Newsletter November 2023

Dear friends

People the light shines through

columbaOn 1st November, many churches celebrate All Saints Day. Perhaps we don’t do this very often in the URC, but I think it’s a really important one to mark. Why? Because saints are all around us, in our lives and our world.

So, what is a saint? In the past I used to think that saints were individuals who were perfect in every way and rather distant from our everyday lives. Now, my favourite description of a saint comes from a story about a little girl. She was on a school trip to a nearby church. When she was looking at the stained glass windows depicting different saints, she exclaimed: “Now I know what a saint is! A saint is a person the light shines through!”

I wonder, can we call recognise — and gave thanks for — all those people in our lives who have been saints to us. All those individuals who have let the light of God’s love, justice and compassion shine through — and transformed our lives as a result?

And can we look more widely and call to mind all those people in our world who by their very lives, let the light shine in deeply challenging times. People who through their words and actions, work to create a better world.

mlkPeople like:

  • Martin Luther King who advocated for civil rights in the US
  • Greta Thunberg who raises awareness about the destructiveness of climate change
  • Harvey Milk who advocated against the discrimination of LGBTQI people

And I’m sure, each one of us could come up with so many other inspiring individuals.

I also think we can all be saints. Letting the light shine through us by supporting each other, embracing diversity and creating a world where all are safe and loved.

All Saints for yesterday, today and tomorrow. Amen.


5th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Rev Phil Chilvers
8th Wednesday 9.30am Elders’ Meeting
12th SUNDAY 9.30am Morning Worship at Headingley Methodist Church
14th Tuesday 12.30pm Guild Lunch
19th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship, including the Sacrament of Holy Communion, led by Rev Phil Chilvers
26th SUNDAY 10.45am Morning Worship led by Rev Jamie Kissack,
Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod


Please keep the date free in your diary and join us for homemade soup and apple pie immediately after the service on 3rd December. Our friends from Headingley Methodist will also be joining us. A list will be available shortly for you to put your name down to help with catering.

Susan Bollon

citywide prayer



giftsThe Gift Service will also be on 3rd December. The Elders have discussed the viability of a children’s party and have come to the conclusion that our resources can be better used by donating money to the Women’s Refuge to enable them to buy gifts for the older children as this is the age group usually excluded. Donations of toiletries and toys are also acceptable. The Salvation Army will also be supported. Further details regarding monetary donations will be emailed out shortly.

Susan Bollon


This year our Harvest Appeal raised:

  • Jacob’s Well £650 with £490 gift aided.
  • Zimbabwe Educational Trust £580 with £400 gift aided.
  • Thank you, yet again, for your generosity. Liz Lyle has returned to Ghana this October to continue the training programme making chairs and supports for children with Cerebral Palsy. We look forward to hearing news of her travels.


    World Day of Prayer Preparation Conference

    will take place on Friday 10th November 2023 at St Andrew’s Roundhay United Reformed Church, Shaftesbury Avenue, Leeds LS8 1DS.

    You are invited to attend, for a day of Fellowship, Learning and Worship centred around the theme of

    “I beg you, bear with one another in love”

    which was prepared ladies from Palestine. Maureen Colbert, a member of the WDP National Committee will lead a Bible Study based on this theme.

    The Service itself will be held on Friday 1st March 2024.

    A nominal charge of £4.00 per person helps to cover expenses. (£5.00 on the day) and if you wish to attend please send in an application form (ask Aleck or Joan) by 5th November.


    Sadly, there are now fewer of us attending the Guild Lunch but, although the cooking and washing up should, in theory, shorten our lunches somehow the chatting goes on longer; and we hope that means everyone is enjoying the day. So, if you fancy a natter (with a hot lunch attached!) join us on Tuesday, 14th November at about 12.30pm. YOU are welcome.


    ANOTHER YORKSHIRE SAINT: In her letter this month, Nicola reminds that our traditional ideas of sainthood should be broadened but I have gone back to the relatively early days of Christianity in Northumbria and Yorkshire to look at the life of a woman who is truly inspirational.

    whitbyWe remember St Hilda on her Saint’s Day, November 19th. She was born in 614 into a royal household. and was the second daughter of Hereric, nephew of Edwin, King of Deira, and was brought up in his court. In 616, the warring Edwin defeated Æthelfrith, in battle and created the Kingdom of Northumbria, taking its throne. Then, in 625, the widowed Edwin married Aethelburh, who followed the Roman Christian faith. Travelling with her from Kent was her chaplain, Paulinus of York, who had originally been sent from Rome to assist Augustine in his missionary work. Their influence was such that on Easter Day, 12th April 627, King Edwin, along with his entire court, which included the 13-year-old Hilda, were baptised in a small wooden church hastily constructed near the site of the present York Minster.

    Within 6 years, Edwin was killed in battle and his kingdom overrun by the pagan kingdom of Mercia; Hilda probably returned to the safety of Kent with Edwin’s widow and then at the age of 33 years, instead of joining her older sister at Chelles Abbey in France as expected, she returned to Northumbria answering the call of Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne.

    Ten years later in 657, after staying in Abbeys which followed the Celtic tradition brought from Iona by Aidan, Hilda became the founding Abbess of Whitby. This too, would follow the Celtic tradition where men and women shared worship but lived separately in little cottages housing two or three. Hilda ensured they lived strictly by the rules of the Celtic tradition living a life where all property was shared in common, the Bible was studied, peace and charity held as virtues and good works done.

    She must have been a woman of infinite energy for as well as being highly regarded as a teacher and having the wisdom to advise men of power she was also a fine administrator, initially founding the Abbey and then running a large estate with herds of sheep and cattle.

    By 664 the Abbess and the abbey were held in such esteem that it was chosen by Oswiu, now King of Northumbria, to host a Synod to determine, among other things, the date of Easter which was celebrated on different days in the Roman and Celtic traditions.

    hildaThe Synod was attended by churchman from far and wide (including St. Cedd from Lastingham) and after the positions of the Roman and Celtic traditions were put forward, the king accepted that the Roman Church, said to be founded by St Peter, should now be adopted throughout his kingdom. A turning point for the church. The Celtic monks returned to Lindisfarne, then to Iona, taking with them some relics of Aidan. Hilda continued as Abbess until her death on 17 November 680 , at the age of sixty-six, setting up another monastery at Hackness in her final year.

    How different the windy cliff top of Whitby from the quiet, intimate chapel of St Cedd but each is such a special place where the division between earth and heaven feels thin. The Abbey ruins we see now is of the Benedictine monks but it is not hard to imagine Hilda’s presence.

    Legends say that when sea birds fly over the abbey they dip their wings in her honour and that she rid them of a plague of snakes by turning them to stone and, no doubt, you too have hunted for the snake-like ammonite fossils on the shore! Bede said of St Hilda “All who knew her called her mother because of her outstanding devotion and grace”.