‘Not Alone’ is an event on Zoom on Saturday 20th March looking at how Christian faith helps us make sense of the chaos caused by COVID. This is a time when many are struggling and feel very alone – and this event will offer help and hope in such times.
We have guest speakers and a chance to pose questions and share thoughts. It is hosted by Hazel Murray and Seb Rab, student worker and worship leader from St Barnabas. Come yourself and do invite others to come along.
NOT ALONE: Where is God in COVID chaos?
1:00pm – 1:45pm
NOT ALONE: Lasting hope for better times
7:00 – 7:45pm
Zoom ID 636 804 3587
|St Barnabas is enacting its ‘Mission Action Plan’ which we adopted last autumn. As part of that we will be reviewing our financial giving. Sunday 14th March will be our ‘Giving for Mission Sunday’. All church members will receive information about it, by post and online, in coming weeks.|
We give in a variety of ways, but giving financially is a key way in which we support the mission of this church, both locally and more widely. What has been done through this congregation in the past is great. But to sustain that and do even more will require serious resources.
So please be praying about how you can best support that mission in the coming weeks.
Fit for Life’ is the name for St Barnabas’ special programme for Lent. This is ‘Joe Wicks for the soul’, a chance to explore the spiritual practices rooted in scripture that will help us walk with God through COVID. It will do us good and help us do good.
There is a midweek programme for Life Groups. Some groups will be joining together for a central Wednesday evening zoom meeting at 7.30pm and if you are not in a life group or your group is not currently meeting every week, you are very welcome to join.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 836 6566 1891
‘Walking with God through COVID’ is the title of a series of sermons from St Barnabas. On Sunday mornings from 10th January, we have explored how Christian faith helps us make sense of COVID . The series starts with the Old Testament book of Job which unflinchingly asks where God is in the face of great suffering. We then move on to the gospels and finish with 1 Peter, a letter written to a church facing much suffering, yet a letter full of hope. If you would like to access the series, there are links below or to download our sermons as a podcast see out sermons download page:
10 January Job: What not to Say
17 January Job: Walking through the Valley
24 January Job: the God who is There
31 January Jesus: the Crucified God
7 February Jesus: the Power of an Unquenchable Life
14 February 1 Peter: Never Walking Alone – a Community of Hope
Join Seb Rab, St Barnabas’ worship leader to praise God during the week via Zoom. Seb will be leading ‘Morning Prayer’ on Wednesday, 8am to 8.20am via Zoom. This is an opportunity to sing God’s praise, hear scripture and pray.
To join Seb, use the following link:
Meeting ID: 839 8814 0527
What a year it has been! Here is a chance to bring to God both the year that is past and the year that is about to start. We may feel weak, but in Christ we are strong. So come and worship God and know that strength at the turn of the New Year. The worship night is available to connect with from New Year’s Eve at 7 pm and any time after that.
Premiering on YouTube here
7:00 – 8:00 pm, 31st December.
Jesus Christ is Lord, for all people, whether we speak English or Urdu. Members of St Barnabas Church have developed materials in Urdu to nourish faith in Christ and help people live life according to Christian principles.
These materials are produced by Simon and Lubna John. Born and raised in Pakistan, Simon and Lubna have lived in Middlesbrough in the North East of England for ten years. They have two sons and are members of St Barnabas Church, Middlesbrough.
Find out more here.
At its most recent meeting the PCC agreed to recruit a half-time ‘Media Worker’ for 12 months, in the first instance, to support and develop St Barnabas’ online ministries and AV. This has long been a key aspect of church life. Often little recognised, IT and AV are key to our ministry and mission – and have become much more so since Coronavirus. Interviews took place on Monday 19th October and I am pleased to announce that Phil Hale has been offered the post. Phil currently works for the charity Tearfund and has wide experience of IT. Phil will start with St Barnabas in December.
As a church, St Barnabas has been engaged in a process called ‘Immeasurably More’ over the last few months, in which we’ve been seeking what we believe God is calling us to in the next three years. And the result is what’s called a mission action plan, a ‘MAP’. Below this message is a copy of that document.
Where did this document come from – it has been produced and approved by the church council over recent weeks, based on the conversations and prayer we’ve had as a whole church in recent months. Thank you everyone for your participation in it, in far from ideal circumstances. There is much more to say and there will be a meeting, open to all church members, to discuss the ‘MAP’ and how we take it forward, on Zoom, on Monday October 12th, 7.30 to 9 pm. Email the church office for meeting details.
You might fairly say ‘how can you talk about the future in the midst of corona?’ Think of how, in the depths of World War 2, the NHS was planned. This Mission Action Plan is a way of looking beyond the present troubles. They will end and we can refuse to let those troubles frame reality
The Immeasurably More plans contain, as you will see, some big hopes, big challenges. As you read them, you may think, ‘Can we do it?’ And the answer is ‘No’. But do we serve a God who can produce treasure from us, frail as we are? ‘Yes’!
Please pray for St Barnabas in these strange days, that we may know and share God’s blessings.
Following consultation with the PCC, the Bishop of Whitby, Paul Ferguson has relicensed Lindsey Goodhew as ‘Associate Vicar’. This is in place of her former title of ‘Associate Minister’. Lindsey’s work will continue unchanged,. The reason for the change is that, for those outside the church, the title ‘Associate Vicar’ is better understood than the term ‘Associate Minister’.
The Alpha Course is a great chance to explore the Christian faith and ask questions in a relaxed, informal setting. The time of coronavirus makes us ask spiritual questions.
St Barnabas is running an online Alpha course, starting on Thursday 8th October, 7pm to 9pm. If you are interested, please contact our administrator Barbara Edwards via email@example.com.
Please think over whether anyone you know would like to do Alpha. Here is a link where you can find out what Alpha is like https://vimeo.com/417956226.
Questions of race have been a lot in the news of late.
This is an extremely sensitive subject. I want to share with the church discussions I have had with the church council and with local church leaders (from all denominations). I also want to say to all church members that if you have thoughts or concerns on this matter, feel free to get in touch with me for a confidential conversation – the best way to reach me is via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I start by encouraging congregation members to have a look at an online interview of minority ethnic church leaders from Middlesbrough, interviewed by Steve Sutton, minister of Coulby Newham Baptist Church. They share their experiences of racial prejudice in the Tees Valley. What they share is disturbing, but it is really important that their voices are heard. The link to the video is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yh0ALh0lMs&feature=youtu.be.
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in the USA, Middlesbrough church leaders have signed a statement condemning racism. After consultation with the churchwardens of St Barnabas, myself, Lindsey and Mark felt it right to sign that statement and you can see it here: https://mailchi.mp/317b3419073c/teesside-leaders-statement-on-racism?fbclid=IwAR33Pb59BYex82bz9CZSr-4mF5rjohsypYfgJv-BnSZJJGA2jhGl-HGM5ts. Necessarily, such statements are ‘broad-brush’. For myself, can I stress that the gospel teaches us to value every person as God values them. Whoever we encounter, whatever their ethnicity, we must love them as Jesus loves us. That is true inside the church fellowship. But it also means working for the well-being of all the people of Middlesbrough, beyond the walls of the church, since ‘in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile’. We are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).
In St Barnabas’ ‘Immeasurably More’ conversations via Zoom there was a deep desire to see the church share the gospel with and reflect the growing ethnic diversity of the town of Middlesbrough. St Barnabas is already greatly enriched by the wide spectrum of nationalities who are part of its fellowship. Let’s pray for and work for that to deepen in the years ahead.
Good news! St Barnabas church has appointed a new worship leader. His name is Seb Rab. Seb will start work on 1st September. He comes from four years as Staff Worker at York for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (the body that supports Christian Unions in universities). Seb has extensive experience as a worship leader, including two years leading worship for Hope Church, a church plant in Harrogate. Seb comes originally from Northallerton, but is not wholly unknown to Middlesbrough – being part of a band that played at ‘Doctor Browns’ Middlesbrough some years ago. He will arrive at St Barnabas super-fit as he is planning to do the Coast-to-Coast Path during August. Seb’s role will be to oversee the worship at the 11.15 am and 6.30 pm services and support the worship at the 9.30 am service. Please pray for and welcome Seb as he prepares to move to Middlesbrough and settles into being part of St Barnabas.
Since lockdown approximately £5000 of food etc has been donated to the foodbank, which runs at St Barnabas. From tins of soup to toiletries, this is a fantastic effort. Thank you to everyone who has given so generously. The sad truth is that such donations have never been more needed, as the numbers using foodbank have shot up. So please keep those donations coming.
As things open up and life begins to look a little more normal future donations of food should be dropped either at church (Monday or Tuesday morning, 10-11 am or when the church is open for prayer, Monday –Friday, 4—5pm) or at the following collection points https://middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-food/ rather than the Vicarage. Thank you.
The church prayer meeting takes place on zoom on Saturday morning, 9 – 10am. Meeting ID: 862 2832 4152 and the password is ‘narthex’.
David Goodhew writes:
Coronavirus has meant the suspension of many parts of church life. One of the things we haven’t been to able do is meet to share communion. This is a very serious lack. Jesus told us to ‘do this’, yet if we do, there is a real risk of spreading the disease. Can I share with you some thoughts on what we do.
It also matters because there is a wide range of practice amongst churches on the matter. There are roughly three options:
- Some churches are not offering communion, seeing the present as a kind of ‘fast’ from communion.
- some churches stream communion services in which only the leader and their household receive the bread and wine. People viewing such services can see themselves as having ‘a spiritual communion’, whereby they are drawn closer to God through such worship, whilst recognising that they cannot receive the bread and wine since they are not physically present.
- Some churches stream communion services in which everyone watching is encouraged to bring bread and wine/grape juice, which people consume in their own homes.
These are unprecedented times. So it is important to be gracious on this matter. No one has faced a lockdown like this for centuries, nor has it ever been faced with the kind of online resources we now possess.
What is communion and why does it matter?
Depending on which church you are part of, you can find a wide range of views as to what communion is. Without getting into complex debates, let me say this. On the night before Jesus died, he met with his closest followers and broke bread with them. He commended them and us to go and do likewise, promising that as we did so he would be present in a special way. After his resurrection, Luke makes the telling point that his followers recognised Jesus ‘when he broke the bread’ (Lk 24:35). The early Christians regularly met to break bread and drink wine together in obedience to Jesus’ command that they do so (eg 1 Cor 10: 16f).
Alongside that command, we know that Christians down the ages have for various reasons had to ‘fast’ from communion in times of sickness, persecution or war. The New Testament is not clear as to how frequently a Christian should receive communion.
How important is it that we are all physically present at Communion?
There are a range of view on this! Some argue that it doesn’t matter if we are physically present or simply present via online media. I have to say I struggle with that view. I regularly talk with relatives and friends via video-conferencing. It is a lot better than nothing, but there is no way that it equates with actually being in the same room as a person. I am struck by various misunderstandings I have seen arise during coronavirus which, I suspect, would not have arisen had people been able to meet normally with one another. Watching Masterchef is not the same as eating the meal that the masterchefs prepare.
And I have to say I am uneasy about online communions:
- If it is done just by the minister and their household, that feels odd. Why should they receive when others can’t ? Should we encourage people to watch others receiving communion? Isn’t the whole point of communion that we commune with Jesus, not watch other people commune with Jesus?
- We could stream communion services in which everyone watching is encouraged to bring bread and wine, which people consume in their own homes. I am uneasy about this. Communion is a joyful, but solemn experience. The Church of England has always said that only ordained priests can lead communion. We could debate whether that is right, but I would say it is questionable whether anyone at all should act as leader – and in effect if we are having communions at home, that is what is happening. Currently, the Church of England has stated that we are not free to stream communion services in which everyone watching brings bread and wine, which they consume in their own homes. I don’t think we are at liberty to do what we wish on this one – and that is both because I am uneasy on principle, but also because I do believe we owe it to support the wider church of which we are part.
If we continue to ‘fast’ from communion, how long will the fast last ?
Good question. The short answer is ‘we don’t know.’ Clearly, we can only offer communion if we can do so safely. Equally, there is a parallel danger of shutting down key aspects of church life. Christians hold that we receive blessing when we break bread together in Jesus’ name. We should never surrender that blessing lightly
There is a great deal of ‘noise’ in the media and it would be wise not to trust everything we read in the papers. It is important to note that churches in a number of European countries have resumed worship and seem to be able to do safely.
If the virus returns, it could be a while, if it doesn’t, we may be able to offer limited access to communion in a month or two. A separate question is what happens to people who are being shielded for the long term. If we had a scenario where the bulk of people were able to receive communion, but some were shielded, we would need to think carefully about ways of ensuring such people could receive communion somehow. I think we could find a way to share communion safely with those who are shielding at home. If we can get groceries to them, we can get communion to them !
St Barnabas is part of the Church of England. That means we agree to follow Church of England guidance on such matters. We may not always agree with that guidance, but there is a strong and good rationale for respecting the wider church and being wary of just making up our own policy. The churches of the New Testament were urged by Paul and others to see themselves as ‘one body’ and not individual units who did what they pleased.
Beyond that, policy on communion is a matter for the vicar and PCC. Whilst it is important that I put down my thoughts, I am very concerned to hear the thoughts of others. This is a difficult time and a complex issue. So, if you have feelings on this matter, one way or the other, please do share them with me.
What is God Teaching us at this time ?
Wherever you stand on this, I think it is possible to see the current debates over communion as a time when God is teaching us something.
As we struggle with not receiving communion, God encouraging us to be more thankful for the gift that communion is. When we do get back to church, we will receive the bread and wine with fresh thanksgiving. And that should mean a fresh desire to encourage all people to receive communion. If our lives are poorer without it, so are theirs.
Is God encouraging us to rethink how we understand communion ? Whether you are ‘high’ or ‘low’, Jesus said ‘do this’. And he didn’t say that of many things. I think we need to ponder afresh what we are doing in his name.
St Barnabas Middlesbrough Intern Scheme in partnership with the New Wine Discipleship Year
St Barnabas Church, Middlesbrough is offering an exciting new intern programme in partnership with the New Wine Discipleship Year. The year is about growing as disciples of Jesus, learning how to serve him and his Kingdom with the whole of your life, for the whole of your life. It will take you on a life-changing journey of discovery and adventure, where you’ll be inspired, get practical Kingdom experience, make deep friendships, and have a lot of fun in the process!
You can expect a year which will stretch you, develop gifts in you that you didn’t know you had and make you better prepared for future study, work and Christian service.
The internship offers:
- Service: you’ll serve the wider community, with a particular focus on the poorest communities within the town.
- Training: you’ll receive high quality training through the New Wine organisation’s well-established programme
- Support: St Barnabas has a long track record of supporting people into ministry and service. We will offer high-quality mentoring and pastoral support.
What we look for:
- Committed Christians – people who are baptised, regular in worship, seeking to go forward with God
- Character – people who are seeking to grow as disciples and in servant-heartedness
- Chemistry – people who possess the capacity to grow in working well with others
- Competencies – people who possess gifts and passions for ministry and mission that can be developed
Due to the current uncertain situation due to COVID-19, for the coming year, the intern scheme is available only to those who live within travelling distance of St Barnabas and interns will be expected to provide their own accommodation during the internship.
For more information, see our intern spec below and have an informal chat with the new vicar of St Barnabas, David Goodhew. Contact David via: email@example.com