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Extracts from the Church Magazine about people who have voluntary roles in our parish and churches.

1990 Barrie Birkin, Our Organist, Moves On
1992 Ministry Opportunities in our Churches -Philip Herrick
1995 Sunday Club, Leadership Change -Julie Madin replaces Jim Crawley
2003 David and Marion Smith appointed as Pastoral Visitors
2004 David and Pam Oldale and the Magazine Team
2006 Sue Ward is Standing Down as magazine Editor and is now PCC Secretary
2006 Mark Hoare Takes Over as the New Editor
2007 Angila Antill retires from Sunday Club
2008 Myra Johnson retires as Organist at St Thomas'
2011 St Thomas' Flower Arranging Team
2011 Volunteering


Barrie Birkin, our Organist, moves On (April 1990 edition of magazine)

After Easter this year, Barrie Birkin will no longer be our organist. He seeks a new challenge and has accepted the post of organist at Baslow Parish Church.

His desire for change after 20 years is understandable and we certainly wish Barrie well. We are truly grateful to him for using his wonderful gift to enrich our worship. I identify with all that Keith Bates says in his tribute to Barrie.

We shall miss him greatly and he will be hard to replace. To mis-quote Oscar Wilds "To lose one organist (Philip Herrick) may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two in a year looks like carelessness". We must pray both for Barrie and for St. Thomas' as we look for an organist and a music director to oversee all our music in worship.

Christopher Frith


Barrie Birkin - A View from the Back Row (of the Choir Stalls)


It's always a shock when the established order changes, and the impending departure from the organ stool of that seemingly permanent and immovable fixture of St. Thomas' Church, Barrie Birkin, provides no exception. For almost twenty years he has successfully filled the by no means easy dual role of Choirmaster and Organist, exercising his considerable influence over the musical affairs of the church. We have enjoyed and admired his expertise on the organ, playing without fuse or ostentation (except for occasional flamboyance and over loudness in his favourite hymns). On the contrary he has often been unduly modest and self effacing; he never ceases to be worried or nervous about his playing, which means he cares.

As choirmaster he has brought out the best from a long succession of choristers. The advent of girls (and more mature girls) he took in his stride. Not a strict disciplinarian he has, however, coaxed and cajoled many an excellent performance from his small band of charges, bringing pleasure both to them and to their hearers. A series of young boys and girls (and older ones too) have good reason to be very grateful for his enthusiasm, patience, encouragement and instruction. Much has been learned by many.

He has been generous with his time and energy; he has been kind and friendly. We have appreciated his treats; buffets at the George it was rumoured he had a practice organ there and at his home, and choir outings principally for the younger element. And Christmas morning wouldn't be the same for the front row without their selection boxes.

In all that he has done he has been sustained by Jean and eventually helped vocally by his daughters.

We shall miss him sorely, but change and a new challenge call him to Baslow. We wish him every success and happiness there, and thank him for enriching the life of St. Thomas' Church with his skills, and for all his good works and pleasure given to the Choir.

Keith F.H. Bates


Ministry Opportunities in our Churches (February 1992 edition of magazine)

Did you know, that in a recent survey of 113 churches in various locations in this country, 85% said that most of their church's work was undertaken by a minority of members; 72% said they had a shortage of people available for leadership roles; 54% even had a shortage for practical roles; and 14% reported that some members had so much work that their home life was possibly at risk.

Only 8 of the churches approached said they had few problems with most people willingly using their gifts and skills.

Where would you place St. Thomas', St. John's and St. Peter's if had been asked to respond to the survey on our parish's behalf? I reflect after 4 months working in the parish I think I have a idea - better than the average with an immensely encouraging willingness to work by many, but still a long way from what would preferred.

I am asked in my job brief to make "every member ministry" work. What is "every member ministry"? Quite simply it is the recognition that every member, whether old or young, relative newcomer or long standing member, has a part to play somewhere in church life. As a church we need to recognise every member's gifts and skills and to use them as they are God given for a purpose. Equally, every member must be honest as to his or her gifts and skills, express them, and volunteer them for God's work wherever they can be used.

So why don't we have that marvellous "every member ministry" now? More often than not its because of misunderstanding between what the church requires and what the willing member thinks is involved, and perhaps by a lack of clear communication of opportunities. Some of the most common reasons for not working start like:

"I was never asked to...."
"I didn't know we did...."
"I am no good at...."
"I can't lead...."
"I can only wash up...." (we still need you!!)
"I have never been taught to...."
"I don't really think I can sing...."
"I didn't know you could...."
"I don't want to be committed every week to...."
"I work in the evenings so I can't..."

Despite all of these reasons, there are still opportunities for each one of us to undertake exciting, new initiatives pressure on others. Can you possibly help?

Over the next few months there will be displayed various "Ministry Opportunities". Please make a point of reading the opportunities as they arise - there could be something that appeals, or something that really makes you want to shy away. The latter is often the one you will work best at and if you want to see some biblical proof of that see Exodus 4 and Moses' reaction to his apparent abilities!

And if you feel your gifts and skills are not being used, I should very much like to hear from you.

OUR AIM AND VISION:
....the body growing and moving forward with all members
- playing their part
- using their gifts
- and properly co-ordinated


Philip Herrick


Sunday Club, Leadership Change (April 1995 edition of magazine)
Julie Barton The new leader of Sunday Club is Julie Madin. Julie is a primary school teacher who has usually been teaching the 11+ (Pathfinder) section of Sunday Club. She is an imaginative conscientious and prayerful person and needs the prayer support and encouragement of all our members as she starts out on this demanding ministry.
Jim Crawley has led Sunday Club with extraordinary verve, vitality and vision for several years. He loves children and He loves the Lord: both loves have been evident for all to see. Jim now feels that he is being called into new areas of service. These will probably involve helping with planning and leading worship, especially music. Thank you, Jim, for everything.

Christopher Frith


Pastoral Visitors appointed (February 2003 edition of magazine)
David and Marrion Smith A recent meeting of the PCC approved the appointment of Marion and David Smith as official church Pastoral Visitors to help meet the spiritual and prayer needs of the congregation in an emergency or hospital need during the vacancy period.

Please pray for David and Marion in this role

Thanks to David and Pam Oldale and the Ploughshare Team (December 2004 edition of the Church Magazine)

After twenty-four years of overseeing the distribution of Ploughshare, David and Pam Oldale are handing over their responsibilities.

I am sure all readers will join with me in saying a very big thank you to David and Pam for all their loyal service. Their warmth and friendliness have been appreciated by so many, since they took overall responsibility for the delivery of Ploughshare in September 1981!

Now a very big welcome to Bernard Blanksby who is taking over the task David and Pam have seen many changes in Ploughshare over the years. As they hand over, another change is taking place.

Colour has been introduced to the front cover!

Finally a very big thank you to Sue Ward for editing Ploughshare, to David Holden for preparing it for the printers and to all the distributors who so faithfully push your copies through your door and collect your money!


Sue Ward stands down as Magazine Editor and is now PCC Secretary (October 2006 edition of the Church Magazine)

This is really a thank you and NOT farewell to Sue Ward.

Sue has been editor of the church magazine in a number of formats for something like 14 years!! She feels that she has been called to a change of service, part of which is the PCC secretary.

Thanks for sorting out approximately half a million words into 1600 pages in almost 90 publications, which in the past has won a best magazine award.

I’ m sure that we all pray that God will continue to bless Sue in her new ventures.

Mark Hoare has agreed to take on this task and we look forward to his works.

Read more about the history of the magazine etc. here


Mark Hoare takes over as Magazine Editor (December 2006 edition of the Church Magazine)

Mark Hoare It is with some trepidation that I am taking over as Editor of Ploughshare for a trial period from Sue Ward. Sue has produced the magazine to a very high standard for fourteen years and it will be a hard act to follow. Thank you Sue!

David Holden continues to layout the magazine. Thank you David.

Constructive feedback and comments will be most welcome.
Mark Hoare

Read more about the history of the magazine etc. here


Angela Antill: Has it Reallt Been Ninteen Years? (October 2007 edition of the Church Magazine)
Angie Anthill has just retired after nineteen years as a Discoverers’ teacher.
Angila Antill Has it really been nineteen years? Actually yes, my daughter Jenny was two when I started helping at Discovers (Sunday Club as it was then) because she was clingy and I thought it would help her settle in. Now she is twenty one! Little did I know that I would still be teaching in Discovers nineteen years on!

It has been a wonderful nineteen years, seeing children learn more and explore their faith. There have been some difficult times, with limited space and challenging behaviour, but on the whole it’s been an exciting adventure.

We have camped in the desert, walked to Nineveh, been inside a big fish, fed the 5,000, created the world, built an ark, built houses, grown various seeds, used clay to make bowls, followed the donkey (yes a real one!) on Palm Sunday, been to the stable in Bethlehem, found the lost sheep, had lots of parties, been in the garden when they found the stone had been rolled away and much, much more.
It has been a wonderful experience watching children grow in faith and now seeing that some of the children I taught are now parents themselves. I hope their faith continues to grow and they encourage their children to attend Discoverers.

If any of you are considering helping in Discoverers do so, it is a wonderful experience.

The one down side unfortunately has been the accommodation. Little has changed over the nineteen years. We used to use the Church Office (it was just the choir vestry then) for the 2-5 year olds, the Pathfinders used Pam and Christopher Frith’s lounge or dining room in the old rectory. Then we got the two portacabins, which are boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. The crèche has also been moved to accommodate changing numbers of babies and children. I just hope it is not another nineteen years before Discoverers gets the accommodation it needs. I would also recommend that those unsure of the need for the building project go and help out for a few Sundays in Discoverers.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Angie Antill
Thank you Myra -Myra Johnson retires as Organist at St Thomas' (April 2008 edition of the Church Magazine)

On January 27 this year Myra retired as the organist at St Thomas’ 9am service. Keith Bates thanked Myra for her service on behalf of the choir and Bernard Blanksby on behalf of the congregation.

Keith Bates:
Well Myra, ladies and gentlemen, it was at Easter 1999 after the re-ordering of St Thomas’ church that we returned to our homeland here to be told that there was to be a new service schedule and the choir were expected to lead the musical worship at 9 o’clock.
Myra and Phil Fine but for one considerable snag, we had no organist. While we were considering the predicament and casting round for solutions a message came out of the blue to the effect that ‘Myra will play the organ!’

I needed only to be told that Philip [Johnson] would be accompanying her on drums to complete my surprise! For I, in common with many others had not the slightest inkling that Myra played. This was truly a light very carefully camouflaged under a bushel. Myra was about to rescue us and we were extremely grateful.

Therefore began a period of eight years with Myra at the controls of the organ consol.
If you want an accurate description and explanation of the meaning of the words loyalty, dedication, commitment and the like you need only look to Myra’s service as organist. I can’t remember her missing a practice and more than once she delayed setting out on an outing or visit to play the organ first on Sunday morning. ‘I won’t let you down’ and Mrs Reliable certainly didn’t.

Myra was always supportive and co-operative. One thing that particularly found favour with me was that Myra always called me ‘Boss’!

Unfortunately as happens to us all eventually increasing age, illness or infirmity catch up with us. Indeed Myra battled with various problems. Her eyesight was improved by laser treatment but mobility was becoming a problem. She put up with these things with great fortitude, a positive attitude and dare I say it, a stubborn unwillingness to give in.

However it was clear that the time had come after her hip operation when it was in her interest and welfare not to have to subject herself to the rigours and responsibilities of playing the organ.

Therefore today marks the official time of Myra’s retirement. What she did for us over the years has been tremendous. She was brave to volunteer in the first place. Her commitment has been faultless.

Myra, we extend to you huge and sincere gratitude for all the service you have given to the choir, the congregation and the church in general.

In a moment we will be presenting you with a token of that gratitude and appreciation. What to get you posed a problem. I thought perhaps of gift voucher from Wicks or B&Q might be appropriate. But no, in the end we settled on something else of a bit more personal nature. So please accept this gift [a cameo broach] from the choir Myra as a sign of our regard and thanks for all you have done.

Bernard Blanksby:
Well following on from what you have heard from Keith, Myra has had a long association with St Thomas’ Church. She was baptised here and her parents were members of the church. Myra went to the Sunday School when the school building was opposite Johnson’s shop. She also joined the Youth Club in the 1940s.

Of course Myra has been supportive of her husband Phil in the many roles he has had in the church.

Myra is rock solid and there is a chorus to a Harry Lauder song that reflects Myra’s character so well.

Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Tho' the way be long,
let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend.
Tho' you're tired and weary still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love you've been dreaming of
Will be there at the end of the road.

Thank you Myra and please receive this gift [Hudsons’ Music Shop vouchers] from the congregation.
St Thomas' Flower Arranging Team (June 2011 edition of the Church Magazine)

Robin Dawson, in a sermon recently, said we should find out something about an activity in church and the people involved that we knew little or nothing about. Your editor has taken what Robin said to heart and has been (with his camera) to see who is in the Flower Arranging Team and what the team do.

The Flower Team was formed in the early 1970's by Gill Watts-Jones. There have been many loyal and long serving members in the team since then. The current team is Margaret Taylor, Jean Townend, Dorothy Murkin, Pauline Simmons, Liz Weir, Pam Brimelow, Margaret Stoppard, Barbara Inger and Shirley Slack. The latter two, Barbara and Shirley, were founding members with Gill. Margaret joined the team in 1994 taking over as the co-ordinator from Enid Sheldon twelve years ago.

The team work on a rota week by week and as a team for Christmas, Easter, Harvest and church family weddings. The only time when they are ‘off duty’ is Lent and Advent when there are no flowers in church.

They also hold the occasional coffee morning and plant sale.

New members are always welcome. No flower arranging skills are required as full training will be given.

On behalf of all our readers can I say a big thank you to all the team members who make our church look so beautiful every week.

Pictures of the team arranging the flowers for our Easter 2011 services and Coffee Morning here


Volunteering (August 2011 edition of the Church Magazine)

You are never too old to volunteer.

After caring for my husband for many years, when he died fifteen years ago I felt very lost. I had lost someone that I loved and felt lost not caring for him. I felt the need to be needed. Reading in the paper that Age Concern Chesterfield was asking for Volunteer Advocates I applied and met Angie Corby. My references were taken up and after several weeks of comprehensive training I became a Volunteer Advocate.

My first advocacy was with a gentleman in Walton hospital who was being placed in a care home. He had no family and needed someone to support him at meetings. A home was found for him and I went with him and a social worker to help him decide if he would be happy there. Again with the social worker I went to his flat to collect the belongings that he wanted to have with him. The Social Services did everything in their power to ensure that Peter had all he needed and was happy.

Another case I was involved with was a lady who had a lot of problems whilst I was working with her. She wanted to go on holiday but had no one to look after her budgie. So you can guess who volunteered! And I had never cared for a bird before. The week he was with me I was talking to a lady I knew and she told me that she had had a budgie and when a dog had barked it had died of fright. When I arrived home my burglar alarm was going off! My first thought was of the budgie. I unlocked the door, turned off the alarm (that had gone off by accident) hardly daring to go into the room where the budgie was. Fortunately there he was quite happily chirping away -much to my relief!

I don’t remember how long ago it is since I became involved with Careline where we phone users once or twice a week for a friendly chat. This enables us to talk and make friends with people who are not always able to go out themselves. I feel very privileged to be part of this service.

If you feel lost and not needed, volunteer for something, you won’t regret it. Age is no barrier -I am 84 years old!

Nancy Sturdy