St.Stephen's in the community
In 2009,after some eight hundred years of being central to the whole community, physically, spiritually and socially, St.Stephen's perhaps finds itself as part of a paradox. Church attendances at Sunday services, generally, are not as big as they were a hundred or even fifty years ago. A shortage of vocations means that there are not so many clergy, necessitating the overworked team ministries, which do their best to tend their scattered flocks.
Does this mean that people are less religious minded than they were? It might at first seem so. But a century ago, certainly in the Church of England ,vocations were  fuelled by a totally different social order. Church attendance at Sunday Service, in rural areas such as Winsham, would have been reinforced by pressures from the land owners, who were for the most part the employers .
But in today's allegedly less spiritual world, nearly half of the 200,000 needed to replace St.Stephen's failing roof was raised from the local community within a couple of years or so. People pack St.Stephen's and the Chapel for the great Feasts of the Christian Church, and funerals often fill the church and chapel to overflowing. The children still love to visit the baby Jesus in his crib at Christmas. Clearly the role of St.Stephen's and the Chapel is still central to the village. It just manifests itself  in different ways.
Below are a few examples of how St.Stephen's, at the end of the Twentieth Century and the start of the Twenty-first,  conducts its Ministry, and how it interacts with the community at large.

 

Christingle is a service very popular with the children. The crib service is also a central part of Christmas celebrations. The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols for adults is also  important The Harvest Lunch is a popular event, an opportunity for everyone to get together for a chat and discuss their plans for the approaching winter
A regular Pet Service is very popular with the children-not quite so sure about the pets, who come in all shapes and sizes Font decorations are very popular with the children, and while Easter bunnies may have little liturgical justification ,they are popular  with the kids!
St. Stephens is a popular venue for the occasional fund raising concert, and all the tickets sell very quickly. The performers  often live in the parish, and it is astonishing how much talent there is in the village. In this picture, Rachel Weller is delighting the audience with her flute playing A wonderful concert given voluntarily by the Mountfield Wind Ensemble, from Kent, in May,2009 raised nearly 1,000 for the Church Roof Appeal
Lent Lunches given in people's homes, reinforce the message of Lent, and raise useful sums for various charities Rector, Rev. Tim Price in 2008, gave an interesting talk on the symbolic links between the Jewish Seder meal, taken at Passover , and the Church's Holy Communion service.
In 2006 ,the children ran a Lent Lunch,and very good it was too. In1996 ,St.Stephen's organised a Fete at Bere Farm. It ended with a Tug-of-War across a pond, with a predictable outcome!
       

 MORE  - Church Concerts 

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