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Speaking at St Mary’s Priory at the Gwent WI Service on the UN Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Canon Mark Soady paid tribute to the WI’s efforts in this field.

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He said:

Well done to the WI for your 9 years of campaign to ensure the end of violence against women. A total of 3Million women are believed to face domestic violence, experience rape, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and other forms of violence and abuse each year. A staggering One in three women globally will have faced some kind of gender based violence against to the World Health Organisation.

It is also worth reminding ourselves this is not a problem which only happens in other countries: In England and Wales seven women a month are killed by a current or former partner

Your report in 2009 demonstrated that women who live in the countryside experience the same levels of violence as women who live in urban areas. The research also demonstrates the peculiar issues around confidentiality, and lack of access to transport experienced by women in rural areas. So all though we think all may be well in this corner of Gwent it is just as likely to be the scene of such violence as any inner city area and the consequences are felt very differently.

More widely many advocates of Women’s Rights as Human Rights have expressed concerns that much of the ground gained by the UN declaration has been threatened by the rise of more conservative forces within world –so there is still much to be done. So it is right that we gather hear today to pray for the elimination of violence, and to commit ourselves anew to work fore that elimination.

Down the centuries we have known the powerful us their power to abuse the weak. That is not the Christian way, we believe that we are all made in the image of God and we are therefore all equal in God’s sight. Jesus tells us in the Gospels that we are to treat all our human beings as we would treat the Messiah himself.

Represented in the Jesse Window in this Priory Church, is Ruth. Her life story can be read in The Bible, in the Book of Ruth

In the Book of Ruth, we hear how Boaz uses his power and influence to help the vulnerable Ruth. He showed us a different way, the right way to treat those in positions of weakness….and in doing so he was following the Law, as stated in Deuteronomy 26 verse 12 “When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied”.

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Lighting candles at the service

Indeed the Bible is very clear throughout that violence against women is wrong. The 1st book in the Bible proclaims that all of us are created in the likeness of God, whatever our gender; as such all of us are entitled to be treated as God’s precious children, whose image we reflect.

Also in the window are represented two Welsh saints who are credited with the way they dealt with advances from powerful men: The Patroness of Wales, Winifred; and our National Patron Saint David’s mother, Non. Also found in the window are Beersheba and King David. David of course plotted the murder of Beersheba’s husband following his night of passion with her.

As followers of Christ who commanded us to love our neighbour their can be no place for violence and abuse of power and authority –   let us continue to take that message of love out to the world, as if we were taking light in to a dark place.

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On Tuesday the Bishop of Monmouth consecrated a new Altar in the Lewis Chapel. He dedicated the Chapel to St Joseph as he blessed the new Plinth for the Jesse Effigy. 

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He said:

It has been some time coming and finally we have a seemly place to set the Jesse figure and for it to be integrated with the magnificent Jesse tree window.

It works as a figurative whole, and literally tells the story of the human lineage of Jesus and the faithfulness of God who has invested his mission of love into extraordinary and ordinary men and women. This sacred ensemble will serve as a beautiful educational resource and make connections to a long past and a lively present.

Of course, the figure and the window are pleasing in their own right. There is something greatly satisfying in aged wood, the vibrantly coloured glass and the modern plinth and altar and all credit to the designers, wood crafters and stain glass makers. And all of this is placed in this ancient Lewis Chapel made of stone and plaster.

These symbolic representations speak of the ingenuity of people who aspire to represent something greater than is here and is felt and articulated through art. It is one of the great gifts of humanity to express our journey from the material to the spiritual.

It is a journey which has always been with human kind. It is in our DNA.

The gospel story of Jesus encountering the Samaritan women demonstrates how long and sadly sometimes how conflicting this journey can be if we loose sight of our true nature.

The dispute between the Jews and Samaritans over two religious sites was a dispute stretching over centuries. In their way both were right. The sacredness of Mount Gerizim could not be disputed. It was the Old Testament setting for the pronouncement of blessings for keeping the covenant and the mountain on which Moses commanded an altar to be built. Likewise, Jerusalem becomes the holy site of the nation and was linked to the dynasty of King David.

In other words both were holy sites where God made a connection with humanity and promised new life and a loving partnership. But even these sites are staging posts on the human journey. We cannot rest and see this as the end of our adventures with God.

Jesus, as the God traveller, makes this clear to the Samaritan women and to us.

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Our movement is, at its best, always a movement to the spiritual presence of God. It is not enough for us to manufacture the spiritual ourselves. It will not carry conviction or authenticity. The spiritual element in humanity can only find its true home in God. Transcendence can only occur with the divine. So it is right that Jesus challenges the motives of the religious. He is saying to the Samaritan women. ‘You have not travelled far enough. You have only located your self with the physical and the symbolic. God is only truly worshipped by the spirit in the spirit.’

As we come to bless this human endeavour we recognise it will only come alive in the spiritual. If we really want the Church to be relevant, our work and our aspirations will necessarily take us closer to God. It is tempting for the Church to fasten on to remedies for decline. But the fact is that God draws us to himself and we join him. There is always an open invitation to be with God and I believe that we are made for that union. Our aspiration to join him can be very simple or complex – it’s the wonderful diversity of being human. As we bless this altar and plinth we give thanks for the beauty and heartache of our journey and celebrate the God who meets and nourishes us on our way to him and in him.

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John 4:21

Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

 

The world famous Jesse effigy at St Mary’s Priory Church, Abergavenny has now been moved in place under the Jesse  Window.
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It is 15 months since the Window was Dedicated in the presence of HRH The Prince Wales and this Tuesday (Nov 21st) the Bishop of Monmouth will return to the Priory to Dedicate the completed work.
Both the window and the new Plinth for the Jesse Effigy were designed and created by former pupils of the Prince’s School of Traditional Art. The Prince is also Patron of St Mary’s Priory.
Helen Whittaker
Helen is a Visiting Lecturer at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art and the Creative Director of Barley Studios in York. Helen gained an MA from the University of Wales with a thesis on Jesses. She designed the Window.
Joachim Tantau 
Joachim, the Plinth designer, is a prize winning pupil from the Prince’s School.
Both were chosen following  a competition of designers.
Although the Prince of Wales will not be attending the Service he will be ably represented by the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE and Simon Trethewey, Director of Studies (MA Programme) at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art.

 

 

On the morning of November 24th we will welcome the Gwent WI as they mark the UN day for the Abolition of violence against women.

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WI protest outside the Supreme Court

Three million women across the UK experience rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, sexual exploitation and other forms of violence and abuse each year.

The National Federation of WI has been campaigning on violence against women since 2008; raising awareness of the nature, extent and impact of all forms of violence against women.

What is the UN definition?

Articles 1 and 2 of the resolution provide the most widely used definition of violence against women.

Article One:

For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

Article Two:

Violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering ,sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harrasmnet and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution; 
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs

 

Canon Mark Soady reminded the assembled citizens of Abergavenny gathered at the Town’s Remembrance Service   “When the two minutes silence was instituted by King George V one minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. – so it is right that we remember both groups as we gather here today.”

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Fr Mark speaking earlier in the week at King Henry VIII School’s Act of Remembrance

Speaking of risk that our service personal take he continued, “No soldier, sailor or airman goes out of his or her way to loose their life, they often put themselves at risk with out thinking of the consequences. In that moment, in that split second they act on impulse, their training kicks in, they do what they feel is right.

As we stand here today and remember those who have made the sacrifice, and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice we must remember that Jesus showed us that sacrifice is never offered in vain. The wooden cross on which he hung that first  Good Friday indeed brought death, but out of that death came Resurrection . Came new life and new hope.

We must make sure that the sacrifices  made by our serviceman and women are not in vain, by committing ourselves to work for peace”

We think it is important to take the Christmas message out in action, as well as in song, so we have planed the following programme.

Gifts

We started doing so already!  We have dispatched over 80 shoe boxes containing gifts for the needy in Romania, with the help of Blythswood Care.

We are now collecting gifts for young adults who have recently left the care of Monmouthshire County Council Social Services.

 

Church without walls Carols

In the week before Christmas we will be taking the good news of Christmas out of our Church buildings:

Saturday, December 16th

Scenes from last year’s Walking Nativity with the Bishop

During the afternoon we will take the Nativity story out on the streets of Aberagavenny as we walk from Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street to St Mary’s Priory Church, Monk Street via  Red Square and the Market.

 

Tuesday, December 19th

We will be singing Carols in Public Houses in the town

 

Wednesday, December 20th

Belmont Nursing Home and Sheltered Housing is where we will be found in the afternoon singing carols and telling the Christmas story.

 

Thursday, December 21st

We will visit  the following Nursing Homes to sing carols:

Cantref, Rozelle and Avenue Road

 

 

We will again play host to a number of organisations Carol Services, as well as our own special services.

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December 4th

7pm St John Gwent Carol Service with the Archbishop of Wales, including a Christmas Fair in the Priory Centre

 

December 5th

6pm Cantref School’s Carol Concert & Christingle Service

 

December 8th

7pm Tenovus Light up a Life

 

December 10th

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4.15pm Carols in the Tithe Barn Courtyard as part of the Abergavenny Winter Food Festival.

 

December 13th

11am Abergavenny Wives Fellowship Advent Carols

 

December 16th

Vision of Hope Carol Concert with Dr Rowan Williams

 

December 18th 

7pm Carols by Candlelight at Christchurch, North Street

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December 20th

6pm Deri View School Carols and Christingle Service

 

December 21st

7pm King Henry VIII School Christmas Concert and Carol Service

 

December 22nd

6pm Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols with the Priory Church Choir

 

December 24th

4pm Christingle Service, including the Holywell Community’s Nativity Play