St. James Hope, 3 Vicarage Close, Salford, M6 8EJ
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Midweek Musings – Salford’s Worrying Happiness Levels

The government wants us all to be healthier by 2040. They’ve measured how healthy our personal lives are, how healthy the public areas in our towns and cities are and what we are doing to stay healthy.

I’ve got bad news: Salford isn’t doing too well.

In a league table of 149 local authority areas, Salford is 140th. We should have moved to Wokingham. They are at the top of the league.

What caught my eye was where we struggled most in Salford. Broadly, our children and young people are struggling and more generally we all struggle with happiness. Out of 149, we are 145th for happiness. Makes you gloomy reading that.

How can a city grow happier?

Robin Dunbar, a psychologist points to strong relationships as the answer. If that sounds too twee, consider these factors. In the US, Julianne Holt-Lunstad examined 148 studies providing data on factors that influence your chance of dying young. All told she looked at evidence from 300,000 people.

There are things you’d expect: don’t smoke, cut down the alcohol, exercise, live somewhere unpolluted by traffic fumes, get the flu vaccine. But there are other things: get involved in social activities, get emotional support from others, be involved in a wider community, do things that matter to others, make a contribution.

The big surprise was that these relationship choices make the biggest difference. Only giving up smoking mattered more.

Dunbar says,

You will certainly do yourself a favour by eating better, taking more exercise and popping the pills they give you, but you’ll do considerably better by just having some friends.

‘Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships’
(An extract from the book was in the Sunday Times, 28 February 2021)

I thought all this was interesting as we continue thinking about hospitality. In March we will think about the space for relationships to be formed that we offer one another. We start with what happens when the Spirit fell on a group of people. They learnt together, they prayed together, they commited to meeting together and … they ate together (Acts 2:42). All things that take time. All things that mean you create space for others. All things that allow the life of the Spirit to make a difference in your own lives.

All things that are life-saving, literally! A walk round the park with one other person, a picnic, sharing coffee and cake in your gardens, meals indoors, group walks, small groups, church services. All these will become possible again. They will save your life!

But if we can include others, extend the grace to those around us, we will help the city become happier. Jesus came to do more than make us happy, but to the extent that health and wellbeing reflect something of the shalom of the gospel, then I think it counts.

We are salt and light. We keep things from getting worse and we act like Vitamin D, as Jesus almost said. So, in an unhappy city, look at what needs to be done. Read the report, pray for your family and neighbours that they would be made whole, offer space and time to others new friendships can be made, make plans to share your in-person life with others again. Bring happiness and health to a city.

The report is here:

Coming up

1. Easter Posters

After the success of our Christmas window display trail, the SMT wanted everyone to have the chance to participate in displaying a window display for Easter. Jonny Dolphin has kindly printed off two different Easter designs in a range of colours.

If you would like one, please contact Kate Blundell (07805 069033) to arrange collection or delivery after 15th March. Please also specify if you would prefer the three crosses or egg design. You will also be given a laminated QR code that you can put in your window or front gate, which when scanned will take people to the Easter page on our website.

2. March Films

From next Monday, for the rest of March, each week we will be releasing a short (around 90 seconds) film which we hope will be helpful to you in at least 2 ways.

They are short prayers around common themes – a first prayer of the day, a prayer about forgiveness, a prayer as we travel, a prayer for the city and we hope you will find them helpful.

But we also hope that you will find them cringe-free so that you will feel able to share them on your social media accounts. We hope it’s a way to help people who might not be so sure about faith to connect with us.

Let us know what you think of them to help us decide whether to do them again!

3. Can you help?

Yvonne and Martin Simms run Salford Food Parcels – a way they help people who are struggling with food shortages.

They need some help, especially for these items:

UHT milk, oil, shampoo, deodorant, shower gel, toiletries, tinned food in particular.

If you can help, you could drop them at their home – 11 Lostock Road, Salford, M5 5LH and Gill Oldham has said that she would be happy to pick stuff up and drop them if you can’t get to them. Her number is 07764 851769.

4. Alpha Online: starts Monday 12th April, 7-8.30pm

Following the success of our previous online Alpha course, we are offering another chance for people to explore the big questions of life and faith in a friendly and non-judgemental atmosphere. 

There will be 12 weeks to discuss questions such as ‘Is there more to life than this?’, ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘How can I have faith?’. Here’s a teaser:

If you know anyone who might be interested in trying the first session, do invite them along and share with them – it will give them a taster of what to expect and how to sign up if they’d like to join us.

It will be facilitated by a team of great people: Andrea Catherwood, Emmanuel Isibor, Yvonne Simms, Dave and Chris Swindells. 

Our Regular Gatherings

1. Lunchtime in Exile

Each week on Tuesdays from 12.30-1.30, there are lunchtime sessions exploring the Book of Revelation.

The link for the series is here:

Meeting ID: 843 1953 5601
Passcode: 757553

We know that not everyone will be able to come along at that time, but we will record all the sessions so you can catch up later so you can watch them at whatever time works well for you. The link to them is here:

2. Wellbeing Course: starts Thursday 18th February, 1-2.30pm

Are you living on empty? Maybe it’s time to refill.

The Wellbeing Journey is a new series exploring holistic wellness: body, mind and spirit. It is based around 6 key areas of wellbeing: physical, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial and vocational, to help you discover how to run on a full tank.

There are eight sessions to explore together, lasting between 60 and 90 minutes, which includes a video and time for discussion.

If you know someone who would benefit from discussing their wellbeing in a friendly and supporting environment, do invite them.

Here’s the link:

Every Part Of You Matters

3. 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

4. Prayer All Together: Thursday at 7.30pm

Prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with God.
We want to be people who pray regularly together; for ourselves and our families, for our church, for our community, for our nation and for the wider world. 
Do join us if you can.

5. Prayer Meeting: Friday

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

6. Young Adults (18+)

In normal times, we run a 6 week cycle of fortnightly events of alternative worship, bible studies and social events.

We’ve adapted our work since 2020 and are currently running fortnightly events on zoom – switching between a social evening and bible study using the Nooma programme.

If you’d like to get involved, these take part on every other Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm – please get in touch for the Zoom link. (Alex number: 07746 130249)

7. Sunday Service at 10.30am

Meeting ID: 836 810 848

And on Salford Elim Church’s YouTube page.

And at 10am, led by Hannah:

If you would love the privilege of praying for our Sunday morning service, then we need you! Log on to the Sunday morning Zoom using the link above at 10am and we’ll go into a break out room for 15-20mins, to pray together for those involved in the service, as well as for the service itself.

I’d love to see you there xxx

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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