Newsletter April 2023

Easter, and all around us now
The world awakes, the flowers bloom.
Here, in the stillness of my room,
I think Christ died and suffered pain.
How can it be? We loved we lost –
Yet though He died He lives again.
Now, once again, at Easter time
As earth arises from its sleep,
Our hearts, our senses, soar on high –
To worship Him, our promise keep.
We love – we honour – we obey
Dear Lord, forgive mistakes we make,
At Easter help us start afresh
To do our best for Thy dear sake . . .


Dear Friends

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark . . .”

empty tombWe are currently in the season of Lent—the season which prepares us for Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Resurrection is often announced with the sound of Alleluias, the smell of Easter daffodils, dazzling bright light. But it did not happen that way.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus rose from the dead in a cave. Jesus was born in a cave and rose from the dead in a cave. In all the accounts in the Bible, a stone was covering the entrance to the cave, so that means there were no witnesses to the resurrection. Every one of the disciples, who saw the risen Jesus, saw him after. The resurrection happened in utter silence, in complete darkness. As Barbara Brown Taylor highlights: “New life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.”

The Gospel writer, John, describes the first Easter over 2000 years ago: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark . . .”

The first day of the week. The first day of something new. At this stage, Mary Magdalene, who arrives at the tomb, does not realise just how transformative that something new will be. “While it was still dark”—notice how the language points us to the bleakness of Mary’s grief and lack of understanding.

Let’s home in on Mary’s point of view: She was there at the foot of Jesus’ cross. She was there as his mother and the other women wept. I imagine she was there as the body was taken down, wrapped in cloths, and sealed up in the tomb. What did she feel as the stone was rolled into place? Can you imagine? Can you imagine the terrible darkness?

It is the darkness that eradicates hope. A suffocating, creeping darkness that erodes any belief in the future. It’s the darkness of death. It’s the darkness of illness. It’s the darkness of struggle. It’s bleak. It’s desolate.

And yet . . . there is a competition going on in, in this first line:

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark . . .”

Darkness dominates, but we are also alerted to the fact that dawn is coming—a powerful thought, worth tenaciously holding on to in those times and places when we wrestle with grief, illness and struggle.

Yes—darkness might surround Mary and each one of us at times—but with God, dawn will break through. Dawn always comes, following even the darkest, most desolate nights. Yes—the night hours are hard and long, but nothing can stop dawn.

Just as with Mary at the tomb, in our lives and across the world, there are many situations and experiences which are deeply painful and frightening. Ill-health, grief, isolation, poverty, racism, ongoing wars, the climate crisis, all can create darkness and despair.

And yet, God calls us to trust that even when we cannot see or feel it ourselves, God never, ever leaves us. God is right there with us, going through it all with us. God is with us, nurturing new life from the very seeds of pain and fear. This is an utterly transforming hope which we can hold onto, and share, in the darkest times and places, at Easter and beyond.


coffee morning

Saturday 8th April, 10.30 – 12 noon

Please join us for a cuppa, hot cross bun and natter as we celebrate Easter. For the creative among us please remember to bring along your Easter creations be it an egg, hat or garden. We are also hoping to welcome our friends from the Partnership so please do come along.

Sue Bollon

A big ‘Thank You’ to Chinemerem for sharing his third birthday with us!


IN MEMORIAM: DOREEN SOWDEN 12th January 1927 – 4th February 2023

Doreen SowdenFrom the Funeral Eulogy given by Nicola:

Doreen arrived into the world on Wednesday12 January 1927 in Bramley. She grew up there with her mum and dad, John William and Annie Marsden and big sister, Irene. Growing up, she much preferred playing with guns to dolls. She loved school, particularly English where she developed a great passion for writing poetry. A passion that became a talent and one that lasted all her life.

On leaving school, Doreen trained to become an embroiderist – which involved making clothes, sewing and embroidering school badges. She got a job in a factory and worked hard to become a supervisor.

Doreen met Derek through the match-making of Auntie Florrie who set them up at a family gathering. After courting, they married at Bramley St Peter’s Church in 1948. Living with Derek’s parents for 10 years before moving into their own home. Derek and Doreen had much happiness together. They celebrated 65 years of marriage before Derek passed away. They were very close couple, more often than not part of a threesome with Len, Derek’s brother.

A day cycling somewhere in the country with a picnic before the ride home was a favourite. Along with Derek’s mum and dad Alice and Harold, they spent many happy holidays in Cornwall and Bournemouth. Taking a primus stove for tea, enjoying the lapping waves at the seaside going to dinner dances.

In time Doreen, became a proud auntie and great-auntie. Spending time with extended family was something she deeply treasured. Her niece, Glenys says that when she was little, Auntie Doreen seemed to her to be very glamorous with her high heels and fancy dresses. She also remembers her auntie organising wonderful family Christmas parties. At one of these get togethers, there’s a funny story of an evening buffet. Doreen, Derek and Len hosted together. They must have recently been somewhere where rolls of butter were put out separately for guests. So, she did the same at her gathering. Suddenly, a cousin of Derek’s piped up with: “Doreen, what kind of party is this, where guests have to make their own sandwiches?”

So, hospitality was a key part of her life. Baking many types of sweet treats including cream horns. Her niece, Glenys, tells me scones were “second to none.”

Doreen’s faith was deeply important to her, as was her connection with this church. She was President of the Women’s Guild for years, organising speakers and making everyone welcome. Because she and Derek had a big garden, they hosted afternoon teas for the Guild, usually in July, before the August summer break. Always someone not afraid to get her hands dirty and muck in, she, Derek and Len were often part of a work party cleaning the church, when the caretaker was away. Doreen also nurtured her relationship with God through regularly reading the Bible as well as participating in Quiet Days at Perceval Hall. In her later years, jigsaws were a favourite way to spend time.

And throughout her life: Doreen was a prolific poet: with subjects ranging from the changing seasons to her deep faith in God, COVID to the wonder of creation the changing seasons and nature.

During lockdown, one of her church friends regularly visited her at home. And if the weather was good they’d sit out on the bench in the garden. She’d suddenly get up, disappear and come back a few minutes later with a ‘little tipple’. “You’re not driving so you can have one” she’d say.

In her final weeks, she was experiencing a rather rough time, yet even then she told those who had visited: “I’ve had a good life.”

Doreen died peacefully in St James’ Hospital following a stroke.

Doreen was a woman who could turn her hand to anything. From decorating to baking. Poetry to planning. She was someone who was able to see the best in everyone, always interested in what was going on in her family and friend’s lives and very grateful for anything you did for her. She will be greatly missed by family and friends, but they are grateful for their rich experiences and abiding memories.

Let us give thanks for Doreen’s life.

All that I have and am, I offer Thee, Lord,
All that I ever had, You gave me,
Now with life’s circle very near completed,
All that I have and am, I bring to Thee.

Fleet footed youth went by, strong, bright, and glowing,
Learning to think, to work, absorb and play.
Settling down, the spring less effervescent
Bubbling still, as ages passed away.

All of life’s gifts I took, accepted gladly.
All of life’s joys—and life’s been good to me.
For all my faults, forgive me, Lord, and take me,
Make what I am, acceptable to Thee.


coronation logo

Following Brenda and David’s (and family!) splendid Jubilee Brunch last year, we felt we could not let the Coronation of our new king pass without some form of celebration. So, we hope you will be able to join us for a CHURCH CELEBRATION LUNCH on SUNDAY, 7th MAY, following Morning Worship. All are welcome—we’d just like to know the numbers to help with catering.

There will be a notice up in the Hall during Coffee each week—sign up and come along!

We have to apologise in advance for the fact that we feel we are unable to follow official suggestions for the meal.

Rack of Lamb: (measured up—couldn’t get them all in the oven!)

Only 17 ingredients—not up to our usual standard anyway.

Strawberry and Ginger Trifle:—a bit ‘niche’, we think, despite the Yorkshire Parkin connection and the 25 ingredients hitting the mark. But we all love a good trifle, so other versions are available and you never know . . .


Guild Lunch

The next lunch will be held on Tuesday, 11th April. We realise it comes straight after Easter, but feel it is simpler to retain our usual, second Tuesday in the month programme. All are welcome—perhaps you would be free to join us this time round—just let us know if you would like to come. We meet from 12.30pm for lunch at 1 o’clock. Please note that, as we shall be holding a church lunch on 7th May, we shall not have a Guild Lunch in May.

2nd SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship for Palm Sunday led by Rev Phil Chilvers
6th Thursday 9.00pm Service of Tenebrae led by Rev Geoff Ellis
8th Saturday 10.30am
– 12noon
Easter Coffee Morning
9th SUNDAY 10.45am Easter Sunday. Morning Worship, including the Sacrament of Holy Communion, led by our Minister, Rev Dr Nicola Robinson.
11th Tuesday 12.30pm Guild Lunch
16th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
19th Wednesday 9.30am Elders’ Meeting
23rd SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by the Elders
30th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Rev Angela Hughes
7th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
12noon Church Lunch to celebrate the Coronation