Advent Collection

In recent Advents, the parish raised enough money to populate a crib with cattle, goats, chickens, pigs and camels. This year we would like to raise money for birth certificates. A birth certificate costs £25, and is possibly the most valuable item a child could receive. When babies are born at home in poor, rural areas, it is too difficult to travel to register the birth. But a child without a birth certificate faces problems. In Zimbabwe, for example, children without a birth certificate cannot go to school, take exams, apply for an ID card, vote, or access many other basic essential services. Please support our appeal.

Finchale Partnership

Please take a copy of ‘The Finchale Partnership at Christmas’ and join us for Advent and Christmas services over the next few weeks. If you’d like to find out more about what is happening in the Partnership, the minutes of the November meeting of the Partnership Development Group are now available on the noticeboard, and on the partnership webpages hosted at http://www.stcuthberts-durham.org.uk/

Film Night

Our seasonal film and pizza night is on Friday 21 December when we will be showing the 1947 triple Oscar winner ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ Doors open at 6:30pm and the screening starts at 7pm in the Parish Room. All are welcome to this free event. Please feel free to bring drinks or snacks to share.

What must we do?

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is asked three times, ‘What must we do?’ John’s preaching has awakened the people’s conscience. He has shown them that they need to repent and change their lives, and so they come to him for guidance. John’s response is simple, practical and radical. Tax collectors and soldiers were despised as sinners, collaborators with the occupying Roman forces. John doesn’t dismiss their question, but simply tells them to be honest and not corrupt. More startlingly, anyone who has more than enough food or clothing is called to share what they have with the poor. John doesn’t tell his disciples to take on extra religious observances, or to withdraw from the society in which they live. Instead, he challenges the people to overcome injustice by acting justly.

Today is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, when we can begin to rejoice at the Good News of our redemption. The Messiah is coming soon. We prepare the way for Christ by repentance; and our repentance is expressed in simple and practical ways – by acting justly.

Singers Needed

Durham Churches Together has its annual New Year’s Eve service in Durham Cathedral, and an ecumenical choir will lead the musical worship, including hymns and an anthem (John Rutter’s “The Lord bless you and keep you.”) The service is at 6.30pm on Monday 31st December, with a short rehearsal beforehand. There will also be a rehearsal on the afternoon of Sunday 30th at 3.00pm, at St Oswald’s Church. If you would like to sing for this service, please email David Harris on d.m.harris108@gmail.com with the following information:

• Name;
• Church;
• Voice part (SATB);
• Whether you’ve sung the Rutter before;
• Can you make the rehearsal on the 30th.

Financial Briefing to the Parish

John Marsland, chairman of the Parish Finance Council, writes:

I am pleased to report that the year has been financially stable. We have spent £17K on repairs and renewals and have completed the refurbishment of the Parish Office and alterations to the Narthex. We recently commenced repairs to the boundary wall, which will cost about £24K.  Our beautiful, historically important church requires constant maintenance and one big project is waiting in the wings – the repair to the presbytery stonework will be a six figure sum, a challenge for future years.

Fortunately, thanks to your generosity we are able to meet our current commitments as our balances are currently £22K in the current account and £63K in the deposit account with the Diocese, including £8,200 from the Gift Aid scheme. If you are a taxpayer and have not joined the scheme I would encourage you to do so, it is not too bureaucratic and all personal data is protected. Please see Andy Doyle.

We work in partnership with neighbouring parishes. A Partnership Finance Committee has been formed, with an annual budget of £5K for which our contribution will be £950, based on an affordability calculation from the Diocese. As well as giving financial advice to the Partnership, Diocesan standard practice is that this committee will review any project above £10k and advise the Diocese as to whether it fits in the overall needs of the partnership. The committee is a consultative body and is not there to overrule our Parish Finance Committee.

Last year I briefed you on the effect of inflation on Parish Finances. A pound donated in 2007 is now worth only about 80p and it is perhaps worthwhile for all of us to consider from time to time the effect of this on our individual donations.

Thank you all for your continuing generosity, which allows us to face our future financial responsibilities with confidence whilst supporting relevant worthy causes at the same time.  Your contributions mean the Parish continues to have a beautiful church of which we can be proud and a presbytery with hall which allows us to host a vibrant chaplaincy community supporting young people in faith, as well as a lively Parish.

Christmas Morning

We are currently without an organist for Christmas Morning Mass. If you know of anyone, organist or pianist, who would be able to play at this Mass please ask them to contact Alison on 0191 3719184 or alisonpurvis1@hotmail.com
Also If there are any ex-choir members out there who would like to re-join for a short period and help us out over Advent/Christmas please get in touch!

Raffle

Congratulations to the winner of the hamper. We still need the winner of yellow ticket 689 for a bottle of wine. Please contact Cliona Kear on 0191 386 3400 or c.m.kear@dunelm.org.uk A very big “Thank You” to all who supported the raffle. In due course we will be getting some new flower arranging equipment. Please don’t miss the Christmas Tree Festival at Ushaw. St Cuthbert’s is represented there.

Prepare the Way

Luke introduces the ministry of John the Baptist by saying that ‘the Word of God came to John in the wilderness.’ John’s message is one of repentance; a radical change of heart and mind. Like the Old Testament prophets who went before him, John challenges the people to turn back towards God with their whole hearts. The promise is that repentance will bring forgiveness; God in his mercy will set his people free from their sins. John’s prophetic word is addressed to us, too. In Advent, we are challenged to repent and turn back to God. By our repentance, we prepare the path for the Lord, clearing away the obstacles that stand in his way, so that we will be ready to welcome the Son of God when he comes.

Aid to the Church in Need Appeal

“The attacks on Christians continue and the world remains totally silent. It is as if we have been swallowed up by the night”. So said an Iraqi Christian, sharing his story with Aid to the Church in Need. Today we welcome Mike Collins who will share with us some stories of hope, and of how this international Catholic charity is making a difference in the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters. There will be range of products on sale after 10.00 Mass, some of which are made in Aleppo.

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