ABOUT OUR GROUP OF PARISHES - last edited 8th July 2023
The Heckington and Helpringham Group of Parishes is a Church of England benefice of eight churches (seven parishes) on the northern 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. Heckington Church has just had a new internal lighting system fitted which shows off that amazing building in a whole new light. The 14th century carvings in the chancel including the famous Easter Sepulchre now look incredible. Do come and have a look. If you want a personal guided tour or perhaps want to bring a group do contact our Church guide at Heckington (Mike Rose 01529 461293).
Our Rector is Rev Captain Chris Harrington, who was licensed on 27th March 2012 and has now celebrated 12 Palm Sundays and Holy Weeks here in our group of parishes. He 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 continued his training as an assistant Curate for almost four years in the Middle Rasen and Barkwith Groups of Parishes and has a degree in Evangelism Studies and 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. At the beginning of the 2020 Corona Virus Pandemic in March 2020 he began broadcasting a service each Sunday at 11am on Heckington Living Community Radio which is still going and recently broadcast the 174th edition. Audio PODCAST's of every service are available to download from the 'Worship from the Rectory' page of this website.
Rev Chris also has a two hour music show called 'Sounds from the Sunnyside' which is broadcast on Heckington Living Community Radio each Sunday at 12noon and Tuesday & Thursday mornings at 9am. Playing pop, rock, country, blues, prog, the music that has been the soundtrack to his life since 1957. Playlists for the show can be found on the Sounds from the Sunnyside page on this website. He also plays guitar and sings in two bands 'Smuggler Jack' and 'The Rocking Revs', which have helped raise thousands for local churches and charities. In October 2020 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.
Chris standing in the River Jordan Sept 2018.
It's not all about Rev Chris of course. We also have a great team of retired clergy and authorised lay people who also help to lead our services, run groups, lead projects and serve the community. We are blessed with a number of good musicians who aid our worship. We also have home groups and midweek services. Prayer is essential for every Christian in keeping connected with our Lord Jesus and it provides a foundation for all we do in our group of parishes. There is a Silent vigil for Ukraine every Wednesday at 7pm at Great Hale Church. There are also home prayer/study/fellowship groups, and a monthly Julian Group for contemplative prayer.
Three of the churches - Burton, Scredington & Swaton play host to a mobile Christian community called 'Living Stones' which travels around the three churches for worship, social events and mutual support which is led by retired priest Canon Beverley Stark and her husband David. Living Stones services are generally more informal in nature and are on every Sunday at 9.30am. They celebrated their third anniversary with a special service on 9th July 2023. See Pew News page for details of services.
As well as supporting local food banks, we support a number of mission charities in the UK and abroad including Church Army, Barnabas Fund (supporting the persecuted church worldwide), the Children's Society, Tear Fund and Christian Aid. We also run several local community initiatives to help the elderly, lonely and bereaved such as Community Spirt which organises pastoral visits to those at home. Also community support groups like 'The Hive' at Heckington on Tuesday afternoons and 'Lets Get Cooking' helping local people to prepare and cook good value & nutritious meals, which is coming on stream soon at Heckington Church. There are also a number of craft, art, and friendship groups run by members of our church family. See the Pew News page for details.
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. Each year we give a Bible to every child moving up to secondary education. This year there are 46.
We also value our links with Heckington Methodist Chapel and the congregation at the Wesleyan Chapel in Heckington and work together on a number of initiatives throughout the year including Advent and Lent courses, Remembrance Day and joint Christmas and Easter Cards to all homes in Heckington.
Each week there is radio broadcast of a Sunday Service recorded at the Rectory by Rev Chris and broadcast on 'Heckington Living Community Radio' (an internet radio station) at 11am each Sunday with hymns and songs you can sing along to at home. An Audio PODCAST of each broadcast can be found on our website on the 'Worship from the Rectory' page. 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. There are now nearly 190. Something to listen to as you walk the dog perhaps!
If you are looking for somewhere to worship and become part of a community of people who love the Lord Jesus Christ then please do come and visit one of our churches sometime. We're not everyone's cup of tea, but we might be yours. The kettle's on.