One of the great things about living in this part of the world is that we can still see, smell and hear the sounds of the working countryside. The last couple of months have been busy for our local farmers as they harvest crops, store them away, plough and spread muck. Another season is upon us and the colours of autumn are appearing in the trees and hedgerows, and evenings drawing in.
Of course, all of us will get most of our food from supermarkets and shops of one sort or another, and a few will enjoy the fruits of their labours with vegetables and fruit from the garden, and eggs from their hens. Our local schools still mark the harvest season with Harvest Festival services and we collect for the Cirencester Foodbank.
This year the natural world (which I believe to be God’s creation) has been much in the news. Serious fires in the Amazon, unusually severe ‘weather events’, and more ice melts have caused scientists concern about what‘s happening to the climate.
The Bible contains a number of books called ‘The Prophets’ – which are writings by people who spoke out about issues of concern, justice, peace, and community good and welfare of people. These prophets would often ‘speak truth unto power’, and they were very often unpopular with those in authority; with those who didn’t want to listen, and didn’t want to hear or change.
Some years ago, a native American wrote these words, which speak forceably to me at present:
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.”
We live in a world that is interconnected, in a world that can provide sufficient for all; and yet those who hold the levers of power are not heeding today’s prophetic voices, or indeed those of yesteryear.
It’s not just our farmers who need to be concerned for the land, our watercourses, and our food – we all need to have a care and work to protect and nurture God’s creation.
The Rev’d Canon John Swanton
Services at All Saints’ Church
Sunday 6th Oct: 16th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Comminion for Harvest at Down Ampney
6.00pm Evensong for Harvest at Ampney St Mary
Sunday 13th Oct: 17th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion Service at Driffield
Sunday 20th Oct: 18th Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion at Ampney Crucis
Wednesday 23rd Oct
2.00pm School Harvest Service at Down Ampney
Sunday 27th Oct: Last Sunday after Trinity
10.00am Parish Communion at Poulton
6.00pm Evening Prayer and Meditation at Ampney Crucis
Sunday 3rd November: 4th Sunday before Advent
10.00am Parish Communion at Down Ampney
6.00pm All Souls Service at Ampney St Peter when we remember those we love yet see no more
4th Wednesday of each month – at 11am in the Dakota Room. Please do come along and join us for tea/coffee, cake and conversation.
Very many thanks to all those who helped to make The Arnhem Service 75th anniversary commemoration really special for all those who came.
The new ‘Down Ampney March’, composed Debbie Wiseman OBE, was played for the first time at the service and was received with acclaim. This wonderful piece of music was performed beautifully by the Cirencester Band. Brigadier Mark Christie of the Parachute Regiment said ‘It’s like the theme tune of a war film!’ The Gloucestershire Constabulary Band are planning to play it at the Festival of Remembrance at Cheltenham in November.
We hope to get a recording!
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.