Lexden Link Autumn 2019

Lexden Link
Autumn 2019
Issue 53

From our New Minister

Dear Friends,

Earlier this year I celebrated my 36th birthday as a Christian and I still remember so much of that Saturday night in Hockley Pentecostal Church in Birmingham when I made a decision to accept Jesus as Lord. Yet my journey of faith began well before I choose to accept Jesus.

It began in a way with Maggie who pestered me about the faith she had in Jesus during my time at Dudley College and wouldn’t let up until I came with her to the Christian Union and eventually a few weeks later to that service.

It involved being sent to Sunday School with my siblings by my non-Christian parents. I wanted to be friends with Jesus then but struggled with the God who called us to turn the other cheek.

After my Ordination my Mom told me it began years before with a prophecy shared over me by my grandparents neighbour who worshipped at the local Methodist Church; she told my mom when I was just a few days old that God had big plans for me, that I would serve as a Minister in the church. If only she had told me when I was wrestling with my call to ministry!

In reality though God has always been in my life. My story above is about how I learned to follow Jesus, but the bigger story is God has always been following me!

The President and Vice President of our Methodist Conference urged us this year to tell our stories. Stories of how you came to faith, and how we have maintained faith and life, and they are without doubt the most prized possession we have. These stories shouldn’t be all about the distant past, we need to tell stories of what God has done lately.

All of us have stories to tell and it is something we will be thinking about again and again this year. For now I wonder if you will accept this challenge?

Will you spare some time to think about and write down your story by answering these kinds of questions;
when did you first become aware of God?
who played a part in making Jesus real for you?
how did you come to be in this Church?

Then try to write a few words about what God has done or hasn’t done

It will exciting to discover what we have written and to see how far our
storytelling can take us in these coming months.

May God’s rich blessings surround you.

Yours in Christ

Rev.d Joseph N Adams

The Corn Song
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Heap high the farmer’s wintry hoard! Heap high the golden corn!
No richer gift has Autumn poured from out her lavish horn!
Let other lands, exulting, glean the apple from the pine,
The orange from its glossy green, the cluster from the vine;

We better love the hardy gift our rugged vales bestow,
To cheer us when the storm shall drift our harvest-fields with snow.
Through vales of grass and meads of flowers our ploughs their furrows made,
While on the hills the sun and showers of changeful April played.

We dropped the seed o’er hill and plain beneath the sun of May,
And frightened from our sprouting grain the robber crows away.
All through the long, bright days of June its leaves grew green and fair,
And waved in hot midsummer’s noon its soft and yellow hair.

And now, with autumn’s moonlit eves, its harvest-time has come,
We pluck away the frosted leaves, and bear the treasure home.
There, richer than the fabled gift Apollo showered of old,
Fair hands the broken grain shall sift, and knead its meal of gold.

Let vapid idlers loll in silk around their costly board;
Give us the bowl of samp and milk, by homespun beauty poured!
Where’er the wide old kitchen hearth sends up its smoky curls,
Who will not thank the kindly earth and bless our farmer girls?

Then shame on all the proud and vain, whose folly laughs to scorn
The blessing of our hardy grain, our wealth of golden corn!
Let earth withhold her goodly root, let mildew blight the rye,
Give to the worm the orchard’s fruit, the wheat-field to the fly:
But let the good old crop adorn the hills our fathers trod;
Still let us, for His golden corn, send up our thanks to God!

Hymn Writers

by Alan Beesley

Horatius Bonar

In previous editions of our church magazine I have written articles on several hymn writers both past and present. This time I have chosen Horatius Bonar. He was born in Edinburgh on 19 December 1808 and was the son of James Bonar who was the Solicitor of Excise for Scotland and Marjory Maitland. He came from a long line of ministers who served in the Church of Scotland.

Horace – as he was known to his friends – was educated at the University of Edinburgh, and became a Church of Scotland minister in 1837 when he was appointed to the Kelso parish where he stayed until 1843. He then joined the Free Church of Scotland following the Great Disruption which saw the division of the Church of Scotland. Later he became minister of the Chalmers Memorial Church in Edinburgh, and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in 1883.

He married Jane Lundie in 1843. They had a number of children but five died in childhood. Of their surviving children two went into the ministry. His wife died in 1876 and he died on 31 July 1889 and was buried with her at the Canongate Kirkyard.

He gave instruction that no memoir of himself should be written. This is somewhat strange because over his lifetime he wrote several biographies of other ministers including “The life and works of Rev. G. T. Dodds” and “The life of Rev. John Milne of Perth”. He wrote over 140 hymns and published several collections. Seven of his hymns are included in Hymns and Psalms. Probably the best known is number 207 – “Rejoice and be glad the Redeemer has come”

We will publish the next edition of the Lexden Link when we have enough articles. Please see me or Alan if you have anything you wish to be included.
Christine Beesley – Editor

Lexden Link Summer 2016


Lexden Link

Summer 2016

Issue 51

Colchester West – Eight Ash Green Methodist Church

What’s afoot?

The Lexden weekly notices have included several references to Eight Ash Green Methodist Church and a new manse for Colchester West and, not unreasonably, several people have been asking what it’s all about.

There is a lot of new building going on at Stanway Lakelands area, around Halstead Road and on the way out to Copford. Recognising the need for a church presence to meet local pastoral and spiritual needs in this rapidly expanding area, a group known as ‘Churches in Stanway’ has been formed by the leaders of Bethel Church, Stanway Evangelical Church and St Albrights C of E Church and this is currently being co-ordinated by Rev’d Paul Howes. Other local churches are being kept informed of progress.

From September 1st 2016, Rev’d Steve Swann will be joining the Circuit as a Pioneer Presbyter (subject to Methodist Conference approval). Steve, together with his wife Julie, is coming from the Lizard and Mount’s Bay Methodist Circuit in Cornwall. Steve will be concentrating on building up contacts in the area, talking to residents and businesses to see how best the pastoral and spiritual needs of the locality can best be met. Colchester Borough Council has plans in the pipeline for a new community centre to be built on the western bypass plus land has been allocated for an Academy Junior school to be built. In time it may be that these can be a base for people to meet, talk and worship but at the moment Steve will be working from a blank canvas.

So that Steve can be at the heart of the new community the Circuit has invested in a new manse at 78 Robin Crescent, located near to the Western bypass road. This house will be largely paid for from the proceeds of sale of the manse at West Bergholt when the current letting agreement comes to its end.

At the same time our friends at Eight Ash Green Methodist Church, as part of exploring their future Mission and Vision, have decided that now is time for them to change the focus of their outreach. They will be joining Steve Swann in seeking to reach out to the people of Stanway and its growing community. As a result over the weekend of September 2nd to 4th we are all invited to share in a time of Celebration for the chapel and people at Eight Ash Green ending with a service on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. The chapel may continue to be used while Steve and the congregation consider the best way forward. The Circuit Meeting is excited by this bold step in faith being taken by the Eight Ash Green church members.

As we all know there is a similar explosion of building taking place in Colchester north around the northern approach road and the Severalls Hospital site. Rev’d Ken Chalmers wishes to investigate the opportunities here together with other local clergy and organisations.

How does this affect Lexden? Very little – except that from September 1st the way in which Circuit Ministers share their pastoral responsibilities will change.

Rev’d Alan Jenkins will be the lead Presbyter for Castle, Wimpole Road, Wivenhoe and Mersea.

Rev’d Ken Chalmers will be the lead presbyter for The Ark (Highwoods), Mile End, Boxted and West Bergholt.

Rev’d Paul Howes has agreed to look after Lexden.

Rev’d Steve Swann will be caring for the congregation of Eight Ash Green as part of their joint venture into Colchester west.

A Team Ministry approach will continue and all the presbyters will be available to everyone and will be taking services in all the Circuit Churches as arranged on the Quarterly Plan.

We, at Lexden, are being asked to hold all of the exciting developments in our prayers, to provide a welcome where necessary and support wherever possible.

Geoff Wilcox

Lexden Link Spring 2015


Lexden Link

Spring 2015

Issue 48

From our Minister

We are now well and truly into the season of Lent and anyone who has given up anything as a Lenten fast will be finding their willpower thoroughly tested. Lenten fasting was originally preparation for those who were due to be baptised at Easter, but it is also linked with the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The idea is that by giving up luxuries we are better able to focus on what is important in life and we are able to build up our discipline to resist temptation.

In modern day Christianity fasting is not given a great deal of prominence and yet the bible has plenty to say about how we fast and about where our priorities should be. Jesus teaches that fasting is a private thing, as is prayer and the giving of alms; something for God’s benefit alone that should not be noticed by others, probably in response to those who made a great show of their piety. Isaiah speaks about fasting in terms of justice, saying that God is pleased more with those who uphold the rights of the vulnerable than with those who make a big show of sackcloth and ashes:

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

It therefore seems to me rather apt that the Church of England has chosen this season of Lent to publish a letter urging Christians to get actively involved in politics as the elections draw closer . Although the Church has been slammed for releasing this guidance the call is not for people to be party political, but to show concern for the moral and ethical leadership that is given to the country and to seek to campaign for the wellbeing of those who suffer the effects of poverty.

As Christians we are called to offer practical help and support to those in need, but we are also called to challenge the root causes of poverty and injustice and this means being involved in politics in order to play our part in nurturing a just society.

So, this Lent if you have not yet chosen to give anything up, perhaps you might choose to take up an interest in our political system instead, asking questions and making sure that you use your vote. In that way perhaps we can fulfil Isaiah’s vision of a true fast.

God bless.



A message from Aylsham

To All My Friends At Lexden

First of all I want to say a big thank you for the generous gift and signed card from the Church as well as all the individual cards and phone calls when I moved here last October. I was able to buy a small table and chairs (which are a perfect match for my kitchen) and I think of you all when I use them.

The move went smoothly in the end (after a few stressful moments prior to exchange of contracts) thanks to marvellous support from my daughter Rachel who lives in Norwich. It’s good to be closer to her and Colin and my grandchildren Anna and Ben – twenty minutes by car or half an hour on the bus. I’m making good use of my Essex bus pass which is still valid here until it expires. Ruth is further away but says her journey is easier and she has been able to bring Kim to see me several times and have lunch out. At the moment he is in remission for which we are very thankful.

A neighbour opposite brought me a poinsettia and card just after I arrived here and said ‘What a massive leap to move here not knowing anyone!’ I guess it was but all the way along following my ‘footprints in the sand experience last June’ felt it was the right thing to do (at least for most of the time!) The town centre is a 15 minute walk away or a few minutes on the bus from the top of my road.

I started going to the Methodist Church my first Sunday here and received a very warm welcome. (Note to Bill – 15 minute walk using footpaths.) The services are at 10:00 followed by tea/coffee ALWAYS SERVED BY THE MENFOLK and I’ve joined other weekly activities including Coffee and Cake with a chat on Friday mornings enabling me to get to know more people. I was amazed to discover that David Bedford and his wife Norma are in the Church Directory as they spend some weekends at their second home in Tuttington near here. Their main home is in London and David is the son of one of our former ministers at Lexden (1977-81) the Revd Reg Bedford. We were all surprised to meet up again here in Aylsham. Our Ruth used to babysit for them in the 1980’s when she lived in London. Small world!

I have many happy memories of people and special occasions over 40 years at LMC (most of which I shared with Hu) and will continue to remember you in my thoughts and prayers.

With special love to you all

Chris (Nash)

The Hymn Writers

Philip Doddridge was born in London on 26th June 1702 the last of the twenty children of Daniel and Elizabeth. His father was a son of John Doddridge, rector of Shepperton, Middlesex, who was ejected from his living following the Act of Uniformity of 1662 and became a nonconformist minister. Philip’s mother was the orphan daughter of the Rev John Bauman, a Lutheran clergyman who had fled from Prague to escape religious persecution.

Before Philip could read, his mother began to teach him the history of the Old and New Testament from blue Dutch chimney-tiles on the chimney place of their sitting room. He was educated first by a private tutor then at a private school until 1712 he attended the grammar school at Kingston-upon-Thames.

His mother died when he was 8 years old and his father died 4 years later. He had a guardian named Downes who moved him to a private school in St Albans where he was much influenced by the Presbyterian minister Samuel Clark. Downes squandered Philip’s inheritance, leaving the orphaned thirteen year old destitute but Clark took him on, treating him as a son. Having remained lifelong friends, Doddridge preached at the funeral of his older friend remarking: "To him under God I owe even myself and all my opportunities of public usefulness in the church."

In 1723 he received an invitation to be pastor to an independent congregation at Northampton. He was a popular preacher and his sermons were mostly practical in character. His aim was to cultivate in his hearers a spiritual and devotional frame of mind. On 22 December 1730 he married Mercy Maris and they had nine children. The first, Elizabeth, died just before her fifth birthday and was buried under the altar of the Doddridge Chapel, Northampton. Four children survived to adulthood.

Throughout the 1730s and 1740s Philip Doddridge developed close relations with numerous early religious revivalists. He established a circle of influential religious thinkers and writers, including Dr Isaac Watts. He also became a prolific author and hymn writer. In 1736 both the universities at Aberdeen gave him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Doddridge dedicated his book, The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul to Isaac Watts. He also wrote over 400 hymns. John Wesley stated, in the Preface to his Notes on the New Testament, that he was indebted to ‘the Family Expositor of the late pious and learned Dr Doddridge’ for some ‘useful observations’.

Philip Doddridge died on 26th Oct 1751.

Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.

Please let me have articles for the Summer 2015 edition by the start of June.

Christine Beesley – Editor

Lexden Link Autumn 2014


Lexden Link

Autumn 2014

Issue 45

From our Minister

It seems like a lot of the news at present has to do with co-operation and how we work together with others; from the alliances being built to tackle the conflicts across the world to the discussions around Scottish independence and the impact of the referendum, both on Scotland and the wider UK, the question seems to be, how far can we work with others?

This seems to me to be a question faced by the Church too and one that is faced at every level, from the dialogues between denominations to how we as a group of 11 churches relate as a circuit. Whatever we do we cannot work in isolation and there is great benefit to be had from sharing together, the thing is how do we manage this in a way that fully recognises the contributions of all?

Jesus in his great prayer to the Father on the night of his betrayal prays about his followers ‘may they be one, heavenly Father, as you and I are one.’ This prayer is often taken as the mandate for ecumenical work and a marker against which we measure ourselves. It is God’s own call that we should ‘be one’, the question is, how does that look in 21st century society?

Jesus prays ‘may they be one’, he does not say ‘may they all be the same’ and indeed the twelve that he chooses as apostles are a witness to that, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds with very little in common. Yet, for all their bickering, the disciples are united by their faithfulness to Jesus and so it is with us the Church. The things that we hold in common are far more important than the things that divide us and whenever we come together it is good to remember that.

I very much enjoyed being part of a family fun festival held at the beginning of September in Castle Park and organised by a wide group of churches across Colchester. One of the great blessings was meeting people from fellowships I knew relatively little about and learning from them. We didn’t agree on everything, but I felt richer for the conversations, which enabled my own faith to grow.

As churches in the circuit facing important decisions at this time we need to really reflect on how we fulfil Jesus wish to ‘be one’. Are we supporting one another in prayer and seeking to build one another up or is there a sense of competition to see who is ‘biggest and best’? We will not always agree, but we do need to talk together, pray together, worship together and share in fellowship together in order to build up our own faith life and the life of our wider community. This means supporting events at other churches as well as our own and finding out the needs and concerns of others as well as being prepared to share honestly ourselves. As we do so we hold fast to the One who prayed for his followers to come together so that His prophecy may be fulfilled and ‘the world may believe.’

God bless.. Ruth

The Four Seasons

by Myrtle I Sparke


I love to walk through meadows green

On a lovely day in Spring

To loiter near the sparkling stream

To hear the birds that sing

My heart is light I trip along

There’s so much to delight

Far away from the busy town

Here it’s calm and bright

There are butter cups and daises

Bluebells in the wood

Up above the sky is blue

and everything is good

And so I wander on my way

Watch the little lambs at play

Feel the cool refreshing breeze

In the tall and verdant trees

And so at length I turn around

Back I go to the busy town

Calmed and refreshed by what I’ve seen

In those pleasant fields so green.


Summer time again is here

The season which I like best

The lovely flowers which then appear

Will in all their robes be dressed

Roses red, carnations too

Flowers of every kind and hue

Smell their fragrance in the breeze

Hear the droning of the bees

Summer days are long and bright

Today there is not a cloud in sight

So let us go down to the sea

For that is where I long to be

The children playing on the beach

Are happy as can be

Some are sitting in a row

To watch a Punch and Judy show

Others go on the pier

Lots of fun and amusements here

Slot machines try your luck

Win some pennies, that’s the stuff

And then of course there are the stalls

Tell your fortune, ping pong, balls

Helter Skelter, oh what fun

Then to rest, bask in the sun.


We’ve said goodbye to summer

To the long hot sunny days

But not goodbye to beauty

It’s with us here always

So let us walk down shady lanes

To view the golden splendour

Of the trees that once were green

With budding leaves so tender

The glorious tints of autumn

Are spread before our eyes

There’s beauty in the hedgerow

There’s splendour in the skies

So let us linger while we may

Fill our hearts with quiet content

To gather all the sweetness in

Surely it is time well spent

For soon the leaves will fall

To rustle beneath our feet

The swallows too will fly away

In other lands to meet.

The seasons come, the seasons go

Autumn will soon fade away

But the sun will surely shine

To welcome in another day

Winter with its icy blast

Is here with us again

The trees are bare, the skies are grey

Snow has whitened all the plain

And as I gazed from window pane

Upon the wintry scene

A perky little robin came

Its feathers he did preen

And as he hopped upon the snow

His crimson breast all aglow

The sun came out, all was bright

Robin chirped with all his might

And this is what he seemed to say

The world is very bright and gay

This lovely snow beneath my feet

is nicer than the stony street

The children too will laugh and shout

Throw the snowballs all about

For those who find it cold and bleak

There’s comfort near the chimney seat

So let us not be sad but gay

For time is ever on the wing

Around the corner, hovers spring.

With thanks to Roz for sharing this with us

The Hymn Writers – Reverend Fred Pratt-Green

The Reverend Fred Pratt Green CBE was a British Methodist minister, hymn writer and poet. He was born in Roby, Lancashire, on 2nd September 1903 and died on 22nd October 2000. After hearing a sermon on John Masefield’s The Everlasting Mercy he went to Didsbury Theological College where he graduated in 1928 and began his ministry in the Filey circuit. There he met Marjorie Dowsett and they married in 1931. By 1939, Pratt Green was a minister on the Ilford circuit and was soon combining spiritual duties with those as an air raid warden. In 1944 he moved to Finsbury Park, Three years later he was transferred to Brighton, where at the Dome concert hall he regularly preached to congregations of 2,000.

Fred Pratt Green was appointed MBE in 1995. His wife predeceased him in 1993. There were no children, but they raised Elizabeth Shepherd, the daughter of a missionary who had died of leprosy in India.

The Reverend Fred Pratt Green wrote more than 300 hymns, and was one of the most prolific hymn writers of the 20th century. The most remarkable aspect of his career as a hymn writer was that he did not begin to write hymns until his late sixties, when he was on the verge of retirement from the Methodist ministry.

In 1967 he was co-opted onto a committee planning a supplement to The Methodist Hymn Book. In 1977, the Church of England turned to Pratt Green after rejecting Sir John Betjeman’s contribution to the Jubilee. Pratt Green came up with a replacement, sung to the rhythm of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and to a tune by Walford Davies, Vision:

It is God who holds the nations

in the hollow of his hand;

It is God whose light is shining

in the darkness of the land;

It is God who builds his City on

the Rock and not on sand;

May the living God be praised!

Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.Please let me have articles for the Winter 2014 edition by the start of December.

Christine Beesley – Editor

Lexden Link Summer 2014

From our Minister

As a keen, but very much beginner birdwatcher I have been trying this Spring not just to identify birds by sight, but also to begin to recognise their calls and it has been a very instructive process! Most of us are probably aware of the way that birdsong multiplies between the months of March and June and you may even have been aware of the dawn chorus getting earlier and earlier until it seems that there are birds singing throughout the night. We all delight at the wonderful melodies that we hear each time we go out and there may even be some birds that we can pick out by their distinctive song. However I have certainly found it a challenge to begin to decipher the layers of different calls in order to identify each individual song, it is taking much patience and some very careful listening.

The act of doing this has led me to reflect on how we actually listen in our day to day lives and how much we actually really take in. The world is often a very noisy place and we rely a lot on sound to communicate, but this can mean that we end up overloaded and failing to pay attention to the detail. We hear without really listening, allowing the sound to wash over us, but not taking in the message.

Jesus says to his disciples when telling them parables ‘let those who have ears hear’. He is reminding his audience that his teaching is available to all, but to really gain the benefit of it, the disciples have to listen carefully, to absorb what is being said and to respond. Without careful listening the parable remains just an interesting story, but with our spiritual ears open then we are able to learn something of the kingdom.

‘Let those who have ears hear’ is a good command for us as the Church today too. It reminds us that we need to listen carefully to what God is telling us through the scriptures, to absorb it, pray about it and discuss it before applying what we learn to our lives. More than that though, it is also a reminder to us to listen to where God is speaking in the world today, to listen for people’s pain so that we might bring comfort and healing and to listen for voices crying out for justice in order that we can join in. Our spiritual listening involves conversation with others, listening to the news and listening in quietness for the voice of God. Let’s use our ears well to distinguish the different messages that God has for us.

God bless. Ruth

Famous Church Quotes

The True Church can never fail. For it is based upon a rock. – T.S. Eliot

Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon. – Martin Luther

Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man. – Dwight L. Moody

The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.- C.S. Lewis

“Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.”- John Calvin

I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church. – Joel Osteen

I think if the church did what they were supposed to do we wouldn’t have anyone sleeping on the streets. – Michael W. Smith

“I believe there are too many practitioners in the church who are not believers.”- C. S. Lewis

“You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian Church in years to come.”- Charles Spurgeon

“What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organisations or more and novel methods, but people whom the Holy Ghost can use — people of prayer, people mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through people. He does not come on machinery, but on people. He does not anoint plans, but people, people of prayer.”- E. M. Bounds

“I lack the fervency, vitality, life, in prayer which I long for. I know that many consider it fanaticism when they hear anything which does not conform to the conventional, sleep-inducing eulogies so often rising from Laodicean lips; but I know too that these same people can acquiescently tolerate sin in their lives and in the church without so much as tilting one hair of their eyebrows.”-Jim Eliot

“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organisation do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always” – A. W. Tozer

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love

This is a hymn which is sometimes written off as a piece of Victorian sentimentality. Lots of Victorian hymns were not very good, it’s true, but this is one which quite rightly is still sung today.

It’s deeply felt rather than sentimental. It’s written out of a full heart and a profound sense of how much God has done for us.

It’s also a hymn soaked in Scripture and shows how deeply the stories of Jesus had sunk into the author, Robert Walmsley.

The first verse, which speaks of the wonderful love “streaming to me and to you” helps to recall God’s promise to “open the windows of heaven” and bless his people, while the second and third take their line from the parable of the Lost Sheep: Jesus came “seeking the lost/Saving, redeeming at measureless cost”; he is “seeking the wanderers yet/Why do they roam?”

There are echoes of the parable of the Prodigal Son too – “Love only waits to forgive and forget;/Home weary wonderers home!”

The last verse is a plea for the Spirit to come and in-dwell us, lifting us above envy, and falsehood, and pride. We cannot ask God to bring others without asking him to deal with us too. Far from being sentimental, this verse echoes the theme of the great mystics, who sought to lose themselves in God.

The hymn is metrically quite complicated and it’s a mark of the author’s skill that we don’t notice that as we sing. He doesn’t strain after rhymes and each line flows naturally, leading us further into his own experience of the love of God.

Robert Walmsley was born in Manchester in 1831, and worked as a jeweller in nearby Sale, where he died in 1905. He was involved for many years with the Manchester Sunday School Union and wrote many hymns for the annual Whitweek Festival, when the children would march through the town in procession.

Very few of them are sung now, but judging by what has survived he had considerable gifts as a writer of devotional verse.

With thanks to Bill Harber for this article

Lexden Link Spring 2014


Lexden Link
Spring 2014
Issue 44

From our Minister

Lent by Jean M Watt.

Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,
Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,
All unadorned. Unlike Christmas which decrees
The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,
Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,
A starkness after all has been withdrawn
Of surplus and superfluous,
Leaving no hiding-place, only an emptiness
Between black branches, a most precious space
Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;
Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,
Lest we should miss the stars.

This poem is one from the book I have been reading this Lent; The heart’s time by Janet Morley. It fascinated me because it looks at Lent and at the bare winter trees from a new perspective. Instead of seeing bare branches as barren and lifeless the poem directs us to the stars which can be seen between the branches as a sign of light and hope.
It stuck me whilst reflecting on this poem that there are many things we can reflect on from different perspectives, seeing either positive or negative, but often it is important that we hold the balance of both. The cross is one such thing and this becomes particularly relevant as we approach Holy Week and Easter and see so many different images of the cross on Easter cards and church posters.

Sometimes our images focus on the suffering of Jesus – carved crucifixes showing the figure of Christ twisted and in pain – and it is important that we remember the reality of the suffering and that Jesus stands alongside us in our own. However we need to be able to look beyond to see the hope that resurrection brings.

Other images dress the cross in Spring flowers as a sign of joy and new life and this has as much to teach us as the crucifix as we remember that it is the cross that brings us life and hope. However it is important to remember that the cross does not start as a thing of beauty, but as the place that Jesus died for us. When we remember both the reality of Jesus suffering and the joy of the resurrection then we get the full picture of Easter and we know that Jesus is both alongside us in our earthly struggles and calling us on to the hope that awaits us in his kingdom.

Perhaps this way of seeing the cross from two perspectives can teach us about the way we view events in our lives too. Maybe it can help us to acknowledge our suffering when times are hard and to stand alongside others who are suffering in true empathy. But maybe it also reminds us that we can look beyond the bare branches in our lives to see the stars which shine in every season.

Easter Blessings.


They hung my Lord upon a cross; they hung Him there to die.
Forgive them God we heard Him say, that was His final cry.

Forgive them God forgive them for they know not what they do.
Forgive them God forgive them they will find their way to You.

Your Church – ‘Its Comings In and Goings Out’

At the Church Council on 19th February, a summary of the current financial situation o the church was shared and discussed along with a projection covering the period up to the end of 2018. The information that follows is shared with you for you will want to know how things are with your church now and as much as can been foreseen, into the future.

Using the figures for the year ended 31st 2013 adjusted for 2014, it is apparent that at the present time the church is spending more money each week than it is receiving. On the income side, an average of a little over £300 each week comes from through the collection plate and a further £80 comes from gift aid, interest and donations. On the outgoing side, £317 goes each week to the circuit to pay minister’s salaries, pension contributions, travel costs and to maintain manses. In addition, the costs of running the church (light, heat, repairs and maintenance, etc.) plus our subscriptions works out at an average of £115 per week. A little piece of mathematics shows that we are currently operating what any Chancellor of the Exchequer would call ‘a deficit budget’. In fact, we are spending about £50 a week more than we are receiving. This is not all ‘doom and gloom’ for prudent housekeeping in previous years has built up a reserve and this could keep the church solvent for the next five or so years. However, in view of the fact that by the end of 2018, this reserve will have been used up, the church council agreed at its meeting that we should be looking to prune the running costs of the church where we can and to seek new income from lettings as well as striving to attract new members and adherents to our church. Of course, if those attending the church at the present time were able to give a little more, it would all help but it is appreciated that the current economic climate is not an easy time for any one of us.

Our possible options are:
To prune our costs
Consider our giving
To seek possible sources of income – e.g. hire out the Garling Room, organise fund-raising events
Prayerfully consider other options

Please feel free to share any thoughts and ideas with us.

Stephen, Derek and the Church Stewards.

The Hymn Writers

Graham Kendrick was born on 2 August 1950 in Blisworth, Northamptonshire. He is the son of a Baptist pastor the Revd. M.D. Kendrick. He now lives in Croydon.

Kendrick began his song writing career in the late sixties. His most enduring accomplishment is his authorship of the words and music for the song “Shine Jesus Shine” and is among one of the most widely heard songs in contemporary Christian worship worldwide.

His other songs include -: All I once held dear, Amazing Love, Such Love, The Servant King and Meekness and Majesty. This is just a small number of the Christian hymns and songs he has written. As well as this he has also been in the UK charts with his song “Let the flame Burn Brighter in the late 1980s.

Although now best known as a worship leader and writer of worship songs, Graham Kendrick began his career as a member of the Christian beat group Whispers of Truth. Later, he began working as a solo concert performer and recording artist in the singer/songwriter tradition. He was closely associated with the organisation Musical Gospel Outreach and recorded several albums for their record labels. On the first, Footsteps on the Sea, released in 1972, he worked with the virtuoso guitarist Gordon Giltrap.

He received the Dove award in 1995 for his international work and honorary doctorates in Divinity in 2000 and 2008 from Brunel University and Wycliffe College in Toronto respectively. Kendrick worked for a time as a member of "In the Name of Jesus," a mission team led by the Rev.Clive Calver who went on to run British Youth for Christ. Calver left the United Kingdom and went to live in the United States. Kendrick, however, has remained firmly fixed in the UK church as probably the most influential Christian songwriter of his generation.

Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.
Please let me have articles for the Summer 2014 edition by the start of June.
Christine Beesley – Editor

Lexden Link Autumn 2013

Lexden Link – Autumn 2013 – Issue 42


From our Minister

This month sees the start of a new academic year at schools and universities and, although the ‘back to school’ signs have been in the shops for some time, it still seems to be the herald of new beginnings. I always remember a mix of feelings connected with going back to school; sadness at the end of the holidays, trepidation and anxiety about what my new class might be like and excitement about what lay ahead in terms of a new school year. One of the best parts of the new term was always receiving blank exercise books. They always felt so fresh and new and for the first few weeks I would try extra hard not to make any mistakes.

New beginnings like returning to school always conjure up a mixture of feelings. And can be anything from moving house, starting a new job to simply the start of another Methodist Connexional year. Whatever the beginning it is natural to feel nervous about what might be as well as excited about the potential that a new start brings, just like those exercise books!

In order to make the best of any new beginning we have to be prepared to step out in faith and to do our best, whatever the situation might bring. It always felt dangerous to begin writing in those new exercise books in case you made a mistake, but writing nothing would have meant that the books remained blank and empty with nothing to say and with any new start in our lives we need to be prepared to embrace the challenge and to do our best in order to fulfil our potential. I think of Peter when Jesus called him to step out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee. He could have remained safely in the boat and he would never have sunk. However he would also never have known the joy of walking on the water or the grasp of Jesus’ hand as he lifted him out of the waves.

God calls us to make the most of every new beginning and every challenge that we face in life and as with Peter, when we get in a muddle, He will lift us up when we call His name. God gives us new pages to turn when we make a mistake, but He also calls us to keep trying and to learn from Him. So this Autumn, in all of the new challenges that come your way place your trust in God and step out in faith and hope.

God bless.


Lexden Methodist Website

Here are some interesting statistics about our website:

Our new website is called a ‘Blog’ and that means people can receive regular updates via email.

People also visit the site through the internet and in a recent 30 day period we had: –

57 visits from the United Kingdom
2 visits from the United States
2 visits from Australia
1 visit from Denmark
1 visit from New Zealand
1 visit from Germany
1 visit from Netherlands

If you look at the internet hits from the last year we were visited by people from 31 different countries!

Most people arrive by bookmark or typing the URL directly, or via a
search engine. A few arrive via this link:

People that arrived via a search engine were most often searching for
lexden methodist church. Other searches included sign post, methodist
church magazines, methodist church colchester, straight road methodist
church, minister of lexden methodist church, and lots of similar terms.

One person recently was searching for “a poem about little girl on train with
no money for her fare because Jesus paid it”. They found this in the Spring 2013 edition of Lexden Link.

Most people visit the home page since that’s where the most recent
content is. The other top pages are:

Comings and Goings

We were very sad to lose our dear friend Rita Moss recently, especially as this happened so soon after Rose and Peter Bobby lost their son, David. Our thoughts and prayers remain with both families.

We are also losing Mo and David Beale but this is the start of a new life for them in the Isle of Wight. They will be missed. John and Jane Allison are also entering a new stage of their lives after John retired as Superintendent Minister and they left the Manse for their home in Great Bentley. We wish both couples joy and happiness for the future.

We are pleased to welcome Alan Jenkins to our circuit and his wife Janet who is a Deacon in our neighbouring circuit of Tendring.


“Life is never measured by the years through which you live,
But by the kind deeds you do and the friendly cheer you give.”

Helen Steiner Rice

With thanks to Jane for sharing this wonderful quote from her calendar.

The Editor’s favourite quote is this one from Michael Quoist –

Tomorrow God isn’t going to ask you what did you dream, what did you think, what did you plan, what did you preach? He’s going to ask, what did you do?


“Oh, why did you make woman so beautiful?” the man says to God.
God says: “So you would love her.”

Is an anagram of –

“Ay true,” the man says. “But God, why did you make a woman so foolish?”
God: “So she would love you.”

The Hymn Writers

The Revd Sabine Baring Gould (1834-1924) was born in Exeter and educated at Cambridge, where he chose the Church as his calling, and became Vicar of Dalton in Yorkshire.

A rather eccentric High Churchman, he was offered the living at local East Mersea Church in 1871.

This was a mismatch from the start, as the rather highbrow Vicar came to disdain the humble Essex peasants, and they had no great love for him. But it lasted for 10 years, during which he wrote much poetry, travel books, Church history and a number of hymns.

His famous novel of 1880 concerned life in the Essex marshes around Mersea and Tollesbury (in places rather violent and cruel) and was entitled “Mehalah”. This is still available in local libraries.

His two best known hymns are, “Onward Christian Soldiers” – written after he moved to Devon – and “Now the Day is Over” – rarely sung now with the sad demise of Evening Worship in most Churches.

“Onward Christian Soldiers” caused some controversy as the rather low-church Bishop of Exeter found the implied procession, – “With the Cross of Jesus going on before” – a bit too much for his low-church thinking and suggested that Baring Gould modify that line.

The rather haughty Baring Gould soon fixed that, returning the amendment as “With the Cross of Jesus left behind the door!” Apparently no more was heard on the subject, though in later years some Hymn Book editors have modified that line.

He also translated some hymns and we can thank God for using all sorts of men and women in His service, even those who are a little controversial!

John Hampshire

Lexden Link Summer 2013

Lexden Link
Summer 2013
Issue No 41

From our Minister

I’ve been struck recently by how many of the stories of Jesus revolve around hospitality, both giving it and receiving. Both Jesus’ parables and the stories that involve healing and forgiveness often seem to include a meal and nowhere is this more evident than in Luke’s Gospel. Perhaps that is why the fact has come to my attention, as we are following Luke in the lectionary this year.
For Jesus hospitality is something that includes, welcomes and unites; bringing in the outcast. Jesus is often criticised for eating with tax collectors and sinners and perhaps the most famous of these incidents is Zacchaeus. Jesus chooses to eat at Zacchaeus’ house and as Zacchaeus offers hospitality he is changed. He makes a commitment to pay back anyone he has cheated and to live an honest life in future. It is as if entertaining Jesus opens his heart.
Jesus also uses offers of hospitality and dinner parties to challenge peoples’ accepted views of the way of the world and to introduce kingdom values. Many of his parables are to do with wedding feasts or banquets and they often feature a complete reversal of the status quo. The parable of the great banquet sees the vulnerable and outcast taking their seat at the table and in another parable Jesus reminds those who think that they are important to act with humility. Kingdom parables remind us that God’s kingdom is glorious and generous, but that God is no respecter of status or worldly power and wealth.
Finally, Jesus uses table fellowship as an opportunity to teach us about growing in faith. Martha and Mary are reminded that listening to God is essential before action, the woman who anoints Jesus teaches the Pharisees that God welcomes extravagant acts of love and Jesus uses the Last Supper to teach his friends about his sacrifice on the cross; a meal we still share today in commemoration. Eating together opens hearts and minds and allows Jesus to feed others both spiritually and physically.
All of these stories about food and meals have led me to reflect on the kind of hospitality that we as churches offer today. Do we offer hospitality as a form of healing which is open to all? Do we stand on ceremony at the expense of making people feel at home and do we share the bread of life in a way that enables everyone to eat and be satisfied? Our hospitality is offered not just through church functions, but at worship as we are fed spiritually and through our bible studies and home groups where faith is shared and we are nourished in our Christian journey. Let us pray that in all of our activities we may offer as well as receive a balanced diet, with enough for all and some to spare!

God bless.


Mission and Ministry

Vice President on Tour

The Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District were delighted to welcome the Vice-President, Mike King, and his wife, Isabel, for a weekend focusing on mission and ministry in small chapels.

A day conference was held in Harlington, Bedfordshire to discuss the mission and ministry opportunities of small chapels. After a keynote address from the Vice-President, we heard stories from some of the smaller churches in the District. These covered subjects such as reviving morning worship, introducing messy church, engaging with families, engaging with local schools, working with elderly people and discipleship and mission through small groups.

More than 50 people attended the event from small churches within the three counties of the District, both in urban and rural contexts. This enabled us all to recognise that not all small churches are in villages. The Vice-President’s experience of being a rural church and community co-ordinator in the Banbury circuit was extremely useful and everyone left with at least one new idea to try out in their local context.

On the Sunday we travelled to north-east Essex, to the village of Boxted, to lead a united service for four small chapels who had come together for this special occasion. The Vice-President’s presence was a huge encouragement for the congregation which began to see that small churches do have a place in Methodism. A united service was held in Great Bentley in the Tendring circuit in the afternoon, giving people from all over the Tendring peninsula the chance to hear the Vice-President preach and meet with him and Isabel.The weekend was a real encouragement to many of the small chapels in the District – more than 60 per cent of the churches in Bedford shire, Essex and Hertfordshire have less than 50 members – and was also a way of valuing their ministry and offering them ideas for future mission initiatives.

Michael and Isabel were warmly received and their presence greatly appreciated as they gave most generously of their time during their visit.

Anne Brown

Published in the Methodist Recorder on Friday, April 19 2013 and reproduced with thanks

Spotted in Church Notices

Don’t let worry kill you – let the church help.

Thursday night – Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "hell" to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

Tuesday at 4:00 pm there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

Thursday at 5:00 pm there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All ladies wishing to be "Little Mothers" will meet with the Pastor in his study.

This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

Obviously not our notices

The Hymn Writers

We continue our series of hymn writers by looking at Cecil Frances Alexander. She was born in Red-cross, County Wicklow, Ireland in early April 1818 and was the third child of Major John Humphreys and Elizabeth (nee Reed). She began writing poetry as a child and was strongly influenced by Dr Walter Hook, Dean of Chichester. Her subsequent religious work was influenced by her contacts with the Oxford Movement and in particular with John Keble. By the 1840s she was already known as a hymn writer and her compositions were soon included in Church of Ireland hymnbooks. She wrote many narrative poems and Tennyson, the poet, said he would have been proud to have written her poem "The Burial of Moses".
Her book, Hymns for Little Children reached its 69th edition before the close of the nineteenth century. She wrote some 400 hymns of which the best known are probably: – "All Things Bright and Beautiful”, "There is a Green Hill Far Away" and “Once in Royal David’s City”. These hymns are known by Christians the world over, as is her translation of “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”. She issued Verses for Holy Seasons in 1846, The Lord of the Forest and His Vassals in 1847 and Hymns for Little Children in 1848.
She married the Anglican clergyman William Alexander (later to become Bishop of Derry and then Archbishop of Armagh) in October 1850. Her husband also wrote several books of poetry, of which the best known is St. Augustine’s Holiday and other Poems. She was six years older than the clergyman, causing great family concern.
Alexander was involved in charitable work for much of her life. Money from her first publications had helped build the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, which was founded in 1846 in Strabane. The profits from Hymns for Little Children were also donated to this school. She was involved with the Derry Home for Fallen Women, and worked to develop a district nurses service. She was an untiring visitor to poor and sick.
Seven hymns penned by Alexander were included in the 1873 issue of the Church of Ireland Hymnal, and eighteen of her works were contained in A Supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1889). They continue to be well-accepted, as nine of her works were contained in both the 1960 and the 1987 editions of the Church of Ireland Hymnal. Cecil died in Londonderry on 12 October 1895 and is buried in the city cemetery. A posthumous collection of her poems was published in 1896 by William Alexander, titled Poems of the late Mrs Alexander.

Lexden Link Spring 2013

Lexden Link

Spring 2013

Issue No 40

From our Minister

IF – such a small word and yet one that can carry layers of meaning. IF can mean hope – IF we can reach our target-: it can mean regret – IF only I had thought more carefully – and it can open up possibility – IF we go in this direction… IF is a word we use hundreds of times each day to convey a variety of thoughts, hopes and dreams, it is a small word with a very big impact.

IF is also now the name of a new campaign, supported by Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Methodist Church and a variety of other faith organisations, charities and denominations. ‘IF’ is short for ‘Enough food for everyone IF…’ and it is a campaign that recognises that the world produces enough food to feed the entire population, but that this is not always shared fairly. The ‘IF’ campaign is focused on the G8 summit this year, which the UK is set to host and aims to encourage world leaders to rethink policies on aid, trade and taxation to give a fairer deal to those who live in poverty. There are four main targets to this campaign; enough food for everyone IF we use land for food not fuel, IF we help poor people to feed themselves, IF taxes are paid in poor countries and IF companies are more transparent about their business dealings. These are big aims, but they would make a big difference in many places where food is scarce.

“What does this have to do with me?” you might ask. The answer is that this campaign will only work IF enough people get behind it and show their MPs and our government that we want them to support these aims. Tearfund, Christian Aid and the ‘IF’ campaign website have a large number of suggestions for petitions to sign, MPs to lobby and ways to get involved and there are also encouragements to pray – for those in need, but also for our leaders that they might show wisdom in this matter. IF we are all prepared to pray and to act then the weight of popular opinion will be able to bring about change and new hope to many.

This is not a purely Christian campaign, but in my opinion it is one that all Christians should be part of as we seek to follow Jesus’ teaching “IF you love me you will keep my commandments” . Jesus calls on us to love our neighbour wherever he or she may be and one way of doing this is to seek justice for all. IF we can all get behind this campaign then maybe it will no longer be a question of IF we can rid the world of hunger, but when.

God bless.


The Little Pilgrim

One summer’s evening, ere the sun went down,
When city men were hasting from the town
To reach their homes, some near at hand and some afar,
By snorting train, by omnibus or car,
To be beyond the reach of city’s din:-
A tramcar stopped, a little girl got in,
A cheery looking girl, scarce four years old;
Although not shy, her manners were not bold.
But all alone, and scarce could understand,
She held a little bundle in her hand,
A tiny handkerchief with corners tied,
But which did not some bread and butter hide.
A satin scarf, so natty and so neat,
Was o’er her shoulders thrown, she took her seat,
And laid her bundle underneath her arm.
And smiling prettily, but yet so calm,
she to the porter said “May I sit here?”
He answered instantly, “O yes my dear”, ‘
And there she seemed inclined to make her stay,
While once again the tram went on its way.
The tall conductor – over six feet high –
Now scanned the traveller with a business eye.
But in that eye was something kind and mild,
That took good notice of the little child.
A little after, and the man went round
And soon was heard the old familiar sound
Of gathering pence, and clipping tickets too;
The tram was crowded, and he had much to do,
‘Your fare, my little girl” at length he said;
She looked a moment, then shook her little head.
‘I have no pennies, don’t you know?” said she,
“My fare is paid, and Jesus paid for me.”
He looked bewildered, – all the people smiled,
“I didn’t know, and who is Jesus, child?”
‘Why, don’t you know. He once for sinners died,
For little children, and for men besides,
To make us good and wash us from our sin,
Is this His railway I am travelling in?
“Don’t think it is, I want your fare, you know.”
“I told you JESUS paid it long ago.
Why mother told me just before she died,
That Jesus paid when He was crucified,
That at His cross His railway did begin
Which took poor sinners from a world of sin.
My mother said His home was grand and fair,
I want to go to heaven where Jesus lives,
Won’t you go, too? My mother says He gives
A loving welcome – shall we not be late?
O, let us go before He shuts the gate.
He bids us little children come to Him.”
The poor conductor’s eyes felt rather dim,
He knew not why, he fumbled in his coat
And felt a substance rising in his throat.
The people listened to the little child.
Some were in tears, the roughest only smiled.
And someone whispered as they looked amazed,
‘Out of the mouth of babes the Lord is praised”;
“I am a little pilgrim”, said the little thing,
I’m going to heaven: my mother used to sing
To me of Jesus and His Father’s love,
Told me to meet her in His home above.
And so today, when Aunt went out to tea,
And looking out I could not father see,
I got my bundle, kissed my little kit,
(I am so hungry; won’t you have a little bit)
And got my hat, and then I left my home
A little pilgrim up to heaven to roam;
And then your carriage stopped, and I could see
You looked so kind, I saw you beckon me –
I thought you must belong to Jesus’ train.
And are you just going home to heaven again?”
The poor conductor only shook his head
Tears in his eyes, the power of speech had fled.
Had conscience, by her prattle, roused his fears,
And struck upon the fountain of his tears,
And made his thoughts in sad confusion whirl?
At last he said, “Once I ‘d a little girl,
I loved her much, she was my little pet,
And with great fondness I remember yet,
How much she loved me, but one day she died”.
“She’s gone to heaven”, the little girl replied,
“She’s gone to Jesus, Jesus paid her fare,
Oh, dear conductor, won’t you meet her there?”
The poor conductor now broke fairly down.
He could have borne the hardest look or frown,
But no-one laughed, but many sitting by,
Beheld the scene with sympathetic eye.
He kissed the child, for she his heart had won.
“I am so sleepy”, said the little one,
“If you will let me, I’ll lie here and wait
Until your carriage comes to Jesus’ gate.
Be sure you wake me up and pull my frock,
And at the gate, give just one little knock.
And you’ll see Jesus there.” The strong man wept.
I could but think as from the car I stepped,
How oft a little one has found the road,
The narrow pathway to that blest abode,
Through faith in Christ has read its title clear,
While learned men remain in doubt and fear,
A little child! The Lord oft uses such
To break or bend, the stoutest heart to touch.
Then by His Spirit bids the conflict cease,
And once for ever enter into peace;
And then along the road the news we hear,
“We’re going to heaven – that Jesus paid the fare.”

With grateful thanks to Ros Carrington for sharing this poem by E. C. Jewett.

The Hymn Writers

Isaac Watts was born in Southampton on 17th July 1674 and died in Stoke Newington, London on 25th Nov 1748. He was the son of a clothier who was a staunch nonconformist and was twice imprisoned for his beliefs. He was educated at Southampton privately, and then at a Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington run by Thomas Rowe, an independent pastor as he would not be accepted at Oxford or Cambridge because of his non conformity. He spent some time at home in Southampton, 1694-96, and it was then that many of his hymns were written and tried out at the Southampton chapel. He became private tutor to the son of an eminent Puritan, Sir John Hartopp, 1696-1702, and then was ordained pastor of Mark Lane Independent Chapel, London. He suffered from considerable ill-health, and was forced to accept the help of an assistant: in 1712 he had to give up his post, and he became a semi-invalid in the house of Sir Thomas Abney, first at Theobalds, Hertfordshire, and later at Stoke Newington. The degree of DD was conferred upon him by the University of Edinburgh, 1728. His publications were numerous, in prose and in verse; his text-book, Logic was used at Oxford for many years. His books containing hymns included Horae Lyricae (poems and hymns), Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Divine Songs attempted in easy language for the Use of Children, and The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. Watts has sometimes been called ‘the father of English hymnody’. He was a considerable poet in his own right, and his hymns are sometimes magnificent in their celebration of God in Creation and Christ in Redemption. Two of them, ‘0 God, our help in ages past’, and ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’, are probably the best-known sacred poems in the English language. In all he wrote about 600 hymns and there are nearly 40 of his hymns in Hymns and Psalms. He published several books of poetry, hymns and three volumes of theological discourses.

He died on the 25th of November 1748, and was buried at Bunhill Fields, where a tombstone was erected to his memory by Sir John Hartopp and Lady Abney. A memorial was also erected to him in Westminster Abbey, and a memorial hall, erected in his honour at Southampton, was opened in 1875.

Lexden Link Winter

Lexden Link

Winter 2012

Issue No 39

From our Minister

As I write this article we have just seen several key leaders appointed across the world in different spheres. The United States of America have elected a new president and China also has a new political leader. The Anglican Church have appointed a new Archbishop of Canterbury and the Coptic church in Egypt have chosen a new Pope. In each of these cases the selection process has been very different; the American people voted to choose the president, in China the communist hierarchy selected their leader from a shortlist, the crown appointments panel had the job of picking the archbishop from a range of nominations and in Egypt a blindfolded child picked the name of the new pope from a bowl containing named slips of paper. Each of those nominated will be a powerful leader with far reaching influence and this led me to reflect on how God chooses those who will serve him.

God does not always choose people who look the likely ones to be leaders and prophets. If you look through the pages of the Old Testament you will find Gideon, who was an illegitimate child, Amos who was a shepherd and farmer, Ruth, a foreigner from a despised land and David, the youngest son of a large family who served as a shepherd. Time and again God chooses not the rich and powerful, but those who are willing to listen to Him and each of these in spite of their background are given the ability to achieve great things.

All of this seems particularly relevant as we look to the Christmas story where God chooses an unmarried teenager to take on the greatest role of all, to be the mother of God’s own Son. Jesus is born, not into wealth and power, but into a family with tensions and struggles such as many of us would recognise. And Jesus’ first visitors, chosen by the angels to receive the good news of His birth – are shepherds; workers doing the most menial of jobs. God comes to all people and for all people, entrusting himself to those whom he knows will listen and respond and giving them a place in His salvation plan.

What about us? This Christmas as we read and hear again the story of Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel and of the shepherds telling the Good News to all who will listen, will we reflect on what God is saying to us and will we be ready to respond to his call? The characters that I’ve mentioned are all willing to allow God to change their lives as he calls them; to lead them to new countries and to call them to speak to people they never dreamed that they would meet. What are we willing to give up in order to answer God’s call, how much are we willing to change? Let’s ask for God’s grace to help us respond as Mary does when our call comes – ‘let it be to me according to your will’.

Every blessing for this Christmas and the New Year


‘Walking in the Footsteps of the Methodist Preachers’ in 2012

Looking back over the programme that was devised at the beginning of the year and comparing it with the walks that actually took place, it is noticeable that a goodly number of changes took place to what had been originally planned! However, despite some variable weather conditions throughout the year, a number of walks did take place. Colchester’s Grymes Dyke and Roman River was the location of an early year walk and in good weather and with good ground conditions an enjoyable Saturday morning resulted. As this walk started from and finished at the church, we started (and finished) with only a few and gathered other folk (and they departed from us) as we passed close to where they lived.

By the time that May arrived the good spell of weather of March and early April had been replaced by much wetter conditions and our proposed walk amongst the bluebells in Chalkney Woods had to be postponed because the clay soil in the wood had become a quagmire! It was underfoot conditions that really dictated much of the rest of the year with regards to walks. Despite everything, we did manage an excellent afternoon on Tollesbury Wick Marshes when it was possible to enjoy 360 degrees of sky and good visibility. Although our full day of walking at Boxted was not possible, we did manage a half-day walk when we did a circular from the Methodist Chapel to the Parish Church and then enjoyed a cup-of-tea in the company of Boxted’s Jenny and Ian back at the chapel.

A cup of tea was also enjoyed after a walk from Frinton Methodist Church when we journeyed out towards Little Holland before taking the footpath that cuts across the hallowed fairways of the Frinton Golf Club and then walking back along the sea-front. West Bergholt has, once again, been a venue for a walk and two intrepid souls did manage the day-long walk on the old railway route from Lavenham to Sudbury.

Avril has agreed to help with the planning and execution of the next programme and she and I will be meeting shortly to see what interesting walks we can come up with for 2013.

Derek Coe

The Forgotten Guest

Sorry, can’t stop, I really must flee, I’ve got to rush off and get the tree.

There’s the holly and the mistletoe, so much to do I really must go

I’ll check my list again to see there’s gifts for all upon the tree.

With tinsel and with fairy lights it’ll really be a lovely sight.

I’ve got the pudding, I’ve got the cake, there’s only one more trip to make.

Now shall we have turkey or shall we have goose?

With so much to do I really must choose.

With so many coming I’ve got to stock up

With biscuits and chocolate and drinks for the cup.

Perhaps I should get a bottle of wine with so many people coming to dine.

I’ve checked through the list and everything’s done;

But I’ve a very strange feeling I’ve forgotten someone.

It really is strange, I just cannot see, it really is worrying,

Oh who can it be?


Why can’t it be Christmas every day?

With happy people going their way.

Looking for presents to give to each other,

Spreading such love, one to another.

The giving of gifts is such a fine thing,

You can’t hope to measure the joy it may bring.

Why must we wait till Christmas is here,

Before sharing our love and spreading good cheer?

Why limit your giving to one week in the year?

With so many people just longing to hear

A small word of comfort to brighten their day.

Just spare a few moments of each God given day.

You do not need Christmas to share in God’s love.

When Jesus came from his mansion above

He taught us the way to love one another,

So that the whole world may be sister and brother.

Don’t wait for Christmas to share in God’s love

Peter Taylor

With grateful thanks to Betty Taylor for sharing these poems

The Hymn Writers

Timothy Dudley-Smith was born in Manchester, in the North of England, on December 26th 1926. He moved to Derbyshire as a child with his family as his father was a schoolmaster there. He was schooled at Tonbridge in Kent before attending Pembroke College in Cambridge. It was at university he found his talent for writing – especially comic verse. After his degree he stayed in Cambridge to study theology at Ridley Hall before his ordination into the Church of England in 1950.

His ecclesiastical career began with a job as curate of St Pauls, Rochester from 1950 to 1953.In 1953 he became head of the Cambridge University Mission in Bermondsey until 1955. He was also honorary chaplain to the Bishop of Rochester from 1953 until 1960 and he was founder editor of the Crusade magazine (1953 to 1960). He was secretary of the Church Pastoral Aid Society from 1959 to 1973 when he was appointed as Archdeacon of Norwich. In 1981 he was appointed as Suffragan Bishop of Thetford until he retired in 1992. He now lives in Ford near Salisbury in Wiltshire.

In 2003 he was awarded the OBE for services to hymnody and in 2009 Durham University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a member and honorary vice-president of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

It seems surprising that with such a busy career Dudley-Smith had any time to write hymns and carols. He managed to do this by producing them while on his annual holidays in Cornwall with his wife (Arlette who died in 2007), son and two daughters. Whilst he has written a number of hymns he is perhaps best known for his hymn based on The Magnificat which goes ‘Tell out, my soul the greatness of the Lord’. This was the first hymn written by him in 1961 and came about when Canon Herbert Taylor asked him if he had ever written a hymn as he was looking for new hymns for the Anglican Hymnbook. He said no, but he had written a verse after reading The New English Bible. He went away, and as they say, the rest is history.

He is still alive and composing carols to this day. He has also written a number of books including “A Collection of hymns, 1961 to 1981” and “Praying with the English Hymn Writers in 1989”.

Alan Beesley

Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.Please let me have articles for the Spring edition by the middle of March.

Christine Beesley – Editor