June – July 21
Commitment for Life Quiz 26th June at 7 pm on Zoom
Sheila McNab is arranging the quiz, in conjunction with Mal, who will be Hosting it on Zoom. This is to raise money for the work of Commitment for Life helping people in Central America. Donations are to be sent to the Church Treasurer, Margaret Estill her telephone number is on the front page, who will forward the money to Commitment for Life.
Services etc on Zoom June and July
To take part in any of the events listed in Mal’s letter above or to take part in the Commitment for Life quiz please contact Mal by email as soon as you can at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone him on 01254 674862, so he can send you the Zoom joining details and other details etc. All are welcome.
News of our Church Family
Some members of our church family continue to feel unwell. We therefore hope and pray that as the summer months are coming, and life, we hope, returns to something more like normal those feelings of being anxious, worried, and isolated will recede and we will all begin to feel better.
Willie Hood has recently informed the Elders that he wishes to step down as a Serving Elder. We would therefore like to take this opportunity of saying a big thank you to him for his many years as a Serving Elder, and for his valuable contributions to the running of our church, we will miss his wisdom in our Elders meetings. Willie will of course continue to be a loyal member of our church and a Non-Serving Elder.
As we emerge from the strictures and limitations caused by the Covid 19 Pandemic our minds begin to turn to New Beginnings and how things will be when we get back to church. This is a moment for us to take stock, to look back at what we have been doing over the years, looking afresh at how we can best continue to witness as practising Christians in and around our local community, and further afield. Whilst we will of course want to continue worshipping together as we have done before, and, if we all agree, it may be a good time to explore other ways too. This is something we will be able to discuss and explore together once we are able to meet. It will be important that we embrace this opportunity of a New Beginning so we ensure that we continue to do all we can to meet needs in our community, as we have always tried to do, building our outreach in practical and appropriate new ways that engages with people where they are as well as offering friendship and community time in our Church building.
Spring Church meeting
As you know we normally hold our Spring Church Meeting in May, however, these are not normal times and Blackburn as a town, at the time of writing this Newsletter, is still experiencing high rates of Covid19 infection and the associated restrictions still apply. Because of this we have not yet, as we had hoped, been able to open our church. In view of this the Elders feel that it is best to postpone our Spring Church meeting until July in the hope that by then the Covid19 infection rates will be less and we, hopefully, will have been able to open as a Church for Worship and will be getting back to something like normal, we hope you understand.
The Elders are continuing to meet regularly, on Zoom, to ensure that things that must be done are done and we are ready to open as soon as it is safe to do so. Elders are keeping in touch with members as much as possible and our Treasurer is keeping a close control on our church finances. She and all the Elders wants to express sincere thanks for the continuing financial support so willingly given which is so important. Our Building is also being carefully looked after and we are well prepared to open as soon as it is felt it is safe to do so.
If you have questions, or want to know more, please let the Church Secretary know, his contact details are on the front of this Newsletter or speak to your Elder all of whom are more than willing to help in any way they can.
Lancashire East Missional Partnership (LEMP)
The LEMP is comprised of the following churches – Westbury Gardens, Revidge Fold, Trinity (Brownhill), Kingsway, Woodlands (Cherry Tree), Darwen Central, Lower Darwen, Tockholes, Clitheroe, Burnley and Nelson, Gt Harwood and Accrington. As you know we are expecting a new Partnership minister to join us before too long. Adam Woodhouse is currently completing his training and will be moving to live in Blackburn in the next few months. He will be living in a new house that is being built in the Lammack area which is conveniently placed for him working with each of the 12 churches in our Partnership. The gathering together of the above 12 churches into a partnership means that the partnership needs to be officially ‘Commissioned’ before Adam comes and this is planned to take place in a special service on 3rd July probably on Zoom. Once Adam has finished his training he will be Ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament and Inducted to serve within our newly Commissioned Partnership during a special service on 17th July. These are, of course, very important occasions in the life of our church and the LEMP. More information will be made available a little nearer the time. We look forward to working with Adam and we know he is looking forward to working with us all.
URC Primary School in Barrow near to Clitheroe is allied to our LEMP
We are very fortunate to have the Barrow United Reformed Church Primary School, which has 150 pupils, and is the only ‘maintained’ URC primary school in the country, as part of our Missional Partnership. Its Governing Board is proud of its history, its URC status, and wants to ensure that it properly reflects the beliefs, ethos the history and tradition of the URC and what it means within primary education. The school has, over recent months, been having an extension to its building and during this work a ‘time capsule’ was unearthed. This interesting discovery was reported in the local press and on the BBC news as well as being feature on the front page our National Church’s website.
Time capsule from 1876 discovered at URC school
A 145-year-old time capsule, containing ten coins and a rolled-up newspaper, has been discovered in the foundations of a United Reformed Church (URC) primary school.
As reported on BBC News, the glass jar was found “by complete accident” while workers renovated the chapel at Barrow URC Primary School in Clitheroe, Lancashire, built in 1876.The artefact had been placed inside one of the chapel’s foundation stones.
Speaking to the BBC, Head teacher Sue Taylor said the “incredible find” had brought the “history of the school alive for the children.”
“It was obvious it was a time capsule when I picked it up. I could hear the coins jangling at the bottom,” she said.
A conservation team is now examining the time capsule and will unroll the newspaper and research the coins’ history.
Building work was carried out at the school in April. The demolition team lifted the foundation stones in the chapel and found the glass jar.
During the first coronavirus lockdown some of the school children buried a time capsule from 2020.
Ms Taylor said finding this capsule meant “history has come full circle”.
“It was found by complete accident,” she said, adding: “It’s so interesting and has sparked so much interest for the children.”
The time capsule is now in the hands of Lancashire County Council’s conservation team which will involve the children as much as possible in the process of conserving it.
When the capsule is returned to the school it will be placed in the new main entrance which is roughly where it was planted many years ago.
Christian Aid/Commitment for Life – Give Thanks for your Vaccine Campaign
URC vaccine campaign raises more than £21,000 for charity
Generous donors have helped the United Reformed Church (URC) beat its initial fundraising target of £5,000 by raising a whopping £21,000 for Christian Aid.
First launched in February, the aim of the campaign is to provide people with the opportunity to show gratitude for their Covid-19 vaccines and help protect our global neighbours for whom the vaccine remains out of reach.
In the UK, 25.3 million people are now fully vaccinated against Covid 19 while some poor nations are yet to receive even a single dose.
Christian Aid is already on the ground, helping keep people safe from coronavirus with practical support, but with donations, the charity can do more.
The Revd Dr Kevin Snyman, URC Commitment for Life Programme Officer, said: “I actually don’t even quite know how to articulate how appreciative I feel. It is just such a phenomenal affirmation of the growing legend that is the generosity of URC members. Amazing! But more than that, it shows how deeply the URC cares about justice. We want everyone in the world to be vaccinated.”We know many of us have been able to make donations and we together are making a difference which is great. Thank you for your donations, every little helps.
This is an initiative we as a church began a year or 2 ago helping us to promote wider thinking and discussion amongst us as a church family and wider afield. The format is that invited speakers speak on agreed topics which are then discussed as we share food together on a Saturday morning. Latterly because of the pandemic recent talks have been held on Zoom which has meant that we haven’t been able to share food and discussion in quite the same way. However, the sessions that have been held on Zoom have still been very effective and informative. We have had talks on Children’s work, on the experience of an Asylum Seeker, Missional Partnership, the work of Northern College and Christians Against Poverty (CAP). All of these talks have been very worthwhile and those who have attended have learnt a lot.
Our last talk given by Sheila Fielding, who is the manager of Blackburn Christians Against Poverty Debt Centre was most informative. Christians Against Poverty is celebrating 25 years as a National Charity and the local Blackburn CAP Debt Centre has been working in partnership with the National Charity for 22 of those 25 years making it one of the longest serving partners. Sheila Feilding has been the manager of the Blackburn centre for the last 15 years. CAP works with some of the most vulnerable families in our community who are finding life hard because of debt and poverty, their jobs threatened, futures looking uncertain, feelings of hopelessness or can’t see what’s coming next, making life very difficult. Sheila said that for some of them it is as if someone has stopped the clock at 10 minutes to midnight in the dark and dead of night and there’s no telling when the morning will come, and she talked about hope in that darkness that CAP can bring. Sheila went on to say that we look at what God has done in the past and what he is doing right now. We have hope and we have a calling to share that hope with those who need it most. She said first we look at where this hope is rooted remembering that Jesus during his time on earth was all about hope especially for those who are on the margins of society. In Luke Chapter 4 it says ‘the Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’.
CAP works amongst those who are suffering from debt in practical ways that gives hope and clear thinking showing how debts can be best managed and reduced, over time, releasing those caught up in debt to have the potential to live debt free and with hope and confidence in the future. It is clearly a vital and important service to many people in our community and we are proud to be able to support the work of CAP and urge us all to think how we might be able to help financially, or in other ways. If you would like to know more, please contact Derek who’s contact details on the front cover.
April – May 21
Easter Zoom services leading into into May
Thursday 1st April 8.00 pm Maundy Thursday ‘Tenebrae’ Service of Shadows
Friday 2nd April 10.30 am Good Friday Service- Stations of the Cross service
Sunday 4th April 10.30 am Easter Sunday Service with Communion.
Sunday 25th April 10.30 am A Communion Service.
Sunday 9th May 10.30 am A Communion Service
Sunday 23rd May 10.30 am Pentecost Service including Communion
Sunday 30th May 10.30 am Trinity Sunday Service including Communion
Morning Prayer: These take place every Tuesday Morning at 9.30 am
Prayer Breakfasts: These take place on the third Saturday of each month at 10.30 am – 17th April and 15th May
Quiz Nights: These take place every fortnight on Friday nights 7.30pm – 9.00pm – 2nd April a Good Friday special Easter quiz, 9th and 23rd and 7th and 21st May
If you would or anyone you know would like to sign up for any of the above please drop Mal an Email as soon as you can at email@example.com or telephone him on 01254 674862 so he can send out the appropriate details and order of services etc. All are welcome.
Way Forward at Westbury Gardens(April – May 21)
When writing this newsletter restrictions because of Covid19 are still in place, work on getting people vaccinated is well under way and we are beginning to see the infection numbers coming down. It is hoped therefore that by Pentecost, we will be in a better place than we are now and may be able to think about returning to church and to worship by then. Whatever happens Mal will provide a Pentecost service on Zoom.
The Elders have continued thinking about our Way Forward and what might come next and were pleased to receive appreciative comments and ideas about what was written in our last Newsletter. Thank you for your responses. If you have any other ideas or thoughts please let the Elders know as it is important that we all agree how we should move forward.
As you know we want to build on our existing community and other work, refresh our building both externally and internally and become a Centre providing a ‘Place of Welcome’ and other services that is open to all in the neighbourhood as a friendly meeting place to have a cup of tea/coffee and a chat etc.
We of course want to continue working with schools, develop the Art and Craft and First Monday’s groups and if possible, hold Spring and Summer children’s holiday clubs’ as soon as we can. Whilst this will not be possible all at once we do want to be well prepared so any thoughts you may have about this will be more than welcome.
Our focus will remain on building up our –
- Spirituality and Prayer,
- Community Partnerships,
- Hospitality and Diversity
and being motivated by the following Biblical Texts
- James 1:19 to 24 about the importance of Listening
- James 2:14 to 17 about putting our Faith into Action
and two of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s daily meditations summarised below as:
- Don’t measure worth by counting how many are in the crowd count the sincerity of the heart with which they follow the truth and grace of our divine saviour
- The proof of prayer is not to say a great many words, the proof of my plea is how do I act towards the poor because God is there.
As we go forward and with all the above in mind the Elders would like our church to hold a Remembrance service for all those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic and then at an appropriate time when Covid restrictions will allow hold an Open/Celebration day
Let’s look forward to the summer when we can meet again with enthusiasm and hope for things to come.