View from the Vicarage - October 2015

Listen to an audio version here


To the people of St Andrew’s,


It is said that we live by the stories we tell about ourselves.


That is to say that if we tell ourselves that ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I don’t think that’s for me,’ it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Telling oneself that you can’t cook well, or write poetry, or sing, or draw, or make small talk - all these reinforce negativity, perpetuate a myth and stultify creativity.


On the other hand, if we remind ourselves of the things we have done and bear in mind the achievements we have made, then we are more likely to achieve in what we set out to do.


The way we tell the story of our lives tends to have an effect on the way we live.


The same thing is true of our communities. If the story we tell of the place we live in or work in is a negative one, then our experience of it will also be negative. If we look for the good, then our perceptions will change and so will our experience.


The author of the bestselling book, The Road Less Travelled, Morgan Scott Peck, said that the conscious process of community building begins with a shared story. If we wish to build up our communities, then we need to have an agreed narrative to unite our efforts.


So what are the stories we tell ourselves about our community - not just our church but the wider community of our town? What things do you tell others about the experience of living here?


A Police Community Support Officer once told me over a cup of tea at the vicarage, that the most destructive force at work in his area was simply the ‘fear of crime.’ For example, in his area the number of young people who actually caused trouble was in fact very small, perhaps only 1%. He saw his role as being a visible, reassuring and friendly face in the community and there to tell a different story to that of the fear mongers. We hear or read about stories of crime all the time, but the wider reality is seldom anything like as bleak as we fear.


Part of the work of the Christian community is to model good neighbourliness and engage in community-building activities for the enjoyment of those among whom we live. Noah’s Ark at St Andrew’s is a good example of this, so is Money Advice at St Andrew’s, and plans are being discussed for a regular community afternoon tea in the Church Centre. So many of the projects in our wider community are run by the churches or staffed disproportionately by Christian volunteers. We are, after all, called to be salt and light in the world and to pursue all that builds up our common life.


Whatever the negative stories we hear about our town - or believe in about ourselves - let us never prevent the good stories being heard and newly made. For as God has faith in us, we need to have faith in ourselves and bring faith to others.


With best wishes,




Choral Scholarships at St Andrew's

Choral Scholarships at St Andrew's


Choral Scholarships


Young Choristers




Tower Bell Ringers


Bats in the Belfry


In 'As You Like It' Shakespeare famously defined seven ages of man, from 'mewling' infant to 'sans everything'. Recently, according to the letter page of The Daily Telegraph, the ages of man have been reduced to three: youth, middle age and 'You are looking well'. If you fall into the 'looking well' category, and a quick glance at the congregation most Sunday's suggests quite a few do, you may remember a TV Western called 'Have Gun, Will Travel'. Now, I am not proposing to write about 'Have Bell, Will Travel', after all bells are not exactly easily portable what with them being large, heavy lumps of metal that are surprisingly fragile, but rather 'Can Ring, Will Travel.'


And what do Bats from this, and other belfries travel to at this time of year? Firstly they travel to ring at weddings. It is apparently 'a truth universally acknowledged' that the number of church weddings is declining. Given the number of weddings in the area in July and August this seems hard to believe. For example, on 25 July there were weddings in five North Bedfordshire villages, all requiring bells. There being a paucity of ringers the services of ringers from here and other Bedford towers were called upon. Indeed several of us fitted in two weddings. Careful calculation of time and distance, with fingers crossed for 'not too late' brides, has led to the two-wedding phenomenon being repeated for several weekends.


Another reason for Bats to travel was to attend a District Meeting at Turvey, a relaxed 'bring your own picnic' affair. For the first two hours fifty per cent of the ringers were from St Andrew’s. The bells at Turvey are a lot heavier than ours and are full of 'character', so much so that, having successfully mastered the tenor (heaviest bell) Philip Kino rather felt he deserved a badge or commemorative T shirt!


Bats also travel to Striking Competitions. The media reported on the National 12 Bell Striking Competition in Norwich; those taking part are what you might call Celebrity Ringers, which did not include us.


However, we do have something of a celebrity in the person of Melissa Nash, who travelled with the rest of her family to Oxford to take part in the Ringing World National Youth Contest. This was the second year that Melissa has taken part and the third year that the contest has been won by Bedfordshire, whose striking was rated A* by the judges. Jonathan Nash was reserve for the team, a real achievement for someone who has been ringing for a comparatively short period of time.


Barbara Woplin


You can listen to the Bedfordshire Team’s Winning Call Change Piece at:



 Barbara Woplin

Church Fete a great success

On Saturday 11 July we held a Church Fete as part of our fundraising project for a new organ. A big thank you to all our volunteers who worked so hard before and on the day, and a special thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event. Here are some images from the day:



Web design in Bedfordshire by From the Sofa