Category Archives: Rector’s Reflections

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,


Sue Mann

29th March 2021

Recently, after some prayer and thought, I phoned two people up to ask them if they would consider doing something. Each of them responded by saying that they had been praying, asking God to open a door, that the timing was just right and so they said ‘yes.’

It is important that we spend time drawing close to God in prayer and that we not only speak but listen so that what we do is of God rather than out of a sense of guilt or obligation. It is said that it is no coincidence that God gave each of us one mouth and two ears!

Before lockdown, many of us were so busy! We live in a world where we often glorify the act of busyness but sometimes when we are rushing around, we push out that still small voice of God when, actually, what we need to say to God, in the words of Samuel in the Old Testament, is ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’

Julian of Norwich said,

‘…for that is what obedience is, listening, discerning and acting upon what one hears, through the motive power of love. St Benedict makes clear that obedience is a mutual exercise. We listen to God, we listen to each other, and to what the Spirit is saying to this little monastic church, from the least one in the community to the abbot.’

We are so glad to be back in church for Easter Day. And, although we have been worshipping online for the past year, the last Easter Day Service in church was two years ago and so it will be a joyous occasion, on April 4th, when we gather together. But we, as a church, need to be mindful about rushing back into everything just because that is how we did it before. We need to listen to God, to what the Holy Spirit is saying.

During lockdown, I have had the opportunity to listen to many different views about church services.  We also sent out a service questionnaire and with my colleague Max and with the support of the PCCs, we have adopted a new service pattern in the hope of engaging with as many people as possible in a manageable way. The new service plan can be found in the HOBNOB magazine. I believe it is an exciting time with new opportunities to embrace. Had we been asked 18 months ago to adopt the technology and different ways of worshipping many of us have now grown used to, most of us would have balked at the idea. But we have done it and I really believe that the Holy Spirit is calling us now into a new season which will incorporate some of the old and combine it with some new. Of course, as with any change, we will meet some challenges but we will continue listening to God as we go along and will make tweaks where necessary.  I invite you to come with us on this journey; a journey of listening, of hope and of discovering God afresh; a journey following God into the unknown, confident that when he calls us into pastures new, he will never let us go. After all, he is a God who loves each one of us so much that he was prepared to die on the cross for us, so that all of our sins and wrongdoing can be washed away for ever and so that each one of us can have a relationship with him. And, to finish, just to let you know, If you would like to find out more about Christianity or do a refresher course, we are hoping to hold an Alpha Course online in the near future. If this is something that you would be interested in please do let me know.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

With love and prayers for you all.

God bless,


Sue Mann

1st March 2021

This month I would like to begin by congratulating Bulphan Church on gaining the Eco Church Bronze Award.

Eco Church is an award scheme designed to motivate and resource churches in England and Wales to care for God’s earth as part of their everyday work and witness.

Churches complete a survey which is divided up into the following categories:

  • Worship and teaching
  • Management of church buildings
  • Management of church land
  • Community and global engagement
  • Lifestyle

Hopefully, you will have been reading the Eco Church articles that Lynda Robertson has been posting monthly in the Hobnob to help us all to think about green issues. Lynda is going to write a more detailed explanation of the Eco Church criteria, and how the process of awarding churches works, next month.

This Lent some of us have been doing a course called ‘For such a time as this’ about environmental issues and we have been looking at the impact of climate change through the lenses of Christians from different parts of the world, including Asia, the Philippines, the West Indies, Mozambique, South India and Japan. We have had some really interesting discussions and, as part of the course, members of the group have set up their own Lent boxes. Each week we have been given challenges to raise money to put in our Lent boxes. For example, one week we were encouraged to reduce energy consumption in our homes and for every action we took, such as turning the thermostat down 2 degrees, we were asked to put £1 in the Lent box. On another occasion, every time we used a plastic bottle, pot or bag, we fined ourselves 20 pence to put in the pot. All money raised will go to the Green Schools Programme and the wider work of the Church of South India, through USPG, an Anglican Mission Agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential and champion justice.

As part of the course we have also shared ideas. Some people have been to to assess their own carbon footprint. One group member shared that the average carbon footprint in the UK is 6.50 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person, the average worldwide is 5 tonnes and the worldwide target is 2 tonnes! Most of us are not there yet but it is something to aim for.

It would be interesting to hear what other things you have been doing for Lent….

And, of course, as we come out of the wilderness of Lent, at the beginning of April, we pray that we will also begin to come out of the wilderness of the lockdown that we have all been experiencing for the past year.

Please know that you are all very much in my prayers.

Take care and God bless,