We follow the government’s advice and await further guidance.
1) All services and weekly groups will go ahead as planned, following URC and CofE practical considerations.
a) Hand washing and keeping body distance:
2) If you are ill and need to self- isolate:
3) Local Community
a) Please support your local Foodbank: demand will rise when schools will be closed and children eligible for free school meals will go hungry
b) In your street: if you are able, reach out to your immediate neighbours, maybe sending something like the postcard below through your neighbours’ letter boxes.
Stay safe, healthy and blessed.
Yours in Christ,
The first of a series researched by Sheila Tanner about the origins of
some of our favourite hymns.
O Perfect Love
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom thou forevermore dost join in one.
Many years ago, Dorothy Blomfield was wandering over the hills of Windermere thinking of her sister who was soon to be married.
She thought of the happy days the couple would share and times of sadness they might face.
She sat down and prayed for them, and on returning home she decided to write down her prayers.
Soon before her she had the words of ‘O Perfect Love’.
No bride could have had better words written for her.
O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life's day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.
What is worship?
I like to think of it as “worth-ship”, when we try to tell God his worth.
When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, he said to her, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
It would seem that He was implying that the worship of the Jews and the Samaritans was a worldly kind of worship, a set of rituals and an external show, and that He was bringing about a new kind of worship that would be deeper and more heartfelt. Are we this kind of worshipper, or do we sing hymns without really taking in the words or meaning them, and when we pray in church, do we really want what we are asking him for?
I am not saying this to make anyone feel inadequate or guilty, but to be realistic about our worship.
If our worship is less than it ought to be, maybe that is because we do not yet fully understand the extent of what the Lord Jesus has achieved for us.
When we come together to worship in church, it is not just to honour God, but also to remind ourselves and each other just how much God has done for us.
The kind of worship that we take part in during our church services, however, is only part of the picture. Our whole lives are to be given over to him and to his service.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
In March and April, we move on to the next Holy Habit in our study series and the following is taken from the introduction to the holy habit of WORSHIP found in the series booklet.
Worship features prominently in Luke’s writings. He presents people praising God in response to experiencing God’s loving help or saving grace.
Praise and Worship flow from gratitude for who God is and what God has done.
There is a risk that we think of Worship only as something that happens when Christians gather for an hour or two. While gatherings are a habit to be encouraged, there is much more to Worship than this.
Worship is a way of life, one encapsulated in the Jewish Shema: a prayer which is the centre piece of Jewish morning and evening prayer services. It includes these words from Deuteronomy 6 v 5: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Worship offered as grateful response involves all of our lives; our work, rest, enjoyment of creation, service, eating, giving – and, yes, our gatherings for the focused activity of services of Worship.
Tending crops, forming an algorithm, building a house or serving a customer can all be done as acts of Worship to the glory of God, as can the singing of songs, the offering of dance, sculpture or art and the praying of prayers.
The Three Faiths Forum meeting at 8pm on Thursday 13 February was held at the Ilford Federation Synagogue, which is near Gants Hill.
The topic for the evening was, God’s Moral Law and was a Scriptural Reasoning session, when we split up into groups, with at least two Jewish
people, two Muslims and two Christians in each group.
In my group we first looked at a Jewish text from Ethics of the Fathers, sayings of Jewish sages who lived from 300BC - 200AD.
It tells us to reflect on where we came from, where we are going and before whom we are destined to give an account of our lives. It also instructs us to respect those in authority and to pray for them, and if we sit and reflect on God’s law we will receive a reward.
Next, we looked at a passage from the Christian scriptures, Luke 10:25-37, where Jesus tells the parable of The Good Samaritan in answer to the question, Who is my neighbour?
Jesus here instructs us that it is more important to help someone in desperate need than to ignore them because we are too concerned with religious duties and obligations.
Then we looked at some verses from the Qur’an where Muslims are told to respect their parents in old age and to be kind to everyone, not just fellow Muslims.
Orphans’ rights must be protected and everyone should prepare for life after death, not committing adultery nor killing without good cause and worshipping only Allah.
It was interesting reading these texts from the three faiths and again to see how much we have in common.
Before the end of the meeting Rabbi Hulbert thanked Revd. Ian Tarrant from St. Mary’s Church in South Woodford, who has been a leader of the Forum for ten years and soon will be moving to Gibraltar to take up a church leader’s post there.
The meeting finished with refreshments and then Rabbi Singer, the leader of the synagogue invited us to go downstairs to see the worship area of the synagogue. It was a beautiful space with six stained glass windows on each side of the Ark, taken from an older synagogue in Ilford.
It was good to see how special the place is to the Jewish congregation.
The next meeting of the Forum will be at 8pm on Thursday 26 March,
discussing Environment or Extinction? which should be interesting. The
venue is yet to be announced.
The 2019 URC educational trip to Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories was an intense, thought-provoking and moving time. We travelled not just as socio-political observers but as Christians, exploring how our faith might guide our response to what we saw.
We saw and learnt about conflict, inequality and injustice.
The trip was also a response to the Palestinian Church leaders’ invitation - issued to Christians across the world - to visit and experience their everyday lives.
Nidal abu Zuluf is the manager of a joint advocacy initiative between the YMCA and YWCA in Bethlehem. The initiative aims to give hope to young people. Many don’t feel safe, have no jobs. They want to live in dignity.
Nidal’s programmes help young people develop leadership skills. About 200 students are invited each year from Europe for placements. This enables young locals to share with and learn from each other and others.
Nidal said that one million Palestinians have been in prison. He was himself in prison for two years. He was also tortured.
‘As Christians, we should stand by the poor, marginalised and displaced. Don’t support us because we are Palestinians, but because we are a people in misery, because of the conditions imposed by
Nidal insisted that Palestinians wanted liberation for the Israelis too, for them to stop violating international law.
‘We love them,’ he told us. “It’s hard for me but we must love them. We are all born in the image of God and are equal in dignity. This is what Christianity means.’
It was called an educational trip and it certainly was. It was inspiring. I am delighted to belong to a church willing to learn, to explore and engage with justice.
Please contact the Synod Office if you want to learn more about the URC’s education trip to IOPT.
Thank you for brilliant support for Commitment for Life.
by Emma Clare Nutbrown Hughes
In the passage the Holy Habits materials is based on in Acts 2:47 we read “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Notice that God is credited with growing the church. This is an important principle. Every time a person becomes a Christian, it is a spiritual miracle performed by God.
We may be involved in the process as we tell people about the Lord Jesus, but ultimately, it is God
who gives eternal life.
Making disciples can sometimes seem daunting, because often people react badly to the attempt. It requires gentleness, patience, kindness, love – all the fruits of the spirit in fact (Galatians 5:22).
It is also far too easy to attempt to do it with wrong motivation, and people can spot that a mile off.
We should neither be doing it to simply grow our own congregation nor to ease our guilt.
Our motivation should be that we believe that our Lord Jesus is the answer to our deepest needs and that we want to share the wonder of His mercy and grace.
We cannot do this on our own. We need God’s help, so knowing our Bibles well is important “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16), and don’t forget to pray to Him for help. “Apart
from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
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.