News of Growing Community

Mon 02 February 2015

Celebrate and Pray with us

It's a truism that moving house and changing jobs are stressful activities. We are almost dizzy with the pace of change over the last couple of months. It's all very exciting stuff, but really challenging too so we would really value the prayers of all our Friends. This time the work isn't "out there" for guests, but much closer to our personal homes, hearts and daily lives. We have a lot of significant news here, so please be sure to read all the headlines and click through to the items that particularly interest you for your more details. 

The People Headlines

  • Farewell to Margaret S after 2 years as an Alongsider.
  • Welcome to another Margaret as an Alongsider until the end of April.
  • Looking forward to Andrew and Rhian Lane joining as Alongsiders in July with a view to long term Community membership  .
  • A month in the country - student experience opportunity 15th July to 15th August.
  • Photographer-in-residence - opportunity for a good amateur to spend a few weeks at Sheldon.
  • Recruiting for one or two more Alongsiders to join the team.
  • Hillary and Jan are preparing for new roles. From the autumn Jan's role will be to prepare and serve rooms, Hillary's to prepare and serve food.

The Place Headlines

  • Community GreenHouse construction is complete. Carl and Sue have moved in. 
  • Farmhouse flat refurbishment complete. Hillary has moved in.
  • Farmhouse Parlour now the Community gathering place.
  • South Wing flat refurbishment under way. Jan moves mid February. 
  • In the Great Barn Carl's office converted and now shared by Carl and Sarah. Hilary Todd (Administrator) in Sarah's old office next to Reception.
  • In the South Wing the Housekeeping office re-ordered to give a third workstation.

The Event Headlines

  • Community Rededication followed by Hog Roast and music evening of Friday 31st July
  • Bishop of London celebrating and preaching for Annual Eucharist and Blessing of Farmhouse morning of Saturday 1st August

The Finance Headlines

Almost all the training we will be doing for the new roles will take place in house so it is difficult to put a monetary value on it. We do know that there is the significant cost of both the trainer and the trainee being diverted from other tasks while they are learning. We would particularly value your support to the Ministry Fund over the coming year to help meet these transition costs. We've also listed a few of the capital expenses below. Click here to give now. Thank you, as ever, for your support.

  • £45,000 still to raise to cover Community GreenHouse costs
  • £8,000 spent on other redecoration and moving expenses
  • £2,500 spent on workstations
  • £25,000 for rethatching of the Farmhouse after Easter (last done in 1995)
  • £8,000 for that mini-digger Andrew was talking about (he was right then, and still right now ...)


New roles for Hillary and Jan

In September Jan will be taking on responsibility for preparing accommodation for guests. This involves line management of the senior Housekeeping Assistants and the members of the cleaning team. The role includes making sure that rooms are clean, warm and correctly set up for guests. We're not just like a hotel with lots of indentikit rooms - there is a huge variety of different needs and setups. This role will entail a new level of responsiblity for Jan as she feels ready for a new challenge in her life after working mainly in food preparation for the last 15 years. She will of course continue as a massage practitioner providing relaxing, healing touch for guests - we hope that her new role will give more flexiblity in scheduling her appointments. As she says herself, there is a lot to learn between now and September as she prepares to become the Housekeeper.

Although Hillary has had overall responsiblity for food for many years, much of the day to day work has been carried out by Jan. Hillary is now looking forward to picking up a more hands-on role with the preparation of food - her first love. Released from the Housekeeping side of her role, Hillary will become a more regular presence in the kitchen, ably assisted by the many hospitality volunteers who come and stay for a week at a time. The best monastic role title is Cellarer, so Hillary will become the Sheldon Cellarer. Rhian will also be learning her trade on the catering side of things and together they will be managing the kitchen garden, growing and serving as much home grown food as possible. And yes, Hillary also gets to keep responsiblity for the Sheldon flock (they are probably her real, real first love ...)

Please pray for both Hillary and Jan as they learn and plan at the same time as keeping the Sheldon show on the road for guests day in day out. 


Andrew and Rhian Lane

Andrew and Rhian will be coming to live at Sheldon in July with a view to long term Community membership. Rhian will join Hillary mainly on Catering and Gardening while Andrew joins Sarah on office/Reception and liaises with Jan on building maintenance. They will live in Mary's Lodge. 

You may remember Andrew and Rhian were featured in the newsletter "Volunteer Interview" 18 months ago although none of us anticipated at that point that they might be coming to live at Sheldon. That interview seems as good a way as any to introduce them, so here it is again ...

" We’re both in our 50s and we have 2 daughters. Sian is doing a PhD in meteorology and Claire is a trained Christian Youth Worker. I work as a school librarian (Rhian) and I am Deputy Diocesan Secretary in Southwark Diocese (Andrew). We attend All Saints’ Church in Basingstoke.

If there’s one thing I know about God it’s that he has infinite patience with me (A) and is continually surprising - you can never put him in a box (R).

We first came to Sheldon on a 12,000-mile Service in February 2008. Someone at work recommended it when I particularly needed it. We remember driving up the lane wondering where on earth we were going. It was dark and the road was full of potholes (before it was made up). We had in our mind’s eye what you think of as typical retreat accommodation - very basic, shared bathrooms etc - like the old Long Barn. But we were put in a Pig Pen which was just gorgeous. It was warm and comfy and everything had been thought about and was just there. Even the booklet was already open on the welcome page!

We came back as volunteers in the summer of the following year, just smitten with the place and wanting to give something back. You did for Andrew just exactly what he needed at that time. If us coming here as volunteers helps Sheldon do the same for others that’s just great. As workparty volunteers we’re doing things that either save Sheldon money or improve facilities for guests. And of course it’s a lovely place for us to come back to.

It’s really hard to say what are our favourite tasks or pet hates. The thing about it is the variety. And even if you get a job that’s potentially tedious you’re working with other people and you know it’s not long till the next meal. In fact we sometimes joke that Sheldon workparty work is just working up an appetite for the next meal.

My funniest memory (R) is hanging out of a Pound House window painting weatherboarding which was outside my field of view so someone outside on the ground was telling me where to paint! Mine (A) is when all the black spots appeared on the end wall of the Pound House one night. No, we weren’t guilty ...

We’ve been back on quite a few workparties now. And we are people who never, ever go to back to the same place twice for a holiday.

R: The biggest crisis in my life so far was realising in my 30s that I had tinnitus and was going deaf. There is nothing I can do about it so I tend to think it’s pointless worrying. Prayer and a supportive family and friends have helped me through.

A: The biggest challenge in my life has been a change of career. I was in a good job as a a broadcasting engineer with a young family and started getting the nudging feeling that I should be in some sort of Christian service. Not a call so much as a push. Then I applied for my current job and to my surprise I got it. It meant a 50% cut in salary. We’d thought about that of course, but suddenly it was real! That was nearly 20 years ago... I suppose people would expect me to say that my Dad dying when I was 16 was the big crisis, but I honestly don’t remember it as such. He was a parish priest in an unhappy appointment and died of leukaemia. I was at boarding school and I really benefited from the whole support and pastoral care you have around you in a good school. A lot of my life carried on as normal. I suppose that’s the other reason I really want to support Sheldon - I know my Dad had a grotty time of it in his last parish, and I know how horrible people are capable of being. I was probably in my early teens when Series 3 was being brought in and a woman flung the service book down the church “disgusted with this modern rubbish”.

If I could wave a magic wand (A) to reduce clergy stress I would look for ways to properly empower lay people and how to train clergy to lead and collaborate with them well. There is so much that lands on clergy desks that they’re not trained for. Managing buildings. Managing churchyards. And it’s no good just dropping it all on Churchwardens either. I remember an Archdeacon looking gloomily at some new piece of legislation and commenting “yet another good reason not to be a Churchwarden”.

My magic wand gadget (R) would be a single switch that clergy could use to turn off the doorbell, the phone and email in one fell swoop. And maybe some sort of Tardis-like holiday unit that you magically didn’t have to pack and sort everything out before you could get out of the house. Just be magically transported on holiday. In clergy households it really is so hard to holiday at home you just have to get away.

Our Fairy Godmother gifts to Sheldon are (1) a mini-digger (2) a cherry-picker and (3) an endowment fund so you don’t have to worry about income streams but can just get on with doing what you’re good at"

Will you continue to pray with us and for us?

Margaret Smith - Feb 03, 2015

All wonderful news. God be praised, and praises and prayers for all of you for the many exciting and challenging changes in store.

Will you continue to pray with us and for us?

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