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It is now nearly a year since I joined you in Barnston and Dunmow and I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by! I have received such a warm welcome from so many people and am beginning to feel very at home here. However, in many ways, I am still very new. I keep on reminding people that I still don’t know what I don’t know!

At our Annual Parochial Church Meetings I made a point of acknowledging with gratitude the huge amount of hard work that you all put in to keep the Benefice flourishing during the vacancy. It has been a real joy to enter into communities with real signs of life and growth, willing to work together. Our PCCs have been working together to review where we are with our Benefice Plan. As we looked through it we realised just how many things you have either done or have started doing over the past few years. These achievements should be celebrated! We are now looking at the remaining objectives so that we can prioritise these and have a clear plan of action over the coming months and years. We will let you know more about this soon.

On Thursday 25 June, we will be holding a Day of Prayer at St Mary’s. St Mary’s will be open throughout the day (as it is most days), and there will be lots of “Prayer Stations” in church to help us explore praying differently. As well as Morning Prayer at 8:30am, we will have Midday Prayers, Evening Prayer at 5:00pm and Night Prayer at 8:45pm. Bishop Stephen will be joining us for a light lunch between 12:30pm and 2:00pm and there will be a chance to ask him any questions you may have about Prayer. Bishop Stephen will be undertaking one of his “Missionary Walks” that day, starting in Thaxted at about 9:30am and finishing in Rayne at about 5:30pm. Please do take part in this special day, either by joining Bishop Stephen on his walk, by joining us for lunch or by popping into St Mary’s to pray.

Wishing you all every blessing,