Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Sue Mann

27th November 2020

This year there has been a lot of waiting: waiting for the next Government briefing; waiting for a period of lockdown to end; waiting to find out whether the vaccine will work, when the vaccine will be available and who will be able to have it and, ultimately, waiting for an end to the coronavirus. And, in Advent, we now enter a period of waiting in the church calendar. Not only are we waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, albeit in a very different way this year, we await the second coming of Christ too, although none of us know when that will be.

The past few months have been tough year and for some this has meant family illness, bereavement, job loss or being furloughed. And, alongside the suffering, have come many questions. As Christians we are not exempt from suffering, and our life isn’t always comfortable, but God has promised to walk alongside us. He also calls us to challenge things and structures that need challenging.

As we light the Advent candles in the approach to Christmas, we think of love, joy, hope and peace. I believe that whatever the circumstances we do have a hope and that this time has caused all of us to reflect and, perhaps, to become more outward looking.  My prayer is that when Covid-19 is something of the dim and distant past, all the good that that has come out of it, such as maybe a heightened awareness of the needs of others, support for the poor and marginalised, will continue to flourish, develop and grow.

Over recent days I have been reading a book entitled ‘Against the Grain’ written by Garth Hewitt, a singer, songwriter, priest, author and activist. It is a mixture of stories, theology, wisdom, music and humour underpinned by a desire to make a difference in the world, God’s difference. And I would like to share with you a prayer that I found at the end of the book, the source of which is unknown, but which I have decided I am going to use in my personal reflection throughout the period of Advent.

Make a difference in the world

May God bless you with

discomfort at easy answers

half-truths, superficial relationships,

so that you will live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice,

oppression and exploitation of people,

so that you will work for

justice, equity and peace.

May God bless yob you with tears to shed for those who suffer

from pain, rejection, starvation and war

so that you will reach out your hand to comfort

them and change their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with foolishness

to think that you can make a difference in the world

so you will do the things which

others tell you can’t be done.

Christmas is going ahead. We will be celebrating the birth of Jesus; Jesus who came to change the world and who is in the midst of this with us. I pray that you will have a blessed and joyful time. And please know that my prayers are especially with those of you for whom this will be your first Christmas without a loved one.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

31st October 2020

Thank you, so much, for all your harvest gifts and thank you to those of you who have managed to fill a shoebox for our Link to Hope appeal. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

As I write, we are approaching All Saints’ Day and Remembrance Sunday, for which our services, this year, will be very different from past years but, hopefully, thought provoking and meaningful. Infact, much of what we are doing in church is simplified at the moment and whilst sad that we are unable to accommodate as many people as we would like in services, the simplicity can sometimes draw us back to why we are there in the first place, to the God we worship, and to our dependence upon him. I have recently presided at a few simple weddings with only a handful of people and, in many ways, the minimalistic approach has helped us all to focus upon God and his desire to be an intrinsic part of our lives.

Last month we held our first Forest Church. We were all there in simplicity, in the elements, the wind and a few drops of rain but warmed by a fire and the knowledge that God was with us. The next one will be at Bulphan Churchyard on Saturday November 14th at 4pm. Do come  along if you are able and remember to bring something to sit on!

God is with us in whatever we face at the moment.  But God also calls us to act on his behalf. At a recent clergy study day led by Bishop John, our Area Bishop, we were reminded that, although we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which we are all hoping and praying will come to an end soon, this doesn’t mean that all crises are over; far from it. We are currently also in the middle of an ecological crisis, an equality crisis, a refugee crisis and a homeless crisis, to name just a few. So even when the coronavirus subsides, as Christians and churches, we have a responsibility to work to end all suffering.

With regard to the climate crisis, the Church of England is aiming to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 and our churches in this Benefice have also signed up to become Eco Churches. One of the ways in which we are working towards this is to use less paper. As a result, you will soon be receiving a letter asking if you would consider receiving our online version of the Hobnob magazine instead of a paper copy. Our online magazine has been developed by David Mortimer and Ron Porter and is looking great. If you haven’t yet found it, you can find it at We fully understand that some people need to receive a paper copy because they have no access to technology and that some copies are put in local hostelries and surgeries etc, but please, if you do have access to technology, do consider the future of our planet, the beautiful world which God has given to us and our responsibility to preserve this for our children’s children, when you make your decision.

We are also in the process of considering our service pattern for the future in order to engage with as many people as possible and a questionnaire has been devised to be sent out to everyone on our database. The first one sent out had some problems so is going to be reissued very soon, using a different provider. If you receive this questionnaire, please could I ask you to take a couple of minutes to fill it in. In order for it to serve the purpose for which it was intended, it is important that as many people as possible complete it.

Thank you for your continued help and support and, as always, please be assured of my prayers for you at this time and do let me know of any pastoral needs.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

24th September 2020

During lockdown, the Southend Boys and Girls Choirs, along with past members, gathered online to record the song ‘We are One,’ by Brian Tate, to raise money for NHS charities. The words are:

When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one.

When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run, we are one.

And we shall love one another with all our hearts,

And we shall care for each other with all our soul & our might.

When we stand, when we fall, when we rise we are one.

We are one in the cold, in the heat, in the dark, in the sun, we are one.

When we’re hurting one another, that’s the way we hurt ourselves.

With our sisters and our brothers, we will rise.

And we do, and we try; we must live or we die.

We will reach, we will climb, we will rise, we will fly, we are one.

And these words shall be forever within our hearts.

And we shall teach them to our children and remember them in our lives.

When we walk, when we sleep, when we rise, we are one.

When we laugh, when we sing, when we cry, when we run.

We are strong, we belong, we are one!

It was a great opportunity for these young people to engage and work together in a really positive project.

I have noticed over the past couple of months, in some instances, morale begin to wane as, understandably, people acknowledge the reality of the fact that there is not a quick fix to the coronavirus. And, at this time, it is so important to remember that, as a global and local people, we are one. This isn’t to deny our unique God-given characteristics as individuals, communities and churches. But we are facing challenging times and the way we will get through it is to recognise our connectedness and our interdependence.

For priests, especially when faced with difficult decisions, it can sometimes be a lonely road, particularly when people grumble that things aren’t as they would like them to be, or as they once were. It is, of course, crucial to ask questions and reflect, and sometimes this means all of us being prepared to be challenged about our own views or ways of doing things, in order to grow and move forward. That is part of being a Christian and a church. But it is also important, as people of God, to aspire during these times to be a ‘can do’ people. Most of us are encouraged and energised by having ‘can-do’ people around us; I know I need such people to support and assist me in my role. If we remain a ‘can do’ people, we will be a ‘can-do’ church as I hope we have been through the past few months.

I believe, with God’s help, we can work together, as one, to be a ‘can-do’ people, locally, and globally. In this Benefice we have provided 1.5 tonnes of food to the foodbank since March and I am hopeful that we can increase our donations this month when we would, otherwise, have been having Harvest collections at church. Let’s aim to collect the same amount of, if not more, food this October than before. We have also been having some discussions recently about our church governance structures which have resulted in some very honest, challenging and, sometimes, painful discussions, but which have culminated in some very positive mutual support as we find  new ways of being community and working together. Can I encourage you all, as we move forwards in these unprecedented times, to remember that God calls us, to work together as one, as a ‘can-do’ church, in the power of his comforting, challenging and ‘can-do’ Holy Spirit.

With love and prayers for all of you.

God bless,


Sue Mann

23rd July 2020

Dear All,
I hope this finds you well. I am hoping that we can  revert to a  slightly amended form of notice sheet after this which will be emailed out and also put on our website and hard copies will be made available for those without a computer.
It was good to see some of you at our Holy Communion Service on Sunday and to share the worship virtually with others of you.
This Sunday the service will be at Horndon at 10am. Please try to let me know if you would like to come to this service so that we can plan accordingly. At the moment we are fine for numbers and, hopefully, this will remain the case  but should there be too many people to accommodate priority will be given to those who were unable to come  last week. 
Thank you for your continued support  for the Foodbank. Needs this week are crisps of all flavours, savoury snacks such as cream crackers and cheese twists, condiments such as tomato sauce, brown sauce and mayonnasie, mashed potato, sponge puddings and nappies, sizes 2,4,5 and 6.
Following the sad news that Hazel Swift died last weekend, we now know that her funeral will be on Thursday 30th July at 3pm at Horndon Church. Because of limited numbers able to attend, for the service and committal it  will be invitation only but  I know that Vanessa and Caroline woud be pleased for people to stand in the road to show their respects before the service and Brands are planning to drive round the main roads in the village prior to the service. Please do hold Vanessa and Caroline in your prayers at this difficult time.
The interment of ashes of Doreen Bartley will take place at Orsett Churchyard on Monday 27th July at 2pm. 
Other prayer needs within the Benefice include Nicola, Steve, Dave, Steve and Steve.
The link to the Diocesan Cycle of prayer for the rest of this month is
As ever, please do be assured of my prayers for you and please do hold the Wardens, Max and me in your prayers as we negotiate the return to church.
Take care and God bless,

Sue Mann

17th July 2020

17th July 2020

Dear All,

I am looking forward to seeing some of you on Sunday at Orsett at 10am. Thank you to those who have let me know you are coming. If you are not able to join us in person, and have access to technology, we will be live -streaming the service so please do share in worship with us that way at This Sunday is Rural Mission Sunday and I am hoping that this will be a joyous service.  Please, though, be aware that there will be some restrictions in place, as below. You can also find this information on our website.

Before you come to church:

  • Please try to inform us that you are coming. You can do so via the online form on our website, which you can find at or by phoning or emailing Revd Sue.
  • We advise that you wear a mask.
  • Do not come to church if you or anyone in your household has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, or is otherwise self-isolating.
  • Please note that, in accordance with the guidelines, “While those at extra risk and the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ should be advised of the risks of attending public worship, a decision to do so is theirs alone.”

When you arrive at church:

  • You may need to wait in a queue before you can enter. Please observe the 2m distancing.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available at the door and you will be asked to sanitise your hands on arrival.
  • We will register all who attend, and may ask you for additional contact details. (This is so that we can provide details of our visitors to NHS Test and Trace, if requested. We will hold this information for 21days.)
  • You will be shown to your seat by a sidesperson.
  • Movement around the church will be via a one-way system.

During the service:

  • There will be no singing. (This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol droplets.)
  • At Holy Communion Services, only the bread will be distributed and receiving it will be optional.

After the service:

  • There will be no refreshments.
  • You should leave church promptly when the service is over.
  • Take care to remain socially distanced as you leave. This may be overseen by a sidesperson.
  • Again, hand sanitiser will be available at the door.

When you get home:

I apologise for this long list but it is necessary for me to impart this information as part of our risk assessment and, hopefully, it will help us all to feel comfortable.

The Lectionary Readings for this week are:

DayMorning PrayerEvening Prayer
Monday 20thPsalm 126; 1 Samuel 5 Luke 20 41- 21- 4Psalm 127; Ezekiel 10 1-19 2 Corinthians 6 1 – 7 -1
Tuesday 21stPsalm 132; 1 Samuel 6 1-16 Luke 21 5-19Psalm 135; Ezekiel 11 14- end 2 Corinthians  7 2-end
Wednesday 22nd Mary MagdalenePsalm 30 32 150 1 Samuel 16 14-end; Luke 8 1-3Psalm 63; Zepheniah 3 14-end Mark 15 40 – 16  – 7
Thursday 23rdPsalm 143; 1 Samuel 8 Luke 21 29-endPsalm 138; Ezekiel 12 17-end 2 Corinthians 8 16 – 9 – 5
Friday 24thPsalm 143; 1 Samuel 9 1-14 Luke 22 1-13Psalm 145; Ezekiel 13 1-16 2 Corinthians 9 6-end
Saturday 25th St James ApostlePsalm 23; 1 Samuel 13 19 – 14 – 15 Luke 23 1-12Psalm 94; Ezekiel 26 1-15 Mark 1 14 -20

Also a reminder that Daily Hope, a free phone line of hymns, reflections and prayers, can be accessed on 0800 8048044.

Foodbank needs this week are sponge puddings, custard, jelly and savoury snacks.  In non-food items  they need deodorant, shampoo, washing powder and washing up liquid.

Don’t forget that  you can still make a donation to the Mission to Seafarers in memory of Glyn Jones, either by going to

or by sending a cheque made payable to The Mission to Seafarers to The Rectory and I will make sure it gets sent to the right place.

Local prayer needs this week include Nicola, Hazel, Dave, Steve, Steve, Allan, Steve, Jane, Dawn and Roy. Prayers for the Sixth Sunday of Trinity on our Diocesan Prayer Diary are for the men and women of the RNLI and HM Coastguard, who risk their lives to protect those who travel the seas around our coast. We are also asked to pray for the Episcopal Church in the Philippines and The Most Reverend Joel Atiwag Pachao, Prime Bishop.

As ever, please let me know about any prayer or pastoral needs and be assured of my prayers for all of you.

Take care and God bless,