February 2021 Update
The first lockdown began in Lent 2020 and who would have thought that we would still be living under such tight restrictions.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcements there is now a sense of relief about the gradual ending of restrictions. Many of us have now received our first vaccinations.
Though still some way off we need to be patient and as Professor Van-Tam advises ‘Do not wreck this now, we’re so close’ as virus rates started to increase in some areas. He warned that it is too early to relax and we must continue to be disciplined and hang on a few months.
During Lent, it is traditional to echo Christ’s time in the desert by committing ourselves to a discipline. ’Giving something up for Lent’ is one example. However this has not been a normal year we have been reminded of our mortality for the past 365 days. In a way Lent didn’t end last year.
Perhaps this year we should think about other Lent themes of hope, faith and grace and if we lean into Lent this year, even if we don’t want to there is an opportunity to recapture joy in making it through this pandemic.
A Prayer from World Vision.
Have mercy on me,
have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.
On Ash Wednesday we celebrated a Benefice zoom service and imaginatively instead of ashes made the sign of a cross in water on our own foreheads.
Reverend Catherine has been busy producing virtual services including special themes for St. Valentine ’s Day / Transfiguration and Ash Wednesday.
Many of us have grappled with technology and have now become efficient using zoom to share services and take part in the Benefice Lent Bible Study.
Over 20 people joined our first zoom study group which started on the 23rd February 2021 in the evening. We are getting to grips with St Mark’s Gospel and using the Lent Devotional Booklet ‘Read Mark and Learn’. If you would like to join in with a really friendly and informal group discussion or just listen details can be found on the Christ Church website along with the booket which you can download. Alternatively I have been using The Church of England #Live Lent reflections. You can download the app if you wish.
Other activities during the month have centred on Candlemas with villagers encouraged to place candles in their windows.
Service sheets have been delivered to older members who do not have access to the internet. Canon Mewis has kindly printed off the Diocesan weekly service sheet and this has been delivered locally or posted.
Outreach has continued with the telephone ministry, monthly newsletter, Church website and Face book.
I have continued my walks, but these were curtailed in the icy weather and also due to a painful foot.
I saw my first catkins and early on in the month. Hazel has a reputation as a magical tree. A hazel rod is supposed to protect against evil spirits, as well as being used as a wand for water-divining. In some parts of England, hazelnuts were carried as charms and/or held to ward off rheumatism. In Ireland, Hazel was known as the ‘Tree of Knowledge’, and in medieval times it was a symbol of fertility.
The weather improved over the month and in mid February we had beautiful blue skies.
Reverend Catherine gave us the good news that Christ Church would reopen for services on Sunday, the 21st March at 11am and Tuesday services would recommence on the 23rd March 2021 at 10am. Singing will still not be permitted and the need to follow strict guidelines will continue for the immediate future.
Both primary and secondary schools have been open to children of key workers throughout the lockdown.
On March 8th 2021 there will be a big change with the full return of staff and pupils. Head teachers and all their staff will particularly need our prayers and support at this time.
Please remember in your prayers, our own school here in Chatburn and all local schools, including the teachers and children who are part of our congregation.
A Prayer On Behalf of Teachers.
you who have called and equipped the teachers in our community,
we pray for them today.
Watch over them,
provide for them,
May you be their sun and shield,
so that they might do the work that you have entrusted to them and sense your care in these uncertain times.
In Jesus’ name
The Church of England has embarked on a major project of Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage ‘Living in Love and Faith (LLF)
The See, the monthly Diocesan magazine has been discontinued and will not be available in the future.
January 2021 Update
On the 4th January 2021 the country was plunged into a third lockdown, due to the rising number of infection rates attributed to the new variants of the Corona virus being detected.
Towards the end of the month there was the grim news of over 100,000 Covid deaths being reached since the pandemic began almost a year ago.
Lancashire Directors of Public Health were becoming very concerned particularly about the rise in Lancashire and sent a letter via social media to all faith leaders, strongly requesting that church closures should be considered, although nationally they could remain open.
The decision to close Christ Church along with others in the Benefice was made particularly to protect our more vulnerable church members. The Diocese reports that now a good rapport has been established between the Department of Public health and faith communities. It is acknowledged that the role churches are playing is beneficial in serving the needs of their communities, especially to the most vulnerable.
Throughout the month our telephone ministry has continued and a Sunday Diocesan Service sheet is now delivered to over 15 people in the village who do not have the benefit of the internet.
Once again Reverend Catherine and her husband John have provided us with weekly services via Facebook, the Website and YouTube. These have been appreciated by all and a huge thank you goes to John who I suspect could never have imagined becoming a film producer when Catherine took up her post here!
Despite being unable to meet, January has been a very busy month. A planning meeting was held early in the month on Zoom and opportunities for mission, charitable and fundraising initiatives were discussed. It was good in that zoom allowed younger members to participate and many good ideas were shared.
On the 10th January 2021 an All Age Benefice Service on Zoom was held which celebrated the Baptism of Jesus. Prayers and readings were given by younger members, Grace and Charlotte. This was a first joint zoom service and it was good to get together with our partner churches.
On the 19th January 2021 a PCC meeting was held again on Zoom were the shortfall in our church income was discussed and initiatives to increase giving were discussed along with other mission opportunities.
In Lent, a four week study course is planned by zoom based on the Diocese Lent Devotional booklet ‘Read Mark and Learn’. For those unable to join the group, booklets will be delivered. St. Mark’s Gospel is going to be used. Do consider joining the group sessions are usually very informal and no in depth knowledge of the Bible is required.
We have been invited to pray for our nation by our Archbishops in response to the terrible news of deaths from Covid19. From the 1st February 2021 at 6pm every day we are asked to pray for one another.
‘We remember before God those who have died and we pray that God’s love will surround all who mourn them, now and always.’
On a positive note there are plenty of good signs in that people have been vaccinated in Lancashire and the infection rates are starting to come down.
It is plain however that patience will be required over the coming months.
During my walks green shoots have been seen, crocus, daffodils and snowdrops (Candlemas Bells) reminding us of a sign of growth and renewal, despite being in the frozen ground.
This reminds me of the present time we are ‘frozen’ in lockdown, our churches are closed, but the church is still active in so many new ways which would never have been considered before.
The coming of spring and the hope that it brings during these difficult times will keep us going.
If ever there was a time when hope is needed, surely it is now. For those of us for whom belief and spirituality are important then our hopes are rooted in the saying of prayers and believing in a higher power who loves us.
Hope is a precious thing, not something that can be grasped with our hands, but something which has to be protected and nurtured.
The tiny shoots in my garden tell me that hope starts small and grows. The blossoming of a garden suggests that lots of tiny ‘hopes’ build together into a force that moves people forward towards a better future.
I found this prayer written by Kerry Weber which I would like to share with you.
A Corona virus Prayer for this Weary Winter.
Jesus Light of the World, You understand what it is like to feel alone in the midst of suffering
Remain with us as we continue to endure the Corona virus pandemic.
Awaken our hearts as we bear witness to the sickness, the sacrifice, even death.
In these dark months we cry,“ How long, O Lord?”
Help us to watch and pray for signs of your hope.
When we long for a world returned to normal, inspire us to work toward a world transformed.
When we feel forgotten and lonely, help us to find solidarity through your love.
When we cannot see your face, help us to see you in others, especially the essential workers, first responders and medical professionals who labour tirelessly.
When we feel only sorrow in our souls, help us to know that the joy of the Gospel remains as true as ever.
When we feel only grief in our hearts, help us to find consolation in knowing that those who are sick or have died are held in your loving embrace.
As we walk through this time of darkness, give us faith that we are heading towards brighter days.
Give light to our eyes. Let us show that light to one another.
Even in winter, when the ground appears barren, it is warmed by the light of your creation; seeds are nourished and green shoots are pushing up towards the sun.
Jesus Christ, be our light.
December 2020 Update
‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of year
For a journey and such a long journey’
This is the opening verse of the poem Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot. I don’t know if you have ever read it, but I studied it for an English Literature exam a long, long time ago.
T.S. Eliot’s dramatic monologue focuses upon the biblical story of the three kings from the East travelling to Bethlehem to pay homage to baby Jesus. He imagines one of the kings giving an account of the journey. The poem was actually written shortly after Eliot’s conversion to the Anglican faith.
Can we compare our journey through the year to the journey of the Magi?
The lockdown began on Mothering Sunday and the journey like the Magi has been long.
In early December we started to get used to the new tier system and yet another set of regulations and rules, despite the news in our county that levels of the virus were decreasing.
Life remained hard throughout the month and many of our schools including our own primary school had a torrid time.
In mid December news of the first vaccination of a ninety year old lady lifted our spirits and we were thankful for the ingenuity of the medical researchers and the scientists who were behind it.
Our journey however continues and the road remains long and tedious and we cannot lower our guard. Most of the country has now moved to Tier 4 with even tighter restrictions in place to help combat a new strain of the virus. As of today the 31st December the highest ever total of Covid 19 cases has been recorded 55,892.
Advent and Christmas this year have been challenging to say the least, carefully balancing the need to conform to public health measures and our need to worship together. A Diocesan booklet ‘A Child shall Lead Them’ was made available for individual members.
On December 13th Moira McClucheon our new Ordinand lead a socially distanced ‘Living Nativity. On the 20th December a Carol Service was held instead of morning worship.The congregation were not allowed to sing, but a power point display, recorded music and sung carols from our small choir were enjoyed by all those that attended.
From Christmas day a booklet ‘Comfort and Joy’ was available for everyone to read reflections from our Archbishops and others over the twelve days of Christmas.
It was enjoyable to join in a Benifice zoom bible study group.
The impact of Covid 19 cannot be underestimated and is still with us causing us to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated. Many of us are struggling to maintain our mental well being during this pandemic and the incessant wet weather which we have experienced has given way to freezing temperatures snow and ice. At least the children have been able to have some festive fun. It didn’t seem too bad in the spring when we were basking in beautiful sunshine and able to take some lovely walks and chat to our neighbours.
Brexit has now been achieved and a trade deal with the European Union negotiated.
Some of my inspirations and reflections have been borne out of my walks throughout the year as you will have noticed. This month I have taken some wintry photographs for you to enjoy. This is my new friend Hugo.
God’s glory is seen in a beautiful sunset or landscape. God’s glory is known in the transcendence of worship or the stillness of prayer.
It is a time also to look back on the year when so much has changed. We remember those who have died and to be thankful for all who have cared for the sick and the vulnerable.
The Covid 19 pandemic has impacted upon religion and faith in different ways. In recent years research has shown that religious beliefs and practices are associated with various health aspects, such as the ability to cope with disease, recovery after hospilisation and a positive attitude in a difficult situation, including health.
The emergence of the pandemic has caused distinct human responses and reactions and has strengthened us and made us aware of the fragility of our human existence.
We perhaps have been taught a lesson in humility, but we are also accompanied by feelings of powerlessness and fear. What has not changed is the story and the meaning of Jesus’s birth. God is with us. In our ‘mess’ as in the good, in our disappointment and our difficulty, in sorrow and in celebration.
Perhaps a new generation of post coronavirus people is being shaped and a spiritual renewal is a possibility. Let’s hope so!!
In the New Year we will be planning where we go from here and how we can rebuild our church. We will be living differently and in front of us is a chance to move forward beyond fear, to define our new normal and to find a healthier tomorrow.
I am not an expert on Mission, the church or covid 19. Like us all, I am an active participant.
As we look back on a year where our world has been turned upside down, we can decide again which values we are going to prioritise. Let us look forward to 2021. The finalised Vision 2026 will be made available and we will be able to see how we can use it here at Christ Church and in our communities of Chatburn and Worston.
Children at school enjoyed the Posada and on Christmas Eve stood on their doorsteps with their Christingles, singing 'Away in a Manger'.
Understanding our communities where we serve is essential if we are trying to reach people in our villages with the good news. Reverend Anne gave me a copy of an article entitled ‘Village Jesus’ which was written by Simon Turner. He talks about our church leaders valuing the UK’s smaller places.
He asks :
Do we know what makes our neighbours tick?
What is it that everyone loves?
What do people rally around?
What do they celebrate?
What do they mourn?
What fuels your economy?
These might be questions we need to consider asking.
Covid 19 has forced everyone to think more locally. People don’t need to be told how much the church loves the community from the confines of a church building, but they need to be shown through our actions.
If Christ Church closed tomorrow would anyone notice. I just pray that the answer is YES.
And so the final lines of the poem.
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly.
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen
Birth and death,
But had thought they were different, this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death our death.
We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people, clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another faith.
In the last twelve lines we learn that the kings were deeply affected and changed by their experience. The death of the old world brings about a more intricate new world and the magi experience anxiety about the change.
Whatever we might be facing this year and in the coming months, what a comfort it is to know that God himself walks with us on our journey.
As Stephen Cottrell (Arhbishop of York), reflected "Christ is always the light in the darkness.
In time we make sense of our place in the journey of the passing years. He holds out to us a lantern, lighting our path through whatever lies ahead".
November 2020 Update
We have just spent the month in lockdown when routine ministry was suspended yet again, but at least this time churches could remain open for private prayer and for the live streaming and filming so that services could reach people by face book, YouTube and the website.
One of the most popular services of the year Remembrance Sunday could not be held but Reverend Catherine provided us with a virtual service (still available) so that we could ‘remember’ in our own homes. At 11am we were invited to stand on our doorsteps for a two minute silence. Villagers were invited to decorate their windows to remember the fallen.
As the month drew to a close we were informed that as previously we would return to Tier 3. The good news being that public worship could once again be restored from the 2nd December. As our church reopens on the 6th December with a Holy Communion Service it is important that we continue to place Covid 19 security high on the agenda and do not become lax in our approach. Only this morning as I am writing this bulletin it has been announced that as soon as next week vaccination can commence. So there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. We thank God for all these brilliant scientists and those who have volunteered to take part in trials.
Our telephone ministry continued throughout and doorstep calling all socially distanced of course continued.
Christmas lights have been going up all over the village, much earlier than usual and the village Christmas tree adorned with twinkling lights and a huge star appeared over the last weekend. A huge thank you to those people who were responsible and helped with getting the festivities going. Due to the Pandemic we were unable to have our usual ‘switching on’ activities this year.
Looking forward to Christmas and the gift of the Holy Child this year the Diocese has produced an Advent Booklet called ‘A Child shall Lead them'. This devotional Advent booklet contains written reflections on the book of the prophet Isaiah for each day of Advent, from clergy in our Diocese, including our three Bishops.
This has been delivered to some of our church members already, but if you would like a copy they will be available at church. A booklet can also be down loaded directly from the Diocesan website.
This year the Church of England’s campaign is called ‘Comfort and Joy’ and again as last year will be available in booklet form or can be down loaded from the website. An App is also available for smart phone users. Booklets will be available at church. The campaign builds on last year’s success of #Follow the Star. It takes inspiration from a traditional carol service of nine lessons and carols.
For all our Christmas services I would direct you to the website for details. Services are being arranged a little differently this year, but the essential elements will be available for all those who wish to attend, apart from congregational singing.
Our ministry to children has been severely curtailed this year due to the Pandemic, although we have been able to hold an All Age Harvest and will be holding a Living Nativity All Age, on the 13th December at 11.00am. You are warmly invited to attend. Covid safety measures will be in place and both adults and children will stay in their places. You are invited to dress up if you wish.That reminds me I better see if I have a suitable tea towel!!
Our Sunday Club Leader Joanne Travis has organised Posada and Christingle in a different, but safe and imaginative way this year. Joseph and Mary will make their journey through the classrooms at Chatburn Primary School and of course will isolate at weekends. We are looking forward to seeing photographs of their journey at school. These will be posted on Facebook on the Christ Church Posada page and also on the church web site. Posada packs will also be sent home with the children.
Christingle packs are being provided by the church to every child in Chatburn Primary school. The children will be able to make their own Christingles and are being invited to light it on Christmas Eve at 4pm.If possible children are being encouraged to stand on the doorstep and sing the carol ‘Away in a Manger’. Clapping and the ringing of bells are also encouraged to join in with other children all over Clitheroe who will be taking part and welcoming Christ the Saviour into their homes.
Changing the subject somewhat, I did say that I would tell you about the Draft Implementation Vision 2026 Plan (2021 - 2024).
On the 2nd November along with other Vision Champions and Deanery Synod members I attended a Whalley Deanery Synod meeting by zoom. This was an intense, two hour consultation meeting about the new draft plan at which we were invited to make comments in breakaway groups. I reported on this at our zoom PCC meeting on the 24th Novemeber and have included a copy of my report for your interest.
Yes you heard right! A PCC meeting by zoom, a first for Christ Church!
Most members made it, the wonders of technology eh?
On a serious note concerns were expressed at the meeting, that due to the Pandemic like all churches our income has diminished greatly, but our outgoings have remained consistently high. The bulk of our outgoing being the Parish Share which for next year will be £22,690.
The Parish Share is a mutual pooling of financial resources to make possible Anglican ministry and mission to the 1.3 million people living in our Diocese. The bulk goes towards clergy salaries. Parish Share contributions are vital to achieving the aims of Vision 2026 of ‘Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’ across the whole Diocese. Based on our average attendance which does not include this year this equates to £663 per regular church attender.
Some believe that churches are funded by the government, but this is not the case as churches carry charity status.
In the New Year we will need to think carefully and imaginatively about how we can raise funds within Government regulations. We need to make up the deficit whilst we look forward in the future to organising ‘normal’ fund raising social activities again.
This will not happen for a while, perhaps until everyone has received their vaccinations and have confidence in their immunity. Our mission will need to be renewed with vigour as we start to rebuild our church life in all its different facets, but rebuild we must if Christ Church is to remain a beacon of hope and community support in our village.
Any ideas or donations towards Christ Church would really be most welcome at this challenging time.
On Tuesday 8th December we also created history across the Benefice in that we held a Bible Study group by zoom. If you would like to take part in the next three sessions or just join in one please contact our Reverend Andy Froud . It was a lively meeting with music, prayer and discussion about the Creation and ‘work’. On Tuesday 8th December at 7.30pm we will be discussing ‘Exile’ and I believe 'Boney M' are involved.
I am sorry this has been a long update, at first I thought there was not much news to report, but it is surprising what has been achieved through the month of lockdown. We have come to the end of another church year and so begin our journey towards Christmas.
Loving God, at this time of crisis
When so many are suffering, we pray for our nation and our world,
Give our leaders wisdom, our Health Service strength,
Our people hope.
Lead us through these parched and difficult days
To the fresh springs of joy and comfort that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord.
October 2020 Update
This month has seen a flurry of Emails from the Diocesan Corona virus Task group. In early October there was optimism that the newly introduced Tier system across England would bring in local measures which would allow public worship to continue even in the highest tier. At that stage it was evident that government policy could change suddenly.
By the third week in October it was clear the Covid 19 infection rates were going in the wrong direction across Lancashire, including here in the Ribble Valley.
During the month we have been very active, holding a socially distanced P.C.C. meeting. On the 11th October we enjoyed an All Age Harvest Festival where we were pleased to welcome Farmer Ben and some of our village families. The church windows were decorated with food items that had been donated for the local food bank .Donations towards Holy Communion wafers, wine and candles were also made.
It really felt like we were getting to grips with our situation and developing confidence in our new style of service, although understandable some members of our congregation have felt unable to return to public worship.
During the month the Archbishop of Canterbury The Most Reverend Justin Welby apologised for the Church of England’s shameful actions over child sexual abuse and that of vulnerable adults. This came on the eve of a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. (IICSA REPORT)
The archbishop said: ‘We are truly sorry for the shameful way the Church has acted and we state our commitment to listen, to learn and to act in response to the report’s findings. We cannot and will not make excuses and again offer our sincere and heartfelt apologies.’
The apology also signed by other Church leaders said: ‘Survivors have told us that words without actions are meaningless; we are taking action but we are also aware that what we have done has neither been soon enough nor sufficient.’ The archbishop has set up a compensation fund for abuse victims and it is thought that the final costs of payouts may reach £200million. If you would like to read the full report please follow this link.
Recently I attended by zoom a deanery synod meeting to discuss the draft vision implementation plan. I will discuss this further next month. One of the sections states that: ‘Vision 2026 rests on solid theology of the mission of God. Vision 2026 involves active repentance turning away from the things which have harmed God’s mission and God’s creation and marred God’s image in us. As a diocese we need to admit our failure, to safeguard children and vulnerable adults in our care………’ It is my personal opinion that before we can have any kind of vision going forward that like the diocese we too must first acknowledge our sorrow at grass roots level in our individual churches and not to sweep the report and the wrong doing under the carpet. It is sometimes easy to think that this does not apply to us when apologies are made on our behalf. We all have a duty of care towards everyone who comes through our church door. Safe guarding is vitally important and should always be on the top of our agenda.
So here we are our second national lockdown and our churches closed for public worship except for private prayer which can be arranged by contacting Reverend Catherine.
At the time of writing this update, plans for recorded our live streamed services were being made and will be advertised on the website. We also need to keep in contact with our church family throughout and seek ways to reach out to people in our community who are suffering not only because of the pandemic and lockdown but for other reasons as well.
Keep safe and well as always.
Some prayers for you to use over lockdown:
God of Compassion,
Be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
In their anxiety, be their hope;
In their darkness, be their light;
Through him who suffered alone on the cross, but reigns with you in glory.
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
You taught us to love our neighbour and to care for those in need as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
And to assure the isolated of our love and your love,
For your name’s sake.
September 2020 Update
It is hard to raise one’s spirits at the present time and be optimistic about the future. No doubt you may have experienced similar thoughts and emotions during the past weeks when we entered into a partial lock down and unable to socialise with family or friends in the usual way. By now we should have held several social events and been looking forward to a Christmas tree festival. Our confirmation candidates would have been confirmed in June.
Trying to be joyful is hard when you don’t feel much joy yourself. Yes times are hard and life a challenge but we are still able to attend public worship at the present time. I still get a lift from seeing God’s creation and the beauty of nature which surrounds us here in the Ribble Valley. We are very lucky to live here.
As Christians we are called to be ‘joy-givers’ and therefore should try to raise morale and hope in our community. Joy is God’s gift, not something that can be self-generated. I ask you to pray for the needs of the vulnerable and the lonely and also for those who find themselves without food. Perhaps you might consider coming to Harvest festival on the 11th October where we will be pleased to receive items for the local food bank.
Our AGM and first PCC meetings have been held and it feels good to get back to business so to speak. In November I will be attending the Whalley Deanery Synod meeting via zoom to hear about the Draft Vision 2026 Implementation Plan for 2021-2024. This is an opportunity for Vision Champions and parish representatives to give feedback before it is finalised. Bishop Jill and Archdeacon Mark along with Carolyn Barton, Vision Champion Coordinator will be present.
I have down loaded the NHS Test and Trace App and used it locally, scanning the QR code. At Christ Church we have our own QR code which will be need to be scanned by all who enter the church if your mobile phone allows. Otherwise we continue to make a list of names and contact numbers of all who attend for test and trace purposes.
On September 24th we joined the National Day of Prayer for schools by using Bishop Philip’s specially written prayer for schools. You can find this in the recent Chatburn Village Newsletter for October where I have written a short article about Education Sunday.
On one of my walks I found lots of acorns. This set me thinking!
If we equate the Word of God to an acorn, an acorn being the seed and fruit of an oak tree, the acorn carries with it the potential of a mighty oak.
Bible reading is collecting the seed, gathering the acorns for one self. We need to get the seed in us not only from the Bible and worship but also from supplemental reading. This is critical for our spiritual growth. Earlier in the year we were able to undertake Bishop Julian’s challenge ‘Knowing the Scriptures Better’. In preparation for Advent and Christmas the C of E theme will be ‘Comfort and Joy’ and will reflect the current Covid context. It is hoped that this will better enable us to reflect where the country is and will be by the end of this year. This builds on the success of #Follow the Star, the theme of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns. More details will follow.
In a recent joint letter to the Government, our Archbishops set out a stark assessment of the challenges facing the country amid the pandemic, including hunger, homelessness, mental health pressures and domestic violence. The Archbishops go on to say that the Church of England through its presence in every community, can play a vital role in serving the nation, especially those in need and bringing hope to all through the gospel. Churches they point out are well placed, through networks and partnerships to help and support people in need.
So if we are to build the body of Christ through discipleship and bring hope through the gospel into to our community we need to equip ourselves for the task in hand. You are warmly invited to Bible Sunday on the 25th October at 11am.
Remember the little acorns!
August 2020 Update
As we continue to experience the impact of the pandemic, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we have a long way to go. At Christ Church socially distanced Morning Prayer services have been held throughout August with the church being open for private prayer on Tuesdays.
On the 1st September a service of Holy Communion was celebrated for the first time in six months, taking all necessary precautions and complying with safety advice from the government and diocese.
Let me be frank it is definitely not the same and you feel awkward adapting to new routines and worship, particularly wearing a mask and unable to sing or share the peace in the traditional way. We are gaining confidence as we go along knowing that safety issues are in place. This is not the same for everyone and some people are finding it difficult to return to church for various reasons. For those people services continue to be available from the diocese.
It is easy to retreat into maintenance mode, but I am hoping that with our first PCC meeting on the 8th September since lock down and the Parochial Annual General Meeting on the 15th September that we can capture some enthusiasm for the new normal, exploring new ways of working for the future of our church not only here in Chatburn and Worston but within the diocese and nationally.
Pupils have now returned to school and it is going to be a challenge how we can engage with them. Our ministry to the young is very important and we need to look at how we can restart our journey together under new guidelines. On the 24th September all parishes are invited to share in a Day of Prayer for schools. It is hugely important that we hold up to God, school leaders, governors, all staff, children and parents in prayer as they get used to new routines and seek to educate children whilst keeping the school community safe. We particularly remember in our thoughts Mrs. Emma Gardiner Head teacher at Chatburn Primary school with the heavy responsibility and accountability for maintaining a safe school.
I have continued my walks throughout the pandemic and meteorologically autumn has arrived. The country lanes have changed reflecting the new season. Autumn is a particular favourite of mine there is something nostalgic about the scents of autumn the foliage with rich, changing colours.
Autumn wakes us up to wonder. Back when I started walking and reflected on spring I noticed the bright new green for maybe a week or so. I celebrated the leaves ‘birth’, the world’s fresh clothes. At the end of August it’s all just background and looking rather weary. In autumn we are drawn to the creativity of God things such as berries and acorns which are a visual reminder of a world of wonder. Spring and summer have their own splendours but autumn has a glory all of its own. Autumn reminds us that winter is coming. Winter isn’t the end for Christians because our lives are joined to a ‘tree’ that winter cannot touch in other words the cross. Death has no sting and winter has no bite. “We will fall from the tree of Adam, but we will flower again in a spring eternal with glorious growth.”
We are transforming whether we recognise it or not. Covid 19 has taught us this. We are preparing for a new season but what will it look like over the coming weeks, months and years? This is the magic of autumn. Letting go and beginning anew.
We need to fully consider the impact of Covid 19, recognising, that Vision 2026 and our own mission and vision here in Chatburn and Worston will have to broaden to encompass our experiences to date. The diocese has already taken this on board and deanery synod meetings are being arranged to consult more locally in the Whalley Deanery. When our Mission and Worship group meets again we will need to discuss how we can rebuild our church re energising for the new normal.
“Lord I thank you that you renew me in the Spirit of my mind” ( Ephesians 4:23 )
July 2020 Update
In May I reproduced the letter from Bishop Julian Henderson in which he describes that most of the surveys which we had undertaken regarding Vision 2026 were completed before we entered a period of lock down and social distancing measures due to Corona virus.
In view of the Corona virus outbreak the Diocese will now need to use the findings from the survey as well as embrace and shape the ‘new normal’ into Vision 2026.
During the month I attended via zoom, a Vision Champion’s meeting with Carolyn Barton the Vision Champion Coordinator. This turned out to be a very interesting meeting although I was a little apprehensive when she said the meeting would be 1.5 hours long! Following introductions, technology allowed us to divide into break away groups when we were asked to discuss and consider the things that had been curtailed and what things had started in our parishes as a result of lock down and following. We also discussed what we had found challenging and what had been encouraging.
Moving out of lock down everyone agreed that we had had plenty of time to reflect and that there was now a danger that parishes would just revert back to how things had been before Corona virus and not use what we had learned during the period and new ways of doing things.
Carolyn referred us to the reflective discussion document prepared by the Reverend Sam Cheeseman (Chaplain to the Bishop and Vicar at St. Peter’s Church Salesbury.) She felt this discussion document could be used by PCCs to discuss how we should be shaping our future using the strands of Vision 2026.This is the link if you are interested in looking at this document.
Open deanery synod meetings will be held in 2021 and Vision Champions invited to attend. Bishop Julian, the Archdeacon and Carolyn will consult the groups and shared experiences will be explored in light of the pandemic.
The shape of Vision 2026 will then hopefully become clearer and the next chapter or phase will be launched in 2021 taking into account the feedback from the survey and the new normal.
As I write infection rates in the northwest are rising and special measures have been introduced across East Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. All too clearly the dangers of Covid19 remain and we must be mindful as we slowly unlock and return to our church buildings. Face coverings which had been recommended by the Diocese previously, will now become mandatory from the 8th August for those attending church services.
If you cannot attend church in person details of Diocesan services can be found on the church website as Reverend Catherine is not producing any virtual services at the present time. The services which are still on the website were excellent and I believe The Songs of Praise service was actually viewed by over a 1000. We are truly grateful for husband John’s contribution, he directed and produced such quality services. It certainly was a spiritual feast which reached out to people who were not church goers before Corona virus came on the scene.
The services involved both St Paul’s and Christ Church congregations and many of our younger children also took part. It just goes to show that when we all work together anything is possible despite social distancing.
Besides services lots of other important issues have been dealt with behind the scenes. The fabric of the building and finances still need to be managed by the church wardens and their team. In order to open the church a deep clean was undertaken. Some plastering in church had been undertaken whilst the church was closed so you can imagine the dust that was around. Faculties to make repairs to the church spire and roof needed to be applied for. The church has also been de cluttered which you will notice as you arrive and hand sanitizer is available at both the entrance and exit of the church.
At our first morning service on the 12th July, 15 people attended all socially distancing and following the government’s advice regarding hand sanitisation and registering of names for track and trace purposes. At the end before going out of a different door we all clapped along to the hymn ‘You shall go out with joy’. It was hard not to sing.
It was lovely to get together although it did feel a bit strange particularly with no hymn singing.
Morning prayer services will continue until the end of August when Reverend Catherine is going to introduce communion services in September 2020.
The theme for our first Sunday service was The Parable of the Sower. It was my turn for the intercessions for this particular Sunday.
I thought I would share this particular prayer which is very relevant today.
Jesus the sower,
Whatever I am today, whatever the mix of path, rock, thorns or soil
Help me to become good ground
For you, for Your word and for Your presence.
As we begin to rebuild our church here in Chatburn let us remember that the word that God has spoken will not fail to do what he has planned for it, it will do everything he sends it to do.
When all this is over the fall out in terms of spiritual well-being and mental health is going to be huge and the church will have a big part to play. I believe in a Gospel of hope but if, when and how that is communicated has to be considered. We are constantly told there is a decline in faith and we’re now a secular society. Alongside our congregation there are many more people who don’t normally come to church but have tuned in and continue to do so to live streamed services. I really think we need to reflect on what we can change as a Church and what lessons we can take away from all this. Just as we discussed at our Vision Champion meeting.
As our mission statement says:
Let us: ‘Grow in Faith together and Share God’s love with Everyone’
So let us plant the seeds for our future in the challenging times ahead and as part of the Vision 2026 Diocesan plan.
Lord, make us more effective witnesses for the Gospel and deepen our understanding of the faith; that our convictions may be so strong that we shall want to share them and so lucid that we shall know how to communicate them; for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Based on the words of Bishop Mervyn Stockwood )
June 2020 Update
Well, the Good News to share with you is that from Tuesday 7th July Christ Church will be open for private prayer from 10am until 12 noon and on Sunday 12th July services will resume at 11am with a said Morning Prayer Service. Holy Communion services will follow a little later when it is clearer how Communion can be safely offered. Further guidance will be coming from the diocese shortly.
Changes in government regulations and church guidance have been moving with some pace. We have not been able to open our church before these dates because of ongoing plastering work and the necessity to deep clean the church which has now commenced. While this is good news for some of you I’m sure like me you may feel anxious about the ‘new normal’ and for our shielded friends whose attendance will still not be possible until early August. We ask that everyone who attends maintains social distancing of 2 metres unless attending with family members. Hand sanitiser will be available at the entrance and exit to church which will be by a different door. We will not be able to linger in church after the service and will need to move outdoors as soon as possible. Hymn singing for the time being is not allowed and tea and coffee cannot be served. Records of those attending will need to be kept for test and trace purposes.
As you will appreciate there is a brave new world out there and clergy and churches are having to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and undertake risk assessments. I would ask you to pray for Revd Catherine and Revd Andy as they lead us forward in our worship. Theirs is not an easy task. Reverend Catherine will need to think through very carefully what sort of pattern of worship we are able to offer and how. I would also ask that you pray for our church wardens at this time Valerie and Daphne as they implement the new protocols.
A quote from the diocesan secretary is particularly relevant:
‘We need to be ready, be wise and not to do anything foolish’ (Matthew 25).
If we all work together then we can re open our church with confidence and begin to build for the future.
What will the future look like?
I attended a deanery synod meeting by zoom this month and Ruth Hassall the Diocesan Director for Discipleship gave a very informative talk on her role. One of the things that she mentioned was the on line engagement of people on the fringe asking questions about life in general.
Our video church services have been a great success in reaching out to people across the Benefice and beyond. Songs of Praise alone had over 600 people tuning in.
Although services are restarting this is an opportunity to reach beyond the church building and structured services to think how we can shape the future and communicate with those who are interested in a journey of faith and want to know more but are reluctant to attend formal worship. Reverend Catherine referred to this in her last video service where she said that although we are welcoming people back into church our role as Christians and Disciples is to go out and tell people about the good news and offer them hospitality.
Save us, O Lord, as a parish, from being inward-looking or backward-looking in the work of our church.
Help us to take our eyes off ourselves and turn them on the world around;
to be concerned less with what we have accomplished and more that remains to be done;
that with our vision enlarged and our love rekindled we may go forward to attempt new and greater things to Your glory,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Next month I am attending another zoom meeting with other Vision Champions and Carolyn Barton, the Vision Champion Coordinator. It will be lovely to get together with other Champions across the diocese to discuss how the vision 2026 is moving forward and to find out what has been happening in parishes across the diocese. I will tell you more about this next month.
Have you been using zoom to attend meetings or to talk with the family and friends?
We must be thankful that in this country we have technology which has enabled us to communicate throughout the pandemic.
I have continued my prayer walks and enjoyed the exercise. Hopefully Boris and his team will be thinking about how we can open the swimming pool safely!
To all our friends who are still shielding we continue to uphold you in prayers at this time and hope it will not be long before we can meet again.
Please tell anyone who may not know already about the opening of our church and as always a warm welcome awaits you.
May 2020 Update
I cannot believe that this month has gone so quickly, time certainly flies by even under 'lock down'. As Vision Champion I was recently sent a letter from Bishop Julian Henderson which I have reproduced for you so you can read his comments about the way forward for Vision 2026. If you remember I have spoken previously about a survey we had to complete in January reviewing different areas of church life. The letter is in response to the surveys which were completed by churches across the Blackburn diocese.
It seems that following the survey and feedback from the Area Deans and Bishop's Council, meetings will be arranged next year for and used to draft the next five year Vision 2026 implementation plan. Open deanery synod meetings will be held attended by one of our Bishops so that comments can be incorporated into the plan. Vision Champions will be invited to these open meetings.
It is hoped that as we continue to 'open up' and experience the new normal we will be energised towards the Diocesan goal of 'Healthy Churches Transforming Communities' so that the Diocesan Centenary in 2026 can be a joyful celebration for God.
During this month we have continued to be inspired by Reverend Catherine's virtual services and the imaginative way both Catherine and Andy have responded to the challenge. It will be interesting to see what the impact of this new way of connecting with people has in the future months and in the years ahead.
At the time of writing plans for a steady return to more recognisable patterns of ministry, the opening of our churches and recommencement of services will be available in the days ahead, although there are no firm dates as yet.
This month we celebrated Ascension and our Bishops called for ten days of prayer referred to as 'Thy Kingdom Come' ending at Pentecost. During this time we have prayed for more and more people to come to know Jesus Christ. An initiative which has been ongoing at Christ Church was to choose five people that you would regularly pray for. Praying for others to know Jesus is one of the most powerful things we can do. Praying for others regularly is not easy it requires a certain level of discipline.
Once you have settled on five names you can list them. There are five easy ways to undertake this.
- 1. Piece of string: Tie five knots in the string to represent five people you have committed to pray for. Put the string in your pocket or by your bedside to remind you.
- 2. Small stones: Find some small light coloured stones and write the names of your chosen five on each. Place them on your desk or bedside table.
- 3. Business prayer card /or bookmark: Take a small piece of card that will fit in your purse or wallet with your names written on.
- 4. Prayer Alerts: Add your list of five people to the alerts section of your phone and set reminders to pray for your chosen people.
- 5. Post-it notes: Put a name on each note and stick them on a mirror or somewhere you can see them easily.
Even though the period of 'Thy Kingdom Come' will be over by the time you read this update perhaps you could consider private prayer as illustrated above. If every member of the Church of England prayed for five people and perhaps one of those came to know Jesus, then just think how our congregations would grow.
You could use the following prayer.
In the face of Jesus Christ
Your light and glory have blazed forth.
Send your Holy Spirit that I may share with my friends (name your friends or family here)
the life of your Son and your love for all.
Strengthen me as a witness to that love
As I pledge to pray for them for your name's sake. Amen
April 2020 Update
In April we moved into an extended lock down for a further three weeks. The government advises this will restrain the spread of Corona virus, protect our precious staff in the NHS, care homes and all carers in the community. Latest reports indicate that the peak may have passed but there is still a real threat from the virus and we are advised to remain at home and practise social distancing when those fortunate enough are able to take their daily exercise, or to go shopping for essential items.
I have taken some photographs of our empty villages, empty roads and the various notices which have been posted. I thought it would be good idea to keep a record of some of these so that when we come out of this we can look back at what we had to live through.
The events of Holy Week and celebration of Easter without meeting with our fellow Christians to mark Jesus's death and resurrection in our own homes felt very strange indeed. The impact on the most vulnerable members of society is becoming increasingly apparent and there have been generous acts of compassion, numerous families have been fed and vulnerable people contacted who would have otherwise been unable to cope without help. We remember all our members who are self isolating and those being shielded at this time and ensure them of our love.
Reverend Catherine aided by her husband John have provided us with a range of very moving virtual services beginning with Mothering Sunday and throughout the Easter period. Thank you Reverend Catherine, from us all for exploring the use of digital resources and posting your videos on the Christ Church website, Facebook and YouTube. You are doing a brilliant job.
We were also invited to make our own Palm Sunday crosses and display them in a window or outdoors.
It has been good to watch how social media platforms and other sites have been used in new and exciting ways to engage communities. On the second Sunday of Easter I actually watched our own service and then two more.
In Lancashire and beyond Reverend Dr. Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster said
There been a real upsurge in matters of faith and people wanting to explore the big questions of life and death. Before, during and after Holy Week our churches continue to report high levels of engagement with services, virtual prayer meetings, video messages and exploring faith courses.
When the Lent course finished I began the #Easter Pilgrim reflection. You can still download the App from the Church of England website . The Easter 2020 campaign concentrates on The Lord's Prayer. The amazing imagination and innovation shown in the services I have seen in these unprecedented times presents us a church with new opportunities to share the Gospel message to people out there who may not have heard it before or people who are reconnecting with their faith. Evidence shows that Reverend Catherine's services alone have been viewed by many more people than actually attend church services.
Our mission statement here at Christ Church is
Growing in faith and sharing God's love with everyone.
This is particularly relevant at this present time and gives us the opportunity as members of the Christian community to outreach to our neighbours and those who are in any kind of need. As Bishop Julian said in his recent message to the Diocese,
This outbreak is a solemn reminder that we are not in control of our present, or our future and my prayer is that it will lead to a fresh turning to God, to a new awakening of faith. As Corona virus has spread throughout the world it is forcing us to innovate and change the way we work, live and worship. Covid 19 is challenging and taxing our patience but the lessons learned from our time dealing with the virus will hopefully help to make the world a better place.
What do you think?
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples,
I am with you always
Be with me today as I offer myself to you.
Hear my prayers for others and for myself
And keep me in your care. Amen
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
(from St. Patrick's Breastplate.)
Prayer walking is a relatively new phenomenon, the origin of which is not clear. There is no biblical model, although walking was the major mode of transportation in Bible times, clearly people must have walked and prayed at the same time. Prayer walking for those who are unfamiliar with the practice is praying on location. Some people believe that being close to a location allows them to 'pray clearer'. I have undertaken some prayer walks here at Chatburn and in Clitheroe where we offered prayers quite spontaneously rather than follow a set pattern of prayer.
So if you are taking your daily exercise perhaps you could consider taking a prayer walk around Chatburn or wherever you are exercising as long as you practice social distancing alone or with members of your own household. There are lots of things you could consider praying for here are just a few examples.
For our church buildings that we will soon be able to open them and for our clergy.
For Chatburn school and playing fields
For the library
For the Manor House Care and Nursing Home
Parish Hall and local Parish Council
For businesses which are currently closed
For food retailers
For the Post Office
For the Farming community
For the Undertaker
For different streets praying for those who are vulnerable, those being shielded, for those struggling to cope,those who are ill or bereaved.
For families , for our children particularly who cannot attend school
For those living in Worston
You will have your own ideas no doubt. Prayer is talking with God and puts God at the centre of our lives and allows us to start a conversation with Him.
So until I write again, keep safe and well as always.
If you are unable to undertake a prayer walk you can still have a conversation with Him wherever you are.
March 2020 Update
On March 6th I attended the World Day of Prayer with friends from St. Leonard's Downham, Chatburn Methodists, Christ Church and pupils from Chatburn School. As we participated in this service we were part of a great wave of prayer encircling the globe, which began as the sun rose over Samoa and ended some 36 hours later back in the Pacific as the sun set over American Samoa. We joined with people in over 120 countries and islands around the world.
Each year the service which was formerly known as Women's Day of Prayer is written by a different country. This year it had been prepared by the Christian women of Zimbabwe who call us to 'Rise! Take your mat and walk'. The service was led by Reverend Catherine with participation by members of the congregation and school. The focus was on Peace, Reconciliation and Love (John 5: 2-9a) as we studied the account of the man healed by the pool of Bethzatha.
When we are made whole we are reconciled to God, to ourselves and to our community. When we are reconciled we can truly love and when we truly love we are able to walk towards peace. So Rise! Take your mat and walk.
Rise means we can stand up and be on an equal level with others and look them in the eye.
Take your mat means we are ready to be part of the working world and the community.
Walk means we must be ready to take steps of faith and social transformation.
Do think about coming to the next World Day of Prayer you will find it challenging and thought provoking.
In 2021 Vanuatu will use the theme Build on a Strong Foundation. In 2022 England, Wales and N. Ireland will focus on I know the plans I have for you.
As we are now in completely unprecedented territory following the Prime Minister's directions and now in law which bring strict curbs on daily activity it is imperative that as Christians we role model these in our daily lives.
Our church may be physically closed but we can worship in a different form. Please refer to the website for details of virtual services which Reverend Catherine is broadcastimg. As Bishop Julian reminded us this is a time to pause, and reflect on what is truly important about our faith, our prayer life and our worship, to be courageous enough to explore new ways of being, at least in the present times. When we undertook our Vision 2026 Survey earlier in the year we had identified some areas for future development.
These seem very relevant today:
a) Knowing the scriptures better
b) Greater depth of prayer
c) Showing God's love in action through projects that meet a local need.
d) Starting a new local congregation at a different time or place
These are unsettling times but we must seek God in new ways in the days and weeks to come. In a way we have a new congregation via Facebook and our website after all the church is the people not the actual building. When this has past we will need to think about how we can communicate our faith into the community and the value of virtual services and other creative forms of worship.
During this time we could perhaps study the Bible more and set aside some time specifically for prayer. Did you receive a copy of the Bishop's Bible Challenge Knowing the Scriptures Better you may like to use this to study St John's Gospel? When you are praying you may like to light a candle but be careful.
On the 22nd March, Mothering Sunday and National Day of Prayer and Action, we placed a Candle of Hope in our upstairs window (as per last photograph). We have a telephone ministry which enables us to keep in contact with people who are self-isolating. If you are reading this and would like to be contacted by someone from Christ Church please phone Reverend Catherine (contact details on main page) and leave a message giving your name and number. Alternatively you could leave a message on our website (no email address required unless you want a reply).
We are all trying to help in our community in various ways and keeping an eye on our neighbours particularly those self-isolating. I am amazed at all the volunteers who contact elderly neighbours with offers of help particularly going to the supermarket.
These are difficult days and there will be many ahead. Our Blackburn Diocese has formed a Coronavirus Task Group who send updates to our parish officers. These give regular advice on the running of parishes during these times when the church is closed and services suspended.
I have been following #LiveLent daily reflections using the App and as I type I am well into week 4.
Having started the Lent course it has been impossible to complete the course in a group, although I am aware that some people in the same household have continued with group study. The course has focused on Caring for God's creation
Day 28 reflection talks about the Bible containing a number of apocalyptic predictions. For too many people, a belief that this world is going to be destroyed has led them to conclude we need not bother about saving it. The Bible certainly anticipates a time when God will transform this present reality, bringing in a new earth. The hope, however of this glorious future- of Resurrection- is one that inspires us to heal our world and love our neighbours now. There are new opportunities to serve God and our communities.
As part of my daily exercise programme as I cannot now go swimming I took the road up to Downham. I passed St Leonard's church with a lock on its gate and a notice saying CCTV was in operation.
Although I couldn't access St. Leonard's there was God meeting me just around the corner.
I reflected how sad it was that we cannot worship in our churches at the present time. I continued taking the road behind little Pendle Hill before finally arriving in Worston and then back to Chatburn. It was a beautiful day and I took a few photographs to share with you reminding us all that we can live in harmony with God and rejoice in the beauty of God's creation.
The following prayer is being used in these troubled times. You may wish to use it yourself.
Keep us, good Lord,
Under the shadow of your mercy
In this time of uncertainty and distress
Sustain and support the anxious
And lift up all who are brought low;
That we may rejoice in your comfort
Knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
In Christ Jesus our Lord
As always take care, keep safe and well.
Here are some useful links that may make the current crisis more bearable :-
Daily Prayer. is available free as an app or on the Church of England Website and gives complete services for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer in both contemporary (Common Worship) and traditional (Book of Common Prayer) forms.
Lectio 365 is a devotional resource that helps you pray the Bible every day and is inspired by Lectio Divina, a way of meditating on the Bible that's been used by Christians for centuries. Written by leaders from the 24-7 Prayer movement, and produced in partnership with CWR, this resource helps you engage with Scripture to inspire prayer.
With Bible In One Year each day you will receive a Psalm or Proverbs reading, a New Testament reading and an Old Testament reading. It also provides daily audio and written commentary to walk you through each day's reading, to provide fresh understanding of the texts.
Sacred Space is inspired by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and gives a thought for the day, a daily Bible passage and some guided reflections.
Bible Podlets is a Bible study and discussion podcast for primary aged children to do with adults. Each episode has fun games/activities, an engaging Bible reading in the form of a news story and deep discussion with places to pause and talk together about the topic. Discussion notes are available to download from the Resource Area of the website.
also on Facebook page Bible Podlets
Engage Worship is for families during the Covid 19 pandemic, to strengthen family worship and prayer for this season. We believe that in the midst of isolation and struggle God will be at work in and through his people. The ideas are released daily with dates on them, but feel free to use them whenever suits.
Let us know if you find any more.
February 2020 Update
My Vision 2026 update will take on a slightly different approach this month with the theme of Christ's Church.
At the end of January we embarked on a journey to New Zealand visiting both the North and South islands. It was a trip of a lifetime taking in both Australia and Singapore.
One of our earlier excursions was to stop off on the ferry at the village of Russell in the Bay Of Islands. It was also known as Kororareka (The Place of Sweet Penguins) in the early 19th century and was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand, becoming the first capital. It has a population of 720. Historic buildings and the seaside setting full of cafes, restaurants and art galleries give Russell a truly romantic feel. This was not the case however in earlier times when it is described as a rough seaport, popular with Pacific whalers.
New Zealand's first licensed hotel, bar and restaurant, the Duke of Marlborough located on the water front. After refreshment and exploring a little further what a surprise to find New Zealand's oldest surviving Anglican church Christ Church built in 1835.
The fundraising subscription list for the church survives with names of missionaries, settlers, traders and ships captains including Captain Fitzroy, Mr. Charles Darwin and officers of HMS Beagle. Services were originally held in English and Maori and occasionally it was used as a courthouse. It is thought that this is possibly the oldest building in New Zealand used for its original purpose. In 1983 it received Category One listing from Heritage New Zealand. From 1998 a shared ministry was formed and services are held every Sunday at 10.30am.
Our own church here in Chatburn was founded in 1837 and consecrated on the 18th September 1838 Christ Church was the first to be commenced during the reign of Queen Victoria. National Heritage designation Grade Two was awarded on the 27th April 1984.
It was simply amazing to stumble across this church in a small village and to think that our church and that in New Zealand were being built at roughly the same time and are both still in existence, although thousands of miles separate them.
In the South island we were able to visit the city of Christchurch which is known for its English heritage and is located on the east coast.
In 2011, a 6.2 earthquake occurred which struck the Canterbury region in New Zealand. Many stone and brick buildings needed to be demolished and over 185 people were killed with 1500-2000 injured people.
Christchurch's central city and eastern suburbs were badly affected, with damage to infrastructure already weakened by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2010.
Our hotel was in Cathedral Square and we were able to see firsthand the Cathedral ruins. In 2017 Anglicans voted to restore the Cathedral and work began to remove the steel framing off the front in 2019. As work progresses the pre-construction planning and design underway is critical for an efficient delivery at the same time whilst exploring how to safely stabilise the Cathedral for the future.
Young people who had never been inside the old Cathedral were asked to come up with phrases for a mural on the Cathedral fencing. These youngsters chose a phrase from a saint and mystic of old, Dame Julian of Norwich. All will be well and comes from her visions of Divine Love and conviction that all creation and all people are held in God's love, the great and noble and the weak and fragile.
As a consequence a Transitional Cathedral was built which is known today as the Cardboard Cathedral.
This was designed by a Japanese architect and opened in 2013. It is several blocks away from the main site. It is constructed of what look like cardboard tubes, wood and glass. This was one of the first significant buildings opened as part of Christchurch's rebuild.
The ninth Anglican Bishop of Christ Church who was installed outside in front of the Cathedral when the steel framing was removed said, One day we will be inside the Cathedral again and when we reopen it, I will stand outside the main doors, eager to bang on the doors with my crosier, a custom normally associated with an installation ceremony.
It is also said 'It takes a community to build and rebuild a Cathedral'.
Around the city there is much evidence of rebuilding and memorials to people killed in the earthquake. These were a very moving tribute.
Finally, although we have our own mission / vision here in Chatburn and in our Diocese we must not forget that a church is more than a local congregation. Scripture reveals that it is to be worldwide in scope and impact. We remember the people of Christ Church and pray that their vision of rebuilding their Cathedral will be achieved in the years ahead.
During Lent, a time of reflection and renewal let us remember our brothers and sisters across the world particularly those who minister where there is no gospel witness. As I returned home with many beautiful memories I thanked God for travelling with us and keeping us safe throughout. Prayer is a wonderful tradition wherever you are and not only does it change the world around us, it changes us on the journey.
In the Cardboard Cathedral I picked up this prayer for visitors. We could slightly adapt it and use it at Christ Church Chatburn for visitors to our beautiful church.
January 2020 Update
Where has January gone? Time goes so quickly.
Sometimes we have to let our dreams go in order to allow God to bring them back to us in his way and his timing.
During January we held an All Age Epiphany Service followed by a Jacobs Join which was a very enjoyable occasion.
On the 12th January the All Age Worship focused on the Baptism of Jesus.
On the 19th January we were welcomed by the Methodist Church to their Covenant Service. The service was very well attended with a very lively talk given by the Reverend Ian Humphreys.
A Covenant Service is held by the Methodists at the start of the New Year when they celebrate all God has done for them and reaffirm that they give their lives and choices to God.
A Covenant prayer is said.
He concentrated on three thoughts :-
Unity that seeks to work from the grass roots of our hearts.
Unity that serves together.
Unity that welcomes and gives thanks.
Reverend Ian set us a task of identifying members of the Royal Family, football managers and religious leaders as part of his talk.
We held a Mission and Worship Meeting in which planning for the outdoor Easter Experience took place. This is at the planning stage, but will involve four stations each built around a location in the church yard. The school will be involved and schoolchildren will be able to make a journey around the stations which will be signposted. Each station will have a narrator to present the story and lead an activity. The stations will be left in a position in the churchyard for the villagers and visitors in Chatburn.
At the meeting we also completed our survey for the Diocese giving feedback on our local progress. The Diocese will then produce a summary for Bishops Leadership Team residential in May. They will prepare and then launch the implementation strategy for the next phase in the Autumn. Overall the group felt we had made progress in all areas but there was room for improvement in some.
Our Lent Groups will start at Christ Church on the 3rd March following the Holy Communion Service and at St. Pauls on the 5th March at 7.15pm. The focus of Lent will be the Church of England's initiative Care for God's Creation. We are asking you to consider signing up for the forty day challenge of reflections sent by email. Come to the discussion groups and you will be provided with a free booklet.
The PCC are now receiving Parish updates sent out by the Diocese fortnightly so they can keep in touch with Diocesan news and events.
The Archdeacon of Lancaster, the Venerable David Picken officially joins the Diocese on the 4th February. His installation service takes place at Blackburn Cathedral at 7.30pm. A warm welcome is extended to everyone from our parishes.
Reverend Jenn Strawbridge has been appointed the new Canon Theologian at Blackburn Cathedral.
The Archbishop of York will be making his final official visit to Blackburn Dioceses on March 26th. An event is being planned in the evening at Blackburn Cathedral. It is suggested that this may be a suitable event for those preparing for Confirmation or new to faith. Anyone can go but space is limited so you will need to book soon.
December 2019 Update
December has been a hectic month as we prepared for Christmas.
Our All Age Nativity was held on the 8th December and was enjoyed by all who attended. This was an impromptu play performed by adults and children with narration by Reverend Catherine and ad-lib performances by certain members of the cast.
The service of Carols and Readings on the 22nd December was held in candlelight as usual, but minus the church heating system and some lighting as our church electrical supply was disrupted for a few days. You might have seen the digger outside church! I am pleased to say that normal service has resumed due to the efficiency of our supplier and numerous prayers. A younger member of our congregation used his imagination in supplying extra lighting and we were very thankful for his input along with our ever busy church wardens. Thank you.
The Carol service was beautiful and enhanced by music and readings which captured hearts and emotions. It was lovely to welcome new people and visitors into our church and we hope that they may return to other services in the near future.
The Christingle and Crib service for our younger people was very well attended with over 220 people enjoying the event. It was a very well organised service with photographs of the Posada being featured on the large screen. It seems that the newly organised Posada Procession via school has been a tremendous success with updates to progress on Facebook and live feed onto the website. Let us hope that this continues to be annual event. As I have said before it is vital to maintain links with the school, prioritising our work with young people if we are to succeed with Vision 2026 in raising up a new generation for Christ.
Our Midnight Communion Service was very well attended so it looks like this will continue into 2020 subject to PCC agreement.
Our Christmas morning service was also well attended by both our own congregation and our friends from the Methodist Church.
On the first Sunday following Christmas we enjoyed a Morning service with carols. We heard from Reverend Anne Hardacre about the journey Joseph and Mary took with baby Jesus and the slaughter of the infants by Herod. The sermon was very thought provoking and we were asked to consider if in today's times we would freely accept the Holy family into our community or would we reject them just as many reject asylum seekers and refugees today. Yes the sermon was spot on and certainly gave us "food for thought".
We have certainly been blessed with a variety of services over Advent and the Christmas period creating varied patterns of worship to welcome the newcomer. Thank you to Reverend Catherine for leading us in worship and heading our Worship and Mission Group throughout 2019. Incidentally the next meeting will be held on the 21st January at 7pm in church if anyone is interested in becoming part of the group.
Carolyn Barton Vision Coordinator wrote to me and the other vision champions. She remarked that since her appointment the last five months have been encouraging, in that the number of candidates in our Diocese exploring ordained and licensed vocations had improved.
In early 2020 Carolyn explained that we will be undertaking a simple exercise to enable us to reflect on the past four years of Vision 2026 and see where we are heading for the future based on feedback from parishes.
WATCH THIS SPACE !!
There are various messages from Bishop Julian, Bishop Phillip and Bishop Jill on the Diocesan website and also on You Tube channel from New Year's Eve onwards.
In February / March 2020 staged at Blackburn Cathedral, our three Bishops will be cast, along with some other members of the Bishop's Leadership Team, collectively creating an amazing and impactful dramatisation of Mark's Gospel. Tickets will be available for anyone wishing to attend.
From January 27th to the 29th there will be a residential retreat at Whalley Abbey for Ageing with Grace : Spiritual growth and the Second Half of Life.
Book via Whalley Abbey on 01254 828400 or email email@example.com.
For those who are interested you can now book the exciting new Springs Dance Company "Green Project" which offers to a short dance theatre presentation to stir up hope and inspire action on climate change.
Contact Springs Dance Company for further details on 07876 752 910.
Spring harvest in 2020 takes place at Harrogate Convention Centre from April 14th to the 18th and can be booked on 01825 769111.
Bishop John Sentamu will be in attendance.
Finally I do hope you all obtained your copies of Follow the Star and are enjoying the reflections for twelve days from Christmas Day. I downloaded the Smartphone App and have enjoyed the pre-course reflections and now well into the 12 days of Christmas wonder.
If you have enjoyed this year's "Follow the Star" journey you may want to travel further in faith in the days and months ahead.
Going to church to celebrate Epiphany is a wonderful way to complete your Christmas journey. This year we will be hosting a special service on the 5th January at 11.00am, to mark the Epiphany season which lasts up to and including the 2nd February which is the feast of Candlemas. Following the service we are having a Jacob's join lunch celebration, to which everyone is invited.
You can also Explore God in everyday life at "EverydayFaith" a new campaign which starts on the 21st January from the Church of England which offers 21 days of stories, reflections and prayers to help you find God in everyday life.
Find out more and join in via this link "EverydayFaith"
God of wonder,
help us to keep searching,
keep asking and
as we continue on our journey to you.
As we approach a new year,
lead us towards the new things you want in our lives.
Help us to keep going when the way gets hard.
November 2019 Update
November has been another busy month by way of varied church services and events. A Benefice service for All Souls was well attended and a beautiful reflective time to remember loved ones. Following the service there was an opportunity to share fellowship with our friends across the Benefice.
Our Remembrance service, was preceded by an act of worship around the cenotaph in the churchyard and saw a large number of adults and children in attendance. When in church children were given activities to undertake in their pews and activity bags were given to pre school children. The head boy and girl from Bowland High School attended and laid their own wreath from the school.
Plans for Sunday Club were discussed with parents at an evening meeting and a programme of themes and activities mapped out to Easter. Sunday Club will now meet on the 4th Sunday of the month with an All Age Service being held on the 2nd Sunday of the month. When there is no Sunday Club, clipboard activities will be available in the pew. These will be offered to children as they are welcomed into church by the sides people. The school is involved with organising the Posada procession under the guidance of Joanne Travis Sunday Club coordinator. It is hoped that parents will take photographs of the journey and post on a special face book page and for non-facebookers on the website. Mary and Joseph will then arrive back in church at the Christingle service on Christmas Eve and their journey trail will be shown. This is the first time that this has been organised through school.
A PCC meeting was held in November and it is pleasing to note that the Vision Champion now has a fixed agenda item to discuss our mission and that of Vision 2026. Rather than the PCC concentrate on matters of finance and fabric alone this gives an opportunity for them to discuss faith matters and be brought up to speed with developments in the Deanery and Diocese. This was part of my vision that Christ Church should not remain an isolated parish but share in a wider vision. PCC meetings are now very productive and the team is working well together.
I have written an article for the December/January Village Newsletter regarding the C of E initiative "Follow the Star". Booklets are now available at the back of church for those who would be interested in some Christmas reflections and prayers. These are free of charge and take in the 12 days of Christmas. Sign up to 12 days of reflections from Christmas Day to Epiphany, emailed or download the app.
There are some Christmas Mission Events with J.John for those interested. J. John is a well known evangelist, speaker and author. He is visiting the Diocese for two mission events at Christmas.Carols at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Thursday 12th December at the Empress Ballroom at 7.15pm. To book tickets.
Meanwhile Christmas unwrapped carol service at Blackburn Cathedral is on Friday 13th December at 7pm. Book Tickets. You are invited to bring friends and family. The cost at both events is Â£5 for two tickets with the proceeds going to local charities.
Journeying in Prayer is a course for anyone who wishes to deepen their experience and knowledge of prayer. To find out more email Patricia Impey or by phone 01254 366170.
A key strand of Vision 2026 is that together we might know the scriptures better. A number of Digging Deeper days are planned which will give greater insight and understanding of the scriptures and the whole story of the Bible. The first is to be held at Whalley Abbey on the 7th December the cost is Â£20. Other dates for the diary are 7th March, July 18th and November 28th 2020. For further information email or phone 01254 828400.
The children's ministry conference is called Open the Doors and explores how we share the Gospel with children currently outside church families. This takes place on February 28/29, 2020 at Barton Grange Hotel in Preston.
I attended an open Deanery Synod meeting along with Daphne Porter at St Leonard's Church in Langho. Cllr. Sue Bibby current chair of the Ribble Valley Alliance Dementia Action Group spoke about living with Dementia. Her talk was very enlightening and informative. Sue's non medical description of how Dementia affects people was very well received. I would urge you to look this up on the Alzheimer's web site. It uses the analogy of a book case in the brain. Discussion and ideas of how we can make our churches Dementia friendly will now be needed.
October 2019 update
On the 19th October I attended a Festival of Baptism at Blackburn Cathedral along with Reverend Catherine. The morning events started with a very beautiful Eucharist presided over by Bishop Phillip. Singing and chanting were led by the Young Peoples Choir and the setting was Kleine Orgelmesse, by Joesph Hadyn(1732-1809). A small ensemble of cello and two violins accompanied the singing.
Following the Eucharist Bishop Stephen Cotterill of Chelmsford gave the keynote speech. He is a noted speaker being a widely publicised author and speaker. Bishop Stephen did not disappoint, he kept us all enthralled with his take on the meaning of Baptism. He explained that in Baptism and in the waters of the font we are reborn into a new life as we become sharers in the dying and rising of Christ. Bishop Stephen felt we did not make enough about the symbol of water at Baptism and is an advocate for full immersion. Incidentally I believe St James Church in Clitheroe, have full immersion at Baptism. He went on to say that through Baptism we are sent through the Spirit's power to be God's people in the world. In this sacrament of life we discover what it is to be human under Christ. We are the heart, eyes, hands and feet of Jesus.
Following lunch I attended two workshops. The first was entitled adding to number and developing the local church around Baptism. Reverend McKee was the workshop leader. The second was entitled Children of the Heavenly Father and sprucing up our ministry with children led by Sarah Earnshaw Children's Work Advisor. Reverend Catherine attended two different workshops and we will need to evaluate if there is anything that we can use here at Christ Church. An afternoon address by Dr. Sandra Millar Head of Life Events for the Church of England was very inspiring.
The day ended with a short service, pilgrimage and a renewal of Baptismal Vows.
We began at the Cathedral door with the Blessing of a Lighted Candle. As the procession followed the candle through the nave we gathered around the Lantern Altar chanting as we journeyed When Israel was in Egypt's Land.... with the refrain " "Go down Moses way down in Egypt's land, Tell old pharaoh to let my people go..."
From there we travelled to the main Altar asking forgiveness and responded to Psalm 46. During the singing of another chant we made our way to the font, where we renewed our vows and affirmed our Profession of Faith. At this point Bishop Phillip made sure that the waters of Baptism reached all gathered around the font.
On reflection it was a great day, very inspirational and a great opportunity to get together with other Christians and enjoy fellowship across the Diocese. I discovered a new meaning of Baptism. It was a day to celebrate God's call on our lives and a time to reflect on how we use the gift of Baptism to grow healthy churches.
What's the Point?
Our short course which was based on the booklet by Norman Warren has now finished. I attended St Paul's Low Moor evening session. It was great to get together with our partner church members and take part in lively discussion and debate. I look forward to a follow up so that we can finish the booklet. There are so many important issues to discuss yet.
Bishop's Bible Challenge. (Knowing the Scriptures Better)
I have discussed this previously and a number of people have already accepted the challenge. Following the service on Bible Sunday (25th October) a further number of people agreed to take the Challenge which involves studying St John's Gospel over a six week period. It will be interesting to know how they get on.
September 2019 Update
September seems to have flown by partly because I was on holiday during the month.
Our meeting with Carolyn Barton, Vision Coordinator at St. Paul's, Low Moor was very enjoyable and informative. It was a lovely to meet with other champions across the Diocese. Some had been in post since the implementation and others like myself had just been appointed. Carolyn discussed what growing parishes actually look like and how the implementation of Vision 2026 is going in our Parishes.
The Three key areas we looked at were:-
- Developing vision.
- Making Disciples, Being Witnesses and Growing Leaders.
- Children and Young people.
To each of these headings we discussed:-
- i) Has anything new been introduced in your parish and what has gone well.
- ii) Have their been any challenges and if so how have they been overcome.
Carolyn told us about the Church Growth Research Programme (2011-2013) which looked into the factors which are influencing church growth in the Church of England and to identify areas of ministry which are growing numerically and to find out why. This is the first time that such a wide ranging and systematic study of factors relating to church growth had been undertaken within the Church of England. The research resulted in the development of a toolkit, From evidence to Action based on the eight key factors for growth. These are :
- Clear Mission and Purpose
- Willing to change and adapt
- Leaders, innovate, envision and motivate
- Nurturing disciples
- Actively engaging in the local context
- A welcoming culture and ongoing relationships
- Lay people active in leadership
- Engaging children and young adults
On reflection it was pleasing to report that at Christ Church we now had an Associate Minister in post who had formed a Mission and Worship group. This forum enabled us to undertake an audit of all aspects of worship and our mission here in Chatburn. We now have a Mission Statement which reflects our mission and purpose. At other churches Vision Coordinators were struggling in their role, but it was evident that they had not got the full support of their PCC which is vital for any vision to succeed.
At Christ Church we therefore now have Vision, we are making and encouraging Disciples, we are Being Witnesses, Growing Leaders and prioritising Children and Young People. All these factors will hopefully result in Church Growth.
We reflected on the Vision Champions Role description. It was agreed that although there was an official job description this would vary in every church and that the Vision Champion would need to adopt an approach which would be accepted locally.
All Age Service for Education Sunday was very well attended. We explored The Potter and the Clay theme. The service was interactive being led by Revd. Catherine Hale-Heighway and Mrs Emma Gardiner the Head Teacher. More details can be found in the October Village Newsletter.
On the last Sunday afternoon of the month a Messy Church Service to celebrate St. Michael and All Angels was held. The weather was horrendous but in church we had a very peaceful, exiting, fun afternoon enjoyed by the children who attended with their parents, grandparents / carers. The theme of course was Angels. Some of the photographs of the event can be found on our Messy Church page. It is vital that our ministry with our young people continues to develop. Whilst not forgetting our older church members needs.
In October I am attending a Celebration of Baptism at Blackburn Cathedral and will be involved in two workshops following a Holy Communion Service.
In November I will be attending a Deanery Synod meeting to learn about Dementia Friendly churches.
August 2019 Update
The holiday club was once again a very enjoyable experience for both the children who attended and the team of helpers. We had a fun packed week which focused not only on entertaining children but helping them to learn about some of the older bible stories and find out for themselves what it means to follow Jesus.
We experienced fun and creative activities where children were able to explore and grow in their faith. It was a time for the children to share their ideas, experiences and build friendships. It is a vital part of Vision 2026 that we continue to provide and prioritise a ministry for children and young people in our community. The week certainly provided an opportunity for those involved and with the support of the P.C.C to explore our own discipleship and witness to Jesus.
Following on from the Lent course the study groups to explore Life's bigger questions and the issues we all consider have now been arranged starting in October. If you cannot attend in the day then a night session has been arranged at St. Paul's Low Moor. It is intended that the sessions will be informal and an in depth knowledge of the Bible is not necessary. You may be sceptical about organised religion perhaps unsure about the relevance of the Bible. We hope these sessions will be helpful to you.
Some of the big questions people ask are :-
- Why does God allow suffering?
- Why should I believe in God if I cannot see him?
In September I look forward to meeting with Carolyn Barton our Vision Champion Coordinator and to find out more about my role and share experiences with other Champions from across the Diocese.
On September 8th at 11am we will be holding an All Age Service for Education Sunday. At this service some of our pupils from school will be attending.
For well over a hundred years there has been an annual recognition of Education Sunday in England and Wales. It is a national day for of prayer and celebration for everyone in the world of education.
In 2016 after extensive consultation it was decided to celebrate it on the second Sunday in September at the start of the new school year. Previously it was held on the 9th Sunday before Easter.
Our Sunday Club resumes on the 22nd September and there is a Harvest Messy Church on Sunday 29th September. If your children enjoyed the Holiday Club then they might like to come to one of our Clubs or Messy Churches were the focus is on fun and friendship whilst learning more about Jesus.
Bookings for the 2019/20 Routes of Faith discipleship learning programme are now being taken.
"Routes of Faith" is for anyone who is interested in learning more about their Christian faith. There are six modules, each lasting five or six weeks. The modules are held in different places and on different evenings, so that as many people as possible can attend at least one. Details of dates, tutors and venues, with a programme flyer and application form are on the Diocesan website at http://www.blackburn.anglican.org/routes-of-faith-programme.
For more information contact:
Mandy Stanton Lay Leadership Office/Growing Leaders Team
Email Mandy Stanton or phone 01254 503084
Siobhan Trickett Administrator Making Disciples and Being Witness Team
Email Siobhan Trickett or phone 01254 503272
If you would like to consider being confirmed please contact either Reverend Andy Froud or Reverend Catherine Hale-Heighway in the first instance. At confirmation a person affirms the promises that were made when they were baptised and commits their life to following Jesus Christ. For more information go to https://www.churchofengland.org.
July 2019 Update
To some extent this has been a quiet month but some progress has been made.
The Baptism Service atÂ Christchurch was well attended and the Picnic in the churchyard was a very sociable and enjoyable event. Once again we were blessed with good weather. The children re enacted a modern day version of The Good Samaritan parable and Reverend Catherine demonstrated how Baptism is undertaken.
This links in with the Diocese Festival of baptism on the 19th October were a celebration of the gift of Baptism with a festival of worship, prayer and teaching will take place. The keynote speaker will be Bishop Stephen Cottrell who is an outstanding teacher and communicator. Some really good workshops are lined up as well. If you wish to book a place or find out more information contact Jean Duerden : firstname.lastname@example.org
At our Worship and Mission Group meeting we began to look at our strengths and where improvement is needed. The Healthy Churches Transforming Communities Mission/Vision Action Plan was used as a guide. (MAP) for short. The group is still working through this action plan but some practical suggestions for improvement were agreed by the group subject to PCC approval.
- Reinstatement of prayer chain
- Study group to look at life's "big questions"
- Possible quiet day for our Benefice PCC teams.
- Improving our pastoral care network
- Developing links with our newly reopened library
The new Vision Champion Coordinator Carolyn Barton is hosting a gathering of champions at St. Paul's Church Low Moor on the 26th September at 2pm. This will be one of twelve such meetings held across the Diocese during the autumn. Carolyn and the championsÂ will be reviewing what has gone well in the past three years since implementation of Vision 2026 and what has been challenging and how solutions to the challenges have been found. The role of the Vision Champion will be reviewed and the support which is available to champions will be explained. I am looking forward to meeting other Vision Champions across the Diocese and to sharing and discussing our ideas about implementing Vision 2026.
Our holiday club begins 04/08/2019 in the Methodist Chapel. I am very much looking forward to this very important mission in our village and church life. It is a privilege to work with our younger members and share a varied programme of activities over the week.
June 2019 Update
- Well it's official, we have our Mission Statement.
Growing Together in Faith and Sharing God's Love with Everyone.
- It is felt that this reflects our vision and purpose here at Christchurch and links in with Vision 2026. To help the Worship and Mission Group the Blackburn Diocesan Healthy Church Assessment Audit Tool was used to guide discussion and help the group focus. The audit identified six qualities which are considered to make a church healthy. These qualities are Worship, Vision, Strong sense of Community, Outward looking focus, Leadership and Discipleship. Evidence of progress in all areas was noted and over the coming months an action plan will be developed setting out our priorities .We would also like to gain views from our community regarding our church.
- I was commissioned at St John's Church in Accrington where Bishop Julian launched his Bible Challenge. He explained that at the heart of Vision 2026 is the call to make disciples and this involves a better understanding of scripture. One way to grow is to read the bible regularly and to learn key verses of scripture from which we can draw guidance and inspiration. Bible study booklets will be available shortly and it is our aim to run a bible study group in the near future following on from our Lenten study which proved very enjoyable.
- During the ten days from Ascension to Pentecost we joined the global wave of prayer "Thy Kingdom Come" and used Novena booklets which through art and prayer explored the dual message of love and challenge in our lives. Our school children were given a Family Adventure Map to follow. On Whitsunday our school children led the All Age service. In July we are holding a special thanksgiving service for those baptised in our church and those who are part of our church family. A Picnic will follow.
- Whalley Abbey is to become the new Centre for Prayer and Discipleship from the beginning of 2020. There will be a greatly enhanced programme of retreats and events that will help people of all ages grow in faith and confidence. We are being encouraged to see the Abbey as a gift to treasure and a resource to enjoy. It would make an ideal place for a parish or team away day and we will need to explore how we at Christchurch and in our Benefice can use this in the future. Why not consider a prayer walk around the ruins at the Abbey. A leaflet has been designed by Archdeacon Mark Ireland to help you reflect and pray as you wander around (available on site).
- Continuing our work with children, a meeting of those involved with Sunday Club has now taken place. This proved to be a very positive meeting which was well attended by leaders and parents. It has been decided to hold one Sunday Club per month and one All Age Service from September onwards with the addition of Messy Church Services. During the service when there is no Sunday Club an activity will be available for children to undertake in the pew. During school holidays there will be no Sunday Club.
- Planning for the Children's Holiday Club is reaching its final stages and those involved are looking forward to working with our young people once again. It is an important opportunity to listen to the voice of younger people and to share time together.
- On the 24 th June I was invited along with other Vision Champions and representatives from other churches to the Bishop's House at Ribchester to listen to Dr. Elaine Storkey's lecture on " Is Christianity Dying in the West". The lecture was preceded by a BBQ supper.
- For the last forty years the statistics have reflected an accelerating crisis in church life and we are faced with a serious possibility/ likelihood that even the Christian Faith might disappear entirely from our culture within the first half of the century. Elaine has taken a hard look at the facts that may support or dispute this claim by renowned theological and spiritual author John Drane.
- Although it might be argued that whilst some traditional forms of church going are in decline this does not mean that Christianity is itself dying out. Some of the facts were depressing to say the least. People who attend church once per month are now classed as regular worshippers. Another interesting fact was about people who were brought up in the church but now had no contact. When asked why they didn't now attend church, they said they had never been asked.
- We are all asked to re-consider what church really means and what we need to do to ensure that today's followers of Jesus continue to fulfil the Great Commission to "Go out and make disciples of all nations".
- Bishop Julian concluded that we must not be complacent and should continue to work for and support Vision 2026 and the challenges it sets if we want our churches and Christianity to survive.
- At the supper there was an opportunity to meet with Carolyn Barton our new Vision Champion Coordinator. It was her first day in her new role. She is hoping to meet with us all probably on a Deanery basis initially.
May 2019 Update
This month has been extremely busy culminating in my commissioning at St John's Church Accrington.
- Our All Age Service proved very entertaining with lots of fun, sheep hunting around church. Sunday club has continued to help children understand the gospel stories in a very relaxed and supportive environment.
- Messy Church took up the theme of Rogation and the crafts, story time and food proved as popular as ever. It is very important that we all continue to encourage children and their parents or carers to attend church activities and involve them in faith activities. Further events in June and July will see children taking part in our Pentecost service and an invitation to a Celebration of Baptism followed by a Picnic in July will be sent out. These events have been planned to further our community involvement and work with children and families.
- A meeting has been held with Helen Potts a Children's worker from St James Church, Clitheroe to share her experience of running Messy Sports Events.The meeting was very positive and ideas of how this might take shape were discussed. It is hoped to run an event in 2020 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics.
- The PCC meets on 4th June and it is hoped that they will approve the Mission Statement drafted by the Worship and Mission Group.
- Bishop Julian launched his Bible Challenge at the Primary Visitation in Accrington. This is a creative approach to encourage children and adults to read the Bible regularly. At the heart of Vision 2026 lies the call for Christians to be first and foremost disciples of Christ. This involves a better understanding and knowledge of scripture. A booklet has been produced by the Diocese and can be used individually over a six week period to remind us afresh of the richness of the Bible and its centrality and importance in the life of Christians. These books will be at the back of church. We will be considering bible study sessions and their likely format in the near future to build on the well attended Lent course and to meet Bishop Julian's Bible Challenge.
- Many resources are available either on line or Apps.
- The Church of England Daily Prayer App at ........ https://www.aimermedia.com/app/dailyprayer and
- accompanying reflections at....................... https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/features/reflections
- The Bible in one Year can be found at............. https://www.bibleinoneyear.org
- If you would like further advice or help call Ruth Hassall Director of Discipleship at The Diocesan Offices on 01254 503277, or email Ruth Hassall
- Thy Kingdom Come is the title of a worldwide prayer movement between Ascension and Pentecost. "Churches together" in Lancashire held a launch service on Wednesday 29th May at Crossgate Church in Preston. A concluding Beacon service will be held in Blackburn Cathedral on the 9th June.
April 2019 Update
- The Pathways to Prayer held at Whalley Abbey was a wonderful opportunity to get together with other people seeking to explore new perspectives on patterns and styles of prayer, contemplation and meditation. The course was delivered through a diverse range of workshops.
- The workshops were preceded by an act of worship led by Ruth Hassall.
- Bishop Philip then gave a very inspirational talk on the power of prayer.
- He reassured us that God knows better than us, he knows already what is in our hearts and therefore answers our prayers in a better way than we know how .It may not always turn out the way we thought it may be.
- He concluded with thoughts on Vision 2026. Who would have thought that the Blackburn Diocese would have been starting new churches and bringing in more clergy. All this he said is because of vision and the power of prayer.
- My chosen workshops were Praying with Children lead by Sarah Earnshaw and Praying with Icons led by Brenda Harding. The first was chosen because I thought it would give some new ideas for our Sunday Club and Holiday Club. The second was chosen because it was completely new area to explore and at Christ Church we will be exploring different ways of praying as part of our Mission.
- Brenda gave a brief history about icons and how they were made. For the less artistic among us this was very enlightening.
- We then sat in silence and studied The Holy Trinity Icon, by Russian painter Andrei Rublev.
- It was very interesting and moving to experience the use of an icon for praying and in such a beautiful chapel setting.
- If you are interested in attending any future workshops, which are free, there are some more coming up.
- Saturday 6th July at St. Oswald's, Preesall with Archdeacon Mark,
- Saturday 21st September at St Ambrose, Leyland, with Bishop Julian and
- Saturday 19th October at Xaverian Spirituality Centre Preston, with Bishop Jill.
- The Worship and Mission Group have been very busy in April under taking an audit based on the Blackburn Healthy Church Assessment Audit tool and developing a Mission Statement for Christ Church.
- This has proved very interesting, the results of which will be published once the PCC have had time to discuss the findings
- We are still interested in gaining feedback from the community and if there is anything you would like to contribute about church life, our services or how we can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us via the feed back button below.
A new Vision 2026 Coordinator Mrs. Carolyn Barton has been appointed. Carolyn will officially start on June 24th. She is currently working on a project in Carlisle and is married to the Vicar of St Lawrence with St Paul, Longridge. Carolyn along with Dave Champness will be supporting Vision Champions across the Diocese and ensuring the implementation of Vision 2026.
March 2019 Update
- The Worship and Mission Group has met twice. We are currently looking at developing a Mission Statement to describe our purpose and vision for the future. It was agreed that this should be short, memorable and actionable.
- We were introduced to the Blackburn Dioceses Healthy Church Audit which we hope to complete at a future meeting. This should give us a starting point to analyse where change is needed. Our diocese has combined a lot of past research and has identified six qualities which make a church healthy. These qualities are Worship, Vision, Strong sense of Community, Outward looking focus, Leadership and Discipleship.This is a quick tool to enable a group to arrive at an indication of how healthy various areas of church life are. If you would like to complete one and give us feedback please use the link below.
- Lent courses are in progress based on the themes of Generosity, Gift and Grace.
- A small group of us visited the Christian Resources Exhibition at Event City in Manchester. We were able to attend seminars and explore the various resources for use with children and adults. We hope to use some of the ideas in the future.
- We are committed to attending the course Pathways to Prayer at Whalley Abbey. One of the priorities within Vision 2026 is the call to make Disciples of Jesus Christ.
- A key priority within that theme is that churches and individuals commit themselves to praying with greater depth and urgency for the Kingdom of God to come, whether in our homes, our workplaces, the communities where we live, or in the wider world. With this in mind the course will explore fresh perspectives on patterns of and styles of prayer, contemplation and meditation. Some of these have already been undertaken here at Christ Church for example prayer walking and All Age interactive prayer.
- All Age Services which are more child friendly and interactive with songs which the children sing at school are now held.
What is Vision 2026?
"Healthy Churches Transforming Communities"
We desire to make the Good News about Jesus Christ more widely known, because we believe:
- He is the One who brings "life in all its fullness"
- Healthy church communities have a positive and transformative impact on our society.
We will work together to achieve this by:
Making disciples of Jesus Christ
- Knowing the Scriptures better through reading, teaching, preaching and study
- Praying with greater depth and urgency for the Kingdom of God to come
- Giving generously of our time, talents and money to the cause of Christ
Being witnesses to Jesus Christ
- Sharing the Gospel of salvation with confidence
- Holding regular enquirers courses in as many local churches as possible
- Showing God's love in action through projects that meet a local human need
- Offering thorough and accessible Baptism preparation and follow-up
- Planting or renewing 50 new strategic congregations by 2026
Growing leaders for Jesus Christ
- Supporting and equipping the current leadership for today's context
- Enabling missional leadership in every Christian community
- Liberating lay leadership for greater participation
- Creating the varied patterns of Sunday and weekday worship necessary to welcome all kinds of people, especially the newcomer
Prioritising work among children, young people and schools to raise up a new generation for Christ
The Diocesan Vision Prayer
Heavenly Father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders. Give us eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
New Vision Champion for Christ Church.
- My name is Lynn Farrimond and I will be commissioned on the 20th May, 2019 at Accrington Parish Church.
- I am a regular member of the congregation here at Christ Church, having moved to the area seven years ago, from St. Georges, Tyldesley in the Manchester Diocese. I have served in various church roles for over 50 years. Now retired, I am currently a member of the Parochial Church Council here at Christchurch and help out with Children's activities, reading lessons and leading prayers at Sunday Worship amongst other things.
- I see my new role being to gently nudge and encourage our parish and Benefice leaders and the congregation to plan and deliver activities that make disciples of Jesus, be witnesses to Jesus, grow leaders and prioritise work among young people.
- At Christ Church under the guidance of Reverend Catherine, we have formed a Worship and Mission Group so that we can focus on developing our Mission and vision for the church and community here in Chatburn.
- We will all need to work together to develop our action plan using our discipleship to the full.
- Over the years Christ Church has been undertaking discipleship and mission in the community and has established strong and close links in the village, with the school, nursing home and with the Methodist Church. A lot has been achieved so far with people's commitment and dedication over the years.
- We hope to build on this established foundation to enable Christ Church to move forward and become an even more effective church hub in the village and to make sure that our doors remain open in the future. We must also be aware of our commitment to the Diocese and the world-wide church.
- I feel my role is to be an advocate for our vision and mission here in Chatburn, linking with the Vision Champions in our partner churches, ensuring that our local vision is an integral part of the Blackburn Diocese Vision 2026.
- I will not be a high profile figure, but working to support the vision quietly and encouraging people to become disciples and leaders in our Christian community and in line with the Diocese priority for 2019. I hope to keep you informed of our progress over the following months. This is an exciting time in our church life although it is recognised that this can be rather daunting for some people.
- If you have any comments which you would like to make please feel free to do so. I welcome comments that could be fed to the Worship and Mission Group regarding how you see the church helping in our local community and any specific needs, or if you have any feedback on Church Services.
Please give us some