Please see the notices on the Home page about collective worship.
Weekly Notices (18th-24th April):
Please pass on any relevant information to people you know who will find it of some use. There are hyperlinks to the relevant website pages and Facebook pages to help you find them.
Services are now resumed in church (God willing) unless we tell you otherwise. We have not yet returned to the normal hours of 8 am and 10.30 am. Instead, the short services will be at 9 am and 10 am for the moment. You can use this link to go to the Home page to read Fr Mark's message.
Fr Mark will continue to pray for all those people on the Weekly Prayer list - those who are ill or have died. See the Prayer page for all of the names currently on the list. There is, also, a Church of England Prayer Book on the Services page of the website too (you can use this link).
Each week Fr Mark prepares a Spiritual Communion Service sheet which you can find on the Services page.
We advise you to follow the 'Pray as you Go' website daily, for each day's short service. The service is reflective, quiet and aims to help you to become more aware of God’s presence in your life, listen to and reflect on God’s word and grow in your relationship with God. https://pray-as-you-go.org
The BBC has a Daily Service, which is about 15 minutes with a reflection, reading from Scripture, prayers, and hymns. It’s every day at 9.45 am on the BBC website and on Radio 4. You can also listen to services from the last 30 days. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006wzfs
If you need to contact Fr Mark to ask for prayers for loved ones who are ill or have died, please use the form on the Contact Us page of the website. The page has a telephone number too. The form will be submitted to Fr Mark. There is a Messenger link on that page, too. Alternatively, use the Messenger link on Facebook - the messages come directly to me and I will pass on the information to Fr Mark.
If you wish to leave a message of condolence, following the death and funeral of HRH Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh, you can do so using the following links.
Happy Ruby Wedding Anniversary to Mario and Lynn Castillo. We hope you have a wonderful day, full of lovely surprises. Congratulations from all your church family.
NEWS FROM THE CRAFT CLUB (LOVINGLY CRAFTED):
Dr Lucy Worsley OBE is a British historian, author, curator, and television presenter. She is Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces but is best known as a presenter of the BBC Television series on historical topics. On 16th April, on her Facebook page, she wrote: "After a rare but welcome trip to Kensington Palace this week I can report that THE CROWN JEWELS ARE SAFE. Well, the knitted ones at least and they're waiting patiently in the learning centre for our young visitors to be able to come back and play with them."
Aren't they fabulous?
Can you knit, crochet, sew, needle felt?
The craft club would be grateful for help in making any or all of the following please: (1) FLOWERS to decorate the porch and the walls leading up to the church. This is our first project but if you can help with the following also, we would be delighted. (2) POPPIES to decorate the gate and porch of the church in November. (3) SMALL ANGELS and CHRISTMAS ITEMS (eg holly, mini Christmas trees, nativity figures, etc) in readiness for Christmas 2021. Please have a look at the Craft Club page (using this link) for more information and links to websites for free patterns. If you can help, please let us know if you wish us to collect them by messaging Wendy on Messenger (m.me/StBartsWednesbury). Thank you.
THANK YOU - to Mario and Lynn Castillo for making this HOPE display for church. It's beautiful and is such a wonderful message to see as you enter church. The wording across the letters says: faith grace prayer truth forgiveness thankfulness generosity caring listening sharing harmony friendship kindness love peace.
NEWS FROM THE CHILDREN'S MINISTRY TEAM:
OPEN THE BOOK:
We hope teachers and students will remain safe during these still uncertain times and we will be thinking about them when all students return to school after the Easter holiday.
Our own Open the Book team has not able to visit local primary schools to go into assemblies and deliver stories from the Bible, due to Covid-19 restrictions, since the start of the first lockdown in 2020. (Many schools are not having whole school assemblies or receiving visitors, anyway.) Please pray for our team (Margaret Wood, Linda Russell, Lynn and Mario Castillo, Claire Yardley, Amanda Horton and Wendy Bird and occasional guest appearances from Rob Yardley). They hope to be able to visit the schools later this year.
If you don’t know anything about Open the Book or you would like to become a volunteer Storyteller in the future, have a look at this link. There are a few videos on the page. (You might recognise some of the people in two of the films.) https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/get-involved/open-the-book/
If you are interested in joining the team please see the Facebook link below.
Bible Trek Through a series of short films, join Andrew Ollerton (author of The Bible Course) as he treks through the Holy Land and beyond. Visit Jerusalem, Galilee, Ephesus and other locations. Discover the sites where famous Bible events took place, from Hezekiah’s Tunnel to the home town of Jesus. With added historical notes and reflections, experience Bible stories and see why they matter today. You will need to subscribe to their YouTube channel (free) to watch the videos but in the meantime you can have a look at a trailer by using this link today. Trailer
Previously reported news that might be of interest to you:
A recent survey carried out by Christian Research suggests that reading the Bible has been making a big difference to how Christians feel during the pandemic. The increased sense of hope in God and for the future during the crisis that many respondents described perhaps may not come as a surprise to you.
The Bible Society's Open the Book team wanted to support homeschoolers throughout lockdown by creating fun and interactive RE resources for families to use at home. They are suitable for children aged 5–11 and free to download. You can use this link to have a look. Focusing on the parables of Jesus and how he used them to teach people about God and about themselves, there are activities, conversation starters, games, puzzles and ideas for going deeper into each of the parables.
Read about how the Bible has helped people. You can use this link. The Bible Society has a lot of stories from a wide range of people which are interesting and uplifting.
There are Daily Reflections on their website that follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Check it out using this link.
Here is a link to helpful background information when reading the Bible including tips, discussion questions etc. It is great for personal study as well as exploring the Bible as a group when you are able to. It will help you to bring the Bible to life, one book at a time.
Andrew Ollerton's new book ‘The Bible: A Story That Makes Sense of Life’ priced £14.99 can easily be read as a daily devotional. The six parts are broken down into seven bite-sized chapters, each with a Bible reading and reflection question. In 6 weeks, you will have a greater understanding of the Bible and how your story fits into God's big story. Here is the link to more information.
The Bible Society would appreciate your prayers for Open the Book, their incredible project to share Bible stories in primary schools across England and Wales.
During the pandemic we’ve seen a huge rise in the number of online/livestream services taking place on Sundays. It’s been truly inspiring to see the innovative ways church communities have continued their ministries in difficult circumstances. The Bible Society has put put together a collection of free and shareable video resources for churches based around key biblical themes, including powerful spoken word pieces and original songs to help you reflect. Use this link to access them.
Used stamps wanted: Did you know the Bible Society can raise money from used stamps? Please send your used stamps to Bible Society, Stamp Appeal, Post Room, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon SN5 7DG.
The following poem is beautiful. It was written by Alison's mum in 1993. Joan was a lovely lady and had a wonderful talent for creative writing, particularly poetry.
APRIL NEWSLETTER: The newsletter is available to download from the Newsletters and Bulletins page. Thank you to Alison for compiling this.
ACTION FOR HAPPINESS:
Action for Happiness has a new-look Active Aprilcalendar full of ideas to help you breathe, stretch, move and enjoy simple actions to help you feel better! Keeping active is a great way to boost our mental wellbeing. Use this link to find out more information, especially if you can't see the image clearly below.
Please follow this link to have a virtual tour of daffodils.
Walk Through the Bible:
I received an email a few weeks ago with a video link showing some places that groups have visited in the past. Even though you might not be thinking about travelling to the Holy Land, I thought you might like to watch this short video by Paul Keeys, Director of 'Walk Through the Bible'. It shows Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho and Galilee. The image is not hyperlinked so please use the following link: www.bible.org.uk/wtb_2021tour-promo.php
ARE YOU STRUGGLING WITH BEREAVEMENT?:A useful resource is available on the 'At a Loss' website. Use this link to find out more. It is a useful resource to direct grieving people who need support.
REMINDER (MESSAGE FROM KATIE SHINTON, COMMUNITY NAVIGATOR FOR SANDWELL CROSSROADS): Sandwell Crossroads help and support residents in Sandwell aged 18 and over. They help with a range of issues such as welfare; financial; trouble accessing food; COVID test & trace payments; fuel costs, etc. They can help someone who feels lonely because of isolation due to COVID and can put them in touch with different networks. Below are pdf documents - a summary about their work, a leaflet to promote their services and a referral form if you know of somebody who might need their help. (You can apply for yourself or on behalf of somebody.)
SERVICES FOR THOSE WHO ARE BLIND, PEOPLE WHO DO NOT USE THE INTERNET AND THOSE WHO ARE ANXIOUS BECAUSE OF ISOLATION:
Church of England’s Dial-in Worship Line: The Church of England launched a dial-in worship service at the end of April where you can access hymns, reflections and prayers. This is useful for anybody who doesn’t use a computer, is blind or for those who feel lonely and isolated. The telephone number is 0800 8048044 (don’t worry, this is a free number so it won’t cost you anything, no matter how long you are on the call). Please pass on this information to anybody you feel will find this useful. You can read about it on the website links, as follows:
BBC Radio 4 If you’re not already aware, Radio 4 is broadcasting each day a ‘Thought for the day’. So if you know somebody who does not have a computer or who is blind, please pass on this information. It’s a great way of connecting to faith. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00szxv6
MUSIC: Music can lift our spirits, especially when we are feeling low. If you have come across any uplifting or calming music please use the Messenger service to Contact the Administrator (m.me/StBartsWednesbury) in order that she can add it to this list for all to listen to. You can also send a message to her from our Facebook page using this link. In the meantime, the following music, which has been on this list since early 2020, is still very enjoyable to listen to.
Over 300 churches from Ireland recorded The Irish Blessing; singing a blessing over Ireland and beyond. Link
This link is from the Churches of Hawaii called The Hawaii Blessing. It was recorded during the first week of May this year by worship leaders from 25 churches across all 6 major islands of Hawaii. Link
The Tenors - How Great Thou Art (Official Video) Link
If you haven’t watched this YouTube video and heard people from 50 Covid affected countries singing ‘Amazing Grace’ (Abderval Vocal Group Avg), I recommend you click on this link and listen. Be prepared - it’s emotional but, also, uplifting. Link
Osinachi Joseph, known professionally as Sinach, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and senior worship leader at Loveworld. In this video she is performing ‘I Worship You’. Link(Acknowledgement: Sinach, Way Maker.)
CAN YOU CONTACT A PERSON? Fr Mark asks if you could endeavour to make contact with at least one person from the congregation each day. We ask you NOT to put yourself at risk - this could be by a telephone call, a text, Messenger, WhatsApp, email, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc. The knowledge of knowing that someone cares will help a great deal of people at this time. People may not be coping with the isolation or may live on their own. Perhaps, through this testing time we will be able to forge stronger friendships and build upon our sense of community. Also, not all of our congregation members use Facebook or the website so your contact will be the only one they will get from our church family. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10
CORONAVIRUS SUPPORT GROUP: There is a support group in Wednesbury to help those self isolating or at high risk. They are local residents offering help such as walking dogs, running errands, phone calls, etc. You can contact them in 3 ways. Details are:
'Wednesbury Coronovirus Support Group' on Facebook - you can use this link to access it.
Call 07597 142161 or 07925 150323 between 9 am and 5 pm
CORONA LOCKDOWN PARENTS’ ACTIVITY SUPPORT GROUP: There is, also, a Facebook group where parents can share free (or cheaply) fun and educational activities to entertain children at home and to help everybody with children keep their sanity in extended isolation. You can use this link to access the page. Please pass on this information to somebody you know who has a family and may need this support.
REGULAR GIVING: If you have already started making your contribution electronically, thank you. It is very much appreciated. If you haven’t already done this during these difficult times then please do consider doing it as it helps us to ensure both our sustainability as a church and to also ensure its future. We might not be able to have larger gatherings for worship and currently we have limited services but we still need to pay bills to maintain our beautiful church. Therefore, please do consider making your weekly contribution electronically. May we suggest 3 ways you can contribute to our finances:
Set up a weekly or monthly standing order.*
Do a weekly or monthly bank transfer.*
Set aside whatever sum you wish to give each week and bring to church services.
* If you choose to use Options (1) or (2) please send a private message through Messenger to m.me/StBartsWednesbury and I will let you have the Bank details to enable you to set up a standing order or bank transfer. (Fr Mark has already emailed some of you with those details.) To enable our Treasurer to recognise the regular giving can you use the reference ‘Collection’ so that Glenys can ensure money is accounted for under Regular Giving. Please note: If you use the regular Gift Aid envelopes because you are a tax payer, please continue to use these.
Thank you. We pray that you stay safe. The Lord bless us and watch over us; The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us; The Lord look kindly upon us and give us peace. Amen
PREVIOUS NEWS can be found below (or on the Events page):
INTERFAITH EVENT - "Women as nation builders":
Marg, Lynn and I attended, via Zoom, the above event on Saturday 20th March. It was hosted by the Walsall branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association (with whom we have formed a good relationship). The meeting started with a recitation of the Holy Quran and that was then spoken in English. This was followed by a welcome and introduction to the event before the interesting talks from speakers of different faiths (Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu and Islam). The meeting ended with a Q & A session which was interesting. It was evident that there is much commonality across the faiths, particularly in relation to the topic of 'Women as Nation Builders'. It was inspiring hearing about what other groups do in their communities and I sent a message to Khansa, via the Chat facility on Zoom, to tell her that Fr Mark had asked us early on in the first lockdown to try and make contact with at least one person so that people did not feel alone. I mentioned that some of us keep in contact by telephone, WhatsApp and Messenger groups, email, weekly notices on this website and the monthly newsletter. This was read out at the end. We all enjoyed the event but we did miss the mehndi and delicious food that we have become accustomed to receiving at previous meetings at the Baitul Muqeet Mosque in Walsall. Wendy
CHRISTINGLE This is the first time for a very long time when we have not been able to have a Christingle Service at St Bartholomew’s Church. The first online Christingle Service was held on Sunday 13th December in partnership with the Church of England. If, like me, you were not able to attend ‘live’ on that day you can still follow it on this YouTube link. It is a lovely service (47.18 minutes in length) and a number of clergy were involved (details below). HRH The Duchess of Gloucester (Royal President of The Children’s Society) addressed us and Mark Russell (Chief Executive for The Children’s Society) gave a talk on the work of the Society. It was lovely to see some school children read passages from the Bible, say prayers and sing. The people involved were:
Rt Rev Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby (Vice Chair of the Trustees of The Children’s Society)
The Most Rev Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury (President of The Children’s Society)
Rev Phil Greig, Priest-in-Charge, All Saints Church, Canterbury
The Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover
The Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester (Vice President of The Children’s Society)
Pupils from St John’s C of E Primary School, Canterbury
Pupils from Bluecoat C of E Primary School, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire
During the service there was a solo performance of ‘Light of the World’ (sung by Joanna Forest and accompanied by Joel Goodman)
A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE AHMADIYYA MUSLIM ASSOCIATION The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Walsall is currently offering nationwide help to the elderly and needy within the community and outside. Khansa Razzaq asked her members to make food/toiletries donations for the vunerable. She contacted Wendy and Marg from our church and said they were donating food to local food banks and were also offering help in neighbourhoods. She wanted to know if we needed any sort of help and support from them and they would try their best to help. I suggested our local food bank would be very grateful for any provisions they could offer especially as stocks of some items were very low. Only a few hours later Khansa and some other ladies went to the food bank with 2 car loads of items. Joyce, one of the food bank volunteers and a member of our congregation, was ecstatic with the donations and said that there must be about 75-80 kg! That's so wonderful, isn't it? And this has come about through the friendship between the ladies of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and our ladies at church. It is even more wonderful how people of faith are working together and how love transcends so many obstacles that we often put in place. It truly is, 'love thy neighbour’, isn't it? Thank you SO much ladies.
International Women’s Day 2020
On Thursday 12th March Sue, Marg and Wendy attended the International Women’s Day event at the Bethel Lighthouse Centre in Walsall after being invited by Khansa Razzaq (from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Baitul Muqeet Mosque). The event was hosted by Black Country Near Neighbours, WSBC and Baitul Muqeet. We heard talks from some inspirational women who shared their stories of empowerment; women such as Khansa Razzaq; Shaz; Ritu Sharma; Maureen Lewis (CEO) and Sharron Thompson from Walsall Black Sisters Collective; and Rina Kundu. Khansa shared with us the Islamic perspective of the status of women in Islam and, as usual, her talk was very interesting. She finished with a moving quote - “They tried to bury me; they didn’t know I was a seed.” Shaz, the Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator at Transforming Communities Together (NCT) said that every one of us is contributing in our own way and planting seeds for future generations. During her talk she shared a quote from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in 473 (thanks to her colleague Gurj Singh Shergill), as follows: “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman passes away, he seeks another woman. To a women a man is bound. So, why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From a woman, woman is born; without woman there would be no-one at all.” (https://www.facebook.com/blackcountrynearneighbours/…) Ritu started Kaushalya UK which is a ‘not for profit’ community organisation that aims to provide a platform for women’s empowerment and personal development. It is a non-political and non-religious organisation. The aim of Kaushalya UK is upliftment of all. It organises events, workshops and seminars. Ritu spoke about her own struggles and wants her life experiences to be a message for anyone who has struggled or is struggling, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Her message was of light, of love, of resilience and of self-belief. You can see more about this organisation on (https://www.facebook.com/pg/calltowomanpower/posts/?ref=page_internal) Ritu also has a YouTube channel and you can watch a video she has made by following this link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch…) Rina is the co-founder (with her son Shantanu) of the Be Free Campaign (www.befreecampain.org). The charity works to demolish the stigma behind mental health and promotes the free expression of individual values. They work with schools, universities, hospitals and communities around the country to raise awareness about mental health without fear of judgement or discrimination. Rina showed us some techniques to help with physical pain and mental well-being. At the end we all received a certificate to acknowledge our attendance and then enjoyed a delicious lunch. Thank you. World Hijab Day On Tuesday 25th February Marg, Sue, Linda, Mandy, Jacqui, Claire, Lynn and Wendy visited the Baitul Muqeet Mosque in Walsall after an invitation from Khansa Razzaq* to celebrate World Hijab Day which is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013. The event takes place on 1st February each year in 140 countries worldwide. The hijab is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. The term can refer to any covering for head, face, or body worn by Muslim women and conforms to Islamic standards of modesty. I was told that there is no compulsion to wear it. * Khansa is from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, Baitul Muqeet Mosque. The ladies’ community stands for education, integration and interfaith peace. They are also committed to helping others, engaging local communities and working for the common good. The principle to which they adhere is that they have kindness at heart for the whole of mankind. Islam teaches them to always be mindful towards God, who is their Creator and to always keep His memory fresh in their hearts and to deal with His creation with love, affection, harmony and tolerance; something in which we believe, also. Khansa has a unique approach to interfaith - putting on gatherings such as today’s event, conferences, etc. There are more than 100 branches in the UK. We were joined by Shaz, Black Country Near Neighbours Coordinator at Transforming Communities Together (NCT). NCT works together with churches and organisations across the Black Country, Staffordshire and the Potteries, to help local communities flourish so they can enjoy life in all its fullness. They were formed in 2014, a Joint Venture between the Diocese of Lichfield and the Church Urban Fund Together Network. They are a partnership between the Church Urban Fund and Lichfield Diocese. NCT engages with people in communities so that they can respond effectively to issues of poverty and social justice. The NCT key values are listening, partnering, celebrating and empowering. Their work concentrates on 4 main areas: Social and Financial Inclusion; Health and Wellbeing; Community Cohesion and Developing Work. Police Officer Rani Gundhu joined the event. Rani is the longest serving female officer for West Midlands Police having served for 33 years. She said the force has changed a lot in that time. When she first joined the force it was primarily male dominated. She has worked in many departments over the years and more recently works with the vulnerable under the diversity and inclusion umbrella. There were delicious refreshments and drinks available throughout the morning. Some of us had Mehndi art done; we tried on hijabs. There was a book display and information about the different religions that wear hijabs. It was a fabulous morning spent wi
Glenys Foley (Treasurer here at St Bart’s) received a lovely message and a few photos from David Solomonraj and family who live in Coimbatore, India. The family visited our church a few years ago just before Christmas and they hope to visit us again next time they are in England. Thank you for these photos (below). The last photo was taken when the family visited St Paul's Cathedral in London. We hope David and his family had a very happy Christmas.
Read the poem on the left. Then re-read it but start on the bottom line and read up to the first line.