November, the month of falling leaves and also the time when we remember those who have fallen in the service of our country, as we do each year on Remembrance Day. This year we perhaps also need to be remembering those who have risked, and sometimes lost, their life as they cared for those suffering from the corona virus. We should also remember the key workers who have selflessly served us all by ensuring that the essential services are maintained.
I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you; I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.
We are all called to serve one another and in these days of the pandemic that’s not always easy as we are asked to socially distance and to avoid going into one another’s homes. Sadly it looks like becoming increasingly more difficult as we go into the winter months. For that very reason we need to be thinking even harder about how we can serve and support one another, to be looking out for the lonely and the vulnerable. Pope Francis in his recent encyclical urges us to ‘cultivate kindness which is even more important in times of crisis, catastrophe and hardship. Those who do so become stars shining in the midst of darkness’. A kind deed in these times may be as simple as a telephone call but it could make all the difference to someone’s life.
An interregnum is never an easy time and an interregnum in a pandemic is possibly going to be harder than at other times. The important thing will be that we all work together to love, serve and support one another, that as a Benefice we are known for our kindness and care. We are called serve and to put the needs and concerns of others before our own. Let’s use this time of interregnum to do just that and become churches where serving others is at the forefront of all that we say and do. Perhaps we can take the words from this well known hymn and imprint them into our hearts throughout the coming months so that they become an integral part of the way in which we think, speak and live our lives?
Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load
Jackie and Jane
St. John’s Churchwardens
NEW ALRESFORD REGISTER OF BURIALS
The burial database on the Church’s website has been updated!
In 2017 Julia asked us to oversee the plots being used for burials and cremated remains in the churchyard, a role previously carried out by Roger Page. At first this seemed quite simple, but when a request was made to bury someone in an existing plot we realised we needed to find it! We went to the website database and discovered that it had last been updated in 2014 and over 300 of the records, many of them cremations, did not indicate a location. We decided to update
it and we have spent the last 2 years doing just that.
The handwritten Official Registers are kept in the Church safe and date from 1949. Using photocopies, we set to work comparing them with the website database. Detective work followed e.g., some surnames and addresses tallied, but only one had a location. By looking at inscriptions on stones we were able to resolve many of these.
We soon realised that to find the missing cremation locations we would need to look at the actual memorial stones. These are in 3 areas and, with help from Julie James, these were plotted and many locations were found.
We had almost finished the task and were thinking about publishing the results, when Penny arrived to work with Julia. During a “what’s in the cupboards” session she found some handwritten booklets and a box of information that related to the churchyard, and passed them to us. The booklets provided a whole host of new information, some of which pre-dated 1900, going back as far as the 1700’s! Information dating from 1900 has been added to the database and the rest we are still working on!
Only 6 out of the 16 designated areas of the Churchyard had a plan on the database, but amongst the documentation in the box were hand drawn plans for all the burial areas. Thus, together with the cremated remains sites and the current burial area, plans for all areas have been created.
All this information is now on the website and we hope it proves useful. Of the 2851 entries 106 were not recorded in the official registers and 92, which were recorded, do not have a known location. There will undoubtedly still be mistakes, but we plan to update the website each January so if you find one please let us or the Parish Office know.
Roger and Kathryn Lockyer