Introducing safeguarding to church members – a training day

An introduction to safeguarding is to be held by the Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership at St Michael’s Priory, The Well, Willen, next month.

The training is for all members of the congregation – particularly those in positions of responsibility, church wardens, church officers, vergers, stewards and sidespersons. Local preachers, worship leaders, choir leaders, church council members and pastoral visitors are also encouraged to attend.

It will take place on Saturday November 4 from 9.30am to 1pm. Contact safeguarding officer Janet Galley to book a place – email j.galley.45@btinternet.com or phone 01908 611841.

The Well’s postcode is MK15 9AA.

Men’s group more than shop full of old curiosities

A shop full old curiosities kept members of Stantonbury Ecumenical Partnership’s men’s group, Room’n’ate, amused at its latest meeting.

Rev Andy Jowitt with the gong from Papua New Guinea.

The curiosities were the years of collecting by the Rev Andy Jowitt who explained where in the world he had amassed the items from.

It was the final meeting for Andy who is leaving the post of minister in Milton Keynes on October 15 after 17 years – firstly solely in charge at Bradwell Church and in more recent years also adding Cross and Stable Church, Downs Barn, to his responsibilities.

Andy brought his curiosities to the meeting at Wolverton House restaurant, Wolverton Mill, fittingly in a battered old suitcase with all but a stool from Uganda fitting into it. The stool was a reminder of the hospitality Andy received when he lived in Uganda many years while he also demonstrated a slit gong featuring a crocodile’s head design from Papua New Guinea, a gift from a visit to the far eastern country.

Closer to home Andy displayed some items passed down his family line including his grandpa’s log – recalling his grandfather had been badly shot during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War and was left for dead, only to be found barely alive later when he was about to be buried.

He had also inherited his grandfather’s watch which had proved to be unreliable, having stopped at the time he was shot.

Andy and his wife Jane are to take up voluntary posts with Christian environmental charity, A Rocha , based near Sudbury in Suffolk and he said he hoped to have more time to do sketching – he demonstrated his only work so far, an excellent drawing of a donkey laden with goods.

Men’s group member, Bob Cross, praised Andy’s hard work as founder and being one of the driving forces of Room’n’Ate. He said: “The best tribute we can make is to keep this group going after Andy leaves.”

Bradwell Church member and Baptist lay preacher, Rod Ruston, closed the meeting with a prayer for Andy and his family.

How Fred and Fran turned tragedy into good with a Harley Davidson motorcycle

Most people when facing up to losing a murdered teenaged son would probably be filled with hatred for the attackers. But that was not the case for Fred and Fran Gill who forgave the three youths who were convicted of killing Robert who was 17 years old.

At Room’N’Ate’s latest meeting – a barbecue held at St James’ Church, New Bradwell, Fred and Fran, from Bedford, recalled how their adopted son was missing for a nearly a week before his body was found in the River Ouse in the town at Christmas 2007. On the night of the attack Robert had been to a nightclub and was drunk.

Both committed Christians – and bikers – Fred said the idea of customising a motorcycle in Robert’s memory came to him some time afterwards. A Harley Davidson Softail special was purchased and painstakingly decorated with artwork and relevant words.

The motorcycle is now taken to events far and wide to illustrate how it is possible to forgive in such difficult circumstances. It was on show at Room’N’Ate – Stantonbury Men’s Group.

One of the inscriptions reads: “Do not be afraid, for I will be with you, when you go through the waters I will be there”. This sentence from Isaiah 43 v 1 and 2 came to Fran when Robert was missing. Little did she realise the significance of it and its connection to where Robert would be found.

They discovered that this is the verse from the Bible that Christian, the pilgrim in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress remembers. Robert was thrown into the river a short way from where Bunyan was baptised.

Fran said: “We knew we had to forgive and not allow ourselves to be overcome by hatred for his attackers. God gave us the strength to do that.”

And as a result of Robert’s murder Fran and Fred were instrumental in the setting up of Bedford Street Angels who are on call outside the town’s nightclubs to try to ensure that no other youngsters come to any harm after an evening out.