The Parish of St. Nicholas Hardenhuish - The Church on the Hill

St Nicholas APCM (Annual Parochial Church Meeting)   
         Wednesday evening 26th April

Bishop of Bristol announces retirement

Posted on January 24, 2017 by Ben Evans 

The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, has announced his retirement with effect from 30 September 2017.

Bishop Mike, who has been in the post since 2003, will end his time at the Diocese with a special service at Bristol Cathedral.

Bishop Mike said that he had made the decision after he and his wife, Anthea, had decided that the timing was right for him to retire.

He said: “I have loved my time in this Diocese and there are many people I shall deeply miss. Working with colleagues, both lay and ordained has been a privilege and a gift.

“There will be many opportunities between now and 30 September to say more, but my overwhelming sense is a deep gratitude for the privilege of serving amongst you all. Please pray for Anthea and me as we prepare for this next phase of our lives.”


Bishop Mike’s final service will be at Bristol Cathedral on Saturday 23 September at 3.30pm. More details will be released nearer the time.

This year's static collections for Christian Aid will be taking place at Morrisons, B&Q and Chippenham railway station.  If you are able to spare an hour or two to assist with these collections, please contact Andy or Roger (as below). 
Please also advertise this at your churches and encourage others to get involved in this united church effort for Christian Aid. All offers of help would be much appreciated!

The collection dates and venues are as follows:

Friday 28 April - Morrisons   9am to 5pm    please contact Andy Gubbins (email: )

Mon/Wed/Fri 15/17/19 May - Chippenham railway station   8am to 11am & 3pm to 6pm
Saturday 20 May:- B&Q, Borough Parade, High St & Market Place   9am to 4:30pm
Please contact Roger Hammond (email: Tel: 01249 651711)



Chippenham Deanery News

Godly Play Taster Day“I wonder”.
Discover more about this creative approach to Christian nurture;
Saturday 8th April 10 am—3 pm @ St Peter’s Church, Chippenham: Further info from:


PRAYER BREAKFASTS each at 8.30am to 10am

Saturday May 20th

The first at Marshfield Church will particularly focus on Rural Church Ministry.

Saturday September 9th

The second at St Andrew’s Church, Chippenham will focus on Chippenham and Corsham town.

Each Prayer Breakfast is open to all. Come, pray and share breakfast together as we pray for each other.



to our Standing and Pastoral Committee.

Our Keynote Speaker will be Bishop Mike and will include an opportunity to ask questions afterwards too!



St Andrew’s will be hosting the next Confirmation Service for churches in the area on Wednesday 24th May at 7.30pm



The Real Lyfe

– Red Mist

Mark 11:12-25 & Proverbs 29:11

When have you got inappropriately angry, and then tried to rationalise it by calling it ‘holy anger’?

Some of us may have been on the “wrong” end of Red Mist (Anger).
How did we feel?
What have we learned from the experience?

Is there a “right” end of Anger? – i.e. is being angry godly?


Please remember …

Our churchyard is a lovely, peaceful place, despite its proximity to the road.
Many people come to tend the graves of those they have loved and lost, and spend a few moments remembering them.
Sadly, recent visitors have been distressed to find the area being inappropriately used by someone exercising a dog.
We welcome everyone to come and visit the churchyard, but please remember that for many it is the last resting place of someone they loved, and they regard it as a sacred space.

Dick says:-

St. Nicholas' Parochial Church Council has agreed to the request from The Diocese of Bristol to increase our parish share from £12,120 per annum to £15,800 per annum.

The parish share (previously known as quota) is the amount a parish pays to the diocese as a contribution towards its share of ministry and ministry support costs. These costs include stipendiary clergy, future ministers (e.g. curates), minister support and support for schools and those parishes which cannot afford these costs.

Increasing our 'gift' to the diocese by 30% is an act of faith. The step was taken because the PCC wants to act both responsibly and generously.

Beside the parish share, the PCC still has to find the money for the running costs, upkeep and repair of our Grade II church and churchyard.

If you feel the time is right for you to increase your giving then please talk to Helen the PCC treasurer.


If you would like to help with floral decorations for St. Nicholas please see Mary Clarke

The Parochial Church Council
(PCC) for 2017 - 2018 consists of Churchwardens Paul Davis and Mark Sheppard; Treasurer Angela McClean, Secretary Deborah Loveday and Deanery Representative Helen McCann. Other members are Brenda Bird, Judith Eckersley and Cynthia Smith. The team clergy are also members. Electoral roll officer is Mary Clarke.

To see the minutes please ask Deborah.

Dates for your diary!
Pentecost Sunday is June 4th
1st July - Chippenham Churches Together, Fun Day, at the river island.

Women’s Union

 27 April   


Julia’s House Hospice for Children

11 May  


Poetry and Prose

25 May


Ascension Day service

8 June


A ‘Knit and Natter’

22 June


A visit from the Bobby Van

6 July


Summer party with sing-along

 No meetings in August. We meet again on September 7th


Details Barbara Wood 655413


Religious extremism and the shadow it casts

In our culture it has become axiomatic to assert that religion has been the cause of wars throughout the ages. New atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, helped cement this in the public mind and the work of groups like Al Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State or Diaes have provided plenty of evidence for the violence that religious ideology can engender. However, the assertion that religion and war are intimately linked does not bear close scrutiny as was illustrated in a lecture given in Trowbridge two weeks ago.

The speaker was a Muslim academic and Imam named Ahtsham Ali. At present Ali works for the Home Office supporting the prison service and its chaplains to counteract the influence of radical Islam. Having previously worked in schools, Ali shared an illustration from his experience as a teacher. When he asked what proportion of wars were caused by religious conflict, unsurprisingly Ali found his students believed this to be true for the vast majority. He then set them the task of looking into history and determining which wars could indeed be attributed to religious motives. As the students listed the catalogue of conflicts on a flipchart and their principal cause it became clear that only a minority could be put down to religion; it took a couple of flipchart sheets before even one turned up.

The terrorist atrocities in EU countries, most recently those in Paris and the heightened security that has been a feature of our lives since 9/11 and 7/7, reinforces the connection between religion and acts of violence and especially with Islam. Yet non-religiously motivated terrorism greatly outweighs that motivated by religion; the significance of domestic terror akin to that in the Basque region and the murderous activities of Far Right groups and Animal Rights’ activists, seem to have slipped from public consciousness.

Lord Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi, compares religion to an energy which can be used for good or ill, just like nuclear power. With respect to war and terrorism it is greed, power, ego, self-interest and imperialism which play a much greater part in the generation of violence than religion per se. Yet in asserting that religion is not pre-eminent we cannot, and must not, ignore the place religion can and does play in the promotion or justification of armed conflict and terrorism. Today the problem for countries like the UK is how we can protect ourselves from the threat of Islamic extremism without demonizing Islam itself, and this is not proving straightforward.

Earlier in the year at a meeting of the Board of Education for Bristol Diocese, members registered concern around elements of the ‘Prevent’ strategy being rolled out in schools across the region. Their anxiety was that in counteracting Islamic extremism other significant expressions of extremism seemed to be neglected and there was a danger of casting a shadow over Muslims in general. In the question time following the lecture, a Muslim from Wiltshire described Islamic extremism as the ghost on every street in his community, echoing Ali’s description of a climate in which younger generations were growing up with a negative view of Islam even in Muslim families.

Religious extremism does not necessarily lead to violence but Ali pointed to several characteristics which are strongly associated with it. Chief among them are a belief that the ends justify the means, admiration of a charismatic leader, a degree of paranoia (Them versus Us) and the derogation of responsibility. Although those who embrace extremist Islam may have mental health issues (some 20% of fighters) or been involved in petty crime (80%), highly intelligent men and woman may also be drawn in. The example was given of a pharmacologist with a PhD who had joined a cultic Sufi sect. Apparently he said if his Sufi teacher (a Sheik) said that snow was black he would go and have his eyes tested. Ali asked him whether he should get his brain tested!

It is this derogation of responsibility that can be so frightening in extremism. The pharmacologist admitted relief that he no longer needed to think for himself. But derogation is not confined to the religious arena and secular ideologies have bred their share of violent extremism as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, the Gulags in Soviet Russia and the Killing Fields of Cambodia amply illustrate. Lord Sacks says that every reflective human being must ask three questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How shall I live? These are questions which the market, science and technology may aspire to address but have not succeeded. Religion will never be a thing of the past, asserts Sacks, because it does address these questions. They are integral to the human condition because they are about our identity and purpose.

As we face the challenge of Islamic extremism in the UK we would do well to remember how the secularist Jurgen Habermas changed his view of religion after 9/11. What happened caused him to differentiate between reasonable religion and the kind which causes men and women to kill hundreds of innocent people in the name of God. There will always be expressions of religion which are extreme and dangerous, including corruptions of the Christian faith. Our task today must be to support Muslims in the UK to bring extremism into the light and remove any shadows which hang over Islam itself.

+Rt Revd Dr Lee Rayfield

Bishop of Swindon