UNITED PARISH of SOUTH WEST GOWER
Comprising St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon; St Mary’s, Rhossili;
St David’s, Llanddewi; St Illtyd’s, Oxwich; St George’s, Reynoldston; St Andrew’s, Penrice; and St Taurin’s, Knelston.
Facebook: Parish of Southwest Gower
SEPTEMBER Worship and Meeting times on Zoom
Sundays at 10am Worship with hymns
Wednesdays at 9.30am Holy Communion
at 2.30pm Prayer Study Group
Thursdays at 10am Methodist Chapel Prayer Meeting
Fridays at 10.30am Coffee Morning
We are delighted to report that it is planned, subject to the current ‘opening up’ situation continuing, to hold an actual Parish Harvest Festival Service on Sunday 27th September at 3pm in Reynoldston Village Hall. Careful planning according to Government and Church in Wales Regulations will be essential and further details will be communicated as soon as possible, as well as arrangements for booking places.
Much as we should like, as usual, to be at Llanddewi, ‘the church in a farmyard’, to celebrate harvest thanksgiving, its size allows very few people. Reynoldston Hall however will allow a good congregation, with the required social distancing. It will also be an opportunity to inspect several improvements, including a new floor, which have been made during the lockdown. We should all like to join in congratulating Cathy Dorran on her recent award in the vegetable garden section of a Daily Telegraph national competition. At the same time we should thank her for the pleasure and colour she has brought to numerous Gower gardens this year from the thousands of flower seedlings she had personally bought to be grown for our (then) cancelled Parish Plant Sale to raise funds for the Welsh Refugee Council, as reported in the May magazine.
REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
St David’s, Llanddewi
Having last month wondered whether we might be opening the churches for personal prayer or limited services of worship, we are all recognizing now that this is really not going to be feasible for some time to come, given the regulations and guidelines for cleaning, distancing and so on. The risks of gathering in our small churches, and the precautions to minimize these, are just too great. So for the present we will rely on other ways of keeping in touch with one another and worshipping together. As well as internet connections, printed service sheets and newsletters have been prepared and distributed by Rev. Justin who has been doing a great job in keeping us informed, gathering and even growing. The Ministry Area magazine is also keeping our communities informed and entertained. Since lockdown, it has increased in its area of content and interest, with some inspiring articles, poems and photos as well as articles on local history, recipes etc. and characters. This development is thanks largely to Rev Nigel King, who has done much to encourage new ideas, and to Jim Harford for producing the colourful magazine.
Meantime the special little place of gathering at Llanddewi has been made more fit for future purpose: the floors and furniture have been treated, new padded chairs installed, and now the memorial plaque is being restored and made safe on the wall, where its interesting inscription will be available to be read again. We are very grateful indeed to the Gower Society for covering the costs, and to Rev Justin for arranging it all. We look forward to welcoming people to visit and to worship there in due course.
We continue to hold Alan and Valerie Miles in our prayers, hoping Valerie’s health will soon improve. Penny Henderson
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
At the suggestion of the editor, I write about three people who have been an influence on my life except for my parents of course who had the greatest influence of all.
I was first taken to a Congregational Church by Granny Austin who I am grateful to have known for the first 20 years of my life. We always lived near to this dear Christian lady. She was about 5 ft. tall with her hair in a bun and dressed in demure, grey dresses. She always had a smile on her face and was always interested in everyone and everything around her.
She had been a chapel-goer all her life and married another very devout Nonconformist. I do not know much about her theological views but imagine she would be very accepting of the Word. I do know that she exhibited everything which a good Christian should. She showed love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Everyone loved Flossie and I am very grateful for this Granny who passed on these virtues to her daughter, my mother. I loved Granny Austin deeply.
On going up to Bangor at 18, I met my husband. Knowing that I was going to this city, a lady with a daughter already studying there told me ‘Watch out for the theology students’. Not heeding this advice I fell for one of them and spent over 50 years with him. As my interest in theology grew, I always had Ben to refer to. I did not go to a commentary nor to Google but to my husband for opinion or confirmation. I greatly miss not having this reference library to hand.
When we first moved to Swansea we attended the Congregational Church in Swansea which later became the United Reformed Church. The minister was the Rev. Kim Fabricius who hailed from New York. He was an extremely erudite theologian and a great preacher though I must admit that I did sometimes get lost in his sermons! He was also the Nonconformist chaplain to the students in the University.
He ran a mid-week study group for the church which he called the Exploration Group. Sometimes it consisted of Bible study and at other times we would watch a video, provoking much discussion. It was at these meetings that I began to question my faith and wanted to understand it more deeply.
The whole group felt very at ease with Kim for nothing was out of bounds for discussion. We all felt comfortable asking questions which we might not have felt able to ask in other company. How I wish I could still go to his Exploration Group with my queries and difficulties. Sadly, Kim is no longer with us but played an important part in arousing my interest in theology.
A very assured theological student asked his tutor, ‘Are you saved?’ The tutor replied, ‘No, but I am in the process of being.’
I am very grateful to these people who have passed through my life and have helped with the process of my being saved.
St Andrew’s, Penrice
Congratulations to Cathy Dorran who was one of the green-fingered winners in the Daily Telegraph gardening competition. There was a picture of Cathy’s vegetable garden on the front page of the Telegraph
Saturday section on 1st August. Richard, Cathy’s son, submitted the photo and with over 800 entrants Cathy was a winner in the vegetable section. A great acknowledgement of Cathy’s hard work and skill in creating such a lovely and productive garden.
Good news that All Saints in Mumbles and St Peter’s, Newton have opened, albeit with restrictions, but as they are bigger churches the congregations can be spaced out unlike our small ancient places of worship.
The cottages at Penrice are full with lots of visitors around, quite a few visiting for the first time. We have been able to keep the path to the Church cut and the area leading up from the woods, as it is used frequently by walkers. We all look forward to the day when we can reopen the Church and welcome everyone in again.
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
Whether there will be news of Gower churches re-opening, by the time you read this, remains to be seen. Rev. Justin’s services on Zoom have been a pleasure, also the Friday Coffee Morning, albeit lacking Caffi Cattwg’s splendid cakes and coffee.
Our congregation very much looks forward to enjoying our newly repaired and decorated premises when the time comes.
Many of us have at last been reunited with long-absent family members or have been able to travel to visit them. We are so blessed to have Gower and its amenities to offer to visitors and the sounds of happy voices echoing up from the beach help compensate for the traffic and pollution-free calm we enjoyed during the worst of the lockdown. May God spare us any repeats of that dire situation.
Congratulations to Cathy Dorran on being a finalist in the Daily Telegraph Lockdown Gardening competition. There was a front page picture of her immaculate vegetable garden at Horton, from which many local gardeners and consumers have enjoyed vegetable and flower seedlings.
Please pray for our friend Paul Carman, who is facing an operation soon; also for the continued well-being of Nova and Jean who have had to shield for many months; and for anyone else in such difficult situations.
St George’s, Reynoldston
Having been privileged to enjoy the tranquility during the lockdown, it is time now to share Gower again with visitors, especially those from urban areas with crowded living conditions. It is great to see our King Arthur and other pubs open again as well as shops, cafés, B and B’s, second homes and holiday accommodation. Our local economy needs this desperately. Yes, there are some problems with traffic hot-spots and a few incidences of anti-social behavior but we should still be willing for others to experience our good fortune.
We have lost yet another major contributor to Gower as well as nationally with the death of Alan Richards from Little Reynoldston, so soon after his cousin Adrian.
Born in Swansea he enjoyed a highly successful career in the Post Office, at one stage spending four years in Tanzania where he was Postal Controller for the East African Postal Service and later travelling worldwide for the Postal Consulting Service. On moving to Reynoldston in 2001 he became very active in the National Coastguard Institute, beginning as Watch Keeper at NCI Worm’s Head, and organizing the equipping of the old Coastguard building as well as training a team of watch keepers. From 2011 he became National Chairman for five years and oversaw the expansion of the charity to some 50 lookouts with over 2000 volunteers in England and Wales as well as developing close links with other maritime bodies. His vision and tenacity enabled the NCI to become firmly established as a highly respected part of the Search and Rescue services. Alan will be remembered as modest, kind and always eager to help and advise. Our condolences are extended to Terri and the family.
St Mary’s, Rhossili
A brighter moment is happening at St Mary’s in Rhossili – a gorgeous summer wedding on Saturday. The church has been mothballed since coronavirus lockdown started in March but here is an opportunity to bring it to life again for a joyous occasion. Sounds easy – yes? NO! Many legal constraints and restrictions exist and we have jumped through all the hoops for this couple, who are so thrilled to be able to marry and just don’t want to delay any longer. Assessments, certifications, permission from the Archdeacon to open the church, deep cleaning, measuring and more measuring, gloves, masks, visors, sanitizers, floor tape, directions, notices, posters, track and trace – at last everything is in place. Final checks, flowers and rehearsal on Friday, wedding on Saturday. Only 12 invited guests are allowed to enter the church, they must socially distance, they can only sit in their allotted seats, and doors are closed to everyone else. Yet it will be very special for Dannie and Gage, and we wish them every happiness on their wedding day and for their future lives together. While making preparations at the church, we have been repeatedly surprised and delighted that expectant visitors push open the doors to peep inside, and some give us stories about their own home church circumstances. With the single exception of the rise of successful local online services, all of it is sad, regretful, and each visitor is hoping that we have opened for them – we have to continue to say that we can’t yet meet their need, but hopefully soon they will be able to return to find us open again, offering peace and tranquility as always.
Many and heartfelt thanks to Rev. Justin and family for keeping everyone in the loop via the weekly service sheets and the Zoom services and to the many people both church and chapel who worship together on a weekly basis .
Gower has moved on from a very peaceful quiet place to being almost overwhelmed with visitors in little more than a couple of weeks Having this volume of people can be a bit wearing but by now things will I’m sure have returned to some form of normality .
Roger Button/Caroline Johnson
Rev Justin Davies
©The Parish of South West Gower is part of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon in the Church in Wales