Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Sue Mann

17th May 2022

In May we held our annual church meeting, our APCM. A lot has happened since our APCM last year.

In January Bishop Guli, our Diocesan Bishop, joined us for our Plough Sunday service to pray for us as we began our journey as one ecclesiastical parish, the Parish of Horndon, Orsett and Bulphan. In addition to establishing a new Church Council, we have set up Action Groups to focus on different aspects of our Christian witness and these are going well.

We are pleased, now, to be able to offer communion in two kinds and many of the in-person church activities which were suspended, as a result of Covid, have resumed albeit, in some cases, in a slightly different form and it is great that we can again offer church hospitality with refreshments, at all three villages, thanks to those who kindly volunteer. It is good, also, to be back in the schools and we are looking forward to returning to lead services at The Whitecroft soon.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who serves in our churches in any way, whether it be through ordained or lay ministry. Each act of service, whether up front, or behind the scenes is greatly appreciated by us all and each person known, loved and valued by God.

I would particularly like to express huge thanks to Ron Porter, Janet Wilkins and Jackie Wood who have each exceeded their term of service as a Churchwarden and, this year, decided to step down.  I know we are all very grateful for all their dedication and commitment, having served, between them, a total of almost 60 years and much of what they do, unnoticed. Thank you, so much, Ron, Janet and Jackie for all you have given and enjoy a well-deserved rest!

On the subject of gratitude for service, this month we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and give thanks for her life of service.  The Queen holds the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’. These titles date back to the reign of King Henry VIII, who was initially granted the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ in 1521 by Pope Leo X. When Henry VIII renounced the spiritual authority of the Papacy in 1534, he was proclaimed ‘supreme head on earth’ of the Church of England. This was repealed by Queen Mary I but reinstated during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who was proclaimed ‘Supreme Governor’ of the Church of England. On the advice of the Prime Minister The Queen appoints Archbishops, Bishops and Deans of the Church of England, who then swear an oath of allegiance and pay homage to Her Majesty. Church of England deacons and parish priests also swear an oath of allegiance to the Sovereign.

I know the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is being celebrated in various ways in Horndon, Orsett and Bulphan. You may like to use the following prayer, from the Church of England, in your personal devotions or as part of your Jubilee Celebrations

Gracious God, we give you thanks
for the reign of your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
and for the example of loving and faithful service
which she has shown among us.
Help us to follow her example of dedication
and to commit our lives to you and to one another,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

25th April 2022

After Easter, we spent a week in Snowdonia doing some walking. Whilst we were there, we saw manynew-born lambs and spring flowers in bloom. It was lovely to see new life and the hope that it brings at a time when there is so much despair in the world. But, as I reflected, I was reminded that hope is not just something that we feel inside, it is something that we are called to work for on behalf of others.

As Christians, we are commissioned to care for our brothers and sisters both locally and globally and it can be hard to know how to do this. Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury challenged and raised ethical concerns about the Home Secretary’s decision to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Our Diocesan Bishop, herself an asylum seeker, has also supported the Archbishop’s comments and sent the following letter to the Home Secretary:

Dear Home Secretary   In this Easter season I am writing to you, both as Home Secretary and as one of the MPs in the Diocese of Chelmsford which I serve, regarding your latest proposals to process asylum cases in Rwanda. You will be aware of the very serious reservations expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Easter sermon. I stand full square behind his comments, and my own lived experience as an asylum seeker makes me extremely anxious about this scheme and its implications. This policy treats the most vulnerable in our midst in a cruel and inhumane way and it is for this reason that I am compelled to appeal to you, even at this late stage, to listen to the voices that are being raised from a cross section of public opinion. Those who find their way to this country, often through treacherous means, deserve to have their cases considered and processed here. To do otherwise is, as the Archbishop says, “sub-contracting out our responsibilities … the opposite of the nature of God, who himself took responsibility for our failures”. In your Times article of the 18th April you suggest that “those institutions that criticise the plans fail to offer their own solutions”. This is to misunderstand the important role of the Church of England, particularly through the national leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the parliamentary responsibilities of the Lords Spiritual. We are not tasked with providing worked out political solutions – that is the job of Government and politicians. But it is our responsibility to point out where there are serious ethical and moral implications arising from Government proposals. I would also want to say that it is disingenuous of your Cabinet colleague, Mr Rees-Mogg, to suggest that the Archbishop “misunderstands what the policy is trying to achieve”. Thoughtful criticism should not be dismissed in this off hand manner. Finally, I want to thank you for your recent tweet with its traditional Easter Greeting. The Christian message of new life in all its fullness which we celebrate at Easter cannot be separated from the reality of lived experience and is exemplified in the way we treat the most vulnerable in our society. In the words of Jesus himself, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Yours sincerely, Guli Francis-Dehqani Bishop of Chelmsford, Member of the Lords Spiritual  

I, personally, support the views of both Archbishop Justin and Bishop Guli. Whilst not advocating promoting party politics from the pulpit I do believe that, as Christians, we are called to speak up for injustices as we believe Christ would have done. And, sometimes, this includes challenging political decisions which we believe, after prayerful consideration, to be inappropriate.

Bishop Guli recently came to speak at our Deanery Synod meeting and told something of her own story. This story is recorded in her book, ‘Cries for a Lost Homeland: Reflections on Jesus’ sayings from the Cross’ which you may be interested to read.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

27th March 2022

Over the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of co-leading a course in Thurrock Deanery called ‘Living in Love and Faith.’

It is a five-week course aimed to help Christians think more deeply and reflect upon questions of identity, relationships and sexuality. Each of the five sessions explores a particular topic. These are:

  • Learning Together
  • Identity
  • Relationships
  • Sex
  • Life Together

An opening reflection about learning together is followed by two sections of teaching, time for discussion and a Bible study. The sessions all end with an invitation to reflect on our learning, bringing it to God in prayer.

During the five weeks we have heard stories of people in a variety of types of relationships and stories of others who have chosen to live a life of celibacy.

The great thing about this course is that people have come along prepared to listen and to understand those who perhaps hold a different viewpoint from them, or whose sexual orientation is different from their own. And the overarching theme of has been that of respect and an acknowledgement of God’s love for each one of us.

This course has been put together by a Church of England working group in recognition that some people from the LGBTQ+ community have been hurt, or have even been turned away by others. Those of us who have been involved in the course have had the opportunity to respond to the C of E at the end so that the Anglican Church is able to discern how best to move forward on matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in a loving and sensitive manner .

If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend this course, the resources and videos are free and available online and I encourage you to have a look at them. You can find them by going to Living in Love and Faith | The Church of England  Interestingly, during the time we were running this this course, I came across a book called Running to Resurrection by Clark Berge, A Franciscan Friar, whom I met when I was recently on retreat. It was about his life journey, part of which included his acceptance of himself as a gay man created in the image of God. It is very well written and well worth a read.

As we approach Easter, we remember that Christ came for and died for all. This includes those who are like us and those who are very different from us.

I look forward to seeing you at some, or all, of our Holy Week services and our Easter Service, details of which can be found later in this magazine.

Grant to your people, good Lord,

The spirit of unity,

That we may dwell together in your love,

And so bear to the world,

The ointment of your healing and the dew of your blessing;

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Take care and God bless,


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Sue Mann

8th March 2022

During Fairtrade Fortnight, at one of our services, people were invited to pray the Fairtrade Covenant Prayer. Several people have since asked for it, so I have decided, this month, to share it. It is below with the words of introduction which were used.

Sisters and brothers, God calls us to action on behalf of the poor. Let us, then, make a covenant with each other and with God to respond to his call in everything we do, and wherever Christ leads us. To take up this covenant means that we are content that Christ directs us and that Christ alone is our reward. Christ calls us to fairness and justice in many different ways. Some ways are easy and require little effort or personal sacrifice, but others are difficult and will mean us having to change what we buy and where we shop, and to go without ourselves. Some ways will bring us praise from those around us and win us admiration, but others may bring criticism and make us unpopular, when we raise our voice for the voiceless, when we call for justice for the poor. Some ways we will find interesting and absorbing and will play to our natural strengths, but others we will find tedious and a chore. In some of these ways we may please both Christ and ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet we know that we have the power to be able to act in all these ways because Christ inspires and strengthens us, and because we know that he has no hands or feet on earth but ours. If justice is to be done, it is we who are called to do it. Therefore, let us make this covenant with God our own, giving ourselves anew and relying on his promises and his grace. Loving Lord, since you have called us through Christ to share in this covenant, we will take on this duty with joy. For whatever we do for the least of our sisters and brothers, we do it for you. We are no longer our own, but yours.

I am no longer my own but yours.

Call me and open my eyes to the injustice around me, the unfairness around me and the poverty around me; call me to dare to change my lifestyle, my habits and my outlook for you.

Call me to strive for fairness and justice in everything I do, not just in words, but in actions; not just locally, but globally.

Let me change myself for you, and so change the world for you.

I freely and wholeheartedly commit myself to this duty, knowing that in everything you will give me your inspiration, strength and grace.

Glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it.

Let this covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in heaven. Amen

As we  enter Lent, may I encourage you to use this prayer, if you feel able.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

22nd January 2022

On 21st February this year, Fairtrade Fortnight begins, when people come together to share stories of the people who grow our food and drinks, mine our gold and who grow the cotton for our clothes.  Often these workers are exploited and underpaid. During this fortnight we are encouraged to consider the impact our spending has on other people.

As a church we have committed to using Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar and we try to use Fairtrade biscuits when we can source them. At the moment we only seem to be able to get Fairtrade biscuits from Traidcraft but, perhaps, if we all write to our local supermarkets to request that they stock more of these biscuits, we might be able to be agents for positive change. It certainly worked with bananas several years ago.

In 2019, Fairtrade launched a campaign to enable a sustainable future for cocoa farmers by providing  them with a living income and, therefore,  an ability to cover all their cocoa farming costs  and their basic human rights,  such as a nutritious diet, children’s education and healthcare.

The Fairtrade Foundation says,

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us more than ever how interconnected we are globally. This interconnection is at the very heart of the Fairtrade message and is where your role begins. You are part of the Fairtrade movement, and you have the power to drive long-term change, not only with your shopping choices but with your support in spreading the message.

Fairtrade not only ensures a fair wage for the producers but it also has a positive effect on climate change. Speaking about their work in this respect, the Fairtrade Foundation, say:

Fairtrade is about social, economic and environmental justice. These are built into our standards and drive everything we do. A root cause of the inability to adapt to and mitigate climate change is poverty. More money in the hands of farmers is needed if they are to adapt and survive the climate crisis. Choosing Fairtrade fights for improvements in producers’ livelihoods with collective strength through co-ops and their bargaining power, the protection of a Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premiums.

During Fairtrade Fortnight, this year, we have the opportunity to engage with the online Festival, ‘Choose the World you Want’ which you can find by going to Fairtrade Fortnight – Fairtrade Foundation It encourages us not only to share the Fairtrade message but to keep up the pressure on those who  will be attending the COP27 in Cairo next year.

Last year’s festival saw campaigners, shoppers, students and businesses come together in a show of support for the farmers behind our food on the front line of the climate crisis. From online panels to bake-offs and coffee mornings over 50 virtual events took place as part of our virtual festival, with supporters sharing the power of Fairtrade and what needs to happen next to ensure farmers and workers are put front and centre of conversations on how to tackle the climate crisis.

I would love to hear of anything you decide to do for Fairtrade Fortnight. Please do send in any reports or photos for the website or magazine.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Take care and God bless,