Building for the Future
Building for the Future

STEPPINGSTONES

 

 

 

From the Minister

 

 

 I write from my office at North Weald Methodist Church and am discovering the joy of being in human community once more. I can hear relaxing music from the Pilates class in the hall, which has not met for a long time. There was a great conversational noise generated as participants arrived: “Hello!” was the most common greeting. It was not a dull greeting befitting the early hour, but a cheery greeting of those who had missed each other over the long weeks of lockdown. It is good to be getting back to normal, and the familiarity of the human voice filling the space of our rooms and halls is a wonderful sign of promise. Coming out of lockdown seems to be a necessarily slow process. We mustn’t rush into event planning without carefully weighing up the pros and cons. Overall, I would say that we churches have handled things very well indeed. I want to praise church officers (Elders and Stewards) for paying attention to health and safety matters. I want to thank you all for your attendance at Sunday worship which we have conducted in person since Easter Day. I must say it is getting easier to gather, having been so conditioned by necessary regulation. Emerging out of lockdown was the theme of our Area Vision Day last month. There was representation from most of our churches and was led by the Staff team: Rev. Blair, Rev. Debbie, and myself. We were challenged to consider what kind of church might emerge after lockdown. What has been lost that will not be coming back? What are the assumptions about church that may no longer hold? What is wanting to emerge? This was a most stimulating and encouraging day (held via Zoom) and one that helped us think about next steps. It is important to add that, even though we were thinking creatively about God’s tomorrow, we felt that an important aspect to remember is that by emerging out of lockdown we need to ‘linger and not panic’. Of course, at the heart of our faith lies the belief that we are always safe in the hands of God. Maybe we owe God a debt of gratitude for delivering us thus far. 


 

 

 

From the Editor

 

DOING JUSTICE At the end of May both Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Churches together in England have marked the 1st anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. On the 25th May there was a candlelit silence at midday, and at 7pm a service was broadcast on YouTube. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNIGmEEW9_Q, or listen to the service, Doing Justice, on BBC Sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000wjdh To also mark this occasion, the URC has released a series of praise songs and protests, called Sunflowers and Thistles a book of 36 songs inspired by the global black lives matter protests and the devastating impact of the pandemic. 

 

TOGETHER WITH REFUGEES The United Reformed Church and Methodist Church have become founding members of a new campaign coalition Together With Refugees. The coalition, made up of more than 100 national, local, refugee-led and grassroots groups, calls for a better approach to supporting refugees that is kinder, fairer and more effective, and believes in showing compassion to people fleeing war, persecution or violence. Together With Refugees aims to inspire hope and win deep change in the UK’s approach to refugees. In a statement the coalition said: “This means standing up for people’s ability to seek safety in the UK no matter how they came here. It means ensuring people can live in dignity while they wait to hear if they will be granted protection. It means empowering refugees to rebuild their lives and make valuable contributions to their communities. And it means the UK working with other countries to do our bit to help people who are forced to flee their homes.” Inspired by the refugee nation flag, and the colours of a lifebelt, the coalition’s orange heart logo symbolises hope and compassion. With the campaign slogan #WhoWeAre, the heart is intended to be adopted widely to show support for refugees while underpinning a sense of unity. They represent that together, as a movement, we are larger than the sum of our parts. For more information visit: https://togetherwithrefugees.org.uk/ GREEN ISSUES Environment Sunday (6th June): A special intergenerational service marking environment Sunday produced by the URC’s children and youth team : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCUhcQnrk2N78c89wM9Rhow Climate Justice for all: Climate Justice for All is a youth-led, global campaign that seeks to mobilise the Methodist family worldwide on issues of climate justice. Methodists are invited to take part in CJ4A online events in June, where you can be part of building a ‘call to action’ from the Methodist Church in Britain to the UK Government’s COP26 ambassadors. Open to all ages, come along to this intergeneration event to have your say. More here: https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/environment-and-climatechange/cop26-climate-justice-for-all/ G7 Summit: Ahead of COP26 in November, the UK is hosting the G7 summit in June with environmental issues promised to be one of the priorities. Read more on this from Christian Aid: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/take-action-ahead-g7 URC Eastern Synod Divests from fossil fuels: https://urc.org.uk/latest-news/3820-urc-east

 

 

 

 

Diary Notes from a Friend

 

After a long winter and even the past month of sunshine and showers with chilly dismal days, watching the grass and weeds grow, it is good to see our bees have survived so long without nectar. So the beekeeping season is in full swing, with swarms flitting about surprising people who are unaware of their lifestyle. The hives have to be checked regularly to make sure the Queen bee is laying lots of eggs also to make sure there is plenty of room for them to store all the honey. I think our children are realising the work involved as they have taken over an apiary each. We are now in competition. The month has been punctuated by a few pleasant outings. At last our U3A patchwork ladies met up to show off some of our year’s work and get advice from our facilitator on future projects. The get together was made even better by the warm croissants, honey and coffee while communication flowed. Then a farewell ‘high’ tea party held for Revd Jane Quinton was a happy event with friends of St Peter’s Church. Again, plenty to talk about whilst munching sandwiches and cakes; gifts exchanged and even one of Jane’s special hugs. At last we’ve been able to visit our daughter in the new house she bought this past year and view her new mod bathroom and discuss the many other jobs that need to be done and the cost of it all! Swapping of seedlings between neighbours and friends continues and hopefully more plants will put out soon. In the meantime we are enjoying the perfume of honeysuckle and colourful forget-menots and Californian poppies. Our blue tits are still very busy feeding their clutch in a box in the plum tree. We are so hoping to witness the fledglings. I very bravely booked a place to get back to my most liked exercise of swimming. And it went quite well. With only a short walk to the pool there’s no excuses now. 5 A visit from our Grandson, who is now a Royal Engineer and enjoying Army life, was a pleasant surprise, even if it was possibly only to get me to machine stitch badges to his shirts, as their Tailor charges so much! So Grandma still has her uses. How lucky I am. Now looking forward to our Son’s 50th birthday barbecue party, bank holiday weekend. As I’m now a converted pescatarian I’ll be taking along some treats from Smiths Restaurant fish stall. I hope everyone is coming through this overwhelming time of life struggles & looking to more social, happier days ahead. Love to you all.

 

 Message from G,

 

I would like to thank you all for your lovely birthday cards. I did appreciate them. Thank you once again. G.

 

Thoughts from P:

 

The highlight of the month of May for us was having a long awaited holiday in Cornwall. We stayed in a fishing village called St Mawes a favourite spot of ours. The weather could have been better but it didn’t stop us doing most of what we were hoping for. One morning we went out early as rain was expected later in the day. We took advantage of some empty tables outside a pub and ordered coffees and enjoyed having a chat with a local lady. This was the first time we have had coffee out since the first lockdown so felt a lovely thing to be doing.! Another trip out was to one of our favourite restaurants, on the cliffs above Newquay. The weather was kind to us and we had a cream tea sitting in the garden area with wonderful sea views. Then we walked for a while along the headland just above the restaurant. We enjoyed Cornish pasties a couple of times whilst sitting on the benches dotted around the village we were staying in. The local area became our garden. We visited Mevagissey twice, to buy presents to take home and a souvenir mug for Steve as he broke the last mug we had bought in Cornwall just before we went away. One of the things that always draws us back to the same cottage, in the same location, is that it is about 2 metres from the sea wall, so we have sea views from the lounge and bedroom windows. We had good views of all the boating activities that happen in a harbour village, sailing, canoeing, and rowing. Every hour the ferry comes over from Falmouth bringing holiday makers to visit St Mawes and the Castle so there was a lot of ‘people watching’ going on from our cottage window on rainy days! 6 Our homeward journey took us across Dartmoor with its amazing views with the added interest of how the sheep, cows and horses roam freely across the moors. Not at all concerned about traffic. They just wander across the road or if they feel like it even lie down and have a little nap and cars have to drive around them. An amazing sight to see and experience. Hope your are all keeping well and that we can all meet up again very soon.

 

We would like to wish ‘happy birthday’ to those having a birthday in June. 

 

 

 

 

We are located at:

ONGAR UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

HIGH STREET

ONGAR

CM5 9EA

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