HERTFORD

UNITED REFORMED CHURCH


349th Anniversary year
 

 

APRIL 2021

 

MISSION STATEMENT

We aim to be an active Christian Church open to all, meeting together for worship, teaching and prayer and offering loving care and support to all.   We work alongside other Christian Churches reaching out into the community with love.

 

 

MINISTER            

                                    Minister In Attendance during our Interregnum is

                             Rev. Martin Legg:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

                                     

The church is following the URC Guidelines on Safe distancing and operating Covid Secure Precautions

                               

SUNDAY WORSHIP 

10.30 am                Family Worship, followed by coffee/tea

                               Communion is usually celebrated on the

                               First Sunday of the month

 

WEEKDAY WORSHIP  Currently Suspended

11.00 am                Thursday there is time of Reflection and Prayer during our "Open House" Coffee Morning

                                       runs from 10.00 - 12.00 noon. 

                              

HOT POTATO LUNCH Currently Suspended 

12 Noon - 2.00pm  Monthly lunch on 3rd Thursday for alll - encouraging visitors.

 

             Please contact your Elder for urgent pastoral needs.

The diary is at the end of this magazine

 

The Common Good

In the centre of Hoddesdon is a disused Quaker meeting house, now a listed building in a very attractive historical setting. I once attended a service there and felt, I must admit, quite fidgety during an hour of ‘silence’. Just next door, and connected to it, is the original warden’s cottage – Peace Cottage - and its large garden. A Quaker group from Welwyn Garden City has been trying over the years to decide what use the buildings could be put to but arrived at no workable solution - until just recently, following the Broxbourne Winter Night Shelter making use of the building in 2020 as a drop in day facility.

Now interest in the building has broadened dramatically. Local churches and residents are getting involved and finance is being sought. We have had an initial ‘meeting of minds’. People from different walks of life are coming together to work for the common good, the result being, hopefully, a community centre and garden where all sorts of activities take place, benefiting all sorts of people. Plans include a community café, arts groups, theatre performances, advice hubs for unemployed and homeless people, support for people with mental health issues, outdoor learning opportunities for children.

Working for the common good is a Biblical concept. The 4th century preacher John Chrysostom wrote ‘this is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good’. In the book of Acts, chapter 2, we read that ‘all who believed …. had all things in common’. People came together to share. Sharing hopes and ideas is the essence of the common good. It becomes a witness to God’s work in the world. It helps to make God known.

Many churches are involved in practical work in their neighbourhoods. One benefit of this is that it brings church communities together. Jesus, in John chapter 17, prays that the church may be ‘one’, that it might be united in itself and in its outreach. In working for the common good, Christians come together, often with people of other faiths or none, resulting in bonds that are strengthened and visions that are realised. People take risks and find that God is in every venture.

Collaborative work for God reminds us too that we are all one family. In Peter’s 2nd letter, chapter 2, he tells us that we are all ‘holy …. God’s own people’. Holiness involves seeking peace and justice in society. Holiness reflects the values of God’s kingdom. Holy people show, in working for the common good, what a just and peaceful society actually looks like. Through their work they glorify God.

There is a need now to rebuild communities, communities of church and society. We have opportunities to work better together. How can we do that? Can we watch out for opportunities amongst our churches, and in our separate locations, to come together to work in new ways for the common good? Pray for God to give us the enthusiasm to get involved wherever we can, to be God’s witness in the world.

Jill Nugent

 

Church News Update

 

Easter:   How exciting that we are actually meeting together this coming Sunday 4th April to celebrate Easter with a Communion and to have Martin Legg with us to take a shortened Service. Of course we will be extra aware of all the precautions we need to take and really will insist on no chatting inside and out (although the next day of course 6 will be able to talk outside at a distance!)   Let’s hope this is really the start of better times.

A couple of us will prepare the church on the Saturday and   make sure all is clean and ready. Communion will be prepared with every precaution. It is so good to know that our building has not been sitting idle during our absence and has been in such great use through such a busy time for the Foodbank.

Fellowship: We have of course been keeping up to date with our prayer needs for the Fellowship through the prayer chain and App. Utmost in our thoughts and prayers are John and Megan. John has been at Isabel Hospice now for several days and we just pray that they both feel God’s comfort and love and healing presence as they take this journey together and especially that they know our love and support. We pray for Pam Holliss as she makes a steady recovery and is now hoping to be home in a couple of weeks. We pray for Dave Carter as he faces more tests and anxiety with his health.   We continue to lift Betty and Laurence Dixon as Betty gains strength after her long stay in hospital. Also we think of Margaret Beeston as her knee operation approaches, we pray for a speedy recovery for her.

We give thanks for all the contacts and conversations that have gone on between us all and for the prayers and concerns shared between us. We are also grateful for the leadership and guidance we have had from our sister churches in the Enfield and East Herts. District, especially from Martin.

As we look to the future, we pray for our future leadership and the mission and direction we will be taking as we start back together as an ‘open’ church. Please continue to keep in touch and contact your Elder if you have any worries or difficulties.

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Seeing Through God’s Eyes

(Article from the Leprosy Mission Ethiopia sent on by Shirley)

 

It is very recently that I have come to know that I have a sight problem. I don’t know how it is has been overlooked by doctors over so many years. I do not even know how I handled it, especially at night, identifying figures from distance.

Now I have a pair of glasses, and on things aredifferent! Now I can see birds in the sky from the office window, I can read telephone numbers of some shops through the office window, I now know that I could have enjoyed many scenes over the years.

We often sing “open the eyes of my heart Lord… I want to see you”. Many questions come to my mind when I sing, often related to my experience of spiritual blindness. What are things that I see now and enjoy? Why did it take me so long to realize that I could not see properly? What effort should I make to see further?

Numbers 22:32 we read Balaam was riding a donkey. God had tried to get Balaam’s attention but he would not listen. So,God allowed the donkey to see spiritual things. When the donkey ran him into the wall, he just got angry at the donkey. But, when the donkey spoke to him, God opened his eyes.

We need to consider the following:

  • There are wonderful things in the word of God and when we really see them, it changes us deeply and empowers us to bring love and holiness into our lives and ministries.
  • It is impossible to see great things without God’s help. When we read the Holy Bible without the help of the Holy Spirit, it is like readying other self-development books; we need to pray for God to help us to see and understand his word.

Serving the voiceless needs more guidance and leading from God so that we can best fight Leprosy and practice our Mission’s values.

I want you to join me in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlighted so that you will know what is the hope of His calling…”

Amen

Beletshachew Tadesse

Country Leader of TLM Ethiopia

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Church Offerings: Quite a few people have been asking what to do with the usual weekly offerings. Bob says if you want to pay on line you can pay directly by using the Church Banking Details, or you can send him a cheque or put it through the church letterbox addressed to him. Alternatively just bring a cheque along when we next meet together.

Barclays Bank        Account No:   00482447

                              Sort Code :     20-20-37

                             

So many people right across the country are anxious about employment, anxious about food, isolated from loved ones and feel that the future looks dark.”  These are words from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon on Easter Day 2020. Who would have thought that we are experiencing the same uncertainties this Easter!

Yet the Easter story remains one of hope overcoming darkness and despair. The women arrived at the tomb on Easter morning with mixed emotions, as they came to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1). They were confused, as they tried to make sense of Jesus’ death. Their hopes were dashed with an uncertain future. In the current pandemic, we too are left asking: Where is God in all this? Yet the young man at the tomb tells them not be alarmed: “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” 

The women had forgotten Jesus’ promise to the disciples that He would die and rise from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is also the sure foundation of hope for us in the present crisis. He turns our confusion and fear into joy and wonder! We can trust Jesus’ plan for the future of our world and lives, despite the fact that things can’t return to the way they were: “There needs to be a resurrection of our common life, a new normal, something that links to the old, but is different and more beautiful.” (Justin Welby).

 Gratitude Wall

Church “Gratitude Wall”

Hopefully this will encourage passers-by to put an encouraging note or just to tie a ribbon to show they care, to say thank-you for a kind deed, a message of hope or love. Please add to this when you next pass by. Thank you to Heather for the idea

Hot Potato Lunch

(3rd Thursday every month)

Our Hot Potato Lunches continue to be a great success with all who attend, church members and our regular visitors.

Come and join us for this great outreach to the town every third Thursday in the month.

Our next lunch is on the in ( Currently suspended untill further notice ) the Church Vestibule.

Article by the Revd Tony Horsfall of Charis Training. 

Walking and talking

During the pandemic, I have enjoyed walking. In many ways, getting out daily for a good walk has not only helped me physically, but also bolstered my mental well-being. Often, I have arranged to walk with a friend, and we have enjoyed good conversation and fellowship.

Today I was walking alone, and I noticed it seemed further and to take longer. When you are walking and talking, you hardly notice the distance or the time. I am not usually able to think much when I am walking alone, but today the reminder came into my head of a saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’

It made me thankful for all the friends who have encouraged me this year and helped me to keep going. We can walk alone, and sometimes that’s a good thing; but it is easier to be able to walk through life with others.

Who has walked with you this year? Do they know that you appreciate their companionship on the journey?


 

Kiwoko Hospital

 

I just want to highlight an article I saw in the last Newsletter from Kiwoko which Megan kindly circulated.   If you are placing an order from Amazon UK, the hospital can get commission!! Visit www.kiwokohospital.org and on the bottom right there is a link, which if you click will take you to the usual Amazon website.   Anything you buy could earn up to 10% commissison!!

 

Fran                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Prayer Request Book

 

 The Prayer Request Book is always available on the table at the back of the church for any prayers for people and situations you would like to be included in our Prayers of intercession.   Please ask a Steward if you are not sure where it is.

 

 

 

  • Article from the URC Reform Magazine
  • March 2021
  • Chapter & verse by John Swinton

The shape and form of our love is the shape and form of Jesus’

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’

Matthew 11:29

Mother Theresa once observed: ‘In this life, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.’ Doing small things with great love is to allow our theology – our knowledge of God – to drop down from our heads to our hearts.

In the midst of a highly technical culture, within which we tend to prioritise intellect over friendship, independence over community and power over weakness, the suggestion that our calling is to small things can seem rather odd. And yet, when we think about it, it is in the small things that we encounter our most meaningful moments.

A few years ago, I was in Atlanta attending the Summer Institute for Disability Theology. The Institute meets every year in a different US city. It involves a broad range of participants: people with disabilities, carers and supporters, theologians, philosophers, professionals and other interested parties. We come together to make new friendships and to learn together.

One afternoon, I was walking along the corridor of the conference hall when a woman passed me in a wheelchair. She called me over. ‘I owe you something,’ she said. ‘What’s that?’ I said. ‘Money, I hope!’ She began to cry. I stood with her. Eventually, she said: ‘Three years ago, at the conference in Chicago, I was feeling like killing myself. Indeed, I was on my way to do it when I met you. You smiled at me. I decided not to.’ There is a tremendous power in small gestures. A smile can save a life; a look can touch a soul.

Our job is to love. In Ephesians 3, the Apostle Paul says this: ‘That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love.’

As creatures before God, we are rooted and grounded in love. Before we loved, we were loved. We are called to love. It was Thomas Merton who pointed out that, as God’s creatures: ‘Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.’ Love reveals itself in the small things.

Thomas Pieper, a scholar of Thomas Aquinas, describes love in this way: Love is saying to the other: ‘It’s good that you exist; it’s good that you are in this world.’ When we learn to think about one another in such a way, love comes alive and finds its home within our bodies. The shape and form of our love is, of course, the shape and form of Jesus.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says to his disciples: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Jesus’ words are startling: ‘I am gentle.’ Jesus, who is God, is gentle. God’s power is revealed in the gentleness of Jesus.

Imagine what it would be like if we were to live our lives gently. Imagine doing politics gently, economics gently. Imagine doing church politics gently. It may be difficult to imagine, but we are called to be gentle people who humbly find their rest in Jesus.

Weakness, foolishness, gentleness. What a strange world it is that we are called into. We are not called to act with power and worldly might, winning our battles with force and coercion. Rather, Jesus urges us to be weak, foolish, gentle, peaceable. The task of the Church is to signal the kingdom through small gestures that have deep power. You may say to yourself: ‘But what could such a way of life look like in the real world?’ Fair question! However, Jesus came to show us that the ‘real world’ is the world of the kingdom, within which the way of the heart is the rule of life.

Mother Teresa was on to something. Perhaps doing small things with great love is just what our broken world needs now?

i

John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at King’s College, University of Aberdeen

As I haven’t any articles on Wateraid, I thought this project by a URC Minister worth reading as we usually think of collecting for a Christian Water Charity during Lent – perhaps we can do something later in the year (from Reform March 2021)

Digging deeper Naison Hove has found getting water in a dry place harder than expected

Naison Hove is working to make life a bit easier for his home village in Zimbabwe, but it is turning out to be harder than expected. To relieve the severe shortage of water, he has raised funds and managed a project to sink a new well but, since it started, the change in climate has put their water supply further out of reach than ever.

Before coming to the UK as a missionary in 2001, Naison was a minister in the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa. In three years, his congregation in Bulawayo had grown from 30 to more than 300, so he came to serve the UK in Shepherd’s Bush in London, and then in and around Worthing, West Sussex.

Visiting his home village of Murambi-Musindo in 2019, Naison was moved by the sight of two young girls bringing home water. ‘They were about six or seven, carrying water from 5km away, in 20L buckets, on their heads,’ he says. ‘They ripped out my heart.’ He discovered that they were fetching it for their siblings after their parents died of HIV/ Aids. The 600 households of the village all face the same predicament since the river they depended on in Naison’s youth dried up, and their current water source is not clean. Zimbabwe has been in severe drought since the cyclone of 2018, and suffered three years without rain. ‘I felt a need to do something,’ Naison says. ‘I wanted to give something back to the village where I grew up.’

Naison raised £5,000 for the project from his churches and from friends in London, and took it out to Zimbabwe in March 2020. The drilling firm he hired in Zvishavane sank a 60m borehole but failed to find water, so it took a second day’s drilling in a second location to finally strike water at 50m. Because of this extra expense, Naison had to return to England to raise money to pay for the borehole’s solar powered pump system. Even getting home was a challenge, with lockdowns starting up. Arriving in Johannesburg airport, Naison could get no further, and had to go back to Bulawayo and make his way home via Ethiopia.

Naison returned to Murambi-Musindo with the money later in 2020. This time bad news was already waiting for him. The continued drought had lowered the water table, and the 50m borehole no longer reached a reliable supply. The well was only producing 200L a day: a mugful of water per household in the village.

Even this limited supply was gratefully welcomed by villagers. One woman said to Naison: ‘I never knew that I could open the tap and water will run down like a river in this village in my life time. May God bless the generous friends who gave their all, the friends I will never meet in my lifetime in person.’

Naison was forced to spend the money he had raised for the solar battery and power inverter on more drilling. The drilling company went down a further 30m, so the borehole provides reliable access to water at last. The final part of the project is to install the solar power system, for which Naison is now raising the funds. The amount outstanding is £2,600, and he hopes to return to Murambi-Musindo as soon as possible to fulfil his hope of giving the gift of water to his home village. Once again he is looking for ‘the generous friends’ who will help to change the lives of friends they will never meet.

 

Naison Hove is Minister of Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Worthing; St Andrew’s URC, Rustington; and Little Hampton United Church.

To contribute to the Zimbabwe Well Project, visit littlehamptonunitedchurch.org.uk/donations Alternatively, cheques can be made out to ‘Emmanuel URC Worthing’ and sent to Ian Bentley, Treasurer, Emmanuel URC, St Michael’s 

 

Hertford URC ‘s History

 

As David has mentioned in his opening letter of this edition of the magazine, we look forward to the launch of an historical booklet giving a brief overview of the amazing history of our church from its very beginnings in the seventeenth century.

 

This is available at the back of the Church, and to cover the printing costs we hope a donation of £2.00 could be made for each copy.  You will find it fascinating and inspiring to know how our church roots have been established not only by the leadership of ministers but by so many church members that have gone before us.

 

 

 

To fill the final page of this month’s magazine, I want to share another article from Reform I came across yesterday at the same time the Foodbank was informed of the same service and outreach to young homeless people locally – one of whom we were able to get help for the other day.

Nightstop - from Reform on Jane & Cameron, Nightstop hosts

Well, that concludes your training and checks. Can you host tonight?’ These were the words that – after one day of training in Manchester, two home checks and a Disclosure and Barring Service approval – started our Nightstop journey. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that the journey started after we moved to a larger house, and wondered how to use the extra space. Our minister mentioned Nightstop – a scheme for volunteers to house homeless young people, run by Depaul UK, a national homelessness charity. After prayer and consideration, we were guided in this direction. So, on a Monday night, the first day of lockdown, with some trepidation, we welcomed our first young person.

Nightstop first launched in November 2017. Volunteers normally provide a young person with a home for one night, or a weekend. Hosts provide a private room, an evening meal, breakfast and a packed lunch, doing any washing the young person might have, and charging their electronic devices. The young person being hosted may attend school, college, work, or they may be lost. For a variety of reasons, each of these young people has nowhere stable to live. The purpose of Nightstop is to prevent young people becoming street homeless and getting caught in that dangerous downward spiral. Nightstop, and the agencies it liaises with, acts as a service to guide young people towards finding their own feet. The aim is to find permanent accommodation for the young person within three weeks.

Covid has changed the one-night model. Unfortunately, it has also prevented some hosts from hosting. In our case, we had a handy solution for self-isolation: our campervan. It’s amazing what God can find to use to provide love and care! Our camper van meant we could provide immediate shelter for a young person before moving them into the house at the end of a self-isolation period. Nightstop now aims to have young people tested. Vulnerable young people are exempt from household mixing but, as hosts, we have to consider the risk to ourselves and our family.

Each young person is checked for suitability to be hosted. They sign up to following strict rules. Though we were nervous to start, we soon realised that the young people we hosted were often even more nervous. The wonderful Nightstop staff are on call 24/7 for support.

Our first guest stayed six months. It was a rich time of learning and challenges. We are now at guest ten, hosting for periods of two days up to six weeks.

We enjoy the challenge, and have met some lovely young people. For us, it is so true that it is easy to label people, but homeless people are no different to you and me. They are often only in their situation because of unfortunate circumstances. Given a listening ear, homeless people have stories and emotions to unburden.

When asked if we were hosting over Christmas, our response was simple: if we don’t, then, as Christians, we won’t have moved forward much over the past 2,000 years. If there is room in your inn, why not look up whether Nightstop hosting is an option in your area?

Here’s what Joe, a Nightstop user, told us: ‘Almost immediately, the support Nightstop offered was above and beyond. Not only did they take the time to listen and understand my situation but they also introduced me to my hosts. Covid means the stay with them has been longer. But in doing so, they have become like family. From a roof over my head to home cooked meals, Nightstop has been more than just temporary accommodation for me – it has also been my voice, being able to speak for me on my behalf whenever needed. Mostly, though, Nightstop helped me feel positive about my future and success.

                          

Used Stamps

 Shirley Sloan is still collecting used stamps in the plastic container on the church desk in the Vestibule. Shirley now takes them to the Isobel Hospice Shop that will take all used stamps.

 

Citizen’s Advice – East Herts

We’re still here to help!

If you need advice during the coronavirus outbreak, we’re still here to help. Whilst we’ve had to temporarily close our face to face service you can still contact us in a number of ways if you are an East Herts or Uttlesford resident:

For advice by email go to www.citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk/webadvice

For phone advice please call 03444 111444 10am-4pm Monday to Friday (you may have to wait in a queue but we will get to you as soon as we can). Or call 01920 459944 and leave a message. One of our advisers will get back to you as soon as possible.

You can also access information online at citizensadviceeastherts.org.uk

For medical advice - www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

  1. We will do our very best to answer all calls and emails but, due to a reduction in the number of staff and volunteers we have available, please bear with us at this difficult time. It may be that we have to offer to call you back with more advice at a later time.

 

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CHURCH DIARY FOR 

 APRIL 2021

 

 

Fri

2

Morning

Good Friday – Hertford & District Churches Together – Methodist garden open for prayer stations

 

     

Sun

4

10.30 am

Easter Day - Worship & Holy Communion led by Martin Legg

Wed

 

7.30 pm

Prayer Group with Broxbourne via Zoom

       

Sun

11

10.30 am

Morning Worship led by Rev David Ronco

Mon

12

2.00 pm

Foodbank Management Committee via zoom

Wed

14

8.00 pm

Prayer Group with Broxbourne via Zoom

       

Sun

18

10.30 am

Morning Worship led by Margaret Colville

Wed

21

8.00 pm

Prayer Group with Broxbourne via Zoom

       

Sun

25

10.30 am

Morning Worship led by Ian Matthews

Wed

28

8.00 pm

Prayer Group with Broxbourne via Zoom

 

 

For those that can we will continue to use the Sunday service provided by Mark and Melanie for the Enfield Churches (we are part of this group of churches). If anyone not on line would like a copy of this delivered to their door, please let me know. At the moment we plan to hold our own zoom service using this material every other week and join the Enfield Churches on the alternate weeks, starting this Sunday 1st February joining Enfield for the Communion Service. Please ask if you want further details on how to do this and please keep in touch by phone or email.

 

 

Hertford & District Foodbank is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Saturday morning between 10.00 and 11.00

for Clients to pick up pre-arranged Food parcels.

Sorting and preparation of parcels is done on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Any queries please contact 07851 708470