Sunday, 17 December 2017

Helping growth of our communities

IT’S some years ago but I remember it vividly. It was a Saturday morning and I wasn’t wearing “clericals”.

IT’S some years ago but I remember it vividly. It was a Saturday morning and I wasn’t wearing “clericals”.

I gave way to a man at the small gate near my house that goes into our churchyard here and, as we passed, he said: “You know, you people are privileged to live here.”

How he knew I lived in Kidmore End I don’t know, maybe he didn’t.

Clergy houses may be an “official residence” rather than our own home but that greeting certainly pulled me up.

I don’t know a priest who doesn’t take part in what goes on in the community where they live, although we can’t be into it all.

That greeting pulled me up for I am guilty of forgetting how lovely it is around here as I move from one appointment to another, usually five minutes late.

Around Henley, the parishes run from “the wood to the water” and it was Bishop Wilberforce of Oxford who in the mid-19th century gave us a number of churches to serve the developing villages and increasing population above the river.

Kidmore End was chipped out of Caversham and Sonning in 1868 and had 500 parishioners then.

Today, Peppard, Kidmore End and Sonning Common has the better part of 8,000 parishioners.

These places have developed over the intervening years and around Henley we have vibrant communities.

But I sometimes wonder, as we hear of more homes being built around here, that rather than oppose it out of hand we might co-operate in its planning, to maintain the beauty of our surroundings, to keep development well within bounds and to avoid the mistakes made in earlier generations by bastions of our communities who had nothing but their welfare at heart.

To remain viable, communities have to change and sometimes that means having to grow.

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