E-Newsletter – 24th January 2021
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)
This week our headlines have been full of Presidential Inauguration, and you may have seen Amanda Gorman become the youngest poet ever to perform at a presidential inauguration. The 22-year-old delivered her work The Hill We Climb to both the dignitaries present in Washington DC and a watching global audience. Her five-minute poem began: "When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?" She went on to reference the storming of the Capitol earlier this month. "We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy," she declared. "And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated." Overall, her poem called for "unity and togetherness."
E-Newsletter – 17th January 2021
This week the Kirk Session (trustees of the congregation) were asked to give their views about how we proceed at present. Commendably, there was a very full response, and the heavy consensus was that for reasons of safety and “common good” we should remain closed for in-person attendance at Sunday worship. For the moment, we will rely on the live-stream/Dial-In to maintain our worship; achieved with the minimum number of people in church. Our beautiful music, which has been such a sustaining source, reverts to being recorded and edited at home. We do not know how long this will last, but we will review again at the Kirk Session meeting on 29th January. Realistically, we may require to re endorse this policy on that date and commit to frequent review. Please be assured, our aim is to reopen as soon as we can, while maintaining the safety of our staff, volunteers and congregation.
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.
E-Newsletter – 20th December 2020, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Headline: It’s great to see you in church….BUT!
- If you plan to attend any of our Christmas services please pre-register before 1pm, Tuesday 22nd December.
Without a booking we cannot guarantee entrance.
- Government advice is to stay local. No unnecessary journeys.
- All services are live-streamed.
- Check seasonal parking restrictions (see below)
“Here in Corbridge (Northumberland) we are having Carols by Torchlight outside the local church, at 7pm on Christmas Eve and the walk will do me good!” So writes Irene Wilkinson, Session Clerk at St Andrew’s, Newcastle; proving that while one door closes, a new church yard opens up! All over the country congregations will be making differing arrangements for celebration and worship of Christmas. In Newcastle, the Kirk Session has taken the sensible decision (scattered congregation, tier 3, weather forecast!) not to hold services on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Hopefully, some will join the live-stream services from St Columba’s. In London, also now tier 3, our services can be attended, but as the newsletter headlines declare – please pre-book your place for services up to Sunday 3rd January (booking deadline 1pm, Tuesday 22nd December) & please consider carefully before making journeys – Government advice is to stay local.
E-Newsletter – 13th December 2020, Third Sunday of Advent
As I write, a small but dedicated team is decorating the Christmas tree in the sanctuary. The tree has been designated by Michael Dempsey, our caretaker, “the biggest ever!” The logistics of arranging lights, stars and sparkles are considerable. But when complete, it will provide a lovely glow of beauty and welcome for the third Sunday in Advent (13th December.)
Following on from a safe and happy return of worshippers into the building last Sunday, this week sees the planned return of the choir for the first time since March. And we also welcome families to a Sunday School gathering*. The children will join us at the start of the 11am service, before leaving for their activities. It will be a very happy opportunity to see some church friends after a long break, and just having our young people in the building will be a good sign of life for all of us.
E-Newsletter – 6th December 2020, Second Sunday of Advent
Another first for St Columba’s & St Andrew’s, Newcastle in this year of accumulating firsts – the virtual Moderator. In the second of Lucy Llewellyn-inspired, and inspiring, Zoom Coffee Mornings, we were joined by the Rt Revd Dr Martin Fair. He would have been in London all week, in normal times, but this year is the year of Zoom & Teams. He spoke very interestingly about how he has had to reinvent the way of being a Moderator, in a year when he cannot visit anywhere or anybody, in person. He appears to have made the very best of the situation and has combined reaching out to a wide audience, via the internet, as well as offering a pastoral ministry to fellow ministers. Whoever the speaker is, the Virtual Coffee Mornings are proving a lovely way of seeing familiar faces and keeping in touch. Thank you to everyone who has been able to take part. Look out for details about the next occasion (see below.)