The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Vicar's Letter

June 2006

Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

"The church has been here for 800 years", people sometimes tell me, and one of the great features of English life is the presence of the parish church at the heart of the village. It's one of the things we take for granted, and, of course, everyone assumes that it always will be.

One of the great privileges of being a parish church is that of being available to the whole community - for baptisms, weddings and funerals, as the focus of local commemorations and celebrations, and simply to be open day by day for those who want space to be quiet, to think or to pray. Your parish church stands firmly in that tradition - it is the church for everyone in the community.

What people often forget is that the parish church continues to be there only because of the generosity of those who support it. Have you ever wondered what it costs to keep the church open with a full-time resident Vicar? Last year the cost was £75,000, all of which was raised from the gifts of regular and occasional worshippers. There are no government grants, and no money from central church funds to keep our church going, and only a very small proportion of these costs come from fees charged for weddings and funerals, and from ancient land rents. The church is here today because of the generosity of its regular congregation and well-wishers in the local community. Archbishop William Temple once said that "the Church is the only organization which exists principally for the benefit of non-members", and the financial support of the parish church is an excellent demonstration of this. Many people who are glad to use the church forget what they owe to those who have ensured its preservation down the years.

You will have noticed the scaffolding around the church roof - this is the outward sign of serious decay in the roof timbers and the need to replace all the lead, which will require us to find more than £70,000 more in the coming months. Over the past five years over £185,000 has been spent on church repairs and improvements, all of which has been raised locally. Each year the Fabric Fund benefits from half the profits from St Mary's Village Carnival, but this year we need to raise much more than that. There will be events throughout the summer to raise money for the church - and we hope that the whole community will support the regular congregation in this work to ensure the future of our church for the whole community.

Our thanks are due to all those whose regular generosity keeps the church running week by week, and to the wider fellowship of supporters who give to preserve the fabric of St Mary's. We appreciate all the support we receive.


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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.