Quarter 2 News - June

A big thank you goes to the member from Warkworth & Amble RBL branch for providing June's Website header Picture taken from Amble looking up to Warkworth Castle.

Unfortunately at the moment most of our news is around the COVID-19 pandemic as such we have set up a dedicated page to keep members informed.  However we are currently posting a weekly spiritual Message from Northumbria's County Chaplain the Rev. George Callander. 

27th June 2020

Armed Forces Day

This is a day were people are given the  chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.  As we are all aware this years celebrations had to be different because of Covid 19.

With these restrictions in mind Rob Simpson from the Stockton and Yarm RBL created this beautiful display below in his back garden to celebrate Armed Forces Day.


26th June 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 


One of the consequences of Lockdown I have found most challenging is the restriction it has placed upon my pastoral ministry. So much of my week is normally spent visiting people in their homes when, for example, they are heavy with grief, to offer some small comfort as we talk about a loved-one’s life and discuss arrangements for funeral services. The time spent in someone’s home is generally one of the greatest privileges of my ministry. It requires me to use professional skills, knowledge and expertise to help people when they are perhaps at their lowest and most vulnerable. However, I am also required to use more basic tools: good communication skills and the ability to listen (really listen) and to read body language - both verbal and non-verbal is essential as it can help me make sense of the pastoral situation, the better to help the family.

Recently all pastoral contact has been made by telephone and email, which although necessary, has been far from ideal as I don’t feel I have been able to properly connect with my families - because we can’t see each other face to face. This is true even on the few occasions when arrangements have been made via the trickery of Skype. The wearing of face masks is an important resource in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and is, of course, to be encouraged. However, I’ve found that face masks have also hampered the connection we have with other - because we cannot properly read each other’s faces. Language is more than just words. We speak with our whole face, just as we smile with our eyes not only our mouths.

It is very easy when we cannot completely see, or completely hear those with whom we are speaking to misunderstand the tone or emphasis of what is being said. This can lead to unintentional misunderstanding and miscommunication. I have had to learn to adjust how I communicate and how I process communication to meet the needs of our current unusual circumstances. It would be all too easy to avoid talking to people unless absolutely necessary until lockdown has passed, and we can bin the masks and get back to normal, wouldn’t it. But as humans we respond to communication with each other: no matter how brief or simple. As our world starts to unfurl from Lockdown, why not try to communicate in new ways with those you meet and make the most of being able once again to see (and read) everyone’s faces…
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

19th June 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

About three hundred years ago as I prepared to begin my final year at college, I spent part of that summer employed as a support worker at a council-run summer play scheme for underprivileged children. The youngsters were with us from breakfast ’til suppertime, Monday to Saturday. They were run ragged doing various sporting, artistic and cultural activities - often for the first (and doubtless, only) time. We also piled them into coaches and took them on a number of day trips. Including (heaven help us) rock climbing!

Underpinning all of these events, great and small, was plenty for the youngsters to eat and drink. A substantial breakfast, three course hot lunch every day (wherever we were), afternoon tea and ‘a wee something to tak’ hame’. When I asked the leader why there was so much food available she told me it was because some of the youngsters might not otherwise have a decent meal from one day to the next. Giving them ‘a wee something to tak hame’ might also (discreetly) make a difference to some families. Coming from a loving family where there was always food on the table, this was my first - but sadly not only experience of youngsters in this country going hungry. I have seen it too many times as a minister, but most especially as a nurse. It never ceased to fill me with pain and sorrow.

The recent media coverage of footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to encourage the Westmninster Government to extend free school meals across the schools’ summer holidays. I am pleased to report Mr Rashford (who himself experienced a degree of poverty as a youngster) succeeded.

Thirty eight years ago, when I was a student I was shocked to learn of children going hungry not only in my home country, but in my home town. Here we are in 2020 and things are not better: in many ways they are worse. We may not be rich, but we can do our bit (Christian or otherwise) to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

  • when we do the weekly or monthly shop, buy just a few extras to contribute to the local Food Bank. It will be gratefully received.
  • support in some way one of the charities working to end child poverty.

Who knows, now might be the time that we as people of faith, people of conscience and people of heart, come together and truly make a resounding difference for those with the quietest voices.
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

12th June 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message - Let the Head and the Heart walk Hand in Hand!

It is often said that if we act out of love or compassion then we can’t go far wrong in our decision making; or in exercising judgement. Indeed, St. Paul says in his First Letter to the Corinthians,

“…faith, hope and love. These three: but the greatest of these is love.” So indeed, love is a quality central to the human condition. However, it isn’t enough: we also need what Paul refers to in his Letter to the Philippians as “…the spirit of true discernment”.

Loving hearts or not, we need the ability to discern what is in the best interests of ourselves, each other, those precious to us and for the world around us. We need to be able to prioritise and evaluate. If faced with a problem or a decision and we respond only with the heart (love) and not with the head( discernment) we may not reach the solution we hoped for. It’s often (?always) better to pause, reflect and take a more ‘middle-way’ approach. A combination of heart (love) and head (discernment) may well provide more fruitful results. Of course, not everyone likes to take a thoughtful, considered and reflective, ‘middle-way’ approach. Some people are more steadfast and resolute in their thinking and approach to the world and all its people - and more immediate in their actions.
It is my heartfelt prayer that the spirit of true discernment fills the hearts and minds of the world, helping us find a secure and lasting path of justice and tolerance for all.
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain


5th June 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

The other day I was part of a lengthy, socially distanced queue at the post office. The woman in front of me was doing a fair bit of ‘humming and hawing’, shaking her head, sighing, tutting and frequently looking at her watch. I, like many in the queue was busy with social media and other diversions on our phones. Imagine my surprise when she suddenly asked,

“Here, Reverend, what d’you reckon that Jesus would have made of all this, then?” as she gestured expansively to the queue, the closed shops and the ‘2 metre’ markings on the ground. “Bet he’d have had plenty to say about it, eh?” One or two of the others around had a bit of a chuckle at her comments. I considered for a moment and replied that I had no idea what Jesus would have made of our current situation. However, I suspect he would have taken it in his stride and appealed for calm. There are many examples of him using parables - stories - to illustrate or reinforce an important message to his disciples or a wider gathering of the people.

I can imagine Jesus creating a suitable parable to illustrate the difficulties of Covid-19 and the importance of adhering to the official guidelines of social distancing, public gatherings, travel and so forth. Unlike our modern news updates he would have used contemporary imagery and local referencing, rather than graphs, charts and statistics to put across what he wanted to say. Not least because many of the people in his crowd would have been unable to read or write.

Of course, in Jesus’ time they had a very different understanding and tolerance of illness and communicable disease; so there would, of course, have been no masks, gloves, hand sanitiser at the Bazaar, or two metre distancing marks on the floor of the market place. Likewise, I can’t imagine Jesus and his friends cancelling any of their gatherings. What I can imagine, from all we know about Jesus of Nazareth, is that he would have gone about his ministry in Galillee quietly, peacefully, with dignity and always with compassion and tolerance for those around him. Surely qualities we should try to emulate, whether or not we are two metres apart from those around us: whomsoever they may be…?!

Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

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