Category Archives: News

Glenorchy Charities 2022


Each year Glenorchy Church normally chooses three different charities to support through our Mission Box Scheme and special events, such as our Garden Party and Mission Concert or Tea Party. Please remember these charities and those who require help from them in your prayers.

We have chosen our three good causes for 2022 and will be reporting on them during the year here in the Review and on our notice board in the hall.

1 We are sticking with Rehoboth, the gallant family living near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Mark and Dorcas Nicholson have brought up a dozen adopted children, several of whom are approaching adulthood, as well as serving tirelessly in their local church and community. Mark was a client of Exmouth Open Door many years back, so we feel a special interest in this ministry.


2 We are returning to support Mercy Ships whose floating hospital calls at many ports around Africa and occasionally elsewhere, delivering top-class health care to coastal communities who would otherwise certainly miss out. This is a distinctively Christian ministry of healing in every sense.


3 For our local UK-based charity we are staying with the theme of healing and plan to support Hospicecare, which has a 12-bed unit in Exeter but delivers most of its care in the homes of patients. Currently they are running a major appeal and we felt it would be right to support this. We shall feature their work during the Mission Sunday service on March 27.


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Lunchtime Concerts March

With three cancellations already since January I’m hoping we can get to the end of April without any more.   As you’ll probably appreciate trying to fill gaps at short notice isn’t always very easy.

March 2nd   Samantha Muir (guitar). Samantha has played for us several times before and has sometimes brought one of her pupils with her. She is an accomplished guitarist quite different from those who play for pop.

March 9th Beacon Piano Trio: Joyce Clarke (piano) Anna Cockroft (violin), Ruth Lass (cello)  The Beacons have a good following as you’ll know from having heard them before.

March 16th Rachel Curtis (mezzo-soprano), Melanie Mehta (soprano) Peter Wilson (piano). They also are not new to us.

March 23rd Pieces of Eight, conductor Mark Perry.  We’ve had them before.  They are a group of singers who sing in four part harmony.

March 30th Joyce Clarke (piano)   Joyce kindly stepped into the breach on 2nd February when the artists booked pulled out for family reasons.   As well as being a solo pianist she is the pianist in the Beacon Piano Trio.

The last concert of the current season will be on 27th April.

David Lee

Eco Matters

Have you disposed of anything recently which could instead have been repaired ?

People often accuse manufacturers of deliberately “building in obsolescence” – so ensuring customers will buy an expensive replacement when the original breaks down.

This is the problem which an Act of Parliament called The Right to Repair Law was passed in July 2021, in response to lobbying. This law requires manufacturers of new household appliances -“white goods”- to supply spare parts to make repairs possible. Hopefully its scope will be extended to more items of equipment in the future.

Transport items like bicycles and cars are repairable up to a point, although the more complex modern versions seem to be more difficult and expensive to repair. My father bought me a new bike in 1962 for £25. The front wheel buckled when I applied the brakes on a downhill run – still in the 1960’s. A new wheel replaced that one. I’ve ridden thousands of miles on the bike, including travelling to work for many years. It’s had a good few new tyres and a new chain. I still occasionally ride it, 60 years later !

If you’d like to read about repair ideas, or make suggestions, try ‘googling’ “The Big Repair Project”.

If you would like to see if that valued item can be repaired, at low cost, try taking it to the “Repair Shop” at Littlemead Methodist Church between 10.00 am and 1.00 pm on the first Saturday of any month.

Peter Johnstone

Glenorchy’s Motto

You’ll know that this is “Within these walls let no one be a stranger”. In fact this is just the last part of a welcome notice which for many years appeared on the front cover of the Review starting from issue 1 back in the 1940s. It read “In Christ’s name we give you a cordial welcome to this House of God, to its worship and work, its comfort and its peace. Within these walls let no one be a stranger.”

The word “cordial” now seems rather old fashioned and we certainly no longer use it in our welcome notices. After Glenorchy and the Beacon Congregational Churches united in 1965, the welcome notice seems to have disappeared but the last part came back again in more recent times. We’re not sure who wrote the original notice but I suspect it was the then Editor, John (Jack) Borlase Braid. Mr. Braid kept a radio shop on Exeter Road and was a Deacon, later a Life Deacon. He sang tenor in our choir and as a youngster I remember his eyebrows going higher and higher as the music got higher! He certainly had literary ability as well as some very decided opinions.

Many in the church were shocked or annoyed when he wrote a piece entitled “Ichabod” when we were holding a Square Dance in our hall to raise funds towards the purchase of our Manse in Belle Vue Road. (Ichabod means “the glory of the house has departed”) Quite what he thought happened at folk dancing is hard to imagine, or maybe it was just that he disapproved of dancing in general? At that time it all seemed very innocuous. Square dancing had become popular in England after Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh had taken part in a visit to Canada.

David Lee

Eco Church news

The news media seem to have forgotten about the climate emergency.  First it was the mutated “omicron” virus that stole the headlines. Then another matter, which would have been considered trivial before the pandemic – drinks parties at Number 10 – has gained “national importance”. Also the embarrassments of the royal family are picked over in detail.   Far from trivial: the Russian army grouping along the border of Ukraine…   But all these are a distraction from the serious emergency which faces the whole world – Climate Change.

With more extreme weather in Britain – repeated heat waves in summer – storms and flooding. With the rise in sea level  wiping out communities across the world.  United Nations representatives at COP26 in Glasgow in November promised to work to slow down global temperature rise.

Here are some of the promises made: 1. Cutting down emissions of greenhouse gases. 2. “Phasing down” the use of fossil fuels. 3. Stopping deforestation by protecting forests and replanting trees. 4. Compensation from richer to poorer countries for damage already caused by climate change.      5. Finance from richer countries to help poorer countries adapt to changes which will affect them in the future.

In connection with 1.  A standardised emissions reporting system with reports every five years. Also improvements to the system of “carbon credits” which aim to balance carbon emissions with carbon storage schemes (including trees).

Even if other “news” hides the reporting of progress with this, let us pray that nations around the world endeavour to keep to their promises.

Peter Johnstone

Lunchtime Concerts February

2nd February: Joyce Clarke (piano) Joyce very kindly agreed to step into the breach when  the artists already booked pulled out for family reasons. Joyce has played for us several times and is also the pianist with the Beacon Piano Trio.

9th February: Bel Canto with conductor Alan Boxer. They are a small choral group who sing unaccompanied (a capella). They have performed for us before, though not for a couple of years. Alan is a member of Wood Farm Wind Quintet where he plays bassoon.

16th February: Annabel Rooney (cello) and Josephine Pickering (piano). Annabel has played for us before and is the daughter of Ian and Josephine McLaughlan from our
congregation. Josephine is well known to us as an accompanist.

23rd February: Alison Burnett (soprano) and David Davies (piano) It’s a while since Alison has sung for us. David Davies is now much involved with the music at Buckfast Abbey which means he is isn’t generally available at a lunchtime as Buckfast have seven services a day. He is also an organist and has the record with us for the largest audience we’ve ever had. His organ concert attracted an audience of 103 a few years back.

David Lee

Sunday 21st November

Matthew 25:31-46          James 2:14-24
 Sometimes world news is overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. Maybe it was better in the days when we were not as aware as we are now. Global internet can be a blessing – but may become a curse as we struggle to process what we can possibly do when there are so many people in need.

James, writing his letter, is very blunt. If you are going to say you are following Christ then words are not enough. Prayers are not enough. Sympathy is not enough. Actions speak louder than words. Jesus told that story of the sheep and the goats simply to illustrate the fact that when humans act in kindness and justice they are not just helping those in need but Jesus himself. In every human being that is struggling, Jesus is there, beside them and within them.

We cannot hope to mend every ill in the world. We know that human influence has resulted in the devastation of the natural world in places. That global warming will cause sea levels to rise and drown little islands in the Pacific; that extreme weather will cause floods and drought, with terrible consequences on food supplies and farming and forests. We know that the actions of industrialised nations such as ours impact on countries on the far side of the world. Cop 26 is over – and as the Queen pointed out in her opening speech – the time for talking without doing is over. We have to do something.

Every night my grandmother would sit down after tea with her sewing box and mend; she would darn the socks, sew up a torn pocket; repair a missing belt off trousers or dress. She would say “ If we mend when it’s only a small job it will never become a big one” God knows the wrongs of this world have now become very big jobs indeed, as we have failed to mend them first of all through ignorance and in more recent years by laziness or selfishness. But the only way to mend injustice is a little at a time.

According to our means, we must do what we can. There are people within our grasp who slip through the net of social welfare, or who live in countries where they do not have the support available. God calls us to a life of love in action. Believing and worshipping is only one aspect of our faith. Next week our churches will begin our pilgrimage towards Christmas – for many people a time of excessive eating, drinking and gifting that must be paid for in the new year.

Love on its own is not enough. Love in action puts a smile on faces; it shows our care and compassion goes beyond these walls and opens hearts and hands to be Christ in our community.

Revd Barbara Bennett

Sunday 7th November

People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7)

One TV programme I always used to enjoy watching was Keeping Up Appearances

Hyacinth Bucket was a complete snob whose family were always spoiling the image she tried to present to the outside world. To Hyacinth outward appearances were all important – as the programme title suggests – whether it is the pristine state of her house or the people she is seen with. And part of what made the programme so funny is that Hyacinth is a caricature of a type of person we have probably all come across at one time or another – the sort of person who is desperately concerned about what people think – what will the neighbours say?

But as we all know outward appearances can be deceptive – as Samuel found out when he went to anoint one of Jesse’s sons king.  When he got there he went through the list of Jesse’s sons only to find that God rejected each one in turn. And then, as so often happens in life, God sent along the right one

Just as we sometimes begin to give up when things are not going well and think that God has forgotten us, God steps in and provides an answer. Samuel’s problem was that he was looking at the wrong things. He had assumed that a future king would be tall and handsome – but God had other ideas.

God did not want the tall, handsome one – which I’m sure is a great relief to those of us who are not tall or good looking. God does not judge by outward appearances – he looks beyond that to see how we are on the inside. No one took David seriously. But God knew what he was looking for and made Samuel wait until the right one came along.

So what does Jesus have to say about outward appearances?

While Jesus is teaching in the temple he uses the example of the scribes to talk about hypocrisy. He criticizes them for walking round in their long robes – in other words showing off. But beneath this outwardly respectable appearance they were not living up to God’s expectations. Jesus accuses them of defrauding widows who were among the most vulnerable in society – probably encouraging them to make financial offerings which were beyond their means.

Having disposed of the scribes, Jesus then sees a poor widow making her offering to the temple treasury. Unlike the people before her who had put in what they could spare, the widow put in two small coins which was probably all she had to live on. And in contrasting her to the scribes and to the rich people putting money into the treasury Jesus is making the point that it is not outward show which is important, but what goes on in the heart.

So we can see that as disciples of Jesus our standards are to be different from those of the world around us. We should be above worrying about keeping up appearances and the desire for status symbols – the need to look good in the eyes of the world. It’s what goes on inside that counts, not the externals – the need to distinguish between what is important and what is window dressing.

Are we worrying too much about the image we present to the world?
Are we too apt to rush to judge other people?
You can fool some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time – but you can’t fool God. God is not concerned with our outward image – he is concerned with what goes on inside us.

So let us focus not on the externals, but on what is really going on in our hearts

People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7)

Revd Roz Harrison

Sunday 31st October

Colossians 1: 15-20;    John 15: 1-17

Surely one reason why Jesus’ teaching is so memorable, and why it has such a hold on the human imagination, is because it is so visual, so stocked with memorable images. So to describe Jesus as a teacher, as we often do, is somewhat misleading as the power of Jesus’ teaching rests upon his power as a poet and a story-teller. And today we encounter in our reading one of his most rich and striking images, that of the vine and the branches.

It’s not entirely original to Jesus. In this passage in John’s Gospel Jesus is drawing on an Old Testament picture of God’s people, as found especially in the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, where Israel is visualised as having been planted in the world by God as a vineyard and called to bear fruit to the world. Israel had failed, however, and in the experience of defeat and exile it had been destroyed and cast into the wilderness. And now Jesus has come to reconstitute Israel, to renew and to rebirth it and here in this passage he sits with his disciples in the upper room on the night of his arrest and he sees in them the nucleus of the new Israel, this new people of God growing out of the roots of the old one. And he knows the trials that await them. He has spoken of their rejection by the world which will mirror his. But this image of the vine and the branches carries great reassurance for it speaks of connectedness: their connectedness to him, inseparably joined as they are to him, rooted and grounded in him and with his life flowing into theirs like sap; but also their connectedness to each other as the shoots of a vine branch and intertwine and live in one another.

This is an organic image of the Church where roots and shoots and stem and branches all connect and indwell together in one great bundle of life and vitality. Connectedness is the key. This image, however, applies not just to the Church. The Church, after all, provides a model for the world. The Church is called to embody the truth about humanity, the truth about God’s purposes for all of creation. The Church is called to be a microcosm of the world and therefore the way it is imaged in the New Testament provides a template for human society, for human life in general. And again, therefore, connectedness is the key. You may know the 17th C poem by John Donne: ‘No Man is an island’ which begins,

‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…’;

and then, a few lines on,

‘… any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.’

And at its best humankind displays this sense of connectedness, this sense of our diminishment when any life is diminished. Just a few verses on in our reading Jesus says, ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Here is this great vine of love whereby our life together connects with God’s life and draws from it, and we lay down our lives for one another as God in Christ lay down his.

And surely this pandemic has brought home to us this connectedness. We are connected by touch, by breath, by presence, connected in one common but very vulnerable humanity. But we are also connected by technology and it is this of course that has come into its own in this pandemic as we find ourselves networked through Zoom and through text and email. And Covid has been bad enough – what would it have been like without this technology? What deeper levels of isolation? And yet of course our very dependence on that technological vine has only left us yearning all the more for physical, face-to-face, connection, for real presence beyond the virtual vine. And so, in this technological age where we are overwhelmed by gadgets and devices, Covid has demonstrated not only the gift but also the limitations of technology: how indispensable is what the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber called the I-Thou relationship, the immediate, face-to-face encounter with the other in whose eyes I see my own reflection.

I would suggest, however, that this image of the vine in our reading invites us to consider two other areas connectedness that are essential to our humanity and that we are in danger of losing in our modern world. The first is our connectedness with nature. This today is, of course, increasingly urgent. Over fifty years ago a historian by the name of Lynn White Jnr wrote an influential article called The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis in which he pointed the finger at the Judaeo-Christian worldview as responsible for our calamitous relationship with nature. The problem, White argued, was that the Bible presents human beings as set over nature rather than as part of it. Whether it’s the emphasis on humans being made in the image of God, or whether it’s the command to ‘fill the earth and subdue it’ and to have dominion over the animals, there has been a tendency to view nature in subjection to us, rather than seeing us as part of one great vine, embedded in and emerging from the soil. And certainly there are other ways to read these passages from the Bible that would see human beings as part of the great community of creation, albeit with a distinct vocation within it, and our current crisis calls out urgently to open up to those re-readings.

From tomorrow the world’s biggest climate change summit, COP26, is being held in Glasgow. COP26 is an important moment for global climate policy. Scientists have warned that if global warming is not kept below 1.5°c above pre-industrial levels, the consequences are irreversible. At COP26, for the first time each nation will be asked to set a date for achieving net-zero carbon emissions. This is a more powerful objective than previous agreements, as net zero sets out a vision for carbon neutrality. Governments are also required to make explicit pledges about what they will achieve by 2030. Ahead of COP26, governments have been increasing their commitments. The COP is an opportunity for these to be stated and welcomed globally, and also to welcome the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement.

A central calling of Christianity is to live in a way which enables both people and planet to flourish. As Churches and as part of a wider body of faiths, we have a strong moral voice to bring as we approach COP26. But in order to use that voice we first of all need to recognise the injustices of the climate crisis, and then start ourselves work towards responses that are fair for everyone. As Christians, we recognise that our neighbours spread across the world, from local to national to global. Our calling to love our neighbour means that we have a responsibility to seek partnership, listen well and prioritise the needs of others. So as a Church, we should take this Sunday as an opportunity to reflect on our own complicity in the climate crisis, and the steps we can take towards change. At the same time, we can amplify our commitment to climate justice by calling on the UK government to do the same. By virtue of living in this world we are connected to it and therefore are connected to and through God’s creation, which means that each and everyone of us has responsibility to care for it and for each other.

And, that brings me, much more briefly to the other connection that we need to rediscover and that our secular world is in danger of losing, our connection to God. In the 1st chapter of the Letter to the Colossians we find this extraordinary depiction of Christ, the firstborn of creation, the one who births creation, of whom it is said that ‘all things have been created through him and for him’ and ‘in him all things hold together’. In him all things are connected. What this passage describes is summed up by the word ‘contingency’: the word ‘contingency’ names our utter dependence upon One who is beyond us – someone who, as my bereaved friend puts it, is beyond ourselves, beyond our control and comprehension. And Covid and the climate crisis reveal our contingency. They reveal our fragile vulnerability in a world which we deceive ourselves into thinking we control. And without the cosmic Christ, we are rootless and there is a deep vacuum, an emptiness, an absence, a void at the heart of everything. And of course nature, as we know abhors a vacuum, and where we create a vacuum we fill it with other things – with consumerism and violence and power-games – and the vineyard lies in ruins, its branches withering and dying, cut off and burning all around us. ‘I am the vine and you are the branches’. We are connected. We are connected to one another in our humanity in a way that technology can never replace. And we are connected to creation, to nature from which we have come and of which we are a part and which me must safeguard for future generations. And we are connected to God, who in Christ has birthed all things, through him and for him, and in whom all things consist and hold together in loving dependence.

Revd Sabrina Groeschel

Sunday 24 October

Mark 10: 35-52

Wanting the best for ourselves and for our loved ones is a natural aspiration. Of course we want the best for our children and for ourselves. Where it’s misguided is when personal ambition becomes over competitive and inhibits the advancement of others. Then personal ambition is  accompanied by self interest and self service to the exclusion of anyone else. One of the most damaging and mistaken illusions of our times is that self sufficiency, independence and being free of all ties to, and responsibility for, others can be detrimental to our own progress. The notion of ‘service’ is too often preceded with ‘self’ – ‘self service’ – with ‘me first’  becoming an acceptable aim of life. Even in everyday language these days it is common to put ourselves first and so we speak of ‘me and my brother / sister’, rather than the customary correct ‘my brother/sister and I’. An ambitious hankering for power, prestige, status and wealth is repugnant when nothing or nobody is permitted to get in the way.

The  concept of service –  that we always serve something or someone whether we are aware of it or not –  is at the very heart of much of Mark’s Gospel.

The healing of the blind man by Jesus at Bethsaida (Mk.8: 22-26) is significant in that the man’s sight is at first only partially restored. It takes some time before the man regains his full sight. Eventually he does ‘ see everything clearly (Mk.8:25). This is immediately followed by the incident at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus asked his disciples about his own identity. This in turn is followed by the announcement of his suffering and death (Mk. 8:31), but Peter doesn’t get it and so rebukes Jesus who in turn rebukes him. Again in chapter 9 Jesus repeats the announcement of his impending death and the disciples are so bewildered that they are stunned  into silence. Instead they argue together about which of them is the greatest; again they just don’t get it. So Jesus takes a little child and says in effect that leadership and greatness are about welcoming the vulnerable.

In chapter 10, Jesus says once more that he is going to Jerusalem to die. And, again, the disciples do not get it. First, James and John ask for special places of honour and then the rest of the disciples resent their self-interested ambition . Jesus’ words still haven’t sunk in so he says as plainly and clearly as possible that to be great is to serve others and that to be first is to be last. Then comes another healing of a blind man, Bartimaeus whose blindness is instantly cured and we read that immediately he ‘ followed him …’ (Mk.10:52)

It’s interesting to note that these healings of blind people accompany his announcements of his suffering and death,  the disciples’ failure to understand, and Jesus teaching about what constitutes greatness seem to be linked. Is it Mark’s intention to emphasise that the life of Jesus stands in such complete contrast to our tendency to see greatness and leadership in terms of status, wealth, power and self service? The warning of Jesus is quite clearly that there is no escaping service. Either we willingly serve others or we become slaves to our illusions that we can act merely out of self-interest and be free and secure and thus achieve a happiness through self-service, possessions, wealth and status.

The disciples found it so hard to break free of their preconceived notions and accept that the way to freedom and true fulfilment lay in serving others. It is significant that the restoration of the sight of the blind man at Bethsaida, recorded in Mark 8:22-25, was in stages, his sight was restored gradually.  So too with the disciples, and with disciples of every age, the truth often dawns gradually – that serving others, although costly, is the way we are intended to live and the way through which we enter a life that is real and eternal.


Loving God you never cease ministering to the needs of your people
In Jesus Christ you showed us the way we should serve one another.
Open our eyes to see the needs of all who are vulnerable and in need,
our hearts to care with true compassion,
our hands to bring generous comfort, support and relief,
that we may be as Christ to them.
In his name, we pray. Amen.

Revd Michael Diffey