The parishes of the benefice are:


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  • Parish Church for All

    The current Diocesan (Diocese of Norwich – which is the county of Norfolk plus the Lowestoft corner of Suffolk) tag-line is Committed to Growth. It is not a business statement, nor to do with empire building! Growth in the context of today’s church means an expanding vision: We have an open door policy. Literally all our benefice churches are open seven days a week. This is an important statement that the church is for all people, no questions asked. It is a sacred space for spiritual reflection, whatever that means for each visitor. And not only the building itself, but also our churchyards attract a steady stream of folk bringing fond remembrance for loved ones, and by implication contemplating themes eternal.

    The Church of England, being the official, established church of the land, has a system whereby every square yard of the country falls within one parish or another. And every parish has a designated parish church, and that parish church exists for every parishioner – whatever faith, creed, philosophy. You could be agnostic, Muslim, humanist, atheist, Baptist, Wiccan, Catholic, New Age, Buddhist, ‘undecided’, or any eclectic mixture from the smorgasbord of today’s spirituality and wholeness. Whatever you are you have an equal right to access your parish church, make use of our services, and call upon our time, and my time as your parish priest.

    For instance you don’t have to be Christian or baptised to be married in church. Like many people you might have been married before and it didn’t work out. The good news is that God is loving, and delights to shine blessing on his children when they undertake new chapters in life. He delights to heal. The C of E is currently making progress towards accommodating services for same-sex couples. The church’s mission is to proclaim Divine love that is expansive: Greater and far more generous than we – and our medieval conservative theology – had bargained for. This is part of our growth in vision.

    Christenings are like naming ceremonies in a church setting. Giving thanks to our Creator, to the Universe, to Life, – the particular terms used are not the critical factor – for the miraculous gift of new life, and the wonder of being party to it. In a christening the baptism aspect in the middle of the service includes the symbolic sprinkling of holy water at the font, the ancient stone basin, as a sign of blessing; that the child’s life will have purpose, significance, and be a positive influence in the world as he or she matures.

    Funerals increasingly include a central theme of thanksgiving that a person has lived and for all that they have been, even when the conclusion might seem hard or tragic. Any parishioner has a right to burial in their local parish churchyard, where space permits – as is the case currently with our churchyards. People from outside a particular parish may still request a space by formal application. Sometimes a funeral might be planned when the family do not want a service that is overly religious, but still require a spiritual quality, taking place typically at the crematorium only. In such a case the Rector remains delighted and honoured to be your Celebrant for the occasion.

    For those who derive help and comfort from traditional services of Christian liturgy (the standard forms of words and responses) and worship on Sundays, midweek, and special times of year, these can be found listed by date and place under the Worship heading on our website*, and in our monthly magazine the Upper Wensum Diary, and on notice-boards. Anyone may attend any of these services.

    Church life also embraces music from hymns and choral to bell-ringing, and the visual adornments of flower arranging. Fundraising and social events take place under the church heading, in churches and elsewhere. The Rector makes regular visits (with guitar at the ready!) to Primary School assemblies – Stibbard, Brisley, and Colkirk – and to Mill House Care Home in Ryburgh.

    We are committed to growth in vision. The parish church seeks to be for all, without discrimination. It is a place of universal spirituality; reflection, quiet, mindfulness, prayers thought and offered to the silence; for historic interest and local heritage; to mark the seasons of life; and for devotional services together. You are welcome.

    ‘Revd Robin’ Stapleford

    Upper Wensum Benefice Rector (Vicar)

    Parish Priest of Colkirk with Oxwick and Pattesley, Ryburghs with Testerton,

    Whissonsett, Brisley, Horningtoft, Gateley, Shereford with Dunton