We need to write a ‘fire risk assessment’ for one of my churches and the thought does not fill me with joy! But it is a task that needs doing and needs some measured thought.
In my last parish, there was a disastrous fire after the candle-lit Christmas Carol Service – so I know that minimising the risk of fire is really important. And in light of this experience, it is tempting to decide to minimise such a risk by saying ‘no candles’ or ‘no carol service’! But that’s not the point – and not the point of risk assessments.
We all take risks every day, and whilst we might not have a written risk assessment for everything, we all subconsciously and consciously try to mitigate risks for ourselves, our families and our community.
Having children, getting married, changing jobs or schools, moving house, making friends, being a school governor, standing for election, making suggestions or decisions, arranging events - all involve an element of risk.
It is no coincidence that if we take risks, good things can and do happen, and we often look back and ask ourselves – why we didn’t take the risk much earlier? Sometimes it’s good to take a risk and try an alternative.
All we do involves risk – and that is where most of us play our part – providing opinions on what is being done can be good and encouraging; but criticism can be harmful and destructive. Sometimes there’s a fine line between the two, but we know in our hearts if we are offering an opinion or a criticism.
We need to continue to take risks and face the challenges before us, but we need to remember that supporting and encouraging each other will only encourage us to take the risks that are needed to move forward and fulfil our potential and serve our community.
Let’s take the risk – and have a candlelit Carol Service this year!
The Rev’d Canon John Swanton
Services at All Saints’ Church
Sunday 30th July: 6th Sunday after Trinity
6.00pm Holy Comminion and Meditation at Poulton
Sunday 4th August: 7th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion at Down Ampney when we dedicate the new pew cushions
6.00pm Evensong at Ampney St Mary
Sunday 11th August: 8th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion Service at Harnhill
Sunday 18th August: 9th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion at Ampney Crucis
6.00pm Taize Word and Worship at Poulton
Sunday 25th August: 10th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion at Poulton
6.00pm Evening Prayer and Meditation at Ampney Crucis
Tuesday 27th August
6.00pm Holy Communion & Meditation at Poulton
4th Wednesday of each month – at 11am in the Dakota Room. Please do come along and join us for tea/coffee, cake and conversation.
Toff’s Car Boot Sale
Bank Holiday Monday at Ampney St Peter – in the morning!
RAF Presentation at Down Ampney
At the end of July there was a wonderful audio-visual presentation about the work and role of the Royal Air Force today; followed by a question and answer session.
This proved to be a fascinating insight into one of our armed services and raised over £300 in support of The Arnhem Service – 75th anniversary commemorations, which will be held on Sunday 8th September at Down Ampney Church.
The Rev’d Canon John Swanton
01285 – 851309
Caring for God’s Acre
Churchyards are special places where friends and relatives are buried in consecrated ground and people come to pay their respects and remember those whom they love but see no more.
The upkeep and maintenance of the open churchyard at All Saints’ Down Ampney is the responsibility of the Parochical Church Council (PCC) – which is made up of a group of volunteers who oversee the ministry of the church and its property. Down Ampney Parish Council (the civil authority) kindly provides the contractor to cut the grass.
A churchyard is not a private place in which anything is acceptable, but rather a place where many people have an interest in its appearance. The Church of England therefore has regulations about what is and is not permissible in a churchyard. These regulations are designed to help ensure that churchyards have a pleasing appearance, to allow the wild life to flourish, for the maintenance of the grounds and safety of those who look after them.
A copy of the Churchyard Regulations can be found in the church and are also available at
We recognise that churchyards should not be absolutely uniform, however standards have to be acceptable to the wide variety of people who come to mourn their own relatives. For this reason there are general principles which have to be applied and in Gloucestershire many of our churches – like the Grade I Listed All Saints’ Church - are of national importance and their surrounding churchyards deserve special care.
In English law, no one has the right to be buried in a churchyard, but there are eligibility criteria – i.e. people who live or die in the parish are eligible to be buried in a churchyard. When the Vicar or PCC agrees to a burial, the grave remains in the ownership of the church – unlike in local authority or private graveyards where a (usually 75 year) lease is entered into. In Gloucestershire there are rules about what type of unpolished stone can be used for a headstone or memorial plaque.
There are other regulations to do with flowers and ornaments, which we shall cover in next month’s edition of Down Ampney News.
These regulations are not to prevent people from mourning and remembering their loved ones, but rather to help maintain order and a seemly appearance to our churchyards for everyone who visit.