Clergy Letter - 

by The Rev'd Adrian Leak


                                                  The true meaning of life is to plant trees                                                        under whose shade you do not expect to sit. 

You will probably know those words. They are attributed to Nelson Henderson, a farmer of Manitoba, USA. They express neatly a truth which should be familiar to all us, and particularly to those who have the care of an institution, whether it is a business, a school, a family or a church. 

Take our two churches. Think for a moment about all those men and women who over the generations have planted the trees in whose shade we now sit. In some cases their planting was visible and structural: Henry Woodyer, for example, who designed and built Grafham Church, and Mrs Charlotte Sutherland who funded the expansion of Bramley Church in 1851 (she lived in the house now occupied by St Catherine’s Junior School). In other cases, less visible, the planting was spiritual. Think of that great company of faithful men and women who, Sunday by Sunday, knelt in worship to receive God’s blessing and sat through innumerable sermons to hear the parson’s instruction, and who in their turn passed on their faith in Jesus Christ. Without their loyalty and persistence we, in our generation, would never have received the Gospel. 

Think too of that long line of church officers – churchwardens, secretaries, treasurers and PCC members – who, over the years, have voluntarily taken on the care of the church buildings, bells, churchyards and the administration of church life in all its manifold aspects, and who so often have received nothing but complaint and criticism. Without their efforts our churches would now be locked and empty and, for lack of a spiritual home. our faith would have surely perished. 

Think too of that long procession of priests who have ministered to our Parishes, and who have planted for future generations. Some you will have known – most are no more than names stretching back over centuries – but all have taught and prayed alongside us in the name of our Lord  ‘who is the same yesterday and today and for ever.’ And finally we must ask ourselves this: what are we doing to plant for the future – we who have received so much from the past?  

As we continue to wait for the Bishop and Archdeacon to initiate the long process of appointing our next incumbent, we can fill the time by pondering what we intend to do to support him or her in planting trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit. 


Adrian Leak



Father God

During this vacancy,

guard and grow the people of this benefice as we serve you together

in this period without an incumbent.

Lord Jesus, teacher and friend

We know that you have plans for us

and that these plans are good.

We ask now that you will help us to share responsibility,

grow in faith, love one another, care for those in need,

reach out to others, and welcome newcomers.

Holy Spirit, gentle guide,

Please inspire those who are seeking the right person for us,

and those who are seeking the right place for their ministry,

That together we may discover your way for the future

and see your kingdom grow.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen