A strange Farewell

One of the most extraordinary passages in the Bible tells the story of Christ’s goodbye, which we call the Ascension: “While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshipping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.”
It was the last time the apostles would see Jesus. They had experienced the utter catastrophe of His death,         followed within days by the triumph of His resurrection. Later, He left them. Instead of the sadness we might expect after His final farewell, they were exuberant and went back to Jerusalem. What an extraordinary reaction. Jesus had gone, Jerusalem was fraught with danger, yet they seemed brimful with confidence. 
Ringing in their ears was His repeated teaching about the Kingdom of God and the commission to preach forgiveness of sins throughout the world, beginning at Jerusalem. They were to wait there until they were “clothed with power from on high.” Far from feeling abandoned, they were full of hope and eager to be equipped for their vocation. They and the Christian community would represent Christ on earth, as He represented them in heaven, “seated at the right hand of the Father”, in the words of the Creed. 
All this is temporary. God has not planned the world to remain in its present state in perpetuity. Our particular era may seem to be particularly grim, but it is but one strand in human history and we are no more distinctive than any other generation. Although the world as it is seems to be lasting a long time, we are living in what the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews calls ‘the final age’. We are to anticipate a finale, when Christ’s rule will be apparent to all. There’s an Old Testament proverb which is particularly apt: “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Isn’t that exactly what we hope for every time we pray for God’s will to be done on earth, as in heaven? 
The Archbishop of Canterbury and others are prompting us to join in a global ‘wave of prayer’ between Ascension and Pentecost (25 May to 4 June), concentrating on “Your Kingdom Come”. That will make us usurpers, praying for God’s Kingdom to displace all others! It will also make us one with Christ.

                                             Ven John Barton

“Thy Kingdom Come”          
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling Christians of every denomination to join in with Thy Kingdom Come, a prayer initiative   between Ascension and Pentecost (25th May to 4th June), to pray for the nation to know Jesus Christ. It is a time to seek the empowering of the Holy Spirit, that we may be effective witnesses to Jesus Christ. Praying for others to know Jesus is one of the most powerful things we can do. Persistent prayer for others brings transformation to their lives. As Paul writes: ‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.’ (Colossians 4: 2-4).
As Paul says, consistent praying for others involves discipline (‘be devoted’) and responding to what God is already doing in people’s lives (‘being watchful and thankful’). We can pray for ‘open doors’ to point    people to Jesus and what He can mean in their lives. We all have opportunities to do this, as even Paul prayed as a prisoner in chains!!    

‘Loving Father, in the face of Jesus Christ your light and glory have blazed forth. Send your Holy Spirit that I may share with my friends the life of your Son and your love for all. Strengthen me as a witness to that love as I pledge to pray for them, for your name’s sake. Amen.’     

Rev Paul Hardingham

 Life is a journey that no one makes alone. the more people you touch along the way, the more meaningful and rewarding your time.


Why ‘Call the Midwife’?
For months – indeed for years, apart from the ‘Bake off’ phenomenon - Britain’s most popular television programme by some distance has been the Sunday night ‘Call the Midwife’. The competition for top spot encompasses the whole range of     human obsessions: comedy, drama, murder, rape, quizzes, food, fashion and sport – something for every taste. Yet a homely drama about some midwives working with an Anglican order of nuns in London’s East End 60 years ago beats them all. The BBC clearly recognises its value – several more series have been commissioned. I think it’s worth wondering why.
The first two series of ‘Call the Midwife’ closely followed the best-selling books by Jennifer Worth about her experiences as a young midwife in precisely those circumstances. Someone recommended the first book to me and I found it compelling reading, and said so in print. To my surprise, I got a letter from the author, answering a question I had posed. She told me that the example of the sisters in the Order and their unquenchable faith amidst the squalor and poverty of the area in those post-War years eventually led to her embracing the Christian faith herself.
Sadly, Jennifer Worth died just as the first series was being aired, and I feared the story line might lose its    authenticity. But it hasn’t. These are stories of some nuns and midwives struggling to help people in need. Without ever being preachy, it faithfully depicts a very mixed group of people putting faith into practice. I think the nine million viewers, most of whom are probably not regular church-goers, appreciate seeing prayer, faith, hope and love at work, even if not every practitioner is saintly, not every sick baby saved, nor every human problem solved.

                                                                                                                                 Canon David Winter

Visit of Chernobyl Children to Little Sutton Methodist Church.
Wednesday 14th June 2017

Friday Club have now hosted a lunch for children from Chernobyl affected by the nuclear disaster for the last fifteen years. The Wirral Circuit have helped these children over many years by raising money towards their visits and air fares. Last year we raised over £1,800 and sent the children home laden with gifts. We understand that maybe people cannot give as much as usual or donate every year, but every little helps.
This year there will be 16 children, 9 girls and 7 boys aged 9-11, along with leaders Maria and Sviatlana.
Bringing the children to England boosts their immune systems for at least two years, helping them to resist or recover from serious illness. Belarus received over 70% of the radioactive fallout from the explosion and as a   result thousands born every year are still affected and go on to develop thyroid cancer, bone cancer and        leukaemia. Last year, during their visit, the children actually liked going to the dentist and optician, who all gave their services free.
The children will be visiting Wirral from 3rd June to 1st July this year.
Please can you help again? We still need your cash towards the cost of food or anything we are short of for the stationery packs. Any money left over is always donated to the charity towards the cost of the children’s visit and air fares for next year.

Please make cheques to:

This year the list is slightly different, but if you can help we are asking you to   donate the following items:
Packets of vegetable seeds, well in date;
New socks for girls and boys aged 9-11;
New underwear, again 9-11;
Packets of dried noodles and soup;
Plasters, Mosquito repellent and Insect bite cream (Around Stolin they are plagues with mosquitos during July and August);
Hot water bottles;
Toothbrushes and toothpaste;
New shoes and Trainers, size 1-5.
There will be collecting boxes in our three churches and in Neston Methodist Church  from Sunday 7th to Sunday 24th May.
Please contact Philip Brickell [353 0405] for further details and Gift Aid forms.



St Michael’s & All Angels, Princetown, Dartmouth

St Michael’s & All Angels does not occupy an ancient site, but was founded in the 19th century to serve the community which grew up around the nearby prison. 
In 1805 Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt drew up plans for the construction of the War Prison and a chapel that was to be known simply as ‘Dartmoor Church’. The church was intended to serve the local community that was expected to flourish alongside the War Prison.
The church was to be large enough to cater for five to six hundred people and the house large enough for a clergyman and his wife. Both buildings were to be constructed of granite of which there was an ample local source and the labour would be provided by the French prisoners of war. Internally the church was to be fitted out with benches along with some enclosed seats for the use of senior officers and their kin. The churchyard had to be one and a half acres in size with an enclosed parade ground for the troops. The prison was built from 1806, but construction of the church was delayed until a start was finally made in 1812, using French prisoners-of-war as labour until June 1814. They were paid the handsome sum of 6d a day.
As hostilities with the French ended these men were repatriated and so the labour source was replaced by American prisoners of war. By this time there was a new Governor at the war prison, one Captain Shortland who was told to use the Americans who were carpenters, masons or blacksmiths. These craftsmen were left in no doubt that if any of them attempted to escape the entire workforce would forfeit their pay and no further prisoners would be given the privilege of working on the project. The temptation of freedom was too much for one prisoner who made good his escape which resulted in, as promised, all prison labour being withdrawn and replaced by militiamen.
With the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in 1814 the War of 1812 was over and plans for the repatriation of the American prisoners were set forth. By the April of 1815 the first batch of American prisoners were released and by the July of that year all of the Americans had been returned home However at the same time another contingent of French prisoners of war were brought to Princetown, many of which were coming back for the second time having been previously released. By the February of 1816 all prisoners of war had been released and the gates firmly closed on the prison. So one could say that the idea of providing a place of worship for the prison garrison was a complete waste of money for all concerned as the church was only finished just before everyone left Princetown.
Following the closure of the war prison the church of St. Michael served the surrounding area which meant a much reduced flock when compared to the anticipated five to six hundred worshipers and so its doors were also shut. However in 1831 the local population had increased and so the doors were once again opened for worship and the place re-consecrated.
In 1850 the old prison was reopened to become a normal convict prison which meant that once again Princetown began to flourish as did the church’s flock. In 1860 the church was granted the faculty for performing marriage which meant the full range of services could be held, baptisms, marriages and burials. In 1862 the Rev. Morris Fuller took over the running of the church and eight years later was confronted with disaster when in 1868 a fire virtually gutted the church resulting in the loss of most of its internal fittings and furniture. Over the next eight years the church underwent a process of restoration, but due to lack of funds this work was not of the best standard and by 1905 the large east wall was in danger of total collapse. Fortunately in 1908 a New York newspaper ran with the story of the church’s plight and how it was American labour that partly build it along with the urgent need for funds.
The ‘National Society of United Daughters of 1812’, formed to commemorate the American men who lost their lives in the war of 1812, raised money to help and the renovation was completed.
However, a combination of unsatisfactory work and the harsh Dartmoor winters led to steady decay and the church was declared redundant in 1994, offered for sale - unsurprisingly there were no offers - and so demolition was the only option. In 2001, at the last minute, ‘The Churches Conservation Trust’ stepped in and are still in the long process of restoration. In 2013 a memorial service was held in the church to commemorate and remember the American prisoners of war who were interred in the prison two hundred years previously. 
Today St. Michael’s is encompassed in the West Dartmoor Mission Community, is under the care of the Rev Nick Shutt and it is still possible to hold the occasional service.  


You took my place
One day, a man went to visit a busy, thriving church. He arrived early, parked his car, and got out. Another car pulled up near him and the driver told him, “I always park there. You took my place!” The visitor quietly moved his car, but said nothing.
The visitor went inside for the service and began looking at the books and magazines on display. He was about to pick one up when a member of the congregation came along and said, “I always read that copy. You took my magazine!” The stranger graciously bowed and turned away.
He went into the church, found an empty seat and sat down. A young ladyapproached him and stated, “That’s my seat! You took my place!” The visitor again quietly moved away, found another seat but still said nothing.
The service began and the congregation fervently prayed for Christ to come and dwell among them.
Suddenly the visitor stood up. He slowly walked to the front of the church and held up his hands. They looked terrible, all scarred and torn. The congregation was appalled, and someone called out, “What happened to you?”

The visitor replied, “I took your place.”

Our Lord is risen from the dead!
Our Jesus is gone up on high!
The powers of hell are captive led,
Dragged to the portals of the sky.

Charles Wesley

Triumphant, Christ ascends on high,
The glorious work complete;
Sin, death and hell low vanquished lie
Beneath His awful feet.

Anne Steele