It seems quite novel to be writing my editorial for Pathways after a 6 month absence! The Diocese is still not allowing us to distribute parish magazines, owing to the Covid19 regulations, but instead we have decided to have a slightly limited print run of 80%, and leave copies in each church for individual subscribers to pick up for themselves.First of all may I start by thankingeach and every one of you who sent me such lovely cards and letters of condolence when my beloved Andrew died so unexpectedly in June –I say unexpectedly, we knew he had cancer but he had initially been given ‘years’ to live by the consultant, and then ‘weeks’ in early June. The very day he died the Doctor told me on the phone it would probably be ‘days’ rather than weeks, but ‘you can never tell’. In the event he had passed on to heaven within 4 hours of that con-versation, and alas I was not with him at the end as it all happened so quickly. However I am genuinely glad that he did not suffer longer, after only a week back in hospital. I had well over 300 cards & letter –not ALL from the Benefice! –so it has been impossible to thank you all personally, but they were all much appreciated, as has been the hospitality I have re-ceived from so many of you since. A very large THANK YOU indeed. It really helped to know how much you all cared, and I was quite overwhelmed by how many people turned up to line the lanes –appropriately socially dis-tanced of course -of Bicknoller for his funeral. And indeed outside Mine-head railway station where the hearse passed by on its way to Bicknoller there were over 30 of his rail chums clapping him on his way. The funeral in Bicknoller Churchyard took place on 25thJune on what must have been the very hottest day of the year. Thanks to Bishop Nigel for con-ducting it, and Ben for preaching –as well as the friend who introduced us in 1983. Andrew’s death leaves a huge hole in my life, but life goes on, de-spite the Pandemic.4So, looking ahead, there will (at time of going to press, who knows what fur-ther restrictions we might face?) be services in all 6 churches at 10.50 a.m on Remembrance Sunday, 8thNovember. Then looking further ahead, we are at this point in time planning all the usual services on Christmas Eve and Christ-mas Day, with the exception of the Stogumber childrens nativity –which we hope will take place in a much more limited form, and possibly outside. More details will be in the December issue of Pathways, so watch this space and the Church Porch for details! Alas we are not allowed to sing in church, except for small socially distanced choirs, so the usual Carol Services will not be able to take place, but we are working on possible substitutes for these events.Christmas servicesBecause we are worried about numbers, please can every-one who wants to attend Midnight Mass at 11.00pm in Stogumber, e mail the Church Warden Julian Spicer: firstname.lastname@example.org. This will probably have to be a ticketed event in order not to have too many people in church. We can safely accommodate approximately 50 people socially distancing –slightly more if some are in family bubbles, slightly less if there are lots of sin-gle people. Similarly Bicknoller can safely accommodate approximately 30 peo-ple, so please let me know if you want to come to their Midnight Mass at 11.00pm. There will also be the usual 2 Bethlehem Masses at Sampford Brett and Monksilver, @ 9.00 p.m on Christmas Eve, so it would be useful if you can let their churchwardens know if you intend to come. Crowcombe and Nettle-combe will have their Christmas morning services (Communion and Family Ser-vices respectively) at 10.30 on Christmas Day –again please let Churchwardens know if you would like to come. Thank you & sorry to have to be so prescrip-tive. It is also hoped to have some form of 9 Lessons and Carols in Stogumber the Sunday before Christmas, but this will be announced in the next Pathways. Ben Flenley’s FarewellI think most people know by now that sadly we are losing Ben (and Kathryn) at the end of the year when they retire to Sussex. So Ben’s final Eucharist will be on Sunday 27thDecember at 10.30 in Stogumber. Because it is highly likely that more than 50 people will want to attend, we are also planning a farewell Evensong at 6.00pm in Crowcombe Church on the same day, as needed. Again please contact Julian Spicer to express an interest, by the first week in December. We will have the 2ndservice if necessary. Of course if by then all public worship is banned again, we will have to do it on Zoom! Take care everyone and stay safe. Remember masks have to be worn in church by law.Angela Berners-Wilson
Andrew Sillett –an appreciationMy first recollection of Andrew was one Sunday in Bicknoller church, soon after he and Angela had arrived in the Benefice. He was sitting just in front of me. As the strains of the last hymn died away, I noticed that he seemed immobile, eyes closed, slightly slumped. Concerned, I leant forward and said, “Andrew, are you ok?” He opened his eyes. “Ahh...those words...that music...Graham Kendrick!” (Graham Kendrick is a contemporary hymn writer whose songs often contain deeply moving words). The passion, faith and humility of the man were revealed in that one moment.Andrew Ernest Wellesley Sillett was born in Germany in 1950, educated at Char-terhouse and Birmingham University, and then completed his Articles in London which enabled him to become a Solicitor of the High Court. The famous Lord Denning signed his qualification certificate which Andrew was always honoured to display on his study wall. He became a specialist in Town and Country Plan-ning law and was very proud to become a member of the Law Society Planning Panel. He worked mainly in local government, his last job being in the legal de-partment of Reading Borough Council.The high point in Andrew’s life was the day he married Angela, since when he energetically and enthusiastically supported her in her ministry. He absolutely adored Angela –and also his nieces, great nephews and great niece, not to men-tion five Godchildren.His many interests –all pursued with great passion –included his membership of the RSPB, and of course, steam trains! He had a fabulous singing voice which he developed following training at a young age, auditioning successfully for the Roy-al Choral Society, of which he was a member for 25 years. He was even allowed to join Stogumber Village and Church choirs(!) In fact his love of steam trains and singing overlapped on more than one occasion when he came puffing in to choir practice (slightly late), still dressed in his orange Day-Glo boiler suit, covered in soot from head to toe. He once confided to me, “I might have risen higher in the legal world, but I think I am a bit too eccentric!”Eccentric Andrew might have been, but in the most endearing way. His elder brother Hugo told me this about him: “He always provided comfort, inspiration, wisdom and encouragement to me, and to everyone who knew him. He was a golden man with a golden heart.”And so say all of us.David Gover
Letter from the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
For Parish Newsletters –September 2020I am writing this whilst receiving treatment in hospital, although by the time you read this, I hope that I may be back home having completed my first course of chemotherapy. The first thing I want to say, and I am sure this is echoed by so many, is what wonderful treatment and care I have received from everyone in the hospital. Their kindness, concern and professionalism are beyond words.What is an unusual experience for me however, is that I have not been al-lowed to leave my room and the doors and windows have been kept firmly shut. Looking out of my window and craning my neck upwards I am just able to get a glimpse of the sky outside. Without that I would not know whether it was sunny or cloudy or raining outside. Not that I am in any way complain-ing. I am safe and receiving the best care imaginable. It is also important whatever may happen to keep a sense of proportion. I vividly recall hearing Terry Waite speak when he came to the diocese on one occasion. It is unim-aginable what he went through in those 1763 days in Beirut –the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement, blindfolded, in a base-ment room with no windows, with no books or papers, chained to a radiator and sleeping on the floor. His courage and faith are remarkable and have inspired so many people since. I remember him once being interviewed and being asked what the happiest moment of his life was, one that he would cherish forever. He replied: ‘When my blindfold was taken off during my re-lease in November 1991. I’d been in the dark –in a basement or blindfolded -for years. For the first time in five years I saw the sky, the grass, the col-ours, and I felt the wind on my face.’Terry Waite is also very clear about how the prayers of so many others sup-ported him through those years. As I write I am also very aware of all the prayers that have and are being said for me. That is both humbling and en-couraging and once I am getting out and about again, I look forward to being able to thank you personally.With my thanks, best wishes and prayers for you, Bishop Peter.