Saturday, May 28, 2011

Five funerals and a baptism

During the last six weeks I have attended three funerals and am now waiting for details of the funerals of two more friends. When I came to live here, 22 years ago, our little church on the hill was the centre of a small but thriving community. The church holds about 70 people and we had two services on Sundays in order to accommodate everyone. In the holiday season, the extra visitors would stand outside, crowding the area around the well.
Life has changed a lot in just a few years with fewer young people attending church or supporting village events.  Just ten years ago, I had between 20 and 30 children in my group and now not a single child comes to church. 

Our ageing population is dwindling. These latest deaths bring our regular congregation down to forty. The little parish is no longer viable and we have had to join with a larger one in a nearby town, with our beautiful little chapel being used only for weddings and funerals. I don't know if this is typical of village churches everywhere.

On a happier note, we were in Oxfordshire last weekend for our grandson's baptism. Benjamin was too big to wear the family christening gown, last worn by Millie but here he is looking very smart in his blue velvet suit:
And here he is with proud parents, godmothers and Fr Jamie in their bigger and, hopefully, more thriving parish church.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Alexander Pope


  1. Sorry about the loss of your friends. As we age, we live more and more in our memories, but the little ones keep us anchored to the present and for that we give thanks.

  2. It has been a sad time, e. But Benjamin's baptism and the news that there is to another Baby Brit remind us that life goes on.

  3. m, wonderful news. Your cup truly runs over.

  4. I know those tiny churches are hard to maintain, but what a shame if they fall into disuse. I hope yours continues to play a part in the family and community.

  5. Dear Maureen, I'm so sorry about the loss of your friends, and glad for the balm that celebrations of family and baby bring.

  6. My condolences for the loss of your friends. However, our local churches would thrill to the sight of a congregation of 40. the average is 6 for Evensong and 20 for the morning service. And that's on a good day. I am also, at 45, the youngest by about 20 years.

  7. Dear Mo, The chain of life continues in our friends and family who are gone, ourselves and our children. Hopefully our memories, experiences and standards are passed down through the next generation of our family. I think we are both blessed in how our own children and grandchildren are growing up. This being the legacy we are passing on from examples from our own family.
    Fortunately, we have our faith to carry us forward without fear for ourselves or our friends. Mum placed her life in her faith and we now celebrate the life of the person who has died in their funerals.
    Great to read about Brit Jnr2 but getting hold of Brit has been impossible. Send him and A the best wishes and enjoy the next number of months before you are on call again to look after two Brit juniors.

  8. Ali

    I don't think shopping malls will have quite the same place as our little churches in the heart of the community, do you? But that is where people tend to go on Sunday mornings now. Tesco funerals and Sainsbury weddings don't sound quite right!

  9. Jodi

    We had the great news of grandchild 4 just as you were posting the video about your daughter's pregnancy. Great, isn't it?

  10. Wartime Housewife

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. One of the friends who died was, like me, in her sixties and we thought of ourselves as approaching our prime! However, the others were all much older so the sadness is not so much for the end of their lives as for the end of an era within our small community. As you are finding in your church, young people are not taking the place of those who are dying. The same is true of village life in general.

    BTW It is nice to hear from you. I've been following your blog with great interest since coming across it via The Dabbler.

  11. John

    I'll pass on your greetings to Brit - it is easier to get him via email than telephone!

    We are very lucky to have such lovely children and grandchildren. Wouldn't Mum have enjoyed them?

  12. Maureen, I left a comment here days ago, but it never showed up. I wanted to say how very sad about the deaths of both the people and the church. I have read how the village churches are closing or consolidated because of lack of attendance. Not like in the Miss Read books is it? I'm so happy about Benjamin. And I also wanted to say I have a draft I'm working on with another play on the Four Weddings and a Funeral title. :<)

  13. Nan

    There seem to have been a lot of problems with Blogger recently so your comment is probably going to arrive quite unexpectedly at some time in the future.

    You are right about modern village life being quite changed since the days of Miss Read. In fact almost everything has changed since we came to live here in 1989.

    I look forward to your 4 weddings post.

  14. That's a bit odd for me, five funerals and baptism. Anyway, that's how life on earth works. When someone dies, someone is born and baptised.


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