Recent News & archives from St Johns

September 2013


Sunday 29th


We had the usual excellent display of produce as well as a large donation of food items which we are giving to the Durham Food Bank this year. The sale of fresh produce raised a further £98.80, also for the Foodbank. Many thanks to our many contributors.  




Friday 27th

Following the previous item, the passing of Miss Jean Pearson, sadly we held a Requiem for her sister Betty who slipped away peacefully on Friday 20th. The Service, although the funeral of Betty, was also a marking of the lives, and now deaths, of two devoted sisters together.


July 2013


Friday 26th

The funeral of Miss Jean Pearson. Past members of St Johns will remember Jean as one of ‘The Twins’.

Jean sadly died on Sunday 21st after a short illness. She was returned to God in a Service of Requiem Mass, befitting her lifelong faith and commitment. Her twin sister, Betty, is still with us, though not in the best of health and will be going into residential care.


May 2013


Friday 24th

‘Musical Extravaganza’ A wonderful concert of varied music by some of our own people and a host of guest musicians. A selection of choral, classical and material from musicals was presented by a host of performers. The evening raised £735 towards our Parish Centre entrance and toilets refurbishments. Many thanks to all who organised, performed and supported this event.


April 2013


Friday 26th

A very difficult and solemn day as the funeral of 5 members of the same family, spanning 3 generations, was held at St Johns.

Five members of the Cockburn family, from Ouston, near Birtley; both parents, 2 daughters and the baby grandchild were killed in an horrific car crash near Grimsby the week before. The Church was packed to overflowing with as many mourners listening to the Service via loudspeakers outside. The Service was conducted by Gareth, our Vicar, and Revd Karen Fenwick, a Minister from Forfar and cousin to the family.




Friday 16th

Seasons Delights’ an evening of demonstrations making Christmas decorations, wreaths and generally all things Christmassy was held. A fun night was had by all and it raised £200 towards Hall toilets refurbishments. Our thanks to the ladies fron Dobbies for there help and skills in putting on this night.




Sunday 23rd

Harvest Festival. This year we support HOPE AFRICA. A good display of home produce was assembled during the 10.00am Service and later sold during tea and coffee in the Hall. To date a total of £342.44 has been raised.




Saturday 14th

Summer Funday. Despite mixed weather a good time was had by all.

The afternoon was opened by one of Birtley’s firefighters, unfortunately they had to leave in a bit of a hurry to attend an incident, but we are pleased, and thank them for coming when possible, each year.




              The Ducks                                                                  Raffle Prizes    





Saturday 16th

Olympic Torch nearly reaches Birtley.

On it’s journey around the country, the Olympic Torch Relay stopped at the Angel of the North, at the northern edge of Birtley, this morning.  A large crowd of people, including several from St Johns, packed the area to see the Torch be met by the Mayor of Gateshead, and other officials.



Friday 1st

Jubilee Party. We started the holiday weekend with our own Jubilee party. A good time seemed to be had by all, with plenty of food brought for the buffet and a selection of raffle prizes. Much of the night was ‘home spun’ entertainment, with various people doing turns, losing all credibility in the process, but giving us a good laugh..  In between, there was music and a ‘Right Royal Quiz’ to test peoples knowledge on general, and a few obscure, details of the Royal family. Money raised from the raffle and quiz (£85 to date) was donated to TOMA FUND (




Sunday 8th

A joyous Easter to all our readers.  

St Johns marked Holy Week and Easter in it’s traditional way, with evening services following the latter days of Jesus, leading up to the solemnity of the Passion on Good Friday. The 10.00am Service on Sunday then broke into the joy of the Resurrection with a Service of the new light and a lively Eucharist.    




Friday 9th - The funeral took place of Staff Sergeant Grant McFall (32) of the Royal Engineers. Grant was a Birtley lad and his family still live in the town. Although having completed tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Grant was tragically killed in a road accident while on deployment at the Army Training Unit in Kenya. Grant was given full military honours at the funeral which was led jointly by Gareth and Rev Rory MacLeod, a Chaplain with 39 Regiment RA. Upwards of 400 people attended with standing room only in the Church and the Service being relayed to over 100 who had to remain outside.




Some weeks ago we had another instance of lead theft from part of the roof. Not only was lead taken, but considerable damage was done to the roof and slates. This particular lead had been shaped and built into the stone work to form rain water gullies and ripping it out dislodge several rows of slates.  Remedial work has now been completed and the flashing  and gullies have been replaced with a modern alternative which is basically a high spec PVC type material. Whilst this is no cheaper than lead to replace, it has no scrap value and will hopefully deter further such vandalism.




Sunday 29th - Homelessness Sunday

This year we supported the CRISIS homeless support project. £140.10 was raised from a retiring collection and other donations.





On Saturday night we held our usual Midnight Mass to welcome in Christmas. Over 50 people, including a number of children who joined in the well know carols with gusto, shared in our joyous celebration.

Christmas morning was a slightly less formal family Eucharist to which around 30 attended.


Sunday 18th

Our evening Service was our Christingle and Carols Service. Around 90 people of all ages joined us as mainly children (although a few ‘big kids’ sneaked in to help) built the crib. Then we heard the Christingle story, distributed and lit them in a darkened Church.


Monday 12th

The Mothers Union had their annual Carol Service and, as normal, invited members of the neighbouring Adult Care Centre, which provides services and facilities for adults with special needs. Sadly, due to local authority cutbacks, this centre may close and this could be the last time the members will be able to come.

A short Service of Carols and Readings was led by David, one of our Readers, while Gareth, the Vicar, played the organ.

Afterwards there were refreshments in the Church Hall.   




Sunday 13th

Remembrance Sunday. The town held its usual act of Remembrance around the Cenotaph at 11.00am with Gareth representing St Johns. We had our normal 10.00am Eucharist in Church, with Bernice presiding. The Service was managed to arrive at the Eucharistic Prayer as near to 11.00 as possible. After the Offertory and preparation on the Altar, a Poppy Wreath was brought and placed on the Altar followed by a 2 minute silence.  




Sunday 30th

To mark the anniversary of the Anglican / Methodist Covenant (1st Nov 2003), our 0.00am Eucharist was a joint Service with Birtley Methodist Church at which their Minister, Rev Anne Eccles, preached.   




Sunday 25th


Our chosen charity this year was The Peoples Kitchen based in Newcastle -

There was a good selection of home grown produce, which was sold during refreshments after the Service. Also a large amount of tinned and other longer life products had been donated over the previous weeks and these will be passed directly to The Peoples Kitchen.




Monday 22nd

The funeral of Mrs Dolly Fish (91) took place in St Johns. Dolly had been a regular member at St Johns for many years and was particularly remembered for her cheerful personality and smile.  


Sunday 21st

It was announced that, to date, Birtley had raised £2100 from this years Christian Aid Week collection and other fund raising activities.  There is hoped to be a Quiz Aid later in the year to raise more funds.




Saturday 9th

The Summer Funday. Despite a couple of heavy showers, the weather wasn’t too bad for the afternoon and the Funday went ahead as planned in and around the Hall & Church. A variety of stalls entertained the young and not so young with face painting, nail painting, catch the duck (no ducks were harmed despite having hooks in their heads -  honest).  The Fire Brigade kindly brought an appliance and there were the other usual tombolas, treasure hunt, name the cuddly toy, grand raffle draw and jewellery, jams, cakes and nearly new stalls.  The day raised  £1063 (after expenses) towards Church and Church Hall funds. Many thanks to all our helpers, supporters and visitors.


Sunday 3rd

Dana Delap, our former Reader, was ordained Deacon in Newcastle Cathedral. A small group of friends and supporters from St Johns attended the Service. Dana will be serving in the Parish of St James & St Basil, Fenham, Newcastle.


May 2011


Friday 6th

The funeral took place of Mrs Charlotte Baron who died earlier in the week after a short illness. Charlotte has been a Church member for many years, a long standing member of the Mothers Union and a regular at our Thursday morning Eucharist.

Her Service was held in Church and a Guard of Honour provided by the Mothers Union.



April 2011


Sunday 24th

A joyous Easter to all our readers.  

St Johns marked Holy Week and Easter in it’s traditional way, with evening services following the latter days of Jesus, leading up to the solemnity of the Passion on Good Friday. The 10.00am Service on Sunday then broke into the joy of the Resurrection with a Service of the new light and a lively Eucharist.    



Sunday 17th

Palm Sunday.

We had our usual Blessing of the Palms and Palm Sunday Gospel in the Hall, followed with a procession of palms into the Church.

Many of the congregation then joined in with a dramatic presentation of the Passion Gospel.


Friday 15th

An interesting talk and slides by Mr Roger Barrel MVO about his work as a Royal protection officer. The evening was to raise funds for the refurbishment of the Church Hall toilets and raised £263 towards this project.












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