From Surrey to the Sea

By John Ellis

Two creative constructions have enhanced my last two Sunday visits.

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Reigate Park URC

At Reigate Park URC in Surrey, in line with local custom, the Easter morning service began with All Age Communion. On the Communion Table was a colourful cross created by Messy Church. It was covered with buttons of all shapes and sizes which illustrated the variety of people of all shapes and sizes who make up the church. As well as the cross being attractive in its own right, I was pleased to find this evidence of those for whom Messy Church is their most natural form of church being linked with those for whom Sunday morning liturgies are their natural format.

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The Messy Church Cross

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Point in View Chapel and Almshouses

A week later Point in View Chapel, near Exmouth, was a contrast with a congregation of 30 filling the tiny building. The chapel was itself a Fresh Expression of Church in 1811, when the eccentric but wealthy Misses Parminter endowed a Trust that still looks after the chapel and its associated almshouses, set in a meadow with wonderful views over the River Exe and out to sea. The Trust employs a Chaplain to care for the spiritual needs of the little community and their many Summer visitors.

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Presentation to the Chaplain, the Revd Rosemary Shirley, flanked by her predecessors, the Revds Pat Clamp (left) and Sandra Lloydlangston

I was glad to be able to present them with an elegantly crafted board recording all the ministers who have served there, including my own ancestor the Revd James Ellis. His 27 years of “retirement” ministry at Point in View ended in 1926 when one Sunday, after preaching on the text I looked and behold a door was opened in Heaven, he walked back across the meadow to the manse and suffered a fatal stroke.

And yet again travelling around revealed the inter-connected nature of our Church family: the minister who led the Reigate Park church in its years of expansion after the Second World War, the Revd Edward Nicholas, later had his final ministry at Point in View.

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