CAPTION: St Martin's Church in Exminister organised a churchyard trail as part of its Come and See open day

Churches Come and See Events are a Patchwork of Remembering, Tears, Joy, Cake and Community

Posted: 22nd November, 2023

Come and See community outreach events were held at churches across Devon during Remembrance weekend.

The Come and See mission from 10 to 12 November included a tour of Devon by the Archbishop of Canterbury and churches were encouraged to invite people to ‘Come and See’ events to share the Christian faith in a relational way.

St Paul’s Church Honiton said “We loved hosting a ‘Come and Remember Cafe. Over 130 came through our doors. They loved finding their loved ones on our Poppy Installation if their names had been read at All Souls.

“Others added poppies to it. They then lit candles and placed them on a cross. The highlights were the conversations, stories told, tears shed and joyous memories shared all over a cuppa and cake.

The poppy arch in St Paul’s Honiton. Each poppy is in memory of a loved one

“The Poppy Arch is now down and being made into a permanent poppy wreath with a book of remembrance.”

The West Dartmoor Mission Community held a service at Meavy Village war memorial. Scott Angell, who is training for ordination, said “Approximately 25 people came to the service.

“We laid wreaths that the primary school children had made. We then went to St Peter’s church and enjoyed some delicious refreshments.”

Come and See cards handed out

Scott said they also organised a talk from the local SSAFA armed forces charity and said prayers for it and raised £80 for the charity and the RBL Poppy Appeal.

He said during the weekend there was also a walk to Burrator Reservoir and Sheepstor church “where more refreshments awaited us,”

“We met a number of people on the walk and spoke about what were doing. We also handed out a number of the Come and See information cards and left some out in the churches on display.

People enjoying a cream tea as part of an open day at St Martin’s, Exminster

“On Sunday I led a Remembrance service at Princetown and even with the bad weather over 200 people were present.”

St Martin’s church in Exminster hosted an open day, serving more than 70 cream teas, on Saturday 11 November, which was the church’s patronal feast day of St Martin of Tours.

Rev’d John Williams said “A self-guiding tour took in some of the interesting quirks of the building and included a quiet zone with prayer stations providing an opportunity to pray for peace.

“Members of the congregation were also invited to submit answers to three questions about their faith which were displayed on a notice board to awaken thoughts of faith in visitors.”

John said there were also three “well-supported” churchyard trails led by Jeremy Pyne from Exminster Green Spaces Group and people could also try their hand at bellringing.

Yarn bombing in Marldon

In Marldon the focal minister, Jane Frost, was invited to bless a new village memorial garden. She said “It is an area of land and a seat set aside in the village for remembering both war and personal loses. It has been reclaimed by the local environmental group and underplanted with 1000 bulbs.

Good team working

“We had a patchwork of remembering with the laying of wreaths, flowers and momentos, followed by the 11am silence with local councillors, the local shanty band and a mosaic group who were responsible for two bespoke mosaics made largely from china donated in memory of people’s loved ones.

“There was also a piper and a bugler. Hurrah for team working!”

In Tiverton, Rev’d Andy Humm and Andrea Corrie, led a presentation about grief and loss at St Paul’s church, entitled ‘Finding the Mourning Light’.

Andrea said “Around 30 people attended and were able to spend time afterwards in conversation and prayer ministry in this warm and welcoming space. Thank you to all concerned for facilitating this event as part of the Come and See weekend.”

Ilfracombe’s snowdrop trail

Holy Trinity church in Ilfracombe has planted a Memorial Snowdrop Path as part of Come and See.

Clive Thomas said “The snowdrop symbolises new beginnings, hope and rebirth.

“I realised there had been something missing in my life”

“It was a delight for members of Holy Trinity church to serve our town with joy, and possibly make new disciples as we created our new snowdrop path.

“People were invited to plant 500 snowdrops in memory of family or friends. Many shared their stories and their tears.

One lady said “I’ve been a choir member for many years but drifted away, but the beauty of the church, the welcome, the physical act of planting…. I realise there had been something missing in my life.

The lady, whose twin had died, said the event brought back all the memories of the love they had had for each other.

Marldon Memorial Garden

One family came united to remember wife, mother and grandmother.

A widow said that she had thought she had got over the death of her husband, but coming and planting unlocked emotions in a healing way.”

People also wrote a memory or a message in a Memorial Book, which will be left in the prayer corner of the church to be prayed over each week.

Clive said “Many people stayed for coffee and cake, to share memories with clergy, ministers and church members who made themselves available for them. These were precious times.

“We met many who are not ‘church members’, often just causal passers-by who felt this was just the right thing to do, and we continued our conversations as we met them about the town later!

“People were surprised that we did not want donations – though they offered happily. We were simply there to serve them in their need.”

Rev’d Jeremy Putnam, Diocese Mission Enabler, said “What an amazing number of good news stories coming out of the recent Come and See weekend. It is so inspiring to see the many ways in which our Mission Communities have embraced the call to mission, and how we’ve been joining in with what the Holy Spirit has been encouraging in our parishes.

“It makes me wonder how many people have heard or received the gospel from a friend, a neighbour, a member of a church, as a result of this weekend. And it gets me thinking what might be the next thing we invite them to?”

To download Come and See resources to run your own outreach event, please click here.