Bells, Smells, Crosses and Fancy Outfits

Posted: April 27, 2015 by nikstevenson in Uncategorized

So as I said before I am spending Lent to Pentecost in the Harper’s Brook Benefice with Father Colin.  Over the Easter period I had an opportunity to be a crucifer (the one who carries the cross during the procession at the beginning and end of the service.  I was also a therifer on Easter Day Lighting the thurible and swinging it  in procession.  I also got to ring the sanctus bells during the Eucharist as well as assisting Colin as a server.  I also got to wear a dalmatic as a liturgical deacon on Easter Day too.

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However, it wasn’t the different traditions or outfits that got to me.  Some of the ceremony really helped me connect with the Easter story and in a way I was not expecting.  The stations of the cross were a great way to engage with the passion story but whilst Colin was stripping the alter and the rest of the church of the crosses and candles I was reading the Passion.  It started OK but as I got to Jesus being flogged and beaten I started to really struggle to keep reading.  The image of  the challice and ciborium lying empty on the high alter in a church where there is usually reserved sacremnet kept in the tabernacle, really completed the picture of Jesus being dead and in the tomb. My emotions took hold of me and I felt totally drained after the service, it was like I’d been to Jesus’s funeral.  This was contrasted with the joy and extravagance of the Easter celebration.2015-04-03 15.20.17

On reflection I think the traditions of an Anglo-Catholic church can really help people connect with Jesus’ story and often the ceremony really adds a layer of engagement.  Interestingly when Colin was teaching me how to use a the thurible several of the young people wanted to have a go too.  Just like we would do at St Benny’s enabling children and young people to get involved in the service helps them engage more with God.  I guess in reality so long as the ceremony is authentic to the tradition and facilitates participation both incense and ceremony or craft and games can help folk get close to God and discover more about the story of Jesus.



Learning the Eucharist

Posted: February 12, 2015 by nikstevenson in The Church

eucharist prep

I had my first lesson on setting up and assisting in a Eucharist service with Rev’d Colin Simpson.  It was quite and education, lots to remember and all whilst trying not to spill anything or trip up over the hem of my alb.  I really enjoyed the whole experience, learning why things are done a certain way and how to do it so it seems effortless and not distracting to the congregation.  After all the hole idea of the Eucharist is to allow people to get closer to Jesus through His body and blood. They don’t want to pay any attention to me, I should fade into the background allowing Jesus to take centre stage.  The one thing I am worried about is cleaning the chalice and pattern after everyone has taken communion, this involves pouring a tiny amount of water onto a very shallow dish without sloshing it everywhere and making a mess of it.  My first real go at this will be in the morning on Ash Wednesday at Stanion where there is even more danger wearing white and handling very black ash, I hope I can come out without looking like I’ve been working on the car (black smudges all over my Alb.

Foodbank Four Days

Posted: February 5, 2015 by nikstevenson in Uncategorized

St Benny’s helps run the Foodbank food distribution centre on a Thursday in Kingswood Church.  Every week we give out 8-12 parcels to individuals and families who are in need of an emergency food parcel.  What they get is enough but it is just that an emergency.  I wondered what it would be like to live off a foodbank parcel for 4 days.  I costed it up using ASDA’s online shopping and buying mostly value own brand products a single persons parcel could be brought for just £9.39, a couple/parent and child box for £12.11, a family box would cost £22.60 and a box for a family with three or more children would cost £30.22.  I have added in a loaf or two of bread to each list as we don’t give this out due to shelf life issues.

corby food bank

So here’s the challenge can you live off a foodbank box for 4 days, I am going to commit to do this for the fisrt 4 days of Holy Week (Mon 30th March -Thursday 2nd April).  Not only will this give me an idea of what it is like to have to live on one of these parcels but I propose to give the money I would save to our local foodbank.  Shelly and I spend around  £60 per week on food so we can give about £30 to foodbank.  I am hoping to challenge lots of people to take this up to raise awareness that living off a foodbank parcel is not a  choice many would do unless they were desperate and to raise money for our local foodbanks.

The shopping lists are below to make it easy to participate  these prices are from ASDA but you could use the economy range from any supermarket.  Please let us know if you are taking up the challenge and maybe you can even get sponsored to do this  to raise in even more money. #foodbank4days

Foodbank Four Days

A New Season Calls for a New Outfit!

Posted: January 28, 2015 by nikstevenson in Uncategorized

As you can imagine at St Benny’s the dress is fairly casual, we meet in a community centre and the services are fairly informal.  However, as part of my training to become ordained in the Church of England it is important that I both experience and understand different styles of worship in different church contexts.  This Lenten season I have the privilege of serving in the Brigstock Benefice with Rev’d Colin Simpson.  I will be helping out at various services across four rural churches and I will need to be dressed appropriately for the context.  This meant I needed to order my first set of ecclesiastical wear, namely  Cassock Alb (basically what you would imagine a monk would wear, including a hood).

The process was a little daunting at first as I had no idea where to purchase something like this and who would do a good job and what style/fabric/fastening to choose.  Colin was really helpful and recommended a Franciscan style from  It is basically a floor-length hoody and I found a nice oatmeal fabric which has quite a natural look to it.  I was amazed at how quick it cam and after supplying them with my measurements it fitted perfectly.

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So I think I am just about ready to start with Colin on Ash Wednesday.  I have had an interesting comments on Facebook and Twitter from friends an family but any more clergy styling tips will always be appreciated.  I endeavour to blog more regularly and share with you my experiences of assisting in a more traditional ministry than we have her at St Benny’s.

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#church @stbennys

Posted: October 4, 2013 by nikstevenson in The Church

So we have completed our first month of #church and all I can say is WOW! God is amazing and continues to bless us in ways that we could never have expected.  We have had new people every week and they have all come back the following week and we are beginning to build a real sense of community.   We are working ur way through some characters in the Old Testament at the moment and using our craft time to create props for telling a dramatised version of the story.

The first week we did Noah’s Ark

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As you can see everyone had a lot of fun creating animal masks and then boarding the ark, notice Noah’s (Richard’s) amazing paper plate beard on the left and of course our amazing giraffe on the right.  We had lots of fun and followed that up with the story of Abraham where we made mobiles of our church family,  I think Craig (our new intern) looks particularly awesome with his guitar in this picture by Maxine.

We followed Abraham with the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel where we had lots of fun creating costumes for the main characters.  I will post some pictures when we have them.

The Sunday of the month is always a community meal and this should help folk get to know each other and have a chance to break bread together is always great for building community.

Really looking forward to this Sunday with the story of Joseph, hope to get a pic of his amazingly coloured coat and share that with you next week.


It was a sad day on Friday as a freak gust of wind picked up our new event shelter and folded it in two, fortunately only a couple of poles got broken so hopefully it can be repaired.  I managed to find someone selling a broken event shelter like our on EBay so it should arrive at some point this week and out of the two we should be able to make on good one and have plenty of spares for the next time we run into difficulties.  We have seen new children too including more girls, and are averaging around 12 LUNCHers per day at the moment.

2013-08-10 23.13.48-1Fortunately Missy cheered me up no end with her new toy, a giant smile, that makes her look like she is constantly grinning.


LUNCHing for the third year in a row

Posted: August 6, 2013 by nikstevenson in Uncategorized

We’ve been lunching for just over a week now and have seen many of the old faces and met some new hungry children too.  We have refined the art of assembling and dismantling our new event shelter (much more sturdy) after the sad death of our old white gazebo!  Rob and I have been brushing up on our french cricket skills and have overcome the difficulty of trying to play football in sandals.  We have partnered with Exeter Children’s Centre and will be sharing the NEW Community Centre with them come the October half term as we are both taking advantage of the reasonably good weather and working outside.  Shelly has not been able to make it up son far as she is still recovering from her operation but hopes to come later on this week or next week.

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So far we have served over 30 meals in just over a week and have seen 16 different children at the project.  Come and see us on the playing fields behind the shops on Butland Road if you are hungry, thirsty or are just up for the unique challenge of french cricket.