November – December 2015 Newsletter

PASTORAL LETTER NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2015

Dear Friends,

Sadly I was unable to attend the NW Synod meeting at Greenmount URC, Bury in October, which was disappointing, not least because I had done my homework and studied the Book of reports beforehand. However, I did receive two extra things from Synod which have also occupied my thinking. Firstly, an additional item which was added to the agenda on the day – an emergency resolution (which was passed unanimously) on the plight of the refugees – details are included in the Notes of Synod on p7 and, secondly, a copy of the Prayer Handbook 2016 from the Synod bookstall.

Several of the prayers for January have been written by Rev’d John Proctor, the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church who I had the pleasure of meeting when I collected him at Preston Station on his visit to Fulwood earlier in the year in connection with the appointment of the new NW Moderator. The one for Epiphany included this verse:

“As the magi journeyed far through lonely lands, we pray for people who these days are filled with travel – pilgrims and refugees, migrants and messengers, amid the fear and hopes of the road, may their ways be safe and sure.”

Refugees and migrants are certainly in the news at present and pilgrims have been mentioned in several recent newsletters. At Rev’d Richard Church’s farewell service, reference was made to the pilgrimage he made during his sabbatical – travelling as a pilgrim walking with the bare minimum in his rucksack and following the footsteps of the millions who, over the centuries, have walked the pilgrim way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. A journey which Bishop Geoff, the Anglican Bishop of Lancaster, has also made and with whom Richard shared his experiences.

By coincidence, the current Bible Study discussions at Penwortham URC are based on the film “The Way”, which stars Martin Sheen as a bereaved father, who along with a disparate group of pilgrims is walking the Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela. As it follows their journey of inner transformation, we are and will be examining the biblical accounts and images of salvation past, present and future.

The Bible Study is using “The Long road to Heaven” written by the Rev’d Tim Heaton, a parish priest in the diocese of Salisbury. Reform Magazine reported: “The Long Road to Heaven takes us up to mountain tops and brings opportunities to spend much longer exploring particular areas, along with plenty of interesting paths down which to be side-tracked.”

The resolution passed at Synod reminds us that the whole Biblical story is of a people regularly on the move and we are reminded that Jesus and his family sought asylum in Egypt to excape Herod’s murderous intentions. As the hymn says, “We’re a travelling, wandering race, we’re the people of God.”

As we move into the time of Advent and prepare again to celebrate Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, may we make time, among the busy-ness of this period, to wonder and reflect on the significance of God’s greatest gift. For those with access to the internet, the NW Synod has prepared a series of daily devotions for Advent and Christmas.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and Blessed and Peaceful New Year.

Mac Dunsmore

 

Jesus, God’s gift, comes to each of us just as we are, wherever we are and whoever we are.

 

CHRISTMAS PRESENT LIST

Give to your enemy … forgiveness

Give to your opponent … tolerance

Give to a friend … your heart

Give to a customer … service

Give to all men … charity

Give to every child … a good example

Give to yourself … respect

Anon

 

NOTES FROM SYNOD – OCTOBER 2015

The North Western Synod gathered in Greemount URC on Saturday 10th October.

The church is a listed building which has just been refurbished and is the only church in the village. The minister and elders use this context well and have a vibrant outreach in the village. We enjoyed their warm hospitality as we spent the day in prayer and worship, reflection and study, and discernment and business.

Desert Island Moderator

The Synod Executive Committee had agreed to ask our new Moderator, Andrew

Mills, to produce a selection of music for an interview, with Andy Braunston, our Clerk, based on the Radio 4 Desert Island Discs format. Andrew chose a variety of tracks: Verdi’s Requiem, Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, Vale Decem from Dr Who,

Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission, and Switchfoot’s This is Home. Andrew spoke movingly about being adopted and finding his identity, coming to faith, meeting

Ruth – his wife, ministry in various Synods, a struggle, 20 years ago, with mental illness, and his hopes for his ministry within the Synod. A recording of this will shortly appear on our website.

Bible Study

The Rev Dr Kathy White led us in a Bible study based on the command “Hear O Israel” from Deuteronomy 6: 4-9. Mrs White showed how it is hard to get an accurate translation from the Hebrew, the fact that the Hebrews saw the seat of emotion as being in the gut, the command to repeat the Laws of God, and left us with a challenge to see how our rituals in church life either distract or help us hear God’s commands. Lively discussion in small groups followed and ideas were shared about how to rebalance the time we spend together in Synod between small group discussion and Area meetings and how we could spend more time in Bible study together.

Reports

Reports which had been previously circulated from the: Synod Executive, Learning and Ministries, Cumbria, Lancashire, Central and South Area Pastoral Committees as well as from the Woodward Trust were adopted. Finlay Galloway and the Rev’d John Piper addressed Synod about the work of the Synod Resources Committee and on our finances. All the reports were received and the Moderator thanked all those who played a part in our common life together through the work of these committees. In particular Andrew thanked those who had done so much to ensure a smooth transition between Richard Church’s departure and his arrival.

Matters Referred from General Assembly

Various matters had been referred to the Synods from General Assembly. Some were changes to the Structure, one was a resolution from General Assembly on Same Sex Marriage – the effect of which would be to say that the URC would offer no view on this but declared that the competent Council to decide on whether to offer marriage to lesbian and gay couples would be the local Church Meeting. The Clerk had sent details of these four matters to members of Synod and no one had indicated that they wished to propose that “this matter be not proceed with” (If five or more Synods propose this then the matter would not go back to General Assembly for a final vote.) Consequently Andy has written to the General Secretary saying that the NW Synod has not raised any objection to these matters.

Refugees

The Clerk (pictured) introduced an emergency resolution calling on the government to do more to help the refugees who are coming to Europe to escape war, oppression and persecution. The resolution was drafted by the East Midlands Synod who asked the other Synods to consider it. The resolution noted that the command to ‘love the stranger’ is an essential part of our faith and this command comes always with a reminder, that we were once strangers ourselves. The whole biblical story is of a people called, or driven, to leave a settled existence and move on and out to a strange land. Andy noted that the Holy Family were refugees who fled Herod’s murderous pogrom and that, within our own tradition we look back to stories of ejection from the established church, and for some that meant travelling across the Atlantic in a tiny ship to find a safe place to live and worship. It is because we ourselves are strangers that Christians are glad to offer true hospitality and welcome to those who come to us as strangers, and especially those who come because they are fleeing war and persecution.

As hundreds of thousands flee war zones and travel across the Mediterranean in leaky boats and walk thousands of miles across one European country after another seeking security as Christians we need to respond with the open arms of welcome, generosity and compassion. Andy also noted that our churches already work with asylum seekers and refugees and noted the work of the churches in Moss Side, Oldham and Darwen in particular. He mentioned that half the members of the Metropolitan Congregation of Wilbraham St Ninian’s are refugees or asylum seekers and was about to be ordained as an elder. Andy also praised the work of the Rev’d Fleur Houston in this area. The resolution called on the government to do more noting that we are a very rich country noting that far from being a burden on the state, refugees bring much needed skills and experience which will enrich and not impoverish us. Synod, therefore, unanimously called upon the Government to: recognise its responsibility to help protect refugees arriving in Europe; with European partners to provide safe and legal routes into Europe to tackle people smuggling and

traffickers; promote the establishment of proper, EU run processing centres at key borders; accept its fair share of refugees who have arrived in Europe, in cooperation with other member states of the European Union; make necessary arrangements to provide immediate shelter and support for refugees and longer term to arrange for full resettlement for those wishing to remain; and to provide local authorities who are taking refugees with additional financial resources to help meet the costs. Andy will now write to the government to express our concern.

Worship

As always we balanced our day between study, reports, fellowship, and worship.

The Rev’d Andrew Lonsdale led opening worship with a reflection on our business skilfully blending the hymns Be Still for the Presence of the Lord and Christ Be Our Light has he helped us reflect on our purpose for the day. Our Moderator led us in a celebration of Holy Communion using material which had been devised by the Moderators. The hymns represented a variety of traditions and included: Lord Thy Church on Earth Is Seeking, The Servant King, In Christ Alone and We Have a Gospel to proclaim. Andrew reflected on mission in his sermon and, after we had used the responsive version of the Statement of the Nature, Faith and Order of the URC, the Rev’d Jane Rowell was inducted as Mission Enabler for the North Western and Northern Synods.

 

CHRISTMAS CAROLS

One night as Christmas approached, some friends decided to go carol singing. A man answered the door of one house, and gasped as they launched into the opening carol. Within half a minute there were tears welling up in his eyes. The carollers sang and sang, and the man looked more and more moved by what he heard. As the carollers stopped, one ventured: “I understand – you are sad because our singing reminds you of your happy childhood Christmas days.” The man looked at her with misery in his eyes, “No,” he whispered back, “Its just that’ I am a musician!”

Thanks to St Mary’s Penwortham


OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD – SHOEBOX COLLECTION

Our Shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child will be dedicated during our Remembrance Day Communion Service on 8th November. If you are unable to attend church that day you can drop your box off on Friday 4th November between 6:30pm & 7:30pm – and why not join us for Hymn Practice while you are there (or any other Friday as it isn’t just for the people who sit in the choir!)

 

CHURCHES TOGETHER IN FULWOOD & BROUGHTON

The Annual Carol Singing in the main entrance of the Royal Preston Hospital will be at 2:00pm on Saturday 19th December.

More volunteers are urgently needed to staff the Information Desk at the Hospital as, for various reasons, a number of existing volunteers have been lost. Please consider and pray about the possibility of helping.

 

Lectionary Readings November & December 2015

November

1st     Ruth 1: 1 – 18; Psalm 146 or Deuteronomy 6: 1 – 9; Psalm 119: 1 – 8; Hebrews 9: 11 – 14; St Mark 12: 28 – 34

         All Saints: Isaiah 25: 6 – 9; Psalm 24; Revelation 7: 9 -17; St John 11: 32 – 44

8th     Ruth 3: 1 – 5, 4: 13 – 17; Psalm 127 or 1 Kings 17: 8 – 16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9: 24 – 28; St Mark 12: 38 – 44

15th  1 Samuel 1: 4 – 20; 1 Samuel 2: 1 – 10 or Daniel 12: 1 – 3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10: 11 – 14, (15 – 18),19 – 25; St Mark 13: 1 – 8

22nd  2 Samuel 23: 1 – 7; Psalm 132: 1 – 12, (13 – 18) or Daniel 7: 9 – 10, 13 – 14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1: 4b – 8; St John 18: 33 – 37

29th  First Sunday of Advent: Jeremiah 33: 14 – 16; Psalm 25: 1 – 10; 1 Thessalonians 3: 9 – 13; St Luke 21: 25 – 36

December

6th     Second Sunday of Advent: Malachi 3: 1 – 4; Psalm 27 or St Luke 1: 68 – 79; Philippians 1: 3 – 11; St Luke 3: 1 – 6

13th  Third Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3: 14 – 20; Psalm 45 or Isaiah 12: 2 – 6; Philippians 4: 4 – 7; St Luke 3: 7 – 18

20th  Fourth Sunday of Advent: Micah 5: 2 – 5a; Psalm 80: 1 – 7 or St Luke 1: 47 – 55; Hebrews 10: 5 – 10; St Luke 1: 39 – 45, (46 – 55)

25th  Nativity of the Lord:

         IIsaiah 9: 2 – 7; Psalm 96; Titus 2: 11 – 14; St Luke 2: 1 – 14, (15 – 20)

Or     II – Isaiah 62: 6 – 12; Psalm 97; Titus 3: 4 – 7; St Luke 2: (1 – 7), 8 – 20

Or     III – Isaiah 52: 7 – 10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1: 1 – 4, (5 – 12); St John 1: 1 – 14

27th  I Samuel 2: 18 – 20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3: 12 – 17; St Luke 2: 41 – 52

January

1st     The Naming of Jesus: Numbers 6: 22 – 27; Psalm 8; Galatians 4: 4 – 7 or Philippians 2: 5 – 11; St Luke 2: 15 – 21

         New Year’s Day: Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 13; Psalm 8; Revelation 21: 1 – 6a; St Matthew 25: 31 – 46

3rd     Second Sunday after Christmas: Jeremiah 31: 7 – 14; Psalm 147: 12 – 20; Ephesians 1: 3 – 14; St John 1: (1 – 9), 10 – 18

6th     Epiphany of the Lord: Isaiah 60: 1 – 6; Psalm 72: 1 – 7, 10 – 14; Ephesians 3: 1 – 12; St Matthew 2: 1 – 12

10th  First Sunday after the Epiphany (Baptism of the Lord): Isaiah 43: 1 – 7; Psalm 29; Acts 8: 14 – 17; St Luke 3: 15 – 17, 21 – 22

 

SYNOD RESOURCES FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS

Advent and Christmas are busy times for everyone – with all the preparations, visiting family, and extra services which mark that time of the year it can be very hard to get space to think and reflect on the season.

In order to help create some space for reflection we have prepared a devotion for every day of Advent and Christmas. Each devotion will be emailed to those who sign up for them and consist of a hymn or song, a Biblical reading and a reflection. There will be a link so you can listen to the hymn or song on YouTube and the lyrics will be printed too. This series of 39 devotions will start on Sunday 29th November – the first Sunday of Advent – and will continue until Wednesday 6th January, Epiphany.

The reflect a range of hymns and songs – familiar and unfamiliar and will help to give space to reflect and pray as we journey through this season together. If you wish to receive them please sign up at http://eepurl.com/bCEnFb

 

THANK YOU FROM THE SALVATION ARMY

Some of the produce displayed at our Harvest Service and what was left from the fruit & vegetable stall at the Autumn Fair were taken to the Salvation Army in Harrington St and we were given the following letter:

Preston

Salvation Army

Church and Community Centre

                                                                              16th October 2015

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your kind donations of food during harvest four our community food bank. The need for food is still extremely high. Especially when the school holidays are here we have had a huge number of families coming for assistance. At the moment we are averaging around 300-400 food parcels given out monthly to the homeless and people in need. We have upped the amount of food we now give to someone in need from 5 days worth to around 7 days worth.

We have slightly changed our system of working this year. Everyone that comes to us for assistance with food needs to bring a referral from an organisation such as Citizens Advice, Welfare Benefits, Probation or Social Services. We then know why the person/s are in crisis. We can help once a month for three different months. If help is needed a fourth time then we sit down with the individual and have a food crisis interview. This is a way of seeing if any other forms of help are needed and to make sure they are in genuine need. We keep a record of everyone that has been to our centre and the reasons why. At present our database shows we have helped 1962 individuals/families this year.

Without the help we receive from you and other members of the public we wouldn’t be able to help as many community members as we do.

God bless

Yours sincerely

Claire Hobson

General Assistant.

 

CHRISTMAS TREE SERVICE

Our Annual Christmas Tree Service will be held on Sunday 6th December. We have always asked for gifts for this service which are passed on to the Salvation Army for distribution. The have said that they would particularly appreciate any of the following products:

Baby toys or gifts; teenage gifts; selection boxes; craft items; books; wrapping paper; gift bags; perfumes/aftershaves; jewellery; make up sets; new baby clothing; baby blankets; teddy bears; coffee, sugar, long life milk. If you could donate any of these, they will be gratefully received.

Thank you.

 

New Moderator

You will have read in the May/June newsletter about the process by which our new Synod Moderator was appointed so it was good to be able to attend the induction of Rev Andrew Mills on 12th September. The service was held in the St Peter’s Centre (chaplaincy for Manchester University). We were advised, if not using public transport, to park on a nearby multi-storey car park opposite which there was a service road leading to St Peter’s. The road was easy to find but a way in to the building wasn’t quite so obvious as it was the back door with intercom access, the advantage for one of my passengers was that it was right by the lift to the first floor chapel. The service, attended by representatives from around the NW Synod, members of his family and members of his last pastorate, was led by Rev Brian Jolly and the preacher was Rev Nigel Uden (formerly of St Annes URC). As part of the service, before he was inducted, Andrew spoke briefly about his background which led to him becoming a minister and now Moderator.

The final sentence of the Synod profile issued to candidate stated that some Committee meetings are held away from the Manchester office, mainly at Fulwood URC… Andrew has been to Fulwood URC twice in his first fortnight as Moderator – on 10th September he came to the Lancashire Area Retired Ministers lunch and was back again on 14th September for the Area Pastoral Committee meeting so he definitely knows where we are!

Margery Pitcher

 

Roving Reporter

Your Roving Reporter had a few days in Cumbria at the beginning of October, staying in a lovely B&B near Brampton. We planned our route carefully, getting off the motorway at Tebay so that we could go via Kennedy’s chocolate shop in Orton for morning coffee and cheese scones (they do beautiful cakes too). It is very tempting getting to the cafe as access is through the shop full of dozens of kinds of chocolate but we resisted temptation and crossed the A6 to drop down to Keld Chapel and Shap Abbey. It was back on the motorway for a while towards Carlisle where we turned off to Wetheral to visit the Abbey Gatehouse and where we found a tea shop for our afternoon brew. From there we went to Brampton, described as a ‘market town with cobbled streets’. We expected a quiet, old-fashioned, little place and were surprised to find it very busy as it was the end of market day. The Pre-Raphaelite Parish Church of St Martin’s has a set of stained-glass windows designed by Edward Burne-Jones. A few miles outside Brampton is the Old Schoohouse, Hallbankgate where we were to stay. As is was a beautiful day there was a magnificent view from the breakfast room/lounge over the Solway Firth to Scotland.

The following day we walked round Geltside, an RSPB nature reserve which includes Lindale Tarn before moving on to Talkin Tarn for another walk. On the way back to our B&B we called at Gelt Woods but cut short our walk there when the mud was getting deeper than our shoes. Next morning we couldn’t see the Solway from the breakfast room and the mist didn’t really clear properly all day but we visited Birdoswald Fort on Hadrians wall and Lanercost Priory. On Saturday morning we couldn’t see much past the end of the garden from the breakfast room so we decided it wasn’t a day for sight-seeing and headed off for the motorway passing fog warnings over Shap. We made another detour to Orton for another morning coffee and this time we did spend a little in the shop.

We enjoyed our little break but there was one disappointment… Despite visiting a church, a chapel, an abbey and two priories I didn’t find any newsletters with useful articles!

Margery Pitcher

 

Lay Preachers / Worship Leaders weekend

The NW Synod Lay Preachers / Worship Leaders weekend was held at Windermere 16-18 October and about 18 people attended. Several of the regulars couldn’t come this year but there were some new faces to replace them. After dinner on Friday evening we had a Bible Study with Lawrence Moore and a second session on Saturday morning. For the rest of the day the group split with the Lay Preachers having sessions on preparing for, and leading, funerals and weddings led by Rev Rosalind Selby (Principal of Northern College), while the Worship Leaders met with Carole Sutcliffe (Synod Lay Preachers Commissioner) to look at All Age Worship and look at Luke’s gospel which is the Lectionary Gospel for the year beginning on Advent Sunday 2015. As usual, the conversations over meals and between sessions are just as useful as the formal sessions, sharing ideas with other people or listening to Rosalind talking about St Paul’s ministry over trifle. Talking to some of the new faces after we had finished on Saturday evening, they were all very satisfied with the course, accommodation and fellowship. As I was coming back to church on Sunday morning I wasn’t able to join in the ‘summing up & feedback’ session before attending Carver Church for the morning service but I look forward to next year’s course.

Margery Pitcher

 

Rotas for November & December 2015

  Welcoming Reading Refreshments
1st Nov Viv Manners

Jean Dunsmore

Jean Fazackerley

Jean Dunsmore

Kath Farquhar

& Mavis Orrell

8th Nov Brian Fazackerley

Mavis Orrell

Craig Millar

Viv Manners

Norman &

Elizabeth Croll

15th Nov Jean Dunsmore

Norman Croll

Margery Pitcher

Greta Temperley

Mavis Orrell &

Margery Pitcher

22nd Nov Mavis Orrell

Viv Manners

Jean Fazackerley

Brian Fazackerley

Norman &

Elizabeth Croll

29th Nov Frances Fraser

Brian Fazackerley

Richard Fraser

Craig Millar

Frances &

Richard Fraser

6th Dec Norman Croll

Jean Dunsmore

Ben Millar

James Millar

Jean Dunsmore &

Greta Temperley

13th Dec Viv Manners

Mavis Orrell

Viv Manners

Margery Pitcher

Norman &

Elizabeth Croll

20th Dec Jean Dunsmore

Norman Croll

Jean Dunsmore

Brian Fazackerley

Mavis Orrell &

Greta Temperley

Norman Croll

Viv Manners

Carols by Candlelight
27th Dec Brian Fazackerley

Margery Pitcher

Greta Temperley

Ben Millar

Jean Dunsmore &

Margery Pitcher

3rd Jan Norman Croll

Jean Dunsmore

James Millar

Viv Manners

Norman &

Elizabeth Croll

10th Jan Mavis Orrell

Brian Fazackerley

Jean Fazackerley

Jean Dunsmore

Mavis Orrell &

Greta Temperley

 Tea, coffee, biscuits etc are supplied by the Church If you are unable to attend when you are on duty, please arrange a swap with someone and notify Mac Dunsmore or Margery Pitcher.

* * * CAN YOU HELP? * * *

Could you help with some of the duties on Sunday mornings?

 Our team of people willing to help prepare & serve the refreshments and wash up afterwards is dwindling – please consider if you could help occasionally. The more people we have on the rota the less often each team would need to be on duty.

 Please see Margery if you feel able to help. Thank you.

 

 

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