Summer Holiday Club Registration Now Open

GOA Registration 2018

Ancora 2018 – A4 Poster


The Ordination of Deacons and Priests in our Diocese

Please join with all in our Diocese in praying for those who are to be Ordained as Priests and Deacons this weekend, and for the communities that they are to serve.

It will be for them a life changing moment, committing their whole being to the service of God and to stand up and speak out against all that is wrong in this world, pointing to the saving Grace that we have all received from Jesus Christ.

In short our Deacons and Priests are real life “Super Hero’s”


To be ordained Priest by The Right Revd. Martin Seeley, The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich on 30th June 2018

Name Benefice
Mike BIRT The benefice of Woolpit with Drinkstone
Elke  CATTERMOLE The benefice of Lavenham with Preston
Donna GIBBS The South West Ipswich Team Ministry
Johanna MABEY The benefice of Alde Sandlings
Ernest OKEKE The benefice of Elmswell
Nic STUCHFIELD The benefice of Saxmundham with Kelsale-cum-Carlton
Lynda SEBBAGE The benefice of the Stour Valley
Matt SELMAN The benefice of Bury St Edmunds All Saints with St John the Evangelist and St George and The Lark Valley Benefice
Paul TYLER The benefice of Lavenham with Preston


To be ordained Deacon by The Right Revd. Martin Seeley, The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich on 30th June 2018

Name Benefice
Rebecca ARTISS The benefice of Four Rivers
Adam BARCLAY The benefice of Stanton, Barningham, Coney Weston, Market Weston, Hopton with Hepworth, Hinderclay and Thelnetham
David BUTCHER Mildenhall Team Ministry
Andrew BUTTRESS The benefice of Ipswich St Matthew, Triangle and All Saints
Lawrence CAREY The benefice of Ipswich St Matthew, Triangle and All Saints
Dennis  COBURN The benefice of Brandon
Cat CONNOLLY The benefice of Ipswich St Thomas
Mark CRESSWELL The Carlford benefice
Phil CUDMORE The benefice of Beccles St Michael and St Luke
Mervyn DYE The South West Ipswich Team Ministry
Benjamin EDWARDS The benefice of Beccles St Michael and St Luke
Eric FALLA The benefice of Whitton with Thurleston and Akenham
Jane HELD The Blyth Valley Team benefice
Bill HERBERT The benefice of Woodbridge St John and Bredfield
Sarah  JENKINS The benefice of Nacton and Levington with Bucklesham and Foxhall with Kirton and Falkenham, and the benefice of Waldringfield, Hemley and Newbourne
Gary JONES The benefice of Kesgrave
Claire KIDDY The benefice of Beccles St Michael and St Luke
Jeremy LIND The benefice of Newmarket St Mary with Exning St Agnes
Faith MARSDEN The benefice of Acton with Great Waldingfield
Kathleen MARTIN Mid-Loes benefice
David MULRENAN The benefice of Four Rivers
Kay PALMER The South West Ipswich Team Ministry
Christine  PINDER The benefice of Martlesham with Brightwell
Jay PRICE The benefice of Pakenham with Norton and Tostock

To be ordained Distinctive Deacon by The Right Revd. Martin Seeley, The Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich on 30th June 2018

Name Benefice
Cheryl BELDING The benefice of Newmarket St Mary with Exning St Agnes


As you pray for those who are to be ordained, remember to include prayers for yourself, asking God where he is calling you.   


Grave Talk

It’s not easy to think about your own funeral.

Talking about death, dying and funerals raises big questions that we need to face at some point, but it’s sometimes hard to talk to family and friends.

So why not join Revd Mark for coffee on Tuesday 17th July at 2.30pm at the Vicarage (St James’ Vicarage, Bear Street, Nayland CO6 4LA), where we can all talk about these big questions in a safe and friendly space

Shrinking the Footprint – Becoming an Eco Church

 The Church of England’s national environmental programme exists to enable the whole Church to address – in faith, practice and mission – the issue of climate change.    The Church is committed to a carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020.

“Responding to climate change is an essential part of our responsibility to safeguard God’s creation. Meanwhile, to love our neighbour – particularly, in this case, our neighbour whom we may never meet but who lives daily with the profound threat posed by this moral crisis – is at the core of what it is to follow Jesus Christ.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

As part of our own local commitment to using our churches to promote a more sustainable future for all, we are beginning to look closer on what we and congregations can do to make a positive difference in our day to day lives, e.g. switching our electricity to ‘Green’ and Renewable Tariffs, reducing our dependency on plastic and harmful chemicals, encouraging bio-diversity in our churchyards and when possible to share transport and encourage those who are able to walk or cycle to church.

Even small changes, replicated across our parishes, benefice, diocese and beyond can have a large cumulative effect and we would love for everyone to be involved.

For ideas and the latest environmental news download the latest e-news here

Do keep an eye out for more information and activities from our own benefice, especially as we are also aiming to achieve an “Eco Church” award (initially at Bronze or Silver but ultimately at Gold level) for all five of our churches in the benefice over the coming months.   Please do get in touch if you would like to be involved.

Children’s Summer Holiday Club Plans Announced

In an exciting new project to offer even more for those families in the Benefice, and to build upon our successful Messy Church and family@polstead Service, and Kidz Club at Stoke-by-Nayland CofE Primary School, we are pleased to announce that from the 13th to 17th August 2018 we will be inviting Primary School Age Children to become “Guardians of Ancora” during our FREE week long Summer Holiday Club.

Once, the Hall of Memory in the city of Ancora was filled with wonderful story-treasures, each a reminder of one of the great stories of the Saga.   Now, many of those objects have been lost.   Each day of the club, the task of the Guardians will be to find a lost story-treasure, return it to the Hall of Memory and explore the story that it represents.  As the Hall fills up, the Guardians will discover how each story fits together to reveal more about who Jesus is and how they might develop their own relationship with him.

For more information please contact The Revd Mark Woodrow (01206 262150) or use the form below.


Want to get a sneak peak of what the Guardians of Ancora get up to?

Spring Fair & Church Fete – Thank You

What a difference it makes when the Bank Holiday weather is not only dry but fantastically warm!

The good weather certainly brought out the crowds in the morning for Stoke by Nayland’s bi-annual Spring Fair, where people enjoyed climbing St Mary’s tower to admire the views, watch the kites being flown, purchased, ice creams, beer and crafts, as well as watching a wonderful demonstration of May Pole Dancing by the pupils of Stoke by Nayland Church of England Primary School…. even the vicar joined in!

Then in the afternoon, many went down the hill to join in all the traditional fun and games at Nayland Church Fete.   The children (and a few adults) got into the swing of things with the sack race, egg and spoon race, three legged races, and the fiercely fought sprints – followed with more ice creams (and for the adults at least a chance to drink the Pimms tent dry not once but twice!)

In what seems to be turning into an annual occurrence The Revd Mark Woodrow once again volunteered to have wet sponges thrown at him (although we suspect that this might have just been a ploy to cool down!)

All in all it was the most wonderful day, raising much needed funds for St Mary’s Church in Stoke-by-Nayland, St James’ Church in Nayland and St Mary’s Church in Wissington.

Can we say a massive thank you to all the Committee members and Volunteers who made both events such a success, and for all of our Parishioners, Visitors and Friends for once again supporting these events.

Trinity Sunday and Gorgeous Green

This coming Sunday is known as Trinity Sunday, as special day in the churches year when we learn all about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

We are celebrating this at a special Choral Evensong on Sunday 27th May at 5pm in Stoke-by-Nayland, where Bishop Martin, together with the Serendipity Choir will lead a service which will include the Commissioning and Re-Commissioning of our benefice’s Lay Elders – and just like any good celebration there will also be some refreshments served afterwards – do please come along and join us.

O@@@ne of the joys of summer is the explosion of green everywhere, even in cities. Dark green trees, soft green grass for picnics, tender green leaves that get darker through the summer.

Next time you’re out and about as a family, see how many different green things you
can count, and maybe even collect a few things to take home and press inside a
heavy book.  Pressed leaves and flowers can make beautiful pictures. You can even use them to create home-made cards for birthdays and other celebrations.

Summer is a wonderful time for planting too. Try planting seeds or bulbs with your
child to see how they can grow when they’re fed and watered. Amaryllis bulbs grow
fast and have beautiful big flowers, which children will love. If you want to grow
something to eat, why not try rocket, which can be harvested as soon as four weeks
after planting?

If you go into our churches you will see that they feature a lot of green fabric over the summer. During this time, Christians just get on with growing in our life with God, like the plants are doing. And like the plants, to grow, we need feeding spiritually. Praying is a great way to feed our growing faith.

Long summer days and nights can be a good time for prayers. Start with something
as simple as saying thank you to God for something you’re really grateful for, or
asking for God’s peace at bedtime each night.

These are three examples of simple prayers you could try:

Saying Thank You:
God the Father, who made us, we thank you.
God the Son, who saved us, we thank you.
God the Spirit, who holds us in love, we thank you.
God, who is everywhere, thank you for being you.

God, who is like a mother hen watching over her chicks,
Keep me under your warm wings as I sleep.
Send me good dreams.
And help me wake up ready for another day.

Prayer for God’s help:
Father God, sometimes I am scared.
Sometimes I am worried.
Sometimes I need help.
Sometimes people I love have problems.
Please be with me and help me,
Like shepherds caring for sheep.

Pentecost & Revd Val’s Retirement

This Sunday (20th May) is Pentecost Sunday, the Great Fifty Days of Easter-tide reaches its conclusion with the Feast of Pentecost.   It is the day when the church celebrates the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church, and marks the start of the church’s mission to the world, and like any birthday it is a time for great celebrations, with the church liturgical colour changing from the white and gold of Easter, to Red to symbolise the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth.

It also marks the day when The Revd Val Armstrong officially retires as an Associate Priest for Stoke, Polstead, Leavenheath, Nayland and Wiston.

To celebrate her ministry and service to our community there will be a special family@church service at 10am in Polstead Church where everyone is invited (you might even like to wear something red for Pentecost!)

The service will be followed by an early Bring and Share Lunch (or elevenses!)

Godparents’ Sunday 2018

The Church of England celebrates the role of godparents everywhere on a special
Sunday in the Spring. This year it is on Sunday 6th May 2018.

This year in our benefice we are celebrating Godparents’ Sunday during our 10am Service in Polstead Church and we think this will be a wonderful way to get together with your godparent or godchild.

If you can’t make that service, here are some ideas to celebrate the special relationship of godparents at home:

  • Together with your child, make cards for their godparents. It could be a simple ‘thank you’ card, or you can include a prayer (even something as simple as ‘Loving God, bless my godmother/godfather today’), or include a special memory your child has of time with each godparent. You could stick in a photo, or your child could draw their memory.
  • Ask your child’s godparents to show them photos of the christening day and talk about how special it was for them. They can light your child’s christening candle together and read a Bible story or say a prayer. (This can be done on the
    anniversary of the christening too.) This prayer may be suitable for a child:
    Dear God,
    Thank you for my godparents.
    Look after them and bless them.
    Help me to be kind and loving to them,
    And help us together to know more of You.
  •  Try this soft toy prayer idea: make sure your godparents have a soft toy and that your child has a similar soft toy. Whether you can be together or not, pick a time of day, perhaps just before bedtime. Tell the godparents and godchildren that as they hold the toy at the same time, they will be thinking and praying for each other right then.

You don’t have to wait until Godparents’ Sunday to do something special.

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The First Easter

Easter is the biggest celebration of all in our churches… yes, bigger even than Christmas!

Discover together with your child what happened on the very first Easter using this easy-to-read summary of the story that’s right at the heart of the Christian faith, and then why not join us on Easter Sunday Morning in St Mary’s Church in Stoke by Nayland for a very special Easter Celebration (find out more here)


There are so many symbols of new life in the shops at Easter, like eggs, chicks and spring flowers. The very first Easter story is about new life – despair turning into joy, an amazing miracle and the extravagant love of God for all of us. Here’s what happened…

A special meal
Jesus gathered his friends around him for a special meal, and during the meal he tried to help them understand what was going to happen to him.

He took some bread, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying ‘This is my body’. Then he poured some wine and shared it with them, saying ‘This is my blood’. He knew he was going to die, and he wanted his friends to understand.

Then he took a towel and started to wash their feet, to show them that if he, their teacher, could wash their feet, then they should also learn to do kind and humble things for one another. He was showing them that a leader can also be a servant.

After supper, they went to a beautiful, quiet garden so that Jesus could pray about what was going to happen. He really needed his friends that night, but they kept falling asleep. He had never felt so alone.

Late at night, one of Jesus’ friends, Judas, came to the garden, bringing with him soldiers from the temple to arrest Jesus – it was dark, so he told the soldiers he would show them which one was Jesus by kissing him. We don’t know why Judas did it, but he wasn’t the only one who betrayed Jesus that night. When the soldiers arrived, all Jesus’ friends ran away, and then later, his best friend Peter was so afraid, he wouldn’t even admit to knowing Jesus.

On trial
Jesus was put on trial – all night they questioned him. Early in the morning they sent him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor, and asked him to kill Jesus for them – they said that Jesus was claiming to be a King, a rival to the Roman Emperor.

The Romans often crucified people – they knew it made everyone afraid of them. So when the crowds asked for Jesus to be crucified, Pilate eventually agreed. He didn’t really care whether Jesus was a criminal or not.

So Jesus was beaten, and given a crown made of thorns – the soldiers were mocking him as ‘King of the Jews’. Then they took him away and crucified him – they nailed him to a large wooden cross, and hung him there in the blazing hot sun, along with two criminals.

Gradually some of Jesus’ friends came back: John stood by Jesus’ mother Mary, and Jesus asked them to care for each other after he was gone.

Finally, there came a moment when the sky went dark, and Jesus took his last breath. Jesus’ friends buried him and rolled a large stone against the tomb entrance, and the soldiers stayed to guard it (they didn’t want anyone to steal the body and pretend that Jesus had come back to life).

The next day was the Sabbath – the holy day – and on that day Jesus’ body lay silent and cold in the tomb.


Tomb stone rolled away

Early on the first day of the week, when it was still dark, some friends of Jesus (both called Mary) went to the tomb with spices and herbs, so that they could care for Jesus’ body.

They had wondered how they would move the stone away, but they arrived to find the tomb open, and an angel who told them that Jesus was alive – well, they were not sure what to think! One of them went back to the city, but the other stayed in the garden.

She was crying, and it was still dark, so when saw someone standing near her she thought it must be the gardener. Maybe he had moved the stone and taken Jesus’ body?

He’s alive!
Then the man said to her, ‘Mary’ and she recognised his voice. It was Jesus, and he really was alive! He said to her, ‘Go and tell my friends what you have seen,’ and she did – she ran all the way back to where Jesus’ friends were staying and said to them, ‘I have seen the Lord, and he is alive!’

They didn’t know what to think either, but over the next hours and days, they all saw Jesus – he came to them in the house, he met some of them on a journey, and then visited them again while they were fishing, and cooked them breakfast! There was no doubt about it, Jesus was alive, and they began to tell everyone the good news.