Posted on by Derek Chandler

Caversham Clergy Retreat from the Heat

retreat pulpitDuring the hot summer days at the end of June and early July eight clergy from the Caversham churches went on an ecumenical retreat for forty-eight hours to Alton Abbey in Hampshire. Reverends Derek Chandler, Jenny Dowding, Nigel Jones, Jonathan Edwards, Margaret Dimmick, David Little, Mike Smith, and David Jenkins formed the group and were led by retreat conductor Reverend Canon Norman Boakes OSB.

It has been ten years since the Caversham clergy went on retreat together and this venture was an opportunity to explore common issues in Christian ministry, leadership, and considering the ‘Church of the future’. The experience proved extremely encouraging and affirming for all involved and no doubt will have a positive influence on the future relationship and vision of Churches Together in Caversham.

Lighter moments included a visit to the picturesque town of Alresford and the Winchester Diocesan centre of Old Alresford Place (historic home of Mary Sumner, founder of the Mother’s Union), a tour of Winchester Cathedral, and some extra-curricular activity in the real ale pubs of Alton in the evenings! The reminiscences of Derek Chandler, who grew up in Alton and was ordained in Winchester Cathedral, accompanied all of this. And the Caversham clergy have said in their own words:

In their own Words

“As a newcomer to Caversham it was wonderful to be able to have two full days together with my clergy colleagues.  I believe passionately in churches working together but experience shows that that only happens when clergy work together.  Rightly, we need to set the example.  It was great to be able to eat, drink, discuss, worship and walk together amidst a great deal of laughter!” (Jonathan Edwards)

“Although there are differences in our experiences of church leadership and our understanding of ordained ministry, we share the same hopes, joys, frustrations and struggles as we each seek to work out our calling to serve Christ and the Kingdom. There was a significant degree of sharing and trust amongst us, and, yes – much laughter.” (Jenny Dowding)

“It was so helpful to spend time with other ministers, to get to know each other better, to pray and worship together, and to share in each others joys and sorrows in ministry. As we ministers have met together residentially, I hope other Christians in Caversham will be encouraged to meet and pray with their brothers and sisters in Christ”. (Mike Smith)

alton abbey“The retreat was well planned, powerfully renewing, deepened a sense of respect and belonging among us and offered some possible areas in which we might work fruitfully together. The sessions in which we shared were facilitated by Rev. Norman Boakes and were of great value. The weather, the surroundings and the places we visited all helped considerably. We are very grateful for the support of our churches and to Rev. Derek Chandler who organised the whole event.” (David Jenkins)

“It was good to have much more time together as the ministers of Caversham than is usually possible. Despite coming from different churches we all want to work together. One theme emerged from our talks – that we now are in a time of great change, which could be a time of opportunity, if we can accept that the future of the church may look very different from the past.” (Nigel Jones)

“Flash! Bang! Wallop what a picture – the retreat was of a common purpose, a shared desire, to see Jesus made known to the people of Caversham.” (David Little)

“This was a new opportunity to meet and support colleagues in ministry, which I thoroughly enjoyed and left me spiritually encouraged. It was a good time to get to know one another better and a good foundation for working and praying together. Many thanks everyone!” (Margaret Dimmick)

“For me the retreat was much more than a ‘remembrance of things past’. This became clear when we visited Winchester Cathedral and while we there some ordination candidates were rehearsing their ministerial vows in front of the Bishop of Winchester ready for the ordination service. This, and the whole experience was a kind of renewal.” (Derek Chandler)

David LittleThis is a preview of an article submitted to the Caversham Bridge newspaper. Article compiled by Rev. Derek Chandler. Photographs by Rev. David Little. Find out more about the churches in Caversham online at