Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Sue Mann

24th August 2021

Rector’s Reflections

As I write this, the people of Haiti are suffering the terrible consequences of an earthquake and, of course, we are all shocked at the plight of the Afghan people. Last week Chelmsford Diocese offered their support:

Our Diocese is committed to supporting refugees and, since 2015, the Diocese of Chelmsford has resettled almost 200 refugees through their resettlement program. Most have been families fleeing the Syrian conflict, but a number have been Afghan interpreters and their families fleeing the Taliban.

As pictures of the catastrophic impact of the crisis in Afghanistan fill our TV screens, the human cost in lives devastated seems too much to comprehend, and many of us are left wondering what we can do to help in the face of such great tragedy.

Committed to serving Christ in the downtrodden, persecuted and oppressed, and to witnessing to the transforming presence of Christ in the midst of the seemingly impossible, our Diocese continues to stand ready to do all that we can to serve and support refugees in our parishes across East London and Essex, and those communities seeking to walk alongside displaced people.

The Diocesan  Refugee Engagement Team is ready and resourced to support parishes in welcoming and supporting Afghan refugees over the coming months and years, and to building on the life changing work already done since 2015.

As the Government program for Afghan resettlement becomes clearer over the coming weeks, our own diocesan program will be widened and reshaped to work alongside partners in providing the care, love and support to which the gospel calls us.

Our response to situations like this is as much our worship as our services on Sunday. As a family, we have offered accommodation should it be needed. If this is something you might feel able to do, please do let me know and I can pass on your details to the Diocesan Refugee Coordinator, should a request come. I will also keep you updated with any other Diocesan appeals and ways in which we can help. Alternatively, the organisation, Positive Action for Housing gives some suggestions:

If you or someone you know, wants to offer a spare room or property temporarily to someone from a refugee background, please visit 

You can fill in the form, at

You can give by going to 

Or go to the Government website at How you can help refugees coming to the UK – Ways to help refugees arriving in Britain (

You may, also, like to use this prayer in your own personal devotions.

All-loving God,

Your hands have fashioned every lovely corner of this treasured planet, and the beautiful land of Afghanistan is as precious as every other place your children call ‘home’.

By its rivers and mountains, its fields and gardens, its busy towns and ancient villages, it is the heart’s desire of its people and the place where their lives and loves are nurtured.

We grieve today with those who grieve over Afghanistan, the people who call it home indeed, the people exiled or suddenly having to leave, and the men and women from other countries who have made sacrifices in recent years in the cause of that country’s future.

We remember with renewed sadness the loss of lives of military personnel during the years of this country’s involvement in Afghanistan, conscious of the questions that must today be troubling the minds of those in our community who were bereaved, those who were wounded on operations, and those who were forever changed by experiences suffered there.

We pray for peace, dignity, freedom and confidence for the men, women and children of Afghanistan; for courage, vision and generosity within the international community responding to such need; and for tranquillity of mind amongst our own service community and its wider family. In the name of Jesus Christ, the peace-giver, we pray, Amen.

As ever, take care and God bless and I look forward to seeing you soon.


Sue Mann

25th July 2021

We have just returned from a family break in the Lake District, when we camped in the grounds of Rydal Hall near Ambleside, close to Rydal Water and Grasmere.

Whilst we were away, we enjoyed some walking, cycling, wild swimming and canoeing but I also had a chance to read some books and ‘top up’ spiritually. Our campsite was in the grounds of the Diocesan Retreat Centre and their library was available to use.

I read books by CS Lewis, as well as the challenging but inspiring life stories of three different missionaries including Gladys Aylward and Hudson Taylor, both of whom served in China, and one of a doctor serving in Liberia in the middle of the Ebola Crisis and it was interesting to note some of the similarities between the impact of the Ebola epidemic and the Covid pandemic. Sadly, this particular doctor is now suffering the effects of long Covid which she contracted whilst working in the UK.

All of the stories I read challenged me and caused me to reflect upon how much I am and would be prepared to give up in order to serve Christ and they prompted me to think about the stumbling blocks that regularly hinder me!

But I also mulled over the fact that we have all given up much over the past 18 months and in doing so we have learned to appreciate and value other things that we once took for granted and to, perhaps, meet God in different and unexpected ways.

I do encourage you to read some Christian books over the summer as they can be a great way of helping all of us grow in our faith, through increasing our knowledge and understanding of God by and providing us with inspiration as well as challenge. If you need any recommendations of good books to read, then please do let me know.

Having given up much over the past two years, many Covid restrictions have now been lifted, and for some people this feels like freedom but for others it raises anxiety levels particularly as we have seen an increase in Covid cases, including quite a number locally.

As a church we are now called upon to forge the best way forward and I will be working with the PCCs to discern the best way to approach this. I know that some people are, understandably, keen to sing again in church and do everything we did before whereas others are still fearful of coming into our church buildings.  Please can I ask for your prayers and sensitivity as we seek to move forward together in a collaborative, loving and mutually supportive way.

And please do remember and keep in your prayers those who continue to be isolated, for whom the past 18 months have really taken their toll.

As ever, please be assured of my love and prayers for you all.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

21st June 2021

Rector’s Reflections

Recently I have had the privilege of journeying alongside a group of people doing the SHAPE Course.

The course aims to enable church members to understand the unique SHAPE God has made them, the gifts he has given them and how he might want to use them. This is so that God’s Kingdom may be built up as each person finds the ministry to which God is calling them in the Church and in the world.

The purpose of the course is to help each of us to live and serve with more joy, satisfaction and fruitfulness and to help build a healthy growing church.  But it’s not just about doing things in church.  It also relates to the way we engage with our family, friends, job, local community, voluntary and leisure activities.

The SHAPE Course is 6 weeks long and each session, coupled with some tasks in between, helps each person to reflect upon a different aspect of their shape: their spiritual gifts, their heart’s desire, their abilities, their personality, and their experience.

  • Spiritual Gifts (God’s unique gifts to you)
  • Heart’s Desire (what motivates and excites you; what you love to do)
  • Abilities (your talents, knowledge and skills)
  • Personality (your character, personal qualities and strengths)
  • Experience (your life experiences and what you’ve gained from them)

The course has prompted some great discussion and prayer and has enabled people to get to know each other better. We have discovered things about each other which we didn’t know before and we have learned to appreciate each other in new ways.

Sometime in the future, the SHAPE group is going to lead a service in church when they will be able to tell you a bit more about their experiences of doing the course.

We hope to be able to run SHAPE again sometime after we have done the ALPHA Course in the Autumn term, so if you think you might be interested in either of these courses, please do let me know.

As ever, take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

13th June 2021

Recently, thanks to much hard work by a group of committed individuals, Horndon Church has received its Bronze Eco Church Award and Bulphan has now applied for Silver status. With a few little adjustments, Orsett should soon be able to apply for Bronze.

As part of registering with Eco Church, we have begun having discussions about becoming Fairtrade Churches in our PCCs. The Fairtrade Foundation website says,

Fairtrade is one simple way to spark change – and it starts with our choices. Choosing Fairtrade means standing with farmers for fairness and equality, and against some of the biggest challenges the world faces.

Fairtrade means fairer pay and more power in the hands of farmers, so that they can create change for us all, from investing in climate friendly farming techniques and clean water for their community, to nurturing women leaders and making sure children get an education. When you choose Fairtrade, you’re choosing the world you want to see.

With Fairtrade you have the power to change the world every day. With simple shopping choices you can get farmers a better deal. And that means they can make their own decisions, control their future and lead the dignified life everyone deserves.

When Fairtrade food products were introduced many years ago, they weren’t particularly palatable, but they have moved on greatly now. In fact, all of Marks and Spencer’s tea and coffee is Fairtrade as is that of many of the well-known coffee outlets; chocolate producers such as Cadbury Bournville have taken on many Fairtrade initiatives; most bananas in supermarkets are fairly-traded following pressure to stock them by members of the public many years ago.

In order to achieve Fairtrade Status, as churches, the minimum requirement is to ensure that all of our tea, coffee and sugar is Fairtrade. But there are so many more Fairtrade products available. And, of course, the more we commit to buying the more we are caring for our brothers and sisters around the world. Fairly traded goods include clothes, flowers, cold drinks and juice, biscuits, sweets, snacks, grains, sugar, spreads, oil, wine, beauty products, herbs and spices and even gold.

I do encourage you to look for the Fairtrade logo when you are out shopping and to buy Fairtrade products where you are able. The price may be a little higher, but our purchasing of these products is one way in which we can demonstrate love for our global neighbours.

If you are unsure where to start when buying Fairtrade products, there is a page further on in the magazine with some  help and suggestions.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

29th April 2021

On Easter Day, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ in Orsett Church. It was wonderful to be able to worship together in person again. May is another busy month in the church calendar.

On Rogation Sunday, the Church has traditionally offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labours of those who produce our food. A common feature of Rogation days was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister and churchwardens would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year. As it is no longer practical to follow exact boundaries, services have a focus on specific elements of creation such as livestock, fields, orchards and gardens. This year we will celebrate Rogation Sunday on 9th May at Orsett Church.

On Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, we remember Jesus leaving this earth and returning to his Father, ascending into heaven to take his throne over all dominions and powers. Ascension Day will be celebrated in our Tuesday Morning Holy Communion Service on 11th May at 9.30am at Horndon Church.

In between Ascension Day and Pentecost, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ takes place. It is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray from Ascension to Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus. Since its start in May 2016, God has grown Thy Kingdom Come from a dream of possibility into a movement. Christians from 172 countries have taken part in praying ‘Come Holy Spirit’, so that friends and family, neighbours and colleagues might come to faith in Jesus Christ. During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come we are encouraged to :

  • Deepen our own relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus.
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness.

And then, at Pentecost, we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter. The name comes from the Greek word, ‘pentekoste,’ which means fiftieth. Pentecost is also regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church, and the start of the church’s mission to the world. This year Pentecost falls on Sunday 23rd May and we will be celebrating it at Bulphan Church.

Christian Aid Week also takes place in May and will focus on the issue of Climate Change.

‘This climate crisis hurts us all. But people living in poverty fight the worst of it every day. From drought to flooding, climate change robs people of control over their lives.’ Christian Aid

If you would like to contribute to the work of Christian Aid, you can do this by giving through our online envelope, details of which can be found later in the magazine. Last year we raised over £600 through our e-envelope. It would be great if we could equal or even beat that total this year. Our service will be at Horndon Church on Sunday 16th May.

We will also be running an online SHAPE course during May and June to help people discover their God given gifts and how they might use them in God’ service. Do contact me if you are interested in participating in this course.

I would certainly challenge anyone who  says that being Christian is boring!

As ever, with love and prayers for you all.

Take care and God bless,