Sunday, 14 August 2022

Churches Together in Henley

THE latest meeting of the forum took place at the Christ Church Centre on November 14 when we had a talk by Rev Martyn Griffiths, the rector of Henley with Remenham.

He first gave us a potted history of his ordained ministry. He trained at Kelham, a monastic community, where he learnt the importance of gentle discipline and silence.

After a postgraduate course at St Martin’s, Lancaster, he was ordained deacon in 1974. His first curacy was in the Birmingham diocese followed by his first incumbency and then three years as assistant administrator at Walsingham Priory in Norfolk.

He then went north-west, first to Oldham, where he met his wife Anne, and then to Swinton as team rector in a parish with a population of 30,000. He then moved to the Blackburn ddiocese, being vicar of Preston, before coming to Henley in 2005.

In Preston he oversaw the restoration of the two parish churches and he has overseen quite a lot of restoration and building work at St Mary’s Church in Henley.

It will have been 13 years in Henley when he retires in January, the longest period in a parish during his ministry. Of all his posts, Fr Martyn feels that this has been his happiest.

One of the reasons for that has been the existence of Churches Together in Henley and the very good relationships between the ministers and people of the various churches. There have been lots of other positives, including the royal regatta, but the most important has been the people.

In Henley he feels he has met the most Christian, generous and happy people of all his parishes. Among the changes in the Anglican church over the past years, he highlighted the role of bishops, who seem to have become managers rather than pastors, no longer able to know what is happening in their parishes. He also regrets the passing of the feeling of ecumenism.

Finally, he said that he likes to use the dismissal “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” at the end of the Eucharist as it is the essence of our Christian faith. He feels that God made us to laugh, smile rather than frown, and that by laughing and smiling we do more to spread the Kingdom than in almost any other way.

He is grateful to all the clergy and laity that he has met and worked with over the years and that gives him hope for the future.

In the round-up of news from the churches, we learnt that Sacred Heart has a new deacon, Rev Michael Walker, who has joined Fr Paul.

Henley Baptist Church will welcome a new assistant pastor in September and a curate, Sarah Nesbitt, has been appointed to the Shiplake, Dunsden and Harpsden Benefice. A families ministry is to be launched next autumn, based at Holy Trinity, with Rev Sam Brewster as associate minister.

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