My dear church family,It’s always darkest before the dawn. I confess to being a bit of a movie lover, and I remember this quote been used in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight; “The night is darkest just before the dawn, and I promise you, the dawn is coming.” The first part of that quotation seems to sum up the present situation in which we find ourselves. A short time ago, we were filled with optimism, we had resumed ‘live’ worship, and our lives were slowly returning to what seemed to be something resembling normal. Sadly it didn’t last, and now we are again facing an increasingly ferocious silent enemy, and we seem to be in the darkest part of the night.I prefer to instead focus on the second part, the promise that dawn is coming. There is some light beginning to shine in the future. As I write, some of our members have been given a date to receive their vaccinations. Hopefully, many of our number, especially those in the more vulnerable category, will have received their vaccinations by the end of February. For me, and I’m sure that everyone will agree it’s best not to focus on the darkness but look towards the light. John 1:5 reminds us that ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ And Jesus applies this title to himself; ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.’ John 8:1-12 John’s writings, walking in darkness does not mean committing acts of sin but rather, rejecting God’s message of eternal life through Christ. In John’s Gospel light is not defined as righteousness. Light is defined as life, as seen in John 1:4‘In him there was life, and the life was the light of men.’ This ‘life’ is a gift Jesus brought from God into a dying world. In the birth of Christ, God’s promise is fulfilled, in him, we have the light of the world, we have everlasting life. Whatever may come our way, we have God’s fulfilled promise, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and strengthen us and help us through these trying times.To God, be the glory. How great Thou art! Amen. Blessings Ernie
Church Secretary’s NotesSince my last notes we have been in national lock down again and hence the church has been closed for prayer and worship. This will probably continue at least until the end of February with the hope we may be able to open in some form for Easter. However no decision has yet been made and we await the directive of the government and our discussion at our next Elders meeting (Feb 11th). It has been good to join with members from all our 5 churches for Adam’s Sunday services via zoom. These have been very enjoyable and it has been good to be able to chat to each other for 20mins before the start of the service. If you haven’t joined in yet, I would certainly recommend you give it a go.As you may remember we made a bid, from the 5 churches, for £39,890 from the Hope Beyond Grant. This money was to enable churches to update their technological equipment. We have secured £12000 to be divided between the churches. This money is meant for things like large screen tv’s, laptops and tablets. Elders will be making a proposal on this soon.Our Pre-school have been required to stay open during the lock down and it’s been great to see the children having a good time at the church. Well done to the staff in these difficult times.We have set a provisional date of Thursday 25th February at 7pm for a church information evening via zoom. Hope you can make it. Stay safe.Adrian Treasurers ReportYou are thanked for Offerings in December totalling £2,548.30. Also,we were able to donate to FIND the total of £476.20 being the amount raised from the Church Christmas card and the Christmas Day Offertory - well done St Johns - and we have received a grateful reply from them. (See this later, Ed.) We are grateful for the donations to the Church in memory of Cynthia Havell which amounted to £205. The end of year Accounts for 2020 will show an overall deficit of Expenditure over Income during the year of £3,221.79. These are subject to Elders formal approval and being signed off by our Auditor. Full details will be
available in due course, but friends may be interested to know a few facts.Our total income from direct giving of members and friends was some £1,773 less than the figure for 2019.The other significant figure was the major reduction in our income from lettings, principally the Pre-School - the reduction from this source alone was over £8,000.There were, of course,savings made in less expenditure on utilities and other costs.Furthermore, due to problems arising from the pandemic, we had to reduce Pre-School rent considerably, to help with their difficult financial position arising from cancellation of some sessions and a big reduction in number of children attending since September.Looking to this year, we have agreed a reduction of just over £1000 in the figure we had been asked to pay towards the URC Ministry & Mission Fund.As always, many thanks for continued monetary support for the work of our ChurchMary A and Richard W Our Guiding Light is still very much alive and shining brightly, despite the challenges we’ve faced during the last 10 months!Back in March 2020 we held a joint meeting with the Rushmere Brownies and Guides for a “Ready Steady Cook” evening. We had a brilliant night and the girls really enjoyed getting messy and creating some wonderful creations for an afternoon tea. They demonstrated fantastic teamwork and presentation skills along with excellent hand washing to a well-known tune. Little did we realise that this was to be our final face to face meeting of the year and how incredibly important that handwashing routine was going to be for us all!I’ve been a Brownie leader for 40 years this year, I personally get a great deal from being part of our guiding family and it’s helped me through some of the most challenging times of my life. When lockdown came about in March 2020 the thought of not being able to carry on with our face to face meetings and seeing the girls every week really saddened and worried me. As a team we
knew that we had to carry on guiding somehow for the girls. So, after the initial couple of weeks getting our own heads round the lockdown situation, we got to grips with how to use Zoom, the on-line meeting platform. We had a few guiders meetings to understand the workings of it and in April we held our first on-line brownie meeting. It was just great to see the girls faces and expressions when they saw the faces of their brownie friends. We did have a few technical issues and some of the early meetings were a little “interesting” at times but the girls took it all in their stride and they absolutely loved meeting on line. We have had a handful of girls that weren’t able to join us online because of connectivity or their parents were key workers. However, overall we’ve had a constant group of around 18 girls who have been there every week and we have had so much fun carrying on guiding during lockdown.During the first few months the girls seemed to get the “badge bug”. They really enjoyed working at home on interest badges and many of them gained lots of badges from baking, growing vegetables, exploring the town and the local history attached to it, to raising money for charities and experimenting with flying space rockets.We’ve had such a varied programme during the last 10 months; here’s a flavour of some of the things we’ve been up to! We celebrated the VE day anniversary with a party, we’ve learnt about tools like hammers and screwdrivers and identified jobs that could be done around the house with them, we’ve decorated owl cupcakes together, we’ve held many scavenge hunts around the house, something that’s popular with some of the girls. We took part in the Wildlife Trusts “Random Acts of wildness” and investigated nature and made mini-beast mansions to hang in our gardens. Some of the girls took part in the Girlguiding “Adventures At Home” weekend and built dens, made slime and joined with brownies across the country in a huge camp fire sing along. We finished our summer term with the usual beach party, all online in some amazing beach settings all created at home, this was a particularly enjoyable evening. We held a Taskmaster quiz evening, a firework party, a relaxation evening where we explored mindfulness and painted positive pebbles. The parents particularly liked the relaxation session at the end of the meeting and reported that some of the girls slept extremely well on that particular Thursday! For our final meeting of the year we decorated Christmas Angels all together which some of the girls affectionately named their “Covid” angel.
One of our brownies, Charlotte, worked really hard on badges and challenges and achieved the highest brownie award, the “Brownie Gold” award. Two of the girls jumped over their own home made toadstools and moved up to guides where they are meeting virtually on line with a new group of friends. We’ve had new brownies join us from Rainbows and they are settling in really well and we still have a waiting list of girls wanting to join.I’m not going to deny that brownies online takes more planning time than the face to face meetings, it’s a challenge sometimes to convert things to enable the girls to do something virtually and it does take a lot of preparation to create files and presentations so that we can share things on line. But as a team we’ve enjoyed getting stuck in and learning a new way to carry on having fun each week!We couldn’t have carried on guiding without the support of the girl’s parents each week and we are very grateful for all they have done to enable their girls to carry on attending Brownies each week.I’d also like to thank Lisa and Kathy, the two other members of our brownie leadership team, they have been by my side throughout our brownie meetings and I really couldn’t have kept going without your support and friendship.I believe we’ve actually been able to do some things that we wouldn’t have thought of or attempted if we had been meeting face to face at the Church hall and as a brownie group it feels like we’re stronger than ever.We do miss being able to join in our activities at the church each week and being part of the church family in person. Hopefully though, we’ll be able to meet again at the church hall face to face in the not-too-distant future.Yvonne Williams, Leader 40th Ipswich BrowniesWhy Highland Cattle on the front page? They are in fields at Alton Water, and they have slightly more untidy hairstyles than us! Seem good enough reasons. Ed.
Pastoral NewsWe heard that Barbara Norton died and her funeral is on Monday, February 8th at 9.45am at the Ipswich Crematorium. We also heard the sad news that Doug lost his sister to Covid and also some more sad news about one of our lay preachers - Ann Boxall passed away at St Elizabeth Hospice with a non Covid-19 related illness. The Elders would like you to have them all in your thoughts and prayers over the coming days and weeks. We also heard some good news: That of the delivery of Tamsin, a granddaughter for Margaret B. Mother and daughter are fine even though Tasmin Mary S… only weighed in at 4lb, small but perfectly formed.Jeremia was very pleased with the pictures of him and his wife Alice which were in the January Advance. He sends greetings to you all. You will also be pleased to know Brian and Angie have managed to move. From Monday 18th January 2021, they took up residence in “Great Yarmouth, Norfolk's answer to the Costa del Sol” according to them. They are looking forward to having their own base, and starting to make a home there. Their telephone numbers remain the same and they wish us all a Happy New Year.FIND want to thank our church for the cheque for £466.20 which we sent on 4 January to them. “When you are able, please thank your Church members for this lovely gift, raised at the Church’s Christmas Day service. Please thank them too for their regular donations to our Food Bank.Leading up to Christmas our volunteers packed and distributed 1,000 boxes of food. These also included some festive fayre such as biscuits, chocolates or festive puddings or cakes. Each family member also had a Christmas voucher to purchase a gift as we were unable under present restrictions to wrap individual gifts. We anticipate that we shall be responding to an even greater increase in 2021 in requests for emergency food bags or household goods to help people who are in real need. With grateful thanks for your ongoing support, Heather Cade (FIND Trustee)”
Thank you for the Gifts and Food that was given to Lighthouse this Christmas time. Your kind donation goes a long way in ensuring that we can provide as special a Christmas as possible for the families we are supporting during the festive period. Domestic abuse remains a significant challenge in our communities across Suffolk. Lighthouse continues to provide safe emergency housing in our refuge, access to advice and support over the phone, as well as via email and Facebook Messenger. Our therapeutic courses have gone on line where appropriate and we are continuing to develop new ways of working to ensure support can be provided. Thank you again for your support of our organisation, we take great pride in our mission and accomplishments, and with your help we can continue to support those in need. Yours sincerely Deborah Johnson Fundraising and Training Administrator. Pill Drill.Repeat after me; This small white pill is what I munch at breakfast and right after lunch.I take the pill that’s kelly green,before each meal and in-between.The loganberry - coloured pillI take for early morning chills.I take the pill with zebra stripes to cure my early evening gripes.The orange tinted ones of course,I take to cure my charley horse.I take three blues at half past eightTo slow down my exhalation rate.On alternate nights at 9 pm I swallow pinkies. Four of them.The reds which makes my eyebrows strong,I eat like popcorn all day long.The specked brown are what I keepbeside my bed to help me sleep.This long flat one is what I take,If I should die before I wake.From You’re Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss via Sara Pells
Editorial for February 2021The contributions this month have been more diverse and plentiful; thank you for all the communications and reminders from yourselves. I said last month we have done a lot of new things this year especially in the area of worship and communication and this should help us to cope with the known challenges we have to face with so few ministers by mid year. Ipswich and East have been awarded £12,000, which is roughly a quarter of the funding they bid for to update equipment for streaming services across the five churches. The original request for just under £40,000 which included two TV screens for St John’s to replace the projector was based on Castle Hill’s experience in a quite differently laid out and lit church. Only one would be financially possible now. This makes a decision on what to do with the money more challenging. From some limited research, new projectors which would give a much bigger image are available at about the same price as a single TV type screen. A new projector could now be close up to the screen which means the image would be almost as clear as the TV screen, but nearly twice as big. I am sure you recognise that the current positioning of the screen already provides good coverage. I am no expert in this area and we would welcome finding someone who is, but not biased by selling one or the other solution. Do you or your family have contacts with this expertise? John BLENT STUDIESCurrently we propose to start on Wednesday 24th February at 7.00 pm and on the following four Wednesdays. Once confirmed, exact dates and times will be announced on the weekly update. Different Churches may select other times so that if the above times do not suit you there may be the opportunity to select a time convenient to you. In efforts to tackle climate change, Sir David Attenborough has warned “The moment of crisis has come”.This year, with the other Churches in the Pastorate, we propose to join via Zoom with the Felixstowe Churches Together Lent course and look at the environment. It’s a chance to meet with Christians from other denominations and look beyond the pandemic and into the future. It will be using the York Course Caring for Creation by Brian Davis. The course would be spread over five weeks through Lent under the headings: • The Environment • Global Warming and Climate Change • The Age of Humans • Coming out of Denial and Facing Crisis • Faith, Hope and Love.
A Further Note from AdamI would like to invite you to a Zoom Service, each Sunday at 10:30 am, continuing while the church buildings are closed for live worship, with the bonus of seeing each other, no face masks and being able to sing together! Adam Woodhouse(The ‘doors’ open at 10:10 approximately, for a chat beforehand as indicated by Adrian. Ed.)
All Services are Online due to Covid Restrictions
CommunionZoom Service - David
Bible StudyThe next meeting of the online Bible Study group led by Adam is on Tuesday 9th February from 10:30 am. We will be exploring Mark 9:2-9. We will be looking at the Transfiguration of Jesus. I look forward to leading us through the passage and also looking at some pictures to help us understand the passage better. It will be hosted on the Castle Hill Zoom account, please get in touch if you need the link. A reminder - The group is informal and friendly. Adam Woodhouse