November/December 23

Dear All,

“The hope for PEACE must never be allowed to die” said Justin Welsby  (Archbishop of Canterbury) when talking about the quite heartbreaking situation in Israel. These were not quite the same sentiments as those expressed by our friend Ibrahim Jaber who some will remember visited us about 18 years ago, from Beit Sahour, Bethlehem. His letter to me finishes with the question.”What would you do if you were in our situation?” Please hold him, May and all their family in your prayers.

Minister’s letter

Dear Friends,

It’s with mixed feelings that I write what will be my last regular letter to you all, as I am soon to retire. My last working day will be 10 November. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you. I’d like to thank you all for welcoming me into your churches and your lives – especially as I arrived in the middle of the pandemic, when you all had more than enough on your hands already. With that to contend with and the ‘new animal’ known as a MissionalPartnership to get used to our relatively short time together has not been run of the mill.  

When I arrived there were 16 churches, although one, Patricroft, was already moving towards closure. Since then one other church, Chapel St. and Hope, has closed and one, Oasis, has moved partnerships, to join the other inner city churches in the South Area. There are now 13 churches in our partnership and that does not at all feel like an ‘unlucky’ number because all the churches are filled with faith and love and potential. 

We do not know what will happen as we journey on, which is probably just as well, but God does and we can be content that the future is in God’s hands. Where God is concerned surprise is often on the horizon. New links and possibilities arise all the time and with God’s guidance each of you will find the path to tread. 

I am well aware that it can feel as though a number of the churches are more frail now than before the pandemic. In many ways that is true. However, we have also journeyed through a difficult time together and that has also grown the bonds that already existed and offers new possibilities. Our God is the God of the weak – the ones Jesus called the ‘little ones’. (Matthew 18)

You are all well used now to having less ordained ministry than you have had at times in the past. Despite this you have not simply survived but pulled together and in many cases grown in yourselves, even though it may not always feel like that. A number of the churches are also growing in numbers. 

I pray that it will not be long before you not only have a new minster to replace me but also another member of the team, so that going forward you will have three ministers. I say that not because you cannot cope without, but because you deserve the icing on the cake. 

One of the reasons that I felt called to Bolton and Salford is that I thrive on variety and I could see potential in all the churches from your profile. However, the main reason that I have found ministry here a very positive experience is because you have all been gracious enough to understand that I could not do everything that your previous ministers could do. As a result and because even I could see that I could not do everything that I would like to, I have found the role of partnership minister less stressful than some of my past ministries, even if that might seem counterintuitive. I pray that you will carry on in the same vein, so that your future ordained ministry can be the icing on the cake and help you to thrive and to live life in all its fullness together.  Thanks be to God for all of you, Jacky.

Booked Preachers

29-10           Mr George Grime

5-11              Worship Group

12-11           Mr Leo Roberts

19-11 *        Rev Walt Johnson

26-11          Rev Tony Burnham

3-12           Rev Jim Hollyman

10-12         Mr Alan Nuttall

17-12          Rev Walt Johnson 

24-12 *        E. MacKinnon + Worship Group

31-12            Rev Walt Johnson

Sunday Christmas Openings at JUSTICIA….Justicia will be open from 11.30am – 3.30pm on 26th Nov, 3rd Dec, 10th Dec and 17th Dec. Please call in after church. (The shop will be closed on 24th Dec.)

Christmas Post. Sue McNeil will collect our cards on December 10th and deliver them the following week, December17th , with your donations. But as in previous years, a communal card may be placed on the display boards in the Welcome Area. 

Thursday Friendship Circle

Nov 2 …Victoria Hall’s First Thursday Group 2pm – in The Hive, to right of main entrance. All welcome! If you have notbeen before, please give it a try and join us !!

Nov 16….Joyce Borland’s

Nov 30 …Jill Hollyman’s

Dec 7……Victoria Hall’s First Thursday Group 2pm

Dec 14 …Christmas meal at Pack Horse, Affetside

Jan 4th…V Hall’s First Thursday Group 2pm

Jan 11….Ge Horsman’s for Games

Family and Friends

I have not been given any particular news for this letter, so, hoping that no news is good news, we hold all our members and friends in our hearts and prayers.

And a final query!! Have you notified Jim Hollyman yet as to how you get to church…. for his Eco report? Please do it quickly!!

Church Diary – special events

Nov 5th  3.30pm Jacky’s Retirement Service at St AG’s, followed by drinks and cakes.
Nov 19th 10.30am Communion Service led by Revd Walt Johnson
Nov 26th 10.30am service followed by Church Meeting
Dec 3rd  10.30 Joint Service at Victoria Hall (no service at St AG’s)
Dec 10th 10.30am Gift Service
Dec 17th 10.30am Carol service 
Dec 24th 10.30am Joint Christmas Eve Communion service with Victoria Hall 
Dec 25th 10.30am Christmas Day service at Victoria Hall