St. James Hope, 3 Vicarage Close, Salford, M6 8EJ
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Midweek Musings – Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound…

Ezra 3:12-13

It’s started with an English win. Maybe this will be the year we will win the Euros. Maybe this will be the year we stop talking about 1966 is appealed to, and that final ‘they think it’s all over’ moment. Maybe we will remember the goose bumps of 1996 when we first heard ‘Three Lions’ being sung, but without the regret of never playing better than we did then.

Or maybe we will fall at the same hurdles and be left believing that we will never beat Germany 4-2 again or feel that young again. Maybe we will just be left with the curse of nostalgia.

In 1995 while I was researching the beginnings of British Pentecostalism, I met a woman who had heard George Jeffreys, the remarkably charismatic founder of the Elim denomination, speak in 1930. She told me how life-changing he was, and then said, ‘I’ve never heard anyone as good since’. But it wasn’t said to celebrate a remarkable experience in her past, it was a direct criticism of everyone she had heard since. The curse of nostalgia had stopped her seeing anything good for 65 years.

On Sundays we are following the regathering of the people of God after 70 years of exile. After six months, they begin laying the foundation of their new temple. It was a moment that some had never believed they would see. It was a sign of hope, a sign of God’s ongoing presence with them.

But while some were shouting for joy, some were wailing. They wept because they suspected that it wouldn’t be as good as the temple in the good old days.

Should they have been silenced? Were they right to weep? Were the foundations smaller, more fragile, less impressive than the previous temple?

The problem was that if their story became the defining story, no one would ever want to build the walls. What’s the point if it’s not as good? Why work hard when you will never succeed? Why give if you’ve already decided it will fail?

It was the curse of nostalgia. It stopped them believing anything in the future could be better than they had already experienced.

How do you celebrate the past without making it into something it never was? How do you talk about the past that was good without giving the impression that nothing can ever match it in the present or the future?

Perhaps one of the ways that these newly-returned exiles fought the curse was by singing an old song. It was a song that went back to David, a 400 year old song:

He is good, his love to Israel endures for ever.

They sang this ancient song but not nostalgically. The past became a spur to present faith. They could retell old miraculous stories that reminded them of God’s character. These songs gave them hope for a future they couldn’t see.

It’s the same for us. We have had great days in the past. But they must not become a prison to stop us from being open to all that God is going to do in the future. I want to be part of the crowd shouting for joy because of all that might be possible.

After all, the temple was coming home!

(Watching this again, I was reminded of how clever the video was)

Coming Up

Prayer on Sundays

We want to invite you to pray together before the service. From 11am there will be chance to gather together in the small room at the front of the church.  It would be great if you could be there.

After each service there will be chance to be prayed with personally. This will be in the side chapel. If you have been part of the prayer team, or would like to pray with people, let Neil know.

What will be happening on Sundays

We are experimenting with a different Sunday rhythm. This is what will be happening each week during June-July:

Sunday 20 June: An interview with someone in church
Sunday 27 June: Launch Sunday
Sunday 4 July: Communion
Sunday 11 July: Baptisms
Sunday 18 July: Interview
Sunday 25 July: Prayer & Ministry

Launch Sunday

On Sunday 27 June we have our ‘official’ Launch Service. We will be joined by Rev Daniel Burton from Holy Angels and Rev Gareth Thomas from St James as well as members of the St James congregation. 

We had wanted to have a picnic after the service, but in light of the ongoing restrictions we are going to postpone that until it is easier to do together.

Elim’s Celebrations

On Wednesday 23 and 24 June, Elim are holding their Leadership Summit. This year it is all online and you can access it whether you call yourself a leader or not, by purchasing a Digital pass for £30 here:

You can watch the sessions over the next month, but on Wednesday and Thursday night, the main sessions are being streamed for free.

This is some info:

On Wednesday 23 June at 7.30pm, your church family will get to hear an important message from Elim’s leader Chris Cartwright, where he asks ‘What does the next chapter look like?’ In our current time of transition, God is bringing us to a profound reset around our primary purpose of being missional disciples of Jesus. This is a timely message for your whole church to watch and engage with.

Continuing on this theme, on Thursday 24 June at 7.30pmDanielle Strickland willshare a message which focuses on an important question: How do we announce the news of God’s coming Kingdom to a culture that seems oblivious, uninterested and opposed to the message? In her talk, Danielle explores how we can engage our culture in genuine and relevant ways without giving into the temptation of assimilation or the alluring safety of defensive separation.

You can access them here:

Exciting New Plans for our Children and Young people

High on our priorities is the work we do with children and young people.

During the months we have been separated, Morag and Ian and Andrew and Alex have continued to do brilliant work online with all their different groups. This has largely been unseen by most of us but they have done a great job.

Going forward, this will be the rhythm of our children and young people’s work:

  • Twice a month, they will have their own services in the minor hall – with competitions, scripture, prayer and worship.
  • Once a month there will be supervised games and spaces for them to build friendships together, the 15-18s will meet in The Vine with adults offering safety and a listening ear.
  • Once a month they will be in their age-appropriate groups.

Through all this there will be a safe space for creche.

If you’d like to know more or be involved, contact Morag.

Getting Involved in the New Phase of Church

Moving back to onsite worship means that we will have lots of opportunities to be involved in the ministry of the church.

You might be wondering where you fit into the church after all this time of scattered worship. You might wonder where your gifts and passions fit in. Or you might just want to know how you can serve generally.

Please talk to us – we want to help you feel confident in knowing how your gifts can be a blessing to us all.

Going forward, we will need help to form these teams:

  • Welcome Team
  • Prayer Team
  • Worship Band
  • Readers
  • Operating the PA System
  • Operating the streaming (we’ll show you how)
  • Operating EasyWorship to project words
  • Cleaning Team

The teams will have their own leaders, but in the first case if there are areas you would be willing to be involved with, can you let Neil know. Most of the teams will ask you to be available around once a month or so.

If you are already involved in any of these teams it will help if you confirm that you will carry on.

The Vine Community Hub

As we gradually approach the reopening of The Vine as a space for community on the 21st of June, we want to get the word out to as many local people as possible. Could you spare a little time to distribute leaflets around the local area? If so, please let Ian know asap.

Also, if you would like to explore the possibility of getting involved in the ongoing ministry of The Vine, do let Ian know.

Is it time you took the plunge?

We are planning to hold a baptismal service on Sunday 11 July. If you have been waiting for this moment, or are wondering if this is the next step for you in your discipleship journey, please talk with Neil.

An Offer of Counselling Support

One of the ministries we have as a church is the Community Counselling Service. During this Covid crisis we have continued to offer Counselling remotely via zoom or telephone. There are however, limitations with remote sessions.

We are now offering Walk And Talk Counselling to anyone from church who would benefit from counselling or those known to church members. We would agree a time to meet at the Tea Kiosk in Lightoaks Park and would walk at a slow pace for the 50 minute session.

If you feel you would benefit from this please don’t hesitate to contact Judith Thompson, Neil, or Ian or fill in the form on the church website.

Looking for Help

Yvonne and Martin run a food-poverty programme, Salford Food Parcels. They would be grateful if there are any of you available to deliver parcels to people who are unable to get to their offices on Langworthy Road. Please contact them if you are able to help.

Our Regular Gatherings

Sunday Service

Sundays at 11.30am

Join us onsite at St. James or online at


Thursday at 7.30pm

At the moment we are going to continue with all the housegroups being online. This will change going forward to a mix of some online and some in person.

If you would like to be part of a group now, then contact Neil and he will give you the details for next Thursday’s group night.

Coffee Morning

Wednesday at 10.30am.

A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz.

Meeting link

Prayer Meeting


Contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil Hudson and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.

If in doubt

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

You’re not alone

If you need help and don’t know where to turn, you are always welcome to contact Neil on 07771 558058.

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