Highlights from 2012

The Choir prepare to sing
The Choir prepare to sing

We wish you’d heard the Union Street Baptist Church Choir performing ‘Two Sisters and a Funeral‘.  It was something special.  We noticed immediately that the choir was larger because they needed more space for their extra seats.  The singing was particularly good being in tune, clear diction, precise harmony and, to our delight, the singers really enjoyed themselves.  Thank you to all of them.  Special thanks to David Greatbanks who prepared the performance.    The music was as catchy and varied as Roger Jones always writes.  This time, however, he introduced a ‘rap’ for the men which went really well.  Another innovation was the talk just before the last song pointing out how much Jesus changed the lives of the main characters when they allowed him to.  This was interesting because the same theme came from the earlier Salvation Army and  Christmas Day services.

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We have celebrated Good Friday and Easter in fine style.  It actually began on Palm Sunday when David talked about the different personalities in the crowd, led us in worship and presented us with the traditional crosses.  Then, on Good Friday, Elizabeth and Peter led a wonderfully moving service about the sacrifice God made through Jesus simply because He loves us.  We enjoyed the meditations and silences,  taking part and speaking the crowd parts from the Bible reading.  

Easter Day culminated with a joyful celebration of the resurrection.  Not only were the hymns happy and most enjoyable, but the message about the relevance of the Easter story to us was most interesting.  The responses that David often devises were really poignant. The weekend was like a new start for us.

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Checking final details
Checking final details
We enjoy waiting
We enjoy waiting

No Greater God‘ was really good, as we have come to expect from USBC Choir.  Not only were they in top form, singing with the conductor, David Greatbanks, and in tune; their enthusiasm showed and carried over to the congregation of about forty people.  (How wonderful to see our friends again.)  

This time there were pictures and texts from various parts of the Bible illustrating how great God is and that helped us understand the significance of the song and therefore enjoy it more.  It also meant that we could follow the words of some of the songs and were able to join in with the praising, if we could ‘pick up’ the tune quickly. The sixteen songs were varied in style and included some solos and some duets.  We could truly come away marvelling at how great God is.  Thank you USBC; thank you David.

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Minshull football mania

It was followed by the usual quality buffet but this time the tables were set out at the back of the church.  This was a new arrangement which seemed to work well in that people didn’t have to pass each other in the narrow passageway to the schoolroom. Did more come back for another plateful?  

However, neither of these were the real reason for the change.   The schoolroom had been converted into an ‘Alex Suite’ with cafe tables, bunting and radio because Crewe Alex were playing Cheltenham and could go up into the First League.  Several of us enjoyed following the match until Crewe won 2 – 0 at which point we could go home happy.

 

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On 3rd June the church welcomed Peter into membership.  He has been part of the family for about six years; now it is official.  At the same service the church were delighted to welcome four new friends who were pleased to stay for tea, laugh and a chat.

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beautifully prepared
beautifully prepared

Jubilee party singingOur Jubilee party was a tremendous success.  Many visitors dressed in red, white and blue which complemented the flags and bunting and decorative tableware.   With ages from 9 to 90 there wasn’t one person didn’t enjoy themselves for all three hours of fun.  It started with food for which we sat at tables, rather than as the usual buffet, which meant that there was much laughter and sharing.  The sandwiches weren’t finished before the trifle was served but nobody minded.  

After a pause in which to chat about memories of 1952 while the tables were cleared and dishes washed, Ray led us in a toast and three cheers to our Queen.  After the sing-song we settled down to the raffle and the serious business of playing ‘Beetle’.  Two or three tables seemed to claim most Beetles and the noisiest won two of the three prizes.  The third was won by Jody Rhodes.

Main Beetle winner
Main Beetle winner

All good things come to an end, so with many thanks to the hosts, guests departed in dry daylight with bags of cakes and sandwiches and, most of all, happiness after a really good evening.

Credit is due to our secretary, Mim, who did all the hard work of planning the celebration, even down to the details at the end.  She and Barrie have put a lot of thought and effort into it.   We knew God had blessed us with a good administrator and organiser; this time she excelled herself, proving beyond doubt that we could trust her with future plans.

Thanks also go to the people who enjoyed themselves so much that they sent thank-you cards.  They wrote: ‘It is something we both will not forget, for a long time’, ‘a lovely and most pleasant evening’, ‘one to be remembered’, we appreciated all the hard work you did to make it such a happy evening’.

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teatimelake overflowedOn Saturday we, and many friends from the churches at Middlewich and Alsager, enjoyed the sunshine at Southport.  It was great to not have to drive or park.  We were dropped off near the shops and were then free to explore and enjoy the town, pier, marina, parks or promenade for five hours.  Then the coach took us to the Botanical Garden’s cafeteria for a tea of sandwiches, buns, cakes and scones, with the inevitable chat, and bought tickets for the raffle.  There was time to wander round the Gardens and the lake which seemed to have too much water in it.  The return journey seemed much quieter and shorter as many of us dozed happily.

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after the serviceIt was lovely to have a church full of happy people mingling for the wedding of Alan and Tracy.  Many appreciated David’s sensitive talk about love.  As you will see in the photo the bride and bridesmaids looked their best.  We wish Alan and Tracy every happiness and God’s blessing for their future together.

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joyce and harvest display 2012We have had a wonderful harvest service, thanks to the team work in the church.  David led a good service with meaningful responses and a relevant message for us all.  It is easy to forget, he reminded us, that all good things come from God, especially when we have plenty.  There is a danger that we give ourselves the credit.  He reminded us of the importance of saying grace before meals and of the poor in this world who need not be starving if we share the resources fairly.  David also introduced us to some different hymns to well-known tunes.The Minshull Tea was up to the usual high standard, enabling all to enjoy a bite and a cuppa while they mingled.  Of course the main feature was the harvest display which was quite impressive to start with and then improved by the generosity of the many visitors.  Last year no pictures were taken.  This year Mim had to use her phone because the webmaster forgot to take his camera; thank you Mim.The £80.19 received from the offertory and ‘take and donate’ go to the Agricultural Chaplaincy of Cheshire.

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North Staffs Accordion BandPhotos cannot tell you how much we enjoyed the North Staffs Accordion Club’s Band.  All we saw was sixteen people concentrating on their playing and yet obviously enjoying themselves as much as we enjoyed listening.  It was what we heard that was so special.  They were perfectly together with subtle and effective harmonies supported by an excellent percussionist, guitarist and bass accordionist.  The conductor interspersed the music with plugs, facts, puns and jokes about the Prime Minister but it was the music itself that thrilled us.  Pieces by Richard Rogers, Andrew Lloyd Webber and James Last mixed in with the Beatles, German medleys, Colonel Bogey and more.  The variety was impressive.  Thank you so much to the Band for coming and squeezing into the small space; thank you to the audience who loved every minute.

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The sound fills the chapel
The sound fills the chapel

We enjoyed donating toys and money to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal.  Every year we wonder whether there will be much for them to take away.  Thanks to the generosity of our many friends we didn’t disappoint the Appeal.  During the service we were treated to songs by ‘Harmony’ led by Heather and our own singing was uplifted by the playing of their band led by Carl.  It was a musical feast for us. 

Another highlight was the talk or thoughts shared by Captain Alison Stark.  First of all she reminded us that Mary was expectant and so should we be, for the coming of the Messiah was very special.  Then she used an advent calendar and Russian dolls  to remind us to pass on the message of Christ’s coming, that he is Lord.  The calendar reminds us that there are doors of opportunity to make Christmas special for ourselves and for other people and the dolls demonstrate that passing the message on is for all generations and all walks of life.

The depletion of members through illness was amply covered by friends stepping in to help and we are very grateful for their cheerful willingness.  

 

A Christingle
A Christingle

David has just led us through our first Christingle service as only David can.  It was essentially a simple service, which suited us, with carols, relevant responses to prayers and a reading.  The main feature, of course, was the Christingle itself.   After explaining the symbolism, which was most interesting, the Christingles were distributed and then lit.  We sang a song about them and then closed the service.  It was lovely to welcome friends to join us and to invite them to our usual fellowship over the cup of tea.   Thank you David and thank you to the people who prepared the Christingles.

 

Our Carol Service was something special this year.  Was it the abundance of candles, the warm church, the floral decorations or the tree?  Was it the surprisingly large number of visitors we were delighted to welcome?  Was it the full singing of the well-known carols or the sensitive reading of the well-known stories about the nativity?  Or was it the skill with which our minister arranged the service and led us through?  Was it the organ-playing or because we sat round the tree instead of scattered in the pews?  Whatever it was, it was great.  Thank you to everybody who helped from the preparers to the clearers, but especially thank you to our lovely visitors even though there weren’t enough chairs while we all enjoyed the mince pies later.  We only hope you enjoyed praising God for Jesus as much as we did.

   

And then came the climax to the season with a lovely Christmas Day service by Elizabeth.  We were all keen to come because it was so good last year.  She didn’t disappoint us.  Elizabeth  took us to one side of the story to consider Mary the mother and what it all involved and meant for her.  She had faith enough to trust God and obey him through thick and thin,  even though she longed to be at home.  It was so calm, so peaceful, so anointed, the service was just the time to spend with God before facing the demands of our families.  Thank you.

 

Our big disappointment came later when the celebration we had prepared for ourselves was abandoned.  Three of us were really ill, one went to hospital that day and two others were not well enough to mix with their friends.  Praise God, though, for no visitors came on that occasion!

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David Greatbanks
David Greatbanks

The visitors really filled the pews when Union St. Baptist Choir sang ‘A Night of Miracles’.  The last four visitors had difficulty finding seats together!  Before I tell you how nice it was to have just a small buffet instead of being overwhelmed with mountains of food, I must tell you that the mountain of music we heard was terrific in quality and volume.  The choir really felt able to let rip in some of the pieces and yet almost whispered in others.  Thanks go  to the choir, of course, but especially to their director, David.  It was staggering to see him conduct, accompany, change voices and volume on the keyboard and stay calm.  The hard work had been put in during rehearsals and it showed.  Thank you again to all the visitors who made the event a wonderful start to 2013.