Looking at the recent months
We will be beginning to work with Intack Primary School when a group of 20 children will be coming to our church each week to make bird shapes for their school garden. There will be 15 different types of bird shapes which the children will paint. The school are very keen to work with us on this project and the children are excited to be taking part in this new activity. We are working in partnership with Hillside Residents Association to carry out this project and are very pleased to be able to work in this way with members of our local community. Also in June, it is hoped to start work on improvements to the windows on the side of the church leading to the car park and we will be working in partnership with Newfield School on this project. You will have noticed that the flags at the front of the church are now much cleaner and repairs have been made to the steps leading from the pavement into the church. This work is being done by Hillside Residents Association as they help us to make improvements to our building over the summer months.
The Annual Memorial Service for those people who would like to remember a loved one who has died will take place on the 4th June at 1.00 pm in Corporation Park. This is an occasion for anybody who would like to take part.
There will be a prayer breakfast at Revidge Fold starting at 9.15 am on 17th June, everyone is welcome.
The URC North West and Mersey Synods are holding a Big Day Out at the Convention Centre in Southport on the 8th. This will be a day with many different things going on. It will include worship, celebrating time together, well known leading speakers on different topics, a market stall area with lots of thing for all ages. It will be a fun day which we hope will be enjoyed by everyone that can go. If you want more information, see the details on the noticeboard or speak to Derek.
On the 15th July at 9.15 am there will be a prayer breakfast at Revidge Fold and also on the same day starting at 10 am at Revidge Fold there will be a talk on ‘Ageing Spirituality and Dementia’ by the Revd Gaynor Hammond.
There will be a bible based holiday club led by Mal from the 7th to the 12th August and on Sunday 13th we will hold a special pet blessing service. On the 26th August we will be holding our annual community carnival with things for all the family to come and enjoy. As usual we need help with running the carnival, prizes for the raffle and tombola, cakes or donations towards running costs and prizes. If you would like to volunteer or help in any way please contact Mal, Andrew or Margaret E.
Hoddlesden School Children Visit
the Church in March 2011
Thirty two children, aged 5 to 11, from St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Hoddlesden, visited our church on Tuesday 22 March. This was part of a day trip organised by Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum during which they visited various places of worship.
The day began with a visit to the Buddhist Centre in Blackburn and then at 11 o’clock they arrived by coach at our church. The children were accompanied on their trip by Derek Estill in his role with the Interfaith Forum. They were met at the church by the Revd Lena Talbot, Susan Parkinson and Margaret Estill who had previously prepared a treasure hunt/quiz to help the children find out about various aspects of the church.
After they had completed the quiz they gathered in the church sanctuary and Lena led a discussion asking the children about what they had found. This went very well with the children asking lots of questions and giving quite a lot of answers themselves. This helped them to find out about our church and the sort of things we do in our worship.
Before they left many of the children wrote prayers and put them on our prayer tree for us to include in our service the following Sunday. During their lunchtime break two of the children composed a prayer which they read for us all at the end of their visit. The headteacher, teachers and children all said how much they had enjoyed the visit. They left at 12.45 to visit the Bicknall Street Mosque in Whalley Range. At the conclusion of the day the teachers said it had been a very successful and informative trip which had been of great value to their children.
One boy was asked ‘Did you have an interesting day?’ and his reply was ‘No! I had a very interesting day!!’
The Word of God – in every language on Earth; Bible Society’s hi-tech mission brings Gospel to remote tribes
Two days after Pentecost Sunday the Independent carried an article with the above heading. I was reading the article on the train to London and was taken aback by some of the things in the article. Jon Riding sounded like a NASA technician when he was talking about his work, but he works for the Bible Society! So what was he up to? He is certainly a man with a mission!
For much of the last two decades he and his team of mathematicians, computer programmers and linguists have been creating one of the most advanced translation programmes in the world. This is complex work because of the need for the software to decipher some of the most obscure and least studied dialects spoken in some of the world’s most remote places.
But why am I thinking about this now? Afterall, it is some time since Pentecost.
As I was preparing to lead worship at Burnley on 22 August, I was reminded of the story of Mary Jones, the young Welsh girl who went to great lengths to obtain a Bible and who inspired people to start what was then known as the British and Foreign Bible Society and later became the Bible Society.
Over the last 200 years the Scriptures have become available in all the major languages. Globally, the Society estimates that there are 4,400 languages still waiting for a translation of even one book. This could keep the translators busy for centuries but it is hoped that the new software will help translators in the field to operate more efficiently and consistently. There are sceptics among the Society’s own traditional translators and among others such as the Roman Catholic convert and former Tory MP Ann Widdicombe, a new star of Strictly Come Dancing! Recently Luke’s Gospel has been translated into Jamaican patois and was released on line around the time of Pentecost. The Revd Courtney Stewart, the General Secretary of the Bible Society in the West Indies, says: “Patois is the language in which we dream” and goes on to point out that Scriptures are not meant to be obscure and inaccessible but should be there for all.
Mr Riding believes that Europeans, who rarely speak more than one or two languages, have little concept of the difference that having access to religious texts in your mother tongue makes. “We’re talking about the language that was first uttered to you by your mother,” he says. “There’s something profoundly fundamental about that.”
The main reason I have turned to this is that in a number of groups, not least our own Eldership, we have been talking about how we can speak about our faith to people who don’t understand the language we take for granted in church and how we can help them to understand it. We have access to numerous versions of the Bible in English: I have two versions on my mobile phone and I still think that is amazing. It is really helpful to have access without carrying round a bulky book.
But we live in a different world from many. Let us pray for the work of the Bible Society and all who are trying to make the wonderful Gospel story accessible to all. Let us pray for those who are teaching people the basic skill of reading so that they can access a whole range of activities and jobs.
Yours in Christ
Kathleen Cross Church Secretary
November 2010: Shawl Ministry
A few years ago I was at Minister’s Summer School at Windermere – never let anyone undervalue these because it was there that I learnt the value of knitting. Knitting? I can hear you say – knitting at summer school? Yes, but – this was knitting with a difference – you should have seen us trying to teach our Moderator by the way, who as it happens is also left handed and all the people who could already knit were right handed – we gave up to that one in the end.
Anyway back to the knitting – one of our colleagues had been to America and came across a knitting circle – this was a group of people who met together regularly to knit and pray. Each person had a person they wished to pray for. The stitches were cast on and the knitting and praying began. It was simply plain knitting – nothing fancy that detracted from the prayers of the person they were knitting for. Of course it doesn’t have to be a knitting circle it can be a few friends or as I my case I tend to knit and pray alone. All you need is about 200g of wool and some big needles – cast on 60 stitches and knit till you have just enough wool left to cast off.
Once the shawl is finished there is a little card that goes with it explaining what the gift is about. These can be changed to suit your own style and feelings – my cards have on the front:
‘A little gift made especially for you.’
The message inside is taken from the shawl ministry (www.shawlministry.com) and reads
“Shawls … made for centuries, universal and embracing,
symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God.
They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace,
mother, hug, shelter and beautify.
Those who have received these shawls have been
uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to
help fly above their troubles…”
Written in 1998 by: Janet Bristow © 2008
I have added to my cards:
I made this shawl just for you
to bring comfort, to know that you are loved.
This shawl is to wrap you up:
when you’re cold
when you’re hurting
when you need to snuggle.
This shawl was knitted with blessings,
with love, and with prayers.
Love and blessings from
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You
May the Lord make His face to shine upon You
and be gracious unto You, and give you His peace.
Maybe this is something anyone (not just ladies – the men were all having a go at Summer School) could do – or we could get together to form a knit and pray group. Anyway it’s possibly something to think about .
[From Revd Lena Talbot who has been appointed by the Lancashire Area Pastoral Committee as the link with this committee and the church during this time without a Minister.]
The Blackburn with Darwen Interfaith Forum’s Youth Project at Westbury Gardens URC
The Interfaith Forum runs a Youth Project working with young people to explore their views and perceptions of those from different faiths or no faith backgrounds. Having learnt from previous and similar project work and with advice from school teachers it was decided that it would be better to use a more intensive approach and carry out the project in a two-day period rather than spread over a number of weeks in a normal classroom setting.
Westbury Gardens United Reformed Church was selected as the best venue for the two day intensive programme as it has the facilities needed for the project which can involve up to 70/80 people in total. All 10 secondary schools in Blackburn with Darwen participate in the project and each sends 15/20 students (girls and boys) plus an accompanying teacher to take part in the project.
This year’s programme started in November 2009 and will finish in March 2010. The students come from both faith and non faith schools and include an Islamic High School for Girls. The participating students are 14 or 15 years of age, from different cultural, faith and no faith backgrounds, and because they are from different schools, they don’t know each other at the beginning of the two-day project. The project is facilitated by Action Factory Community Arts using drama, video and graphic art to stimulate discussion, thought, action and interaction between the participating students.
The Interfaith Forum provides a representative from each of six different major world Faiths (ie Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism) to be members of an Interfaith Panel. Students are able to put any questions related to faith to the members of the panel. The questions usually prove to be extensive, rigorous and searching. All agree that the two-day experience is very enlightening and the students enthusiastically state this in their feedback forms saying that they had learnt a lot and would like to do more.
Typical student feed back comments are as follows:
‘I learnt about many different religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and the Jewish Faith. I also learnt how to work well as a team and it helped me to understand other religions by talking and listening to them.’
‘I learnt about how different cultures and religions are very different in some ways but also very alike in others. I also learnt how you should take different people’s views into account and people should be able to work and live together with no arguments. I also learnt that people’s views can be very different.’
‘I learnt quite a lot of things over the past 2 days. I learnt a lot from speaking to the Interfaith Forum Panel such as not just the symbols for each religion but the meaning behind them. I also realise that though most people focus on the differences between religions they do however have quite a lot in common’.
It is believed that such experiences play an important part in young people’s lives enabling and allowing them to explore and challenge their previous perceptions, replacing them with better informed views which they are able to take with them into their developing lives. Schools too have expressed their satisfaction with the work done during the project and willingly support, adopt and use the experience as appropriate in their school work.
Vision for Life Bible Day on 28 March at Revidge Fold URC
People gathered from four of our Blackburn churches to share together in exploring the Bible with Revd Janet Lees. Janet helped us to focus on the Bible we carry around inside us, our “Remembered Bible”. After lunch we gathered in three groups to explore what we could remember together of one of the following stories: the Good Samaritan; the Prodigal Son; and the Lost Sheep.
Janet introduced us to the idea of “kennings” which are expressions from Old English. A kenning is a word pair which names something in a roundabout way in terms of what it does; for example you might call a teaspoon a “coffee stirrer”, a hammer a “nail hitter” or a ship a “wave rider” and so on. We had great fun exploring our chosen parable by re-telling it with kennings. First we had to make a list of single words related to the story, then we tried to pair them up or add a new word to make the kennings, and finally put the kennings into an order which told the story well. The whole enterprise was made even more enjoyable by the plates of fairly traded cookies which aided our thinking-caps. This is what the three groups of cookie eaters and kenning writers came up with.
Jericho goer; road user; rock throwers; wound creator; blood spillers; pain giver; fear feeler; levite leaver; priest passer; hill climber; Samaritan helper; thirst quencher; bandage wrapper; life saver; pain reliever; worry reliever; donkey rider; inn provider; generous rescuer; money giver; inn keeper carer; thankful receiver.
money demander; money grabber; home leaver; party goer; promiscuous womaniser; money waster; heavy drinker; lonesome loser; pigsty dweller; pig food eater; street sleeper; street liver; regret realiser; home returner; welcoming father; forgiving father; jealous brother; angry brother; calf eater; reassuring father; family restorer; missing mother.
The Lost Sheep
thoughtless bleater; sheepfold deserter; wilderness wanderer; shepherd carer; safety leaver; 99 retainer; compassionate seeker; lost survivor; frightened escaper; excited finder; thankful wanderer; sheep rescuer; happy saviour; shoulder bearer; loving redeemer; flock restorer; restoring pastor; Jesus gatherer; angelic rejoicers.
(Note from Revd Martin Smith, Fold and Trinity URCs)