Independence Day (July 2018 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes ….

Looking out of the kitchen window this morning I enjoyed the sight of a young bird hopping enthusiastically behind its parent.  It was nearly adult – capable of finding some good things to eat from the lawn – but clearly wasn’t entirely self-sufficient.  It was intent on keeping up with the parent bird, who would stop every now and then to feed it a delicious grub or similar.

Our elder daughter is another not-quite-adult.  Back from uni, she’s about to start a rather more grownup life at work, or so the plan goes.  But – as the press has reminded us – things are not so easy for this generation of young people.  Whether they are graduates or not the likelihood is that my daughter’s generation will stay with their parents for quite a while.  The cost of buying or renting a house has risen faster than incomes and young adults, who are often at the lower end of the salary scale, tend to be hardest hit.

Back at the Vicarage, we older adults (and the cats) will have to adjust to sharing our space with her… and she will have to adjust to us…We enjoy having her home, but not all families find this a good experience.  You may have read about the New York couple who won a legal battle to have their thirty-year-old son evicted from their home, after he refused to leave.

Independence is usually something highly prized in our culture: whether we’re talking about young adults or much older people, the aspiration is for us to stand on our own two feet.  But Christian thinking offers a rather different view of what it means to be human.  Reflecting the nature of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – we affirm our interdependence with each other and our dependence upon God.  So, while we rightly hope our children will eventually leave the nest, we also remember those bonds that hold us together are deeply valuable and last a lifetime.


Best wishes




Picture of starling fledgling by Jacob Spinks from Northamptonshire, England (starling fledgling) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

8/7 – Drinks & nibbles at the Vicarage on 21/7

Lydia and Jon invite you to join them for drinks and nibbles between 2pm and 5pm on Saturday 21st July in the Vicarage garden in thanks for all the work and support you give to the life of our church in Easthorpe.
The Vicarage is at 45 Malting Green Road, Layer de la Haye – CO2 0JJ
(Picture by Peter Goodchild and used with his permission)

15/6 – Julia’s retirement service & posh tea on 15/7

We will mark Rev’d Julia Russell Grant’s retirement and give thanks for her ministry in our parishes with a short Service at 4pm on Sunday 15th July, at St Mary the Virgin Church, Layer Marney, followed by a posh tea.

All are welcome, but it would be helpful to know who is coming so that refreshments can be prepared. So if you will be there, please let us know by the evening of Sunday 8th July.

Thanks to Nick & Sheila Charrington, parking will be at Layer Marney Tower, but please bear in mind that the Tower is open to paying visitors on that day.

Making History (June 2018 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes ….

A few weeks ago history was made as the first statue of a woman was unveiled in Parliament Square.  Lined up alongside the famous men – Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Benjamin Disraeli, George Canning (who?*) – there is now Millicent Fawcett.  And not a moment too soon, some may say.

She’s there to honour 100 years of women having the vote.  The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the right to vote to some women over 30 and all men over the age of 21.  But why Millicent Fawcett, you may ask – there are plenty of better known campaigners.  Why not one of the Pankhursts (Emmeline, Christabel, Sylvia or Adela) who led the suffragette movement or Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being hit by George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby?

I suspect it’s partly because Millicent Fawcett was more a figure of the central ground, who was not prepared to adopt the extreme tactics of the suffragettes.

But also, the statue is – in several ways – not entirely about Millicent Fawcett, alone.  On the plinth are the names and images of 59 others – male and female – who supported women’s rights, including the Pankhursts and Emily Wilding Davison.  Incidentally, amongst those names is Mary Lowndes, an artist who designed many of the suffragette movement’s posters and who also designed and made the stained glass for the east window in St Peter’s church in Birch.

The statue is also not just about Millicent Fawcett herself in that what you see first isn’t so much the campaigner, but the words of the campaign: courage calls to courage everywhere.  They’re an extract from her speech at the funeral of Emily Wilding Davison.  This line speaks beyond the context into our own lives.

Artist Gillian Wearing is – in showing us Millicent Fawcett holding a placard – quoting from her earlier work, Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say, a series of photos of ordinary people speaking out through paper signs that they’d written.  Millicent Fawcett worked for sixty years to change things and often behind the scenes, rather than through dramatic gestures.  Few of us may change the world in the way Millicent Fawcett did, but we can still make a difference in our neighbourhood, amongst our circle of friends, at our workplace.  Her placard gives us all encouragement.

Best wishes


* Victorian stateman who was twice Foreign Minister and eventually Prime Minister during the last four months of his life.


1/6 – Pam Readings RIP

Formerly a churchwarden at Easthorpe, Pam Readings died on Friday 25 May after a short illness.

There will be a celebration of Pam’s life at St Mary the Virgin, Easthorpe at 11-30am on Wednesday 6 June.

Those attending the service are invited to share refreshments at the family home, just a short distance from the church, immediately after the service.

1/6 – Data Privacy Notice


The Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) of
St Luke, Tolleshunt Knights with Tiptree; All Saints, Great Braxted;
All Saints, Messing; All Saints, Inworth; St Michael and All Angels, Copford;
St Mary the Virgin, Easthorpe; St John the Baptist, Layer de la Haye;
St Mary the Virgin, Layer Marney; St Mary the Virgin, Layer Breton with Birch

  1. Your personal data – what is it?
    Personal data relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data. Identification can be by the information alone or in conjunction with any other information in the data controller’s possession or likely to come into such possession. The processing of personal data is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”).
  2. Who are we?
    The PCCs of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry are the data controllers (contact details below). This means they decide how your personal data is processed and for what purposes.
  3. How do we process your personal data?
    The PCCs of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry comply with their obligations under the “GDPR” by keeping personal data up to date; by storing and destroying it securely; by not collecting or retaining excessive amounts of data; by protecting personal data from loss, misuse, unauthorised access and disclosure and by ensuring that appropriate technical measures are in place to protect personal data.We use your personal data for the following purposes: –

    • To enable us to provide a voluntary service for the benefit of the public in a particular geographical area as specified in our constitution;
    • To administer membership records;
    • To fundraise and promote the interests of the charity;
    • To manage our employees and volunteers;
    • To maintain our own accounts and records (including the processing of gift aid applications);
    • To inform you of news, events, activities and services running at our nine churches;
    • To share your contact details with the Diocesan office so they can keep you informed about news in the diocese and events, activities and services that will be occurring in the diocese and in which you may be interested.
  4. What is the legal basis for processing your personal data?
    • Explicit consent of the data subject so that we can keep you informed about news, events, activities and services and process your gift aid donations and keep you informed about diocesan events.
    • Processing is necessary for carrying out obligations under employment, social security or social protection law, or a collective agreement;
    • Processing is carried out by a not-for-profit body with a political, philosophical, religious or trade union aim provided: –
      • the processing relates only to members or former members (or those who have regular contact with it in connection with those purposes); and
      • there is no disclosure to a third party without consent.
  5. Sharing your personal data
    Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be shared with other members of the church in order to carry out a service to other church members or for purposes connected with the church. We will only share your data with third parties outside of the parish with your consent.
  6. How long do we keep your personal data1?
    We keep data in accordance with the guidance set out in the guide “Keep or Bin: Care of Your Parish Records” which is available from the Church of England website [see footnote for link].Specifically, we retain electoral roll data while it is still current; gift aid declarations and associated paperwork for up to 6 years after the calendar year to which they relate; and parish registers (baptisms, marriages, funerals) permanently.
  7. Your rights and your personal data
    Unless subject to an exemption under the GDPR, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data: –

    • The right to request a copy of your personal data which the PCCs of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry hold about you;
    • The right to request that the PCCs of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry correct any personal data if it is found to be inaccurate or out of date;
    • The right to request your personal data is erased where it is no longer necessary for the PCCs of the Thurstable and Winstree Team Ministry to retain such data;
    • The right to withdraw your consent to the processing at any time;
    • The right to request that the data controller provide the data subject with his/her personal data and where possible, to transmit that data directly to another data controller, (known as the right to data portability), (where applicable) [Only applies where the processing is based on consent or is necessary for the performance of a contract with the data subject and in either case the data controller processes the data by automated means].
    • The right, where there is a dispute in relation to the accuracy or processing of your personal data, to request a restriction is placed on further processing;
    • The right to object to the processing of personal data, (where applicable) [Only applies where processing is based on legitimate interests (or the performance of a task in the public interest/exercise of official authority); direct marketing and processing for the purposes of scientific/historical research and statistics]
    • The right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office.
  8. Further processing
    If we wish to use your personal data for a new purpose, not covered by this Data Protection Notice, then we will provide you with a new notice explaining this new use prior to commencing the processing and setting out the relevant purposes and processing conditions. Where and whenever necessary, we will seek your prior consent to the new processing.
  9. Contact Details
    To exercise all relevant rights, queries of complaints please in the first instance contact the Parish Administrator at St Luke’s Church Office, Church Road, Tiptree, Colchester. CO5 0SU, Tel: 01621 819557, Email:
    You can contact the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or via email or at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

1 Details about retention periods can currently be found in the Record Management Guides located on the Church of England website at: –


What are you looking at? (May 2018 article)

Reverend Lydia Smith writes
I was about 6 when the original Kenneth Clarke series Civilisation was broadcast, so I’m pretty sure I missed it, being rather more interested in Blue Peter than St Peter’s in Rome. The BBC2 reboot, Civilisations, however, has caught my attention. While it may not be the landmark TV the BBC publicity was offering, it’s still good for a taster. It encourages the viewer to seek out more – whether that’s in a historic site, a gallery or museum – or just from the comfort of your sofa, via your phone or Ipad.
And it asks big questions about what it means to be human: from considering what civilisation is, through how we look at ourselves and the world around us, to how we reach beyond ourselves – how we look with the eye of faith. And – because this is a series about art – having looked, how do we represent what we have seen?
Some works – like the faces of the Egyptian coffin portraits from the Roman period – look so like us that it’s as if they could have been painted last week. Others – like the Bronze Age Sanxingdui masks from southwestern China (pictured) – seem as unknowable as the civilisation from which they emerged.
Ways of seeing are learned – when we look in the mirror we see ourselves – someone familiar, someone we know. And we have learned over time to see ourselves and our world in certain kinds of ways. One of the great virtues of Civilisations is that it offers us other ways of looking and other ways of showing. At times we find there are startling connections between our own and other cultures, while some ancient societies, like that of the Sanxingdui masks, remain mysterious.
Paul, writing to Christians in first-century Corinth, talks about how limited our seeing is: for now we see in a mirror, dimly, he writes. What he means is our perspective is partial: we misjudge, make mistakes, jump to conclusions. Knowing we have this restricted view, perhaps we should be careful when we make judgements about others and be open to seeing things from another’s perspective. A mirror gives us only a reflection: second-hand perception. What we hope for, what we aspire to is that complete, loving way of seeing with which God sees us.
Best wishes
Sanxingdui Bronze mask By Tyg728 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

29/4 – 5 Churches Holy Communion

On the 5th Sunday of each month our 5 churches – the 3 Layers, Copford and Easthorpe – often have a joint service. The next one is on Sunday 29th April at St. John’s Layer de la Haye.  Why not come along?
PS There will be no other services in our 5 churches on Sunday 29/4 – apart from Millie’s baptism!
(pic by chris kennedy from