Prayer inspiration for new book

IT might be a prayer, a line in a hymn, the stillness or silence, or a word of encouragement from a fellow member of the congregation.Writer Michael Thuell is convinced there is always something for someone in a church service - a way in which God speaks to the heart of those present.

IT might be a prayer, a line in a hymn, the stillness or silence, or a word of encouragement from a fellow member of the congregation.

Writer Michael Thuell is convinced there is always something for someone in a church service - a way in which God speaks to the heart of those present.

It is a theme he explores in his new book Plain Thoughts from the Back Pew, an evocation of a year in the life of an English village church.

Retired history teacher Mr Thuell stressed the church in question is not that of his home village of Nacton, though some of the experiences and anecdotes of the narrator could easily come from its services, as well as those of many other churches scattered in England's rural communities.


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“The church in the book is just a fairly typical church in a typical parish - the stories come from many churches and services I have attended over the years,” he said.

The aim of the book is to show the village church is as important today as it has ever been, still at the centre of the community - and to give encouragement to all those who work to keep these priceless assets alive.

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“My starting point for the book was that I feel there is something in every church service for those who attend - it might be that the whole service feels as if it was meant for you, absolutely everything spoke to you,” said Mr Thuell, who lives with his wife Elizabeth at Lower Farm Cottages, Nacton.

“But it could be you are a stranger visiting the church, looking for something - it could be one prayer or just one line of a hymn that makes it meaningful to you.

“It could be something said over coffee afterwards.

“But I firmly believe there is always something, however big or small it might be for the person who hears it.”

The book is split into 60 sections as the narrator Bob takes the reader through the Church of England year, its wide variety of celebrations, festivals and services, following characters from the fictional parish, their opinions, highs and lows.

“It looks at what is going on in the church as well as offering a little bit deeper, more profounder thoughts on the services and situations,” said Mr Thuell, 64, who taught at St Joseph's in Ipswich for 24 years.

Having served as a sidesman, churchwarden, treasurer and church council secretary, Mr Thuell said he also wanted to encourage the church.

“I know some parishes are struggling - there are those which are languishing and some which are flourishing. Hopefully, the book provides encouragement and ideas for all of them,” he said.

Plain Thoughts from the Back Pew, published by Catterson Books, is available in local bookshops for £7.50 or from Mr Thuell on 01473 659346 for £6.50.

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