If you were the guard, it must have been really annoying. The two prisoners weren’t going to be with you for long. No one stayed in the cells for long. It was a holding pen until they were executed or sent to trial. All you had to do was hold them. Not a hard task really – they were in no shape to escape after they were beaten and flogged. But just to be sure, you would put them in the stocks in the darkest cell. It was cold, dark, with a horrific stench that took your breath away.
From time to time those stone walls echoed. Whether it was screams or abuse, everyone could hear what was happening. All this you were used to, but hymns? This was something else. Enough to catch the curious ears of the fellow prisoners. Who can sing in a place like this?
And why would they?
Friday night is music night. At least it is in our house. Fuelled by BBC4 and Sky Arts it’s part nostalgia, part education in stuff we missed the first time around. This week we watched Soundtracks: Songs that Defined History, an episode about the Civil Rights era in the US. Watching the footage of unarmed, ordinary black Americans singing hymns and gospel songs as protest songs while facing water cannons, police ready to beat people and white folks with guns was awe-inspiring.
But why did they sing?
In an article about this era, Bernice Johnson Reagon writes:
There is a story of a policeman beating a demonstrator on the ground and the man being assaulted began to sing, “We Shall Overcome,” and this particular policeman could not continue the beating. This did not happen in every case, however. People who were against the Movement had strong reactions when faced with powerful, solid freedom singing. And the singing was essential to those of us involved in the action, it was galvanizing, it pulled us together, it helped us to handle fear and anger. I am talking about full and rich singing, when people are singing at full power. When the song started you usually had at least three-part harmony and the sound filled the air — it was powerful music, the freedom songs.
Maybe this is why Paul and Silas were singing in prison. It helped them with their fear and anger. Their protest songs would have been the psalms, songs like Psalm 2 reminding them that the rulers never have the last word.
It’s why we still sing. It’s why it’s difficult at the moment when we can’t sing together. But it’s why it’s more important to sing now than ever. In the shower, on your walks, in the kitchen, in front of the screen on Sundays. Sing like the darkness cannot overcome you. Sing like the heaviness will not oppress you. Sing like things are just about to change.
Because as that old North African theologian, Augustine, said 1600 years ago: ‘He who sings prays twice’.
You can read that article here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/eyesontheprize-music-civil-rights-movement/
You can listen to the brilliant protest songs here: https://www.thenation.com/article/activism/top-ten-civil-rights-songs/
You can listen to the ancient protest psalms here: https://sonsofkorah.com/
This week’s interview is with John. During our time together we talked about trains, grief, grandsons and hope. It’s well worth a listen!
If you’d like to share your story in an interview – let Neil know.
1. Our Gatherings
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
If you would be willing to go on a rota to read, please let Neil know!
In order to make sure that we keep everyone safe, we will use the waiting room option in Zoom. It means that when you connect you will just have to wait a moment till you are admitted to the service. Could you help us by making sure that your Zoom name on the screen has your name – rather than iphone, for example. Thanks
Or you can join us live on YouTube.
2. Prayer Ministry on Sundays
After each Sunday service, the prayer team will be available to pray for those needing support in breakout rooms on Zoom. You can either let Ian know in advance or just wait around after the service.
If you have prayer requests but don’t want to be prayed with, you can also let Ian know and the prayer team will use that time to pray on your behalf.
3. Stay Connected: ‘Virtual Coffee Morning’ – Wednesday 10.30-11.30am
A Wednesday morning is the ideal time to catch up with people, have a brew, even involve yourself with a quiz. So, whilst it’s not as good as being together in person, there’s an opportunity to do it all online.
4. Listening Training – Wednesday at 7.30pm
We are aware of lots of people who are isolated who need someone to listen to them and offer gentle support as they work out what they can do in the face of their own challenges. This is different from counselling but can make a huge difference to people.
We want to begin to offer this ministry in the next few months.
If you want more details about how it will work we will have a training session on Wed 21 October at 7.30pm on Zoom. We would love to invite people who came to the Listening Training earlier in the year to be part of this new venture.
The link for the meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83715752600
Meeting ID: 837 1575 2600
If you want more information, please contact Judith directly.
5. Home Groups: Thursday 7.45-9.00pm
You might not have been before – you are always welcome. You might be interested to know what we talk about. The groups discuss the issues raised by the sermons – if you want to receive the questions we send to everyone – just let Neil know and he’ll add you to the mailing.
The link is here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/998857193
Meeting ID: 998 857 193
6. Non-Zoom prayer meeting
On Friday 10.30-12.00 there’s a prayer meeting in a non-Zoom meeting! Using Whatsapp, contact Corinne Baines or Gill Oldham or Neil and they’ll make sure you are able to connect.
If in doubt
All the links to the meetings are in Church Suite and on the ‘Calendar’ section of our church website: https://www.salfordelimchurch.org/events/
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 but you might also be interested to know about this ministry in the church:
Salford Elim Church and Community Counselling Service
One of the ways we have been able to help people as a church over the past few years is through the counselling ministry of Judith. Some of you might have benefitted from the space that this gives you to explore what is happening in life and how you can respond to the issues you are facing. This is something that has been used by people who don’t worship with us but recognise us as a place that is safe to explore all that is happening to them.
We want to continue this ministry and expand it in two ways:
- It may be that you are a trained counsellor and could offer sometime to help others. If you have been trained to Level 4 (Diploma) or Degree level in therapeutic counselling and would like to be involved, please contact Judith to talk about what might be possible. At the moment the counselling is offered via zoom or phone and we would like to continue with this form of support as well as in person counselling.
- In time we are going to offer a Listening service to those who might just need someone to talk to, but who don’t want or need specialist counselling. Earlier in the year, some of you came on the Listening Course we ran and if you would be willing to be part of this new project, then please contact Judith.
Her mobile number to text or call is 07854 946995
And finally, if you would like to access counselling for yourself, then please contact Judith directly or visit the page for the service.
Thanks to all of you who give regularly. If you want to make a gift to the church you can transfer money direct to the bank account. Here are the details: EFGA Salford Elim: 60-05-16; 18523781.
And if you would like to give to The Vine, the account is The Vine; 60-05-16; 18523811.
Every week you get prayed for!
This is just to remind you that every week the whole church is prayed for – by name. At the beginning of the lockdown, everyone who was on Church Suite was contacted by one of the pastoral team to make sure you had enough support. And in different ways that is continuing. Of course, you may have decided at the time that you would be ok and so didn’t really connect much. BUT… be assured you have been prayed for by name every week by the pastoral team.
I don’t take that for granted. It’s great to know that we belong to a church that supports one another in lots of ways, not least prayer.
From time to time, you might want to thank them!
Links and Resources
1. Kids Resources
Here’s this week’s Kids Resources from Morag, with a variety of videos, crafts and other useful to help your child/ren read and learn from this week’s Bible passage.
2. Learning with Tom Wright
This website is the link for the courses that Tom Wright offers online. Some of them cost money – but this one on the Bible is free. It’s helpful, encouraging and accessible. Have a look: https://mailchi.mp/9c92521c4b9f/heritage
3. Marriage Matters.
For those who are married, it’s easy for things to drift until you find yourselves a long way apart from one another. Marriages that last – but more than that grow stronger take intentional action. They don’t just happen. This article might help you get back on track: https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/family-life/marriage-support/articles/the-unseen-threat-to-marriages