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A Farewell to Walbury Beacon Benefice

Since it’s airing 37 years ago in February 1983, the series finale of the award-winning show M*A*S*H entitled “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”, remains the single most watched episode and TV event of all time with more than 125 million viewers. Set during the Korean War, M*A*S*H followed the daily exploits of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit located 3 miles from the front lines of the war zone. Amid the horrors of war-wounded soldiers, sniper bullets, bombs and incompetent Army guidelines-the doctors and nurses relied on humour, hijinks and hearts of compassion to keep sane. And through their common experience, the members of the 4007th became a close-knit family and community.

In the episode “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” the community finally receives some long- awaited good news – the war is over and they can return home to their families and friends. It is a cause for joyful celebration and sad goodbyes. The doctors and nurses soon realise that “going home” means their current relationships will end as they depart for various destinations in the States.

Who can blame them for feeling and acting this way? Many of us, me included, can identify with their anxiety, pain, sadness and reluctance toward saying the two words that acknowledge the end of a particular relationship in a certain setting. Saying “good-bye” to a friend or mentor, or to a Benefice can be extremely difficult. Once the words are spoken, a person then has to learn how to live without the other in their daily midst. That type of dramatic change can be scary.

The twelve disciples likely experienced some fear and anxiety when Jesus announced a huge change while having dinner with them in an upper room. I imagine there were some shocked faces, a few tears and twittering hands among the disciples as they listened to their teacher talk of betrayal, arrest and crucifixion. Jesus doesn’t let them dwell long in their fear of what will happen to them and he assures the disciples that they will not be abandoned:

“When the Spirit of truth comes, (says Jesus) the Spirit will guide you into all the truth; for the Spirit will not speak on its own, but will speak whatever it hears, and the Spirit will declare to you the things that are to come.”

While Jesus’ words of assurance and promise of the coming Spirit may not make a departure less difficult, the words do give hope in the midst of change. Jesus’ words lift the heavy weight of finality that is often felt when someone says “good-bye.” The presence of the Spirit allows time for both parties who depart from one another to reflect on the sacredness of that moment of change.

Remember also a similar parting message by the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica:

“We appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

These are my final words to you all.

May God Bless you and Farewell.


Church Contacts

Priest-in-Charge: The Revd. Mark Wilson – Tel. 01488 491105; Mob: 07935550838; Email: markajwilson1@gmail.com.
Associate Priest: The Revd. Tim Wood – Tel. 01488 669261; Mob: 07927352847; Email: revtimothywood@gmail.com.
Benefice Administrator: Deborah Wilson, part-time (Tues & Wed) at the Benefice Office – Tel. 01635 226064; Email: wbboffice@gmail.com. Churchwardens:
Inkpen:Peter Bell (tel. 668395), Gerald Atkinson (tel. 668375).
Combe: David Russell (tel. 668229), Katherine Astor (tel. 668284).


As our Priest-in-Charge Revd. Mark Wilson movingly wrote in the last Bulletin he is for reasons of ill health and matters quite beyond his control taking early retirement and leaving us this month. His last service in Inkpen will be Parish Communion at 10.30am on Sunday 13th September and his last service in the Benefice will be at the same time but in St. Mary's Church, Kintbury on Sunday 20th. He and his wife Deborah who has been the Benefice Administrator have given much to the Benefice and we wish them every blessing in this new chapter of their life.

It so happens that also this month my co-Churchwarden Peter Bell leaves us to begin a new life with his daughter Jessica and her family in Devon. Peter came to Inkpen some 20 years ago and since 2008 has been a Churchwarden of St. Michael's. During his time here he has become the true and much respected friend of many. In his church life he has been particularly concerned, as have many of us, about how to make Christian belief and worship relevant to modern day thinking. To this end in 2005 he, with others, started to develop what came to be known as the 'Service With A Difference' which has and will continue to offer a fresh perspective. And at a different level altogether he has lobbied the Archdeacon of Berkshire, the Bishop of Oxford and the Archbishop of Canterbury (to name but a few) about the need for radical change. We will miss him enormously.

As you might expect there is the opportunity to give to the leaving presents of both Mark and Peter. If you would like to do so please send cash or a cheque made payable to 'Inkpen PCC' to me at Laburnum Cottage, Heads Lane, Inkpen Common, Hungerford, RG17 9QS. Sadly, St. Michael's remains closed except for Wednesdays and Sundays when it will be open from 9am-4pm. There are two exceptions to this during September. The first is on Sunday 6th which is Peter's last service with us and is Compline at 6.30pm. The Church will therefore be locked until 6pm. The other is on Sunday 13th as given above when the church will open at 10am but be closed for the rest of the day after the service.

Blessings and thanks all round. Gerald Atkinson.


The 20th September will be Mark’s last Sunday as Priest in Charge of WBB. There will only be one service in the Benefice on that day. It will be at Kintbury at 1030hrs. As spaces are limited due to Covid 19 we are asking parishioners to let us know if they intend to be there.

Please let Jenny Veasey know by the 10th September in order to maximise the places available. Her email is: jennyveasey@hotmail.co.uk

catholic services

In line with Government instructions, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Hungerford will be closed until further notice.  For further information, contact Paul Burrough 01488 668882, mobile 07836 292976 or email paul.burrough@talktalk.net.

Inkpen graveyards on-line

For anyone wishing to view the details of Inkpen's graveyards, including burial details, grave stone inscriptions and the location of the graves, please click here

A victorian view - now and then

The images of St. Michael's past and present are shown here

Church Services

All Inkpen church services are suspended for the time being, in accordance with Government instructions.  But for us in the Benefice, weekly services are continuing on-line and if you would like to follow them live go to http://www.walburybeaconbenefice.org.uk/services/morning-prayer.php which then gives you a Zoom link.

Harvest Festival at Combe
Combe is the first village in the Benefice to have its Harvest Festival. Observing social distancing etc. This will be in St. Swithun's Church at 10.30 on Sunday 27th September. The Church has been in total lock-down since March, but it's opening for harvest which is cause for a double celebration.

Benefice Administrator required
Walbury Beacon Benefice is looking for someone with good communication and IT skills, to co-ordinate the work of the ministry team and manage the Benefice finances; also, to support our internet communication with the Benefice and wider community.16 hours per week @ £9 per hour with some flexibility on hours. 

Might this be you? If so, please contact: Rev'd Tim Wood Tel:01488 669 261, or Jenny Veasey Tel: 01488 657 911 or email: jennyveasey@hotmail.co.uk

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