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

and Trinity, Market Lavington

December 2019

Minister's Musings


Revd Gary Gotham


Dear Friends,


Last month I wrote about our churches being places that enabled the restoration of God’s creation - people and planet. This was appreciated by some but referred to as ‘preaching’ by one - something that made me smile inwardly - after all, that’s what I‘m called to do.

Across universities and development charities like Christian Aid, there is widespread support for Climate Strikes. Not because they believe in inconveniencing people, but because they have studied the science and know that the time for endless talking is over. As the son of a nature reserve warden I have watched for 40+ years as environmentalists have educated, petitioned, fundraised and lobbied to save nature and yet in my lifetime the populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60%. When 11,000 scientists across more than 150 countries ask us to behave like we are facing an emergency, maybe it’s time to listen and act. Now.

Throughout history the big shifts, the big changes, have only come after a struggle; the limiting of the Monarch's absolute power by the Magna Carta, the vote for women, the end of apartheid in South Africa, civil rights in America. All involved struggle. All were profoundly ‘messy’. The science is clear, the debate is over - the time for change is now and those most affected by it, those who will have to live with it the longest, our young people, are the ones most vocal, because they have the most to lose. But now they are joined by professionals, grandparents and working women and men.

The church agonises over the drift of our young people away from the life of faith. They are drawn to and energised by people who speak with passion and integrity. The Church has a choice - we can get involved, marrying words and action with integrity, or we can be seen to have chosen to sit on the sidelines and be ignored or viewed as part of the problem. Can we honestly speak of a God of love and then continue to live as though the climate crisis is just an inconvenience? Driving our cars for our daily cup of coffee? Or buying plastic Christmas presents while planning this year’s flight or cruise?

The Church of England report ‘From anecdote to evidence’ states “Just as willingness to change and adapt was associated with growth, the survey findings point to evidence that unwillingness to change by congregations leads to decline.”  All of us find change difficult, but some people are able to adapt quicker than others to such changes.

Advent is traditionally a time to prepare ourselves for Christ’s arrival anew in our lives. The readings that the Church offers us are tough, harsh even - calling us to repent, turn from all that separates us from God; to change our ways and to build a future different from the past. A future fit for Christ - fit for a king born in a cave, who met people’s needs rather than their wants, who stood separate from and challenged the powerful and the rich.

The challenge for the church of today, and the challenge that will be there for the church of tomorrow, remains what it probably always has been, and that is to stay in touch, or to get in touch with the people that it says that it wants to lead to Christ.

May God grant us the ability to do that.

God bless,





Christian Aid Christmas Appeal

Women around the world are living in the toughest circumstances due to poverty and prejudice. For those who are also mothers, it is a constant fight to protect and feed their children.

These women are strong, determined and resourceful. Given a chance, they could use these God-given gifts to build new lives for themselves and their families.

Through our Christmas Appeal, you could help give that life-changing opportunity. For example:

Ranjita lives in India. Since she was nine years old, she has been made to work in dirty, smelly conditions with very little pay. She is now 30 years old and wants her children to have a better life than she had. She wants to find opportunities for them to become amazing people. Christian Aid’s partner in India, ARUN, brings women together and helps them turn their lives around. The group helped Ranjita find out about her rights, apply for a government grant, and start a new life for herself. She bought a sewing machine and started mending clothes four years ago. Since then, Ranjita’s life and her children’s lives have changed for the better. Ranjita can now afford to rent a room for her family to live in away from the slums where they used to live. Her youngest child Soniya can now go to school. She is the first of Ranjita’s children to be able to do so.

Donations towards this work can be made online by going to:



Christmas Best Wishes from the Pastoral Team



We hope that you will all find a measure of peace and joy this Christmas, whether with family or sharing some time with friends. At the time of writing I have no information about community Christmas Day meals, but usually a meal and entertainment is available at Sheep Street Baptist and St. James’ Church. If you know of anyone who would rather not be on their own – look out for news.

It has been the custom at St. Andrew’s to give gifts to members and friends who are known to be 80 and over. However, I understand that 80 is now possibly the new 70!

As it will soon be time for the pastoral visitors to buy gifts, please let me know if you personally would prefer to opt out from having one.

Jennifer Brearley

Pastoral Secretary


St Andrew's is an -






As I get older, I get more irritated about little things but there is nothing more likely to get me riled than an advert that says I must have their products. I realise that they are in business to make a profit and to do that they must sell things but I want to decide for myself what I must have. At this time of year when we would like to spend extra to treat, not just ourselves but friends and family, to something special, there are some things we are urged to think about.

Do I really need this? Will it be appreciated/ used/ eaten ----- or discarded?

Has it been ethically produced?

Is it made of recyclable materials?

Has it been transported far?

 In spite of all the concerns in this country and around the world, let us all remember that Love came down at Christmas.

 I wish you all a Very Happy Christmas.

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 DECEMBER - from The Prayer Group


      As we come to this season of Advent, may the love of God in our lives enable us to bring light into the lives of everyone we meet.

As we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Lord, may our hearts be opened to one another, that this Christmas time may bring happiness to others as we make our own preparations in our homes.

So much joy can be in the world if we take the bounty we receive in the love of Christ, which is without limit, with us to everyone we meet each day.

May the joy of Christ's birth be with us all.




Click HERE for December TURNING POINT news