Mortimer Benefice

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If you would like to speak with a priest in complete confidence telephone the Vicar, Fr. Paul Chaplin – 01189 331718

Click here to read the Vicar's letter 4th November 2020.

Weekly Newsletter

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View the latest weekly newsletter below.

Weekly Newsletter 29th to 6th November 2020

The Sunday Link 29th November 2020

The Benefice will be live-streaming the forthcoming services

at St. John’s, Mortimer via Zoom

Sunday 22ndNovember at 10 am

The Feast of Christ the King

Sunday 29thNovember at 6 pm

The Advent Procession

Sunday 20thDecember at 4 pm

The Carol Service – Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Thursday 24thDecember at 5 pm


Thursday 24thDecember at 11.30 pm

Midnight Mass

Friday 25th December at 10 am

Christmas Day



Air Vice Marshal Barry Hamilton Newton CB, CVO, OBE.

1st April 1932 - 25th August 2020.


It’s quite often said that the secret of a good life is to die young as late as possible. Air Marshal Barry Newton had a good life, he lived it well, and he took his leave for the next as late as possible. I've known Barry only for the last quarter century or so and there are many others, of course, so much better qualified to write about him as a nationally distinguished figure, as a much respected colleague and a lifelong friend, but, as his village priest, I am honoured to be asked to say a few simple words about this faithful and supportive parishioner and friend whose manifest gifts, whose love of life and whose care for others, was an inspiration and mainstay to so many of us. His passion for life, for doing all things well and his integrity shone through and was always so apparent - perhaps especially whenever he was encouraging the young to see how they could take their part, do something good and worthwhile, go that extra mile for the benefit of the whole community and just make this funny old world of ours a slightly better place.


He had a profound respect for what is just and honourable and a deep sense of duty to the common good. He knew the human condition well enough and empathised with the rest of us who have feet of clay. He judged others generously. He cared for people in a sensitive and unfussy way. And all this care and integrity shone through. Others could see that it was part of the warp and weave of the man; who he was. Surely that and diligence and sheer hard work helped to make him an outstanding leader. He saw leadership in terms of service and of care and selflessness. He shared his many credits with humility. And he helped others shoulder responsibility with honour. He encouraged those around him to see that, whilst failures are part of life, nevertheless, we should never allow ourselves to be defined by our failures, but see how learning from setbacks can strengthen us and make us better people.


He was a man who loved his country - from the beauty of the Blackdown Hills, to the character of the British people, to the service of the crown. He was a patriot. He taught others that public service is good and noble and necessary; and that one can and should serve with integrity and hold true to those values which are eternal. He believed strongly that serving others enriches the giver’s soul and that it is important to give back to the country and to the community which has nurtured us. He also had a great sense of humour and was great fun. He could tease to make a point, but never unkindly, and he loved to laugh.


It struck me that Barry was always happiest when he had a mission; he loved to be occupied. And yet he was never too busy to share his love of life with those around him. In fact he loved having people of all sorts around him. Those horizons he saw as a gifted young Royal Air Force pilot were bright and hopeful. And he continually broadened those horizons. And that hopefulness remained with him. He was, at heart, a genuinely hopeful and optimistic man. And that hopeful spirit inspired others to believe that all sorts of things were possible for them too. To the last his life was instructive.


It’s a cliché, but it could not be truer that Barry and Lavinia were made for each other. They had 57 years of good married life together and they were a great team. They travelled much and adjusted to new surroundings quickly. It must have helped that they were kind and neighbourly. They had lots of parties and loved to entertain and they were always warm and welcoming.


Barry stayed young at heart and aged well and as he aged he taught those around him to age well too through finding confidence to serve the community and do their extra bit for others. He grew old with dignity and with kindness. In quieter moments Barry would share news of Melanie and Charles and Sally and James and Max and one could see that his family meant more than all this world to him. And when the good Lord finally called him he was ready; he was thankful for his blessings and he look forward with hope in the promise of what lies ahead.


In a time without Coronavirus Covid 19 St Mary's church, Stratfield Mortimer, would have been packed full for his funeral with people from all walks of life coming to give thanks for and honour a man who served his country and community with distinction and was a true and loyal friend to so many. He nurtured so many friendships. How many were blessed to receive those handwritten notes which, whether wishing happiness, sympathizing or thanking, were always encouraging. He had a great capacity to give of himself for others and many would be happy and honoured to attest to his influence upon their lives and to his mentorship. 


Barry Hamilton Newton was an officer, an Air Marshal, of formidable accomplishment, and a gentleman who executed all the many duties of his life with care and responsibility, with dignity and honour. But, first and foremost, because it would please him, we give thanks for and commend to God a man who loved his wife and a father who loved his children and grandchildren.


He leaves his community, his country and this world better than he found it. We are going to miss him very much, but we have been blessed to know and love him and we are consoled to know that he is reunited with Lavinia and all those he has loved and not seen a while.


Until, please God, we meet again.


Paul Chaplin

The Reverend Paul Chaplin MA, Vicar



Please join to celebrate and give thanks

at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist

on Sunday 27th September 2020 at 10.00 am

at St John’s Church, Mortimer,

& online at ZOOM

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech. team at 01189333136




Prayer Thought: Jesus’ parable about two sons who don’t do what they say reveals surprises about the most unlikely people who actually do God’s will and serve others and thereby go ahead of the rest into God’s kingdom. St Paul encourages us to look to Christ as our model of humility and service and, like Jesus, look to the needs and interests of others above our own. St Paul urges us to look to find the nourishment we need in the broken bread and shared cup which gives strength to respond to Christ’s call and to offer our lives for the sake of our needy world.

Reflections on this week’s Gospel passage…

At the end of this week’s Gospel is a story to which every child, and everyone who ever was a child, and all parents can relate. How often when children are asked by their parents to do chores do we hear in their response echoes of the same inner and outer conflict expressed in Jesus’ parable of the two sons and their father. It’s the conflict between obedience and rebellion; it’s the conflict between recognizing what needs to be done and yet resenting authority; resenting not being autonomous and completely free to do whatever I choose and when I choose; and to do things my own way. It’s the conflict which arises in us when we hear a voice calling to us beyond our own inner voice and recognize that if we are to do wholeheartedly what we are being called to do then that will, inevitably, constrain and shape our own inner desires and our will.

The key to this passage is Jesus’ question - ‘Which of the two did the will of the Father?’ Jesus addresses what the sons actually did and not what they said. He cracks open the disparity between what is said and what is done.

Jesus wants us to focus on what we do. His parable is a call to integrity. It is, quite bluntly, a parable about ‘putting our money where our mouth is.’ This week’s parable challenges us to ask ourselves: do our words match our convictions; do our deeds match our words? God bless




Sunday 20th September 2020


Please join to celebrate and give thanks

at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist

on Sunday 20th September 2020 at 10.00 am

at St John’s Church, Mortimer,

& online at ZOOM

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech. team at 01189333136


For a rap version of the parable of the workers in the vineyard see




The Red Vineyard at Arles 

Vincent van Gogh


God’s Generous Goodness and the Workers in the Vineyard - My Ways are Not Your Ways cf Isaiah 55:8.

Prayer Thought: The parable we hear this Sunday teaches us that, whilst we may persist in judging by worldly standards, God’s ways are not the ways of this world. And if we want our judgements to be right by God we must learn to pray for guidance and grace to see people as he sees them and to judge others as generously as he judges. Ultimately, God always rewards according to his judgement and not ours. We can never fully understand the ‘mind’ of God who sees goodness where we may see none and who showers blessings where we may see none deserved. Yet, even with our limited vision, we can be sure that he is near and that he will hear every one of us whenever we call to him for guidance and grace to see the truth and to be generous.


The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt’s painting of Jesus’ parable - found only in St Matthew’s Gospel - shows the landowner paying his workers at the end of the day. The weak evening light illuminates the table where the landowner’s wife sits with the account book open. Two workers question the landowner whilst the others to the right talk among themselves. The landowner has hired workers throughout the day and paid them all the same wage, whether they worked all day or only an hour. The workers who worked all day are angry. The focus of Rembrandt’s painting is the two workers questioning their pay. Perhaps the small scale of this painting - 12 x 16 inches? - helps to make us feel as if we are peering into their darkened room. Rembrandt was, of course, a master of using darkness to draw the viewer into the narrative and here he uses his masterful technique to draw us into Jesus’ teaching about generosity.




What do we make of Jesus’ teaching?

 Perhaps most would agree that Jesus’ teaching has changed the world. Yet his sayings can sometimes seem cryptic and hard for us to understand.

Yet when we explore the images and figures of speech that Jesus used we find that really they are all ways of expressing and evoking the same self-giving love of God. Of course, for Christians this self-giving love is manifested supremely in Jesus’ own life.

Jesus’ images and figures of speech communicate ‘spiritual’ truths often not in a literal but in a poetic way. They encourage us to take our own moral decisions with sensitivity and care for others and for the whole of creation. They show that God’s love will never abandon anyone and that that love extends to everyone without exception. And they promise a fulfilment of that hope for justice and peace and wholeness that surpasses anything we might imagine or describe.

When we put aside literalist, judgemental and divisive presentations of Jesus’ teachings what remains is the gospel/good news of divine love - a love stronger than death and the only power that can and will redeem us all and our disordered world. God bless.



Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth Parish Eucharist for Sunday 13th Sept. 2020

Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth

Sunday Eucharist for 13th September 2020 at 10.00 am at St John’s Church, Mortimer

and online at Zoom

If you have zoom difficulties please contact the tech team at 01189333136


The Return of the Prodigal Son

Rembrandt’s ‘Prodigal Son’ is, perhaps, his final word, his spiritual last testament. In this masterpiece he summons all his powers to set before the world Jesus’ message of God’s mercy and forgiveness. The aged artist’s power of realism is not diminished by his years but increased by his insight and spiritual awareness. This prodigal son has wasted, ruined and alienated himself and now, sunk to the condition of a swineherd, he returns to his father’s house. His father hurries to meet and receive his long-lost son with utmost tenderness and fatherly love. As the repentant sinner leans against his father's breast and the old father bends over his son his features manifest that divine love which illuminates the darkness of self-centredness and fear and all that leaves us alienated from God, each other, ourselves and all creation. Rembrandt reveals though the father’s face and gestures that mercy and forgiveness which is of God and which reconciles and makes whole.


Prayer Thought: Jesus reveals how God forgives. We do not earn this forgiveness - it is God’s free gift to us. The only condition is that we must forgive in the same way -forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us’ - not with strings attached, not once only, but unconditionally, freely and always.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize the prisoner was you.


Reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel reading - 13th September 2020 - Matthew 18: 21 - 35.


    When, after years of injustice, democracy dawned in South Africa the Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, revived the idea of ubuntu, which, at heart, is the idea that a person is only a person - a ‘self’ - through other persons - that we only become fully human through relationship with others.


    At the core of ubuntu is the idea of restorative justice; that we need justice - acknowledgement of wrongdoing - but we also need to forgive each other as we need to be restored to each other because how we relate to others defines who we are. Forgiveness is at the core of ubuntu for without it there can be no hope of a right way forward.


    In this week’s Gospel reading Peter, as spokesman for all Christ’s disciples, asks whether we must forgive seven times - which means always (Ref. Genesis 4.24). Jesus answers with a parable about a debtor who, having no chance of paying off his debt, was released from his responsibility. But then he refused to be as merciful to those who were in his debt. Jesus’ message is how can we, who have received God’s forgiveness, ever crush another person by refusing to forgive them? And, as nothing can compare with God’s forgiveness of us, so there is no one we ought not ultimately be able to forgive. Jesus’ message is that when we do not forgive our neighbour we alienate ourselves from God. And he repeats this teaching several times to make the point that when we shut out mercy we show that we have not understood the love of God (Matthew 5.7, 43-48; 6.12-15). Yet, of course, what Jesus says can be very difficult for us to accept.


    Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman who suffered at the hands of Nazis in a WW2 concentration camp, gives a simple insight as to the ‘how?’ She writes of being unable to forget a wrong done to her and tells of how, even though she had forgiven the person, still she kept remembering the incident and could not find peace. Finally, she cried out to God for help to put the problem to rest. She tells of how God’s help came to her in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor ‘to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks.’ The pastor pointed to the call bell in the church tower which was rung by pulling on a rope and told how, after the verger or pastor lets go of the rope the bell keeps on swinging and ringing - slower and slower until there’s a final soft dong and it stops. The same is true of forgiveness. When we forgive we take our hand off the rope. But if we’ve been tugging at our grievances for a long time we shouldn’t be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while.


    Perhaps we find it most difficult to forgive ourselves. There’s story of a priest who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before in his youth. He knew that God had forgiven him, but still he had no peace. In his parish was a woman who loved God deeply and who, it was said, had visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, in his scepticism, asked that when next she spoke with Christ she ask what grievous sin her priest had committed in his youth. A few days later the priest asked ‘Did Christ visit and did you ask him what sin I committed those years ago?’ She replied that he had said: 'I don't remember because what God forgives God forgets.


    This Sunday’s Gospel reading gives comfort and hope to sinner and sinned against - to us all - and teaches us that ‘to forgive is to set a prisoner free and to realize the prisoner was you.


    There’s a humorous story of two brothers who went to their rabbi to settle a longstanding feud. The rabbi got the two to reconcile their differences and embrace. As they were about to leave he asked each one to make a wish for the other in honour of Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year. The first brother turned to the other and said, ‘I wish you what you wish me.’ At that, the second brother threw up his hands and said, ‘See, Rabbi, he's starting it all up again!’

God bless, Paul


Reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel reading - 6th September.

 Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’ Matthew 18:15-20.


In ordinary church life if parishioners are offended by another parishioner they might sometimes complain to the parish priest. If parishioners are vexed by the parish priest they might write to the bishop. If they are displeased by the bishop they might appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury. And perhaps if they don’t approve of the archbishop they appeal to God.


It’s a regular route to appeal to hierarchies to settle differences - thus avoiding personal confrontations. Often the last thing people actually want do is to actually confront the person who is offending them. But, this is what Jesus recommends in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. In fact Jesus insists that if another member of the Church sins against us then we must take the initiative and point out the fault when the two of us are alone: and we should not first appeal to some hierarchical figure. Jesus’ message is that the beginning of forgiveness lies in this personal confrontation and engagement. In other words, Jesus says our first response, if offended, should not be to push offenders away, but, instead, to engage, to have a conversation and to reason with them. And if that doesn’t work the next step of the process of engagement is to bring others into the reasoning process and not to rally the troops of like-minded so that we can get our way, but to get to the truth. Jesus’ message is that our default position is to be one of loving engagement with the clear aim to get beyond the face of the offending actions and remarks and to enquire more deeply into the reasons behind the person’s actions and to seek and to find the truth which, Jesus tells us, sets free. It involves going the extra mile and not giving in to premature judgements. Jesus’ message is a challenge to us all, to everyone in the community, it is the challenge to take responsibility and to exercise real servant-leadership in trying to discern and get to the truth in resolving disputes - gracefully and truthfully - for the good and wellbeing of all.


Jesus’ scenario begins in a candid and painful head-to-head between the person offended and the offender: his message, to repeat, is that the first step is to seek reconciliation personally and privately, without appealing to hierarchies. Jesus’ message is that this form of confrontation and engagement is an essential part of personal forgiveness and reconciliation. He does say that the ultimate court of appeal is to be the community and that the community has the power to treat recalcitrant members like tax collectors, but, of course, that raises the question:- how did Jesus treat tax collectors? This Gospel message is that the Christian community can never be finished with the recalcitrant and that the journey to final reconciliation is as long as the human story.


And our individual vocation in the human story is to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ - the one who is God made visible, the one who has been and continues to be wronged by our trespasses. Yet, though humankind turned its back on God, he, nonetheless, assumed the state of his offenders and suffered and died at their hands. And then he redeemed and raised those offenders to a status they neither deserved nor could reach without his help. As today’s picture - Iain McKillop’s painting of the Reconciliation of Peter – shows, the offended binds himself to the offender in an extraordinary way - it’s God’s way of reconciliation. This is Jesus’ Gospel message for us to share today.


You may know the little story about Rabbi Yitzhak? Once, Rabbi Yitzhak saw a fellow Jew smoking on the Sabbath day, which was something forbidden. The rabbi asked his fellow Jew whether he had forgotten what day it was. The man’s response was, ‘No,’ he knew what day it was. The rabbi then asked him whether he had forgotten that smoking was forbidden on the Sabbath. Again, the man’s response was ‘No,’ he knew it was forbidden. The rabbi then asked surely his mind must have been elsewhere when he lit the cigarette, but the man replied that he knew exactly what he was doing. Rabbi Yitzhak raised his hands and turned his eyes upwards to heaven and said ‘Sovereign of the universe, who is like Your people Israel? I give this man every chance, and still he cannot tell a lie!’ Rabbi Yitzhak was concerned by the waywardness of one of his own, a fellow Jew, and, even though his behaviour presumably offended and upset him, still he could find something good in his neighbour and some common ground to keep him close. God bless


Sunday Eucharist for 6th September 2020

 Please join to celebrate and give thanks at the Mortimer, MWE & Padworth

Sunday Eucharist for 6th September 2020 at 10.00 am at St John’s Church, Mortimer

and online at Zoom

If you have difficulties please contact the tech team – Lorna/Louis/James at 01189333136



‘The Reconciliation of Peter’

           by Iain McKillop

‘You see Jesus on the edge of the lake pressing forgiveness into Peter’s crumpled spirit after Peter had denied Jesus three times. After all Jesus had endured his wounds have become his signature and he signs himself in Peter’s flesh. He presses, crunches Peter so hard that you can see the tracery of fresh red as his wounds begin to open again. ‘By his wounds we are healed.’

Prayer Thought: Am I my brother’s keeper?
Through our baptism we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have a responsibility towards each other: we cannot stand by idly and watch others harm themselves. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading we hear Jesus spell out our Christian family duty. God bless


Sunday 6th September Parish Eucharist

 Dear Friends,


On Sunday 6th September the Parish Eucharist will again be celebrated at St John’s, Mortimer, at 10.00 am. The service will, as usual now, be zoomed. However, there will also be the opportunity for a congregation of no more than thirty people to attend. All coronavirus guidelines will be adhered to carefully e.g. masks must be worn, hands sanitised and distancing maintained. And directions will be given to enable people to move safely through the church to receive Holy Communion.


Please, if you would like to attend at St John’s this next Sunday then please e mail or telephone Lorna, our head verger: / 01189333136


God bless