Custodians of the Priory are sometimes told that we “must keep to Helen’s original vision”, the person in question being Helen Rawlings (pictured, with husband John, below). But when it comes to that “original vision”, beyond the frankly miraculous identification of the redundant St. Dominic’s Priory as a place for a new, mental health-related ministry, its greatest articulation came several years later in “the Priory prophecy”. In 133 words that so wonder-fully convey the heart of God for people, “a house prepared and furnished with love” is a place, a people, to which He will draw “the outcast” “for whom (His) heart weeps”.Autumn-Winter 2023
Apart from the occasional visitor singing or tickling
the ivories of our grand piano, and midday prayers
three days a week, our Chapel has been silent now
for almost eighteen months. With the restrictions
surrounding the pandemic still in place until July’s
easing, we thought it best to hold off until we felt we
could hold a service safely. The number of new
cases here on the Island have continued to
increase, and with many holidaymakers here now,
that is likely to be the case for a while yet. All being
well, however, we are hoping to recommence our
worship meetings in September, initially planning to
hold these monthly.
It is easy to take scripture out of context, and thereby
indulge in misplaced triumphalism. How often do we
hear of “new things” when a church or fellowship
hasn’t completed the “old things” Jesus asked of
them? Last Spring’s newsletter shows that we were
anticipating a busy year ahead. Looking back, how
our plans came to nothing! All the talk now is of
getting back to normal, or “new normal” at least, yet
is some kind of normal the land God calls us to
Please note ….
This Newsletter was prepared and printed just before the situation surrounding the current Covid-19 pandemic really escalated in this country and, as such, some of the information contained within the articles may well already be out of date. The events page at the end of the Newsletter has been omitted, since it is very unlikely that any of the events that were listed can actually take place. Please check back with both our website and our Facebook page to find details of any events arranged once the crisis is over.
The Apostle Paul established godly partnerships wherever He was able to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. Those partnerships were so much more than just verbal proclamation; they were active expressions of the love of God for people made in His likeness. He has already prepared our “good works”, so, with renewed minds and bodies offered as living sacrifices, we need to get on with doing them! (Philippians 1 v 5, Ephesians 2 v 10, Romans 12 v 1-2)
As we celebrate two years of people living at the Priory under the partnership with the Salvation Army, we do well to remember all of the partnerships that enable us to represent Jesus on the Isle of Wight. In particular, our weekly Open Door Worship connects us with the Church on the Island, as well as other “para-church” organisations. Here are just four of the people leading/speaking in the first half of 2020:
Hannah King, leader of Foodbank IW
Trevor Nicholas, CEO of Aspire Ryde
Father Emmanuel, Roman Catholic Priest for Newport and West Wight
Christopher, Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth
The church leaders and members who lead are drawn from fellowships across the Island, helping those who come to connect with the wonderful things God is doing. Among the ministries with which we still want to connect are IW Youth for Christ and South Wight Area Youth. The recent addition of “Make a Joyful Jazz Noise to the Lord” worship on “fifth Thursdays”, thanks to piano supremo Martin Dover, will be enhanced in May by an act of worship that is officially part of the IW Jazz Weekend.
Our partnerships with the Island’s creative community also include a second year of hosting Open Studios, in the week-long celebration of creativity in July. Then there are partnerships of mutual support, such as the Priory being open “for one Sunday only” for Walk the Wight in May (sadly, not in 2020). What a joy it is to welcome walkers and spectators, and the WtW piper who serenades from the tower, or to simply encourage people as they pass the Priory en route to the nearby checkpoint.
2019 was another record year for visitors to the Priory, confirming to us that God gave the vision for the Tea Room, and has grown the Priory’s ministry in line with its established purpose. “An Open Door to the Peace of God” rings so true as visitor after visitor, not to mention several residents, speak of the calming, healing atmosphere.
It has been said of the Priory that it is called by God to be active in “healing people and healing the Church”. In respect of the former, wherever God is tangibly present, people have the opportunity to meet with Him and be put right with Him, themselves, and their environment. As regards Christian unity, the Priory entertains no doctrinal dogmas or divisive strictures. If God “wants all people to be saved”, that is, to enter into a right relationship with Him, we must see Him as inclusive rather than exclusive. So if an issue arises that sets one Christian against another, let’s talk about it face-to-face. When we see the Christ-light in someone’s eyes, it is far more difficult to let their point of view on a non-essential matter keep us from recognising that we are, indeed, all one in Christ Jesus. The unity of the Holy Spirit is a reality, not an aspiration (Ephesians 4 v 1-3).
Partnerships in Times of Peril
When you read this article, the situation concerning the Coronavirus pandemic will be different from when it was written. Things are changing on a daily basis. So how does the Priory as “a house of prayer and Christian healing” respond? Surely we must cry out “Oh Lord, where are you in this?” and wait patiently for His answer. God is infinitely greater than this virus, and Jesus took its impacts upon Himself on the Cross, along with every other disease and sickness. But overt triumphalism might turn out to be blind irresponsibility. God expects us to act with compassionate kindness and due care and attention. As such, we are using antiseptic wipes on all door handles, alongside being extra vigilant in respect of hand washing, table wiping and food preparation. While we have no plans to close, we will heed Government advice.
As to what God might be saying, first and foremost He is surely asking us to pray. I’ve just heard of a national call to prayer which very responsibly asks us to pray where we are. Beyond that, faith communities are already responding by assuring vulnerable people that “self-isolation” will NOT mean lack and loneliness. Oh, and Foodbanks are already seeing a drop in donations, so let’s get donating!
Global issues, such as an obsession with harmful travel, might emerge. Crucially, if God speaks, will we listen?
Our Partners in Christian Healing UK
Crowhurst Christian Healing Centre
As many of you will know, Carisbrooke Priory is a member organisation of Christian Healing UK, (CHUK), an affiliation of Christian Healing organisations in the UK. We would like to introduce you to some of our partners in CHUK, and as we have benefitted from training and ministry from the team at Crowhurst Christian Healing Centre, we’ll start there:
The story of the Healing Centre at Crowhurst begins with James Moore Hickson, who felt called by God to revive the ministry of healing in the Anglican Church. In 1925, Mr Hickson met the Rev`d Howard Cobb and was invited to take a mission in his church at Mill Hill, London. Before it could take place Howard Cobb contracted sleeping sickness and was close to death. Mr Hickson laid hands on the sick man and within the day he began to recover. During his period of convalescence Howard Cobb felt called by the Lord into the healing ministry.
In 1928 Howard Cobb became Rector of St George`s, Crowhurst, while taking in guests in need of restoration and healing at the Rectory. He soon discovered that it was impossible to do both jobs, so in 1930 he resigned as Rector and with his wife, May, bought the Rectory and gave himself full time to the work of healing. Rev`d George Bennett took over as Warden in 1958. The story of the Centre`s subsequent renewal is told in his book `Miracle at Crowhurst`. A new accommodation wing was completed in 1962 and the present Chapel was consecrated in 1966.
The work at Crowhurst continues to this day, with Healing Services every Tuesday and Thursday, and drop-in prayer offered on Wednesdays. In addition, there is a full programme of events including healing days and weekends, retreats (both personal and led), quiet days, family days and weekends, and themed breaks. If you would like to know more, visit their website at www.crowhursthealing.org.uk.
Did you know that the relationship between Carisbrooke Priory and Aspire Ryde extends back to their respective origins? It was the brother of the lady who funded St. Dominic’s (now Carisbrooke) Priory who significantly contributed towards the construction of Holy Trinity Church in Ryde. Aspire Ryde is primarily based in what was Holy Trinity Church. And as if that wasn’t enough to suggest a God-given link, the vision for Aspire Ryde was given to Heath and Jules Monaghan in one of the Priory’s Quiet Rooms. God may work in “mysterious ways”, but once we recognise His hand in things He is more than happy to include us in the apparent mystery.
You may be wondering what Aspire Ryde is:
“We are a community hub, providing services throughout the week in a redundant church building which now buzzes with activity.” Or, “Transforming Place and Transforming People”. http://aspireryde.org.uk/ is the place to look for so much more information.
As the new millennium dawned, Holy Trinity Church was dwindling in attendance, influence and relevance, yet the building reached up from within one of the Island’s most deprived areas and caught the gaze of those arriving on the Island on Ryde Pier. A death and a resurrection were needed if the love of God was to flow in and from the building once again. And that’s exactly what has happened.
If you were to visit Aspire and the Priory on the same day, the contrasts and the common ground might become very evident.
The common ground is, first and foremost, the sovereignty of God. The primary contrast is a sense of cheerful chaos at Aspire, and substantial serenity at the Priory. These things make real the connection that goes back to Victorian times.
Aspire Ryde attracts a lot of grant funding, from local and national sources, and this is reflected in diverse buzz of community-supporting activity. A recent leap forward is ARCH (Aspire Ryde Community Hub) in the former Readers’ shop in the High Street. Do drop in if you are passing.
In a local community survey carried out a couple of years ago, mental health and loneliness were seen as the most significant areas in which Aspire was contributing. Christian faith was seen as the lowest priority for the work! But if God has made this work possible, He will make Himself known through it, in His way.
Some of you may be thinking that the relationship between Aspire and the Priory goes back a lot further than Victorian times, and you’d be right. You can take your pick between Calvary and “before the foundation of the world”, depending on how you read God’s perfect planning. Whichever you choose, the same applies to every aspect of Kingdom work on earth. The “good works prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2 v 10) are fully resourced, if only we will obediently get on with them.
Did you know that IW Youth for Christ is the second version of that ministry? But that’s another story.
We are blessed with a loyal and hardworking team of volunteers, and are extremely grateful for their contribution to the life of the Priory. However, as Bob said in his lead article we appear to be getting busier and busier, with record numbers of visitors in the last two years, and so new recruits to our army of helpers would be most welcome! We currently have a vacancy in the Tea Room on Wednesdays – so if you have the skills, and a few hours to spare, we would love to hear from you!