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Rebuilding Together at Crosthwaite Church

A good sized congregation braved the elements last Sunday for the monthly all age service, this time on the theme of ‘Rebuilding Together’. The team devising the service aimed to focus on the entirely positive community response to the impact left by Storm Desmond. Louise Brown devised some games to emphasise the effectiveness of working together to achieve a good result. Very enthusiastic participation was seen particularly from the young children and Keswick school boarders with some older members determined not to be outdone in their contribution. A short, silent film showed the River Greta in its destructive mood last December and was followed by a poignant collection of images portraying the community response. Rachel Thomas then spoke movingly about the need to be able to offer, ask for and receive help during times of trouble.

She explained that we’re called by God to be like the Old Testament leader, Nehemiah, who was so depressed by the destruction of Jerusalem but full of positive energy and promise for its rebuilding. Keswick too, Rachel continued, will be rebuilt; the shoots are here, visitors will flock back, homes and businesses will rise but we need to be on the lookout to help each other in the struggle. She concluded, there may be setbacks along the way but with perseverance and working with God’s love, Keswick will go on “Rebuilding Together”.

Street Friends Volunteers meet in the

Parish Room Monday to Friday from

10am to 12.00

Still my soul be still

On Sunday evening, 21st February 2015, Revd. Stuart Penny led a poignant and moving Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for those who we have loved and lost.  For several years now Stuart has devised a simple, well-balanced service, void of too many words or trying to find answers to so many questions, but aiming to meet people from the town where they are in their own grief.  As in previous years Stuart was assisted by some of the church members who are perhaps still wrestling with their own loss, but feel that they could plan and share some quiet reflective worship in an accessible and unsentimental way with others who may be struggling.

This year, Tony Hazzard spoke from the heart so bravely about the loss of his beloved Jan, and how his world had changed through her illness and her death just three weeks after their wedding.  Tony talked of how the church family had helped him so much, and the comfort and strength he drew from his faith and coming to know the Lord Jesus more over the months and years following his loss; comfort that had helped him so much during the dark times.  So often, we find that music can help us too, the melody or words to one particular song that just seems to meet us where we are, and Tony reflected on the words of the last verse of Keith and Kristyn Getty's Still my soul be still  -  “Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming”.

Judith and John Bryson, who know grief only too well, read the names of those we mourn, but remember with thanksgiving, whilst members of the congregation placed a lighted tee-light on a rustic wooden cross before the communion table.   The prayers began with “Heavenly Father, as we come before you in the darkness of the evening, enable us to pray with open hands, not with clenched fists . . . and ended with a short verse from Isaiah, “The Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end”.

It is the hope and prayer of all who planned the service that we can all learn in time to unclench our hands and with God's help and Jesus by our side begin to accept that no matter how utterly impossible it may seem at times, our days of sorrow will end.

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Harvest Festival at Crosthwaite Church 2016

A full church at Crosthwaite welcomed in a Harvest of young voices in the form of the St Herbert’s School Key Stage 2 Choir at the annual service of Harvest and Thanksgiving on Sunday. The building was packed with children, parents and grandparents as well as welcoming a number of visitors alongside the regular congregation. The church had been beautifully decorated by the Church’s flower arrangers using the themes and colours of the season. The children contributed a set of 3 songs to entertain and complement the messages of praise and thanksgiving during the service. Led by Headteacher, Mrs Shelagh Hughes, the children seemed to really enjoy being part of the event and sang with clarity and enthusiasm. Rachel Thomas spoke about the seed of God’s love being recognised and allowed to grow in each of us. She said that God’s harvest of His people will be gathered as and when these seeds mature and flourish. The Church choir sang the dramatic anthem of Beethoven’s “The heavens sing praises….” and the collection was taken to support the Bishop’s Harvest appeal in aid of projects in Mali and Argentina. A superb bring and share lunch was later enjoyed in the Parish Room.

Farewell to Ian Hare

During the Harvest Festival service at Crosthwaite Church recently, the congregation bade farewell to their Director of Music, Mr Ian Hare. Crosthwaite has been blessed in having had the benefit of Ian’s playing for the past 20 years. Ian has brought to Crosthwaite a vast musical experience – he has been Organ Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, University Organist at Lancaster for 40 years, Organist at Cartmel Priory,  has performed across the world and in many London venues including an appearance at the BBC Proms. This rich background together with his recording, composing and teaching skills has greatly enriched the life and worship of Crosthwaite Church. The church choir said goodbye to Ian following his final choir practice and presented him with a copper vase from the Keswick School of Industrial Arts. The congregation gave him a print of Blencathra. Far from retiring Ian is, in his own words, “staying with the firm”, merely operating in a different venue as he takes on the role of Organist and Choir Master at Grasmere Church. He will be continuing his connection with Keswick in his role as Director of Keswick Choral Society. The people of Crosthwaite are indeed grateful for his contribution to the church’s ministry and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.

Palm Sunday at Crosthwaite Church 2017

Palm Sunday dawned bright and beautiful at Crosthwaite Church enabling the congregation to meet at the Church gate and process into the building bearing ‘palms’ to herald the beginning of Holy Week. Jesus’ triumphal march to Jerusalem was marked in a somewhat unusual style by Crosthwaite’s lay preacher, Barry Cox. He led the service dressed as perhaps Jesus would be clothed but talking as a contemporary ‘blogger’. The story was told of the march from Triumph to Tears using Biblical passages interspersed with Jesus telling of the events from his own perspective. These spoke powerfully of aspects of both Jesus’ humanity and his divinity; they connected the events of the Old Testament Exodus, the Passover and God’s plan for the world. Barry used the idea of the relay baton being passed from the Old Testament prophets of Moses and Abraham to the promise of a new life in Christ which could only be handed on to us through the death of Jesus on the cross. The congregation was invited to leave symbols of the blood and tears of Jesus at the foot of the cross in silent recognition of His sacrifice for us. The service had begun joyfully with hymns of praise and ended with a poignant and moving silence as the people left the church.

Crosthwaite’s Easter services are at 2.00pm on Good Friday and 10.15am on Easter Sunday with a 9.00am Communion Service at Underskiddaw. All are welcome.

Revd Stuart Penny's last service 28th May 2017

Last Sunday, the 28th, the congregation and friends of Crosthwaite Church said an emotional farewell to their vicar of 14 years and his wife, Stuart and Monica Penny. A packed church had gathered to wish them well and to hear Stuart’s last sermon from the Crosthwaite lectern. Stuart and Monica have been involved in so many community issues in their time at Crosthwaite from organising soup kitchens in the 2009 floods to dealing with ever increasing numbers of Toddlers in the Parish Room; supporting the town and its student family during the time of the bus crash and yet more involvement in the 2015 floods…. It was fitting that the service was attended by many whose lives had been touched in some way by the Penny’s.

Stuart’s sermon focussed on what we need to pack on a new journey. After entertaining contributions from the youngsters about packing toothbrushes and teddies, Stuart spoke of packing Jesus in his case, underlining the importance of keeping Christ close, of never going anywhere without Him. In the case of Stuart’s own journey, whilst he may be leaving the clerical collar behind, Jesus will be right there, as big a part of life as ever even beyond his earthly journey.

There was an eclectic mix of hymns traditional and new and the choir sang a beautiful setting of the Lord’s Prayer composed by Stuart and which had been sung at his collation, 14 years ago. A presentation was made to both Stuart and Monica following an introduction by Linda Tee, Church Warden which involved many amusing references to the word ‘penny’. In true Stuart fashion he sang a version of the Rolling Stones “This could be the Last Time” in a Gospel style before Laurence Durston-Smith gave an unconventional organ voluntary in the form of the Star Wars theme! After coffee, 130 plus attended a well organised salad lunch served in the Queen’s Hall. The Church and many in the town have a great deal to thank Stuart and Monica for and we all wish them every happiness in their new life, close to family, in Shrewsbury.