St Cuthbert’s Wells, & St Mary Magdalene, Wookey Hole OFFERING GOD’S WELCOME IN THE HEART OF THE CITY AND BEYOND


Welcome to this month's E-Newsletter. Sam's letter this month has some important information about changes to our practice around communion at both churches.

We also have some important (and, I hope, welcome) news about Christmas plans.


In this week's edition:

  1. From Sam
  2. Services in October
  3. Messy Church
  4. Heritage Open Day
  5. Christian Aid Harvest Lunches
  6. Christmas is coming
  7. Thank you
  8. Upcoming Events
  9. The Minister is tired
  10. Worship on Facebook, the Website and Youtube
  11. This month's Exciting Holiness(es)
  12. For your prayers
  13. Prayer
  14. Contact us

A window from the convent of St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)


Dear Friends

Greetings to all readers of this newsletter, whether old friends, newcomers or visitors, nearby or far-flung, young or old!

I’d like to let you know about a planned change in our practice around communion in church. As time goes on and we become used to the idea that mandatory restrictions around face coverings and the like are now simply guidance, it is time to consider the remaining restrictions on church life. These were of course put in place for the protection of all, and although the threat is being managed in a different way now, it remains important that we don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable about coming to church, and that we respect everyone’s own judgement about their personal situation.

Firstly, I’d like to point out what I hope, after the experience of the last 18 months, we all not only understand in our heads but know in our hearts: that receiving communion in one kind only is no kind of half-measure. Jesus is fully present in the bread and wine of communion, not fifty percent in each! There are those who, for medical or other reasons, always receive in only one kind, or even not physically at all but spiritually. We know in our hearts that those people are not in some way denied the full gift of the sacrament; well, that has been the situation for the whole community for the last little while. We have been restricted by circumstances to a narrower expression of communion, but a no less fulsome one when it comes to the superabundant grace of God!

However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be a yearning in many for the full expression of communion in both kinds. And so, as time goes on and circumstances change, we need to regularly review the practicalities of how communion is distributed. The Church of England guidance is notably firmer than in many places when it says that there are only three options:

(1) ‘under the form of bread alone, mindful that the president must still receive in both kinds’; (2) ‘in both kinds in the customary manner with a shared cup or chalice used to administer the consecrated wine’; (3) ‘in both kinds by simultaneous administration. Intinction should not be practised by individual communicants, and methods of administering the wine other than by means of a shared cup or simultaneous administration should not be employed’.

The first option is what we are practising at the moment; the second option is what we used to do before the pandemic; the third option takes a little more explaining. What the guidance calls ‘simultaneous administration’ is the practice of the person administering communion dipping (‘intincting’) the wafer into the wine, and then placing it into the hand of the communicant. This last option has been used in some places, but the idea of placing a slightly soggy wafer into someone’s hand has put many off this option, including in these parishes. Note that that third option also rules out the use of individual cups.

A couple more points about hygiene that apply equally outside of a pandemic as in are worth making. Firstly, drinking wine from a shared cup in the way that we used to do is less risky than it sounds. The combination of a silver vessel, alcohol, and most importantly a firm wipe of the chalice with the purificator cloth between communicants means that there are no known instances of a shared chalice being the cause of any kind of infectious outbreak. Secondly, you will have noticed that the guidance is unusually firm on the subject of self-intinction, in other words individual communicants retaining their wafers and then using them to dip into the shared cup. It has long been known that this is a riskier practice. While it is generally done for the right reasons of wishing to avoid passing on infection, those who administer the chalice will know that, from time to time, there will be contact between the fingers of the person dipping their wafer and the wine itself. This opens up the real possibility of transmission to the next person who drinks the wine. If you are concerned about passing something on, it is far better to abstain from the wine altogether.

In considering all these factors and others including the layout of our churches, we have decided that we can introduce the option of receiving communion from a shared cup in both churches from All Saints’ Sunday, 31st October. As to practicalities, at St Cuthbert’s there will be a chalice station to the side and set well back, so that those who wish can visit it; those who do not wish to can instead return to their seat. At Wookey Hole people will visit the rail in the normal manner; you can choose whether to return to your seat after receiving a wafer or to wait for the chalice to come round. It is worth restating that this will be an option, and that no-one — God included — will be passing any kind of judgement on you for your chosen approach to the situation.

In line with the Church of England rules and scientific evidence mentioned above, self-intinction will not be permitted; if necessary, chalice administrators will ask people to consume the elements separately for the good health of all.

It is of course also true that these arrangements will be kept under review and may have to change according to the circumstances of the pandemic over the coming winter.

If you have any questions or concerns about these arrangements, please do not hesitate to speak to me, Lucy, or any of the churchwardens.






After a successful re-launch in September (though I do wonder why there were dried peas in the pulpit afterwards!), there will be another Messy Church session at 3.00 pm on Sunday 17th October.

Families and helpers very welcome. See Lucy.


This was a very successful event and yet again the church family rose to the occasion, providing the same warm welcome to visitors that was on show during the August Sunday Open Afternoons. The tower was open again and there were friendly and knowledgeable guides in the church to show off our wonderful building and its fascinating past.

Visitors enjoyed a short drama telling the story of prisoners in Wells after the Monmouth Rebellion with an impressive and ferocious Judge Jeffreys. Alistair looked very grand as he re-created the role of Anthony Sevier whose gift to the church promised bread to the poor of Southover on every second Sunday of the month. Alistair gave out small loaves to sometimes rather bemused visitors!

The theme of Heritage Open Days this year was 'Edible England' and possibly the stars of the afternoon were our 'Nippies'! Suzy Vivash had made brilliant outfits and the Nippies, together with the loan of flowery tea cups and cake stands, made for a very elegant tea for our visitors.

Many thanks are due to everyone who took part on the afternoon in any capacity and to those who provided cakes and sandwiches. It was a great afternoon!

5. Christian Aid Harvest Lunches - 6th and 13th October

The Wells Christian Aid group co-ordinated by a number of churches in the city has been unable to hold the traditional Lent Lunches for the last two years. So, this year, they are organising Harvest Lunches instead. These will be on Wednesdays from 15th September until 13th October at Seager Hall. St Cuthbert's are hosting the first one - do come and support us.


First, the Bad News.

Cards for Good Causes, who organise the card shop in St Cuthbert's, went through a tough time last Christmas. This was on top of a general decline in the sales of Christmas cards as many people move away from traditional cards to more environmentally-friendly ways of wishing their friends and family a happy Christmas; or choose to donate to charity rather than spend money on cards and stamps.

The company have had to cut back on the number of shops this year and have decided that St Cuthbert's is no longer a viable option for them.

If there is any demand, the parish office can produce cards as we did last year, raising money for the church.

And now - the Good News!

St Cuthbert's PCC has decided to go ahead with a Nativity Festival this year. It will be held from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th December. The festival will have many of its traditional features (where would we be without Alistair's mulled wine?!) but there will be some changes, partly to ensure a covid-safe flow of visitors around the displays; and partly just because it's a good opportunity to have a new look at everything.

Whatever changes there may be, we will still definitely need helpers to steward the event and to help in the kitchen. If you are willing to join the team, please see either Piers or Antonia.

Very appropriately, the co-ordinating group met on 4th October which is the celebration day of St Francis of Assisi, traditionally regarded as the 'inventor' of the crib scene.

St. Francis recreated the scene of Christ's birth in a special Mass he held inside of a cave in Greccio, Italy in 1223, when both his fellow friars and the townspeople joined in the celebration.

Later he told a friend why he desired to create the first nativity scene in his town:

"I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by."

He set up an empty manger inside a cave, and included a live ox and donkey. His idea was that everyone looking at the scene would understand how Christ came into the world in poverty and simplicity.

This is the tradition which we continue to celebrate through our Crib Festival.

The picture shows St. Francis of Assisi preparing the Christmas crib at Greccio. Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy


Go on, then.... let's have a sneaky carol! This is a setting of What child is this? to music by Thomas Hewitt-Jones.


Many thanks to all those (24 of you) who attended our fundraising dinner parties. Contributions raised £800 for church funds.

Alan and Sheila Linegar

One group of happy (and very elegant!) diners, posing with the cook and the waiter/bottlewasher.


St Cuthbert's/Oxfam Sponsored Walk - Saturday 9th October

If you're quick you can still join in with this year's walk which starts outside the Bishop's Palace at 10.00 am on Saturday. The circular route is approximately six miles and takes walkers over Tor Hill and along to Croscombe and back.

Relaxing - a memory from a previous walk - caption anyone?

St Cuthbert's Ladies' Group

The Ladies' Group October meeting in on Tuesday 19th October at 2.30 in the church.


This poem, which Lucy alerted me to, was written by 'Archdruid Eileen' of the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley. The Archdruid is, in fact, an Anglican priest and his blog is a glorious mixture of the seriously profound and the wickedly satirical, and often a combination of both (as in this poem). Having discovered their often-hilarious blog (https://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/p/folk.html) this newsletter nearly didn't get finished!

(and spare a thought for churchwardens and administrators too!)

10. Worship on Facebook, the Website and Youtube

Even though live worship has resumed at both churches, we are still uploading our Sunday services to Youtube and the Church website soon after the live worship has ended.

If you prefer, you can access our whole 'back-catalogue' of services on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXbti8Bi1W4tpMYuQWMiCAg/videos

Or see the most recent services (Sunday morning worship) on St Cuthbert's website on 'A Church Near You' here: https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/11052/


The Church of England has a calendar of Feast Days and other anniversaries of people who deserve celebrating. Until a few years ago I had no idea that these went by the magnificent title of Exciting Holinesses. Those included in the calendar range from well-known saints to much more obscure (to me anyway) people.

This month two of the Exciting Holinesses (actually I'm not sure whether the expression refers to the celebrations or the people) both contributed in some way to the development of the English language and, therefore, to the education and personal development throughout the centuries.


King Alfred who ruled Wessex from 871 to 899 AD was, of course a military leader who drove the Danes out of Wessex and set the foundations of a united England. But he was also a thinker, a reader, a law-maker and a huge promoter of education for all.

He thought as a Christian king and dutiful ruler it was his duty to revive learning in his kingdom. He gathered scholars together from other parts of the country; set up schools and, personally, translated many Latin texts into the English vernacular. Charles Dickens later wrote:

I pause to think with admiration of the noble king, who, in his single person, possessed all the Saxon virtues; whom misfortune could not subdue, whom prosperity could not spoil, whose perseverance nothing could shake; who was hopeful in defeat, and generous in success; who loved justice, freedom, truth, and knowledge; who, in his care to instruct his people, probably did more to preserve the beautiful Saxon language than I can imagine; without whom the English tongue in which I tell this story might have wanted half its meaning. Alfred’s intellectual activity breathed fresh life into English education and literature.


William Tyndale (1494-1536) was an English priest whose life was devoted to making the scriptures available to everyone - a fundamental basis for the Protestant Reformation.

Having been refused permission in England to translate the New Testament, he spent most of his life moving between sympathetic friends in various northern European cities.

During his lifetime he produced an English translation of the New Testament and of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament. His mission was helped by the expansion of printing at the same time. The first printed edition of the New Testament in English was produced in 1526 and was widely - albeit illegally - circulated in England.

By 1535 several Englishmen were hunting down Tyndale. One of these, Henry Phillips, wormed his way into Tyndale's household and then betrayed him to the authorities. In August 1536, he was condemned and in October he was strangled and his body burned at the stake. His last prayer was "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." The prayer was answered in part when three years later, in 1539, Henry VIII required every parish church in England to make a copy of the English Bible available to its parishioners.

Much of Tyndale's version was included in the King James Bible which has had such a big influence on our language.

MUSIC BREAK: If ye love me

This anthem is an early example of a church anthem using an English text which was taken from the Tyndale translation.

12. For your prayers:

Specific requests for prayer can be requested by phone, facebook message, or email to the parish office or members of clergy. These prayers will be included in our services of Morning Prayer. They will also be added to this section of the newsletter during the month.

Please pray for those who have asked for our prayers: Bishop Peter, Christine Hancock, Jackie Johnson, Zoe, Gael Adang, Elaine Cunliffe, Edith Kenny, Barbara Mitchell, Trevor, Marguerite Chamberlain and Zelda Roads

For those who have recently died: Jane Tibbs, Hilary Page, Marion Currell, Sylvia Clark and Brian Bennett

Year's Mind in October:


Some weeks ago, David Green led our intercessions at St Cuthbert's. He has kindly allowed his beautiful words to be included in this newsletter.