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The Parish of


Previous Issue

Dear Friends,


This summer sees the fulfilment of hopes and ideas that have been 2½ years in the planning. Back in January 2004 I met with Canon Gordon Oliver, our Diocesan Advisor for Ministry and Training and discussed with him the idea of studying for a part-time M.A. and the possibility of taking Sabbatical Study Leave as part of this.

Part-time M.A. in Christian Spirituality

With the support of the Diocese and the backing of the parish, I applied for and was accepted to study for a two-year part-time M.A. in Christian Spirituality at Heythrop College in the University of London. For the last two years I have commuted up to Kensington Square for weekly seminars, and I have found my studies to be both enriching and rewarding.

After completing an introductory module in Christian Spirituality I have studied three additional modules:

  • ‘Texts and Themes in English Spirituality’, surveying the development of Christian writing and thought in England from Anglo-Saxon times, through the medieval period and the Reformation up to the present;
  • ‘Spiritual Growth and Human Transformation’, looking at the effect of faith on our lives, both in conversion and subsequent growth in maturity over the years;
  • ‘The Theory and Practice of Spiritual Direction’, learning how to be more effective in listening to others’ stories of faith and helping them to grow in their relationship with God.

I have completed the seminars and coursework for these four modules, and I now have to write two long essays and a dissertation. This is where the Sabbatical Study Leave comes in. The Bishop’s Guidelines state that “Stipendiary clergy are encouraged to take Study Leave at various points in their ministry. Study Leave is defined as three calendar months away from the parish in addition to the annual holiday allocation. Clergy become eligible for consideration for Study Leave in the seventh year of holy orders.” I am now in my thirteenth year since my ordination, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity to replenish my reservoirs, to use an image of contemporary relevance.

I plan to use the first part of my Study Leave to write my dissertation (which would otherwise have taken another whole year to complete). I will be focussing in particular on Anglican Spirituality at a formative time in the history of the Anglican Church, between the Reformation and the Restoration i.e. from the reign of Henry VIII to Charles II. I have been inspired by a quotation by Henry McAdoo: “Anglicans are heirs to a tradition of which at present they are often almost unaware. There is here a need for a recovery of memory, which will allow for a recovery of identity.”

The Anglican tradition is one that has shaped me, and to be part of the Anglican Church is to be open to a heritage which influences our understanding of God, our approach to the Scriptures, our way of worshipping, our life of prayer and our way of putting our faith into practice. I want to explore the key ingredients of this special Anglican mix of history, liturgy, theology and spirituality, not simply out of academic interest, but because in practical and personal terms it shapes our very identity and self-understanding.

There is an increasing awareness and acceptance within society of the spiritual dimension to life, and we can respond to this as we become more aware of our own heritage.

The second part of my Sabbatical Leave will incorporate our annual family holiday with Donna’s side of the family in America.

Our Companion Parish in Holland, Michigan, USA

The third part will involve developing links with overseas churches, in America and Tanzania. Our link with Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan, began four years ago when, on retirement, Donna’s parents moved to Holland, Michigan to be close to Donna’s brother and his family. Each summer, when we visited Donna’s family, I would worship at Grace Episcopal Church and through this I got to know the church and the clergy. Two summers ago, in one of their Sunday morning services, I floated the idea of a link between our parishes. This idea was enthusiastically received, and last September our parish hosted a group of eight members from Grace Episcopal Church for a week. We had a varied and enjoyable programme, visiting Rochester, Cambridge, London and Canterbury, amongst other places, and bonds of friendship were developed.

In return, we have been invited to stay with them for a week, and they have put together a full and lively programme including sailing on Lake Michigan, dune buggy rides, visits to museums, watching a baseball game, a parish BBQ, a visit to the Cathedral, all wrapped up with warm friendship and generous hospitality. This visit is from 19 th-28 th August.

Building Links with the Anglican Dioceses of Mpwapwa and Kondoa in Tanzania

In September I will be spending three and a half weeks visiting Kenya and Tanzania, with the aim of developing links between our parish and two dioceses in Tanzania – Mpwapwa and Kondoa. The Diocese of Rochester has recently been seeking to foster links with these two dioceses. The Bishops of Mpwapwa and Kondoa were invited to attend our Rochester Diocesan Conference at Bognor in January. I had a chance to meet with both of them there and to discuss my visit. After the conference I also had the pleasure of giving the Bishop of Mpwapwa a guided tour around our parish one Friday morning.

I will be flying to Nairobi and staying for the first couple of days with a cousin of mine and his family, and then I will travel by bus to Tanzania, staying one night in the northern town of Moshi, and then travelling on the next day to the Diocese of Mpwapwa. This is located 70 miles east of Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital. While I am there I hope to spend some time visiting parishes and also meeting the students in the theological college. In particular, I hope, with guidance from the Bishop, to be able to identify to a parish project that we could help alongside our own parish project of extending All Saints Church. I will then journey on to the Diocese of Kondoa which, being founded in 2001, is one of the newest of the 19 dioceses in Tanzania. It is situated to the north east of Dodoma. Then I will travel back to my cousin in Nairobi before flying home.

The Mpwapwa diocesan pamphlet says that Tanzania is the fourth poorest country in the world, with a per capita income of just $260. In the Diocese of Mpwapwa infant mortality is 98 per 1,000 births, and life expectancy is just 52. The whole region is also in the grip of a drought. There have been seven successive years of poor rain, and this has particularly affected the villages of this largely rural diocese. So there is clearly much that we could do to help.

As Anglicans we are privileged to belong to a worldwide communion, and we share much in common. It is my hope that these links, both in Tanzania and America, will continue to develop over the years and that we will be able to support and encourage one another in ministry and mission, especially through personal contacts.


My Sabbatical Study leave will run from mid-June to mid-October, and I’m very grateful to the wardens, ministry team, the PCC and my family for making it possible for me to do this.

Covering Arrangements

In my absence, John Field (703101) will be co-ordinating the life of the parish, together with our two churchwardens, Norma Crowe (702584) and Brian Frost (706460). Shirley Wilson (703336) will be heading up the pastoral care. Marion Strachan will be in the Parish Office (703819), Tuesday - Friday, 9am - 12 noon (and until 3 pm on Fridays).

John Field has also worked very hard to arrange an excellent line-up of visiting priests, including our former Archdeacon, Norman Warren, and two previous Rectors of Fawkham and Hartley: our current Archdeacon Peter Lock, and George McCormack. Peter Clark, the minister of the Hartley URC, will be leading our annual summer holiday club. So there is much to look forward to over these coming months!

I also hope that by the time of my return we’ll have seen significant developments in the All Saints Church extension project!

Looking Ahead - the Ordination of Elizabeth Robertson

One final and very important event I would like to highlight is the ordination of Elizabeth Robertson as Deacon in Rochester Cathedral on Saturday 9th September at 3 pm. Elizabeth has been pursuing her ordination training for the past three years, and in September she will become the Honorary Curate in our parish. Over the years Elizabeth (together with Alistair) has contributed a huge amount to the life of our parish, and now she will be developing new areas of ministry amongst us. I very much look forward to working alongside her as a colleague.

Your friend and Rector,

Rev. Richard Worssam


To contact us:
Phone: 01474 703819
Fax: 01474 704972
Email: info@fawkhamandhartley.org.uk
The Rectory
3 St John's Lane
Kent DA3 8ET

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