The Rector Writes – January 2019

New Year has some perennial themes: resolutions to change our habits, determination to get fit and lose weight, and a desire to start afresh after what’s often been a long and challenging year. It’s so tempting to make New Year’s Resolutions. I know myself well enough now that that there’s pretty much no point in me attempting to make them. I know I shall be on a hiding to nothing! As the proverb says, ‘the road to hell is laid with good intentions’, and so often I find I can’t follow my intentions through with action!

Just because it can be tricky to change our habits or ideas, it doesn’t mean one should simply ignore the opportunities presented by a new year. This year presents many. One thing you will notice this year, is that the PCC has agreed to try something fresh with the magazine.

Rather than having twelve issues this year, we shall have six ‘double’ issues. The aim is to both improve the quality and content of the magazine, as well as address the growing printing costs of twelve issues. This bi-monthly magazine will – we hope – be larger and reflect a wider range of voices and content. Going bi-monthly will also give us greater time to collect content.

On behalf of the PCC, I should like to thank Giles, our editor, who is staying on. However, a group of us will aim to support him by working hard to collect content for inclusion in the magazine. If you have ideas for a feature, please don’t hesitate to approach me or the Church Wardens. Furthermore, for those of you who are wondering, the Diocesan Magazine, Crux, will still be available year round and your subscription includes it.

This year will also see movement on our plans for the next stage of building development. I hope we can firm up the next steps – in terms of repair work, as well as developing the lobby area and choir vestry – very soon. As ever, the work will be dependent on raising money. I genuinely hope that the vast burden of this won’t fall on the congregation. We are well placed to draw money from national grant-making bodies. However, as ever, we shall also need to find some match funding. I am open to some creative ways of raising funds, so don’t hesitate to speak to me about any ideas you may have. I have one or two thoughts myself, but I shall keep my powder dry for the moment!

The crucial thing, always, is to place all we do in the context of serving God. Our magazine, for example, is a key way we share information and ideas within the community, but its role is part of a wider commitment to service and mission. St Nick’s remains a wonderful place full of amazing people, but we do not exist to be an inward-looking club. We are God’s people called to serve a world in need with love and grace. That’s also why having our building in high repair matters; not so that it looks pretty (though that is lovely!), but so we can be a place where God is available for all in our parish.

As we enter a new year I sense, as ever, exciting and interesting times. We would be foolish as a community to be complacent or over-confident. The nature of church life is that it has vulnerability and precariousness built into it. Why? Because, Church is not a building, but a community, and communities comprise real flesh-and-blood, vulnerable human beings. However, this is also our strength and hope. I never cease to be moved by the fact that God emptied himself into frail flesh, in Jesus Christ. The promise of salvation, redemption and new life is found in a human being who is also God. Our precariousness is also our openness to new possibilities and change. Growth can happen, in numbers and faith.

These, then, are challenging times because there are so many uncertainties in religious and political and economic life. Who knows what this year may bring. Yet, that is also exciting. For God is faithful and generous and delights in us when we seek to be faithful and gracious in return. Let us, then, approach this new year in trust. God is good and gracious. In times of trial and times of abundance he shall be with us.

Rachel x

January/February 2019 Magazine

Christmas Services

Christmas Eve
Monday 24th December
11.30pm Midnight Eucharist

Christmas Day
Tuesday 25th December
8.30am Holy Communion BCP
10.30am Family Communion with carols.

Post expires at 12:00am on Wednesday December 26th, 2018

Christingle – Sunday 9th December 10:30a.m.

The annual Christingle service in aid of the Children’s Society will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday 9th December.

The service will be combined with a celebration of St. Nick’s 90th Birthday.

The service will be followed by lunch served in the Church hall – Everybody is welcome to attend.

Post expires at 11:59pm on Sunday December 9th, 2018

Happy 90th Birthday St Nicholas Church, Burnage!

St. Nicholas Church celebrates its 90th Birthday on Saturday 8th December.

On Sunday 9th December we will hold a Christingle Service and 90th Birthday Celebration with Bishop Mark.

This will be followed by a celebration lunch, everybody is mot welcome!

On 8th December 1928, during a snowy afternoon, the Bishop of Middleton dedicated a temporary church and hall. On the following day, Sunday 9th
December, the first service was held.

The church we now know was completed in 1932.

For more information buy a copy of our Visitors’ Guide, available in church for 50p, or ask Bevan Taylor: if he
doesn’t know it’s probably not worth knowing!

Bevan has written a few words looking back on 90 years at St. Nick’s.

Looking Back – 40 years and 90 years!

On Saturday 9th December 1978 The Church of St Nicholas, Burnage, Manchester, celebrated the ‘golden jubillee’ of the Formation of the parish on Saturday 8th December 1928.

Earlier in the year of 1978 the then Rector from 1971, Revd Brian W Barker, had written to all the previous six Rectors, inviting them to contribute to a booklet to celebrate this great occasion in the life of the church. Prebendary Herbert A Barnett wrote as follows:


A period of fifty years is a short time in the life of a parish, but it forms the greater part of the life of an individual . It is, therefore, with a thankful heart in gratitude to God that I am permitted to greet you in this Jubilee Year of “Saint Nicholas”.

I well remember the dedication of the temporary Church and Hall on the snowy afternoon of December 8th, 1928. We were all new friends together looking forward with hope to the future.

The life of what I soon called “The Beloved Community” flourished with such vigour that before four years had passed the Parish Hall proved inadequate for the needs of the people for worship and for fellowship.
Thus in September , 1932, the Church of Saint Nicholas was consecrated by the then Bishop of Manchester, Dr .Warman.

I look back with gratitude to all who with God’s blessing helped me to build up the life of the parish in those early years. Many of them now worship God in a fuller light , but some of us are still serving Him here on earth.

One family we dwell in Him,
One Church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream
The narrow stream of death’

Many others have come to join in the life of the parish. I hope to meet you all next December. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. May the blessing of God be with the Rector , his
family, and you.


If I may ‘look back’ 40 years to 9th December 1978 my abiding memory is the fact that all the previous rectors were able to be present:

Herbert A Barnett: 1928-1938
Wilfred Garlick 1938-1944
George V H Eliott 1945-1951
John E R Williams 1951-1958
David A Edwards 1958-1965
Dennis Baggaley 1965-1971

Bevan Taylor, 26th October, 2018

The Rector Writes – December 2018

In recent years, St Nick’s has seen a considerable increase in participation in our Christmas events (something which reflects national church trends). There is a hunger for connection as Christmas approaches. Thus, for several years, we’ve hosted the local Christmas Tree Lights Switch-On which brings hundreds of people into the church. It’s become the traditional local signal
for the start of the festive season. In addition, we’ve seen our Christingle and Community Carol services grow in size and popularity, and that’s before onementions the many successful concerts given by the Greater Manchester Voices.

This year looks like being especially busy. In addition to the Christmas Tree Lights Switch-On on 30th November, there will be the usual Community Carol Service on 16th December at 3pm, as well as a full programme of Christmas services on Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day. This year, Greater Manchester Voices are holding an open evening on 20th December
rather than a full concert. Do join them, if you can! Of course, on 9th December, at our usual 10.30am service, we shall hold a very special Christingle. It will mark our 90th Anniversary as a parish. The service will be presided over by Mark, the Bishop of Middleton, and it will bring together friends old and new to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the parish of St Nicholas Burnage; it will also give us an opportunity to look forward to how we can continue to grow and evolve as a community.

On 8th December, at 10.30am, I should also like to invite you to come and join me at the Rectory for a Christmas Coffee Morning. I remember fondly how Vera and Sybil Gawkrodger used to hold a Christmas get-together and I’d like to reinstitute it. I’m no mince-pie baker, so I may have to rely on other people’s skills! However, I’m sure I can dig out some brandy to slip into your
coffees! Of course, there will be other opportunities to share fun, fellowship and reflection during Advent and Christmas. Do check your notice sheets regarding these.

However, a little note of caution. For all the busyness that December brings, it is important that we don’t lose sight of our true focus. Without it, all the tinsel and partying is mere clanging bells and sounding fury.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be a killjoy. Far from it. Advent and Christmas are extraordinary seasons. Let us dare, then, to use December as an opportunity to prepare and pray and ready ourselves for the feast. But the point of that preparation is Jesus Christ.

How easy it is for any of us to lose sight of the centrality of Christ to our festal joy. In my busyness I can get a little lost. Many clergy find December such a bewildering marathon that the only thing they look forward to on Christmas day afternoon is a good sleep! This is understandable. We are all limited human beings. Yet, there are richer and deeper joys in our Advent preparations and Christmas feasting than trying to get the ‘big day’ right.

Ultimately, there is one Christmas gift: Jesus Christ. In his nativity, our hope takes flesh; in Christ’s vulnerability is the promise of peace and riches abounding. May you know his love, delight and wonder, this Advent and Christmastide.

Merry Christmas!

Rectors Quiz Night & Gin Tasting – Friday 19th October


St Nicholas Church Hall
Friday 19th October, 7-10pm. £3 per person (+ bar).

Teams of up-to six welcome. If anyone wishes to come alone, teams will be found!

A variety of gins will be on hand to try for a small donation. You can bring your own drink, but there will be a bar with soft drinks available too.

Do come along for what is always a fun and silly night.

Post expires at 11:59pm on Friday October 19th, 2018

Last Night Of The Proms

Last Night Of The Proms – Saturday 13th October at 7:30 p.m.

Come and join us in the Church Hall and listen to The Greater Manchester Voices and The Vernon Building Society Brass Band and The Greater Manchester Voices as they perform an eclectic mix of British classical and pop music from through the ages, with

A spectacular proms finale featuring
Land of Hope and Glory
Rule Brittania
and many more

Tickets are £7.00 (Under 16’s free) on the door or can be purchased in advance from performers.

Post expires at 11:59pm on Wednesday October 10th, 2018

The Rector Writes – October 2018

St Nick’s is the kind of open and generous place where fresh and creative things are welcomed and embraced. Over the years, I’ve always been grateful for the willingness of church members to try new approaches to worship, be flexible while building works go on, and enjoy the creative arts in our magnificent building.

This month I want to write about the proposed next phase of work on the building. Now, I know this can generate weary groans among some. Building stuff is rarely something that sets hearts aflutter. However, at our most recent meeting, the PCC committed to exploring some very exciting plans for St Nick’s future.

Before I outline them, it’s important to say this: the primary concern of the PCC and I is to ensure that St Nick’s never loses sight of its primary purpose
as a place dedicated to the glory of God. We exist to worship God and one of the ways we do that is in being a servant community in our parish. The proposed plans seek to keep these primary purposes centre-stage.

So, let’s begin with the more functional aspects of the plan. During the last phase of work, it was discovered that the high-level windows (the small stained-glass ones) are in a parlous state. These windows were not included in the original work. However, we managed to find some money in budget savings to repair some of the worst-hit windows, but there are several which
require urgent repair.

Equally, it will not have escaped your notice that the east entrance area is in need of work. While it is now watertight, it is unsightly and does not signal the level of welcome any of us should like. The next phase of work aims to address the twin concerns of the high-level windows and the east entrance, but to do so much more.

Here’s the exciting bit, then: The PCC has engaged our architect to produce a feasibility study to explore the redevelopment of the east entrance (the Entrance Lobby) and Choir Vestry. That, of course, shall involve redecoration, but also includes the prospect of opening-up that area.

We are looking at adding glass doors to the entrance (whilst retaining the original doors). This would mean being able to have the original front doors open for services all year around. It would address the issue that many new people face when coming to St Nick’s: coming in through those imposing
doors. Instead, the imposing doors would be held open and people could see in through the glass doors.

In addition, we have increasingly found that we lack usable spaces for community and church use. Thus, the architect is going to look how we can adapt that front area so that it can be hired out by the community. It would involve looking at the current lavatory arrangements in that area, as well as adding a kitchenette in the choir vestry. It would need to be both wheelchair accessible as well as secure, so that the space could be hired out without giving immediate access to the church or Rector’s Vestry.

A further area we want to look at is how we can make the main church space as flexible as possible, for both worship and community use. Some of you will recall that in about 2012/3 we looked at removing some of the pews and replacing them with chairs. We had general support for this, and – subject to certain conditions – support from the Diocesan Advisory Committee. This is something we want to revisit.

Our pews are tricky and bulky items of furniture to work with. Whenever we have a Fair or a big community event they need to be moved around. This is a task that has become more wearisome over time. They also limit our options for worship, especially for Taizē. It also means that we are quite limited in how we might make the church area available for (appropriate) hire. Thus, we are considering the replacement of most of the pews with chairs.

Clearly, this is a process that will take time and about which I hope to hear your views and opinions, both positive and negative. It is also predicated on raising substantial sums of money (again!). I appreciate that that side of things can be unpalatable, especially after you have been so very generous with donations not only for previous work on the roof, but also for our new

I genuinely hope that the main burden of raising money will not fall on our regular congregations. The proposed works are so major that we shall be dependent on the support of national as well as local sources for grants. I am confident that, as a nationally significant building already on the Historic England radar, we shall find a great deal of financial support for our work.

Nonetheless, much responsibility will come back to us. We are the stewards of a mighty building and a fine heritage, but more than that, a people who keep alive a living faith. Our building without people and faith is but a clanging cymbal; with us it sings a symphony of love. If it can feel like a burden to keep the ‘show’ on the road, it is also our gift to be stewards of a
building that can have so much to offer in the future. We are called to keep the rumour of God alive in Burnage, and more than that: to celebrate the vibrant presence of God in our community and beyond, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Rachel xx

October 2018 Magazine

Rector Writes – September 2018

September. For me, as for many, it will always be the month when everything starts again. Perhaps, it’s because I’m someone who (as an honorary Fellow at a local university) still has a foot in academia; perhaps, it’s because I’ve never quite grown up; perhaps, it’s because all of us find that our school experiences stay with us for the rest of our lives and September is ‘back to school’ month.

Whatever the reason, September is the month when it can feel like the world comes alive again. Kids go back to school, parents and teachers go back to work, and in Church our eyes turn towards Harvest, Remembrance and, well, dare I mention it, Advent and Christmas.

This autumn we approach a special time in the life of St Nick’s. Unbelievably, it is ninety years since the foundation of the parish. This is surely something worth celebrating. On December 9th (almost ninety years to the day since St Nick’s foundation), the current Bishop of Middleton, Mark Davies, will join us for a celebratory morning service, and lunch. I hope you will put the date in your diary.

We shall begin with our Christingle at 10.30am, led by Mark, and our Rainbow unit, followed by a lunch with sandwiches and cake and wine. Friends from past and present shall be invited, including one or two of the ‘great and the good’. The most important thing, though, is to have you there. If you think of someone we should invite to this celebration, please let me or the Church Wardens know. It’s going to be a great day.

In addition, now we’ve completed our boiler project, it’s time to think about how we can address some other aspects of our missional work. This is going to involve a new phase of work on the building as we look to repair some parts of it, as well as make it ever more flexible for the demands of the church and wider community. Clearly, there are some pressing matters, not least some urgent repairs to some of the church’s high-level windows and bringing our front porch back to life, but the PCC and I are keen to see how we make these works add to our ministry rather than damage it. We look forward to sharing some ideas with you very soon.

One area that the Mission Action Planning Group, a sub-group of the PCC, has begun to explore is ‘dementia-friendly church’. Dementia is something that affects the whole community and it is surely only right that churches work to become places where those with dementia, their families and friends, are especially welcome. This autumn we expect to move this work forward as we plan not only a special service, but look towards developing some dementia-friendly events. It will be an important part of our mission of service and an expression of our commitment to Inclusive Church.

All in all, then, there will be much going on, in addition to the usual round of Church activities and plans. I hope that the mission work of St Nick’s is something we can all feel part of and have a stake in. After all, we are called to grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This includes not only being faithful to our call to holy living, but showing willingness to be representatives of the Good News. As things get going again this autumn, I really hope you will be inspired to not only get involved, but dare to dream of new ideas and share your hopes with me, the Curate, the Wardens and the wider leadership team. Exciting times lie ahead.

Rachel xx

September 2018 Magazine

Rachel Writes – August 2018

Rachel writes…

If, for many, August is a time to go on holiday, throughout history it has always been a season for war and conquest. August was the month in which Christopher Columbus set off on the journey which led to the European ‘discovery’ of the Americas. It was the month that Julius Caesar’s Roman invasion landed in Britain, and the month when the Battle of Bosworth took place in 1485. August 4th 1914 was the date the British Empire declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, and August 7th 1964 was the date of the Gulf of Tonkin Declaration that led to the US becoming more involved in Vietnam.

I tell you all this because this August we enter the last phase of remembrance for the one-hundredth anniversary of the Great War. On August 8th 1918, the ‘On- Hundred Day Offensive’ began that led to the final defeat of the German Empire. In 2018, churches and faith communities are being encouraged to pray for peace across these ‘one-hundred days’.

The One-Hundred Day Offensive was, as were so many Great War battles, horrifyingly bloody. However, it also shakes-up our ideas of what World War One was like. In our minds, we think of blood and stalemate. These final one-hundred days of the war were full of movement and demonstrated that, by the autumn of 1918, Britain had the best army and tactics of all the combatants. If Germany was a spent force, its military and defences were still formidable and the casualties were eye-watering. Among the dead were the Great War poet, Wilfred Owen, killed just seven days before the Armistice on November 11th. His mother received the telegram about his death on the day war ceased.

If all of this seems rather grim for an August letter, I simply want to remind you that we still live in troubled times and in our fractious world not only is war ever present, but conflict forever threatens to break out. In an age of authoritarian and pompous world leaders, brinksmanship is back on the agenda.

How might we react? One route, which perhaps we all take from time-to-time, is to bury our heads. We might think, ‘Oh, let the world hang’ and head off to the garden for a cool drink. It is an understandable reaction and one that, when I’m on holiday, I’m inclined to take. Such is the nature of our world that we can feel powerless.

Perhaps, one more pro-active approach is to seek to spread a little peace wherever we are. This is when, metaphorically (and sometimes literally) we open the peace of our own ‘garden’ up to others. So, instead of retreating from the world, we invite those around us to be involved.

How might we do this? Well, one way is simply to model peace in our interactions. When we’re tetchy and tired (especially in hot weather) this can be challenging, and yet most people instinctively respond to kindness and generosity. (Recently, I remember seeing a photo of Anne Holmes and Anne Tudor outside Didsbury Mosque joining in a ‘demonstration’ of solidarity and hope one year on from the Manchester Bombing. I was cheered to see them standing in solidarity with people of faith and none for peace over violence.) Another way to model peace is to invite our friends and neighbours to join us at church from time-to-time simply to encounter a community that is seeking to be shaped by love and peace.

And, of course, we can pray. We do that week-by-week, of course, but prayer extends throughout the week in our daily lives. There are many different patterns and I believe we all pray much more than we give ourselves credit for. However, being intentional – that is, keeping times to pray for specific things – matters.

This brings me back to the ‘One-Hundred Days’ of prayer for peace. While many people are cynical about the efficacy of prayer, I’m clear that it does change things. That may not always be obvious at the geo-political or world level, but if prayer wasn’t powerful it wouldn’t have so often been banned (as in some communist regimes) or coopted by the authoritarian right (the Nazis, a godless lot if there ever was, loved to co-opt churches for their own ends).

Prayer shifts minds and attitudes and can motivate us to action. Indeed, it is an action itself. So, friends, do pray and keep praying, both individually and together. If you’d like to know more about the One-Hundred Days of prayer, see:
May we all have a blessed and peaceful August!

Rachel xx

August 2018 Magazine

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