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Review 2013

What a couple of years!

I started here as Priest-in-Charge of these parishes in January 2011.  Since then, many things have happened and we’ve started much. 

This review is taken from a booklet, produced in January 2013 (although this is just the text - without the formatting or pictures, I'm afraid!).  It looks back over the last couple of years, as it’s easy to forget how much God has enabled us to do.  To Him be the glory.

My thanks to all who have given of themselves for God in this place.  I have preached many times that we are the Church in this place.  So thanks to all who have enabled us to be that Church by welcoming, serving and leading in whatever capacity.  And sorry if I’ve forgotten to mention an activity.

My particular thanks to the Reverend Ann Peters, who is hard working, widely gifted and wonderfully supportive.  She has given so much since she arrived November ‘11.

If you want to look at how we are looking forward as well, then see the Mission Action Plans.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew


Involvement in our local parishes

Invitation & Involvement

It’s great how we have been able to be involved in the lives of so many people who don’t go to church. 

Personal invitations really matter and many people are just waiting to be invited to Church.  For others, Church might be a bit too intimidating at first, so it’s great that we have had plenty of other invitation events, like our Harvest Supper, our Maundy Thursday meal, or regular events like our monthly coffee morning in Tweedmouth Church Hall or our weekly Tea and Toast in Scremerston school community room - both started in this last year.  This is all in addition to our special events, particularly the reciting of Mark’s gospel on Good Friday and the hand delivery by dedicated church members of our Christmas Card and invitation to each house in our 3 parishes (over 3,500).

Our new website, potss.co.uk - which came into being in January 11 - means people can find out about us and be invited over the internet to come and join us.  The website even got mentioned in the Berwick Advertiser and on the back page of the Diocesan newspaper, as if you type in “Modern Evening Service” into Google, out of a quarter of a billion results worldwide, our site is top of the rankings!

It was the internet that enabled Jan Casson of Berwick Surestart to contact Ann and I and ask if we would be part of the foodbank and it was wonderful how people in each of our 3 churches supported this initiative and continue to support it.  It’s similar to our collection of warm clothes for the Mission to Seafarers which is also ongoing.

Key moments in life

In 2012, we had the privilege of baptising 45 people, and conducting 10 weddings and 39 funerals, with similar numbers the year before.  Our thanks go to all retired clergy who helped, particularly before Ann came.  For each of these occasional offices we visit the family and prepare services carefully, which we aim to be personal and meaningful. 

We also started an annual Bereavement service, for all who have lost loved ones in the year, and this seemed to be appreciated by many.

Similarly, it was good that we were able to have a prayer-tree in Scremerston at Christmas

Part of it all

It’s great how we have been involved in the wider community events, including the Tweedmouth Salmon Feast (holding a stall at the fair, blessing the Salmon Queen and hosting the Salmon Feast Service), the Spittal Gala (including having a stall with young people from the diocese and hosting the Gala Service), and Sea Sunday.

We took a real lead in the Jubilee community celebrations in Scremerston, which has born much fruit, and had a fun evening for the Jubilee in Tweedmouth


Going Deeper

Small Groups

The Alpha Course (which followed on from our confirmation classes) in September ‘12 took lots of organising: excellent resources were bought; scrumptious meals were organised, prepared and delivered; faithful prayer was given; excellent talks were prepared and delivered; humble welcoming service was given.  And it was all worth it!

Some guests said it was the best thing they had ever done; some made a real new commitment to Christ.  And such deep relationships were made with others on the course, that almost all the members wanted to stay together and form a new homegroup.

This is the 3rd fortnightly homegroup we have running across our parishes (the other 2 were set up earlier in 2012).  Each fortnight, the leaders meet with Matt to prepare.  The groups then meet to read and discuss the bible together - learning from God and from each other.  Homegroups are a great way to explore and grow in our faith, with opportunities to ask questions.  They are also fantastic for getting to know other members of our Church family at a deeper level, where we can care for other church members and be cared for by them in a way we don’t have time for after church on Sunday.

Similarly we’ve started a new Pray and Play fortnightly group for Mums and tots.  This is an opportunity for Mums to come together, to share in each other’s lives over a coffee, and pray for each other at the end.

Prayer

Prayer has taken more of a central role in our churchlife, and rightly so as it is our vital communication with the living God: It’s been great how members of our church family have taken seriously the need for corporate prayer.  Now, in addition to our midweek service, we have Morning prayer in one of the churches every weekday, and we have our monthly afternoon prayer-meeting.  We’re also grateful to the retired clergy who have led the Saints’ weekday Communion services we have started in Spittal.  

New Services

As part of our desire to go deeper in our discipleship and deeper into God, we started our new Modern Evening Service in May 2012.  People seem to have appreciated how we can have a good chunk of modern worship music (led by our talented new band), and then we can go deeper into God’s Word, with a lengthier sermon than is appropriate in the morning.  And it has been good to have been joined by members of other churches.

This is not the only new service we’ve started though:  we’ve started a much more traditional monthly one for the residents of Garden House.  This is in addition to Gabrielle leading a monthly service in Turret Villas on our behalf, and we’re grateful for her doing so.

 

Children, young people and schools

Church, children and families

It was back in early 2011 that we realised the need to meet better the spiritual needs of children and families.  So after praying and planning (and a surprising grant), we started our Creative Church in Spittal.  Every month since then, the brilliant team meets to review the last service, to plan the crafts and the food for the next, and to pray.  Each individual then lovingly prepares their bit and it has been wonderful to see so many children and families coming and enjoying church together.

In Tweedmouth, later that year, we started up the Sunday school again for over 3s, as well as revamping the family service to reflect the all-age congregation present (as we also did in Scremerston).  Now we have something each week to invite children to.

The following September, we were then in a position to expand our Sunday School (now called Junior Church) to include a new group for under 3s.  The leaders and helpers have been fantastic in enabling the 3 aims to be met: that children grow in their relationship with God, with adults in the Church and with each other.  The children love it, and many have been part of it, with upto 20 children on a ‘normal’ Sunday now.

In Scremerston, we have had 2 brilliant week-long holiday clubs.  And we have built on the relationships developed here and during the Jubilee planning so that in September 2012 we started our new weekly Messy Monday Church.  There has been a wonderful dedicated new team for this of 10 adults connected with children in the school, and much creative hard work has gone into it.  It’s been hugely popular too, with 20-30 children coming each week, plus other parents and carers coming for the worship at the end.

In October ’12, we started a fortnightly youth-group, for young people across the 3 parishes aged 8-13 with fun activities, and opportunities friendships and spiritual growth.

Schools work

We have 7 schools in our parishes and we are now involved in each of them, some of which we have had no involvement for years and years.  In fact (apart from absentees!) Matthew or Ann have now been seen by every child from 5-18.  We have been invited to do regular assemblies in Prior Park, Tweedmouth West, and Scremerston First schools, Tweedmouth Middle School, and even back to the High School.  We led 4 Christmas services in church, led a Christingle in another and said a blessing in another, always involving children where we could.  Scremerston school continues to have termly services in St Peter’s.  We have taught lessons in the High school to every child who is now in year 9 or 10, plus GCSE and ‘A’-level RE, and we have taught in schools for younger children too.  We have had class visits from classes from reception to ‘A’-level.  Plus, Matthew is now a governor of Scremerston and Prior Park schools.  Quite a lot, you might agree!


New, organising, and continuing

Organising

There is much to organise in these parishes, and immense amounts of admin to be done that enables everything to happen.  Plus there are many meetings that Matt and Ann go to: a weekly staff meeting, PCCs, Deanery Synods, Chapter, Development Groups, Diocesan meetings, finance meetings, Churches Together and so on. 

Continuing from before

In addition to all the new things we’ve started, there are plenty of other continuing aspects of church life.  The St John’s local history society has regular meetings in the Bowling club, bringing church and wider community together; the ladies in Spittal continue to make the garden look beautiful, winning recent gold and silver awards; the Mothers’ Union has met regularly and is deciding about what the future may hold.  There has been fundraising fun!: Ray with his concert for Tweedmouth, Christmas and Guildhall fairs for Spittal, and the Scremerston churchyard appeal.  And speaking of the churchyard, the ongoing problem with the mud has now been resolved and we are grateful to the men from the village for their help.  Plus it is good how we have looked beyond our parishes, via Christian Aid, and supporting the Joswigs in Ethiopia.

It’s brilliant that the hard work raising vast sums of money to repair the Spittal windows and the Scremerston roof has come to fruition and the projects are now complete.  We continue to raise money for the railings in Spittal

Summary of the New

The booklet then outlines a summary of the new, which can be found on the News tab.  Then, having looked back, we looked forward with our Mission Actions plans