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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.  From Jan 1st 2019 Rev. Janet Jackson is the new minister for Longbenton.  Rev. Gavin Hume is the minister for the other two churches.

Here are some items from the February 2019 issue, beginning with letters from Janet Jackson and Gavin Hume.

Dear Friends

Thank you for inviting me to work with you in Longbenton. We learn from Isaiah 61:1-2 that we are all called to discipleship, in different ways, and we need to fulfil that calling. I ask for your help in enabling me to fulfil my calling among you.

Those of you whom I have met have already given me a very warm welcome and plenty of hugs. It will be a great privilege for me to be among you, sharing in the life and fellowship of your church, and I look forward to getting to know you better over the coming years.

I thought you might like to know a little more about me, so here is an A to Z of the Reverend Janet P. Jackson (Rev JJ):

A is for Adoration. The only one I can adore is God who underpins my whole life and gives it meaning.

B is for Busy. I am always on the go and many activities give me pleasure. I especially enjoy talking with people and sharing our faith.

C is for my Calling, first to serve God as a Sunday School teacher, then as a local preacher and finally in 1998 to train for ministry. We all have a calling to serve God in our church and neighbourhood.

D is for my Daughters Emmalee (37) and Eilidh (24).

E is for Education. I achieved 8 O levels and 2 A levels at Senior School near Liverpool, a BSc Honours in Botany at Liverpool University and a BA in Christian Ministry at Lancaster.

F is for Fruit. My favourite fruits are blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries, oranges and the like, but more important are the Fruits of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. I pray that God will enable us to share our gifts as we work together for him in our church.

G is for putting God first in my life. I have been attending Sunday School and church since I was a babe in arms.

H is for being a Hospital chaplain from March 2003 for a year, and for Haverigg Prison where I was a chaplain for 2½ years till June 2003.

I is for Ironing. I don’t mind ironing but I haven’t got much time to do it so I will pay whoever offers to do it for me (my daughters have been good in their time).

J is for the Joy of singing and leading worship.

K is for Karrots - well I have never been much good at spelling - I usually ask my husband to proof read! K is also for Knitting and Krocheting (!) which I do a lot of for charity, blankets and jumpers.

L is for the Love of my life, my wonderful husband, Colin.

M is for Moving! This time I said, “Never again,” so I pray we get on very well.

N is for Newcastle and North where we have always wanted to be. Also Nativity. I wrote, rehearsed and led a nativity service every year for about 6 years. I have had a rest for the last few years.

O is for Ordination which was a transforming occasion, when all my family were there. It was important for me that my dad was able to see me ordained. He said, “It’s about time!!”

P is for Patchwork, a hobby I love, and I have a collection of materials ready for the next project.

Q is for Quilting, something I may to be able to take up again when I get time to work out my new sewing machine!!!!

R is for Reading. I make plenty of time for this, reading a variety of novels and magazines as well as theological books and study notes.

S is for my Sons, Ewan (26) and Charlie (25), who are very keen computer game players (Ewan works in the I.T. department for a company in Milton Keynes, Charlie for an insurance company).

T is for Travel. I love to drive and this has become an even more pleasurable experience with my blue C4 Picasso.

U is for Understanding, a two way task! It is easy to misunderstand someone, or as they say “get the wrong end of the stick”. If I do please forgive me and if you do I am forgiving too.

V is for Visiting. If you know anyone who would like a visit please let me know. It is better for a few people to tell me than no one, as sometimes happens.

W is for Work. I don’t do this alone! I come here to the work God calls us to do together.

X is for Xylophone, a lovely instrument but I will never be able to play one!!!!!!!

Y is for You. I will be attending meetings, fellowship groups and Bible studies, and leading worship. Let me know how I can help.

Z is for Zoo. I particularly like the monkeys and a couple of summers ago we went to “Monkey World” and had a wonderful time.


Jesus covered many miles during his earthly ministry, sharing the gospel and showing concern for people with all kinds of needs. He is pictured as a man of action and authority, a great teacher who was filled with the Spirit of God. He is the example I aim to follow. As I travel about I look forward to learning more about you and sharing concern, faith and hope.

Love in Christ,


Dear friends,

As I write, on the evening of 15th January, the extended news programme is showing the fallout of the Brexit vote in Parliament. We certainly need to pray for our politicians in the next couple of difficult months.

The last couple of years seem to have led to a greater sense of division in our country, and a harsher, nastier tone to public debate. How should we respond to this as Christians?

Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury joined the President and Vice- President of the Methodist Conference in making a statement about this:

“Jesus calls us to love one another, and even to love our enemies. In this time of political turmoil we have been shocked at the anger and vitriol that has surrounded so much public discourse, personally, online and via social media. Our Christian heritage, along with other global faith and non-faith traditions, calls for us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. This does not mean the absence of passionate difference, but it does call for respect for human dignity.”

Perhaps we might find some inspiration for these times of turmoil in some of the “one another” verses from the New Testament letters, and especially this one:

“Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Perhaps part of the challenge of this verse is to try to see the best in others, even those we disagree with, those who seem different from us, those whose words may have hurt or offended us.

For us to speak kindly, and act kindly towards others, perhaps we also need to try to think kindly about others. To remember that God looks on us with an optimism of grace, seeing the good in the midst of the bad, seeing the potential of all that we can become.

Are we called to learn to see others the way that God sees them? Do we look for the good in them? Or do we tend to assume the worst of intentions in what others say or do? Do we make negative assumptions about those who we think are different?

These are questions that challenge me to try and see others with an optimism of grace, that I may think, speak and act more kindly.

May the Lord bless us with his peace, that we may be peacemakers in a divided world.

With every blessing,


Carols at "The Legion" – December 19

“See you at the Legion tonight!” is not the cheery call often heard at St. Andrew’s, but in the week before Christmas amid the flurry of preparations a group of St. Andrew’s folk and Gavin with his trusty guitar met one evening in the small room at The Legion Club in Forest Hall. We were there to make a cheerful noise and our aim was to have carols resounding through the bar in the adjoining room – and ideally to get the people there singing along. We are not permitted to go into the members’ bar, but we do offer to pray with people as they pass the door – often at speed to avoid us, it is noted – and it is surprising how many people say, “Yes, would you pray for …,” naming a relative or friend. 

We are no longer total strangers there as this was our second year of carols (we also sang hymns there two years ago) and it is fair to say that while we have yet to hear the rafters raised by those in the bar, or even a lone voice, (our expectations are quite low!) there is a degree of recognition and possibly even acceptance. It was a particular pleasure to meet a man with whom we had prayed a year ago. It has to be said that this time he looked as though he was on the up. Conversation with him revealed that indeed his life has changed for the better over the year. He said that he was so inspired by our presence in the club last year when he had joined us for a carol or two – and he had such a positive feeling –  that he’d put great effort into finding, and getting, a permanent job, thus being able to save enough money to go to court in order to gain the right to see his little girl. We were all delighted when he agreed to come and sing a carol with us again. He said had a real buzz from singing with us.

We were surprised by the barmaid bounding in among us before going on to her shift. She sang loudly and with such gusto that we allowed her to keep one carol sheet so she could sing as she worked, and she promised to get the members joining in! In her words, “It’s great, this!”

Two people, then, whose lives we know we touched that evening by our presence in an unfamiliar place. It may well have been more. It’s hard work standing there and singing for an hour, and Gavin’s fingers must have been dropping off with constant playing, but another year and who knows – we might have them arm in arm in the bar raising the roof!           Shirley Thomas


Nativity and Carol Service – 10.30 a.m. Sunday December 23

The younger members of the congregation presented an account of the Nativity which had been produced on behalf of Action for Children. It focused our attention on Joseph. Hannah, Holly and Isaac Smith and Paul Freeman performed lively sketches, ably supported by Calvin and Jenna Moore reading from the Bible and Naomi Morgan inviting us to sing appropriate carols. The minister simply “topped and tailed” the proceedings and starred as guest accompanist for The Virgin Mary had a baby boy

Margaret Burchell

Carol Service - 6 pm Sunday December 23rd

The service, arranged by Margaret Burchell and Shirley Thomas, included familiar and unfamiliar carols and poems, as well as traditional Bible readings. In her welcome Shirley said carols should give us joy and mirth. The latter came as a response to Margaret unexpectedly “crowing” in the last verse of “King Herod and the Cock” (sung beautifully, as always, by the Singers). Thank you, Margaret and Shirley, for organising such a lovely service – it certainly gave me joy on the last Sunday before Christmas.                                                                                                              Wendy Kington

Thanks to the other ten readers, and special thanks to Ann Makepeace, whose organ playing enabled the whole congregation to sing heartily, whether they already knew each carol or not!                   Shirley and Margaret