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Freedom DayHope Springs Eternal. Newsletter No 41 - August 2021

Monday the 19th was dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ in England, as the government lifted nearly all the coronavirus restrictions.
While some people queued round the block to gain access to nightclubs at midnight on Monday, others were more cautious, with many businesses maintaining their masking and social distancing rules.

The nation has pulled together to protect the health of the vulnerable for the last 16 months, but those at greatest risk from the virus are understandably nervous as many of us celebrate the opportunity to cast off restraints, even as the infection rate continues to be high.
Yet the burden on children, businesses, and church life has been a heavy one. How should Christians respond to these competing needs and concerns?

Galatians chapter 5 teaches us that we have been ‘called to be free’. However, it warns, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbour as yourself.”’

To be honest, I wish it didn’t say this. I haven’t found the lockdowns overly burdensome, but I have missed welcoming my Bible study group into my home to sit around a table and eat together. I’m also thankful that my church is allowing – even encouraging – us to sing again during services.

Selfishly, I want to be able to enjoy my freedoms while they last. I want to declare that God hasn’t given us a Spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), and call believers to live with boldness and confidence in God’s power. But then I read the rest of the verse, and it reminds me that hand-in-hand with that power comes two other things: love and self-control (or self-discipline, as the New International Version puts it).

Freedom in the Bible isn’t freedom as the world sees it; it isn’t the freedom to indulge our every desire – the Bible actually describes being driven by our desires as slavery (see John 8:31-36 and Romans 6, for example). Rather, we have been given the freedom to love without constraint, freedom to serve one another, and freedom to worship God in word and deed.

As we go back into our churches, workplaces, and neighbourhoods, maybe our greatest witness will be seen in the restraints that we choose to accept for the sake of serving one another humbly in love. (Jennie Pollock - London Institute of Contemporary Christianity).

Church Services
Church Services for August

Sunday 1st August at 10.30 – Rob Brooks (Sacramental Service)
Sunday 8th August at 10.30 – Phil McDermott
Sunday 15th August at 10.30 – Frank Pemberton 
Sunday 22nd August at 10.30 – Susan McArthur
Sunday 29th August at 10.30 – Fellowship Led Worship

Hybrid Worship. This facility will continue using Zoom, Meeting ID 874 0789 6194 and Password 427632. You don’t even need to be seen as you have the option to leave your camera off. Why not give it a try?

Attending activities at Church and in the Hall 

Following the removal of all Covid restrictions by the government, the church leaders have decided to move with caution bearing in mind the fact that infection rates are still high and the age profile of our congregation. 

For services, hand sanitiser remains available at the entrance to church, and we request that those entering the building continue to use it. Face masks are left to individual preferences. Seating remains unchanged to allow for the continuation of social distancing. The one-way system is no longer in operation but those attending are asked to be mindful of social distancing. 

From September, it is hoped that we can operate activities in the hall without restriction.

Frank Pemberton Recognition
Frank Pemberton’s Ministers’ Recognition Service

Many of you will be aware that a member of our fellowship, Frank Pemberton, has successfully completed the Independent Methodist Ministers’ Education Course. Having completed the course, Frank has made the church aware of his call to become an Independent Methodist Minister. The church has fully supported Frank’s calling and forwarded his name to the Connexion’s Ministry Committee. Following Frank’s successful interview with the Ministers’ Committee, his name was then forwarded to Connexional Committee for formal ratification. This has now been done and his name has been added to the list of Connexional Ministers.

This is always followed by a Ministers’ Recognition Service. Because of the ongoing pandemic, it was felt that this should be done as part of the regular Morning Worship when the majority of our members who have been attending during the pandemic would be present. This will take place on Sunday the 5th September at 10.30 when retiring Connexional President, Dorothy Kendrick from Roman Road Church, Failsworth, will be present, both representing the Ministers’ Committee and providing the main address in the service.

We hope that as many members and friends will make the effort and attend to support Frank on this very important date at the start of his ministry in God’s work. Subject to any Covid restrictions at the time, refreshments will be served in the hall following the service.

Members and friends suffering ill health at this time

The past eighteen months have been difficult for us all but spare a thought and a prayer for those who have suffered declining health or accidents during that period, much of it will not be generally know to our members. Illness can be a very personal and private matter and there are those amongst us who do not wish their personal circumstances to be made public.

So, in your prayers remember those in our congregation who are currently undergoing medical tests to establish the nature and extent of their illness. Also remember those who are recovering in care homes following accidents or illness and I ask you in particular to pray for Jean Berry and Shirley Jones.

We are also mindful of those members and friends who are recovering from routine treatments and procedures, removal of cataracts is one which more than one of our members has recently experienced.

Bible Thoughts.
This month Roy asks us to consider the anointing of Jesus by Mary (John 12:1-3) He says that this reminds him of the hymn, "Such love springs from eternity, O Jesus such love”. May we learn to live always in His love.

Birthdays and Anniversaries in August.
Just birthdays this month! 3rd – Godfrey Gwilliam. 4th – Kenneth Jenkinson. 11th – Anita Linsky. 21st - Lillian Hazeldine. 22nd – Tom Hancock.

Book Table Sale
Anne will be making available a ‘Book Table Sale’ in the Fellowship Room following Morning Worship, the room that links the church to the hall. Books will be on sale at fifty pence each and the proceeds will go towards church funds. Book donations would also be welcomed.