The coming together of St Mary’s Woodbridge and St Mary’s Great Bealings to form a United Benefice, which took place on January 1 this year, has been celebrated with the planting of two trees, one in each churchyard. The Amelanchier Lamarkii trees, known for their snowy white flowers and autumn colour, “are a sign of our new spiritual life together”, explained

Father Nigel Prior, Rector in charge of both churches.

Father Nigel adds: “This simply means we can swap pews whenever we like, join together for big occasions, get married in either church, share different social or musical events – you name it. It is all about partnership and trust between town and country, a ‘marriage’ if you like, when good things can happen, evolve and mature.

“We have two magnificent buildings and enviable locations, but this is about much more than maintaining the fabric. It is about building community, developing friendships and serving the needs of our neighbours pastorally as well as socially.”

When lockdown finally eases, it is hoped to have a bigger celebration for both communities and to proclaim with Psalm 96 (v.12):

“Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy”

Rector, Fr Nigel Prior is pictured with three churchwardens, Barbara Stear and Veronica Howe from Woodbridge and Norman Porter from Great Bealings.