certainly very strange times that we find ourselves in as I take over as your Rector in the Lambfold Benefice! By way of introduction,
my name is Sue Stanley and I am married to John. We have three daughters, all of whom are married, and a nineteen-month-old
granddaughter. I was born and am still living in the parish of Stowe Nine Churches and we will continue to live there with
our dog, cat, one remaining hen and two aged Kune Kune pigs, rather than move into the Rectory.
As I write this we are in England just coming to terms with the new Covid19 ‘rule of six' and considering
what impact it might have on our lives. Thankfully worship in our churches is unaffected and we are still cautiously doing
what we can, but for many people this new rule is presenting all sorts of questions about who can and can't be included
in family gatherings and so on. For me one of the most difficult things about lockdown to date has been the months lost of
seeing our granddaughter (who lives in Cardiff so locked-down for longer) grow and develop; but it has also opened my eyes
to the importance of relationships and community.
We saw a great sense of community in the initiatives
which earlier this year sprang up in many villages; collecting supplies for local foodbanks, delivering hot meals to elderly
residents and providing helplines for anyone experiencing difficulties and so on. For me this is a vision for the future which
we need to nurture; a vision of community and relationship where the common humanity of each person is recognised and where
we all stand ready to help our neighbour, not only because they might be affected in some way by Covid19, but because they
are made in the image of God; ‘So God created humankind in his image ... male and female he created them;' (Genesis
1:27) and therefore are an individual of infinite worth for whom Christ died. In Africa there is a beautiful philosophy of
‘Ubuntu' which means "I am because we are. I am because I belong. I am because I participate." embracing
the notion that humanity cannot exist in isolation and we all need community and relationships in order to exist.
Although I won't be living in the Rectory I am very much looking forward to building relationships and being
part of your communities. Obviously the situation at the present time has sadly brought a halt to most of the social activities
in the villages - although I did manage to attend a couple of events before the ‘rule of six' came in - so meeting
people is going to be difficult. However I hope to be out-and-about in the villages as much as possible and will be delighted
to stop for a ‘socially distanced' chat, and of course please feel free to contact me.