The Right Worshipful, The Guild Mayor of Preston
Councillor Carl Crompton
Guild Mayoress Councillor Linda Crompton
Mayor’s Parlour, Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL
Telephone (01772) 906113
Dear Fulwood, URC,
To all of Churches Procession participants I would like to thank you for putting on such a wonderful show for Preston. The three years of planning really shone through, the Churches Processions are always magnificent and this year was no exception, with crowds estimated to be larger than those watching the Trades Procession on Saturday.
With over 5,500 people participating I can only imagine the amount of work it has taken to organise such a procession, never the less everything went smoothly and the story flowed perfectly. The level of enthusiasm shown by the groups and the amount of work put into the costumes and floats was amazing, setting a high standard for the Community and Torchlight Processions to follow.
Once again please accept my thanks for filling the City with people on a Weekday, I doubt the city has seen or will see crowds that large again until 2032, you have all done Preston proud.
The Guild Mayor of Preston
CITY OF PRESTON HOSTS HUGE ECUMENICAL SERVICE
On Sunday 2 September, as part of its Merchant Guild celebrations, the City of Preston held its ecumenical service. The service is a highlight of the Guild – national leaders of the largest Christian denominations in the UK came together to speak at the celebratory service which was presented by Aled Jones and featured the Leyland brass band, worship, music, dance and drama. The afternoon also included groups of children from all the denominations who presented their ideas and vision of “working together for the common good”.
Attending the service were leaders from the United Reformed Church, Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical Alliance. Speakers included the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York; the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster; and representing the United Reformed Church, the Revd Elizabeth Caswell. The URC was also represented by the Revd Richard Church, moderator of the North Western Synod
From the URC national website
PRESTON GUILD cont’d.
Morning Worship. For Fulwood URC members, Guild Week began with a splendid morning service in our church, with worship led by our former Assembly Moderator, the Rev’d Elizabeth Caswell, who in the afternoon represented our denomination at the Guild Ecumenical Service. It was wonderful to be joined by many friends from Christ Church Longridge. It was an excellent start to a memorable day and we are much indebted to Elizabeth, who was accompanied by her husband Graham, for her acceptance of our invitation to lead worship.
The Guild Ecumenical Service held in the giant marquee on Avenham Park was unforgettable experience – national and local leaders from seven denominations, a congregation of 3500 from churches from all across Preston and district joining together to worship God. Being part of the choir on the back row and too close to one of the giant screens to be able to see very much, I have had to rely on the DVD pictures to see get the full picture, but the atmosphere, warmth and joy of the occasion were tremendous. As someone from the core group said: “Much thrilled me during Guild week, in particular the vast numbers who were part of the ground-breaking celebration which was our Ecumenical Service. It was not only the largest indoor event of Preston Guild 2012, but one which can inspire Britain to greater Christian unity”
The picture above shows nearest to the camera Rev’d Richard Church behind Rev’d Elizabeth Caswell and in front of her (and on the large screen) Josh from Christ Church who read the young person’s contribution on behalf of our denomination :
“We come here because we are the future and we are united by faith in the One God, who created the world, was made incarnate and lived among us, died and rose again on the third day and who sent His Holy Spirit to be with us until He comes again.”
The photograph was taken by Josh’s dad, Mungo Gilchrist who is a professional photographer and we were pleased to be allowed supply it to the URC website.
Helen has mentioned Rev’d Elizabeth Caswell’s remarks in her opening letter. Elizabeth had the daunting task of being the last of the national leaders to speak, not knowing what the others would say. We and many others felt proud of what she said, and those around me in the choir from several denominations said how much they agreed with what she said. I am sure many will remember her remarks about grit when most other memories have faded.
The N W Moderator Rev’d Richard Church told me that he had felt privileged to have been invited to attend such an event.
The Churches Procession All who took part seem to agree that the Churches Procession of the Preston Guild 2012 was especially memorable – blessed with good weather, larger than ever crowds, a wonderful friendly atmosphere and with all the Churches seen to be working together to present the Living Christ to the people of Preston. Being part of the procession and having seen only video clips of much of the rest, I eagerly await the production of the official Churches Procession DVD.
As the core group has written: “Thank you so much everyone for the joy you showed, and the tremendous work which went into the whole procession. What a fantastic crowd of happy people. How inclusive we were: masses of infants and children, lots of elderly people given a chance to take part, wheel chairs galore. schools involved, and everyone having such a good time. The joy of Christ in our lives spills out for all to see.
As for creativity, you absolutely surpassed everything we’d hoped for. Immeasurable creativity and such a colourful procession. We knew we were asking a lot by suggesting every person was in costume. You matched up to the highest ideals while showing incredible ingenuity and resourcefulness in costuming and float building. We were real music makers too, and a lot of dancing and waving showed your own enthusiasm and delight. You know how much prayer support and work was put into this. It really seemed God’s dream.
Most of all, the whole procession seemed like one church’s offering, the spirit of togetherness was so apparent
A wonderful Guild week and the churches of the Preston area were right there in the middle, our thanks to all who made it so.”
YOUR ROVING REPORTER has been on her travels again and all to the same town! On Saturday 29th September, Mac & I went to Carver Church at Windermere for a Synod Day entitled “Looking ahead to Advent & Christmas”. We got our usual greeting of “What – you again?” from Lis the minister (but said with a big smile). As many churches do not have their own minister, Lay Preachers and other worship leaders have to lead many of the special services around December and it can be difficult to think of different ways of presenting the message to the congregation. This event was organised so that people could share ideas that have worked in their own churches which might inspire others to try them out. We also looked at what the Bible has to say and why the Gospel accounts are quite different from each other. You’ll find out in December what ideas we brought home.
The following week my friend and I tried out the Bed & Breakfast facilities at the Windermere Centre. I am so used to visiting that I know I am going to be comfortable and feel at home but it was good to hear my friend say that she would be happy to stay there by herself and thought several of the courses sounded interesting. On our first evening Lis spotted us in the lounge and asked “Are you here again? Why don’t you just move up here?” It’s nice to be made welcome!
Saturday 13th October saw Mac & I heading up the M6 again for the NW Synod meeting, Rev Helen also attended with Sue the representative from Christ Church URC. As well as the usual business to be carried out, we had a talk from Craig Bowman from URC headquarters about Ministering to the URC in the 21st century. The day ended with a talk from Rev Sarah Moore (chair of Cumbria area URC), Rev James Newcome (Anglican Bishop of Carlisle) and Rev Richard Teal (Chair of Cumbria Methodist circuit) about the recently formed Ecumenical Partnership in Cumbria followed by Bishop James leading us in a communion service. (…and this time Lis didn’t ask why I was there!)
Finally (for this year) Mac & I attended part of a weekend conference at the Windermere Centre. This was originally the annual Synod Lay Preachers conference but this year an invitation was extended to those who lead worship in their own or other churches. The programme included sessions on Worship resources, technology and theological resources as well as discussion and sharing ideas in small groups.
All these visits were interesting and I would encourage anyone to go to the Windermere Centre either for an organised course or just for a holiday – the local minister would make you very welcome.
Lectionary Readings November & December 2012
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2: 10-11 (St James Bible)
Advent is the time of waiting and preparation for the coming of Jesus. The word has its origin in the Latin adventus, meaning “coming”. It’s a time of looking forward to the One who is coming – a time of expectation.
At the first sign of Christmas, we’re into that joyful world of shepherds and angels and glad tidings. Yet Advent is not about that sort of joy. It’s about the time of waiting itself – time that hangs heavy; time that erodes faith and destroys confidence; time that saps the soul and reduces life to mere existence. That is the experience into which we try to enter as part of the spiritual discipline of “waiting on God”, because the point is to try and recapture the sense of what it was like without Christmas to look forward to. A bit like C S Lewis’s Narnia under the White Witch: “always winter but never Christmas!”
A spirituality of Exile
In biblical terms, it’s like the experience of Israel (Judah) in Exile in Babylon. Exile is the great destroyer of faith. This is where Yahweh is “on trial” for breaking Covenant. Exile wrecks all previous notions of Yahweh’s covenantal faithfulness, because confidence in Yahweh’s promises of safety, protection, a Davidic king for all time and the sacred importance of Jerusalem and the temple lies broken in the rubble of Babylonian destruction.
Israel’s birth-cries had been those of the Hebrew slaves in the brick-pits of Pharaoh; Yahweh had heard, and liberated them from Egypt in the Exodus. Exile was the living death out of which Israel’s cries for deliverance became the cries of rebirth through the return to Judah and the reconstruction of the city and temple. Advent is the time of crying – of impatient and agonised waiting for the deliverance from God that is the only means of hope for Life.
A spirituality of messianic longing and expectation
The context into which Jesus was born was again one of bondage and fevered expectation. Judah was under Roman occupation, and gripped by messianic fever. “What about the Romans?” is the question on everyone’s lips. The religious answer was that Yahweh’s Messiah was about to arrive – at any moment! The prayers for deliverance – for the coming of the Messiah – were like the Bat-signal over Gotham City: “We’re in deep trouble; come and save us!”
That is the theme of one of the greatest Advent hymns: O come, O come, Immanuel, set to the tune of Veni Immanuel. The prayer for the coming of the Christ-child is the desperate call of the exiles. This is not a time of “happy waiting”, but a soulless time to be endured. The dirge of the music screams lament as the context and experience of waiting. We Advent singers are, like the exiles, encouraged to dig deep and find joy in the promised coming of Immanuel in the face of the perceived god forsakenness of the present.
A spirituality for sated consumers
But why this desperate, dirgy, almost-masochistic spirituality? Is this not something that is just a little unhealthy – one that plays into the worst excesses of Christian puritanical joylessness? After all, we know that Christ has come, and it is the celebration of his birth that we are anticipating. Should we not wait more expectantly – as though our ears were straining for the first note of the angel-song and our eyes for the first glimpse of the Star?
The answer is “No”. The darkness of Advent waiting is about cultivating a “God’s perspective” sense of the world as it appears when held up to the mirror of the Kingdom, for whose coming we pray every time we say the Lord’s Prayer.
In our soft, fluffy world, cocooned from the harsh realities of life experienced as a living hell (as it is for the majority of the planet’s human inhabitants), it is far too easy to look forward to Christmas as an “extra-powerful Happy Pill” that we all deserve once a year. Then it becomes a “Time Out” when we put reality on hold by common agreement and (over-) indulge ourselves in rampant consumerism, consumption and sentimentality in equal measure – because we can.
Advent spirituality is quite deliberately the cultivation of a hunger – the hunger and thirst for righteousness; the desperate, action-generating desire for the coming of the Kingdom that spurs us to commit ourselves again – with more urgent faithfulness – to being the answer to the prayers of others; to “doing God’s will on earth as in heaven”.
Again our thanks are due to Lawrence for permission to use another of his articles publishes in the Carver Magazine.
At our September meeting Helen McKinnell, who in real life is a nurse working in the community, gave a most interesting talk of her experiences of working in a hospital in Sierre Leone during her visit to that country. It added a further dimension to the talk that John Spencer gave some time ago on the work of the Methodist Church in Sierre Leone. The collection of £40 will support that work.
Our October meeting of hot pot supper followed by games of dominoes and a alphabetic quiz was much enjoyed by all in an evening of fun and fellowship. Our thanks go to Margery for her hard work in arranging.
Our next two autumn meetings are both classified “not to be missed”:
On Thursday 8th November, our friend Steve Garsed will return to tell us the other part of his talk about his visit to Russia last year – “Russia – the interesting way“ will describe the interesting and unconventional way in which he and Anne travelled to and from Russia.
At our December meeting of 13th December our speaker needs no introduction. Pat Ascroft ‘s talk in entitled “Kaleidoscope of Life”
Thanks to all who supported our Christian Aid Quiz on 5th October. and congratulations to our winning team The sum of £242.00 was donated with a further £50.00 from Gift- Aid .A further £91 was collected on the Traidcraft stall.
Preston Christian Aid Committee has agreed to pledge £5000 to a Christian Aid Partnership Project, where our donations will be matched by the European Commission at a ratio of 3:1. The splendid sum of £3500 had been raised from the Guild Events and the proceeds from our quiz and other local events will be added to this amount When we reach the £5000, our gift will be worth £20,000; The project chosen is to support is focused in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian Territory, where, as a result of years of conflict, the proportion of people living with disability is high, and the exclusion and vulnerability they suffer as a result is devastating.
TAX JUSTICE BUS
Several of our members visited the bright red London bus when it called at Fulwood Methodist Church recently and also attended the evening service in which Christian Aid staff took part.
Christian Aid and Church Action on Poverty had joined forces to take the campaign for Tax Justice on the road. For seven-weeks the Tax Justice Bus has toured the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland, to promote the simple message:
Thanks to loopholes in the global financial system money that could provide vital services like schools and hospitals, is being pocketed by unscrupulous companies
Our Tax Justice Campaign has highlighted how developing countries lose $160bn every year – one-and-a-half-times what they receive in international aid.
For further information: www.church-poverty.org.uk/taxbus
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
To celebrate the Preston Guild, it was decided this year’s CTFB Pilgrimage was should visit some of the churches in the Preston area.
Our first visit was to St Walburge’s Church, one of Preston’s historic and landmark buildings.(Those who attended our recent quiz will know that it has the tallest spire of any parish church in England). A good number of the forty-nine group, including Norman Croll felt energetic enough to climb the steps to the base of the spire to gain splendid views of Preston on a lovely sunny morning.
After a stop for a welcome cup of coffee kindly provided in Central Methodist Church, our next port of call was St Georges Church. A first visit for quite a few and a pleasant surprise in that its plain exterior belies a stunningly decorated interior. We were treated to a most interesting account of its history by Father Andrew Teather, who clearly knows a a good deal about his church.
After lunch in town, we proceeded to St Wilfrid’s Church in Chapel Street, where we were given a conducted tour with an organ rehearsal in the background. The splendour of the interior is a great surprise to those used only to passing by outside on Chapel Street. It was surely appropriate in Guild year to visit the church named after St. Wilfrid, the Patron Saint of Preston and associated with Lamb of Preston the “Princeps Pacis”
We then boarded our coach for a short journey along the A6 to St John’s Church Broughton where we were greeted with cups of tea and home-made cream scones and a brief history of the church by Rev’d Sidney Fox. One or two accepted an invitation to have a go at bell ringing. We then joined in the Evensong Service which included a close-up examination and a fascinating explanation of some of the carvings portrayed on the rerodos.
A most enjoyable day ended with a splendid meal and fellowship at the Dog & Partridge Chipping . For some of us it had been quite an eye-opener to see and learn so much about some of our local churches which we will have passed many, many times.
Our thanks are due to Margaret Thompson, Janet Huggan and Pat Gibson for arranging the pilgrimage and all the many others who made our day so interesting.
A CHRISTMAS POEM
I could write a poem to give you much pleasure
With fancy words for you to hold and treasure
But I want to tell of a love that I know
It comes from our Lord and it won’t let you go
So if at times when you feel sad and lonely
The peace that He give you is there for you only
When you are thinking of Him
His love will amass and amass
For its from a Babe who was born
In a stable – the very first Christmas
A YOUNG CHILD’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
As a young child remember the pleasure
When the stockings we hung up were filled with treasure
An orange and chocolate and new pennies too
How did he know to give them to you?
He came to your bed in the dead of the night
But if you awakened he kept out of sight
Then he’d put loads of toys under the tree
Which we’d helped to decorate so that he could see
For on top of th tree was a star shining bright
Don’t forge – he came in the dead of the night
I remember Christmas Day was all fun and mirth
As we celebrated the day of our dear Lord’s birth
We arose that day with the dawning
Then we’d go to church some time in the morning
There we would be blessed with His love so true
And if you believed He would be sure to bless you
PS – Santa came by air – I know
Because there were no footprints left in the snow
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible – Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Little Tommy was excited about the task – but he just couldn’t remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line.
On the day that the children were due to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Tommy was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, and that’s all I need to know.’
THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH – 40 YEARS OLD
As Rev’d Helen mentioned in her letter, the United Reformed Church celebrated it’s 40th Birthday on 5th October. At the October North Western Synod meeting at the Windermere Centre we were given the following prayer to bring home and to share with all. May it be our prayer for each of us.
Lord of life,
who was revealed in Christ,
the Way, the Truth
and the Life for all people,
grant to your church,
and each of us as part of it,
new ways of hearing the gospel,
new ways of seeing its truth
and new ways of encountering you in the every day.
As we seek to be more Christ-like,
may we build communities
that are open and welcoming
and find the courage and wisdom
to match words and actions
in celebrating and sharing
your overwhelming love in Jesus Christ.
A PRAYER FOR JERUSALEM
God of Justice
Our thoughts are not your thoughts, but we sense your deep sadness that three world faiths struggle to sustain a hold on Jerusalem, your holy city. We feel your grief as discrimination and oppression are part of daily life for many citizens, and that Palestinian homes are being bulldozed in the Eastern suburbs. We pray that today’s political conflict will give way to the transformation of Jerusalem, into a city where all people of good will are welcome.
God of Peace
Our thoughts are not your thoughts, but we believe that you long for the day when fear and suspicion between faith communities gives way to mutual respect. We pray that wise negotiators will hear and feel the experience of loss in each culture, and that reparation will be made to those whose lives have been devastated in living memory. We pray that in the new Jerusalem, resources will be shared and the political future reshaped.
God of Love
Our thoughts are not your thoughts, but we long for Jerusalem to be a place where every child is known to be a child of God, and where, like Jesus, they may grow up in wisdom and grace, and in the full knowledge of the God of Abraham.
(World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, May/June 2011 www.worldweekforpeace.org)
FAVOURITE CAROLS SERVICE
As it can be difficult to find a Preacher for the Sunday between Christmas & New Year we have decided to have a service of favourite Christmas Carols chosen by the congregation. If there is a carol that you particularly like but we don’t sing very often this is your chance. Request slips will be printed on the notice sheets in the next few weeks. Please complete your slip and return it to Mac or Margery by the date given on the slip.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
One of many stories based on the primary school nativity play is the one in which one of the shepherds, encouraged by their teacher to use their own words to act out the story, says: “Eh, he does look like his dad!”
It’s a phrase he’s heard his mother use as she admired a neighbour’s baby. The audience giggle, but behind the fun there is a great truth. Jesus did look like his dad. His whole life, his words, his actions, were all meant to show us that God isn’t way above the clouds but is down here on earth with us, waiting to enter our lives. Looking at him we can learn a lot about love and forgiveness, and when we change from looking to following he can give us the strength to become more “like his dad”.
A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION – PRAYER
Following in His footsteps
Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant
us the desire to do only what pleases you, and
the strength to do only what you command.
Cleanse our souls, enlighten our minds, and
inflame our hearts with your Holy Spirit, that we
may follow in the footsteps of your beloved Son,
St Francis of Assisi 1182 – 1226