Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Sue Mann

22nd February 2024

Recently, I went to  the cinema to see ‘One Life.’ It is a very moving film based upon the true story of Sir Nicholas, ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 mainly Jewish children from the Nazis. In 1938, Nicky visited Prague and found families who had fled the Nazis in Germany and Austria, and who were living in desperate conditions with very little or no shelter and food, under threat of Nazi invasion. Winton put himself and others at risk as they undertook this bureaucratic and complicated operation to rescue these children.

This film reminded me of the story of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie and her family helped many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II, by hiding them in their home. They also put themselves at great risk. The family were subsequently caught, and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Eventually, Corrie remained the only survivor in her family, her sister and father having lost their lives in order to save the lives of others. Corrie’s most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a biography that retells the remarkable story of her family’s efforts and how Corrie and her family held on to their faith and shared the good news of Jesus with others during their time  of incarceration.

Similarly, on the current Alpha Course, we heard the story of a Polish Roman Catholic Priest called Maximilian Kolbe who, because he had no dependents, volunteered to take the place of family man, Franciszek Gajowniczek in the starvation bunker at the German death camp of Auschwitz, and who later died of a lethal injection. The result of this was that Gajowniczek spent the rest of his life going round the world telling the story of what Kolbe had done for him. And, in 1982, the Pope described Kolbe’s actions as ‘a victory like that one by our Lord Jesus Christ.’

As we approach Easter, let’s remember that just as Kolbe died for Gajowniczek, and others such as the ten Booms and Kolbe, risked or sacrificed their lives for the benefit of others, Jesus died on the cross for each one of us. He did this because of his great love for us and to enable the bad things we have thought, said or done in our lives to be forgiven and to allow us to continue in our Christian journey, free from guilt and shame.

So, this Easter, let’s celebrate what our risen Lord Jesus has done for each one of us. In the words of a song by Noel Richards,

You laid aside your majesty,

gave up everything for me,

suffered at the hands of those you had created.

You took all my guilt and shame,

when you died and rose again:

now today you reign,

in heaven and earth exalted.

I really want to worship you, my Lord.

You have won my heart and I am yours

for ever and ever; I will love you.

You are the only one who died for me,

gave your life to set me free,

so I lift my voice to you in adoration.

Taken from Scriptures: Psalms 18:1, Acts 2:33, Philippians 2:7, John 1:10-11, 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Copyright: © 1985 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

Take care and God bless and Happy Easter!


Sue Mann

20th January 2024

Dear Everyone,

As we enter February, our Church Council, the PCC, will be going to Mulberry House, in Brentwood, to pray and consider how we, as a church, can continue on our journey to be as inclusive as possible. So With this in mind, we welcomed the Revd Mike Nelson, from Twydall in Kent, to one of our morning services in January to speak to us about his church’s journey to become an ‘Inclusive Church.’

The ‘Inclusive Church’ statement says,

“We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.

We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.

We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

Whether or not we are a member of ‘Inclusive Church,’ it is important that our doors are open to all and that each person who walks over the threshold feels welcomed, loved and valued. That means we are called to love our neighbours, especially those who don’t look like us, think like us, speak like us, pray like us or vote like us. Jesus loved everyone without exception. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’

And so that is what we, as Christians, are called to do.

In the Parish, we try hard to be as inclusive as possible and really do hope you feel welcome when you come along to church, or to church activities, although we recognise that we may not always get it right. So, if there is something we could do to make your experience of church more comfortable or welcoming, please do  let me, one of our wardens or a member of the PCC know.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

With love and prayers,


Sue Mann

19th December 2023

Happy New Year to you all!

I hope you had a lovely Christmas Day. And thank you to churchwardens, musicians and everyone else who worked so hard to enable Christmas services to happen in the churches, and beyond, in the community. Your help and support was greatly appreciated.  We are, of course, still in the Christmas Season and will be holding a carol Service at Horndon Church on Sunday 7th January at 4pm, at Epiphany, when we remember the wise men finding and presenting gifts to the baby Jesus. Please do come along if you are able.

Later on, in January we will be running another Alpha Course in conjunction with the Wellcome Church.

The course will be held on Sunday afternoons at 4pm, at Orsett Churches Centre, each session lasting approximately an hour and a half. Everyone is welcome to come along. It would be helpful to know in advance if you would like to come so that we know how many booklets to order.

‘Alpha is a series of weekly sessions where you can explore the Christian faith in an open-minded and welcoming environment. There’s no cost and no pressure. Just lots of great conversation and space to think.

Each session includes some light refreshments, a short video and a time of discussion where you can share your thoughts about what you’ve heard. Whatever questions you have got, you can ask them at Alpha.’

Anyway, as we move into 2024, you may like to use this prayer:

Heavenly Father, as we face the challenges of the coming year,

grant us strength and courage.

Help us to rely on your mighty power and to find our refuge in you.

May we be steadfast in our faith, knowing that you are our rock and our fortress.


Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

17th November 2023

December has come round once again, and Advent has begun. There are many ways that we can all prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And I would, at this point, like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has enabled church events to happen smoothly throughout the year and to those who are working hard to make this Christmas special. You can find details of our Christmas services further on in the magazine and I look forward to seeing you at some of them.

I am very conscious, however, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, that many of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land are facing a very different reality from the one that we are living and we all long for a time of peace. I am, indeed, praying for a ceasefire.  We sing ‘O Little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie.’ Yet how far from the current truth can this be?

Thousands of people have been killed and over a million displaced after the escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

1,400 Israelis have been killed and 5,400 injured. Israeli civilians, including women and children, have been forcibly taken.

In Gaza, almost 10,818 Palestinians have been killed and 26,905 have been injured. Airstrikes have caused widespread destruction of homes, schools, healthcare facilities and telecommunication installations.

Hospitals already at breaking point have been destroyed, and over a million people have been displaced. Food supplies, fuel supplies, access to water and sanitation, and schools have been drastically affected.

So, as we make our preparations for Christmas, let’s not grumble because we don’t get our favourite carol, but be thankful for the freedom we have, to celebrate in the way that we do.  Moreover, let’s be mindful of those in parts of the world where the fact that they are alive today is a gift they can’t take for granted tomorrow.

Please do especially keep the people of the Holy Land in your prayers.

Longing for a world of peace

Where all are treated equally

Where all can recognise their worth

Where all can live with dignity

Where all can join hands with neighbours

Whether Muslim, Christian, Jew

And find a way to live together,

Making Holy Dreams come true.

Garth Hewitt. (From the Song Holy Town)

I will continue to pray for all around the world to know the peace of the Christ Child this Christmas.

With love and prayers,


Sue Mann

20th October 2023

The news, since last month, has been horrific, with reports about the loss of huge numbers of innocent lives in the Middle East, and the current crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The conflict has been going on for many years and the situation is complex. Media reports can often leave us confused or sometimes misinformed. One of the focuses of the seminars at the Greenbelt Festival which we, as a family, have attended for many years, has been the difficulties in the Middle East, with the festival having hosted many different speakers sharing their own personal stories of living in Palestine and Israel. I don’t in any way profess to be an expert on the situation but, since this last outbreak of violence, Greenbelt have shared some of their recorded talks and seminars online. Should you wish to listen to any of these, please do let me know and I would be happy to send you the links.

It is very easy to feel helpless when witnessing such atrocities in the news, but one thing we can all commit to do is to pray.It is important that we pray, not only for relief for all those who suffer but  for organisations such as Embrace the Middle East, Christian Aid and the Amos Trust, to name just a few, who are working hard to bring about greater understanding in order to bring about justice and peace.

The following words may help us as we come before God.

We pray without ceasing for justice, reconciliation, peace,

and an end to hatred and war.

We also pray for God to change the hearts of all leaders and decision-makers

in our countries and around the world.

For we are in dire need of hearts that love, show mercy,

and are willing to live in unity with others—

hearts that respect human dignity and choose life rather than death.


Bishop Hosam E. Naoum, Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

God, hear our prayers for peace in the Middle East.

May all people in the region be protected, safe from harm.

We pray that this crisis will end now, with no further loss of life.

God, may the injured and distressed know your healing presence.

May the powerful and the decision-makers follow the paths of justice, mercy and peace.

We pray for recognition of the dignity and value of every life.

May the clamour of violence cease,

Replaced by the beating of swords into ploughshares.

God, in your name,


Christian Aid

O God of all justice and peace,

we cry out to you in the midst of the pain and trauma of violence and fear

which prevails in the Holy Land.

Be with those who need you in these days of suffering;

we pray for people of all faiths – Jews, Muslims and Christians

and for all people of the land.

While we pray to you, O Lord, for an end to violence and the establishment of peace,

we also call for you to bring justice and equity to the peoples.

Guide us into your kingdom,

where all people are treated with dignity and honour as your children,

for to all of us you are our Heavenly Father.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Very Revd Canon Richard Sewell, Dean of St George’s College Jerusalem.

With my prayers for you all.

Take care and God bless,