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Events in December 2018–January 2019
A LETTER FROM TIM LIDDELL, CHURCHWARDEN,
I’m writing this month’s parish magazine as Churchwarden and on behalf the PCC (Parochial Church Council). It is hard to believe we are coming to the end of another year, a very busy and significant year for both All Saints’ and St Martin’s churches, with Elizabeth departing in September.
Not surprisingly Christmas is the busiest time of year and we are working on the usual services, with the Carol Service (Dec 16th6pm at All Saints’) being for many in the village a wonderful opportunity to both start Christmas celebrations and recognise the role our Church plays in the village.
We are also now working on how to manage this period without Elizabeth. It is formally called an Interregnum but referring to it as a vacancy feels more appropriate. The challenge for the PCC is to make it not feel vacant and find a new vicar as successfully as possible. We also have to be realistic, as Elizabeth worked almost fulltime providing ministry and support for the Parishes of St Paul’s Walden and Preston and there are no temporary staff to fill in or central organisation to just “sort it out”. We are part of the Hitchin ministry Team and will be working with them to ensure our weekly services continue and that there is the support for other services. So, the main point of contact for baptisms, weddings and funerals will be through the Hitchin church office * (details at end of this letter).
Also, as we work towards next year we have to consider all that the church seeks to provide in the community. We are fortunate for the considerable support received in keeping the church running and maintained – our weekly church openers, the Preservation Trust members, church flower arrangers, volunteer cleaners and our congregation – but maintaining a grade 1 listed church and supporting the community takes a considerable amount of effort and money. If you feel able to be involved in any part of this then please do let us know, particularly because one of the most attractive features for recruiting a new priest is seeing an engaged community.
All the best
* Church House, Churchyard, Hitchin, SG5 1HP. Tel. 01462 452758
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There is very little on record of worship in the village from the dissolution of the Knights Hospitaller in 1542 until the mid-19th century. However there are strong links with John Bunyan, who held regular services in a natural amphitheatre – still known as Bunyan’s Dell – in Wain Wood in the 1660s. The villagers were staunch followers of Bunyan, and they built a chapel in 1877 which was regularly used for worship until about 1985.
As far as Anglican worship is concerned, Preston was not large enough to support a church and was part of the Parish of Hitchin. However the curate of St Mary’s, Hitchin, who was responsible for the spiritual welfare of Preston, the Rev. B.N.Switzer, suggested that a Mr Pryor should donate one acre of his land for a Church and Burial Ground.
On January 28th 1899, Mr T.B.Carter, submitted a design with an estimated cost of £1200. This was accepted by the church committee and the people of Preston undertook to raise the money. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs MacMillan (an aunt of Sir Harold MacMillan), who was then living at Temple Dinsley, on St Martin’s Day, 11thNovember 1899. The church was consecrated as St Martin’s by the Bishop of St Albans on 14th July 1900. It has been described as:
“A simple little building set in a formal churchyard, with curiously domestic details reminiscent of C.F.A. Voysey (a prominent turn-of-the-century architect). With a pebble-dashed exterior, steep slate roof and plain nave windows between battered buttresses linked by segmental arches. At the west end is a stumpy towerlet with a gable for bells.”
Recently two new stained glass windows have been installed. Both designed by Peter Caller, a local stained glass artist. In the south nave wall is the Centenary Window, depicting the life of St Martin and in the south wall of the porch is the Memorial Window to William Palmer, installed on 28th June 2001.
The East window was erected in memory of Thomas Warrin (Mrs McMillan’s father) who died in 1888. It was designed by Christopher Whall and represents the Tree of Jesse. This beautiful window was completely restored in 2005.
With the retirement of the Revd Elizabeth Bunker, St. Martin’s has entered a period of interregnum until a new Parish Priest is appointed.
The Churchwarden at St Martins is Malcolm Lowle who can be contacted on 01462 456664 or or via our Contact Us page.
There is a Friends of St. Martins society – For further details please contact Sue Griffiths via our Contact Us page.
A “120″ Club prize draw each month to raise funds for the ongoing maintenance of St Martins is run by Richard Blockley on behalf of the church. Monthly winners will be announced in the Church and Village Newsletter. Please contact Richard Blockley for further details via our Contact Us page.
Although there are more than one Saint Martin, our church is named after St Martin de Tours -‘The Glory of Gaul’.
St.Martin is the Patron Saint of many, including: beggars; soldiers (mainly of Infantrymen); conscientious objectors; prisoners; tailors; geese; vintners / innkeepers; alcoholics and of France.
There is some controversy on whether Saint Martin was born in 316 or 336. It is known that
his place of birth was Savaria which is in modern day Hungary. At the age of 10 St Martin became a Christian, even though at that time both of his parents were pagans. Many years later under St. Martin’s tutelage his mother converted to Christianity, but his father never did. Coming from a military family (his father was a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard) St.Martin joined the cavalry corps of the Roman Army when he was 15,serving throughout Gaul (now France), Treves and Milan.
Whilst riding through Amiens in Gaul St Martin met a man who was begging for alms. Even though he was shivering with the cold no one was stopping to help the beggar. St Martin had nothing to give apart from the clothes he was wearing. The Saint cut his heavy cloak in half and shared it with the man. He later had a vision of Christ, surrounded by angels, wearing the half of the cloak. He heard Jesus saying to the angels “Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has clothed me.” This had such an effect on the young St Martin that he was baptised soon afterwards, at the age of 18.
At 20 Martin left the Army as he felt he could no longer fight. He became the first recognised conscientious objector in recorded history and was ordained as a deacon by the Bishop Hilary in Poitiers. He then spent many monastic years meditating on the Scriptures, sharing his beliefs, teaching and helping others. When Lidorious the bishop of Tours died the people acclaimed Martin to be their new bishop. It was known that Martin was reluctant so he was tricked into going to the city by being told he was needed to administer to someone who was sick. On his arrival he was taken to the church ,where the bishops present were not impressed by the scruffy monk the people had brought to them to be ordained as a new bishop. St.Martin had not given any thought to his appearance. His aim was simply to arrive as quickly as possible to aid and bless the sick man.
Once ordained St.Martin was a holy, compassionate and hard working bishop. He established a system of parishes in his diocese and visited all of them at least once a year. He was deeply committed to his responsibilities, which included missionary work. He travelled around sharing his love of God and helping converts to Christianity set up communities with a priest or a monk. He helped the people of Tours in many different ways, settling disputes, answering questions ,not all of them to do with spiritual concerns. He was dedicated to freeing prisoners and healing, including a young girl who had never spoken.
In 372, having established an abbey in Marmoutier, St.Martin and his many disciples were able to spend time in retreat there, praying and leading a monastic life.
St.Martin died on the 8 of November 397 and was buried on the 11 November – generally recognised as his Feast Day (although some now regard it to be the 12th).
Prayers of and to St.Martin include:
Prayer of St.Martin of Tours
Lord, if Your people still have
need of my services, I will
not avoid the toil, Your will be
done. I have fought the good
fight long enough. Yet if You
bid me to continue to hold
the battle line in defence of Your
camp, I will never beg to be
excused from failing strength.
I will do the work You entrust
to me. While You command,
I will fight beneath Your banner,
Dear well-beloved Saint,
you were first a soldier
like your father.
Converted to the Church,
you became a soldier of Christ,
a priest and then
a Bishop of Tours.
Lover of the poor,
and model for pagans
and Christians alike,
protect our soldiers at all times.
Make them strong,
just, and charitable, always
aiming at establishing peace
on earth. Amen
under pagan ways but since your
childhood you were chosen to be
a Prince of the Church and, as
Bishop of Tours, many souls were
redeemed and liberated from
the satanic forces through your
prayers, austerities and blessings.
We humbly ask for your
intercession before Our Lord
Jesus Christ because we want to
be worthy of the grace and
mercy of the Holy Spirit that
lead us from darkness to light
into the eternal kingdom,
forever and ever. Amen
Blessed St Martin of Tours,
obtain for us not only
forgiveness, but also a spirit
of love towards neighbours,
enabling us to be compassionate.
Obtain for us the grace to
love all people as brothers
and sisters with a pure
and disinterested heart
May we, like you, one day
enjoy the blessed vision of
God, forever and ever
The Church Committee of St Martins is responsible for the financial affairs of the church and the maintenance of its assets, as well as for promoting the mission of the church.
Its members for 2017/18 are as follows :
- Malcolm Lowle
- Dawn Jenkins
- Richard Gill
- Richard Blockley
- Hugh Reeves
- Meta Reeves
- Sue Griffiths
- Alec Dickenson
- Jane Cole
- Pam Stark
- Paul Constantinidi
Minutes of the 2018 AGM will be published here.