Messy Church

When the Russian armed forces crossed the border into Ukraine, as well as the cries of outrage and disbelief that were given voice in prayer and on social media, there were conversations of compassion and murmurs of mercy. In Stapleford, efforts were quickly coordinated to get emergency supplies to the suffering people and to help evacuate those who wished to flee and who already had family in the UK. A local builder and his Polish colleague took three vans of goods collected by the communities of the Beane Valley Benefice and brought back to safety 40 refugees.

Here are some photographs of the churches in action…

Well done to all concerned!

If you are keen to help, there is more information on the Diocesan website about how you and your parish might get involved; click here.

In other news…

The Annual Report from Synod for 2021 and other useful information for circulation and discussion at APCMs is now available (here). Synod members, please attend your parish meetings prepared to give a positive account of how the Deanery can support mission and ministry in the parish. And do encourage volunteers to step forwards to serve on our project teams!

Draft minutes of Synod and committee meetings are also now available for Synod members (log in to access these). It was good to be meet our new Diocesan Secretary and to hear something of both his vision for his work and his passion for the gospel. It was also most helpful to hear a clear and comprehensive report from our Deanery’s new link with General Synod. There is much to do as we pray, “Let your Kingdom come” and it is encouraging to hear that the national church is engaging with important matters.

I pray you have a profound experience of the grace of God this Holy Week and Eastertime.

Revd Mark Dunstan

Spring Encouragements

At our last Synod meeting, I proposed that there should be greater collaboration and communication between the parishes of our deanery, and indicated that one way of achieving this would be better use of this blog post.  Time has passed since then, but with the signs of new life all around us, it seems a good time for this particular ministry to start sprouting…

I thought we could start with a little sharing of good news stories – how the churches in our deanery are Living God’s Love in different ways, engaging with their communities, using and supporting their buildings and generally being salt and light in the world.  What follows is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I trust it shows some of the variety of life which is present across the deanery.

The Beane Valley Benefice is celebrating with Watton at Stone Church which is now open for visitors daily having been closed for years.  The churches are also supporting a collection organised by a local builder for victims of the war in Ukraine.  In related news, Revd Sally from Hertford Heath will be leading prayers for Ukraine at a gathering in Parliament Square, Hertford on Wednesday this week.

Holy Trinity Bengeo hosted one of the services for the World Day of Prayer last Friday, with this year’s prayer focus being for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Christ Church Ware recently held an “Away Day” with studies in the Book of Ruth, and St Mary’s Ware, following our own deanery’s presentation on the need to be kind to the environment have just completed an initial eco-audit with material provided by Christian conservation charity, A Rocha.

Great Amwell, St Margarets and Stanstead Abbotts have just launched a new magazine across the three villages in collaboration with the Parish Councils, St Andrews Hertford are hosting Fairport Convention in May as one of their “Big Gigs”, and in my benefice, we’ve just started a new Christianity Explored discussion series for those who are either curious about the Christian faith or considering confirmation.

There are plenty of other things going on in the deanery – far too many to write here, but these are written that you may see something of the life and variety in our churches.  Could you write a brief report of something your church is doing so that others can be encouraged?  Please get in touch…

Finally, the Synod Papers for our next meeting are now available on the website for members (simply log in to access them).  I look forward to seeing some of you there!

May God bless you all,

Revd Mark Dunstan

World Day of Prayer Service

“I know the plans I have for you”

2022 is a special year for World Day of Prayer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This year, we have prepared the World Day of Prayer service. It has been both challenging and rewarding to write about the three countries that make up our area: our landscape, people and culture all shaped by our history. We celebrate our diversity and the contribution made to our countries by the many groups and individuals who have made their home here. We use our Bible text “I know the plans I have for you” from Jeremiah to reflect on some of the issues facing us today: poverty, domestic abuse and disability, finding hope in difficult situations and encouragement in the help we can give to each other.

Deanery Synod Meeting

We are delighted to meet at Christ Church, Ware, following their major renovation.  The meeting will contain a presentation from Revd John Hookway (vicar of Christ Church) about the project and its underpinning vision.  There will also be material on how the funds were raised and aspects of responsible Christian stewardship.

There will be an opportunity for members to engage with the Forgiveness Project which is being hosted in the church.  For this reason, we encourage members to arrive from 7pm, when refreshments will be available.

Formal meeting to commence at 7:45pm.

Non-members welcome.

Deanery Synod Meeting

Topic: Environmental Responsibility – Broken World, Radical Solutions

We are delighted to be able to welcome Andy Lester, Conservation Director of A Rocha, a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world.  He was recommended to us from the St Albans Diocesan Synod where he gave a stimulating address last year.

Environmental Responsibility is vitally important for our churches, our mission and our own lives.  The talk will have a wide brief – from our own churches to the global extinction of species and our disconnection from nature.

A Rocha has a fascinating website at which shows the spiritual and Christian character of their work.

This event is open to everyone.  We hope you will invite members of your congregation.

Refreshments served from 7:30pm

Licensing of Revd Amanda Duncan

We welcome Revd Amanda to the benefice of High Cross and the benefice of Thundridge (held in plurality).

Institution by the Bishop of Hertford and Installation and Induction by the Archdeacon of Hertford at High Cross Parish Church.

All are welcome: celebrate and pray with Amanda and the parishes at this key moment in their ministries.

Reaching New People Vision Day

To enable leaders / benefices / parishes to explore, in their particular context, how they might reach new people and enable them to grow in faith by developing fresh expressions of church and equipping leaders…


Attendance is free and lunch and refreshments will be provided.

If you would like to attend please can you let Linda Watson (RNP Administrator) know.