Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 12:03

I am reminded as I write this article about the importance of love (we are just a week or so away from St Valentine’s Day): how does love show up in our lives?

Today I was reading from a famous bible reading – 1 Corinthians 13 – often used at weddings; I also find the words beautiful at funerals too.

Love is patient. That means how patient am I (not my best trait – if you ever see me in a queue, I am itching to get the front). Love is about not barging in; it’s about waiting.

Sometimes we may want to say something: perhaps it’s not so loving, it could be a nasty remark.

Before that comes out of our mouths, we need to have that patient, waiting attitude and the words then hopefully will be nicer and more thought through (emails can be notorious for this).

Love is kind. Being kind is something I try to do as much as possible. Kindness also takes a lot of practice.

When we are angered, it is difficult to be kind. Back in 2019, #bekind was trending because we had lost our way in the media (we still have lost our way: there are cruel social media posts out there).

Kindness is all about love. Love does not envy (I need to practise this too).

Love does not boast (look at me, how great am I... NOT).

Love is not self-seeking (it thinks of others before itself).

Love is not easily angered (but get angry if needed, if it’s right anger when we protest against cruelty, climate change, etc.).

Love keeps no record of wrongs (again, practising this one too, how easy is it to bring up a past hurt in an argument?).

Love rejoices in the truth, not delighting in evil (the truth will out).

Love always protects, love always trusts, love always hopes and love always perseveres.

We may only have one word in English for love, yet here is a great way of acting in love for ourselves, our community and our world.

It means we all have some work to do (I can see my to-do list as I write).

I have seen much of this love in all our key workers over 2020/21 – those bold words really sum up what we have witnessed from them.

May March bring hope alive in us again and as we carry on, may our love grow richer and fuller.

Revd. Helen Rengert
Team Rector, Reepham and Wensum Valley Team Churches
Chaplain Reepham Sixth Form College
Young Vocations Champion and Vocations Adviser, Diocese of Norwich

Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 08:26

Many people have remarked that the prolonged lockdown is damaging to people’s mental health.

It is good sometimes to ask questions of ourselves: Do I feel lonely? Does life seem to have no purpose? Do I feel excluded from the happy bustle that most people seem to enjoy?

People with all kinds of mental illness or anguish are usually advised to seek a counsellor.

The natural world and gardening are now seen as good medicines for mind as well as body, but it is seldom realised that the church, too, has much to offer in this field.

The church can provide the friendship and relationship for which so many seek, not only within the fellowship of the local church, but in the friendship that Christ himself offers us. He is the unseen presence and constant pillar of support for all his followers whom he calls his friends.

The church teaches us that our purpose is to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Here we have a never-ending reason not only to live, but to live life to the full.

For the many people who suffer handicaps or disadvantages in life, the church at her best offers support, comfort and encouragement – the spiritual blessings that we all need.

The church is there for all, including those who suffer abuse, whether physical, mental or spiritual, or who regard themselves as failures or misfits in our over-competitive society.

Such victims may experience a welcome, understanding and support from the church, which can be a rock for the oppressed and marginalised in our society. This also goes for the many who experience breakdown in their relationships.

We are all broken to a lesser or greater degree, and so need the invaluable ongoing support that Christ offers in and through his church, which can be a second family: “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.”

What about depression? Surely our church with her gospel of joy and risen life is the perfect antidote to all such destructive feelings.

Part of this is the realisation that Jesus himself suffered depression even on the cross itself: “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”

Bereavement is another cause of mental distress, when we suffer the death of a close relative or friend.

The death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus led to the shortest sentence in the New Testament: “Jesus wept.”

What better support could we be given than faith in Jesus, who wept for his friend and suffered an agonising death, but through his victory overcame death and opened the kingdom of God to all.

Christians have so much in their first-aid kit including prayer; God himself is the best listening ear.

Also in the church’s kit are the sacraments, which provide strength, comfort and reassurance. The need of mental health is a God-given opportunity for the church to offer what so many now seek.

Of course, there are many obstacles, including a general distrust of all things “religious” and sinful failures in ministry, so widely reported.

But it may well be that one of the best provisions for mental illness is to come to church, or in times of lockdown to join in church life via telephone, email and zoom.

The Rt Rev Tony Foottit, retired Bishop of Lynn

Monday, December 7, 2020 - 18:03

I am writing this on the coldest day of the year so far: the temperature hasn’t risen above freezing and we saw the sun for the briefest of times.

2021 is almost here and, boy, do we need a New Year. The whole world needs a reboot, a fresh start, new ways of living that bears everyone in mind.

For some, next year is going to be tougher because of job losses, recession, Brexit and so much more.

So where do we gain our hope from this New Year?

I have great optimism because I saw something awesome in 2020 – the care and attention and kindness that flowed out from most people. (I also saw some people who tried to get as much for themselves from the system, which wasn’t so good and kind.)

We celebrated the small things more; we noticed the great beauty in our nature and world.

Kindness and good come from the source of whom we have been created by, to be people who look out for each other and care.

Jesus said “Do to others as you would have them do to you” or as some people say “Do as you would be done by”. Many people live this way.

Most people say “I am not religious” and yet live great lives of kindness. It’s in our DNA. We are doing it because we are a community.

There is an opportunity to reflect and debate more of the sayings of Jesus through the Alpha Course starting on Wednesday 13 January on zoom, registration via email to Annie Dack.

I would like to think that following Jesus is more about being kind and good: how we behave in the world, how we care for the world and how we show appreciation to each other, rather than knowing stuff and not acting on it.

It is far more about our spirit and living with a sense of real compassion.

Please let us know if 2021 is a real struggle. We have access to community funds that may go a little way to helping.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Vicar
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 871263. Email

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 19:52

The Alpha Course

Discover and debate Christianity for those with curious minds and wondering hearts. A 10-week course covering loads of interesting topics about Christianity. Join us on Zoom from 13 January – 24 March 2021, with a week off for February half term, Wednesday evenings 7 pm onwards. Please register with Annie Dack by email ( for joining information. As we can’t meet in person for a shared meal, you will receive a hospitality treat each week, so please advise any dietary requirements.

Christmas trails

Across local villages and Reepham town centre from 1 December. Can you find the key nativity characters in time for Christmas?

Best outdoor nativity in each village and Reepham town wins a hamper of local produce from 7 December – 6 January (when the three wise men arrive).

Drive-in Christmas

Wednesday 23 December, evening (time TBC), Reepham College car park (bubbles/family cars), best dressed car wins a hamper.

Saturday 19 December, evening (time TBC), Elsing Village Hall car park (bubble/family cars), best dressed car wins a hamper.

Zoom Christingle

Thursday 24 December, details HERE

In-church carol services

With music, poetry and readings, details HERE

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 17:03

By Revd Keith Rengert

Of all the articles I have written for the Christmas/New Year season, I have never written one in such strange and anxious times.

A New Year Carol by Benjamin Britten contains the following lines, which are thought to come from an old Welsh folk song:

Sing reign of a Fair Maid, With gold upon her toe,
Open you the West Door, and turn the Old Year go.

At the time of writing there is still just under two months of 2020 left, yet already I am seeing on social media a desire that 2020 should “sling its hook” and be gone.

My favourite quote was: “‘I’m not going to put my clocks back this year, I don’t want an extra hour of 2020.”

It is almost as if the year itself is to blame for all of the ills we have endured over these past 10–12 months and that a change of date to 2021 will somehow improve things. In many ways it will and in many ways it won’t.

A change of date won’t make a virus disappear. It won’t make selfish people less selfish. It won’t make greedy people less greedy.

A change of date has no power at all to effect change for good or ill. Only people can do this. Only we can do this.

If we want to live in a better world, a kinder world, a more caring world, a safer world, a more equal world, the challenge for each and every one of us is, what are we, what am “I”, prepared to do to bring this about in my small corner of the world?

What a change of date does signify is the passage of time, which is particularly noticed at the change of the year. Only the passage of time is what will bring about the end of this pandemic.

One of the hopes that we know for sure is that at some point this pandemic and all the suffering it has caused will be consigned to the history books.

One of the perceived flaws of Christianity is that it promises unspecified happiness at an unspecified time and often for a specified few.

Where is the hope in a message like that, especially at times such as these where hope is in pretty short supply?

Ironically, the very year where the threat exists that Christmas might be cancelled, might just be the year that Christmas comes in a way that it hasn’t been able to for a generation.

We have drowned the Christmas message of hope and love, for everyone, in the commercial trappings that go with the season.

One of my favourite lines from the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem says, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee (Jesus) tonight.”

If the end of 2020 enables us to rediscover some of the hope and peace Christmas is meant to bring, then maybe it won’t have been such a disaster after all.

Sing reign of Fair Maid, with gold upon her chin,
Open you the East Door, and let the New Year in.

Revd Keith Rengert, Team Rector
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 879275. Email

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 08:57

By Revd Helen Rengert

This is the time of year when we remember All Saints (Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve), when we are not afraid of evil as nothing can separate us from God’s love and we remember heroes of faith.

Then we remember All Souls for loved ones who have died, 5 November and Guy Fawkes, then of course Remembrance Sunday.

Usually we would invite people to an In Memory Service with afternoon tea to remember those who have died this year, which we cannot now hold because of the latest coronavirus restrictions.

Please watch our online All Souls In Memory Service HERE

An online service is also available for Remembrance Sunday HERE

Much love in this time of remembering. Be kind and stay safe.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Vicar
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 871263. Email

Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 17:58

By Revd. Judith Sweetman

I thought it might help if I took this chance to introduce myself, having been licensed to the Reepham and Wensum Valley Team as part-time honorary associate priest.

I retired to Reepham, with my husband Rufus, in 2018, My evolving faith journey has been varied: a small free church, meeting in a home and school; an urban Baptist Church – 200 attending; four small country parish churches – churchwarden and lay reader for 10 years; three years in my curacy church – high church tradition,100+ attending; and finally, eight years as priest in charge of five, mainly rural parishes in Suffolk.

When I came to Reepham, I hoped to be involved in church life and support Revds. Keith and Helen Rengert, so I took occasional Sunday Services and helped cover holidays.

In spite of this, I felt I had more to give and missed having a pastoral role in the community. This coincided with Keith and Helen swapping roles and Keith wanting to devote more time to Reepham High School and College, as chaplain.

From our discussions came the idea for a new voluntary role within the team, in which I could support these changes and fulfil my wish to be more active, with a focus on pastoral care, mainly in the Reepham area.

So, I am now available to the benefice more fully, with three ministry days: Friday (when Keith and Helen now have their rest day), Saturday and Sunday, when I will be taking services more regularly.

It is strange to take up this post when pastoral visiting and care is difficult due to Covid-19. Nevertheless, I hope I can still find ways to be a channel of God’s love, comfort and concern.

We all need to experience those, especially at this time of the church year. At All Saints and All Souls, we remember – and may still be grieving for – loved ones who have died, and at Remembrance, we give thanks for the sacrifices of many, but also lament, and are appalled by, the continuing tragedies of war, conflict and suffering, across our world.

The Christian faith, though, shines its strong, radiant light into these darker times, with its hope of eternal life in God after death.

And we end the church year by celebrating the Feast of Christ the King, that joyful promise that, ultimately, through the working of God’s Spirit, transforming each of us and our world, Christ’s Kingdom of justice will be established, good will prevail over evil, and life over death.

Saturday, August 8, 2020 - 11:32

By Revd Helen Rengert

As I write this I am very aware of much sadness in the world, such as Beirut, Yemen (very unreported), Muslims in detention in China (also underreported), flooding in Bangladesh, Syria and its refugees, plus so much more.

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with it that I wonder, please God, get us out of our mess.

I have had so many conversations about why God allows suffering. And it’s a question I ask, too. What is this all about?

Perhaps the question we should ask is why we allow suffering, not why God does.

I wonder about our responsibilities to make any small differences that we can. We now have to think globally; it can’t just be about our patch of the world because we together are the world.

It seems ridiculous that some people have superyachts while others die in inflatable dinghies, escaping difficult regimes and much more. What are we about: self or each other?

Of course, one the great commandments of Jesus was to love God heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.

This is global thinking; it’s about each other, and we have seen the best of people as they help out during the pandemic, but then selfishness when we ignore restrictions to protect others.

Fight or flight is our natural instinct; so is to be kind. Being kind is our deep communality. It’s when we lose that ability that we lose our very sense of humanity.

There are some people, governments and organisations that have lost kindness, working for self-interest only. We have to call these out: write, lobby, protest and join organisations that have kindness at their core (many do).

Large corporations and organisations need to be held to account as necessary. I was heartened by a retail company that didn’t overstretch its finances and has been able to retain jobs and buildings. This company is good and has kindness written all over it.

So what was the plan? God’s plan was Eden, God’s plan was beauty and abundance and for us to share and look after it.

So be kind and think of others. Shout if you need too, rage if you need too and demonstrate if you need too, but do so with compassion and care and with the hope of change.

In our small (and sometimes big) ways we can be activists for kindness to the world and to each other.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Vicar
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 871263

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 20:31

By Revd Helen Rengert

It was such a joy to be at a wedding this week. There is something special and beautiful about two people making vows to each other in front of witnesses (28 allowed at the time of writing) – and of course in church. Love is God.

Like Revd Keith said in his talk at this wedding, in English we only have one word for love. We love our jobs, we love our kids, we love a good pizza.

When love is defined so broadly it loses its significance. We may confuse friendship, commitment or lust with love; God intends us to experience something far deeper.

Love is so much more: in the Hebrew Song of Songs love poem there are three words – Raya, which basically means a friend, a companion or soulmate (Song of Songs 4:7); Ahava, which means a deep affection, a desire that is unquenchable, a wish to be with the other person that makes your heart ache (Song of Songs 8:7); and Dod, which means to carouse, rock or to fondle (Song of Songs 1:2) – the physical passion and romantic feelings that are a part of a love relationship.

The four types of love in Greek are Eros, Phileo, Storge and Agape. Storge roughly translates to family loyalty, while Agape is an unconditional love. Eros is what we typically think of as romantic love, while Phileo means things like fondness, enjoyment and friendship.

When we combine love and all these expressions of love – loyalty, friendship, commitment and passion – it is good, as Revd Keith said it becomes a love that will last.

Lasting love is what we all long for and hope for. Weddings are such a joy to attend and to lead as a vicar. It is always an honour and a privilege to meet a couple, to get to know them and to celebrate their day with them.

It is also lovely to see anniversary posts on social media seeing lasting love. We also love to do wedding blessings and other celebrations and also to help if needed. Do get in contact.

Revd Helen Rengert, Team Vicar
Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches
The Bircham Centre, Market Place, Reepham NR10 4JJ
Tel: 01603 871263