One of the most unfortunate things about losing a Minister is that there is no one to write “The Minister’s Letter” for the magazine. However, at the last Elders’ Meeting, the problem was resolved, when it was agreed that the Elders should undertake this task in turn, starting with me.
Working in the garden, and hoping that my lunch was, in preparation, my thoughts turned to Chapter 21 of Saint John’s gospel. There we read how the distraught Apostles, deprived of their Leader by the Crucifixion, had lost their fishing skills. However, the appearance of Jesus and his instructions restored their faith in themselves. A fact reinforced by the breakfast he had prepared for them. On reflection, the Apostles’ situation was rather similar to the position faced by the Elders and our Church. We too have lost our Leader, and are seeking a new one. Many think that the outlook is bleak. The congregation is aging. Is it worth having a new Minister? At this point we must be positive. It is true that our congregation is an aging one, but it is also an experienced one.
Some people think that our Sunday School is small. Small it may be, but it is keen and, mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow. Already the three children who represent our Sunday School show an ability for reading in Church, and an eagerness to be helpful. Frequently, I have seen them rushing around collecting Communion glasses. We have an able and effective Secretary who is capable of conducting our service when there is an unanticipated failure in our pulpit supply arrangements; whilst the Worship Group can, and does, cover when a predictable gap occurs. We have two very capable pianists to accompany our services, the importance of which was demonstrated very recently when the illness of one was covered seamlessly by the other [Incidentally, I know that everyone will join me in wishing Margery a speedy recovery.] The Church is indeed fortunate in having a strong musical presence. At least one of its members is quite capable of giving a solo performance. Neither are we short of readers, whilst the Church has an active and effective tea rota. We also boast both a thriving Fellowship, and a Craft Group which meet regularly. Both are well attended. Our buildings, including the Manse, are in good order and well maintained, thanks again to dedicated individuals. We are grateful too, to our Treasurer, our Members’ generosity, and the letting of our facilities to outside concerns, which enable our Books to balance. Let us go forward therefore in Faith, and trust that a new minister will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, our ex-Minister, Helen, has been inducted to her new pastorate in Gosport. She has therefore changed from being a “Lancashire Woolly-back” to being a “Hampshire-hog”. We wish her well in those balmy southern climes, and send her all our blessings, as well as good wishes for her, and her family’s, future happiness.
Ian F. Ferguson
TRUST IN GOD
My God, you have created me to do you some definite service.
You have given some definite work to me which you have not given to any other.
I have my place in your plan; I may never know what it is in this life,
but I will be told it in the next.
Therefore I will trust you in all things.
If I am sick, my sickness may serve you.
If I am worried, my worry may serve you.
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve you.
You do nothing in vain; You know what you are doing.
You may take away my friends; You may put me among strangers;
You may make me feel forgotten; You may make my spirits sink;
You may hide my future from me;
Still – You know what You are doing, and I trust you. Amen.
May 5th Acts 16: 9 – 15; Psalm 67; Psalm 109: 21 – 31; Revelation 21: 10, 22 – 22: 5; St John 14: 23 – 29
9th Ascension Day Acts 1: 1 – 11; Psalm 47 or 93 or Daniel 7: 9 – 14; Psalm 113; Ephesians 1: 15 – 23; St Luke 24: 44 – 53
12th Acts 16: 16 – 34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22: 12 – 14, 16 – 17, 20 – 21; St John 17: 20 – 26
19th Pentecost Acts 2: 1 – 21; Psalm 104: 24 – 34, 35b; Romans 8: 14 – 17; St John 14: 8 – 17, (25 – 27)
26th Trinity Sunday Proverbs 8: 1 – 4, 22 – 31; Psalm 8; Romans 5: 1 – 5; St John 16: 12 – 15
2nd 1 Kings 18: 20 – 21, (22 – 29), 30 – 39; Psalm 96; Psalm 96: 1 – 9; Galatians 1: 1 – 12; St Luke 7: 1 – 10
9th 1 Kings 17: 8 – 16, (17 – 24); Psalm 30; Galatians 1: 11 – 24; St Luke 7: 11 – 17
16th 1 Kings 21: 1 – 10, (11 – 14) 15 – 21a; 2 Samuel 11: 26 -12: 10, 13 -15; Psalm 32; Galatians 2: 15 – 21; St Luke 7: 36 – 8: 3
23rd 1 Kings 19: 1 – 4, (5 – 7), 8 – 15a; Isaiah 65: 1 – 9; Psalm 22: 19 – 28; Galatians 3: 23 – 29; St Luke 8: 26 – 39
30th 1 Kings 19: 15 – 16, 19 – 21; Psalm 16; Galatians 5: 1, 13 – 25; St Luke 9: 51 – 62
7th 2 Kings 5: 1 – 14; 66: 10 – 14; Psalm 66: 1 – 9; Galatians 6: (1 – 6), 7 – 16; St Luke 10: 1 – 11, 16 – 20
HELEN’S FAREWELL LUNCH 24th MAR 2013
Helen’s last Sunday service took place at Fulwood URC on Palm Sunday, 24th March . We were delighted that Mrs Margaret Thompson, the Chairman of Churches Together in Fulwood & Broughton was able to be present for the service and refreshments that followed. Immediately after the Benediction, Margaret made a presentation to Helen on behalf of Churches Together, thanking her for her faithful support of the covenanted churches work.
The Church Secretary then made a presentation to both Helen and Colin on behalf of the Church. At the request of several members, a shortened version follows:
“I think we have all just about recovered from the shock news that we heard in the middle of January when we learnt that Helen was to be moving on having accepted a call from two URC Churches in Gosport Hampshire in the Wessex Synod.
Well the last few weeks seemed to have whizzed by Helen has now conducted her last Sunday service. This realisation came home to me a few days ago collected my two younger grandchildren from Sherwood School. Michael, who is seven, told me that Rev’d Helen had been at school assembly that morning and “Guess what Granddad?” – she won’t be coming any more !
Helen has regularly taken part in the assembly at Sherwood School during her ministry here It serves to remind us all, that as well as being Minister here and at Christ Church Longridge Helen has had a wider ministry in schools, residential homes and in the work of charities. If any of you have wondered why our latest Newsletter has a vivid tangerine cover – well it’s a reminder of the first time Helen went to Sherwood School wearing her clerical collar with her tangerine top. The headmaster Mr Fann is an ardent Preston North End supporter .He was horrified to think that a Blackpool Supporter was to take part in his assembly and was much relieved to be told by Helen that she doesn’t support any football team !.
Seriously though, I am sure Helen’s ministry at Sherwood School was much appreciated. Indeed you may remember that the first year we supported Operation Christmas Child the children at that school supported us with a goodly number of shoe boxes.
It is almost six years since the memorable occasion of Helen’s ordination and induction at Christ Church on 30th June 2007. These have passed very quickly as I am sure they have for Helen
For a newly ordained minister having just left College, I am sure that a normal two church pastorate is something of stiff challenge involving a steep learning curve – but for one church to be a URC church in an urban location and the other to be a joint Methodist / URC Local Ecumenical Partnership and the only non- conformist church in a more rural community, – the learning curve must have been particularly steep at least initially. Just think of the differences in traditions, the number of meetings, two Churches Together groups and the demands from both wider denominations. Part of the learning curve for us the congregation has been that joint pastorate arrangements are now the norm and that the Minister’s ministry is not only shared between the two churches but with the wider world and with ecumenical groups. .
Looking back over the last six years as well as for all our regular services of worship, we will all recall particular special services, memorable visits, meetings or events for which we are especially grateful to Helen and for all of which we give thanks to God,
Some personal memories outside the church are visits to Manchester Cathedral for the induction of the Moderator Richard Church, to the Windermere Centre for Bible Study, to Harrogate for an introduction to Christian Resource Centre, Helen’s involvement the Moderator’s Cycle Ride and visiting the Shekinah Christian Centre at Burnley, a visit to Radcliffe in support of the formation of a Synod Retreat Group which now meets here from time to time, attending a fascinating talk at Darwen by her former college lecturer Dr Janet Tollington on the Old Testament, her several attempts to move forward our church’s mission with day events here, at the Rufford Centre and Rydal Hall and not least our Strawberry tea raising money for Advent fair – although I am not sure that the image of our minister dressed as a strawberry is perhaps the best one to leave you with.- but I will never forget the expression on the face of Dorothy Danson’s grand-daughter as she shook hands with a clerical strawberry.
I hope that Helen and Colin will take away many happy memories of their time in Preston and a load of experiences which will help in her future ministry.
The events of last year’s Preston Guild will I am sure, hold special memories – the Ecumenical Service in the Guild Hall, – our joint service with friends from Christ Church led by the former Assembly Moderator and the following amazing Ecumenical service on Avenham Park- the wonderful friendly atmosphere at the Churches procession with all the churches working so well together to present the Living Christ to the people of Preston.
Whilst I feel sure we are all sorry that Helen is leaving us, I know both Helen & Colin go with our very best wishes and our thoughts and prayers will be with them on 20th April when Helen will be inducted to the Joint Pastorate of Bury Road and St Columba’s URC Churches Gosport and we ask God’s blessing on her ministry in the Wessex Synod.” In addition to a substantial cheque thanks to the generosity of our members, Helen was presented with a small cut-glass flower vase and Colin a silver paper knife both engraved as mementos of Preston, and in response to the predilection of drinking tea or coffee from mugs rather than cups, a pair of Preston Guild 2012 Mugs.
A most enjoyable buffet lunch was then shared by all the members able to stay and to take the opportunity of a final farewell to both Helen and Colin. (Thanks to Ian Ferguson for the photographs)
PS We received the following e-mail from Helen a couple of days before her Induction Service at Gosport:
“We are now relatively settled and mostly straight – no sign of any packing cases – but will probably have to hunt for things when I need them, as I don’t always remember where they live now!
Colin has started work in Cuckfield and is enjoying his new role there.
The money from Fulwood very helpfully provided some new study furniture which Charlotte and Paddy kindly put together for us last weekend – so please pass on my thanks to everyone.”
WELCOME POPE FRANCIS
Following the announcement of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the first non-European Pope in almost 1300 years, Richard Mortimer, the URC’s deputy general secretary says: “We all at the United Reformed Church assure Pope Francis of our prayers and all good wishes as he begins his work as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.”
The following message was sent from the World Communion of Reformed Churches ;
Dear Pope Francis,
With gratitude to God for your election as the Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, we congratulate you. We received the news of your election this evening with joy. As we congratulate you, we also assure you of our continued prayers as you begin this major responsibility of your ministry in the Lord’s vineyard.
Your election as the first Latin American Pope signals for us an acknowledgement that the recognition of the Worldwide impact of the Catholic Church. We are touched by your humility. The name you have chosen is a sign for us that attention to the plight of the poor and justice for all people will be important for you.
Our world today is in critical need of credible leadership which will challenge the forces of death as seen in injustice in the global economy, human disregard for the environment, militarism and violence, particularly against women and children – unfortunately sometimes perpetrated even in the church. We hope as the Pope you will model leadership that will contribute to transformation of the world.
During the past 42 years, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have engaged in a series of bilateral theological conversations on the presence of Christ in the Church and the world, our common understanding of the Church, the Church as a community of common witness to the Kingdom of God, and Justification and Sacramentality. It is our hope that in the coming years, the Roman Catholic Church, under your leadership, and the Reformed churches will harvest the spiritual fruits of this dialogue dedicated also to the healing of memories.
We would like to experience the Roman Catholic Church increase its ecumenical engagement. We would like to see your Papal tenure as an era of commitment to furthering how our churches live out the gift of Christian unity that we have received from the Lord.
On behalf of our President, Rev. Dr. Jerry Pillay, the Vice Presidents, Executive Committee, staff and the entire World Communion of Reformed Churches family, we congratulate you. As a sign of our praying with you as you take on the papal mantle, the World Communion of Reformed Churches looks forward to being represented at your installation when the time is determined. We will also seek an opportune time to visit you in the Vatican, to congratulate you personally and to continue to develop together directions of future cooperation.
We pray that you and the entire Roman Catholic Church will experience the best of God’s blessings during your papacy.
WCRC General Secretary
LAY PRESIDENCY AT THE SACRAMENTS
Last spring I attended a training session for ‘Lay Presidency at the Sacraments’. After this the Church meeting agreed to my name being passed to the Area Pastoral Committee for approval to conduct Communion Services at Fulwood URC.
At the training, led by Rev Hilary Collinson, in small groups we were asked to think about the various aspects of communion and decide into which of four categories they fit – Theology, Pastoral, Practical or Other. The groups then shared and discussed their results with Hilary giving further explanations. Some of the aspects we thought about were:
Remembering – thinking about Jesus at the Last Supper.
Inviting – we are invited to share as Jesus invited his disciples.
Sharing – we gather around the table to share bread & wine and also share a common thread with other churches.
Renewal of faith, fellowship & following the commandment of Jesus.
Frequency – how often should communion be celebrated to maintain the feeling of it being a special service.
Timing – how long should the service be and at which point should communion be celebrated?
Home communion – invite other church members to share so that the fellowship element can be included?
After a tea break, we followed the same process for Baptism which raised far more questions as this service is far more likely to involve people who aren’t regular church-goers or people of other denominations who are unused to our normal form of service even if the parents are part of the church family. We agreed that the it was necessary explain what is happening during the service without making visitors feel uncomfortable, eg saying “We will now stand and sing hymn …” or “We will remain seated as we hear the Bible reading” etc. Additional questions need to be answered when the parents aren’t church-goers as they, and any god-parents, are asked to make promises to provide a Christian upbringing so it is a good idea to provide copies of the vows to be taken so that the parents & godparents can decide whether they are able to commit to them. The responsibility doesn’t end after the final hymn as the congregation also promise to provide opportunities for Christian education so there should be some follow up with the family after the Baptism.
Altogether it was a very interesting and thought-provoking afternoon and, I hope you will think, good preparation for taking my first Communion Service in June.
I don’t know why I didn’t realise this sooner – it’s the shampoo we use in the shower.
When I wash my hair, the shampoo runs down my whole body, and printed very clearly on the shampoo label is this warning: “For extra volume and body”. No wonder I have been gaining weight! I am getting rid of the shampoo and am going to use dishwashing liquid instead because its label reads: “Dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove”.
The Roman Catholic priest was hospital visiting and saw a list in Sister’s office with the names of the patients on it. After each name as a small “rc” or “p”. He was delighted that the majority had “rc” after their names. When he told the Sister that he was pleased that so many were of his faith, she said, “But that’s not their religion. It is the breakfast list and it means that 23 want rice crispies and 3 want porridge”.
Thanks to Christ Church URC Little Lever
THE SMALLER BEATITUDES
Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves: they will have no end of fun.
Blessed are those who can tell a mountain from a molehill: they will be saved a lot of bother.
Blessed are those who know how to relax without looking for excuses: they are on the way to becoming wise.
Blessed are those who know when to be quiet and listen: they will learn a lot of new things.
Blessed are those who are sane enough not to take themselves too seriously: they will be valued by those about them.
Happy are you if you can take small things seriously and face serious things calmly: you will go far in life.
Happy are you if you can appreciate a smile and forget a frown: you will walk on the sunny side of the street.
Happy are you if you can be kind in understanding the attitude of others: you may be taken for a fool, but this is the price of charity
Happy are you if you know when to hold your tongue and smile: the Gospel has begun to seep into your heart.
Blessed are they who think before acting and pray before thinking: they will avoid many blunders.
Blessed are those who recognise the Lord in all whom they meet: the light of truth shines in their lives. They have found true wisdom.
“There are two days in every week about which we should not worry; two days that should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow’s sun will rise either in splendour or behind a mask of clouds – but it will rise without our help! Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.
This leaves only one day – today. Most of us can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when we add the burdens of yesterday and tomorrow that we break down.
Very often it is not the experience of today that drives us mad – it is the remorse or bitterness for something that happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us therefore live one day at a time.
NEVER TOO BUSY TO CARE
Lord, make me so sensitive to the needs of those around me that I never fail to know when they’re hurting or afraid; or when they’re simply crying out for someone’s touch to ease their loneliness.
Let me love so much that my first thought is of others and my last thought is of me.
At our March meeting, we had a very enjoyable hot pot supper and table top games evening including a daffodil version of beetle and an alphabet quiz (Why does Myrtle always pick the same obscure answers as me when I try to be really clever?!!) Our thanks are due to Margery for all her hard work in spite of feeling under the weather.
In April, Veronica Frost returned to give a superb and very entertaining and comprehensive talk about her visit to Thailand. On her visit there a couple of years ago, she was accompanied by a friend with previous experience of Thailand, which added to the inside knowledge of the country. The talk was beautifully illustrated with excellent photographs and a variety of those souvenirs which Veronica had manage to squeeze into her suitcase. An excellent evening at which the collection for the SPACE Centre in Pedders Lane, which provides care for disabled people and their families, realised the sum of £34.00
Ruth Bruce will return on Thursday 9th May to tell us about the final leg of her long walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End. This includes the last section to the Lizard which we didn’t reach in her last talk as time ran out ! A collection be taken for the Ruth’s chosen charity – Life Education Lancashire – visiting schools and encouraging healthy choices.
The Churches Together Pilgrimage this year Is to Saltaire and takes place on Saturday 14th September. The cost, including the coach, a meal and coffee is £20.00. For further details and booking forms, see Jean Dunsmore.
We were all saddened to hear of the sudden death of Rev’d Peter Williams, the Deacon of Our Lady and St Edwards. Peter was the faithful secretary of CTFB for many years and only retired in 2011. We send our sincere condolences to Peter’s family and friends and all at Our Lady and St Edwards.
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.
1st May – Embrace the Middle East (formerly Biblelands)
Lisa Toner will tell us about their work supporting the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the Middle East.
5th June – Songs with a Social Conscience Leo Roberts will be singing and inviting us to join in with some famous and some less well known songs.
3rd July BBQ – Short Lancashire Area meeting followed by a relaxing time enjoying a BBQ together.
TEN WISE SAYINGS
1. Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble: it is a “steering wheel” that directs us in the right path throughout life.
2. Do you know why a car’s windshield is so large and the rear view mirror is so small? Because our past is not as important as our future. So, look ahead and move on.
3. Friendship is like a Book – it takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.
4. All things in life are temporary. If going well – enjoy it – they will not last forever.
If going wrong, don’t worry, they won’t last forever either.
5. Old friends are like Gold! New friends are Diamonds! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold. Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a base of Gold.
6. Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, God smiles from above and says, “Relax, it’s just a bend, not the end!”
7. When God solves your problems, you have faith in His abilities; when God doesn’t solve your problems He has faith in your abilities.
8. A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?”
He replied: “Yes, losing your vision.”
9. When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them; and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.
10. Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s Troubles: it takes away today’s Peace.