Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

Sue Mann

18th November 2021

For Christians, the time before Christmas which we call Advent, is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. God prepared for the birth of Jesus through the words of the prophets, many of whom lived in simplicity to show that they were waiting for God to fulfil his promises. Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Anna and Simeon are examples of God’s faithful people who waited in joyful and humble trust.

As we prepare for the coming of Christ, I offer some prayers from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne which you might find helpful in your devotions as you prepare, this Advent, for the coming of Christ.

    Prepare my mind, merciful God, For the wonders of your mystery. Prepare my heart, loving God, For the joy of your presence. Prepare my spirit, awesome God, For the blessing of your wisdom.Jesus teach me how to love, how to live in your presence. Jesus teach me how to live, how to pray in your will. Jesus teach me how to pray, how to rest in your embrace. Jesus teach me how to rest, how to be in your world. Jesus teach me how to be, how to love your way.
Show me your ways, Teach me your paths, Grant me the courage To follow you Wherever you lead The faith to seek you, In all things In all places In all the people And the wisdom To accept That I need you.    May love be my reason And love my desire. May love be my purpose And love be my fire. May love be my burden And love be my strife. May love be my comfort and love be my life.
      Pause…breathe slowly… Invite God into the moment. Pause…breathe slowly… Listen to the whispers of the Spirit. Pause…breathe slowly… Follow the examples of Jesus  On the wars and rumours of wars, Shine your light. On the poor and the oppressed, Shine your light On the lies and the deceivers Shine your light On the disasters And terrible things, Shine your light. Lord, help me to serve. Lord, help me to be your light.  
Each day throughout Advent, write down three things. One thing that makes you feel joyful, one thing that you are thankful for and one thing that you are helpless about. Tell God about them. It may help to have three pebbles and a small cross. And as you think of the things, place them at the foot of the cross.  Shine your light on my path, May I follow your way. Shine your light on my darkness, May I know your love. Shine your light on my face, May I reflect your glory.

I look forward to seeing you over the Christmas period.

Take care and God bless,


Sue Mann

24th October 2021

Whenever I am involved with a small group study, it energises me. It is a real privilege to be able to journey with others as we seek to support each other and grow in faith.

In the past year in the Benefice, we have held a course on Climate Change and considered our responsibility as Christians to care for the creation that God has so generously given us. We have held a SHAPE Course where we worked together to discern what it might be that God is calling each of us to do in his service. And, now, on Tuesday evenings, every two weeks, we are holding a course called ‘The Prayer Course,’ which is being very ably run by two of our church members, Phil and Lisa Anderson.

The Prayer Course has been developed by 24-7 Prayer, which began as one simple prayer meeting in 1999, and is now an international, interdenominational movement.  Each week there is a video, some discussion questions and practical prayer activities, all done in a friendly and encouraging environment. No prior experience is necessary; it is a course where we can all learn wherever we are on our faith journey.

The course is divided into 8 sessions covering the following topics, each using a line of The Lord’s Prayer as the basis.

1.Why Pray?  “Lord, teach us to pray”

This first session unpacks the importance of prayer and the different topics covered across the course.

2.Adoration: “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name”

This session explores how we can enjoy God’s presence in praise and worship.

3.Petition: “Give us this day our daily bread”

This session unpacks the significance of asking God in prayer.

4.Intercession: “Your kingdom come”

This session explores the power and importance of praying on behalf of others.

5.Unanswered Prayer: “Your will be done”

This session tackles the challenges and realities when our prayers aren’t answered.

6.Contemplation: “On earth as it is in heaven”

This session considers how spending time with God in silence can enrich our relationship with him.

7.Listening: “Give us this day our daily bread”

This session unpacks the practical ways we can tune into hearing God’s voice.

8.Spiritual Warfare: “Deliver us from evil”

This session looks at the ways we can pray for God’s kingdom to come in the midst of a spiritual battle.

Prayer is something that we can all do. It doesn’t require super skills, just a desire and a willingness to engage with God. If you haven’t been along to the Prayer Course yet and have missed the first session it’s not too late! Just pop along to the Orsett Churches Centre on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, the next meeting being on Tuesday 2nd November at 7pm where you will find a warm welcome.

On the subject of prayer, I do encourage you to commit to praying for the COP 26 Summit, in Glasgow, taking place in Glasgow from Sunday 31st October until Friday 12th November, for governments from around the world as they meet together to discern the best way forward to reduce global emissions. You might like to use the following prayer from CAFOD:

Loving God,
We praise your name with all you have created.

You are present in the whole universe,
and in the smallest of creatures.

We acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us
as stewards of your creation.

May the Holy Spirit inspire all political leaders at COP26 as they
seek to embrace the changes needed to foster a more sustainable society.

Instil in them the courage and gentleness to implement fairer solutions
for the poorest and most vulnerable,
and commit their nations to the care of Our Common Home.

We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son.


As ever, take care and God bless,



Sue Mann

25th September 2021

On Saturday 11th September, I had the privilege of attending Moji’s Ordination as Deacon at Chelmsford Cathedral. Despite some Covid restrictions still being in place it was a wonderful service, filled with joy and hope.

Moji now begins her ministry in this Benefice as a self-supporting curate. She will be serving with us during weekends and school holidays whilst she continues living and working in London during the week and Max will continue his ministry among us, just as before.

People often ask me what the difference is between a Deacon, a Priest and a Curate. And, I have to admit, it is all a bit complicated and confusing.

When someone is accepted for ordination in the Church of England, they begin their training at a theological college. This is known as I.M.E.1, (Initial Ministerial Training 1). After this they are usually ordained Deacon and placed in a parish context to complete their training ‘on the job’ as it were! This is I.M.E. 2, (Initial Ministerial Training 2).

‘Deacons are ordained so that the people of God may be better equipped to make Christ known. Theirs is a life of visible self-giving. Christ is the pattern of their calling and their commission; as he washed the feet of his disciples, so they must wash the feet of others.’ Common Worship: The Ordination Service

In the Deacons’ Ordination service the Bishop says the following words.

‘Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.

Deacons share in the pastoral ministry of the Church and in leading God’s people in worship. They preach the word and bring the needs of the world before the Church in intercession. They accompany those searching for faith and bring them to baptism. They assist in administering the sacraments; they distribute communion and minister to the sick and housebound.

Deacons are to seek nourishment from the Scriptures; they are to study them with God’s people, that the whole Church may be equipped to live out the gospel in the world. They are to be faithful in prayer, expectant and watchful for the signs of God’s presence, as he reveals his kingdom among us.’ Common Worship: The Ordination Service

Completion of the period of training as a Deacon usually ends with the person being ordained as a Priest, although there is the option to remain a permanent Deacon. The usual process, however, is that someone remains a Deacon for a year or two as they work to fulfil training requirements and they are then ordained Priest, and remain in  the same parish, as a Priest to complete the rest of  their I.M.E. 2 training. It is when someone is ordained Priest that they are able to preside at Holy Communion.

The I.M.E. 2 training time in a parish after ordination when someone is ordained Deacon and, later on, Priest, is usually referred to as curacy, and is a vital time in which newly ordained ministers continue to learn and grow in the roles to which God has called them. However, the word ‘curate’ actually means a person who is invested with the care or cure (cura) of souls so, in this sense, all ordained clergy are curates.

So, as Moji begins her year as Deacon in this Benefice, please do continue to pray for her and support her in her training. Moji has written a little bit about herself  which you can find this later on in the magazine, alongside some  photos of her ordination.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

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

Take care and God bless,


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,