Christmas Services and Events at St Michael’s – dates for your diary

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Join us in celebrating the greatest news of all this Christmas – God with us!

These are our Christmas Services and Events:

Tuesday 13th December, 7.00pm – Light of Life Service 

A service to remember loved ones and dedicate a light on our Christmas tree

Wednesday 14th December, 7.00pm – Gilpin Singers Christmas Concert

£3 entry, enjoy a varied concert of music old and new, get in the Christmas spirit!

Saturday 17th December, 11.00am – Carol Singing in the Wild Boar Pub

Meet us in the Wild Boar for some carol singing – wear a Christmas jumper!

Sunday 18th December, 3.00pm – Christingle

A magical family service – all proceeds to Children’s Society

Christmas Eve

3.00pm Interactive Family Crib Service – a chance to take part in a nativity play and sing some carols

7.00pm Our Traditional 9 Lessons and Carols Service

11.30pm Midnight Mass

Christmas Day

8.30am Eucharist

10.00am Festival Eucharist

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Houghton Feast Events at St Michael & All Angels

You are warmly invited to join our Houghton Feast celebrations this October.

Friday 6th October 7.00 pm Feast Opening Ceremony

Saturday 7th October 10.00 am Craft & Produce Market

Sunday 8th October

10.30 am Feast Civic Service

6.00 pm Community Hymn Singing featuring Houghton Youth Band

Wednesday 11th October 7.00 pm Houghton Brass Band Concert

Friday 13th October 7.30 pm Gilpin 500 Dinner

Saturday 14th October 5.15 pm RSCM Festival (Durham Cathedral)

Harvest Festival – Sunday 24th September, 10.00am St Michael & All Angels, Houghton-le-Spring

Now thank we all our God! Come and join us for this thanksgiving celebration!

This year’s Harvest Festival service is on Sunday 24th September 2017 at 10.00am.

Please bring non-perishable food which will be given to local people through Space4. Monetary donations (please use the envelopes provided) will go to the DEC Yemen Appeal to help feed some of the most malnourished people in the world.

 

Watch highlights from our Summer Evening Concert

A big audience enjoyed a wonderful selection of music performed by a range of talented people from our congregation and beyond at our Summer Evening Concert this year. Many thanks to our Music Director George Peebles, our conductor Rev’d Frances Wilson and performers Eve Welch, Stuart and David Clappison, Nikki Hellmuth, Tony Wise, Janet Arkle, St Michael’s Liturgical Choir and the Gilpin Singers.

Martin Luther said:

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

this was fantastically demonstrated in the performances at our concert. Here is a video of some highlights from a wonderful evening:

We are always looking for new members of the church choir and our women’s choir Gilpin Singers.

Church Choir practice is on Thursdays 6.00pm-7.30pm in the Choir Vestry – come along and join in, even if you can only commit occasionally it would be great to see you.

The Gilpin Singers meet every other Wednesday at 7.30pm in the Choir Vestry, no singing or music reading experience needed – just a willingness to give it a try. The next session is on 6th September 2017 – why not come and see what you think? It could change your life!

Have faith like a child – stories from our Year 6 Leavers’ Services

At the end of the school term this year we welcomed the Year 6 children from our three local primary schools – Burnside Primary Academy, Bernard Gilpin Primary School and Gillas Lane Primary Academy into church for a special leavers’ service. We did this new style of service for the first time last year and after its success we couldn’t wait to welcome the children back!

Rather than a traditional style service the children moved around the different parts of our church to take part in some creative prayer activities to help them reflect on their time at primary school and think about the move to secondary school. There were 5 ‘stations’: Please, Thank You, Sorry, Together and Wow! The Please activity was about putting worries into God’s hands. The children drew around their hands and wrote on their hands the things they were worried about – they cut these out and put them on a board. At this station the children were also invited to light a candle for a loved one – and many took us up on the offer. The Thank You activity was about thinking about people we’re thankful for (this ranged from dinner ladies to inspirational teachers to best friends), the children made pipe-cleaner people to represent those they were thankful for. The Sorry activity involved the children taking a stone in their hand and thinking of something they’d regretted and then ‘letting go’ of the stone as a sign that God forgives them. The Together activity had the children draw a portrait of themselves on a piece of jigsaw – we joined all the faces together to make one big family. For the Wow activity the children thought of a ‘wow’ moment at primary school to decorate a flag with. These ranged from passing SATs exams to performing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to scoring lots of goals in football!

The most moving part for me this year was working with the children on the ‘sorry’ activity. One group of about 5 children came to me and a boy in the group said ‘I’m not a Christian, I don’t believe in God. I didn’t want to come here today.’ But then quickly followed this up by saying ‘but I’m having a brilliant time today!’ This boy was then the first to try the activity. Once all 5 children had taken their turn, they returned to me and I asked them how it had felt to let go of the stone. The same boy said to me ‘can I share what my thing was?’ I said he could if he wanted to but he didn’t have to say it out loud. He insisted ‘well, I want to share it as it’s about someone here’ at that he pointed to his friend who replied ‘well my thing was about you!’ They both said that their big regret had been fighting a lot instead of being friends. The two boys made up in front of my eyes with no prompting from me! It was a beautiful thing to see and reminded me why Jesus said we had to have faith like a child.

Each service ended with the children singing a rousing rendition of the song ‘Lean on Me’ and reflecting on this scripture from Romans 12 (this is the Message translation):

“Be a real family, warm-hearted in your care for one another. Look forward to God’s new world with gladness. In hard times, stand your ground: never forget to pray. Share other people’s happiness and other people’s sadness. Learn to respect everybody. As far as you can, be friends with everyone.”

A big thank you to all the volunteers that made the services so special and to the children for engaging so well. Do have a look at the photos and video on our church Facebook page.

We are praying for all our local schools and especially for those children moving up to secondary school this September.

Every blessing, Rev’d Bryony (Curate)

A big thank you to the Prayer Project at the Diocese of Durham for supporting this work.

View an exhibition of local children’s work on Bernard Gilpin – part of #gilpin500

Children in our local schools have been learning all about Bernard Gilpin as part of our Gilpin 500 celebrations this year. The work from the children at Gillas Lane Primary Academy was displayed in church back in March during our Tudor Weekend. Over the summer, we will be displaying the work from children at Bernard Gilpin Primary School and Burnside Primary Academy. Do pop into church to take a look at their work and to find out more about our remarkable Rector.

Church is open to visitors every day from 11am – 1pm.

A Time to Remember – special service to remember loved ones Sun 27th Aug, 6pm

Join us on Sunday 27th August at 6pm for Time to Remember – a special service where we can remember and hold before God those we love but see no longer. Whether you have been bereaved recently or many years ago this is an opportunity to gather with others and remember, giving thanks and seeking new hope. All are welcome, including children.

Our Pastoral Assistants are recommissioned in a special service at Durham Cathedral

On Thursday 22nd June a special Commissioning Service was held at Durham Cathedral at which four of our Authorised Pastoral Assistants (APAs) were recommissioned. It was an opportunity to celebrate the often unseen work of our vital Pastoral Team here at St Michael’s in visiting those in our community with a variety of needs.

Our newly re-commissioned APAs

Thelma, Jacqui, Elaine and Evelyn have been serving as APAs for five years already and at this service re-dedicated themselves to continue in this ministry. Bishop Mark prayed this prayer after recommissioning the APAs:

Give to your servants the gifts of faith, hope and love, that they may execute the office of pastoral assistant to your praise and honour. May their hands be ready to do your work. May their eyes be open to recognise those in need. May their ears hear words of pain or sorrow. May their voices speak of healing and peace. As we welcome their ministry among us, may we support them and love them. Bless them with your presence and protection in all that they do; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pastoral care is at the heart of our ministry at St Michael’s and we are very blessed to have such a wonderful team and are delighted that they are willing to continue in their role here in Houghton-le-Spring. Please do pray for them and also for yourself. Might God be calling you to serve in a new way in the church? If you’re feeling a ‘nudge’ do speak to one of our APAs or to a member of the clergy.

“Ministry is the responsibility of the whole people of God. We are all ministers! Trained and equipped pastoral ministry is an invaluable part of this whole ministry of the whole church” – The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

Walking in the footsteps of Bernard Gilpin – our #gilpin500 pilgrimage

On Saturday 17th June a band of happy pilgrims walked in the sunshine all the way from Houghton-le-Spring to Durham Cathedral as part of our Gilpin 500 celebrations.

Bernard Gilpin was an itinerant preacher, spending much of his time walking around Northumbria in order to preach the gospel. So following in his footsteps we had a pilgrimage together to Durham Cathedral, helping us to appreciate a slower pace of life and enjoy the sights on the way.

Once at the cathedral we had a short service of prayer in the Galilee Chapel and then our Gilpin Banners were processed as part of Choral Evensong.

Thank you to the Rev’d Margaret Lee and Rev’d Judith Howes for organising the pilgrimage and to Canon David Kennedy and Durham Cathedral for their hospitality.

We are all on a pilgrimage of faith together:

May God the Father who created you, guide your footsteps,
May God the Son who redeemed you, share your journey,
May God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you, lead you on life’s pilgrimage,
and the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be with you wherever you may go. Amen.

Here are some pictures from the walk on a rather hot but glorious day:

Setting off from Houghton

On our way towards Pittington

Leaving Pittington – about half way

Walking through fields

We can see the cathedral in the distance with its ‘hat’ on!

We reach Durham Old Gardens

Walking by the river while a cricket match is on

A welcome sight indeed!

Ready for a short service in the Galilee Chapel

The Bernard Gilpin window in Durham Cathedral