The monthly magazine of St Andrew’s, Devizes; Marston Chapel;

and Trinity, Market Lavington

October 2019

Minister's Musings


Revd Gary Gotham


Dear Friends,


Last month I wrote about the loss of social infrastructure - the places and spaces where we are gently made to rub shoulders with different people.  Places that enable us to get to know each other and for stranger to become friend.  Places where 'they' become 'us'.  Places like libraries, youth clubs, pubs and churches.  As these are taken from us under the pretence of austerity, so the sense of community breaks down, crime increases and fear takes hold.  We, as a church, are ideay placed to be the antidote to this breaking down.


This month, I'd like to give an example of this in action - where church has been able to build up, to enable links and networks to grow stronger.


Recently, St Andrew's hosted a film show - nothing life changing about that - but it brought us together with Sustainable Devizes and Extinction Rebellion.  Over refreshments, I heard many conversations of young and elderly people desperately wanting to build a better world for themselves and their children and grandchildren.  A world that won't be battered by frequent storms, where the elderly don't die of dehydration in yet another summer heat wave, where the seashore isn't covered in plastic and rubbish and where food becomes even more expensive because the pesticides have killed all the bees.


I believe the church's role is what it has always been - signposting people to a better world - a better way of being.  Not in a self-righteous manner but in simply saying, 'We believe and have hope in a God who is creative, who renews, who invites us to usher in the Kingdom of God among us'.


And I believe part of that Kingdom of God is His created world being restored.  1 Chronicles 16:33 says 'Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the LORD, for He comes to judge the earth'.


So, how and what can we do?  I have some ideas and will offer them for consideration shortly.  In the meantime - what do you think your church could do to build a better world, a sustainable world, in which 'they' become 'us'?  As I ended last month - how can we actively invite others to experience a different way of life - not merely existing but living.


Let us join in Christ's mission of loving the world.

God bless,




I found the following article called ‘Ditch the outdated sermon - Multisensory messages are engaging’ by Sue Washburn on a website called 'Presbyterians Today' (

I wanted to lift concepts from it to start a conversation within our churches but the copyright licence states I can use the whole article but can’t make derivatives of it so I have laid it out whole below.  What I would love to hear from you is your thoughts about her writing. In other words, outside of church how do you learn best ... are you a reader, a listener, a do-er?

Do your hands need to be busy - knitting, cooking, doodling, wood turning, clicking / chewing a pen (!!!) while you listen to the radio, watch the television or a attend a lecture or speaker at Tuesday Fellowship / Ladies Evening Group?  Do you prefer discussion so you can test and refine your ideas and learning or would you rather sit and receive from an expert in their field?  Please let me know your thoughts - in person, by email or phone - I’d love to know.

And now for Sue’s thoughts…

"I never thought of myself as a crafty person. The small motor skills required for sewing or crocheting make my brow knit in frustration. Coloring books meant to lower blood pressure increase mine. But I confess that there have been weeks where I’ve been crafting some sort of visual aid to go with the sermon I’m preparing.

One big benefit of serving a small church is that it’s possible to make the worship service more of a hands-on experience rather than a lecture. Twenty or 30 people is more like a birthday celebration than a concert-hall event.

As a result, the worship service can be more personal and multisensory. People can talk and mingle. They can even leave with some sort of favor to remind them of what they did in church that day.

In an increasingly visual age, many small churches still don’t have the technology for PowerPoint or video displays that larger churches use to enhance the worship experience, so creating a multisensory experience requires some effort.

Many times, I find myself at my kitchen table creating visual aids for sermons. These can be anything from crude drawings on poster board to hand-tied gift tags reminding us of the gifts of God.




For me, crafting a good sermon requires more than putting some inspirational words on paper. Perhaps this stems from my training as a high school teacher who was taught that not all students are auditory learners. The teacher who simply lectured the whole time was considered a poor instructor. Some students have to move around to learn effectively. Others need to talk about what they learned, while still others need a visual to help them understand.

While this multisensory approach can happen naturally in a worship service — with music, greetings, stained glass and candles, for instance — I try to add it to the sermon as well.

There is no doubt that the lecture-style sermon is the best communication tool for big groups and is the preferred learning style for some. Culturally, we still use the lecture style anytime we need to pass information along to a large group. And for those educated in the ’60s and ’70s, the so-called “sit and get” strategy that teachers were trained in is the most familiar way to gather new information. Sit at school and take notes. Sit at church and learn about God. Sit in front of the TV and listen to the news.

Increasingly, though, parishioners expect more than a preacher standing behind a lectern. And for swaths of people under the age of 40, who have been exposed to multisensory instruction since preschool, such a sermon is outdated. Today’s young adults are no longer passive listeners, but active participants in their own learning. They didn’t sit in rows and scribble. They saw pictures, learned in small groups and created projects that demonstrated the ideas being taught. When they come to church as adults, they don’t just want to hear about God. They want to experience God in different ways. If they want to listen to a sermon, they can do that on their phone.

As small-church leaders, we need to realize that a traditional sermon may not be the best way to reach our communities. We need to discern how we can craft engaging sermon experiences that invite people to deepen their understanding of God in new ways. We need to recognize that not everyone has the same learning style and offer biblical and theological insights in ways that people can internalize rather than just rationalize. As a small group, we can see, touch, taste and hear
about the goodness of God together."

Sue Washburn is the pastor of Reunion Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
By Sue Washburn | Presbyterians Toda




Click HERE to read Bill Thomas'  'Reflections on the ten HOLY HABITS'






Once again the Club, for children aged 5 - 11 years, met at Trinity C E Primary Academy in August.

Volunteers from various Churches in Devizes started each day of the week with Devotions which set us all up for the morning ahead.

Approximately 50 children attended each day and, throughout the week, we looked at God's power in the life of Joseph. The programme was very slick and we did games, singing, acting, craft and sports (outdoors, weather permitting). The first part of the morning was always spent in the hall and then we went off in three age groups to do the various activities.

All the children were very well behaved and it was a privilege to work with them. Some of the older children in particular asked some very interesting questions and some bibles and tracts were given out. Apart from the adult helpers there were about 12 teenagers who having been to the Holiday Club in earlier years still liked to come along. They were a great help and also had a time with Steve Dewar (Youth for Christ - worker), who helped them to come closer to God.


"I joined the team at the Holiday club at Trinity school for the last two days of the week. It was my first time joining the Churches Together excellent group of people and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the organisers and meeting the wonderful children at Trinity. They were all so talented and enthusiastic and it was a splendid two days. My sincere thanks to the superb team of dedicated people-it was a pleasure to meet them. They obviously had worked tremendously hard preparing all the activities which were greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone involved."




News from Churches Together in Devizes


 A review is taking place of all the Churches Together (CT) activities and means of communication. It has already been agreed to terminate the website and Facebook pages which were rarely used.

Meanwhile individual churches have made their own Harvest Supper arrangements and there will be no shared

CT Harvest Meal this year.

The review will continue at the next CT Forum meeting in October.




Open the Book

is celebrating its

20th anniversary

throughout 2019!



In 1999 a small group of church volunteers started going into primary school assemblies in Bedford to read and act out stories using The Lion Storyteller Bible.


After being inspired by this, the project spread into Gloucestershire in 2001.  Later, in 2007, a national charity was formed.  With increasing growth of volunteer numbers into the thousands, OtB joined Bible Society in 2013.


Now, in 2019, we want to celebrate and spread OtB even more.  Come and join us!


In Devizes


Since September 2014 a team of people from various Devizes churches have gone into Trinity School assemblies on Thursdays and dramatised a Bible story to a hall of enraptured children.


The dressing up and occasional hamming of lines has been a lot of fun.  Only some of the team are needed each week, so the volunteers just commit to the weeks they want to do.


Now recruiting a second team


In January 2016 a second team started doing the Open the Book assemblies on Tuesday mornings at Southbroom Infants School.


If you would like to help, please ring Canon Paul Richardson 07747 583954, or Revd Gary Gotham 07946 475587.


Open the Book is a three year scheme available from the Bible Society and is proving very popular in primary schools all over the country.






Boughton House, Northants 


 We had another really interesting and refreshing Greenbelt weekend this year.  I even found my postcard in the URC tent.  Our youth ambassadors all seemed to be really enjoying the relaxed friendly atmosphere.  Our days of listening to thrash bands are long over but we enjoyed hearing a huge variety of music from St. Martin’s in Fields Chorale to John Bell’s Big Sing of Wild Goose hymns, plus of course the usual Beer and Hymns session!  Plus we heard some fascinating talks and discussions : Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty international talking about the need for civil disobedience in the face of injustic;, Ivan Humble ex-EDL member explaining his journey from right-wing extremism to reconciliation activist; Hannah Crichlow, the neuroscientist, discussing how possible free-will might actually be; Revds Kate Bottley and Stephen Cotterell (Bishop of Chelmsford) amongst others, looking at different ways to doing church; Maggie Aderin-Pocock (The Sky at Night) enthusing about the moon and its role in protecting the earth. To just mention a few.  


Then of course there was the “Christmas at Greenbelt” Communion, complete with camels; very funny unruly working class shepherds (“where are the workers in the Nativity?! We want more workers in the Nativity!!”); a tandem dressed as a donkey for Mary & Joseph.  The atmosphere is always wonderfully friendly and accepting and we come back enthused and refreshed every time. 


St Andrew's is -






We have all seen the pictures of the devastating destruction of the Amazon rainforest causing huge loss of wildlife, great distress to the indigenous people and sending vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. This is not the only area to burn trees. According to NASA, during August, 70% of the 10,000 fires burning worldwide were in Africa. These natural savannah fires are welcomed here as the land is regenerated for next year's new growth. Greenpeace have said that in Indonesia an area of rainforest nearly twice the size of Japan has been destroyed in the last 50 years. Their president has issued a permanent moratorium on 66 million hectares.

 Another area which I learned about in the film “Burned” is the southern states of North America. Historically, this low lying area was a natural forest of mixed wood, home to many animals, birds, amphibians, insects, plants and fungi. The trees were carefully managed with good wood harvested for building and furniture with the old, diseased trees being burnt for fuel. Now large areas are being decimated; the trees sent to biomass factories where they are made into wood pellets that are shipped mostly to Europe. Burning these in the now disused power stations sends more harmful gases into the atmosphere than when burning coal! Sadly some clever misinformation convinced the EU that biomass is carbon neutral, so we are all paying a portion of our fuel bills to help fund this foolishness. Boosted by this generous financial help, the trees now being planted are fast growing, single species forests with little habitat for wildlife.


A group of Swiss scientists have estimated that a trillion trees need to be planted to fight global warming. In 2017 India planted 66 million trees and this August in one state alone – Uttar Pradesh 220 million trees were planted in one day. Ethiopia beat this by planting 224 million in 1 day in August. They plan to plant 4 billion trees between May and October. In this country it has been left to the water companies in conjunction with land-owning charities to promise 11 million trees. Have you got a spade handy?

Christine Madigan



The Testaments Group


10.30am on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month


Come and join this new group starting on 3rd October upstairs at St. Andrew's Church. The Bible Society have come up with a great little 8-session course on the Bible that helps us gain a good understanding of the big story. It includes videos and a copy of the manual for each person (£5 each).  This is a chance to grasp together what the Bible is and how it shows us what really matters.


Please tell Bill Thomas or John Saunders you would like to join the group (so enough copies of the manual can be bought). 



PRAYER FOR OCTOBER - from The Prayer Group


Lord when I think about, I reckon I sometimes come to you to show you how much I am doing.   To encourage you to tell me what a hardworking, good and faithful servant I really am.    I sometimes wonder how you would get along without me!

Forgive my pride, Lord.  Forgive me for believing there are no limits to what I can do.  Forgive me for trying to do so much that I do most of it badly.  Forgive my arrogance that says if I don't do it, it'll never get done at all. Sometimes it does seem like that. Help me to realise that when there seems to be no-one around to do all that needs doing - you are.

(Part of a prayer by Eddie Askew)


Hilary Burn



From the Pastoral Secretary

Shopmobility – Could it Help You?

Shopmobility is a nationwide scheme that lends manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchairs, and scooters to people with limited mobility, thus allowing them to shop and visit leisure and commercial facilities within a town, city or shopping centre.

The scheme is open to anyone with mobility impairments, be it permanent or temporary. Each local scheme operates slightly differently; some provide Shopmobility as a free service while others make a charge.

The following information about hiring scooters has been kindly provided by a church member:

“Do you have a problem with walking and would love to be able to get out and enjoy life more? You may find that Shopmobility is an answer.

This scheme enables you to hire a mobility scooter in many towns, thus enabling you to once again visit shopping centres, go to the shops, purchase goods, have coffee or a meal out.

Towns operating this service nearest to Devizes include Swindon, Swindon Outlet Centre, Andover, Bath and Salisbury. Further afield – Winchester, Basingstoke and Portsmouth. You can even hire one at Westonbirt and Blenheim Palace. The National Federation of Shopmobility Website would help you to find other places.

Hire prices vary. Swindon Outlet Centre is free; others may charge an annual membership fee of £16 plus £1 each visit.

To start you off – here are some phone numbers:

Swindon Town Shopmobility (including the Outlet Centre): 01793 512621

Andover: 01264 352000         Salisbury: 01722 328068

It is best to book a few days ahead, but check the weather forecast to avoid driving around in the pouring rain!”

Further information, and the opportunity to order a directory of participating towns, cities, businesses and events, can be found on the National Federation of Shopmobility website: or by phoning 01933 229644.

Other useful local community transport information can be found on the Community First Transport Directory: or by phoning 01380 722475 and asking for the Community Transport Team.

                                                                                      Jennifer Brearley



Click HERE for October TURNING POINT news