Churches Old & New with Christmas News & More

Old Church Crib sceneChurches Old & New with Christmas News

This news update starts with Christmas News from the Old Church, then:

Old Church Update

Old Church Xmas TreeHolly in the windowThe Friends of St Mary’s are sad to have to cancel the Carol Service there again this year as they cannot organise it in a COVID-safe way.  However, members of the Friends’ committee have decorated the Old Church for Christmas and it will be open as usual every day between 10 am and 4 pm for anyone to visit and spend time in personal reflection or prayer in the place where so many generations of West Bergholt parishioners have celebrated Christmas over the last 1000 years.   There will be an outdoor Carol Service at the New St Mary’s Church on 24th December (see more below).

Greenery in the porchThe Friends hope that visitors will enjoy the Christmas decorations including a crib with beautiful figures telling the Christmas story, three Christmas trees and the window ledges are decorated with sprigs of holly, ivy and other evergreens.

We wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

St Mary’s Christmas Update

This month’s update starts with details of Christmas Services and includes:

  • Christmas Message from Rev. Mandy,
  • News of Rev. Mandy’s Retirement.

… and the usual listings of services and contacts but first:

Christmas candlesChristmas Services

We are very sad that we won’t be able to offer our usual carol services and crib service this year due to the current restrictions. However, we would love you to join in with our ‘alternative’ Christmas services:

  • Sun 20 December @ 4pm. We will be hosting an online service via Zoom with Carols and Reflections for Christmas.
  • Christmas Eve Family Carol Service outside the church at 4pm. We will be remembering the shepherds as they heard the angel news—dressing as a shepherd or angel is encouraged! Mulled wine and hot chocolate will be served –please bring your own mug.
  • Christmas Day @ 9.30am. Gathered Family Service which will also be streamed on Zoom, followed by a short Communion.

All Zoom details available from the church office lw[email protected]

Wise men around the cribChristmas Message from Rev. Mandy

When we started to prepare for Christmas last year, we had no idea what the coming twelve months would bring….the Covid19 pandemic and the associated ill-health, deaths, isolation, quarantining, lock-downs, hand-washing, masks, and social distancing. We had no idea what an amazing job the many unsung heroes of our communities—the doctors, nurses, cleaners, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, and council workers—would do to keep us safe and alive. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

As I write this letter, none of us knows whether we’ll be able to share Christmas celebrations with our families and friends. But regardless of this, the message of Christmas remains the same: God loves each one of us, so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus into the world so that all who believe in him as Saviour and Lord can have their sins forgiven and inherit eternal life. This wonderful message of hope is as true today as it ever was, and it remains with us whatever our circumstances, whether easy or tough.

One of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’, and this is exactly what Jesus’ birth means to us in practice. Jesus is God with us in our daily lives….even lives controlled by Covid19!  I believe this means that we can come through our current circumstances, not unscathed, but as richer and more rounded people.

So between now and Christmas, let’s thank God for his wonderful gift of Jesus to us, and let us take hope and encouragement from it. May I wish you all a very happy and healthy Christmas, Mandy.

Rev. Mandy ElmesRetirement of Rev. Mandy Elmes

It is with great sadness that Rev. Mandy Elmes has announced her retirement from her position as Priest in Charge of the parishes of West Bergholt, Great Horkesley and Langham with Boxted. As many of you may know, Mandy’s husband Paul has been in hospital for some months following an accident and although his condition has improved, it will still be a long road to full recovery. Mandy has therefore taken the difficult decision to retire earlier than she had planned so that she can care for Paul when he comes out of hospital.

Her last service with us will be on 27 December at 10am. She will then be on a period of compassionate leave before retiring officially at the end of February. Hopefully, we will be able to arrange a proper farewell later in the year when the weather is better and the Covid19 restrictions have been lifted.

We are very sorry that Mandy is having to end her time with us in these circumstances, but we are hugely grateful for everything she has done for us over the past six and a half years. In the meantime, we pray that Paul will make as full a recovery as possible and that he and Mandy will be able to enjoy their retirement together. Please keep them in your prayers.

Services & Other Dates

All events are at St Mary’s unless stated otherwise.  Kids’ Church is our new form of Sunday school for children.  Note, no Evening Prayer Service during winter months.

13th December 9:15 am Messy Church on Zoom
10:00 am Communion via Zoom from St Mary’s
20th December 10:00 am Communion via Zoom from St Mary’s
4:00 pm Christmas Carols & Reflections via Zoom
24th December 4:00 pm Family Carol service outside St Mary’s
11:30 pm Christmas Eve Midnight Communion at All Saints, Great Horkesley
25th December 9:30 am Gathered Christmas Service via Zoom from  St Mary’s
27th December 10:00 am Gathered Communion at St Mary’s—Rev. Mandy’s last service with us

If you would like to receive the Zoom link for any of these services, please email:  [email protected].


  • Priest in Charge:
    Revd Dr Mandy Elmes, 1 Church Close, CO6 3JZ
    email: [email protected].
    tel: 01206 240906.
  • Assistant Curate:
    Revd Anne Mason
    email: [email protected].
    tel: 07895 970834 (Sunday & Tuesday – Thursdays).
  • Church Wardens:
    Peter & Caroline Finlay, —[email protected] or 07926 387551 and
    Kate & Stephen Penrose, — 07973 421306
  • Lay Readers:
    Richard Chadborn—01206 240541;
    Michael Foster—01206 241022;
    Joy Budden—01206 241871.
  • Parish Evangelist
    Ron Seymour—01206 272579.
  • 3 Parish Families’ Worker:
    Jo Jeffery—07853 586683.
  • Pastoral Assistant:
    Dorothy Chadborn – 01206 240541
  • Church Administrator:
    Church Office Hours — weekdays 9 am—1 pm
    Janine Wilde — 01206 243683,
    email: [email protected].
  • Newsletter Editor:
    Liz Dixon—01206 243683
    email: [email protected].
  • Hire our hall:
    Nicole Long—01206 240443.
  • Website:
  • Follow us on Facebook:

Covid-19 VirusVolunteers needed to support local COVID-19 vaccination programme

Your local NHS is getting ready to deliver a COVID-19 vaccination programme and they need your help.

They are looking for volunteer stewards across Essex and Suffolk to be at the forefront of the local fight against the virus – you could be part of it!

As a volunteer steward, you will help the vaccination process run smoothly and safely.  Local vaccination stations will be open from 8am-8pm seven days a week.  Volunteers are asked to commit to individual sessions of four hours plus 15 minutes handover time.

This is an exciting opportunity to play your part in protecting the community and saving lives.

If you are interested in volunteering please email: [email protected]

For more information visit

Colchester OrbitalMore Walking Routes Added to Webpage

There is now a large network of interconnected footpaths and cycleways around & through Colchester.  It provides 13 – 14 miles of walks or cycle routes around town connecting some of the main green spaces following public rights of way and off-road paths.  The interactive maps enable users to display and interact with walk/cycle routes in the context of multiple additional layers of environmental and heritage information.

You can find out more about the Colchester Orbital as well as other walks using the Essex Way, Colchester’s Roman Wall and many other on this website here where we include easy routes to access the Orbital from within West Bergholt.  There is also some information about equestrian activities as well.

Colchester Community Christmas Giving Tree

Essex Police, working with volunteers and partners, are aiming to make Christmas in Essex special for everyone.  They are asking residents to donate a small unwrapped gift or toy for delivery to a vulnerable child at Christmas.  They ask for these to be delivered to one of the following drop-off pojnts:

  • Colchester Police Station,
  • Sainsbury’s Tollgate,
  • Tesco Highwood or
  • Tesco Greenstead,

… by Saturday 19th December.

It’s the second year – how did it start?

Temporary Superintendent Lily Benbow brought the Community Christmas Giving Tree initiative with her from London when she joined us as Tendring district commander last year.

We donated approximately 1,300 gifts to vulnerable children across Tendring. We were simply bowled over by the generosity of our community. Our colleagues in Children Social Care helped us select our most vulnerable children and, together, we co-ordinated delivery before Christmas.

Our officers, staff and volunteers worked with partner agencies to shop for presents, allocate, wrap and deliver them. I even ended up cooking at a local Christmas party, which only happened because I was chatting with the chef while we wrapped gifts.

Sadly, we can’t invite volunteers in to help our officers and staff to help us with the wrapping this year as, like everyone, we’ve had to adapt what we do.

So we’ve gone online and created Amazon Wish Lists for each district so that you can still donate, although some of our police stations are open if you want to deliver in person. Even though 2020 has been tough year for all, we won’t be deterred from giving children who would otherwise have nothing, a gift at Christmas.”

Essex Police - Protecting against Rogue TradersMore Police News

The November Local Update for Colchester District (see below) will tell you more about:

  • Their role & priorities,
  • What they have been working on, and
  • Twelve tips for Christmas & after.
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