Sacrista Prebend, Southwell: Quiet days and study days 2017-2018


Saturday 19th May

‘To Be a Pilgrim…’ 

Revd Annabel Barber

Organised in conjunction with the Creative Arts Retreat Movement

For centuries Southwell Minster has been a centre visited by pilgrims. This day will be a chance to creatively reflect on our own journeying through life, perhaps using as a starting point aspects of the Minster building, or Bunyan’s great hymn. Bring supplies (threads, needles, fabric etc) to work by hand or using a sewing machine. More details are available from: or 01522 721306

The Revd. Annabel Barber is Rector of Waddington, just outside Lincoln. She began to weave together her passions for textile art and visual communication while training in spiritual accompaniment at St Bede’s pastoral centre in York. Since then she has exhibited her spiritually-themed quilts in several churches as well as at the Sacred Threads exhibition in the USA. It is the spiritual aspects of working with cloth and thread that sustain her in her busy ministry.


Saturday 2nd June

Creation Pathways Towards God

Robin Old and Kay Old

‘If you want to know the Creator understand created things’ advised Columbanus in the 6th Century AD. This quiet day is designed to encourage us to focus on the many Biblical passages about the created things, and to strengthen our prayer life. The Bible starts in a garden and ends in a garden city, and with its guidance we will tread ancient and modern pathways as we seek a God who speaks to us through his creation.

In the afternoon we will either have a short, guided prayer-walk around the nearby Potwell Dyke Grasslands, or spend time alone in the peaceful and beautiful Sacrista Gardens. Strong footwear and appropriate outdoor clothing are advisable for either afternoon session.

Robin Old is a retired Baptist Minister. Kay Old has had training in Spiritual Direction.
Both have led retreats and quiet days, and they are members of the working group dedicated to conserving the Potwell Dyke Grasslands in Southwell.


Saturday 16th June

 “Discipline, Artistry and a little Foolishness” led by Revd Andrew Walker

On this quiet day, we will explore different aspects of the spiritual life.

Andrew Walker is director of the London based Ignatian spirituality programme and Vicar of St Mary Bourne Street.  Additionally he is a psychosynthesis supervisor, and a volunteer gardener at Great Dixter in East Sussex.


Saturday 23rd June

Water, Wells and Waterpots:

A day with the Woman at the Well of Samaria, led by Sylvia Griffiths

The gospels are full of stories where Jesus does the impossible and the extraordinary in the lives of individuals who came face to face with him.

On this Quiet Day we will explore one such encounter – the Woman at the Well of Samaria, as she heard the words of Jesus, ‘If only you knew the gift and the giver!’

Our reflections will focus around the wells that make up our lives, the water of life that Jesus offers and the call to a new and  deeper relationship to the God who longs to give freely and lovingly to each of us.

The Revd Canon Sylvia Griffiths has spent over 30 years in parish ministry. She is chair of the Diocesan Prayer and Spirituality Committee and leads both courses on prayer and the training of Spiritual Directors for the Diocese.


Saturday 14th July

Creative prayer – a Quiet Day with Sally Smith

Use your creativity to encounter God. You will be led in a series of exercises to enable you to meet with God through making as well as having time to explore on your own. No artistic ability is required, just a desire to be with Creator God and to use the creative gifts he has given you (however small they may be).

Sally Smith is commissioning editor for the Bible Reading Fellowship publication, Quiet Spaces.  She is experienced in leading quiet days, and enjoys creating spaces for prayer.  She is a spiritual director in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.


Tuesday 18th September

An Autumn Creative Quiet Day: Weave or Stitch a Prayer, led by Karen Herrick, Harlequin Arts

Please note: all materials are provided.  The cost of the day is £30.

Psalm 91 tells us that “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Come and spend some time resting and creatively exploring our natural dwelling place with God.  Using a series of textile art pieces, we will consider different ways of looking at how, as Christians, we might “dwell”. This will include exploring “Seven Sacred Spaces” that may strengthen and help us to nurture a balanced lifestyle, providing a rhythm to our Christian lives.

Then, using an array of fabrics, threads & stitch, there will be opportunity to either stitch or weave, reflecting prayerfully on what we have heard. You will be encouraged to draw closer to God as you use colours & textures to pray.

Karen Herrick is a freelance textile artist, who enjoys inspiring others to be creative. She works in arts, health and spirituality, and believes that creativity enhances our wellbeing.


Saturday 20th October: A study day led by Alison Milbank

Faith in Detection

Why are there so many detective dramas on television? What deeper mysteries does this genre seek to explore? We shall spend a day pondering these questions, which open up theological mysteries of the nature of evil, judgement, forgiveness and the ordering of the cosmos. Beginning with the Bible, including the Book of Job and the detective work of Daniel, our journey will take us through Wilkie Collins The Moonstone and Sherlock Holmes stories to Dorothy Sayers, Simenon and right up to recent dramas such as Broadchurch.

The Revd. Canon Alison Milbank is Associate Professor of Literature and Theology in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Nottingham University, and Canon Theologian at Southwell Minster.


Saturday 3rd November

Take my hand:  gift, weakness and vulnerability, led by Marian Crawford

People with a learning disability have the habit of turning our understandings upside down.   We will spend this day reflecting on how the work of Jean Vanier, through L’Arche, and Faith and Light, has challenged perceptions.

The Revd. Marian Crawford is a retired Methodist minister, married with 3 lovely daughters. Clare, our middle daughter, has Downs Syndrome and she has led me on an amazing journey of discovery in our family life, in my ministry and in my understanding of God.

Saturday 10th November

From Russia With Love, led by Jim Wellington

Jim explores how aspects of Russian Orthodox spirituality can enhance our approach to God in our contemporary situation.  He examines how the witness of three relatively modern saints, St Theophan the Recluse, St Seraphim of Sarov and St Maria of Paris point us towards a unity, wholeness and connectedness, summed up by the Russian word sobornost.

The Rev’d Jim Wellington is a retired priest with permission to officiate in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.  He is the author of two books, Christe Eleison! The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c.350-450 (Peter Lang, 2014), and Praying the Psalms with Jesus: A Journey of Discovery and Recognition (Grove Books, 2015).


Tuesday 4th December

An Advent Quiet Day, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus:                                                       four meditative talks with periods of silence for personal reflection and prayer, led by Graham Pigott

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, offers us a model for being Christian as we wait for Christ’s final Advent.  She knew bewildering and faith-stretching experiences of wonder, gift, travail, joy, anguish, and awesome surprise, as she lived through realities she never chose, yet were earthed in how God desired to reveal his purposes. The day will be spent prayerfully exploring some of these,to help us in our living.

The Revd. Canon Graham Pigott is a retired Anglican priest who leads quiet days and retreats, and accompanies others on their spiritual journeying.

Rector’s letter — October 2017

Dear all

As I write this, I’m just off to take my last wedding of the season, and autumn is upon us.  I do enjoy taking weddings — they are always a privilege.

There is something about the simplicity and clarity of the wedding vows — an ideal held up for us to live to — that strikes me afresh.  I try, at every wedding, to make clear that as we fall short of our vows, we need to live as people who keep short accounts, that we regularly and explicitly forgive one another for not taking the very best care of each other.

Marriage lived well acts as a sign of how we, married or otherwise, should lead the whole of our lives.  We live as people and community, for the better of all.  Living, loving, forgiving, enabling — we bear with one another, and move on with the future and its challenge set before us.

Yours, as ever,

Rector’s letter — August 2017

Dear all

The other day I found myself wandering around my old theological college.  It’d been quite a while since I had last visited, perhaps some 15 years or so, and I hadn’t arranged to visit.  Some things had changed — the local off-licence where we bought our wine had had its windows bricked up and was now student accommodation, but the heart of the college was reassuringly familiar.  The notice boards could have been from my day, except I noticed that it was one of my contemporaries who was advertised as the learned speaker on St Augustine in a talk at the university.  They were still keeping the tradition  of letting half the garden at the centre of the college flourish as ‘maintained wilderness’ — all looked very familiar.

I made my way to the chapel — the heart of the college — where we would meet before breakfast, evening meal and bedtime for formal-yet-infomal prayers.  I was disturbed because I could not find the bell that used to summon us to prayers each day.  A woman in her late twenties was sitting quietly in the back, taking some time out during the day.  I asked where the bell had gone — I had mis-remembered — it was 10 yards away from the chapel door, outside the entrance to the library.  Not wanting to disturb her further, I did not stay, but not before gazing into the distance, looking for the icon in the chancel.  Although I could not make it out at that distance, I knew well the words written on it:
“The one who calls you is faithful”.

I’d like to leave you with that thought — that as we grow older, and both remember and mis-remeber who we are and what we have been doing, that God himself knows and remembers who we are, and is faithful to us as we seek to find and follow him.  Do take some time this summer to reflect, to be thankful for the good and for the grace to live through the bad.  Place yourself into the hands of the Lord, return, offer yourself, seek and find — the one who calls you is faithful.

Yours, as ever

Rector’s letter — June 2017

Dear All

I write mid-May, just as the grass is making its mind up to grow, even though we have had only a little rain thus far.
There is always a balance between the different types of resources that are needed for things to flourish — for grass this could be too little rain or too much sun — and we are no exception to this rule.
We need love and encouragement, freedom and discipline, the company of friends and a right sort of solitude, an openness to the needs of others and also the ability to get on with things where we are.
This is true of us in adult life, but especially true of us in our childhood and teenage years — and I write aware that many young people in our villages are sitting important public exams this summer.
Some of us may remember the Byrds’ song “Turn, turn, turn” from the mid-60s, which borrowed much of its lyrics from the Bible.  Here’s the original in a modern translation:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
This reading reflects the balance of much of life, and the theme of the book from the Bible from which it comes is about how and where we find our meaning in it all, if indeed we do.
Starting from quite a negative position, the writer ends up being gently open to God whilst struggling with the mystery of it all.
Let us all press on, and find a right and holy balance in all that we do — especially our young folk taking exams:  remember that you are worth so much more that any exam system can ever grade you!
All the best

Rector’s letter — April 2017

Dear All

I’ve just come back from leading a confirmation retreat for some 30 teenagers (mostly GCSE and A-level students) who are preparing for their confirmation the week after Easter.
As most of you most probably know, confirmation is a step along the Christian journey joined-at-the-hip to our baptism or christening.
We declare publicly that this journey is for us and the bishop prays for us, anointing us with the same oil of blessing used at our baptism.
The bishop prays for us that God will confirm in us what has already begun with the his Holy Spirit.
We often use the term “christening” — literally “being made like Christ” to refer to baptism, and that’s what is going on in confirmation too.

During the retreat, we looked at three parts of the Christian journey that we carry with us — that we are beloved by God, on how God forgives us as we turn to him, and on how God sustains us, both through ordinary and holy things — along with plenty of space for each person to engage with what that means for them.

Perhaps that too should be something we can all do to, as Lent draws to a close and Easter bursts upon us — reflect on the fact that we are beloved, forgiven as we turn, and sustained though ordinary and holy things ourselves, and so discover more of God’s presence with us.

Yours, as ever,

Rector’s letter – February 2017

By the time this magazine drops through your letterbox in early February, the Christmas season will be somewhat behind us.  I’d like to encourage you, however, still to live in the spirit of Christmas, of gifts given, and of the potential of who we might be when loved and redeemed, as our year continues.  We face a period of uncertainty as the Trump presidency becomes a reality and as we work our way forward towards leaving the European Union.  Uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing — it can be fruitful, as it asks us to work out for ourselves those things that we hold of central importance in our lives, and that, in turn, can help us to find better priorities by which to live our lives.  Please, though, go through this process in the spirit of generosity that is inspired by Christmas, of the message that we are all deeply valued by God just as we are.  Lent, of course, approaches, and has its own theme of stripping down and discovering what is essential, what is right for us, but this is not a thing in its own right:  it’s all about being prepared to celebrate what Easter will bring for us — new hope, a fresh start, the power to live a re-aligned life with passion for the betterment of all.  Let us work to find a better way forward for our lives, both individually and as community, and commit ourselves to the greater good.

Rector’s letter – December 2016

I write this letter at the end of a week of surprises, the biggest of which was the election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.  By the time you read this, we may have a better idea of what a Trump presidency will entail — my own hunch is that, a bit like Brexit, Trump’s Brexit+++ will remain somewhat undefined for a while yet.  What is clear is that within the USA, people can hold quite differing views, and what is more, be quite startled that others take the differing view to theirs seriously; this reflects our own country (by which I mean the UK & NI)’s double take and puzzlement at the outcome of the Brexit vote — both London and not-London, even now, find it hard to recognise each other as fellow citizens, a split that continues in parliament and even in the cabinet.

Of course, not all surprises are unhappy ones, but perhaps the best of surprises contain something to disturb us, that shakes our complacency, even if the surprise is very good.  This could be an unexpected promotion at work, or a shared glance across a room that leads to falling in love, but the surprise that I want to point to in particular today is that of the surprise of Jesus.  This is the heart of the message of Christmas that the longer nights draw us inexorably towards — that God touches our world, and in doing so fundamentally changes who we are and our priorities in it.

Be surprised this Christmas season.  Build bridges, not walls, with your families and neighbours.  Seek out those that are different, and listen and learn from them, welcoming them into your lives.  Be blessed in giving and not receiving.  Welcome the Christ-child, and be challenged by the adult Jesus.

The Chancel roof is finished

I’m delighted to say that the chancel roof repairs (and associated drainage works) are now complete.   Many thanks to all who have contributed to this project, to

  • Peter Rogan Associates Ltd, our architect,
  • Elizabeth Bryans, Tony Cox and Chris Moody, who have with me formed the PCC’s project team,
  • to our contractors JTC roofing, and, of course,
  • to those who have helped raise and given the funds for this project, especially the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund for their generous grant which covered the bulk of the cost of making the chancel watertight.

Thank you all.

Here is a picture of the completed roof:

Rector’s letter – October 2016

Autumn should now be upon us, though as I write, we’ve just had the hottest September day since 1911.  In the church’s cycle, we are mid-way through our harvest festivals — a period in which we remember our dependence on those who farm on our behalf, as well as all those who form part of the chain that brings our food to the table.  The key theme in harvest is that of thanksgiving, and recognising ultimately our dependence upon God.  It’s also a time to offer with thanksgiving the other things that we make with our labour, giving thanks for the reports we have written, the people we have helped, the lives of our families and friends and what the year has brought, and of course as the remembrance season begins in November, to remember with thanksgiving those who have recently passed away.

For me personally the next few months will be a harvest of a sort too.  I’ve been ordained now for some 17 years, and the time has come for me to take a sabbatical.  What this means is that I’ll be taking a back seat from parish duties until the Christmas carols services, and leave you in the capable hands of the Rev’d Canon Tony Cox (01509 880861).   Thanks Tony!
I’ll be using the time to study how younger people, committed to the live of the church, pray today; reflecting too on how I learned to pray in my early 20s myself — though that seems quite some time ago now!

Wishing you all the best for the autumn, and looking forward to be formally back with you all in mid-December!


Rector’s letter – August 2016

The thing that has most upset me about the Brexit vote hasn’t been whether we remain or leave, or indeed the rapid recycling of the Conservative party or the implosion of the Labour party (though that is indeed worrying as all governments need good opposition) — it is rather the prejudice and intimidation that many that live in our towns and cities have faced in the first few days following the the vote.

One of the advantages of being part of the church is that we have clergy in every part of the county, and so very quickly get to hear when things are amiss — the tales we have heard in the media of folk being confronted in the street and told to “go home” because of their skin colour or style of dress are indeed true, and expose a worrying side to our society that many of us had hoped was no longer there, or at least greatly diminished. The irony is that those who are being confronted are typically second or third generation British citizens and not affected by the “Leave” vote in any case!

By the time you read this (early August) much of this will have settled down, but we must make sure, both as individuals and as a society, that our true majority values are made crystal clear. We all have a role to play in this, especially as the reality of Brexit begins to be worked out in the coming months. Let us pray and take action now — share what we think — so that those with unsavoury views do not have a platform upon which to build when Brexit does not turn out the way they hoped.

Yours as ever