Thanks to the few who have been in contact,  please keep in touch about the magazine by sending an email to . 

Thank you..   Pauline and Bob editors.....


May Magazine

 The Laburnum tree in the church yard in its full glory,  thanks Gillian for the photo

This is our second attempt at putting the magazine onto St Mary's website.  We have included the crossword this time, and we are hoping you can fathom out how to click on the grid and print it off,  everyone's computer has different ways of doing this!!    If you want us to judge your answers please send them to the following email address . Likewise if you have any material for inclusion in the June issue, or comments, please use the same email address..

Pauline & Bob - co editors..



From The Vicar

Dear Friends,


The news is dominated by the Coronavirus.  It runs from government policies through the situation with the NHS to the experience of individuals.   Of that last group, amidst many very moving stories, I found one of special significance.


On Good Friday morning Hylton Murray-Philipson, who had recovered from Covid 19, related his experience in the intensive care at Leicester Royal Infirmary to Radio 4. He said: “One of the very powerful images I had was the image of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee and that just came to me and I like to think that it was Jesus Christ coming to me and helping me in my hour of need.” Even before he had finished his sentence, the presenter, Nick Robinson, cut him off and imposed his own interpretation, “partly because of the drugs you have to be on a ventilator machine which plays tricks with your mind, doesn’t it, really?”


Mr. Murray-Philipson gave a wonderful testimony to a merciful God coming to aid him when he needed aid the most. What a shame that a BBC man causally dismissed this precious personal experience. 


In the twenty-first century, many people will not believe anything that cannot be verified by the methods of natural science, and particularly not anything about religious experience.  I wonder how Mr Robinson would try to prove the man’s experience was not consistent with science.


Most of us do not have religious experience of this dramatic sort. We, nevertheless, are able to experience God in the ordinary course of our daily lives. I firmly believe what sustains our faith most powerfully is the personal experience of God.  Without it, God would remain exterior to our lives, a very important fact, no doubt, but a more distant one.


Last Sunday I got out of bed at 6.30am, as I have for the last twenty years, and put on my clerical shirt and collar.  But I wasn’t able to conduct a service with you as the congregation at St. Mary’s. Instead I read Morning Prayers at the Vicarage.  My teenage niece asked why I was wearing ‘your uniform’, though not in church. I suppose the answer is that they are an external sign of the inner experience involved in our rituals.

To celebrate and to receive Holy Communion is not a job or just a habit, rather are important ways of experiencing God.  In receiving the bread and wine, I am conscious of being incorporated into the Kingdom of Heaven, and of becoming a child of God. Later last Sunday, because the Resurrection of Christ is so important to us, I celebrated the Holy Communion in church, taking the consecrated bread and wine on behalf of the parish.


I stood at the altar, facing our empty church. I did not then have the intense experience of Hylton Murray-Philipson. What I did have was a powerful sense of the Grace of God with us, entering our lives wherever we are.  In this unprecedented time, Jesus, who came to aid Mr Murray-Philipson, walks with us too. He is our stay and strength.








21st May - Ascension Day: 40 Days with the Risen Christ

O God, we give you thanks that your Son Jesus Christ, who has shared our earthly life, has now ascended to prepare our heavenly life.  Grant that, through coming to know Him by faith on earth, we may come to know Him by sight in heaven.

40 days after Easter comes Ascension Day. These are the 40 days during which the Risen Christ appeared again and again to His disciples, following His death and resurrection. (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; and John 20.)

The Gospels give us little of Christ’s teachings and deeds during those 40 days. Jesus was seen by numerous of His disciples: on the road to Emmaus, by the Sea of Galilee, in houses, etc. He strengthened and encouraged His disciples, and at last opened their eyes to all that the Scriptures had promised about the Messiah. Jesus also told them that as the Father had sent Him, He was now going to send them - to all corners of the earth, as His witnesses.

Surely the most tender, moving ‘farewell’ in history took place on Ascension Day. Luke records the story with great poignancy: ‘When Jesus had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up His hands - and blessed them.’ 

As Christmas began the story of Jesus’ life on earth, so Ascension Day completes it, with His return to His Father in heaven. Jesus’ last act on earth was to bless His disciples. He and they had a bond as close as could be: they had just lived through three tumultuous years of public ministry and miracles – persecution and death – and resurrection!  Just as we part from our nearest and dearest by still looking at them with love and memories in our eyes, so exactly did Jesus: ‘While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.’ (Luke 24:50-1) He was not forsaking them, but merely going on ahead to a kingdom which would also be theirs one day: ‘I am ascending to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God...’  (John 20:17)

The disciples were surely the most favoured folk in history. Imagine being one of the last few people on earth to be face to face with Jesus and have Him look on you with love. No wonder then that Luke goes on: ‘they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.’    (Luke 24:52,53)

No wonder they praised God! They knew they would see Jesus again one day!  ‘I am going to prepare a place for you... I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.’ (John 14:2,3) In the meantime, Jesus had work for them to do: to take the Gospel to every nation on earth.

‘From Parish Pump’



31st May - Pentecost in Jerusalem

We beseech you, O Lord, to ignite our souls with love, faith and hope by the fire of your Holy Spirit.  And may the wind of your Spirit so inspire our minds, that we may proclaim your gospel to others in words which they can understand.

On that long ago first morning of Pentecost, Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of visitors, for it was one of the most popular feast-days in the Jewish calendar – the Feast of First fruits, looking forward to the wheat harvest.

In one small room of that great city, a small group of people who had followed Jesus were praying.  There was nothing else for them to do: Jesus had died, He had risen, and He had ascended, promising to send them ‘a Comforter’. They were left alone, to wait at Jerusalem. And so they waited – on Him, and for Him. They were not disappointed, for that morning the Holy Spirit fell upon that small room, and transformed those believers into the Church, Christ’s body here on earth. Pentecost was not the first time that the Holy Spirit came to the world – throughout the Old Testament there are stories telling of how God had guided people and given them strength. But now His Spirit would use a new instrument: not just isolated prophets, but the Church, His body on earth.

Acts opens with the preaching of the gospel in Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish nation. Within 30 years the Gospel had spread throughout the northern Mediterranean:  Syria, Turkey, Greece, Malta... to the very heart of the Roman Empire:  Rome. The Church was on the move – God was on the move! He was calling people from every nation to repent, turn to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins, and to follow Him.

‘From Parish Pump’



RANDOM PONDERINGS  by a Recognised Parish Assistant


'By the rivers of Babylon – there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps...How could we sing the Lord's song?' (Psalm 137: 1-2, 4).


The other day, I was trimming back willow branches in our shrubbery (well, it was a fine day, and there was nowhere else to go), and as I laid the prunings down they seemed to speak of a sense of sadness and separation. For a moment I couldn't think why – and then I remembered this psalm. The Israelites in exile, cut off from their beloved Temple, were in mourning beneath the willow trees where they had hung their harps. Their glad songs of praise now stuck in their throats because they were no longer able to worship in the sanctuary they loved.


We too may feel a sense of exile. Many of us are confined to our homes, seeing almost no-one; all of us are restricted in what we can do. St Mary's stands empty and silent, awaiting our return, and we don't know when that will be – just as the Israelites did not know when they would be able to go back to the Temple. The familiar ceremonies in which we feel the presence of God are no longer possible. Maybe we are tempted to feel, like the Israelites, that we are cut off not only from our place of worship but from God himself.


But, like us, the Israelites had godly leadership, reminding them continually that even in Babylon, God was still God, and he would never leave them, and they could, indeed, still praise him. In the same way, Norma our vicar has kept leading us in prayer and worship through her regular posts and emails, and Christian leaders have ensured that Christian teaching and praise are regularly broadcast throughout the nation. St Mary's and the other churches may be closed, but the true Church is us – the people of God, wherever we are – 'key workers', parents home schooling children or caring for relatives, and volunteers in the community. And the 'shielded' elderly person, who in their own isolation bows their head to pray for those they love.


In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, 'I am standing at the door, knocking: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.' We don't need to go anywhere to find him, not even a church. He comes to us, to have fellowship with us and to bless us.


Perhaps, especially if we are alone, we might – as an act of worship and faith – imagine Jesus coming into our homes. Maybe even open a door for him, and set a place at the table! For even if we can only dimly picture him by faith, we have his certain promise.


He is with us always.                                                                                                  

Hilary Longstaff 







Following the tentative proposal in last month’s magazine about Strawberry Teas in June, this has now been cancelled.


Being philosophical about it we are in the same league as Wimbledon, The Grand National, The Chelsea Flower Show and many other high status and local events.

                                                                                                                                      Gillian Dorman-Smith   






A little bird whispered in our ear last month that Sarah (She is on the left, we are sure the other lady will not want to be identified!!) will be celebrating her 60th birthday on 11th May (albeit probably behind closed doors and without a birthday cake or a balloon !!).


Although we won’t be able to congratulate her “in person” we wish her a Very Happy Birthday and hope that she can celebrate at a later date with her family.  


Happy Birthday Sarah from all your friends at St Mary’s


A message from Gillian, one of our evensong congregation.

I am trying to raise some money for Teesside Hospice by taking part in the 2.6 Challenge. I don't really have many talents but I do like all things crafty so I have made 26 bookmarks, hand painted and embroidered. I am hoping to sell them for £3 each. If anyone wants to buy one (obviously larger donations would be accepted) they can send a contribution via the link below, and if they let me know via as to where I can send it, I will send them a bookmark.

Thank you for your help.



Crosswords Clues (answers next month)


1              ‘Therefore let us — passing judgment’ (Romans 14:13) (4)

3              ‘I — — these persons here present’ (Marriage service) (4,4)

9              According to a prearranged timetable (Numbers 28:3) (7)

10           Group of eight (5)

11           The cell into which the Philippian jailer put Paul and Silas (Acts 16:24) (5)

12           — Taylor, pioneer missionary to China (6)

14           Otherwise known as the Eucharist, (4,9)

17           ‘I — will not be disqualified for the prize’ (1 Corinthians 9:27) (6)

19           Attend to (3,2)

22           Approximately (Acts 4:4) (5)

23           Tea rite (anag.) (7)

24           Rule of sovereign (8)

25           Test (anag.) (4)



1              The name of the street where Judas lived in Damascus (Acts 9:11) (8)

2              ‘The playing of the merry — , sweet singing in the choir’ (5)

4              ‘We have been saying that — — was credited to him as righteous’ (Romans 4:9) (8,5)

5              Dr Martyn — Jones, famous for his ministry at Westminster Chapel (5)

6              Port at which Paul landed on his way to Rome (Acts 28:13) (7)

7              Observe               (Ruth 3:4) (4)

8              Minister of religion (6)

13           ‘I am — of this man’s blood. ’ (Matthew 27:24) (8)

15           ‘That he — — his life for his friends’ (John 15:13) (3,4)

16           Archbishop who calculated that the world began in 4004BC (6)

18           ‘No one can — the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit’ (John 3:5) (5)

20           Establish by law (5)

21           Product of Gilead noted for its healing properties (Jeremiah 46:11) (4)

Send your answers with your name to



After three successful lunches, Lent Lunch 2020 came to an abrupt end on March 11th. As we all now know life took an unexpected turn when the Corona Virus began to affect all our lives both nationally and locally. The speed of the outbreak took everyone by surprise and although there were discussions around the Church Hall when we held the third lunch none of us expected it to be the last. Once the PCC took the decision not to hold the final two it was then a question of cascading the information to as many people as we could that there were to be no more lent lunches. We began to realise that we had such a wide diversity of people from other communities other than our own family of St Mary’s coming to the lunches. It was quite humbling that we are reaching out to so many.   Melanoma Me, Boro Angels, Blood Run and St Mary’s Church are the chosen charities this year. Having totalled the amount received in takings and sponsorship we found that £1,188.60 has been raised –This is an amazing amount and is a reflection of the generosity of everyone involved.    


Having thought and prayed we have decided that the lunches are not over- just postponed. Hopefully life will have returned to some sort of normality by the end of the summer so we propose to hold the remaining two lunches in late September/October (dates to be finalised) with the same well tried formula of soup cheese, buns and tea/coffee but rebranded as Harvest Lunches. We hope that it will be a time to give thanks that the current outbreak is nearing an end and a chance to talk about our own experiences in what is turning out to be a long and worrying summer.

        Jill & Tony





So how are we all coping after all these weeks confined to barracks… under house arrest…. incarcerated…. or whatever you care to call it! ??

Does anyone even know what day it is?  Thisday, Thatday, Theotherday. Someday, Yesterday, Whatdayisit and Anyday!  The only day I know for certain is Thursday when we all surface to stand on the doorstep to show our appreciation for the wonderful NHS… doctors, nurses, carers, ambulance crew, et al…. and to peer at the neighbours (at a social distance of course..) who we previously hadn’t spoken to for months, to see if they’ve changed their jogging bottoms from last week.  It’s amazing how many children emerge in their colourful pj’s…Peppa Pig and Spiderman followed closely by the Little Mermaid and Cinderella…. And sometimes with Mums or Dads following suit… Cruella De Ville and Scooby Doo… anything to keep the kids’ spirits up I suppose, but who’d have guessed Mr Whatsisname  down the road at No 5 was a Pudsey Bear fan!!   And Thursday is the day when a very kind chap drops off two 4 litre cartons of milk on his way to check over the church building, (now who could that be???) and then goes on to talk at great length about nothing in particular (at a social distance of course!).  He's not getting out much either!

Of course, the only real change of note is the unruly hair styles we all seem to have acquired… apart from those with beard trimmers of course - anyone for an all over No 2?? …     Has anyone else resorted to squinting in the mirror and tentatively snipping away at the fringe with the kitchen scissors !!??  Come on, own up!  If not, we could all end up looking like a cross between Chewbacca and the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz, and that’s just the women…. The men will be sporting pony tails!   Can’t wait to get back to church to have a giggle!

And who has got the old Bero book out to turn what we have in our kitchen cupboards into a culinary delight??   How many teaspoons of baking powder to plain flour when we’ve run out of self raising?? Haven’t quite got the courage to pulverise a bag of porridge oats to use as a replacement for flour though..   How many have resorted to making soup out of the vegetables hiding at the bottom of the fridge and adding an extra stock cube to make it go further???  And who knew there was a tin of peaches (dated December 2018) hiding at the back of the cupboard??  They didn’t last long…and were perfectly edible…

I think every cupboard and drawer in the house has been sorted… at least twice, and the socks now stand to attention every time the drawer is opened…   Clothes which have never seen the light of day for a year have been dragged out from the back of the wardrobe and given an airing, and put back again in the hope that they’ll fit again someday.  Fat chance….  I think we need to practice social distancing from the fridge!!

And what about the experience of sitting for hours on end in front of a computer screen waiting in a queue of 53,481 to try and catch a slot for an online supermarket delivery within the next 6 months !!  The relief of reading “only 25 more minutes to go”… I managed my first ever online shop to be delivered on 1st April… and was praying it wasn’t just an April Fool joke!   But isn’t it exciting waiting for its arrival.. it’s like Christmas Eve waiting for Santa and wondering what you’re going to get!  And then, when it arrives, the joy of having fresh fruit and vegetables again!!!   Although, ordering 4 leeks didn’t exactly turn out right for me…. I ended up with 4 bags… each containing 4 leeks…  I’ve now got a freezer full of leek and potato soup!!  When do Advent lunches start !!??   Be careful if you agree to taking a substitute if something is out of stock though…..  No dried yeast?  Oh we’ll just send powdered glycerine instead!!!  Not sure how bread would turn out using that!   My second order arrived the other day and they got it wrong again… (or maybe I did…)  I now have 4 bags of potatoes!!!   Sounds like it could be chips with everything for the next month!!  Anyone want to order a takeaway bag of chips – oven baked of course!!! Buyer collects…. At a social distance of course! 

I did have a lovely surprise a few days ago though….  A box was left in my porch, delivered by “who knows?”…   it contained, amongst other things, a bag each of plain and self raising flour (yay!!) a box of porridge oats (for when the flour runs out)  4 Crunchie bars (yay!)….  a small bottle of Prosecco (for me!!)…  a Green Tea Scented Foot Detox pack??? (didn’t realise my feet were intoxicated!!)  and a Despicable Me soap on a rope!!!   I guessed the culprits when I found 2 very humorous notes at the bottom of the box (one written entirely in Spanish!!) telling me to go and wash my hands and sing Happy Birthday twice after I’ve touched them….   Grandchildren are wonderful aren’t they???

We’ve been very lucky in being able to see the family – isn’t technology wonderful when it works? ….  and with my lot being fun loving (“mad”) we have been entertained to Bingo nights – with them all taking part in fancy dress!!!   My son in law took on the role of a broad Yorkshire “caller” (he’s a Southerner!) and he looked like a cross between Kevin Keegan (remember his curly perm?) and a member of the Jackson Five!!   Another night they set up a disco in the garden, alongside all their outdoor gym equipment…. again, the son in law was the DJ playing requests and they all entertained us with their dance routines – again in fancy dress!   I did say they were mad didn’t I?  Britain’s Got Talent has nothing on my lot!

I’m also keeping busy putting the Daily Prayer and Service sheets etc on the church Facebook page… yes, they go on there as well as the website.   Even if you don’t “do” Facebook, you can still look at it… All you have to do is Google - St Mary’s Church, West Acklam  Facebook…. or at the bottom of any page of this website click on the Facebook link.  Just cancel the message that keeps appearing asking you to join Facebook..

All in all, we’re managing quite well….although I’m expecting a rather large water bill when this is all over… never washed my hands as much for so long - but remember, no storm lasts forever… Hold on, have faith, every storm is temporary, it will pass, and we’re never alone..   God is with us always, and we have each other.

Stay safe everyone…  Oh and if you receive an email entitled ‘KNOCK KNOCK’    Don’t open it… it’s the Jehovah Witnesses working from home.


If anyone else (please) would like to offer up their experiences whilst in lockdown, please email them to me at      While we have the magazine on line we are not confined to the number of pages we can have.  



Remember – Not everything is cancelled….


Sunshine isn’t cancelled

Spring isn’t cancelled

Love isn’t cancelled

Relationships aren’t cancelled

Reading isn’t cancelled

Naps aren’t cancelled

Devotion isn’t cancelled

Music isn’t cancelled

Dancing isn’t cancelled

Imagination isn’t cancelled

Kindness isn’t cancelled

Conversations aren’t cancelled

Hope isn’t cancelled







Rearrange these words to form the names of 12 rivers to be found in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. All of these consist of one word only.


1.         WE TREND


2.         NUE SLAGS


3.         SEWN BACK


4.         TOCQUE


5.         RESENK


6.         CRADLE


7.         WE SKI


8.         VLEEN


9.         BRIBEL


10.        LAWES


11.        DEWET


12.        SIR FREAK




Winners:    Bill Davison    Marilyn Starford



1.         WILLIAM WORDSWORTH      2.   JOHN BUNYAN                   3.    CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE


4.         JANE AUSTEN                        5.   SAMUEL JOHNSON            6.    JOHN MILTON


7.         EMILY BRONTE                      8.   WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE   9.    GEORGE ELIOT


10.        JONATHAN SWIFT                11.   CHARLES DICKENS         12.    ALEXANDER POPE


Answers can be emailed to




All in the month of MAY       It was:


200 years ago, on 11th May 1820 that the British Royal Navy sloop HMS Beagle was launched. This was the ship that took the naturalist Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage around the world (1831-36).


Also 200 years ago: on 12th May 1820 that Florence Nightingale was born. This Italian-born British social reformer and statistician saved thousands of lives and became the founder of modern nursing.


175 years ago: on 12th May 1845 that Gabriel Faure, the French composer was born. 


125 years ago: on 20th May 1895 that R J Mitchell was born. This British aeronautical engineer designed the iconic Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane as well as several racing seaplanes.


100 years ago: on 17th May 1920 that the Dutch national airline KLM’s first flight took place, from London to Amsterdam. Scheduled services began in 1921.


90 years ago, on 24th May 1930 that British aviator Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.


80 years ago, on 2nd May 1940 that the 1940 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, were cancelled, due to World War II.


80 years ago, 1940:  WORLD WAR II


  • 10th May:  Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned after losing the support of many Conservatives in the House of Commons. Succeeded by Winston Churchill.


  • 10th-28th May: It what was called Case Yellow, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.


  • 10th May: Germany dropped its first bombs on England, at Chilham and Petham in Kent.


  • 13th May: Winston Churchill gave his first speech in the House of Commons, saying: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”


  • 14th May:  The Home Guard was established, nicknamed Dad’s Army as it was comprised of volunteers who were ineligible for military service, usually because of their age.


  • 26th May-4th June: The Battle of Dunkirk. Allied forces launched a massive evacuation of troops from Dunkirk, France, across the English Channel to England after they were cut off by approaching German forces. Nearly 340,000 soldiers were rescued in a hastily assembled fleet of 800 boats.


75 years ago, 1945: WORLD WAR II


  • 2nd May: The Battle of Berlin ended. Allied victory which led to the surrender of all German forces by 8th/9th May, and the end of the war in Europe.


  • 8th May: VE Day (Victory in Europe) – celebrated as a public holiday.


  • 28th May: British-born Nazi propaganda broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw (William Joyce) was captured by the British Army and taken to Britain to face trial. (He was convicted of treason and sentenced to death on 19th September and hanged on 3rd January 1946.)


70 years ago, on 13th May 1950 that the first Formula One World Championship race was held, at Silverstone in England. (This race is also known as the 1950 British Grand Prix.)


60 years ago, on 23rd May 1960 that Israel announced that Nazi Adolf Eichmann had been captured in Argentina. He was responsible for organising the mass extermination of Jews in WWII. He was tried, sentenced to death and executed in June 1962.


50 years ago, on 8th May 1970 that the Beatles released their final album, Let it Be.


Also 50 years ago, on 22nd May 1970 that the song ‘In the Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry was released. By June it had reached Number One on dozens of record charts around the world.


40 years ago, on 5th May 1980 that Operation Nimrod took place, when the British SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in London after a six-day siege.


30 years ago, on 22nd May 1990 that Max Wall, British music hall, stage, film and TV comedian, and actor died.  Acclaimed for his serious roles as well as his comic talents.


20 years ago, on 3rd May 2000 that Ken Livingstone was elected as the first Mayor of London.


Also 20 years ago, on 12th May 2000 that the Tate Modern art gallery was opened in London.


10 years ago, on 6th May 2010 that the British General Election ended in a hung parliament. A coalition government was formed by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, with Conservative Party Leader David Cameron as Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.





VE Day – the end of World War II in Europe


VE Day (Victory in Europe) – was celebrated 75 years ago this month, on 8th May 1945, marking the end of World War II in Europe. It was marked with a public holiday.


The previous day the formal act of military surrender had been signed by Germany, and celebrations broke out when the news was released. Big crowds gathered in London, impromptu parties were held throughout the country, and people danced and sang in the streets. King George VI and his family appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and Churchill made a speech to huge applause. The two princesses Elizabeth and Margaret mingled with the crowds outside.


Many went into churches to give thanks – and to pray for those still involved in the war in the Far East, because the real end of the war, Victory over Japan, would not happen until 15th August. At St Paul’s Cathedral there were ten consecutive services giving thanks for peace, each attended by thousands of people.


The celebrations masked the fact that so many had lost family and friends, as well as possessions and homes. But for the moment normal social conventions broke down, strangers embraced, and love was in the air.



May brings Christian Aid Week…. which is difficult this year!

Updated guidance for Christian Aid Week (10 – 16 May)

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, the CEO of Christian Aid, has written to all of those involved in helping with Christian Aid Week this month:

“Many of you will have been planning house-to-house collections and events. Under the current circumstances, sadly, house-to-house collections and delivery-only collections should not go ahead. In particular, along with many churches, events such as Big Brekkies or Lent lunches, where food is shared, cannot go ahead.

“We are working on alternative plans that will allow people to take part in Christian Aid Week in different, creative ways – by post, by text and online that strengthen our communities during this challenging time. Christian Aid Week is our single-most important fundraiser, so we would welcome your ideas on how we can creatively show love for our neighbours at home and abroad, as a community.

As for the work of Christian Aid around the world, “Christian Aid and our partners already have experience of limiting the spread of infection during the Ebola crisis, and we will build on this experience. People in poorer countries are already living with reduced health resilience because of extreme poverty, or in overcrowded humanitarian camps. They also do not have good healthcare infrastructures. We will be working on the ground to help prepare communities to limit the impact of Covid-19.

Please see the message on the home age with links on how to give..

More at:



Bless you?


People used to say ‘bless you’ if you sneezed. Nowadays they might say something ruder! We live in troubled times.


Some say that the expression started in Rome, when plague broke out. Sneezing was one of the plague’s main symptoms, and Pope Gregory I suggested that a tiny prayer in the form of saying, “God bless you” after a sneeze would protect the person from death.


Sadly, that does not always work, but we can still remind ourselves of Psalm 91: 4-6


He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

Psalm 91: 4-6



Leave your dandelions alone


When mowing your lawn, avoid cutting your dandelions.  That is the advice of the president of the British Ecological Society, Prof Jane Memmott. It will help to save the bees.


She explains: “Dandelions are a fantastic source of pollen and nectar for the early pollinators in particular. If they were rare, people would be fighting over them, but because they’re common, people pull them out and spray them with all sorts of horrible things when they should just let them flower. If you leave the lawn to three or four inches, then dandelions, clover and daisies can flower and then you end with something like a tapestry, and it’s much nicer to sit there and watch the insects buzzing about.”


Prof Memmott encourages everyone to get a bee hotel for their garden. “There’s nothing nicer than being sat in a chair with a glass of wine and watching the bees going in and out of your own personal little beehive. Even just a potted plant on a doorstep will provide lunch for a bee or a fly or a butterfly.”







The Ven John Barton muses on our present isolation…


Life in quarantine


Full marks to Jamie Oliver for his Channel 4 series, ‘Keep Cooking and Carry On’.  He showed us how to make tasty meals with basic ingredients and a minimum of fuss. 


The pandemic prompted other encouraging responses. One mother in the ‘at risk’ category said her adult children thought she was immortal until now. Now they ring her every day to see how she’s getting on. An elderly clergyman had offers to shop from two new neighbours whom he hardly knew. The whole nation stopped taking the National Health Service for granted and started showing gratitude. Telephone, television, the internet and email prevented many from going stir-crazy. Some even tried the cryptic crossword, though newcomers should be warned it takes years to learn its secrets!


The isolation was tough for many. Isolated families had to get used to each other’s company and foibles for long periods, away from the park or beach. Couples were parted from each other by distance or illness. Those living alone were cut off from visitors and communal activities. Churchgoers missed Holy Communion at Easter for the first time. That should help us identify with millions of Christians across the world who have to pray in secret because their neighbours would persecute them if they did so publicly.


Alone-ness, rather than loneliness, can be productive. Albert Einstein valued time alone, when he could “go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head.” Isaac Newton’s greatest discoveries began when he escaped the effects of the bubonic plague, by returning home to the family farm in Lincolnshire. He had time to observe what was going on around him and, yes, that did include watching the famous apple fall.


When the bubonic plague was at its peak, the Reformer Martin Luther wrote: “I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others.”




Reflected Faith:   The Gathered Church


Doesn’t the simple pleasure of going to church and exchanging the peace at Sunday worship seem long ago now? These days, we are not even allowed into our churches!


But we can take comfort when we think back to the Apostles who were commissioned to build God’s Church. After the first Pentecost, what did they do?  They didn’t rush out and build church buildings. No! Rather the people gathered together, in their own homes.


Clearly, we can’t physically ‘gather’ just now, but we have the technology to ‘gather’ together, both in real time and at a later time. And it is important to do so. There is something powerful when we pray together rather than alone. Try phoning a friend with the same written prayer and saying it together. How does that feel?  Any different from saying it on your own?


So, THE Church, which is alive and well in you and me, will find new ways to be together.  After all, the early Christians had the added complication of being persecuted, often to death, for their faith.  And yet they persisted.


Perhaps we could each sit at our dining table at a set time, with one or two items before us, such as a small glass of wine, a lit candle, stones, and a cross. Indeed, anything that reminds us of our Risen Saviour. We could then ‘share’ this time in praying the same prayers and knowing that we are part of an eternal fellowship that is only temporarily divided.


This month: What will you use to reflect and encourage your faith?  What items naturally around your home would bring others to your mind, help you to concentrate and allow your spirit to fly with the Holy Spirit?  Who will you be connecting with to pray?



From ‘live’ in the pulpit to virtual and streaming


Not being able to go to church is causing an awful lot of people to ‘go’ to church.


It started in late March, when the Archbishop kicked off with the first ever national virtual service, recorded in the crypt chapel of Lambeth Palace. It was seen or heard by an estimated five million people. That figure included one million streaming on Facebook, and about two million tuned in to the 39 BBC local radio station broadcasts and BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship combined. The Facebook post had a further reach of two million and nearly 30 per cent of those watching online were under the age of 34.


That compares with average of 871,000 people attending services and acts of worship each week in 2018, the latest figures that are available.


And the Archbishop was not alone – for on the same morning hundreds of churches and cathedrals that also had their first try at livestreaming services.  Some attracted several thousand viewers on the stream and playback.  As a spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The Archbishops said that church would have to be reimagined. Across the country, local congregations did just that.”

The second virtual national worship service (29th March) was led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu and recorded on an iPad in the drawing room of Bishopthorpe Palace. After opening with a traditional Ugandan call to prayer, which he delivered on drums, the Archbishop turned to Ezekiel, encouraging everyone to trust God in our current situation.


In a reference to the passage in Ezekiel – which recounts the prophet’s vision of a valley of dry bones, the Archbishop told the virtual congregation: “At this present time of COVID-19 we are, as it were, set in death in exile.


“I believe the Sovereign Lord who knows it all by the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead to life eternal, the life creating power of God will bring us out of exile – out of the valley of death. Sovereign Lord we look to you to deliver us.”


See the services by searching at:  

As for the future, you can explore the full list of livestreaming taking place each week.  Just go to:



On the perils of a Scout camp


The Rectory

St James the Least of All


My dear Nephew Darren


It seems that the basics of parish ministry are no longer taught in theological colleges.  Don’t you know anything about consulting your diary in public? When you are asked if you are free on a certain date, accepted practice is to open it so that the enquirer cannot quite see. You then shake your head sadly, saying you are committed to blessing a new tea urn, or on some other vital ecclesiastical activity that day. Then you regretfully give your apologies. You do not open the thing in full view of your enquirer, so he can see the blank pages!  Really, it serves you right that you are now committed to going on Scout camp.


The last time I agreed to pay the Scouts a visit was when I found that there was a splendid restaurant only a mile away from their camp. I arrived and parked my car by the side of the river where they were all canoeing, wound down the car window and made encouraging noises for some minutes before explaining I had to find a garage for petrol.


Several hours later, after an excellent lunch, I drove to where they were now rock climbing, wound down the car window and made encouraging noises for some minutes before explaining that I had a standing committee to return to that evening. It was a splendid day.


You, however, will experience the charms of two days under canvas. Whatever site for your tent you choose, it will be the one that floods first. The early hours will undoubtedly find you wading about in water in the pitch dark, retrieving your sleeping bag and clothes – which you will then have to wear for the rest of the day. Watch out for the food, as well: all camp food contains grass and usually sheep droppings. This will make you ill, though for some reason Scouts thrive on it.


Whatever the weather and whatever activities you do each day, you will end up wet, chilled and bruised. At least your evenings will be warm, for you are bound to spend them at Casualty, with youngsters suffering from sprained ankles or dislocated shoulders. 


My only advice is to use those hours in Casualty to practise the art of opening your diary in a way that only YOU can see it.


Your loving uncle,  Eustace




Josephine Butler is the ‘saint’ for anyone who believes in social justice.  This remarkable 19th century clergyman’s wife became a renowned campaigner for women’s rights and for putting a halt to human trafficking.


Josephine was born in Northumberland in 1828, the daughter of a wealthy family of liberal politics and committed Christian faith. They had already been deeply involved in the abolition of slavery and the extension of the franchise.  Such notions of equality instilled into Josephine a passionate desire to combat social injustice.


In 1852 Josephine married George Butler, the son of the Headmaster of Harrow, who shared her views. George was ordained in 1854 and they moved first to Oxford and then to Cheltenham. In 1863 tragedy struck when their daughter Eva fell to her death.


Josephine’s grief found expression a few years later, when in 1865 George had become Headmaster of Liverpool College, and the couple were settling in Liverpool. Josephine was horrified at the lives of destitute women in Liverpool, and so she founded a ‘home’ to care for them, as well as a hostel to train them for suitable work. In 1869 she agreed to head a campaign against the Contagious Diseases Act of 1866, and by 1871 she had addressed a Royal Commission, explaining how this Act brutalised these women, already trapped in the slavery of prostitution. She got the Act rescinded.


By 1882, when George had become a Residentiary Canon of Winchester Cathedral, Josephine had not only founded a refuge for recovering prostitutes in Winchester, but she had also begun to fight sex trafficking across the world. This included freeing British girls from Belgian brothels.  By 1885 Josephine had exposed the white slave trade in London and had got Parliament to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, and to penalise those engaged in the transport of women for profit.


In 1890 George died, but Josephine continued her work until retirement to Northumberland, where she died in 1906.


All in all, Josephine Butler’s deep Christian compassion transformed the lives of many tens of thousands of suffering women. She has been described as one of the most important early members of the feminist movement. 





Do you need to have someone or a situation to be prayed for?


Ring Norma Crane on 01642 813945 to let her know you prayer request and she will contact others in the chain and they will pray on your behalf.


If she is unavailable ring:       Brian Livingstone            01642   279272