St. James Hope, 3 Vicarage Close, Salford, M6 8EJ
07771 558 058

Midweek Musings

Neil’s Reflections

One of the advantages of growing up as a member of the Salvation Army is that as soon as you have grown your front teeth, you are given a chance to join one of their brass bands. The instrument you learn largely depends on what spare instrument is kicking around in the storeroom. I got a cornet. I looked a bit like this:

Cute, eh?

When lockdown began I made a list of goals: I would brush up my French with the Duolingo app, I’d read some of the books that have sat on my shelves for 20 years unopened, and I would try and see if I could still play the cornet.

Coming out of lockdown, these are the results: I lasted 2 weeks, I read some, I can’t!

But I can remember what it was like being part of the band when I was learning at the age of 8. There is nothing like the feeling of being at the top of your musical game – playing solos, carrying the tune, reaching the high notes. But let me tell you, there is nothing worse than being on the bench with the other 3rd Cornets. For those that wonder – there are only 3 rows. And you sit with the other duffers.

And what makes it worse is that you only get to play the offbeats. For those who have never reached these heights it means you play the pahs of the ‘um pah, um pah’ for what seems like hours on end. No hint of a tune, and no one wants to hear a solo of the offbeats.

It’s good for the soul though.

You learn that if a band is going to play music that has depth and texture, someone needs to play the pahs.

When you read the book of Acts it’s not hard to notice who the heroes are – those that play the solos that get all the attention.

First place has to be Saul/Paul: so good they named him twice.

Then Peter: the spokesman on the day of Pentecost, involved in remarkable healings.

Maybe then Stephen: a martyr deserves a long chapter – and he gets one.

And then Philip: engaged in a pretty amazing cross-cultural mission.

But there are others who pop up for just a scene and then disappear again. People like Ananias and Barnabas in Acts 9 (we will meet Barnabas again – but nor for long!). It’s clear that Saul, soon to be Paul, has got a big part in God’s drama ahead of him, but it needs these two to play their parts for that drama to have the colour it deserves. Ananias and Barnabas have to be brave, risk takers, alert to God’s direction, attentive to what is happening, aware of the moment they are and ready to act. Whatever others might think.

Would Paul have stayed in the dark without Ananias? Would he have been left out of the church’s circle if Barnabas hadn’t paved the way for him? They played their part, but we don’t know that much about them.

They were playing the ‘pahs’. Living lives of quiet faithfulness, doing what they were asked and willing to take the backseat. But without them, where would we be today?

You might feel like that. It’s easy to think that no one would miss you if you didn’t turn up, if you didn’t play your part, if you stopped praying, if you stopped speaking.

But those ‘pahs’ are vital if the band is to play something that will move others. Play your pahs – loud, proud, with pizzazz. We are lost without you.


Frank has been keeping rhythm for us for decades. But he’s also made films for us, been part of the Governing Body, been through some of the best times and as well as the trickiest with us.

This is a chance to know little more about him.

And we don’t mention Manchester United once!


1. Our Gatherings

Sunday gathering

The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:

Meeting ID: 836 810 848

Midweek Gatherings

This week we have 2 prayer meetings during this week:

On Wednesday between 1-2pm we offer prayer ministry.

You may feel anxious and just need someone to pray for God’s peace over you. You may be ill or be concerned about someone who is sick; we can pray with you for God’s healing. You may feel low or confused; we can pray with you to know God’s joy and guidance in these strange days. Whatever your reason, we would love to pray with you and for you.

Meeting link:

On Friday 10.30-12.00 there is a prayer meeting that doesn’t need Zoom! We use Whatsapp and it works great. If you want more information contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.

Home groups meet on Thursday at 7.45pm.

The link for home groups is here:

Meeting ID: 998 857 193

2. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Vine Wednesdays’

‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am

Since closing we’ve missed chatting to people and we know some of you have missed popping in for a brew and a catch up too. So, whilst it’s not as good as the real thing, we thought we would try meeting up online instead. So, grab yourself a brew and join us. There may even be games and live music!

Meeting link:

If in doubt

All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website:

3. You’re not alone

There is a group of people in the church who form the Pastoral Team. They are the ones who at the beginning of lockdown said they would contact you from time to time to make sure that you’re doing ok. Each of them have around 10 people to connect with from time to time and to pray for every week. It’s good to know that someone is coming to God for you – asking for his blessing for your life. This is the team:

Debbie King
Ian Peacock
Julian Gittings
Gill Oldham
Lorna Plura
Charlie Blundell
Paul King
Alex McGregor
Maggie Hudson
Janet Downs
Judith Thompson
Nev Plura
Just letting you know:

Neil and Maggie will be away on holiday from 18-26 July.

Links and Resources

1. Children’s Resources

Morag and Ian have put together a couple of films for children at different ages. Having said that, whatever your age you might want to take a look!

But if you have children that fall into these groups, I know that they will really value your feedback.

You can watch them here:

2. Activate Conference

Some of you may remember that Ian and Morag led worship at the Activate conference last year. You might also remember Ian raving about it. This year it’s online so you can be part of it from your front room. It’s on Saturday 25 July 9.30-12.00 or Wed 29 July 7-9.30pm. Tickets can be bought here.

3. Keswick Convention

Many of you might know about the Keswick Convention. It’s a Bible teaching conference that normally runs over a few weeks in the summer. This year, like everything else, it will be online from 27-31 July.

There’s more details on their website and you can watch a trailer here:

4. Just a thought

On Sunday we read from Acts 8:26-40 and how the treasurer of the Candace royal household came to faith in Jesus. The Candace queens were royal rulers of an ancient, very prosperous empire. If you want to read about them you can do so here. It’s a really good website if you want to get background information on things that happen in Biblical times.

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