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CONTACT

Magazine of Erdington Methodist Church Station Road - October 2009 1


Contents Minister’s Letter In CONTACT this month Family News 70 Years after My Trip to Romania Sutton Park Circuit News The Girl with the dragon tattoo Captain Noah & his Floating Zoo Forgetter be forgotten Do you think you know who they are? Harvest Festival Raises more than £700 for Water Aid The Trafalgar Squaredance Events in the Sutton Park Circuit Lectures in Radical Christian Faith 2009 Interesting Anagrams Children’s Pages World post day 9th October Concern for Church following Fiji's expulsion from Commonwealth Memories of Scotland The way I see it Nature’s Beauty Service of Celebration In praise of cycle helmets Sing-a-long The Messiah Church calls for end to Pakistan blasphemy law Interesting Anagrams 2 Have you been Magnet - ised? If Jesus was alive today . . . Friendship for asylum seekers in Blackburn Finding God in a rummage sale Water into wine? Organ Donation Why do the clocks go back? October - On this day! October 2009 Regular Meetings 2

3 6 7 7 8 11 12 13 14 15 15 16 16 17 19 20 22 23 24 26 28 29 30 30 31 31 32 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39


Minister’s Letter Dear Friends “Numbers are my friends,” said the 19year old near-genius who sat crosslegged in front of me. “They don’t lie and they don’t let me down.” I was a bit stuck at how to respond since I only managed to get my GCSE maths with intensive personal coaching from my then boyfriend who was a rugbyplayer with attitude. Anyhow, the conversation with this undergrad studying “infinite numbers” (how can you do that?), then developed into a fascinating two hour discourse involving Life and predicative numbers and Hope and statistics and stuff I could never understand but . . . I was gripped by someone with a different perspective on the world and it was certainly interesting! So, let’s run a few numbers past you and see if it makes your pulse race and ups your heart beat; * Whisper “1010” to Gordon Brown and see if we can persuade him to save huge chunks of planet Earth from getting so flooded with rising seawater levels that life would be impossible and millions rendered homeless with the burden falling on the poorest countries like coastal India, parts of China and the Pacific Islands, who haven’t caused the world to get hotter as we have, but who will lose their lives if we don’t get the richest and most powerful 20 countries to take drastic action when they meet as the G20 in Copenhagen this December (see www.guardian.co.uk1010) * An estimated 85% of the population of South Africa has no access to a library so organisations are trying to fund containers decked out with shelves and books from round the world, placed in numerous townships round South Africa so everyone has the chance to read books and grow in knowledge. The 12metre shipping containers have doors and windows, are fitted with carpets and security bars and some electricity points also. Each container holds up to 6,000 books including encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibles, atlases and books in African dialects as well as English (see www.biblionef.org) 3


* There are 31 districts within the British Methodist Connexion, 550 circuits, 1800 ministers and 550 superintendent ministers. From 2010-2012 almost one third of Methodist ministers will be retiring and we shall have a drastic shortage of ministers! There will have to be all kinds of imaginative ways of dealing with this – some circuits will have to join together, some districts may join, there will be fewer ministers to go round and churches will see them less often. It will be Methodism, but “not as we know it!” This could be quite exciting – an opportunity to take a long look at what the churches do well which should be continued and what is less important and less effective. What’s the most important thing the church does and is it essential to its kingdom work? * 3,300 prisoners are condemned to death, living a half-life on Death Row in the United States. They live there for years before they are executed, spending up to 23 hours a day alone in their cell. Many have severe learning difficulties, or are mentally ill, some have had very poor legal representation and the huge majority come from dirt-poor backgrounds. A letter can make all the difference and Human Writes is a well-established organisation which invites people to send letters to condemned inmates. (visit www.humanwrites.org) * 27 out of every 1,000 children die before they are 5 years old and 46% of the population live below the poverty line, with 37.1% of children having an iron deficiency and suffering from anaemia. Where is this poor country, similar to some of the poorest countries in the world? Answer – Bethlehem, Bethany, Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron i.e. the West Bank of Palestine. It is hard to believe but true, since they are living under occupation which causes this poverty. * In Gaza today, which is still isolated from international help, all building supplies, medical essentials, and humanitarian aid denied, 75% of the people will not have adequate food, 40% are unemployed, 70% have less than 1 dollar a day and 40% have less than 50 cents per day to live on. There are 4 to 8 hours of power cuts every day and the rest of the time there’s no electricity at all, with batteries forbidden by the Israelis. 15% of current drugs needed in hospitals are forbidden entry to Gaza and 40% of 4


patients needing treatment outside of Gaza’s limited and over-stretched resources are forbidden an exit permit (info from Christian Aid) * 1380 people died in the onslaught Israel waged on Gaza in December and January this year. 330 were children. The damage caused by Israeli bombs and missiles is £954million including the sewage system, so that now only between 5-10% of the water is drinkable. When a Christian Aid worker asked their partner project leader in Gaza how they were coping, he got the reply, “God forgot Gaza” * 3.8 million children live in poverty in the UK and every 10 minutes in the UK a property is repossessed. 2/5ths of pensioners in the UK struggle to afford essential items and 2.2 million pensioners live in poverty in this country, with 1 in 5 people of all ages spending more than 12 hours on their own every day resulting in depression and ill health (figures from Church Urban Fund) Does God enjoy numbers? Maybe so, since Matthew 10:30 tells us “even the hairs on your head have all been counted, so do not be afraid.” God knows, loves and cherishes each one of us, whether clever undergrad or wise and mature older person, whoever you are and whatever your age, you are loved by almighty God and precious. Enjoy each day, then, and serve God’s world with gladness! Joy be with you Nichola If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. When there is order in each nation, there will be peace in the world. (from a very old Chinese Proverb) Submitted by Margaret Gamwell 5


In CONTACT this month Welcome to our October edition of CONTACT. I think we have a varied bunch of articles for you again - Hopefully some will make you think and some will make you smile - enjoy! In this month’s magazine Becky tells us about her trip to Romania There is news from the Sutton Park Circuit You are invited to sing with Captain Noah! You are invited to attend Lectures on Radical Christian Faith Our children’s pages concentrate on Moses Ann tells us about her memories of Scotland Anthony tells us what he thinks is the future for UK religion Someone lands on their head . . . ! We find out if it is possible to find God in a rummage sale and though we don’t really want to think about it we discover why the clocks go back in October . . . as well as what happened in history during October. Plus lots more . . . . I hope you enjoy it . . . and . . . perhaps you will be challenged to write something for the November issue. Have a good October. The editor

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Family News Becky Morgan Our congratulations go to Becky who starts her training as a vet in London during October. Having completed one degree she is now embarking on another to achieve her long held ambition.

70 years after The media has not let us forget that the Second World War started on 1st September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Unfortunately the memorial events in Poland were marred by squabbles with the Russians over who was to blame. Maybe 70 years is not sufficient time for us to see these events in their true historic context but it really should be sufficient time for folk to able to work out the causes of the conflict. Sufficient to say that it was most likely due to humanity’s almost inevitable tendency to war war rather than jaw jaw. Memorial events went on in the UK on the 3rd October but this time they have also included two much more positive programmes on the BBC. Firstly a documentary series outlining the bravery and dedication of those who fought in the, largely forgotten, Battle of the Atlantic, between convoys, their escorts and U-boats. I wonder if Hitler knew how close he came to staving us into submission, just like a besieged castle? Secondly we are reminded in a drama about the Land Girls, those girls and women who laboured, often under very difficult circumstances, to increase our self-sufficiency in food and timber. By the end of the war there were about 80,000 ladies involved and they only received their belated recognition with a badge of honour in July 2008. Long may we be reminded of the futility of war as we bear up the peacemakers in our prayers. Peter Farley

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My trip to Romania Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped me raise money, we raised close to £900 in total and it wouldn’t have been possible without all the help from church and all the groups who meet there! So thank you very much! I arrived home safely (just about) on Saturday evening, after a treacherous 3 hour mini bus journey to Bucharest Airport which would be dangerous enough with their crazy driving but I also had to stand up for the majority of the journey! Then we took off in a thunder storm, which is an experience I never want to repeat! Followed by two hours of mum’s driving from Heathrow … I had an amazing time in the 3 weeks I spent in Romania; it was brilliant to experience a totally different culture and I felt like I was making a difference while I was out there. Romania has the largest wild brown bear population in the whole of Europe and many bears live in the mountain (Mount Tampa) at the back of the flat I was living in. It has been known for the bears to come into the gardens and town centre at night to forage for food in litter bins. On my first night I was told to ‘always check for bears in the garden before opening the door fully.’ The bear sanctuary has been opened since 2007, and it now houses over 30 bears over 3 enclosures which all have a pool and some forest areas with trees to climb, which they love to do! The first thing I saw in the sanctuary was a bear in a tree! Each day was different, and as I didn’t speak Romanian or Hungarian (a lot of volunteers were Hungarian) I really didn’t know what to expect until it happened! Each day food was collected from the supermarket, which included meat, yogurts, fruit, bread and cake (which the bears particularly love!). The amount of food thrown out was staggering and I couldn’t get over how much wastage there was which would literally be thrown in the bin if it wasn’t kindly donated to the sanctuary. Sometimes the food thrown out was still in date! My main role was to sort through the food and unpack it into big crates ready to be lifted and thrown over the fences for the bears. On my first day I filled 30 black bin bags with bread and cakes! Fruit was probably the worst job, as most of it was mouldy or soggy 8


and they expect you to dig in with your hand, grab a load and throw it over the fences! Carrots especially seemed to go everywhere, and bananas and tomatoes were also quite unpleasant! The bears which have been rescued are normally from restaurants where they are kept tied up outside often in cramped cages to attract tourists. Some bears had been rescued from gypsy communities, including one bear, Tabitha, who was purposefully blinded by her gypsy owner to make her more docile. She now lives in her very own enclosure, as she cannot interact with other bears. The bears are very friendly and will come up to the fence and look at you, especially if you have food in your hand! They quite often like to sit up or stand up to see what’s going on outside the pen and they interact with other bears in the same pen. My time at the bear sanctuary was very enjoyable and although communication was a problem with the other staff they were all friendly and one lady managed to utter ‘I love you’ when I was leaving! As well as working with the bears I worked for a couple of days in a shelter for street dogs and cats, of which there are many in Romania. This was an interesting and sometimes quite a terrifying experience! They have over 800 dogs at the shelter, most are in poor health and covered in dirt from living on the streets. They have a small surgery room which is nothing like you’d find in England. The vet worked on his own most days, as there was no nurse and they don’t seem to be bothered as much by cleanliness during operations. Sterile needles and scalpels were used, but the general cleanliness of the room and operating table was poor. However, the shelter is doing its best to rehome and rehabilitate these dogs, and at least they get food and shelter which isn’t guaranteed on the streets, but they still have a long way to go before standards reach the level they are in England. I went to visit an orphanage on my first day, which was a pleasant experience and nothing like I’d expected. The children were quite happy to be playing outside and although the décor was quite dated the inside was clean and comfortable. This is not the case for all of the Romanian orphanages, as I’m sure you will have heard. My flatmate who is staying for 9 weeks to work in 9


an orphanage told me many horrific stories about the place she works in, which houses children abandoned by their parents at the hospitals. In Romania, babies left at the hospital go into orphanages, and often they grow up to be bed ridden, malnourished and unable to integrate back into society when they turn 18. The ‘lucky’ ones, those who can walk, often end up on the streets, and others go into adult institutions. I didn’t visit the orphanage she worked at as you need CRB checks and health checks before they let you go, but my flatmate described it to me and it didn’t sound very nice. Along with people from the child protection agency in Romania she is organising a trip to send English professionals (teachers, doctors, psychologists) to retrain and re-educate the staff so adequate childcare can be provided. There is lots of work still needed to be done in Romania; they have a very big problem of street dogs and street children which you simply can’t avoid. I almost got attacked by a stray dog on my last day, which was scary as they also have a Rabies problem with most street dogs carrying rabies. On evenings out in the town it’s not uncommon to have multiple confrontations with street children. One child we met was 5 and she had been out all day, even when we left at 8pm she was still going up to people asking for money. It’s proved difficult to change working attitudes in Romania due to it’s communist past although the younger generation seem to be changing and are more enthusiastic about work. The country has many positive attributes including beautiful countryside and very cheap beer! Most evenings we went out to eat as a 3 course meal often cost about £5 and wandered round the pretty town square to marvel at the Hollywood style ‘BRASOV’ sign on Mount Tampa! I also went to visit Dracula’s castle which was near to Brasov, and I climbed up one of the highest peaks in Transylvania! Once again I really am very grateful to everyone who donated money or helped with coffee mornings as I wouldn’t have been able to go without fundraising! It was such a good experience that I wont forget in a hurry! So thanks again! Becci 10


Sutton Park Circuit News Circuit news and plan From the next plan we will be combining the Circuit newsletter with the plan. It will be in the form of a new magazine for you to communicate information with the whole Circuit. This could be anything from a barn dance or coffee morning to a short article about what is happening in your church. This will come out as usual every quarter and the information needs to be sent to Sue Stewart at Four Oaks Methodist Church, 155 Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield B74 2UU or e-mail fomc@talktalk.net For the first edition the details need to be with Sue by Friday 9 October. We are particularly grateful as a Circuit for the stalwart work of Gilbert Jones who has faithfully produced the Circuit Messenger which has kept countless people well informed about the life of the Circuit churches. We extend our warm appreciation to Gilbert. Circuit trip The Circuit is organising a trip to Coventry Central Hall on Thursday 8th December to see Graham Kendrick. We will be leaving Stockland Green at 4.45 pm and Erdington at 5.15 pm and returning to those churches after the concert. Tickets for the concert are £10 and if you wish to travel on the coach the cost will be another £6. If people from your church would like to come please send the names and money (cheques made payable to Sutton Park Methodist Circuit) to Sue Stewart at Four Oaks Methodist Church, 155 Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield B74 2UU Profiles Most of the churches will know now about the big changes afoot next summer when our present Superintendent the Revd John Ingyon retires and the Revd Gillian Le Boutillier-Scott moves to another appointment after five years here. We shall miss them very much indeed but have had to start the work of looking for two new ministers to replace them.

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The Circuit Stewards have drawn up profiles for the jobs and for the kind of person they hope may come and in the course of that have had to review the Circuit's Mission Statement. It now reads: ‘The Sutton Park Circuit proclaims Christ's love for all through worship, work and witness, honoring the ministry of the whole people of God; serving diverse local communities and worldwide projects.’ This was a reminder that each Church Council may like to take the opportunity to look again at its own church Mission Statement and see whether it needs changing or updating or whether it reflects accurately the aims and hopes of the church community. This has been a difficult summer for our Superintendent Revd John Ingyon who successfully underwent major surgery. We have been upholding Margaret and John in our love and prayers and are so very glad he is coming back to work in October. We are thankful for his being restored to health and hope he has a splendid welcome back and a very happy year. Revd Nichola Jones Acting Superintendent

The Girl with the dragon tattoo This is an exciting read for an autumn weekend and maybe then to give as a present for Christmas. A modern story about a wild, young streetwise woman, who is into everything electronic, a middle-aged businessman, who edits a successful magazine and a retired industrial magnate, from the paternalistic school, who encounter one another in the solving of two intertwining stories - murder and corruption. Twelve million copies sold so far and as the first part of a trilogy that means there is more to come. Peter Farley 12


Preliminary Notice CAPTAIN NOAH AND HIS FLOATING ZOO By Joseph Horovitz and Michael Flanders

This is a musical written in popular style and it’s FUN! It follows the Old Testament story of Noah very closely. If you would like to take part in it, please read on. This will be a lively, all age, all singing performance enhanced with PowerPoint presentations. Come and enjoy a good sing. Keep an eye on future notices for further details. ALL WHO WISH TO TAKE PART ARE WELCOME. Date: 21st March 2010 Venue: Erdington Methodist Church Occasion: Circuit Service

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Forgetter Be Forgotten? My forgetter's getting better, But my rememberer is broke To you that may seem funny But, to me, that is no joke For when I'm 'here' I'm wondering If I really should be 'there' And, when I try to think it through, I haven't got a prayer! Oft times I walk into a room, Say 'what am I here for?' I wrack my brain, but all in vain! A zero, is my score. At times I put something away Where it is safe, but, Gee! The person it is safest from Is, generally, me! When shopping I may see someone, Say 'Hi' and have a chat, Then, when the person walks away I ask myself, 'who the heck was that? Yes, my forgetter's getting better While my rememberer is broke, And it's driving me plumb crazy And that isn't any joke. I’m sure forgetters of all ages will relate to this one . . . ed

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Do you think you know who they are? Most of us have attended a funeral service and heard a fulsome eulogy about the person whom we have known for some years, and yet have never known. We say to one another, “Fancy, I never knew he/she did that.” Some have served, some have endured much without complaint, and we never knew. It has been suggested to the Contact team that rather than wait for their funeral, we hold conversations with some of our older members to discover a little about them, their upbringing, their working life, their children, etc. Sometimes it may be a question and answer article, sometimes the person will write their own profile. Whichever way, it should make interesting and enlightening reading In next month’s issue Barbara Rawson will try to discover some of the hidden aspects of the life of Enid Denton. Watch this space! Ann Tomes

Harvest Festival Raises more than £700 for Water Aid Thanks to everyone who gave so generously at our Harvest Festival & Supper and raised more than £700. This will go towards helping people such as Valy . . . Valy Adeline washes her hands at school in Madagascar.  Water Aid's partners teach Valy and her classmates about good hygiene:  "I have learnt every time you leave the loo you wash your hands and before eating you wash your hands too," she says. 15


The Trafalgar Squaredance Last Sunday a church organist took to Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth with the simple aim of making London happy with music. Peter Harding, from Solihull, treated tourists and passers-by to a varied playlist, including folk music, Handel, ragtime and hymns. He has been the organist and choirmaster for Acocks Green Methodist Church for 25 years. Peter said, “Busking seems to suit me, as it is what I do every Sunday morning at the organ console, and I hope that I'll also be able to persuade those standing by to do a little barn dancing in the square. I plan to play the accordion for an hour to make London happy, although they may be happier when I stop.” Peter is one of 2,400 people who will appear on the fourth plinth between 6 July and 14 October 2009, picked from more than 33,400 applicants for sculptor Anthony Gormley’s One and Other project.

Events in the Sutton Park Circuit Kingstanding Church have asked that the following events be publicised in our magazine. Saturday 19th September - Skittles Evening Adults £5.00, Children £3.00, Family Ticket £12.00 The evening includes refreshments Saturday 17th October - “Sounds of Music” This event used to be held at Bodymoor Heath Church. No tickets are required and there will be a collection for charity Saturday 14th November - Christmas Fayre - 11.00 am to 1.00 pm Saturday 21st November - Quiz Evening Fundraising for Cancer Care. Tickets are £5.00 each and the evening includes refreshments 16


Lectures in Radical Christian Faith 2009 Carrs Lane United Reformed Church Birmingham Do you wonder what worship is for? Are you ever uncomfortable in worship? How do you relate to the Bible in worship? Is there any point in listening to a sermon? Do you ever feel unable to participate in prayers or hymns? Have you wondered why worship often seems to divide rather than reconcile people? Does your faith make you think? Do you have more questions than answers? Do you own your own prejudices? Can you say what you really think? When you go to church, do you feel you are expected to leave your brains behind? Then the Carrs lane Lectures In Radical Christian Faith ARE FOR YOU! WORSHIPPING WITH INTEGRITY IN A RADICAL CONTEXT Revd Dr Susan Durber Thursday 1st October ‘Worship-what’s it for?’ The best worship is in a proper sense boring or at least about the persistence of a kind of faith that is not grounded in emotional experiences. Revd Dr John Campbell Thursday 8th October ‘Working with the Word in radical worship’ An exploration of the how and why of engaging with the Bible in worship in the postmodern world in radical worship contexts. Professor June Boyce-Tillman Thursday 15th October ‘In tune with heaven or not?’ Considering how music in worship can be made more inclusive, more diverse and more challenging...with practical examples.

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Revd Jim Cotter Thursday 22rd October ‘The nature of prayer and the character of God’ Might or love? Praise or embrace? Subject or partner? Kingdom or Commonwealth? Intercession or solidarity? Worship Thursday 5th November An evening of radical and inclusive worship implementing some of the themes from the previous lectures and co-ordinated by Nicola Slee About our Speakers Susan Durber is a United Reformed Church minister and Principal of Westminster College, Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Theological Foundation. She has published in the areas of prayer, preaching and biblical studies. She writes from her experience and context, and both desires and wrestles with Christian tradition. John Campbell is a United Reformed Church minister from a Church of Scotland background. After two years teaching in a Nigerian university he ministered chiefly in the multi-cultural neighbourhoods of Hackney and Aston. He is currently Principal of Northern College, Manchester, helping others prepare for ministry. He has a particular interest in believers’ engagement with the Bible in a post-critical age. June Boyce-Tillman is Professor of Applied Music at the University of Winchester and an Anglican priest. She has written widely in the areas of intercultural issues in music; music and peace- making and the spirituality of musical experience. She composes a wide variety of music including hymns and anthems; she has also developed interdisciplinary one-person performances. Jim Cotter is an Anglican priest currently looking after the parish of Aberdaron in north west Wales. He writes (and publishes as Cairns Publications) from within the Christian tradition, though often on the boundaries of the Church, seeking to shape prayers afresh and make connections between faith and everyday life by exploring such issues as sexuality, healing, and ministry. 18


Nicola Slee is a feminist theologian and liturgist based at The Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education. If you have not found it easy to discuss issues like these, the lecture series at Carrs Lane is for you. The lectures provide a platform for lively debate on liberal and unconventional views and an environment where such questions can be explored without embarrassment. The lecture series is now in its TENTH year. Carrs Lane has a long tradition of being on the 'open' wing of the Church, and in the past has played a prominent part in the development of the Civic Gospel. The Church has a continuing concern for social justice. We invite you to join us for this October's lectures, confident that your mind will be stretched and your imagination quickened. The lectures will take place at Carrs Lane Church (by Marks and Spencer) 6.00 to 7.30 pm, including time for questions and discussion. Coffee and tea will be available beforehand. Tickets £4.00 per lecture (There will be no charge on 05.11.09) For further information, contact us on 0121 643 6151, or office@carrslane.co.uk or see our website www.carrslane.co.uk.

Interesting Anagrams PRESBYTERIAN: When you rearrange the letters: BEST IN PRAYER  ASTRONOMER:  When you rearrange the letters: MOON STARER  SNOOZE ALARMS: Rearrange the letters: ALAS! NO MORE Z 'S 

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Children’s Pages ~ Baby Moses

Pharaoh ordered all the Hebrew babies to be drowned in the River Nile. Moses’ mother hid him in a basket in the reeds. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and took him in. She named him Moses.

Help Moses as a Baby

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Answer on page 39 21


World post day 9th October Rowland Hill cannot have known what he was starting. When the Government originally took over the postal service it was used as a source of revenue, contributing to such things as the cost of the Napoleonic wars. Each time more money was needed the cost of postage went up. By 1830 the cost of sending a letter from Edinburgh to London was about an average day’s pay. Then in 1835, after a complaint, the Government set up a Committee of Enquiry. Up until this time the recipient of a letter had had to pay for the postage with the deliverer, collector of the fee, often having to make more than one visit before the letter could be delivered and the fee collected. Even then some people refused to accept the letter and pay, a situation open to abuse and fraud. Mr Hill a teacher and social reformer, argued for a uniform, prepaid system saying that the distance that a letter had to travel was almost irrelevant to the overall cost when most of the then current cost was in the time necessary to deliver the letter and then collect and account for the fee. He also suggested that a low uniform rate would lead to an increase in the number of letters posted. So on January 10th 1840 the uniform 1d postage came into effect and Rowland Hill was proved correct. On the first day of the Penny Post 112,000 letters were posted, four times the number on that day the previous year. Over the next ten years the number of letters posted in the UK went up five fold to ~ 350 million. Queen Victoria knighted Mr Hill for services to the nation. Such was the success of the UK penny post that it was soon being copied across the world. In 1863 the American Postmaster General tried, without success, to organise an international agreement. Then in 1874 a German 22


Heinrich Von Stephan arranged for the Swiss to hold an international conference and on the 9th October that year the Treaty of Berne established the General Postal Union. During the following three years membership grew so quickly that its name was changed to the Universal Postal Union. Suddenly the reciprocal exchange of letters simplified worldwide postage. The barriers to the free flow of international mail disappeared almost overnight. Rowland Hill lived until 1879. I wonder what he thought about where his suggestion had lead. Peter Farley

Concern for Church following Fiji's expulsion from the Commonwealth British Methodists have expressed solidarity with Methodists in Fiji following the country’s expulsion from the Commonwealth earlier this month. The Methodist Church in Britain called on the Government of Fiji to allow the Methodist Church there to exercise its right to freedom of religion and play its part in developing a healthy and just society for all people. The grave concern follows a number of restrictions made on the Church by the Fijian Government. The Church’s annual Conference was blocked, permission for the choir festival was denied and speaking restrictions on the senior leadership have frustrated the day-to-day business of the Church. It has also been made clear that the activities of leading Methodists are being monitored, creating an ongoing feeling of unease. Steve Pearce, partnership coordinator for Asia and the Pacific said, “I encourage Methodists in Britain to consider raising this issue with their MPs and their local media. People need to be made aware that a national Methodist Church is being crippled by its government. We can do many things to challenge it, what we cannot do is nothing." from the Methodist Church News Service

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Memories of Scotland I have never been a collector of mementos such as ‘A Present from Blackpool’ and the like, but I am quite a collector of Natural Mementos, reminders of a place or occasion, etc from a holiday. I suppose it stems from childhood. As a country child, I loved collecting stones, bits of wood, lichen, grasses, etc which I thought beautiful at the time. Collecting holiday memorabilia is just a continuation of my childhood passion, but now it has to have a purpose. One of the first collections we made as a family, was when Elizabeth, our daughter was six. As a child she was very frail having inherited her father’s brittle bones, and because of this she didn’t attend school until she was 12 years old. Until that time she had home tuition for 2 hours a day, so because of the limited time, Norman and I were providers of some of the less academic subjects. I was responsible for Natural Studies. With this in mind, we planned our holiday in Scotland so that rocky coastal areas were included with a view to studying sea life, collecting shells etc and finding out what creatures lived in them. Over my fireplace I have the collage we made from that holiday and it contains a wide variety of shells, crab carapaces, dog whelk egg cases, mermaids’ purses, seaweed, driftwood, polished glass. These were set in a base of Polyfilla, framed and varnished to bring out the glorious colours as if underwater. My most ambitious project was to collect ancient wood from the hillside to make into lamps. (I think at this point Norman thought I had gone completely mad!) We selected Ullapool, Wester Ross as our destination to source our wood, and booked accommodation for 2 nights accordingly allowing a day for our sorties into the hills. We were pointed in the right direction by our considerate host who loaned us an old saw to help us. The day was wet and dank with thick mist and the hillside looked forbidding. We both used walking sticks to help us probe our way over the peat bogs and on one occasion, trying to reach a particularly interesting piece, I had to step over the bones of a long-dead sheep. We eventually gathered our couple of specimens and took them home. It was not until had I cleaned them with water, and wet and dry sandpaper that I saw the superb finish on the wood 24


that we began to think this was no ordinary wood. We sent a sample to the Forest Products Research Laboratory to discover something about it. It turned out to be Scots Pine grown during a post Ice Age, the age rings being so close together it was impossible to count them. Imagine our surprise when the FPRL dated it somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years old! The tree line was much higher up the mountains at that time, then the climate changed and became warmer, the peat mosses grew and killed the trees and these were the remaining roots, preserved in the peat bogs. The resin content was very high and helped preserve the wood which made drilling for the cable difficult, but they have made superb table and halfstandard lamps. The polished finish was achieved with just fine sandpaper and furniture polish. They are beautiful and their odd distorted shapes have graced our lounge ever since. That was education for all three of us. Of course, having 2 new lamps meant we then needed lampshades! So the following year I decided we would collect Scottish wild flowers and press them, in the hope they could be preserved to incorporate into a lampshade for the larger lamp. We collected ferns, harebells, heather, ladies bedstraws, wild thyme, tormentil, and various grasses (a lesson in botany). After the flowers had dried I painted a background using watercolour paints on heavy watercolour paper which, when dried was cut into shape and the flowers placed over in the pattern desired. All was then covered with clear Fablon and finished with a suitable trim. Super! Over the years I have collected various rocks, pieces of slate etc. which adorn my garden. One piece of mica schist, which stands outside my patio door, sparkles in the sun, a reminder of the trip we made along the ‘Road to the Isles’, west of Fort William, where many of the rocks were shining with schist in the sun, as if covered with sequins. So you see holidays can be fun, educational and the memories last a lifetime through the mementos one collects. Each time I dust my lamps or collage, I think back to the days we collected them. I can smell the salt air or the bog myrtle and hear the birds which were singing at the time. Collecting can be so much more than collecting. Ann Tomes 25


The way I see it A few weeks ago, together with a couple of friends, Marion and I visited the aircraft museum at RAF Cosford. Very well worth a visit, if you have an interest in aircraft that is! What I found amazing was the huge variety of aircraft ranging in size from the tiny to the huge and, from life saving helicopters to atom bombers. Not only that; but the achievements in a little over 100 years, from zero to space exploration are nothing short of staggering. All this set me imagining (yet again) about what this country will be like in a hundred years time, given the way things are going at present. My imagination is far too limited to include the world (earth); so what of Britain? I have many ideas about what the wider Britain could be like in a hundred years time but for this article restricting my thoughts to the Christian religion seemed like a good idea. First though, I want to emphasise that judgements about governmental policies are not being made. Nor do I suggest the changes I predict will be for good or ill. I leave that to others. To make a very bald and bold prediction; I believe that if British society continues to change as it has done over the past 20 years or so, within 100 years Britain will be a Muslim country. On a very parochial level, I can not visualise Erdington Methodist Church existing in the year 2109, nor do I visualise many, if any, other Methodist Churches being around in Sutton Coldfield or even Birmingham. I do not believe that Christianity will no longer exist; but I do believe, given falling congregations and fewer and fewer ministers, local preachers, priests etc, that only a very small number of Churches will have survived. In February 2007, The Times said that thousands of churches would close, be demolished or be converted (to other religions) in the next decade. According to experts this would lead to the death of some branches of Christianity in Europe. In some parts of the country, former churches are being turned into centres of worship for other faiths. A Methodist church in Clithero was said to be the latest, destined to become a mosque for the town's 300 Muslims. 26


According to the Times, 90% of those who say they are Christian do not attend church and, churches are closing faster than mosques are opening. If this trend continues, practising Muslims will outnumber practising Christians within a few decades. The first mosques in Britain opened at the end of the 19th century; but by 1961 there were just 7 mosques, 3 Sikh temples and one Hindu temple in England and Wales, compared with nearly 55000 Christian churches. Between 1969 and 2007 however, 1700 C of E churches were made redundant, though 16000 still existed. Over the same period, the number of mosques in Britain grew to almost the number of Anglican churches that closed. The Islamic website Salaam recorded a total of 1689 mosques. According to the Muslim Council of Churches, in addition to the increase in the number of Mosques being built, many existing mosques are being enlarged and refurbished. The number of Methodist churches dropped from 14000 in 1932 to 6000 in 2007 and were said to be closing at the rate of 100 a year, often being sold with no restrictive covenant attached thus enabling other religions to take them on. Interestingly, in Notes and Quotes from 'Church Closure and Membership Statistics: a Methodist perspective' – a paper issued in 2007, five arguments in favour of closing churches and six against were listed. (I should be happy to let anyone interested have a copy of this paper!). Statistics vary depending on which research is examined, but the trend is crystal clear. In 2009 the Muslim population in Britain had grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just 4 years, according to official research collated for the Times. The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics (ONC) revealed. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million. 27


There are 42.6 million Christians in Britain according to ONC, but the biggest Christian population is among the over 70s, for Muslims it is the under 4s. Figures produced in 2009 by Christian Research (a Think Tank) reveal that by 2035 there will be about 1.96 million active Muslims but only 1.63 church – going Christians. Far from being critical of the achievements of Muslims in expanding their religion in Britain (and Europe!), I actually admire their hard work and commitment. On the other hand, I would ask what churches are doing to halt their decline, to prevent their one step forward and two (at least) steps back. I have a degree (nay a PhD) in apathy, so I am hardly in a position to criticise Churches for not doing enough or the 90% of Christians who do not attend church, presumably through apathy. Some people believe that a major event will occur to create a resurgence of the Christian faith; but, for me the writing is on the wall, writ very large indeed. Incidentally, you may be surprised to hear that I have a view on a major event (or events), that will indeed bring about (monumental) change in Britain! Anthony Griffin Do you see the future the same way as Anthony - why not let us know for the next issue of Contact - ed

Nature’s Beauty Nature is painting for, Day after day, Pictures of infinite beauty If only we have eyes to see them . . . .                                                       John Ruskin 28


Churches Together in Erdington

SERVICE OF CELEBRATION SUNDAY 18TH OCTOBER 3.00 PM AT ALL SAINTS CHURCH GEORGE ROAD

Parking in George Road or next to the church is via Broomfield Road

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In praise of cycle helmets Last month I told you of my brush with death and Heimlich’s manoeuvre. This month I have to report a simpler but similar event. Whilst riding in Sutton Park I was suddenly unsaddled by a dog who, for whatever reason, turned right under my front wheel, too late for me to take any avoiding action. Over I went, down onto the back of my head. My cycle helmet was a complete write-off but I was able to ride away with a skinless shoulder, a skinless elbow, a pain in my ribs and a dose of concussion that prevented me from remembering what had happened. Having been there it will make me even more amazed at the parents that I see cycling with their children, children suitably equipped but parents trusting to the protective power of a woolly hat. So I view this experience as an opportunity to replace my aging helmet with the latest version. I certainly will not be riding anywhere without it, but I do hope that it will not be a case of third time (un)lucky. PS Thanks also to all who phoned to enquire about my wellbeing. Peter Farley

Sing-a-long The Messiah Coventry Central Hall invites you to Sing-a-long The Messiah with the Saint Michael Singers and the Tony Gibbs Singers, accompanied by the Beauchamp Sinfonietta and Conducted by Paul Leddington Wright. Saturday 28th November 2009. Rehearsals from 10.30 am, performance at 7.30 pm. Tickets cost £10.00 available from Wesley’s Coffee Lounge or Central Hall Office - tel. 02476 223 564. Your ticket gives you three options: (1) Join the massed voices for the rehearsal at 10.30 am - 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm - 4. 00 pm with your grand performance at 7.30 pm. (2) Come and watch how Paul runs the rehearsals and join us later to see it all come together at the performance. (3) Watch the performance at 7.30 pm. 30


Church calls for end to Pakistan blasphemy law The Methodist Church in Britain is calling on the Pakistani Government to repeal its controversial blasphemy law, and is encouraging Christians to sign an online petition. There is concern that the law is enflaming tensions between Christians and Muslims in Pakistan, and is being used to justify violence against Christians. In late July, 3 churches and 147 homes were burned during violent attacks against Christians that left 10 dead and made more than 290 families homeless. The president of the Methodist Conference, the Revd David Gamble, has signed the petition. He says, “The blasphemy law is being used by some to fuel violence between people of faith in Pakistan, rather than creating respect as it was once designed to do. Atrocities such as those we have seen committed against Christians in recent days must be stopped and the Pakistani Government needs to prove its commitment to protecting religious minorities by repealing this outdated law.” So far more than 2,100 people have signed the petition, which has been formulated by Christians and Muslims together and will be delivered to the Pakistan Government, urging them to help prevent further attacks. from the Methodist Church News Service

Interesting Anagrams 2 DORMITORY: When you rearrange the letters: DIRTY ROOM  SLOT MACHINES: When you rearrange the letters:  CASH LOST IN ME  A DECIMAL POINT: Rearrange the letters: I'M A DOT IN PLACE 

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Have you been Magnet - ised? If you’ve not seen Magnet then why not ask for a complimentary copy. It is full of interest and challenge there is sure to be something in it for you. “Thank you for producing such an excellent magazine. I enjoy reading the articles and am regularly challenged by their content. I use the prayers, meditations and lovely pictures in worship in the cell group which I lead.” Helen Tyler - Cardiff Magnet is a quarterly contemporary Christian magazine. It is known for its colourful and thoughtful meditation pages, seasonal worship resources, insightful and challenging features, bible study and prayer focus. It is of value both to individuals in their personal spiritual journeys and to leaders of worship, bible study and house groups. Its resources will soon be available through a new website to complement all year round what is in the magazine four times a year. Magnet magazine is also available on cassette tape for the registered blind or partially sighted. The tape is produced by a group of volunteers in Chester & Stoke-on-Trent District. For more information and your free copy contact: Lynne Ling, Business Manager on 0844 736 2524 email: lynne@magnetmag.co.uk www.magnetmag.co.uk from Methodist Church ‘Momentum’

If Jesus was alive today “I think if Jesus were alive today he’d be a really together person; he’d have street cred. He would go and sit in Soho, like he did in Bible times, and get talking to the people.” Bobby Ball 32


Friendship for asylum seekers in Blackburn Asylum seekers in Blackburn are to benefit from a ‘sanctuary project’ recently formed by a coalition of church-based organisations. Laurence Wareing spoke to the Revd Jim Jones, whose Methodist congregation is one of the scheme’s partners. The Sanctuary Project, launched in April at Wesley Hall Methodist Church, builds upon the weekly drop-in centre for asylum seekers that has been run there for the past six years. The new arrangement unites Methodist expertise with that of the Church of England and the Children’s Society. The new partnership is working with one of the largest groups of asylum seekers and refugees in the north of England. As a Government Home Office ‘dispersal town’, Blackburn receives groups of asylum seekers on a regular basis – up to 500 in the city at any one time, plus a further 300 individuals who have been granted permanent refugee status. When the Wesley Hall drop-in centre was set up, it worked with small numbers of asylum seekers. But “last week, there were about 150 people at the centre,” says Jim. “We identified 26 different nationalities before we lost count.” The centre operates without advertising; word-of-mouth is sufficient to ensure large numbers coming through the doors every Tuesday. Most are from Africa and the Middle East, and nowadays most arrive as families – an indication of the way in which migration and asylum seeking has changed since the centre was opened. When I ask Jim what it is that the service users find at Wesley Hall, he answers without hesitation: “Friendship”. And he goes on to list “acceptance, patience, a welcome, safety, a place to talk to each other”. These are the important gifts that the centre offers – as well as more obviously practical services such as Home Office advice and a space for children to play games. Bsrat Tewolde, a Christian from Eritrea who is still fighting for refugee status, says the project has given him "a new sense of confidence and freedom to live my faith”. 33


For Jim there is something of the prophet Isaiah’s vision of reconciliation in the work done here. It’s a place where culture and values mix and the opportunities of collaboration are discovered. “A huge encouragement to our work has been the way ethnic and religious divides are crossed by mutual acts of support and help." Now part of the ecumenical partnership, “mutual acts of support” will have an even wider impact in Blackburn. from Methodist Church ‘Momentum’

Finding God in a rummage sale At the gym in ‘Brownley Green Village’, young men pump iron with care and determination. Weights rise and fall, biceps strain and faces sweat. There is an atmosphere of focussed concentration. “We believe anything is possible,” says one of the gym users, “even change within people. Here, everybody gets a chance to develop and improve their own lives.” The words sound religious – and in fact they are. ‘Brownley Green Village’ is the name adopted by the Methodist Church, together with a team of partner organisations, in this part of Wythenshawe, an 80,000-person estate on the south side of Manchester. Back in 1996 the church faced closure, until church member Greg Davis proposed setting up this fully fledged fitness studio on the premises. The church authorities agreed and the gym became the first of a range of community facilities to be housed here: a purpose-designed dance studio, a clothing store aimed at people on low incomes, and a café. Outside, space has been given to one young man who wanted to set up a car valet business (a £10 bargain and a free cup of tea while you wait).

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Brownley Methodist Church is one of five churches operating under the umbrella of Wythenshawe Oasis, a small charity set up to resource local projects and develop partnerships with other community groups. The range of activities the churches host is astonishing: community art projects, rummage sales, tea dances, holistic therapy and counselling services. The list goes on. Partnerships have been established with the local NHS Trust, the National Autistic Society and drama groups for young people. The Methodist circuit’s mission has become one with a range of some 40 “project based ministries”. As a result, the circuit’s one full-time minister, the Revd David Bown, sees “one person after another being empowered, growing in confidence and achieving potential they never realised they had. And you appreciate the professionalism of ordinary leaders, ordinary people, and managers who help to make all these things happen.” This, he believes, is the kingdom of God at work – on the bench press and in the rummage sale. Five churches are more alive and fulfilled than they could possibly have dreamt ten years ago – and so are the communities around them. If you want to know more about Wythenshawe Oasis then you can find it online at http://www.wythenshawe-oasis.org.uk/ from Methodist Church ‘Momentum’

Water into wine? A minister is driving when he’s stopped by the police because he’s speeding. The policeman smells alcohol on his breath, sees an empty wine bottle on the floor, and asks, “Sir, have you been drinking?” The minister replies, “Just water”. The trooper asks, “Then, why do I smell wine?” The minister looks down at the bottle and exclaims, “Goodness! He’s done it again!”

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Organ donation The complex questions surrounding organ donation have come to the fore again over the summer. First there was the story of a man who gave one of his kidneys to a total stranger. Then we had the tale of Hannah Clark who received a heart transplant in 1995 aged two, which had gone on to have a happy ending. As a baby she had suffered from cardiomyopathy, a condition that causes the heart to grow too large to function efficiently. At the time of her surgery she was given a piggyback transplant, leaving her own heart in situ. Over the next ten years she lived with two hearts and a daily regimen of anti-rejection medication. Then at the age of 12 her immuno-suppressant medication had had to be reduced and as a result she rejected her donated heart; which then had to be removed. Since then she has remained fit and well, her own heart having recovered sufficiently to take up the task of keeping her alive. Then recently there have been two unusual cases in the news. Firstly Gary Reinbach, the 22 year old suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis. There was no donor liver available for him and so he died. Secondly Hannah Jones the 14 year old who initially, with her parents support, refused a heart transplant. Her heart had been weakened by chemotherapy and she refused further treatment. It now appears that this decision has been reversed, though confirmation is not currently available. Now we have the interesting case of Steve Jobs the charismatic leader of the Apple Corporation who may or may not have used his wealth and influence to ensure that he recently moved to the front of the liver transplant queue in his new, transient, home town of Memphis. All of these cases have, to some extent, made the news because there are not enough organs available for transplantation. The list of patients waiting for an organ in the UK is about 10,000. In 2007-08 809 deceased donors gave 2,927 organs for transplantation i.e. about a third of the national requirement. Unfortunately, of the people who die in a way that makes their organs available for donation, 50% of families refuse to allow the harvesting of organs for transplantation. 36


Do your close family know or your intentions with regard to organ donation? Have you filled in a donor card? Peter Farley

Why do the clocks go back? On Saturday, October 24, we get the luxury of an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back. But have you ever thought about why we carry out the biannual ritual of going back and forth through time? When the clocks go back, we’ll be back on Greenwich Mean Time and it will get darker earlier in the day, although it will also be lighter in the mornings. And it’s all the idea of a builder from Kent. William Willett, from Petts Wood, wrote a pamphlet in 1907 which suggested that the health of the nation could be improved if over four successive Sundays in April and September the clocks would go forward and back respectively. Longer daylight hours would mean more sunshine, more sunshine more happiness. He himself had adapted the idea from a satirical letter Benjamin Franklin wrote in a French magazine in 1784. These ideas would have come to nothing if it hadn’t been for the First World War. In 1916, wartime economies meant that having the lights on for minimal time would conserve energy and thus Daylight Saving Time was introduced. After the war, most countries that had introduced Daylight Saving Time abandoned it, with some US states adopting earlier working hours to see if the same effect could be achieved. Only the UK stuck with it, despite some opposition from farmers.

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Most countries have since reintroduced some measure of Daylight Saving Time, giving us those extra hours of daylight. The UK made an additional change during the Second World War, keeping British Summer Time all year round, but during the summers it added an additional hour on top – so it was two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. This ended in 1945, although it was tried again during 1947. A further experiment between 1968 and 1971 saw the UK try British Summer Time all year round, but it disadvantaged farmers and people living in Scotland and Northern Ireland, so it was discontinued. Since 1981, European countries have all put their clock forwards on the same Sunday in March, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the end date was standardised to the fourth Sunday in October and a further 1998 amendment to European law changed it to the last Sunday in October. So as you enjoy your extra hour in bed, enjoy the lighter mornings – and try not to think about the clocks going back on March 28 next year!

October - On this day! 5th October 1962 - The Beatles’ first single, Love Me Do, was released in Britain. 7th October 1946 - Woman’s Hour and Dick Barton, Special Agent began on BBC radio. 11th October 2009 - British comedy actress Dawn French is 52 today. 14th October 1066 - The Battle of Hastings was fought on Senlac Hill. 20th October 1822 - The Sunday Times was published for the first time. 24th October 1939 - Nylon stockings went on sale for the first time; 26th October 1929 - It was announced that all London buses would be red – after the yellow variety had proved unpopular in trials. 27th October 2009 - British actor John Cleese is 70 today. 29th October 1929 - The Wall Street crash known as Black Tuesday took place. It led to the Great Depression. And just in case all these dates have given you a headache . . . 30th October 1905 - Aspirin went on sale in Britain 38


October 2009 Regular Meetings Coffee Mornings Every Saturday 10.00 am to 12.00 noon

Women’s Hour Meetings Meetings on Mondays at 2.00 pm each month

Tuesday Club Every 4th Tuesday in the month at 2.00 pm

Sunday Worship All worship starts at 10.30 am unless stated otherwise below 4th

Mr J McGinnigle

11th

ONE WORLD WEEK - Rev Richard Jones HOLY COMMUNION

18th

ALL AGE WORSHIP - Mrs S Hall SERVICE OF CELEBRATION - 3.00 pm Churches Together in Erdington celebrate at All Saints Church

25th

David Hewitt

Answer to the hieroglyphics on the Children’s Pages Because I drew him out of the water

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Weekly Church Activities Sunday

10.30 am

MORNING WORSHIP and Young Church (with crèche : Margaret Hillman)

7.30 pm

House Group : Hilary Price (3rd Sunday)

Monday

2.00 pm

Women’s Hour :

Tuesday

9.30 - 11.30 am 9.30 - 12.00 noon 2.30 pm

Stay and Play Pre-School : Karen Homer Tuesday Afternoon Meeting : Valerie Long (4th)

Wednesday

9.30 - 11.30 am 9.30 - 12.00 noon 12.30 pm

Stay and Play Pre-School : Karen Homer Luncheon Club - (1st and 3rd)

Thursday

9.30 - 12.00 noon

Pre-School : Karen Homer

Friday

5.00 - 6.15 pm 6.15 - 7.45 pm 7.45 - 9.15 pm 7.45 - 9.15 pm 5.30 - 6.30 pm 5.00 - 6.30 pm 7.30 - 9.00 pm

Beavers : Lynn Turner Cubs : Elizabeth Baizon Scouts : Lisa Porter Explorers : Caroline Joyce Rainbows : Louise Rawson Brownies : Lesley Carter Guides : Helen Rainsford

Saturday

10.00 - 12.00 noon Coffee Morning : Lesley Morgan 10.30 - 11.30 am Church open for prayer : Margaret Curzon

Please hand any items for the October CONTACT to any of the Editorial Team (Elizabeth Baizon, Peter Farley, Nichola Jones, Christine Rankin, Ann Tomes & Nick Riley) by 15th October 2009 at the latest please or alternatively email me nickriley@blueyonder.co.uk 40


Contact - October 2009