Monday, April 1, 2024 - 12:03

The month of May sees three Church festivals. Most people outside the church are probably unaware of them: they’re not the big ones like Christmas and Easter. Quite a lot of people inside the church possibly won’t celebrate one of them, as it falls on a weekday. But because Easter was so early this year, May will contain Ascension Day, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.

Ascension Day marks the moment when the risen Jesus ascended to heaven. This celebration happens on the fortieth day after Easter and has been marked since the late fourth century. Before he left them, Jesus promised his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit and told them to continue his work. Ten days later, the Church celebrates Pentecost.

Pentecost is a bit like the Church’s birthday. Christmas celebrates Jesus’ birth, Easter celebrates his resurrection: Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised. The arrival of the Spirit caused the disciples to speak in many different languages and tell all sorts of people the good news about Jesus. This was something that was for everyone and everyone should know. From this point on the early Church began and for this reason Pentecost is thought of as the birthday of the Church.

Now that the Church has come to know God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, it can celebrate Trinity Sunday and acknowledge the mystery of God who is three in one.

These three celebrations together remind us that the Church is not just for those on the “inside”. We are called to be outward looking: to baptise disciples of all nations, and teach them as we have been taught (Matthew 28:19-20). What this looks like in practice can vary hugely. But one thing we can say is that your local church is there for you.

You may not choose to come in on Trinity Sunday and listen to someone attempt to explain one of the hardest concepts in Christian theology, but the church door is open to anyone who wants to explore faith for themselves, to experience something of who God is for them and to know that they are loved by God.

Revd. Richard Turk, Assistant Curate Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, March 5, 2024 - 09:09

By April, Revd. Helen Rengert will be back in “the office” following her sabbatical. I’m sure we will hear from her about her experiences in the future. But her sabbatical and the subject of a recent sermon I gave got me thinking about rest.

The word “sabbatical” comes from the concept of the sabbath. This was a day of rest, commanded by God (Exodus 20:8). After six days of creating everything, God rested. Even God needed a break. But more than that, God built a period of rest into creation.

The sabbath isn’t a wasted day or the result of being exhausted from hard work. It is a gift and part of the natural rhythm of life.

We need times to rest, otherwise we burn out and stop functioning. Creation needs periods of rest, otherwise it starts to suffer.

When clergy book a sabbatical (they can apply for one after seven years of ministry, which doesn’t include curacy), they are usually asked what they will use the time to do.

Sometimes, clergy use the time to work on a book or some research. Sometimes they go on an extended pilgrimage or retreat. Sometimes they use the time to explore new approaches and creative ways of answering their calling.

But it strikes me that, in some ways, it is wrong to ask the question; wrong to expect someone on a sabbatical to be doing anything. It is, after all, at its heart a rest. The rest should mean that the person involved can come back to their role with new energy.

How people find their rest varies. Many people don’t find it restful when they aren’t involved in doing something. They can be refuelled by activity and drained by not doing anything. Others need to come to a complete stop in order to rest.

So I think it is important for everyone to take some time to work out what helps them rest and refuel. When does that kind of rest work for them?

I know that not everyone can take a full sabbatical. But this month, I would encourage you all to think about how you find rest.

What does your sabbath day look like for you as an individual? God told his people to remember the sabbath and keep it holy. Resting is an important gift from God, so work out what it means for you.

Revd. Richard Turk, Assistant Curate Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, February 6, 2024 - 17:07

When I was growing up I used to get a bag of sweets each Friday. The shop down the road sold sweets from the jar by weight and I would usually choose the misshapes. That way I could have a wider variety of sweets without having to buy multiple bags.

Who cared if the gummy bears had an extra leg or the cola bottles looked like they might have been leaking? I certainly didn’t. If the sweets weren’t quite the right shape, it didn’t matter: they tasted just the same.

In Lent I would give up sweets. Or at least I would give up eating sweets. I still got them each Friday and I would keep them in a jar.

The smell when you opened the jar to add each week’s new bag was very tempting; just writing about it is making my mouth water. As Easter got closer, the jar would fill up until the day itself arrived when I could open it and finally tuck in.

You may think that collecting the sweets during Lent and saving them for Easter rather defeated the point of giving them up. You’d probably be right.

But as I was thinking about Easter for this article, I couldn’t help but think about those sweets. And what struck me about them was the fact that they were all malformed in some way; they were all cast-offs. The people in quality control had rejected them.

Sometimes people think that you have to be a good person to be a Christian; that God won’t love you if you’re not good enough. But this isn’t true.

The whole point of Easter is that we aren’t good enough. Jesus came to die for us so that we wouldn’t need to be good enough as individuals because he was good enough for us all. It doesn’t matter if you have made mistakes or behaved in a way you know isn’t right.

When it comes down to it, we’re a bit like those sweets. We should be a certain shape, but we’re not. But Jesus still accepts us in his jar. He can see past the superficial things into our hearts, and what he sees there gives him joy.

I wish you all a blessed Easter.

Richard Turk, Assistant Curate Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Tuesday, January 2, 2024 - 17:22

Easter is quite early this year, which means that Lent starts in February.

Historically, the period of Lent gave people the chance to reflect on life. It was 40 days (to reflect the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tested) in which candidates for baptism would prepare themselves and the whole Christian community would engage in study and self-examination.

These days we don’t have quite such a focus on baptism at Easter: it has become a year-round thing, but we still use Lent as a time to study and reflect.

The season begins with Ash Wednesday, when ash is used in the shape of a cross on the forehead to remind us that Lent is a penitential season. It is a time when worship is supposed to be simpler.

We stop using the Gloria; flowers are no longer used in church. It is probably from this “giving up” of certain features of church worship that the idea of giving something up for Lent has developed.

This year, Lent covers some of the time in which I have to complete and submit my final portfolio for curacy in order to be signed off. After that, roughly coinciding with Easter, I have to look at where my next post might be.

So, in many ways, this Lent will be a time of preparation and self-examination for me. Is there something in your life that you could use Lent as a time to reflect on or prepare for?

Perhaps, like me, there is an important change or move on the horizon for you. Perhaps you just want to spend a bit more time studying something that you enjoy or that matters to you.

Maybe you’ve started to think about baptism or confirmation. We will be having a confirmation service in our benefice in May and running preparation sessions for this, so if you think you might want to be baptised or confirmed do speak to me.

Whatever you choose to do this Lent, I pray that it will be a rewarding time for you.

Richard Turk, Assistant Curate Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Thursday, September 7, 2023 - 09:08

I’ve always liked October. For one thing, it’s the month of my birthday. But it’s also that month where, often, autumn really arrives. It can still be warm, but you get those autumnal mornings.

The quality of the light has changed. The leaves have turned and maybe fallen. And, thanks to a television quiz for bringing it to my attention, it is also technically the longest month of the year by one hour.

After the transitions of a new school year, staff and students settle into their new routine. We celebrate harvest. It’s a great month.

This year, I have been particularly looking forward to October because I will be going on a week’s placement to Norwich Cathedral.

Each curate in the diocese is given the opportunity to spend a week at the cathedral, immersing themselves in the unique ministry of that type of foundation and treating it almost as a retreat. It is an excellent chance to find a new pattern of daily prayer, quietness and reflection in a busy world.

We all need that kind of chance from time to time. Whether it is a week in some kind of retreat centre or a break from the normal routine, a day spent out in nature or a few minutes grabbed in the middle of the day, we need those times to refocus ourselves.

What is it that matters to us? What things do we unexpectedly find don’t matter to us anymore? What do we need to do or change or stop doing in order to become the person God has called us to be?

Many of the churches in our benefice are open daily if you find that you want to experience some quiet reflection.

This autumn, why not pause in your day and spend some time in one of our historic buildings that have known centuries of prayer? They are your parish churches, after all.

Revd Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Wednesday, June 28, 2023 - 08:52

As I write this, I have just passed the first anniversary of becoming a priest (and the second of being ordained deacon). But the anniversaries made me think about how each of us can serve God in our own way.

Each of our communities has a church building in it and that building has been there for hundreds of years. But the church isn’t just the building: it’s the body of believers. That church spreads across our area and beyond.

Each person in that community serves God in their own way because each of us is called to be the individual that we are. This church will survive because it doesn’t depend on a building.

But what of our buildings? Many of them are iconic, historic landmarks. People visit them during the day for peace and quiet and because they get a sense that something is different about them.

Perhaps it is the fact that people have come to pray and worship in these buildings for hundreds of years? Perhaps it is because whole families are represented in the history of the place? After all, our church buildings have witnessed centuries of baptisms, weddings and funerals, not to mention the weekly acts of worship.

Whatever the reason, people value the church buildings in their communities. Yet the struggle to maintain the buildings and keep them open and available is increasing. The likelihood of meeting a member of the clergy in the community is decreasing, though not because we are becoming less active.

The church, in terms of the worshipping community, is becoming more reliant on lay people to make continuing services viable, and the church, in terms of the buildings, is becoming more reliant on people outside the worshipping community but inside the community of the village, whether that be for cleaning, flower arranging, maintenance, opening the doors each day, keeping the churchyard tidy, contributing financially to the upkeep… it all helps.

So this summer, as I think about how I have been called to serve God in my own way as a priest, I encourage you to think about how you might be able to serve God in your own way and how you might be able to support your local church so that it can continue to provide services of all kinds and be there for the baptisms, weddings and funerals of the future.

As members of the clergy, we are happy to chat about our faith and about any faith you may have. Why not seek us out and explore more about what it means to serve God here?

Richard Turk, Assistant Curate, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Wednesday, June 14, 2023 - 17:23

For my retreat for 2023 (yes, clergy have retreat time each year) I am walking St Cuthbert’s Way, from Melrose to Holy Island, around 60 miles, so 15 miles a day over four days.

St Cuthbert is a famous Celtic (indigenous) saint who studied at Melrose Abbey.

As a young person he saw a bright light going to heaven as he looked after livestock. He had a sense that this was a saint being taken to heaven.

He later found out it was St Aidan who took Christianity to Lindisfarne (Holy Island). Later, Cuthbert followed St Aidan to become Bishop there.

The way is significant as it is not flat and includes the Cheviot Hills plus a stop at Jedburgh and St Cuthbert’s cave, all of which are described as “thin places”.

“Thin places” are what Celtic Christians used to describe a place where heaven and earth touch – and there is a really tangible sense of holiness and awe.

Lindisfarne is also like this. It feels that lots of prayerful people have walked the soil and you connect with love/God more easily.

So I am off walking, thinking, praying, learning, meeting people and listening out for the holiness around us, just a breath away.

For all your journeying over the summer I hope you are richly blessed to and return refreshed, reconnected and rejuvenated.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 - 18:30

Over the past year I have been studying both practically and theologically for a certification in pastoral supervision. This is journeying with a person so that a new insight and wisdom is revealed in a fresh way and can then be applied to work.

I have really appreciated the process model that uses the visual image of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. As a visual learner, having a picture and place in mind really helps. Google it, if you have never been. It is a fun place to visit.

In the supervision process you go on a journey to discover a deeper need. You then work on that creatively using a range of tools, such as picture cards, small world objects, paper and colouring pens.

With your supervisor, who facilitates and does not talk too much, you have a horao (Greek for “to see with the eyes”) moment. This gives a sense of wonder and enlightenment, to perceive afresh. As you come up from this deep work you look at how you can apply that new seeing to a job-focused situation.

It reminds me of Jonah in the whale having to go deep, then waiting for an “aha!” moment before being thrown up onto the beach ready for his mission to Nineveh.

It has given me insight and wisdom that helps my work and I have seen colleagues gain this too as I help facilitate as supervisor.

Learning new skills and adding to your skill base is always fun. Next month I am hoping to learn some pottery techniques, which I am really looking forward to, and then in September I am starting a longer pottery course. I encourage you to think about doing something new and being curious.

We have a confirmation group starting in late June. If you would like to join in please let me know. (If you have been baptised and are 10 years or older and want to make more of a Christian commitment or if you want to come along and refresh.)

The date for the confirmation is 22 October at St Mary’s Reepham.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Thursday, April 6, 2023 - 14:20

King Charles III was well ahead of his time. He highlighted the needs of the environment and ecology in the 1970 and 80s. When trees fall down in the woodlands around Balmoral Castle, King Charles has them removed by horse, causing less damage to the remaining woodland.

He has an eco-friendly house at Highgrove House with solar panels on the roof; in winter it is heated by wood-fuelled biomass boilers. The house and gardens are chemical-free and food waste makes compost. There is also a wildflower meadow, kitchen garden and sundial garden, and the plants are watered with collected rainwater and leftover bathwater.

In 1990 he set up an organic food brand that supports the King’s charities. He also highlighted the needs of young people, setting up the Prince’s Trust in 1976, which has done amazing work for those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. This has helped more than a million people change their lives for the better.

He has learnt from a wise mother, saying: “Queen Elizabeth was a life well lived; a promise with destiny kept… that promise of lifelong service I renew to you all today.”

As we approach lots of celebrations around the Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches area, we remember his words “in the ability of each person to touch, with goodness and compassion, the lives of others and to shine a light in the world around them”.

Whether we are royalists or not, this is a time as a nation to come together and help each other, to volunteer on Monday and to share food together on Sunday and enjoy each other’s company.

There will be church celebration services on Sunday 7 May at 10.30 am in Weston Longville, Reepham and Elsing.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches

Friday, March 17, 2023 - 15:38

Revd Keith Rengert has started his new role as school chaplain for the Synergy Multi-Academy Trust. He visits four high schools each week and mentors around up to 30 students and supports staff, helping with pastoral needs of the young people as well as helping them.

Keith has found that lots of people need support with bereavement issues, trauma issues (situations at home and in the wider family), confidence needs and classroom concentration needs – some are linked to past trauma situations.

The thing I have noticed is that teachers and support staff now have to be social workers. Social services can only deal with highly acute and chronic family situations leaving schools and other community groups to support our children, young people and families.

There are many families working well enough yet there are some on the brink, and accessing mental health and social care is so difficult.

As a community we need to be aware of those who need support mechanisms around them without undermining people’s autonomy.

Jesus said “come to me all who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. The church community is here for you – don’t struggle on your own if this is ringing bells for you.

We are here to help signpost you to good helpful resources and give you a sense of rest and support.

May Easter be for you an opportunity to see the miracle of new life when darkness is lit up with goodness and love. This is the resurrection power of God’s love in and through Jesus.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches