St Philip & St James Church, Burtle

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Letter from Rich the new Polden Wheel Vicar

Hi folks,

Jennifer and I are very much looking forward to joining you all in the Polden Wheel!

I became the curate in the West Worcestershire Rural Team nearly four years ago, and I’ve greatly enjoyed my time there. A couple of the highlights have been setting up two café churches (one in each of the villages of Martley and Wichenford) and starting up a youth group for 10-14 year olds.

Having lived my life in towns and cities, this was my first time living in the countryside – and I’m delighted to be able to continue to do so in Somerset. What I learned in west Worcestershire is that rural areas have a strong sense of local community – to an extent that is rather rare in towns and cities. A major personal highlight in the last couple of years has been meeting and marrying my lovely wife Jen: we got married in London last July. One of the challenges we face as Christians is the way that the culture around us is changing so rapidly: we now live in an era which is both post-modern and post-Christendom. But the gospel remains the same now, whatever the surrounding culture: Jesus is still the risen son of God. So how do we remain true to our faith while navigating these cultural changes?

I look forward to exploring how we do this with you in the Polden Wheel!

Every blessing

Rich and Jennifer Tweedy

Click below to see the letter with the photo of their trip away.

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St Philip and St James Church, Burtle

St Philip and St James Church Burtle is celebrating it's 175th birthday this month.  Already there has been a special flower festival week end that was very well supported.  To mark the occasion the Friends of Burtle Church have also commissioned a booklet document the history of the church, the graveyard and other interesting facts and information.

Copes of these may be purchased at the church itself or from any members of the Friends of Burtle Chuch.  Price is just £3.50 and with only a limited print run be sure to get your copy now to avoid disappoitment.  If you wish to have a copy mailed to you please send a stamped addressed A5 envelope together with a cheque payable to St Philip and St James Church, Burtle to:

The Treasurer
Burtle Rd
Bridgwater TA7 8NB

or email



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March and April News Sheet

The latest news sheet for March and April 2015 is available for download here.

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March & April Letter from Archdeacon Nicola

Looking to a new future...

One of the popular pictures of the resurrection is found in the tradition of the Eastern Church.In the icon we see Christ holding out his hands to an elderly man and woman who are emerging from a cave or prison. The clue is found in seeing the padlocks and keys lying on the ground. Christ is standing on a rickety bridge over a deathly river. While he is drawing the couple to come and meet him he is also introducing them to each other. We soon realise that the couple are Adam and Eve, the keys of death have burst open their imprisonment and the risen Christ is meeting them so as to draw them back into relationship with each other and It’s a different and dramatic way of thinking about the central Christian belief that Jesus has died for the sin and darkness of the world and now invites us to a new life of reconciled relationships and a transformed future for all creation. The gospels too tell of how the Risen Lord goes to find the disciples after the resurrection. How much we need to be reminded that we need finding and rescuing from all that pulls away from the abundance of God’s love, Someone once said that the Church was a hospital for sinners, not a school for saints. We are far from perfect but amazingly we are invited by our risen Lord to be a community open to the rich possibilities of God’s good future: not trapped or locked in by the past. Easter bids us to join God’s continuing work of drawing all people to himself in Christ. 

Alleluia, the Lord is risen! 

Archdeacon Nicola Sullivan

Thank you to the PCC, churchwardens and all offering ministry during the vacancy. We look forward with confidence to the future and the appointment of the next vicar in due course. Meanwhile please pray for wisdom and discernment for all engaged with the process of the appointment, and for a willing and obedient heart in the priest who we trust God is preparing to join us in the adventure ahead.

Archdeacon Nicola

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You can download the latest edition of 'Spokes' here.

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News Sheet

The latest news sheet for January 2015 is available for download here.

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December Newsletter from Trish

Dear Friends,
Some of you may already be aware from the announcements in our churches on 16th November, or by word of mouth, Mike and I and our golden retriever Ben will be leaving these parishes after 6 years in January.
I selfishly wanted to use this space to thank you for all your help, support and kindness while we have lived here. When we arrived on a cold January day in 2009 we could never have foreseen the diversity of experiences ahead of us. I have been driven in a farmers four wheel drive on a snowy day just before Christmas to conduct a wedding in Burtle. Been involved with many of your
families at the baptism of your grandchildren, the weddings of your sons and daughters and the funerals of those you love and care for and many other things which will remain between me and those I have come in contact with. We have had fun at the Vicarage Fete; I have laughed with the children in our four schools and shared meals with many of you from the Maundy Thursday supper with communion, to quiet simple meals over a kitchen table.
I would really like to thank all of you for the little things you do in our communities that keep the Christian faith “open” for those who wish to seek it out in our villages by unlocking our churches, fundraising, attending events and of course coming to our services – whether it is once in a lifetime, once a year or once a week we are always pleased to welcome you and I have been privileged to spend time chatting – formally, informally and for no reason at all - other than to share a smile, a story or a memory.
Mike and I will take up the reins at St Mary’s Bridgwater and Chilton Trinity in late April 2015. I have a short break for study and reflection until then. I hope as many of you as possible will be able to come to my licensing as Vicar at St Mary’s in April. In the words of my favourite blessing:-
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft on your fields,
and until we meet again - may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
Revd Trish Ollive

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November Letter from Jan

Dear friends,

I would like to say a big thank you to those in the villages, who have help cut the grass in the Churchyards.
For me as a Christian, it is so important that we care for God's Acre even though (or especially as) we live in the countryside.
I was born and brought up in a hamlet, where at that time my Father was a farm labourer and remember seeing all the
beautiful wild flowers and wild life around us each day.

Churchyards are one of the few places where the grass can be left to grow naturally, thus allowing the wildlife flowers and grasses to grow supporting the bees, butterflies and wild life in general.

In September, 5 of us from the Polden Wheel Churches went to Exeter to attend a conference for 'Caring for God's Acre' where one of the speakers was telling us that when she was young she would see at least 70 wild flowers on her walks around the fields, now she can only find 7 different kinds.

So this is one of the reasons why this year we left the Churchyards to grow naturally to see which wild flowers are growing there. Next year most of the churchyards in the Polden Wheel Benefice will have designated areas left for wild life.

Also some of the churchyards have had and are having bird boxes put up in different places for the bats and birds. This project is being organised by Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership with local children being involved.

Please call at Edington or Shapwick churches to learn more about why we have done this, and see what beautiful wild flowers are now growing there.

Yours in Christ,
Jan Jones - Reader in The Polden Wheel.

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October Letter from Trish

Dear Friends,

The trees on this page are survivors of the Atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. This is not the place to debate the ethics of this event but perhaps to consider the miracles that occur around us, in our natural world. This Ginkgo Biloba tree and a few others of the same species survived despite growing only a 1000 or so meters from the epicentre of the blast; buds and shoots appeared without any major deformities. Now as you can see steps have been constructed around them and in one case a hole was left in a roof for one of the trees to grow. Despite the fact that all manmade buildings were destroyed these “living fossils” as Charles Darwin named them in the 19th century, are known to have survived the Ice Age. The Ginkgo Biloba trees in Hiroshima are known as “the bearer of hope.” What do we see as “bearers of hope” in our village communities? What signs of bud and growth do we nurture? Often when we see something new we do not like it or we are suspicious of it. When our Junior Church Leader decided to step down last December after many years of caring for, and developing, our children’s spirituality some people were worried that our work with young people was dying. This year we have a group of people who are the “bearers of hope” born from the seeds sewn in their own childhood. Look for the seeds of hope in your life and nurture them. Encourage and inspire – our faith gives many of us hope; perhaps it is time to nourish that seed in your life?

Revd Trish Ollive

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Mini Bus to Church

Mini Bus to Church - what ever next! With the support of Shapwick School The Polden Wheel group of churches in Ashcott, Burtle, Catcott, Chilton Polden Edington and Shapwick were able to provide a mini bus service around our communities for four Sundays in August. Our churches had a Fellowship month with one service on a Sunday followed by coffee and cake. Mike Ollive and Adrian Pearson were our drivers, pictured here with Sandra Pearson, Bridget Frier, Keith Prime and Freda Prime.  The feedback has been very positive with an average of 50 people at each service.  Our music group TOAST played each week and a few people came with the aid of the mini bus who would not normally be able to travel.  Thank you again to Shapwick School, our drivers and the host churches. Trish 

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Prayers from the Polden Wheel CD

The new TOAST CD is coming to a church near you!

A selection of hymns old and new on the theme of prayer, interspersed with spoken prayers read by residents of the Polden Wheel villages.

£10 - will be available in church shortly.

The 1st TOAST CD (Praises from the Polden Wheel) is now available at a reduced price, please get in touch with any TOAST member to secure your copy!


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