Welcome to the Manningtree Benefice

This is the website for the mission and ministry of Manningtree Benefice: St. Mary & St. Michael' Church, Mistley with Manningtree and St. Lawrence's Church, Bradfield, including service, group and event information, contact details, media, and information about Mistley Church Hall (Mistley Institute).

We're working towards making this our main website, so please forgive any slight maintenance issues we might have in the next few weeks. If you can't access the information that you need, or you can't find it, do contact the Church Office on info@manningtreebenefice.co.uk or 01206 392200.


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Thursday, 8 September 2016

Celebrating St. Michael's Church, Manningtree

Next time you are out and about on Manningtree High Street, you might notice that bang opposite Lucca is a mysterious piece of wall with a sign on it. You can even Google Street view it. It is not just a mysterious piece of wall, nor is it just a PokeStop. It is the last remaining piece of St. Michael and All Angels' Church, which stood on Manningtree High Street from 1616-1966.

If you've done your maths correctly, you'll realise that it is therefore 400 years since St. Michael's was built, and we want to mark the occasion. 

We will be holding a service of celebration and thanksgiving for the mission and ministry of St. Michael and All Angels Church, and we'd love for as many people to join us as possible. 

It'll be on Sunday 25 September, 5pm at St. Mary & St. Michael's Church, Mistley, with tea together from 4pm. 

If you have any photos or memories of St Michael's that you would like to share, please let us know! We'd love to include them in our celebrations. (see contact details elsewhere on the website or on the poster).

If you're wondering why the poster has a little angel on it, or maybe more why that angel has a massive sword, it's because St. Michael is traditionally thought to be an angel (an archangel if you want to get into angel-nitty-gritty) but not in the way that popular culture portrays them. He is not so much a floaty, gauzy girl, as is understood to be the protector of the people of God, and a fighter of the forces of evil. 

(I was at the National Gallery earlier this year, and couldn't move for paintings of Michael stamping on dragons and generally looking a lot like Thor.)

As we face into the unknown with Chris retiring at the end of October, and we enter into a new season, heading towards All Souls and Remembrance, let's not forget to give thanks to the God of Angel Armies, who has not left us alone or abandoned, who has provided over and over again, and who even things happen which we don't understand and when churches have been pulled down, He has still proved to be  faithful. 

Please join us on Sunday 25 September, 4pm for tea and 5pm for a service remembering and giving thanks for St. Michael's Church, celebrating that in every building, every space, and every place, God is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and He has every dragon on the run. 

Coming up...

Friday, 12 August 2016

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Walking into Spiritual Disciplines this August

This August, we'll be taking a rest from most of our usual activities, and simplifying our Sunday worship a bit with everyone looking at the same themes, and with generally shorter services.

We're going to take the opportunity to look at Spiritual Disciplines, focussing on Sabbath, submission, simplicity, solitude, silence and stillness in all our morning gatherings and at Quiet Communion.

Hopefully at least some of them will be available here to listen to again, so do check them out! Otherwise, we hope to see you there!

Battling Giants and Life Together

There's still time to come and learn the lessons of David, facing the giants of fear, temptation, failure (ironically, I failed to put that one on the poster) disappointment, an actual giant, and overcoming them.

This week we faced both temptation AND failure in our Sunday worship, and then ALSO tackled disappointment at Life Together. 

If you haven't heard about it yet, Life Together is our monthly chance to get together, going deeper into worship, into fellowship, prayer, discussion, discovery, and pudding. Elbow-deep.

We hold it on a week-night, normally starting with pudding, coffee, and catching up with each other. We then move into worship, normally of an informal, modern style. Then we gather together to dig into a theme, with thoughts posed and questions raised. Depending where that theme goes, we often end with prayer and/or more worship.

This has not so far been at all what we imagined it would be, but it has been a blessing to those who have come, opening eyes to each other's depths, resilience, bravery, differences, similarities...

We will be taking a break from Life Together in August as we rest, but we are talking about bringing it back in September and October, and looking for a way forward.

Look out for more notice of coming Life Together gatherings, and please join us! 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Life Lately: Messy Church

So we held Messy Church this month on a theme of the Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Despite certain team members dropping the ball (cough...me...cough), we had 36 kids with their adults, joining in with lovely crafts and activities, some of the liveliest worship we've ever had, and a great dinner together.

We hope to be back again in September for another Messy Church event, more crafts, more activities, more worship, more food, and definitely more Jesus.

Hope to see you then!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Big News

If you haven't heard our big, scary, exciting, sad news, Rev'd Chris Hills announced this weekend that she will be retiring at the end of October this year.

We are going to miss Chris and Geoff (and Dillon) immensely, but really feel that God has His hand on this situation, and that this is right for this season.

Please pray for Chris and Geoff as they prepare to hand over, pack up and move, facing leaving the Church family.

Please pray for the rest of us, preparing to pick up everything that needs doing, organising for the vacancy, and all of the discussions, decisions and plans that need to be made, not to mention saying goodbye to Chris and Geoff.

Please pray for all of us, that we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Life Lately: the Celebration weekend

We had a great time over our celebration weekend, marking 90 years with the Queen!
Huge thanks to everyone who helped, and everyone who came along.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Time to Celebrate!

As members of the Church of England, this June we are celebrating 90 years with Queen Elizabeth II! We are doing this with an exhibition held in both of our two churches, and with three special services. Everyone is invited to come to everything, and all admission is free.
Please help us to make this weekend a great time together!
The Exhibitions will be of the life of the Queen, but also the lives of our communities in the last 90 years, with wedding dresses, christening gowns, certificates, photos, and much more memorabilia on display, as well as celebration flowers and music, with refreshments and children's activities.

We are holding three different services in the hopes that there's something for everyone! 
Our Celebration and Thanksgiving will begin with some family-friendly worship and will include children's work, but will be largely a formal-style service of Holy Communion. 
Our All-Age Family Celebration is, as it suggests, suitable for all ages! With songs, story and craft, this will be a shortish, informal-style service. If anyone would like to come in royal fancy-dress, they'd be very welcome, but it's not compulsory! 
The Songs of Praise Celebration will be a largely formal-style service, with lots of hymns and songs from throughout the years, with the Benefice Choir. 

Rev'd Daniel Cozens will be joining us for the Celebration and Thanksgiving, and for the Songs of Praise Celebration. He is a renowned speaker, able to explain the Christian faith with confidence and interest! He has been instrumental in several evangelistic events and groups over the years, and we're really pleased to be welcoming him to join us! 

Before that all starts, we will be kicking off the weekend on Wednesday 8 June with a special opportunity to eat together, chat together, and walk together, along with the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell. Please join us if you can for any or all of the day!
Please contact the Church Office for more information (see the posters for contact details) and for details of how you can help if you'd like to get involved. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Friday, 25 March 2016

Holy Week: Good Friday

We've got several services on today:
the Walk of Witness starts from Mistley Church at 12pm, 
ending in an Outdoor Service at the Manningtree Ox at 12.20pm
The Reflections on the Cross meditation will be at 1pm at Bradfield, 
and The Nail Good Friday service will be at Mistley at 2pm

As well as our services and events, see below for a multimedia meditative art piece, 
remembering the events of Good Friday. 

This was created and performed by an artist called Scott Erickson for his Church a few years ago, using the narrative of the stations of the cross, with the music of Radiohead, all combined with live painting. See here for his website: if you can't immediately see the info on this video, scroll down and you should find it on the left. 

The Crucifixion According to Radiohead from Ecclesia Houston on Vimeo.

All original material by Scott Erickson. Please go to his website to find out more.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

We have a service today, 9.30am at Bradfield Church 
Do join us for this formal-style service if you can

If you can't join us, or if you'd like to carry on walking this Holy Week with us, then read on...

Maundy Thursday is one of those days that as the years go on, the more significant I find it. It is so chock-full of symbolism.

So, did you know the significance of the meal? It wasn't just any old meal that they ate on Jesus' last night of freedom, but Passover, the celebration of the Israelites' rescue from Egypt. Part of this involved eating bread and drinking wine. Jesus was taking their old traditions and re-appropriating them, giving the disciples' history new significance, allowing them to stand upon on it, not get bogged down in it.

So there wasn't just one cup of wine, but four, each to be drunk at a significant point in the meal, each with its own meaning.

1. The Cup of Sanctification: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians”
2. The Cup of Deliverance: “I will deliver you from slavery to them”
3. The Cup of Redemption: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm”
4. The Cup of Restoration: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God”

Here's the thing. I believe that during the meal, the Last Supper, they drank the first three. I understand, however, that they did not drink the final cup. In other words...

They drank in that they were set apart, set free, and redeemed. Their restoration waited a few more days.

The other thing that I feel that I took far too long to realise, is that when bread is broken and wine shared, and Jesus says to 'remember' Him, it's not just about eating while you think about Jesus, or drinking because of what He's done. It's literally re-membering Him. Each of us, with our bit of the puzzle, coming back together, making a whole beautiful picture of our salvation.

The video below has been made by Friends and Heroes, who have animated stories of Jesus for teaching purposes, and they've made this one free for anyone who wants to use it!

See here for more information on Friends and Heroes and this video.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Holy Week: Wednesday

Tonight we've got Life Together, our monthly meeting where we have time for more in-depth worship, for discussions, and for more prayer, all around tables with pudding and coffee. Tonight's theme is The Experience of Gethsemane, thinking about times of difficulty, when God doesn't feel near. It's 7.15pm at Mistley Church.

So today, amongst other things, is the day when Mary Magdalene washed Jesus' feet in her tears, and poured incredibly expensive perfume over Him. I'm not going to expound some theological thoughts on this: the internet is at your finger-tips. 

Instead, let's do something. Get a tissue, and put a good amount of something strongly smelling on it. Preferably something pleasant. It could be perfume. Olbas Oil would work nicely. Put a decent amount on the tissue, then carry it around with you. I appreciate this might not be doable if you're hanging out with people who are, say, allergic to perfume, so please be considerate and feel free to leave your strongly-smelling tissue in your car. Boy, will that smell when you get back in there...

The point is, Jesus was anointed by someone who valued Him. She faced derision and questions about what the heck she was doing, because she thought He was worth it. 

And Jesus would have carried the scent of her worship for days. Have you every considered that every action of Good Friday, every mark made on Jesus' body would have just released more of that perfume back into the air? I think by the end of Good Friday I would never want to smell nard again.

So today, carry perfume with you. Remember how Mary valued Jesus. And remember how He valued her for doing it. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Holy Week: Tuesday

Trying to sort the events of Holy Week into real-time days, I've found that Tuesday is a bit of an issue. Jesus appears to spend the whole day teaching. From Mark 11:20 to 13:37, all he does is talk. And occasionally walk. There is nothing I can artistically write over a hipster picture that sums up the day, when he swings from paying poll-tax to the destruction of the temple, to the most important commandment, to the legitimacy of John's baptism...it goes on and on. Except reading it again, there is something that stands out.

Mark 13:3-4
As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® 

Jesus has spent all day saying provocative things to powerful people. His disciples, spending the day with Him, must have seen the faces of the Chief Priests. They must have noticed that questions are posed in the hopes of trapping Him. They must have been tempted to bundle Him out of there and go and sit somewhere quiet where He can't say anything outrageous, and then, just as they finally get Him out of the temple, and think they're on safe ground discussing architecture, Jesus tells them that all of the buildings will be destroyed to nothing.

I can picture this so clearly. I can see myself there, wincing. Part of me is properly annoyed that He couldn't just appreciate the columns. Part of me wants Him to stop saying those things. And part of me is with Peter, James, John and Andrew, getting in a quiet corner and asking what He's talking about, maybe so that I'm ready. Maybe so that I'm nowhere near.

Holy Week is hard. My Lent readings have had me already read about Good Friday, so I can tell you from experience: walking this road is brutal, and I wasn't even there.

Here's the other thing: Jesus knew what was coming, and He kept teaching.

He knew what was coming, and He kept saying the things that would get Him in trouble.

He knew what was coming, and He kept saying the hard things. The true things.

He knew what was coming, and He kept walking the road.

These middle days are important, not least because of just that: Jesus told us to follow Him. If Jesus walked this road, fully knowing everything that was going to happen, who am I to wimp out now?

Monday, 21 March 2016

Holy Week: Monday

So on the back of Palm Sunday yesterday, we're starting a week of posts, walking through this Holy Week. We're going to use Bible readings, images, videos, music, and even a multimedia meditative art piece on Friday. I'm not even kidding.

Today, we're starting quietly with a reading from Matthew, remembering when Jesus overturned the tables in the temple. May we, this Easter, have our hearts overturned to see more of Jesus' love.

Matthew 21:12-16
Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text:My house was designated a house of prayer;You have made it a hangout for thieves.Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them. When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, “Hosanna to David’s Son!” they were up in arms and took him to task. “Do you hear what these children are saying?”Jesus said, “Yes, I hear them. And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place of praise’?”
From The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Holy Week

Join us here this week, for various ways to remember the events of Holy Week, all leading up to Easter Sunday. 


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Coming up...

Friends, we have finally become organised. Briefly. This might not continue, so bask in it whilst it exists.

We have planned our sermon series, so that you can more easily invite friends and family to service where the theme might be of interest to them! 

Not only that: we have made postcards of them. 

I know. Outrageous.

So, coming up in our two different service streams...

Please invite your friends, invite your family, make a note, have a think, and come along!

Oh, and look out for more info on Easter, coming soon!

Lent begins...

I know you're probably all too busy reading up the best pancake recipes and trying to decide on lemon and sugar vs something more edgy (chocolate spread? You rebel) but don't forget that the whole reason for pancake day is that Lent starts tomorrow.

To mark the occasion, rather than forcing the newest member of the clergy to make a pancake on live television (though we SHOULD do that...note to self), we will be holding a service for Ash Wednesday, Wednesday 10 February, 9.30am at Bradfield Church. This traditional-style service will include the opportunity to be marked with ash, starting this season of reflection and rededication the way we mean to go on!

If you have any traditions, books you read, things you give up, things you take up, things you try through Lent, please leave them in the comments here! You might really help someone else with a great idea for these next 40 days.