REPORTS FROM THE CHURCHES
St David’s, Llanddewi
Last month we welcomed Rev Roger Donaldson to Llanddewi, to preside at both our monthly Sunday service and our mid-week service of quiet Holy Communion. We appreciated Roger’s thought-provoking, gentle ministry and his company.
Now, in October, we have just hosted a lively Parish Harvest celebration. This was a joyous occasion, on a beautiful afternoon. The sun-lit church was decorated with fresh farm produce and packaged goods (later taken to a refuge that supports young single homeless people), and filled with people from the surrounding churches along with several members of the Young Farmers Club, whom we were especially pleased to have with us. Mary Attwell brought Cappercaillie (a 7-person band playing accordions and other wind and stringed instruments) and Heather Davies and Annette Dyer sang the hymns. Farmers from churches around our parish read the lessons and led the prayers, and Tom Roderick read one his inimitable poems, simply but poignantly describing the risks and stresses facing farmers.
Then the speaker, Gareth, told us about the background and work of Tir Dewi: founded by Eileen, Archdeacon of St David’s Diocese and a working sheep farmer, this organisation supports farmers, aiming to help them cope with their various practical, emotional and mental needs. He related Tir Dewi with Llanddewi, ‘The Land of David’, the land of Wales. He included the message that the care of the land, its creatures and its people is vested in us by God, who loves and cares for everything he has created, and knows and cares for every one of us. Tea and cake followed. We stood and chatted in the church/farm yard, on its little hill with broad views across the surrounding farmlands, reminding us of Gareth’s message.
I remember another David: a shepherd who became King of Israel; who shepherded his people with justice and care; the warrior who defended them with courage; the poet and prophet who wrote psalms that reflected his worries, anger, trust, hope and joy; who trusted God absolutely and found his needs met in amazing ways. King David was the ancestor of Jesus, whom he foresaw as Lord. Jesus identified himself as ‘the good shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep’. He is with us now, in every circumstance, and will be forever.
We will meet next for Holy Communion on Sunday 31 October at 8.30 and for mid-week communion on Wednesday, 17 November at 9.30 am. Anyone is most welcome to join us.
St Illtyd’s, Oxwich
The Eucharist, also called Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper, is a ritual commemoration of Jesus’s last supper with his disciples and is the central act of Christian worship practiced by most Christian churches in some form or other. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word eucharista meaning thanksgiving. It is enacted in various ways in different denominations. Brought up a Congregationalist, I was used to a monthly Eucharist in which the wine was distributed in small glasses and the bread was a small piece of the family loaf, duly blessed. In the Roman Catholic Church the belief is that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ and members of that church are encouraged to receive communion at least once a week during Mass after consecration of the bread and wine at the altar.
One might call me truly ecumenical with my Christian life beginning in the Congregational Church, now renamed the United Reformed Church, followed by worship in the Methodist Church and subsequently in a Baptist Church, finally reaching the Church in Wales in Oxwich, which I have come to love. I have experienced various interpretations of the Eucharist but in each of these churches the Eucharist denotes the perpetual sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
My early life as a nonconformist stays with me, for my interpretation of the Eucharist is as a memorial. Each time we partake of it, the Eucharist is a constant reminder of Jesus’s death on the cross and his subsequent resurrection for us all.
The custom of ‘breaking bread’ was practiced by the early Christians. In Acts, chapter 3, we learn that ‘the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ In 1 Corinthians, Paul gives very precise instructions as to how and in what frame of mind we should receive the sacrament. To receive it without due reverence and respect for other people is to commit a sin. Hence the priest’s pronouncement of The Peace in our communion service to-day. Paul tells us that we should prepare ourselves with healthy introspection, with confession of our sins and the resolution of differences with others. These actions remove the barriers which affect our relationship with Christ and also with other believers. These aims must surely be a common desire for all who participate in the Eucharist in whatever form it is undertaken.
St Andrew’s, Penrice
We now have a regular pattern of services on Sunday mornings, which have been consistently well attended by regular worshippers, so, although we are small in number the church is open three Sundays out of four. What a difference from last year when we were all isolated at home!
The funeral took place at Llanelli Crematorium of Geoffrey (Eggar) Evans of Horton where many members of his family, friends and neighbours gathered to pay their respects. Geoff, who was known by nearly everyone as Eggar, was born and bred in Horton. He was genial man, full of humour, good stories and passionate about cricket which he played for many years as a prominent member of Swansea Cricket Club. During the last few years he coped with his illness with great courage and optimism. He will be deeply missed by everyone and remembered with great affection.
As individual churches are not holding their own harvest services this year the Parish Harvest Festival service held at Llanddewi was a special occasion. The music and singing were a joy to hear, with so much doom and gloom in the world at present it lightened the spirit. A representative of Tir Dewi, the charity which helps farmers in crisis, spoke very eloquently about their work and how difficult times are for the farming community. Environmental demands, such as rewilding, a constant price war and vast amounts of paper work to complete are the extra problems facing farmers on top of their daily round of caring for stock and land, very often single handed. It is easy to take for granted the pastoral beauty of Gower and forget how much sweat and toil goes on daily, right under our noses, to preserve that atmosphere.
To all those ill at home or in hospital best wishes for a return to good health soon.
St Cattwg’s, Port Eynon
With church life returning to something more like normality, albeit with restrictions, it seems we haven’t been set a special extra topic to write about this month.
There have been a couple of services in church, both Zoomed & Live-streamed, with the only singing taking place in the churchyard, luckily in fine weather. On October 10th all six churches combined to attend at Llanddewi for Harvest Festival. The church looked lovely, with sunshine at the windows and fruit, flowers and vegetables on the sills and dried and tinned goods round the font. A lively band supplied music and two singers stood in for the congregation, who could only hum along behind their masks. A representative of the farming charity Tir Dewi gave a compelling talk and was presented with a donation of money.
Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a cup of tea and home-made cakes in the churchyard.
Caffi Cattwg is flourishing in its fortnightly form, with friends new and old joining in chatter and laughter over super homemade cakes and coffee. If you read this in time, come along on October 23rd and subsequently on November 6th and 20th.
The date proposed for the WI and Friends’ Choir concert has been changed, as Guy Fawkes Night seemed unlikely to attract many punters. The new dates may be November 26th and 27th, but please look out for confirmation.
St George’s, Reynoldston
The Communion Service is a core part of our worship. In many churches with only one service on a Sunday, it has replaced Matins. During the pandemic, we have had to find new ways of celebrating, and this has given us the opportunity to think more carefully about the meaning of the service and what it signifies for each one of us. Whether we believe that the bread and wine literally become the Body and Blood of Christ or not, taking Communion together lets us enjoy fellowship with one another just as Jesus and his disciples did on Maundy Thursday and many other occasions.
Our Harvest celebration this year has been a joint one with the other churches in our Parish. Once again, Covid regulations have prevented our usual Village Harvest supper. We hope that next year, this happy event can be reinstated. Many families in the Swansea area are finding it hard to put food on the table, and we have again collected tins and dry goods for our friends from the Salvation Army to distribute. Thank you to all who so generously contributed. The area around our font looks very bare now.
During the pandemic, it has been very difficult for those moving to the village to meet other people, and the temporary closing down of regular events has left many villagers feeling lonely and isolated. Along with others in the village, our Social Committee has organised a special event in November: a buffet supper, bar, entertainment, and a welcome plan to get to know people.
St Mary’s, Rhossili
Gusty outside hymn singing complemented a cracking sermon about the power of the tongue, when Rev Roger preached his first service at St Mary’s in September. Rhossili church folk are grateful to the whole Parish for turning up each month for united worship, helping swell our congregation as we commune together. These are our only services, thus they are immensely important to the continuance of regular worship here: we appreciate being amongst a crowd. The church has opened daily again since August and many visitors spend time inside, leaving prayers and happy to take away driftwood crosses, leaflets and bottled water. Some joined our Sunday services, but this is less likely during winter, hence a plea to our local friends to continue to trek down to the end of Gower for services and fellowship. The heating will be on and the coffee warm too.
A beautiful memorial service preceded the burial of Margaret Dixon’s ashes last week, bringing together past neighbours, friends and family to remember Margaret who died last year. Over lunch at the Bistro with Hugh and Barbara, everyone recalled favourite anecdotes while gazing out to the timeless sea and sands of Rhossili Bay.
The new front gate at St Mary’s is installed and looks very fine. Thanks to Roger Button for organising and procuring, and to Mike Williams for treating and staining the gate to withstand the harshest weathers. The grass has been cut, hedges trimmed for autumn and car park holes filled. Loose sheep are being halted from popping in over the churchyard wall from the car park – good news – so we hope to be clean, smart and tidy again, as we used to be. Linger for a moment of tranquillity on the remembrance seat by the bier house if you are passing by.