E-Newsletter – 10th January 2021
A very Happy New Year to you and welcome back to the Weekly E Newsletter, the first of 2021. Firstly, confirmation of immediate plans and then a little explanation of next steps. As you know the decision was taken to close the services at St Columba’s to in-person attended worship – Lessons & Carols on Sunday 20th December was the last service attended, in-person. Since then, our Christmas services have been live-stream/Dial-In only. The Lock Down Working Group met on Monday 4th January. Our discussions were then swiftly overtaken by the National Lock Down announced that evening. While clarification of what the new regulations would be was sought, the Working Group decided that in the short term we would remain closed on this Sunday, 10th December i.e., live-stream/Dial-In only.
Given however that current Government Guidance permits people leaving their homes to attend public worship, if the decision is taken to keep the doors of St Columba’s closed, it will be in the knowledge that it is imposing stricter regulations than Government Guidance currently requires. (Note: Government very strongly advises If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.)
Whatever choice is made – to open doors for worship or maintain their closure – the significance of the decision means that it must be the wider Kirk Session which is responsible for the decision. Kirk Session has now been asked to make that decision. The Lock Down Working Group is scheduled to meet on Tuesday 12th January and will respond to the views of the Kirk Session. That will then be communicated as widely and as swiftly as possible.
I cannot predict what the consensus will be. I know it will have to strike the balance between understanding the new COVID-19 variant is much more contagious, against the sense of our church being a beacon of welcome in difficult times. Whichever decision is made, there will be either anxiety or disappointment. I would simply ask that you keep our elders in your prayers as they try to make faithful and wise decisions on behalf of all the congregation and surrounding community. I would ask too, that once the decision is made, we accept it as gracefully as we are able, and then concentrate on continuing to find creative and caring ways to look out for each other. For so much that you are already doing in that respect, seen and unseen, I am very grateful.
One lovely example of ongoing care and creativity comes from St Andrew’s, Newcastle, where they have managed to remain open for worship in recent weeks, though that is under review. In recent news they reported: “In early 2020 our Craft Group sent a large batch of quilts to Project Linus UK in Newcastle and Northumberland. In November they sent a further 23 quilts to Project Linus, Durham and Sunderland. This batch of quilts was taken to the children's ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital before Christmas and the next batch is already building up; they have made another 7 so far. The quilts are given to the children to keep, therefore there is a continuing need to supply them. A letter of thanks has been received.” [ The Project Linus charity aims to provide a sense of security and comfort to sick and traumatised babies, children and teenagers through the provision of new home-made patchwork quilts and knitted blankets and give volunteers across the UK the opportunity to contribute to their local community. Further information can be found at
On Sunday we will hear in music and word the story of the travellers from the east arriving to bring their gifts to the child in Bethlehem. (Wednesday 6th January is the official day of Epiphany.) So an Epiphany prayer to finish:
before your infant form
sages bowed the knee
and acknowledged your lordship
over all power and wisdom.
Grant us also clear vision and courage,
that in the light of your light
we may devote our power and potential
to your service,
even when that requires us
to go home by another way. Amen
May the star above Bethlehem and the child in the manger guide you this week into light and peace.
Live Streaming of Worship – Sunday 10th January 2021, 11am
The live stream service continues this Sunday at 11am. Music begins from 10.50am. The service can be watched via the church website, https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/live-stream at 11am.
To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 60 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) The words for the hymns will be on the website.
We believe it is really important to continue to live-stream the Morning Service under its current format i.e. for the benefit of those joining worship from afar or those as yet unable to make the journey to Pont Street. For those without internet, the Dial-In facility continues. Many people comment that they do have a sense of worshipping together, even if invisible to each other. While current regulation forbids singing in the pews, the live stream strongly recommends singing in the sitting room!
Dial into Sunday Service
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone in to join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service. Those interested should follow:
Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874.
Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 266 883 5072#
Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #.
Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
Hymns, Music & Readings this week are:
Hymn 326 As with gladness men of old (Dix)
Hymn 328 Wise men, they came to look for wisdom (Neumark)
Hymn 323 The first Nowell (The First Nowell)
Anthem: Infant holy, Willcocks
Old Testament Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6
New Testament Reading: Ephesians 3:1-12
Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
Associate Minister at St Columba’s, Pont Street
The Church of Scotland Ministries Council is currently
advertising on our behalf for the role of Associate Minister at
St Columba’s. The post has been vacant since Revd Andrea
Price left us in November 2018. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2021. We hope to interview in March, with a view to
someone joining the Ministry Team in the summer. Please keep this matter in your prayers and if you think you know someone who might be interested please bring it to their attention. Job Description (churchofscotland.org.uk)
The Church Office will be closed from 4pm on the 22nd December and will reopen on the 4th January 2021.
Tel: 020 7584 2321
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
If you wish to come into the sanctuary for prayer during the week, please contact the Office to arrange a suitable time.
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas
Offerings to St Andrew’s, Newcastle can be made via:
Account - Church of Scotland
Sort code - 40-34-18
Account number – 11310747
St Columba’s Book Club – 11th January 2020, 7.00pm
The January meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will take place on the 11th January at 7pm (via Zoom). This month’s book will be “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens. New members are very much encouraged, please get in touch with the Church Office for more detail.
Happy Hour will resume on Wednesday 13 January at 6.30pm, via Zoom for an hour or so of conversation and fellowship. For this session everyone is asked to share something good that happened in 2020 and a hope they have for 2021.
Newcomers are most welcome. Please email Kate ,
Zoom Coffee Morning
COVID-19 vaccination scam alert
Some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID 19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details. Like other scams, the same rules apply;
- Don’t click on links or attachments in unexpected texts, emails or instant messages.
- Challenge every request for your personal details.
- It doesn’t matter what they say or what they know about you, don’t respond to unexpected phone calls, hang up, take five then verify their claims via a trusted method. (such as the usual website or official phone number)
The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to members of the public over 80 years old.
The NHS will:
- NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine.
- NEVER ask for payment for the vaccine or for your bank details.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, you should report this directly to Action Fraud either online; https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or via phone 0300 123 2040
Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to the MPS online or by calling 101. Link to an example of the scam text message on behalf of which.co.uk https://conversation.which.co.uk/scams/scam-nhs-covid-vaccine-text-message/
REFLECTION & POINTS FOR PRAYERS,
PREPARED BY CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER GROUP
ST COLUMBA’S, PONT STREET & ST ANDREW’S, NEWCASTLE 10th JANUARY 2021
Bible reading 1: Exodus 35:30-36:1
Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. 35 He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers. 36 1 So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.”
Bible Reading 2: Romans 12 verses 6 to 8
We all have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith, if it is serving then serve, if it is teaching then teach, if it is to encourage, then give encouragement, if it is giving then give generously, if it is to lead, then do so diligently, if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Verses from hymns
Brother sister let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you
pray that I may have the grace
to let you be my servant too.
From heaven you helpless babe.
Entered our world your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
and give your life, that we might.
So, let us learn how to serve
and in our hearts enthrone him.
Each other’s need to prefer.
For it is Christ we are serving.
Prayer Reflection & Ideas for Prayer
2020 was a difficult year for us and St Columba’s. Yet God has seen us through. Carl Beech, a Baptist preacher and Evangelist points out that he could not carry out his mission and ministry without the help of others. This includes people who carry out tasks such as booking venues, stewarding and setting up the venues; ensuring technical things like sound are working correctly and general administration. Some of these tasks appear to be more secular than spiritual, but Carl maintains that to see gifts as secular or spiritual is not Biblical, as all gifts come from God.
As with Carl Beech, so with St Columba’s. There are so many people working in the background to keep us going that if I were to start a list, I am sure that I would miss someone out. Nevertheless, give thanks for the many people who have seen St Columba’s through 2020.
- Give thanks that we have been able to maintain our ministry and in particular the online services. Pray that as we move into a new year this ministry will flourish.
- Pray for the continuing search for an associate minister.
- Pray for our organisations that some who could not operate last year will restart, such as the Tea Together parties.
- Pray for the groups that use our building.
Turning to the hymn words: While it is sometimes easy to serve other people, it is really challenging to let other people use their God given talents to serve us.
- Give thanks for your talents and the talents of others.
- Give us grace to let other people serve us.
- Pray for our Government and those who serve us in local councils; that they govern wisely and the best interests of everyone.
- Pray that the roll out of the vaccine will go well and people will be protected against Covid.
- 2020 was a significant year for the USA: Pray that after a bitterly fought election there will be healing and reconciliation and the new president will be able to govern wisely.