People

30th June 2021

Our Mission partner in Uganda, Pastor Paul Kyalimpa died recently. Here Ralph Hanger offers an appreciation of his life and work.

Pastor Paul Kyalimpa, who died in hospital in Fort Portal, Western Uganda on Friday 18th June 2021 was someone who was always looking out for ways in which he could help other people.  As a pastor, he had a great love for his Lord Jesus and was always sharing this with others, because he wanted them to experience the forgiveness of sins and peace of mind he had found.  As an agriculturalist, he was keen to share the insights he had gained from his study in Uganda, Reading UK and the Netherlands, with those who had not been able to benefit from this.  As a father of 5 children and guardian for at least 3 orphans, he wanted to share the benefits of the education he had been given and was keen to encourage the children in his care to reach the potential God had given them.  As a farmer he shared the fruits of his farming with as many folk as he could.

Jane and Ralph met Paul in Kampala, Uganda in 1998 when he had a very wide vision of improving the livelihoods of farmers throughout Uganda.  He was persuaded to scale the vision down initially to set up a Sustainable Conservation Project among the Baptist churches in Busia, S E Uganda.  Matt Peak joined Ralph and Jane on a visit to this scheme in 2004 when he held an internship at QRBC.  In this scheme and the many places in Uganda and Tanzania, where he started similar schemes, Paul was able to teach local farmers techniques which used local materials and concepts to improve their agriculture to give both better yields and to improve the environment at the same time.  

The farmers he taught were then enabled to teach other farmers in a widening circle of influence.  Members at QRBC were involved in supporting this initial scheme through APF.  Since then similar schemes have been established in a number of places and Paul was in the middle of a scheme in his own area of Kyenjojo, W. Uganda, supported by Operation Agri, when the Lord called him home.  The 2018 team from QRBC visited a number of the farms involved in this training.

 

As a Pastor, Paul was keen to share his faith with others and to build up younger Christians in the faith.  He was responsible for establishing 6 churches in his home district of Kyenjojo and was actively involved in encouraging and building them up in different ways.  It was a long distance for people to travel to be trained as pastors and also an expensive operation, so Paul undertook to train the people who were in charge of these 6 churches, himself and it was earlier this year that he was able to ordain 6 local people as pastors of these churches.  The group from QRBC who visited Uganda in 2018, were actively involved in varying degrees in each of these churches and have stories to tell. A grant from QRBC enabled a roof to be put on the ‘mother’ church at Rwamukoora.

As a pastor, Paul was also widely respected by the Baptist Union of Uganda and for a few years he served as Deputy General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Uganda.  It was as a representative of the Baptist Union of Uganda that Paul attended the Baptist World Alliance centenary conference in Birmingham, in 2005, when he and Christine were accommodated by Don and Glenys Brown.

Soon after that it was agreed that QRBC would seek to support the work of Pastor Paul in the churches in Kyenjojo, particularly by prayer and then other ways which would be helpful. With this in mind Paul and Christine visited QRBC in 2014.  They shared in many of the church activities and gained many friends.  One comment was made that you could not sleep during Paul’s sermon.

Sadly Paul’s first son John died of an illness before he reached his teens.  Paul saw a need in his locality for training in practical skills and so, in honour of his deceased so he established a Skills development centre based around the house that he and Christine were living in at the time. The JAMSTC or John Agaba Memorial Skills training centre was functioning when the team visited in 2018 with courses in computing, tailoring, hair dressing and carpentry all at different stages.

Paul and Christine, as well as bringing up their own children, were keen to help children not so fortunate.  They looked after 3 orphans in their own home but sought to provide for many more.  Paul received a legacy from a friend in Australia and used the funds to start a Primary school on land left to him by his brother to get education for these orphans. Over the years this developed into a secondary school as well.  Exam results in recent years have been the best in the County.  Just a month before Paul died he had secured registration of the schools with the Government which should help with funding for teachers when schools re-open after the Covid lockdown.  (This was made possible when people from QRBC helped to get electricity connected to the school.)

 

Paul shared his life with Christine, his wife, who was his partner in so many ways.  On his many ministry and agricultural journeys, Christine managed the farm on their behalf.  She has many craft skills and is well known for her fabric toys and mementoes, many of which have found their way into homes of QRBC members.

We need to pray very much for Christine as, not only she lost her husband and partner of many years, she lost her youngest son, Moses, just 4 days before losing Paul.  Joy, her eldest daughter has a young son, Matthew, Josephine is a graduate in community development and looking for work.  The remaining son, Joseph, has just graduated from University and is looking for a teaching job.

We are missing Paul.  How much more are Christine, the children and the churches in Kyenjojo missing him.  We must continue to pray for them as we thank God for Paul.

 

24th May 2021

Words by Jon White, photos by Chris Headon

What do a 75m long purple cable, 2 Star Wars t-shirts, a box of black plastic bin bags, several rolls of coloured insulating tape and 55 upside down red plastic chairs have in common? You would know the answer immediately if you'd been at the church between 12:30 and 2:30pm yesterday (May 23rd) whilst the tech team were running around setting things up for the outside service! 
Having made quite a few changes to the way our technical equipment is set up during lockdown, in order to provide services online as well as in the chapel, this weekend saw us attempting a new challenge - providing a service outside in the car park so that the congregation could sing and so those who are not yet comfortable to attend inside could have the chance to participate in a service.

The technical challenges of providing sound outdoors were one thing, but so people weren't left out, we really wanted to be able to stream as well, so eight of us were busy on Sunday afternoon, running around with long bits of wire, trying to find where we could borrow the necessary equipment from, and working out how to reconnect something that has worked smoothly in the chapel for several months, and keep everything dry!

A mixture of high tech (newly made 75m cat 6e ethernet cables and gigabit switches) and low tech ('waterproofing' via black bin liner and cables connected with insulting tape) solutions were required, and a particular highlight for me was looking up from whichever computer I was setting up at the time to see the red plastic chairs being blown across the car park, with a number of people chasing after them to catch them and turn them upside down to stop them flying away!

We were nearly thwarted by a critical audio cable which we discovered was  a metre shorter than required and by a blown fuse meaning no power was available in the suite entrance, but ingenuity and long cable reels came to our rescue, meaning that, by 3pm as the weather cleared, we were ready to sound check and then "go live" in person and on the internet. 

With over 50 people attending in person, and at least 25 devices connecting to the stream people were clearly pleased to be able to join in, and the experience of being together, singing praises to our God and Saviour, for the first time in over a year, was an emotional one for many, and all of us on the tech team are very pleased to have been able to play a part in enabling this. 

 

Whilst thanks must go to everyone who took part, from a technical perspective particular thanks are due to Don and Chris W for their hard work assembling and testing the necessary parts of the sound system in advance and to Joseph, Chris H, Dan, Nathan and Pete for all they did on the day to make sure we were able to make this work.

 

This Sunday was a pilot for us, and has demonstrated again the benefits of the investment in equipment made possible by the congregation's generous response to the technical appeal - giving us another option to find ways to meet together despite ongoing coronavirus restrictions, so thanks to you all!

 

13th May 2021

From Lesley Austin

Parish Nursing Sunday 2021

Parish Nursing Sunday 16th May falls at a significant time for nursing. May 12th marks International Nurses’ Day commemorating the birth of Florence Nightingale. The 16th May this year is the middle of two weeks of prayer for midwives and nurses at Christian Medical Fellowship so we can be assured that May is a time of prayer for nurses, so keenly needed as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all our lives.

Over the past 14months we have all become weary and it may have seemed like we have been taking part in a marathon both emotionally and physically. So I want to bring you some verses of encouragement from Hebrews 12.

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrew 12)

Great verses to encourage us all and indeed we do need to fix our eyes on Christ. To be determined to follow him so, that we, who serve, will not grow weary or lose heart.

One of the joys of being involved in Parish Nursing is not only supporting people with their physical, mental and emotional health but also to walk alongside them in their spiritual journey. Being prepared to take the opportunity to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in deeds and also in words and so like the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8 to be prepared to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Wherever the Spirit takes or calls us to go.

Parish nurses are Registered Nurses working through churches and Christian organisations help people of all faiths and none to gain optimal health through education, advice, referral and spiritual care.

Pray for the work of parish nursing, celebrate and encourage their work on Parish Nurse Sunday 16th May 2021.

Almighty God, we thank you for the wonder of your grace and your plan of salvation. We pray for Parish Nursing ministries throughout the UK that they will be a blessing to the communities they serve and be equipped, emboldened and empowered to share the good news of Jesus by whatever means possible. Amen

 

8th May 2021

From Joy Knott

I would like to recommend something I watched this morning:

I've been blessed by Lou Fellingham's weekly worship sessions on Facebook, as have other members of QRBC. Today she had an online coffee morning, with a special guest who spoke about the important issue of mental health. But the bit I really wanted to share was Lou's preach, towards the end of the morning, about the 'return to church. It was really honest, helpful & encouraging and, I felt, relevant to our current situation.

https://youtu.be/6vljyDWN0Vc

 

29th March 2021

From Jon White

There has been a lot of ‘looking back’ in the last week – and as today marks the 1st anniversary of our online services, I thought I would take the chance to look back on what we have done in the last 12 months.

When lockdown started, I think we all assumed we would be out of the chapel for perhaps a month, maybe two, certainly not a whole year, and I certainly did not expect that it would mean I would need to research and understand how to set up a multi-participant live service with participants in four or five different places, streaming to two different services and including live and pre-recorded music and videos!

If you look back, you can still find our first service on Youtube here… and it is definitely different to what you see if you join in now – the quality of the audio and video is sadly lacking compared to today’s offering, and, although we’ve always had a number of different participants, being forced to work from individual’s homes really impacted on who could be part of what we were doing.

From a technical perspective, we had to find ways of linking together multiple pieces of equipment, rearranging our study each week to make it all work, and I was particularly grateful that BT had installed a new “ultrafast” fibre optic connection only a few weeks before, giving us the bandwidth we needed to handle the transmission. We rose to the challenge, but not without a few weeks with delayed starts, funny audio issues (Ralph’s chipmunk impression will stay with me for a long time) and the inevitable disembodied voice announcing “You’re on mute – we can’t hear you” to the entire world!

As time went on and we realised this was going to last longer, we found more robust ways to make things work – including moving the base of operations from our home down to the chapel itself, and, thanks to the incredible generosity of many in the congregation, we were able to purchase a new computer, new cameras and sound equipment and new lighting to enable us to get to where we are now – a functional service, with participants in the chapel and at home, and as of yesterday, with an “in person” congregation, as well as a remote one.

The improvement in quality is huge, and I am exceedingly grateful for the expert help from Don and Chris on the sound side, and Andy and Dan on the visual front. I’m also extremely grateful for Joseph and his role in this – he has been the key operator of our vision mixing software since day one, the real technical expert behind getting pictures from the cameras to the stream with the right audio attached and has now taken the lead in training others to do the same – I’m not sure many fifteen-year-olds would have used three months off school in this way!

But, beyond the sound and visual, when I look back at that very first service, I’m encouraged to see the same heart is still there in today’s service as it was back then, a desire from all those involved, in front of and behind the cameras to provide a means for the church to come together each week, to participate together in worship, to share a sense of community despite being apart.

That shared worship is evident through the services, through the people live “on the stage”, the participants who are “live via Zoom”, the people who take part by pre-recording and the interaction we see on the Facebook and Youtube comments – its all part of how we worship together.

As we take tentative first steps to gathering as a congregation again, I believe it to be vital that we maintain that community so that those who cannot join us, either because space or personal circumstances mean they can’t make the trip to the church, or because they are joining us from somewhere further afield are still able to feel part of ‘Queens Road’, just as they have so far, which is why we intend to continue streaming as a permanent fixture going forward.

Yes, it’s great that we’ve been able to improve the quality of the presentation, but I have had much more satisfaction from seeing the way the online service has helped our community stay strong together through lockdown than I have from the move to full HD broadcasting, bringing in multi-camera streaming or from the improvement in sound quality each week (even though the techie in me has rejoiced at these changes!) – I hope and pray that we find ways to maintain and continue to build that community spirit as we go back to “normal” – whatever normal is anymore!

 

26th March 2021

The thick and the thin

I wonder how many of you, like me, have been using the wonderful Lent (or any time!) study book written by our former minister, Keith Parr and his wife, Karen, and produced by Global Care?  Entitled “Where you go, I will go” Keith works through the book of Ruth over the 40 days linking the verses to the story of a child or family supported by Global Care in their projects across the world and Karen offers a reflection and prayer. 

In the day 36 reflection (have I got out of sync with the days of Lent somewhere? Yes Sundays don't count in the 40 days of Lent - ed) Karen referred to the Celtic Christian concept of “thin places”.  The phrase refers to places where heaven – or God’s presence – seems especially close.  What or where this might be will be different for each of us – it may be a sanctuary or prayer room in our home, the garden, a particular area in a park – or it may be a place that is special to us – a retreat centre, familiar beauty spot or a part of the country whose particular history has left it imbued with prayer.  For me, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, is such a place.  I have been privileged to visit many times and in recent years, spent a few days on retreat there each winter.  It feels like another lifetime now, but I was actually there in February last year (BC[i]).  As a Christian whose walk with the Lord is very much underpinned by the values of Celtic Christianity, this concept of “thin places” is very important.

For those of us who would consider that we need “thin places” and time for contemplation and solitude, it has always been a challenge to recognize those opportunities for intimacy with God not just at those times and in those places, but in the supermarket queue, stuck at traffic lights, while washing up etc.  I have a favourite mug that reads “Keep Calm and come to Holy Island”.  I do not take this as meaning I need to physically go to Holy Island (though I’d love to!) but rather that I can go to Holy Island in my head.  I can walk its familiar paths, wander around the ruined Priory, sit on the shore and hear the lap of the waves and the call of the seals – and feel God’s closeness. 

However, the point that Karen is actually making is that being in “community is not like that.  It is a thick[ii] place.  True community requires sacrifice and selflessness.  It can be noisy as everyone tries to get their voice heard.  It can be messy.  It can be uncomfortable and require us to welcome interruptions to our neatly planned schedules”.

We need to recognise that few are called to stay in beautiful “thin places” for long.  Most of us can easily feel guilty that we are not consciously communing with God moment by moment, that we are not “lost in wonder, love and praise” more often, that our assurances of prayer for others are not quite as regularly fulfilled as we intended.  The reality is that we are just “in the thick of it” most of the time because that is where God has placed us. 

It was Celtic Christians who brought the Gospel message to much of the United Kingdom long before the Roman church got here and Celtic values are very much about being amongst the people.  Aidan (died 651) who founded the first monastery on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and was responsible for spreading the gospel across much of northern England, famously offended his patron, King Oswald, by rejecting his gift of a horse, preferring to walk from place to place so that he travelled alongside and conversed with more people on the journey than he would have done “lifted up” on a horse. 

I pray we will all learn to create and value more special times and places to enjoy precious moments of intimacy with God but that we will also accept that being “in the thick of it” means just getting on with life and trusting God’s assurances that he will never leave us and that he will give us the resources to be his people wherever we are.

[i] Before Covid

[ii] My emphasis

 

26th March 2021

Margaret Laird  (5th March 1927 - 19th March 2021)

Margaret trained as a nurse and in doing so met Desmond who became a GP in his home city of Coventry. They were both deeply concerned for their patients in Bell Green where Dr Laird had his practice. An example of this care was an occasion when they took their fridge in a wheelbarrow to someone who needed a place to keep their child’s medication at the right temperature.

Margaret never ceased to care for others. She had a wide circle of contacts, not restricted to Queen’s Road where she and Desmond were members for several decades.

Many folk will have received her generosity and warm friendship. Whether it was with Desmond entertaining Baptist Ministers and their spouses from Coventry and surrounding towns at their home in The Shrubberies or seeing her surrounded by groups of children after morning service as she got out her bag of chocolates and sweets to share with them, Margaret found practical ways of expressing love for both young and older members of the community.

There was an even deeper spiritual life for Margaret. Brought up among the Brethren in Scotland, she valued thoughtful worship, the promises of Scripture and the experience of prayer, I will not be the only person who was asked to pray with her on every visit.This remained true in the later years when physical pain took its toll. From that pain Margaret is now released. The grace and love of God are now her great delight. The memory of her refreshes our fellowship.

We pray for Michelle, Charles and their families as they give thanks to God for the gift to us all of their mother and our friend Margaret.

Alan Betteridge

 

21st March 2021

From Barbra Depledge

Salted?  Peppered?  Seasoned?

I wonder how many of you, like me, read a Christian book and think “Wow!  That was really inspiring/challenging/encouraging/thought-provoking” (delete as appropriate);  perhaps, like me, you note a few key points in your journal; but three months later, we’d be hard pressed to recount what precisely was so inspiring, challenging …… about it, still less, what difference it has actually made to the way we think, feel or behave.

Recently, a friend confessed that she had found a book which I lent her several years ago.  In our conversation, we went on to recollect how helpful we had found this book when we read it.  The book was “Seeing the Good in Unfamiliar Spiritualities” by Rev. Gethin Abraham-Williams[i].  I have no idea after this distance of time how I was alerted to this book.  Undoubtedly my interest would have been piqued by the title, but I know I was particularly drawn to it because Gethin was an Assistant Minister here at Queens Road (1964-8).  When we joined the church in 1972, he was still remembered with that special blend of fondness and …. other things …. that are so often part of this church’s perception of its past ministers!!!

As we talked about the book, I recalled that it had been inspiring and challenging (!) and the rather poetic phrase “the town’s[ii] church-peppered, chapel-salted streets” popped back into my mind from its early pages.  As I recalled this phrase, I was reminded that Coventry, like most modern towns and cities, is also Mosque-seasoned, Gurdwara and Temple-flavoured.  I think this latter phrase is mine but the thought is part of Gethin’s theme.  As my memories of the book have been stimulated, I further recalled that I didn’t agree with quite all of Gethin’s stance on inter-faith issues.  Many Queens Roaders of a more conservative persuasion than myself would find even more to take issue with!  But that needn’t lessen its thought-provoking potential.

My purpose here is not to explore the book any further.  My point is about returning to books that are perhaps gathering dust on our book shelves and considering re-reading them.  Since I can no longer read print books, I have ordered a Kindle copy of this one and am excited to be re-reading it.

One further thought!  Until now, I had not been aware that Gethin sadly died in 2016 at the age of only 77.   I reflected that as a keen ecumenist and much involved in inter-faith dialogue[iii], Gethin will no doubt have been intrigued to find out (as I will be in due course) who is sharing his time in God’s nearer presence through the remainder of eternity?


[i] Abraham-Williams, G. (2011) Seeing the Good in Unfamiliar Spiritualities, Circle Books

[ii] Aberystwyth

[iii]https://baptisttimes.co.uk/Articles/486017/Baptist_minister_and.aspx

 

17th March 2021

From Barbra Depledge

Cycling through the University campus a few days ago I snapped this photograph and sent it to family and a few friends, offering a prize for the best caption:

The winner was:

“I told little Tommy he could keep me on under the Government furlough scheme, even if he wasn’t playing with me at present, but he said the paperwork was too complicated”.

This morning I snapped this:

I captioned it “He’s gone.  Dare we hope that he’s been rehomed.  Or at least put up for adoption. Or that little Tommy saw the error of his ways and took him home again”

 

Reactions to this fell into three groups:

The first included “Indeed!  His case was taken up by the National Centre for Rehoming Oversized Bears [i](charity registration pending) and following a social media appeal has been rehomed”

The second included “He’s probably been picked up by the general waste dustcart and thrown in the incinerator”

The third thought it was all very silly.

What a wonderful set of cameos of the life positions we may hold.

Do any of them fit you?

[i] He’d be about 4 feet tall in his stockinged feet

11th March 2021

From David Depledge

One year ago today we did our first posting on the new “Latest News Update” page on the website. Part of it, I think originally written for the Magazine, is reproduced (shortened) below.


11th March 2020        Social Distancing…….????......

…… As a Church family where words like community, fellowship, gathering together are central to our thinking….where we are encouraged in Scripture to ‘greet one another with a holy kiss’, which some of us might prefer to translate as a ‘warm hand-shake,’ how might we sensibly respond if the advice comes to us to physically distance ourselves, self-isolate or, more drastically, go into ‘lockdown’ in the current Coronavirus outbreak.

The Church leadership, Deacons and Pastoral leaders (PALS) have begun to give some thought to this, not to cause panic, but to be prepared to support one another, especially the more vulnerable, if such advice might come…….

…….Whatever the outcome of the coming weeks let us use this time to look to pray, and to support and encourage one another in new ways. As the writer to the Hebrews put it:

‘Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. (Heb.10v24The Passion Translation).


The following day the leadership announced the decision to suspend all activities in the Church Building – the services and all other meetings. This was a week before the government made such a move compulsory with the first lockdown..

And four days after that Rev Graham Banks announced we would be sharing a daily Word for the Day for “a number of weeks”. Today’s Word for the Day is the 342nd published.

A very important development was on 29th March when we streamed a service on the internet for the first time. Our (limited) return to the Chapel on Palm Sunday will be the first anniversary of that electronic service.

I could, of course, go on with listing milestones in what has been “a year like no other.” Others may feel like using rather stronger language to describe it. But my purpose in writing this is to say thank you to all who have worked so hard to, as the verse in the first posting says, to “Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love”.

I cannot start to list who has done what – I simply don’t know everything that has been done- but I do know that pastoral care effort has been massive, I know the technical achievements have been huge, I know that over 40 different people have contributed to Word for the Day, that many people have contributed in worship, that people have financially given generously and that there has been a plethora of creative ideas to help people keep in touch and engaged.

I would like to particularly thank the Ministers, Officers and Deacons who have met frequently and been faced with some unbelievably difficult decisions and who now are leading us into a different future to that we would expected a year ago.

I am not going to get into forecasting the future development of the pandemic so I will finish with this exhortation to all of us:-

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

9th March 2021

From Coral Lynes

Wandering in the Wilderness

Lent, a period of forty days set apart from our usual activity, is a time for reflection on the life and ministry of Lord Jesus.  However, the pandemic we are experiencing has actually seemed to me, and maybe others, a much longer time to journey in the “wilderness”.    I want to cry “Enough Lord”, but then someone reminds me to CELEBRATE even though going through a difficult time themself.  I am encouraged to look for hope; to celebrate the little things – the perseverance of those working for good in the world; and each little step taken in searching for, the continuing research, the testing and the administering of vaccines globally.  This, together with our previous experiences of God’s grace and mercy prompt a response of thankfulness and praise.

It is tempting for us to put aside words of despair, laments, and cries for help in some of the Bible passages and to just focus on the songs joyful praise and thanks to God.  However, by turning again to chapters 142 &143 of Psalms we are reminded that a great leader like David looked to an all-seeing, loving and merciful God for refuge and even in the depths of doubt, despair and anguish had hope in Him.  Then follow Psalms of thanksgiving and praise to God.  David put his trust in God through both good and bad times and we are able to do the same.

Fear of Falling

Down, down,

Falling down, down,

Into deep darkness falling,

Into the dark and dreary depths falling,

Down into the cold, damp depths of decay, despair and darkness falling – but Hey there!

STOP! draw back, LISTEN to the notes that echo through the gloom.    **

The words that turn the downward fall into an upward crawl.

Calling, “Look Up towards the Light; the Light that shines in the darkness,

The Light that cannot be extinguished.”   Calling “Look up, Look up”       ***

In the midst of the darkness when all appears still and dead, comes the still small voice and a message of hope that all is not lost. 


**   Shine Jesus Shine - Graham Kendrick

“Lord the Light of your Love is shining, in the midst of the darkness shining.”

***    John 1 v 4-5:   In Him was life, and that life was the light of mankind.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.


A Time and a Season

The leaves fall and the trees are bare. 

It is then that tree shapes are so clear.

When snow covered branches have a beauty of their own.

And snow falls creating a carpet of intricately designed snowflakes, each one unique.

The earth freezes and a spider’s web glistens in the sun;

Icicles gleam like jewels and frost paints patterns on the cold surfaces.

It is Winter and much of Nature is having a time of rest.

Rest and wait and watch….

For in the warmth of the deep, dark depths of the earth there is life.

Soon we shall see tiny shoots appear heralding the Springtime and new life.

“There is a time and a season for everything under God’s heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3 v.1-8

 

8th February 2021

Long standing church member Elizabeth Millard died last weekend. This brief tribute is offered anonymously by someone who had know her for many years.

Elizabeth Millard

A couple of weeks back the theme of our Mission Sunday worship was ‘Made in the image of God’

God created us in his own image – not just Christians but everyone.  It’s a good thing that this doesn't refer to our outward appearance, rather the inner characteristics that give us the potential to reflect God.  Paul, in his letter to the Galatians helps us understand these more describing them in the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control.

Our church family is mourning the loss of Elizabeth Millard who went to be with the Lord on Sunday last and who was someone who so evidently reflected Gods image in these ways.

Elizabeth & Michael came to Coventry in the early 1960s with their young family and for 60 years they have been part of and contributed to our fellowship.

But if you've joined our church family in recent times, you may not have known her, she was not one to push herself forward or take ‘up front roles’. Nevertheless she was part of that bedrock of our fellowship in her faith, her love, care and concern, expressed in so many quiet ways.

Elizabeth had a heart for overseas mission. This stemmed party from her family background. Her Great Great Uncle was James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland mission – now OMF International. Think - Christianity in China today? Thank Hudson Taylor and all who first took the Good News there.

Those who knew Elizabeth will confirm that their lives have been enriched by walking the Christian journey in her company, but our entire fellowship has been blessed and enriched too.

We are sad, but Heaven is rejoicing.

 

4th February 2021

From Barbra Depledge

Where is Jesus on the path ahead?

Many of you will have heard of the prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  It’s debatable whether it was written by St. Patrick (a fifth century Christian missionary and early bishop) himself or pieced together from his sayings by his followers.  It’s popular among Celtic Christians and is sometimes known as an invocation – a combined calling upon God and statement of commitment by the believer.  There are many different translations around so you will find it in many forms. The best known bit however invokes:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me and before me.
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in hearts of all who know me.
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger,
Christ in quiet and in roar.
[i]

It’s a beautiful prayer and can be combined with pointing the finger as indicated by the lines, similar to a Caim (or encircling) prayer in Celtic practice – the physical enactment of the words helping to root them in our minds.

This morning I came across a prayer which has some parallels, written by St. Peter Faber (1506-1546) a Jesuit:

May the Lord and his kingdom be above you, so that your minds may be drawn upwards; may he be within you, so that you may be truly rooted in him; may he be as a firm foundation beneath you, so that you may always rely upon him, may he be at your right side, so that he will never let you swerve to pleasures or vanities; may he be at your left, so that you may never be broken by adversity; may he be behind you, so that through fear of him you will be recalled from backsliding onwards to your perfection.  May God do all this. [ii]

(emphasis mine)

This too contains some challenging thoughts.  However what struck me was that it includes no reference to the Lord being before us or ahead of us.  My reflection was that that is so often how it feels.  We know the facts – our Verse of the Year reminds us that if we stand at the crossroads and look God will show us the path[iii].  We know that God has always been faithful and is sovereign.  But just at the moment the path ahead is very uncertain and, if we’re honest, it is often hard to see where God is and where he is going. 

Will my furlough end in March?  And will there be a job for me after all this?

When will the children go back to school and how will their education and social skills have been affected?

Will the mental health/self confidence of myself/my loved one/ my friend ever recover?

Will I ever be able to go to a shop again without planning it like a military campaign?

When will I be able to go on holiday?  Have a day out even?

When will be able to have a normal family get together again?

Will I ever be able to just pop out to a teashop to meet a friend again?

Some of these are big questions, some may seem trivial but they’re real issues for some.

Most of us live in the gap between the facts as we know them (from Scripture, from teaching we have received, from experience of walking with our faithful God over the years) and how we feel.  Sometimes we are able to keep a firm hand on the facts of our faith; sometimes our feelings run away with us and the uncertainty of the path ahead makes us fearful or even despairing.

As I reflected on this, I had a picture of walking blindfolded on a footpath, my arms outstretched to try and hang on to the shoulders of Jesus.  Then the image changed as I was reminded of the advice about guiding visually impaired people.  The wisdom is that rather than grabbing their arm and trying to steer them, we should allow them to take our arm (usually the elbow).  They will then sense the movements in us – bending to the left or the right, slowing to a halt, speeding up etc and be able to mirror our movements. 

Can we hold on to Jesus’ elbow right now, accepting that we have no idea what the path ahead looks like?  Can we sense tiny movements in him knowing his heart is to keep us safe and he will guide us however rough and rocky the way?


 

[i] This version taken from a song by Emma, Joseph and Stuart Townend (2018), Townend Songs,

[ii] Quoted in Burke-Sullivan, Eileen & Burke, Kevin F, The Ignatian Tradition (2009), Liturgical Press

[iii] Jeremiah 6.16 (my paraphrase)

 

26th January 2021

The dangers of homogeneity

From Barbra Depledge

One of the books I am reading at present is proving particularly thought provoking.  Parker Palmer’s latest book is entitled “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Older”[i].  It is a collection of recent essays and poetry by the author who, as he approaches his 80th birthday, is keen to remain fully engaged intellectually, politically, socially and with the prospect of death and dying.  It is not a Christian book but the author comes from a conservative Christian background and is currently active in and espouses the values of the Quaker tradition.

In one of his sections, he explores the dangers of the pursuit of a homogenous society.  As an American, he specifically laments the number of his countrymen who long for a return to a white dominated and governed culture in which it is possible to live in gated enclaves protected from those who are “other” in any way. This, despite the reality that by 2043, it is estimated that “people of color” (to use their terminology and spelling) will comprise more than half of the population of the United States.

Parker uses a very interesting illustration to highlight the dangers.  He speaks of being taken out into the mid-western Prairies in the US where there are literally hundreds of square miles of single-crop fields.  All very efficient, profitable and generating high yields but reducing air quality and requiring vast amounts of fertilisers brought in from far afield to retain any sort of soil quality.  By contrast he met with a farmer who has given over some of his land to re-wilding – flower meadows, hedgerows etc. where in a single acre there can be up to 150 species of flora and fauna.  How much richer if at least field edges are given over to this sort of diversity.

The book was published before the current pandemic loomed onto our horizons, but Palmer’s comments set me thinking about the impact of Covid on our own society.  Two dangers struck me specifically.

Firstly, a culture of “blame and complain” has, sadly, been quite prevalent and I would defy anyone to assert they haven’t fallen into it at times.  Whether it’s

“the students”

“young people who think they’re invincible”

“people up North”

“people in London”

 “people whose education and privilege gives them a sense of entitlement to freedoms that come at the expense of others”

“people whose experience of deprivation and alienation leaves them with little or no respect for authority and its rules”

The groups who can be blamed for making things worse are endless.  But all in all, it re-enforces a sense of “us and them”.  One example from my own experience is that prior to the present lockdown, I had taken a decision not to visit certain shops which I perceived as being frequented by people who I experienced as having limited regard for social distancing.  Was this being wise and safety-conscious or was it stereotyping and judgementalism?  I don’t know the answer.

Secondly, the nature of the present restrictions means that I and many others have massively reduced opportunities to mix with people from other ethnicities and countries of birth, of different sexual orientations, social background etc.  In the present phase I do not go in any shops or other indoor spaces where I might normally have at least passing opportunities to interact with others.  Church and social gatherings, shared interest groups are only happening online.  Conversations with neighbours and people I pass during my periods of exercise can only be fairly superficial, conducted as they must be at distance (and currently in the cold!!!).  So my exposure to diversity is currently dramatically reduced.

As I have commented before in these columns, there are many ways in which the pandemic has brought out positives in our society in terms of care for others.  But I believe there are significant dangers too.

So what can we do about it? 

As regards the first issue, I know that I need to be much more careful not to fall into the “blame and complain” trap.  It is often commented that in so many contexts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to know what to talk about.  The usual line of “What have you been up to lately?” tends to draw the response “Not a lot” and “Who have you seen recently?” “No-one really”.  This has felt like a particular problem in telephone calls with retired folk like myself but my teenage grandchildren tell me it is just the same in their calls with their friends.  So the upshot is that it has been estimated that 75% of general conversation at present is about the pandemic.  And how much of that is of the “blame and complain” variety I wonder?  I need to try harder to avoid it both in my conversations and in my thinking – specifically, in this context, rejecting an “us the goodies” and “them the baddies” stance.

Clearly nothing at all can be done about the amount of direct social interaction we are having at the present time.  However on the internet, in well-chosen TV and radio, books, mission organisation literature etc., we have infinite opportunities to open our minds to diversity in all its many forms.  And many of us have more time than usual to do just that!


[i] Palmer, Parker J. On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Older (2018), pub. Berrett-Keohler, Oakland CA

 

22nd January 2021

Mick Grainger, a much loved and respected Church Member, died in hospital on 20th January. Kay Hamer has written this tribute:-

It is with great sadness that we hear that Mick 'Went Home' this week. He meant so much in so many ways to so many people and we will miss him loads. Whoever you speak to, they have stories of him and the way he related to all in so many differing aspects.

Mick was a man of faith, principals, hopes, dreams, understanding and ability to give sound advice. This always with a sense that you knew God was guiding him.

I have some wonderful memories of Mick. These range from special times with God either personally or within a group. Many times he shared what God had spoken to him; always this was either an encouragement, guidance, or admonition.

He was a man full of God's Spirit; always contrasting his 'Before and After Life', and glorying in his coming to know God and accepting Him as his Saviour. His telling of the tale did, I'm sure, encourage others to take that step of faith.

Mick was a great listener too and one felt in his listening that he had heard a lot more than had been said. His advice was Godly and one knew that he had continued to pray into your situation.

Mick's family were so very precious to him and he loved to share the joys of their times together. The sadness of losing daughter Kaye was so hard; knowing she was with the Lord was a great comfort to him and Norma. Chloe and Noah (Kaye's children) were very close to them and they spent lots of time together. Debbie (Kaye's twin sister) too was special and in his final days both Debbie and Chloe were able to be with him.

It is fitting to mention that the nurses who cared for Mick in his last days have said they loved Mick.

Mick was great fun too. There will be many who can tell tales of fun and laughter as they spent time with him and Norma.

One of my favourite memories is going to Spring Harvest with Mick, Norma and Brenda and Dexter Ladbroke. We stayed off site in a cottage. Mick made friends with a 'straw'. Yes a straw!. It came everywhere we went, to meetings, outings, meals together. I said he was fun!

I want to add some words from one time member of our young people's group. Nathan Wade clearly loves Mick and this is what he said.

"It's really hard to explain this but Mick and Norma's effect on me in my childhood and teens at Queen's Road was unique in it's kindness and has lived with me all through my adulthood.

When I think about the idea of coming home, I see Mick there greeting me at the door with the most loving handshake and pat on the shoulder a person could receive, and that would have been the same if I had been away for 10 days, weeks, months or years.

I felt as though he cared about people so, so much, for no other reason than the fact that he couldn't help it. Truly I am shedding tears at this moment for those wonderful memories. I can only imagine how much more deeply he loved his family if he's managed to make a blast from the past feel this way.

Mick was ready to leave us, he always said he was only waiting for the paint to dry on his room in heaven.          

The Paint is dry

Please pray for Mick's wife Norma in her loss and herself very unwell in hospital.

It's been a blessing to have known my special friend.

Kay Hamer

 

19th January 2021

Fire to warm us

Reading John chapter 14, I was reminded by Tom Wright, whose commentaries[i] I love that the promises contained in its verses are “truths which turn to fire and love and invite us to warm ourselves within their inmost circle”.  This set me thinking about the song, “Jesus Be the Centre”[ii].

The link, of course, was the chorus:

Be the fire in my heart

Be the wind in these sails

Be the reason that I live, Jesus

The title of the song and its theme, “Jesus, be the centre”, is a challenging one.  In essence it is what we would all no doubt aspire to.  But in terms of our day-to-day round, most of us, I suspect, don’t operate with it in our immediate awareness much of the time.

Contemplating the chorus helped me to think further about this.  It is always interesting to note the first snap answer we give to reflective questions before our brain kicks in and tries to formulate the “right” or more coherent answer.  When I asked myself “What is the reason that you live” my snap answer was “I live to support my family”.  You may like to ask yourself the same question.  What we perceive as the “right” answer may well be something along the lines of “I live to ‘glorify God and enjoy him forever’”[iii].  Or “I live to serve him and do his work in this world”.  “Or I live to bring other people to a saving knowledge of Jesus”.  The fact that my answer and probably yours sounds a lot less spiritual does not of course mean that we are living all wrong.  There is no great divide between what is spiritual and what is not.  I am firmly convinced that if we have walked with God as best as we are able for a number of years, then, on the whole, what we want and like (to do and be involved in) is what God wants us to do and be involved in. 

If I ask myself “what puts the wind in my sails?” my snap answer is something like “exercise in the fresh air” and “being in beautiful landscapes”.  Again not wrong in itself and only one of the things that energises me but the first that comes to mind.  Both “wind” and “fire” are metaphors found often in Scripture[iv], and also evoke specific stories in the Bible[v].  The wonderful thing about metaphor is that it can speak to each of us in different ways.  The way we perceive images like “fire” and “wind” is very subjective and may include both positive and negative concepts.  What lights a fire in my heart might be a burning sense of outrage at an injustice or inequality.  Or, coming back to Tom Wright’s comment, it might be the warmth of hearing and receiving God’s promises afresh.

So, what puts “wind in your sails”?  What lights a fire in your heart?  These may be questions worth considering.  My answers are very specific to me.  Yours may be very different.

But what am I concluding from all these rambles?

  1. I think firstly I am recognising that Jesus is the centre for most of us much more than we realise moment by moment.  The things that put wind in our sails and fire in our hearts are mostly gifts from him, even if they don’t sound obviously “spiritual”.
  2. Clearly there is always room to make Jesus more the centre of our lives!
  3. Right now, with all that is going on we need, more than ever, to dwell on those promises of God found throughout Scripture.  They key ones articulated by Jesus and recorded in John 14 being perhaps:
  1. I will never leave you[vi]
  2. I will give you the strength and power you need to live through these challenges[vii]
  3. I will give you a peace that no-one and nothing else can[viii]

A fire gives both warmth and light and these truths have the power not only to warm our hearts but also to shed light into the gloom and dreariness that are part of what surrounds us just now, both physically and psychologically.

Barbra Depledge

 


[i] Tom Wright, John for Everyone, Part 2, chapters 11-21, published by SPCK and Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.  Tom Wright’s commentaries, subtitled “for Everyone” are divided into sections ideal in length for daily reading, are very readable and make an interesting alternative to the often more theme-based Daily Bible Reading notes.  They come in book form or are available on Kindle, for those whose eyesight, like mine, precludes much reading of printed books!

[ii] Written by Kathryn Sarah Scott and Michael Frye

[iii] Westminster Shorter Catechism

[iv] For example John 3.8, Jeremiah 20.9

[v] For example Exodus 3.2, Exodus 14.21, 1 Kings 18.38, 1 Kings 19.11, Mark 4.39, Acts 2.2

[vi] Verse 18

[vii] Verse 12

[viii] Verse 27

 

 

13th January 2021

God speaks in many and mysterious ways[i]

In roughly the year 4BC (Before Covid) I wrote a piece for the church magazine (forgotten a lot of things BC so can’t remember what it was called in that era) about how God had spoken to me through an advertising hoarding.  This morning he spoke to me through something I saw on Facebook.

I realise that amongst the readers of these columns, there will be varied opinions about Facebook.  I only went on it so I could keep an eye on what my family are up to (!).  (Actually my teenage grandchildren think Facebook is so yesterday, so I’m on Instagram as well now).  I’m only Facebook friends with my immediate family and a couple of close friends so if I’ve ignored a Facebook friend request from you, forgive me!  Notwithstanding the questions, there are often quite thought provoking snippets on there.

This morning someone had shared a little piece that went “I miss people……  I miss hugs …. I miss you - even if I have never met you …..I miss everything”. My reaction was “yes, yes YES.  AND I HATE ……”  I hate having to move away from people as I pass them on the pavements and footpaths.  I hate seeing people cower in hedges if they feel I haven’t moved far enough away from them.  I hate seeing people grab for their face covering when I approach.   Perhaps most of all, I hate people not being able to see me smile when I’m wearing a face mask and I hate not being able to see them smile at me.

I am not for one minute questioning the importance of these behaviours to keep us all safe.  It is the messages they convey and the feelings they can generate that I hate.  I have been reminded of being told by people of minority ethnicities that they have experienced people of the majority ethnicity moving away or looking fearful as they approach.  It appals me to think that my behaviour might mirror this however much the intention might be quite different.

As I reflected on this, I was reminded of the catch phrase “What would Jesus do?” popularised some 30 years BC.  I remembered that Jesus touched the leper[ii], a dead girl[iii], the blind man (twice)[iv].  There is no reason to believe Jesus touched the woman at the well[v] physically but I don’t suppose he drew sharply back at her approach and I feel sure his face and his body language conveyed acceptance and comfort in her presence.  Down the years of our Christian walk, we have been encouraged to welcome the stranger, to reach out to those who feel “other”, disadvantaged or alienated.

So how can we lessen the potential negative impact of our necessarily distanced behaviours?  People talk sometimes about “smiling with our eyes”.  I’m not truthfully sure how I go about doing that, especially at 2 metres distance and with my eyesight I’ve no chance of reading such signs in other people’s eyes!  I remembered however that early on in the first lockdown I resolved to greet every single person I passed on my early morning cycle rides with a firm “Good morning” with eye contact if at all possible (i.e. if it didn’t cause me to wobble and fall off my bike!).  I did it even if the reaction was stony silence or speedy aversion of the eyes.  Several of those I passed more than once warmed a little over time.  It was a tiny attempt to achieve a minimal degree of social connection to counteract the effects of distancing.  Over time my efforts slipped.  I’m trying to reinstate them!  Many of us have made a big effort to speak encouragingly to till operators in shops and others who have so often had to take the flak from others about shortages, delays etc.  Again I can forget or be so anxious to shoot in and out as fast as possible that I miss the opportunity to speak just a few words. 

On the up side, in lockdown, many people have had time – and openness - to stand and chat in a way that wouldn’t have happened previously.  Recent events have caused some to become very fearful again but I pray I will be alert to the signals that people would welcome a brief chat. 

Much has been said elsewhere about how we continue to support and encourage one another.  I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about how we relate to those we don’t know whom we encounter.  I have avoided getting into any debate about how precisely Jesus would behave if he was walking about in a pandemic because I’m not Jesus.  But I do pray that in a situation where we are denied many of the means by which we would normally seek to serve others and “do his work” that we will get sufficiently past our own fears in our interactions with others to be aware and responsive to their needs.

Barbra Depledge

 

[i] Job 33.14 (paraphrased)

[ii] Mark 1.41

[iii] Mark 5.41

[iv] Mark 8.23,25

[v] John 4.4-26

 

15th December 2020

With my own eyes I have seen your salvation [i]

Thank you, Ian, for pointing out where God continues to be born and to shine forth his light in Coventry this year!

And thank you, Ian and Ralph, our (not so) retired wise men, for continuing to share your learning and wisdom with us in so many ways throughout this year.

May each of us discover for ourselves in new ways this Christmas how God continues to be incarnated among us[ii]  and as Emmanuel [iii]come alongside us moment by moment as we seek to follow his star.

Barbra Depledge

[i] Luke 2.30

[ii] John 1.14

[iii] Matthew 1.23

3rd December 2020

In her article on 25th November Barbra Depledge reported that "Sadly, it seems that there is NO ROOM for the BABY JESUS amidst all the building works this year.  Or at least I couldn’t find the lovely manger scene we’ve had most years in the Precinct for decades."  The good news is that Ian Macnair has now found it in a prime spot in Broadgate and sent us this photo. Thanks Ian!

 

 

From Liz Martin

My journey to ordination…

It was announced at the last Church Meeting that I have passed my Residential Selection Committee interviews for ordination with the Baptist Union, and a number of you have asked what that means, so I thought I would put together a paragraph for the website to briefly explain. I also wanted to say how grateful I have been for the prayers and the cards I received in the lead up to the interviews, and since.

There are two ways of being ordained within the BU, the first is to attend a Baptist College to do a theology degree, and at the end of it, students are accredited for ministry, and can seek a post in a church, or other pastoral setting. The second is to be recommended for ministry by your local church, where you have to have been in membership for at least 2 years, and have a call recognised by the church meeting. This is the route I have followed, though the beginning of this was a bit further back…

In 2014, I fulfilled something of a dream and started Bible College to study theology, initially, for a year, but loved it so much, that I decided to return, although I deferred re-entry for the following academic year. I restarted in 2016, through a slightly different mode of study, as we were due to move to Northern Ireland. Part way through my second year, although I was still loving the study, I was unsure why I was there. I met with my tutor to talk this through, and she asked whether I had considered ordination for chaplaincy. It felt very much like a thought that landed. Because we were living in Northern Ireland at the time, it was a thought that was committed to prayer, and to a small number of trusted people (who all expressed a similar sense of rightness about the exploration).

When Neil had the call to Queens Road, I had a conversation with our Regional Minister about my own sense of calling, and we began the process. We continued to pray, and I began to fill in some of what was to be much paperwork. I also approached our previous Church in Crondall to ask if they would be willing to recommend me for ordination, as I’d most recently been a member there in good standing for 2 years. Following this, I was invited to attend the Ministerial Recognition interview in October 2019, a day long interview with a group of several local ministers with a view to pursuing a role in Chaplaincy. I was recommended for the next stage but with the addition, at their suggestion, that I consider wider Church Ministry in addition to Chaplaincy, which I was, and am, happy to do, though I still feel that Chaplaincy is a good fit for me. This next stage was the Residential Selection Committee, a 2 day series of interviews, this year on zoom, which took place a few weeks ago. The day following the interviews, I had an email saying that the BU had enrolled me as a Newly Accredited Minister (subject to me finding a ministry post!).

I’m still not sure what the future holds in terms of pastoral ministry (but thankfully God knows!!), but hopefully some form of Chaplaincy. Thank you again for your prayers.

Liz

 

25th November 2020

From Barbra Depledge 

Christmas lights

I’m guessing that many of you haven’t been into Coventry City Centre for many months – can’t, haven’t needed to, wouldn’t want to (who would with all the current building works)!

Well I did this morning as I needed to pay something into one of the cash machines.  I was thrilled to discover that, despite everything, some of the Christmas lights are up!  As my friends and family will tell you, I absolutely love Christmas lights – the more the better!  I believe that we need a festival of light in the middle of winter – this year more than ever – and I have no difficulty in seeing them as reflecting the LIGHT and JOY of God.

So I thought I’d give you a flavour.  You will note that I submitted this to the “Words” section of “Our Stories”.  That is because these are rubbish photos and I would hate to lower the tone of photographic excellence often seen elsewhere on this website.  These were taken on a not very special mobile phone, before 7.00 a.m. in light drizzle while trying to keep my bike upright at the same time!

But here goes:

Approaching Little Park Street

In Broadgate

A new character in the Lower Precinct (see, I told you they were rubbish photos!)

Lower Precinct again
Lower Precinct yet again The Bull Yard
Sadly, it seems that there is NO ROOM for the BABY JESUS amidst all the building works this year. 

Or at least I couldn’t find the lovely manger scene we’ve had most years in the Precinct for decades.

But ALLELUIA 

Jesus is still HIGH and LIFTED UP, enthroned in glory and welcoming all people to join him in his kingdom of love and light NOW

(I’ll be honest, the photo of this amazing tapestry which I took peering through the window of Coventry Cathedral was SO rubbish I took one of the postcard version I have in my sanctuary at home to replace it!)

 

 

29th October 2020

From Barbra Depledge

How is your new house feeling?

If you’re feeling cheerful and upbeat about how you’re coping in the pandemic, then please don’t read this!

Back in July, I wrote a piece for these pages about an analogy God had given me of our current situation.  I suggested that it felt as if, in late March, we all had compulsory purchase orders served on our homes and were forced, with very little notice, to move to a new and less pleasant home in a less desirable area.  Almost all of us were finding this transition extremely difficult.  I suggested that somehow we needed to learn to more fully experience God’s presence with us in these new homes, however much we were still struggling to accept them.

To whatever degree we managed to achieve this – or not – I imagine most of us still retained some hope deep down that in the foreseeable future we would be able to move back to our old homes.  We heard all the talk of having to accept a “new normal” but hung onto the notion that “by Christmas” the pandemic would be well on the way to being under control …. “when we get a vaccine” …. and then it was “by next Easter” …… As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to sustain any time-bounded hopes.

Nonetheless we have mostly managed to work out how to maintain our responsibilities and relationships within our new homes.  And, for most of us, life had got quite a bit better.  We have been able to meet friends reasonably freely (subject to social distancing etc.), to see many family members (though the “rule of 6” has presented problems latterly if you have more than a small family), the children being back at school (mostly) has relieved the horrors of trying to “home school” them and simultaneously work at home and for the fortunate, a break away from home has been entirely possible.  Now Coventry is in Tier 2, at least some of these benefits have been withdrawn.  And with colder and more frequently wet weather, all those outdoor get togethers become less attractive!

Initially those fortunate enough to be able to get out and about were able to discover previously unknown local countryside and forms of exercise.  Additionally we saw much evidence of increased kindness and thoughtfulness towards neighbours and others.  As time goes on, that remains true, and hearing examples of exceptional generosity and kindness gladdens our hearts.  However, we cannot fail to be aware also of instances of cynical exploitation of the situation, of uncaring non-compliance with restrictions by some and selfish assertion of “rights” to personal freedoms at the expense of others.  The “blame game” fills a disturbing part of everyday conversations and the divides in our society threaten to get worse not better.  It thus becomes more difficult to believe that we’re all going to come out of this better people and the world a nicer place.

So, for many of us, this new house that we were forced to move to in March is once again not feeling like much of a “des res”;  the old one seems to have been largely demolished and it’s all feeling a bit grim and gloomy.

That all sounds pretty negative.  So, why am I expressing it?  I am certainly not expressing it because I have all the answers.  I definitely do not!  I share it for two reasons:

Firstly I believe profoundly that resolving the feelings of weariness and gloom that many of us are experiencing is not achieved by denying those feelings or latching on to platitudes.  Rather, it is important that we acknowledge those feelings, feel they are “allowed” and validate them in others.

Secondly I believe that we all have “work” to do to process those feelings.  Acknowledging feelings does not mean passively accepting they’re here to stay.  Sometimes we just need to be kind to ourselves and accept that’s how we feel today but at other times we need to examine what’s happening to us both psychologically and spiritually.  Psychologically, for example, old feelings of loss and disappointment will be touched and we need to try and separate what is about this new situation and what is not.  Most of us struggle with uncertainty and the unknown and, somehow, we have to find ways of living with that.  Spiritually, we will all be wondering “where is God in all this?”  Plenty of Christians are offering opinions on that but each of us needs to come to our own view – and learn to be comfortable with the mystery that remains.  Above all, we need to reach out to the God who is already firmly in residence in these new homes of ours and embrace his nearness and the peace, strength and courage he longs to give us.  I can’t tell you how to do that because it will be different for each of us but we will have to dig deep into whatever resources help us personally – Scripture, hymns and songs, different spiritual wisdom and traditions, the support of friends etc.  Sometimes God comes in a flash of healing light – but mostly we do have to work at it!

Barbra Depledge

Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the sheepfold and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in my Saviour.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3.17-19

14th October 2020

THE CHORDINAIRES

If you regularly listen to virtual services, you will have heard a vocal group leading our worship with hymns and songs accompanied by piano, or occasionally the organ.  This is the Queens Road “Chordinaires” at work!

Where did the name come from?

Coral had an idea and then Don took it and applied his 1940’s dream world to come up with the name.

What do they do?

They get together electronically to sing songs.

What sort of things do they sing?

They have sung on a Sunday morning:-

And can it be Before the throne of God above
Blessed assurance Jesus is mine Come now is the time to worship
How great Thou art I will sing a wondrous story
In Christ alone To God be the glory
The old rugged cross Thine be the glory
We plough the fields and scatter What a friend we have in Jesus
When I survey the wondrous cross  

Who are they?

Don Brown Chris Burrell Iain Colville Clare Edwards
Coral Lynes Stan Lynes Liz Martin John Pither
 
Jane Pudsey Poppy Stewart Robert Whale  

 

Not everyone sings on every item but all the above have been heavily involved.  If you would like to be involved contact Robert Whale on 07912 213520 or Don Brown on 07786 914725

 

7th October 2020

An anonymous contribution

Rejoice with those who rejoice." Romans 12 v 15 (a)

Oh yes, that's the easy part. I can rejoice with the best of them. Celebrating births of new great grandchildren, grandchildren, great nieces, marriages, birthday celebrations, baptisms. Rejoicing over amazing photos of this year's spring, summer and autumn, most of them taken with a "simple" smartphone camera and some with special lens attachments (quite awesome). Women in Tanzania who are rejoicing over making clay pots to cook on which are quicker, safer and more environmentally friendly than their previous open fires with a few sticks! To be humbled by the fact that I have a temperature controlled oven and hob which comes on with the turn of a knob, and it's indoors. Please don’t think I'm being cynical, I genuinely enjoy celebrating all such events, both great and small. Oh yes, I can definitely rejoice with those who rejoice.  But that's only half of the verse!

"Mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12 v 15 (b)

Those who weep, those who grieve. Oh, do I really have to do that? That just seems soooo and toooo hard.

We often get requests to pray for someone experiencing such heart rending circumstances and sometimes it's just overwhelming. I guess that's how I'm feeling right now.  

How do I pray for a dad whose wife has just died after a battle with leukaemia leaving him with a 3 year old little boy without his mummy. How do I pray for a friend who's just lost a close friend years before his time having lived with dialysis due to diabetes. How do I pray and walk with my 22 year old granddaughter who has lived with Type 1 diabetes from the age of 5 and who has recently been diagnosed with MS and rheumatoid arthritis. How do I pray and walk with and comfort a friend who's son committed suicide at the age of 16 and who feels the excruciating pain of loss that will probably never leave her. What do I say to and pray for a friend who's been told that her 7 year old grandson is unlikely to reach adulthood because of a severe heart condition. How do I pray, encourage and support someone whose son has life changing special needs to become the man God intended him to be. And the oh–so-many others who I meet and hear about along the way, not to mention all the pain, suffering and sorrow we are hit with on a daily basis via the news. Yes, how do I mourn with those who mourn and pray to make a difference? 

I will go to the only place I know. To the foot of the cross, to Him who knew excruciating physical and mental pain and anguish as He suffered for fallen, broken, sinful humanity. To the throne of grace and mercy, where He now sits in the victory of resurrection glory. There I will rejoice with those who rejoice and weep and weep and weep again with those who weep. Sometimes words don't come, but He knows my heart and I can rejoice that one day all things will be made new, all things will be as God created them to be. All tears will be wiped away, all pain, sorrow and suffering ended, for ever and for all eternity. And we will rejoice!

Amen

 

5th October 2020

From Coral Lynes

This hymn/prayer was sung by many children in schools and places of worship during the first half of the 20th Century.  On one of our times of quiet reflection in the grounds of Cloverley Hall during the QRBC weekend last year I was reminded of this song.  Both the words and the tune were easy enough for a child to learn and I felt that it was worth sharing.  The repetition of the second line throughout the hymn is a simple reminder of our need to continually give thanks to our heavenly Father for all his goodness to us even in times of difficulty and trusting him to lead us even when things do not appear clear to us.                        

Giving Thanks

For air and sunshine pure and sweet,
We thank our heavenly Father,
For grass that grows beneath our feet,
We thank our heavenly Father;
For flowers that all around us bloom,
That ever yield their sweet perfume,
For birds that sing in joyful tune,
We thank our heav’nly Father.

For leafy trees, with fruit and shade,
We thank our heavenly Father,
For things of beauty he hath made,
We thank our heavenly Father;
For daily blessings, full and free,
For leading when we cannot see,
For all his care o’er you and me,
We thank our heavenly Father.
 

 

27th September 2020

From Margaret Newby

I'm sitting here looking at some flowers that were bought for me about a week ago. They are alstroemerias which are one of my favourite flowers to have in a vase because they last for such a long time. 

However, yesterday, I noticed that one of the stems was bent and had started to look rather sad and droopy. Firstly, I thought I should take it out and put it in our green bin. At least by doing that it would go for compost!  "Hang on a minute"  I thought to myself and with a bit of prodding, poking and adjustment, I managed to stand the droopy stem amongst the other flowers which were stronger and able to support it. This rather droopy and bruised stem is now looking much healthier and happier and with the support from the other stems it will, hopefully, last for many more days.

This reminded me of how God has placed each one of us within His Church family, designed to support and strengthen each other, particularly in times of difficulty. To bear with one another. To rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. We are not meant to stand  alone, we were made to be relational. 

Maybe some of our Church family at QRBC are feeling rather sad, bruised and droopy and lonely at present, just like the stem of one of my flowers. Finding it difficult to keep and feel connected. Communication has become more difficult but let's continue to look at creative ways in which we can support each other at these difficult times. Just like the other stems in my vase are having to use some of their strength to support the bruised and droopy one. it's not without cost to them, but all of them, together, continue to give pleasure, just as we give pleasure, together, to our loving Heavenly Father. 

 

30th August 2020

Today we share joyfully in the Baptism of

Olly Boxer. Olly wanted to give a fuller

version of his testimony than he

could in the service.

Click on the photo to read

"My Baptismal Testimony" by Olly Boxer.

6th August 2020

A letter to the church from Global Care

Thank you for your donation of £300 safely received via bank transfer.

 I understand that this donation is a result of sales from a book produced by Chris Headon, and we will also write and thank her personally.

This kind donation will be used to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses vary according to the needs of each country, but Global Care’s partners in countries including Uganda, Zambia, India, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia are delivering food, soap and other essentials to vulnerable families unable to work, and therefore unable to eat. Global Care’s partners are also raising awareness for improving hygiene.

Thank you for your donation, which will enable this important work to continue.

 We trust you are staying safe and keeping well in the current outbreak.

 Thank you for standing with vulnerable children during this challenging time.

 Kind regards

 Clare

 Clare Oliver

PA to CEO

 


3rd August 2020

From Eileen Spriggs

A reflection on Psalm 107

During lockdown.......

Some have completed jigsaws

Others have painted pictures, pots or walls.

Some have provided food parcels

Others have gardened or home schooled.

Whatever we have done,

Wherever we have been

The truth of this Psalm endures.

 Verse 1 reads ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever’.  And the final verse reads ‘Whoever is wise let them heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord’, and with lots in between about ‘Some did this’ and ‘Others that’!

 


2nd August 2020

Co-incidence, God-incidence?

I happened to be at QR recently ('ooh! what was he doing there'?) when a rather smart car turned into our car park. I saw two men get out and approach the entrance, looking for an open door. 'Hello, welcome, how may I help you'?  'We'd like to give some money to the church'.

Not the sort of thing that happens on a daily basis, although it does happen occasionally. I asked what had led them to make such a gesture.

It transpired that the two men were father and son, both doctors. The son had set up a Bioscience business and was developing a Covid related drug in partnership with Birmingham University. He had decided to sell the business as it needed to be part of a larger group to be able to progress. Both father and son regularly drove past our church on the ring road and often noted the advertising banners above our entrance doors.

1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4given

Recently, they were considering the sale and how much to sell it for, when again driving past our church. Father saw the banner and said 'Go for £Xmillion' They did and the business was sold. They explained that as practising Sikhs, it was their custom to make a thank offering in such circumstances. So, as the sale price was inspired by our banner, they wanted to offer us a token gift, which they did.

I thanked them on behalf of the church for their gesture, we said our goodbyes and I then watched, covetously, as the shiny new Aston Martin left our car park.

You can see more about the project here.  Who knows QR might indirectly have influenced the course of history if this project leads to a successful drug?

Graham Parsons

 


29th July 2020

On 10th July we published a note from a grateful Mum for the the support she had had from our Babies and Toddler groups, Tiddlers and Tiddlywinks. And now we have another letter of appreciation.

Tiddlers and then Tiddlywinks have been a really important part of our lives since the children were just a few months old. It was our first regular commitment and sometimes it was a real challenge to get us all ready to leave the house and make the half hour walk, but we were really grateful for the welcome and support which made the effort worthwhile. With twins to juggle, the groups have been the only ones that I have been able to access because of the help and support of the team who were always happy to help with one of them. As they grew older, I've enjoyed watching the children access more of the activities, especially at the weekly art table, and as they've become more independent I've even had the opportunity to finish some conversations with other parents which hasn't happened very often since they were born!

We've really appreciated everything that you and the Team have given and will always have happy memories of our time with you.

Anon


29th July 2020

From Eileen Spriggs

A story on Patience, or rather, lack of......

Oh dear, what have I done!
I planted the seeds
followed the instructions
Lots and lots of water.
They are water cress seeds after all.
The seeds sprouted, then grew.....
a bit..... hurry up,
I want to eat you, so....
Plant food, proper plant food.
Good for plants?
But can you believe, I’ve killed them!
Is this why God.. Jesus..the bible..
Urges us to have patience?
To wait until the right time.
God has made the world to have order
and sequence and consequences.
Patience as a spiritual fruit and
a lesson I obviously need to learn! 


23rd July 2020

Chris Banks writes:-  "I had shared some pictures in our REAL group of a couple of planters which I had painted. Lots of people had said that they would love to do something similar, so we arranged that I’d do some workshops. The first ones arranged had to be cancelled due to the virus so it was good to actually get together. Lots of fun was had by all! This was the first of two gatherings so as to allow for social distancing. I’ll let you have more pics after the other group meets."


20th July 2020

During lockdown I have started to write down my reflections. This is a recent one on Holiness - or lack of!

Eileen Spriggs

What does it mean to be holy?

It isn’t anything I’ve ever aspired to.

Holy? No, that’s not for me.

It sounds like being ‘holier than thou’

a derogatory term used to mock and

to  ‘bring down to size’. Yet,

it’s a biblical requirement

quoted from Genesis to Revelation.

It is God who is holy, naturally holy,

his character and whole being.

But not ours, not even remotely.

So I can only ask again

What does it mean to be holy?

I am pointed to the cross and why

Jesus chose to die there.

For me. For us. For all.

All generations. All peoples. All time.

When we finally see, really see

God’s amazing love and sacrifice

wiping out our unholiness.

Questions cease, and we fall down at his feet in praise, in thankfulness, awe and worship.


10th July 2020

As well as these written contributions to "Our Stories" we have had two photo galleries filling up with contributions. One is about things seen relating to the natural world and the other is about Arts and Crafts. We have now had a contribution which cannot go in the Arts and Crafts gallery because it is a video so you can see it here instead. Created by Marie Shankland the short video (no sound) shows the finished result of a secret garden that she created using epoxy resin moulds and bits of wood, concrete and other bits & pieces.


10th July 2020

When my oldest was 8 weeks old, we joined a lovely little baby group called Tiddlers. Everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and we even had the added bonus of tea and hot toast, whilst making new friends! It was lovely that when she was 1 she could then go onto the bigger toddler group, Tiddlywinks. And we came every Friday, without fail, except for one when she was really poorly! So when my second came along, we couldn't wait to go back! For 3 years ( 7 in total) we have had the same routine; chat on the way to school, drop big sis off, get the bus, and chat all the way until we reached Tiddlywinks, then excitedly run into the hall to play with all the toys, and chat with all our toddler friends. ( And of course the lovely helpers who always had an activity for us each week.) So we were beyond gutted when the stupid you know what closed the group down, knowing this would be our last time we could attend before my youngest goes to nursery. It didn't really hit me until the following Friday when he looked at me expecting to go, and didn't understand why he couldn't go, and I couldn't really explain to a 3 year old why he couldn't play with his friends, or chase the helpers in his favourite car, or cheekily sneek an extra biscuit in, so I just said ' it's not on today. And we went for a scooter ride instead. So when this lovely book and card arrived in the post today, he beamed! What a lovely gesture, to think of us, even though we can't come back at the moment to have the usual summer party and goodbye song, to still think of us! So thank you everyone at Tiddlywinks! We really are gutted we missed our last few months here, because it honestly is the best toddler group we've ever been too!

A grateful Mum

 


5th July 2020

A Compulsory Purchase Order?

It seems to me that our spiritual journey is about being pilgrims on a journey and foreigners in our own land (Hebrews 11.13, 1 Peter 2.11).  But as we journey, we have to live out the Good News in the place in which we find ourselves, seeking to become the people God intends us to be right there.  At each stage of the journey, we make a place to stay, a home, hopefully built on the rock (Matthew 7.24-27).

Most of us have experienced house moves in our lives.  Sometimes these are chosen – to a house of more appropriate size, to a preferred area, nearer to family, good schools etc.  Sometimes a move is forced upon us – a change of financial circumstances, a job change, the need for more support from or for family.  When we move, even if we have chosen it, we feel disoriented, concerned about how our cherished possessions will fit.  We begin to adjust once we start to feel safe, to know how to access our desired activities and interactions with others and to fit our possessions in and know where things are.

On 22nd March, it was as if we were all served with a Compulsory Purchase Order on our homes with very little warning. On 23rd March we were evicted from those homes and forced to move to a new property we had not even had a preliminary viewing of.  A few people could immediately see benefits in the new property – less responsibilities, more time to pursue hobbies.  But for the vast majority of us, it was a huge upheaval and we’re still trying to adjust.  Even those who had severely restricted lifestyles before lockdown have less (if any) visitors, less other outlets.  It is increasingly clear that we can never return to our old homes.  And whilst we are being allowed to see more of our friends and family (how many get togethers have you had in the garden in the rain?!?) and to pursue more activities, lots of longed for improvements still seem quite a way off (the kids back in regular schooling, shopping a less stressful experience, indoor groups able to meet, services in the chapel).  If you’re shielding because you are “extremely vulnerable”, or living with someone who is, then the freedom to come and go as you would like to may still seem a very long way off.  It’s still quite hard to see how we can fit into the new house, just what its boundaries are and how safe it is.

We tend to judge the suitability of a new home on whether we believe it meets our needs, enables us to do what we want to do and see who we want to see.  If we do not feel this is the case, we feel trapped within the walls, stuck in longings to go back.  What we actually need is to experience within our homes the heights of God’s love, the depths of his mercy and the width of his grace.  Can we learn to see our new homes in those terms?  Because they may not feel safe based on other criteria any time soon!

I write this not as one who has got it sorted in any sense.  Far from it.  But this further analogy helps me to have another perspective on how to move forward in this particular, challenging bit of the journey.

Barbra Depledge


3rd July 2020

A lifetime adventure

It was fifty years ago today, 3rd July 1970, that we finally, slowly, pulled away from the quayside at Southampton docks at the beginning of a lifetime adventure.  We say finally because it was more than a year since we had had a sharp shock with an incredible answer to prayer that God used to uproot us from a very pleasant job and surroundings.  We say slowly because it is incredible how slow it seems when you have family on the quayside waving you off.  After a couple of years of uncertainty about what was happening, but certainty that God was moving us along we were now on board the Windsor Castle, flagship of the Cunard line, heading for South Africa on our way to Malawi.  We were going to drive from Cape Town to Malawi.  The first problem was that the brand new car, which had been earmarked all the way down the production line for us and Africa, was not on board with us.  They had fitted the extra springs and the sump shield, essential for African roads but local strikes meant that the windscreen and starter motor were not available.  The garage, through whom we were working offered to send a starter motor from their stock to enable the car to catch the boat a week later, but sent the wrong one so the car missed the next boat and whilst the car was ready for the following week dock workers went on strike and no boats sailed for a further three weeks.  A great start to a new life. 

 Actually God used even that.  It meant that we had to spend 5 weeks extra in South Africa waiting for the car.  We had previously been students at the University of Makerere in Uganda and worked in Kenya and Uganda gaining very positive relationships with our African peers and those we worked amongst. We were going to Malawi where a lot of mission work was still in the hands of South Africans.  This was the height of apartheid with South Africans holding very different views than our East African nurtured views.  Those five weeks helped us a lot.  We could never agree with the South African views, but by living (and working) amongst them we did begin to see how their views had developed.  This gave us insights which helped us  when we eventually got to Malawi and had to work alongside Afrikaaners with different ideas.

Ralph and Jane Hanger


29th June 2020

And this time, something completely different …

Since the start of lockdown, I have been enjoying an early morning cycle ride each day in lieu of my previous swims.  Early on, I had two quite difficult encounters with HS2 protesters who were blocking my route along a minor country road and who proved quite reluctant to move sufficiently to enable me to pass at a 2 metre distance.

This is absolutely not a discussion on the rights and wrongs of HS2 (new high speed rail line initially from London to Birmingham and thence onwards).  Suffice it to say that I was not in favour of the construction of HS2 in the first place and expressed this (in a rather tame way, perhaps) via a couple of online petitions.  However, HS2 has for some while been a “done deal” and construction has continued unimpeded throughout lockdown.

As time has gone on, I have had several interesting chats with HS2 construction workers who have told me interesting things about their work and how it fits into their lives and about the progress being made.  These have included chats with a couple of those tasked with maintaining 24/7 the security of the perimeter of the site.

This morning I had quite a different encounter.  I got chatting to two of the protesters, residents of the “….. Protection Camp” (names of places, gender and age of people met deliberately omitted).  They told me about their involvement in the protest and I gained an insight into how it had given two (perhaps quite troubled, disaffected and socially disadvantaged) individuals a cause, a purpose and a “family” of sorts.  These particular individuals were polite and respectful – it was a pleasure chatting with them.  They were keen to tell me that within the camp, they maintain social distance and as proof of this, not one of the residents has contracted the virus.

The conversation was not a long one.  It is my policy never to ask questions and never to express a view - but as the conversation progressed, I was aware of God gently rebuking me.  I had developed quite a fixed perception of a group of people ('the protesters').  The pattern was the usual one.  During those early encounters, I had become very anxious about whether I had in fact managed to stay a sufficient distance from them.  Over the next hours, my anxiety turned to anger.  I found myself thinking “if I get the virus, it will probably be their fault” and I lumped them all together and held a very negative, judging view of them.  This morning’s encounter challenged that.

As I said, this is not about my attitude to HS2.  It’s about my attitude to people.  God challenged me once again to see them as individuals!

Barbra Depledge


29th June 2020

What do missionaries look like?

Following Ian’s comments on Tim and Roddy in ‘Word for the Day‘ on what a missionary looks like and Neil’s comments on Sunday about how some people judge us by our exteriors, we thought you might like to hear of something that happened to us many years ago when we were ‘on leave’ from Malawi.

We were young missionaries, still in our late 20's and visiting folk in Belfast.  We travelled by ferry on a crowded boat.  As we arrived at the docks, the boat emptied with folk being greeted by friends and family, but we were eventually left on our own on the quayside.  We were working for Scripture Union at the time and so had our SU badges well displayed but no-one came to meet us.  At last someone came running up the quayside.  "Are you Ralph and Jane Hanger?" they said.  We were relieved! "We have just realised what we have been doing." they went on. "We have been standing at the end of the docks looking for a couple of missionaries, but we suddenly realised we don't know what missionaries look like!"

There certainly is no accurate stereotype for Missionaries!

Ralph and Jane Hanger


28th June 2020

Places of Passage:  further reflections on how we grow spiritually and emotionally through a period of transition and change!

I started to write this a few days ago – and then the latest announcement was made with a new raft of changes to what we will and will not be able do – mainly from 4th July.  And, as ever, I was so conscious that what brings improvement for some and hope that life will become more bearable before too long, brings little or none for others coping with a different set of circumstances.  Like everyone else, after each shift in this whole period of change, I have to try to grasp its implications for me and then let my world settle back onto some sort of level plain again.

In my last piece, I drew on one of the books I am reading at present.  It is entitled “The Other Side of Chaos: Breaking Through When Life is Breaking Down” and is by Margaret Silf.   In another chapter, Margaret lists 8 different forms of passage – means by which we get from one place to another – but not simply everyday journeys – those which involve a significant transition, a degree of risk or potentially fear.  These passageways offer wonderful pictures, images of our experiences as we journey from our lives as they were before the pandemic, through chaos, uncertainty, and loss towards life as it will be afterwards, the “new normal”.

The routes or places of passage Margaret suggests are:

  1. Tunnels
  2. Mountain passes
  3. Tidal causeways
  4. Flight
  5. Rough sea crossings
  6. Cliff tops
  7. Jungle trails
  8. Desert crossings

I find these really pertinent images because each of them will impact each of us differently.  I’m not keen on tunnels but am not nearly as uncomfortable with them as David (my husband).  As a keen hill walker, I love mountain passes but I’m not so keen if there is a very steep drop on both sides (not for me Striding Edge or Sharp Edge for Lake District enthusiasts!); others may experience serious vertigo on any narrow pass.  Tidal causeways take me to much loved places like the Holy Island of Lindisfarne; I understand the tide times and feel very comfortable that I know when it is safe to cross the causeway and when it is safe to cross the pilgrims’ path across the sands.  Others may fear the rising tide lapping at their backs, swallowing their opportunity for retreat.  Some love flying; others are terrified of it.  I love rough sea crossings; others hate them.  I love cliff tops and cliff paths but can't look when I see how close some people get to the edge – or worse let their children get to the edge!  My experience of jungle trails is limited to a handful of occasions when I’ve had a knowledgeable local guide; my experience of desert crossings is zero!

So some of these images reflect welcome transitions from one place to another, an adventure perhaps; others we will undertake only if we very badly want to get to a destination approached only by this route (a flight across the world, for example, to visit family).

With the pandemic, we have been thrust inescapably into a period of intense change and transition.  For a few this has brought positive benefits – a welcome respite from responsibilities and routine for example; for many there have been experiences of receiving exceptional kindness, discovery of new local places, beauty in unexpected places.  But mostly it has been difficult and unwelcome – and some of the consequences are not going away in a hurry.  We are still in or on those passages, journeying to a less than certain destination.  So much accumulated wisdom about our spiritual journey teaches us that growth comes through unasked for pain.  For Celtic Christians, passages have always had the potential to be “thin places” – places where the presence of God is especially tangible and easily felt.

You may like to reflect on each of these places of passage and see how you experience each image.  Which particularly resonates with you?  How far along or through those do you feel you have come? How is it changing you? I leave it with you!

Barbra Depledge


26th June 2020

This is a response to our questionnaire which you can find here if you would also like to contribute. 

Name (not necessarily your full name or real name)

Peggy

Is this a shared response and, if yes, who with?

Not shared

Some things that have affected you most in the crisis

The fellowship. So grateful for the contact via I Pad or telephone. Story received written by great grandchild

The hardest thing of all

Missing contact e.g. Big hugs from Friends and family.

Have there been some good points to come out of the crisis?

Being able to share photos of Friends and relatives

Any comments about the spiritual response of yourself and others

To be able to pray with members, at times like this, sharing a prayer helps such a lot.

Are there additional things you would have liked QRBC to do?

Have some traditional hymns included in the service

Anything else you would like to say?

May the love Of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all now and evermore.


22nd June 2020

We asked people to send us a photo (as it says in these notices) and Rev Ian Macnair did. Thank you and thanks to Ian and others who have contributed to our Word for the Day series which this Wednesday reaches 100 days of publication.

21st June 2020

Further lockdown musings

Much is being said and written at the moment expressing the hope that we will come out of this present situation BETTER – as a society and communities - where there is more kindness, more help and support for one another, more awareness of the needs of others.  The achievement of this aspiration clearly rests, not on wishful thinking, but on a significant proportion of individuals being better – kinder, more thoughtful etc.

Clearly the question we each need to be concerned about is “Will I (me, myself!) come out of this a ‘better’ person?”  Not just kinder, but more resilient, more mature in my faith? 

One of the books I am reading at present is proving particularly helpful.  It is by Margaret Silf and called “The Other Side of Chaos: Breaking Through When Life is Breaking Down”.  Margaret is one of my current favourite authors. With an earlier career in business and technology, she is now a Retreat Leader and Spiritual Director and writes from an Ignatian Spirituality perspective.  In the chapter I read this morning, she used the analogy of the story of Noah (Genesis 8).  Noah clearly followed God’s leading during a period of unprecedented chaos and transition.  He and his family were cooped up on the Ark (imagine the smells!) for months on end (ring any bells?).  Eventually the end seemed to be in sight but there were a few false starts before the dove went out and did not return.  Margaret points out that when the Ark comes to rest, it does so on Mount Ararat (conjures up for me wonderful images of the Ark wobbling precariously on some steep mountainside!).  The interesting thing is that this was a much higher place than where they set off from.  Not only quite geographically removed but at a higher altitude, one they might never have reached without the Flood.  This was of course no guarantee of coming out perfectly renewed people as the second half of Chapter 9 of Genesis tells us.  Coming out of this pandemic ‘better’ people – individually or as communities – is by no means guaranteed.  But the opportunity exists.  All of Noah’s friends, his former home and possessions have been stripped away and a new beginning HAS to be made – there is no going back.  For us too, despite our inevitable longings to “go back to normal”, this is not going to happen.  Most of what we long for is to be able to see different people, to do different things.  These are very natural hopes.  But what about who we are?  We will not be kinder, more thoughtful unless we become more spiritually and emotionally resilient.  Challenges there for each of us perhaps?

On a day to day basis, the situation remains horrible for many – painful, lonely, full of daily struggles, pleasures harder to find and to hold on to.  Each new “easing” of restrictions brings joy and improvement for some – and little or none for others.  We are all needing to find joy in small things that are accessible to us and contentment in new routines.  But growth and maturity will not come by denying that it is hard and unwelcome.  Resurrection and new life only follows death.  Death cannot be short circuited.  And one of my passions for now is that we give one another permission to be real about the struggles.  For me that is one of the most important ways in which we need to practice more kindness.

Barbra Depledge


8th June 2020

An appreciation of Jenny Caudwell

As you may have read on this website over the weekend, our member, Jenny Caudwell, died on Friday evening.   She and her husband, Brian, had been part of Queens Road for around 50 years and their three sons grew up with us.

Jenny suffered back and neck problems throughout her adult life following an accident as a young person but she nonetheless contributed much to the life of the church over the years.  Perhaps most notable was all she did to establish, sustain and adapt the Prayer Network as a vital part of the life of the fellowship.  How many of us have cause to be thankful that requests for prayer have been circulated quickly and efficiently, initially by telephone and latterly mainly by email?  Jenny was also a wonderful listener and was a faithful and supportive friend to many.  I was very blessed to have her as my Prayer Partner for many years and she was an absolutely indispensable, totally confidential support in my counselling work with the Light House and subsequently in other settings.

A couple of years ago, following a period of serious ill-health for both of them, Brian and Jenny took the very difficult decision to leave all their friends at Queens Road and move to Hexham where their son, Simon and his wife, Lynn, live.  They moved into a lovely bungalow in the grounds of a care home.  Sadly before long, Jenny needed more practical care than could be provided in that setting so she has been in different care homes whilst Brian remained in the bungalow, visiting her faithfully every day until lockdown started.  Jenny has been very poorly for several months and was ready to go and be with her Lord.  Brian, Simon and Lynn were able to be with her in her final hours.

Brian and Jenny’s other sons live in Canada and Switzerland respectively and their grand-daughter in Liberia.  Thankfully they have all been in close contact via video calling, but nonetheless being so far apart at such a time is hard.

Jenny was not someone who sought the limelight.  She suffered a good deal over her lifetime but she was sustained by her faith in our Lord and is a fine example to us of quiet trust and service.  We rejoice that she is now at peace with her Lord and pray the family will know his peace, his strength and his comfort.  We hope to share details of the funeral service in due course so those who wish, can share in their own homes in this remembrance of Jenny.

Barbra Depledge


27th May 2020

I was reading the story of Martyn Cook who was a member at our church in the 1970s & 80s. (see story on 25th May below). He recently came across some posters of the Evangelist Billy Graham whilst sorting his garage out and was asking about any members who had memories of Billy Graham’s ministry.

Well this is my story :-      My sister Lorraine Mills received an invitation from Queens Road church to attend a Mission England crusade at Villa Park led by the preacher Billy Graham. We both accepted his invitation at the end of his service to get out of our seats and onto the football ground to ask God into our lives.

We both attended a nurture group and then a baptismal class at Queens Road church. In March 1985 we were both baptised and we would both say it is the best decision we have taken in our lives, knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savour and best friend, and I imagine it’s the same for millions of other people around the world that Billy Graham led to Jesus.

There’s lots of quotes of Billy Graham but this is one of my favourites:-

  “The cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering, for he took them upon himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

    From the cross God declares “I love you, I understand the heartaches and sorrows and the pain that you feel, but I love 💗 you.

    The story does not end with the cross for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb, it tells us there is hope, eternal life, for Jesus Christ has conquered evil and death and hell, YES there is hope.

As we look forward this weekend to the celebration of Pentecost, I pray that many more people will experience God's Holy Spirit poured out upon their lives.

God's blessings

Gail Shineton


26th May 2020

Beyond Ourselves……!

LOCKDOWN and SELF-ISOLATION have by and large reduced our horizons to the four walls of our sitting rooms.

Increasingly, we feel the pain and heartache of the loss of that most basic of human needs -------- to be together!  It is, of course, most keenly felt where families are unable to gather, but it also applies to our church family.

*not being able to be in church together

*not being able to sing together, to worship God together, to hear from His Word together

*not receiving/sharing a smile, a handshake, a hug as we greet one another…

*not being able to gather around the LORD’s table together

*not being able to share coffee and a natter afterwards in the servery…

*and, not being able to come together as a church family to celebrate and give thanks for the lives of those we’ve so recently lost and hold most dear.

Whilst many churches, our own included, are doing a magnificent job enabling us to ‘meet and worship’ virtually ___ it is just NOT the same as actually being with one another.  I was sharing this thought recently with a dear friend who lost her husband to cancer just 3 days after Lockdown was imposed and who herself was only 3 weeks post-op following a hip replacement at the time. This was her response:

Yes, it is not the same as really worshipping together. At least we have something ….. unlike our persecuted brothers and sisters. Just been praying for Iran and Algeria this morning. How do they survive?”

As I read her text I felt deeply ashamed and convicted!   There was I bemoaning the loss of being together as church, and she, a newly widowed lady still in the early stages of recovering from surgery, was faithfully praying for fellow believers in Christ who CANNOT MEET TOGETHER as church for fear of the authorities.

The title I gave these few thoughts is “Beyond Ourselves…” because my friend’s wonderful attitude challenged me to think BEYOND myself and my little woes to people who have been suffering much much longer than our 8-9 weeks of Lockdown. We know that ultimately we WILL GET BACK to being together to worship God; to share communion together in freedom. Our friends in Christ in Iran, Algeria and many other countries may never have that privilege or may live in constant fear should they try to meet!

Whilst digital technology may allow persecuted Christians to access Christian material on line or even ‘‘meet virtually’’,  it can also be used by the authorities to identify and discriminate against believers. Attacks against churches , including enforced closure, has risen by 500% in the last year. (source: opendoorsuk.org)

Open Doors (opendoorsuk.org)  is an International Ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches worldwide.  Barnabas Fund (barnabasfund.org) stands alongside Christian brothers and sisters where they suffer discrimination and persecution by providing aid through partners on the ground and speaking out on their behalf.  These two organizations are an excellent resource to feed our prayers…

So, let’s look “Beyond Ourselves …!” and pray in earnest for our fellow believers in Christ.

“Bear one another’s burdens , and so fulfil the law of Christ”  (Galatians 6 v2)

Ruth Jess

 

26th May 2020

This beautiful Red Admiral came into our garden yesterday evening & stayed for about 15 minutes on our choysia. The REAL  group helped me to identify what type of butterfly it was. I also learned that this delicate, but obviously very resliiant creature has flown all the way from North Africa. How incredible is that. I'm also told they like nettles, thistles & budleas, lavender& rosemary, none of which we have in our garden. I feel very privileged to have had this beautiful butterfly spend time in our garden & thank you REAL group, it was a REAL team effort. 

Margaret Newby

 

25th May 2020

Martyn Cook, one of our members in the 1970'and 80s, has been spending his lockdown clearing out his garage. He came across some old pieces of hardboard (never throw things away that might be useful later), turned them round to find what you see on the photo. It brought back memories and wonders if any others remember visits to Aston Villa football ground in 1984, or were otherwise influenced by Billy Graham's ministry?  If so, you might like to share them in Our Stories.

Martyn is also threatening to send his memories too. He & Donna send their love to any who remember them. They are both involved in their local church in Swindon.

 

23rd May 2020

Sarah White's contribution to Our Stories is a video which you can see here. If you wish to contact Sarah about what she says, email us here and we will pass it on.

 

21st May 2020

Ascension Day reflection

I started to write a reflection about Ascension Day last weekend but was then delighted to hear that Ian Macnair was writing his Word for the Day on the subject.   I share the view that this is an under-acknowledged date, most particularly in the Free Churches (Anglican churches do often – in “normal” times at least – have a service to celebrate it).

Coming at it from a rather more subjective angle (as ever), I was reflecting on that gap between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension.    It seemed to me that the apostles needed that 40 day interval to properly “get” that Jesus was indeed not dead but risen and alive.  Had Jesus simply ascended to heaven straight after his resurrection, the apostles would have had much more difficulty grasping the very extraordinary nature of what followed his death.  The resurrection appearances of Jesus in that 40 day period were much quoted by them subsequently as evidence of the resurrection – and continue to form a big part of our thinking about it.

And then there was another gap – between the Ascension and Pentecost – a 10 day gap – when the apostles must have felt seriously left in the lurch – Jesus had gone but they had still not received the promised “power from on high”. 

It all made me think about those gaps which we experience on our Christian journey – between periods when we feel clear and certain about God’s love and purposes for our lives and periods when we feel all at sea and lost and unsure – or worse.  And currently we are in a gap between “normal” life as we knew it when we could go about our tasks and responsibilities – duties and pleasures – freely, without hindrance – and whatever the “new normal” will be as and when we ever arrive at it at some unknown and still fairly far distant point. 

Just like the early disciples, we can only “hang on in”, trust (in the certainties we have previously experienced), obey (they were told to “wait in Jerusalem”) and stick together (they were “all together” on Pentecost Day).   The “gaps” can be puzzling, confusing and sometimes just horrible but the light has not been quenched just because the sun has gone over the horizon or behind a cloud –  we can reach for it in different forms and in memory.

Barbra Depledge

 

20th May 2020

News from our Mission Partners in Liberia

Acts Chapel Churches Reopen - With Social Distancing

The government in Liberia has allowed churches in Liberia to reopen with special measures and there was an overflowing of joy and thanksgiving in the three Acts Chapel churches.

Pastor Roberts and the 12 members of the Leadership Team from the 3 Acts Chapel churches spoke last weekend (10 May) and planned multiple reduced sized services. Some key preparations included the use of contactless thermometers installation outside the church as well as the hand washing stations, everyone wore face masks and the Pastors wore Face shields. Everyone went directly to there seats and worshipped and danced in place. 

The Service was one of Thanksgiving for God’s protection in these tough times. The Bible reading Isaiah 40:28 proclaims God never gets tired or weary and the people were encouraged to trust in Him and follow his wisdom which cannot be measured.

The worship was full despite there being a third of the people - people wanted to make a joyful noise!  Each of the 2 services in each location were attended by 42 people - according to the size of the buildings and was an adult only service. 

Pastor Roberts said that people were “most disciplined, the service was so wonderful, people wanted to be in church together but followed the strict code which had been shared with them beforehand by Leaders in group chats on their phones”. 

The children - Miracle Kids are meeting separately on Thursday with 2 sessions to keep the groups smaller and they will follow all the safety protocol as they continuing their youth discipleship programme. 

Bible Study takes place on Wednesday and people are hungry to learn and grow - to be together and worship.

There is excitement and caution as the church continues its plans to meet while maintaining safety and care for all the people. A new way to serve, worship and grow in our constant ever faithful strong loving God.

Prayer points for Acts Chapel 

Keeping safe as a congregation and a country - for people to follow the rules and peace and calm to remain - for the virus to end and for God to be thanked and praised.

 

19th May 2020

John Pither says  "I thought I would share the short House Group Study we did by Zoom last week in case others would like to use it. It includes our QRBC verse for 2020, Hebrews 12:2."

Short Bible Study on Hebrews 12: 1 -3 & 14 -17.

Read the passage in at least two versions - below is the JB Phillips Translation which is particularly helpful

We should consider these examples and Christ the perfect example
12 1-3 Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. Think constantly of him enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage.

In times of testing be especially on your guard against certain sins
14-17 Let it be your ambition to live at peace with all men and to achieve holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord”. Be careful that none of you fails to respond to the grace which God gives, for if he does there can very easily spring up in him a bitter spirit which is not only bad in itself but can also poison the lives of many others. Be careful too, that none of you falls into impurity or loses his reverence for the things of God and then, like Esau, is ready to sell his birthright to satisfy the momentary hunger of his body. Remember how afterwards, when he wanted to have the blessing which was his birthright, he was refused. He never afterwards found the way of repentance though he sought it desperately and with tears.

Questions to Discuss (Adapted from Max Lucado - Just Like Jesus)

Why does Paul call the Christian life a race instead of a walk or jog or some other activity?

What kind of things hinder you from racing effectively? Do you know anyone who has quit?

How can we continue to look joyfully toward the end?

How do we sometimes lose sight of the goal?

Why are you in the race? How can you overcome the urge to stop, rest and take it easy?

 

18th May 2020

I recently came across these meanderings, written during the first two weeks of Lockdown and reflecting a real roller coaster of thoughts and feelings.  

Thank God for the good memories and training when growing up.  I find it helpful when times are tough to turn to bible verses and songs and hymns committed to memory many years ago, as well as memories of people who have been an influence for good. 

I have hesitated about sharing this earlier as some of it sounded negative.  However, despite my initial hesitation to share these feelings, I have decided to send it as written.  As someone said recently “It is sometimes OK not to be OK.”

WHEN THIS ENDS WILL LIFE BE BETTER?? 

The sense of shock & bewilderment

That sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach;

The frenzied activity: -

A deluge of phone calls, emails, texts & letters

T.V., What’s App, Zoom & Video

A never - ending pound, pound in my ears, in my head;

The need to go to ground; the desire to get away from the pound

Of the sound going on and on and round & round.

The thoughts, the memories, feelings & emotions

Crowding in relentlessly.  People to contact, tasks to fulfil

No time or reason to stand still.

 

There is a sense of sadness, of grief,

Of beauty around us of searching deep

Catching up; Clearing the clutter,

Concern for each other;

 Aching, choking, sobbing

Laughter or sighing

Joy at birth & grief for those dying.

WHEN THIS ENDS WILL LIFE BE BETTER?…………………………

Coral Lynes

 

17th May 2020

You may be aware that this morning's service had its technical difficulties and one or two of you may wonder just what was going on. 

When we needed, at short notice, to put services online, we had a number of choices. At one end of the scale we could have had one person doing everything spoken and provided a separate YouTube playlist of the songs that went with the service or we could have pre-recorded all the bits, linked them together and put them out on Sunday morning. We decided to go to the other end of the scale. We are very keen to keep the community feeling in our worship so we got lots of people to be involved. They could not come together so they have to be linked electronically. We use some live input and some pre-recorded pieces. Sometimes, for example during the initial welcome, you will see on screen those who are participating in the service as a gallery. This morning the usual Zoom app was not functioning so the technical team had to switch to using Microsoft Teams, something we had not used before. They did brilliantly and the service went ahead half an hour after the original scheduled time. Then the sound from the person doing the reading wasn't audible and Liz Martin had to step in to do the reading. The piece I do at the end was pre-recorded but we couldn't use that as it talked about the after service chat groups which couldn't happen without Zoom, so I did that live.

And yet, through all that, we were able to worship God and share communion together. Thank you to all who joined in. Thank God for the wonders of technology - without it the lockdown would have been much harder to bear for many.

David Depledge

Some of the congregation preparing for communion

 

16th May 2020

A Letter To Glenys Brown  

Dear Glenys,

So your new adventure has now begun - heaven is the richer.  Behind you are the visits to hospital, the chemo, the home visits to attend to your personal needs, the anxiety - how much longer, how much pain?

Boy, we are going to miss you. You've simply always been there - QR and you are intertwined, you've been part of us since you were born, you've been involved in so much of our family life. You've been a good friend to so many.

You just got on with things - like sorting out our Gift Aid tax reclaim. Boring stuff; someone had to do it......and it was you....probably for 40 years.  

But of course you came from good stock.  Your Mum &  Dad, Gwenfa & Stan Adey - they taught you - don't make a fuss - just get on with it - organised, reliable, trustworthy, full of integrity, faithful.

But maybe the thing we will remember you for, most of all, is the way you handled your daughter Nicola's and your own terminal illnesses.  Nicola, still a young Mum - 'it should have been me not her',  you must have said that over and over again.  Your faith and that of your friends, carried you through. 

You didn't hide it , pretend it wasn't happening; you talked to us about it, before and afterwards.

Then it came to your own illness. By your nature, you had times of worry and anxiety. But, when you knew what was wrong, you seemed to change.  You approached it positively, you were open to talking about it, you let us in to share your journey, you smiled and joked, you seemed to bounce back from every set back.  You encouraged others going through it too.

Then came all these restrictions.  We couldn't visit, we couldn't fling our arms around you, we had to care from a distance. But we were comforted to know that Don was able to care for you in the peace of your own home.

Glenys, you've taught us so much about coping with adversity.  How can 'thank you' be enough?  But we can thank God for you and for being the person you were. We can rejoice that your physical ailments are now no more and that you are now at peace with the Lord you worshipped so faithfully.

It has been a privilege for us to have you walking with us in our journey of faith -  all of us are the richer for it.   You are now on a new journey with the One you love and serve.

With love from from all of us who are your QR family.

Anon

 

11th May 2020

 THE REAL THING                   

Christian ladies form our Group.

We REALly are a feisty Troup.

Some are of a certain age,

Some it is quite hard to gauge.

Young ones too have joined our throng,

We want all sorts to come along.

The point is that we want to share

The love we have and lots of prayer.

 

Swapping clothes is what came first.        

To change our wardrobe in one burst.

Nothing now will go to waste.

“There’s something here to suit your taste.”

“I cannot think that this is true,

You bought this dress in 62.”

“I think it came from C & A,

A trendy find back in the day.”

 

A walk at Combe was such a treat,            

A really special place to meet.

The summer saw our next REAL date,

Held at the Russell-Yarde’s Estate.

We ate a tea of scones and jam

And talked about their long lost lamb!

We shared the plants we all had grown

From cuttings and the seeds we’d sown.

 A charity shop is what came next.                  

It rained all day but we weren’t vexed.

We shopped and dropped and dropped and shopped,

Then into Almanacks we popped.

We looked at what each one had bought,

A bargain was the thing we sought.

A box of sticks made Chris’s day,

But what it was, she couldn’t say.

 

But now the world has changed so much          

And all must miss the human touch.

We stay at home as we are told

Each one within our own stronghold.

But we don’t feel in isolation,

We are part of a congregation

That send by Whatsapp power and love,

Which only comes from God above.    

By Julia Yeomans

 

11th May 2020

Granny musing again …..

On a morning when we woke up to knowing small children may be able to return to school after half-term and we may be able to go to some pubs and cafes from July, BUT STILL NOT KNOWING WHEN WE CAN PHYSICALLY SEE AND HOLD OUR LOVED ONES – whether close family or dear friends, I was reminded of some words that have spoken to me a few times over the years.  In Jeremiah 6.14, we read of the Lord saying “they act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches” (Good News version) or “not serious” (NIV).  “’All is well’ they say, when all is not well” (Good News); “ ‘Peace, peace’ they say when there is no peace” (NIV).

It is the spiritual leaders of the day who are being condemned here.  I don’t know about you, but I have found the unremittingly upbeat nature of some of the material offered by Christian leaders and circulated via Facebook and other media, hard to take.  (I am NOT referring here to our own leaders).  For many of us, lockdown (however convinced we may have been that it was necessary and justified) has been and is horrible, miserable, wretched and at times unbearably heart-breaking - whether on our own behalf or on behalf of those known to us - in ways too numerous to list.    Of course, God is doing some amazing stuff, the churches have risen magnificently to the challenges and there is much to learn in the present situation.   God is indeed sovereign and will sustain us through it - but I’d still rather he enabled us to see our family members and friends physically, not just technologically, SOON, quick quick pronto.  Things are never going to be the same again – and there will be much for the churches to think about in terms of how they go forward.  But I long to get back most of our usual activities, routines and interactions.

Personally, I find that I can receive encouragement better if the negative stuff has been acknowledged and VALIDATED first.   And for me, this verse in Jeremiah assures me that God understands our pain and does not expect us to underestimate it or play it down.  Scripture in fact contains lots of outpourings of negative emotions – sometimes raw and brutal.  It is the inspired Word of God and it is all there for a reason (2 Timothy 3.16 ,17).  So, let’s encourage one another, by all means, but let’s also be real about the struggles.

Barbra Depledge

 

5th May 2020

Love greetings from Uganda

Paul and Christine Kyalimpa are our Mission Partners in Uganda. Paul is a Pastor and leader of the Kyenjojo District Baptist Association and also a teacher/trainer in agriculture. His wife Christine runs the family farm and has a teaching ministry, especially amongst the women. Since the photo was taken in 2018 they have a baby grandson, Matthew, who is 14months old. When the virus began to spread Paul had just arrived in Tanzania to do some training for Operation Agri. He had to return home quickly before lockdown. He sent us this at the end of April.  

As a family we are all now living on our farm here at Rwamukoora, in Kyenjojo district of Western Uganda. We do farm work daily; pray daily and worship together as a family on Sunday. I do go out on a motorcycle to buy necessary items for the farm and medicine for us. We thank God we have not had a Corona virus sick person in our district.

Here in Uganda the Lord Jesus Christ has been good to us in that we have had 63 Corona virus cases, and no deaths, so far so good, and 38 have recovered from Corona virus disease.

One measure that we took when we were still at zero Corona virus cases was to go into lockdown. Schools, all public gatherings, worship places, shops that sell non-food items, public transport, private cars, except lorries that carry food were stopped. There is also a curfew from 7.00pm to 6.00 am. Boda-boda motorcycle taxis are not allowed to carry passengers but only goods and that is food. Shops selling drugs for people, livestock and farm items are allowed to open. Lorry drivers infected now from neighbouring countries are the ones coming with the new Corona virus cases into our country.

This has resulted in movement of people from one place to another being heavily restricted now. People in in towns and in rural communities who depend on buying food have run short of money to buy food, treatment of sick, etc. because they are not working and have to stay at home. The government has mobilised to give out food but this is reaching only a few people in Kampala.

We are praying that the lockdown be shortened, but now we are hearing of increasing Corona virus cases in neighbouring countries numbering to 300 people infected with the disease and the number is rising each day. In some of these countries there are reported deaths.

Recently we have heard and seen so many cases of African people greatly mistreated in China by the Chinese just because they are black. Africa is now bleeding by the actions of China and the Chinese.

My prayer is that Africa will forgive China for these evils and the Chinese repent of these evils.

Please pray for us as we pray for you, calling and crying up to God to end this Corona virus epidemic.

Thanks so much for your friendship and more especially in times of need like this.

Sincerely yours

Pastor Paul Kyalimpa

 

4th May 2020

More musings of a Grandma

Last Sunday l received a request to proof read my eldest grandson's dissertation. He's 23 and in his final year at Preston University studying formula racing engineering. l apologise now to any petrol heads reading this, but formula racing! I just don't get it. However, I was not about to turn down an opportunity to support my grandson in his hour of need!

Having spent a good 4 hours trawling through the dissertation, I have to admit, I was not a lot wiser. Words like "aerofoils" (that's surely to do with a particular brand of chocolate!), "downforce," "iterations" (isn't that a skin complaint?) and others which left me feeling quite dizzy. I did gleen that it was something to do with designing, making and trialing a wing for a racing car to help it go faster and analysing the results.  Apart from the words, the dissertation was littered with graphs and diagrams with different coloured lines going up and down, a bit like the ones we get at our daily briefings from the government on corona virus. Also, various mathematical equations. Well, I wouldn't know if they were right or wrong!

Despite this, my grandson and I had a lovely couple of hours together going through his dissertation looking at mainly the need for capital letters, full stops and slight adjustments to grammar and spelling. The crunch came, however, when he asked me if I understood what I had read and had I found it interesting. If I recall correctly, a bit of bluff and bluster came from my mouth at this point! He then told me that he was concerned that there was not enough technical information and might be too simplistic! I tried my best to reassure him!

Having completed this rather daunting task, it made me think about how I sometimes might approach God's word. The Bible says that ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives.......God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."  (2 Timothy 3 v 16 & 17) NLT     

I believe this deeply, but have to be honest, there are some parts of the Bible l find more difficult to read and understand. For example, Numbers.  Well,........its got a lot of,.......... numbers in it. I guess that's where the title comes from. Also, the first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles is mainly a list of names, most of them saying who they were the son of. However, there is a little gem in there, Chapter 4 v 9 & 10. Jabez gets a special mention ........ 

I confess, I do feel guilty at even being tempted to skip over these passages in order to move to what l might consider to be more "interesting" reading. However, they must be there for a reason or they wouldn't be there. I know one of the reasons was that it was important for the children of Israel to know, remember and recall their genealogy and for that to be written down. To remember their roots and whose they were in God's plan and design for all mankind. 

2 Timothy says God's word is for teaching. Therefore, John Ortberg writes,

"I must invite Jesus to be the personal Teacher of my life. I must trust that He is right.....about everything. And therefore, where I disagree with Him I  must either be wrong or not yet understand what it was He was saying." Love Beyond Reason, page 79.

I may have understood very little of my grandson's dissertation, but I trusted him to know what he was talking about. He designed and made the wing for the racing car, he tested it and evaluated the results. He knew what was required and how to communicate the results. God is our creator, He designed and made us for His glory and His honour. His Word is the Maker's manual which shows us how we should live.  And that means all of it.

I don't see a lot of my eldest grandson since he flew the nest, but would not have missed this opportunity to sit with him a while, via FaceTime, and share in something which is of great interest to him, even if l don't understand it all. I think that's what God wants us to do too, to sit with him a while and listen to what He has to say to us from ALL His Word, even though I may not fully understand why it is there, but thankful that l am fully understood. 

God bless and still missing you all to bits.

Margaret Newby

Ps My granddaughter is studying dietetics. Now that's much more up my street, so watch this space!

 

4th May 2020

From Chris Headon

"My sister sent me this a while back. It is a prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake. 

Sometimes I find it helpful to pray it as a personal prayer, replacing the 'us' with 'me'".

Disturb us Lord - Francis Drake

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, 

When our dreams have come true 

Because we have dreamed too little, 

When we arrived safely 

Because we sailed too close to the shore. 

 

Disturb us, Lord, when 

With the abundance of things we possess 

We have lost our thirst 

For the waters of life; 

Having fallen in love with life, 

We have ceased to dream of eternity 

And in our efforts to build a new earth, 

We have allowed our vision 

Of the new Heaven to dim. 

 

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, 

To venture on wider seas 

Where storms will show Your mastery; 

Where losing sight of land, 

We shall find the stars. 

We ask You to push back 

The horizons of our hopes; 

And to push into the future 

In strength, courage, hope, and love. Amen 

 


1st May 2020

Musings  - this time from a Granny!

Every morning for the past year or 18 months, I have sent one of our granddaughters a WhatsApp message with an encouraging message from Scripture.  I do this because she appreciates it greatly.  I do it whether I feel like it or not because I have made a commitment – but it has become a valuable spiritual discipline.  To start with, I kept a record of the verses I sent.  More recently I haven’t bothered but I know there have been few repetitions.  This is absolutely NOT because I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Scripture.  It is because there are such a lot of promises and encouragements in Scripture … and because Google is absolutely brilliant at finding the reference from even the briefest half-remembered phrase or for those “I know it’s in there somewhere but I’ve no idea where” verses!  .  (Older readers of this piece will remember Concordances and the confusion around which version you remember the phrase in!  I haven’t bothered with one for some years now!)  Sometimes what I send arises from one of my morning readings.  Often I have to trawl a bit deeper for inspiration – but, with the help of Google, it always comes.

This morning I shared with her that I felt I was in a deep, dark pit in which there was very little to do and very little certainty when and how I would be able to get out.  (She and many of you may feel like that too).  I told her that God had reminded me that in Psalm 18.19, we are told that God rescues us and brings us out into a spacious place because he delights in us.  Further on, in verse 33, we are told that he makes our feet like the feet of a deer and enables us to stand on the heights.  (Aficionados of wildlife programmes like myself will know that several species of deer and mountain goat are able to scramble up near vertical slopes at remarkable speed to escape predators or access grazing).  If we will allow him, God will help us to ascend to those heights in our minds (access your memories and your dreams!) and in our spirits. 

Barbra Depledge


29th April 2020

Musings of a Grandma

For me, as for many others, not being able to see family and friends is the hardest thing to cope with during our current isolation. I am used to seeing my youngest daughter and my 9 year old grandson very regularly, but because of various health issues, he will have to be in total lockdown for the full 12 weeks. 

To help things along, my daughter has bought him his own mobile phone with WhatsApp & facetime. This has made a huge difference.

So, every morning, anytime after 7am, but before 8 am, I get a message saying "Grandma, are you awake? Do you want to call me?" (No one else is awake in their house at that time of the morning!) For the next 20 -30 minutes, we chat together about this and that. At the same time, he's usually playing a game on the Xbox or TV. Every now and again he looks up to check I'm still there and he can still see me. It's as though, if he can see me I'm there with him.  While we are chatting I sometimes get washing ready for the machine, put dishes away, prepare my breakfast or sit with a cuppa.

I really look forward to these early morning "get togethers" and they certainly make not being able to see him a lot more bearable. 

Over breakfast today, I was reflecting on the new morning routine that he and I now share and began to think about how it could influence and challenge my relationship with God. Here are some of my musings.

Is tuning into God my first thought of the day? Is He the first One I want to talk with?

The conversation I have with my grandson can be two way, but quite often he does most of the talking. Do I stop to listen to what God might want to say to me? Or do I do most of the talking, hardly stopping to take a breath, with a long list of requests, with a few moans and grumbles added in?

Sometimes, my grandson pauses the video link so I can't see him or he'll turn off the sound so I can't hear him.

Do I think I can do that to God when I'm tempted to step away from the way He wants me to live? Thinking he won't see or hear me?

I often carry my phone from room to room so I can still, see and hear him and he can still see and hear me while doing my jobs. 

This seems a lovely picture of how God manages to do everything and be everywhere at once and all the same time. He is able to manage the whole universe 24/7 and at the same time, meet with me face to face. Amazing.

Just as my grandson looks up from time to time to check I'm still there and he can see me. How often do I look up and check that I can still see my heavenly Father and haven't lost sight of or connection to Him.

Finally, after our FaceTime this morning, my grandson sent me a voice text saying that he loved me more than garlic bread, pizza and sausages. Considering that's almost all he eats, I thought that was pretty special. It made me feel happy, it made me laugh, it made me feel special, it made me feel loved, it made me cry. 

I began to wonder, how often do I say to my heavenly Father. " I love you more than...................

When did I last make Him feel loved by me.  When did I last make Him feel special or make Him laugh by doing something funny for Him.

Maybe other thoughts will come to me during the day, I do hope so, because I have so much to learn about growing in my relationship with God.  Maybe you will too.

One last thought, my grandson did not say that he loved me more than chicken nuggets!  Perhaps that's just a step too far! 

So, are there limits on my love towards God? What might they be?

Thank you for listening to the musings of a Grandma.

God bless and lots of love. I miss you all to bits.

Margaret xxx 


23rd April 2020

In the care of God

Recently I was reading  Barbra’s Lockdown Reflection on here (16th April, below) and her pictures during a meditation of walking across sand and it reminded me of a dream I had years ago that I have found helpful to reflect on when life feels quite scary and out of control. It occurred at a time in my life when I was struggling with various situations, ill elderly parents, difficult teenagers at home and a lot of stress at work. In my dream I was walking across a beach and fell face down in wet sand. I initially tried to get up and found I couldn’t. I then realised that I was actually being held face down in the sand by a tremendous weight. I couldn’t turn to see what was holding me but I knew it was Jesus and instead of feeling scared I felt a huge relief that I couldn’t move and my only choice was to totally relax into the sand and be still. It felt wonderful and once awake I became aware that my  body and mind were no longer taut and tense but relaxed and peaceful with a sense of real calm. I had a greater emotional and physical understanding of what it means  to cast our cares up on Christ let him carry some of our cares and troubles.

At a homegroup, also many years ago, one of our senior members Audrey Gibson shared with us that during a time of great worry and shock within her family she had been praying and had experienced the sensation of being wrapped in a warm blanket. It was comforting and reassuring and she felt so aware of God’s presence within such a difficult time.I spoke with Audrey this week by phone at St Andrews Home and she explained that at the moment all of the residents are confined to their rooms and of course cannot have visitors. We spoke about her experience all those years ago and she commented “I have that blanket with me now and it is helping me through this” 

We have our Bibles where we find inspiration, guidance, challenge and comfort. We can also experience  God’s presence in different ways and as we recollect them, share them with each other and draw upon them, those encounters can give us strength, courage, comfort and hope through this and other challenges in our lives.

Sandra Hobley


21st April 2020

We have produced a questionnaire to offer a way to share your story with us all. This is the first reply.

Name (not necessarily your full name or real name)
Kay Hamer

Is this a shared response and, if yes, who with?
no

Some things that have affected you most in the crisis
concern for my daughter and grandaughter working in hospital and another grandaughter working in a a respite situation

The hardest thing of all
'Down' days

Have there been some good points to come out of the crisis?
Loads. the support, encouragement, love and care shown to me and my husband. Amazing neighbours, loving family. my garden is such a blessing. I am so very thankful for all this and more.

Any comments about the spiritual response of yourself and others
There is a heightened awareness of the richness of God's provision and beauty in nature. The love shared in the REAL group, opportunities now that there is time to pray alone or with friends via Zoom. I am finding that God is speaking in so many ways which in previous busyness I had not noticed

Are there additional things you would have liked QRBC to do?
The Church leaders especially the ministers and officers have gone so so much more than the extra mile. What more can we ask.

Anything else you would like to say?
Thank you Lord for the many many blessings in this awful time.


17th April 2020

Samuel David brings a Jordan Well Project Update

Due to the current situation with the lockdown, we have moved our weekly activities online. Previously we met on Saturdays for bible study at church but now we are utilizing Zoom for this purpose. Therefore, any student or young person who wants to be part of this group should feel free to contact me and I will add them to the invite list.  

As some of you who (use to) attend the evening service know, we normally have our music session on Sunday afternoons but that has been halted since the lockdown. However, we are currently working on a plan to continue practicing songs together through an online means; this will kick off after university exam week which is this week. If this is something you are interested in as a young person or student do contact me.

Most importantly, if you know any young person or student who wants to get involved in any of our activities to keep their faith growing do share their information with me and I will be more than happy to contact them.

Finally, I want to thank those who have been supporting me by constantly praying for me, checking on me and financially supporting me. May God continue to bless you and give you your heart desires.

Those who are supporting me financially and wants an update about how I'm coping with my financial situation should drop me an email with the subject Intern/Sponsor.  And if you want to know what to pray for use this subject - JWP/Prayer/List

Samuel David: 07466305663, email


16th April 2020

A lockdown reflection

Arising from one of the morning meditations I use, I had two pictures this morning:

In the first, I was walking along a vast area of sandy beach.  The sand was firm, mostly easy to walk on and it was not hard to avoid the few obvious soft bits.  It all looked much the same, stretching as far as the eye could see.  Suddenly though, my foot sank deep into an area of quicksand.  It had looked just the same as the rest, but now my foot was firmly stuck, deep in a seemingly bottomless hole.

In the second I was leaping from rock to rock in an area of shallow water – perhaps stepping stones across a river – perhaps the rocks at the edge of a beach.   I was moving steadily and confidently when suddenly one of the stones wobbled and then tipped (in some countries it might be that I had actually stepped on an alligator lurking quietly!!).

In both pictures, the scene changed completely unexpectedly from one of pleasurable progress and enjoyment to one of fear and possibly real danger – trapped by the rising tide, a broken limb, mauled by an alligator – but at very least severe discomfort.

Both these images evoke powerfully for me the situation we find ourselves in at present.  How often do we find ourselves thinking:  “if we’d known even 6 weeks ago what was coming, we wouldn’t have ……”.  Despite mostly trying not to set our hearts on any specific hope of “unlocking”, we find ourselves wondering, longing, dreaming of what we will do when …..

But more significantly perhaps, what are the things we are currently denied which this situation reveals we have come to rely on for our sense of well-being?  The physical presence of family and friends?  Hugs with them?  The freedom to pop to the shops any time we want for that forgotten or longed-for item?  The freedom to pop to a coffee shop to cheer ourselves up?  The freedom to hop in the car for a trip to the countryside, the seaside.  The familiarity of our normal daily, weekly or monthly routine.  None of these are bad things in themselves.  And it is natural that we miss them – desperately, agonisingly at times.  But what are the things we are feeling wobbly and insecure without??  Maybe this is a time when we would benefit from talking with God about what we have become too dependent on.  It is too easy to say simply “we should rely on God and God alone”.  Of course that is true. But he blesses us with many relationships and activities.  Holding these in the right balance is a lifelong part of our journey – which this present situation has thrown a very big boulder on the path of.  How we personally will get past it – or over it – will be seen in the years to come.

Barbra Depledge


14th April 2020

 

Strange Time or Spring Time

Everything is silent;

All the world perplexed:

Signs of Spring around us,

Through chaos and unrest

And each and every person

Is reaching out this day:

Trying to find some comfort

In finding ways to pray.

So, help us count each blessing,

Not be negative and whining.

As sun peeps through the cloud Lord,

May we experience its silver lining.

 

Coral Lynes     March/April 2020


12th April 2020

 

Shared by Iain Colville

Welcome to the real world

I’m beginning to understand.

I saw a sign once

outside a church. It said

'Are you really living

or just walking around

to save the expense of a funeral?'

I didn’t know

that Love is real life,

and everything else

just a more or less entertaining way

of dying.

And I didn’t know

that Love is like nothing on earth.

Love isn’t what you fall in.

It’s what pulls you out

of what you fall in.

Love isn’t a good feeling.

Love is doing good

when you’re feeling bad.

Love means hanging in

when everyone else

shrugs their shoulders

and goes off to McDonalds.

Love means taking the knocks

and coming back

to try to make things better.

Love hurts.

It’s its way of telling you

that you’re alive.

And the funny thing is that after all

Love does feel good.

People say Love is weak.

But Love is tougher than Hate.

Hating’s easy.

Most of us have a gift for it.

But Love counts to ten

while Hate slams the door.

Love says you

where Hate says me.

Love is the strongest weapon

known to mankind.

Other weapons blow people up.

Only Love puts them back together again.

And everything that seems real,

that looks smart,

that feels good,

has a sell-by date.

But Love has no sell-by date.

Love is Long Life.

Love is the ultimate preservative.

I don’t know too much about Love

but I know a man who does,

up there on the cross

loving us to death.

Love is the key

to the door of the place

he’s prepared for you

in the kingdom of God.

If you’re beginning to understand

then welcome to the real world.

© Godfrey Rust, www.wordsout.co.uk. Used with permission: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0, all rights reserved.

 


12th April 2020

An Easter video made by the Boxer family is here


11th April 2020

Alone, triumphant

Long, long ago the earth was changed,

A man walked through the land. 

By so called holy men disdained,  

He formed a little band.

 

This band supported Him until

The going got so tough

They stayed until they’d had their fill,

They’d clearly had enough

 

Authority crept up at night

And took Him off for trial

They cheated; beat him, bloody sight,

He walked the lonely mile.

 

He hung alone, His friends had left

It’s finished was His cry

His mother stood and looked, bereft,

And watched her loved son die.

 

He rose triumphant from the grave

And challenged His small band

To go throughout the world and save

All people by his hand

                                 By Don Brown


11th April 2020

And if you would like to try a slightly different approach to praying during the pandemic, the attached 'cartoon' might help you in your thinking.  The text for 'Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic' was written by Jayne Manfredi, based on Matthew chapter 5 and the illustrations are by Dave Walker.

Graham Parsons


10th April 2020

These times are weird. Lots of jobs getting done that have been put on hold for ages.

But as I sit & reflect on the awesome Good Friday Service we've just been blessed with; I also think back to Good Friday 10 years ago. Having been lying flat on my back (following a brain haemorrhage) for 3 weeks I was finally allowed home. I was fortunate in that I'd been given a time scale (3weeks). Many who are currently in hospital have no idea how long their stay will be. I recall the song "God will find a way, when there seems to be no way" helped me through - that and the many many cards that the good folk of QRBC sent me & their wonderful acts of kindness. God did find a way for me then & He will for us all today.

So back to today. I praise God for modern technology which enables us to stay in touch whilst isolated. Please keep in touch & stay safe. May God bless you richly this Easter tide.

Nicky P.


10th April 2020

The Darkest Hours

Death not yet defeated

Victory still to be completed.

You hang in unrelenting agony

In love for all humanity

Upon that cross

In the unnatural darkness of those day light hours

As ‘night’ blots the sunlight of God’s love

And heaven roars

And wars

Against the powers of sin and death and hell!

 

And in that darkness ‘My God, my God, WHY…’

We hear Your agonising cry

In those dark moments of abandonment

God –forsaken!

Isolation!

Separation!

Dislocation!

You bear our pain.

Our wanton shame

The weight of all our brokenness

Our sin, our failure

Upon you fall,

Our awesome sacrificial Saviour!

And heaven roars

And wars

Against the powers of sin and death and hell!

 

Then with the curtain torn

Gasps from Your breath

The victory cry!

‘It is finished!’

Sin and death defeated…

Your work on earth completed!

Now Lord for all whom in THIS moment

Bear the pain

Of grief and loss,

Of sin and guilt and shame,

Of gnawing fear 

Of future days unclear

Questioning WHY?

Draw near

And in Your Love -embrace enfold them

Secure and safe to know

Death defeated!

Battle done!

Love has won!......

And glorious Light will dawn

On Resurrection morn


Reflections on the last three hours of Jesus life

and His Cry from the Cross

‘My God, My God, WHY have you abandoned me?

 

By Judith Brazier


10th April 2020

A Mother’s Love

I felt His love, this Babe of mine;

This Child of God, this Christ divine.

I held sweet Jesus to my breast,

“My Lord, your servant you have blessed”.

Yet in my heart I feel such pain –

A future where a Son is slain.

Could He not know what he must do,

That He must die for me and you.

 

I felt His goodness touch my heart,

This travesty tore me apart.

As I looked up towards the cross,

How could I bear such futile loss.

They’d crushed His body, seared His skin,

And yet they knew He had no sin.

Oh Son of God, my special Child

I weep to see you so defiled.

 

I felt His Spirit fill my mind,

My eyes became no longer blind.

“He’s gone from here.” The angel said.

“Your Child, Christ Jesus, is not dead.

The Son who nestled in your womb

Has left the darkness of this tomb.

So from your sin no longer hide,

But by God’s grace, in Him abide.”

                                      By Julia Yeomans


10th April 2020

‘Just seen a news report about the stresses and strains of self-isolation. It reported that people are going crazy from being in lock down! It was strange, actually, because I had just been talking about this with the microwave and the toaster and all of us agreed that things are getting bad. I didn't mention anything to the washing machine as she always has to put a different spin on everything, and certainly not to the fridge as he is acting cold and distant. In the end the iron calmed me down. She said everything will be fine, which surprised me because she’s usually the first one to apply unnecessary pressure and get steamed up over nothing!!!’

Anon.


9th April 2020

Its Not Just Key Workers Still Working

When people ask me "how is lockdown for you?", my usual answer is "way too busy!" - even though my "day job" as a Finance Manager for Jaguar Land Rover isn't a "key worker" role during the current crisis - I'm not caring for the sick, sorting out food in a store, or delivering people's essential supplies. 

But I'm still hard at work, from my converted box room - working getting close to 50 hours a week, even though the business is currently not producing cars.

Why are we bothering? Well, although we have furloughed a number of staff to keep costs down, there are a number of key activities that need to continue now, to make sure that the region's biggest employer (and the UK's largest manufacturer, at least by value) is still around after this crisis. 

Working full time from home is an odd experience. I've had to get used to holding meetings by video conference, to co-ordinating a team who are now geographically spread from Ayrshire to Leamington Spa, via Birmingham and Scunthorpe, and to working in the same house at the time as the family are around. We're blessed to have a decent internet connection so I work even while other forms of entertainment are in use, and enough space to create a small office for me to work in, but being on top of each other still causes some tensions! 

And I've had to deal with some difficult business decisions as well - including telling a temporary member of staff that his contract was being terminated early due to the virus, and helping my remaining team balance their work commitments with their home struggles and difficulties, all without the benefit of being able to sit down face to face to talk things through.

So next time we're "clapping for key workers", and remembering those who are doing such vital work on the frontlines, perhaps we can spare a thought for the small army who are still hard at work in the spare bedrooms, keeping our "non essential" businesses alive so that there is a functioning economy for the rest of the world to go back to once this is over.. I know I'd appreciate people's prayers as it’s not easy - I'm having to make difficult decisions in difficult circumstances, day in, day out, and I'm sure there are many others in the same situation too!

Thanks,

Jon W.


9th April 2020

Alan and Margaret Betteridge are reported to be well and have shared the following:-

"Starting on Palm Sunday we have been reading through the Gospels the account of Jesus's last earthly days. (In addition to their normal bible readings morning and evening). These readings are based upon Mark but parallel passages in Matthew Luke and John are read as well. It is interesting to think about the differences and to take hold of the common thread, as Jesus moves towards the cross. Some days are quite long like Tuesday and Wednesday, when Jesus does a lot of teaching and faces a lot of controversy. Obviously the climax will be Good Friday to be followed by Easter Day. " Alan & Margaret Betteridge.