You can access it below, click here to download it as a PDF or contact Rev June Colley on firstname.lastname@example.org for a paper version.
Our December newsletter is now available.
You can access it below, click here to download it as a PDF or contact Rev June Colley on email@example.com for a paper version.
It has been agreed that the time has come to close the Jubilee Club which has been running for many years fortnightly on a Monday afternoon.
During that time we have heard many interesting speakers, seen many, many holiday photos, and enjoyed tea and fellowship.
Our thanks go to Janet Wallace who has planned the programme each term and prepared some delicious summer and Christmas tea parties as well.
Don’t forget we have our lunchtime concerts and who knows what other opportunities may arise.
Thanks again Janet, and all those who have helped over the years.
We were sad to hear of the death of Vera Higginson, just short of her hundredth birthday. The picture above shows Vera with husband, Bernard, who died in 2001.
In the war, Vera worked as a wireless mechanic in the RAF and she remained very proud of her RAF
connection and often spoke of it.
She and Bernard were married in 1944. They were both volunteer probation officers, visiting prisoners and their families and helping and supporting them on release.
Isabel Bala writes:
I remember Vera and Bernard when I first came to church in Buckhurst Hill. They were involved with prison visiting and helped to set up the Othona Community after the Second World War.
It was because of Vera that I first became interested in the Othona Community and now I am a member and go there each summer for a week.
Vera was a keen gardener and she and Bernard enjoyed working in the garden at Bradwell, where there is a bench in his memory.
Vera was a faithful church member, attending Church Meetings into her nineties, still making contributions and taking part in discussions.
She was a member of our church for over seventy years and we will remember her with love and admiration.
And Margaret Minoletti writes:
I most remember Vera for the part she played as a very efficient secretary for Churches Together in
Buckhurst Hill. She always had a neat and accurate set of notes ready for each meeting and took a lively interest in ecumenical possibilities both locally and nationally.
Over more recent years we often drove Vera home after church and she would proudly talk about her family and particularly enjoyed describing the time she spent with her grandson who came in almost daily after school. They sounded very close companions.
June Colley writes:
It was a privilege to conduct Vera’s burial service at a woodland site near Harwich. She was laid to rest next to Bernard and the sapling planted in 2001 is now a thriving tree providing shelter for wildlife – another sapling will be planted next to Vera. Later, after lunch, we raised a glass in memory of Vera.
We send our love and condolences to Martin, Ruth, Janet and Colin, and all the family and thank Janet and her husband for making the journey to Buckhurst Hill to take part in our little thanksgiving prayer meeting in memory of Vera.
The family have booked Othona Bradwell for a Memorial service on Saturday 4 April 2020. Worship will be in the Chapel and we know they will be happy if church friends are able to be there too.
For many years now, Chingford URC has supported the 1% Appeal for Commitment for Life. Our focus has been on projects in Bangladesh and here is an update on the work being done in that
Bangladesh is a poor and overpopulated nation. Nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in farming. Major problems include land erosion, lack of safe water, cyclones, floods and even drought.
About a third of the country floods annually during the monsoon rainy season, making agricultural production difficult.
Many groups of people face prejudice and exclusion. Women are rarely allowed to participate in social or economic life. Indigenous peoples are discriminated against.
Primary education is free for all children from grades one through five. By law, children between the ages of six and ten must attend school. However, the quality of education remains a barrier for education levels.
Access to education remains a challenge for vulnerable groups, particularly working children, disabled children, indigenous children and those in remote areas or living in extreme poverty. Only half of all children living in slums attend school.
In Bangladesh, perceptions of aid are changing. Aid is no longer automatically seen as a good thing among the very economically and educationally strong middle-class.
Moreover, the rise of different extreme groups has meant working in a climate of caution. This means that partners are looking at different ways of working.
Christian Aid is continuing to focus on resilience to natural disasters, the understanding of climate change and how to reduce its effects, helping groups to get the best price they can when selling goods and produce at market.
They are also ensuring that gender and social inclusion work is part of any training they give.
Partners take the role of women in society very seriously. They offer training to empower and promote women to take part in responses to disasters and play a full part in decision making for projects.
Well, we moved to Roding Valley back in 1982 and thought we knew quite a lot about the area after all these years, but it took our son Paul, now living out in Myanmar, to ask us whether we had visited these lakes, a mere ten minutes’ drive from our home?
I duly checked their website - www.redbridgelakes.co.uk - and found out a great deal about the history and current facilities this amazing area has to offer.
In the words of their founder, “Pete the builder”:
From a 10 acre wasteland the project was originally to develop a conservation area with lakes as a place to chill out with a fishing rod. The site has exceeded all expectations and has now become a biodiverse, ecological park and an oasis for wildlife, where nature conservationists and those of like minds can come and bathe themselves in the natural environment.
Finding the lakes is initially a bit of a challenge as they are sited just behind a nursery and allotments along Redbridge Lane North but with a sat nav to hand and a sign to indicate a cafe and some lakes, you are directed down an unmade road called Salix Lane ( IG8 8LY) until you reach the site. Parking and admission is free.
Once there, you can start by watching enormous carp in an ornamental pond waiting for you to feed them, take a nature trail past a bug hotel, bee hives, a 'gnat west tower' for bats, and many other seasonal sights and sounds that feature in the lakeside setting as the Norfolk reeds sway in the reedbeds around you.
It is a relaxing, happy and friendly environment with a truly admirable ethos. Anyone of any age will enjoy it - and there is always a welcome cup of tea or coffee in the cafe afterwards!
There is even a carol concert by the lakes on 22 December between 6.00-8.00pm.
I highly recommend you take a look and, as an Eco Congregation, St James' URC will I'm sure be particularly interested.
On Saturday 26 October, I went to Vine URC, in Ilford, for a URC Church and Society Network event: Inside–Outside, attended by over fifty adults and young people. We were welcomed by Sandra Ackroyd and our opening worship was led by Revd Melanie Smith from Enfield.
This was followed by four presentations.
Ruth Musgrave, a member of Vine Church first talked to us about Climate Change – a very topical subject at present, telling us how we are now, as a global community, in a climate emergency, with rivers in Bangladesh being poisoned, soil losing its fertility and seas being polluted.
She said we must tell a different story from the media which often claims we can exploit creation for our own use. We come from the soil and when oppression ends, creation rejoices. She quoted part of John 3:16 ‘God so loved the cosmos‘, which should make us think about caring for God’s creation.
In the book of Revelation trees are said to be for ‘the healing of the nations.’ As people of faith, we know we are not strong enough on our own – we must pray and follow this with action. We must imagine a different future and give encouragement to those who are trying to achieve this.
Alison Jackson, a retired civil servant, spoke to us about poverty in the UK. She is a member of Church Action on Poverty and Christians Against Poverty. She mentioned how women in the Rhonda Valley in Wales had been instrumental in ending poverty there and challenged us to think how we can end poverty in our localities.
Celebrating Diversity was the next topic and Tom Howells, the Children & Youth Development Officer, for the Synod, spoke about how diversity was important in our churches and we should celebrate it, dealing with cultural shifts when they occur.
Richard Reddie, Director of Justice for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland spoke next on Media representation – Justice/ Injustice.
He encourages churches to engage in Refugee Networks. He mentioned how violent deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are often not reported by the media as they are not deemed newsworthy. It would appear certain lives are more important than others.
There is serious youth violence in our country and often the media appear to infer that those killed deserved their fate. There is a lack of compassion for refugees who make perilous journeys to our country and moral panic is whipped up.
After that, we split up into workshops. I first went to one led by Ruth Musgrave on Climate Change, which was interesting. She is a member of Vine URC and she told us how her church is in the process of becoming an eco-congregation.
She mentioned Walter Wink, who was an American Biblical scholar and she recommended one of his books, ‘Engaging the Powers’.
She told us many churches are now divesting from fossil fuels and have linked up with Operation Noah, a charity which promotes eco-friendly activities.
Her church has worked along with Transition Ilford, planting trees locally. They also have joined forces with Greening Redbridge, an Interfaith group.
Before enjoying a delicious vegan hot lunch, Seven Kings Gospel Choir sang to us and Mike Excell played his guitar to accompany a song on Climate Change.
The second workshop I attended on Justice/ Injustice was led by Richard Reddie, who began by asking us, ‘What makes the news?’
We agreed that sensationalism sells newspapers and often we identify with people like ourselves. Celebrities are feted and bad news is highlighted.
He said churches should get involved in reporting good news to their local newspapers and on their websites, as often it is bad news that hits the headlines.
To finish the afternoon, we had a panel discussion, with the workshop leaders answering questions arising from the workshops. It was generally agreed that churches should speak ‘Truth to Power’ and proclaim a message of hope.
Closing worship was a very lively rendition of ‘Lord of the Dance’ and the afternoon finished just after 4pm.
I really enjoyed the day, meeting people from other churches of all ages and ethnicities and getting involved in lively discussions. It would be good if more people from the Forest Group could attend
future Church and Society Network events.
Even though Luke was not an eyewitness of the events he records in his gospel, and was not even a Jew, he seems to have gone to some effort to establish the facts and he gives us the fullest account of the birth of both Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist.
The detail is remarkable, being specific about times and places and so it seems likely to me that Luke’s source for this period of Jesus’ story was Mary, possibly even directly. (Luke 2:19 “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”).
The announcement from the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:32-33) refers back to a promise made to David centuries earlier “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This promise was made to David in Samuel 7:16 through the prophet Nathan “Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever.”
It would seem that this prophecy is fulfilled through Jesus in a quite unexpected way, because David’s earthly kingdom did not last forever.
The angels that appeared to the shepherds also referred to ancient prophecy, when they said that the baby to be born was Christ (which is the Greek equivalent to Messiah) Luke 2:11.
These words are all so familiar to us from so many carol services, and it makes such a good story, but is it just a story to us, or do we really believe what we see written before us?
Luke wants us to believe it. Read the first four verses of chapter 1. Luke 1:4 “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
We will be running a free six week course, starting on 30 January, entitled End of Life Matters.
This course is for people of all ages and covers questions to do with the end of life. It is open to people of any religion or no religion.
Each session will have a time of information/ input (sometimes with guest speakers), a time of exchange and learning from each other, a prayer and a time of sharing cake and tea/ coffee.
This course is free of charge. Donations welcome.
Location: St James' URC, Palmerston Road, Buckhurst Hill, IG9 5NG
Time: Thursdays 10:30 – 12:00
For more information or to sign up, please contact Rev Ulrike Bell on 020 8505 5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday 2 February 2020 at St James' URC, Rev Ulrike Bell, will be reporting on her Interfaith Pilgrimage to Israel/ Palestine (a joint week's spiritual journey with Jews, Muslims and Christians of local/ South Woodford congregations plus Rabbi David Hulbert and Imam Dr Mohammed Fahim).
Rachael Williams of St Albans URC will also be reporting on the joint URC journey into Israel/ Palestine (for Commitment for Life), in search of better understanding of the political situation of the Holy Land.
Date: Sunday 2 February 2020
Time: 4 - 7pm
Location: St James' URC, Buckhurst Hill
John the baptist was sent preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk 1,4)
People came, listened, were very sorry for their wrong decisions in life (they “repented their sins”), were baptised in the river Jordan and got themselves ready for the coming of the Messiah.
Have we sinned? – Silly question, of course we have! No-one is without sin. We’re made perfectly imperfect; all human.
But are we through the love of Jesus not made good again, loved, forgiven? – Of course we are!
So then, what’s the point? If we’re sinners and made good again at the same time, what’s the point in trying better? What’s the point in striving? What’s the true point of Advent, Christmas? Of any religious quest? Of our church’s existence? Ah, now we’re talking!
We’re here because He is here. Because He called us to be part of His work of Love, helping it to spread out into more hearts.
We’re here because we heard His voice, in the desert of our lives, in the lonely places of our hearts, in the desert of our congregations’ routines: “Repent your sins, and they will be forgiven!”
We’re here because we’ve seen this happening in our lives and in other people’s lives: love, hope and light growing on the compost of contrition and the vow to change; the decision to put our trust in God alone, and to submit to this adventure!
We’re here because we heard those words spoken to us: “Come, follow me!” And “I will make you fishers of people” (Mt 4;19), and so here we are, Walking the Way with Jesus today.
So, that’s the point: We’ve got a calling. We are found capable of preparing God’s way into the hearts of our communities.
So let’s prepare ourselves first before we go out to others: With our Advent Study course, with daily prayer and Bible-reading at home, with listening out to God’s voice in all this.
And in this new Church Year which begins on the first Sunday in Advent, let us devote ourselves anew to the (re)learning of five more Holy Habits: Making Disciples, Worship, Breaking Bread, Serving and Fellowship.
We are on a good and blessed journey, and we are already seeing people and places changed.
Make Way for the Lord!
Wishing you a blessed time of practice. And a Happy New Church Year!
Yours in Christ,