‘Oh no, not again!’ said Brenda from Bristol. And I am guessing that you felt something similar when the latest lockdown was announced on Saturday. This is tough. So, how do we face it?
The virus is stopping many things, but it can’t stop us coming before God in worship. As of next Sunday, 8 November, there will be worship streamed at 9 am, at 11.15 and our evening worship will continue on Zoom at 6.30 pm as normal. Our brilliant leaders for children and young people are working on a programme for those age-groups. Much of our small group system will continue online. Life is tough, but God is there and He is our rock in these days. Lean into him and make every use of opportunities to pray and worship – you will be the better for it.
Supporting Each Other
In the first lockdown, St Barnabas set in place a system of pastoral care. That system is being reactivated. However, the best form of care is informally, between different members of the congregation. Please think about who you could ring or Zoom or whatever. Don’t forget, the restrictions allow us to meet one person who is not from our household OUTSIDE, socially distanced. The emotional strain of a second lockdown is great. We can really bless each other by supporting one another. Please let me or Lindsey know of anyone about whom you have concerns.
Caring for our Community
Members of St Barnabas are already very active in supporting the wider community through Foodbank and many other ways. New initiatives are being planned. Please get in touch with the church office if you would like to support those initiatives. Do consider neighbours and friends and colleagues who may be struggling. A kind word goes a long way in these times.
Share the Good News
Following Jesus is good news. People sometimes criticise faith as a crutch for the weak. But as we realise how weak we are as a society, it is wisdom to look for support. So sharing the good news that God has come to us in Christ really is good news – and an antidote to the relentless gloom around us.
The good news of Jesus is that God does not abandon us when we face trials. He is by our side as we go through them. And God blesses us by setting us in community. Let’s lean into God and support each other in the face of these new restrictions.
David and Lindsey Goodhew
tel 01642 817306
Our annual church meeting (APCM) takes place on Monday 23rd November, 7.30pm on Zoom. As well as looking back at the last year, we will elect 2 churchwardens, 4 Deanery Synod representative to serve for 3 years and 3 PCC members to service for 3 years. Please be praying about who you might nominate. Nomination forms and details of eligibility can be downloaded here. Nomination forms should be put in the box at the back of church or scanned and emailed to the church office. Unfortunately, the rules do not allow postal or proxy voting. The annual reports presented at the meeting will be circulated by email. Please email or phone 01642 651818 if you would like them to be posted to you.
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.
Join Seb Rab, St Barnabas’ new 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
Tuesday 27th October, 7.30 – 8.30pm
These are demanding and
anxious times, and it’s hard to see beyond the bad news. Many of us miss
singing together and being refreshed by the glory of God.
This is an opportunity to gather together on Zoom to focus on the LORD in simple praise and thanks, alongside some teaching on worship.
All are welcome to join at:
Meeting ID: 824 0478 8743
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
St Barnabas Church, Middlesbrough is seeking to appoint an Organ Scholar, for the academic year 2020-21. The position offers experience and training in organ playing and choir training and as a musician more generally. The successful applicant will be able to use the recently restored organ, receive mentoring and support from experienced musicians and have the opportunity to earn fees for services. Applicants need to possess good keyboard skills and be willing to learn the organ. They should be in sympathy with the Christian faith and be ready to work as part of a team.
St Barnabas will be open for private prayer this week, 4-5 pm. It will look a bit different as the church is made safe, but all are welcome to come in.
Immeasurably More is the name for a process where St Barnabas is praying over and pondering what God is calling us to in the coming years. It was to have centred on a day on 28th March. After that, the aim was for the church council to formulate a ‘Mission Action Plan’, which would guide the church in the years ahead
The day on 28th March, sadly, had to be cancelled due to coronavirus, but Immeasurably More is continuing. The church council has agreed new plans. During the summer months we will consult as widely as possible across the church, whether that involves actually meeting, or meeting online and via the postal service. The PCC will meet in August to draw together these threads and a ‘Mission Action Plan’ will be in place by September.
Below is a revised programme for Immeasurably More, St Barnabas’ programme for future planning.
The new programme is designed to be run online, via Zoom. It will be led by the church staff team, but with plenty of room for discussion. Questionnaires will be sent out by post to members the church family who have no access to the internet or prefer to contribute on paper, so that everyone can feed in their thoughts. Please email email@example.com if you would like to contribute via the questionnaire.
The planned programme is as follows:
Wednesday 17 June, 7.30 to 9 pm ZOOM SESSION ONE: Who are we?
Wednesday 24 June, 7.30 to 9 pm ZOOM SESSION TWO: Where are we?
Wednesday 1 July 7.30 to 9 pm ZOOM SESSION THREE: Where are we going?
Based on these conversations, the PCC, wardens and staff team will oversee the drafting of a Mission Action Plan (MAP), which will be shared with the wider congregation in September.
Please keep this process in your prayers.
This Sunday, 7th June, at 6.30 pm we are restarting our evening worship with a new sermon series ‘Faith in Anxious Times’, looking at how prayer can help us in challenging times like the present. The service will be on Zoom, which means it will be more interactive than we can manage at our 10.30 worship and the link is below. The service will be an experiment technologically. All welcome, but please be patient with the tech.
Join us with meeting ID 893 7209 4818 and the password ‘toast’.
You can now hear St Barnabas Sunday worship on the phone. Call 01642 130011 to hear our service from Sunday morning each week. Calls cost whatever you pay for a local call. Please share this with friends from church who can’t join us online.
Naomi Smith, the church’s Director of Music, will be stepping down at the end of July. Naomi has given a huge amount to this ministry and in due course we will be thanking her for all she has done.
The PCC has been meeting over recent months to discuss the future. Thank you to everyone who has shared ideas. The PCC met on Monday 4th May and agreed a strategy for music at St Barnabas, going forward.
Church is very different right now, due to lockdown. But we need to take action soon. July is not far away!
The primary aim is to ensure the sustaining and flourishing of all musical traditions across the church – both the choir and the various worship bands – so that we offer God worship which honours Him and builds church members as disciples of Him. We have a great team of musicians and singers. This needs to continue, grow and flourish. We are especially concerned that music-making by young people expands at St Barnabas.
The PCC agreed that Naomi has an unusually wide range of gifts and that, in future, we would need a broader range of people to do music ministry and that we will need to seek a paid staff member, as part of that broader mix.
We are planning the following:
– To bolster the 9.30 am service by creation of a 9.30 am leadership team, led by the vicar, who will oversee music in the service
– To recruit an ‘organ scholar’ for the 9.30 am service, who will support music in that service as they themselves learn to play the organ
– To recruit a paid worship leader, who will lead the team of musicians for the 11.15 am and 6.30 pm services. This leader will play at the 9.30 am service, but will not have leadership of the music for that service
Necessarily, what happens will be shaped by the gifts and skills of those appointed. Work on these changes has started and we aim that the above will be in place by September.
Thank you for your ideas and prayers over this matter. Do contact either of us if you have any concerns or questions. And please hold the process and all involved in your prayers in the coming months.
Word of mouth is a great way of making contact. The advert is now out, so please share it with anyone you know, including from people from other churches, near and far and encourage them to pass it on too.
David Goodhew, Mel Downs and Graeme Malyon