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I write this letter the day after Pentecost and still on a high after our service with Bishop Jonathan, where he confirmed Sue, Rhianna, Rhiannon, Lilly and Harriet, baptised Amy and together with Archie Uzzell managed to make us all laugh and think and pray and sing at the same time.

Bishop Jonathan hatched the plan for him to visit St. James and St. Andrews together with Rev Neil Houlton and myself with two aims in mind. The first was to try and to bring the two parishes closer together and the second was for him to find out how we engage with our local communities and to encourage us to do more. As well as leading our Ascension Day service, a Taize service and worship at Pentecost he spent a couple of days meeting some of us and finding our more about the places where we minister.

One of the highlights was a visit to the Foodbank at St. George's Methodist Church in Boscombe. Together we discovered how much the Foodbank does for local people in need who find themselves in real need, providing food in emergency for families who would otherwise go hungry. St. James has had a real impact in helping to establish the Foodbank in Boscombe through Churches Together in Boscombe and providing a steady supply of food each week. We invited a group of children from the school to join us and learn more about what happens on their own doorstep. Another highlight was introducing Bishop Jonathan to parents outside the church at drop off and pick up time and seeing him engage with all the children in the school hall on Monday morning for an assembly. By the time that he left us on Sunday I bet nearly everybody was singing Halle, Halle, Halle to themselves!

At a joint meeting with the two churches on the Monday evening Bishop Jonathan assured us both that we were doing the right things. He urged us to have faith that God is working in these two parishes and to pray for His spirit to guide us so that we might work with Him.  We should not look to the past but with hope and joy and faith to the future, knowing that He is walking with us. He also urged us two church communities to work closer together.

He was especially impressed at St. James with our work with the children, the Scallopini Choir, Kidz Worship, Dads and Kids and the Band. He wished us every success with the Alpha course - which starts on June 6th at 9am in the Annexe, hoping and praying with us that we might attract some parents from the school to come and explore what being a Christian is all about.

We had very much planned the visit as a joint venture between St. James and St. Andrews and it was good to see people from the two churches meeting each other and getting to know each other better. It is fair to say, though, that while there was an open invitation to people from both churches to all the events, only a few from either church made the journey to the other. We are only a mile apart but it sometimes feels like a lot further than that and, as we discovered, although we are both Bournemouth Churches, we live and worship in quite different places.

However, there have been two suggestions about how we could work more closely together. Both churches have home prayer groups and people are asking ‘is there any way we could combine?' And both churches worship once a month on a Sunday afternoon or evening and people have suggested ‘could we not try and combine our resources and get together?'

I think these are good ideas and Neil and I will talk through the possibilities and come up with some suggestions. Watch this space! And as Bishop Jonathan urged us to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit'.

John Pares
Priest-in-Charge