Holy Monday at Didsbury Cross

Churches Working Together in Didsbury have erected a cross on the land next to Caffe Nero in Didsbury. This week is Holy Week and each day there will be a gathering at the cross at 1pm for a few minutes of prayerful reflection. A few of us met there for the first time today. The photo shows part of the group; I recognise people from four different churches in our area. Further details of this week’s programme can be found on the CWTiD website. If you are in the area and free at 1pm on any day of this week, please join us; you would be very welcome.

An accessible sanctuary is taking shape

A major aim of our building project is to make our sanctuary more accessible for wheelchair users. In the past, the ground floor had a number of levels each accessed only by steps. When the project is finished the entire ground floor will consist of only one level. To accomplish this our contractors have begun by raising the floor level in the sanctuary. Now completed, this one improvement already dramatically improves the space. If you have never been in the building you might not appreciate how much better it looks even now.

We at DBC know that a church is not a building but a people. Still, we are looking forward to the new opportunities that will arise when we have a more adequate and accessible space for worship, ministry and mission.


And now the windows!

We don’t really like spending money on buildings at Didsbury Baptist Church. Still, we recognise that a church building can be important as a centre for worship, ministry and mission. Our own building has become so well used by others that we can barely get access to it ourselves. This means we can rarely invite people, host activities, or generally operate out of our own building except at weekends. That is why we have been fund-raising for eleven years and have now begun construction to renovate and extend our building. When the project is complete both we and the child care groups that meet there daily will be able use the building simultaneously.

Our problem now is that we designed our project without paying enough attention to the windows. We had hoped we might renovate these later. It has become obvious now that we cannot wait. Originally stained glass, the windows have deteriorated and have been patched up over the years so that they are now a mishmash of stained and non-stained, repaired and unrepaired panes. Worse, some panes are now falling out and all of them, we now discover, are leaking and therefore damaging the surrounding brick and plaster work. We simply have to replace them now.

We plan, then, to replace six window expanses with plain double glazed units made to fit the current outline and to do so in such a way that colour design work can be added soon after if we decide we want it. This means we have to raise between £45,000 and £73,000 pretty much immediately. I know, for some churches this is peanuts but for a smaller congregation that already feels like it has given its right arm this is a lot. Even so, we know the job has to be done, so, with the help of God and the kindness of God’s people, we will do it. Pray for us if you would; help us if you can. Cheques can be made payable to DBCC Project and sent to Didsbury Baptist Church, Beaver Road and School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester, M20 6SX. Further details and response form can be downloaded from our church life page.

Building work begins today

The day has finally arrived! The members of Didsbury Baptist Church have been raising funds and planning to remodel the church’s building for many years. Today the builders are scheduled to arrive on site and start the work that will open up all kinds of new possibilities for our ministry and mission.

Last week we cleared out the sanctuary so that building work can begin. Thank you to all our friends, especially Didsbury United Reformed Church, for storing our furniture and equipment.

An empty sanctuary

Last Sunday, we held our first service at Beaver Road Primary School. We will be meeting there every Sunday until our new sanctuary is completed.

First Sunday at Beaver Road School - almost ready

This Sunday Stephen Ibbotson will be our preacher at the school. If you do not already worship elsewhere or you are visiting Didsbury, you would be very welcome to join us on Sunday at 10.30 a.m.

Book Presentation

On Sunday 20 February part of the morning service of Didsbury Baptist Church was given over to a surprise presentation. Friends and family joined us to present to Brian Haymes a volume of essays in his honour. Questions of Identity: studies in honour of Brian Haymes is edited by Anthony R Cross and Ruth Gouldbourne and is volume 6 in the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage Studies series.  The presentation proved to be a particularly joyful and memorable occasion.

Andy Goodliff reports on the book here and here.  Sean Winter, who has a chapter in the book and whose video message from Australia formed part of the presentation reports on it here. Simon Woodman also participated in the project and presentation and writes about it here.

Questions of Identity can be ordered from the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage here.

After the service, book contributors and friends gathered around Brian and Jenny for photographs. Here’s one of the motley crew:

Good Friday and Holy Week

It was our turn, this year, to host the United Good Friday Service that takes place annually in Didsbury. We were joined by friends from Didsbury United Reformed Church, Didsbury Methodist Church, East Didsbury Methodist Church and Didsbury Community Church (Nazarene). About a hundred of us gathered to worship and to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus. We read the passion narrative from Luke’s Gospel, prayed together, sang, listened to music, and heard a powerful sermon.

Malcolm Sargent and Anna Wright called together an impromptu choir of singers from all the represented churches. They inspired us with a performance of The Mocking of Christ, words by Fred Pratt Green set to ‘The Third Tune’ by Thomas Tallis in Archbishop Parker’s Psalter (c.1567). (That’s the tune that inspired Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis.)

A sceptred reed, O patient Lord,
they thrust into your hand,
and acted out their grim charade
to its appointed end.
They could not know, as we do now,
though empires rise and fall
your Kingdom shall not cease to grow
till love embraces all.

We also sang together a new hymn for Good Friday, set to John Bell’s tune, ‘Resting’. I could not hold back a tear when I heard the choir rehearsing it before the service. It tells the story of the cross; you need the whole hymn really but a few extracts follow:

The climb is made and he has come
outside the wall,
he came in peace, in trust of God,
with love for all.
His body weakened by the lash,
the pain goes deep.
His friends have gone, fearing the worst,
the women weep.

We hammer him on to the cross,
both hands and feet,
we stand and jeer, and spit and curse,
our NO complete.
Our catcalls ring, no angels sing;
does mercy live?
and quietly in the horror sounds,
‘Father, forgive’.

And no one comes, alone he dies,
a despised end.
And was God there at all that day,
some help to send?
Christ dies and love alone has faced
the deadly power.
And love alone stands at the end
of evil’s hour.

O God of vulnerable love
. . .
You speak your word of love in Christ,
your whispered YES,
and by the wonder of this love
you save and bless.

We have been meeting every day in Holy Week as Brian and Jenny Haymes have been leading us in an hour’s meditation each day. The final one takes place tomorrow (Holy Saturday) at 5.30 p.m. If you are anywhere near Didsbury, you might want to join us. The events have been excellent and you would be very welcome.

Photos from our church weekend away

The first photos from our weekend away are in. These are by Anna and feature  Saturday evening’s home-made entertainment, earth hour and a few photos of (not quite) the whole group (can you work out who is missing? There is the photographer a certain one who arrived too late to get in the pic and someone who seems to be hiding behind Mavis). Enjoy!

Church Weekend Away

Many of us from DBC spent last weekend at Thornleigh Hotel in Grange over Sands where we held a very enjoyable Church Weekend Away. The venue was excellent. About forty five of us went and, as far as I am aware, everyone had a great time. We had opportunity to worship, learn and pray together and time to socialize and just be together. The photo below shows most of the group though one of our number missed the photo op. and one was serving as photographer. Other than that, most of the groups is pictured below. Other photos will follow (if you have any send them to me and I’ll include them).

The Lenten Journey

At Didsbury Baptist Church we are participating in the Lenten Ecumenical Bible reading programme put together by Churches Working Together in Didsbury. Members of our church have contributed articles to the accompanying booklet of daily readings. They appear under the headings for the next seven days starting today. Nicky Jackson’s article is the first and it is published online today on the CWTiD web site.

Supporting Lifeshare at Christmas

At our Christmas Festival Service next Sunday (20 Dec) we will sing some carols, watch the children’s nativity and take up an offering of goods for Lifeshare.

Lifeshare is an excellent, non-religious, voluntary organisation established to help meet the needs of the homeless and disadvantaged in Manchester and Salford. They provide a first point of contact with people on the streets, offering practical assistance, support and information. From this point they offer continued assistance to enable people to secure suitable accommodation, to be supported to maintain their tenancies, and helped to access initiatives to carry their lives forward.

Lifeshare runs a special programme over Christmas. When homeless and disadvantaged people need comfort and support more than any other time, everything closes. In response, the Lifeshare Christmas Project offers a refuge from the exaggerated isolation. It provides food and shelter, social activities, a medical centre, welfare and housing advice, entertainment and a festive air.

Our offering on Sunday can include donations of money if you like but we are really asking for goods such as tinned food, blankets, pans, cutlery and toiletries. If you want to give a small present specifically for the Christmas project, e.g. hat, scarf, gloves or something else, you might like to wrap one but there needs to be some indication on it if it’s gender specific. If you can join us on Sunday, please remember Manchester’s homeless and the work of Lifeshare, and participate in our offering of goods.

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