September - December 2020

As the pandemic continues the magazine will take on a slightly different format, with the regular items grouped together.

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Deanery of Pontesbury


September 2020

Rural Dean: The Revd Bill Rowell

telephone: 01938 552064   •   email:



In 2005 the crime writer Peter May, wrote the novel “Lockdown”.   British editors at the time thought his portrayal of London under siege by an invisible enemy (bird flu) was unrealistic and could never happen (despite the author’s extensive research which showed it could) – so it was rejected.

At the end of April 2020 “Lockdown” was published!  The story is set in London, the epicentre of a global pandemic - a city in lockdown.  It revolves around Detective Jack MacNeil and the discovery of a bag containing the remains of an unidentified child, found by construction workers building a temporary hospital.  When it becomes apparent that the child has been murdered by vicious killers who are out to kill again, MacNeil finds himself in a race against time, aware he could be the next victim – of the virus or the killers. 

Reading the novel during lockdown, I found the similarities between the book and reality startling and quite chilling, especially given that the book was written 15 years ago. 

Yesterday I watched the first episode of “The Salisbury Poisonings”, originally broadcast in mid-June but, as often happens in our house, only watched weeks later!  I’m aware the drama has had mixed reviews and there was much debate over its timing, but as I watched I had to keep reminding myself that this was based on real events  – it wasn’t just a fictional drama. 

The folk in Salisbury who had to deal with something hitherto unknown were understandably uncomprehending and fearful.  In May’s descriptions of London in lockdown, anxiety and a sense of panic about something that had upset the normal order of things were palpable.   Most of us have experienced feelings of anxiety, apprehension or concern in recent weeks as the pandemic has developed. 

Reflecting on this and the similarities between the novel and the television production, I was struck by the blurriness of the line between fiction and reality, caused by dealing with the unprecedented.  Since March I wonder how many times I’ve heard it said: “This is like something in a book…”; “Who’d have believed it….?”

Who’d have believed it?  No doubt the disciples asked the same question having seen Jesus turn water into wine, calm a storm, cure the incurable, feed a multitude with scant provisions….they too were dealing with the unprecedented, albeit of a completely different nature.  No wonder they felt bewildered and full of wonder; like us, their world had been thrown into confusion. 

Now that we too are experiencing exceptional times, perhaps, like me, you’ll read the Gospel stories in a new light; have a deeper empathy with the disciples.  We might need to rethink some events with which we’ve grappled, about which we’ve perhaps felt a little sceptical.

 As Christians “we have a Gospel to proclaim…” to quote the hymn writer.  I hope our experience of the unprecedented will inspire us to tell with renewed enthusiasm the Good News of God’s love and salvation – which, after all, was the intention of the Gospel writers when they recorded their unprecedented experiences! 

Revd Maxine Neal

Ford Group of Parishes

Deanery News editor: Alison Bebb, Keepers Cottage, Cruckmeole, Shrewsbury SY5 8JN

Telephone: 01743 860158         email:

Items for inclusion to be submitted by 10th of previous month please


From the Bishop of Hereford

Dear Friends

I hope that as you read this you will have had a good summer. For the last few months, I have spent a lot of time indoors! However, I’m delighted that as lockdown restrictions have eased a bit I shall be hitting the road around the Diocese on the four Saturdays leading up to our Diocesan Gift Day on September 20th. My plan is to visit every benefice around the diocesan land boundary over those four days and lead whoever joins me in prayer for the life of our diocesan family. The times and venues can be found on the diocesan website or from your parish priest.

All that we do as Christians is based in prayer.  However, the focus of this praying is particularly towards our gift day.  Churches throughout the Diocese have faced unprecedented financial challenges due to COVID-19. Fundraising events have ground to a halt and fee income has dried up. Yet ministry still needs to be funded. In all of our churches what is given is received back in the form of clergy ministry and support.  For most churches this doesn’t cover the actual cost, so the gap is funded either through the generosity of other parishes giving over and above their own provision, or through our historic reserves.

I hope our Gift Day will be an opportunity to give thanks to God for His love and generosity towards us.  I hope that it will enable us to contribute over and above our normal giving to the life changing ministry that is transforming lives all across our Diocese.

The importance of the four days of prayer leading up to September 20 is to reinforce that giving is part of our discipleship. Even if you can’t join us at one of the venues, I hope you would be able to join us in prayer at home or in your parish.  

As someone once said, “prayer moves the hand that moves the world.”

As we face the effects of this crisis together, it can also move our hearts to sacrificial generosity and love.

I so look forward to meeting many of you in the coming weeks.

With every blessing




Christian Aid
September report Sermon by Dr Rowan Williams

Pontesbury Muheza Link Community Good Neighbours A Song of Martha and Mary The Mandrake

Bible Studies

Thoughts for the Months

From the Rectory