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Stanwick Group of Churches

June Letter 2021

On a Wing and a Prayer…

Happy June! Welcome to new freedoms! Is this, and freedom from Covid,  the answer to prayer? It feels like it! The big excitement in Melsonby church is the planning for the visit of Bishop Helen-Ann in July, on the feast of St James, to formally open our new meeting room, kitchen, and the much discussed Loo after 800 years patiently waiting…

Undertaking the project with the PCC team, professionals, and the vast bureaucracy of the Church of England was to me a clear parallel with the idea of prayer.  We had set out what we wanted to achieve (Thanks to the Diocesan Advisory Committee) but we did not have funds or skill to get there:  with a leap of faith we launched the appeal in December 2015, not knowing the cost, duration, or implications, but on a wing (thanks, Christine!) and a lot of prayer.  Camilla arrived and helped with the prayers, and then we began to see how prayer works. Prayer isn’t just asking for things, it is getting close to God’s ideas for us.  However, if you ask God for A, you might get B, or nothing at all.   If you ask for C, you might have all your B taken away from you: and be given a ton of D to change your direction.  God works out His route which may be opposite to, or only slightly related to our own feeble ideas.

We started to ask for permissions (there is a lot of legal work to do in these projects) and consulted people such as the Victorian Society about windows, bells, and furniture.  We didn’t even know we needed to talk to these people but we learned as we went on.  At the same time we started to ask people for money.  This is another parallel with prayer:  some big groups we asked look blank, smiled, and politely declined:   others set in place vast tortuous application procedures and fences to jump and then turned us down for failing a test we didn’t even recognise, and others simply gave us great wads of money.  We could never tell which way any application would go, but we could continue in faith and prayer.

Sheila Grundy hand-wrote over a hundred applications for funds .   One benefactor said “ we cannot include you in our plans as we are fully committed, but here is £50 of my own money for writing such a lovely letter”   Another said “Move the family memorials? Of course, let me pay for that.  How much would you like?   Such overwhelming generosity ! Such loving support!  Thank you everyone.  You know who you are.

Another parallel with prayer?   Don’t ever be tempted to give up!

Ian Black
Retiring Churchwarden.


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