PASTORAL LETTER JULY – AUGUST 2013
Maybe it’s because of Wimbledon or the holidays or the better weather that the rush of volunteers to write the second Pastoral Letter of our vacancy has been somewhat underwhelming. So here is my combined Vacancy Update and Pastoral Letter.
Our Church Meeting in May accepted unanimously the Elders’ recommendation to advise the Pastoral Committee that after prayerful consideration of the options, our Church’s preference for future ministry is for shared URC Ministry within a URC pastorate. The Pastoral Committee’s report to the Area Meeting on the 3rd July includes “A visit to Fulwood URC on 30th April began a time of discernment as together we explore Fulwood’s mission and ministerial needs. We are seeking a volunteer to serve as pastoral link.”
The Church Meeting also decided to seek let our manse through an agent on a short term tenancy agreement approved by the NW Synod’s legal officer. An electrical installation of the premises has been carried out and some of the maintenance items picked up in the 2012 Manse Annual Inspection are being attended to whilst the manse is empty.
A time of vacancy is always a challenge for a Church but it is also a time of opportunity – an opportunity to work together to try to minimize the effects of not having our own minister, an opportunity for all of us to pull work together in contributing whatever we can to the carry on the work of the Church.
On at least two occasions in the past an Involvement Questionnaire has been sent to all members, inviting them to consider a wide range of suggested ways in which they might become more involved in the ongoing life of the Church – becoming an Elder, visiting the elderly, attending more regularly, helping with administration, taking part in worship, providing transport, keeping in touch with people by telephone, praying for the Church and its people, and many other ways.
At the beginning of a vacancy, we should all give thought to what extra way we could contribute to the support of life of the Church. How could some of our talents be made available to make a contribution. What is the specific thing that only you can do to further God’s Kingdom at Fulwood URC?
Several years ago, we included the following article in our Newsletter:
Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was a genius who developed the craft of making violins to its highest possible level. During his life time he is reputed to have made over 1100 violins, viols and violincellos. Many of his instruments have now perished; others may still lie hidden away; those that survive are much sought after and are almost priceless. A violin is made up of more than seventy pieces of wood, dovetailed and glued together; and it is believed that Stradivari had a secret, either in his selection of the wood, or in his varnish, or maybe in both.
The story is told of a mysterious individual named Luigi Terisio who lived in the first part of the eighteenth century. He travelled all over Italy, disguised as a pedlar, with a pack on his back full of new violins, which he offered to exchange for old ones. The dealers in Paris were astonished when he arrived there with an incredible collection of old violins, which included some made by Stradivari. In 1754, one of the dealers, learning that Terisio had died in Milan, hurried there hoping to be able to buy whatever collection of instruments might be left. He was shown to the miserable room in which Terisio had died surrounded by instruments made by all the great masters. The dealer was speechless with astonishment.
He was taken to a small farm where Terisio had hidden away more violins. He pulled open a drawer and gazed in amazement at what he saw – a new Stradivari, an instrument which had never been played.. This violin had been sold to Count Cozio de Salabue, who had never used it and in whose possession it had remained until the time that Terisio found it. It was in pristine condition, just as it had left the workshop in Cremona. It was presented to the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford, where it was displayed in a glass case.
But what a shame! What a waste that such an instrument should remain there unused, unfulfilled, wasted, when it could have produced beautiful music in the hands of a master. Please consider whether any of your unused talents could be used in the service of the Master.
Heavenly Father, you have given each of us a job of work to do; give us the determination and the strength to make use of the talents that you have entrusted to us, and grant that what-ever we do, we may do it whole-heartedly to Your Honour and to Your Glory, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
PS – By complete coincidence this summer, the Ashmolean Museum will open a special exhibition celebrating the life and work of Antonio Stradivari. For the first time ever in this country , the Ashmolean will bring together twenty-one of Stradivari’s most important, well-preserved instruments to showcase the brilliance of his craft.
NW SYNOD RETREATS GROUP
Soon after the start of her ministry at Fulwood, Rev’d Helen asked me to accompany her to a meeting at Radcliffe URC when attempts were made to re-start a Synod Retreats Group. Since then a number of Quiet Days have been held, and regular meetings held, some of them here at Fulwood URC.
At last Saturday’s Big Day Out Rev’d Richard Davis, the Retreats Group Coordinator, gave an excellent illustrated presentation on the development of the Retreats Group, including the recently formed Emmaus Road Prayer Group. In an inspired presentation using the Chorley URC puppets, an experiences Spiritual Director was interviewed by the puppets – asking many of the questions we might have liked to ask if we had the courage in a humorous but serious way.
Margery, Vivien and myself have been to and much enjoyed Quiet Days at Newton-in Bowland (see below for details of the next one) and the next meeting of the Retreats Group is at 2.00pm on Tuesday 16th July at Fulwood URC. Please ask if you are interested in coming to either.
‘Be Still and Know That I am God ‘
Being in the Presence
Newton in Bowland
Saturday Sept 28th 2013 10.30am-3.30pm
£6 per person Jacobs join lunch
To book contact Rev Michele Jarmany
Tel. 01200 442389
THE CHURCH IN THE FIELDS
As few weeks ago, I accompanied our Treasurer, Vivien to one of the occasional Training Courses run in this area by the Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers. We have previously been to similar courses at Chorley and at Whalley Abbey both of which provided a useful refresher and an update on developments in the world of church finance. This year’s course was held.at Tunley United Reformed Church in Wrightington.
Does that ring any bells?
Those who attend our Church Fellowship will remember Rev’d Nigel Lemon talking about ancient non-conformist chapels in this area .One that he mentioned was Tunley Chapel which last year celebrated its 350 year anniversary.
My earliest recollection of Tunley Chapel was a summer outing in the late 1940’s. I think it was the first such outing of the re-formed Sunday School of St Margaret’s Presbyterian Church immediately after the Second World War. All I can remember is travelling in a coach, playing games in a large field and the picnic tea that followed and that Tunley Chapel was known as the “church in the fields”
Those well up on Church history will be aware that in 1662, the Act of Uniformity prescribed the form of public prayers as well as the administration of the sacraments in the established Church of England. It also required Episcopal ordination of all ministers. An immediate result of this Act was that over 2000 ministers, 80 of them in Lancashire, refused to take the oath and were expelled from the Church of England and lost their livings in what became known as the Great Ejection of 1662.
Thomas Wilson, gentleman, of Tunley Hall, had shown his continuing loyalty to the Dissenters cause by giving shelter and sustenance to the Rev’d Jonathan Schofield, and his family, who had been ejecting from his living at Douglas Chapel in Parbold for refusing to conform. In 1662 a group of Presbyterians started meeting regularly for worship at South Tunley Hall under the ministerial leadership of Jonathan Schofield.
The Five Mile Act passed in 1665 intensified the pressure on the dissenting people by compelling dissenting clergymen to stay at least five miles away from the nearest corporate town. Although South Tunley Hall was less than the required distance, the north-west end of Mr Wilson’s land was just outside the limit, and this is where he built the Church in 1691. The original church building is thus believed to be the oldest building in England which was built as a Presbyterian church and is still used for worship in the reformed tradition to this day. Hence the “Church in the Fields“ which I understand was frequently referred to as the Five Mile Chapel in the past.
It was an amazing experience to return to Tunley Chapel, after what must be about sixty-five years from by first visit. As well as learning of the latest information being provided to Church Treasurers, it was delight to receive such a warm welcome from some of the members of the Tunley congregation, to see the splendid “new” hall that has been added with open views across the fields, and to be reminded of the many sacrifices and difficulties our predecessors endured to remain true to our reformed tradition.
At our May meeting Ruth Bruce completed her talk about the final leg of her long walk from John O’Groats covering the final section from Somerset to the Lizard. She also spoke about her latest charity – the Kumba Literacy Centre supporting the advancement of the education of women and adult literacy in Cameroon,an read out part of a letter of thanks for school fees and equipment in 2012. A collection of £40.00 was raised in support.
Our Fellowship meeting in June took the form of a Coffee and Bring & Buy Evening in support of the celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of Derian House. The evening seemed to be much enjoyed by those who attended and the sum of £50.00 was raised.
The Fellowship Lunch has been arranged at Ferrari’s Restaurant, Longridge for Thursday 18th July, 12.00 for 12.30. If you wish to attend, please add your name to the list in the Church foyer or contact the Church Secretary
As usual there is no Fellowship Meeting in August, and we commence our Autumn / Winter programme on Thursday 12th September with the always-popular Pat Ascroft speaking about “Trekking in Iceland”.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
CTFB PILGRIMAGE There are still places left on the coaches for the Churches Together Pilgrimage to Saltaire and visit Boundary Mill on Saturday 14th September. The cost, including the coach, a meal and coffee is £20.00. For further details see Jean Dunsmore.
ROYAL PRESTON HOSPITAL There is an urgent need for more volunteers for the Information Desk at the Royal Preston Hospital. Several of our members already help, some since CTFB’s first involvement in 1997. If you are interested in helping please speak to Jean Dunsmore
PRACTISE MAKES PERFECT
A little girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap as he read her a bed-time story. From time to time, she reached up to touch his wrinkled cheek. Then she would stroke her own cheek. Finally she interrupted:
“Grand-dad, did God make you?”
“Yes, dear,” he answered, “God made me a long time ago.”
“Oh,” she paused, “Grand-dad, did God make me too?”
“Yes, indeed, dear,” he said, “God made you just a little while ago.”
Feeling their respective faces again, she observed,
“God’s getting better at it, isn’t he?”
A young lad was visiting a church for the first time, checking all the plaques on the wall and announcements in the foyer. When he came to war memorial plaque, he asked a nearby steward, “Who are all those men in the pictures?” The steward replied, “Why, those are our boys who died in the services.” Dumbfounded, the youngster asked, “Was that the morning service or evening service?”
LANCASHIRE AREA OPEN MEETINGS
These are held at Penwortham URC as open gatherings for fellowship, discussion and exploration. They commence at 7.00am with bring and share refreshments on the first Wednesdays of each month.
7th Aug: Gentle Jesus? Rev’d Richard Church, Moderator of NW Synod, will share a reflection and lead a discussion about who Jesus was and what that means for our faith today.
4th Sept: Spirituality
Rev’d Michele Jarmany will lead us through a series of reflections and discussions as we explore different spiritual practises together.
2nd Oct: Pillars and Propellors
Rev’d Paul Pells will lead an interactive evening of reflection concerning the joys and frustrations, opportunities and limitations of Eldership and Local Leadership in the URC today and tomorrow.
6th Nov: Christianity as a minority faith
Aftab Alexander Mughal will offer a reflection and enable a discussion grounded in his experience of being a Christian in Pakistan.
THE TRAIN JOURNEY
A few years ago a minister was travelling by train in the Soviet Union. He got talking to the man sharing his compartment, and soon the conversation turned to God. The minister listened patiently as the other man extolled the logic of atheism and mocked his faith in God. When the minister tried to talk about Jesus, the atheist grew very angry. The minister then left the compartment for a few minutes, and on his return found that his Bible was missing. The atheist was just closing the window.
The minister was deeply hurt to lose his Bible, and the journey concluded in stony silence.
A few months later, a stranger from a little distance away called on the minister. He wanted to be baptized. Startled, the minister asked why his own church had not baptized him. “There are no Christians and no church in my village,” said the man. “But I have read my Bible and I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and I want to be baptized and follow him.” The minister was astonished. “If you know no Christians, how did you even get hold of a Bible?
The man paused. “You aren’t going to believe this,” he said, “but God sent it to me direct. Some time ago I was working as a builder near a railway line when, as the train went by, a book came flying out of the window and land in the dust near to me. It was a bible! I started to read it out of curiosity, and then I could not put it down. Through it I have found God.”
The minister had no trouble in believing that a Bible had flown out of a train window. He rejoiced that it had landed at the man’s feet. He baptized the man, who returned to his village brimming with enthusiasm. He shared his faith with his neighbours. Soon a little group of believers was formed and began to grow. And all because of a thrown-away Bible
The atheist on the train would have been mortified to find out that he had planted a church
Thanks to St Peter’s Church Walsden
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URC NW SYNOD BIG DAY OUT – BLACKPOOL 29th JUNE 2013
Worshipping at the start and end of the day in congregations of several hundred (600-700?) Christians, sharing fellowship with friends from all over the NW Synod, taking part in a wide variety of activities and sharing communion in the final service.
The Opening worship at 10.30 am was led by the Moderator and was superbly conducted by Carol Rose and accompanied by her talented musicians from Christ Church, Longridge whose contribution was greatly appreciated. They had encountered several technical problems with the in-house technology, not least with the projection of the words for the hymns. However as we quietened ourselves before worship by singing “Be still for the presence of the Lord”, the power of the Lord did move in this place and the words appeared on the screen.
The worship began with a Songs of Praise Service. Two hymns had been selected from those chosen by the churches from the four areas of Synod and the reasons for choice had been given. Only the two Lancashire Area churches were brave enough to present their choice in person: first Margery who, in introducing the first hymn our church’s choice “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder” recounted taking a group of Girl Guides to Switzerland and being taken to the top of the Bonderspitz mountain very early in the morning while it was still dark and as the sun began to rise, recalling the experience of singing “when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur ….how great thou art!” and Barbara Baird from Penwortham URC who chose the final hymn “Lord for the Years” because “they like a good sing“ at Penwortham!
Before and after lunch, the four of us separately and together attended sessions by the Retreats Group – an excellent presentation cleverly enhanced by the recently-formed puppets group from Chorley URC, Enough is Enough – presented by Christian Aid, Gospel Magic, Play n Praise – led by Carol Rose, a Bible Study, the Big Fun Quiz as well as visiting the many stalls and displays
The closing worship at 17.30 was again memorable, but space and time deadlines preclude any more at this moment. An inspiring and encouraging day! I am sure there will be more considered reflection in the future Newsletters.