A Day in the Life of Reverend Simon Newham : Vicar of Brockenhurst, Boldre and South Baddesley and Area Dean of Lyndhurst

I remember being stopped once, in the street by a Jehovah Witness and being asked "When was the last time you went to church?"  I responded, "This morning. In fact, I usually go 3 or 4 times a day!"  They looked at me as if I were a complete nutter and wandered off.

Most days I get up at 6am (on Fridays - my day off - and Saturdays, I try and have a lay in!) go downstairs into my study and begin the day with a prayer.  This sounds terribly pious but it basically involves the reading of something that helps me reflect on what it means to be a Christian; a chat with God about the day ahead (particularly with regards to anyone I know who will be facing a difficult day) and lots of silence to give time to God to work in me (sometimes too much silence and I end up falling asleep again!).  This for me is such an important beginning of the day - it's like brushing your teeth - something you really miss if you don't do it!

This is followed by a short and somewhat clumsy engagement with Pilates to help keep a bad back (caused, I'm sure, by too much time sat in front of a computer screen and in meetings) in check.

Time for breakfast and the making of a cup of tea for Gina, my wonderful wife - which is harder than you think because she likes freshly made ginger tea which involves a lot of chopping, peeling and stewing!  Next comes the headlines on Radio 4's Today programme, a shower and then....another act of prayer!

At 8.30am every day, we have a service of Morning Prayer in which other members of my congregation join in.  Previously we did this in church. Now, since COVID, we do it online which means more people join in.  

I remember being stopped once, in the street by a Jehovah Witness and being asked "When was the last time you went to church?"  I responded, "This morning. In fact, I usually go 3 or 4 times a day!"  They looked at me as if I was a complete nutter and wandered off.

Next comes coffee and then my day 'properly' begins but it's hard to say what that looks like because it's so variable.  Every week, there will be a morning act of worship in front of a whole Primary School, this might be followed by a meeting with the Building, Pastoral Care, Worship, Finance or some other team.  There are sermons to prepare, articles to write, lots of emails to answer, funeral visits to be fitted in and funerals to be taken.  Not forgetting meetings with various community representatives, other clerics, home and hospital visits and planning meetings, teaching sessions, blessings of trees, horses, homes and people.  Added to the list is, services to plan (school leavers; Remembrance Sunday, Mission Sunday, Harvest, Easter, Christmas etc. etc.); and weddings and baptisms to prepare for.  There are Synods (Deanery and Diocesan) and Chapters and PCCs and SCs and a whole ecclesiastical language and law to learn! Finally, I have training courses and meetings with Bishops and Archdeacons.

At the heart of it all - are people.  People, whether they come to church or not, that God gloriously made and deeply loves in all their wonderful differences, joys, sorrows, hopes, fears, needs and journeys through life.

Into all this, I squeeze in lunch (usually a sandwich whilst watching the last part of Bargain Hunt followed by the news headlines) then try and have a quick ten-minute nap by reading a theology book which sends me off to sleep!

At 5:30pm, there is the online Service of Evening Prayer and after a quick supper, I am out for an evening meeting or course and then finally into bed - always with a book to help me unwind from the day I've just had.

When time allows, I will go out into the garden and prod the vegetable patch or go for a walk in the glorious New Forest or ride on my motorbike, often to Lepe Beach for a cup of tea and a moment of peace!

Sundays are completely different again - lots of services and meeting many different people.

At the heart of it all - are people.  People, whether they come to church or not, that God gloriously made and deeply loves in all their wonderful differences, joys, sorrows, hopes, fears, needs and journeys through life.

I love my days because I never quite know what they will bring, other than people.  Serving them, is to me a deep privilege, pleasure and joy.  Yes, it's challenging demanding, moving, rewarding and at times, even frightening.  It always involves the whole of me and as such I can only do it in God's strength, not my own (hence all the praying and going to church!).

To sum up, I love sharing my day with them - thank you for allowing me to share something of it with you.

Reverend Simon Newham