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St Paul’s Church 175th Anniversary

1st of October 2013

It was a wonderful moment for us when the then Bishop of St Albans, Michael Gresford-Jones said, “The more I think about it, the more I think that God is calling you to Chipperfield”. Therefore, six years began of enormous happiness, including the birth of our youngest Pippa. It was the old regime of course. We loved the Old Vicarage, alongside Father Michael, overlooking the cricket pitch. Sarratt, with its rector Jack Tomlinson, was a separate Parish. But with Bucks Hill and Chandlers Cross there was an extended Family of 3,000 or so, who seemed to go out of their way to make us welcome. St Paul’s was central to it all, the Church to which so many came either to worship regularly or to mark great occasions of family Life.
However, alongside St Paul’s there is a remarkable web of organisations; sporting and vocal, not least the school that seemed to bind together and entice all who lived there.

Any vicar of Chipperfield was blessed, for it is the kind of Parish that is naturally able to capture friendship and leadership of every kind. More recently, alongside the Church, a new magnificent hall for all to enjoy has been added. Led as always by a team of enthusiasts who, over the years, have lived and proclaimed the Gospel with love and conviction.

Congratulations on your 175th Anniversary. It has been a privilege to pen these few words and I shall remember you all with great thankfulness in my prayers. What you have achieved is indeed remarkable. No wonder that so many in the diocese and beyond are so proud of you.

Enjoy it all, you will!
John Richardson.
Vicar 1968 – 1975

There is an old story that tells of a new party loving incumbent who in arriving at his first PCC asked the Church Wardens when was the church built? “No one knows exactly,” they replied. “Very good”, he said, “we’ll announce some grand 6th centenary celebrations for next year. I suggest 30 June, no body can argue with that”!
Well, the history of St Paul’s, Chipperfield, is too well documented for any undue celebrations. There are written documents to prove exact details of how, what and when. The new Vicar will find that out in due time. God Bless her.

I send my very best wishes to our old friends who have worked so hard to do the Lord’s work at St Paul’s spreading the word, caring for the sick and elderly and cherishing the young.

Lots of joy.
Richard Blamire-Brown
Vicar 1975 – 1986

Congratulations to all Chipperfield parishioners on the 175th anniversary of St Paul’s Church. It seems only a short time ago that I was writing to all (then) past vicars inviting them to preach during our 150th celebration year.

In 1986 I was a school Chaplain anxious to return to parish work. I applied for an interview with the Archbishop’s advisor, which was what one could do in those days. He promised to put my name on his list, circulated to the patrons of vacant parishes, but meantime he said ,“there are three vacancies I still haven’t filled”. Chipperfield was one of them. Joyce and I visited the village unannounced one Sunday afternoon and were overjoyed. “It’s such a gem of a parish”, I remember saying. “They’ll never offer it to anyone like me”. I was wrong about the last part of that remark but have never altered my feelings about the first half! I recall arriving dreadfully late for my interview with the trustees. I thought I had left plenty of time for travelling but had not allowed for the delays and diversions caused by the near completion of the M25. I thought the trustees would be annoyed at the delay. Instead, they sympathised and felt sorry for me. Perhaps that is why they offered me the situation! So many happy memories. Oh dear! I am bound to miss out some of the most important.

It was a pleasure to be in a parish where I could actually enjoy meetings of the Parochial Church Council and of the School Governors, such an excellent school. Thanks to a succession of excellent Churchwardens, Church Councillors and committee members.
At the first PCC meeting over which I presided we recommended for training for the ministry Angela Butler who later became my valued assistant before eventually taking over from me. Not many clergy experience such happy continuity. In those days of shortage of clergy it is strange to think of a one-church parish with vicar, curate, paid youth worker and two students on pastoral attachment from the London Bible College. How things have changed!

The custom of having ‘Away Days’ was well established when I arrived in the parish. It was a chance remark at one such day that led to Chipperfield Care coming into existence. An almost equally chance encounter later brought Chipperfield News into being, and a comment during ‘Any other business’ at a PCC meeting led to the ‘Kneeler Project’ with its splendid results.

My contact with The Mount, at that time a Young Offenders Institution, enabled a ‘select’ working party of trainees to be offered work experience rebuilding part of the churchyard wall. Good for them as well as for us.

Changes in authorised forms of service led to us purchasing duplicated service booklets, later by a thoughtful bequest replaced by neatly bound printed books, making services easier to follow and some years before this became a general custom. Another gift provided new sound equipment. I hope it still works!

The choir flourished under Joyce’s guidance. Links with the Choral Society meant that there were always Friends to augment the choir for musical events such as Stainers ‘Crucifixion’ on Palm Sunday and the Carol Service at Christmas. Flower Festival, Craft Fair and Auction of Promises, all were well established major events, and who can forget the Annual visit by the Morris Men?

I hope these few moments of nostalgia kindle interesting memories of the past and provide inspiration for the future. Replaying the video of my farewell “party” can still bring a lump to my throat!

Our love to you all. God bless you.
Arthur Ellery
Vicar 1986 -1993

Alleluia!!  It is with great joy that I hear St Paul’s is celebrating 175 years at the physical and spiritual core of Chipperfield!  Although I was Vicar for (only!) eight years I was a part of the community and congregation for 17 years and know what a key role St Paul’s has played, and continues to play, in the heart of Chipperfield and its surrounding hamlets.  It was a privilege to be a part of so much that went on during my time with you and it has been fantastic to see how the Church has continued to grow, be blessed by God and in turn be a blessing to so many people.  So many congratulations, every blessing on your celebrations and many prayers for your continued ministry as you live and work to God’s glory!

Angela Butler
Vicar 1993-2001

175 years is a long time and makes my four and a half years seem a very minor part in Chipperfield’s history. I had been a part-time Chaplain at The Mount for some years before the arrival of a full-time Moslem Chaplain brought about the Diocesan decision to ask me to take over as Vicar of Chipperfield after Angela Butler left for Hempstead, Gloucestershire.

It was really quite difficult to divide my time between Sarratt and Chipperfield. However, my task was made much easier by the introduction of Malcolm Williams, as a duty assistant. For a very short time, because of Malcolm’s illness with cancer, it was a joy to be part of a team, involving Malcolm and Brenda, Brian and Penny Hill and well as Anne and I. It was a real pleasure to have a team of people who prayed together every week and who were, I believe, mutually supportive. Our lunchtime meetings were a real pleasure.

The large Chipperfield church was such a contrast to the little church in Sarratt. I enjoyed so many great occasions in both churches, as we began to look at ways of worshipping together. Some things at Chipperfield were different and those I loved. I especially enjoyed the Taise worship led by two lay people. The services in the hall attached to the church were also something new of which I was happy to be a part. One of the other things that I was pleased to be a part of was setting up the training and use of lay people in leading worship and occasional preaching. I was so grateful for that development in the life of the villages.

There are many highlights. Lift High the Cross, a Lenten Drama, was a great performance, introduced and produced my Malcolm Williams; brilliant. The Morris Dancers service outside in the car park was another event that has left its mark. Chipperfield grounds and lack of space for more burials was a worry which I guess must have been solved by now. Enough of my ramblings. Lots and many memories, some sad, some happy and some difficult but all of then enjoyable in retrospect. Thank you to all who assisted in any way at all. A special thanks to anyone who volunteer from sound to churchwarden! Thank you. It was also enjoyable to have a family event shared with many of you. In particular, our ruby wedding anniversary was a lovely day as was our retirement trip to France. Thank you and God bless your 175th anniversary.

Peter Hart.
Vicar 2001- 2004

Christian ministry is all about building on Godly vision and His faithfulness; 175 years is testimony to them both.

The highlights of my seven years in Chipperfield centre on those two things – seeking to make God’s amazing love in Jesus known among people of all ages in the community, and seeing Him at work in people’s lives – my own included.
– The crib service, Christmas 2009, when some 200 people followed us to the surprise of a real stable – Mary and Joseph, donkeys – and the sense of wonder.
– Real support and concern for others outside the parish – for people in Rwanda and others through the DENS food bank….
– Those young adults who came to help with our youth ministry and who now hold key positions of responsibility in others places.
– Most importantly I remember those who have discovered the reality of God’s love and presence for themselves and the difference that has made to them; and of those whom I have seen grow in Christlikeness in day to day living and service for others.
May the church be increasingly open to God’s vision and ability to accomplish His purposes in the coming years

Peace be with you all,
Jim Stevens
Vicar 2005 – 2012

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven’ (Gen 28:17)

Not so long ago St Paul’s was built for the princely sum of £1,500 raised by public subscription. Such was the faith and perseverance of the community at the time that the building was dedicated only 17 months after the foundation stone was laid. As one of the most recent resident aliens in the village I feel ill-equipped to comment on the place St Paul’s holds in the life of this community. However, in my short time here it is evident that the building is deeply loved, and a place of significance, not only in the lives of those who live here, but also those whose family connections continue to bring them back to this place at life changing moments. St Paul’s is their spiritual home, a sacred place that links the past with the future. Of course what we mean by sacred place may be changing. The American poet Wendell Berry says, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” This is powerful stuff, but ever since human beings have encountered the divine, they have felt the need to place one stone upon another to mark the spot; and we do still need particular places where we can meet, places at times set apart for reflection and prayer and teaching and worship. Over time St Paul’s has been changed, expanded and enhanced as each generation has left its marks – new window, new plaque, new parish room; some to decorate and inspire, some to commemorate, some to adapt to need. And it is fascinating to trace this in the building fabric: it leaves me wondering what our legacy will be in this place as testament of an active, worshipping congregation. After all, this building is more than mere stones because it has been the place of encounter for the gathered faithful for 175 years, and remains a testament to the wider community.

Less than a week ago, at the time of writing, my name was added to the board listing the Vicars called to serve here; another mark to record the life of this community. For a time I take my turn at carrying the baton that so many have faithfully held before. Here’s to the next 175 Years.

Shalom. Michele Du Saire
current Vicar

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