Crowded Church for Nativity service

A packed Parish Church enjoyed the telling of the Nativity story on Christmas Eve. 
Before it started there was a loud knock at the church vestry door which the inn-keeper opened. It was the Sullivan family who were the last family to host the Posada figurine of a pregnant Mary and her husband-to-be Joseph, who had been staying at the homes of 24 families in the village and area for the month of December. 

Churchwarden Sue Short thanked them for bringing Mary and Joseph to the service and asked them to place the Posada on the altar.The lighting of the six Christmas Candles also took place with many children keen to help.

The story of Jesus' birth then began with the singing of the carol Away in a Manger.Joseph (Dominic Marsden) and Mary (Olive Spiers) called at the Inn only to learn that the only accommodation available was a stable. Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a manger but first showing the baby to everyone in church by walking down the aisle and back.  

Everyone who had hosted the Posada was invited to return their sheep to the stable to join the baby. 

Two Angel Gabriels were in attendance as were the three Kings.  Unfortunately there were no shepherds but lots of children wanted to be included in the beautiful Nativity Tableau at the end of the service which concluded by everyone singing We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Thanks go to Sheila Parsons and Alison Holley for planning and leading this moving service and for the children who played the various parts.


Church bids farewell to Stuart Newsome


Stuart Newsome, long time leading light at St John Parish Church and more recently Lay Worship Leader for both parishes, was given an emotional farewell at the end of the Celebration of Nine Lessons and Carols at St John Parish Church on the Sunday before Christmas.

The four Churchwardens, Sue Hargreaves and Sue Short from  Bishop Monkton and  Lesley Slater and John Dawson from Burton Leonard, made presentations to Stuart and his wife Jane and were full of praise for what he had done during his time with us. 

Stuart responded by thanking everyone for the gifts and saying it had been a pleasure and a delight to have worked in the parishes. 

During the service Francesca Russell said prayers and lit the Advenrt candles and lessons were read by John Eden, Mary Hanson, Pam Brown, Rodney Wilson, Judy Hague, Elena Russell, Cheryl Salmon, David Arundell and Stuart Newsome.

The Church was crowded for the service with the 30-strong joint choir providing magnificent renditions of familiar carols. The organist was Phil Wilby and the choir was conducted by his daughter, Ann Wilby.

The service was  repeated at Burton Leonard on the Monday before Christmas.


A warm farewell for The Rev. Sheila

Villagers from both Bishop Monkton and Burton Leonard gathered in the Village Hall to say farewell to Rev. Sheila and her husband Andy. Bishop Helen-Anne (pictured left) thanked Sheila for her hard work over the past two years. Gifts from both villages were presented to the couple. 

Rev. Sheila explained that she and Andy wished to be nearer their family and to spend more time together and this had contributed to their decision to move back to Taunton.  We all wish Sheila and Andy well in their retirement. 


Thanksgiving and giving theme 

The Parish Church was beautifully decorated for the All Age Harvest Festival with lovely displays of flowers, fruit and vegetables both outside and inside the church.Traditional Harvest hymns were sung and  the service was led by The Rev. Sheila and Stuart Newsome. The picture shows four of the church's younger generation reading Harvest prayers.  On the theme of thanksgiving and giving, the base of the font was piled high with tins of food which were later to be distributed to those in need.


Over 40 go on village safari

Over 40 people attended the Safari Supper in the village on 16th November. The weather for people moving between houses was discouraging - drizzle - but everyone completed their Safari and came together for coffee and cheese at Sue and Mike Short’s house at the end of the evening. The event is held to raise funds for the church and takes place every second year.Newcomers to the village may like to look out for the event in 2021 


Successful Cafe Church event



The first All-Age Café Church was held at St John the Baptist Parish Church on Sunday 3rd November.   The service was led by Stuart Newsome, our Lay Worship Leader.      

On each table was a plate of delicious cakes and everyone was offered a coffee/tea or soft drink on arrival by Church Coffee team members Sheila Parsons and Clare Douglas.   

The service started by, at Stuart’s suggestion, the congregation introducing themselves to each other which took several minutes and proved very noisy!  Noah Sullivan lit the “Mission Candle” and said the “Prayer for Growth”. 

During the service Stuart divided the congregation into two groups and gave each of them a different question to think about and give their views.  One group debated ‘What is our Church today?’ and the other group debated ‘What do we want our church to be?’.  A lively discussion ensued. The results were noted by a scribe for each group and will be passed to the PCC to take forward.  This was a very useful exercise and one which will be acted upon. 

Sadly it was Stuart’s last All-Age Service following his resignation last month as he is planning to move in the near future. Churchwarden Sue Short thanked Stuart for his contribution to our Church in running the All-Age Services over the past few years which have been such a success and for other roles he has filled in the past.    She also asked him to thank his wife Jane for the lovely cakes she kindly provided. The congregation joined Sue in wishing Stuart every happiness for the future by a clapping of hands to show their appreciation. This went on for several minutes to resounding sounds of “hear hear”.


Rory raises £1,500 for Fabric Fund

Rory Richold, pictured here outside the Santiago Cathedral at the end of her walk on the pilgrims' way, raised £1,500 for the Church Fabric Fund. She wishes to thank all the people who sponsored her so generously



Farewell party for The Rev. Sheila

The Rev. Sheila Murray, pictured here conducting an Easter Service, will be stepping down from her present position at the end of October.

A farewell party for Rev Sheila and her husband, Andy took place at Bishop Monkton Village Hall at 6pm on Saturday, October 26. 

For more go to NEWS/Stepping down.


Longer term repairs and the future of the building

As reported on page 1 the urgent repairs to the tower and making the roof watertight are now scheduled to go ahead between March and May next year. This has been made possible since the Fabric Fund has now reached over £33,000 - the amount required for this first phase of the project.

Now attention is turning to the longer-term repairs to the roof and future wider role of the building.

This matter will be looked at by a new group which has been formed, comprising representatives of both the Church community and the wider village.

While accepting that the Church will always be primarily a place of worship, it is also felt the building could also be used more widely in other ways for the benefit of the whole community.

As part of the exercise it is planned in the next few months to conduct a village survey, thus enabling everyone in the community to have their say how they think the building should be used in the future.



Fabric Fund reaches £27,500

(update by Maggie Wood)

Much has happened with regard to the Fabric Fund appeal launched earlier this year. To date the amazing total of £27,500 has been raised by donations from both individuals and village organisations, Christine Ewalt’s sponsored abseil down the front of Ripon Cathedral, the second hand rose stall at the Hog Roast (thank you to the village hall committee for allowing us to keep the money we raised), and a Salsa Evening organised by Matt
The Church Village Draw Club has been launched with the first draw taking place on the 21st July. So far this has raised a further £1,500 to add to the Fabric Fund. Sadly our application to WREN for funding was turned down.
With the known total of £29,000, including gift aid,the PCC felt we could begin the process of reviewing the quotes received. Two members of the PCC were tasked with leading on this. The resulting queries have been put to the relevant people. We still await some answers. With what we know so far it looks as though we will need to raise a further £5,000 to £8,000 to be able to start the urgent works to the tower and roof to make the church
The PCC would love to have this work done before the winter. To help us reach this amount it would be greatly appreciated if you could either make a one off donation or set up a regular standing order for a monthly
donation to the Church Fabric Fund (forms for this are available to pick up at the back of church). Alternatively join the draw – see the notice elsewhere in the magazine for details. There is also the enthralling lecture entitled
‘Escaping from Colditz’ to be held in the village hall on the 29th October with tickets going on sale on 16th September.
The committee that will look at the long term project has had its first meeting with a follow up meeting being held on 22nd July. More on that later!
Please contact me if you wish to donate but cannot collect the necessary forms and I will arrange to get them to you.
 Thank you so much for all your generosity and warm words of encouragement!

Maggie Wood PCC Treasurer
(tel 01765 677159,


Let’s Do Lunch and Annual Gift Day


St John the Baptist Parish Church celebrated its Patronal Festival on Saturday, June 22 by holding a “Lets Do Lunch” event in Church. 
Everyone who came enjoyed a light summer lunch of a choice of several savoury homemade quiches and salads followed by strawberries and cream topped with a piece of delicious homemade shortbread. 
Tea and coffee were served to finish the lunch in elegant china tea cups which have been kindly donated to the Church by various villagers.
Thanks go to everyone who supported this event and to all those who baked quiches and shortbread or made salads.  
Thanks also to all those who filled the Church’s Annual Gift Day envelopes which were available on the tables.  
The total of £560.96 was raised by “Let’s Do Lunch” including Gift Day donations and Gift Aid on those donations.  


Burton Leonard Feast events

As part of the wonderful Burton Leonard Feast, the church held two events on Sunday, July 7.. Firstly, there was an afternoon service on the Lower Green followed by a picnic.. During this Riding Lights performed a couple of sketches. Then at 7.30pm the actors performed "Acts of Fun, Faith and Folly" in Burton Leonard Hall.  


Children’s Society boxes opened 

As usual the Children's Society boxes will be collected and opened by Kathleen Perkins in Burton Leonard and Maggie Wood in Bishop Monkton.
If you are not already a box holder please become one to make your contribution to the £2 million raised by the Children’s Society from the collection boxes each year.
These funds go towards the Society’s work fighting childhood poverty, harm and neglect.   
House-boxes are emptied annually during July. The Children’s Society local Parish co-ordinator is Maggie Wood. Please contact her on 677159 or by email to 
She will be pleased to supply you with a box and add your name to the list of local supporters


A double winner

Welcome to our Church Village Draw Club – a great way for you to support us whilst having a bit of fun! 

Here’s how it works….. You complete and sign a membership form and standing order mandate for £5 a month (or £60 annually) or pay by cheque. (Forms are available from the back of church or electronically by contacting one of the draw administrators named below) This buys you one membership number (we will allocate), which enters you into the monthly draw. All participants must be over 16 years of age. 

The draw will take place on the third Sunday of each month. The first draw takes place on 21st July 2019. To be eligible for this draw we need to receive your application by the 14th July. If you win, a cheque will be posted to your home address and the winning numbers will be placed on the church notice board and on the church website ( 

The prize money will be 40% of the membership fee taken that month. The remaining 60% goes to the Church fabric fund which is to pay for any works to the building both inside and out and to replace, repair, alter or add to furnishings or equipment that improves the service provided by St John The Baptist Church Bishop Monkton.

Contacts: Jenny Goodman – email: Tel 01765 677492;  Sue Hargreaves - email: Tel 01765 677523;  Maggie Wood – email: Tel 01765 677159 They will arrange for forms to be sent to you.

Join our church village draw club today and you could be our next winner!


Fabric fund reaches £25,000

The Church's Fabric Fund has now passed the £25,000 total and work will start soon on repairing the front area of the church which has been out of bounds for several months.

Donations and pledges have also been received bringing the fund total to just short of £25,000 excluding gift aid. Thank you so much to all those who have given so generously.

 If you would like to support the appeal, donation and pledge forms can be collected from the back of church which is open every day or you can e-mail me ( for an electronic copy.


Abseiler raises £600 for fund

Bishop Monkton Parish Church choir member Christine Ewalt pictured abseiling down Ripon Cathedral on a recent Sunday. She made her spectacular descent to raise £800 for charity. Of this £600 will go to the Bishop Monkton Parish Church Fabric Fund and £200 will go to the Cathedral. 


Hog Roast stand raises £225

A total of £225 was raised on the Church's second hand Rose Stall on Hog Roast Day.

Thanks go to everyone who donated goods , those who bought items and those who ran the stand.


Five years of coffee and cake mornings

Dean John with members of the team.

Pip Garside from the Coffee & Cake Morning Team thanked the Bishop Monkton Primary School Choir for their wonderful performance whicheven included dancing and added that the choir always make our Coffee & Cake Mornings so special.

A record number of 68 people were present at the Party. Pip thanked them for being there and for all their support over the past 5 years. She also thanked Sheila Kindon fororganising the Party and making a such an amazing birthday cake.

The Coffee & Cake Morning team had decided that all the takings from the Birthday Party event should go towards the Church Fabric Fundraising Appeal and after the party £180.10 was handed to Treasurer Maggie Wood.

We were honoured that Dean John came to join us during the morning and enjoyed a piece of cake! 

The Coffee & Cake Morning team would like to thank all the kind people who bake great cakes each month, our strong team of helpers whomove all the pews, bring the tables up from the cellar, then return them after the event and we must not forget our team of washer-uppers!


Church faces big repair bills

As many of you will be aware, an exclusion zone has been established round the front door of the Parish Church. This is necessary because of the risk of masonry falling from the tower. The repairs will cost about £7,000 and work will be undertaken in the next few months. In the meantime access to the church is via the back door so services and events will continue as normal. In addition, because parts of the building are not watertight, another £8,000 will need to be spent on putting this right. In the longer term the inspectors said the whole roof would need to be completely stripped and retiled with new underlay and battens installed at a cost of up to £250,000.  An appeal fund for the repairs has already been opened and donations will be welcomed by Stuart Newsome, Sue Hargreaves, Maggie Wood or Rev. Sheila.


Forthcoming events

7 February – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to
12 noon with a “Valentines” theme.    Everyone welcome.  

6 March – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12
noon.   We are planning to donate all takings to the
Australia Bush Fire Crisis.  Everyone welcome.

3 April  – Monthly Coffee &
Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon with a “Easter”  theme”. 
Everyone welcome.    

1 May  – Monthly Coffee & Cake
Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon with a “Spring theme”.   Everyone welcome.  

5 June – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon.  
We will be celebrating the Queen’s official birthday.  Everyone welcome. 

20 June - To celebrate our Patronal Festival a Sparkling Strawberry Tea at 3pm ! We are also hoping to celebrate the end of the first stage of the repair work to our beautiful Church.

3 July  – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon  with a “Wimbledon theme”.   Everyone welcome.   

7 August  – Monthly Coffee &Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon.  
We will be celebrating” Yorkshire Day”.  Everyone welcome.    

4 September  – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon.    
Everyone welcome.  

2 October  – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon with  “Knit & Natter”.    Everyone welcome.   

6 November  – Monthly Coffee & Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon.  
Theme:  “Fireworks”. Everyone welcome.     

4 December  – Monthly Coffee &Cake Morning at Parish Church 9.45am to 12 noon.  
Theme:  Christmas. Everyone welcome.