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News for the [not so] New Year

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t, but I did plan to write a blog post early in the New Year. Many people fail to keep their resolutions; and I am prepared to admit that after Candlemas cannot seriously be called “early in the New Year”. Still, better late than never…

Thank You

Firstly, I want to thank all the parishes for making such a determined effort to pay the Parish Share request in full. At the end of the year, we had contributed 97.58% of the sum asked of us. This is a truly excellent result, made even better in consideration of the post-pandemic / cost-of-living-crisis context in which it has been achieved. Please thank your PCCs for their commitment to serving the cause of the gospel in this way.

I am mindful that for some parishes, paying the full share will have been the product of real sacrifice; the reduction of reserves. As a deanery, we are trying to improve the support we can offer to our parishes. Our treasurer, Janet Bird (known to many of you), is heading up a group whose aims are

  • ensuring that the Parish Share burden within the deanery is equitably distributed and
  • helping parishes think creatively about finance so they can be not only sustainable but generous.

If you have expertise or interest in these areas or know someone in your parish who does, please use the form available at this link to join the group. Parishes obviously cannot continue dipping into their reserves for ever; we need to be realistic as we plan for the future. This group will make sensible recommendations for the deanery based on solid financial data. (Other task groups are also available – see the drop down menu for introductory pages and joining links.)

Comings and Goings

At the turn of the New Year, we said farewell to Revd Amanda Duncan (priest in charge of Thundridge and High Cross) and to Mrs Ann Edwards (reader in the Beane Valley Benefice). Please pray for them in their retirement and for the benefices as they enter a new phase without their support.

Bishop Jane Mainwaring is to be welcomed on 4th February as the new Bishop of Hertford in a service at All Saints Church, Hertford. Please pray for her as she starts her new ministry.


The first of this year’s deanery services of confirmation will take place at St John the Baptist, Widford at 6pm on Sunday 5th February. Please pray for the candidates and for the Bishop of Bedford as he officiates – especially that he will proclaim the gospel clearly so visitors may be drawn to Christ and church folk may be encouraged in their faith.

The second confirmation date (originally set for 8th May) has been cancelled because this date is now a Bank Holiday to extend the coronation weekend. A third provisional date is being held in November (see the calendar).

Bible Reading Marathon

Congratulations to St Mary’s Ware for completing their 72 hour Bible reading event at the end of the last month. Now we all know how long it takes to read the Bible cover to cover, is there anything to stop us?


The General Synod meets next week. The agenda will be dominated by – and no doubt the media coverage will be similarly dominated by – the bishops proposals about same-sex marriage, the “Prayers of Love and Faith” which they are commending and their plans to produce new pastoral guidance to replace “Issues in Human Sexuality”. There is much for them to discuss. Please pray for all who have been elected to Synod, and for all for whom the matters being discussed are personal and painful.

Our next Deanery Synod date is March 20th (agenda, paperwork and other details will be circulated later). This will be the last Synod of the current membership – the upcoming APCMs will vote to elect new Synod members (or the same ones again). Please consider whether you would like to stand again, or whether you might prefer to encourage someone else to take your place.


Finally, you will have noticed that I did NOT send the email about improved communication before Christmas. I will do this shortly. Watch this space…

With prayers for you all,

Revd Mark Dunstan
Rural Dean