Churches Together in Blyth
Progress Review 2004-2014
Churches Together in Blyth unites in pilgrimage those churches in Blyth which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures; and, in obedience to God’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves to seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another in the Church, which is His body, and to fulfil their mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the world, to the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The membership of Churches Together in Blyth has seen some alterations over the last ten years. The Salvation Army citadel closed and the remainder of the Salvationist congregation moved to worship in Bedlington. The presence of the Salvation Army continues to be seen by the wonderful gentleman who sells the “War cry” outside of Morrison’s. The local “Frontline Church” has its main base in Cramlington and has withdrawn from Churches Together. The Community Church is no longer a member of Churches Together in England, so it also had to withdraw from C.T.B. However, the individual members continue to support various Churches Together events. The New Hope Church is now known as the Congregation of Yahweh and no longer sends representatives to C.T.B. meetings. During the Spring of 2015 the Blyth Family Church (Elim) was welcomed as a member church of C.T.B.
In compiling this report I have tried to match the progress of C.T.B. over the last ten years with the stated aims of Churches Together in Blyth.
The aims of Churches Together in Blyth shall be
A) To enable the churches, as pilgrims together, to explore the Christian faith together, to develop mutual relationships, to seek a common mind and make decisions together;
B) To encourage churches to worship, pray and reflect together on the nature and purpose of the church in the light of its mission – each church sharing with others the treasures of its tradition;
C) To enable the churches to live and share the Gospel, to evangelize together, to take further steps towards unity;
D) To enable the churches to respond to the needs of society and to witness the Gospel together.
Over the last ten years the members of Blyth’s churches have worked together in many different ways. The regular meetings of C.T.B. representatives have enabled decisions to be made with the broad agreement of the different traditions and in the best interest Christian Church within the town. The mutual relationships that have developed have provided a real bond of friendship within the Christian community in Blyth. This has been demonstrated by the support of each other in good times and in more difficult times. There have been times of celebration when a new Priest or Minister has been welcomed into the community. However, when a church family has faced more difficult decisions the support of the whole community has made a real difference. A recent example was the love and support shown to the congregation of the United Reformed Church when they left their famous landmark building and were welcomed across the road by the congregation at St. Wilfrid’s.
There have been opportunities over the last ten years for worship, prayer and reflection within the various member churches. On Easter Sunday morning the Sonrise service has attracted an increasing number of attendees. Our neighbours from Cramlington also come along to join in the celebrations.
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity the main service has taken place within various different churches covering the range of denominations, each of them being arranged to reflect the traditions of the particular venue in consideration of the whole Church in Blyth. In 2009 an extra service gave an opportunity for each church to bring along examples of mission within the community.
Special reflective services have been held on Palm Sundays, most recently at St. Mary’s, Blyth. Invitations are also issued to share in a variety of study sessions hosted by individual churches, especially during lent. The moving carols by candlelight at Horton church rounds off each year with the churches looking forward in hope and expectation to the coming year.
Churches Together in Blyth has taken steps forward over the last ten years to give a unified response to a variety of issues. The unity candles which continue to burn within each member church along with the unity prayer are a witness to this approach and are a visible sign to any visitors. The prayer guide which is followed and is available on the website provides prayers for all aspects of the town and is a wonderful way in which the members of the Christian community continue to pray for each other and those living in our local community.
Evangelism has included the town carol service which was re-established in 2007. All local organizations are invited to attend and the service is open to all sections of our community. Carol singers from C.T.B. also visit the wards in Blyth Community Hospital.
The annual Lent lunches provide an opportunity for the members of the churches to work together whilst raising funds for Christian Aid and also provide an occasion for passing visitors to see Christians helping each other and being available to give advice about our churches whenever it is required.
Other events which have been successful include the Roger Jones musical “Rock” which was performed in the Phoenix theatre to packed houses during 2008. The principle actors and singers were backed by the Churches Together choir.
Individual churches each provide occasions for evangelism including the recently organized “Messy churches” which are open to those of any denomination or faith.
Responding to the needs of society is an aspect from the “aims” which is being fulfilled in many practical ways. The established C.T.B. website demonstrates the churches’ connection with the modern world. The website is under review and has changed its look a couple of times.
In August 2007 the churches responded to an environmental appeal by supporting the Cut the Carbon walk for Christian Aid. The individual churches took on various responsibilities, including hosting the walkers for lunch, preparing the food and being on the quayside to support them.
The response of the churches to the annual Christian Aid appeal has shown the church adapting to different ways of doing things. The envelope collections have now been replaced by each church contributing an event to the appeal. These have included afternoon teas, harvest praise and quiz nights. This successful approach has become a model for neighbouring towns to use.
The collections at the carol services and unity events have responded to local needs including the Headway Arts Project and Escape, which supports the families of our town who are affected by the problem of addiction. The collections have also responded to international needs including support for Mercy Ships.
Churches Together plays its part in civic occasions including being represented at the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday and taking part in town fact finding studies. A service was held for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.
The reaction to the need for a food bank in Blyth has been an outstanding example of the Churches Together family working together in the interests of those in the most need in our society. With different churches taking on the range of responsibilities including shopping, collecting in supermarkets, making up parcels and negotiating with other organizations; the food project is a real example of Christian witness in the town. The support from our friends inBedlington Churches Together also demonstrates the strength of Christian fellowship across the area. The response of the whole Christian community to this great need in our community has demonstrated that Churches Together in Blyth is a strong organization which can make a real difference to people’s lives in the name of Jesus Christ.
Not everything which has taken place within Churches Together in Blyth over the last ten years has been included in this report. There have been extra services, events and charitable appeals. Members of the churches continue to show each other love and support throughout each year attending Patronal festivals and anniversary services as well as going to each other’s fayres, coffee mornings, social events and flower festivals. I hope that the report demonstrates the strength of the Church in Blyth and that its members continue to respond to the needs of the community through Christian witness in both spiritual and practical ways.