The church at Henshaw was beautifully decorated in preparation for our Joint Harvest Service last Sunday morning, creating a colourful and welcoming sight. As parishioners arrived with contributions for the Food Bank, (where donations from the service were to be taken,) there was a major sorting exercise taking place in the Parish Room, so that the gifts of the harvest could be brought to the altar by the children in large baskets. These represented the cereals, the roots, the seeds, the vegetables, the fruits and the harvest of flowers. Our reading from Luke’s Gospel reminded us to consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. The Vicar drew on themes of abundance in his address, and helped by the children, showed the congregation just how the jam and scones had been made at the last meeting of God’s Tent. Our hymns included Come ye thankful people, come, Autumn Days when the grass is jewelled, and of course, We plough the fields and scatter. Because the weather was kind to us, we could serve coffee and biscuits both in the Parish Room but also outside – and were thus able to cater for a large congregation.
Haydon Bridge celebrated its first Harvest Market on Saturday 23 September, with stallholders set up inside St Cuthbert's Church, offering fruit, vegetables, honey, preserves, plants, beer, and more. Children were making bug hotels, bird feeders and Autumn leaf crowns in our big bell tent, and the pop-up St Cuthbert's Cafe were serving hot bacon sandwiches and refreshments. Harvest games included butternut squash skittles and a very popular leaf sensory bin with sweets hidden inside! A big thank you to everyone who supported the event and gave donations. See you next year!
We have so many helpers in all of our churches, whether people clean, or do flowers, or play the organ, or help clear up the churchyards, or polish the brasses, or set up for services, or help at Messy Church or Storybook church or sing in the choir – all these aspects of help and support represent an amazing resource for our churches. And so to say thank you to our helpers, we held a tea party in our Parish room in Henshaw on Tuesday 5 September, where 24 of us gathered to enjoy a tea that would have put the Ritz Hotel to shame. This was a most social and convivial gathering , with good conversation and friendship.
Many of you will have seen the horrendous aftermath of Hurricane Irma as it scythed through the Carribbean and on to Florida. What you may not know is that we have a connection with the British Virgin Islands through our parishioner, Mary Dickinson. Mary and her husband Stephen lived for many years on the Islands, where Stephen played a distinguished part in island life, and represented the Islands here in the UK. Our two parishes therefore resolved that our church collections from today, 17 September, should be sent to aid the relief effort in the British Virgin Islands. The scale of the suffering there is very hard for us to comprehend, but for islanders grappling with no shelter, no water, no electricity, high day time temperatures, lack of food, loss of livelihood, severe threat of cholera – and the list could go on – then our small effort to help is a gesture of recognition of the suffering there. Even the trees have had their bark peeled off by the strength of the wind. If you were not able to be in church today, but would like to recognise the plight of the British Virgin Islanders, then Mary Dickinson has given us a reliable website which is recommended by the British Virgin Islands Community Board, where you can make a donation – https://www.virgin.com/unite/
We held a series of events over the weekend of September 2 and 3 to mark the Feast of the Translation of St Cuthbert. With a St Cuthbert’s church in both of our parishes, this celebratory weekend has become a tradition. These dates are the closest to the date when Cuthbert’s body was finally laid to rest in his shrine in Durham, following over a century of journeying from Lindisfarne. Tradition has it that Cuthbert’s body rested on the sites of both Haydon Old Church and St Cuthbert’s Beltingham as the monks were carrying the body from Holy Island. Our weekend began with Morning Prayer at Haydon Old Church, followed by a pilgrimage walk in glorious weather to Beltingham, for Midday prayer. The walkers then had a very well deserved lunch at Michael’s shop in Bardon Mill, and rested before Choral Evensong, sung by the Herdwyck Consort at 6 pm in Beltingham. Their “a capella” singing, in the beautiful setting of our ancient church was greatly appreciated by a large congregation. The evening ended with a supper at the Old Vicarage. Next day, we celebrated with a Joint Patronal Eucharist in St Cuthbert’s, Haydon Bridge.