Past Events of 2023
Litter Picks by Gastard Eco Team – We met on most months with a couple of exceptions in storm or frozen ground conditions. A happy bunch of volunteers meet on the 1st (usually) Saturday of each month starting at 10am from the church where they get a bag with holder, picker, hi-viz jacket and a litter pick route. We keep the streets and verges looking clean whilst engaging in interesting chatter with your picking partner. It is a therapeutic and rewarding task. Contact Jill for more information: LitterPickingLead@GastardChurch.org.uk.
Village Quiz & Cheese Supper – Saturday 25th February 2023, Village Hall. Our popular quiz evening with bread, cheese and nibbles supper was a sell out with 10 tables. A raffle was held with one prize of a cucumber in the current shortage of salad vegetables! Prizes were given to the 3 smartest teams and a booby prize. Funds raised in support of St John’s parish eco church amounted to around £450! PLUS a special collection for the DEC Earthquake appeal of over £120 – everyone was very generous.
FairTrade Fortnight 27th Feb – 12th Mar 2023 – see web – as a FairTrade church we supported 3 events:
# 1 # Fairtrade at The Pound – Tuesday 21st February, 2023, 7.00pm – This was a most enjoyable free event, with a great turnout from Gastard, entitled: “Fairtrade in Our World – 10 Years of Fairtrade in Corsham”. Delightful FairTrade wine was sampled in the café whilst the Fairtrade birthday cake was shared, We had a somewhat challenging Fairtrade Quiz and there were stalls to peruse. We saw a film by Patrick Kaberia and enjoyed the special guest musician, Amadou Diagne.
# 2 # FairTrade Sunday Service, 5th March 2023,10am, at St John’s Gastard – We had a Holy Communion service to a packed congregation where our eco church celebrated not just the FairTrade movement providing justice to farmers, but also our new accreditation as a FairTrade Place of Worship.
# 3 # Big FairTrade Get Together, 11th March 2023, 12:00 to 14:30 at St Cyriac’s, Lacock. This was a great opportunity to get together and chat over the Lent lunch whilst viewing several display stands and sampling some rather nice FairTrade chocolate and cakes. An excellent turnout for our sister FairTrade church. Unfortunately we couldn’t join The Watch Party at 1pm due to a connectivity problem.
Spring Afternoon Tea – Saturday 18th March 2023, Gastard Village Hall, 2pm to 4pm – Members of the church and community enjoyed Fairtrade Tea or Coffee with a variety of cakes made by our splendid group of volunteers chefs! We raised funds for St John’s of over £100 including the sale of some cute homemade knitted chicks containing a small Easter egg. As always, a lovely occasion for our community. We also held a raffle for DEC’s appeal for the Syria & Turkey Earthquake, raising over £30. Thanks to Felicity and numerous helpers.
Mothering Sunday – Sunday 19th March 2023, 10am in church – Beautiful posies of Spring flowers were given out to each attendee. Some were taken to those unable to attend and a several were hung from the railings for passing mothers to take home. The service reminded us of the origins of Mothering Sunday – a calling to attend ones mother church -and was a fitting gratitude for mothers the world over as we shared the enduring qualities that mothers share.
Earth Hour Candlelit Vigil – 8:30pm Saturday 25th March 2023 – We marked this hour to honour our home planet, lamenting the harm humankind is inflicting on our biosphere – all electric lights were off for one hour. Our candle-lit non-religious vigil in the church was atmospheric and meditative. We had a background of natural sounds and sporadic music. Don & Jill alternately read out readings and statements from various environmentalists, and prayers from various denominations. As the hour finished, the people present were so relaxed and pensive about the words that they had heard that no-one wanted to go!
ECO Church Celebration Service – 10am Sunday 26th March 2023 – From our belated launch of ECO church in 2022 when we celebrated our Bronze award, a year on, we celebrate all that our Eco church has achieved since then and proudly display our Silver Award; at the end of 2022 only 401 churches in England had achieved this. We had a clear and simple display, complemented by a talk about our journey for people to see how transformative and inclusive our work has been. The focus for 2023/24 is reaching for Gold; at the end of 2022 only 23 churches had achieved this in England.
ECO Church Open Week – 26th March to 1st April 2023, 10am to 4pm – the week following our Celebration service we kept our church open for the community and our sister churches to have the opportunity to see our Eco church display. Some affirmative comments were left in our Visitors Book.
Annual Church Meeting – Sunday 2nd April 2023 after the Palm Sunday service – we held our annual meeting of parishioners reporting on the past year (2022).
Good Friday Vigil – Friday 7th April 2023 – An unstructured quiet time was available for people to reflect and pray on this sombre Christian day whilst the altar was stripped.
Easter Sunday – Sunday 9th April 2023 – we celebrated this major date in the Christian Calendar with a great attendance from some old and new faces.
ECO Fair – Saturday 22nd April 2023 at the Digital Mansion. We had a stall for the ECO Churches team at the Digital Mansion providing information on what ECO church is and how each of the 4 team churches are making progress on this award scheme. Gastard displayed its Bronze award at the 2022 Eco Fair and its Silver Award this year.
Coronation Service – Sunday 7th May 10am 2023. We included prayers for the coronation of King Charles III. At the service, we formally opened our Sponsor-a-Hymn scheme; people are invited to sponsor a hymn for the launch at the Patronal Festival, 25th June. This, again, is open to the community and can be used typically, to offer a thankyou, celebrate a birthday or anniversary. See our Sponsor-a-hymn page for more information or to download a form.
** Garden Open – After the service we blessed the garden bench, our first, which honours the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and her passing as well as our long serving churchwarden Harry Thompson & his wife Sylvia. Members of the community who rest on the bench whilst visiting our gardens will now be blessed! We then opened the bubbly, enjoyed by many.
** Coronation Picnic – Then we held a bring & share picnic in the gardens.
** Village Event –This was a village event and we had a packed church shared with our sister church of Neston. The service was held amidst the Flower Festival.
Flower Festival – Saturday 6th to Friday 12th May 2023. A week where our community enjoyed a floral abundance at St John’s celebrating The King’s Coronation with various village groups’ floral displays.
Rogation Sunday Service/ Walk – Sunday 10am 14th May 2023. A large group started from St John’s church in cool but pleasant weather. We stopped every now and again for readings and a hymn with musical accompaniments – a first! After walking through the fresh green countryside and glorious buttercups, we finished at the house of Don & Jill for refreshments of FairTrade tea or coffee and hotdogs!
Afternoon Tea – 2pm – 4pm Saturday 20th May 2023 – Fairtrade Tea or coffee and cakes were served at the Village Hall to a packed Hall. This year, we raised funds of £314 for Alzheimer’s Support, Wiltshire who provided a speaker giving us lots of information and leaflets about dementia like “When to worry?” and “How to reduce risk”.
Tea in the Garden (from 5pm) AND at 6pm Patronal Festival AND Songs of Praise Sunday 25th June 2023. Following an enjoyable hour of an early supper in the garden, we had our annual patronal festival to recognise Saint John the Baptist, after whom our church is named. This year we also included Songs of Praise for all the community to enjoy with our COVID delayed launch of our Sponsor-a-Hymn opportunity (for just £5). 3 people had their sponsored hymn heartily sung by an impressive congregation to the accompaniment of the organ played by Paul. Each sponsored hymn had a personal message read out. More details and to download a form for Sponsor-a- Hymn.
Summer Lunch – Noon Sunday July 16th, 2023 – We held a delightful lunch for the community using bio-degradable ‘crockery’. This year was in new venue: the barn at Court Farm. Funds were raised in aid of the church and the Eco Church charity.
Ride & Stride – Saturday 9th September 2023 – every year, Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust organise a county-wide event for sponsored people to walk, cycle or ride between churches to raise money for the Trust. The Trust give grants to churches that need expensive repairs, but also give back half the money raised by our sponsors to St John’s. This year Rowan managed to cycle 50km in sweltering heat and raised over £100.
Harvest Praise & Supper – 6pm Sunday 24th September 2023 – a well-attended Harvest Praise service in the church where an extensive collection of food had been donated – destined for the Corsham Churches Food Bank. Then we went to the Village Hall for a Harvest Supper acknowledging the food grown on the land that sustains us. We had a ploughman’s supper with hot potatoes grown, harvested and cooked at the farm next door – very local! Thank you to the Robinson’s of Boyd’s Farm.
Climate Sunday – 10am Sunday 8th October 2023 – Our Eco champion described how the world is on a dangerous course of permitting too much carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere generating higher temperatures in the seas and air with increasingly extreme destructive weather events. We prayed for more effective leadership around the world and for those suffering from its impacts.
Climate Week – The Church was open daily 10am to 4pm, Sunday 8th October to Friday 13th October 2023. Climate Week Exhibition throughout. Additionally, talks were held during the week.
All Saints/ All Souls Service – 10am Sunday 5th November 2023- names from our Book of Remembrance and others who have passed away were read out.
Remembrance Sunday – 10:30am Sunday 12th November 2023 – in remembrance of those fallen as a result of armed conflicts, with a two minute silence at 11am.
Carol Service – 6pm Sunday 17th December 2023 – many joined us for 9 lessons and carols by candle light.
Crib Service – 4pm Sunday 24th December 2023 at Boyds Farm. The Nativity story was retold with props and popular carols were sung. Live music was provided by Steve and Fiona Evans (well done guys!). It was held inside the barn so we kept warm and dry, mulled wine and mince pies were served (thank you Sally and Derek) and Christingle oranges with candles and sweets for the children (thank you Sandy for making the Christingles). A hugely popular event, with families and children, following those held in 2021 & 2022.
Midnight Mass – Saturday 24th December 2023.