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201 News

Pentecost at Condom - a celebration in Spirit and cake

Pentecost is considered to be ‘The Birthday of the Church’ that day when Jesus’ promise to the disciples was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit descended like flames of fire. So it was highly appropriate for us to mark the day with a celebratory cake, again made by baker Ron ( he is pictured cutting the cake).

The Eucharist was presided over by the Venerable Chris Sims. To whom we are grateful for travelling so far to be with us. Our prayer Veni, Sancte Spiritus — Come, Holy Spirit! is I believe renewing and strengthening us to take on the challenges of discipleship and witnessing to our faith in the way we live our lives.


May Day Fête at St Puy, 28th May - what a scorcher!

It was our second year of attendance at this wonderful French/ English collaborative celebration of May at St Puy near Condom. What a difference a year makes (there is a song in there somewhere) last year the torrents of rain ran down the village streets like a flood. This year the temperatures soared becoming almost too hot.

But the good weather brought out the people to our benefit. Once again we were raising funds for EducAid ( www.educaid.org.uk) the Sierra Leone education project. Our stall was somewhat eclectic jammed in amongst the beautiful local crafts stalls. Plants, bric-a-brac, books and of course home made cakes and jam crowded our area all donated generously by our community and friends. French people seemed cautious about the unfamiliar confections being offered, but that soon disappeared along with the cakes. The French owner of the local B&B snapped up the marmalade for her customers even offering us a contract to provide it regularly.

Of course the other dimension was to make known our Anglican community. So talking to people, the press and the radio was another reason to be there. Making links to the French people and organisations was an important part of being at the show.

It was a wilting day, although we had a sun shade it was for the cakes not those helping. We are grateful to all those who bought, make, gave and supported us. We were all tired but lifted by the knowledge that our efforts had raised just under 500€.


Joyous occasion as Michael is licensed as Licensed Lay Minister: March 11th

The sun shone brightly on Saturday 11th March, when many from throughout the Chaplaincy came together in Condom to witness the licensing of Michael Torne as a Licensed Lay Minister. This was an extra special day, joyful in so many ways, as so many friends, colleagues, clergy came together to uphold and support Michael.

The service was led by The Venerable Meurig Williams, the newly appointed Archdeacon of France, with hymns chosen to match the tone of the day, and Michael admits to having been particularly moved by the chorus of ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky’ – “Here I am Lord.” During his sermon the Archdeacon reminded not only Michael and all the other many clergy present, but the congregation as a whole that we are not alone having the support of one another. The service ended with "Guide me, O though Great Redeemer" and we pray that Michael will be guided through his spiritual journey.

After the service Michael offered his thanks to everyone as they left the chapel. From those unable to be in Condom on the day there had been many messages of support and goodwill. Sue and Michael’s children particularly had commitments elsewhere which could not be changed but they were able to speak to Michael before the service. The pleasures of the day were completed by a delicious buffet lunch which gave everyone a chance to meet, chat and mingle with friends before heading back home. Many thanks to all those who were involved in the organisational details (that often go unnoticed) to make this such a special day.

Many thanks to Hazel Markham, Paul Mazzotti, Pauline Prosser, and Richard Horsman for their contributions to this news article.

Michael writes, "The words of Dan Schutte’s hymn ‘I the Lord of sea and sky. ‘ sung by a full chapel at my Licensing as Reader or Licensed Lay Minister filled my emotions on Saturday 11th of March, the chorus ‘here I am Lord’ fuelling those emotions. The knowing that it was not just the offering of myself into lay ministry but that all those singing were also offering themselves to the service of God in the many ways that enliven our Church as the body of Christ. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all that came and to all the messages of support from those unable to be there. It was both a surprise and a pleasure to see so many from the Chaplaincy that had travelled so far to be with Sue and I and our community in Condom.

The Archdeacon talked of not being on our own but that we share the task of ministry, supporting each other. Yesterday was one of those occasions when we saw that in practice. I am sure our community will build and grow on this day."




Peaceful Reflection for Advent and Tea: Dec 4th

On Sunday the 4th of December, the second Sunday of Advent, a Reflection for Advent was led by Michael Torne. A Reflection expressed in poetry, music and prayer.

Thomas Merton told us that in silence God ceases to be an object and becomes an experience. As we sat in quiet reflection we prepared ourselves for Christmas when once again we celebrate God’s gift to us of Jesus Christ. We mentally prepared ourselves by confronting our ways, preparing for judgement, looking with hope on the promises God has made to us, comforted by His love and faithfulness.

The theme of the Reflection was waiting and watching. Sometimes just waiting for a cup of tea and watching longingly on the great spread of ‘goodies’ to be eaten. After the time of quiet there was much noise of talking and laughter. A happy time together. We thank Lavina Pearce for opening her home to us. Praise be!


Successful November Coffee Morning Fundraiser

On Wednesday November 30th the Condom church held its final fundraising event of the year. It was a Christmas Bring and Buy Coffee Morning at the home of Marrian Lestrange. This was the first time the Condom team had organised such an event and we were anxious that it would be a success but thanks to the support of both parishioners and non church members we raised over 400€ for our charity Educaid.

This was a team effort but I must mention the efforts of Ann Benner and daughter Claire. These two ladies have been working hard for many months, making the cushions for our Adopt a Cushion campaign and in the last few weeks making wonderful Christmas Puddings.

Richard Smith, raffle organiser extraordinare,  must also receive a mention. Richard put together four great raffle prizes and did a great job selling the raffle tickets. The winners were:1st prize-Pam Savage, 2nd prize-Neil Wright, 3rd prize-Ron Benner, 4th prize-Albert Yorke.We hope to do another coffee morning next year.


Remembrance Service

Our annual Remembrance Service was taken by our Reader-in-Training,  Michael Torne. This is always a memorable event, but this year was made more impressive by the fact that it was conducted beautifully and sensitively, and several of the congregation took part.

Our hymns were stimulating and patriotic, including 'Jerusalem ' and 'I vow, to Thee, my Country'. The reading of a poem by Owen Griffiths, 'Lest we forget', by Simon Lowman, an ex-army officer, and the final bidding by Richard Smith, our Deputy Warden, also an ex-army officer, of the 'Kohima Declaration' were all moving and really meaningful. All bringing back the enormity of what we all owe.

A wreath was laid at the altar, as we have no memorial in the church. As the daughter of a soldier, and the mother of a Naval officer, the service had a special resonance for me and touched all who attended. We finished with the National Anthem,and these words ringing in our ears:  'When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, they gave their today'. This was a Remembrance Service which will stay with me for a long time to come.   - Irene Birt


Harvest donation to Resto du Coeur

harvest donation

The Harvest service was taken by our Chaplain Tony, assisted by Rev'd David and Rev'd Angel Marshall. Over 30 people attended and everyone was very generous with their harvest gifts. Sue had challenged the parish to fill the boot of her car with food they did this and more, filling the boot and back seat with tins and packets etc. These were later taken to the Resto du Coeur depot in Auch for distributing throughout the Gers. After the service fifteen people enjoyed lunch together in the garden of a local restaurant.




Thankful for freshly baked bread at Harvest

harvest loafWe are very fortunate in Condom to have in our community Ron Benner, a master baker, who lovingly made this Harvest loaf for our Harvest Service.

The tradition goes back to when the Harvest season started and was called Lammas, meaning ‘loaf mass’. It was a time when farmers made loaves from the first wheat of the new Harvest and gave them in thanks to their church to be used as the Communion bread in a special Eucharist of thanksgiving.

The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season. The end of the harvest was celebrated with a big meal called a Harvest Supper, eaten on Michaelmas Day. No Harvest loaf is complete without the harvest mouse and we have three all beautifully fashioned from the dough trimmings. It is good to see this tradition revived by bakers like Ron. Thank you Ron for this masterpiece of baking!


Summer Fund Raising for Educaid: lunch and open house

adopt a cushionDuring the summer there have been two fundraising events for our charity Educaid. The first was a lunch given by parishioner Sylvia Hames and her husband Paul for Sylvia's bookgroup. The book group enjoyed a lovely three course lunch whilst they discussed the book choices for 2016-17 and also received the results of the books read in the 2015-16 session. Many members of the bookgroup have nothing to do with the Condom Church but everyone gave generously and over 250 euros was raised for Educaid.


adopt a cushion




In July the two ladies (Ann Benner and her daughter Claire Owen) behind our Adopt a Cushion Campaign held an open house when a good number of the congregation dropped by to enjoy a drink and some nibbles and at the same time select their cushion design and donate. Over 230 euros was raised and the cushions are now in position in the chapel.


2015 News

Summer Services in Condom

We had two Prayer and Praises services this summer. At the August 14th service we were joined by Hazel and Richard Markham's family. Their son in law Bill played guitar, daughter Vicki sang and grandson William played the drums along with their twin grandaughters Millie and Jamie who provided some mime skills. Their contribution certainly helped to the chapel to rock to an Olympics inspired service.

We also had two Thursday Holy Communion services. On July 28th Barrie Green was our celebrant. This was Barrie's first visit to Condom and we hope to welcome him and his wife back to Condom again in the near future.

Our service on Thursday August 25th was another first, this time it was our new Chaplain who took the service. Over 50 people attended and we were blessed with good weather for our Bring and Share lunch after the service. Over 30 people enjoyed lunch at the home of Mary and Ian Roberts, it gave Tony and Ingrid a chance to meet many of the Condom congregation and also an opportunity for the people of Condom to meet their new Chaplain! It was a good day.


Dedication of a new altar cloth for Condom

altar clothOur monthly Thursday service on May 26th included the dedication of a new altar cloth by the Rev'd Liz Morris. This beautiful cloth was made by Mrs Ann Benner in memory of her mother-in-law Olive Benner.

lectern fallThe cloth is decorated with grapes, ears of wheat, flowers and a chalice, these are things which reflect parts of her life; flowers from her garden, bread and wheat for the bakery and the sacrament symbols for her deep faith. The embroidered inscription reads in memory of Grandmother Olive Benner (14-09-1915 to 11-10-2013).

At Condom we have been able to appreciate the bakery skills that Olive passed on to her son Ron with the beautiful wheatsheaf Ron has made for our Harvest Festival and his delicious mince pies at our Christmas services.

We were reminded of how blessed we are at Condom to have so many creative people in our congregation and our attention was drawn to the lovely lecturn fall and credence table cloth made by Mrs. Irene Birt as well as a number of handmade cushions that have started to appear on the chairs in the chapel.


Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the 'pouring rain'!

may dayThe St Puy May Day on May 22nd was our first fundraising activity for Educaid, our chosen charity for 2016. I was assured that it had not rained in the last five years at the May Day celebration and not to worry about the weather. So we collected gifts, books, plants and a wonderful selection of homemade cakes for our Jam & Jerusalem stall and looked forward to the day. Unfortunately as we loaded the cakes into our van at 7am it started to rain and never stopped. Not light showers but heavy persistent rain along with strong gusts of wind.

We arrived at our stall and by the time we had erected our umbrella we were both soaking wet but not deterred we started to unload our wares. Unfortunately most of the time these were covered by plastic sheeting to protect them from the driving rain, making it difficult for the few visitors there were to see our great selection of things to buy. However, (there’s always an however) we managed to lay claim to a couple of tables in the Salle de Fetes and so could display our cakes and some of our books in the dry.

may dayIt was then I discovered by husband’s hidden talent, he’s a bit of a salesman. Before you know it he is being interviewed on the radio and for Depeche, no one is allowed to pass the stall without an introduction to the finer points of ‘gateau anglais’ and the importance of afternoon tea. So the cakes begin to sell and although we don’t sell everything we do sell most of them.

Outside the weather has gone from bad to worse, many stall holders give up and start to pack away. It’s very much last man standing but by 2pm we decide to call it a day and reload our van with very soggy boxes and head for home. I cannot remember the last time I have been so wet and cold.

Despite the weather we still managed to raise over 300 euros for Educaid and have enough gifts left over to have another stall later in this year, where hopefully the sun will shine. A big thank you to all those from Condom who helped on the stall and who turned out in appalling weather to support Educaid.  - Sue Torne







2014 News

Blessed Creation Tide Service in Nérac

creation tideFor the first time the members of the congregations of Condom & Nérac met to celebrate God’s creation in the context of a Creation Tide Eucharist. A service booklet compiled by Michael Torne - containing a liturgy & prayers of thanksgiving for the abundance & diversity of creation and prayers of confession of how often we fail in the role the Lord has given us as stewards of the earth - helped everyone to focus of this important aspect of our Christian commitment.

The Banner Group, formed in June to create a banner on the theme of creation, had completed their work & the banner was blessed by our celebrant, Rev. Liz Morris, during the service. She then went on to speak on the role each individual can play in the important work of creation care and, as a token of how we should turn our words into actions, each member of the congregation was given a packet of wild flower seeds to sow this autumn along with a leaflet “9 Ways To Live Lightly On The Earth”.

At the end of the service everyone was able to enjoy coffee & home-made biscuits & cakes whilst chatting & looking at the various displays on Creation Care, Endangered species, Climate Change & Water Issues which had been put in place at the rear of the church.

A new venture which was much appreciated & will be an important part of our yearly cycle of celebration in the years to come.


Visiting Minister Rev'd Robin Nash in July

july serviceFather Robin Nash led our worship in July.

Robin was on holiday visiting friends in Bergarac and drove down to Condom to preside over the Eucharist. We thank him for his kindness.








creation banner

Sewing a creation banner for October service


Heads down at the banner group! Sewing and gossip plus some work, or that is what it looks like from the pictures. The group are making a creation banner which was blessed on October 12th at our Creation Day service in Nérac.





Tenebrae Service during Holy Week 2014

tenebrae serviceA group of 17 people from the Condom congregation, and welcome guests Chaplaincy warden Paul Mazzotti & his wife Judy ,met in the home of Michael & Sue Torne on Maundy Thursday to remember & reflect on, in the form of a Tenebrae service led by Michael, the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus.

A very moving sequence of readings from the Gospels by various members of the group, interspersed with prayers, musical pieces and communal a cappella singing of “When I survey the wondrous cross” & “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” led us along the path to the cross. After each reading there was a time of silence, a remarkable sense of stillness as we each were able to consider the passage we had just heard & how it applied to our own lives. The central table was lit by a large candle & six smaller candles and after each reading one candle was extinguished, the larger candle being the last to be put out as in the reading, Jesus died, to the accompaniment of a loud, single note from a bass drum. A very visual & auditory reminder that the life of the Light of the World, was extinguished on the cross. It was a time for deep reflection on the price paid by Our Lord for our redemption & salvation and the group broke up very slowly as one by one we left the room in silence.

The service was followed by a wonderful bring and share, fellowship lunch on the terrace as we basked in temperatures & sunshine worthy of summer ,surrounded by God’s marvelous creation.


2013 News


Harvest 2013

Harvest was celebrated with a Gift Day followed by a parish lunch. One of our community was a master baker and made this wonderful loaf. If you have a talent we will encourage you to use it!


Homemade bread










July 2013: New Chalice for Pentecost

communionOur community in Condom has been established for five years. We have a regular worshipping community of 40 people and always have room for more!

Besides our usual monthly service we celebrate the festivals often in one of our homes. This year at Pentecost the Ven. Ian Naylor, Archdeacon of France, dedicated a new chalice set and we used it for the first time at the Eucharist that day celebrating afterwards with a barbeque lunch.




Times of Reflection held throughout the year

coffee 2013During the year we offered times of reflection such as quiet days, a Lent group, and a parish week-end at the monastery Notre-Dame de Belloc, near Urt.