ABOUT OUR GROUP OF PARISHES - last edited 23rd May 2021
The Heckington and Helpringham Group of Parishes is a Church of England benefice of seven parishes on the north edge of the Linconshire Fens, 6 miles east of Sleaford just off the A17. We are part of the Lafford Deanery within the southern part of the Diocese of Lincoln. Our churches are - St Andrew's Asgarby, St Andrew with St Nicholas & The Blessed Virgin Mary Burton Pedwardine, St John the Baptist Great Hale, St Andrew's Heckington, St Oswald's Howell, St Andrew's Helpringham, St Andrew's Scredington, and St Michael's Swaton. Their towers or spires are shown in order on the skyline above along with the eight sailed Heckington windmill and Lancaster bomber which occasionally flies over head.
Two of our churches - St Andrew's Heckington and St Michael's Swaton, are listed in Simon Jenkins book 'England's Thousand Best Churches', though everyone of our churches is a real gem that deserves to be visited. Although mostly built in the 14th Century they are still very much alive in the 21st and offer a warm welcome to anyone looking for a church to call their spiritual home.
Our Rector is Rev Captain Chris Harrington, was licensed on 27th March 2012 and lives at The Rectory in Heckington with his wife Julia. Chris is a Church Army officer (Capt Chris) who trained in Sheffield for three years and then served as the Associate Minister for six years in Spalding & Deeping St Nicholas in the Lincolnshire Fens. Ordained in 2008 he trained as Assistant Curate for almost four years in the Middle Rasen and Barkwith Groups of Parishes and has an MA in pastoral theology. His working background before ministry was in engineering and the music industry. He is a commissioned member of the Church Army Mission Community and brings a wealth of experience of a variety of church traditions. He has a heart for people and passion for mission and in September 2018 he went on an inspirational pilgrimage to Israel. (see photo below of Chris on the Mount of Olives). Last year Chris was the subject of a good news story in The Sun newspaper (9th Oct 2020) who thought he might be the shortest vicar in the Church of England. To read the story "Oh ye of Little Faith" and watch the video, Google 'Rev Chris Harrington'. It might just brighten your day.
We have a team of retired clergy and lay people who also help to lead our services and we are blessed with a number of good musicians who aid our weekly worship in 'normal' times. Until we are allowed to sing hymns in our worship services we are using recorded music to aid our worship. We also hope our home groups will soon be meeting again together (See Pew News page for details). We believe prayer is foundational to everything we do so encourage everyone to prayer where they are each day.
We support a number of mission charities in the UK and abroad including Church Army, Barnabas Fund, and the Children's Society. In normal times we run several community initiatives to help the elderly, lonely and bereaved. Usually there are also home groups, as well as craft and friendship groups run by members of our church family, a weekly Community Cafe at St Andrew's Church Helpringham and a monthly mens breakfast, but sadly all these groups and outreach initiatives have had to be suspended whilst the pandemic restrictions are in force. But we hope they will back soon. (See Pew News page for details of reopening plans)
We enjoy good links with the two local Primary Schools at Heckington & Helpringham who come to our churches for a number of special assemblies throughout the year. St Andrew's Primary School in Heckington is a Church school and the church appoints Foundation Governors to the Governing Body. The headteacher is Mrs Judith Bentley who was appointed in January 2018.
We also value our links with Heckington Methodist Chapel and the congregation at the Wesleyan Chapel in Heckington and usually do a number of initiatives together throughout the year.
Our churches are now beginning to reopen for services on a Sunday (See Pew News page for the current list). Two churches are open every for prayer or quiet time - St Andrews Heckington from 9am to 5pm and Great Hale from 10am to dusk. Our environmental focused service called Wild Church takes place every 2nd Saturday at 4pm in Great Hale churchyard.
There is also a regular internet radio broadcast of a special Sunday Service recorded each week at the Rectory by Rev Chris and broadcast on 'Heckington Living Community Radio' at 11am each Sunday with hymns and songs you can sing along to at home. An Audio PODCAST of the broadcast can be found on our website on the 'Worship from the Rectory' page by Sunday afternoon. We now have a growing library of past services and sermons which you can catch up with if you want to on the 'Worship from the Rectory' page.