1st March 2022

Dialstone Lane Newsletter March 2022

Dear Friends,

As I write, I am still recovering from COVID-19 and still in isolation. Thank you all for your best wishes, and I’m sorry for all the things I have been forced to miss.  I hope by the time you read this I will be able to be present again! We also continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers others, who, in spite of the easing of restrictions, continue to suffer either directly or indirectly, as a result of the coronavirus.

One of the things which has helped over the last couple of years as we have navigated our way as a church through the pandemic, has been the consistent rolling of the church year and the constant, yet always mysterious turning of the liturgical seasons. By that I mean the fixed points in the life of the Christian Calendar which help us to remain focussed on the many aspects of the nature of God and our calling as the people of God. Advent, Christmas, Covenant, Lent, Holy Week, Easter. In spite of everything else which has been uncertain and up in the air, these celebrations have been compass points of familiarity and celebration.

This month sees the start of Lent.  Lent is the season which, arguably, presents the most powerful opportunity to pay particular attention to our life of faith, to discerning the word of God and to addressing questions about who Jesus Christ is for us today, and how being a follower of Christ affects us. Whether it is through prayer, self-denial and charitable giving, taking something up or giving something up, reading and meditating upon God's word, self-examination and repentance, or civil disobedience and campaigning against things in society which you see as unjust, the marking of Lent can be both a good spiritual discipline and a deep heartfelt joy as we seek to make new discoveries about our own faith and about the way God works in the world.

In the Circuit we begin Lent with an Ash Wednesday Service on Wednesday 2nd March at 7pm at Davenport Church and I hope that many of you will also join our Circuit Lent Course. There will be a led version of the course every Thursday on Zoom 7pm-8pm starting on 10th March until 7th April but the material will be available on the circuit website or as a printed resource for those wishing to use it in a face-to-face setting, with an existing bible study or house group, or with a group specially set up for Lent. The focus of the course will be the hymn And Can it Be and its great themes of inclusion, mystery, incarnation, liberation and salvation. Every Sunday during Lent across our churches we will be sharing a common Lenten Liturgy which is related to the course. As part of this liturgy, you are being asked to bring to church each Sunday a small piece of clean household rubbish to place at the foot of the cross – all will be revealed!

However you choose to engage with the Lenten season, I hope and pray it will be one of spiritual, mental and physical well-being for you, as we seek to be those who follow in the footsteps of Christ to the cross and beyond, bringing hope and love and peace into God’s broken world.

A Prayer for Lent

God, show us the way.
Lead us in new ways of trusting service.
Light our path. Lead us through this Lenten journey
To Easter and beyond. With you.
Beyond the pain of loss and fear. Amen

(adapted from Kate Mcilagga)

With every blessing,

Cathy Bird

Covid measures at Dialstone Lane

I am writing this on Sunday 20th February in order to meet the deadline for the Church newsletter. As ever, we are trying to hit a moving target, with the government expected to announce on 21st February an end to the legal requirement to self-isolate after catching Covid and all remaining legal virus restrictions in the country expected to end in the coming days.

However, many health care professionals, scientists and charities helping vulnerable people have expressed concern at plans to lift restrictions while Covid infections are widespread.

The Methodist Church will probably publish revised guidance after the government announcements.

At Dialstone Lane, we have always tried to strike an appropriate balance, conscious that we have a number of vulnerable people who need to feel that church is a safe place - whilst others may find some restrictions difficult and point to the lack of such measures in some other parts of society. I believe "Learning to live with the virus" means that we take some appropriate steps - not just act as though it did not exist.

Your Leadership Team has reviewed what we should do - interrupted by my own bout of Covid and our attempt to take a much-needed holiday - which ended up being at home whilst I isolated.

My proposal therefore is the following:

Relax the target 45 minutes service: this was previously the advice of the government, based on the concern that infected air could become concentrated over a longer period. I am optimistic that our ventilation is adequate for dispersing any contamination and things should only get better if infection rates do drop further.

Masks: I know that these are - at the least - an irritation to some and can interfere with hearing, although others feel reassured when they see people wearing masks. I propose a compromise - we continue to wear masks when moving around inside and - importantly - when singing (when we breathe out many more droplets than when silent or just speaking quietly) - but we agree we can remove masks when seated and doing no more than - for example - speaking prayer responses and the like.

Chairs: we bring some more chairs into church and make some rows in the centre - whilst leaving chairs more widely spaced in other parts. People can use the blue "Please do not sit here" signs wherever they are sitting. I am keen to give people the option to sit apart from others because separation does reduce the risk of transmitting infection.

Leaving the church after the service: clear advice was that we should not linger in church but go into the fresh air for conversations. I propose that we now relax this and let people make their own choice

After-service drinks: this was supported by many but we should also be conscious of the extra work and initially do not try to have it each week - if we want to go ahead, let's just start with a trial run. I think it's better if we go into the hall and drinks could be served from a trolley using an urn or kettles. We will not get out many tables - perhaps just a couple - and a few chairs. If you need more, we ask you to get them out yourself one at a time. Chairs can normally be left out for Dialietots on Monday.

Ventilation: I consider this is important and advise that we continue the arrangement in church - and in the Coffee Lounge (door propped open or fan run) and Hall and Kitchen (windows open slightly)

I propose we introduce these measures from 1st March.

Please let me have any comments and pray that we can keep an appropriate balance as circumstances change.
Andy Stoker Covid Responsible Person

Appeal for volunteers in many areas of Church life

We need more people to become involved in the running of the church and hope that everyone will consider prayerfully where your energy and talents might best be used – or whether you are being called to something outside your comfort zone!

  • Stewards: currently we have only 5 full stewards and one will be going to her hard-earned retirement after 6 years come August. Many of our Stewards have other Sunday duties including preaching, AV and driving people to Church which can make the organisation of the rota to support the plan tricky at times! A lot of work has been done to update the job description of our stewards which we hope will give people the confidence to know what they need to do and how to do it if they want to think about becoming stewards in future. Stewards are appointed at the Annual Church Meeting which will be in the summer, so plenty of time to think.
  • We would also welcome more people willing to offer their services as Worship or Sunday Stewards
  • How about learning a new skill and becoming part of the Audio-Visual team? It involves staying alert and pressing buttons at the appropriate time. If you have experience of preparing powerpoint that would be a bonus but not vital.
  • Could you help share the responsibility for tidying the Sunday School materials on the tables at the back of the Church and making sure there are, preferably relevant, things for children of different ages to do? In time we hope to be able to restart our Sunday School provision.
  • Could you offer to help with wrapping and distributing flowers?
  • Would you be part of the rota to serve coffee which we hope to be able to restart before too long?

If you would like to talk about being more involved in one of these ways – or others - please have a chat with one of the Stewards – Susan Conlon, Stewart Blackledge, Eric Osborn, Andy Stoker or myself.

Thank you,
Catriona Stoker, Co-ordinating Steward

FOREST CHURCH @ Dialstone Lane

Dialstone Lane Methodist Church Garden

Sunday March 20th 3pm-4pm

Forest Church is a fresh expression of church, offering a chance to discover God in the beauty of the world around us, connecting with ancient traditions and practices which recognise the presence of the Divine in the heart of nature. We will sing, pray, meditate and reflect together on our place within God’s creation.

Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such cannot see; eternal power and the mystery of Divine being.” (Romans 1:20 The Message)

All ages are welcome – please bring a camping or folding chair (we will have a few available on the day) and something of nature from your own home (a stone, plant, twig or seed)

For more information please contact Liz Delafield or Cathy Bird cathy.bird@methodist.org.uk

Welcome Group 2022 at Dialstone Lane Methodist Church

After a break during December and early January due to Covid and boiler problems, we started up the group again and have now run a total of 12 sessions. Many people we met at first have moved on to what is supposed to be more suitable accommodation elsewhere in the North West, where they will be able to stay until their asylum claim has been decided. For some it has been very hard if they have been placed away from their communities in outer Skelmersdale or Warrington, far from others who could speak their language or help them negotiate things like signing on with a doctor or find familiar foods.

There are still families we’ve known from the start at the hotel – including the family with new twins – but we understand the aim is to move the families on more quickly to more suitable accommodation than the single young men and couples. We’re really concerned about the lack of education provided for the school age children; it will be so hard for them to fit into classroom routines after so long out of school – if they’ve ever been in it - as well as all the learning time they are losing out on.

For the children we are offering outdoor games when the weather allows, playing board games and puzzles and offer different craft activities each week. Paper aeroplanes were very popular! We also provide books, toys and soft toys for the children to take ‘home’ to the hotel.

We now have a lively group of volunteers offering help with English to those interested (which is the majority of adults coming). Some of our guests are already able to hold a limited conversation in English, but others know almost none, and besides the majority who speak Farsi or Kurdish (and Kurdish comes in at least 3 quite distinct versions), we have a range of other languages spoken as people’s first language. As you might imagine it is quite a challenge to pitch what is being done to meet the needs of several at a time; quite a lot of the work is done on a one to one or two to one basis.

Even if we don’t share much common language it is possible to have an enjoyable chat about things like food, especially if someone has good pictures on their phone, of the food they enjoy cooking from home . For this week, I’ve been to Stockport Library for some Middle Eastern cookery books to chat over. Perhaps in time we will be able to do some cooking at the group and share one of life’s most basic pleasures. We provide a range of refreshments each week - some healthy, some less so – as well as hot and cold drinks, but to have a meal cooked together would be very special. Sadly, in large part, Covid will determine whether we can.

If you would be interested in becoming involved in the group as a volunteer, have donations of toys or soft toys or straightforward board games to give, or would simply like to know more, please have a chat with any of the volunteers – Cathy Bird, Stewart Blackledge, Gwyneth Brown, Dave and Margaret Bryant, Susan Conlon, Pat and Ian Hamilton, Jane Hollins, Sheila Hulme, Linda Norbury, Eric and Irene Osborn, Gill Ramsbottom, Andy and Catriona Stoker. And many thanks for your ongoing prayers and the welcome offered to our fledgling Farsi speaking congregation on a Sunday morning.

Doreen Cox

It is with sadness that we learned of the death of Doreen Cox over the weekend of 12th/13th February. Her family were able to support her at home after some time in hospital and a lengthy period when she had been living in pain before that.  They are in our thoughts and prayers at this time.

We now have details of her funeral service which will be held at Dialstone Lane Methodist Church and conducted by Rev Cathy Bird at 12 noon on Monday 7th March, followed by an interment at Norbury Parish Church. All are welcome to attend the service at Dialstone Lane.

Celebration of the life of Connie Clarke

A Service has now been planned to Celebrate Connie's life at Dialstone Lane Methodist Church on Sunday 3rd April at 2pm.

Rev Ann Hall will be leading the Service, Rev Mandy Boon and Rev Cathy Bird will contribute.

As we all know Connie lived a very full life and was involved in lots of activities and was loved by all the groups she helped with. Her family want to invite and include as many people as possible to Celebrate together.

At the moment it is anticipated that we will be able to accommodate approximately 120 people, this is likely to be 90 in the Sanctuary and 30 in the Coffee Lounge. Numbers are not confirmed as yet. Hence, everyone who is attending the service will need to be 'booked in' prior to this very special occasion.

There will be two ways of booking for the service,   

A.  Via the Dialstone Lane Methodist Church website, www.dialstonelanemethodistchurch.co.uk

B. contacting Gillian Ramsbottom on 0161 483 8812.

After the service there will be refreshments, Tea and Cakes, The Tuesday group have offered to help with these, other offers of help will be gratefully accepted.

It is hoped that the Service can be recorded in some way so that people who have not been able to attend on 3rd April can see the and enjoy the service at a later date.

Birth Congratulations

Congratulations to Bessie Fallas on becoming a Great,Great Grandmother, to a baby girl named Elysia born in January. Congratulations also to Great Grandmother, Wendy.

Used Postage Stamps

Thank you to all those who save their used stamps for charity especially to the person who put a large number in the box a few weeks ago. Can you make sure that you leave a border around each stamp as damaged stamps are of no use and are just thrown away. Both British and foreign stamps are needed by charities and all your donations are very welcome. Just put them in the box in the entrance hall when you have them and I will make sure they reach their destination.


Jump Space 

Quiz and Hotpot, Saturday 19th February 

Once again, my thanks to Andrew Mason for organizing the quiz. Thank you to all for their generous donations of apple pies and raffle prizes and to everybody who helped in any way. I think we were all happy to be able to enjoy the social experience after such a long break and we raised £291 for our chosen charity, Jump Space.

Andy Stoker’s Christmas quiz did brilliantly, raising £829 including online payments. Thanks again, Andy. The total raised now stands at £2345.60 plus £515 which Andy made online for his quiz.

Posh Frocks and Hats, Saturday 28th May will be our next planned fundraiser. Cream tea with a surprise element if things go to plan. Please save the date.

Pancake Day

1st March between 10am and 12 noon on Zoom (join anytime during these times)

As we are still having to be careful, we have been asked to do the Pancake Day over zoom once again.

We welcome everyone to join us for a get together and chat during which you can have your pancakes and coffee (sorry we are unable to make them for you). As this has traditionally been a church fundraiser, anyone wishing to give a donation would be most welcome to do so. Just put your donation in an envelope marked Pancake Day and put it in the collection bag or hand to a steward or Pastoral visitor

We hope next year we will be able to get together in person once again.

Pat & Peter


Topic: Pancake Day Get-Together

Time: Mar 1, 2022 10:00 London

Join Zoom Meeting


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Newsletter Deadline

The deadline for the April Newsletter will be 20th March. Please let Pat have items by 12 noon.

Clocks Forward

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward one hour before you go to bed on the night of Saturday 26th March.

Christian Aid Week 15th – 21st May

I am looking for volunteers:- 

  1. To deliver envelopes between 8th – 14th May for Christian Aid.
  2. To help with the Plant Stalls through 15th – 21st May. Days depending on availability
  3. Donations of Plants for the Plant Stall.

Please could you give me a ring on 07858666480 if you can help in any way.

Lesley Fennell

The Knitted Bible Exhibition

This may appeal particularly to our keen knitters.

“Come along and browse 33 scenes from the Old and New Testaments in a Unique Way!

On display at Hurst Nook URC, Nook Lane, Hurst, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 9HJ

Open Fri 25th March, 10-12, 2-4, 7-9   Sat 26th March 10-12, 2-4  Sun 27th March 1-4

Entry (including refreshments) £2, children free.”

St George’s Stockport – Celebration of 125 years
His goodness restores my soul

The group currently planning a whole flock of events and activities as part of celebrations for the 125th anniversary of the consecration of St. George’s Church is launching a photographic competition based on our anniversary theme of the Lord’s My Shepherd, the 23rd psalm. The intention is to have a variety of things happening in the time around the anniversary that will raise awareness of St. George’s Church and provide a welcoming and accessible introduction to us, our building and our worship. ‘His goodness restores my soul’ is a line taken from the Stuart Townend song version of the psalm which is well-known and user-friendly.

The competition will be open to all, from professionals to amateur enthusiasts and happy snappers of all ages. With separate categories for adults and children, everyone can take part and it would be wonderful if our Church family could help by joining in early to get things started. We hope that the images will be a celebration of the anniversary theme and so all entries will be shared in an online exhibition via our Flickr. The finalists and winners will feature at The Lords My Shepherd Festival from 4th to 8th May 2022 when the overall winners will be announced.

The theme for adults is ‘Restores my soul’ and is open to those over the age of 16. We’d like people to think about what restores their soul or makes them feel whole again. It could be something natural, a favourite hobby, food, place or indeed prayer or church service. The theme for children is ‘Goodness’ which is open to under 16s and we’d like them think about what says ‘good’ to them and what is good in the world. It will be lovely to see how different people respond and express themselves and to see how the image collection expands. By holding an online virtual exhibition, we will be able to reach out to many more people living both near and far, strangers and friends who will be able to participate. Some images may also be included in Grapevine and featured on the St. George’s with St. Gabriel’s website.

The competition is open now and we can start our online exhibition as soon as we start receiving entries. If you’d like to take part, you might already have the ideal photograph or you might like to take some time to frame your perfect image and write a few sentences about how it makes you feel. The closing date for submission will be 31st March 2022. You may also be able to help with prizes, if you know of anyone with something suitable to donate or who would like to sponsor a prize, please do get in touch. Full details of how to enter the competition and entry forms are available from:





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