we would love to see you any time from 10am until 4pm for a cup of tea/coffee, to say goodbye. Our last service at SMB be on 20th July.

We would love to remain a part of SMB even from a distance. We hope that whether by social networking, email or letter we can keep in contact with you from afar. You can follow our progress by reading our blog https://tanzalongs.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story

A submission to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Split Second Story
Each week of the year my church ( St Mary’s Bletchley) donates, packs and delivers a Food Parcel to many needy families from across the city.
At Christmas we add a gift parcel donated by church members and local community.
This photo is from Christmas 2011 (over 50 families supported), each year there are more and more families referred to us by Social Services across Milton Keynes.

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News from Foreign Parts

T Minus 89

Today we have the opportunity to hear from a different part of the world. To find out about those working in different places. The place in question is Guatemala.

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Monday Night Racquet

T Minus 95

Monday nights are Badminton nights. A chance to let off steam. It’s been a while since I’ve been, Bank Holiday Mondays and the general business of life have taken it’s toll. However, it’s nice to be back. The group comprises members of St Mary’s Bletchley and Whaddon Way Churches plus friends. I’ve been going on and off for six years or so – initially as a way of losing weight, now along with running a way of keeping fit.

I understand there is a Badminton Court in the school in Mwanza so hopefully I can continue overseas. I will miss this group on a Monday night though.20140519-204402-74642542.jpg20140519-204404-74644198.jpg20140519-204741-74861162.jpg

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Unpicking the Strands

T Minus 116

It’s not until you decide to move you realise exactly how much you are tied to a location. Moving country even more so.

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Routine Matters!

T minus 138

It has been nice today to have a more normal day today after several weeks of preparations and celebrations.

Yesterday’s wedding was a great chance to catch up with family.

Last weekend it was great to celebrate Mother’s Day in Lincoln.

The previous weekend we had an Open House and a Car Boot Sale.

We have had both Mum and Anita’s parents ( Heather & Geoff) helping us get the house ready and then this week we have put the house on the market.

We have had several viewings already and await any offers. All this anticipation is a little exhausting. Not least, keeping the house scrupulously tidy!

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We have already made a decision to not have viewings on a Sunday which gives us a day of rest. So today was more routine.

We had a nice lie in which was great both bring really tired.

Then we we were up and out for the 11am service at our church, SMB (St Mary’s Bletchley), the service was great and well led by Catherine (our minister) and Andrew (our lay preacher). SMB has been part of my life for almost all of the 26 years in MK. Anita and I were married there and the kids have grown up there. It was good to catch up with folk having been absent for three weeks. We go not out of habit or obligation but from a genuine desire – even so it is part of our Sunday routine.

It will be sad to leave in a few months time.

Now home it is time to sort out Sunday lunch, Bex is clearing out the guinea pig cage, the others are chilling.

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pigs – alternative cage

This afternoon either a board game or a film. I will phone mum for an afternoon chat – getting used to doing this by FaceTime ahead of the move.

Then this evening Matt goes to C4 (youth group) and Anita is playing at the evening service. I’ll probably do the ironing – though the TV schedules have changed – no more ‘Call the Midwife’ or ‘Musketeers’. We are  both eagerly await the new series of  ‘Game of Throne’ – our guilty pleasure.  However, the first one tonight is a late (2am) simulcast which might need to be recorded! Routines need to adapt a little.

I wonder what new routines await in Tanzania. They will probably be different.

It’s all a matter of routine but in times of change routine matters!