Superintendent Minister's Newsletter 10th June 2020




United Stockport Circuit (Manchester and Stockport District)

A Message from the Superintendent Minister        June 10th 2020

Dear Friends,
It is now the middle of June, and we have been in lockdown for nearly 3 months. The government have announced that churches can start to open soon for personal prayer, although it looks like the Methodist Church are asking us to hold off on this and they will issue advice following the annual Methodist Conference at the start of July. There are mixed feelings around. On the one hand we long to see one another, to gather and worship face to face. On the other hand we are aware that to do so might endanger our health and we, rightly, feel very cautious. Please be assured that along with my colleagues Raj and Lindsay, local church stewards and the wider circuit leadership team, we are considering our next steps, listening for guidance from the government and the Methodist Church and we will not rush into anything. If you would like to be part of a conversation in our Circuit about how we move forward with Church after this time of Covid-19, there will be a special Zoom gathering – not a service exactly but an opportunity for everyone to join in conversation and sharing, grounded in prayer – on  Thursday 18th June at 7pm on Zoom. (See Services for Zoom links). For now, we give thanks for the small signs of life we are able to see in the world outside, for the people who matter to us and who are helping us, and for the sense of ‘being Church’  that we have been able to maintain in one way or another throughout this difficult period. 

The world has not stopped turning during lockdown! People have not stopped loving, neither have they stopped suffering. Increasingly as lockdown eases, other events in the world are quite rightly creeping back into the headlines and into our consciousness. On Saturday 30th May, over 50 of us joined a conversation with 2 of our local MP's – William Wragg MP and Nav Mishra MP, to discuss what a Good Society will look like after Covid-19. We talked about the valuing of our key workers, maintaining a good climate, what schools will look like. We didn’t necessarily have all the answers, but we all agreed how important it will be for people to work together for good in the coming months and years, recognising that poverty and hardship are likely to increase.  The Church, and faith communities will play an important part in this.

Dominating the headlines recently has been the tragic death of George Floyd in the USA at the hands of police officers, and the resulting protests there and in the UK. The tragedy of racism is one we still live with, but which we, as Christians, can never accept. We have a responsibility to denounce sin when we see it and racism is undoubtedly a very real sin in the world today.

On Saturday 6th June, I was proud to join a small and safely socially distanced gathering in the centre of Stockport in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We were Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans and members of the United Reformed Church and we stood on the Lancashire Bridge crossing and engaged with passers-by about the reasons for the protest.  We met with a lot of support – people waving from buses, clapping as they walked by and stopping to find out more. Some people who stopped wanted to say, ‘all lives matter’ and of course that is true, but we were able to explain that for centuries, the lives of black people have mattered less in many walks of society. We know that black people are more likely to be randomly stopped by police, more likely to suffer physical and verbal abuse as a result of the colour of their skin,  paid less for doing the same jobs as white people, more likely to receive unfavourable treatment when applying for jobs or using public services, and little attention has been given to the  reasons behind the disproportionate numbers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people who have died from Covid-19. For far too long, in many people’s thoughts, consciously and subconsciously, white lives have mattered most and that must change.
Here’s a way of explaining why to say ‘all lives matter’ in this context is not a kind or helpful thing to say. Imagine your child has died. And that you are speaking at their funeral about how important they were to you, how much you loved them, how much their life mattered. And at that point someone else jumps up and says, ‘but all children matter.’ Of course all children matter, but at that time, in that place, in those circumstances, in the face of tragedy and grief and anger, the focus must be on the one child who mattered. The message that black lives matter is one which the UK needs to hear and I was proud that the Methodist Church could play a part in spreading that message in Stockport as we seek to create the genuinely fair and inclusive society which was at the heart of what Jesus called the Kingdom of God.

As we reflect on these things, I want to include a wonderful prayer to which I was introduced this week. It is a prayer from the Jewish faith but which translates beautifully for our own situation. I hope you can pray it with me in these coming days. Adonai is simply the Hebrew word for God. Shabbat is the Sabbath, the day for rest and prayer.

Let us pray:
Disturb us, Adonai, ruffle us from our complacency;
Make us dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the peace of ignorance,
the quietude which arises from a shunning of the horror, the defeat,
the bitterness and the poverty, physical and spiritual, of humans.

Shock us, Adonai, deny to us the false Shabbat which gives us
the delusions of satisfaction amid a world of war and hatred;

Wake us, O God, and shake us from the sweet and sad poignancies rendered by
half-forgotten melodies and rubric prayers of yesteryears;
Make us know that the border of the sanctuary is not the border of living
and the walls of Your temples are not shelters from the winds of truth, justice and reality.

Disturb us, O God, and vex us; let not Your Shabbat be a day of torpor and slumber;
let it be a time to be stirred and spurred to action.  Amen.
(from ‘World Union of Progressive Judaism Prayer Book’)

And please remember as always:

In this time of isolation and separation may we feel the unity of God’s spirit in the bonds of peace and love which connect us to one another.

  • When we feel lonely let us know that in Christ we are never alone.
  • When we feel isolated may we be reminded that within the worldwide Body of Christ we are always connected.
  • When we need a hug help us to feel the warmth of God’s embrace
  • When we are compelled to keep our distance, may we be drawn close to each other within the Spirit of Companionship that flows from God and which moves through and between each one of us.

With love and blessings,

Rev Cathy.


Forthcoming Zoom services are:

Sunday 21st June 3pm

Thursday 18th June 7pm ‘Re-imagining Church’–
a conversation and time for prayer about the future of our church for all members across the circuit.

You can join all the above meetings via Zoom (see Services)

  • with a video link and see and hear everything and everyone else who is participating
  • or you can join just with audio,
  • or you can telephone in.

Circuit Prayer

In addition, every Sunday morning at 11am – when we would all normally be in worship in church – we are encouraged to pray the following prayer. This way we stay connected in a very really and tangible way.

God of Love and Life, We pray to you this morning for the life the United Stockport Methodist Circuit, for our sisters and brothers who belong to:
(pausing briefly to reflect after each name)

Christ Church Methodist /URC    Davenport Methodist Church       Dialstone Lane Methodist Church
Edgeley Community Church         Hazel Grove Methodist Church     Heaton Mersey Methodist Church
Heaton Moor United Church       St. Johns Methodist Church           Tiviot Dale Methodist Church
Trinity Methodist Church             Windlehurst Methodist Church

In this time of isolation and separation may we feel the unity of your spirit in the bonds of peace and love which connect us to one another. We worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  We ask that this time of crisis might pass and that those who suffer might find comfort and strength within the knowledge of your grace, revealed through the kindness and compassion of the people of God. Eternal God, though the self-offering of your Son you have filled our lives with your presence.  Help us in our sufferings and trials. Fill us with hope and strengthen us in our weakness.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen 

Moving into the Future – A Monthly Circuit Service?

Before Covid-19 and the lock down hit, the Circuit Leadership Team had begun to talk about the possibility of starting a monthly Circuit Service at Tiviot Dale. Over the last few weeks, this idea has gained strength as we have enjoyed worshipping together as a Circuit on Zoom. Obviously, we cannot yet plan to hold this service, and it may be some time before we can. No decision has been taken about when the service will be – it could be a Sunday evening or a weekday evening for example – or about what sort of service it will be, but we hope it will be something a bit different and we to want to be prepared. If you would be interested in being part of a group to help organise a monthly circuit service, and/or if you  have musical ability and would like to be part of a circuit worship band, then please let Revd Cathy Bird know so that as soon as we can gather again, we have something in place! or 0161 483 4952

From the Circuit Web Team

Good News! We are now recording the Sunday services for you to listen to at any time. We will also be adding additional material. If you or someone you know would like a CD posted out, please let Catriona Stoker know (Tel 0161 487 2010) and she can apply to the Circuit website on your behalf – or apply for yourself or your friend on, under the news items. A box asking for the name and address of the person wanting the CD will open up, so you need their permission to share this.

Did you know that many British clothing retailers have cancelled their orders, made to their specifications, with factories in Bangladesh, leaving the makers unpaid? For poor garment industry workers this is a catastrophe – no pay, no food. Traidcraft Exchange has a campaign to encourage retailers to honour their contracts, which you can join if you feel this is a scandal. If you go to this website: you can learn about how different British brands are responding to the campaign and add your support. You might be surprised at who appear the most responsive!
I can continue to supply you with chocolate, tea, coffee, honey, marmalade, granola, rice, etc as well as soap, toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, washing up and gardening gloves from my Traidcraft stocks. Just let me know (0161 487 2010 or email and I can make up a bag and deliver or you can collect from my front porch. Payment by correct cash in an envelope, cheque or a bank transfer to my Traidcraft account.
Thanks to your support over the past year I have been able to donate £200 to Christian Aid and £130 to All We Can from the “profit” made as a Fairtrader.
Catriona Stoker




Printer Printable Version
Bookmark and Share