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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 November issue, beginning with letters from Alison Wilkinson and Gavin Hume.

Dear Friends

What does a minister do on their day off?  Well, for me it is often walking in the countryside or music, both of which have been important in sustaining my faith and discipleship.

The composer Beethoven once said, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” American clergyman and hymn writer William Merrill said something similar: “There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.” For me this has certainly been the case, and I’m grateful for having grown up in a musical family and had music lessons as a child, so that as well as listening to music much of the time I can also sit down at the piano and “make music from my heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Since being a teenager I’ve written songs, and this was always an important part of my prayer life, even if nobody ever heard what I wrote. There have been times, in the busyness of life and ministry, when music has slipped off the radar, and when that has been the case it has been almost as if an important part of who I am has faded.

We’re all different, and, while music may not be what does it for you, are there perhaps things in your life that in the past have nurtured and helped your faith to grow and that you need to rediscover?

While I am quite happy playing, composing and recording songs on my own, I am also aware that God calls us to use the gifts he has given in his service, and so occasionally I’ll share a song as part of my sermon on a Sunday. Over the years I’ve built up a collection of them, refined them and recorded them, and then spent far too long editing, mixing, remixing and generally faffing about to try and get the recordings to sound somewhere near how I hear them in my head. In truth, albums are never really finished, only “released”, so it’s time to let this one go and see if there is anything in it that might bless others. (And so I can focus again on writing new songs!)

So, as you may have seen in the previous “Tidings”, I’ve arranged a concert to share this album of songs, partly so that I had a deadline to actually get it finished. (I’ve even decided on the title: Sing a Different Song.) I think I might just make it, and I’d be chuffed if you could join me on Saturday November 17th at 7 pm.

This letter also gives me the opportunity to give thanks for my re-invitation. I am delighted to know that, God willing, I’ll be here until summer 2021. I am grateful for all your support and encouragement.

With every blessing,



Dear Friends

As we approach the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, some of us will be enjoying the beautiful changes in the trees around us, the excuse to eat sumptuous comfort foods, and the delight of being cosy and warm on a crisp cold morning. Others of us might be dreading the dark nights closing in, fearing the heating bills, and longing for the sunshine to return!

This is a season of reflection, and Remembrance Sunday this year marks a hundred years since the ending of the First World War. “The War to End All Wars”, as it was known, but of course it wasn’t. One of the statistics about war has always disturbed me. In the First World War, 90% of those who died were soldiers and 10% civilians. In modern conflicts the figures are reversed. 90% who die are civilian bystanders, and just 10% are soldiers. The nature of wars and conflict may be different today, but the toll and cost on human beings remains horrific.

As we reflect and remember, may we seek God, confessing our weaknesses and foolishness as a people and our need of healing and restoration, in the light of the terrible cost of war and conflict, and may we commit ourselves again to the vision of hope for peace that we find in scripture.


Alison Wilkinson



CHRISTMAS GREETINGS by the end of November!  

In recent years a group of us from St. Andrew’s has joined to purchase items from the Christian Aid “Present Aid” catalogue in lieu of sending Christmas cards to friends we see regularly at church. If you would like to join us please put your donation in an old envelope and add your name before handing it to me by the end of November. I will then place an order.  Many thanks.                                                                                                      Jean Green


Presents for people who have everything

In the church foyer you will find leaflets from All We Can and other charities, so that you can choose to give life-enhancing gifts to those who really need them, and send a card to each of your more affluent friends to tell them you have done so on their behalf.                                                      


The Benevolence Fund

At St. Andrew’s we hold a retiring collection for the Benevolence Fund after every service of Holy Communion. The money collected is given away as agreed by the church meeting. Unfortunately, last year we didn’t raise enough to make all the agreed donations, so this year we are going to be less generous in each donation we make.

We agreed on October 13 to try to make the following donations in the church year 2018-19, beginning with the one we failed to make last year.

City Centre Chaplaincy                       £ 149.00

Listening Post                                     £   60.00

Pottery Bank Community Centre        £   42.00

West End Refugee Service                 £ 115.00

St. Cuthbert's, Holy Island                   £   30.00

All We Can                                          £ 200.00

Commitment for Life                            £ 200.00

                                    Total                 £ 796.00         

Four of these good causes are run by local churches on Tyneside; one is the church used for retreats on Holy Island and the remaining two are funds run by our parent Methodist and United Reformed Churches. Money is also available for the minister to use, at his discretion, to help the needy.

Howard Burchell


Thank you:

Harvest Festival – September 23

I am writing to thank you for the generous harvest gifts that you sent us and for your support for our work at The People’s Kitchen. During the past few years we have been experiencing a big increase in the numbers of homeless and disadvantaged people coming to us for help.

Your gifts will help to ensure that we will be able to continue to provide regular nourishing meals for them. Without the help of churches, schools, groups and individuals, we simply could not offer the support that we are able to give to our friends and there is no doubt that contributions at harvest time are absolutely vital. Thank you again. Yours sincerely,

Pat MacDonald.

Just to say a huge “Thank you” to the congregation of St. Andrew’s for your continued support for our Christians Against Poverty clients.                                                    Peter and Dawn Bentley

Two heavy bags full of fresh food were taken to the West End Refugee Service. The centre was very busy, with a queue including a baby in a pram. The fruit and vegetables were rapidly unpacked and received with joy and gratitude. Thank you.

Donations of money to be shared between Commitment for Life and All We Can amounted to £315, plus £45 Gift Aid.


A Wheelchair, please!

The church one is a discontinued model and past mending. Do you know of a serviceable one which is not in use and could be kept at church in case of emergency – or to save one being transported in a car boot?


A learner of lessons in humility (part 2)

When I finished the course at the Technical College my mother offered to support me if I wanted to continue my education. I refused, as I had a chance of a joiner’s apprenticeship. Obsessively, I wanted to get everything for myself. I disliked gifts. It took me years to realise that to receive is a blessing.

So I kept myself from the age of 15 and drove on like that for 27 years. By the age of 39 I was well off and owned a huge sea front house with four double bedrooms. Its flat roof gave views of Sussex, Southsea and the Isle of Wight, yet it was only an hour to London from Havant station. Such a facility would cost £500,000 today. 3 years later my materialism had faded. Now I live happily in a small rented flat in a Methodist Home with caring staff and pleasant residents.

I enjoyed my last job, in a motor dealership. During our leisure time my chum John, a Catholic youth worker, with me driving, travelled from Cornwall to the Hampshire border and visited many Roman Catholic establishments. We met Father Brian – an unsaintly name! He was a “failed Methodist”. Once we were at a nunnery when a filthy tramp turned up. My immediate reaction, as a well scrubbed former Royal Marine, was, “Strip and hose down!” What the nuns did was to give him dinner. Hence the lines at the end of this article.

John and I escorted young teenagers to Lourdes several times. It was remarkable to see the effect on fit youngsters who had not encountered disabled people before and now had the job of caring for them.

The Middlesbrough pilgrimage ran a hospital bus almost a thousand miles to the Pyrenees carrying the disabled people, some of them incontinent, who were then put up in the hospital run by the Irish pilgrimage. I always made a beeline there for the welcome and food they offered to such as me! Their work I could not contemplate attempting, and some of the children had not the stomach for it either. Yet these unfortunate people were not left in the hospital but taken to church, shopping and, in the evening, to the cafés and bars. As I observed this scenario my lessons were mounting up. 

The dedicated John safeguarded the children. A priest offered to read bedtime stories to the children and was told where to take his stories!

 During our travels a Protestant type asked me how I got on with these “Marianites”. I replied, “Quite happily,” as they daily lived the Gospel. I was no longer perturbed by the phrase “Queen of Heaven” after reading Mother Teresa’s words: “In Mary was formed the heart of Jesus.” 

John was 56 when he died. He pre-planned a splendid reception close to the Sacred Heart Church where at his funeral we sang Whom shall I send. Well, it was always John! And there were more lessons for Brian when he gave me such suggestions as: “The lady is not doing well. Let’s each of us give her a tenner.” John received the Benemerenti Medal from the Pope for service to the Church. I hope the awards in heaven surpass that. 



Other people’s misfortune

And other people's pain,

For they could be dying -

But I'm just the same.

Other people's squalor -

Appalling my disdain.

Is their blood a different colour

When opened up their vein?

Helping the attractive,

Hoping that I gain.

The poor and the smelly

The nuns love just the same.

Guilty with the many - 

Is there no shame?

I hurry on, too low to see

A crucifixion or a name.


Brian Laverick