We are living in times of change across the world, here in Blackburn and within our Synod particularly with the inception of Missional Partnerships and as I write we have a change of Prime Minister. Sometimes changes also affect our personal circumstances and we have to find ways of making these changes work for us.
However we are not very good at accepting ‘Change’ because we have always done it that way or we like the way we do things and we are happy within our comfort zones with a reluctance to move out of those comfort zones.
We are also facing change within the Church particularly in the ways we provide ‘Ministry’ through the Missional Partnerships. Change in the church is not a new thing as they have been occurring since the launch of the first Christian Church at Pentecost over 2000 years ago. We have only to read Paul’s letters to the early churches (7 Churches) in the New Testament in Romans through to Thessalonians to realise this.
Some changes are necessary in order for development to take place otherwise we don’t move on and remain static and sometimes isolated from what is happening around us and therefore get left behind and lose momentum.
We are now faced with the challenge of accepting and embracing changes in the way we provide Ministry, Pastoral Care, worship and Mission in ways which we are not use to, which will inevitably take us out of our ‘Comfort Zones’.
Whatever you think of the ‘Missional Partnerships’ I believe there are many positives we can take from them and as Churches we need to find ways of making them work for us in our part of God’s Kingdom so that we can continue to develop and share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. We are going to have to think outside of the box as to how Ministry is provided in all our churches using the gifts of the people within our congregations, discovering new gifts and sharing resources. What gift can you bring to the table?
Part of my role in all this will be to help you discover new ways of working, identify ways of carrying out mission and serving both the congregation and the communities we serve. We can do this by working together and embracing the fact that we have to make changes in order to ‘Move Forward’ from the point we are now at.
In Philippians Ch4 Vs 6-8 we read “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. … The future is not so scary with God by your side.
May God help us to keep these verses in mind when we are exploring ‘New Ways of Being Church’ (Jesus Shaped Churches) and in all our decision making as we Journey together on this new chapter in the lives of our Churches.
Summer holidays are always a very busy time for the Foodbank so all your support will be very much appreciated, and the suggested list of donations for the next 2 months is below:
4th Aug A packet of tea of coffee 1st Sept Packet of biscuits
11th Aug Long life milk 8th Sept A tin of tomatoes
18th Aug A tin of meat or fish 15th Sept Pasta/pasta sauce
25th Aug A tin of rice pudding 22nd Sept Tin of fruit
29th Sept Jam, soup or meat
These are only suggestions, if you are unable to bring something each week then Foodbank are happy to accepted food as and when you can.
Looking Back – Looking Forward
Looking back over the last couple of months we have had some very enjoyable times together. Firstly, with us gathering at Andrew and Susan’s house for Afternoon tea and some games. This was a very enjoyable occasion spending time together enjoying good food and conversation. Andrew and Susan’s garden looked wonderful with beautiful flowers of every shape, size and colour. They clearly spend many hours looking after their garden, and this was really appreciated by everyone.
On the following Monday the First Monday Group had their annual BBQ, which was an opportunity for us to celebrate Mal’s 60th birthday. Friends from Revidge Fold and Trinity were invited to share in the celebration, and a good time was had by everyone. Lorraine had made a special cake in the shape of a Liverpool FC shirt and we all sang happy birthday to Mal.
A few weeks later the First Monday Group had a trip out for Afternoon Tea at Andrew and Susan’s house when again all those that gathered there had a great time and really appreciated their garden. We were all so pleased to see Audrey there she had made a special effort to come and we hope she will be able to come on another occasion.
We were blessed with good weather at each of these events.
Looking forward over the next few weeks we have the Summer Holiday Club during the first week in August followed by the Pet Blessing Service on Sunday 11th August. We are hoping the weather will continue to be kind to us because if possible, some time will be spent outside during the holiday club and the Pet Blessing Service will be held outside.
There will be a Choir Coffee Morning and Sing-along on Saturday 14th September 10 am -12 noon when there will be a chance to sing songs together and enjoy food, conversation and fellowship.
On the 29th September we will be celebrating Harvest and the Art and Craft group will hold an exhibition illustrating the harvest of skills. This will be open to us and the general public during the following week. Details will be announced later.
East Lancashire Missional Partnership update
As you know Westbury Gardens is part of this missional partnership along with 12 other churches. Recently a Steering Group has been formed which has a member from each of these churches along with the current 2 ministers in our partnership and our CRCW. The Steering Group will consider how the partnership will develop as we find new ways of working together. One of the first things we have done is to draw up pastorate profiles describing our church and how we see our work in our own areas. These will be combined to give an overview of Ministry being done within the Partnership. Currently we have 2 ministers of Word and Sacrament working with us and we will be seeking to attract another one making a
total of 3. The combined Pastorate Profile that will be used by the Synod Moderator to inform others of this opportunity for a minister.
The Rev’d Lis Mullen, a retired minister, is the Chair of our Partnership. The next meeting of the Steering Group will be on the 11th September. At a time yet to be agreed, a special service to Commission our Missional Partnership will be held. Derek is our representative on the Steering Group and Andrew is the alternate representative so that we always have a representative at these meetings, they will report back to Elders and Church meetings.
Barrow URC Primary School
Barrow (near Clitheroe Lancashire) Primary School is the only URC Foundation Voluntarily Controlled school connected to the URC. Sheila McNab lives at Barrow and has had strong connections to the former Barrow URC which had connections to the school. There is an interest and connection for us here at Westbury Gardens because Fred McNab, Sheila’s late husband, was the Chair of Governors at the school for many years. The Rev’d Michele Jarmany, the minister at Clitheroe Church URC and now one of the ministers working in our Missional Partnership, is a Foundation Governor at the school. The Headteacher Mrs Judith Pay and her team are enthusiastically engaging with the schools URC connection by seeking to build stronger and deeper connections with the URC. The school is in a country setting in the Ribble Valley and there are lots of new houses being built nearby which means many young families and lots of children. Currently the school accommodates 140 children but will soon be expanded to take 200. Each week there is ‘Worship Time’ led by a URC leader
June – July
I trust you all had a good Easter both in church and with family and friends. It is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the reflection of God’s blessings all around us in the countryside, when everything looks so new and full of promise, and in our hearts, where we are reminded that we are a heartfelt confession away from His forgiveness.
Easter week was particularly busy for the pastorate churches. The last bible study took place on Ash Wednesday, Revidge and Trinity held pastorate services and Lorraine once again brought the agony of the Cross vividly to life in a very moving service. There was much to do at the Holiday Club with record attendance this time and a lot of activities and fun to pack in as well as a telling of the Easter story. Both Westbury and Revidge held quizzes which raised money by taxing our brains [but not too hard!] – there was food of course and fellowship. I think that those who attended several of these events would agree with me that the fellowship was wonderful. The strength we gain from being a three church family working and worshipping together felt huge. I can only recommend it.
You may know that David Faulkner and I have switched roles.
As I start my time as Secretary of Trinity I want to thank my fellow Treasurers for their help and support and all those who worked with me on the church’s finances in any way. David and I both wanted a new challenge[!] so I am indebted to him for being on hand as I try to live up to the very high standard he has set as Trinity Church Secretary. I feel blessed by this opportunity which I couldn’t have taken if I didn’t know what solid support there is out there so thank you and God bless you.
Secretary Trinity URC
East Lancashire Missional Partnership
Westbury Gardens is now 1 of 12 churches in the East Lancashire Missional Partnership with the following churches: , Revidge Fold, Trinity Brownhill, Woodlands, Kingsway (Ragged School), Accrington, Lower Darwen, Darwen Central, Tockholes, Great Harwood, Burnley and Nelson ,and Clitheroe. Each missional partnership has a steering group and our first Steering Group Meeting is on 30th May at Trinity Lower Darwen. There will be a report in our next newsletter on how that meeting goes. The East Lancashire Partnership will have 3 Ministers of Word and Sacraments working in the Partnership. Currently we have 2 Ministers of Word and Sacrament in our Partnership the Rev’d Michele Jarmany and the Rev’d Liz Jewitt. Alan Barnes, who is the Pastor working with Woodlands and Kingsway, is also in our partnership. Mal Breeze, our Church Related Community Work Minister, will continue to work with Westbury Gardens, Revidge Fold and Trinity as over the last 4 years and will continue to work with us for a further 5 /6years. Further in formation will be made available as we go forward.
General Assembly Moderator Visits
As General Assembly Moderator I have the privilege of visiting different churches. In May I visited Christchurch in Hitchen, Hertfordshire who were celebrating their 50th Anniversary. They have a membership of over 200 are a very lively church actively engaged in many projects. Later in May I visited Rutherglen south of Glasgow where they were celebrating their 118th Anniversary, also a lively church with over 100 members. Leading worship and being part of such celebrations is great. The picture shows Rutherglen still celebrating in worship on Sunday morning.
Westbury 2019 Talks
As you will have seen on the noticeboard and heard announced on Sunday mornings we as a church have launched a programme of talks on topical subjects which we hope will be interesting and informative for us all and any others who may like to come because this programme is open to anyone.
Aftab Mughal was the first speaker on the 11th May when he told us a little of his story about how he and his family became refugees seeking asylum here in the UK. This was a very moving account of very difficult circumstances in Pakistan and has helped to raise our understanding and appreciation a little to the difficulties that Christians face in Pakistan and in other places around the world where it appears that 80% of those that are suffering persecution almost leading to genocide are Christians. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Aftab for being willing to come and tell us a little about what is a most painful and upsetting part of their life. It is hoped that being better informed will help us a Christians here in the UK to better understand and find ways in which we can support and raise awareness in others of the plight of so many Christians in our world. Those who attended found the talk a moving experience which generated many questions and thoughts in our minds. The morning was rounded off by us all sharing a light lunch together and was a good start to this new programme.
The next talk will be on 6th July given by Lawrence Moore who is working as a Missional Discipleship Consultant in the North West. He will talk to us about what it means to be a Jesus Shaped Church which we are sure is going to be an engaging, challenging and interesting talk that we hope many of us will be able to come to. It will start at 10.30 and finish at 12 noon with a light lunch to follow. If you are intending to come, please let Margaret or Derek know.
Later in the year on 26th October Nick Jackson, who is Sheila’s son-in-law, will be coming to talk to us about his Christian work with young people both here in UK and across the world. More details will be circulated nearer the time. Please put these dates in your diary we would love to see you there.
Ministry of Flowers
We thank Barrie and Susan Stewart, Margaret and Derek Estill, Margaret Barnes and Jean Gorton for their kind donation of flowers in April and May.
Anyone wishing to contribute towards flowers or put flowers in church in memory of a loved one just let Margaret Estill know.
February – March 19
As I write this letter we have just had news that Mal’s second term of 5 years working with us has been agreed which I’m sure we all agree is great news. We can now plan and take our work forward, as we had hoped, building up our connections and commitments to our local communities, aiming to meet needs, and continuing to benefit from the guidance, help and inspiration that Mal brings from his experience and practice of church related community work.
I think it is particularly good to hear this news at the beginning of the year as we look forward making our plans to live out our Christian lives in our neighbourhoods and particularly because Mal and Lorraine now have the assurance that their future here in Blackburn is settled for the next 5 or 6 years.
All our Churches have benefited from the work that has been done with the help of Mal and we are looking forward to doing more. Thank you Mal and Lorraine for all you do it is very much appreciated.
As you may know my role as General Assembly Moderator means that I have many opportunities to share in the life and work of our National Church. Recently I was at the United Reformed Church Youth Assembly held at Whitemoor Lakes, an activity centre in Staffordshire, where over 100 young people up to the age of 26 gathered for the Youth Assembly. The Youth Assembly does necessary business about youth work across the denomination whilst having fun, fellowship and making friends all surrounded by worship and prayer. We are truly blessed in the URC by having very talented, capable and enthusiastic young people in our churches who do wonderful work in so many ways. I’m not sure if you are aware, and I was surprised when I was told that 25% of our National church family is young people in this age group which is great because as we realise they are the future.
The theme they chose for this year’s Youth Assembly, and their programme going forward, is ‘One Body’ echoing the words of 1 Corinthians Chapter 12: 12-27 which they subtitled as ‘we are all in it together’. A great message for us to remember as we live out our lives in todays world which more and more it seems says ‘I’m alright Jack and devil take the hind most’ advocating that people take care of themselves without thought for others. As on so many occasions young people have a knack of putting their finger on that crucial spot, asking that leading question and pointing the way ahead.
So let us respond to their prompting by living out being the ‘One Body’ of Christ, recognising that we are ‘all in it together’, doing our best to catch the enthusiasm and excitement of our young people as we worship, work and play together and as we live out the love of God by Walking the Way and living the life of Jesus today, tomorrow and the next day in all we do and say.
Thank you all for so generously bringing items of food suggested each week this has meant we have been able to take more food to the Foodbank which is so desperately needed.
Our suggestions for February and March are as follows:
3rd Feb Tin of tomatoes
10th Feb Packet of pasta
17th Feb Packet of tea or coffee
24th Feb Tin of fruit
3rd Mar Tin of meat
10th Mar Tin of vegetables
17th Mar Tin of soup
24th Mar Tin of rice pudding
31st Mar Packet of biscuits
These are only suggestions, if you are unable to bring something each week then we will be happy to accepted food as and when you are able.
John East makes an appeal – Last year you kindly funded Urmila for her art course work. She passed outstandingly and was offered a bursary at art college in London last October.
I am appealing to find funds for Tinta Ali, from the Ivory Coast, to help him pay for his course Fees. He has been waiting a long time for a final decision on his asylum appeal. He has worked relentlessly for the Asylum Refugee Centre in Blackburn (ARC) and Darwen Asylum Refugee Enterprise (DARE) and has supported many French speaking Asylum seekers and refugees interpreting as well as being an outstanding YMCA champion. He spent a few days supporting an archaeological dig in the Yorkshire Dales. I have no doubts of has credibility and integrity. The total cost for his leadership course modules is £1162. Hope you can help in some way. He is an outstanding young man who has been selfless in his commitment to others like himself.
If you can’t find any funding opportunities – please place Tinta in your prayers that his life will take a new turn.
A ‘thank you’ from Tinta for our donation of £100 in response to the above appeal –Tinta says –
Your kindness and generosity I’ve never expected, I’m grateful and humbled to all for your contributions. I’ve been waiting to study for some time but couldn’t do so because of my financial circumstance. However now I’m able to continue my study thanks to you all. I’m most grateful for ever. God bless you all for your kindness. From Tinta Ali
December – January 18
As you read this we will have entered the period of Advent in the Church Calendar but what does Advent mean to you?
Advent begins four Sundays before December 25th and lasts about four weeks and prepares us for Christmas! We all know Christmas – don’t we?
Shopping, planning, buying, baking, parties, Christmas fairs, dinners, Santa, cards, gifts, decorating trees, Advent wreaths and calendars, carol singing and stressing.
But there’s a lot more to it!
Christmas is about Jesus entering our world and Advent is the expectant waiting, hopeful anticipation and cheerful preparation of God breaking through into our lives…In all moments, all places, all times,
Past future and present.
Commemorating the birth of Jesus, preparing for Christ’s return and welcoming God into our lives everyday. Advent prepares us for these events and reminds us there’s joy in waiting and it begins the Church year.
Advent is not about…stressing about Christmas or rushing around shopping or a race to December 25th. Advent is also not lent… it’s about hope, not repentance.
Lent is more of a spring cleaning of our lives and Advent is a cosier getting our homes ready to welcome a special guest…Jesus, the one we’ve been waiting for.
Advent is a period in which we recall the hope we have in Christ. God told Abraham that through Him all the nations of the world would be blessed, because He trusted and put His hope in God. The Old Testament spoke of the coming of Christ, of how a Saviour would be born, a king in the line of King David. He would rule the world wisely and bless all the nations. We too believe in God’s promise to send Jesus again to this world to establish His kingdom upon the earth.
Advent is not about the shopping, planning or buying etc, it’s about expecting, waiting, hoping and praying. If we’re sick of Christmas by December 25th, we haven’t done ADVENT correctly.
Let each one of us this Advent prepare to receive once again the child in the manger and take the hope of Advent to those we meet and bring glory to God in the highest. O come O come Emmanuel.
Go well and go with God,
Every blessing, Mal
23rd December Christmas Service, lunch and Carol Service
This year we are trying a new arrangement on the 23rd December when we will have a Christmas Service in the morning, at 10.30 followed by lunch together and then a Carol Service .
Since we suggested a change to the way we collect for Foodbank we have had a brilliant response resulting in a lot more food being collected. Our suggestion for December and January are as follows:
2nd Dec Tin of tomatoes
9th Dec Christmas Treats for children or adults
16th Dec Christmas pudding or custard
23rd Dec Tin of fruit
30th Dec Biscuits
6th Jan A packet tea or coffee
13th Jan A packet of pasta
20th Jan A tin of rice pudding
27th Jan A tin of meat
These are only suggestions, if you are unable to bring something each week then we will be happy to accepted food as and when you are able
October – November 18
The church secretaries and Mal are planning to share the job of writing the letter for our church magazines from now on. As you can see, I am starting the new system off for the October/November edition! This is something I’m not used to doing, so please bear with me!
This is a new season for us following the retirement of our much-loved minister, Lena. Her retirement service was very well attended, and I think a great tribute to Lena, her love for Jesus and her ministry with us. She will be very much missed. I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who helped in any way to make the service and the celebration meal afterwards so special.
As we all know, Lena’s pastoral care was second to none, and we need to ensure that we care for one another. If you know of anyone who needs a visit, please let your elders know so that this can be arranged.
Well – here we go into autumn after an amazing summer! I always think that autumn is like the start of a new year, following the summer break. Our young people are back at school and college, and a new season of events is about to start. Our harvest services will be taking place and Strictly Come Dancing is on the television – a sure sign of autumn and of the nights drawing in!
One of the main events in October for our churches is the inaugural Missional Partnership East Area Get-Together at Revidge Fold on Saturday 20 October from 10:30 (refreshments) until 2:00pm. As you know, our mission enabler is Daleen Ten Cate. Please do come along if you can, as it’s the first time we will be getting together with friends from the missional partnership churches. It is also an opportunity to share the work we do in Jesus’s name in our communities. Refreshments will be provided, but please bring your own packed lunch!
With my best wishes
Maurice Bradley (Church Secretary, Revidge Fold)
By the time you read this we will be in the season of Advent and the theme for our Advent Pastorate Bible Study this year is going to be ‘A Child is Born’. However there is another Bible Study which will be run in churches throughout the country entitled ‘What Are You Waiting For’ which is the latest York Course and to me this is a poignant question to be answered.
As Christians we know what we’re waiting for but how do we get the message across to those outside the Church in new and exciting ways amidst all the tinsel and baubles, the Christmas cards and the hustle and bustle of buying presents.
Advent is a time of waiting, waiting with great expectations for the time when we celebrate the Birth of Jesus and meet Him face to face. The problem with waiting is that we are often not very patient and therefore we miss the point and by the time the big day arrives people are so tired that it becomes just like any other day and Jesus is forgotten.
The season of Advent also brings Hope and as Christians we need to pass that Hope on to those we meet in our daily lives and whom may come into our churches maybe for the first time in a long time or perhaps for the first time in their lives in the Hope that they may come to realise the True Meaning of Christmas.
My Hope is that however and wherever you spend Christmas this year that you remember that Jesus is no longer a babe in a manger but that He is alive in the world today. That’s surely worth celebrating and the message we need to get across to everyone we meet so that they too may be filled with the Hope that the birth of Jesus brings to all His people.
Finally may I take this opportunity to thank you for all the support you have shown to Lorraine and I during the past year and wish you all a blessed and peaceful Christmas. May you receive all that you Hope for this Christmas and find ways to share that Hope with everyone you meet during the coming year – what are you waiting for?