Rector’s Letter

Rector’s Letter

I think most people are aware that during the course of this year we will be forming a new group ministry with St Michael and All Angel’s church in Easington Lane and St Matthew’s church in Newbottle.  After Easter, Reverend Eddie Wilkinson will be retiring and will not be replaced and we will take on responsibility for all three parishes through the group ministry that we set up.  At present, we’ve not agreed how the structure of the parishes will work but as an important priority we’re taking some early steps in encouraging relationships between the people of the parishes.  In the coming months we’ll have some pulpit swaps between the churches and some shared services and events.  In Houghton, I’ll shortly be starting swapping pulpits with Eddie and also later Rev’d Tim Wall from the parish of Hetton Lyons with Eppleton.

Ash Wednesday is going to be a little different for us this year – across the three churches we’re holding two services: one in the morning at 10am at St Matthew’s, Newbottle (DH4 4EP) and one in the evening at 7pm St Michael & All Angel’s, Easington Lane (DH5 0JN).  Both will be services of Holy Communion with the Imposition of Ashes and our ministers will be sharing leading worship.  During the season of Lent we will be hosting a joint Lent Course for all three parishes in the Kepier Hall using Paula Gooder’s book ‘Women in Holy Week’ (this is, of course, for all not just women!).  On Palm Sunday at 6pm we will be hosting a joint service of devotion for congregation and choir ‘The Cross of Christ’ which, again, will be led jointly by the ministers of our three churches.  We recognise that this will feel different and a little strange for us this year: it is to signal that there may need to be differences in patterns of worship in future with reduced numbers of clergy. 

Lent as a traditional time of preparation for Christ’s passion and resurrection: it’s a time when Christians across the world journey together in reflection, prayer and self-denial.  This year, we make this journey through Lent together with brothers and sisters from our neighbouring parishes.  Perhaps together we can have our focus fixed on Jesus, whose suffering, death, resurrection and new life draws us together and makes us one.   Our prayer set in the church calendar for Ash Wednesday:

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

With my continued prayers and very good wishes.

Rector John