The Wessex Synod met on March 8th at London Street URC, Basingstoke, where Kay Blackwell is now the minister. She led the opening and closing worship and it was, as you would expect, innovative.

Synod for me is always interesting, but the main joy is seeing old friends. The hubbub in the foyer at the start and over lunch suggests that that is true for many people.

Synod started by welcoming new people and among them were our Pat Oliver, Wendy White and Bernie and Gwen Collins, who have retired into the area and are currently attending Avenue St Andrews.

Synod's business was mainly to receive the reports of the various committees, but there were two highlights for me. The first was a moving service of Holy Communion, when we commissioned Rev. Mary Thomas as a Synod Development Officer to work with the churches in our part of the Synod.

In the afternoon we heard about Cumnor URC – a little church in Oxford with two dozen members. Thanks to one elderly lady member, who had been Headmistress of a school in Zambia, they had been able to make a link with an ex-pupil of hers who was starting up a school for girls. Over the years they have raised £60,000 for her school! Some of them had made visits to the school and some of the staff and girls had come over to the UK. This was an amazing enterprise and the Church Secretary spoke of what it had meant to the members of Cumnor. It had given them a focus outside their own survival and personalised issues like African education, AIDs/HIV etc. It was a very moving story of what can be achieved.

The children had great fun, having a parallel day upstairs, during which they watched a cartoon film called "The Croods" about a prehistoric cave dwelling family. We downstairs were shown a few clips of this during the day, and discussed issues arising out of it. They baked biscuits, met in their "caves" (tents in various rooms) and made catapults and fired marshmallows. Some of us wished we could have been upstairs with them!

At the end of the day the children came back into church, joining in the closing worship by letting down ribbons from the balcony to which we attached written prayers, which were then drawn up to them. In return they fired paper aeroplanes and other paper shapes at us upon which they had written their prayers. Some of these prayers were then read out at our prayer time.

It was a good day.

Pam Humphreys