The coronavirus meant we had to cancel all our usual events in 2020 and affected plans during 2021, too, but we’re pretty much back to normal now. Here is a list of what normally happens…
This event is really popular in the village. One hundred guests are fed in groups of ten at eleven venues around the village: two groups of ten together for starters in each of five venues, then those groups going on to five new venues for a main course (joining with a different group), before the grand final gathering for puddings in one venue.
We are so grateful for the energy and willingness of village hosts who have to cater for twenty people. Year after year (for over a quarter of a century), this has been a great way to get the community together and to meet new friends.
On the night before our Harvest Festival service, we gather with friends (church friends and non-church friends) in the village hall for a meal and entertainment. It’s simple, home-cooked fare – Shepherd’s Pie or Lasagne for mains, Fruit Crumble for pudding – but it’s always tasty and there’s always plenty of it, giving us the chance to enjoy God’s benevolence (or the fruit of the earth, depending on one’s faith stance!).
The entertainment in recent years has been a wonderful mix of local talent; singers and musicians the mainstay, but poetry readings and comedy sketches and songs also have their place on the bill.
The evening closes with the singing of a couple of verses of the traditional harvest hymns, “We Plough the Fields and Scatter” and “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”, followed by a blessing and an invitation to all to gather afresh the next morning in church.
It’s another great opportunity for the community to come together; to raise funds for our church and to celebrate life.
On the Saturday before Advent Sunday (or thereabouts), the church takes over the village hall for a Christmas Sale of craft items, cakes and seasonal delicacies like home-made chutney. There are the usual tombola and guess the number of sweets kind of stalls, the Friends of Widford Church and other private vendors come to sell calendars, soaps, jewellery and the like, and the children from the village school come to sing a selection of carols to get us all into the mood.
It’s hosted over lunchtime, so a popular stall is the one selling turkey-rolls, mulled wine and mince pies, but there really is a bit of everything here for all ages. Hope to see you!
Christmas Carols have an enduring appeal, especially when they are sung in the open air to the accompaniment of the brass band of the Salvation Army. And that’s what we do. We put up a gazebo on Benningfield Green and gather together on the Friday before Christmas* to have a good sing. We also serve soup and rolls and request donations for the Salvation Army (Harlow Corps – whose band joins us each year). For a lot of people, this is the start of Christmas. Why not join us and swell the singing?
* Or the Friday before that, depending how close it is to Christmas Day – see the church diary for this year’s date.