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Brandon Parish Magazine
July/August 2020
St. John’s Church, Brandon &
St. Catherine’s Church, New Brancepeth

  

All Services are suspended for the time being, although services may restart soon – updates will be on the websites below.

At present Fr. Carl will celebrate the Holy Eucharist in his home
at 9.45 am on Sunday mornings.
The service will be available on Zoom.
Contact Fr. Carl to get an invitation.

The normal Sunday services are:
St. John’s - 9.45 am Holy Eucharist
St. Catherine’s - 8:45 am Holy Eucharist

Revd. Carl Peters:
The Clergy House, Sawmill Lane, Brandon, Durham, DH7 8NS.
Tel: 0191 6803875, revpeters28@gmail.com

Other Contact Telephone Numbers
St. John’s: David (Churchwarden) – 3789718; Carolyn – 6803875
St. Catherine’s: Joe (Churchwarden) – 3739927; Liz - 3731554

Website http://www.brandonparish.org.uk/Welcome.htm
https://www.facebook.com/StJohnTheEvangelistChurchBrandon
https://www.facebook.com/Stjohnschurchhallmeadowfield
https://www.facebook.com/pg/StCatherinesChurchNewBrancepeth

From the Registers

Funerals at Crematorium
27th May - Alan Arthur Lukins
28th May - Audrey Botterill
2nd June - Brian Franklin
4th June - Florence Hudspeth

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Special Services/Events

Many of the usual services and events are cancelled for the time being.
As the lock-down is eased it may be possible
to have some more events or services.
These will be posted on the website and communicated
by phone to those not on-line.

St. John’s Open for private prayer,
Saturdays 10.00-11.00am
Wednesdays 1.30pm-2.30pm.
This is likely to change!

Prayer for Our Churches: Tuesday, 21st July, 09.30 - 10.15 am.
Also Tuesday. 18th August, 09.30 - 10.15 am.
At present these will be held on Zoom, for an invitation contact Bill Offler -
(DH7 Churches Together Secretary, williamoffler@outlook.com)

PCC and Annual Parochial Church Meeting:

These have been postponed – the APCM should have been held before the end of April according to church rules! These rules have been relaxed so it will be held later, probably in the Autumn.

What of the future? Please pray about the future plans for our churches as we consider re-opening our churches for worship as we come out of lock-down. Remember also future working with - St Paul’s, Waterhouses as well as St. Luke’s, Ushaw Moor along with St. John’s, Neville’s Cross,
St. Brandon’s Brancepeth and St. Edmund’s, Bearpark.
If you have any thoughts, comments or suggestions please contact
Fr. Carl, one of the church wardens, Carolyn or Liz.

Reflection by Fr. Carl

Well more and more change is in the air as we come out of lockdown, although I think we all know we’re not out of the woods yet and in these uncertain times things can quickly change one way or another.
Let’s pray that things continue to go in the right direction!
But yes, it’s been a strange and challenging time for all of us
and still is really. One thing we can do already though is reflect.
The past three months or so has been a long time for many of us to be away from the life we normally live and we welcome change with caution. But what about the change we underwent during lockdown?

How has that been for us?
Many of us have and perhaps still do miss family, friends and more normal social interaction. Variety even.
That lack of being able to go somewhere and do things,
whilst at the same time maybe counting our blessings and knowing
there are those near and far who are worse off than ourselves.
For our worshipping community, the closure of our church buildings back in March was a bit if a blow. The first Sunday of proper lockdown was strange. We were getting into the rhythm of Lent and it was also Mothering Sunday and there I presided on the Sunday morning all alone at church at the Lady Chapel altar. That was the last time, as from then on even clergy could not enter our churches.

So what next?
As well as my normal routine saying the daily offices, morning and evening prayer, something I always value very much, Sunday mornings for a few weeks saw Carolyn and I doing Morning Prayer together, setting aside the coffee table as some sort of sacred space.
But we wanted to do more!
Between the three churches, keeping in contact with folk by phone, text, email and on the church website and Facebook has been important. Perhaps at least some of us who were able or happy to, might even join together for worship in a way we’d not imagined. First Carolyn and I looked at the possibility of joining people together through Teams which many people in work situations use for meetings. Well that didn’t work. On Easter Day together we recorded the Holy Eucharist from home. The recording went well, but trying with some very able people to put it on the website or Facebook, proved difficult.
But then we discovered Zoom which enabled us from the first Sunday after Easter Day to worship with folk from across the two parishes and three churches. Yes, on computer, laptop, IPad or phone we could see each other and respond in worship and in
fellowship.


This has proved popular as more and more have signed up to it and been part of our Holy Eucharist as we have joined together in spiritual communion. In spiritual communion we remember that ‘the church of which we are members is not defined by the walls of the building, but by the Body of Christ of which we are members.’ Yes, Zoom, nerve wracking at first, being church in a different way with the anxieties Carolyn and I have shared of hoping it would go alright, has proved to be very fruitful and many thanks to those who have been able to be a part of it. Transforming our living room into a chapel each Sunday morning and on Ascension Day has felt special.
And thinking of our wider church fellowship I know others of you have kept Sunday’s and perhaps every day special by setting aside quietly, time of prayer and bible reading. Maybe following a daily guide of reading and reflections or just creating something which has felt right for you.
Many of you have also rung around or messaged others, as a pastoral church that cares for its members.
Many of us will have missed our links with the wider community and not being able to link up as we normally do. I know it’s been difficult for those with loved ones in care homes
and not being able to go in since even before lockdown.
And then there are our schools, which we as a church reach out to in different ways. For a number of years now, members of St Catherine’s have done ‘Open the Book’ at New Brancepeth Primary School, where stories from the bible are told and acted in a lively and interactive way. This has been a ministry I’ve felt blessed to be a part of. Sadly the school hall has gone quiet in this way the last three months or so and we look forward to one day being in there again. Carolyn and I did however decide to make it happen in some way during this unusual time. Firstly it was with grandchildren on face time on the IPad. Then we graduated to Zoom on the laptop including children from church and one or two others known to family. This has also proved to be joyful and interactive with as much sharing and friendship going on as the telling of the bible stories themselves. And the children, well they seem to be doing most of it now!
So yes, there are so many things we can reflect about as we ponder on these months of lockdown due to Covid19. And no doubt more reflections will be to come. You all have your own stories, your ups and downs; times of joy, times of sadness, times of boredom.

Carolyn and I pray that you all stay safe as we continue through these changing and uncertain times, in which we continue to wonder and explore how we will be a living and breathing church that embraces ‘old normals’ and ‘new normals’ alike.

Father Carl

Some reflections by church members of this lock-down period

The zoom meetings are very good.
I felt somewhat of connection there with members of our churches,
with faces we knew and didn’t know.
The short time we had can be reassuring to those with anxiety problems, like myself, that in these unprecedented times
we are united together in prayer with our priest Fr. Carl,
and that we are still out there fighting this together;
the church hasn’t gone forever
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I have very much appreciated having the Sunday sermon on the website.
It gives me a chance to reflect on what it means and how it applies to me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fr. Carl started to prepare his sermons from Maundy Thursday through the Easter Season to Pentecost and Trinity Sunday and I was privileged to upload them to the website for all to share.
On Facebook, the sermons were viewed by up to 200 people each week
Future links to the Sunday sermons and readings will continue to be uploaded to the website and can be read on Facebook
Preparing the website, reading through the weekly readings and sermon
and choosing an appropriate graphic and hymn helped me
to be aware of our church year and keep me mindful of all those people who have shared with our Holy Eucharist over the years.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joy and sadness, fears and humour, missing family,
hearing and seeing the spring in wonder, but knowing of suffering out of my reach.
Maybe this mismatch in life experience can lead me to walk more humbly,
more lightly day by day before the One
who, I believe, holds all things past and future in love.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the start of lock-down I offered myself to God and asked for help.
It has been a time of blessing, almost a ‘conversion’
relying on God’s mercy and love and seeing new things
and being more aware.
Ps 23 has meant a lot to me, ‘He restores my soul’.
I pray for all of us and that as a church we will listen to God.
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I miss my church, I miss my friends
Because of this awful bug.
But the thing I really miss the most
Is a Nana and grandson hug!

Some Reflections from Churches Together in England

“May the Archangel Gabriel, patron of communications
continue to pray for us!"
Monsignor Paul Smith,
Parish priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Being salt is not about spreading our name, but it is about spreading the name of Jesus... If there is anything positive to come out of this pandemic it is that all Christ’s followers would positively touch and impact lives.”
Pastor Ian Sweeney,
President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the British Isles
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“It was very upsetting to hear the closed doors of the Church being hit and banged by the people, who couldn’t understand or accept why they were left outside … or to see certain others “attend” the Service through the Church window.”
Fr. Anastasios D. Salapata
Parish Priest of St. Panteleimon Greek Orthodox Community in Harrow
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“Hello, my name is Kai Daley...Covid-19 didn’t just affect my education - that same week that my education ended, I was scheduled to be baptised. I was devastated, but now I have spiritually grown closer to God...so close I guess… it’s true,
the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Kai Daley from the New Life Wesleyan Church in Handsworth, Birmingham

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“The beginning of this pandemic brought a myriad of questions. How we will still be church if we cannot physically meet? How will congregation members be affected by this? How will we continue to fulfil God’s mission here?"
Rev Penny Marsh, Pioneer Baptist Minister for Ebbsfleet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The pandemic storm, otherwise christened as COVID-19, has become a beacon allowed by God [John 3: 27] to shake the whole world..." "Weekly income has fallen by 80%..." "...We also suffered the death of our Church Leader,
who at the time of writing was yet to be buried."
Two churches from our Pentecostal and Charismatic Forum
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“The church needs to restore the practice of Lamentations as a normal appropriate spiritual response… a time of lamenting for the grief and sorrow that the Covid-19 plague has wrought on the land and particularly on those from the BAME community.”
Rev Alton P. Bell,
Chair for the Movement for Justice and Reconciliation

Fr. Carl’s Sermon for Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-21; John 20: 19-23)

Hi to all of you. I hope you’re keeping well and safe? Throughout Lockdown, we have continued through Lent, celebrated Easter, the Ascension and today we celebrate Pentecost, when we recall the Holy Spirit descending or being breathed upon the disciples.
As Christians, Pentecost is something we should get quite excited about, because without the Holy Spirit there would be no sacraments, no Christians, no Church. If there was a church it would probably be a few frightened, inward looking people who gathered together in secret. The gospel wouldn’t have got very far in the world. In fact, we would as this small insignificant body, be a bit like a group who are orphaned from the Jesus they love, taking comfort from the stories of Jesus in the gospels, but at the same time feel a bit lost without the physical presence of Jesus to guide us and lead us.
Thankfully, this is not so.
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon those Apostles which we hear about in our reading from Acts was an act of empowerment from God, to if you like, kick start those first Christians into action, so that they were able to do God’s work on this earth and establish
the church as the Body of Christ.
The Spirit of Pentecost was the electric current to get things moving and it happened in a dramatic way.
As we hear,
‘When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak
in other languages as the spirit gave them ability.’
The speaking in different languages was an indication that the church would become a universal church, which the disciples would take to all nations, peoples and tongues.
They now had a strength, power and confidence which they never could have imagined only a few minutes before.

And it didn’t just stop there. Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit has given God’s people the boldness and courage to live the Christian faith and tell the world about Jesus, in all manner of ways.
And this carries on as the church continues to tell the world about Jesus today, through Facebook, through websites, through YouTube, through Zoom and in more traditional ways, some of which is absent at the moment with church buildings being locked.
Yes our churches are locked and we naturally feel sad that such holy places are inaccessible. We desire to enter that building again. When the day comes it will be good. But of course we must remember that much of what we are about as Christians is living with the spirit of going out, being sent out.
Jesus says to the disciples in our gospel reading from John.
‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I send you.’ And then he breathes on them and says. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’
Next time we are gathered together as church whether it’s on Zoom or when we are next gathered together in the church building,
let’s really feel in our hearts those words the priest says
at the end of the Eucharist. ‘Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.’
And as we go out into our lives and the lives of others, in whatever fashion, whether it’s two metres apart or on Facetime, or on the phone, let’s remember that we are not alone. The power of the Spirit is with us as the words from another part of John’s Gospel remind us. In John 14 Jesus promises another helper to his disciples when he says.
‘If you love me keep my commandments. And I will pray to the Father and he will give you another Helper that he may abide with you forever,
the Spirit of Truth’
Jesus goes on to say.
‘for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans,
I will come to you.’
Encouraging words that remind us that we are not separated from Jesus as orphans. For his ways live in us in the Spirit of Truth
whose energy drives us out, and pushes us away from any fears and trepidations that might hold us back.
So we might too, feel the breath of Jesus and go where he sends us!       Amen