August – September 2020
Dear All welcome to our August and Sept Newsletter
At our last Elders’ meeting we started with a few thoughts, from Susan Parkinson, based on readings from Acts about Pentecost which she entitled ‘May the Force be with you’. You may remember this was a phrase used by Luke Sky Walker in the Star Wars series as they ventured to new places putting their trust in ‘The Force’. This we felt was so relevant to us because we too need to respond by trusting in God as we go forward knowing that the Holy Spirit transformed and empowered all those that were there and is still transforming our world today for us to put out trust in.
Currently Covid19 is changing our lives in so many ways reminding us that what is important is our relationships with one another and with Jesus our Lord and master.
At the first Pentecost God sent his Spirit to be in the whole world, see Acts 2: 1-13. Further on in that chapter we read about fellowship in verses 42 – 47 where all those who gathered shared everything, realising that it was not just theirs but for everyone to be shared equally. This feeling of fellowship is being rediscovered as we battle against the virus and for some this is a bit of a revelation. We need to put justice, fairness and equality at the top of our agendas, valuing those who care for us, often without regard for themselves. Whilst we have always known we need Hospitals and Care Homes the importance of these is now so much more in our minds. As we move on, I will surely be doing all I can to retain a conscious appreciation of the importance of the caring services, and of all the people serving in them.
As we edge forward in our lives, we have an opportunity to recast our priorities. I have recently been thinking about Moses and the Israelites as they escaped from Egypt as recorded in Exodus 14. They were between a Rock and a Hard Place being chased by the Egyptian army and with the Red Sea before them there seemed to be no way ahead. If we read on in that passage at v14 you will see that the answer was to be silent because the Lord will fight for us. However, I am not sure the Israelites would have been thinking of being silent at that moment. Nevertheless, that is what is recorded so we need to remember the value of being quiet and of listening for what God is telling us to do. Many people have said that during the lockdown they have become more aware of bird song and the sounds of nature all around them because it has been so much quieter. Whilst I was out getting my daily exercise about 8pm the other evening I was astonished to hear at least two Song Thrushes singing their hearts out loud and clear with an intricate and wonderfully varied combination of sounds which I had not heard before. The quiet of Lockdown has enabled me to hear so many things more clearly and reminded me that being able to truly Listen for what God is saying to us is vitally important.
We might think of ourselves at present as being between a Rock and a Hard Place in our lives, not really knowing what to do for the best as we battle against the invisible Coronavirus threat. It has therefore occurred to me that perhaps in our anxious moments we need to be silent to be able to hear and trust in God. We need to stop worrying, becoming overanxious and remember to put our trust in the love of God. Change is ever present, and we will be constantly transformed when we focus on God unveiled. See 2 Corinthians verses 16-18 where it says focusing on God unveiled will change us from Glory into Glory. So, let us take this opportunity to be transformed, and to be moved on as the body of Christ, living our lives as God wants us to in peace, harmony, justice and equality for all.
I therefore give thanks for all those showing love, care and attention to those in need and will remind myself to value God’s creation by opening myself to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We go forth therefore in the knowledge that God loves all his creation, which we are part of, and that we are to be silent, attentive and ready to live out the hope this gives us as we listen and put our Faith into Action being Transformed from Glory into Glory by the love of God.
June -July 2020
News of our church family
Looking back over the last couple of months it feels strange and unfamiliar as we have continued to be locked down and are observing safe distancing as well as other restrictions. However, it is hoped that you are not feeling cut off as we are doing all we can to keep in touch with each other by phone, by email or perhaps through online Zoom services and meetings as well as with letters and posted items and hope that this new way of being is becoming a little more familiar to us. Whilst we are having to do things differently, we are of course remembering all those who have been, or continue to be not well, remembering, Joan Wignall, Debbie Shepherd and Ossie and Maud Morgan. Mal has hurt his wrist and is getting treatment for that and Gordon Mellody (Art and Craft group) has not been well but we hope is now feeling a little better. We hold them all close in our thoughts and prayers.
May Church meeting
As you know it is our normal routine to have a Church Meeting in May each year when together we take stock of our life as a church and think about our plans. Normally speaking we would receive interim reports on various topics but of course in these extraordinary circumstances caused by the coronavirus it is not possible to meet physically as we would normally do. However, we are increasingly using ‘Zoom’ online technology to allow us to hold ‘virtual’ services, meetings, coffee mornings, and recently a quiz, which is good for those able to access the internet. We are very grateful to Mal Breeze for hosting these virtual events as this is becoming an important element of our church life for the time being. We are of course conscious that not everybody can access these facilities and so wherever possible and appropriate we are doing our best to circulate hard copies of services etc by post or by hand delivery and hope that you have at least received some of these. Elders and others are doing their best to keep in touch by phone, as much as possible, and hope that in this way or another you continue to feel part of the Westbury family.
Elders are meeting regularly, using Zoom technology, making sure that all is well with our church life as well as beginning to think a little bit about how things might work out for us as a church when ‘lockdown’ etc is eased.
Our Church Treasurer is keeping a close eye on our finances. We are grateful to those who have arranged for their Offerings to be paid directly into the Church Bank Account and to those of you who are saving up their weekly Offerings at home to bring when we are back together again having services. (Please let Margaret know if you would like to arrange for your collection to go directly into the Church Account). There are of course still outgoing expenses to be met so to bridge the shortfall between our income and outgoings we are, for the time being, drawing on our savings.
Andrew and Jonathan are keeping an eye on our buildings and the surrounding area by visiting the church from time to time. ‘Romney Voice’ residents’ group are continuing to use our church building as a base to distribute food from each week on a Wednesday and a Friday which is meeting a real community need. We are very pleased that we can support this vital service to the local community in this way in these difficult times and want to express our sincere appreciation for what they are doing. Romney Voice have expressed their appreciation for being able to use our building as a base to work from.
Mal is continuing to provide daily bible readings to help us to read through the bible in a year. Part 4 is being circulated with this Newsletter, he is also doing a weekly ‘Thought for the Week’ which is being enjoyed and appreciated by those receiving it. This is circulated online and in hard copy, so that we all receive it.
As you will be aware Aya Hachem, a 19-year-old Lebanese young lady was murdered on the streets of Blackburn recently. She was an innocent bystander caught in a ‘drive by’ shooting. This horrendous and tragic event has brought home to us all that a precious young life has been lost in a senseless and violent act. Aya and her family were members of the Asylum Seekers Group here in Blackburn that Aftab, Fozia and Mal, through work with YMCA, support. Aftab and Fozia know the family well and so the Elders felt that it would be right and proper for us, as a church, to send a letter expressing our condolences to the Hachem family to let them know we are holding them in our thoughts and prayers. Our letter was sent a day or two after this tragic event happened and we know that Aftab and Fozia were in contact with them before they left for Lebanon for the burial of Aya there. We also hold Aftab and Fozia in our prayers and thoughts as they too have been severely upset by this horrific tragedy.
A letter from Westbury Gardens to 5 local mosques
May has been the Islamic month of Ramadan and local mosques and Muslim communities, during that special time for them, have been supporting those in need in the community by taking out food and meeting needs in other ways caused by the ‘lockdown’. We as a church became aware of this and wanted to express our support, as a Christian community, for what they are doing. The Elders felt we should let the mosques, local to us, know that we appreciate what they have been doing and a letter expressing that has been sent to each of the 5 Mosques near to Westbury Gardens. The letter makes it clear that we as Christians, following Jesus command to love one another, also reach out to meet needs and are therefore open to working with them, were possible, in this way.
As you know Linden House Care Home is not far from Westbury Gardens at the top of Delph Lane. As we are all increasingly aware Care Homes are in the front line of looking after people in need, some of whom may well be affected by coronavirus, we have made contact with them to express our thanks and appreciation for what they are doing with those in their charge. Several of us, including some from the Art and Craft group, have written letters of appreciation to the staff there which we know have been much appreciated. We hope that this connection will continue and encourage anyone that would like to send a greeting to the staff there so that they know we are thinking about and value what they are doing. If you would like to please let Derek know.
The address is –
Linden House Care Home
Delph Lane, Shadsworth Road,
An idea that Gordon Mellody (Art and Craft Group) suggested to us a little while ago is that those who are able to circulate (by email) photographs of art, craft or similar activities they are doing during the ‘lockdown’ would be something interesting to do and this is now happening. If you would like to join in circulating your pictures, of art and craft work, please do we would love to see them just let Derek know.
Note about the Quizzes: (the last one was a great success with 30 people taking part, if you are single don’t worry you will be paired with someone else in the same boat)
Thought for the Week: Mal is also recording a YouTube video each week and is also available on hard copy
Please support these activities if you can, they are helping us come together in these strange times. He will arrange other activities as appropriate and you will be notified of the details.
As I look back at the previous Newsletter it is shocking to realise how recently we were able to live our Christian lives, attend church and church groups without any knowledge of the impact that Coronavirus was about to have on us. The pace of the spread of the disease and our adjustment to it has been very rapid. As you will know the different denominations have all closed gradually over the last weeks. Our pastorate churches are closed until further notice and we can only hope that we will be able to resume worship and fellowship as soon as possible. I am sure you can be reassured that this is the aim of the Elders. We also want to support you as we face the adjustment to our normal life which can be daunting and a real challenge as well as our concerns for those we love and our community. We shall keep in touch and we urge you to keep in touch with each other to offer support, share news and relieve the isolation and, simply, boredom of self- isolation or social distancing.
All our previous concerns for the world appear to fade into insignificance and yet this should not be so. We see life from a first world perspective and there is so much in first, second and third world countries which needs our prayerful attention. Where do problems finding loo rolls on supermarket shelves rate in comparison with whole communities who do not have clean water never mind toilets? How to match the world fighting a new disease with large areas of the world fighting each other? We may not be able to buy pasta but our maize harvest has not just failed completely. We have much to thank God for and much to ask for His blessing upon and in praising God we can find solace for our anxieties in our times of danger.
While the churches are not meeting there are services available from the URC Daily Devotions team at www.urc.org.uk which can be found online for those who are IT savvy.
Mal has made Palm Sunday and Good Friday services available online, these will be forwarded to those who are able to receive them on email. Those who would like paper copies please let Derek know and they will be sent to you by post. In addition, there will be services on television and radio, including Songs of Praise, are likely to continue even if they are repeats. We should make the most of these opportunities to join in acts of worship and maintain the health of our spiritual life just as we care for our physical health.
Prayer by John Proctor General Secretary of the URC
‘Lord Jesus in the midst of a storm you said ‘Peace be still’. Bid our anxious fears subside. Sustain your church in faith, hope and love, bring our nation through this tumult, grant wisdom to those with heavy responsibilities and healing to those who are infected. Amen’
And the Grace that we share regularly
‘May the love of God, the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us now and for evermore. Amen’
Secretary Trinity URC
Our church, like all other places of worship has had to temporarily close so there are no services or activities taking place at Westbury Gardens for the time being. As mentioned previously service sheets are available, and you can go on the URC website www.urc.org.uk or our Church’s Website www.westburygardensurc.org.uk to get the ‘daily devotions’ and there is also plenty of other information there you may find interesting.
In these strange and difficult times, it is so important to keep in touch with each other. Each of the Elders has agreed to keep in close touch with those on their Pastoral lists, as well as with each other, and may have already been in contact with you. It is also good to hold each other in prayer as John Proctor (URC General Secretary) has said in his prayer referred to in Andrea’s letter where he says how important it is to be at peace and still. This is especially important in difficult times such as we are experiencing at present as we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us all safely through such challenging times when most of us are self-isolating and uncertain how long we shall have to continue like this.
Many people are finding it difficult and the Foodbank is very busy trying to meet the extra demands being made on them. They need our support more than ever but as we are at present not able to take food to them, we could donate money directly by bank transfer to help them meet the demands they are facing. If you would like to support the Foodbank in this way go to their website www.blackburn.foodbank.org.uk and follow the instructions. The money you give will be used to help people in real need.
Last Sunday Churches Together in England invited all Christians across the country to light a candle to represent Jesus as the Light of the World and to put it in your front window facing onto your street at 7pm. Many of us did this and we think it would be good to continue doing this each Sunday up until Easter Sunday, and perhaps beyond whilst the crisis continues, and invite you to do this. We could all say a word of prayer together at that time.
As always, we need prayer to maintain our own equilibrium, and to open ourselves to the peace and grace of God. We will also surely want to intercede in prayer on behalf of others, holding before God people who are unwell or who have been bereaved, people who are giving their all in every task to bring us through this pandemic, particularly those working in the NHS. We will also want to remember people who have lost their job, or a business or other means of support and who may be very worried and anxious. We might also be feeling frustrated that we can’t do more to help, however despite this frustration we can always pray because we are strengthened in our resolve when we pray together and especially when we are praying for others asking for the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit to be with us all now and for evermore.
You may also like to look up Romans 8:38-39 and Philippians 4:4-9 Bible readings
We pray that we will all remain safe and continue doing our best to be faithful disciples of
Jesus Walking the Way and living the life of Jesus today, tomorrow and the next day always looking on the bright side because we know we are being held securely in his love.
Every Blessing from all the Elders
FEB – MARCH
Dear Friends, good wishes for the New Year as we journey together Walking the Way and living the life of Jesus today, tomorrow and the next day.
At the beginning of a New Year there is much to look back on as well as looking forward to. As part of this I am sure we will all recall significant moments in our lives as disciples of Jesus and for me there are three very significant ones that come mind.
The first is that the 27th January was Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) when we remember the 6 million Jews, and others, that were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust and the genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. January 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. Across the UK thousands of events have taken place to remember and reflect on what happened, challenging prejudice, discrimination and hatred in our society. The theme for this year’s event was ‘Stand Together’ and the HMD event in Blackburn Town Hall embraced this by including local schools, a Jewish Rabbi, the Mayor, Leader of the Council and representatives of the Interfaith Forum (representing all 6 major world Faiths) calling for us all to work and Stand Together across all sections of the community and faiths in the town.
The second is that on the 31st January this year the UK left the EU three and a half years after voting to leave. Arriving at this point has been difficult and divisive and whilst church members, in good conscience, continue to hold a range of views, we must remain united in seeking God’s guidance and common purposes as we move forward together even though, and perhaps particularly because, our world seems to be adrift at present, heading in the wrong direction with many hate fuelled things happening.
The third is that humanity is facing an existential climate catastrophe brought about by our own lack of care and thought for each other and our worlds addiction to money.
With all this, and no doubt other things in mind, there is a need to find ways to bring about reconciliation in one form or another. What about knocking down the physical, metaphorical and emotional walls that separate us? Some erected to deliberately keep the ‘other’ out of our lives, and some erected unconsciously by our unwillingness to accept a different point of view or by not listening carefully enough to what others are saying.
With all these challenging thoughts in mind at the beginning of a New Year, it would be good if we were able to do our bit to bring about changes for the better. I am sure we all recognise that it is a great privilege to be able to serve our church in the many ways that we do and so important to our Christian lives together thinking, praying and reaching out in response to Jesus’ command to love one another.
With these thoughts in mind and with the mince pies and Christmas cake behind us we turn to the future and despite some doubt and uncertainty, we can live in hope with renewed confidence and enthusiasm, by remembering that Jesus is with us at all times, wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Such great news is all we need in our troubled times and we need to tell family and friends and all around us about it.
I wish you a happy and peaceful New Year and pray that we will all be able to contribute to making a difference to people’s lives, for God’s sake, as we continue our lives by Walking the Way and living the life of Jesus today, tomorrow and for ever. Happy New Year and New Beginnings.
News of our Church Family
Looking back our church family has been busy over Christmas. As anticipated in our last newsletter we are pleased to be able to look back on a successful period when we had visits from 2 schools with about 150 children followed by a successful Christmas tree service when the church was full most of whom were young people from the Judo club when we enjoyed a Christingle service finishing by singing Christmas carols in candlelight. In addition, on the Sunday before Christmas we had an interesting service which involved passing the parcel and discovering the Nativity story each time the parcel was opened. The theme of the service was ‘Jesus the Light of the World’. This was followed by lunch and then singing Christmas carols which was a successful occasion and one which we feel would be good to repeat next year.
Josie’s latest news from Uganda
In Gulu the children and students are on their summer holiday, so Josie has been able to relax more. She says ‘The Christmas season has been filled with games, company and fun. The good thing about Christmas here is that there is no pressure, no Christmas discounts or clashing decorations across the street. So we have focused on Jesus’ birth more easily.’
Josie obviously missed being with her family, but she had Christmas Day with the missionaries and others including 2 babies and 2 other children. Later she went with a family to a place outside Gulu, where they had lunch, sat by the River Nile, and saw wildlife at close quarters, including a crocodile!
Josie will be home in the middle of February, and can’t believe how quickly the time has passed, but she would appreciate prayers for these final weeks.
It is good and interesting to learn about Josie’s adventures in Uganda and we congratulate her on the work she is doing to help others in that far off land. We hold her in our prayers for a safe return in the next few weeks and look forward to hearing more in due course about the work she has been doing there.
We at Westbury Gardens contributed towards a £110 gift to WaterAid which was collected at the group Christmas Day service at Trinity. This went to a small village called Tombohuaun in Sierra Leone where it will help to install a tap stand. WaterAid train the community on how to look after their new water supply so it lasts for the long term. The village was very pleased to receive our gift towards their new tap. You can see a video and get latest news on the WaterAid website www.wateraid.org
As our donations of tinned and packet food for Blackburn Foodbank are
still very much needed the suggestions for the next 2 months are below.
2nd Feb Tin of tomatoes 1st Mar Tea or coffee
9th Feb Pasta or pasta sauce 8th Mar A jar of jam
16th Feb Long life milk 15th Mar Tin of rice pudding
23rd Feb A tin of meat or fish 22nd Mar Tin of fruit
29th Mar Packet of Cereals
These are only suggestions, if you are unable to bring something each week Foodbank are happy to accepted food as and when you can.
DEC – JAN
As we celebrate our 6th Christmas with you I share this story with you of the three wise men who as we know played a pivotal role in the story of the birth of Jesus.
A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognise them. She said “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry, please come in and have something to eat”.
“Is the man of the house home?”, they asked. “No”, she said, “He’s out”.
“Then we can’t come in”, they replied.
In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. “Go and tell them I am home and invite them in!”. The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a house together,” they replied. “Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained : “His name is Wealth”, he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love”. Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home”.
The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!”
His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success? Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite love? Our home will then be filled with Love!”. “Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice”, said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest”.
The woman went out and asked the three old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other two also got up and followed him. Surprised, the woman asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, why are you coming in?”. The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth and Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with Him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!!!!!!”.
As our donations of tinned and packet food for Blackburn Foodbank are
Still very much needed the suggestions for the next 2 months are below.
1st Dec Tin of tomatoes 5th Jan Tea or coffee
8th Dec Pasta or pasta sauce 12th Jan A jar of jam
15th Dec Long life milk 19th Jan Tin of rice pudding
22nd Dec A tin of meat or fish 26th Jan Tin of fruit
29th Dec Pkt of cereals of biscuits
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.
Ministry of Flowers
We thank Fozia and Aftab and Jean Gorton for their kind donation of flowers during October and November.
Anyone wishing to contribute towards flowers or put flowers in church in memory of a loved one just let Margaret Estill know.
Children’s visits over Christmas
During Advent we are delighted to say that children from local schools will be coming to see us particularly when we have the Christmas trees on display and to hear about our preparations to celebrate the birth of Jesus. We are expecting 90 children from the Olive school (an Islamic school) and approximately 20 children from Shadsworth Infant School. In addition we will be visiting both Shadsworth Infant and Shadsworth Junior schools to deliver Messy Church sessions about Christmas. In addition to those school connections the young people (approximately 40) who take part in Judo each week at our church will be coming to our Christmas Tree service on 12th December.
It is great that we at Westbury Gardens have such good connections and opportunities to meet and talk with children and young people during the time we are preparing to celebrate Christmas as well as throughout the year.
We are conscious of the need to make sure our building and the way we use it does not cause us to use excessive energy. We have completed a survey to establish how we measure up against an A Rocha Eco Church Survey Questionnaire. In the categories we checked we found that at present we are doing quite well but there is more to do. The survey reviewed how we involve looking after the environment in our worship and the spiritual life of our church. It also asked practical questions about our building and the way we use it etc. One thing that we can all do to help is to make sure that we carefully use heating and lighting and that we take care to make sure that lights are switched off as soon as they are no longer needed. So please always keep this in mind and together we will be able to make a difference.
As I write this, it’s the most beautiful autumn day and we are told we can expect a few more before the weather changes. As the days shorten, it is tempting to think that all we have ahead is snow, fog and ice! However, we shall resist that temptation, and look forward to the beautiful changing colours of autumn and to all that we have planned in our churches.
There is no doubt that we face many challenges. However, we serve a wonderful God who holds us all in the palm of His hand. I’m sure we have numerous events organised for the autumn, and as ever we will do our best to support and encourage one another. We have every reason to be thankful for all of God’s gifts to us and we look forward to further plans being revealed for next year.
One of the main changes in our life together is that our three churches are now part of the East Lancashire Missional Partnership, numbering 12 churches in all. There were 13, but Bolton Road URC is sadly closing later in October. Currently, we have two ministers in the partnership. There were three, but Catherine Lewis Smith who worked with the Darwen churches, has moved on, so the steering group was expecting one vacancy to be advertised in our partnership. However, as the remaining two ministers are due to retire in the next three years, it has been agreed with Synod that two vacancies will be declared to ensure that we have continuity across the partnership. We are very blessed that Mal is still appointed to work as community minister with our three churches. This will not change. However, as 20% of his time is allocated to work with the wider church, he will be available on occasion to help other churches in the partnership to pray, think about and plan specific community involvement projects.
Further ahead, we need to remember that Mal starts his sabbatical for 3 months from 2 January 2020, which means that he will be unavailable during that time. We pray that he will find this time enriching and that he is able to spend time on things that God has placed on his heart to do. We look forward to his return on 2 April! In the meantime, Mal and Elizabeth are planning to run a Christianity Explored course at Revidge Fold from Wednesday 23 October to Wednesday 4 December from 7:00 to 9:00pm. This is a relaxed 7 course which offers people the opportunity to learn about the good news of Jesus in an informal setting. A warm welcome awaits anyone who would like to come along!
May God bless us all as we continue to serve Him together!
Revidge Fold Church Secretary
IT’S CELEBRATION TIME ‘Looking Back, Looking Forward
There is to be a service of celebration at Revidge Fold on Sunday 10th November at 2.00pm to celebrate the end of Mal’s first term of 5 years with us in Blackburn. The preacher will be Derek Estill in his role as Moderator of General Assembly and you are invited to join us. Refreshments will be served after the service and to help with catering arrangements please add your name to list on notice boards in each church by Sunday 3rd November.
We’ll look forward to seeing you there!!!
As our donations of tinned and packet food for Blackburn Foodbank are still very much needed the suggestions for the next 2 months are below.
6th Oct A packed of tea or coffee 3rd Nov Packet of biscuits
13th Oct Long life milk 10th Nov Tin of tomatoes
20th Oct A tin of meat or fish 17th Nov A tin of rice pudding
27th Oct Pasta or pasta sauce 24th Nov A jar of jam
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.
At our recent coffee morning we tried something different and had a ‘sing along’ with Eric Haworth from Revidge Fold leading the singing with his keyboard. We started with bacon/egg butties and then had a great time singing along to all the old favourites.
Josie in Uganda
As some of you know, Sheila’s eldest granddaughter, Josie, now 18, is in Uganda. She has gone under the auspices of the Baptist Missionary Society for a minimum of 2 months, which will probably be extended to 6 months, if everything works out. Alongside missionaries already in situ, she hopes to assist in several of the ventures in place in the school, church and university.
She is settling in, a month gone already, with many first time experiences – seeing the river Nile, using mosquito nets, living in an apartment on her own, and learning to cook on Calor gas, often in the dark wearing a head torch- there seem to be a lot of power cuts.
Her work seems to be based around Gulu University Community Church, and gets her involved in a lot of projects. One of the main jobs is to use her considerable photography skills to set up a website of photographs, and make ‘culture friendly’ resources for teaching speech and language, for deaf people and others. To help her she has bought a bike to get her to various places around the town.
Among other things she has photographed a bore hole being dug to eventually provide clean water for a local village, and, at the church, a baptism of 6 young people, who were ‘dipped’ in a water storage tank. They were able to have photos of their own special day. On the cards is a visit to the school for more photography to be used in teaching situations.
For relaxation she has been to a games evening, and, believe it or not, a Yorkshire evening! She is trying different foods, but was unimpressed by coffee flavoured Coke.
She would like prayers for
Her continued health
Improved cooking skills
Spiritual refreshment for herself
We look forward to hearing more about Josie’s time in Uganda and our prayers and thoughts will be with her over the coming months
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?