PASTORAL LETTER MARCH – APRIL 2014
At our recent Special Church Meeting, which we held immediately after the service led by Elizabeth Fletcher on 2nd February, no concerns were expressed and no difficult questions raised for Elizabeth, our link with the Area Pastoral Committee, to answer and we agreed unanimously to continue to explore the possibility of creating a team ministry of Fulwood, Kirkham, Leyland and Penwortham URCs with Revd Paul Pells serving as Interim Moderator, Revd Nigel Lemon as pastoral link for Kirkham URC and Elizabeth Fletcher as pastoral link for Fulwood URC
Later that week we held a second meeting of the Pastorate Working Party (The Interim Moderator, the Pastoral links, Revd David Coaker and three representative Elders from each Church) when we learned that all four Church Meetings had given the green light to the proposals again without any issues being raised.
The Worship Task Group has met and began discussions on ways in which the worship could be jointly planned and the Finance Task Group – a chairman and the four Church Treasurers – has also met and agreed a system of dealing with the finances based on the one currently in place for Leyland & Penwortham. We have discussed a draft Constitution based on one produced for the South Lakes Pastorate and this is being developed further, along with a Memorandum of Understanding in preparation for the next meeting of the Pastorate Working Party on 19th March.
As I write this letter today (on 19th February) it dawned on me that this date rang a bell ! It is exactly 10 years since I became Church Secretary and as we are about to enter our second year of vacancy, I would like to include what I wrote in the Newsletter at that time:
“A vacancy is a time of change – but it is also a time of opportunity. All the members of the Church can pause to consider their own contributions to the life of their Church, can pull together in supporting the Interim Moderator, and also the visiting Ministers, Lay Preachers, Elders and Officers, by attending whenever possible, by filling some of the gaps in the jobs schedule, and by taking on whatever they feel able to shoulder. It might be by telephoning or visiting other members, by giving fellow members an encouraging smile or word – indeed, by many other, often seemingly insignificant and humble actions.
When St Paul’s Cathedral was being built, its architect, Sir Christopher Wren, used to make frequent visits to the site, wandering from craftsman to craftsman, watching each stage of the construction. Sometimes he would pause and ask a worker what was going on.
“I’m carving the keystone for the main arch,” a stonemason might reply.
“I’m constructing the main door for the west entrance,” a carpenter would answer.
”I’m forging the metalwork for the Great Screen,” a blacksmith would proudly say.
One day, Sir Christopher spotted a small boy standing alongside a bucket of water and a pile of hay. It was the boy’s job to water and feed the horses which pulled the wagon-loads of building materials up Ludgate Hill. Sir Christopher approached the boy and put the same question to him as the others. The boy looked up and, not recognising the man standing before him, replied
“I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren build a great Cathedral!”
Whether we consider ourselves to be like the architect, the stonemason, the carpenter, the blacksmith or just the odd-job boy, may we all be able to play our part, however humble, in continuing to build God’s Church at Fulwood URC.
As we approach the season of Lent may I commend to you the series of Lent talks to be held at the Minster. Such talks were started in Guild Year. They were so successful they have been repeated since as a legacy of Preston Guild 2012.
Lectionary Readings March & April 2014
2nd Isaiah 49: 8 – 16a; Psalm 131; 1 Corinthians 4: 1 – 5; St Matthew 6: 24 – 34
9th Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12-19; Matthew 4: 1-11
16th Genesis 12: 1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17
23rd Exodus 17: 1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1-11; John 4: 5-42
30th 1 Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41
6th Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8: 6-11; John 11: 1-45
13th Palm Sunday Matthew 21: 1-11; Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29
20th Easter Day Acts 10: 34-43; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3: 1-4; John 20: 1-18
27th Acts 2: 14a, 22-32; Psalm 14; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31
4th Acts 2: 14a, 36-41; Psalm 116: 1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 13-35
The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built an altar, put wood upon it, cut the bull in pieces and laid it upon the altar. And then Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times.
“Now,” said the teacher, “can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the bull on the altar?”
A little girl at the back of the room raised her hand with great enthusiasm. “To make the gravy,” came her enthusiastic reply.
A Year with John’s Gospel
At the end of January, Margery Pitcher and I spent a most enjoyable and fascinating four days bible study at the URC Windermere Centre. This year the study course was “ A Year with John’s Gospel “ and as usual was led by Lawrence Moore. A dozen or so attended the course and about half were ministers some of whom we had met on the earlier Matthew, Mark and Luke courses.
Before attending, we were as usual invited to read be the whole of the gospel in one or two sittings. This is a very interesting exercise to undertake. Yes, we all know the familiar open verses of John’s Gospel
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men……”
but reading the whole made me aware of my ignorance of the Bible, and in particular those passages not included in the lectionary readings on Sundays. More interestingly, it and gives some idea of the overall story that the author is trying to tell.
For John’s Gospel lots of questions arise. Why did he want to write a fourth gospels much later that the three existing synoptic gospels Why was he so selective – no Christmas story, almost no parables, no transfiguration, no institution of the Lord’s Supper? John’s chronology differs from the other Gospels – the cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of the story. In John’s Gospel Jesus appears to die on a Thursday at the time of the Passover when the sacrificial lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple – perhaps to emphasise that Jesus died to save us as the Sacrificial Lamb and that Jesus’ death is the sacrifice which He decided.
Lots of interesting discussions and lots and lots of food for thought and further consideration.
WINDERMERE CENTRE – Part 2
“Come and have a free weekend at the Windermere Centre” at the top of an email caught my eye a few months ago. As I like going to the Centre this sounded like an attractive offer and read further.
They say there is no such thing as a free lunch and as expected this free weekend came with conditions… participants had to work! The Centre wanted to refurbish some of the bedrooms and were looking for a team of volunteers to help with painting & DIY, sewing or helping in the kitchen to keep the rest of the volunteers fed & provided with caffeine. The suggestion was that with a team of 16 volunteers we would be able to have some free time during the day. As the dates of the volunteer weekend followed on from the John Bible Study course I checked that Jean could play for the Sunday service that week and then sent in my form offering either to cook or sew. A little later I heard that I was part of the sewing team.
On the Monday I packed the car with my usual case with everything I needed for the Bible study course but also with my sewing machine and a box with scissors, needles, tape measure etc and a bag with a few clothes that didn’t matter if they got covered with bits of thread or if I had to crawl round the floor cutting out the fabric! The Bible study course ended with lunch on Thursday after which, as some others from the working party had arrived, we started getting the rooms ready for work with the lounge being transformed into a sewing room – as this included two big tables put together we didn’t need to use the floor for cutting out. There were three of us in the sewing team and we had three pairs of lined curtains to make, 6 DIY/Painters to redecorate 5 bedrooms and en suites and two in the catering team (plus one of the regular staff in the mornings). The original suggestion that we would have free time for part of the afternoon & evening didn’t quite work out but time passed very quickly and rather than being ready outside the dining room at mealtimes, our caterers had to come and find us when the meals were ready. On Friday the decorators worked until after 9pm to finish painting the walls & ceilings so they would be completely dry ready to start the gloss paint next morning and on Saturday the sewers were pinning hems until about 8pm to ensure that we would get them sewn by lunchtime as one of our team had to leave after breakfast to get back to Folkestone.
By lunchtime on Sunday all the curtains were hung, the decorating in the other bedrooms completed and the furniture back in place. After lunch most of the team departed and the house was much quieter. Linda & Mike finished off the last bits in the bedrooms while I made tie-backs for the new curtains to complete the look. This left us time to sit and relax in the evening before leaving for home after breakfast on Monday.
Apart from one of the decorators who lives in Windermere I was very much the “local girl”. I am used to going on courses where people have come from all over the country but the members of the working party had come from Folkestone, Southend-on-Sea, south Gloucestershire & Yorkshire (one lady, a pensioner, had come from Maltby on the train and brought her sewing machine with her). It was no effort for me to stay on for a few extra days after the course but the other people had travelled much further than I had, just to roll up their sleeves and work. Although we were working hard, it was an enjoyable weekend and, as ever, it was good to talk to people from other URCs. I am now looking forward to my next stay at the Centre and hope I’ll be in one of the rooms that we refurbished.
PANCAKES AND GREAT COMMANDMENTS
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, five and Ryan, three. As the boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake, their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson.
“If Jesus were sitting here,” she said, “He would say, ‘let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait’.”
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!”
At the Evening Fellowship meeting in December Jean Dunsmore told us that she was resigning as organiser. We are very grateful for her efforts in arranging Speakers etc for our meetings over the last few years but we now need offers of help to arrange future meetings. It may seem rather daunting for one person to plan all the meetings for the year but perhaps we could coordinate matters so that several people would each organise one? If you think you could help in this way please have a word with Margery. Some things to think about are:
- Do we want to go out for lunch in July?
- Do we have a break in August?
- Do we want a Hotpot supper & games evening in the autumn?
- Do we have a break in December and/or January?
- What format do we want the meetings to take?
You will see from the diary dates that there will be a Fellowship meeting in April when we will be showing a DVD of the Preston Passion which took place in 2012 but so far no other meetings have been arranged.
A GREAT SACRIFICE
In 1665 when the plague was ravaging London, a parcel of clothing was sent to the village of Eyam in the peak District of Derbyshire. Tragically it contained germs of the plague and soon twenty-three of the villagers fell victim to it.
Understandably, everyone in Eyam began to panic and families started to pack their belongings in order to leave before they too became infected.
At this point, the Vicar, William Mompesson, called the whole village to a meeting in the church. He pointed out to them that if they left they would in every probability carry the plague to all the surrounding counties and many thousands would perish.
“I am asking you,” he said,” to stay here; to isolate yourselves from the outside world, until the plague dies down.
The villagers listened to the Vicar’s advice and decided to stay.
All approach roads to Eyam were closed, and large notices erected, warning would-be visitors that the village was under attack from the plague. Food was brought to agreed spots by surrounding neighbours, and the villagers settled down to their grim task.
Ten months went by and seventy deaths were recorded. At the end of twelve months two hundred and fifty people had fallen victim to the dread disease. A terrible toll for such a small community. But the plague was contained, and Eyam will always be remembered for its great sacrifice.
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ St John 15: 11-17 (NRSV)
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.
5th Mar: Called to be Elders?
Exploring and reflecting on how the role of Elder and the functions of the Eldership have evolved from their roots in scripture and continued through the history of the URC.
2nd April: Communion and Baptism
Opening up the breadth of understanding and practice of these sacraments through presentation, discussion and practical engagement. (This evening will also serve as the training required to be authorised to preside)
7th May: The Church in an Ecumenical setting
Seeking to understand the role of Elder and the Eldership in the URC and in the context of ecumenical settings and examining their own attitudes to the role.
4th June: Working as a Team
Considering the corporate nature of the Eldership and its responsibility to offer effective leadership.
HERE AND THERE
SIR TOM FINNEY
At our morning service on Sunday 16th February, Ernest Wrennall of Leyland included an appropriate prayer for the life of Sir Tom Finney who we learned had died on the previous Friday, aged 91. Ernest thanked God not just for an exceptional footballer but for a great sportsman and a much respected ambassador of his country, his city and of football across the world.
I’m sure many of our members, past and present- including our Margaret Jackson who has shared the same nursing home for the last couple of years- will share the admiration of Sir Tom as the many glowing tributes currently in the world’s press.
[PS It was surprising to learn after the service that Ernest was , like me a childhood supporter of Preston North End and in particular Tom Finney and it was even more surprising to discover that we both saw our first ever match at Deepdale on the same day – on 6th December 1947 when Preston beat Derby County 7-4.]
CHURCHES IN THE PRESTON AREA
“The Guild changed us from churches in Preston and South Ribble to the Church in Preston and South Ribble – it gave us cohesion and a vision that we have never had before. It made us buzz. We had a lot of fun, a lot of prayer, many new friendships and a legacy of prayer and service to the community……..”
So began an invitation to all the churches in Preston to send a representative to a meeting at Holy Family, Ingol early in February to share ideas for the next stage of our journey together. We were reminded of the work of the Hospital Desk, of enquiries to arrange visits to Preston Prison, and of planning to hold Mystery Plays in the Town Centre as a follow up to Preston Passion. Ideas for a strategic approach to poverty and homelessness, Faith communities. Mental health, Young People were suggested and all were encouraged to make better use of the communication networks to share ideas.
The Core Group have already arranged another Lent Series in the Minster (see further down)
At the February Christian Aid Committee meeting we decided that the next match-funded project we will support is a Maternal & Child Healthcare project in Narok County, the largest project that the EU has contributed to in Kenya. The UN classifies Kenya as one of the least developed countries; half the population still live in desperate poverty and much needed infrastructure and services are missing. The project would have a long term effect working with traditional local leaders and providing training for community health workers.
The Committee need to raise would need to raise £5,000 by March 2015 and this would be matched 3:1 by the EU making the grant worth almost £20,000. The proceeds from our last Christian Aid Quiz will support this project.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN LANCASHIRE
There was good support from the Churches of Fulwood and Broughton at the Commissioning of Revd Anton Muller as Ecumenical Facilitator and Ms Helen Boothroyd as Social Justice/ Inter Faith Development Officer for Churches Together in Lancashire. The Service was held at St Anthony of Padua on 22nd January. Bishop Julian was the preacher and NW Synod Moderator, Revd Richard Church, is the current Chair of CTL.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
When I paid the postage for shoeboxes on-line last Autumn, I ticked the box offering to let me know of their eventual destination.
I recently received an e-mail “Your shoebox was one of over 180,000 gift-filled boxes that blessed children in Belarus in 2013.” I am sure Revd Helen will be pleased.
My e-mail included the following report :
“Dressed in their best clothes, the children waited for the arrival of Operation Christmas Child. In the Educational Centre in Kobrin, UK distribution team member Mary told the story of a little girl who was rigid with cerebral palsy and had her head down on the table, not wanting to interact with anyone, or even look at the box in front of her.
Mary says, “I opened the box for her and on the top was a fluffy penguin. I gently stroked her cheek with the soft fur and slowly she started to smile and relax. The teacher said the little girl liked music and as I looked in her box there was a tambourine. I shook it gently and as I did so she began to sit up, smile and take an interest in the box to such an extent that the teacher was amazed. How great that her box contained just what she needed.
CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it had been agreed that there should be no additional services this year, but that all would be invited to share in host churches normal weekday services. Our members attended services at Fulwood Free Methodist, Fulwood Methodist, Christ Church and Our Lady and St Edwards churches during the week.
St Clare’s have kindly invited all members of Churches Together in Fulwood and Broughton to attend their Lent Fast lunches at 12.30 pm on Fridays during Lent.
MAKING A JOYFUL NOISE
Some extracts from previous editions of the URC Musicians Guild :
Some Quotable Quotes…
There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself. [JS Bach]
Without music, life would be a mistake. [Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche]
A good composer does not imitate; he steals. [Igor Stravinsky]
Music is a moral law – it gives wings to the mind, a soul to the universe, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, a life to everything. [Plato]
Hymn with a difference
Perhaps the following might be appreciated by the more traditionalist church musicians among us. (Tune: Repton)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
for most of us, when asked our mind,
admit we still most pleasure find in
hymns of ancient days, in hymns of ancient days.
The simple lyrics, for a start,
of many a modern song
are far too trite to touch the heart;
enshrine no poetry, no art;
and go on much too long, and go on much too long.
O, for a rest from jollity
and syncopated praise!
What happened to tranquillity?
The silence of eternity
is hard to hear these days, is hard to hear these days.
Send Thy deep hush, subduing all
those happy claps that drown
the tender whisper of Thy call;
triumphalism is not all,
for sometimes we feel down, for sometimes we feel down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness
till all our strumming cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress
of always having to be blessed;
give us a bit of peace, give us a bit of peace.
Breathe thought the beats of praise-guitar
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
let drum be dumb, bring back the lyre,
enough of earthquake, wind and fire,
let’s hear it for some calm, let’s hear it for some calm.
Senior version of “Jesus loves me”
Here is a new version just for us who have white hair, or no hair at all. For us over middle age (or even those almost there) and all you others, check out this newest version of “Jesus loves me”. It is quite cute, so read, sing and enjoy along with the Lossiemouth Baptist congregation.
Jesus loves, me this I know,
though my hair is white as snow.
Though my sight is growing dim,
still He bids me trust in him.
Yes, Jesus loves me… Yes, Jesus loves me…
Yes, Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so.
Though my steps are oh so slow,
with my hand in His I’ll go.
On through life, let come what may,
He’ll be there to lead the way.
Though I am no longer young,
I have much, which He’s begun.
Let me serve Christ with a smile,
go with others the extra mile.
When the nights are dark and long,
in my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear,
“Have no fear, for I am near”.
When my work on earth is done,
and life’s victories have been won.
He will take me home above.
Then I’ll understand His love.
I love Jesus, does He know?
Have I ever told Him so?
Jesus loves to hear me say,
that I love Him every day.
Some light relief
The following quotations come from various church magazines:
22 members were present at the church meeting held at the home of Mrs Marsha Crutchfield last evening. Mrs Crutchfield and Mrs Rankin sang a duet, The Lord Knows Why.
The church invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.
The third verse of Blessed Assurance will be sung without musical accomplishment.
The music for today’s service was all composed by George Friedrich Handel in celebration of the 300th anniversary of his birth.
A song fest was hell at the Methodist Church on Wednesday.
Miss Charlene Mason sang “I will not pass this way again” giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
“WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE… YOU DID FOR ME.” MATTHEW 25:40
Mother Teresa said, “If you are kind, people will accuse you of selfish motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you’ll win both false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy over night; build anyway.
The good you do today most people will forget; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it’s between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.”
“Dear God, You are my light and salvation. You are my Hope.
Please come into my heart and forgive all my wrongs and give me Your wonderful gift of eternal Life.
Help me be an instrument of Your Love and cause Your light to shine on others through me.”
END HUNGER FAST
Letter from Rev Richard Church
Yesterday ( 11th February) an open letter signed by church leaders throughout the United Kingdom was published drawing attention to the growth in food banks and the number of people being admitted to hospital last year for malnutrition.
With the widespread concern about energy bills, tens of thousands of older people and families must choose to ‘heat or eat’ this winter.
Half of the people using food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks and failures in the Benefit system through payment delays or punitive sanctions.
You and your church are invited from March 5th (when Lent begins) to pray and fast for the half million who regularly go hungry in Britain.
There is a part for government to play in making sure that work pays and ensuring that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger. Please make your voice heard. Further information is available at www.endhungerfast.co.uk or from the Synod Office
With Best Wishes
2014 Lent in the Minster – The Way of the Cross
Mondays at 7:30pm
10th March – Encounter. Main Speaker – Andrew Hardcastle, Social Awareness – Melanie Close (Chief Exec Disability & Equality Lancs)
17th March – Temptation Main Speaker – Gillian Houghton. Social Awareness – Alex Cadagon – Salvation Army Foodbank
24th March – Transformation Main Speaker – Fr. George Guiver (Superior at Community of Resurrection at Mirfield). Social Awareness – Mark Willett – Returning People to Work
31st March – Judgement Main Speaker – Bishop Julian. Social Awareness – Calum Crombie (Preston Prison)
7th April – Passion Main Speaker – Bishop Michael. Social Awareness – Cheryl Scott (St Catherine’s) – Bereavement Service
Plan for each evening:
7.20pm – Hymns/songs as last people arrive
7.30pm – Welcome
7.33pm – Social Awareness
7.40pm – Worship
7.50pm – Main Speaker, followed by any questions/discussion groups
8.40pm – Worship
8.48pm – Closing remarks
8.50pm – Refreshments & Depart