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It’s not too early in the year to think of planting, says Barry Hill

It’s not too early in the year to think of planting, says Barry Hill

 

As if the first six weeks of Jesus’ life, or even the nine months that had preceded it, were not strange enough, it was about to get even more unusual for Mary and Joseph. 

As was the custom, they brought the six week old Jesus to the temple to give thanks to God.  An elderly man and woman slowly approach.  Full of faith first Simeon explains that God has promised he would not die until he had seen the One who would save the world, then Anna, who has been worshipping everyday in the temple since widowed some sixty years previously, praised God for the Baby who offered a unique hope.

At that point Jesus had done nothing: spoken no words, healed no illness, performed no miracles.  He had breathed in and out, cried, gurgled, sucked milked, filled His ancient version of a Pampers and maybe just had His first smile.  But for Simeon, this six week old child is enough for him to say he has seen the climax of his life – that he could die content and joyful that his life was complete.  Simeon had seen the hint of light on the horizon and he knew the unstoppable dawn was coming.  He knew that, to quote Pope Francis, God does not start a miracle without finishing it. 

The story of Jesus being presented in the temple is marked on Sunday 2nd February.  It is also known as Candlemas because in years past Christians brought candles to church that Sunday, which were blessed and then placed in the windows of their homes.  A witness to the world that, as Simeon says, Jesus is a ‘light for revelation to the gentiles [to the world beyond the Judaism into which Jesus was born]’.

This long held tradition worked well because wider society knew these stories well enough that if they saw a candle in their neighbours window, they would know they could ask questions about their faith.  These days the candle would probably have to come with a codebook book to raise any enquiry at all!

And yet whilst the stories, traditions, language and culture of Christianity is less well known in England than it was, people are still searching as they did in years past.A year ago on Candlemas we launched the first new church plant since our five churches were designated a Resourcing Church Team.The all

age led 9:15am service meeting at St Di’s greets its first birthday with around 80 regular worshippers, most of whom were not part of our churches before its launch.  The expectation is, under the leadership of Andy, a Resourcing Church Curate, to see it grow to 200-300 people and then to plant a similar new congregation elsewhere in the area. More than numbers on a piece of paper, this is a community of real people, with real needs and real lives being transformed as they encounter the same hope which Simeon and Anna met. 

But this is the start not the end of the story.  This is the first of at least six new worshipping communities to which we all committed ourselves as churches (including congregations at the licensing services of Alison, Bryony, James, Pep and me) – alongside continuing to develop what already is (which will continue to take the vast majority of our focus).  During January, the staff team and a lay member of each church started to explore with other Resourcing Churches around Leicestershire, what is next over the years to come.

We don’t know where the new communities will be, or what they will look like (I much prefer the image of non-identical reproduction, churches like children, which have both some of the DNA of the parent but are not identical than the image of the garden where reproduction is identical).  We don’t know what each church in our team will seed and when, but we do know that every church was planted once.  Great Bowden church planted the church which planted St Di’s.  St Nicholas planted St Hugh’s.  Church planting is at the heart of the Gospel and at the core of our own DNA.

The calling to see new churches planted is not at its roots a strategy, certainly it cannot be a survival strategy, rather it is an act of the heart - because we who know Christ’s light don’t want to live in a world where others do not have the same opportunity we did.  As St Paul writes, ‘Christ’s love compels us’.  Maybe at Candlemas, we are the lights, blessed when we meet together, to be sent into the world to display Christ’s light in a way which encourages those we spend time with to seek the hope, joy, peace and life they see in us.   May you have a blessed Candlemas this 2019!

Barry

Revd Barry Hill Team leader, Harborough Anglican

Team of Churches 


These items are extracted from the church's monthly magazine 'The Quintet'. You will find many more itmes of interest in the magazine itself. It is available from the back of each church at a cost of 70p per issue. You can also subscribe to the Quintet for £7.00 per year, which is a saving of the cost of two copies per year. Just give your name and contact details to a member of the clergy and we can set you up. You can also contact the editor, Richard Pomeroy, 01858 462273, who can help you.

Obituary - Paul Mace, Organist

A tribute to this much loved organist by his son, Dan Mace

It was only a few months ago, last summer, that I sat with Paul in his garden and showed him photos from his childhood.  Paul was able to fill in many of the details that I didn’t know.  Although he seemed a little hazy about the names of some of the people in the photos, he remembered all the animals: Jacko, a rather demented Airedale; Pip and Ben his other childhood dogs; a cat called Reg; and a dancing goat.  I wasn’t too surprised that Paul remembered the animals so well – he had     always been an animal lover, and they adored him.

Paul was born on 1st December 1932 in St Andrews to Alec and Marjorie Mace.  His childhood was spent in rural Suffolk.  Paul was always musical, and Alec and Marjorie greatly encouraged this.  After school, he went to the Royal College of Music where he was persuaded to take up the organ, rather than focus on the cello.

Two years later, military service took Paul to Catterick Camp in the north-east.I find it rather hard to imagine Paul having anything to do with the military – he was one of the most peace-loving people I know.Catterick had the advantage of being only 21 miles from Ripon Cathedral and Paul continued his organ studies there under the renowned Dr Charles Moody

Ripon Cathedral where Paul studied

Ripon Cathedral where Paul studied

This was somewhat daunting.  When Paul arrived at Ripon, Dr Moody was in his 70s, had been organist at the cathedral for 50 years and Paul described him as quite a character.  Paul didn’t have a car so cycled the 42 mile round trip and he often arrived at lessons with cold or wet hands and feet - not conducive for organ playing. 

Dr Moody wasn’t always sympathetic.  Oral tests were particularly challenging as Dr Moody had lost his sense of rhythm and Paul said it was quite a relief to do these at York Minster with Francis Jackson, another celebrated organist.

Dr Moody retired in 1954 and Paul took over as acting organist at Ripon for a further year.

In 1955, Paul went to Jesus College Cambridge and then became a teacher at Clifton College in Bristol.  Paul taught music at various schools and then became a peripatetic music teacher, first in Somerset and then in Derbyshire. 

During this time Paul began to develop his ‘Music for all comers’ sessions.  Initially these were aimed at children – they were all-day events involving hundreds of children, many of whom had only the sketchiest idea of how to make music.  They culminated in a performance where the participants often far outnumbered the audience, largely because the audience would be encouraged to join in. 

In the mid-eighties Paul moved to Market Harborough and he continued to develop music for all-comers in his retirement.  He was rightly proud of this and wrote up what he’d done:

“Music for all-comers started as a group of string and recorder players.  I soon felt that much of the music we played would be enhanced by the addition of percussion.  This was played by children who had only just begun music tuition, by siblings who were not musical or by any other unsuspecting visitor.

At a later date I adapted this percussion playing for a music group run as part of a social club for mentally disadvantaged people.  This led to similar weekly sessions at community colleges and later still to activities for Age Concern, the Mothers Union, the U3A and the WI”. 

Indeed at his sessions for Age Concern when he was well into his 70s, he was older than many of the participants.

But back to Paul’s words.  “The manager of the first day centre I worked in used to say ‘People spend too much time lamenting what people with ‘learning difficulties’ are unable to do.  Instead we should consider what they can do and build on that’”.

Paul followed this advice and was delighted when some of the students started skipping other classes to attend the music sessions – a rare example of these students making their own decisions rather than having decisions made for them.

I attended some of these music sessions, and was always impressed at the large numbers of participants and wide range of abilities that Paul was able to captivate. 

He wrote: “It often occurs in day centre classes that there are present severely handicapped students.  Some of these people appear to have very little in life going for them.  I well remember one student responding very positively with a broad grin and often an appreciative coo to my performance of ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, played on a collection of bird squawks, train whistles and duck quacks.  As the tutor it was possible to combine giving the whole class another opportunity to hear the rhythm in hand as well as stimulating a very disadvantaged student.  This student would clearly show feelings of involvement by bouncing appreciatively (and more or less in time with the underlying pulse) in the wheel chair.  The great, and at times dangerous, height of the bounces clearly demonstrated that music activities could indeed be a powerful stimulus.”

This is just one example of the time Paul devoted to those with difficult lives.

When I was young we visited a lot of churches.  Paul knew all the likely hiding places for the organ loft key, and frequently squeezed in some organ practice during these visits.

The Taylor organ at St Hugh’s was restored as a result of Paul’s enthusiasm and enterprise.  He took part in fund raising concerts and applied for grants from organ restoration charities.  The organ was restored to its former glory and Paul played it for many years. We were truly delighted that Paul’s memorial service was held at St Hugh’s and that we were able to hear some of his favourite music played on one of his favourite organs.

Another favourite of Paul was Scrabble. Keen observers will note the ‘Word List’ under his left arm

Another favourite of Paul was Scrabble. Keen observers will note the ‘Word List’ under his left arm


Goodbye Old Friend

New Year, new car? Not quite as straightforward as it sounds but Myra and Bill (on yer bike) Anhoury strike a piece of luck. Myra tells the story

On Monday 17th December our 18 year-old Ford Focus estate went in for its MOT.

It almost passed and Bill was asked to bring it in Thursday for a few jobs to be done. We were delighted it was going to be alright for another 12 months as Bill loved that car.

Thursday 20th December the car went in bright and early. About 4pm the garage rang to tell Bill they had done 2 hours work and had now come to the welding underneath. This was much worse than they thought it would be and would cost £1,000.

Put the money towards another car they said and write it off.

Feb - car1.png

This left us with nothing, Friday 21st December was an extremely busy day in church, we only had about 2 hours at lunch time to find another car - virtually impossible!

Bill biked around all the garages in Harborough and could see nothing. We then risked taking the old car to the Ford garage, Leicester Road.

Bill arranged to go back to test drive one after a funeral service we had in the afternoon. Naturally the cars we liked were a lot more than we wanted to pay.

One of Stamp’s men heard us talking and suggested we go to Western Avenue garage.  Bill said he'd already been and they had nothing. “ OK, ask what is due in and mention Stamp’s name,” he said.

After the service Bill biked back to the Western Avenue garage, was looking on the forecourt and everything was the same, the garage man came out, asked Bill what he was looking for.

Bill told him, “What I really would like you do not seem to have. I’m looking for a Ford Fiesta, 5 door hatchback, red, low mileage, not more than £5,500. It's a tall order and I can see you do not have one”.

Feb - car2.png

 The Lord knew differently. The salesman took Bill through the showroom to a room beyond where sat a Ford Fiesta, 5 door hatchback, red, low mileage, in excellent condition, £5,200.

“Is this what you’re looking for?” he asked.

 “Yes, exactly”, replied an astonished Bill.

“It's yours if you want it. Do you want to test drive    it?”

“No thanks”, said Bill. “I'll take it”.

We could not collect until Friday 28th December but oh the joy when Bill drove it home.

It just shows how the Lord looks after you!

 


Team Vision Day: ‘It’s not about us – it’s about our Community!’

How can the five Anglican churches most effectively reach out to the 93 per cent – the huge majority of the 23,000 population in the parishes who don’t yet have a living faith in Jesus Christ? Lin Ball focuses on this question as she reports on Team Vision day last month

That was the big question facing all those who gathered for the Team Vision Day in June.

Team Rector Barry Hill reminded everyone of the Archbishop William Temple quotation: ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.’

He said he wanted us to challenge the statistics that said that across Europe someone is 33 times more likely to join a new church than an existing one, and 33 times more likely to become a Christian in a new church than an existing one. Developing both ‘what is’ alongside ‘what could be’ will be key, he stressed.

Discussion in progress at Team Vision day in June

Discussion in progress at Team Vision day in June

Like the mustard seed

The Church, said Barry, is like the mustard seed – it’s small, but it grows deep roots so can grow bigger; it makes a big difference; and it re-seeds itself.

During a number of group discussion times during the day, members from the different congregations had opportunities to say how they felt about progress since the last Vision Day 18 months previously, and what excited them about ideas for the future.

Generally, it was felt that the passions people outlined in January 2017 remained, and that progress had been made. These passions were broadly defined as:

·       Being more inclusive and welcoming

·       Offering more people the opportunity to become disciples of Jesus

·       Discipleship – deepening our faith

·       Serving the community and being a witness

·       Tackling social injustice

·       Working more closely with other churches and Christian organisations in the town

Most people felt positively about recent changes, such as the influx of newcomers to the new 9.15 service at St Di’s, and ‘changes in gear’ to activities already happening across all five churches. Plans or discussions are in hand for:

·       Starting ‘café church’ at Great Bowden

·       Potentially a new youth-led worshipping community across the Team (possibly based at St Hugh’s)

·       Further development in serving those who are older and more isolated

·       Giving more opportunities to grow as disciples

·       And (longer term) several other new worshipping communities.

 Desire for unity

Concerns were expressed throughout the day about how to develop more unity within and across the congregations and churches, as well as becoming much more prayerful. Also, fresh challenges to outreach could be identified, particularly with the new housing planned – 600 new homes in the Transfiguration parish and 1500 in Lubenham.

Where we are among a local population of 23,000

Where we are among a local population of 23,000

 

And many people were concerned that more should be done to connect with teenagers, at a time when there was real worry about the mental health of young people.

Barry explained that it was hoped to extend Dawn O’Connell’s role as Children and Families Development Worker. Her current 3-year contract will finish in August but, after consultations over the last year with each PCC, the children and young peoples’ steering group and Team Council, a proposal has been agreed for her role to become permanent.

Dawn will take on strategic oversight for 0-18 year olds across the Team alongside the appointment of two Apprentice Youth Workers (each working 22 hours a week).

Half the money for this is being bid for, from the Diocese and a local charity, along with the five churches needing to sacrificially and generously increase giving (the cost locally being £100,000 over the next four years).  Barry described this as a ‘significant step of faith’ to help meet the needs and opportunities across the town and villages.

In an exercise to discover what were felt to be the attitudes and behaviours that would help or hinder forward momentum in fulfilling the churches’ vision, people voted that the most helpful attributes were being welcoming, accessible and open, with devoting more time to prayer coming a close second.

In terms of attitudes and behaviours that hindered, the vote went to being critical, inflexible and grumbling as being the most unhelpful.

 

All responsible for growth

Bryony Wood, Team Vicar at Great Bowden, took up the theme of how the responsibility for growth rests with all of us.

‘Within the Body of Christ in Market Harborough, you are all called and chosen,’ she told everyone. ‘You are appointed and anointed; and when God calls, he equips.

‘Our purpose and passion are not about wanting a job or a title, but about being children of God, loved unconditionally, and called to be a blessing to our community. If we don’t, who else will?’

Lin Ball


Countering the impact of loneliness

It’s a sad truth that many people spend their days with only their TV or
their cat for company. Loneliness, said Mother Teresa, is a terrible poverty. In western society, with its increasing emphasis on the individual, the consequent loss of community feeling has a great impact – and that is felt particularly keenly by the elderly among us.

Tea@Three aims to alleviate loneliness and isolation in Market Harborough by providing a warm and welcoming gathering on Sunday afternoons – regarded by many as the time when being alone feels hardest.

‘I like to get out of small flat on a Sunday for what can be a very empty day,’ says one regular guest. ‘I particularly enjoy singing some of the old tunes.’

Another says, ‘It’s great to be in company and mingling with people who are in similar situations. And it’s good to be getting some mental stimulation!’

The programme for Tea@Three on the last Sunday of each month is a varied mix of music, games, fun activities and interesting speakers – always accompanied by plenty of cups of tea and delicious homemade cakes. In the summer there is an outing to a local place of interest. The meetings provide an enjoyable opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.

The venue for Tea@Three is St Dionysius Community Hall, on Coventry road next to the Harborough Medical Centre. As a number of those who attend have mobility issues, many are collected on the community minibus, with a qualified driver and his able assistant.

Although linked to the church, not all who attend Tea@Three are churchgoers. Some perhaps attended many years ago. No distinction is made, but all are warmly welcomed. No charge is made, though a number are happy to make a donation to running costs.

Please contact David Palmer on 07505 968767 or email harboroughfx@gmail.com for further details.