Church Blog
News, Updates, Thoughts

The latest news, updates, and thoughts from the team at St Mary's.

As part of St Mary's Church Steam & Vintage Festival, there's a children's colouring competition.

To enter all you need to do is:

  • choose the Colouring Sheet appropriate for the age of your child; age categories are: 5 years and under, 6 – 9 years, 10 – 12 years
  • print it out A4 size and ask your child to get colouring
  • alternatively collect a sheet from St. Mary’s Church, Eversley
  • please ensure your name and email address and your child’s name and age are detailed on the reverse of the entry
  • entries must be received at St. Mary’s Church, Eversley by 12 noon on Sunday 16th June, 2024
  • entry is FREE

All entries will be displayed at the Steam & Vintage Festival and judging will take place during the event.

Today is Ascension Day, when we remember the day Jesus ascended to heaven. You can read about it in Acts 1:1-11. After Jesus had been killed, defeated death, came back to life, spent time with his friends again, and appeared to over 500 people, he was finally taken back up to heaven in a cloud. His friends must have been so full of emotion. Joy at knowing that Jesus was alive, confusion about all the incredible things that were happening, sadness at Jesus leaving them again, excitement and anxiety about the future.

One of the last things Jesus said to his friends before he went back to heaven was that he would always be with them:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

This is a promise that is repeated throughout the Bible. We know that God will never leave us or forsake us, he will not fail us or forget us, he will not reject us or abandon us. God is with us, he is for us, and he will help us.

But, having met Jesus, God in the flesh, the first disciples must have been very confused about how exactly he was going to continue to help them, as they watched him disappear into the sky.

He had promised to send a helper, even before his death:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.” John 14:16-17

And yet how could they understand what this would mean to them, until they had experienced it?

In some of his last conversations with his friends before he went back to heaven, Jesus had told them what their mission was. They were to love one another. They were to tell people the amazing story about how God had raised Jesus to life! To tell them the good news that if they were sorry, God would forgive them. And that everyone, regardless of nationality or religion or background, was welcome in the Kingdom of God.

So Jesus had told them what they must do, and he had promised them he would be with them and he would help them. They may not have understood exactly how this would all work. But one thing we do know: we know that they prayed:

“They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Acts 1:14

In the week and a half from the day Jesus ascended into heaven until the day of Pentecost, the only thing we know about Jesus’ friends (apart from the fact that they added a new apostle to replace Judas) is that they prayed.

In the lead up to Pentecost, let us follow the example of those first apostles, and pray. This year’s Prayer Journals are full of ideas about different ways to pray.

Like the first disciples, we don’t understand how exactly God is going to work in our lives and in our communities. But we can hold fast to his promises that he will be with us and he will help us. We are not in this on our own! Let’s dedicate the next 11 days to seeking God, to listening to him more, to getting closer to him. And then let’s be brave and trust God’s Spirit to help us do the work he’s asked us to do.  

Thy Kingdom Come is an international prayer movement which encourages Christians around the world to pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Although we may pray for this all-year round, this global wave of prayer particularly focuses on the days between Ascension Day (Thursday 9th May) and Pentecost (Sunday 19th May). These dates are significant because at Pentecost we remember how the early Christian community received the Holy Spirit. In the lead up to Pentecost, we are praying for God’s Spirit to transform and renew our lives and our communities. We are specifically invited to pray for God's Kingdom to come on Earth, and, more personally, for five of our friends to know the transforming love of Jesus in their lives.

Praying for God’s Kingdom

Praying for God’s Kingdom to come on Earth is a pretty big prayer! It’s what Jesus encourages us to pray, as part of the prayer he teaches his disciples (Matthew 6):

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven… 

But what does ‘praying for God’s Kingdom to come’ mean for this world that we live in ? , What does it mean for our communities, our families, our own lives?

This is something that I am thinking about this week as I prepare for Thy Kingdom Come, which starts next Thursday. I am thinking about what God’s Kingdom would look like as I listen to the news, when I am at work, when I go out for a walk or when I am meeting friends,  I am thinking about the ways in which I long to see the Spirit of God transform and renew those places. I really want to see God’s Kingdom because it will be a place of love and comfort and peace: 

“God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:3-4

I am asking God how I can be a part of that, and how and what to pray.

Praying for our friends

During Thy Kingdom Come, we are also encouraged to pray for five of our friends to know the transforming love of Jesus in their lives. Before thinking about which friends, I wanted to pray for, I did an interesting exercise that you might find helpful too. I wrote down on a piece of paper some of the ways in which knowing Jesus has helped me. For example, I wrote, “I know that God loves me. This helps me to learn to value myself and be kind to myself.” I wrote lots of other things down too, I won’t bore you with all of them! It’s true that I sometimes think I still have so far to go before I fully understand the love and peace that Jesus wants to give me. But knowing that God loves us and forgives us and is always with us makes our lives immeasurably better. Not always easier, but better, more whole, more real. As Jesus said:

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Writing down some of the many reasons why I’m grateful to have Jesus in my life helped me to see why, how and who I might want to pray for. Which of our friends would be most grateful to experience Jesus’ unconditional love and his promised fullness of life?  

So, what is planned for Thy Kingdom Come at St Mary’s and St Barnabas?

This year we are inviting everyone to pray using the Thy Kingdom Come prayer diaries, which will be available (free!) from the churches. The prayer diaries will help us to explore different ways to pray each day and will link with prayer videos which we will be sharing on the church social media pages. So please look out for them.

We have a Quiet Day planned for Saturday 11th May at St Mary's, it will be a really special way to spend time thinking and praying in such a beautiful setting, and also enjoying lunch with friends. If you are free that day, I would really recommend it.

On Saturday 18th May from 9am-12 noon, we are going to be holding a Prayer  Morning at St Barnabas. This is open to all ages, and you can drop in when you like and stay as long as you like. We will have a quiet space for reflection in the church, with a few prayer activities, and there will be coffee and tea and pastries available in the cafe. Please do come along to that and encourage your friends to come too. If you want to pray about anything, even if it's just to light a candle and remember a loved one, this is a great opportunity to do that. If you just want to come along and enjoy a free breakfast and a chat, we’d love to see you! 

We’re really excited about all the prayer that’s going to be happening, both individually and collectively, leading up to Pentecost. We know that God answers our prayers! We know this from our own experiences, and even when we find it hard to see God working in our lives, we can remember the promises in the Bible:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9

“The Lord is near to all who call on him.” Psalm 145:18

Thank you for praying. Whether your prayers during Thy Kingdom Come are building on years of prayer and devotion, or whether you are new and hesitant in your prayers, thank you. 

I for one can’t wait to see what God’s going to do next!

It’s been 5 months since Stuart and I arrived and we have felt so welcome and we have been so blessed in getting to know you, you are a constant source of encouragement to us.

Before I started as vicar here, I was given two bits of advice. One by the vicar at my last church who said: “‘don’t change anything in the first year Faith’ and the other by the bishop who said: “‘just go in and get everything changed straight away.’ I must say, one felt very boring, and one felt, well, shall I just say…’not quite right’. But I thought the best way forward would be to start to get to know you and find what is important to you, and all I can say, is that I have at times, been literally speechless...

Because things have happened and I have a deep sense that God has been here, preparing the ground for a new chapter, and it feels as if that is built on your prayers, so thank you so much.

Things have been happening at quite a pace, haven’t they? People keep coming up with great ideas and have the enthusiasm to make them happen, and I’m thinking ‘I wouldn’t have dared to suggest that, for example;

We would be having breakfast between the 8am and 10am services and people would volunteer to be here before 8:30 to set up and cook it.

And when we had a brainwave about the old choir area being a great place for a creche, I didn’t think that I would walk into the church the next day and it would be done.

Or that we would have been able to develop the all age service so quickly

Or when I visited the antiques shop and the small businesses behind it and they all said what a good idea a café would be – that Rachel would be itching to start one.

And I am so amazed at how you have just embraced all those changes – St Marys, you are incredible.

Alongside the excitement, has been almost a feeling of treading on holy ground – that we don’t want to run a head of what God is doing for us, or lag behind, but that we will be vigilant in listening to him and going at his pace.

I want to share some of my (prayerful) hopes and dreams for us as a church. We’ve spent time over the last month looking at how and why we “Love God, love each other and love our community”, and to me they are measuring sticks – what we can judge our ideas and plans against.

When we have new ideas or when we are planning anything, we need to ask four questions.

  • Does this help us love God more?
  • Does this help us love each other more?
  • Does this help us love our community more?
  • And finally – looking at everything we do, have we got the right balance between those three?

In my interview, I was asked about how I would go about making the church a flourishing community of faith? After a lot of prayer, thought , study and discussion with wiser than me, I came up with 8 things.

And I think that the things that I prayerfully came up with for the interview were right – because they fit with this church’s values, there is nothing that I said or thought then that I have felt ‘Oh no, that doesn’t fit’.

  1. A flourishing community of faith is will always be rooted in prayer.

    Without Prayer there is no flourishing, it is the bedrock of all a church does, why? Because prayer changes things.

  2. A flourishing community of faith will be a place where we can grow in our faith.

    Each week we look after my grandson on a Friday, and each week, I take a whole heap of photographs. I was saying to my son and daughter in law yesterday that when I have time, I will be able to put together a series of photographs of every week of his life. The changes between each photo will be minimal – but we will see him gradually change and grow. If he didn’t, we would be very concerned – he wouldn’t be flourishing. In the same way, if we took a photograph of our faith each week, we should, over time see how our love for God has increased, how our knowledge of him has increased and our desire to serve him and spend time with him has increased.

  3. A flourishing community of faith will be where more people become followers of Jesus

    We believe as Christians, that life is always better with Jesus than without Jesus. The Bible teaches us that Jesus brings forgiveness for past, abundant life in the Present and hope for the future. The gospel is good news, as we flourish, people will be drawn to us, and through us be drawn to Jesus.

  4. A flourishing community of faith will be where Worship is vibrant, life giving

    Stuart and I went to the theatre recently to see a show in London. It was a rush to get there, I lost my train ticket and the pizza we had beforehand was the worst I have ever eaten. We concluded that it really was a big mistake to have tried to do London on a midweek evening. Then the show started, and within 5 minutes we were engrossed in it and we left the theatre tingling, having had a great time and our mood utterly transformed, wondering what the next show would be and if we could get tickets. That’s really a picture of what our worship on a Sunday morning should be – whatever state we are in, it changes us, gives us life and makes us want more of God.

  5. A flourishing community of faith is where lives are changed.
  6. A flourishing community of faith is where all ages are represented.
  7. A flourishing community of faith will be where all people know they are valued by the church and by God (pastoral care)

    Is a place where people can’t stop talking about the way they are looked after, how they are supported by the church. Wouldn’t it be great to overhear conversations in the local schools , pubs and playgrounds which go like this… · ‘They were so good to my mum when…’ · ‘They really supported my family when we were going through a tough time…’ · ‘I don’t know how I would have got through that without my church family’.

  8. A flourishing community of faith will be one which impacts the whole of the parish

    Do you remember that passage from Micah? “What is it the lord has required of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before your Lord”. Our worship is not just what we do in church but also what we do outside of church. If we aren’t impacting our communities, we aren’t truly worshipping.

When we had our PCC awayday, we worked to put together some broad headlines of how we would begin to achieve that. We came up with two priorities to help us to do those things.

  1. To welcome & establishing previous attendees from events such as weddings, baptisms.
  2. For our services to be more inclusive and welcoming.

We have already begun to do things.

  • some of the services are less formal, especially our all-age service.
  • You will have noticed our creche, that means that parents with very young children can relax more in church and the children are able to enjoy themselves.
  • You will have noticed the breakfasts two weeks a month, a way of helping us to connect with each other and to help us to welcome others into church.
  • We are beginning, I believe to see more people more regularly on a Sunday, and from a wider age range.

The creation café has attracted over 18 visitors from the church and the community – that’s a great start isn’t it?

My prayer is that we become a church which we can’t wait to get to on a Sunday. Where we will feel as if we are missing out if we can’t get along a church, which you can’t help talking about to your friends. A church that mirrors what we read in Acts 2, a place where we praise God and enjoy the favour of all the people and where the Lord will be adding to our number daily those who are being saved.

Isaiah 40:1-11

The beginning of February brings longer and warmer days. With it, we celebrate St Valentine’s Day. With four teenagers in the house, we wonder will any secret admirers be brave and send a card? A gesture of admiration is thoughtful and sweet but how do you determine if someone really loves you? Does someone love you because they send you a card, or a box of chocolates? Or do you determine they love you because they’ve listened to you, taken notice and remembered what you have said; maybe they’ve worked out your favourite colour for example, and let you know they know! Is it in the giving, or in the detail of their knowledge of you? And how do you show your loved one that you love them? Do you send a card, a gift, or do you listen carefully and know details about them?

I recall reading about love languages a few years ago. It emphasized that individuals express and appreciate love through various means. It suggested that the most effective way to demonstrate love is by acknowledging how someone expresses their love to you and reciprocating in kind, as it aligns with their preferred way of receiving affection. This could be by spending quality time together, giving gifts, giving compliments, offering hugs, or assisting with tasks.

God loves us! With God, it’s in the details- he knows us by name but more than that, he knows the number of hairs on our head! But he also gives; he gives again and again, showing his grace and mercy to us, when we really don’t deserve it.

But what if you’re not in a season of love? What if right now, Valentine’s Day seems like a day of misery lurking around the corner, been there, done that, worn the t-shirt and got burnt fingers? Or perhaps you feel that you erred in the wrong direction a bit too far and although you’ve heard that God is a God of second chances, and third and fourth and so on, that you have run out of chances. Here’s the surprise: there are no limits to the number of chances. No matter what you have done, how far you have gone, God is still and will always be calling you back into relationship with him and each other. He loves you, he forgives you, he will protect you and never forsake you.

Does he correct? Yes, as a good father would. Just the other day, I saw a father grab his young child as she was about to step out onto the road in front of a car. His first reaction was to shout at his daughter never to cross the road without checking for cars, which was then immediately followed by a hug of overflowing love and relief that she was okay. God’s correction is there to keep us safe because he loves us and doesn’t want us to get hurt or hurt others.

But will God really forgive me? A couple of nights ago, I lit a lavender scented candle. Not having spotted it, my youngest son walked in the room, smelled the air and stated, “mmm, I can small lavender!” Moments later my middle son walked in and said, “why can I smell that bush?” (close but not so accurate). And then, my eldest son walked in and said, “what’s that smell?” I’m not sure if this says more about the ages of my sons than it does their memories, but it appeared they had remembered the smell at different levels of recognition. In the same way we may

have different levels of understanding or recognition of God’s forgiveness. Does God really forgive me, will he really show mercy? Yes, we need to remember the God who delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. It’s the same God of our ancestors! He’s done it before, he’ll do it again!

Regardless of how you communicate your affections this Valentine’s Day, keep in mind the love of God- the God who knows you by name, the God who corrects to protect, the God of the second and third and fourth chances. The God who welcomes you back with open arms. The God whose love language is that of a contrite heart.

God loves you so much! He’s calling you back!

Advert for Creation CafeOn Monday 19th February we are launching a weekly pop-up Cafe, which we are calling the "Creation Cafe". It will run most Mondays 2-5pm from the Church Hall at the back of St. Mary's Church, and be clearly signposted from Church Lane. We hope to provide drinks and cakes to those who may be walking in the area, those who like to share their love of crafts, and anyone in the community who just wants some company in a warm, friendly environment.

St. Mary's is a beautiful church, with historic links to literary and artistic figures, set alongside footpaths that lead through Bramshill Forest. The historic Redwoods both in the churchyard, and on The Mount opposite were planted from seed collected by Rev'd Charles Kingsley (author of 'The Water Babies') a past Rector of Eversley. He was also a knowledgeable naturalist, and the churchyards, lanes, woods and skies around St. Mary's are alive with a variety of wildlife, which in due season include Snowdrops and Bluebells, at least 8 species of butterfly, Red Kite and Buzzard, and various species of dragonfly.

As we enter the 300th year of St. Mary's as a building, in the form it currently exists, we are delighted to expand the welcome we are able to offer to locals and visitors alike through this informal, volunteer-led, community space. We look forward to welcoming you, whether you bring your muddy boots, well-behaved dogs, a craft project or just want to enjoy this beautiful place.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” Luke 10v27.

Putting aside a week to pray as a benefice is a great way to start the year. As we pray together, our focus will be on Luke 10 v27.
In particular we pray that we will:

  • Love God with all our heart, as shown through our worship, our prayer life and how we look to follow where he is leading us.
  • Love each other through our support and care for everyone in our church family.
  • Love our communities through practical support and a desire to share the love of Jesus.

There are a wide variety of events planned during the week. Please put them in your diary and join us in person or on-line.

Monday 8th Jan 

  • 9.00am On-line prayer
  • 9:30am In person prayer at St Mary’s 
  • 12noon Lunch and prayer at St Barnabas

Tuesday 9th Jan

  • 9:30am In person prayer at St Barnabas 

Wednesday 10th Jan

  • 9:30am In person prayer at St Mary’s 
  • 10.00am On-line prayer
  • 12noon Lunch and prayer at St Mary’s

Thursday 11th Jan

  • 9:30m In person prayer at St Barnabas 
  • 4pm “Prayer and Waiting on God” at St Barnabas

Friday 12th Jan

  • 9:30am In person prayer at St Mary’s 
  • 10.00am On-line Prayer

Saturday 13th Jan

  • 9.30am Breakfast and Creative prayer for all ages at St  Barnabas 
  • 2.00pm Church open for private prayer at St Mary’s 

Sunday 14th Jan 

  • 6.00pm Revive - worship and prayer evening at St Barnabas

St Mary's Christmas Banner

Friday 8th December

Sunday 10th December

Sunday 17th December

Sunday 24th December

Christmas Day 25th December

Do join us this Christmas!

It suddenly seems as if Christmas is about to begin. By the time you read this we will have switched on the Christmas lights at Darby Green and next Friday 1st December, is Charles Kingsley’s school Christmas Fair. We have over 20 special events across the benefice during December, please pray that as we welcome people they will come back in the New Year because they want to know more about the baby who is still ‘good news of great joy’ for the whole world.

This week is also the last chance to sign up for the benefice Quiet Day at St Marys on 2nd December, which is an opportunity to draw breath before all that hustle and bustle begins.

There are a couple of things going on that I would like to bring to your attention.

Did you know that there are 24 chapters in the gospel of Luke? Margaret Manning has come up with the brilliant idea of asking for volunteers to record themselves reading a chapter of Luke each day in December. We can then post these videos, one each day, on our and on our websites and Facebook page. It would be great if we can get 24 different people doing reading a chapter, so if you would like to take part please , let me know which day you can do it and then send a video of your reading to Margaret ready to be uploaded on the correct day. This is an opportunity to be creative – different locations, styles of reading, versions of the Bible and even Christmas themed clothes are encouraged.

One of the exciting things that is happening over the next few weeks is that the Chairman of Hart has requested that he holds his Carol concert in St Barnabas church this year. This will take place on Saturday December 9th at 5pm. It would be great to support him, so please come along for a celebration of Christmas, there will be minced pies, mulled wine and bagpipes!

On the same morning, 9th December, between 9:30- 11:30 we will be meeting at St Barnabas to pray for God’s blessing on our Christmas services and also for the success of our bid to Hart for funding for a community hub. This is something that is relevant to both our churches as the foodbank will be a major beneficiary of the improvements we are hoping to make. Please join us for some or all that time. After prayer, we will be decorating the church ready for the service in the evening. Food of various kinds for pray-ers and workers will be available at all times.

Have a wonderful week. I look forward to seeing you in church on Sunday and around the parishes during the week,

We are moving into a period of the year when we do a lot of remembering. Before we get to Remembrance Sunday itself, we will be holding a short reflective service at St. Mary's Eversley, at 4pm on Sunday 29th October at which the names of loved ones who have died (recently or at any time in the past) can be remembered. 

Whether we have been bereaved recently or a long time ago, many of us carry the pain of loved ones having died. This short, reflective service offers the opportunity to remember these treasured people, to acknowledge the weight of grief we still carry, and to lay it down again afresh before the God who suffers alongside us.

If you would like the names of a loved ones read out at this service (whether or not you are able to attend), please email