NB:  “by Ken Brown” (above) means “posted” not “written” by Ken Brown. 

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, we are into week six! How much longer can it go on? From all accounts for some time I am afraid and although there appears to be some slowing down in the spread of the virus, the lockdown and social distancing could be with us for several months. Let me start with good news and wish Alan Bastable a happy 80th Birthday on 28th April. Unfortunately we cannot share it with him, but our thoughts and best wishes are with him. For those of you who remember them, Emma (nee Henderson) and Luke Gledsdale have another little boy, Euan. Our congratulations and best wishes also go to them.

I have heard of only one casualty of the virus since I last wrote and that is Christine Toalster. I am pleased to say however that it seems to have been a mild form and speaking to her recently she is fully recovered and back to doing all the things she was busy with previously. There is some sad news however to report. Trevor Harvey, Robert Bright and Bob Coupe have all lost their sisters in the last few weeks, not through the virus, but circumstances have meant that none of them were able to visit or be present at the funeral. This makes the loss much harder and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families at this time.

I would like to thank Kathy Walsh for her service for the week after Easter. I know she had not been well and appreciate her work in preparation. Thanks also to Dermot for his latest Bible Study, and Sunday Service. Interspersed with these were some thoughts from Valerie Ruddle and I thank her for those. She did ask people to let her know which Hymns people were finding particularly meaningful and I am pleased to share with you this response from Edna Clarke:-                          ‘As Valerie says, we are missing seeing our friends and it will be extra special when we can meet again. I have lots of favourite hymns but one or two really special ones and these were on my list for sharing with Tuesday Fellowshi. No 636  O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary sole in thee – for me, this hymn says it all and has helped me over the years when things have not been easy. No 82  O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hand hath made –  this is especially apt just now when we have time to look as Spring unfolds and it also reminds me of a holiday with Pamela Colverson’s group of friends when a few of them had learnt and sang this hymn in Russian as we docked in Moscow! No 548  Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine – I have known this hymn from childhood; it is one I can sing and if I still had a tambourine I would be making a joyful noise throughout the chorus – This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour all the day long.         God Bless everyone. Edna.’

I have been asked to let you know that St John’s Church is no longer open for Food Bank drop off. However, gifts can be left – only at the hall, between 1pm and 2pm on Thursdays. If this is not convenient then Gill Clayton has kindly said that donations can be placed in the green box at her front door (75 Bayham Road), and she will then take them down. Although the Food Bank has a reasonable supply, donations continue to be welcome.

You are aware of the new website and Ken continues his role as webmaster, regularly updating matters. You will now be able to read the Sunday Services under the Media section. Once we are back in Church, the hope is that the full recording of the Sunday Service will be available, but that, I am afraid, is for some time in the future. It has been suggested that we could, in the absence of Drive News, put together a newsletter of thoughts, and contributions from all of you, so, as I have said before, please do send me news or items for inclusion in the future  (Webmaster note – this could  also be on the website).

We are currently working on dealing with the business of the General Church Meeting via e-mail and you will receive the proposals on which we need to vote in due course. The Annual Reports which form the basis of the meeting have already been circulated. (Those without access will receive a hard copy of the proposals so they have a chance to vote). Finally, Christian Aid week in May cannot go ahead as usual but below is a message from Kathryn Barron. 

Our best wishes, thoughts and prayers continue to be with you all at this difficult time.   John and Grace Archer. Senior Stewards,  27th April 2020

Christian Aid week, 10 – 16 May 2020 – this is fast approaching, and while we may not be able to meet or to collect at the station this year, please consider how you might support the intention behind this annual event to bring people together against global poverty and injustice. This year’s campaign focuses on the climate crisis by showing us the impact of drought in Kenya. At 67 years of age, Rose walks for six hours to fetch water for her grandchildren. We are asked to give, act and pray to stop the climate crisis driving people like Rose to hunger. The campaign was planned before the arrival of Coronavirus, but the communities Christian Aid supports are being impacted by the virus, just like us – except that most of them have little or no access to water, soap or healthcare. So the need for support this year is even greater. The Christian Aid website is full of information, activities, and opportunities to donate on line. https://www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/key-appeals/christian-aid-week

If you prefer not to donate on line, I am happy to receive donations (cheques should be made payable to “Christian Aid”). Please let me know if you are prepared to Gift Aid your donation. There will be a delay in the processing as both the Christian Aid office and the local branch of their bank are closed, but I will get donations paid in as soon as this is possible.                                                                                       Thank you for your support. Kathryn Barron