Newsletter: 3rd – 9th October 2021

Greetings from Eileen

Dear friends,

“You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”
John 1.51

Last Sunday we joined in the Feast of Michael and All Angels at our Communion service in St Andrew’s, Winston and at Choral Evensong in St Mary’s, Gainford. The sermons from both services are provided at the end of this newsletter.

Gainford parishioner Val Jones, who was to have been our organist for the new Choral Evensong series, passed away suddenly the afternoon of our rehearsal 21st September, and was remembered at the service.  Here is the link to that live recording.  A note of appreciation has been received from Peter and Val’s family for which we are thankful and pray this is a comfort to them.

From the meditation of parishioners I have received 2 scripture readings, which I share here: Ephesians 4:31-32 and Luke 6:35-38 (both The Message version):

35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Durham Diocese had designated last week as ‘Generosity Week’, so these verses are particularly apt.  Thank you St Andrew’s, Winston congregation for £108 donated towards the Afghan Crisis. But the Lord calls us not only to give generously of our money and material resources but to give also from our spirit: gentleness, graciousness, goodness of heart, mind, and words.

On the next page, you will see more information about the Pilgrimage to the Moon.  There is further information on the Way of Life on our Pilgrimage Page

Meanwhile, I am taking medical advice to accept leave from work for 4 weeks with immediate effect to manage more effectively stress-induced medical conditions.  I shall participate in the occasional activity as deemed helpful towards my recovery and well-being and be away from our parishes for a time.  I am thankful to our leaders and churchwardens of both parishes for their understanding and support, and generous diligence in keeping our ministry and mission flourishing in my absence.

Regular Events

On Thursdays our youth group YOUTH SAINTS monthly meeting. Please spread the message to friends and neighbours with young people.

Youth Bible Time is also resuming from 5.45pm in St Mary’s Church, Gainford on the same Thursday. Young people from both our parishes and others from nearby places are all welcome!

Our Growth Fellowship, formerly the Young Leaders Fellowship, is now open to anyone to join from both parishes as well as those within the surrounding area – young adults interested in developing themselves, understanding more about the Bible or those interested in joining in with a regular programme of activities (both indoor and outdoor) are all welcome.  Please contact if you are interested in taking part!

Our churches are open daily for private prayer.
We welcome everyone to join us at services in church every Sunday:
• 9.30am at St Andrew’s Church, Winston
• 10.45am at St Mary’s Church, Gainford

Our congregations now sing together in church! Provision for singing without face coverings is also available in both churches.

God is with us. May Christ, who by his incarnation, gathered into one, all things earthly and heavenly, fill you with joy and peace.

Rev’d Eileen Harrop

Pilgrimage to the Moon (Durham Cathedral)

On Saturday 16th October, everyone from both our parish churches, Youth Saints and their families, and Young Leaders, are invited to a special day together from 1pm to 6.30pm (for those walking), or 4 pm to 6.30pm (if you’re joining at the cathedral). We shall begin our walk from St Bartholomew Church near The Honest Lawyer at Sunderland Bridge on the last stretch of The Way of Life trail (about 4 miles) to Durham CathedralWe have 2 minibuses available to take us and to bring us back to Gainford and Winston.

• For St Andrew’s, Winston: Sign up with JOYCE 07786072830 (tel or text message)

• For St Mary’s, Gainford: Sign up with GEOFF 01325 730379 or

I hope many will take up this opportunity to journey together to Durham Cathedral.

Our churches continue to be open for private prayer.

Please read the separate page outlining the modified approach for each church for the details.

Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information

Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information


  •  Funeral Services
    • Ai Lin Ruth Evelyn Tan: Friday 1st October 2021 4.30am UK time livestreamed funeral service from Tasmania. She was Rev’d Eileen’s dear aunt, her father’s only sister.
    • John Brockett Harrison: Tuesday 12th October 2021 12.30 at St Andrew’s Church, Bishop Auckland, and thereafter to Wear Valley Crematorium at 1.30pm.  He was Paula Kirkup’s much loved father and granddad to her children.
    • Val Jones: Details yet to be announced.  She was loved by friends in Gainford and greatly appreciated for her music at Headlam Hall, the parishes of Hutton Magna and Wycliffe, and with Gainford’s Community Choir Phoenix Singers. Our prayers are with Peter and her family
  • ‘Living in Love and Faith’ is a national study that everyone in dioceses across the country is encouraged to participate. The issues relating to gender and relationships need open consideration with Christian understanding. Barnard Castle Deanery is holding sessions that we can join online on Thursday evenings (7.00pm) commencing October 21st over Zoom. To sign up email:

The Collect for the 18th Sunday after Trinity

God, our judge and saviour,

teach us to be open to your truth

and to trust in your love,

that we may live each day

with confidence in the salvation which is given

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The First Reading

 Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

​ 1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

2 5Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. 6 But someone has testified somewhere,
​ ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    or mortals, that you care for them?
7 You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
    you have crowned them with glory and honour,
    subjecting all things under their feet.’

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, 9 but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
​ 10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,
​ ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’

The Gospel

 Mark 10:2-16

2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3 He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4 They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” 7 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’

13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.


Psalm 103.19-22; Revelation 12.7-12; John 1.47-51

I’d like to open my message this morning with a reading of the Psalm for the Feast of Michael and All Angels: Psalm 103

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    obedient to his spoken word.

21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers that do his will.

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
   Bless the Lord, O my soul.

We may be surprised that angels are among the aspects of God’s Word as given to us in the Bible that is disbelieved. There seems to be a hierarchy of disbelief among some people: first the disbelief about heaven and eternal life; then disbelief about angels and anything that is not an earthly thing or experience. There are some who consider themselves pure or true scientists, whose inability to conduct scientific experiments to test the existence of angels may lead to disbelief in them.
We have prayed what we believe in our Collect today:

‘Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and mortals
in a wonderful order’

and we have acknowledged that God’s holy angels always serve God in heaven. We have prayed that at God’s command, they may help and defend us on earth.

Throughout Biblical history, angels have been revealed at many significant and powerful moments. Before Daniel as Balthazar was placed with his friends in the fiery furnace, he was assured and ministered to by an angel. Before Mary bore Jesus, God incarnate as a human being, the Angel Gabriel conveyed God’s message to her and ministered to her. When Joseph was troubled by Mary’s news and wondered about the right and decent thing, an angel also came to him. Then an angel brought Jesus comfort and great assurance when he prayed so sorrowfully that his sweat was mixed with blood. The angel helped Jesus to hear and bear God’s final words to him before his capture and crucifixion. When Peter began his ministry of building the Church and when Paul obeyed God’s call to spread the Good News far and wide, both of them were led by angels.

God assures us in our lives today that we too will be guarded and guided according to God’s bidding by angels. Some of you may have experienced this wonderful relationship that God has promised: of the heavenly powers of angels delivering us from danger or guiding us to serve God’s purposes.

My Brian would not mind my sharing how very practically one extreme winter, he was saved by an angel literally knocking on his car window to direct him away from the blinding blizzard at the top of a steep hill. I have been saved from a head-on collision on a slippery road on dark night made treacherous by a sudden downpour. While we had both been led to safety by angels, others have found angels their unexpected companions in a time of deep sorrow and grief.

The evil that has corrupted God’s creation involves a battle in heaven and on earth. In our first reading, we learn that the battles against sin and evil that are greatest on earth are taken up by God’s heavenly army. I wonder that they watch over us, pray for us, and come to us, and we may hardly give them a thought. So from today let us spare a thought and pray for God’s heavenly angels that they remain obedient to God and true to His Word, and therefore be all the stronger and more effective.

Perhaps that disbelief that some have about angels stems for their struggle to believe something that seems too good to be true. In a while we shall sing our offertory hymn ‘Ye Holy Angels Bright who wait at God’s right hand’. May I encourage you to consider the words and sing them as a prayer and thanksgiving.


The Sermon at Choral Evensong 26th September 2021

We are called this evening to join our voices with voices ever praising round the throne of God. We join the great multitude of heavenly hosts singing: Holy Holy Holy Lord. We have recounted in choral singing the ‘Magnificat’ when the Angel Gabriel delivered his message to Mary, to call upon her to be the Mother of Jesus. We have recounted also the satisfaction of Simeon and Anna at the end of their earthly lives, meeting the Messiah their Lord, God’s anointed – His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. The Nunc Dimittis recalls their departing in peace.

We have heard a reading from the final book of the Bible, God’s Revelation to the Apostle John. Of God’s given vision, John recorded:

“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 singing with full voice…”

This evening we are in a liminal space, a space sharing earth and heaven, where the heavenly hosts and we worship together in the powerful mystery of holiness.

In a moment we shall give space for silence. In the past week, in recent earthly days, dear loved ones, friends, special people in our lives, have passed from our presence on earth. We are saddened, even shocked.

So in our silence, we ask that God, who is Lord of Heaven and Earth, comfort us with insight into His mystery of the hope of eternity beyond our earthly imagination. In our silence, may God’s mercy touch us so that the songs of praise may be in our hearts and on our lips forever.


Written by Rev'd Canon Eileen Harrop

Reverend Canon Eileen is the incumbent for St Mary's, Gainford and St Andrew's, Winston.

October 5, 2021

Join Us at services in our churches every sunday

10:45am at St Mary’s Church, Gainford

9:30am at St Andrew’s church, winston


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