Dear friend,

Welcome to the May newsletter from St Peter's Church. In this newsletter you'll see the dates and times of our services - both in the building and online - in May, and details about what else we're up to as a church family.

Spring is sprung

The better weather over the last few weeks has no doubt come as a relief to many of us who are glad to see the back of long winter nights! We continue to see the amazing work done by the NHS and all critical workers, and we see the restrictions which we have had for over a year start to be lifted. We can, and should, be thankful to our gracious God for so much.

But there are also many difficult and heartbreaking situations around the world. We see the terrible effect the COVID-19 virus is having on millions of people in India, Turkey, and South America. We also see inequalities across the world being brought into sharp focus as poorer countries struggle to get the vaccines they need to protect their people. Closer to home, our prayers are needed for those the last year has brought deep sadness, loneliness, and hardship. We can, and should, pray to our gracious God for so much.

As we start to look forward to the summer, and our way of life moving slow back towards a "new normal", let us not forget the lessons of the last year. Life is precious, but fragile; too easily disrupted, too easily crushed.

We should continue to treasure, and not take for granted, those things that truly matter - our families, our friends, and our faith. And we should be inspired by the Spirit to model ourselves on Jesus: to act with love and compassion in this needy and broken world.
Thy Kingdom Come logo

The Kingdom Come - 11 days of prayer

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. What started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

During the 11 days of Thy Kingdom Come, it is hoped that everyone who takes part will:
  • Deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for 5 friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness
This year's annual Thy Kingdom Come 11 days of prayer, from Ascension to Pentecost, will happen from Thursday, May 13 to Sunday, May 23. A host of resources, including a webinar on this years plans, can be accessed here on the Thy Kingdom Come website.
Thompson mouse carving

Gift Aid

Did you know that from the 6th April your personal tax allowance has risen to £12,570. If you earn less than this, normally you should not have to pay tax.

Now is an ideal opportunity to consider Gift Aid. If you are a taxpayer, then provided you have completed a Gift Aid Declaration form, we as a Church can reclaim tax at the rate of 25p in the £1.

However, you must ensure you will pay in tax at least as much as we are reclaiming. For example if you donate under the Gift Aid scheme £100 then we will reclaim £25, but if you do not pay at least £25 in tax then HMRC will ask you to make up any shortfall.

Gift Aid claims are now being made on a monthly basis, so tax will be reclaimed on donations made in April, in early May and so on. It is essential, therefore, that if there is a change in your taxable status, you inform us as soon as possible.

If you are eligible but have not previously completed a Gift Aid Declaration, or if have changed address, or if you just want to see whether we are claiming gift aid on your donations, please ask Alan, either in person, by email at a.m.graves236@gmail.com by telephone on 01924478946 or by text on 07951508963, who will be pleased to help.

What's on in May

We have two Communion services this month. On May 9th Michael or Lesley from St Saviour's will be with us, and on the 16th, the Celebrant will be Simon Cash, the Area Dean.

May 23rd is Pentecost, the Sunday 50 days after Easter when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the birthday of the Church.

Now that we have returned to regular services in church, May 23rd will be the last of our online services in their present form (although St Peters will continue to have a regular presence online). To be church we have to be together, just as branches have to remain in the vine to be fruitful, which is the theme of our service this Sunday.

Having said that, some of our less mobile members may find it difficult to get to church on their own. If anyone can help with offers of lifts, or if you would like a lift, please let Leif or Wendy know and they will do their best to coordinate.

Prayer Ministry Team members will be available every Sunday to pray with anyone should the need arise. If you aren't in church for the Sunday service but would like prayer, please contact us - the Holy Spirit can cope with a telephone call. Please don't worry or suffer alone.
Mount of Olives

Did you know?

May 13th is Ascension Day, always the Thursday 40 days after the Resurrection of Jesus.
The traditional site of the Ascension is Mount Olivet (the "Mount of Olives"), on which the village of Bethany sits. Before the conversion of Constantine in 312 AD, early Christians honored the Ascension of Christ in a cave on the Mount, and by 384 the Ascension was venerated on the present site, uphill from the cave.

Around the year 390 a wealthy Roman woman named Poimenia financed construction of the original church called "Eleona Basilica" (elaion in Greek means "olive garden", from elaia "olive tree", and has an oft-mentioned similarity to eleos meaning "mercy"). This church was destroyed by Sassanid Persians in 614. It was subsequently rebuilt, destroyed, and rebuilt again by the Crusaders. This final church was later destroyed by Muslims, leaving only a 12×12 meter octagonal structure (called a martyrium—"memorial"—or "Edicule") that remains to this day.

The site was ultimately acquired by two emissaries of Saladin in the year 1198 and has remained in the possession of the Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem ever since. The Russian Orthodox Church also maintains a convent of the Ascension on the top of the Mount of Olives.

(Acknowledgements to Wikipedia)

Prayer for May

Living God,
deliver us from a world without justice
and a future without mercy;
in your mercy, establish justice,
and in your justice, remember the mercy
revealed to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And finally

If you need support in any way - prayer, or practical help - please contact us on our special email address: support@stpetersbirstall.co.uk.

We hope you enjoyed this newsletter. If you have suggestions for things we can put in it please do get in touch.
Thanks for reading. God bless you all.

St Peter's Church, Birstall