Shellrock Weekly News - 17th November

Dear Friends,

This Sunday marks a slight lull from the nostalgic time remembering the saints and souls who have gone before us.  We now look towards ending the Kingdom season with Christ the King Sunday next week.  This refers to the idea of the Kingdom of God where Christ is described as sitting at the right hand of God. More of that next week.

Advent Course:  Advent begins on December 1st but a date to remember is November 27th when we will hold the first session of the Advent Course.  This year we are considering our prayer life and we have literature published by the Diocese called ‘Mapping Prayer’.  This will help us to look at what prayer is, how to use it in our daily lives as well as in regular church worship.

There will be 3 sessions, on 27th, 4th , and 11th December at 7.00pm, in the Benefice Office.

Advent Worship:  In addition to the usual Sunday services through Advent, Compline (night prayer) will be held each Thursday at 7.00pm in St Peter’s, Little Ellingham.  Compline is a quiet, reflective service, lasting for 15 - 20 minutes.  It is exactly right for Advent when we think about the coming of Christ and what that means in our lives.

Advent Calendars:  Please leave your name on the sheet at the back of the church if you require a REAL Advent Calendar this year.  They are £3.99, and produced by the Meaningful Chocolate Company.  Alternatively, you can contact Sue or the Benefice office to order, within the next ten days please. See contact numbers over leaf.

Exciting times ahead. Oh, and don’t forget the Advent lunch at Rocklands Village Hall on Saturday 30th November, 12.30p.m. for 1.00p.m.

My love to you all, Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 10th November

November is the month of remembrance.  It is good that the Church recognises we need a time to look back, be sad and nostalgic, remember our loved ones and all those who have left this earth before us, ask for God’s blessing on them and us, and then shift our focus towards preparing for the birth of Christ as we move into Advent.

Having remembered our own dear departed last Sunday along with those who have died for the love of Christ in generations past at All Saintstide and All Souls, we now think about all who gave their life in service to this country, especially the armed forces in times of conflict.  It is fitting that names will be read out from all our churches; none will be forgotten.

St James will welcome the scouts to the service.  We look to the next generation to take on these traditions.  Our young people have a very powerful voice when they raise issues – check the moves to take the changing environment seriously. I am sure that peace is at the top of their agenda, and learning about the casualties of war, present as well as past, is an important move to ensure diplomacy and negotiation take precedence over warlike gestures and threats in future.

It is also interesting to note the changing colours of the hangings in church during these seasons – white for All Saints, red on Remembrance Sunday, remaining red through the Sundays before Advent, then purple when Advent arrives on December 1st.  White, of course, for Christmas………

My love to you all, Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 3rd November

My Dear Friends,

At St James, Great Ellingham, this evening at 6.30, we are having a service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the lives of those relatives and friends who have died, and not just in the past year. Everyone is welcome.  It is a quiet, prayerful service with some well-known hymns, and it gives us all the chance to reflect on our loved ones and to share some of our sadness in the companionship of others who have had experiences of loss.

Grief can be extremely painful and bewildering. The writer of the Narnia chronicles, C S Lewis, said “no one told me that grief feels so much like fear”. In loss and grief, sometimes we feel very unwell physically; this is absolutely normal, although it can be worrying. Time does heal eventually, although it can indeed take a long time. Every single person is unique, and the relationships we have with each other are unique. There is no “rule book” about the time it takes to get over a loss. What does seem to help and bring comfort is the opportunity to speak with others who will listen and respect the particular characteristics and circumstances of each bereavement. We hope very much that this is something that we can offer in a Christian community, and not just at this special time of year.  

After Christmas, I am planning to develop a bereavement support group, and this will be for anyone in the communities served by the Shellrock Benefice, and not just those who are attending church. I have been wanting to do this for many months and I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who has ideas about such a group; for example, time of day or evening, location, frequency ------ and so on.

Wherever you are this weekend, I ask that you find peace and know that we will be thinking and praying for all people who have been bereaved of someone who is important to them.

With my love to you all,



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Shellrock Weekly News - 27th October

My Dear Friends,

As I write this, I am also thinking about the weekend when you will receive it, either by e-mail or when you come to church for the service. Sunday 27th October is Bible Sunday, an occasion for us to consider how important the Bible is to us, as a church and as individuals. I suspect we all know that different denominations give greater or lesser authority to the words of scripture: some take a literal approach and believe that the Bible contains the actual words of God; others believe that the Bible describes the experiences human beings have had over the centuries in their encounters with God. There is a similar variation when it comes to individuals. There are those who read and study the Bible regularly and would feel lost if they were not able to do this every day, whilst others hear the Bible read at Sunday services, and that is their only contact with it.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the new Testament in Greek. Quite apart from the translations into most languages spoken today, there are now also different versions of the Bible in English, and we all have our favourites. I guess that a lot of people attending church today in the over 60 age group would be most familiar with the “King James” Bible and be able to quote from it. Certainly, it was the version I was accustomed to both in church and at School. But whichever translation is used, there are some parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand and not just in the Old Testament. We can easily be put off. This is where the various commentaries can be helpful in giving the context in which a passage might have been written, as well some very interesting historical insights and helpful alternative interpretations.

We have a long-standing Fellowship group in this Benefice. It is held on a Tuesday morning and Bible Study is central to the gathering. BUT there is no reason why there could not be another group, perhaps on another day or evening. Anyone who is interested in studying more of the Bible and/or who might be thinking about a group such as our existing Fellowship, just have a word with one of the ministry team.

With my love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 20th October

The sun was warm today and while I was out and about, I was aware and thankful for the wonders of the Autumn colours which looked glorious.

From now until Christmas and beyond we are entering a particularly busy season with many opportunities to come together for worship and for service to each other. November sees us remembering members of our families and friends who have died in the previous year as well as further back in time. Those who come to such a service feel moved as well as supported by the comradeship of others who also have been bereaved. This service will be held in St James on November 3rd at 6.30pm. Remembrance Sunday falls a week later and for many people this is also an important time to think of and give thanks for the courage of those involved in the wars that have afflicted humankind in the twentieth century.

November also sees the Right Revd Graham Usher installed as the new Bishop of Norwich. Although this is the official start of his ministry as Bishop, he has already been quite active and has been visiting various parts of the Diocese. He will be presiding at a service in St Cuthbert’s Church Thetford on November 27th at 7.00pm and this will be an opportunity for anyone in our Benefice who wishes to meet him. Although, the election and installation of a new Bishop may seem remote from us in rural areas, his ideas, priorities, and particular areas of concern impact on all of us. Over the coming weeks we shall be praying for him and his family as he settles into a new home and environment.

With love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 13th October

For those who didn’t make it on Wednesday evening, you missed a thoroughly good presentation by the Revd Dr Peter Herbert on ‘Science and Religion’, our recent Shellrock Talk.  He obviously knew his subjects and his delivery was one of great enthusiasm; I, for one, felt informed and challenged as well as entertained.  Thank you to all who came to hear the talk, to RSP for providing a warm venue and to the ‘Refreshment Ladies’ for the tea and coffees.

Another huge “Thank You” to everyone who supported the MacMillan Coffee Morning last Sunday at St Peter, Little Ellingham.  Considering the atrocious weather, it was so good to see so many of you coming along and enjoying the refreshments on offer and contributing to the £211 that was taken.  All the donations will be sent to the charity.

It is hard to say whether the recent Brexit talks between PM Johnson and PM Varadkar will come to anything; but where there is a will there is a way!  The whole process has been gladiatorial in its style so we must consider ourselves fortunate that only words are being slung between the opposing sides rather than bullets and bombs; progress of a sorts at least.

It is all fodder for the media of course, but what about the aftermath.  There are going to be many people who will feel let down whatever the outcome, so necessitating a degree of reconciliation.  Of course Jesus showed us the way.  Let down many times by his weak and rebellious followers, he nevertheless always kept the door open to them, no matter how much he was hurt by their actions.  It is never too late for a new beginning.

Let the Love of God comfort you, the teaching of Jesus Christ guide you and the power of the Holy Spirit give you strength.

Have a good week.



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Shellrock Weekly News - 6th October

When I started the Shellrock Talks the general idea was to give us the opportunity to expand our knowledge and understanding of what is happening in this world that has a religious or moral element to it.  So far we have heard how Christian Aid operates, the state of religious education in our schools, why we support Food Banks, and what role religion has in our prisons.  This week we have a talk from Revd Dr Peter Herbert on the association between Science and Religion.

For many people the notion is that science and religion are on opposite sides of an argument; the beginning of the universe and life itself is a good example.  Although science gives us answers to many questions about us and the world we live in, does it really give us all the answers?  As we have discovered, science is not infallible; many ‘truths’ have consequently been proved incorrect necessitating a rethink on what had been accepted as fact.  So how does science and religion make such good friends, or even are they good friends?

 Dr Herbert is an astrophysicist and an ordained minister in the Anglican Church, so a foot in both camps places him in an ideal position to help us formulate an answer if that is possible.  So do come along to RSP this Wednesday to what should be an interesting evening.  The talk starts at 7.30pm, with coffee and tea served from 7pm.  This is also an opportunity to bring along a friend who may sit firmly on the science side of the fence.

A reminder that this Sunday, 6 October St Peter Little Ellingham are holding a MacMillan coffee ‘morning’ in the church between 12 and 2pm after their Harvest Festival service.  Anyone who has been affected by cancer and supported by the MacMillan charity will know how important that support is to people travelling on this very difficult journey.  So please come along, spend your money, enjoy a drink and a bite to eat.  All the money will go to the charity.

Finally, a reminder that St James, Great Ellingham is holding its Autumn Fayre this coming Saturday, 12 October.

Your support is always welcome.


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Shellrock Weekly News - 29th September

“Come ye thankful people come” ------ the first line of a lovely harvest hymn that is probably being sung in many churches throughout UK and possibly in other countries as well at this Autumn time. What struck me as I was writing this was that thanksgiving for the harvest, which we have been doing now for many years, is happening at the same time as thousands of people throughout the world, led by young people, have gone on strike or have engaged in a major protest about the climate crisis. There will be controversy and different views being expressed about so many children missing a school day. But we also know that climate change is a challenge for our time and for our future on this earth.

The topic has been in all the media, almost daily, following after a brave Swedish school-girl called Greta spoke out clearly and expressed the views of her generation. But of course, it has been around for a lot longer than that. Bishop Hugh Montefiore was a prominent church man who was drawing attention to environmental and climate issues back in the 1960s and the previous Bishop of Thetford, David Anderson, was likewise seeing part of his calling as drawing attention to these issues.

I believe it is part of our Christian responsibility to translate these issues into action, not necessarily by joining the next march – and I’m sure there will be more -- but by carefully considering how every aspect of our travel,  purchases, heating and many other aspects of daily life are affecting the planet. God has given us responsibility to be stewards of this wonderful world and “all that therein is”.  Let’s discuss and go on discussing how we can do this most effectively through our actions and choices. 

My love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 22nd September

Almost as soon as September is over, we are busy preparing for Christmas and the year ahead. One of the essential items of preparation is the rota of services for the year starting in January. As you can imagine this is quite a complex business trying to make sure that all five churches have a similar number of services and that they are the types of service that people wish to have.  In the Shellrock Benefice, we have quite a variety of different services and liturgies: those that are based on the Book of Common Prayer, the more modern liturgies from Common Worship and ones that we develop ourselves. A substantial number of people indicate quite strong preferences, and we need to take account of as many as possible of these.  Following on from meetings and discussions in the ministry team and the different PCCs, ideas and wishes are brought together. Several people are then involved with the construction of a complex rota and I am always grateful to them for their hard work and attention to detail.

It really is a challenge and the end-result cannot possibly please everyone because there are so many different experiences and preferred styles of churchmanship, even within a small benefice such as Shellrock.  But we are helped, and want to hear your ideas, views and feedback on all aspects of our communal worship as well as our life together as a church.

With love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 15th September

I always think of the latter part of September, and into October, as the beginning of Autumn, that “season of mellow fruitfulness”.   It is rightfully a time of inspiration for the poets. The harvest services have begun, and we can sing our hearts out with well-known hymns and songs and enjoy all the other activities, such as Autumn fairs and harvest suppers. All too soon the shops will be reminding us of just how many days there are left to Christmas, so let’s all enjoy the particular character of the Autumn as we begin to hunker down to the shorter evenings.

Everyone has their seasonal preferences.   For me Autumn is particularly beautiful, and I well remember many years ago being lucky enough to be there for the Canadian and New England fall; the oranges and reds, the golden yellows and burnished browns – a wondrous sight. We have so much to be thankful for in our natural world whether it be the magnificence of the mountains and valleys, or on a smaller, but not lesser scale, the scent of a newly unfolding rose. Our harvest services and celebrations give us the opportunity to stand back, take stock, appreciate, but also to remember all those who are not as fortunate as ourselves.  In many different ways and in other countries, as well as our own, there is a shortage of food, an absence of shelter, and for some, a constant and dreadful fear that comes from the effects of climate change or political oppression.In the midst of the muddle that our country finds itself in, for us atleast, Autumn can be a time of peace and joyfulness andthankfulness.

With my love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 8th September

On August 29th at the benefice office, we had a goodly number of people from across the benefice attending a meeting about stewardship.
Robert Culyer from the diocese came along to the meeting to help us in our thinking. He reminded us that Stewardship is not just about money.
It includes the time and the talents that we give as part of our Christian discipleship. I have always been struck by the generosity with which people give of their time and their talents in each of our churches. Some of this is highly visible; a lot is invisible and involves all the maintenance activities going on behind the scenes so that the five churches are in a good state of repair and are clean and welcoming for the weekly services.  I am also aware of the love and support that is freely given to those who are unwell, frail or housebound.  Robert reminded us that Stewardship is for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ in response to God’s love and, yes, it does indeed involve financial giving as well as of time and talents. Over the next weeks and months, we will be talking a lot more about stewardship and the different ways in which each of us can be involved. And there are indeed many and various ways. For example, Robert challenged us to consider how long ago it was that we had invited another person to join us in coming to a service!  Now ----- there’s a thought.

The schools are back but summer isn’t quite over yet and I hope that you can enjoy the still warm weather and the beauty of the natural world, wherever you are.

With my love to you all



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Shellrock Weekly News - 1st September

You will be reading this as the last days of the school summer holiday come to an end. I have no doubt that parents and grandparents will be busy getting the next size of school uniform and ensuring that all is ready for the new term. For some families, they will be preparing for that important major transition: first day of school, moving up to secondary school, leaving home for college.  It’s likely that some of our clearest memories are of these key stages of change in our lives. I pray that for all in this position, everything will go smoothly and be without any major difficulties. 

The summer has been busy and there have been several successful fund-raising events. I mention just two. Our Rockland churches worked together with their open gardens, refreshments in the village hall and the chance to have portraits drawn by Chris Riddell (former children’s laureate) at Rockland Manor. Thanks to efficient advertising, people came from many different places in Norfolk and Suffolk.  It was clear that everyone enjoyed the day which raised a substantial sum. A very different event took place on August 3rd when the Holst singers came from London for a free lunchtime concert at St James. The church was packed, and everyone was treated to an hour of gorgeous unaccompanied and high quality singing. Donations at the end were generous.

All such events are not only financially worthwhile. They are pleasurable, and bring new people into our communities and churches. Thanks to everyone who attended and those who work hard in many different ways to make these and other similar events such a success.

With love



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Shellrock Weekly News - 25th August

Dear Friends,

As I looked out of my kitchen window today I saw three collared doves on the handles of our lawnmower.  One was only half grown and fluttering for balance.  The adult on the same handle was obviously its mother and looked as though she was trying to feed the young one who eventually fell to the ground.  The other, larger, adult I took to be the father flew off on to the rotary washing line.

The mother stayed on the lawnmower handle, looking a little anxiously towards the ground, twisting her pretty head this way and that, trying to see where her little one had fallen.  It was very tempting to go out and interfere, but I knew if I did that the chances were the mother would fly away. She didn’t leave her post and soon I spotted the young one on the ground, walking out of the hedge into which it had fallen.  The father continued to fly between the washing line and the nearest tree, watching over the whole proceedings.

Then, horror, the mother flew away!  What happens now?  Not to worry, she came back after a few minutes, flew to the ground beside her baby with more food.  This perked it up no end and it followed the mother as she walked it to the side of the garden into deeper shrubbery, then she flew up into the tree above.  Father was still coming and going, but not abandoning. 

Having lost sight of the young one, and having other things to do, I deserted my post but assumed all was well.  I was a little concerned about our cat finding the baby but I guess she was away hunting mice somewhere else.

All this took about a quarter of an hour, and while I was standing there it occurred to me that nature replicates God.  Jesus teaches us that God, the Father, looks over us the whole time, he will not abandon us although sometimes he seems far away.  God, the Son, nourishes us and stays by our side so long as we need him.   God, the Holy Spirit, encompasses all with her love……….there is so much GOD in the world, in the smallest things, we need have no fear of coming to harm….…..we will always be saved…….be joyful.

My love to you all,  Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 18th August

How important is it that we know from whence we came?  Does it really matter?  Jesus tells us it doesn’t matter who our blood relations are but becoming part of the family of God is all we need (Matthew 12:46-50). Once we step into that family everyone is our mother, father, brother, sister.  This week, however, the Ramblings should be called ‘Pride comes before a Fall’. At my age I should have learnt that proudly thinking we know one thing doesn’t mean it is true until we have proof.

For years my husband’s family have thought they were related to nobility going back to the early nineteenth century.  We have even imagined similarities with today’s family photographs against portraits of supposed ancestors and have boasted about it to many people.  There was meant to have been a big row in the family with one member being disinherited and this explained our lack of status and funds.  Our children love the story.

Today, David and I went to The Suffolk Record Office to test the truth of some information we had seen, written by his Grandfather.  We managed to search back to 1812, all illiterate labourers, and discovered that his 3x great grandfather was a William Strutt born to Maria Strutt, no father’s name but the words under the entry in the Baptism Register were ‘Base born’! Haha!

Now, we can begin surmising all sorts of things.  It would seem Maria was not married but that does not mean she was not from the noble side of the Strutts (I am trying to salvage something).  The thing that really catches my imagination, though, is that if she had married we would not be Strutts at all – how about that? I would be Mrs…….. something else.

Which brings me back to the fact we are all God’s children, all one family, all equal in the sight of God.  It is how we love that matters, that makes us true children of God.  Status, funds, and name, mean nothing once we slip off this earth into his very arms, generation after generation, for time eternal.

My love to you all,   Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 11th August

Dear Friends,

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer (as in the song by Nat King Cole) seem very real for me right now.  Starting backwards, crazy because life is never the same two days running….is anybody’s?

Well, yes, there are folk for whom life seems never-changing and probably boring, especially those who are not mobile, have no means of getting out, or are suffering from a condition that restricts them in some way. 

I know that in the Shellrock communities care for those who are in need is in plentiful supply, and that all good neighbours are on the lookout for someone who is coping alone, but often there are hidden difficulties which is why, as a Church, we need to think about our pastoral care and how effective we are. 

Hazy days come about when we are not sure of the direction in which we are heading.  We are all concerned about the future of these parishes.  Christian ministry is wide ranging.  Everyone works extremely hard to keep our parishes buoyant and, while there are developments, they seem to be a little haphazard.  We shared ideas on our Ministry Days, but we have not always followed up in a constructive way, hence we continue to talk about this idea, or that, but still trying to find our way.  Nothing happens quickly, however, so we are still a work in progress.  The Ministry Team discuss ideas regularly.

As I mentioned in last week’s Ramblings, your ideas and thoughts will be very welcome to the Ministry Team.

Lazy days are mine for the coming two weeks as I am taking leave until 20th August, although not too lazy because I am attempting to sort out our garage so my son can build an office inside.  A trip away is not on the cards at the moment but I will be happy to have more space for the paperwork generated by being associated with the Shellrock Benefice – happy days as well as lazy, hazy and crazy……….

My love to all,  Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 4th August

My dear Friends,

Firstly, I would like to comment on how caring the people of the Shellrock Benefice community are.  I have observed the love and respect you show towards each other, especially when people are really suffering.  During my husband, David’s, illness that care has been brought into focus on a personal level.  Thank you all very much for the good wishes and prayers, they have been a blessing.

Secondly, I have been thinking about the Ministry days we held, three of them in the last eighteen months.  The Ministry Team have brought thoughts and ideas about ministry before you, mainly that we could all share the responsibility of ministry in the Benefice.  You have two appointed Priests and two licensed Readers working together as a Ministry Team, organising services and overseeing the different types of ministry there are.  As Christians, however, we believe that Jesus is the great High Priest and through him we all have access to God, in our baptism. We are, therefore, all spiritual in the sight of God and are priests all together.  Let us remember this as we move forward in the Benefice, trying to find ways of growing and developing in our faith as well as the practical side of being a Church of the people.  If you have any ideas or thoughts on the future please do not hesitate to contact one of the Ministry Team.

My love and thanks to all, Sue


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Shellrock Weekly News - 28th July

The schools are now closed for the summer and for many the holidays begin in earnest.  One hopes that the lovely sunny weather we have had this past week isn’t the last we shall see of the sunshine, though not quite so hot please.  East Anglia is well-known for being a dry part of Britain and we could well do with a greater share of the rain that the rest of the country has been getting; but not during my holiday please.

One unfortunate aspect of the long school summer holiday is that those families who rely on free school dinners have to make other arrangements.  Consequently, the foodbank becomes busier at this time of year and demand for donated food and other items increases.  It may also be a time when, due to holidays and other commitments, donations may temporary decrease.  So, we are asked to keep those donations coming in please and maybe put a little extra in if you can.

A reminder that this coming week we have our new, monthly service of Compline in St Peter, Little Ellingham.  This is held on the first Thursday of each month; so, this week it will be on Thursday 1st August starting at 1900 (7pm).

Also don’t forget we have the Holst Singers concert in St James, Great Ellingham 1300 (1pm) Saturday 3rd August.  This free concert is open to all-comers so bring your friends along with you.

Three weeks ago a questionnaire went out requesting your views on how the benefice news is communicated.  The response has been poor which can mean a lot of things!  Without anything to suggest otherwise, it shall be taken that all are satisfied with the current system and we shall carry on as we are.

Happy Holiday


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Shellrock Weekly News - 21st July

This week has a touch of the journey into the unknown.

Firstly, today is the 50th anniversary of the first human to set foot on the moon.  After blasting off from earth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their Apollo 11 Lunar Module at 20:17 GMT on 20 July 1969.  This was followed 6 hours later on 21 July by both astronauts stepping on to the lunar surface.  This was an amazing feat on so many levels.  There were so many things that could have gone wrong which would have ended the mission in total disaster.  It is reminiscent of those early explorers who sailed the uncharted seas in search of undiscovered lands.  Nobody knew what they were going to find or whether they would return.

We now await our own mission into the unknown.  By Tuesday of this week we should know who is going to be our next Prime Minister.  Whoever of the two candidates the Conservative party members choose, the implications are that a relatively small number of people will have decided the directions this country will now take, in particular Brexit.  Whatever your political leaning, prepare for blast off!

Another on a mission of discovery is Jeremy Warren.  As most of you know, Jeremy has been accepted for ordination training.  He has been placed on what is called the Two Year Pathway which means that, all being well, by June 2021 Jeremy will be ordained Deacon.  Jeremy’s training starts officially next month, in August, with the Revd Tim Weatherstone and within the Barnham Group of parishes.  However, Jeremy has had permission to continue presiding at his regular service of Morning Prayer BCP at Shropham.  So we shall not be saying goodbye to Jeremy just yet.  What we will be doing is wishing him all the best in this new and exciting stage of his journey.  May God continue to keep him company all the way.

We send our condolences to John Abel and his family at the sad and sudden death of Delphine Abel.  The funeral service and burial is scheduled for Tuesday 30th July at 1300 in the church Rockland St Peter.



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Shellrock Weekly News - 14th July

It has been a busy week for many of us.

Rockland All Saints completed a very successful Flower Festival, which was excellent as usual.  If you think that flower arranging is all about shoving a few flowers into a vase then think again.  There is a lot more to it than that as anyone who has tried it will vouch.  There is also a lot of preparation involved; like putting up the ‘tent’ and providing refreshments.  So well done everyone and thank you to all of you who supported this wonderful annual event.

In Great Ellingham the Teddy Festival comes to a close today with the Teddy Thanksgiving service.  The committee and all the helpers will probably be glad that these two weeks festival of Teddies and fun is over for another year.  There is no indication as to how successful it has been this year though the weather has been very kind with more sun and hardly any rain.  The street party will have been held yesterday, which is a new event this year.  Hopefully all will have gone well.

As we are on the subject of events, in just under three week’s time, on Saturday 3rd August at 1.00pm, the Holst Singers conducted by Stephen Layton will be giving a concert in Great Ellingham church.  This internationally renowned choir will be delighting us with their high quality singing.  There is no entry fee to this concert to which everyone is invited.  So please mark it down on your diary/calendar and encourage your friends to come too.  It promises to be a ‘must hear’ event.

If you wish to know about them, then visit their website:

St Peter, Little Ellingham has started holding a short Compline service on the first Thursday of each month.  If you want to come along to a quiet, end of the day service, then the next one will be on Thursday 1 August at 7pm.  It only lasts about 20 mins but its effect can last until the next day!  If unsure what a Compline service is, please ask one of our ministry team.


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Shellrock Weekly News - 7th July

Thank you to Sue and Christina for their Ramblings during May and June respectively; it is always good to include a bit of variety in our reading.  Be assured, they will be back.

This year has seen a change in the way the Shellrock News is produced.  The dissemination of information around the benefice has been a constant requirement whenever we have asked the question ‘what do you want?’.  It started with the monthly Shellrock News newsletter which appeared to be well received.  This has now been included into the Parish Magazines as part of our outreach to people who do not attend church.  The Shellrock Ramblings came from a need to provide more up-to-date information as a lot can change in a month. These two sources of information are also available on the Shellrock website.

So how are we doing?  Here is your chance to comment by filling in the short questionnaire available from the main page on this website.  If you know of someone not in church today, please take a copy to them as well.  Your views do matter so please fill it in then send it in.  If you prefer, once filled in you can email it to me at

There are several people within our Christian community who are battling illness of one sort or another.  It is good to hear that David Strutt continues to make good progress after his operation, whilst Alice is still recovering from her operation.  Please keep them all in your prayers.

Rockland All Saints have their Flower Festival this week-end so, if you haven’t yet paid them a visit, go along and enjoy the fruits of their labour.  The festival continues into Monday if you can’t get to them today.

The Great Ellingham Teddy Festival enters its second week.  There is a fantastic array of ‘Teddies’ to see with various events being held.  This culminates with the Street Party on Saturday followed by the Teddy Thanksgiving Service (cafe style) on Sunday.  This annual event is well worth a visit.  Check what is still on offer.


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Shellrock Weekly News - 30th June

We are rapidly approaching the summer holiday season, a time of relief for many who have been working extremely hard and longing for a rest. The summer holiday season is also a time of anxiety for our 16 and 18 year olds as they await the result of their GCSEs and A levels; some successes and some disappointments but all important for their futures as well as their self-esteem. It’s also a difficult time for people whose resources are meagre. Families in straightened circumstances long to do something special with the children/young people but finances are already tightly squeezed.

On Saturday evening (22nd) there was a delightful concert at St James to raise money for Christian Aid. We are quite familiar with the often appalling poverty of people overseas, and Christian Aid and other charities raise our awareness of their hardship. However, we hear rather less about poverty in our own country or about the work of such agencies as “Christians against Poverty”, an organisation whose aim is described on their web-site as follows:   

“We are on a mission to release thousands of families from grinding poverty through award winning debt counselling and community groups. By equipping and empowering local churches to reach out on their doorsteps, we’re bringing hope to over 21,500 families every year”.

Perhaps as we prepare for our own holidays, wherever the destination, can we also remember and think with compassions of those who are unable to afford such a luxury and also those for whom the summer period is one of dread and uncertainty, rather than rest.  

With love


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Shellrock Weekly News - 23rd June

Last week, I wrote about teamwork and the important part the wardens play in the whole organisation of the church, not forgetting, of course,
all those behind the scenes who attend to the fabric and welcoming appearance of our churches.   

But there is another aspect to teamwork which is ever-present and which we often take for granted.   Yesterday (16th June) saw the celebration of Stephen and Ann Burroughes diamond wedding anniversary. It was held
in church starting with a service of morning prayer, followed by delicious refreshments and a cake made by Sharon and decorated, in her special way, by Margaret Thomas. The choir was present and, given that Stephen and Ann were married in what is now Tanzania, on this occasion the choir led a truly joyous African greeting which had been identified by Cath Jones. As well as our regular worshippers, Stephen and Ann’s family and friends were there, and we had a lovely time talking and laughing and reminiscing. The church was full and didn’t empty until around 2.00 pm. I mentioned particular named people, but the whole splendid event, like all the other celebrations we have been having lately, required team-work.

This social aspect of our coming together as a church is very important. It is in this context that we can get to know each other, to appreciate each other’s gifts, to listen carefully to each other’s concerns and worries, to grow in trust.  These are an essential and sometimes forgotten part of our ministry as a whole people of God, and I rejoice that we have such opportunities to come together in this way.  

I am going to be going away for seventeen days from 30th June. It’s a rather special holiday, looking with astonishment at the inspiring grandeur of the Rockies and then exploring just a little of Alaska.  For me it will NOT be “out of sight, out of mind”: I shall be thinking of you ----- well maybe not ALL the time!

My love to you all    Christina 


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Shellrock Weekly News - 16th June

Team-work is something that people in Shellrock do extremely well. Quite a lot of it goes on behind the scenes and there is often little, or no, awareness of just how much there is to do, to keep the five parishes which constitute our benefice, able to sustain a busy programme of services and other activities. 

One of the most important people in this team is, of course, the church warden and last evening we went to the Cathedral to “sign in” the wardens who were elected at the annual meetings which are held in each parish in April.   This “ceremony” at the Cathedral is a compulsory part of becoming a church warden, which is a legal position within the structure of the church.

The service highlighted the responsibilities that wardens have, and I quote from parts of the service to illustrate the seriousness with which the role is viewed.

Archdeacon: Will you work together with the clergy of your parish for the good of the
                       Church and for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom?

Wardens: We will

And then the wardens say together : I ---- of the parish ----- solemnly and sincerely declare before God and his people that I will faithfully and diligently discharge the duties of the office of Churchwarden for the parish of which I have been chosen during the period of my appointment
All the clergy present join in this prayer : Mercifully look upon these you have called to the office and work of Churchwarden; that beginning their work in reverence, following it through with obedience, and completing it in faithful devotion, they may be constantly renewed by your Holy Spirit

The warden’s role is quite complex, requiring time and dedication. It’s interesting work and probably fulfilling, but it is also demanding. Four of our seven wardens retired in April and   all of us are extremely thankful for the work that they have been doing so efficiently and effectively. Our four retiring wardens, Ronnie Holmes, Stephen Burroughes, Margaret Thomas, and Charles Mason have given years of service and are certainly needing to have some respite from the worries that occasionally come their way, as well as the energy needed to keep abreast of matters arising.  We thank them all most sincerely. And we continue to pray for the three wardens who were elected in April 2019: John Brown  (Rockland St Peter), John Scase (Rockland All Saints), David Napier (St Peter and St Paul, Shropham).

Clearly there are vacancies and we would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in the role of warden for St Peter, Little Ellingham and St James, Great Ellingham.


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Shellrock Weekly News - 9th June

Ascension Day saw a small number of us enjoying a festive service at St Mary’s Attleborough. This is an important day in the church’s calendar when we celebrate the ascension of Jesus to heaven. It is a day which appears to have been lost in people’s consciousness and although it was a lovely service, even in the expanding town of Attleborough there was only a small congregation.

And now as you read this, it will be the feast of Pentecost. Many people will remember this being called Whitsun and someone suggested the other day that we revert to this title. Those of us who are in our 60s and older will probably have fond memories of the Whitsun treat when we travelled to a field or picnic site in a bus (or in my case an open sided lorry driven my dad ), competed in races, enjoyed the swings, had shared goodies and lots of ice cream. It certainly was a fun day but I’m not sure there was a lot of “theological” recognition of the significance of the day. Nowadays almost everywhere the day is called Pentecost which literally means 50th.   It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover by the Jews, and it is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Resurrection of Jesus by Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving festival and later had included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai. Pentecost (Whitsunday), with Christmas and Easter, ranks among the great feasts of Christianity. On Christmas we celebrate the birthday of Christ in His Physical Body. Today there are those who see it as the birthday of the Church, when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples the apostles as fiery tongues These initially frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers and were given the gift of tongues.  The listeners heard Peter speaking in their native languages and became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for their Faith in Jesus.

Pentecost is an event of both the past and the present. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something to be shared with others. It moves its recipients to action and inspires them to share this gift with others.

The Spirit is also called the Paraclete, a Greek word that is translated as counsellor, comforter, helper, encourager, or enabler. The Holy Spirit quietly works in us and through us every day behind the scenes in the basic activities of our lives and the lives of the people around us. It’s coming is indeed a cause for celebration!


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Shellrock Weekly News - 2nd June

In our ministry team meeting we decided that each of us should take a turn to write the Shellrock Ramblings for a month. Now that we are coming into June, it is my turn.

As Sue said in Ramblings last week, May was a particularly busy month. During the Family Service at Rockland St Peter, Beryl Chilleystone was able to enjoy her “special” birthday cake with her family and friends. Those present learned a lot that had been kept hidden by her modesty, and it was a pleasure to see her enjoyment during the party with so many to share with her. It was a cold day for the Rockland fete on 6th but the weather didn’t deter people from enjoying the races and competitions that were part of this annual celebration.

There was an excellent turn-out for the Little Ellingham open gardens, and a lovely atmosphere, as people enjoyed, not just the walk about, but also the chat over tea and the exhibition in the hall showing how the village has changed over the years. Thank you to those who made this occasion a success.

St James hosted the “big breakfast” for Christian Aid on 18th May and there was a good crowd of around 40 people supporting the event as well as eating a substantial meal. Thank you to Kathryn and all those who made this a successful occasion for learning more about Christian Aid as well as enjoying a time of fellowship. Another Christian Aid event will be held, also in St James, on June 22nd. This will be a concert, with the D’Capo choir singing a range of music from Bach to Bob Dylan (look out for posters and further information).   It is good that our churches can be used for these events which are enjoyable as well as supporting the work of charities such as Christian Aid.

“Barbara’s Day” now called “lunch on the lawn” brought a good crowd to Rocklands on May 22nd. Traditionally this is a splendid event which gathers people of all ages together and this year has been no exception, despite the change of name. Stalls full of bargains; plenty of home cooking for lunch; lots of opportunities for chat and exchange of news; Rocklands school children coming to spend their pocket money. Thank you to the Scase family and all who have made and continue to make this a special, enjoyable and “rewarding” event.

In contrast to these aspects of community life was a sad but nonetheless inspirational funeral on May 15th for Gina Ayres. It was of course tragic that Gina died so suddenly, a cruel loss for her children, partner, parents and other family members. Gina has been a key figure in the community and her loss has been felt throughout Rocklands. The church and the marque erected outside was packed for her funeral with others standing or sitting on the grass outside All Saints Church. It was inspirational to be part of such a very special leave taking, and it indicated the healing power of human contact and love.  We shall continue to pray for and support this family in the weeks, months and indeed years to come.


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Shellrock Weekly News - 26th May

Looking back
May has been a very busy month for our Benefice. There have been training events for the clergy, Open Gardens at Little Ellingham, Christian Aid week with a ‘Big Brekkie’ at Great Ellingham, a Benefice Team meeting, the very interesting Shellrock Talk on the working of prisons and the Chaplaincy at Rockland St Peter, a wonderfully lively Pet Service at Rockland All Saints, the annual Barbara’s Day and, sadly, a village funeral to say goodbye to a much loved Gina Ayres.

Phew! Everyone has worked so hard. If we are in need of a sign that God is at work in the world, just look at the Shellrock Benefice. Think how many people have been touched by these events, how many opportunities there have been to express the love of God to all those who have ventured into the welcoming fellowship that you, our regular, worshipping congregations, can provide by going about God’s work in these parishes. Thank you, all.

Looking ahead
On Thursday this week we celebrate Ascension Day. It is 40 days since Easter during which, through the Sunday readings, we have lived with the disciples as they recognised our Lord walking among them after being raised from the dead. He could not stay forever and is taken from their sight to be with God. But the love Jesus had for the people is still present and he bequeathed the message that proclaims it to his followers – that means us, you and me, generations later.

Jesus, being ascended to the Father, means that God’s love can reach every person in the world if they are willing to receive it. He is no longer tied to a small geographical part of the world. His message is for everyone – God is LOVE.

What a gift! Help us celebrate at St Mary’s Church, Attleborough, on 30 th May at 7.30pm Then…..

- 10am Holy Communion

- 12 noon Midday Prayer

- 2.30p.m. Prayers for the Holy Spirit

- 5.00p.m. Evening Prayer

- 7.30p.m. Sung Eucharist - The Shellrock Choir will be joining choirs from the Deanery at that service and The Rev’d Preb. Sue Strutt will be preaching


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