Vicar’s Letter June 2024

In my April Vicar’s letter I had been reflecting on vocation – God’s calling. Two months later I’m still thinking about vocation, which really is no surprise given that at the end of June, my wife Clare will be ordained in Lichfield Cathedral. She will be serving the parishes of St. Giles’, Newcastle and St. Thomas, Butterton as their new curate.

Clare has been a placement student at All Saints’ and St. Margaret’s for the last three years alongside which she has been studying at the reasonably new Emmanuel Theological College on Thursday evenings and with away weekends and weeks. It’s been wonderful working with Clare at church, but it’s also been interesting having conversations about the theological reading and lectures she has been undertaking.

At the end of my Vicar’s letter in April I encouraged us all to think about what God might be calling us into. And two months later I still feel convicted that this is a large part of our vocation as disciples of Jesus, and as church communities – to discern what God would have us do with our lives and in our churches.

At the end April I was away from the parishes for three nights in Derbyshire, at the Diocesan Clergy Conference. Clergy Conference was a great time away. With lots of great teaching and times for worship and prayer. But also, time with colleagues. Chatting over breakfast, or a cuppa, or a pint in the evenings. One of the joys of these conversations was witnessing how God has led God’s people, and how God is leading them still. One of the vicars was a member of my first youth group more than twenty years ago….

Whether in full-time ‘secular’ work, or full-time ministry, or at school, or retired, or as a carer, how amazing that God calls us all to follow him more closely each and every day.

Please do be praying for Clare as she is ordained on the evening of the 29th of June.



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Vicar’s Letter May 2024

In May churches across the globe will be celebrating Ascension and Pentecost: two significant festivals in the church year but ones whose significance hasn’t really made it into wider public consciousness.

We have Christmas trees and chocolate Easter Eggs, but we don’t have Ascension Day floating slippers or Pentecost flaming hats (probably for the best on both counts, although floating slippers could be fun!)

These two festivals when we mark the end of Jesus’ resurrection appearances and his ascent to heaven (Ascension Day) and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) are key parts of the Christian story.

For a number of years the Church of England has marked these festivals by especially committing to pray during the days between Ascension and Pentecost. Here at our churches in Betley and Madeley we’ll be marking Thy Kingdom Come with a number of events.

At St. Margaret’s Betley my colleague Ruth will be launching a new ‘prayer space’ within the church building. It will be a place set aside for prayer where people can go to pray throughout the day.

At All Saints’ Madeley on Pentecost (Sunday 19th May) there will be interactive prayer stations set up in church between 2-6pm, and at 6:30pm there will be an opportunity to worship through scripture, song and prayer.

Meanwhile, on May the 11th between 1-4pm Rev Dot and I will be hosting a Quiet Afternoon at St. Chad’s church in Wybunbury.

Of course, one of the wonderful things about the Christian faith is that we can always pray. It doesn’t need to be at a special festival, or in a special place or with special words. God is always there ready to meet us when we pray.



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Vicar’s Letter Easter 2024

In March I spent quite a bit of time thinking about ‘vocation’. My wife Clare had her forthcoming curacy confirmed, once ordained in the summer she will be curate at St. Giles’, Newcastle and St. Thomas’, Butterton.

Also in March I saw the news in the Church Times that the Venerable Dr Barry Wilson (former vicar of Betley and Madeley) is to retire as the Archdeacon of Montgomery.

Meanwhile early in March I had the privilege of helping with some teaching at a curates’ formational residential, one of the curates, Rev Jim Cartlidge, now curate in Stone, was an ordinand from Betley.

In March, All Saints’ Madeley welcomed the bishop of Stafford, Bishop Matthew, to lead a confirmation service.

So the idea of ‘vocation’ has been on my mind. And when we are talking about vocation we are really talking about God’s calling.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but so far this vicar’s letter has been jam-packed with odd churchy words…

Vocation. Curacy. Ordained. Curate. Venerable. Vicar. Archdeacon. Formational. Ordinand. Bishop. Confirmation.

Too often when we think about the idea of God calling people, we think of people with white plastic clergy (another churchy word) dog-collars. But a key Christian doctrine (another churchy word!) is that God longs for all people to identify what they are called to do with the precious life they’ve been given.

Whether we are particularly ‘churchy’ or not, I sincerely believe that God wants the best for us and wants to see us living life in all its fullness. I wonder what that might look like for you?




Sparks of Joy

What brings you joy? Where do you find inspiration and delight? As a child I was a member of the YOC – Young Ornithologists Club, I was fascinated by birds. Near to where I grew up in Yorkshire was a waterfall where for a time, a kingfisher could regularly found flying over the river. The colours and speed of the bird made a real impression on me.

During the lockdowns of a few years ago I really rediscovered my delight in birds. I downloaded an app that identified birds by their calls. I was finally able to work out which bird was singing in our garden in Gosport, despite never actually seeing the bird.

When I would go for my allowed exercise I took to noticing the birds more than I had in the busy rush of purposefully travelling from A to B before the lockdown. And in the haze of lockdown exercise I discovered a new favourite. The pied wagtail. These elegant black and white, sparrow-sized birds that swoop up to rooftops so gracefully and yet scurry along the floor with hurried footsteps.

Recently my car was in the garage in Newcastle. It had been in a fight with a pot hole and the pothole had very definitely won. While I waited for my car to be repaired I went for a coffee, did some work and then went for a “mooch”, a wander around the town, when to my delight a pied wagtail landed a few metres away. I stopped walking and took great delight in watching the bird run around the street until it in one moment flew up to a rooftop, peering down at me for a second before disappearing completely.

A joyous interruption to a bit of a dull day. The rest of the people in the town centre carried on with their jobs, their walks, tasks and talks, and for a moment, a very memorable moment I was stopped by joy! How easily I notice things that spark joy in me when my head isn’t down, rushing from A to B. I wonder, how might we cultivate mindful contemplative practices to enable us to slow down and find delight in what the world places before us?

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Vicar’s Letter March 2024

This month we are journeying through Lent towards Easter, that great Christian festival of pain and grief and ultimately delight and wonder and new life.

You won’t be surprised to read that there are lots of different services and activities to aide you in your Lenten reflections as you journey towards Easter Sunday.

I particularly want to draw your attention two initiatives.

Chatty Church in Betley Reading Room – on Wednesday afternoons we’ll be drinking tea and eating cake and talking about some of the Biblical narratives that lead up to the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This is a perfect opportunity to come along and be part of a conversation about the Bible. Suitable for churchgoers and those who are not churchgoers the idea is to work our way through the text and see what we might find out!

Be Still in the Madeley Centre – for the last few years at Lent I’ve run Be Still sessions that have introduced different aspects of Christian contemplation. This year we will be meeting on Thursday afternoons to spend time in contemplation together. Rather than exploring different aspects of Christian contemplative practices each week we will be stepping into more of a rhythm of prayer and contemplation. Once again, this is an event for churchgoers and non-churchgoers, for spiritual seekers and those with an interest in meditation. Come along and have a go!

Chatty Church meets on Wednesday afternoons from 3:00-4:00pm at the Betley Reading room from 21st February until 27th of March.

Be Still meets from 2-3pm at the Madeley Centre on the 22nd February, 29th February, 7th of March and 14th of March.



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Vicar’s Letter February 2024

On Sunday the 10th of March Bishop Matthew, the Bishop of Stafford will be visiting All Saints’ Madeley to lead a service of confirmation. The service will be a special one, with time to celebrate some of what God is doing in the lives of people in our communities. And the idea of a ‘confirmation’ is basically a public saying of “yes, I confirm that I believe this faith stuff”. During the service there is a moment in the liturgy when the Bishop will ask those to be confirmed,

“Are you ready with your own mouth and from your own heartto affirm your faith in Jesus Christ?”

The response is a simple, “I am.”

The people to be confirmed reply, “I am”, and the liturgy above suggests that they say this, from their own mouth and from their own heart. I love that – from your own mouth and from your own heart.

It’s not enough to say the words unless those words rise up from the heart. And likewise, confirmation is about verbalising what is on your heart. You might have a deep and profound faith but keep quiet about it. Confirmation asks us to verbalise the faith within us.

The service has lots and lots and lots of other words, many of them profound, but I think this is one of my favourite parts of the service.

If you’ve been thinking about confirmation, perhaps this is the time. Why not have a chat with Rev Tim, Rev Dot or Rev Pamela to get the conversation going.



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Vicar’s Letter September 2023 and guest writers since: Christmas Letter 2023 from Rev Dot

December 2023

“The Light Shines in the Darkness
and the darkness has never put it out”
 (1 John verse 5)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a decent candle as a Christmas Gift –the long-slow burning type made with good wax and aromatherapy oils are my favourite, Anyone who knows me even better, than that…knows that I really struggle with the initial on-set of Winter when the hour goes back, and we are plunged into solstice-shifting darkness for the foreseeable, which as I write this letter, has just descended.

But as much as we might complain about the darkness, we have to be aware that there are many more in this world, as we head into the Christmas Season whose life experiences over the last year most definitely eclipseour own minor ‘first world problems’ and if all we need to do is light some more candles to chase away the ‘winter blues’, we’re not doing so bad.  For others it may be not that simple.

In our now ‘post-covid’ times, our churches have continued to gather to pray for those who ‘walk in darkness’ and difficulties, and we have been fortunate to find so many ways for our own congregations to make God’s word a ‘lamp to our feet and a light to our path’ (Psalm 119: 105) we have sung songs of hope to strengthen our spirits for the journey over the last 15 months since I joined you to serve as Associate Priest. It’s wonderful to see how our church family has grown and generously given of their time and talents to reach out to many others in our villages, and beyond. The Light should never be kept to ourselves, of course : Christ is a gift for all, and the greatest gift of all.
He is The Way for when we lose our sense of direction.
The Truth for when we doubt, or question our beliefs and need reassurance.
The Resurrection and the Life for when we complete of our earthly journey.
 (John 14: 6)

What better present could we ask for this Christmas? What better gift could we give? Remember, it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness; and we have a light that never goes out, Jesus the Light of the world.

A Merry Christmas and a Bright New Year to all,

Rev Dot

Vicar’s Letter September 2023

By the time you read this I will be starting my Extended Study Leave. Between September and November this year I will not be following my normal working pattern. Instead I will be spending three months on a few different things.

In mid-September I will be spending ten days on a silent retreat which may sound like heaven, hell, or something in between to you depending on your personality type and stage of life. Personally, I’m looking forward to pausing and waiting on God. My experience of silent retreats, whether 24 hours, or 6 days or more, is that God always shows up in some way.

I’ll also be having some conversations with individuals doing some interesting mission activities around the UK. These will be uploaded as part of an already existing podcast – the Mudlarks podcast – which can be found online at: – the podcast started in the midst of the Covid pandemic and I’m looking forward to adding some more episodes.

I’ll also be doing some writing, I have a few writing projects on the go that don’t easily fit with the usual “6-day-a-week-vicaring-with-three-kids” schedule. I’m also planning to do some painting, a bit of gardening, Couch to 5K and if I’m lucky, a bit of sleeping too.

See you all in December, in the meantime, there will be a series of guest writers for the “vicar’s letter” page over the next three months.



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Vicar’s Letter July 2023

The summer approaches and for many it will be the time to fly off to exotic parts of the world. A time to lay down the busyness of work and to soak up the sun for a week or two.

For others, the idea of summer brings with it the dread of having to think of how to fill up the children’s time and also bellies with food. For those with young family’s summer can be a time of real struggle. How to entertain the children, how to arrange child care around work and how to arrange food when the support of free school meals isn’t in place.

In the life of the church, summer is a slightly odd season, peppered with weddings and the occasional out door event the life of the church bubbles along nicely with out the seasonal busyness brought about by Easter or Christmas. The long stretch of what the lectionary calls ‘ordinary time’ looms large over the months as we head through the summer and on into autumn.

Perhaps this year we might look to approach summer differently. To take the opportunities to slow down when they come along. To take the opportunities to find creative, cheap and low-key ways to entertain the children, to not feel the pressure to always be on the go. Perhaps a key thing to do, is take it easy on ourselves, to not always be comparing our summers to the neighbour down the road, but instead to find joy in the small things. And to know that if we really are struggling, then there are agencies out there who’d love to be able to support us through.


Rev Tim.

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Vicar’s Letter June 2023

May 2023 won’t be a month that is easily forgotten. Especially locally.

We joined with the rest of the country in celebrating the Coronation, yet locally we also grieved with the family of Suzanne Henry after her tragic and sudden death. Our whole community was shocked by news of Suzanne’s death and our prayers remain with Suzanne’s family at this very difficult time.


As we go about our daily lives never know what the people around us are going through. The man in the café staring at his cup of tea while it goes cold. The couple embracing in tears by the pool. The child sniffling at the back of the class. The family laughing at the pub. Even just the person we pass in the street.

We can be sure that however our days are going the people around us will be experiencing a range of different emotions: joy, delight, worry, fear, grief, anger. The whole gamut of human experience plays itself out on our streets and in our community every day of the year.

In the midst of the rich tapestry of life and experience it wouldn’t do us harm to be kind. Nothing more radical than that. To be prepared to ask, “are you okay?” To be a sign to others that they are not alone.

As we journey through June – be blessed, and as you are blessed, seek to be a blessing to others too.


Rev Tim

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Vicar’s Letter May 2023

This year as we leave April behind and move into May we move from one ‘kingly’ celebration to another. April and the Easter season remind us that in terms of Christian theology – Jesus the king of heaven is the king we follow. In May we’ll be celebrating the coronation of King Charles III as the king of our nation, but we will also be celebrating his role as Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Around the country there will be lots of celebrations as the king is crowned. No doubt many of us will be watching the processions and service on the telly. It will, I’m sure, be a regal and wonderful time.

As the coronation follows so closely after Easter I can’t help but think of the two kings and the ceremonies and rituals related to them both: the king of heaven and the king of the United Kingdom.

King Charles III will presumably be welcomed with a great procession displaying all kinds of earthly power. On his arrival into Jerusalem King Jesus was welcomed with palm leaves and cloaks, surrounded by the poor and with no military might.

King Charles III will be wearing the finest robes and a golden crown will be placed upon his head. King Jesus was stripped, his ragged, blood-stained clothes gambled over and a crown of thorns forced onto his head.

King Charles III’s coronation will take place in the grand and wonderful Westminster Abbey beside a throne. King Jesus’ ‘coronation’ took place above the city dump on a hill called ‘Skull’.  His throne was a cross.

To celebrate King Charles III coronation there will be a special concert at Windsor castle. After King Jesus’ ‘coronation’ his body was taken away in the dead of night and placed in a borrowed tomb.

Two  very  different  coronations  for two very different reasons. We give thanks to God for King Jesus who died that we might have life. And we give thanks to God for King Charles III and pray that through his life and service he might in some way bear witness to God’s loving mercy.


Rev Tim

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Vicar’s Easter Letter, April 2023

As April begins we step almost immediately into Holy Week and begin the journey through Jesus’ last week until we reach the AGONY of the cross, the SILENCE of the tomb and DELIGHT of the resurrection.

To aide us through Holy Week and beyond, we have a number of services and events across the benefices of Betley and Madeley:

On Monday morning there’s an Easter Wild Church at the new graveyard in Betley.

On Monday evening there’s a Lent Book Group at All Saints’ Madeley.

On Tuesday evening there’s a special Tenebrae service at St. Margaret’s Betley.

On Thursday evening there’s a Maundy Thursday Communion at All Saints’ Madeley.

On Friday morning there’s a Good Friday Messy Church at All Saints’ Madeley

On Friday afternoon there’s a Good Friday act of witness on the green in Betley.

On Saturday evening there is an online Alternative Reflection.

On Easter Sunday morning both benefices will have services in the church buildings.

On Easter Sunday afternoon there’s a Resurrection Day Wander at Silverdale Country Park.

Holy Week is an important time in the life of the church, it’s a great opportunity to invite a friend to a service or event. It’s also a great opportunity to think about faith again if it’s something you’d like to connect with for the first time, or perhaps to reconnect with.

Have a fantastic Easter, the season when God messes with expectations. The AGONY of the cross marks a victory. The SILENCE of the tomb reminds us that even in the tough times God is at work. And the DELIGHT of the resurrection is a sign of hope in a hurting world.


Rev Tim

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