Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surveying five years

Wednesday 30th November 2011
          St Andrew's Day is the anniversary of my induction as Team Rector of North Tyne and Redesdale and a good moment to pause and take stock  --  all the better on a bright cool day when I still hadn't enough voice to talk to anyone.
Molly surveys Bellingham whilst I survey my life

    What has happened in the last five years? 
Most importantly for me starting work in a new part of England, I have begun to get to know a tiny corner of Northumberland.  I have learned a little geography, the pronunciation of some placenames and some breeds of sheep (Blackface, Swaledale, Cheviot and Mule instead of Romney Marsh and Southdown)

     Most importantly of all, I have begun to get to know a little about the life of the people who live here, about their background, history, culture and concerns.  I love it here and hope that this familiarisation may help to make me able to minster to the needs of the people amongst whom I now have my home.
After taking the morning off, I returned to my study, the computer and other routine activities before driving over to Otterburn to chair the PCC who were able to discuss most things without too much intervention from a dysphonic chairman.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Tuesday 29th November 2011
Kielder Water
When people ask me where I work, I sometimes say "Do you know Kielder Water, the largest manmade lake in western Europe?  Well, it's in the corner of one of my parishes."  But today I'm not saying anything at all because I 've completely lost my voice.
     It's been a great opportunity to spend the whole day in my study catching up on answering letters, writing cheques [must remember to claim reimbursement for Advent candles, Christingle candles, church lectionaries, Communion wine etc etc], composing contributions for parish newsletters, responding to e-mails, organising my diary....and getting my poor husband to ring up to cancel all my appointments and reschedule them, as well as pass on certain responsibilities to other people.
     If anyone wonders why I haven't replied to your queries of October, it's because I rarely get a day like this with so much time to myself.  If you'd like to alleviate this situation, please send me someone to help with the admin!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where have I been?

Saturday 26th November 2011

       I have no idea whether anyone reads this blog regularly,  If there is someone out there who does, you may have wondered why I have been inactive for a day or two.  The answer is that I took 24 hours off for family celebrations of a birthday and a degree-granting ceremony before hurrying on to another PCC meeting after which I went to bed instead of going online.

 Today is Saturday, the busiest day of the week for me, when many people who aren't at work take the opportunity to contact me about a wide range of things, when I find myself supporting local events in the community (today's coffee morning at Elsdon and afternoon pre-Christmas fair at the Bellingham Methodist United Reformed Church) and when I also have to prepare for Sunday's services.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A fuller day than this shows

Wednesday 23rd November 2011
      It's funny how I write very little on very full days.  Among today's activities were a meeting with the Bellingham church director of music.
Organ practice
The evening was taken up with Corsenside PCC, confronting the usual problems as good-humouredly as ever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bellingham Middle School visit

Monday 21st November 2011
     A group came from the Middle School to St Cuthbert's church for part of their cross-curricular study. 

The stained-glass windows provided plenty of research material and some insight into the Christian understanding of God's love for the world.

                                     The east window showing Christ's crucifixion in the centre
                                   with St Mary on the left of the picture and St John on the right.
                            One gospel (St John's) account tells us that as they both stood at the foot of the Cross,
                                        Jesus entrusted them to each other as Mother and son.

 Above Mary in the top left is a round picture of a human figure representing St Matthew.  The other Gospel writers are St Mark (whose symbol of a lion is top right), St Luke (a bull, bottom left) and St John (eagle, bottom right under the figure of John in the window).
     Beneath the central figure of Jesus on the Cross is a small picture of Jesus healing a blind man, reminding us of his healing ministry and suggesting that we have new insight into God's love for us when we look at Jesus on the Cross sharing the suffering of human beings.

      We went on to look at the Resurrection window where we could see that the Risen Christ has scars on his hand and foot from the wounds of the crucifixion.  This is a reminder that he really suffered and that God understands what we go through.

       We had a look at various other things in the church and I do hope that some of the Middle School will be able to help to improve the Church's welcome to visitors by designing  an information sheet with a trail and quiz to appeal to all ages.  (See page on Deanery Day at Simonburn.)

More pictures in a day or two.....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A pre-Christmas fair

Saturday 19th November 2011
The deservedly popular homemade cakes
People think that the Church of England clergy spend all their time encouraging parishioners in their running of cake stalls.  Well, this is the first time since I started blogging in the late summer that  cake stall has featured.  It does contribute significantly to the fund-raising that is vital  to enable the local Church to carry out the activities that serve the local community.  (How else could we afford to buy craft materials for Messy Church or switch on the heating for the funeral congregation?)

More photographs in a day or two

Rising sunlight sends me out with the camera

Friday 18th November 2011
"This is the day that the Lord hath made: we will  rejoice and  be glad in it!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance Sunday

13th November 2011
Bellingham Cadets approach for wreath-laying at War Memorial
Local Cadets from the Bellingham Detatchment

Details and further pictures on Events page

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

11th November 2011
Poppies ready for 11 o'clock on 11.11.11
There were many places that I could have been for the two minutes silence, but I chose to be with the smallest school (ten pupils) in the remote village of Kielder where the 4 - 8 year olds stood in total silence at the same time as the rest of the nation (some of whom we saw in pictures on the television screen).
An artfully designed arrangement to produce a naturalistic "Poppy tree" with a suggestion of a living bush.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday 9th November 2011
Autumn sunset
Normal services, visits to pre-school and Middle School for planning and arrangements for future activities with children, staff meeting with other clergy and Reader to share out various duties in December and early January, telephone calls about the forthcoming funerals, meeting of the Deanery Committee to consider the next Synod on "Faith and the Future of the Countryside" as well as matters relating to the Olympics and to our 2012 pilgrimage to Canterbury  --  and finally home to settle down to work at the computer, writing a report in the hope of meeting a midnight deadline.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Three deaths in six days

Wednesday 9th November 2011

After Morning Prayer in church,  I rode over to a farm to deliver something.  Nobody at home and the horse wouldn't fit through the gate to the front door which might have had a letter box.  So I left the envelope on a doorstep held down by an old horseshoe that I found in a flower tub.
    The day became hectic after a phone call from the funeral director.  I spent an hour or so on one visit making the preliminary arrangements for a funeral next Wednesday.  A quick stop at the Rectory to contact an organist for the funeral and to collect e-mail  and telephone messages was followed by ten minutes for lunch and a fifteen-mile drive to the next funeral visit.  We finalised quite a lot of the order of service for Tuesday's service but I must remember to find an organist.  I await decisions from the family on a few details.  I'll need to get back to the Wednesday family tomorrow evening when they have all gathered for getting down to details.
      I was ten minutes late for my three o'clock appointment but he was very understanding, having come to talk over our Deanery "Mission Action Plan" which we interpret as to how best we (the local Churches) can share God's love with our neighbours.
      I gathered my papers together for this evening's PCC meeting and typed out the agenda before Evening Prayer.  That parish still hasn't found a PCC secretary.  So the next half hour was fully occupied with quickly  (and belatedly) typing out a formal version of the minutes of the last meeting  and photcopying them before I set out (late) up the valley to Falstone.
      We discussed how we should follow up the recent Deanery Day [see separate page of blog], our work with children, care of the church buildings, how to keep the sheep in the churchyard which they're supposed to be grazing, our ever-problemmatic finances, a new date for the Christingle service  --  to be in Epiphanytide rather than Christmastide, following the success of last's year's postponement which had been caused by snow.  
       The meeting broke up with our commenting how we had all prepared for an early winter so as not to be caught out this year.  "I've got all my logs stacked."  "I've got my snow tyres on."  "I've got extra hay in."  "We've got access to a house in Corbridge in case home is snowed up."  (Corbridge is down south near Hadrian's Wall.)......... So now we expect a mild winter!
        Came home for soup and toast but too late to ring to book an organist.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday 7th November 2011
A temperature of about   -2  and thick mist in the valley meant a sharp frost.  Up on the hill the sun was shining; down the next dip we were back in the fog; and when I got to Newcastle (to see the Bishop and talk over the recent life of the Deanery) the temperature was +9      A different world!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday 6th November 2011

Mist rises from the river on a frosty morning

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Some failures

Thursday 3rd November 2011

Off up the valley to Kielder to take Holy Communion to a housebound person after the service in Bellingham.  Called into the village shop to garner local news and was told about someone who had been taken  to the nearest hospital down the valley thirty-five miles away.  So went to visit the family.  Should have gone to Corbridge for a preliminary meeting to plan the Church stand for next year's County Show where we have a presence to show our  support for local community life and farming.  However, I decided to send my apologies since it became a priority to visit some seriously ill parishioners.  Although I did manage part of what I intended, the journey to the hospital didn't turn out as I had hoped:  not infrequently, when I get to the right ward, the person I have gone to see has either just died or been discharged.  So it was today.  Back up the valley to deal with e-mails and so on.  I sat down to insert a paragraph into the report on the Deanery Day page of this blog...  and somehow lost most of what I had published yesterday.  Not the best day this week.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls' Day

Wednesday 2nd November 2011
Candles lit commemorating the departed
at the evening service