Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Harvest Festival


The last of this year's Harvest Festivals happens on Sunday at 11am at St Peter's Mill End. We would love to welcome you to join us!

The poster below makes some suggestions of things you may like to bring including traditional Harvest produce and some extra money which will go to support the work of USPG in the Philippines. Our ongoing work supporting refugees needs - nappies, wipes, socks, pants, toilet paper, toothbrushes and shampoo.

Immediately following the service, (realistically around 12.15pm), there will be a Bring and Share lunch in the parish hall. It would be wonderful if you felt you could stay!

Pray. Give. Act

St Benedict
In the Prologue to his Rule, St Benedict’s hope is to establish ‘… a school of the Lord’s service.’ The aim of which is to enable people to live out the Gospel daily not just in worship but how they interact with each other.

The thing is, I am concerned, like many of you, about the way that the church is viewed especially in relation to issues that, as far as society is concerned, the boat has already sailed on.  We risk becoming a laughing stock. If the media is a mirror held up to the C of E, what we see reflected back at the moment is endless discussions about sexuality. Indeed even in in the press this week the Archbishop of Canterbury is giving confusing and mixed messages. He confessed that he was copping out on giving an opinion on whether gay sex was sinful because, even though the differing voices in the church are irreconcilable, he personally is struggling with the issue. 


Human sexuality, global poverty, war, the environment are not issues to be solved, but rather are the arena in which people live their lives. If we are serious about being, what Bishop Paul Bayes calls ‘the Church of England in England for England’ then we need to give up trying to work out how many angels there are on a pinhead, and instead return to what Benedict suggests in the Prologue.

I’ll put it another way. More an more people are being turned off the faith by what is seen as disagreements on doctrinal minutiae or simple petty infighting.

Despite that, I don’t believe God has given up on the church. I believe that He longs to see us grow in number and in spiritual depth. If we are to see this happen amongst in this parish it will require some things from all of us:

  1. Pray. We pray for the church through the world in our intercessory prayers. Benedict encourages those who follow his rule to make prayer the first step in all things. So could I encourage you all to pray for our parish; pray that God will grow us in number and depth; pray for specific things our parish does such as Play and Praise or In Touch and use the parish prayer diary every day.
  2. Give.  Thank you for those of you who give of your time and your talent to sing, to lead prayers, to read readings, to help clean churches, arrange flowers, make refreshments, organise groups and so on. Thank you also to those of you who give your money to keep the church’s ministry in this parish going. The thing is we face a real challenge just keeping on keeping on. Our parish runs on what we each give financially. There is no big pot of central money and our reserves are not huge. Can you give differently? Can you give more? What would you give your time and money to that the church is not currently doing to reach out to others?
  3. Act.  The thing is, the church wont grow just because the preaching is good, or the worship is well timed or engaging, or because there is wonderful work with the elderly or with children. Those all contribute, but the only way the church will grow is if new people come, and more of them. It seems so obvious. Those new people wont come and discover the worship or preaching or other work we do if we don’t invite them. More people than ever in our nation have no historic connection with the church because they were taken by their parents. When did each of us last invite someone new? We need to develop a culture of invitation and welcome as a matter of urgency. When the PCC meets in November, I hope we will spend some significant time together reflecting on these three strands.

A while ago we had some conversations in small groups. One of the prevailing things that came out of those discussions was an awareness within the communities of our parish and across the age profiles of how isolated people are. This is one of the big issues facing communities like ours. The church, as a general rule is good at responding to social issues, but I was at a meeting recently where Bishop Alan soberly reminded that unless we get better at inviting, welcoming and teaching the faith - in fewer years than we think - there will be fewer and fewer people to drive projects such as these forward.

Friends I want us to grow in confident faith and also in number, but I cant do this on my own. When the ministry team meets next we will be discussing and prayerfully planning opportunities that I hope we will each take to do just that this year. But not just this year, to enable this to just become what we do and who we are.


I hope each of you will: pray for the parish in a renewed way; review how, what, where and when you give your time and your talent; and act - seeking to work with me in developing a culture of invitation and welcome. My prayer is that that plus opportunities to learn and grow like I mention above will allow us to grow in number but also in depth of faith in the months that lie ahead.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Our Worship Times as of 1st October 2017

5th Sundays - we worship as a parish family. See noticeboards for details of venue.


Sunday, 6 August 2017

School Bag Blessing

At the start of a new school year we'd love to invite you to a special service where we will bless school bags or pencil cases, asking God to be with our children as they learn at school.

It would be great to see many of you with us on the dates below to start the term and year well!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Manchester


I’m writing this a few days after the senseless bombing in Manchester.
It feels like I have been winded and I am struggling to breath. 

I am left reeling - maybe you are too.Is it because I love live music and I can empathise with the young crowd there that night? Is it because my mind was taken back to an attack at the Bataclan in Paris back in 2015 (a venue I've been to on several occasions)? Is it because those injured and killed fall largely into the age group of my own children (and perhaps of your own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or cousins)? Is it because I’ve been to the venue where the attack took place? is it because Manchester is a city I know and love where family and friends have lived and worked over many years? I’ll never know. But I have wept and I continue to weep.
I was struggling to find a way to voice my horror at the attack against a backdrop of stories of Mancunians of faith and none reaching out to their neighbour, going the extra mile, being Christ-like whether they would name it as that or not. And then I found a shaft of light in the darkness. Then I found hope in the gut wrenching despair I was beginning to feel and it came in a surprising place - the Archbishop Cranmer blog (http://archbishopcranmer.com/blast-flash-fire-jesus-came-manchester/) which is a blog where politics and the church meet head on in a healthy debate.

I rarely read this blog and I find it all too often too Conservative and conservative for my own tastes, but here, the author put words on my lips and a voice in my mouth and so I share the post with you with kind permission of the author (slightly edited and notwithstanding the biblical quotes updated to contemporary English).

There was a blast and then a flash of fire, and then Jesus came to Manchester



Bodies and blood.
Carnage, terror and tears.
“There are children among the deceased,” confirmed Greater Manchester Police. “This has been the most horrific incident we have had to face,” said Chief Constable Ian Hopkins.
Nuts and bolts and nails.
Smoke and burning.
“This is horrific, this is criminal,” said Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. “May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.”
Emergency services praised.
Cobra committee convened.
“Please hold the people of #Manchester in your prayers,” tweeted David Walker, Bishop of Manchester. “We’ve faced terror attacks before and this latest won’t defeat us.”
Fear and division.
Thoughts, prayers and condemnation.
Evil descended upon Manchester Arena last night: his target was teenagers at a pop concert. He wore a vest packed with explosives and metal bits. There was a blast and then a flash of fire. And then everyone just started running, screaming and crying.
And then Jesus came.
“We are visiting for a health conference from morecambe bay trust tomorrow 3 Theatre ODPs available if needed,” tweeted Kirsty Withers, an NHS theatre clinical manager.
“If anyone needs shelter we are right on the outskirts of central Manchester in Salford, anything I can do to help DM me!!” tweeted science student Karolina Staniecka.
“Anyone in Manchester who needs to wait for their parents or needs somewhere stay or to make phone calls, etc, just DM me. We have tea!” offered the BBC’s Simon Clancy.
“Anyone needing somewhere to stay can come to our Manchester headquarters in the city centre,” tweeted Stephen Bartlett.
“Taxi drivers in #Manchester offering free journeys to those stranded after the events in #ManchesterArena,” tweeted Bethan Bonsall.
‘Very truly I tell you, just as you have done it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me, said Jesus.
Out of the depths comes light; out of oppression, a new possibility and hope. You can blame and curse the Islamist in bitterness and hate, or you can sing a song of joy because there’s a better story to tell. In times of distress and suffering, there are little signs of the presence of the Lord: manna falls from desert bushes; quail drifts in with the wind; water is to be found in the most unexpected places. And the water of life is the presence of love and compassion, of guidance and affection, of ordinary people doing extraordinary little things to help their fellow man, for no other reason than that they want to and can.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and there we wept, when we remembered Zion‘ (Ps 137:1).
Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?‘ (Ps 94:3).
Is the Lord among us or not?‘ (Ex 17:7).
The power of death brings unbearable grief, but God restores the soul. To live is to praise. There is kindness in darkness, and mercy in Manchester. It is the intuitive pulse of faithfulness, covenant, unity and peace. May God bless those who mourn, and wipe every tear from their eyes.

Prayer For Manchester

Following the senseless attack in Manchester our church buildings will be open during daylight hours for anyone to come and sit, to reflect to remember, to light a candle or pray.

You may wish to say these words of Rev Rachel Mann:

A Prayer for Manchester after the Bombing

Compassionate God,
whose Love dares to dwell in the midst of us.
Be with the people of Manchester today.
Grieve with us in our grief,
search with us as we seek out lost loved ones,
wait with us in the anxiety of unknowing.

Help us to give thanks for the people of Manchester -
warm, open, generous and resilient;
Help us to draw on the spirit of solidarity
and the defiance in loss of this great city.
Be with our emergency services
in this time of trial.

In the midst of our fears,
and the fierce pain of loss;
when our commitment to justice
and mercy and kindness
is tested by death and terror,
be with us, O Lord.

Today let us mourn, let us weep;
meet us in our anger,
fear and disbelief.

Tomorrow help us be makers of your compassionate world. Amen