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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 March and April 2018 issues, beginning with Easter letters from Gavin Hume and Alison Wilkinson.

Dear Friends

When was the last time you cried?

On that very first Easter Sunday, the friends of Jesus went through a whole range of different emotions. 

As Mary Magdalene sits outside the empty tomb of Jesus and cries, an angel asks her what seems like a strange question: “Why are you crying?”

From Mary’s perspective it seems like the natural thing to do. Not only has her friend and teacher died, but now it seems as though someone has stolen the body.

From the angel’s different perspective, the one place and time where crying seems surprising is the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning.

And then, with Jesus right in front of her, still Mary is crying – why?

Because she can’t yet see and recognise that Jesus is with her. What we are able to see and recognise with our eyes is often limited by what is going on in our minds. Mary had already made up her mind that Jesus was dead, the body had been moved, and that the man in front of her must be the gardener.

So what helps her to see things as they really are, rather than how she assumes them to be?

She hears Jesus speaking her name, and her perspective changes.

Perhaps you’ve been going through your own range of emotions? Perhaps you’ve already made up your mind about what Easter is all about?

Perhaps during our Easter celebrations this year we might help one another to know that Jesus speaks our names, so that his risen presence can bring new hope, new light, and a new perspective to all that is going on in our lives.

With every blessing,

Gavin

 

Dear Friends,

We are very familiar with Lent and Advent seasons in church. Perhaps “The Great Fifty Days” is less well known, but it is the period of time between Easter Day and Pentecost. In the past few years the Methodist Church has become very traditional in marking this period of time. It’s not a new trendy idea from the young: it’s actually an ancient tradition of the church that we are rediscovering.

The circuit has several copies of the book which provides you with a daily reading and some thoughts written by a local person in the Darlington or Newcastle District and a prayer. If you prefer you can receive the material by daily email, by registering with

www.thegreat50days.org.uk

The theme of this year’s material is “A Life of Mission”, and so appropriate! We have spent weeks with our eyes looking forward to the events in Jerusalem, and over Holy Week we see Jesus go from triumphal entry to being abandoned, beaten and crucified. With the dawn of Easter Day we follow the women to the tomb and join them in their joy at meeting the risen Lord.

We have often gone through the week waiting for the big celebration at the end on Easter Day. 

But for the Early Church that resurrection morning wasn’t the end of something, but the beginning. The angels at the tomb clearly tell the women, “Go tell the message”. Observing “The Great Fifty Days” allows us to think through what it means to live a life after resurrection, to go tell the good news!

So, as we approach Easter, this isn’t the end of the story! This is just the beginning...

Happy Easter!

With love,

Alison

Memories of Maureen McKenzie

MAUREEN McKENZIE  11.6.35 - 15.2.18

Maureen grew up in Montrose. As a schoolgirl she excelled in sport, playing tennis doubles for her school and club, captaining the school hockey team and being picked for the Midlands Select team. She ran the 100 yards and 220 yards for her school, for Montrose and for the county: the chief coach for Scotland took an interest in her progress.

In November 1951 she contracted polio. She was taken to a hospital in Dundee. She could still speak, swallow and move her eyes – that was all. Her mother would visit her, but her boyfriend was not allowed into the hospital: every Sunday he came and stood outside the window. She spent all her time in an iron lung.

Then a doctor, who had discovered her interest in hockey, challenged her. “I have a hockey stick signed by the Indian team. When you can stay out of the iron lung for one hour, I will get a new handle put on it and bring it to you.” The next day Maureen asked to be allowed out of the iron lung for two minutes, and managed to breathe on her own. She gradually increased the time until she won the hockey stick. The next challenge was to stay out for three hours: then she was able to spend time in an ordinary hospital bed. She continued with her exercises until she could manage without the iron lung.

She was transferred to a hospital nearer Montrose. Maureen worked hard at her physiotherapy: she was determined to walk again. A nurse worked with her on using her hands until she could hold a pen. One day the orthopaedic surgeon said to her, “There is nothing more we can do for you, so we are going to discharge you. You will never be able to wash, dress or feed yourself, you will use a wheelchair, you will never work or be independent.” But Maureen persuaded the authorities to let her stay at the hospital and continue with physiotherapy. She set her own targets. After some sessions she was so exhausted that they had to take her back to the ward in a wheelchair. Afraid of being institutionalised, after two years and eight months in hospital she decided she was ready to go home to live with her parents. Every day she would walk along the beach and across the links. She started to try household tasks (finding them very frustrating) and began to look for a job. At a relay at her church of a Billy Graham meeting, she and another girl made decisions for Christ. They started a Christian Endeavour, which became popular and brought them new friends. Despite having several suitors, she decided she would never marry.

Finding that no one in Montrose would give her a job, she tried Newcastle, and worked in the office of the Polio Fellowship for four years.  Maureen threw herself into taking part in regional sports for the disabled, going to Stoke Mandeville with the team. She ran swimming sessions at Wallsend Baths. Nobody, however disabled, was ever turned away. She started a fencing session, using equipment from a club that was closing down. She volunteered to run the regional sports, hiring the Lightfoot Stadium for the events and a nearby school for the prizegiving and refreshments. She held subsequent events at Wallsend Stadium, and when they made a profit of £300 Maureen bought tracksuits which the team wore proudly at the next Stoke Mandeville Games. In the next few years, the North East team twice won both the sports and the swimming trophies.

By now Maureen was fully mobile, with a specially adapted car. She subsequently worked for an engineering company and then an insurance company, from time to time enduring unpleasantness from some bosses and colleagues because of her disability. Then a vacancy came up at North Tyneside Social Services as an Activity Officer for disabled people who used their day centres. She applied and was appointed.

Some of her able-bodied colleagues did not believe she could do the job, and made life difficult for her. She was asked to set up a day centre at Burnside School but was given few facilities – not even transport for the people who were to use it. The school staff were supportive and let her use equipment in a room which was used by the pupils as an evening centre. Her day centre became a success, and she won transport for its users.

She was a founder member of the Northern Region branch of the British Sports Association for the Disabled and had to attend national meetings in London at least once a month. The chairman of the BDSA committee asked her to be their representative on the Standing Conference of Northern Sport and Recreation, where she was representing all the disabled people in the whole of the North of England. If any council or group wanted a donation from the regional Sports Council for any development they were planning (such as the Eldon Square Leisure Centre), they had to submit detailed drawings to Maureen, and she would check them to make sure they catered for access and dignity for people with all kinds of disability.

For many years Maureen has been a member of Benton Methodist Church and then St. Andrew’s. When her father died and her mother’s health began to fail, Maureen cared for her and they lived together. After her mother’s death, she stayed on in the house, but health problems of her own caused her to retire at the age of 57. She had worked full time for 33 years. She had been on wonderful holidays, including a cruise to the Far East. She kept busy, and enjoyed the company of her little dog, Amber. With Amber’s death in 2006, she was able to get back to St. Andrew’s Church, where she was a faithful worshipper and an active member of Network.

In recent years Maureen needed more help to remain at home, and she spent the last few weeks of her life in hospital. We offer her relatives, her friends and all her carers our loving sympathy.                   Margaret Burchell

 

The more you got to know Maureen the more you realised what a feisty scotch terrier she was, with such a big heart. She needed that fighting spirit as she fought the disease and went on to lead a good, full life and make herself a worthwhile career when people said she never would do either.

She was always smiling, so strong, and championed a good many causes – none more so than the People’s Kitchen. The Kitchen always got a good share of our Harvest Festival goods because Maureen shouted the loudest!

At Network we always left a gap at one table for Maureen’s wheelchair, but that was nothing compared to the gap she has left in our lives. She was an inspiration to all of us.

You can stop fighting now, Maureen, love. You have truly earned your reward to be happy with Jesus and walk – or, more likely, run – by his side.                                                                                                                         Betty Fellows