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

and Trinity, Market Lavington

March 2020


Dear all,


At the beginning of March, St Andrew's will be looking at the Methodist report 'God in Love Unites Us' which encourages us to think through our understanding of committed relationships in the light of faith and experience.


Beginning on Maundy Thursday, we will be introducing a monthly Coffee, Cake and Communion in the foyer of the church.  We hope it will offer an experience of worship closer to those who have struggled to access Sunday worship for whatever reason.

Trinity are in the early stages of planning our presence at this summer's Market Lavington Vintage Meet and running a renewal of wedding vows service and afternoon tea for couples in their villages.  This will be timed to coincide with next Valentine's Day.  Also renewing ageing hymn books to a more modern and inclusive hymnary.

All of these initiatives have one thing in common - a desire to relate faith to the world around us and to bring our experience of that world to the God-who-is-love.

In a society that increasingly portrays religion as superstitious nonsense from a bygone era, Trinity and St Andrew's repeatedly demonstrate a loving relevance to anyone who is fortunate to spend time in the orbit of these church's lives.

So let us keep inviting people into tht first experience and trust that God and our fellow followers of Christ, will do the rest

Gary Gotham





Marriage and Relationships - Continuing the Conversation


Wednesday 4 March at 7.30 p.m. in St Andrew's Church



An opportunity to discuss our thoughts, hopes, concerns and questions on the Methodist Report - GOD IN LOVE UNITES US.  Revd Tracey Lewis will facilitate our conversations.



Recently some folks from St Andrew’s attended an Area meeting at Westbury Methodist Church addressed by Rev Dr Jonathan Pye, Chair of the Bristol Methodist District. He led a discussion on the Methodist Conference’s Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019 report entitled "God in love unites us".  It looks at how marriage and relationships have changed in recent years and considers how the Methodist church might respond to issues such as same sex marriage.  Churches are encouraged to discuss the proposals and individual Church Councils will feed back their views to Synod prior to the 2020 Methodist Conference.


At the meeting we recognised that these matters are complex, with recent developments both to the understanding of human relationships and to how scripture is interpreted.  Facing these matters together will often be challenging.  For example, within the Methodist Church some people hold to a Biblical interpretation that allows same sex relationships, while others have an interpretation that does not. We noted that a good outcome to discussions is that we understand the issues and respect different approaches.  We need to discover ways of listening well and, where necessary, disagreeing well, recognising that we are all seeking to be faithful to the divine revelation that scripture gives us.


The report concludes with the following thoughts which may be helpful in our deliberations here at St. Andrew’s:


“At the conclusion of our reflections, we have identified three key themes that run through our work. We offer them now as suggestions for how the Methodist people may wish to continue with this work. In summary, we propose the following aims:


Be open and positive about sexuality and relationships.

 We hope to enable the Methodist Church to speak openly, positively, and joyfully as well as wisely about relationships and sexuality as one aspect of God’s gracious goodness and of who God has made us to be.


Value all relationships of grace. We invite the Methodist Church to value all committed faithful loving relationships that bear the marks that we can see in the love of Jesus and are within the law of the land. We encourage the Church actively to offer greater dignity, inclusion and restoration in the community of God’s new creation to those who cohabit, are single, or are developing relationships, irrespective of sexuality and gender.


Widen and justify the understanding of marriage as being between two persons.

We offer to the Methodist Church a theological reflection on marriage as a particular form of ‘gospel’ relationship between two persons and propose that we take steps to enable same-sex couples to get married in the Methodist Church. At the same time, we recognise that not everyone will agree with this and so we ask that the Church seek to protect the differing convictions of those who do not agree.”  This was summed at our meeting as ‘None must but all may’.


We are encouraged to read the report ourselves. Ruth McGregor has a paper copy and it can be found online from the Methodist Church Website: – search for Marriage and Relationships 2019. Other useful information including a video can be found there.



Jenny & Peter Brearley





The following letter has been received  from Parkway Methodist Centre, where we took our Christmas gifts from the Gift service in December.  You will notice how many more families they have helped this Christmas - the need is obviously great.


Dear friends at Devizes,


I am sorry to have taken so long to thank you for your gifts for the Parkway Christmas parcel scheme.  I don't know where the time goes between Christmas and the end of January!  I have thought about you and have at last put pen to paper.  Everything was so much appreciated and we packed for 162 families.


Next Christmas we plan to be packing on 30th November, 1st and 2nd December and we hope you will be able to continue supporting the work we do with the families around this part of Bristol.

Many thanks,


Mary Hurlestone.






Dorothy (Dot) Farmer




"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven" — words from chapter three of Ecclesiastes which was read at the Service held to remember the life of Dorothy (or Dot as we all knew her) Farmer.


Dot spent nearly all her life in Wiltshire with a break when her family moved away when she was in her teens. She came ato Devizes Methodist Church and in the course of time she met Bill and they were married in 1956.


Dot was a very quiet and dedicated loyal member of the Church. They were delighted with the arrivals of Kevin and Keith and as a Mum she, along with others, was a founder member of the original Young Wives Group, which continues to meet as the Ladies Evening Group. Dot played her part in this Group when they organised Bazaars, Coffee Mornings and other events at the Church. Many of these events were reported in the local newspaper and Dot used to cut out these articles and photographs and stick them in scrapbooks which she kept. One could always check with Dot when an event happened because she would refer to the appropriate scrapbook.


She enjoyed gardening, knitting and was very proud of their home, making it welcoming and comfortable.


It seems only a short while since Dot was worshipping with us and after a short spell in hospital she died. We send our love and sympathy to Kevin and Keith.



Ruth McGregor & Eileen Robinson




St Andrews Defibrillator

I hope that by now, everyone has seen our new defibrillator installed on the outside wall of the church. This is for use when someone has suffered cardiac arrest which may threaten life if the appropriate CPR and / or electric shock with a defibrillator is not applied within a short period of time. It is for the use of the church and for public access at any time.

Our unit is an easy to use Fully Automated External Defibrillator (AED) that is small, light, portable and uses its own powerful battery. It is kept in a heated, stainless steel cabinet on the wall.The unit is very user friendly and gives clear audio and visual prompts. It virtually does everything itself.

I am arranging training for 6-12 people. This is to enable them to familiarise themselves with the defibrillator and build confidence to use the unit, if necessary, once it is seen how easy it is. I have made provisional arrangements to supply the training which will take approximately 2-2.5hrs.

If you are interested in attending this training session, please let me know as soon as possible. Please speak to me personally, email me on or telephone 01380 501573.

I assure you that you will enjoy the session.

Bill Thomas.







Monday 24 February - Sunday 8 March

She Deserves a Living Income

It's a scandal that behind the sweet delight of chocolate lies the bitter taste of exploitation. The UK Chocolate industry is worth at least £4 billion a year and yet the average cocoa farmer in Cote d'Ivoir or Ghana, where 60% of the cocoa is grown, earns less than 75p a day. If this wasn't enough to cope with, the climate crisis is wreaking havoc on global food production. Farmers are battling less predictable seasons, more plant diseases and more extreme weather leading to lack of food. They are working longer hours for lower prices. For women it is even more unfair. In Cote d'Ivoir the women carry out two thirds of the labour involved in cocoa farming. They work in the fields, carry water, look after the children and help bring the crops to market and yet they often have fewer rights than men and often earn less than a quarter of the money generated.

That is why the Fairtrade Foundation launched the 'She Deserves a Living Income' campaign last year and is continuing with this theme this year. People do not want poverty and exploitation to be part of the price of their chocolate bars but they are confused by the different 'sustainable' claims and ethical messages around. While 4 million tons of cocoa are produced each year Fairtrade cocoa is only a fraction of this. That is why more people in the UK need to understand the power they have as consumers and choose Fairtrade every time.



Faith’s Fields of Hope


Christian Aid Lent Appeal 2020



This year, we are standing together with our sisters and brothers on the frontline of the climate crisis – like Faith. Through every prayer, gift and action, you can help create lasting change, before it is too late. Together we can stop this climate crisis

  • Faith’s fields used to be dirt and dust. Ongoing drought in Kenya meant next to nothing grew. Water was scarce. Droughts are now more frequent and more intense there due to the climate crisis.

  • Without water Faith and her husband Steven couldn’t grow crops. Without crops they didn’t have enough to eat or sell. Hunger was a reality. Sending their children to school an impossibility.

  • But now Faith grows crops that are lush and green thanks to a nearby dam. Her local community got together to build the sand dam with the support of Christian Aid’s partner ADSE. (Anglican Development Services Eastern)

  • The dam gives Faith’s community resilience in times of drought. While the rains remain irregular, a dam means that when the rain does fall the community can collect every last drop.

  • Because there is now water in Faith’s community, there is life. Faith’s hard work and determination has transformed this resource into a future for her family.

 Faith said: ‘The sand dam has made me and my family happy because when it was not there, I was not able to plant anything. Now we can plant vegetables and water our trees. I hope that by the time my children grow I will have done a lot of things. I’ll do my best to educate my children and my children will be what they want to be when they grow up.’

Drought still remains a threat to Faith as the climate remains uncertain and unpredictable. It is unjust that people like Faith are battling the worst of a climate crisis they did not create. But for now, she at least has the tools she needs to adapt. With the dam, her fields stay green and her family has a hopeful future.

 Donations can be made to the Count Your Blessings Appeal:


Online:                                  Call: 020 7523 2269


Cheque: Christian Aid, 35 Lower Marsh, London SE1 7RL (Write ‘Count Your Blessings’ on reverse of cheque)



Ethical Shopping


Are you concerned about the impact of your shopping habits on the environment and the livelihoods of the producers? If so come along to the Ethical Shopping meeting on Wednesday 4th March in the Town Hall at 7.30 pm and find out about the different labels on products such as the Fairtrade Mark, Rainforest Alliance and

Direct Trade.




World Day of Prayer


Formerly known as Women's Day of Prayer, we now use the title adopted by most of the world, to be more inclusive.  It is still written by, and organised by women, for the whole Christian community.


The service this year is written by the Christian women in Zimbabwe entitled, 'Rise! Take up your mat and walk.'  The local service will be held in our Church, St. Andrew's

10-30 a.m. on Friday 6 March and we hope people from all the Churches in Devizes will join us.

This worldwide, ecumenical service begins at dawn on the Pacific island of Samoa and the voice of prayer continues as each country takes up the service until the sun sets back at the end of the day over the Pacific ocean. And we are part of that!  We invite you to join with us as we share some of the concerns and prayers of the women in Zimbabwe


Ruth McGregor




at  Whitley Methodist Church


Saturday 21 March 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.




The next Quiet Day called ‘A Name defying Definition’ is in Lent, the day before the respite that is Mothering Sunday. It is about how we speak/may speak of God.


Area Quiet Days are for anyone at all who wishes to come along. We gather from 10.00 a.m. and begin at 10.30 a.m.  The day ends between 3.30 p.m. and 4.00 p.m..


We provide tea/coffee/lunch; worship; introduction to the theme of the day; time and space for reflection and prayer; books, and a lovely setting at Whitley Methodist Church. There is no rule about joining in anything at all - we don’t mind if you go to sleep or go for a walk; the day is there to be used as you wish – a rest stop, perhaps, in the midst of daily life.


We encourage anyone to think about coming along, although places are limited.  


To  book your space, please contact by 16 March.   We hope to see you!


Izzie and Janet    


Izzie Smears                                        Janet Tanner

01380 870538                                    01380 738155            





Home for good


Last year in the South West more than 8,000 children came into care. Also,  last year in May, 42 people gave £10,000 to across funder to give away a thousand copies of the book “ Home for good” to people exploring foster or adoption in the coming year.


Claire Walker, the South West Regional officer for Home for Good, a Christian charity working to find  homes for every child who needs one,  led a morning for many of us from churches in the Wiltshire and Swindon. She explored the Biblical basis for Christian involvement in caring for such children, with Biblical quotes such as Deuteronomy 10:18 “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow”,  Psalm 82:3”Give justice to the weak and fatherless”, James 1:27 “ visit orphans and widows in their affliction”.  There are 42 orphans directly mentioned in the Old Testament and concern for the widow and orphan is a recurring theme. Claire went on to explain that she was very much aware of the special needs of vulnerable children and their families. She would love the church to be more proactive in recognising its role in caring for the most vulnerable children in our communities.


Did you know that 109 children go into care every day?  That’s one child every 15 minutes.  These statistics could be overwhelming but Claire went on to emphasise what is trying to be done to alleviate the situation.  Owing to the commitment of people, children can be placed in a loving, caring home in the short or long term.  It is possible that these children may go back to their birth parents, but it is equally that they may not.  Then wheels have to be put in motion for a permanent home.  This produces an in-depth process of research for the appropriate adoptive parents. Obviously the more children in a family, the more the challenge. This is also true for children with disabilities. We will also recognise that the older the children, the harder it will be to place them.


We are highly likely to have prospective or actual adoptees or fosterers in our congregations. Have we things in place for this?  We know children will feel happier with a few people, those they have grown to trust. They will feel “out of place” so we need to be sensitive to this and not be over critical. We need to make relationships the priority.  Asking foster/ adoptive parents about the child’s back story is both inappropriate and also especially with fostered children something which cannot be disclosed.   Simple things like saying after a children’s activity “ now you can go back to your grown ups” rather than “ now you can go back to your mums and dads” can make these children feel more included.  Offers to babysit (with DBS clearance  often), a spot of ironing, shopping etc can also be a big help and support.


More information is available from


Eileen Robinson

Jeannie MacMeekin



St Andrew's is an -




MARCH 2020

Vegetarian or Vegan?

   A year ago I wrote of the advice to eat less meat. Things have moved on apace since then and we are now being urged to give up dairy products as well as meat. However, the farmers are concerned not only for their livelihood but they are worried about the loss of wildlife. Without pastures, there are no flowers, therefore no butterflies, moths and other insects. This leads to fewer birds, then wild animals.

When sheep and cattle are reared on unfertilised, species-rich pasture, they convert the grasses & plants that humans can't eat into high-nutrient protein. This avoids the need for grain feed. Much of the grain used is Soya which has often been grown on cleared rainforests. Other meat and dairy substitutes like avocados and almonds are devastating landscapes in the US and Mexico.

We have to make a decision between cheap, intensively produced meat and no wildlife or to pay a little extra for grass-fed meat with the “Pasture for Life” logo – see 

            Christine Madigan



The Testaments Group


10.30am on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month (January only, on 2nd & 4th Tuesday)


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 MARCH - from The Prayer Group


Here I am Precious God. I come.

I don’t know quite what I have to offer.

I am not great, not learned, not wise.

I don’t have the deepest insights

nor the greatest understanding

I am not the most devout or most faithful.

I am just me.

And yet I hear you calling even me! - unremarkable as I am.

You call. And by your grace you equip me for whatever it is I am called to do and be.

So here I am loving God.

I come.

Karen Campbell – URC Prayer Handbook 2020




Click HERE for March TURNING POINT news