18 December 2021
Once again, we find ourselves at an uncertain time as we look forward to Christmas with all the hope, joy, anticipation and expectation that comes with it. Anxiety seems to be cranking up about the new variant based on its transmissibility, but still great uncertainty about the severity of disease it may or may not cause. Unlike last year, Government and Church have so far left it to individuals to decide for themselves about how best to manage their own risk in each situation. The advice so far seems to be to prioritise the most important events and gatherings in order to reduce contact with others.
For church leaders this is difficult - we are asked to make decisions - do we cancel services at this hugely important time in our church calendar to ensure 100% safety, or do we remain open and risk a potential increase in transmission within our congregations? So far the official guidance is for clergy to make their own judgements about safety. With this in mind, Revd. Sue and I are both in agreement that, for now, we should continue with our planned services with full precautions of face- coverings, good hand hygiene, good ventilation and social distancing.
Our churches are large, well-ventilated buildings with lots of space, and generally our congregations are of a size which allows plenty of distancing. We have good hygiene measures in place in each church and virtually everyone is used to wearing masks (spare masks are available in each church). Our assessment is that, so far, it is safe to meet for worship and refreshments so long as we are careful and don’t cluster together too closely in social situations, and we would encourage everyone who wishes to come to church as usual. We ask everyone wears a face-covering even for congregational singing to prevent droplet and aerosol spread. Most importantly, unlike last year at this time, of us are also triple-vaccinated whcih seems to be the key defence in all of this.
However, we also recognise that some of our number are particularly vulnerable and anxious about the current situation, and we fully support those who feel that they would be more comfortable staying away from events - please don’t come to church because you feel you ought to if you are uneasy about it. We want everyone to feel safe and supported in making up their own minds about this. If you need to speak to Rev Sue or myself, then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call us. We will be assessing the situation very closely and will update you all as new advice is issued.
With our prayers,
Rev’ds Andrew and Sue
06 November 2021
I hope this finds you well. Perhaps for the first time in many years Bonfire Night this year seems to have slipped by barely unnoticed. Apart from a few minor ‘bangs’ on Friday evening I haven’t been aware of the previous celebratory spirit of years gone by. Not too long ago, it seemed that every neighbourhood had its own bonfire with neighbours coming together to provide pie and peas and jacket potatoes with a real sense of togetherness, and the next morning one would wake up to the smell of last night’s smoke hanging heavily in the air. (Perhaps with climate change and COP 26 it’s as well that we don’t have as many bonfires!)
I was reminded earlier in the week that the roots of Bonfire Night were actually in religion - Guido Fawkes along with his pals were determined to restore a Catholic Monarchy to the throne of England by plotting to kill King James the First. I wonder what our church and country might look like now if he had succeeded? Would it have mattered that much anyway, considering our good relationship with the Catholic church these days? What would Jesus have made of all the bloodshed carried out in His name over the years? Thoughts to ponder…
Our services tomorrow 7th of November:
- 8am - BCP Communion at St Andrew’s
- 10am - Holy Communion at St Michael’s
- 11am - Family Service at St Andrew’s
- 4pm - Compline Evensong at St Peter’s
Next week our Remembrance Sunday services are:
- St Peter’s - 10.50
- St Michael’s - 10.50
- St Andrew’s - 10.45
Please do join us at the War Memorials as we remember those who have served so faithfully so that we can enjoy peace in our country. There will be a service in each church followed by refreshments.
Please pray for Stephanie, who spoke recently at St Michael’s, as she is commissioned on Sunday at her home church in Warrington, and as she prepares to fly back to Malawi on Tuesday 9th November to continue her missionary work there.
Rev Sue and I are offering to run Advent Courses within the Benefice. Each course will follow a book with it’s own study material as we enter Advent, the season of quiet and expectant watching and waiting. If you are interested, please do let either of us know by email.
Please continue with the most important work in hand - that of prayer. Prayer is our first calling, and by entering into prayer we can change the world around us, whilst at the same time we open ourselves up to transformation by the Holy Spirit - becoming more like Him who died for us and lives again. This is the most important work of God’s Kingdom and it is the basis of our calling.
Finally, please continue to keep yourselves and others safe by wearing masks at church, careful hand-cleansing and social distancing - Covid numbers are still very high and our local A and E is very busy with Covid patients.
With our prayers,
Rev’ds Andrew and Sue
31 October 2021
I wonder what you think about all the fuss around COP26? For many of us the sight of protestors blocking roads and gluing themselves to road surfaces is a step too far and just turns us off the subject. Perhaps we’re content to recycle and cut down on waste and we think this is enough. Perhaps, like me, you wonder about the legacy we will be leaving our children and grandchildren - what will they think about how we have cared for the world we pass onto them?
In the Anglican church we subscribe to the ‘5 Marks of Mission’, which are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
This 5th mark of mission is as much our calling as the other four, so perhaps you might join me this week in praying for COP26 and for the futute of our planet.
Tomorrow is our first Benefice Service at 10.30am at St Michael’s Church, Kirkby Malham and we are really looking forward to it. However, please be mindful of the increasing Covid rates - we are asking people to please wear a mask on entering church and when moving around. With increased numbers there is potentially a greater risk for transmission, but we can easily prevent this by sensible precautions. We are very grateful to the people of St Michael’s for hosting this first joint-service.
Tomorrow afternoon there are also two All Souls services in the Benefice to which all are invited:
- 3pm at St Andrew’s
- 5pm at St Michael’s
These will be beautiful, reflective services where people can give thanks and remember their loved ones.
Finally, and most importantly, thank you for all that you do to keep our churches thriving, whether your calling is buildings, fabric, cleaning, finance, making tea, Church Warden, music, or simply attending and supporting church. Your contributions are valued and essential to us being a Christian presence in our communities. Churches are often difficult and demanding organisations to manage (I’m sure first century churches didn’t have all this admin and red tape!) not to mention the buildings and churchyards, but with your willingness to serve, we have three wonderful churches and a Benefice we can be very proud of.
With our thanks and prayers,
Andrew and Sue
03 October 2021
Celebration seems to be the theme this week, as St Andrew’s Festival draws to a close and St Michael’s Church at Kirkby Malham celebrate their Patronal Festival tomorrow. Wednesday was the Feast of St Michael and All Angels in the church calendar so it is very appropriate that a church named after St Michael should mark this special occasion. For some, it may seem a little uncomfortable to talk about celebration when the world is in chaos, but that all depends how we approach things. If we see our celebrations as an excuse to party and forget about the world and the people around us then clearly we are missing the point, but if we celebrate with a thankful heart for all that God has done (and is doing) amongst us then that is different. By celebrating God’s gifts to us (our churches, ourselves, each other and our communities), then our celebrations become a form of worship and thanksgiving to God. So let’s celebrate with thankful hearts and clear conscience, and in so doing may we draw others into God’s wonderful presence.
- 8am - BCP holy Communion at St Andrew’s
- 10am - St Michael’s Patronal Festival at Kirkby Malham (Rev David Bruno leading Communion0
- 11am - Family Service at St Andrew’s (breakfast from 10.15)
- 4pm - Compline Evensong at St Peter’s
Please continue to pray for Bishop Nick’s wife, Linda, who is undergoing treatment for a serious illness, and please do let me know if anyone would like a prayer request to be shared via this email (I must have their consent).
A longstanding member of St Andrew’s - Jean Coldwell, sadly passed away 2 weeks ago and her funeral is at St Andrew’s on the 7th of October at 1pm.
Next week a small party of us will be attending an important conference on Church Growth, and it is crucial that we consider how we can promote this across our Benefice. The Church of England is facing unprecedented challenges numerically, financially and existentially and the effects of these challenges could be far reaching unless we act now. Please do pray for growth in our churches and consider how we can draw others into our flock.
Please continue to pray for all that is going on in our world and let’s see where we can bring light and hope to those around us.
14 June 2021
Here is the link to this evening’s licensing at Kirkby Malham for our new Associate Priest, Rev’d. Sue.
With my prayers,
05 June 2021
We are now officially the Benefice of Upper Aire! On Monday the 1st of June, the new Benefice created by the Church Commissioners and authorised by Bishop Nick, came into being. This means that our three churches are able to develop new ways of working together, sharing ideas, energy and resources. Each church will rightfully retain its own unique identity, but as one body we are now in a much better position to face the future together. We shall be celebrating together in the near future, and look forward to having more joint services and learning more about our differences and similarities as we build new relationships. As Incumbent of the new Benefice I can only say how delightful the variety of styles, cultures and traditions across our churches really is, and that I hope you will be enriched by this variety as I have been.
Tomorrow’s services are:
- 8am: BCP Holy communion at St Andrew’s
- 10am: Holy Communion at St Michael’s
- 10.45am: Family Service at St Andrew’s
- 4pm: Compline at St Peter’s
Please pray for the family of Linda Wilson, whose funeral was held this last week. Our prayers are especially for Malcolm and Geoffrey.
We look forward to the marriage of Nicola Hesleden and Scott Abbey at St Michael’s on 31st of July.
Enjoy the sunshine!
With my prayers,