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Our newsletter, Tidings, is published 10 times a year to be available at the beginning of each month but, to give the editor a break, there are no January or August editions.  It is circulated to members and friends of three churches, namely Longbenton Methodist Church, West Moor Methodist Church and St. Andrew's Church (Methodist and United Reformed) at a cost of 40 p a copy.  Rev. Alison Wilkinson is the minister for Longbenton and Rev. Gavin Hume is the minister for the other two churches.

Here are some items from the July / August 2018 issue, beginning with a letter from Gavin Hume.A

Dear Friends

"You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

The writer and pastor John Ortberg describes receiving this piece of advice from a wise mentor, and how it has been an important lesson in his discipleship. He suggests that if we live our lives in a hurry “we will just skim our lives instead of actually living them”.

My commute to work usually involves driving up the A1 Western Bypass, and I usually get into the fast lane as soon as possible so that I can drive at 70 mph and complete the journey as quickly as possible.

Our journeys on holiday in Scotland this year were very different. We spent half our holiday on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, at a camp site on the shore of Loch Sunart. The winding roads were all single track with passing places, where you are lucky to reach a speed of

30 mph. This meant getting used to a slower pace of journeying, but it also meant having more time to appreciate the beauty of the surrounding countryside, rather than being in a rush to get to the destination. This was especially true of our day trip to the island of Iona. Although it was not far from where we were staying, the slow drive to get the ferry to Mull, then the slow drive across Mull and then the ferry to Iona took about three hours. But it didn’t matter. I was on holiday. There was no deadline to meet. And yet, I still had to keep telling myself to enjoy the slow journey and take in the surroundings, rather than allow the frustration to build up when we were stuck behind yet another couple of coaches struggling to negotiate a road that wasn’t really built for them!

Iona has long been a place of pilgrimage, and it is a special place and well worth the journey. But pilgrims of old would have walked to their destination, talking and sharing food with others, taking in their surroundings, learning and growing through the journey. The journey itself was at least as important as the destination.

When we read about the ministry of Jesus in the gospels, it seems that although he was often busy he was never rushed, and when things became a little hectic for the disciples his instruction was, “Come away to a deserted place by yourselves and rest a while.”

Perhaps we need something of the mindset of a pilgrim in our everyday lives, so that we don’t miss those aspects of the journey of life that contain beauty to be appreciated, joy to be experienced, lessons to be learned, encounters that change us, and opportunities to serve others.

With every blessing,


People in the news

Lewis Robson, aged 24, grandson of the late Ron and Pat Cooper, and former member of Benton Methodist Junior Church, was in the sports news headlines when on June 16 he defeated Paul Hyland Junior in the opening round of their boxing match. Lewis won the British lightweight title, known as the Lonsdale Belt, some time ago. As he has now defended the title for the third time he has earned the right to keep it. Lewis still lives in the Newcastle area and is trained by his father, David Robson: we congratulate them both.

We are glad at the end of July to see Jung-Ae Hennon back from visiting her family in Korea. On July 7, her mother died at the age of 95, surrounded by the love and prayers of the family and her church. We too uphold Jung-Ae in our prayers.

Elizabeth Anne Storey Jennings died suddenly on July 21, aged 88. It was while she was working in a laboratory at Procter and Gamble that she met her husband, Arthur. They brought up their daughters, Catherine and Sarah, at 6 Midhurst Road. Elizabeth’s eagerness to experiment in the kitchen was legendary, as she searched for the perfect pizza base and ever more exciting cakes and puddings. Her embroidery beautified the house. She made frocks for the girls when they were little and also Catherine’s wedding dress – and the bridesmaids’ dresses too. (The girls grew up in Benton Methodist Junior Church and both are still active Methodists. Catherine, a teacher, married Jonathan Irving and they and their children, Laura and Matthew, now live in Lancashire. Sarah works as a pharmacist in Stockton-on-Tees.) Elizabeth joined in some church activities such as hosting a progressive supper and baking for St. Oswald’s Hospice, but her special passion was the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, for which she and her friends in the Benton Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild have raised a good deal of money over the years. Elizabeth and Arthur made the most of his retirement, delighting in foreign travel. They moved house and as Arthur became less mobile Elizabeth looked after him. He died in June 2017: they had enjoyed 62 years of happy marriage. Elizabeth continued to live at home, with weekend visits from her daughters and some help from carers. She kept up with current affairs, expressing her opinions in a forthright manner. She still took an interest in the doings of St. Andrew’s Church and crocheted some beautiful angels for our “heavenly choir” one Christmas. We offer the family, including Elizabeth’s sister-in-law Betty Elliott (formerly at Benton Methodist Church and now at St. John’s, Monkseaton), our sympathy and the assurance of our prayers.

Paul and Lesley Eden were married at Christ Church by the Rev. Stephen Thornton on July 24, 1993. We send them our loving congratulations and good wishes on their Silver Wedding.

Congratulations to Sam Us, grandson of Cliff and Val Targar, on his first class honours degree in Architecture, awarded by Cardiff University.

We have been pleased to welcome new worshippers over the last few months. We pray that Isabella Doolin, Judith Dodds, and Richard and Glynis Ward may soon feel at home with us. God bless you all!

It was a delightful surprise when on August 5 Chris Wynn brought the church a beautiful bunch of flowers with a card which read:

“To everyone at St. Andrew’s,

Thank you for your continued love, support and good wishes. I am doing a little better but still not 100%. Hope to be back to church soon. Peace be with you. God bless.  Chris Wynn and Kate Twaddle.

The flowers were taken to two church members. Chris and Kate have now moved to a house in Blyth: we pray they will be happy there.



By the time this is printed, the Final of the World Cup will have been played and “World Cup Fever” will perhaps be not quite so intense. Not so in early July when a strong and energetic team of litter pickers set out from St. Andrew’s to cover as much of the area as we could, to tidy up the streets, hedges and park. When this event was planned, our remit was simply to gather up litter and be a service in our community – to do what we could in however small a way to care for God’s world.

As the date grew nearer, it became apparent that the England team might even make it through to the quarter final – so what to do about our litter picking which was due to begin at the same time as the pre-match coverage? The solution was brilliant – begin litter picking earlier, serve tea and cakes at the end and have the quarter final streamed on to our big screen, by means of technical wizardry. Who knew, it might even attract people who wanted to watch with us?

It did attract a few people outside our church membership who had seen the event on Next Door, our local social media – and it was great to link up with them for litter picking. It also attracted the notice of the Next Door team in London who administer the website and who got in touch to say what a great idea it was to combine a community activity with the social occasion of the World Cup.

As well as picking up litter we had some interesting conversations with passers-by and the bus pass of a schoolboy was picked up and returned to his address. The cakes made by church members were a real treat – and England made it through to the semi-finals, so a pretty perfect afternoon was had by all!                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Shirley Thomas

One of the pickers was heard to remark: “Now I know how the people round here spend their time – smoking, drinking and gambling!” To which they might have added, “walking dogs and chewing gum.” Mind you, the proprietor of “Black’s” shop and a resident of Linden Terrace saw us and kindly came out to sweep their pavements, making a great improvement.

If you could not join us for the afternoon, you missed a lot of fun. Only half a dozen people stayed to watch the football together on the big screen, but the roar that went up from them when England scored was tremendous!

Some of the free tote bags kindly donated to the church by Next Door may be still available in the foyer. Could you use one?                                                                                                                                                                    Ed.


Pride Newcastle

 Often stuff comes to our email inbox inviting us to attend arcane events in some far flung corner of the country because we’ve bought an item, filled in a questionnaire or shown a passing interest in an area of life and my reaction is always to say “Nah mate, you’re all right”, or words to that effect, as I delete it. When an invitation to attend the Newcastle Pride parade arrived in like manner, however, we thought, “Yes, let’s go.” It was held on a warm Saturday in July and we met at St. Thomas’ in the Haymarket to join Christians for Pride and to walk with the banner. There were a few from Amble United Reformed Church, Newcastle Cathedral and the Minister from Whitley Bay who invited us. I was astonished and delighted to see at the Civic Centre many hundreds of people were gathering in the most flamboyant and exuberant of clothes. We, I’m afraid, were somewhat under dressed. I’d put my red scarf in my bag at the last minute and Andrew’s gardening hat, for our touch of flamboyance!

The whole parade ran, literally, to thousands of people and a more inclusive bunch, full of joie de vivre, I’ve never met anywhere. They were great and represented a host of worthwhile causes such as the Albert Kennedy Trust, whose slogan is “no room for hate” and which is a charity for homeless young people. The fire brigade were there, with their banner “Flaming Proud”, and the police in attendance sported their “Police” signs on their backs in rainbow colours. Andrew asked one young copper about it and he said they were the official police signs for the parade. Even the dogs walking alongside their owners on the route had been sprayed in stripes, or carried a rainbow sticker on their collars. One lady told me the spray colour washes straight out and he was due a bath anyway!

 Strangely, as we were walking on the road in Blackett Street, as all traffic was stopped, we found that the road had been grassed! It was lovely to walk on!

The point is that such a huge number of people were out, lining the entire route as well as those walking, and making their presence felt in a good, friendly, inclusive and loving way. All were truly welcome in that place and it was with a sense of real pride that we joined them to represent Christians for Pride, as surely this is what we are about too! A group dressed in Harry Potter T-shirts sported the words “If Harry Potter teaches us anything, it has to be that no one should have to live in a closet.” How true.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Shirley Thomas