CMS Link Visit to Beccles, Suffolk

Just in case you think Cambridge is about as far east as it gets in England, well you ain’t bin nowhere yet!  Two long hours drive even further east from Cambridge and just before you hit the sea, you come upon the lovely little country town of Beccles, sitting on the River Waveney, at the gateway to The Broads, a sailing paradise of rivers and lakes in Norfolk and Suffolk. Beautiful!

Not that I went to the Broads this weekend, in fact only as far as Beccles itself, passing the lovely Billingford Windmill at Scole, Norfolk en route….


And so to a wonderful weekend at the 2 churches of Beccles Parish, St. Michael’s in the centre of the town and St. Luke’s Church Centre on the outskirts.  It’s a zappy little place, Beccles, and the churches are busy and bustling with lots of really meaningful things going on.  Right at the heart of community life.  Beccles has always been a very supportive CMS church, and people turn out in large numbers for all sorts of events related to mission ~ they’re really hands on, focused and know what they’re about!

Also humming with retired clergy who’ve settled in the town and got involved ~ they’re a great bunch!  There’s even a lovely retired bishop, Bishop Gavin Reid, who at 80 is now holding the parish together since the rector Rev. John Beauchamp left a few weeks ago for pastures new in London.  Bishop Gavin and his wife are helped by a fantastic team, including Rev. Andrew Platt, holding the fort at St. Luke’s ~ all doing amazing things in sharing the workload around.  Great example of shared ministry.

So, Saturday night, and we started off with a ‘Bring and Share’ Meal and Taiwan ppt at St. Luke’s Church Centre.  More than 30 people came along, it was wonderful!  And a very helpful young man called Ewan offered to take photos on my camera for the evening….

Then this morning, Sunday, a beautiful sunny day and off to St. Michael’s Church…..

Except that during the winter, the church is so freezing cold that the congregation worships in the nearby Waveney Centre, which is warm, cosy and has the most glorious view across to the river and of the boats ~ even a flock of goldfinches flying around today. Really inspiring.  Or really distracting, depending on your point of view!

Today I was speaking at the 10:30am morning service. Bishop Gavin was in the front row. It’s kind of scary.  But y’know, it’s so nice to meet a real UK bishop.  In Taiwan, we welcome lots of visiting bishops, some even bring their spouses. They come from all over Asia, USA, and elsewhere, they stay for a few days and we all get to know them a little.  But none ever seem to come from the UK  (not quite true, we once welcomed Tim Dakin when he was CMS CEO, and he’s since become Bishop of Winchester – but as he wasn’t yet a bishop when he came, he doesn’t count!)  And here in the UK, we only seem to see bishops at confirmations, we rarely get to know them as real people.  Just a different world, that’s all.  So today I was very happy to be so warmly welcomed by Bishop Gavin, although having him there in the front row was kind of scary.  Good job I was sharing about Taiwan and not some deep theological matter. And good job he’s so nice and kind and lovely!

A super weekend, kindly hosted by Keith, who organized such a great programme.  Thanks to everyone for all their support and such a warm welcome!  Hope you’ll come and visit Taiwan one day ~ please!

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