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Our newsletter, Tidings, is published 10 times a year to be available at the beginning of each month but, to give the editor a break, there are no January or August editions.  It is circulated to members and friends of three churches, namely Longbenton Methodist Church, West Moor Methodist Church and St. Andrew's Church (Methodist and United Reformed) at a cost of 40 p a copy.  Rev. Alison Wilkinson is the minister for Longbenton and Rev. Gavin Hume is the minister for the other two churches.

Here are some items from the October issue, beginning with letters from Alison Wilkinson and Gavin Hume.

Dear Friends

By now most of you will have heard of the proposed changes to the pastoral charge of some of the churches in our circuit. The ordained staff and circuit stewards have tried very hard to respond to where we think God is leading us, reflecting on our growth plans and with a desire to invest our resources in growth, not just keeping everything the same.

All of this means I will no longer be your minister from the end of December. The Rev. Janet Jackson will be taking on Longbenton and Balliol, along with some input into Heaton and Trinity, Wallsend. Whilst I’m very sad to be moving on, and really never expected this to happen, I’m very pleased that you will have a minister who will have much more time to invest with you, to help you move forward and face the challenges ahead.

I knew a minister who said the motto of every church should be

“Change is here to stay.”

This motto means that, just as change is a present reality for every follower of Jesus, so it should be for a church. God calls us every day to move on with him. He never says, “You’re just fine as you are.” Rather he is always, by his Spirit, pouring his transforming love into our hearts and calling us to be more like Jesus – and that takes a very long time.

So our churches can’t be the last refuge of those fearful of change, but instead we should be those who, to borrow a phrase, boldly go where no one has gone before! We need to continue to be bold, courageous and trusting! We may not know what our future holds, but we do know who holds our future.

With love,

Alison

Dear Friends

I sometimes have the frustration of wanting to use our bathroom at home just after another family member has had a long hot shower. This makes using the mirror a particularly difficult task, and the blurry image on the fogged up glass is not as helpful as I’d like for having a shave.

It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:12, where the apostle Paul writes “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face”.

Apparently the city of Corinth was famous in Paul’s day for the manufacture of mirrors, which then were made of polished metal, and therefore could produce only a dim reflection rather than a clear image. The apostle Paul turns to this metaphor for what it means to have a mature faith, after talking about putting an end to childish ways. Perhaps this means that part of maturing in the faith is the humility to realise and acknowledge that we see and know only in part, and to put behind us the delusional arrogance of certainty.

I recently came across this quote from an Eastern Orthodox theologian called Kallistos Ware, which I find both beautiful and challenging:

“It is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.”

While we may sometimes be frustrated by unanswered questions and so many things we don’t understand, what we do see, even though the image may be dim and unclear, fills us with wonder at the vastness of who God is, and the vastness of his love for us.

May the Lord fill your heart with wonder and awe at your place in his good purposes, and the gift of faith and trust in the midst of the things we cannot, yet, see clearly.

With every blessing,

Gavin

Following in the footprints

Dear Editor,

Ah yes, the vexed question of carbon footprints to which you referred in the last issue and asked for comments. A few thoughts occur – and a few more gleaned from “The Economist”, that fount of all knowledge:–

China and India are perceived to be the worst emitters of carbon dioxide, but much changes when adjustments are made for population size, GDP levels and carbon consumption per person. (Economist 26.11. 2015) So figures for Europe no longer look so good.

Cutting emissions will not be enough to keep global warming in check. Carbon dioxide has to be sucked out too. The technology to do this is currently being actively worked upon. (Economist 2017)

Companies across the world, including in the UK, are moving faster than many governments on carbon emissions. (Economist 2018)

So, it seems to me that there are several issues here. Short term benefits in jobs, cheaper energy and political stability (fracking, airport expansion and open cast mining being those you mention) must be balanced against the long term dangers for our planet.

But then, how green is green? Everything comes with a cost. Recycling is widely applauded. Few would argue against it, but what about the energy expended to recycle plastic bottles into clothing? What about the emissions from large vehicles which come to collect recycling bins and transport the material to recycling centres – and the subsequent onward journeys of this.  There is always the problem of supply chains, getting stuff to where it is needed. If we were to go completely green, we’d get rid of all livestock, for a start – cows, for example, are big “greenhouse gas” emitters. Oh and we’d all have to stop breathing too!

Well, clearly this won’t happen, but maybe the best we can do is to be more aware and do what we can. All those solar panels we see on people’s roofs, not aesthetically pleasing I agree, but saving hundreds of kilograms of carbon every day. It all mounts up to be a force for good. Switching off lights really does help. Look out for the new Eco Group led by Moira Simpson. Let’s see what we at St. Andrew’s can do – change does happen.

Shirley Thomas

 

People in the news

 Over the past few months we have been glad to see Claire Kilgallon and her son, Jack, at Messy Church and morning services.  More recently we have welcomed Derek Hopper and Kim Pearson, and their daughter, April, for whom a thankgiving and blessing service is to be held on October 14.

In September we also met Judith Dodds’ husband, Alan, and her daughter, Angelica. We wish Angelica every success as she begins her degree course in Fashion at Northumbria University.

Lisa Wilson and David Watt have moved to Burradon: we wish them every blessing as they settle in.

 

A happy wedding

On August 16, 2018, I, with other church members, had the privilege of attending the wedding of Amy Louise King and Richard Jonathan Hollows at St. Andrew’s. Amy is the daughter of Robin and Lyn King, who worship at Jesmond Parish Church, and the granddaughter of the late Graham and Jean Heatherington, who were long-standing and much loved members of this church.

It was a happy service from start to finish. The bride was beautiful, of course, but she was upstaged by the flowergirl, Esme Qillian, who was amazing and kept us amused throughout.

The hymns chosen had such lovely words, especially the first one, sung to the tune of Morning has broken (see next page). The congregation sang their hearts out, and I’m sure Jean and Graham were very proud – I’m sure they were there.

We all wish the happy couple a long, healthy and happy life together. They certainly had a good start.   

                                                    Betty Fellows 

A learner of lessons in humility (part 1)

Christmas 1933 was cold and grim. Ailing Bernard, 2, was the same age, until the following February, as his sister, miraculous Margaret, a sturdy baby born in December the same year (1931). Richard Patrick had died suddenly in October, so Mother was now a widow. She was feeling the stirrings of Brian, who was due to arrive before his brother’s third birthday.

There followed a long time of constant work and pressure. No Welfare State, no antibiotics, no domestic aids. A week’s wash took all day on Monday – longer in winter weather. Mother’s facilities were a coal fire, a cold water tap near the outside lavatory and a meagre widow’s pension –

10 shillings (50 p).

 It was thanks to Lloyd George and others who railed against the iniquities of poverty in a land of glistening riches, that a state pension was introduced. At first it was 5 shillings (25p) a week for a 70-year-old man if he had no other income exceeding 10 shillings. Most working men did not reach that age, and female longevity was about 40 years. This was the background to our lives. Any situation remotely like it today would spark more demands for foster homes. Mother battled on until she could see her children as three healthy adults.

Adding to her labours came pressure from the large Irish element in the town containing my Roman Catholic Grandma, née Stronach. My other (Church of England) Grandma was a victim of the Asian flu pandemic of 1919. To ease the pressure on her family, this caused my bright, literate mother to be hired out as a domestic maid at the age of 12. Bernard and Margaret had been baptised in the Catholic Church, but Mother rode the pressure and took them back to the Church of England, where I was baptised. This meant my seven cousins were remote from me. (This rift between faiths was to manifest itself years later, when my wife took the car and left the children with her less than ideal husband. Later, once it was confirmed that I had never been a Catholic, our marriage was annulled and she was able to marry Señor Marti Fernandez in a Catholic church.)

As I grew older and more resentful of our poverty I complained to Mother about this and about her dead Catholic husband. Mother quickly rounded on me and said, “I do not regret marrying him. I loved him. Never speak like that again.”

Subject closed ! First never-to-be-forgotten lesson. Later on I spent a lot of time with Roman Catholics.

Brian Laverick