News

Welcome to Rev Amanda Featherstone!

St Mary’s is delighted to announce that Rev Amanda Featherstone was officially licensed as our new Vicar at a special service on Wednesday 5th June! The service was taken by Bishop Anne, Bishop of Aston. Here are a few pictures of that service. Scroll down for a bit more about Amanda…

About Rev Amanda Featherstone

I am so excited to be starting my role as Vicar of St Mary’s. I felt a clear sense of God calling me here and have seen Him open up the way for this new ministry in an incredible way.
So here’s a little bit about me:
I grew up in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire and my brother and his family still live in town.
I became a Christian whilst at University. I was reading Matthew’s Gospel and met with Jesus in a tangible way, realising God’s love for me and the forgiveness and grace I am given through Jesus. I am convinced that Jesus offers life in all its fullness, and I enjoy that fullness of life and want others to know that joy too.
I thoroughly enjoyed my career as a Speech and Language Therapist and it was through this work that I spent a year in India and then came to Birmingham in 1995.
My call to ordination happened over a long period of time and I eventually went to study at Ridley Hall Cambridge in 2009. I love being ordained and find it a privilege to journey through life with people. My passions include teaching God’s word, helping people meet and respond to Jesus plus helping people develop the gifts and skills God has given them.
I served my curacy at St Michael’s Boldmere (Sutton Coldfield) and for the last 3½ years I have been the Vicar of St Luke’s Great Colmore Street.
I have been married to Paul for just over a year and we are having the best time! I feel so blessed to now be part of a family with Anthony (23) and Susie (20).
I am thrilled to be starting this new adventure under God with the wonderful people of St Mary’s and the communities of Wythall and Hollywood. I look forward to getting to know people and to us serving God together. Thank you for your welcome and thank you to my family, friends and colleagues for your support and your prayers.

Please do contact me anytime on revamanda@wythallchurch.net or 0121 413 3287

Eco Award Celebration

Michelle, Robert, Pam and Linda represented St Mary’s at the Eco Award Celebration on Wednesday 13th March. We helped Birmingham Diocese gain their Bronze EcoDiocese status by gaining our Bronze EcoChurch status.

Our Sponsored Student at Kira Farm

Cavine is the student we are sponsoring in 2019 at Kira Farm in Uganda. Here is some background information we have been sent from Kira, with a letter from Cavine at the end.

“Cavine is a hardworking young lady with a lovely character; she is bright and confident. Her name ‘Alimocan’, means there was domestic violence between her parents while she was in the womb, and leading up to her birth. She lives with her grandmother, her step-grandfather and her two children, Julian and Daniela. Her grandmother is looking after the children while Cavine is at Kira Farm.

“Cavine fell pregnant while she was at school, but the boy who fathered the child refused to accept any responsibility. She had her second child with her husband, but he used to drink and abuse her, so Cavine moved back home to her grandmother. Cavine and her grandparents live in the same compound. As is typical of Ugandan culture, Cavine sleeps in the same hut as her children and cooks for them daily. She is pleased to have left a garden full of crops for her children to eat while she is at Kira.

“Grandma owns 4 acres of land and Cavine has a further 6 acres of clan land on which she grows sweet potatoes, sim sim (sesame), maize, sorghum, beans, soya, tomatoes and onions. She makes around £100 from selling crops, which she uses to pay for school fees and household essentials such as salt and kerosene.  Cavine also has three goats and 16 chickens. Life is hard, working in the sun and digging all day. Cavine says her hands and feet are like leather and have become very sore.

“Thanks to an uncle who was working in Iraq and willing to pay her school fees, Cavine made it to Senior 2. As a child Cavine dreamt of becoming a nurse, she would still like to go back to school if it were ever a possibility.

“After giving birth to her first child, Cavine gave the baby to the father’s mother and became a house girl in Kampala for five months. Life was very difficult as the husband made advances towards Cavine, so she returned home because she didn’t want any more trouble in her life. Cavine grew up during the 25 year war with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – a guerrilla group known for human rights atrocities which included abducting 40,000 children and forcing many to fight as child soldiers. The Ugandan government were unable to stop the LRA and the people of northern Ugandan had to leave their villages and live in government-run camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). These camps were created for the safety of the people, but they were rife with disease and violence and had 1.7 million people living in them at the height of the conflict. When the LRA came to her village Cavine avoided being captured as she was harvesting in the garden. She spotted the LRA approaching through the maize, with their guns cocked, and she ran as fast as she could to escape. Many of her extended family and community were captured and killed. Cavine lived in an overcrowded camp for displaced people for five years, enduring unsafe and unsanitary conditions. After the conflict finished and people dispersed back to their homes, Cavine’s grandmother bought some land where the camp was based – the family still live there today.

“Most days Cavine collects firewood, spends time growing crops in her garden and collects three jerrycans of water from the local borehole. For fun she enjoys telling stories and entertaining people. The family only manage to eat once a day. Cavine has little in the way of possessions and says her children are the most valuable thing she has, she adores them. She struggles with not knowing her own father, and is in physical pain daily (she will have medical tests at Kira). Cavine is worried about getting married again, but would love a good man for a husband and two more children, possibly boys.

“Cavine wanted to join Kira Farm so she could change her life, learn skills and earn money for the future. She believes she was accepted as a result of her prayers, and God’s love.  She was very surprised when she walked through the gates of Kira – she says the centre is far better than she ever imagined and she loves all the fruit trees and beautiful buildings. It’s early days but Cavine feels very comfortable. She is sleeping very well on a bed with sheets (a new experience), she is also enjoying having water on tap. Cavine is looking forward to studying tailoring, hairdressing and agriculture. Her dream is for her children to have an education, to build a house and be successful in her business. She is very pleased to be on Kira and is fully embracing the opportunity to have a fresh start in life.”

A Letter from Cavine

Greetings of joy from Uganda. I am happy to know that you (Pam and Ria) are representing the all church congregation of St Mary’s church who are sponsoring me. Do they all get to read my email?  If yes please know that I love you all and thanks for being supporters of Amigos because it doing a great work.

I am the oldest girl on Kira and I thought I had suffered most but the past few weeks I have made lots of friends and hearing what other younger girls have had to go through was horrible but now everyone is getting happier and being more hopeful for the future.

It is a lovely sunny morning, already looking forward to learning a lot but in this particular email I wanted to inform you that I have been given a plot where I am going to be doing my farming practical. I am so excited because when I came into Kira, I had lost hope in farming. We have been having poor harvests in my village year after year and last year was horrible due to the changing weather but surprisingly enough I get onto Kira and the all place is covered with nice looking gardens.

The past few weeks we have been harvesting the maize that was planted by trainees of last year but the harvest has been overwhelming so I have been learning Farming God’s Way that is being practised on Kira and very soon I will be trying it out in my garden. I will late you know how that goes.

Thanks once again every one for sponsoring me, I am really having a great time.

Michelle’s new appointment!

It was announced at our services yesterday (17th March) that Rev Michelle Parton has been appointed as Associate Minister in the Culm Valley Mission Community in Devon, starting in September. Her Curacy at St Mary’s ends at the end of June. We will be very sad to see her leave St Mary’s but are excited for Michelle and the Parton family as they begin the next phase of their lives!

Michelle says: “I’m delighted to announce that (subject to the completion of the statutory formalities), I have been appointed as Associate Minister in the Culm Valley Mission Community in Devon. We will be living in the village of Kentisbeare, and I will have particular responsibility for the villages of Kentisbeare, Blackborough and Ashill. As a family we’re really looking forward to moving to Devon and getting stuck into village life. We’ll move in the summer holidays and my licensing is set for Wednesday 11th September. Please pray for us as we prepare to move, for the congregation of St Mary’s Wythall which I will be leaving on 30th June, and the congregations of the Culm Valley Mission Community as they prepare for me to arrive. Exciting times ahead! 🙂”

Our new Vicar is announced!

We are delighted to confirm that this Sunday (3rd March 2019) an announcement was made at St Mary’s concerning the appointment of our new Vicar: Rev Amanda Featherstone.

The formal announcement is below; please read on after that for a message to St Mary’s from Amanda.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is pleased to announce the appointment of the Reverend Amanda Featherstone as the next Vicar of St Mary’s Wythall in the Diocese of Birmingham. This appointment is subject to the usual checks and a date of licensing will be announced as soon as it is known. We give thanks for all the blessings of Amanda’s ministry at St Luke’s and rejoice with all at St Mary’s over the appointment of a new priest. We pray for Amanda and Paul as they leave St Luke’s and prepare to move to Wythall.

Amanda and Paul Featherstone

To all at St Mary’s Wythall,

I cannot tell you how excited I am to have been appointed as Vicar of St Mary’s. We have felt God open this door and very clearly guide us into what we know will be a new adventure with God and alongside you.

I am filled with joy as I think about serving at St Mary’s. I have loved reading your parish profile and hearing of the many wonderful areas of ministry currently in place. I pray we can build on all that God is already doing as we seek to worship Him and grow as disciples of Jesus. I am eager to explore with you how the family of St Mary’s can continue to be a blessing to one another and to the community of Wythall and Hollywood. I love meeting people and I am passionate about sharing God’s love and enabling people to meet Jesus and grow in faith.

I am married to Paul, we got married last April and we are thoroughly enjoying married life. Paul has two children, Anthony (23) and Susie (20) and I am loving being part of a family. I enjoy the outdoors and going out walking.

There will be plenty of time for lots more information and sharing our stories in the months and years to come and I really look forward to this.
Thank you for your prayers as we leave St Luke’s, move to Wythall and enter this wonderful new season with you at St Mary’s.

Amanda Featherstone

Amanda Featherstone (previously Amanda Howett) is currently Parish Priest at St Luke’s, Birmingham. The date of her licensing in Wythall has not yet been fixed – watch this space!