Greetings from Eileen
On Tuesday I celebrated the first day of Chinese New Year, which extends for 15 days.
天降福星臨家宅 ; 主賜恩典到門庭
May Heaven’s Blessings Be upon Your Home;
and may the Lord’s Grace Arrive At Your Front Door
Since the pandemic, I have administered Communion using long chopsticks that were designed for use in the festive celebration meal – Lo Hei – when families and friends share blessings around one plate. ‘Lo’ can be translated ‘to mix together and stir up’; and ‘Hei’ “raise up the breath of life’. We come together laying aside animosity and differences. Prayers of blessings at the meal are illustrated these images.
Marks the anniversary of the reigning monarch taking the throne, which in the case of Her Majesty the Queen is the 6th February 1952. It is particularly fitting to celebrate this anniversary in 2022 as it marks the beginning of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As The Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and also the head of state, we pray frequently for her work and for her needs. This Sunday, we acknowledge Her Majesty’s accession and faithful service with readings, collects and prayers specially provided for use at our services.
takes place on Thursday 10th February 2022, St Mary’s, Gainford: Bible Study 5.30-6.45pm. From 6.30pm to 8.00pm, there will be games, craft, songs and food for 8-12 year-olds, and Creation Club for 12-16 year-olds also runs from 6.30pm to 8.00pm. New members and returning members all welcome!
Rev’d Dr Alastair Prince leads Holy Communion at the 9.30am service at St Andrew’s Winston.
Churchwardens lead the lay Service of the Word at 10.45am, St Mary’s Gainford this Sunday 6th February 2022 at 9.30am and 10.45am respectively.
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
• Sunday 13th February 2020
- St Mary’s, Gainford welcomes back Rev’d Canon Dr Alan Bartlett, Ministry Development Adviser to lead the 10.45am Communion Service
- St Andrew’s, Winston welcomes Rev’d Dr Alastair Prince, Vocations Strategy Development Adviser, who continues his leading of the 9.30am Communion Service for another Sunday.
• Non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral Installation Service: The cathedral has written to invite members of our parishes to this service on Sunday 6th March – the cathedral’s 3.30pm Choral Evensong. If you would like to come, please contact Tom (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org), who is arranging minibus transport (£2 per person). The service is live streamed for those who are unable to attend but able to access Facebook.
• Durham Diocese together with the other 2 northernmost dioceses (Newcastle and Carlisle) of York Province has invited parishes to participate in the ‘Small Faithful Rural’ Residential Conference at The Sill Retreat Centre, near Hadrian’s Wall, on the 10th and 11th of June: https://www.smallfaithfulrural.org/
The cost for 2 days overnight-stay with full board, speakers, and all resources is £100 per participant. This is an excellent opportunity for us, following our parishes’ Vision Day, to draw on the experience of others with support of our diocese to develop our ministry and mission now and in the years to come. Tom Deakin, coordinating our participation, is in conversation with our PCC treasurers for a subsidy arrangement. Please contact Tom email@example.com for more information and to sign up.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Our churches continue to be open daily for private prayer.
Please read the separate Covid page outlining the modified approach for each church for details.
Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information
Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information
The Collect for the Accession Service
Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness,
bless our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth,
and all who are in authority under her;
that they may order all things in wisdom and equity, righteousness and peace,
to the honour and glory of your name
and the good of your Church and people;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace:
give us grace seriously to lay to heart
the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions;
take away our hatred and prejudice
and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord,
that, as there is but one body, one Spirit and one hope of our calling,
one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of us all,
so may we henceforth be all of one heart and of one soul,
united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity,
and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The First Reading
Old Testament Reading
Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
‘to you, o people, i call,
and my cry is to all that live.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
Hear, for i will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to one who understands
and right to those who find knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold;
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
I, wisdom, live with prudence,
and i attain knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech i hate.
I have good advice and sound wisdom;
I have insight, i have strength.
By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
by me rulers rule,
and nobles, all who govern rightly.
New Testament Reading
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from god, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by god. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what god has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is god’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of god to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are god’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due.
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘you shall not commit adultery; you shall not murder; you shall not steal; you shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 but he said to them, “the kings of the gentiles lord it over them; And those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 but not so with you; Rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like One who serves. 27 for who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who Serves? Is it not the one at the table? But i am among you as one who serves. 28 “you are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29 and I confer on you, just as My father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my Table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
From United Service at Bearpark on The 3rd Sunday of Epiphany 23rd January 2022
Preacher: Rev’d Canon Dr Alan Bartlett – “What is the Church for?”
I am not a great fish eater. To be honest I don’t like fish. If there is 1 bone in a large cod, it will get stuck in my tongue! This is a bit hard on my Helen who does like fish. But she is patient and we muddle through. What I have not yet done, is divorce her because she likes fish and I don’t…
As Christians, we are good at divorcing each other because one of us likes fish – or certain sorts of music, or liturgy, or kit – and one of us doesn’t…
The question I am asking myself this morning is “what is the Church for?” Because I wonder if we focus on that question, whether it might help us to face up to what really separates us.
As I am sure I have shared before, I was baptised as a Christian in a Methodist Chapel – Dun Laoghaire Methodist Chapel to be precise, in Ireland. That was where my Father and Mother worshipped. And when I was being ordained as an Anglican deacon, and I had to prove that I had been baptised, I had to write to the minister who sent me a copy of my baptism certificate. Just so you know, the CofE was quite happy with an Irish Methodist baptism.
And when I was on the staff of Cranmer Hall, here in Durham I taught at least 12 generations of Methodist student ministers, as well as Anglican and Roman Catholic ordinands. I trained alongside Methodists and Roman Catholics. But I am a committed, indeed a passionate Anglican. But is that about as important as not liking fish??
Why does all this church stuff happen and does it matter?
I was so grateful to be able to share in the Covenant Service in Chapel a couple of weeks ago. I first met this service when I was training and for me now it is the best way to begin a new year, by renewing my covenant with God.
But I had a mooch around Chapel after the service, and I read the little poster about the history of the Methodist chapels in Bearpark. You will know better than I, the history of this. That within 10 years of the foundation of this village in the late 1870s, there were 3 Methodist congregations meeting in people’s homes and soon 3 chapels: Wesleyan, Free and Primitive. And that was apart from St Edmund’s which unusually for a Durham pit village, had a CofE church early in its history. 4 Christian buildings in one village… Why?
Because in the 18th Century when the Wesleys started the Methodist movement, what began as a renewal movement in the CofE, soon developed a life of its own. And the bishops did not like people preaching in the streets and fields. And for many miners, whose mines were owned by rich landowners, including the CofE, the only way to be free, at least on Sundays, was to be in their own chapels. I get that. That is more serious than whether you like fish or not…
And in the 19th Century, Methodism itself split. Between the Wesleyans who had quite a liturgical way of doing their services and the Prims who were much more free and easy, or between the Wesleyans and the Free Methodists about how the Connection was to be governed. And each of these different denominations had its own character. Wesleyans were more proper. Frees were more liberal. Prims were the poorest.
People tell me that long long after Methodist reunion in 1932, people would still tell you whether they were Prims or Frees or Wesleyans. It is not for me as Anglican to comment about this history but I was struck by something I read in the history of Bearpark Pit; that the checkweighmen who weighed and checked how much coal each team of miners had dug, were normally active Methodists. Because they were trusted to be entirely honest. And that mattered when the money in the pay packet and the food on the table depended on whether your coal was weighed and valued fairly.
I am a passionate Anglican. I love the liturgy of the Church of England, its breadth, its feel; even that it is led by Bishops. But is that just the same as me liking or not liking fish?
What is the Church for?
What did Jesus say?
Well the first thing you should be saying back to me is that Jesus did not say a lot about how to set up a church. Nothing about bishops really. Not a lot about what we should wear in church or sing or… But quite a lot about how the community of his disciples should live.
And this is what he said in one of his first sermons about what he thought he was about, and so what his disciples should be about…
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’
Good news to the poor. Freedom for prisoners. Sight for the blind. Freedom for the oppressed. Proclaiming God’s love.
That is what Jesus thinks we are here for.
But what do we think we are here for?
Or let me put that another way, where do we spend our time and money as Christian communities? What does that show about our priorities?
I loved being a vicar. I still love being a parish priest. But I have to tell you that sometimes, often, I worried that what I was doing, running a group of local churches, involved me in lots of committees, lots of money and building worries, too much time trying to stop Christians arguing with each other, and not enough of Jesus’ work of the Kingdom.
I don’t know what God is doing with the Church at the moment. I do know it is at best uncomfortable and at worst really painful as we experience cutbacks and changes and even closures. I wonder if God is giving us a bit of a shake and saying: “Do you remember what you are here for?” Loving. Feeding. Setting free.
Don’t’ get me wrong. I have colleagues who spend all their time grumbling about church buildings. We should get rid of them… NO. As I think I said here a few weeks ago, we have two holy places in this village, where God has covenanted, promised, to meet with us – chapel and church. They are the most precious buildings in our village – along with the school. I believe in local church communities and their buildings. That’s why I do what I do.
BUT I do think God is asking us as Church about our priorities and our energy. “Have you forgotten what you are really here for? Loving. Feeding. Setting free.” “Enough arguing about whether you like this or that.”
The next few years are not I think going to be easy for us Christians, as supporters of God’s work through church and chapel. But I AM sure that if we listen to Jesus and live out his priorities, that God will honour that and bless us and our village.