Merchant Navy Day 2019

Since 2000, Merchant Navy Day on 3rd September has honoured the brave men and women who kept our ‘island nation’ afloat during both World Wars, and celebrated our dependence on modern day merchant seafarers who are responsible for 95% of the UK’s imports, including half the food we eat, plenty of the fuel we burn and virtually all the products and goods we take for granted!

This year the Red Ensign will be flown at Stoke, Nayland and Polstead.

For more information about Merchant Navy Day, visit


Best wishes to all our year 6 pupils

Yesterday, Revd Mark was able to welcome the parents, staff and students from Nayland Community Primary School into St James’ church in Nayland for their annual “Celebration of Learning” and to help them wish all the year six pupils who are moving on to secondary schools every success.

This morning it was the turn of Stoke by Nayland C of E Primary School to have their leavers service, to celebrate all that had happened in the last year, to present awards and to celebrate success.    We also had the chance to see and share memories of our year six pupils from Oak Class as they begin their transition to High School, and the church presented each child who was leaving their own bible to help their continue their spiritual journey, whilst the school gave each leaver an atlas to help them discover the wonderful world that awaits them.

This morning was also poignant, as after 28 years as both a teacher and more recently as Head Teacher in Stoke Primary, we said are goodbyes to Jane Le Grice who is retiring today.   Jane presented each class a small wooden cross for their prayer area, and a larger wooden cross for the school hall;  in turn Revd Mark presented Jane with a Bible on behalf of the Benefice  in recognition of the part that she has played in nurturing the spiritual life of those children in her care.

Nayland Fete 2019 – A Massive THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our Annual Church Fete at Nayland Village Hall.

There was a wonderful community atmosphere as people from across the village (and further afield) enjoyed the side stalls, children’s and adults fun races, the Beer and Pimms Tents, the wonderful local sausages and burgers, the music and so much more.

All of this couldn’t have happened with a lot of hard work from a fantastic committee and team of volunteers, as well as the financial support of our local business sponsors.

All the profits from the event will be used to maintain and enhance the physical building of St James Church, to preserve it for future generations of villagers, as well as helping us to develop it into a valuable community space, as well as an important and much valued place of worship.

Nayland Church Fete 2019

This coming Bank Holiday Monday (27th May) sees the return of our Annual Nayland Church Fete on the Recreation Ground behind the Village Hall (CO6 4JH) .

There is so much going on this year that we have extended the opening times from 1pm to 4pm just so that you have the chance to see and do everything!

In addition to the Classic Car Display, the £150 Top Prize Raffle, the ever popular Children’s and Adult’s Sports and Tug-O-War,  NEW THIS YEAR we are introducing  “Have a Go Archery” with White Dragon Archery, that is on top of all of the stalls listed below!

Glass and China
Kitchen and Picnic
Pictures & Soft Furnishings
Bric a Brac
Jewellery & Handbags
Good Condition Ladies Clothes
Garden Tools/DIY
Bottle Tombola
China Smash

Cakes and biscuits
Ice Creams
Strawberries and Cream Teas
Hot Dogs & Burgers
Beer Tent
Pimms Tent

Last year over £14,000 was raised again which was used towards the improvements to St James’ Church, providing a new servery and accessible bathroom.  More work is planned in the coming years to make the church an accessible asset for the whole community.

Adults – £3
Concessions – £2
Children – Free

Ample Free Parking (follow local signs)

We look forward to seeing you all there – but thank you in advance to everyone, visitors, sponsors, volunteers who make this event happen.


Easter Celebrations

The anticipation of all those chocolate Easter eggs can be almost too much! When
the big day finally arrives, these are some sweet ways you can help children
understand why they have received Easter eggs, and explain the Easter story while
enjoying the chocolate too.

An Easter Egg story… for anyone old enough to eat chocolate

Here’s a fun way to connect chocolate Easter eggs with the story of Easter from the

Sit down together and enjoy peeling the foil wrapping off a hollow chocolate egg.
Hold the egg in your hand.

Jesus’ tomb was a bit like this egg – with the big stone rolled against the tomb
entrance, inside it must have been dark and cramped. It’s as if the darkness makes it
still Good Friday, the day that Jesus died.

But on the first Easter day, Jesus came alive again, and burst out of the tomb. Good
Friday is broken once and for all, and new life is set free.

At this point, feel free to smash the egg and start eating the pieces. While you eat,
keep going with thinking through the story.

But the trouble was, that nobody saw it happen. The soldiers who were guarding the
tomb had fainted in fear, and the next thing we know, Mary arrives at Jesus’ tomb
and finds that it’s empty. The actual moment of the resurrection happened in private.
All that excitement and joy and nobody to share it…

On Easter Sunday we focus on Mary’s story. There in the garden, the resurrection
had already happened, but she was trapped in her own Good Friday – her grief and
sadness kept her in the dark.

If you have another chocolate egg, peel off the wrapping together and hold it in your

Just like the first egg, it’s like Good Friday is still happening. It still felt like Good
Friday to Mary.

When we read Mary’s story we can tell the exact moment when the resurrection
happened for her – it’s when Jesus calls her name and she recognises him.
Suddenly all her sadness is turned to joy. Mary’s Good Friday is gone once and for
all, the new life is set free in her.

You can smash and eat your second egg now.

Over the next few weeks, churches all over the world read more stories of how
Jesus’ friends discovered that he was alive again: their own Good Fridays turned to
Easter, all in different ways.

If you have lots of chocolate eggs, you could use these stories to help you eat them:-

• Jesus’ closest friends were trapped in a Good Friday because they were
afraid, but Jesus came to them and said: ‘Peace be with you’, and all their
fear disappeared.

• Thomas’s Good Friday was all about doubt, but his doubt turned to new faith
and confidence when he saw Jesus for himself.

• Some friends of Jesus were on a journey when Jesus met them on the road,
and helped them understand what had happened; he stayed with them for
supper and as he broke the bread to share, they recognised him. Their Good
Friday confusion turned to Easter recognition.

• Peter was Jesus’ best friend, but he was stuck in Good Friday because he’d
betrayed Jesus just when he needed his friendship the most. Peter’s Easter
moment came when Jesus gave him three chances to say ‘I love you’ to make
up the three times that he had turned his back.

• Sometimes we can get stuck in Good Friday too – you could use this prayer
(perhaps as you eat a little bit more chocolate) to help you enjoy the new life
of Easter – or pray it for people you know who are having a hard time at the

Dear Jesus,
Be with us in our Good Fridays,
and lead us into the new life of Easter.

Palm Sunday

Cross made out of palm fronds.

This coming Sunday (14th April) is known as Palm Sunday and commemorates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

On Palm Sunday everyone who comes to our Benefice Service (10am in Nayland) will be given a palm cross of their own to take away with them as a reminder.

Here’s a simple prayer idea which you might like to do at home with your children, while holding the palm cross.

Each point of the cross links to a theme.

Hold the cross in your right hand and then place your left thumb on the left ‘crosspiece’.  Pray for the world, in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your peace reaches into every situation across our world. Be close to those places that need peace this day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.

Place your left thumb on the right of the ‘crosspiece’ and pray for people in need in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your hope reaches into every situation. Be close to those who are ill or sad this day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

Place your left thumb on the base of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for the community where you live in using these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you that your joy reaches into our homes. Help us to know that you are with us every day. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.

Place your thumb on top of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for those who lead in the church and teach us about Jesus:
Loving God, thank you that your love is shared through your church. Give wisdom to those who help us to know the Good News of Jesus. Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer

Place your thumb in centre of the ‘crosspiece’: Pray for yourself, in these or similar words:
Loving God, thank you for Jesus and the love he showed for me. Help me to follow him more and more each day. Amen.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week of the church’s year.   To find out more about what is happening in our benefice, click here

An opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with Revd Mark

“The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page” (Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo)

There is something very special about travelling with others, and especially when there is a spiritual or faith element to the journey.

For a number of years now The Revd Mark Woodrow has been leading groups to both the Holy Land and also all across India.   All tours are inclusive and open to all – all that he asks is that you come with an open mind and a willingness to challenge preconceived ideas.

This is now your opportunity to join with Revd Mark and with others from the Parish and the wider Diocese on a special Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in June 2020.

A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Our 10 day, full board, flight inclusive tour will take in all of the principal sites of Jesus’ ministry, including Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Capernaum, Cana, Jerusalem.  With time to also visit Jericho, Tiberias, Caesarea, Qumran, Masada, a float on the Dead Sea, and even a visit to the plain of Armageddon!

Tour departs on Sunday 14th June 2020 and returns on Tuesday 23rd June 2020.

The cost is £1,965 per person sharing a twin-bedded room with private facilities.
Single rooms are also available at a supplementary cost of £475.

(More information on this tour can be found by clicking here )

For more information and full itineraries, click HERE  see below, or contact:

The Revd Mark Woodrow – 01206 262150 –

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

(Sir Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky)

“Love Actually” – Family thoughts as we approach Valentines Day

In the Bible, Jesus spoke about love. Everyone has basic needs – we all need to eat and drink, we all need clothes to wear and someone to look after us when we are poorly. We also need friendship when we’re feeling alone and forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong.

Sadly, some people don’t have even the most basic things, like food, water and clothes. Helping people, whatever their need, is really important to God.

Some of the ways Jesus suggested to be kind were:

  • Giving a hungry person some food
  • Giving a thirsty person a drink
  • Giving someone who has few clothes something to wear
  • Being a friend to someone who is alone, even if you don’t know them yet
  • Caring for someone who is poorly
  • Visiting someone who is in prison

Perhaps there’s an item in the news or something happening in the family that highlights one of these needs. This could be a good moment to talk to your child about how they would feel if they had that need, and then how they would feel if someone came along and helped them.

Or, after school or nursery, you can ask your child about how their day went. If issues of kindness or unkindness come up, talk to your child about it. Can they be kinder in any way to their friends or teachers? Is there anyone there who needs a friend? Ask your child what their nursery or school teaches about kindness.

Something as simple as watching your children play and explaining what is kind or unkind behaviour when it happens can help children learn the difference.

You might try placing a reward sticker for each kind act in a small notebook, which shows your child how much kindness they can share in just a day, a week, a month and so on.

Cardboard donation box filled with groceries


There are so many practical ways to be kind, in everyday places like where we go to work or school, but also by giving or raising money for causes that bring relief to suffering people. These are just a few examples:


  • As a family, there may be relevant charities you’d like to support, practically or with donations. Places like food banks are often looking for volunteers and donations can already be left in church or at supermarkets.
  • Local support groups for the elderly often have visiting schemes for those who are housebound and alone. It’s good for both children and the elderly to talk and do things together, even if that’s just having a drink and a biscuit one afternoon.
  • From litter-picks to coffee mornings, members of our churches often get involved in schemes in the community why not check out our facebook and twitter pages to find out whats happening.

If you pray with your child at bedtime, it may be a good time to remember love and kindness. Perhaps share with each other how you were kind to someone that day, or how someone else was kind to you, and thank God for that.

Happy New Year – Let’s count our blessings

As you look forward to the year ahead, look back too and say thank you to God for
all the blessings he gave you last year.

These very simple ideas help you do that with young children.

Blessing stars
Write on the back of star-shaped gift tags (why not use cut up Christmas Cards!) to remind you of some of the blessings of last year – family, friends, health, time together – then hang them somewhere visible;  perhaps even create a mini ‘tree’ to hang them on by collecting twigs and standing them up in a plant pot.

Thank you for food
Even if you don’t normally ‘say grace’ before a meal, why not try this simple prayer at
a mealtime:
For this food, and for each other,
and for every gift and blessing,
we thank you, God. Amen.

Make a blessings table mat
This is a great activity to do with a small child while they wait for the meal to start.
• Decorate a piece of A4 card or paper with things that remind you of the good things in your family’s life.
• If you want to keep it for more than one meal, you’ll need to laminate it.
• Your child can use it as a table mat for the special meal – a reminder to everyone of all the things to be thankful for.

Decorate a blessings jar
• Take an old jam jar or other container, and make sure it’s nice and clean.
• Decorate the outside with pictures, photos, hand-prints, stickers – everything
that reminds you of the good things in your family’s life.
• If you use PVA glue you can add an extra layer of glue at the end to act as a varnish.
• Put the decorated jar somewhere you’ll see it throughout the year, and keep some sticky notes and a pen close by.
• Whenever something good happens, jot it down and put the sticky note in the jar.
• If you’re having a tough day, or feeling down, or simply at the end of the year, get the papers out of the jar and read through them to remind you of the good things.