Tag Archives: CMS Link Church

CMS Link Visit to All Saints with St. Peter, Luton

Just had such a really great weekend!

All Saints Church in Bury Park, Luton has been supporting me for years and years and years ~ and the connection goes back to their former vicar, Rev. Sam Prasadam, who had been CMS Area Secretary in the NE of England before moving to Luton in the late 1980’s. We also had a connection at the same time through Sam between my home church in Heighington, Co. Durham and All Saints, Luton, a north-south, rural-urban link ~ involving exchange visits and prayer ~ all sorts of lasting friendships were made.  So I’ve known many of the Luton folks for years ~ and they are all SO lovely!

This weekend I met their new vicar, Rev. David Kesterton for the first time, and was warmly welcomed with such amazing hospitality by him and his family.  Showed them my power point, and ate and ate and ate!

David has a great website about the church, which describes All Saints:

All Saints is situated in an area with a very rich ethnic, cultural and religious mix. What was once a traditional white urban area of late 19th century homes changed during the 1950’s and 60’s as it became home to many Caribbean people. They now make up a large part of our congregation with the islands of St Vincent, Barbados and Jamaica being ‘home’ to many, though Luton is now ‘home’ to their children. Later new residents, mainly from Pakistan and Kashmir, again changed the nature of the area, and Bury Park is now a shopping centre with a very definite Asian flavour. We have welcomed into the church family newcomers from Pakistan, from Nigeria, from Georgia, from Ghana and from Zimbabwe.

The church is of a traditional design, built in 1923, though we celebrated the centenary of the first building (now the Church Hall) on 12th December 2007. The style of the worship is moderately traditional catholic. We use vestments and mostly sing traditional hymns, but are certainly not ‘stick in the mud!’ and like to try innovations too! Our style tends to be rather ‘laid-back’ but this doesn’t mean that our worship or theology is slack and thoughtless, just rather informal but sincere and at the centre of our lives.

This morning, Sunday – walked around the area, attended the morning service at All Saints, gave a talk during the sermon time, took loads of photos and met lots of really friendly people……

The parish also includes St. Peter’s Church, in Dallow, Luton, and I’ve been there many times too.  Spoke at the service at 11:00am, followed by coffee……

St Peter’s is situated at the top end of Dallow Road in a culturally diverse community which includes people from Pakistan, India, Poland and Romania. The original St Peter’s was situated on the corner of St Peter’s Road and Dallow Road on land where there is now a small park.

The original St Peters Church closed in 1964 and the present building, situated on the corner of Harefield Road and Dallow Road was opened for worship in 1972. The new St Peter’s Church centre was funded by donations from the local community and provided a larger and more flexible space for the growing church.

A family communion service is held each Sunday at 11 am. The intimate atmosphere of being gathered around the altar in a building designed to serve the needs of the local people brings a greater reality to the offering of ourselves to God in worship and an awareness of being part of the community. We offer a warm welcome to all.

Such a wonderful welcome from everyone in Luton ~ a big THANK YOU to you all for all your support and care, your smiles and oh, so many wonderful memories!

CMS Link Visit to St. Andrew’s Church, Tudhoe Grange, Spennymoor

My first CMS Link Visit of the new year, and off I went on a wild and windy Saturday morning over the A66 to Co. Durham, yippee!

St. Andrew’s Church, Tudhoe Grange has been supporting me for many many years, starting when their former vicar, Neville was in action there ~ he’s now retired with his wife to Whitburn, on the coast just north of Sunderland.  So first stop was to see them to say hello and have the most delicious lunch ~ oh yes and a paddle in the freezing cold North Sea – with the dog!

My departure from Whitburn coincided with the end of the home game at Sunderland Football Club, so the traffic was incredible!  What should have taken 45 minutes to get to Spennymoor took a whole extra hour on the Sunderland Ring Road ~ ah how I love traffic jams.  And ring roads. NOT!

And so to St. Andrew’s Church, and my lovely hosts, Rita and Cliff who were so welcoming!  As were the whole church, such wonderful people. These days, St. Andrew’s Church is affiliated with ‘Forward in Faith‘ and comes under the pastoral care of the Bishop of Beverley.  In recent years, they’ve joined with Christ the King Church in Bowburn, just outside Durham, under vicar Fr. John Livesley.

So yesterday, Sunday, was the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, and first off to St. Andrew’s Church for the 9:00am service ~ I filled the sermon slot with a 10-minute talk, all followed by coffee in the church hall.  Oh yes, and photos with the congregation ~ John is such a delightful vicar and everyone’s so friendly!

And then off give the same talk at Christ the King Church in Bowburn for their morning service at 11:00am.  Also lovely people!

And back to St. Andrew’s Church for their Epiphany-tide lunch, followed by my power point talk about life in Taiwan….

This morning, Monday ~ and a free morning to wander round and discover the delights of Spennymoor ~ originally a bleak moorland, it became a hub of industry at the end of the 1800’s with all the mines and factories.  St. Andrew’s Church just celebrated its 130th anniversary ~ it was built right next to the Tudhoe Ironworks and just up the road from Tudhoe Colliery.  Now all the mines and ironworks are long gone and housing covers the whole area…. but they have a beautiful new leisure centre, historic town hall and a lovely park, with musical pipes for visitors to hit and play music ~ I loved it!

This afternoon, gave a short talk to the St. Andrew’s Church Mothers Union group, and then off back to Sedbergh, across the A66 ~ bit windy, but sunny YEAH!

A big THANK YOU to all at St. Andrew’s for their support over the years, to Fr John and all the congregation, and to Rita and Cliff for their hospitality ~ amazing!

(And in case you’re wondering what the chalk writing is on the photo next to St. Andrew’s Church, it’s an Epiphany blessing for the home, which Fr. John introduced this year, and everyone loves it!  Check it out here…)

CMS Link Visit to Sandal Parish, Wakefield

A whole weekend at one of my favourite CMS Link Churches, the parish of Sandal Magna, which includes St. Helen’s Church in Sandal, St. Paul’s Church in Walton and Portobello ~ all now in the brand-new Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

St. Helen’s Church has just opened a brand-new Tree of Life Memorial Garden, definitely worth checking out!

It being the 5th Sunday of the month, there was one joint service for everyone, held at St. Paul’s Church, Walton – and as it was Advent Sunday too, it was of course all extra-special. A beautiful service, full church, lots of children, Tearcraft ‘Created‘ stall and all followed by pie and peas lunch ~ and lots of reunions of lovely people who have been supporting me for many years!

Thanks to the vicar, Rupert and Sally and everyone for such a warm welcome – and all the fun too, smiles everywhere!

Tree of Life Memorial Garden @ St. Helen’s Church, Sandal Magna, Wakefield

You’ve just gotta go and see this, it’s truly amazing, honest!


A brand-new Tree of Life Memorial Garden for the interment of ashes, unique in the whole world, and right there in the churchyard of St. Helen’s Church, Sandal Magna, Wakefield!

The parish of Sandal Magna is one of my most wonderful CMS Link Churches, so on my visit there this past weekend, I just had to go and see the Memorial Garden….

It really deserves to be more widely known, and the vicar Rupert Martin has kindly given me permission to use some of his original photos and info about the whole project….

This was his original letter sharing his vision with his congregation last year….

The Genesis of Tree of Life: A Memorial Garden in Sandal Churchyard.

“For some years we have been thinking about creating a Memorial Garden in Sandal Churchyard mainly for the interment of ashes. Up until now there has been space for this to be offered, but that space is running out and there has been a significant increase in people wanting interment of ashes rather than burials.

The PCC set up a group consisting of myself, Neale Clark, John Ellis and Brian Pratt to find a suitable location and develop plans for a small garden, about 50 m2 in size. The best site seemed to be the free area at the bottom of the Churchyard, within walking distance of the Car Park in the Land Rover garage. The consecrated land near an old Chestnut Tree was ideal, and a rectilinear plan was drawn up based on three interlocking crosses. This didn’t work very well, and the idea arose that the interlinking crosses could be translated into a tree, and the plaques could take the shape of leaves.

After Liz Ashmore and I visited Portobello to see the superb murals next to the shops, created by sculptor, Dan Jones, we brought him in to develop this idea further. He came up with a drawing with further additions to the tree, drawing inspiration from the passage in Revelation 22, where the tree of life is described beside the river of the water of life, bearing 12 kinds of fruit.

The resulting design includes all the main symbols of that Biblical text; the water, the tree, the street, the fruit and the leaves, which speak of the healing and fruition of life in a beautiful vision of heaven. What could be more appropriate for a Memorial Garden, where people will be reflecting on the big issues of life and death? The sculpture with its Biblical vision of life after death will bring comfort and healing to those who visit. Its location near a real tree, and with lovely vistas of the hills beyond the hedge, will provide a place of tranquility and peace, full of beauty and birdsong.

The area is much larger than originally intended, covering 450 m2, and consequently will be about nine times more costly than planned. The advantage of creating a garden on this scale is that it will serve the needs of Parishioners for more than 30 years, depending on demand. The disadvantage is that it will cost significantly more. With the help of funding from recent legacies, we only need to find half of the total cost of £67,000. So let’s be praying that gifts or loans will be forthcoming to enable this work to go ahead sometime in 2014, so that our caring ministry to the bereaved can continue to grow. A gift day will be held in the Autumn.

In addition to the excellent work of the Bereavement Visiting Team, and the Funerals and Memorial Services which we hold, we will be developing a 5 week course entitled The Bereavement Journey, which will help people come to terms with their loss in a gentle and sensitive way. Through all these means we hope to embody the love of God to those in need, as James wrote in his letter: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 

May God bless us as we embark on this adventure of faith which will bless many people in years to come.” Rupert Martin

Fast forward to only 6 weeks ago ~ and the Press Release, produced for the dedication on October 26, 2014….


“The Tree of Life Memorial Garden for the interment of ashes in Sandal churchyard is an original work of art created by architect, Liz Ashmore and sculptor, Dan Fraser Jones, from an idea of the Vicar, Rupert Martin, with help from Richard Williams furniture designer and Tecni-build Building Contractors. The Tree will be dedicated by The Rt Revd Tony Robinson at a service on Sunday, 26th October at St Helen’s Church, Sandal and in the Churchyard.

A patch of brambles in Sandal Churchyard has been landscaped into the shape of a tree with symbolic sculptural features which reflect the verse in the Bible which speaks about heaven; “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the peoples.”

(The Tree of Life design pdf: Tree of Life vertical)

Dan Fraser Jones has sculpted the main features of the river, the fruit, and the leaves out of Kilkenny Blue Limestone, to create a beautiful work of art, which will provide a haven of peace and comfort to all those who visit. The seating, representing the throne, has been designed by Richard Williams of rwfurniture.

Any resident of the Parish of Sandal Magna, which stretches from Busy Corner through Sandal to Newmillerdam, and from Portobello across to Walton, is entitled to have their ashes interred here, and each plot will be marked by a plaque in the shape of a leaf which can be engraved with two names.

The Tree of Life Memorial Garden is placed at the end of Sandal Churchyard, near an ancient Chestnut tree, overlooking Oakenshaw Beck with Heath Common in the distance.

It can be accessed from the main road down past the Church or from the nearby car park which is available when the Guy Salmon Land Rover garage is open.

Rupert Martin has used his experience of commissioning works of art in the landscape for the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, to meet the need for a place in which ashes of Parishioners can be interred in the ancient Churchyard.

Liz Ashmore, based in Golcar, Huddersfield, has worked on a number of projects including the Barnabas Rooms, St Paul’s, Walton, and the Spring Community Shop and Cafe in Sandal.

Daniel Fraser Jones, based in Doncaster, created two large scale murals in Portobello three years ago, and recently exhibited his work at the Beverley Art Gallery. A gifted draughtsman and sculptor, he is familiar with the challenges of working in the landscape.

Richard Williams based in Huddersfield, is well-known for creating unique works of furniture for specific places.

Tecni-build Building Contractors are based in Holmfirth, and have worked with the Church refurbishing the Rainbow Cafe in Portobello and The Spring in Sandal.

Rupert  Martin writes: “It has been a delight to work with Liz, Dan and Richard and the team of Tecni-build, to create a beautiful and practical Memorial Garden which will provide a place of peace and comfort for Parishioners and all who visit, for many years to come. Its iconic shape and artistic design will be an inspiration to many.”

Really inspirational ~ you just MUST go and check it out!

Updated April 30, 2015: Congratulations on winning the Wakefield Civic Society Award for best New Project! Read all about it in the following article:

Civic Society Award for Tree of Life in Wakefield Church | The Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.

St. Matthew’s and St. Luke’s Church, Darlington

One of my wonderful CMS Link Churches, St. Matthew’s and St. Luke’s Church in Brinkburn Road, Darlington, is now linked up with my home church in Heighington and has the same vicar, Lissa ~ so I was there last Sunday morning to share with them, and to thank everyone for their support….

Delighted to have my first experience of Cafe Church, it was wonderful. Such a blessing!

The congregation sits around circular tables at the back of the church and the style is informal – but still very much a service.  Just before my talk in the sermon slot, there’s a break to collect our breakfast – teas, coffees, muffins, and then enjoy them during the talk. The communion is shared around and the atmosphere’s beautiful, worshipful, relaxed and friendly.  Lots of families of all ages, lots of smiles and lots of great renewing of friendships established long ago!

Thank you St.Matthew’s and St. Luke’s for your support and care, and keep up the amazing ministry!

Heighington, Co. Durham

What a wonderful village ~ and what wonderful memories!

Heighington, Co. Durham is where I started teaching (Reception Class, aged 4-5) way back in 1985, and although I was there only 4 years, it was home ~ and a great place to be.  And it was from there that off I went to join CMS and so to Tanzania and Taiwan ~ so it’s my home church too….

Fast forward to last week, and there I was back in Heighington for a whole week, yippee! Staying with lovely friends, Anne and Nev, meeting up with new vicar Lissa, speaking in Heighington Church, a day in Heighington Primary School, plus catching up with lots of old friends, including many former colleagues from Heighington Primary School.

Finished my week with the Heighington Christmas Fair on Saturday, including tea and scones with old pupils, and with the new Mayor of Darlington and his wife, Gerald and Ruth Lee (us Lees get everywhere!) who also live in Heighington…

And finally to the Bay Horse to meet up with 3 more of my former pupils from Heighington – they were 5 at the time, and now, well, all grown up!

Thank you everyone for your wonderful welcome, gracious hospitality, delicious meals, teas and coffees, fun and laughter ~ plus your care and support over the years, all much appreciated!

CMS Link Church Visit #1 ~ Sedbergh ~ YES!

My first official CMS Link Visit yesterday, starting at St. Andrew’s Church, Sedbergh, Cumbria ~ yippee!

The first of many link visits this Home Leave, a few before Christmas and many after….

Sedbergh is kind of my home base, so the visit is kind of spread out and kind of started unofficially in the summer when I happened in on a mission coffee morning in Sedbergh URC Church in aid of CMS… and then continued yesterday when I spoke at the main Sunday morning service, and to be continued further with a ppt and coffee event in a few weeks time….

Last time I was here, the church was in the Diocese of Bradford ~ now it’s moved to the Diocese of Carlisle, got a lovely new vicar too ~ and the church members still warmly remember the visit from Taiwan of Bishop David J. H. Lai and Lily, and Rev. Charles C. T. Chen and MaryJo in 2008 just before the Lambeth Conference, when Charles described Sedbergh as ‘paradise’ ~ yes indeed, paradise!

Ah yes, first the coffee morning photos….

And so to yesterday’s service….

Just wonderful people, the salt of the earth, truly!  Thank you everyone for your warm welcome, your prayers and your support, all much appreciated.  Paradise indeed!