Weekly Newsletter, 14th March 2024

Sunday Services, Thursday Parents’ Meet-Up & ‘Newness, Risk & Promise’

Dear St Mary’s, 

It has been wonderful journeying through Lent with you. Last week, on Mothering Sunday, we heard a beautiful sermon from our churchwarden Natalie Burwell and also marked the start of Vanessa’s period of leave by thanking her and Cameron and giving them our love. 

This Sunday, 17 March, is the Fifth Sunday of Lent, which is Passion Sunday – a time when we begin to consider the ‘passio’, or suffering, of Christ, who poured out his love for us upon the cross. This week, we’ll celebrate Holy Communion at both 9am and 10.30am with Revd Alan Moss leading and presiding, and Rob Duddridge, our licensed lay minister, preaching. 

Thank you from Vanessa and Cameron

We were extraordinarily touched by last Sunday’s services, most especially your kindness and love and your overwhelming generosity. We were quite lost for words. We are so thankful to be part of St Mary’s and to be continuing that belonging in a new way. Thank you for your gifts, your prayers and for surrounding us with your love. 

Feel as if St Mary’s is your church home? Join the electoral roll! 

One of the ways of belonging at St Mary’s is to join our electoral roll. It’s a way of expressing the sense that St Mary’s is your spiritual home and committing to the community here. Adding your name to the roll means you can participate fully in our Annual Meeting and it helps us to see how our community is growing and changing. To join the roll, you need to be 16 years old, baptised and either live in our parish or have attended St Mary’s for six months. Join the roll by completing the form here. Please also complete the GDPR consent form here or pick up paper copies of this form at the back of church on Sunday. 

Join our tea and coffee team!

If you’re looking for a way to belong and not sure how to connect, our tea and coffee team is a great way to get to know people at St Mary’s! We’re looking for new members for our 9am and 10.30am teams to serve teas and coffees once a month or once every two months. Training is provided and gratitude is guaranteed! If you would like to be part of this team, please email

Every Thursday: St Mary’s parents’ meet up from 11.30-1pm in church 

Come and join St Mary’s parents, carers and little ones every Thursday 11.30am to 1pm at St Mary’s Church for coffee and a catch up. Vanessa Chance, a member of St Mary’s, will be there with her daughter to welcome you! Come and get to know other parents and carers in a friendly and relaxed setting. Our soft play area (£3 recommended donation) and cafe will be open. For more information, email .

Save the Date- London Mayoral Assembly Thursday 25th April 6pm

Thousands of us will join in person and even more online to put our agenda to the next Mayor of London. We’ve created a manifesto that will benefit our city- the manifesto is years in the making of local people working together to identify positive solutions to the problems we face as a city. It looks at homelessness and housing, migration and refugees, ensuring a Living Wage and tackling climate change through a Just Transition. Citizens of London will gather to ask the two mayoral candidates to commit to our manifesto. A group of us will travel together from St Mary’s on 25th April. If you are able to come, please email to book a free ticket. Friends and family are very welcome to come too. 

Choir rehearsals For Good Friday continue this Friday 15 March

On Good Friday (29 March) at 7.30pm, we’ll be singing a beautiful series of pieces composed and conducted by our Musical Director, Jonathan Rathbone, called, ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’. We are building our choir now and would love you to be a part of it. There are three rehearsals, but if you missed last week’s rehearsal, don’t worry – you can still join the choir by taking part in this Friday’s rehearsal from 7-8.30pm in St Mary’s. You can sign up to be part of the choir here. And you can listen and learn your part here

Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter: Can you help? 

Forest Churches Emergency Night Shelter is urgently seeking a bookkeeper to assist in managing day-to-day financial affairs. This support has been provided by a key volunteer who is no longer able to continue. The Night Shelter team is now reaching out to its church network to see if anyone might be able to support them with this work at low cost or as a volunteer to enable them to use funds for their core work of providing support and accommodation to homeless people. If you are interested in finding out more, or if you know someone who could help, please contact Corinna Creasy, Vice Chair, at by the end of this month. 

Holy Week and Easter 

Our Holy Week and Easter cards are printed and in church, ready to pick up, and our banners are now on the railings around church. At St Mary’s, we invite you to make Holy Week a time of spiritual pilgrimage and to join us for services throughout the week as we walk with Jesus to the cross and resurrection. Among the Holy Week services are:

Tenebrae (Wednesday 27 March, 7.30pm): a reflective service of poetry, music and the Passion story. The church grows gradually darker ending in almost total darkness after the crucifixion story is read. A powerful and beautiful way to mark Holy Week.

Messy Good Friday (Friday 29 March, 10am-12pm): free craft, activities and stories for children and their families. A great way to mark Good Friday with children.

Good Friday Evening Service (Friday 29 March, 7.30pm): the choir leads us in Jonathan Rathbone’s beautiful, ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’. The service includes scripture, poetry and prayers.

Quiet Easter (Saturday 30 March, 4pm): a service on Holy Saturday specifically designed for neurodiverse children and children with additional needs (booking required – book here).

Easter Sunday (Sunrise Service on the High Street, leaving from St Mary’s at 6.15am, followed by Holy Communion Easter Sunday services in St Mary’s at both 9am and 10.30am): joyful celebrations of Jesus’ resurrection and our unending hope. 

EcoTip of the Week 

We had a brilliant ‘Just Transition’ meeting in church last Saturday as about a dozen of us engaged with Waltham Forest Council, and we are now looking for more people from St Mary’s to join our team as we enter an exciting new phase of this campaign. 

We plan to work with the Council to develop a strategy to support and decarbonise community buildings across our borough. There are over 100 community buildings around Waltham Forest – from schools and community centres to church halls and places of worship – that provide vital community services, from warm spaces to food banks, but they are often expensive to heat, poorly insulated, and environmentally damaging, as they typically use gas. The Church of England has also committed to a 2030 Net Zero target, but this relies on buildings like our church and church hall making the transition away from polluting and expensive fossil fuels and towards electrification, utlilising green technologies like solar panels and heat pumps. Interested in joining our team? No experience is necessary, just a willingness to contribute! Email

Please pray: 

  • Please pray for those leading courses during Lent, including Alan leading the Spiritual Disciplines course
  • Pray for our local councillors and MP 
  • Please pray for all people living through violence and conflict 
  • Pray for Vanessa and Cameron as they enter a new season in their lives
  • Please pray for St Mary’s as we too enter a new season, giving thanks to God for each other
  • Pray for Revd Dr Sue Lucas, newly appointed Area Dean of Waltham Forest and her work supporting the Anglican Churches within Waltham Forest
  • Please pray for all who are suffering in body, mind or spirit

Reflection: ‘Newness, Risk and Promise’ 

Revd Tim Scott writes:

One of my favourite verses is in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20 verse12 where Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, is surrounded by warring tribes and he doesn’t know what to do. He says: ‘We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you, O God’.

This is a prayer that I’ve used many times throughout my ministry, and I’m sure, as I begin my ministry as part-time cover Team Rector, I shall be also using it on a number of occasions!

Last Sunday, the very moving presentations to Vanessa and Cameron were a sign of your generosity and a sign of how much Vanessa and Cameron are valued, loved and trusted.  We continue to pray for them and their growing family in this next season of their lives.  They will return to us changed and enriched, with different experiences to offer, but still the same faithful disciples of Jesus Christ we know, treasure and love. 

I was struck by Vanessa‘s words in the newsletter last week when reflecting on not being involved in Easter services this year and how she might ‘inhabit’ being a priest during this year.  A Roman Catholic sister had said to her, ‘God is asking you to fast from something you love. It will return to you more richly’. 

I wonder whether we as a church, as the priestly people of God, lay and ordained, have a similar challenge? What might we be being asked to ‘fast’ from or ‘lay aside’ in this new season?  How will we choose to navigate this year, continuing to be faithful disciples of Christ, keeping our eyes on Jesus, even and maybe especially when we do not know what to do? What is our particular calling as a church at this time as we seek to support each other, serve and be a blessing to our community and draw people ever closer to God’s love? 

Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday (24 March) and ending on Easter Day (31 March) is an opportunity to reflect deeply on these questions. It invites us to experience different forms of worship, to take the risk of travelling with our Lord, experiencing a range of emotions which make connections with our own lived experience, and finally, on Easter Day, to celebrate the joy and hope that God promises us. The way forward may not always be clear but together we are people of the resurrection who seek to keep our eyes on our Lord. 

Linda and I are so grateful for your prayers (please continue to pray!) and be assured of our prayers for you as we all seek to be faithful disciples of Christ. And I pray that you will each know the joy of the living Christ journeying with you. It is a journey which involves newness, risk and the promise of joy.  

With my love and prayers, 


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