By Martin Gibson. Contact: mrtngibs@aol.com

Apologies to those of you who found an ERROR sign greeting them on last week’s News. This has now been rectified – and at the very least please do take another look at last week’s News, especially the last section.

This week, Rev David Moss led churchwardens of the Benefice and members of the ministry team to complete the Diocese’s questionnaire on “Transforming Church”. This is aimed at guiding the (big) church forward.

A lot of detail was required to complete the questionnaire which produced some excellent ideas, and serious concerns too, about the direction of our Benefice.

In particular, everyone considered the need to bring children in to church paramount. This could be done through Christian parents, schools, uniformed groups and sports clubs. The other big issue was the increase in church centralisation at the cost of the clergy. Interesting to note that Bristol Diocese now has THREE Archdeacons; how on earth we ever managed with only one for a hundred years was beyond everyone.

The finale of the questionnaire was 6 specific questions and in what order of importance should they be placed. Difficult choices had to be made but eventually the meeting decided “Worship” topped the list.

The North Severnside Benefice response will be forwarded to the Diocese by the end of this week.

The passing of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has been greeted with enormous sadness, but, as always with events of national importance, questions arise. The Government asked the public not to congregate at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace and the Royal Palace suggested that people should consider online donations rather than floral tributes. The Church of England adopted these “recommendations” (not laws) but therein lies the crux of the matter. For, whilst it is perfectly in order for a Government to protect the physical well-being of its people, who should care for the spiritual health of us all? Human beings NEED to grieve, they need to celebrate, they need to worship and they need to do all these things together – not on Zoom or via an intangible internet Book of Remembrance. And so, despite the Government’s wishes, countless people went to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace leaving behind thousands upon thousands of floral tributes and personal messages of sympathy.

The chosen charity supported by the Benefice during Lent was One25, which cares for female street workers in Bristol. Almost £1,000 was raised between us, a very worthwhile exercise.

And finally:

A cat dies and goes to Heaven. God meets him at the gate and says, “You have been a good cat all of these years. Anything you desire is yours, all you have to do is ask.”
The cat says, “Well, I lived all my life with a poor family on a farm and had to sleep on hardwood floors.”
God says, “Say no more.” And instantly, a fluffy pillow appears.

A few days later, 6 mice are killed in a tragic accident and they go to Heaven. God meets them at the gate with the same offer that He made the cat. The mice said, “All our lives we’ve had to run. Cats, dogs and even women with brooms have chased us. If we could only have a pair of roller skates, we wouldn’t have to run anymore.”
God says, “Say no more.” And instantly, each mouse is fitted with a beautiful pair of tiny roller skates.

About a week later, God decides to check and see how the cat is doing. The cat is sound asleep on his new pillow. God gently wakes him and asks, “How are you doing? Are you happy here?”

The cat yawns and stretches and says, “Oh, I’ve never been happier in my life. And those Meals on Wheels you’ve been sending over are the best!”