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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 2017 issue, beginning with a letter from Gavin Hume.

Dear Friends

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of gathering with thousands of others towards the finishing line of the Great North Run in South Shields. Tracey and I were there to support our son Cameron (who did amazingly well to finish in 1 hour 51 minutes!). Most of the people around us had friends or family running, but the crowd seemed to recognise a collective responsibility to cheer on the many thousands of strangers both before and after their friends had gone by. After the faster runners had finished the race, many of them then joined the crowds to cheer on those yet to finish. With the names of the runners being displayed underneath their race number, people were shouting out to runners by name, as they looked weary with 400 metres to go, telling them they were nearly there and to keep going. Many of the runners seemed to find an extra burst of energy as a result of hearing the cheers of the crowd.

It was a picture of the power of encouragement.

The Apostle Paul was well aware of the power of encouragement. When other early Church leaders did not believe Paul had a role to play, Joseph of Cyprus encouraged him. He recognised Paul’s potential, and mentored him, helping him to develop his preaching gifts. Joseph was so good at encouraging others that he was given the nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement”.

Having known the difference encouragement has made in his own life, Paul writes about it frequently in his letters. When he talks about members of the body of Christ using their gifts to build one another up, encouragement is listed alongside preaching and teaching (Romans 12:8).

There are plenty of voices in our society bringing criticism and negativity. Where can you be a voice of encouragement?

With every blessing,


Theme PreachingSunday October 22

On October 22 we have a visiting preacher, the Rev. Dr. David Lowes Watson, whose sermon will focus on Intentional Faith Development.

David Lowes Watson, who was born in 1938, is the son of Norman Watson, who was at that time manager of Martin’s Bank, Forest Hall. The family were close friends of Eileen Hanby’s family. They worshipped at Benton Methodist Church (now part of St. Andrew's, Benton) and David was baptised and went to Sunday School there, but they moved away when David was ten years old.

In 1955 David enjoyed an exchange visit to a place in the United States near Niagara Falls. He returned to this country to do his National Service, then in 1958 went up to Merton College, Oxford. His family hosted Gayle, an exchange student from Birmingham, Alabama: she and David married in 1961. David taught at The Duke’s School, Alnwick, and they lived in the North East for ten years before moving to Slough, where David joined a group ministry and hosted a group of young people from Illinois.

Then they moved to the United States. David did a PhD and was ordained into the ministry of the United Methodist Church there. He taught students for the ministry in several seminaries. Gayle was also ordained and served as a well-loved local minister. They both retired in 2005.

David visited Tyneside in February 2017 and was invited to read the lesson in St. Andrew’s on February 19. He is crossing the Atlantic again in October and will give the North East Methodist History Society Lecture at Willington Methodist Church, County Durham, at 2.30 p.m. on October 21, when his subject will be “Ecclesiola in Ecclesia: The Early Methodist Class Meeting for the Church of Today”.  

Moira Robinson  16-3-1927 to 17-8-2017

Moira Dodds spent her childhood in Forest Hall, with her parents and her two brothers, Roy and David. Through Roy, she met the love of her life, Alan, and they were married at Benton Methodist Church on June 2, 1952. A few years later, an advertisement appeared in the Methodist Recorder for a post in Nigeria at Blaize Memorial Institute to train young Nigerian boys in joinery and carpentry, so she and Alan went off to Methodist House in London to be interviewed, were offered the post, accepted and off they went to work in Abeokuta, Nigeria. She and Alan spent seven very happy years in Nigeria and their two sons, Paul and Philip, were born there.

After moving back to England in 1966, Moira worked as a shorthand typist as well as a full time wife and mother. Moira was a Sunday School teacher and leader, church organist and choirmistress for well over 50 years and, after “retiring” from these positions, she was presented with a memorial plaque at a Sunday morning service.

Her first granddaughter, Megan, was born in 2002, followed by Phoebe, Hollie, Beatrice and Sophie. After many years in Newcastle, Moira and Alan moved to live in Kent to be nearer to their sons and to be able to spend more time with their grandchildren. They transferred their church membership to St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Chatham and soon settled into their new lives. They were very happily married for 65 years.

Moira was loved, admired and respected by everyone she knew. She will never be forgotten by the many, many people whose lives were touched by her kindness, gentleness and thoughtfulness. Alan, Paul, Philip and their families especially were truly blessed to have had Moira as a wife, mum and grandma and their lives have certainly been enriched beyond measure. She hardly ever criticized anyone but always looked for the best in them. Hers was a life lived to the full in so many ways, but, above all, in service to her Lord and Saviour, Jesus.                     

Alan, Paul and Philip Robinson

At St. Andrew's Church, and Benton Methodist Church before that, Moira Robinson was a leading member of its various women’s meetings and prayer groups. She organised Christmas parties for the over-60s of the congregation – until she turned 60 herself! Her instrumental contribution to the church’s life began with playing for the Beginners Department, graduating from piano to organ when the Sunday School met in the church. The trustees encouraged her to take organ lessons and first appointed her as church organist in 1946. Her playing of hymns was excellent: she would sing the words as she played and used appropriate speeds and registrations. Her incidental music and voluntaries for services were always well chosen and greatly enhanced our worship. From 1976 she was largely responsible for the musical life of the church and always keen to encourage budding singers and organists. But if another organist or choirmaster was in charge, she would happily join the contraltos in the choir, for sacred works or even Gilbert and Sullivan.

But her Christian service extended beyond her own church and denomination. She hosted the local Women’s World Day of Prayer committee and often played for its annual services. Christian women of all denominations met monthly for prayer at her house. She was at various times a member of the Circuit Meeting and Circuit Network treasurer, and would play the piano or organ at Circuit Network events. She was in the Circuit Choir and on the District committee of the Methodist Church Music Society, both of which provide singers from smaller churches opportunities to enjoy four-part choral singing. Everyone who knew her has been enriched by her talents, enthused by her example and blessed by her love.

                  Margaret Burchell

The 20th Luton Boys' Brigade Visit   July 22-29

This year’s summer camp was notable for two things. Firstly, we had only two (fairly short) trips to the beach. And secondly, the staff  were never woken up by the boys – not once!

We were made very welcome by St. Andrew’s Church and particularly grateful to Mrs. Henderson and my mother who provided us with freshly baked cakes. We performed a sketch of the Wise and Foolish House Builders during the Church Parade on Sunday morning.

We used the Metro to get around as much as possible, as we had a group ticket that gave us unlimited travel. It was also valid on the ferry, so on a wet Sunday afternoon we set off to see the River Tyne. Having got soaked between the Metro and the ferry, we then headed for the coast at South Shields. When it rained again we took shelter in the dodgems, before heading to McDonald’s for hot chocolate or ice cream.

On Monday the weather was kind to us as we walked from Housesteads to Cawfields along Hadrian’s Wall. On Tuesday we explored Newcastle Quayside following a treasure hunt set by my father, ending up back at Central Station where the Virgin Trains table tennis table kept the boys amused while we waited for the last (or were they lost?) group to finish.

Wednesday started out wet for our visit to Beamish Museum, but this worked in our favour, as with no crowds we didn’t have to queue for anything. The boys enjoyed rides on three trams, the 1820 wagonway Puffing Billy replica train, the steam train from Rowley station and the Chair-o-Plane. We visited the Co-op: I have never seen boys get so excited about broken biscuits! After visiting the sweet shop we called in to the dentist before catching the tram to the souvenir shop and exit.

On Thursday we headed for the beach after lunch. It rained quite heavily, but, undaunted, some of us had a good swim in the sea, and some good sandcastles were built. On Friday we got wet indoors at Wet’n’Wild where the boys all enjoyed the ten slides, waves, lazy river and other features. We had to drag the boys away at 5 p.m. in order to rush back to church for tea. During the week the boys all had the chance to visit and drive trains on my father’s extensive model railway.                                                    

Andrew Burchell