News Letter

Stockton Road Church News

December 2015 / January 2016


18 North Grove, Roker,

Sunderland SR6 9PJ

Tel 0191 549 9595

 

TRAVELLING THE ROAD AGAIN

Dear All,

Last year in this Newsletter I wrote about ‘Christmas Journeys’. This year I want to pick up the theme of journeys again. You may well say that I am travelling the road again but I hope that there will be some different directions that I will be taking to the journey I took last year.

In the various accounts of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels we find a number of journeys. Some journeys are forced upon those involved, others are chosen.

In Luke’s Gospel, we are of course aware of the journey taken by Joseph and Mary from their home town Nazareth to Bethlehem, travelling in response to the orders of the Emperor Augustus that the whole world should be registered. Historians have no record of this census but Luke faithfully records the story as he has heard it showing how Jesus, who was brought up in Nazareth, should come to be born in David’s city of Bethlehem.

Through the years many millions have made the journey to Bethlehem their own as they have gone to seek out the birth place of Jesus. In 2000 I had the privilege of being one of those pilgrims as part of the Summer School of the North East Ecumenical Course, and I had an even greater privilege of leading communion in a Roman Catholic Convent in Bethlehem belonging to the Franciscan White Sisters. Such hospitality from this community, allowing a minister from an entirely different tradition to their own to preside this service in Bethlehem, the House of Bread.

Bethlehem is a more difficult place to live in and visit now. It is now occupied by Israeli military and the land around is being taken from Palestinians and given to Israeli settlers. It is strange how the themes of hospitality and occupation stretch through the ages, incorporating the years of Jesus’ birth and the twenty-first century. They are almost opposites, occupation is something done through force, hospitality has no need of force it is open generosity. At Christmas God enters the world as one of us in the birth of Jesus. God is surely on the side of hospitality as he comes to us and calls to us, for it is open generosity, there is no need for force.

In Matthew’s Gospel there are two further journeys I want to consider. Firstly, there is the journey of the magi, or wise men, or astrologers, or whatever title you want to use. This journey is the inspiration of so many pieces of art, prose, poetry and films. This is a journey that people seek to make in order to find the child who has been born the King of the Jews. They have seen his star rising and they want to do him homage. Perhaps not surprisingly, but nevertheless rather tragically, they get it wrong and seek the King in Jerusalem and alert Herod to what is going on. They go on from Jerusalem to Bethlehem where they find the child and his mother and indeed do him homage. Then they return home another way. The magi present to us a model of generous worship of Jesus Christ, the real rising star.

The second journey in Matthew springs from the disastrous mistake of the magi, for Herod seeks to destroy this alternative King.  We have the horrific story of the murder of the innocents something that we would really want to keep away from Christmas in case it spoils our celebrations.

Joseph takes his family and flees to Egypt. Here is an enforced journey, and as we reflect upon this journey it is hard not to think of the journeys that so many refugees feel they have been forced to make to flee the violence in Syria. We think of those refugees whose life is endangered in their home and who face further dangers in their travelling, and certainly they have not always received hospitality. Again, not a particularly comfortable picture for Christmas.

Maybe as we approach Christmas and move beyond, let us think of these refugees and the various organisations that are seeking to help not only refugees from Syria but from where ever they come from, and also those who seek asylum in this country. Here in Sunderland we have the Friends of the Drop-in (FODI) and as the Sunderland and Boldon Partnership of United Reformed Churches we are seeking to support FODI in its work by providing money and warm clothing – men’s clothing is particularly needed in Sunderland.

Let us be equally generous in our worship of the Jesus Christ, the child born in Bethlehem, the man of Nazareth and the one who was crucified and raised to life. Let us give thanks that Christmas demonstrates that God is with all, especially with those in greatest need, and let us allow time for worship and reflection on the stories and readings of Christmas for they continue to speak to us sometimes in new ways.

May you all be filled with hope and joy this Christmas and if you are travelling over this period, as many do, may you be granted travelling mercies.

David Whiting

 

Gracious God,

each Christmas we go on a journey,

and travel a road that is filled with many familiar landmarks.

We look forward to those well-known stories,

long loved music and songs,

joyful celebrations.

 

You surprise us,

for each year you break out of the familiar

and scatter the road with new insights and challenges.

May we ever be aware of your presence with us,

guiding us and protecting us.

 

Church Family 

It is with enormous sadness that we record the death of June Paul on 5 November and Neville Curle on 17 November 2015.  June and Neville were faithful long-serving members and Elders at Stockton Road.  Our thoughts and prayers are with their families.

Christmas Services 

20 Dec           10.45am         Carol Service at Stockton Road

20 Dec           6.00pm           Carol Service at Boldon

24 Dec           6.00pm           Christingle at Stockton Road

24 Dec           11.15pm         Watchnight Service at Roker

25 Dec           10am              Christmas Day Service at Boldon

 

Christmas Reflection by Dr Rowan Williams

There’s really no getting around the fact that the Christmas story is all about people and events on the edge of things. It’s a story about individuals who are a very long way indeed from the levers of influence and control – and so, not surprisingly, it’s a story about people who are at risk.

Christmas reminds us that we are usually looking in the wrong place for hope.’

Luke’s gospel relates a stressful, unchosen journey to a government registration point. Matthew’s tells us about fleeing from a village where there has been a massacre.

A heavily pregnant woman waiting in a queue with soldiers pointing weapons, a family on the run, trying not to remember the sight of slaughtered children – these are painfully familiar things in today’s world.

But the story is not simply about how appalling human experience can be. The Christmas story announces that within these extreme moments something is coming to birth that will change everything.

God doesn’t change the world by planning and commanding from outside, or by force or threat. God shows what is possible by taking the worst we can think of and showing that even there some deep possibility is always alive – the deep possibility that is God’s own unbroken love and commitment to the world.

The strangeness, the shocking quality of this can only be shown when it’s completely divorced from our usual ideas about power or influence.

Christmas reminds us that we are usually looking in the wrong place for hope, for radical change.

Change comes from the edges, from people who are habitually thought of as helpless or unimportant – because they know the emptiness of struggling for advantage and status; if they have survived it is because they have found a deep rootedness in human values and visions other than those of the anxious and powerful.

Quite simply, these are the heart of God’s people, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount.

And these, we hope and pray, are Christian Aid’s people – the people we trust and respect enough to believe that they themselves can make real for all of us the deepest kind of hope.

Just as in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, these are where the change starts. These are the real Christmas angels.

Dr Rowan Williams, 2015       

  

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.’ (Luke 1:52-53)

We join our voices yet with Mary’s song
Singing of another world that is on its way
Of the demoted power obsessed
Of the restored oppressed
Of the loopholes closed
Of corruption exposed
Of abundance shared
and justice (de)served.
All are mercifully blessed.

Let it come, God,
your will be done,
your kingdom come,
on earth as in heaven.
Amen.

© Christian Aid

 

Come and Worship

 

December

 

 

 

 

 

 

January

 

 

 

 

 

 

February

06

13

20

24

25

27

 

03

10

17

24

31

 

 

07

10.45am

09.30am

10.45am

6pm

10am

 

 

10.45am

09.30am

10.45am

10.45am

 

 

 

10.45am

Barbara Ledger

Revd Dr David Whiting

Barbara Ledger Carol Service

Christingle

Partnership Service at Boldon

No Service

 

Elisabeth Meikle

Revd Dr David Whiting

Barbara Ledger

Revd Dr David Whiting

Partnership Service (details to follow)

 

Revd John Durell

 

Church Diary

 

February 02 07.30pm Elders Meeting

 

 

Copy for February Newsletter by 17 January please

to [email protected] or 0191 552 1752

 

News Editor and Distribution: Anne Anderson

Copying: Keith Galbraith

 

 

Stockton Road Church News

November 2015


18 North Grove, Roker,

Sunderland SR6 9PJ

Tel 0191 549 9595

POPPIES

 In last month’s Pastoral Letter I took as my theme ‘Faith and Art’. Towards the end of the letter I shared some of the aspirations of the Development Group, which was supported by the Church Meeting, about developing the use of the Stockton Road buildings for the display of arts. Well since the last magazine things have been developing fast due largely to the efforts of Helen Stephenson.

Ian Potts, who is a local artist, is coming to do some work on poppies.  Ian operates as an artist, a curator of Bede Bakehouse, St Peter’s Church and a teacher. Ian has taught art through key stage 1-5 over a period of thirty years, he has also led adult art workshops, which is one of the things he is going to do for us.

Ian is going to run his programme on ‘paint a poppy’. It is going to run from 11th November until 22nd November, although he is also coming to our coffee morning and Autumn Fair on 7th November. Ian has been running this project for a number of years. Last year, among other things, he led a workshop to ‘carpet’ the bandstand in Roker Park with a ground frieze of poppies. The workshop was of course based on the sacrifice of those who gave their lives during The First World War. You can find out more if you go on his web site (http://eon-arts.co.uk/index2.html).  Regretfully I will be on holiday over this period but I would like to encourage you the readers of this letter to get involved.

The symbol of the poppy has of course a significant place in the act of Remembrance that takes place on the 11th November. Most of you will know of the origins of the use of the poppy.  The opening lines of the First World War poem ‘In Flanders Field’ written by John McCrae refers to poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers graves. It serves the purpose to remind us of the cost of the First World War and subsequent conflicts, and of course the selling of poppies has raised money to support those who have been injured in war. I hope that the remembering also becomes a challenge to us to provide ways of avoiding war and conflict.

Remembrance is an important aspect of our Christian faith.  Remembrance of the history of Israel gives us a context to understand Jesus and his teaching. At the heart of the sharing of the Lord’s Supper is an act of remembering, as we are reminded not only of the Passover meal and the last supper but also of the meals that the risen Christ shared with his followers. The remembering of the past takes us forward into the future. It essentially becomes something new and provides hope for a better future.

Best wishes

David

Church Family

 From The Sunderland Echo on 16 September 2015

 15 September 2015 was Battle of Britain Day and 75 years since the most sustained bombing attack took place when the RAF defended London and the South East, eventually leading to a vital victory for Britain.

There was a special ceremony at the Mayor’s Parlour in the Civic Centre when 24 people were presented with a veteran’s badge acknowledging their service.  This was organised by The Sunderland Armed Forces Network.

Wallace Hepburn, who served in the RAF during the Second World War, received his badge from the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Barry Curran.  Wallace was the oldest recipient at 96 years.

Harvest Service

 Special thanks to Ali Mannall for the splendid displays she provided for our Harvest Festival Service.  They were much admired and gave a real harvest feel to the occasion.

 

Development Team Update

Points from the meeting of the Development Team on 22 October 2015

  • Bartram Lodge – we still await confirmation from Sunderland City Council about whether we will need planning permission to allow Action Foundation to lease the premises.
  • An Autumn Fair & Coffee Morning will be held in the church hall on 7 November.
  • An exhibition of poppies by local artist Ian Potts is to take place in the church sanctuary from 11 to 22 September and there will be an opportunity for people to ‘paint a poppy’.

 Autumn Coffee Morning

The Autumn Coffee Morning is to be held in the lower hall at Stockton Road church on 7 November from 10am to 12 noon.  There will be a variety of stalls & displays to enjoy including ‘Forget me Knot’ and Ian Potts, local artist, will be inviting you to ‘paint a poppy’.  It’s a great chance to catch up with friends over a cup of coffee too.  We hope you can join us to support this special fund raising event and look forward to seeing you.

 

Stockton Road Website

Have you visited our website recently?  The website is up and running and has been updated, although it’s still work in progress.  The address is www.sunderland.urc.org.uk and then click on Stockton Road.  You can also reach it via the Synod website.  If you have any suggestions for material to include please contact Elisabeth Meikle.

 Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest children’s Christmas project.  May I take this opportunity to ask as many people who are able to make up a shoe box ofgoodies to let children know that people do care, and that we want to make every child feel special – just like the baby born in a stable so long ago.

Please put a label on the lid of your shoe box to indicate whether it is for a boy or a girl and the age, and enclose a £3 donation which covers transport costs.

We are all God’s children and nobody should be forgotten, especially at Christmas time.

The shoe boxes will be accepted during the service on Sunday 22 November at Stockton Road URC.  The church will be open on Wednesday 11 November from 10.30am to 11.30am when shoe boxes can also be brought to church.

Thank you for your continued support.

Anne Lewis

 

Three Sunderland Women

This talk at 2pm on Saturday 14th November in the Museum and Winter Gardens by the Rev John McManners covers three notable Sunderland women who had influence far beyond Wearside. They are Margaret Dryburgh, the missionary in China and Singapore, who is commemorated in our Church, Janet Lacey, founder of Christian Aid, and Getrude Bell who helped to establish the state of Iraq. All are welcome to this Friends of Sunderland Museums talk. Admission for non-members is £1.

 FAITH AND FEATHERS

 Good birdwatching, good conversation with interesting companions, good eating and space and time to reflect – this was Faith and Feathers last weekend on Holy Island.

Although weather conditions didn’t favour the arrival of rarities, we (as a group) saw 72 species. Particular highlights for me were the gannets, linking Holy Island with Iona, where I had watched them diving on many occasions, and also the sight of a spectacular murmuration of golden plover wheeling over the causeway.

We were lucky to be led by Revd David Peel and his wife Pat, very knowledgeable and experienced birdwatchers who brought their telescopes, enabling us to identify birds, especially waders and sea birds, which were beyond the reach of our binoculars.

Revd Rachel Poolman, warden of St Cuthbert’s Centre led prayers, reflections and a memorable Communion service. Below is her reflection for last Sunday:

A Sunday reflection

Generous God
gifting us sky and sea
and the ground on which we dwell

calling us to peaceful living
in harmony with all creation

prompting us to that stillness
that releases us to watch and marvel

changing us with persuasive beauty
that permeates the soul

gifting us
life in all its fullness

(C) Rachel Poolman

 Come and Worship

 

November

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December

 

01

 

08*

 

 

15

 

22

 

29**

 

 

06

10.45am

 

10.45am

 

 

10.45am

 

10.45am

 

10.30am

 

 10.45 am

 

Revd Ken Harris

 

Remembrance Day at St Bede

 

Elisabeth Meikle

 

Jean Gregson & Anne Lewis

 

Partnership Service at Stockton Road

 

Barbara Ledger

*Please note venue – St Bede

**Please note earlier time of service

 

A flyer with details of services is also available in Church.

 

 

Church Diary

 

November

 

 

03

07

12

24

 

 

07.30pm

10.00am

06.00pm

07.30pm

Elders Meeting

Autumn Coffee Morning

Development Group

Church Meeting

 

 

 

Copy for December Newsletter by 15 November please

to [email protected] or 0191 552 1752

 

News Editor and Distribution: Anne Anderson

Copying: Keith Galbraith

 

Stockton Road Church News

October 2015

 FAITH AND ART

 Dear Friends,

Some of you will know that I grew up in London and was for many years a member of Palmers Green United Reformed Church in North London. In that time we were very fortunate in our ministers. One minister I have particular affection for was James Dey who was minister at Palmers Green from 1975 until 1980. James came to Palmers Green from religious broadcasting first of all with BBC Scotland and then latterly as Head of BBC Religious Programmes Television. James had a sharp theological mind and a variety of interests.  One particular interest he had was in art and worship. James succeeded in integrating drama, music, dance and the visual arts into worship. In doing this he had a gift in encouraging people to come forward and use their skills.

If you read the preface of the current United Reformed Church hymn book, Rejoice and Sing, you will find the name Paul Bateman as one of the music committee involved in compiling the book. There are a number of hymn tunes written by Paul found in the hymn book. Paul is by profession a pianist and musical director.  I can remember him writing music for a number of pieces used in the church including a dance and music production of Pilgrim’s Progress. Another one of James’s protégés, Fredwyn Hosier

choreographed the production and together with Jill Jenkins wrote the words. Jill incidentally has written the words to number 530 in Rejoice and Sing. There were others involved in the visual arts. At the front of the church there was a panel which could be used in the displaying of various artistic designs. James persuaded the church to commission a piece of art for the foyer of the church. He pointed out the strong connection between faith and art.

James’ commitment to faith and art continued after he left Palmers Green, for he went to run the Netherbow Arts Centre in Edinburgh for the Church of Scotland. The Netherbow Centre was formerly the house where John Knox lived. Today it hosts a small theatre, an art gallery, a story-telling centre and a courtyard restaurant. After one more ministry as lay-missioner on the Shetland Islands of Out Skerries. James retired to Edinburgh where he still lives. I am not someone who is greatly into art but James Dey demonstrated to me that there could be vibrant connection between the Christian faith and art.

The earliest Israelite traditions quite happily decorated sacred objects that were to be used in worship. Of course in Christian worship there has been a long tradition of icons, not of course without controversy. In the Medieval West Pope Gregory the Great encouraged the decoration of churches with art as an aid to teaching. Within our own Reformed tradition art had a less prominent place,  indeed it was usually frowned upon. Even the great twentieth century theologian Karl Barth argued that there was no place for images and symbols in a building designed for Christian worship. That being said, if you look at some of our buildings, including Stockton Road Church, we are surrounded by stained-glass windows and at the back of the church we have the pyramid commemorating the life of Margaret Dryburgh (1890-1945). How much worship has been enhanced by the musical arts, visual arts and dance?

The Stockton Road Development Group meets frequently to explore the mission of the Church, and among the things we are exploring is developing the buildings to be used for the arts. This is not to replace worship in the building but to stand alongside and increase the use of the buildings, possibly getting artists to hire rooms and also to organise workshops. It remains early days and things may not work out, but it remains a possibility.

The United Reformed Mission Department is promoting a project entitled Create Talk. This is a mission activity through the tools of the creative arts. It encourages the use of creative arts activities to enable closer connections between churches and their wider communities. One of the organisers of the project is Rev Elizabeth Gray-King.  The Development Team have met with Elizabeth and she has helped think about how we might begin.

It is always difficult to commit ideas to paper in case they do not materialise and leave people disappointed, but equally it is important that ideas should be shared if they are to develop and gain prayerful and thoughtful support.

Best wishes

David

 

Church Family

Congratulations to our Minister David Whiting who celebrated his 60th birthday on 28 September.

 

 

Development Team

The Development Team met on 10 September and the following are points from the meeting that they would like to share with you –

  • It appears that the planning permission issue for Bartram Lodge being used to house asylum seekers will soon be resolved. We expect the first asylum seekers to be using Bartram Lodge before Christmas.
  • On Friday 11th September Helen Stephenson was showing a Sunderland University lecturer over the Church buildings to explore their potential for supporting arts developments.
  • On the Friday afternoon Helen was showing the buildings to a group who are involved in self-help therapies for healing purposes.
  • The Development Team wants to arrange informal meetings with current user groups to share with them our ideas for developing the Church’s effectiveness in our area. We want to hear the user groups’ comments about the buildings and any ideas they have about improvements we could make.
  • On 7th November there will be a fund raising coffee morning in the church hall.

The Development Team

 

Autumn Coffee Morning

Please come along and support our Autumn Coffee Morning in the Church Hall on Saturday November 7th at 10am – 12 noon.

Put the date in your diary now and further details will be available soon.

 

Commitment for Life 2015

Our Commitment for Life campaign will start at the Harvest Service on October 4th.  Envelopes will be in the pews during October and November.

As well as thinking at this time of the refugees, please remember our friends in Bangladesh and our commitment to them.  Whatever contribution we make is always gratefully and graciously received and appreciated.

Once again, many thanks to our members who always give so generously.

Gwennyth Gibson

 

Letter from the Moderator

Dear friends

There has been much publicity over the last few weeks about what is becoming known as ‘The migrant crisis’. Underneath all the media and political rhetoric please remember these refugees – wherever they havecome from – are all God’s children, our brothers, sisters and neighbours whom we are urged, as disciples of Jesus, to love as we would love ourselves.

It becomes increasingly difficult to watch the news as it bears more and more harrowing, sorrowful pictures and tells us of an apparently insurmountable problem but please do continue. Listen to each story. Let it tear your heart with compassion and as you listen and watch, pray for all those you are seeing on the screen.

There seems little we can do in the face of such need at this stage except pray and give money as we are able. I know a number of charities have appeals and you may have already supported them but I am suggesting, with the support of Mission Committee, that we, in the Northern Synod have our own collection to be held ready for use when we find local needs among refugees who will inevitably be settled in the NE.

If you wish to contribute to this Synod-wide appeal please send any moneys to Helen Hogg our Finance Officer who will set up a special fund so we are prepared for the future.

Every blessing
Lis

 A prayer from the Church Leaders in the North East

God of the nations
you have compassion on all your creatures.

Have compassion on the people of Syria

and all those nations of the world

oppressed by violence and conflict.

Stay the hand of the violent,

strengthen the arm of those who seek peace with justice

and give courage and wisdom to the leaders of the nations

as they seek both to resolve and mitigate the effects of national conflict.

Generous God,

we thank you for the generous hearts of your people

and all those of goodwill across our continent, nation and region.

We pray for ourselves –

that you would so form in us the character of Christ

that we will stand ready to offer His generous welcome to our communities, homes and lives.

So may your will be done

and your kingdom come

on earth at it is in heaven.

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

 

Could you write for the Prayer Handbook?

You may already be familiar with the United Reformed Church’s prayer handbook. It’s our perennially popular collection of prayers and meditations commissioned from prayer writers across the denomination – but this year it’s changing. We are keen to widen the authorship of the prayer handbook and will be including non-commissioned prayers for the first time.

We hope prayers will come in from all corners of the United Reformed Church and are actively encouraging prayer writers of all ages, all traditions, all nationalities, to submit prayers for possible inclusion on the 2017 handbook. If you write prayers, write one for us!

Full details with guidelines for submissions are on the URC website www.urc.org.uk.  Deadline for submissions is 2 November 2015.

 

Come and Worship

 

October

 

 

 

 

 

November

04

 

11

 

18

 

25

 

 

01

10.45am

 

09.30am

 

10.45am

 

10.45am

 

 

10.45am

Harvest Festival (The Elders)Revd Dr David Whiting

 

 

Mrs Barbara Ledger

 

Revd Dr David Whiting [Communion]

 

Revd Ken Harris

 

** Please note earlier time of service

 

A flyer with details of services is also available in Church.

 

Church Diary

 

October

November

0122

03

06.00pm06.00pm

07.30pm

Development TeamDevelopment Team

Elders Meeting

 

Copy for November Newsletter by 18 October please

to [email protected] or 0191 552 1752

 

News Editor and Distribution: Anne Anderson

Copying: Keith Galbraith