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Minister's Letter


November 2017

Dear Friends,

 

I took a stroll into town this morning and noticed that shops had started to put out Christmas decorations and gift sets. For me this marks the beginning of autumn, my favourite season! I like that there is such beauty in nature as the leaves die. I always think that only God shows us that in death there is beauty and hope. I like getting an extra hour in bed and the dark evenings, when curtains are closed and a very ordinary room can become special with flowers and candlelight. For me, November is when I write my Christmas cards and I get all my theological resources on Christmas and start thinking and praying about what God wants me to talk about over the Christmas period.

 

 One of the really important things that I do is prepare for Advent. Without solid Advent preparation, Christmas risks being overtaken by all the other things that are associated with this time of year. The first Sunday in Advent is 3rd December, which gives us sufficient time to start looking at resources on line and thinking about how we are going to spend time reflecting in the run up to Christmas. One of my favourite resources is a little book by Dr Paula Gooder, “The Meaning is in the Waiting”. I recommend this. Alternatively, you could reflect on all the passages relating to the birth of Jesus in the Bible. Another option is to reflect on a Christmas carols/hymns, one for each day of Advent. Some people undertake different tasks each day as part of the strengthening of discipleship, others give up something.

 

Please do not forget to plan for Advent this year and to spend this time of waiting and preparation, doing exactly that! Should you have any questions about resources or want to discuss this further, please contact me before 3rd December. God will honour your Advent preparations and with it the hope that the Christ Child brings. This will energise us to deal with the darkness that is still very much part of our beautiful world.

 

 

Every blessing,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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October 2017

Dear Friends,

 

I write this letter after the Harvest service on 17th September. It was an all age service followed by lunch, where circa forty people were present. The food was of a wonderful variety with lots of leftovers. So well done and thank you to everyone who made it possible, especially in terms of setting up the harvest display and flowers. What is ahead of us? After a very successful and inspiring meeting with the junior church leaders we have decided that once a quarter, worship will be led by the junior church, their teachers, a local preacher or minister. We value people when we give them ownership and allow them to explore. What better gift for our children and young people? Please mark 29th October in your diary and come and worship and support our young people and their families. I will be leading this service. We will of course also need your constructive feedback as we seek to serve all generations.

 

At the Methodist church conference earlier this year it was suggested that each church allocated a day for praying and fasting. In Isaiah 58, the prophet talks about true fasting and I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on these words. A fast can involve giving up as well as taking on things. We can give up whatever steals the time that we would normally give to God. For me, it would be Netflix and the binge watching of television. For others it could be the snacks between meals or even the telephone. The Methodist Church is suggesting just one day!! At the recent leadership team meeting we designated February 14th, Ash Wednesday, as our day to pray and fast. On the evening of Ash Wednesday we will have a service of Holy Communion and Ashing. Over the next few months we will have more information on what that day would look like.

 

At the AGM, we designated this year as the one where we would focus on hospitality and getting to know each other better. It would be great to hear how that is progressing. The “younger” people in the church have started “Dinner Church” which involves a meal, prayer and worship at different homes. The first meeting was well received and there are dates for the next two in my diary. The dark evenings are coming and that time of X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing will soon be here to entertain us. While they “Keep Dancing” we, God’s people, will not only dance but we will keep praying that his will be done and his Kingdom come!

 

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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September 2017

Dear Friends,

The month of September marks the beginning of a new academic year. Whatever happened in the last academic year is past and here is the opportunity to start afresh, to learn from past experience. May young people will be starting afresh in new schools, some with friends they have known since nursery school, others alone, having to establish new friendships. It can be daunting! Many young people will begin university life and discover just how difficult it is to juggle finances, keep a room clean, do laundry, cook and attend classes! Some will also have a part time job! September marks a fresh start and will bring challenges and joys.

 

You are not alone! You have been created in the image of a God of love who desires to be in relationship with you. You are unique, created with gifts and talents that God wants to use to his glory and to help human kind. On the days that you waver and we all have them, have a conversation with God, tell him what is on your mind, ask for guidance, and then look for possibilities. Psalm 119: vs. 5 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” John 10: vs10 says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” God cares about each and everyone us and gave himself on the cross, so that we could be in relationship with him through Jesus. He is always calling us and when we respond he is able to sustain, hold and guide us, so that our lives are meaningful and we are able to have that peace which passes all understanding.

 

Having to deal with new situations can be challenging and many schools and universities provide pastoral support. You do not have to navigate this journey on your own. The resources that schools and universities provide are there to help you. Use them! Remember that you can always have a conversation with God. He longs to hear from you! I often write to him. We are all different.

 

One of the best gifts I ever received was Bible on my 21st birthday. I was not impressed at the time, but as I navigated my way to adulthood, it is the best present ever. If this letter inspires you to get a Bible then get a version like the “Good News” and start with the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you ever feel particularly afraid, then go to Psalm 23 and tell a loving God your fears.

 

New beginnings! This is a very special time in your lives. Enjoy the academic year and do your very best!

 

Every blessing,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden

(Methodist Minister Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley)


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July 2017

Dear Friends,

 As I write this letter, it is the hottest day of the year and sitting at my desk looking at the garden, I remember writing another letter not so long ago, when there was snow and ice on the ground! Our lives like the seasons vary and it is said that the only constant is change. It has been a difficult few weeks, with terrorist attacks and the destruction of lives by fire, in Kensington and in Portugal. Out of these situations the survivors and those closest to them face the long task of grieving for their loss and rebuilding lives. I was overwhelmed by the response of men and women as they brought food, clothes, mobile phone chargers and gifts to those affected by the Kensington fire. There was so much compassion and  it showed the best of what it means to be human, to care for each other in community. After the attack on the mosque at Finsbury Park, people of all faiths gathered to pray and to support each other. There is much that is evil in our world but as humankind is created in the image of God there is much that is good. As ever, there is hope. We hope that out of these dark times there will emerge resurrection possibilities. We continue to pray, to seek God’s wisdom, to highlight social justice issues and to love our neighbour. As you enjoy summer, be aware, be kind and if the opportunity arises share what it means to be a Christian. This is my last letter until September, so stay safe and give everything to God in prayer.

 

With every blessing,

 Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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June 2017

Dear Friends,

 

I hope that this letter finds you well. We had a very good annual general meeting in April and decided that the next year would provide more opportunity for prayer and hospitality as we discern how best to serve the community and share the love of God in Jesus. I therefore want to encourage you to take the opportunity to invite others for a meal or coffee and indeed and to accept invitations! Maybe it is through those conversations and shared meals that we will be able to understand each other better and the Holy Spirit help us discern new and different ways to be church. I have now had the opportunity to invite someone for lunch and I have been invited to dinner. I learnt so much about the families involved and we were able to share our joys and concerns. If you have not done so, then may I encourage you to prayerfully embark on this journey. With regards to prayer, we made available all the opportunities for prayer in churches in Hemel Hempstead from 25th April to 4th June under the “Thy Kingdom Come” initiative.  I trust that you were able to avail yourself of these. There will be more opportunities to pray using different styles, so please read the notices! I would also add that if you have any suggestions or would like to lead an event I will be delighted to hear from you.

 

June is also a special month in Methodism in 2017 as we are being asked by the Connexion to preach on the letter of James for the month of June and that fellowship and bible study groups should focus on this book in the Bible. I hope that you find it enlightening and exciting! The excitement continues as the UK goes to the polls on June 8th, determining the policies for the next five years, especially in the light of Brexit. Please note that there is a hustings meeting on 30th May at New Life Pentecostal Church (details in the notices). Please pray for wisdom, help for the poor and disenfranchised and that the Holy Spirit would be heard.

 

Finally the church council is on June 20th and it would be great to see as many people as possible as we continue to discern God’s vision for us in this place and time. We will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost on 4th June and it is the same Holy Spirit today that can change the hearts of men and women. Let us continue to seek God and to be obedient to his will.

 

Every blessing,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden

 

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May 2017

Dear Friends,

On 4th April, Sue Dyce, Lyndsay Campbell, Janice Lewis, Chris O’Reilly and I made our way to Spring Harvest, a Christian gathering at a Butlins holiday resort in Minehead in Somerset. It was my third time there and I was looking forward to the times of worship, the excellent teaching and seminars and the beach, which is just across the road. It is a time of spiritual and physical refreshment. This year the theme of Spring Harvest was unity and many of the sessions were on how to disagree as brothers and sisters of Christ. It was quite challenging and in the prayer room I discovered the “Disagreeing Well” . It was a well made out of a wooden pail and around it was pebbles and you were encouraged to think of a disagreement you had with someone, to pray and reflect on it and to drop the pebble in the well and to move on. I found it really helpful and may yet have a “Disagreeing Well” at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church!

 

 Every evening there was worship in the large auditorium with just under 2,000 people. It was amazing but could get a little loud. The alternative was a quieter style of worship which Sue and I found really helpful. I did struggle a little bit with some of the theology but theme was “disagreeing well”! There is something for everyone and families are well and truly catered for with the opportunity to use all Butlins amenities like water slides and swimming pools. They also had their own sessions for every age group!

 

My memory of Spring Harvest 2017 would be early morning walks on the beach, on my own, with the sunshine on my face and a cool air. God was very present in the beauty and the tranquillity and I felt my soul being restored. I also enjoyed meeting up with the others for refreshments and for sharing how God was speaking to us. It was a special time. My dream would be to take more people to Spring Harvest, especially the younger families and those who have just started worshipping with us. Next year the dates at Minehead are 3rd -8th April or 8th-12th April. If you are interested in this, please have a conversation with me as soon as possible so that we can start saving up! It might be possible to have some help from the church, if necessary. It is a wonderful church family time together, with the opportunity to have your own space. I commend it to you.

 

Every blessing,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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April 2017

Dear Friends,

 

New life, birth, hope and possibilities are all part of our Easter celebrations. I wonder how you celebrate Easter Day. For many people extensive preparations go into the preparation of Christmas dinner and it is seen as a time to be with family and friends. What does your Easter Day celebration look like? In an ideal world, I would like an 8.00 am quiet service of Holy Communion. This would not involve preaching but just reading the gospels, prayers, reflection and Holy Communion. This would then be followed by breakfast and refreshments and the 10.30 am family service (allowing junior church teachers to worship) with an informal Holy Communion. At the end of that service people could go home as refreshments would have been served earlier. There would be no evening service. After these wonderful acts of worship, I would have a lovely lunch with family and friends. Let us not forget to celebrate Easter. Thankfully, most shops are not open!

 

At Easter we celebrate that death is not the end but through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the enemy of humankind has been defeated. We are promised that as followers of Jesus we will one day be in the presence of God and have eternity with him. This gives hope in the face of loss. Easter assures us that when we experience difficult times and loss, that there can still be possibilities. It is often said that we are a people of death and resurrection. Yet so often we hold on to situations that we need to let go off and allow ourselves to be blessed by God’s new possibilities for us. Easter reminds us that it is okay to let go and to look forward.

 

It is at a time of joy, especially if we engage with events like , The Last Supper, his washing of the disciple feet, Jesus wrestling with his call in the garden of Gethsemane, his betrayal by Judas, his trial and the witnesses who falsely testified, his being beaten and humiliated and finally crucified. To do that journey with Jesus is to celebrate the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday!! And a celebration it is!! Just think how much God was prepared to do to show his love for the world and for you! Could you be more loved? Yes, I know that there is injustice and brokenness, pain and suffering but God invites us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to become part of his Kingdom, to use our gifts and abilities to make a difference, to make his Kingdom come and his will be done.

 

On Maundy Thursday there will be a service at Hemel Hempstead Methodist Church at 7.30pm. This will be followed by a Good Friday service at 10.30 am and Easter Celebrations at 10.30 am on Easter Sunday. Come and celebrate God’s love and possibilities for you and for us! Have a blessed Easter!

 

Yours in Christ,


Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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January 2017

Dear Friends,

 

A happy New Year to you!! What will 2017 bring for the world, for the United Kingdom, for you and me? A brand new year, blank sheets of paper on which the stories which make up each life will be written. I always start the year with a sense of hope and anticipation and many people will make their New Year resolutions. Whether or not you make resolutions, the start of the year is a wonderful time to spend in reflection, looking at life’s journey so far and reassessing, asking questions like, am I in the right place? What are the things that bring me joy and peace? What are my hopes and dreams in 2017? You do not have to this alone. If you go the Bible there are many verses which remind us that God wants to guide and journey with us. The prophet Jeremiah says, ‘this is what the Lord says…For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and pray to me and I will listen.’ In Psalm 119, the psalmist says, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Finally, Psalm 91 assures us, ‘He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’

 

We are not alone in this journey called life. God is with us and his promises are real, yesterday, today and forever. It does not matter if you have never had a conversation with God, be assured that he is a God who is constantly calling his people, wanting to hear their, stories, to bring healing, forgiveness and restoration of broken relationships. If you want to have a conversation about anything that you have read here or just a general conversation about church, please do not hesitate to contact on 01442 243553 or at Vindra.maraj-ogden@methodist.org.uk.

 

Whatever 2017 brings may you know God’s peace, joy, love and presence. Happy New Year!!

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden

Methodist Minister

Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley


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December 2016

Dear Friends,

 

As you read this letter we are in the period of Advent as we wait and prepare for Christmas Day. How will you be observing this time of Advent? It is easy to get wrapped up in all that is needed to make Christmas special; the buying, writing and sending of Christmas cards, the shopping for presents and indeed the wrapping and delivery of them, the many functions to attend at work and at church, the shopping, preparation and cooking of food, the decoration of the house and indeed the Christmas tree! It is exhausting just listing it all down! So breathe and stop and think…how am I preparing myself to receive the Christ child once again? What did it mean for God’s people over 2,000 years ago? What does it mean for us now? What does it mean for you and me in our particular situations? Preparation for Advent may involve engaging with the Advent liturgy and spending time reflecting on the theme of each Sunday. It could mean praying with Advent hymns, like “O come, O come Immanuel”, “There is a light upon the mountains” and “Longing for light”. There are many Advent resources available to aid, so please speak to me if you need direction or just put in “Advent Resources “in your search engine.

 

 Not only do we prepare at Advent but we wait. We wait with God’s people in their brokenness for the birth of Jesus. We wait for his promised second coming and what that means for us and we also think about the things that we are waiting for today in our own lives and how we wait as we trust God for the outcome. As we reflect on what it is to wait and prepare during Advent, we await Christmas Day in anticipation and joy, not only for the presents and the people we will spend the time with, but because we know that God is with us. Whether we are surrounded by many people on Christmas Day or we are alone, God is with us. In Jesus he broke into our time and space and lived as one us, dying on the cross so that we could know the forgiveness of sins, have a relationship with a Holy God and be assured of eternal life. God is with us!!!

 

I pray that this will be a very special Christmas, even if you experiencing some things for the first time. Life changes! There is birth, death, new relationships, and different circumstances. However and wherever Christmas Day finds you, do not be afraid, God is with you!

 

Have a blessed Christmas,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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November 2016

Dear Friends,
A few weeks ago I lead "Food for Thought" a monthly Saturday morning/breakfast discussion group at Kings Langley Methodist Church. I used the "Poverty and Justice" bible which prompted the letter below from Harold Taylor. I hope that you find it as inspirational as I did. On Sunday 27th November , the season of Advent begins. May I encourage you to think about how you will wait, watch and pray as Christmas Day approaches. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like Advent resources.
with every blessing,
Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden

The Bible Full of Holes

In recent years, there has been a spate of new translations of the Bible, each claiming to make the great book (library) more accessible for the contemporary  reader.  In one sense, this is admirable - but the field is becoming rather crowded, so much so that perhaps the time has come to call for a temporary halt.  Such  paraphrases as The Message and the New World  have much value for personal reading  but, I feel, are not quite” right” in public worship. (My own preference is for the Revised English Bible (REV!) which is  a lightly edited version of the New English Bible).

Now, in the light of recent experience, I would make an exception to  the reservations expressed above.  In the course of a recent session of  Food4Thought at the Methodist church, our attention was drawn to  the Bible Society's Poverty and Justice translation of the Bible (Contemporary English Version aka CEV). Its singular merit is that it traces throughout the Bible God's loving concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien by underlining relevant passages of the text in colour.  In this way, splashes of red  leap from the printed page.

In his review of this publication, Jim Wallis, a prominent and influential American social activist, endorses it brilliantly.  He writes: "When we were seminarians, the Early Sojourners community (of  Christian social campaigners) decided to do an experiment.  We cut out of an old Bible every reference to the poor, to poverty, to justice.  After stripping out more  than 2,000 verses, we were left with  a  Bible full of holes.   Imagine my surprise to hear of the Poverty and Justice Bible with all those texts not only restored but actually underlined.  The Bible full of holes has been replaced by the Holy Bible."  One of the central messages of the Holy Scriptures has thereby been restored.


So I strongly commend to readers' attention this invaluable aid to understanding the Bible in vivid contemporary  language.  Unlike some other versions, it is a genuine translation  by highly  competent scholars rather than a paraphrase such  as The Message is  It includes helpful  clarificatory  comments  on the text.

Fired with enthusiasm, I ordered a copy via the web at the huge cost of 1p plus  £ 2.80 p&p.  It duly  landed on my doormat with a resounding thud a  few days later- remarkable value.  But hurry- stocks are very limited. 


Harold Taylor


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October 2016

Dear Friends,

 

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes says that there is a time and a season for everything, a time to live and a time to die. Our lives are dominated by the seasons. They inform how we dress, our extra curricular activities, how late we choose to stay out. Each season brings its joys and challenges. For people who suffer from hay fever, summer can be a devastating time. For those whose moods are affected by light and sunshine as the days become shorter, it makes them more prone to sadness and depression. I wonder how the seasons affect you and what preparation you make to enjoy each season.

 

September is my favourite month and autumn my favourite season. I like September because you can have beautiful summer days without intense heat and hay fever season for me is past. I love walking and it is perfect month for going on long walks. I also remember having a huge loss in September as a young Christian and really having to think about death and resurrection and what I believed as a Christian. It was towards the end of September when the leaves started to die on the trees. As I looked at the trees, I saw that there was great beauty in death. God is so amazing that as spring ends and we go into autumn we are surrounded by spectacular colour. For me September is a month that speaks of death and resurrection. The leaves will continue to fall off the trees as they lay bare for winter and then in Spring new life will begin. It is hard to take a loss through the winter, but sometimes we just need that time to grieve, to come to terms and to hear God speak of a new way of being and of new possibilities.

 

In the month of August, I presided at four funerals and came alongside those facing the death of a loved one. In each of these services there were words about resurrection and eternal life. When we lose someone, what we believe in can sometimes be challenged. I hold on that first Easter Sunday, when the disciples had lost all hope and the women went to the garden to anoint the body, only to be told that Jesus had risen! Mary encounters the risen Christ and she joyfully returns to the disciples to share her news. The resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed these disciples to men and women with good news to tell, that death was not to be feared, that we are promised eternal life.

 

When we have moments of doubt, let us look at the seasons, at the death and resurrection of each season, the cycle of life and be encouraged. Let us also be an encouragement to others as they struggle with loss and grief. Jesus says in John 10:10, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ Let us live a full life!

 

September is also my favourite month because it marks the start of ‘Strictly’ season and I look forward to dark Saturday evenings, sequins, being with good friends and dancing!

 

Be blessed,

 

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden
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September 2016

Dear Friends,

 September is one of my favourite months as summer lingers and one can have truly spectacular days. It is also that time when we slowly move from summer to autumn and we become very aware that summer is at its end. September is also a time for new beginnings, a change of form at school, a completely new school or the beginning of life at university. In September, the Methodist year officially begins and we mark this by having the Covenant service on the first Sunday in September. This year it is particularly special as we will be receiving folk into membership, reminding them of what it means to be a member of the Methodist Church. It is also around this time that members receive their membership tickets. Do you know where your membership ticket is? Do you know that it says?

 It says, As a member of the Methodist Church I am called to:

 Worship within the local church, including regular sharing in Holy Communion, and through personal prayer.

 Learning and Caring, through Bible study and meeting for fellowship, so that I may grow in faith and support others in their discipleship.

 Service, by being a good neighbour in the community, challenging injustice and using my resources to support the Church in its mission in the world.

 Evangelism, through working out my faith in daily life and sharing Christ with others.

 As we begin a new year and reflect on the year past, I would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider what the membership ticket says and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and encourage you as you seek to fully serve our Lord Jesus Christ in this time and place.

 I look forward to seeing you at the Covenant service when we will one more acknowledge God’s promises to us and entrust all that we are into his hands for his purposes.

 Every blessing,

 Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden


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July 2016


 

Dear Friends,

 We have over the last few weeks had productive discussions at the AGM and the follow up on Saturday 11th June. Thank you for sacrificially giving your time to these, for prayers and for support. It is always difficult to find a date that suits everyone. During those discussions we broke our goals down into short term- 12 months, medium term- 24 months and long term- 36 months.

 

Short Term

 

In the short term we will be looking at how Messy Church and Buzz work and how to accommodate this growing work given our resources. We are also keen to have music afternoons, different from the Songs of Praise but involving music, food and fellowship. Social events where we can come together and invite others will also be a priority and we agreed to have four of these each year including the Harvest Supper which will be on Saturday 15th October. In addition, we will continue to develop our relationship with Oxygen and work towards building relationships with the people who use our premises. We agreed that specific prayer is needed for our young peoples’ work and there will be an item in the notices asking people to contact Janice Lewis, if they would like to be part of that. At the Covenant service on 4th September we will ask people to wear name badges, to help us to remember peoples’ names.

 

Medium Term

  1. Run a Holiday at Home Club for the elderly
  2. A Christmas Tree Festival
  3. Invite Pam Rhodes to lead a Songs of Praise style service

 

Long Term

  1. Invite the Television Programme ‘Songs of praise’.
  2. Parents and Toddlers Group
  3. 13-18 year olds- Fellowship

 It is an exciting time and as we embark on these projects, please consider where you are able to give your time and resources and pray, because ‘with God all things are possible’.

  

With every blessing,

  

Revd Vindra Maraj-Ogden

 


 


 


























 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revd Vindra
Maraj-Ogden