I was there, that shattering, sweltering day, you know
all those desolate, lonely, recriminating years ago
when they tortured, humiliated and crucified my son
that stable-born, questing boy, his teaching just begun.
My beloved, tender, playful, gifted child,
a leader, calm, charismatic, spirited, yet mild.
I saw the swirling, swishing, hissing whip slash crack
swinging with iron-tipped nails his torn and bleeding back.
I saw, yes heard, the smashed and splintered bone
as dutiful soldiers drove the thick, cruel, nails home.
I watched, sobbing, as the rough-hewn cross was raised
a thorned, spiked, bloody crown, a silhouette black blazed against a darkening, weeping, mourning purple sky.
I heard his lamenting cry – I saw him die.

Tony Eustance

Psalm verse and prayer

Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
(psalm 30)

Hear our prayers, o Lord, and have mercy upon us;
turn our heaviness into joy
and clothe us with gladness and salvation,
that we may give thanks to you for ever.

We know the Bible often asks us to ‘go’ into the world as in Matthew’s Gospel [Matt 28:16]. However, here is an invitation to be(long), and to serve those others who have ‘arrived’ at least for a short while. Interested? The recent reorganisation of personnel across the Upper Home Valley Team presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for all our churches. You may know that Sean, Keith and Nick our stipendiary priests are now working together in Holy Trinity Church, Holmfirth, whilst also supporting the worship and mission of the wider church in the valley. Holmfirth Parish Church opens from Holy Week onwards, Wednesday to Saturday 11am till 4pm, and on Sunday 12 till 4pm, and remains open until the last week of September to offer hospitality, welcome and prayer. Many of the visitors are traditionally tourists or day-trippers; others come in from the local area for a variety of reasons. Many of them are just like you, people who take the opportunity to pop in for a quiet moment, or to find a safe place of rest and sanctuary. Holy Trinity offers an opportunity to pause, sit, light a candle and say a prayer, write the name of a loved one down and leave it behind on the prayer tree. There is also a stall to browse, books for sale, and visitors can buy a prayer card or a Fairtrade product. It’s all low key but a very important, and very much valued part of the mission of the Church. Holy Trinity is iconic. It stands in the centre of Holmfirth; it is also at the centre of the valley and our team of churches. Following the recent reorganisation of ministry across the seven parishes this year we are, with you, exploring the possibility of sharing this ministry of welcome at Holy Trinity across the wider team. As the 2017 season gets underway, we are asking people from all the team churches if they would like to join the rota of stewards at Holy Trinity. We, the clergy, will also take our turn. Does this offer interest you? If you have a spare hour or so and are interested in developing personally and prayerfully alongside others a ministry of welcome, why not speak to one of the clergy? Some low level training is needed, but that should not put you off. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. The stewards have previously worked in pairs in two and a half hour slots and take their place on a rota when they are able; it’s negotiable, but God’s mission isn’t – that’s why we are canvassing your support and help. Is God calling you? Can you be part of a community of faith which reaches out to anyone who’s passing through? Can you warmly welcome strangers and friends into God’s house? Would spending some time in a new place of worship during the week making new friends and supporting God’s mission in a particular way in the Holme Valley be fruitful for you? Please speak to one of us or contact Sue Thomson on 01484 687359 and she will arrange for us to follow up with you. Every Blessing Sean, Keith, Nick

The funeral of Geoff Banks who died aged 73 on 26th January was held at St John’s Upperthong on 8th February. Geoff was Team Vicar of Holmbridge, Netherthong and Upperthong from 1998 to 2009. He was an essentially approachable person and always ready to talk with members of his congregation and those outside the church in an interested and informed way. His sermons were immaculately planned, written in his own distinctive and attractive hand – he was never happy with computer-generated products. Geoff always claimed his sermons lacked originality but his hearers never felt that they’d heard it all before. There was always food for thought and both assurance and challenge. Certainly in his time at
St David’s the congregation grew gradually and significantly in numbers.
During his time in the valley Geoff was helped by various self-supporting clergy and so was able to carry out efficiently the otherwise impossible task of ministering effectively to three parishes. He seldom complained - except about the parking problems in Netherthong and of course about political leaders!
Geoff was particularly interested in the formation of liturgy and during his time orders of service for the various seasons and holy days were thoughtfully planned and found approving acceptance in all the three parishes. Biblically his particular interest was in the fourth gospel, that attributed to John, and he spent his sabbatical term in its close study.
Geoff had a likeable sense of humour. For a time he was chaplain to Halifax Town FC (now FC Halifax) and at home one day before a big match one of his sons said, “Dad, we’re sure to win with God on our side aren’t we?” Geoff’s immediate response was “Forget God, what we need is a new goalkeeper and some decent defenders” (not necessarily word for word, but something on those lines).
Though Geoff had had various health problems for many years, his death following a short illness with an aggressive form of cancer came as a shock to all who knew him. His smiling face and ready wit will be missed.

Psalm verse and prayer for March - from Psalm 25
Turn to me O Lord and be gracious to me, for I am alone and brought very low.
The sorrows of my heart have increased;
O bring me out of my distress.
Free us, O God of mercy, from all that keeps us from you;
relieve our sadness and fill us with hope of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

In the year 2000 our Parish Share (also referred to as Quota or Common Fund) was 87% of our direct giving (income from Stewardship envelopes, standing orders and money in the plate at services). By the year 2005 this had risen to 101%; by 2010 it had fallen back to 94% and by 2016 it had risen dramatically to 120%. The Parish Share is what we are asked to pay to the Diocese for clergy stipends, pensions, housing, training, mission and other costs running the Diocese. This year (2017) we are being asked to pay £42,000 (an increase of about £6,000 on last year), which will be 139% of our direct giving based on 2016 figures. We therefore need to find an extra £12,000 before we consider the substantial running costs of the church (Insurance, light and heat, maintenance and mission etc.). So where is this money to come from? Surplus income from Church Hall lettings after running costs of about £8,000, fund raising events such as the bonfire and the Rural Christmas Fair, fees from weddings and funerals, and tax recovered on Gift Aid giving, plus donations from time to time certainly help. Thanks to the generosity of our members we have coped very well up to now. Many of you now give under monthly bank standing orders or weekly stewardship envelopes, and where possible, under gift aid, and this is a tremendous help enabling us to pay our way as we go along. It is vitally important for each of us to review our giving from time to time as our personal circumstances change. It’s so easy to set up a standing order and then forget all about it. I would therefore ask if you would please look at your standing orders and pledges to see if a change could or should be made, and I thank those of you who already regularly review what you give. If you don’t use standing orders or envelopes and wish to start doing so please have a word with me and I will arrange this for you, and if you can gift aid your giving, all the better. We will do our utmost to fulfil all our obligations and commitments this year and with your continued help I am confident that we will do so. So – once again, “Thank You” for all you do, and have done in the past to help keep St David’s a lively and welcoming church. Ian Gold (Gift Aid Secretary)

A message from Bishop Nick

So much has been achieved since the Diocese of Leeds was created just two and a half years ago. Bringing together three very different dioceses was a hugely complex procedure, but we are all now part of a large, coherent body, whose benefits are being increasingly revealed.
The bishops and archdeacons are working closely with their areas, and the combined spiritual wealth of 656 churches, over 240 church schools and three cathedrals has brought increased creative energy.
We now have a central office in Leeds (complete with a charitable coffee shop that’s open to all), a new parish share system, new governance and further delegation of authority from the diocesan bishop to the area bishops.
Some of the challenges we face include: getting the right balance between one diocese and the five episcopal areas, tackling the anticipated fall in clergy numbers, growing our churches and maintaining parish share. And it remains vital to reach children and young people with the Gospel in order to build future generations of strong Christians.
At the heart of all we do are the values captured in our diocesan strap line, ‘Loving, Living and Learning‘. It’s a useful list to check against everything we do. What does that mean for you and your church?
+Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds
Loving, Living, Learning
We aim to:
Love God, the world and one another.

Live in the world as it is, but, drawn by a vision of something better,
we want to help individuals and communities flourish.

Learn when we get things wrong, by listening and growing together.