St Dunstan’s

Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England

St Dunstan's James Tomkins 2

James’ Message

Dear Friends,

If you've not been to St. Dunstan's Church for a while then you may be in for a surprise. Since the start of the year, the church has been totally redecorated, had some of its external stonework restored and the lower level clear and stained glass windows have been professionally cleaned. By the end of the year, we hope to have conserved the pulpit which is fading badly in places, and at St. Peter's Chapel, Owlswick we hope to have conserved the beautiful decorative metal band which contains some lovely pictures.

The church and chapel are fabulous places and it is lovely to keep them open for visitors to come in and appreciate their historic beauty, to find some peace and quiet or to pray. As a Grade One Listed building, St. Dunstan's sits in a conservation area and an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a real treasure. Its history, being in the oldest recorded ecclesiastical parish in the country, is very interesting and there are a number of special features that can be picked out by the discerning eye. There is a free guide and church trail to help people make the most of their visit.

I know that people regularly pop in from both near and far and find some kind of connection with other people who have visited the church through the centuries and from God's presence being especially felt there. It's mind blowing to think about how many times the 14th century door has been opened over the last 600 years; the number of babies, children and adults who have been christened in the 12th century font, and the passage of many feet that have worn down the stone step by the wooden screen leading into the chancel.

Ultimately though, we are all connected with St. Dunstan's or St. Peter's, as they are neither my church, nor your church, nor even our church. The purpose of these buildings is to be centres of worship in our community and for 'those outside' as much as for us. It's not like a stately home, which is carefully preserved by the National Trust, with visitors safely shepherded for a few hours a day and then dutifully locked up with dust covers to prevent damage. They're places where people can come, not just to marvel at the building, but to meet a God who is real, living, and powerful.

 Of course it's important to do this in a way that's safe and secure. We need to balance openness with being good stewards of these buildings. However, our insurers like the church and chapel to be open during the day. The best security a church can have is to be regularly used, so it's lovely that community events take place at both St. Dunstan's and St. Peter's and you'll find examples of these in the Newsletter. St. Dunstan's will again be hosting the popular Bucks Arts Week, with cream teas at weekends, and St. Peter's is continuing it’s series of speaker evenings. All these events, as with all of our services, are open to everyone. As William Temple, a former Archbishop of Canterbury once said "the Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members."

Fundamentally, what does a locked church say about our faith? Maybe it says that it's something for an hour on a Sunday morning, that's primarily for 'those inside'. However, I hope that with both St. Dunstan's and St. Peter's being open daily, there is something for everyone and something in each place for you too.

With every blessing,