Voices of the Churches October 2021

From Deacon Michael Turnbull, Our Lady’s Church, Marnhull; RC Chaplain, HMP Guys Marsh


The prisoner sitting across from me looked pensive. I could see the worry in his expression. “I don’t want to go back to Bristol. I know if I go back, I will only get drawn back into trouble. I don’t want to end up back here. I want to have a NEW BEGINNING!” As a Prison Chaplain, this is one of a not unusual conversation with me with people who are contemplating a new start in life, giving a real chance to alter one’s behaviour and expectations from life.

Many of us coming out of the various restrictions put in place since the lockdowns, are also in the position of wanting new beginnings. This may be because of a change of job, having been laid off; having returned to the workplace after months of furlough. Many work places have realised the positive benefits of some of the new practices resulting from the pandemic. Often, the thoughts of change in our lives, runs alongside the dread of something new. “I’m too old to learn new ways, or new skills.” That intrinsic fear of change has resulted in many people accepting situations they are not completely happy with, because they are afraid to change.

As we move through the year from Summer to Autumn we see that idea of New Beginnings appearing in many aspects of our lives. In another part of this publication, the retirement of Fr Martin Budge is shared with us. After nearly 20 years as Parish Priest at Our Lady’s Catholic Church in Marnhull and St Benedict’s Catholic Church in Gillingham has produced many “new beginnings’ as he has moved to the Cathedral in Plymouth, to be replaced by Fr Francis Straw, a monk from the Benedictine community of Buckfast Abbey. We welcome him into our churches and our communities, conscious of the changes which may result in our lives.

It is not only our Catholic Churches which look forward to New Beginnings locally. The Methodist Churches in Gillingham and Marnhull have welcomed a new Minister, Lyn Francis. She joins our communities with her husband, and we look forward to working with her in our “Churches Together” initiatives.

Next door to Our Lady’s Church, our small Catholic Primary school is also celebrating new beginnings, as new pupils arrive, and the Year 5 pupils also have moved on to new schools around the area, in Sturminster Newton, Shaftesbury and Gillingham. St Mary’s School also welcomes a new Head Teacher, Sharon Betts, and we welcome her into our community, and we can assure her of her support as the changes of a new beginning come into the lives of our children.

Let us offer our prayers for a new beginning in all those facing the fears and challenges at this time:

Lord, you make all things new, the Creator who is continually nurturing, renewing, and developing every aspect of our remarkable universe.

Lord, you make all things new. I rest in your creative arms, I dwell in the hope of this renewal, I hope in the strength of your mighty hand.

Lord, you make all things new. Take all I am, all I care for, and all I love into your gentle arms. Come to touch and heal, mend and restore, release.

and minister. Amen.