Friday, May 22, 2020

Catching the Fire: Online Celebration of Mission Across the Diocese 4pm on Pentecost Sunday

Main link for the streamed Diocesan Service on Pentecost Sunday (31st May 2020) is

This and other places where you can get the livestream can be found at

CHILDREN’S MATERIALS: There will be opportunities for children to engage in activities during the service.

Every blessing,

Sally Gaze, Archdeacon for Rural Mission
Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Friday, May 1, 2020

First months as Rector

I’ve been asked to reflect on my first two or three months as rector of Bansfield Benefice. I must say, I didn’t particularly feel like doing so because it’s not much of a job at the moment, with the churches being locked and my only good conversations being on the phone, but I suppose it’s important to reflect on difficult times as well as good ones.

My new role began in early February with the Bishop making me rector at a special service that was described by a friend as “great, really brilliant - a fine combination of the moving, contemplative and enjoyable.” Then followed five enjoyably hectic weeks of meetings, events (Stansfield parish lunch, Cowlinge village hall pancakes), visiting those who can’t get to church - basically on the go full-time for the first few weeks, in the expectation of reducing to my notional half-time hours thereafter. Those weeks were busy, interesting and fun.

Then came the sudden instruction for social-distancing in church services and the good-humoured adaptation to it by the congregation, thinking this was to be the new normal for a few months … quickly followed by the shift to churches being closed except for private prayer … then within days the heavy, heavy disappointment of churches closed altogether.

I don’t have a specifically Christian ‘angle’ on all this. Like many people I speak to, I’ve been aware how fortunate I am to have a garden and access to countryside for dog-walks, easy access to the supermarket and plenty of things to get on with at home; so fortunate to live alone at a time when many experience irritating or even violent relationships in their home.

So I didn’t notice the loneliness creeping up on me; the lack of motivation to make phone calls, write emails, attend to admin tasks, DIY or gardening. I was lucky, I told myself; of course I’m ok.

It was only when another lovely face-time chat with my son left me feeling sad for the rest of the day, that I realised I deeply miss the actual physical presence of other people and a hug from family or friend. There’s no substitute for that. Some of us simply live with this lack, this absence, for now.

I’m glad I’ve admitted to myself that it’s hard, because this admission honours the value of physical companionship and stops me lying to myself that it doesn’t matter. It does matter, I must treasure it, and I hope I never take it for granted again.

Here’s a prayer I’ve used at a time of bereavement, and I find it helpful now in this different loss, where the loss of physical presence, the absence of a hug, is pressing in. It’s best said outdoors.

O God, though you are unseen,
let me see you all around;
though you are silent,
let me hear you in the birdsong and the trees;
though you are untouchable,
let me feel your touch in those who care about me;
though you are unknowable,
O God, let me know your presence
amidst the mystery of loss.

Revd Eve Bell
Rector Bansfield Benefice

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Lockdown Message

What’s been increasingly heavy on my heart this lockdown period is the reported upswing in instances of domestic violence facilitated by the increased stress of the current situation and the increased opportunity to express anger in secret violence. I can’t imagine how trapped I’d feel if I couldn’t escape, especially with no idea how long the lockdown will last.

I dislike the term ‘domestic violence’. Somehow the word ‘domestic’ makes it sound almost homely and minimises the reality of what happens. When I worked in prison, the correct words were used: assault, grievous bodily harm, rape, murder - words that convey the reality of crimes committed against your own family, though even these terms fail to convey the shattering betrayal of the trust we all need in our closest relationships.

I’m fortunate enough never to have experienced it first-hand myself, but have heard many personal stories from friends, colleagues, relatives and prisoners, male and female, starting with my friend and work colleague Tracy, when we were young adults. She returned from a week’s sick leave supposedly due to a very heavy cold, but told me she’d had to wait at home a week to let the bruising fade away on her face sufficiently to be covered by make-up. Something done in secret, that makes the recipient feel they, too, need to keep it shamefully hidden as if they share the blame, often because they’ve been told it IS their fault: that if their personality, behaviour or body was nicer, better, prettier, the violence wouldn’t have erupted.

I don’t know if there’s something we, the Bansfield church community, could or should be doing to support those trapped in this way, in addition to caring about it and praying for them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

What I DO know is that the Easter message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that God values the whole human person, mind and body. The pattern of Jesus’ resurrection is asserted as the pattern for all human beings; and, because it was as easy then as it is now for people to suppose there’s at best a dis-embodied after-life, the resurrection stories repeatedly stress the sheer solid body of the risen Christ, complete with hands, feet and digestive system. I like the phrase in one of Peter’s speeches where he says God raised Jesus and allowed him to appear ‘to us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead’. Sure enough, a body free from the same limitations as before, but nonetheless a real eating, drinking body (Acts 10.40-41).

This speaks to me of God not just caring about people’s psychological damage but also loving those battered, shamed, even murdered bodies of the lockdown period; not letting them be snuffed out permanently as if their bodies ultimately didn’t matter, but raising them to new, safe, life - both in this life, if the wider community has the will to ensure it, and in the resurrection life of the world to come.

Despite the seriousness of this message, I do wish you all a very Happy Easter! I do miss you an awful lot!


Eve Bell
Rector, Bansfield Benefice

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Eve Bell our new Rector - Installation

Finding someone new to fill the position of Rector is never an easy task, but at 7.30pm on Monday 3rd of February in Wickhambrook church the process was completed. The Institution, Induction and Installation of Reverend Eve Bell as Rector of the Bansfield Benefice was a joyous occasion bringing together many people: Mike, Bishop of Dunwich; David, Archdeacon of Sudbury; Stuart, Rural Dean of Clare; Joe, Dean of the Cathedral; Clergy who have helped out over the last two years; Clergy from the Catholic, Methodist and United Reform church and parish representatives from the seven churches of the benefice. Family and friends were also present, parishioners and Parish Council representatives from the seven parishes and Miss Towns, the headteacher of Wickhambrook Primary Academy, all helping to swell the throng in the church. But this evening, the star was Eve, beaming away and enjoying every moment of her big night.

The church was warm, always a good start, with candles adorning the sills of the windows to give extra atmosphere. The flower arrangements gave the final touch to the visual splendour of the church. Clergy were in their finery and specially printed souvenir service books distributed. All was now in place for the service to begin. Ken Ireland, our organist for the evening, introduced the processional hymn, a cue for the entourage of cross bearer, Clergy, fourteen wand-bearing parish representatives, the Archdeacon, Bishop and Eve to process to their seats. The service itself was a lovely affair steeped with symbolism demonstrating the importance of the role of Rector in our parishes. The language of the service and choice of hymns, all sung with gusto, added to the occasion. The final act of the installation was the presentation of “Cure of Souls” within our seven parishes, and thus we had our new Rector. The service concluded with the recessional hymn and then a chance for the assembled throng to meet, congratulate and chat with Eve our new Rector. To facilitate this a reception was laid on after the service boasting many types of finger food served with wine or soft drinks. The food was lovingly prepared by a band of wonderful helpers and the wine kindly donated by a generous benefactor which all served to round off a perfect evening. If you would like to see photos taken on the evening, Sam Sykes’ photos can be viewed via the benefice website -

At the beginning of the article I mentioned this process of installing a new Rector is never an easy one and in our case this took two years to complete. To keep the seven churches of the Bansfield benefice going all that time and to liaise with the diocese on many occasions created a lot of work for a number of individuals. I would like to thank on behalf of the benefice all those who helped and kept the benefice going during this interregnum, but would like to single out Hugh Douglas-Pennant for special mention for the many hours of work he put into this process. Without Hugh’s dedication the process would have been much more difficult. Well done Hugh - extra House points to Stansfield!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Interregnum - our roadmap to a new incumbent

Dear Reader

The Bansfield Benefice is now in interregnum. [Interregnum Definition: "An interval between the periods of office of two incumbents in a parish."]

The Bansfield Benefice which consists of the churches of Cowlinge, Denston, Lidgate, Ousden, Stansfield, Stradishall and Wickhambrook went into Interregnum on the 26th December 2017 when Rev'd Brin Singleton moved on to his next post at Haughley with Wetherden and Stowupland.

What does the interregnum mean for us here in the Bansfield benefice? We will continue to have regular services in the benefice and Occasional Offices (baptisms, weddings and funerals). We will lose the midweek service in the benefice and reduce to one Holy Communion service on a Sunday which will be held on rotation throughout the benefice churches at 10am. Services will be taken by visiting clergy resident in the Diocese or by clergy beyond under special license from the Bishop. The same will apply to Occasional Offices.

During interregnum all the services can be found as usual on the website under Services.

For anyone wanting to contact us with regard to a religious matter or Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals please see our contact page for details.

We will all be working hard during interregnum to make it as short as possible but the whole process will probably take between six and twelve months.

On behalf of the Bansfield Benefice. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Rector's View - December 2017

Dear Friends

So it’s about… ? Well the Christmas advertising campaigns are upon us again in our journey through Advent searching for that special Christmas gift or preparing for that best Christmas ever. The Cavalier Carver, The Mince Pie Maverick and the Double Dipper entice us to feast with Lidl. An elf racing through the snow to retrieve the misplaced present for Argos. Geoffrey the Giraffe helps Santa for Toys R Us. Kevin the carrot looks for love for ASDA’s Imaginarium Christmas workshop, M&S and Paddington Bear, Debenham’s and Cinderella. All trying to convince us of what they do best.

The Christian story holds that each of us is special, for we each bear God’s likeness. God’s purpose is fullness of life for each of us, that we should be our best ever. And to convince us of this God chose to live with us in one called Jesus God’s Son. You can hear the Church’s campaign at a church near you with help of our more usual cast of angels, shepherds and kings. Last year’s statistics revealed 2016 to be a record year for Christmas attendance at services in cathedrals, the highest figure since records began. A one year rise of 5%, meant that 131, 000 people came to cathedrals to worship last Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. These figures were echoed across parish services as the church embraced the challenge to do what we do best, tell the story of God’s love. The Christmas campaign is just the beginning, throughout the year Christians put God’s love into practice in providing tidings of comfort and joy to those who most need it, that all should know fullness of life.

A blessed and happy Christmas to you all, be assured of our warm welcome to you should you choose to share the Christmas story with us this year.

Yours in Christ,

Rector at Bansfield

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rector's View - November 2017

Dear Friends

This year’s Remembrance Service will be held Sunday 12th November 10am at St Peter's Ousden, and I hope many of you will be able to join our remembrance, our laying of wreaths, our reading of names, and our two minutes silence. Many of you may be able to recall the story of your own ancestor’s wartime service, whether newly researched or past on within the family from generation to generation. The hope that such remembrance would ensure the preserve of peace is lost to us, conflicts continue the world over and still today those who serve their country in the armed forces will gather to remember colleagues in arms lost in battle. Please give generously to the work of the Royal British Legion at this time that they may fulfill their pledge of lifelong support to the armed forces community and their families.

Our service of All Soul’s will be held Sunday November 5th 3pm at All Saints Wickhambrook, here we remember and give thanks for the lives of our own dear departed. This too will be marked by the reading of names and includes the opportunity to light candles in prayer. Invitations have been given to those to whom we have ministered through this year but the service is open to any who would like to join us and share our commemoration. If you would like to attend then please do give me a call and let me know the names of those you would like to be remembered. We will offer refreshments after in the Benefice Hall.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as may be able to join our season of remembrance, and pray we may yet find the course of peace in the lives of the nations and peace in the lives of our families’ friends and loved ones.:-

Almighty Father,
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the King of all:
govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule; Amen.

Rev'd Brin Singleton