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My reflection in this magazine last month reflected on gratefulness. There is a known link between people who are most thankful for what they have and their willingness to be generous. In our upside-down world, it is often those who have least who are most generous with what they possess, while the richest find it hardest to share.

   Stories of people living in severe poverty who share everything they have with others never fail to move me, and they are far more common than we might expect. In many cultures it is the health of the community as a whole and not the individual that is prized – they are “we-and-our” societies, not “me-and-mine”. A gift to one is a gift to all to be shared and enjoyed. Our Western societies, sadly, have become much more transactional in approach – if I give you something, I expect something back.

   Even those of us who are Christian have been more swayed by this attitude to giving than by our faith and its teachings, which remind us that everything we have comes from God and is to be freely shared, and that at least a tenth of our income should be given away. We like to forget that wonderful Bible verse which reminds us that “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9.7)

  In the first lockdown last year there was a wonderful outpouring of generous spirit in our villages. Some of this has remained but sadly, as people’s lives have become busier again, some of it has been lost.

   You may not realise it but the future of our four benefice churches and their shared Vicar (whether that be me or a successor at some time in the future) is not guaranteed. Like many organisations coronavirus has led to a serious drop in income. Many of our fund-raising events haven’t been able to take place. Over the years we have lost some of regular givers because they have died, and sadly they haven’t been replaced by others. Local churches do not receive any income other than what their members and other supporters give or what they make through fund-raising.

   I wonder how often you think about what having a church in the neighbourhood means.

   In our villages, we provide open and accessible buildings for those who want to pray or find a quiet space for their thoughts. We offer a community open to anyone to be part of without qualification. We provide rituals to mark the beginnings and endings of lives and relationships: baptisms, marriages, funerals, anniversary celebrations and so on. We provide graveyards for the burial of loved ones and their ashes. We visit the sick and lonely. We support the food banks and other charitable initiatives. We work with our schools and young people in our communities. We support community initiatives, clubs and groups. We look after historical Listed buildings. We provide a Vicar with a listening ear for anyone who asks. We offer social occasions and gathering places for people to make friends – coffee mornings, village lunches and so on. We teach the faith and help people to m sense of their lives. We provide space for questions and reflection on the meaning of life. We pray for our communities and for all those who ask us to remember them. The reach of our churches goes far beyond the lives of those who are part of our regular congregations.

   Sadly this is at risk. In the past village shops often used the slogan “Use it or Lose it” when their future was uncertain. We love to support our communities but, if we are to continue to do this, we do need your help.

   Between September 12th and October 3rd, our churches will joining with other churches in Dorset and Wiltshire to take part in a Generous Giving campaign. Generosity – with our time and talents as well as our finances – is a hallmark of the Christian faith. We will be reflecting on how we can continue to bless those in Puddletown, Tolpuddle, Milborne St Andrew and Dewlish to ensure we are sustainable into the future.

   If our churches are to remain open, we do need your presence and your presents.

  Thank you,


Best wishes


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