From Reverend Lynn Hellmuth, Vicar of the parishes of Hackness with Harwood Dale, Ravenscar and Staintondale, Scalby, and Scarborough, St Luke
Dear Friends, as you’ll see from the heading above, I am not just Vicar of Scalby but three other parishes. What’s more we are part of a wider grouping called the North Scarborough Group Ministry (NSGM), which also includes the parishes of Cloughton and Newby. Reverend Mike Leigh and I are full-time stipendiary clergy for the Group, and we are fortunate to have been joined recently by Rev Shena Moray, based with Mike at Newby, who is a newly ordained curate, with us for three to four years. To be able to offer worship in all the churches across the Group, we are supported by a number of retired clergy, and Readers (that is trained lay people, authorised by the Church to preach and lead worship.) I am so grateful to all these who give so much of their time and gifts to minister to us. Without them it would be quite impossible to provide services so frequently across all these locations.
An advantage of having so many people who lead worship across the churches is that a range of styles and approaches are offered, which helps keep us flexible and open to new things. It is a privilege to benefit from so many ministers and, alongside their diversity of styles and approaches, is of course the diversity of the churches themselves within the Group from rural, to suburban, to village locations, from 12th century buildings to relatively modern (1930s) and peopled with ages from 0 to 100 or thereabouts. The temptation can be to stay safely with the people, service styles and buildings we know best, and part of the remit of the NSGM is to encourage us from behind any “walls” we have built up, be they of shyness or fear or reluctance to experience difference.
I am grateful to my Reader colleague Philip Newell who introduced me to a poem by Robert Frost entitled “Mending Wall” which asks whether the walls we experience are in fact necessary at all. It includes the lines
“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.”
Frost’s poem speaks to me of the walls we experience in our lives, and challenges us to prevent them being formed in the first place, and to work to see those there come down. Walls within families, between neighbours, between ethnicities, classes, age- groups, between nations, between churches and denominations. So many walls.
The Bible teaches Jesus Christ through His life, death and resurrection broke down the dividing wall between God and humankind, and also between groups of humans at odds with one another. God longs for us all to know peace with Him, and with one another, and my hope and prayer is that our churches across the NSGM become more and more places where His peace is experienced, and our church members more and more known in their local communities as workers for peace at every level.
But, of course, the desire and work for peace is undertaken by people of all faiths and none.
Especially at this season of Remembrance in this centenary year of the end of the First World War, I know very many of us are drawn to commit ourselves afresh to work for peace wherever we experience its absence. As the popular song goes, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”