A Christmas Story – Divertimento at Dale Street, 5th December 2019
Divertimento’s annual Christmas concert was again given this year in aid of Action for Children in front of a large audience. The event raised £1000 for the charity and was greatly appreciated both for the choice of music and for Roger’s dramatic retelling of the whole Christmas story.
Paul Sudlow’s new setting of the words of the Coventry Carol had its first performance and as an interlude he played John Ireland’s beautiful piano piece, The Holy Boy. Divertimento also sang one of Stanford’s settings of the Magnificat, an early Ave Verum by Elgar and a modern piece by Morten Lauridsen, which no doubt will become popular in Christmas recitals in years to come.
Jo read two poems including The Oxen by Thomas Hardy and also provided the hot punch.
November 2019 – our new African twin – a toilet
Thanks to the good offices of June and Don Gabbitas, and the charity Toilet Twinning.org we can now celebrate the opening of our new disabled toilet in an unexpected way.
Our twinned toilet is in a place called Mzikubora in the Mzimba south district of Malawi. You can guess how much this means to the people who live there. You won’t find much about Mzikubora online apart from a couple of unfortunate incidents in the past and what appears to be the great benefit of an irrigation scheme that is about to happen.
Sadly, it does not appear on Google maps. Mzimba does, but it is a big district.
Maybe we can find out more in time to come.
The original of this picture is framed, and you will find it hanging next to our new toilet.
October at Dale Street – Tea for you on the 12th
How posh is tea? This was another of our occasional traditional tea parties for AfC, again well attended. Here are demonstrated the traditional tea service, kindly lent to us, and a few of the cakes, but by the time this photo was taken most of them had been eagerly consumed.
19th October – Water, water everywhere – Take 2
Take 2 carries on where Michael’s summer programme left off. There’s fun
and games and some scrumptious food, but also some Bible story and prayer – did
I say Bible story? Well you can see which one this was, and with a great deal of sloshy water and a lot of
And while on the subject of Bible stories, how about this one at the All
Age Worship service on the 20th?
You guessed it of course – building the temple (or rather, after the service, knocking it down again in three minutes).
This was a café-style service attracting a bigger congregation than normal with fifteen children. Perhaps they’ll come again if we do the tower of Babel!
The last of Leamington Spa’s Summer of Play, 22nd August 2019
Councillor Bill Gifford paid us an extended official visit on our last session of this highly successful initiative in Victoria Park. Close on a thousand children with their Mums, Dads, carers and Grandparents have joined us in free play. Today, Ruth’s busy craft area was full to overflowing, and Roger had a long queue for his face painting. In one corner there was a nearly-organised game of cricket – only one six landed in the river. Afterwards, there were many takers for the hot dogs and the ice cream and grapes that have been added to the menu since the first session.
The photographer from the Observer took a picture of how ever many Michael could tempt from their games, and there was a lot of photography during the morning as children asked to be taken standing next to the Mayor.
These sessions have enhanced the reputation of the church in the community, and we owe many thanks to Michael for his commitment and organisation and also to the many helpers who have made the venture an undoubted success.
Right by the entrance, a fallen tree trunk gave opportunities. Roger took possession with his face painting.
Lion kings and green faces appeared and personalities mysteriously changed.
Dale Street goes
to Victoria park – Summer of Play 22nd July 2019
Queues formed early to
check in and get tickets for lunch
Michael’s Summer of Play got off to a great start on a lovely day. Over 70 families registered for the first of a series planned to last throughout July and August (except for the 26th and 29th August).
The children engaged with a wide selection of toys placed all over the area to encourage free play – there was no organisation as such. Prams were in evidence and people told us how good it was to be in the open air (well away from the traffic) and to have somewhere to bring little ones at the start of the school holidays. A group of mums and children took shelter under one of the tents and busily produced crafts and drawings.
Afterwards, the church was open for hot dogs, and we welcomed families who had never been in our building before.
This was a mammoth organisational job and one that required
a good deal of volunteering, so everyone’s thanks are due to the teams involved
and especially to Michael who masterminded it all and who designed some very
colourful publicity. These sessions will do much to work with the community and
to promote the good name of Dale Street Church.
of Victoria Park’s fine trees provided some welcome shade
Salmon and strawberry supper 16th July 2019
No – not together, though it became a bit of a running gag. The atmosphere was great, so what do you have to do to make over 50 people remarkably happy? Apparently, sit them eight to a table and give them really good food. Yes, the salmon was especially good and there were all sorts of salads – eggs perched on lettuce leaves with beetroot in the middle, spinach leaves and pomegranate seeds – and the strawberries were bigger and juicier than your normal run of the mill.
Hannah came from the Action for Children area office to tell us how good we were at raising money; yes, the evening made around £500, but the real point was to have a good time. We were delighted to welcome friends from the AfC support group at Stratford, and also our deputy mayor and her consort who defeated all the rules of probability when it came to the raffle.
This was a masterpiece of catering, and our thanks are due to the AfC
team who provided yet another successful evening.
Hannah explains the work of Action for Children to our visitors from Stratford.
Our first café church – 16th June 2019 – All age worship on Fathers’ Day
It was a service with a difference. We were welcomed to Dale Street Café Church with coffee and cake and an opportunity to chat as we sat round tables instead of in rows.
There were activities on the tables from making welcome signs to taking part in a quiz using different versions of the Bible.
Michael welcomed us and reminded us of the importance of feeling welcomed and included. We sang, ’Let us build a house where love can dwell’ with its chorus, ’All are welcome in this place.’
There were cards to write our prayer needs, pink for private, and blue for prayers to be shared in our intercessions. These were attached to the prayer tree.
Rev. Barbara talked of a welcoming father, reminding us of the prodigal son who didn’t expect a welcome, and Jesus welcoming the children who, in the culture of the time, were not seen as useful or productive. But, all are precious.
We rose to sing, 'In Christ alone'.
Four Easter services from Good Friday to ‘Low Sunday’: a journey of faith.
Above: the symbols of the passion
This was a huge variety of thoughtful contemplation and worship, starting with Jeongsook’s service of remembrance of the Passion, each section of the reading of the story punctuated by the laying of symbols at the table and the extinction of candles, one by one. For the Easter day all age worship, Jeongsook was joined by Michael who led the joyous acclamation. Songs were accompanied by the waving of flags and the beating of instruments. Michael also made the intercessions and dwelt particularly on the terrible massacre in the churches and hotels of Sri Lanka.
Traditionally known as ‘Low Sunday’, the Sunday afterwards was anything but, marked by two outstanding services. They both celebrated the continuance of the Easter festival and were based on St John’s account of Christ’s appearance to the disciples, meditating on the phrase, ‘Peace be with you’. Sam McBratney preached in the morning. The Konect4 service in the evening was held in the basement and was Peter Power’s account of his visit to Taize. We sang a number of Taize chants and lit candles for the many parts of the world that were in need of prayer.
Below: the flags set off on their journey round the church on Easter morning
Bumper Jigsaw Fair 23rd March 2019
This was a magnificent feat of organisation. Before the event hundreds of jigsaws from 35 to 3000 pieces appeared in the church and people took them away, made them up and returned them on cardboard mats covered with clingfilm. On the day, the completed puzzles were laid out on trestles throughout the church and we were visited by well over 250 people from as far away as Evesham and Oban. Some went away weighed down with jigsaws and one visitor, aged 90, came twice, not because he liked jigsaws but because he was intrigued by the psychology of the event.
The team, wearing red Action for Children shirts, identified jigsaws, deconstructing them and replacing them with new ones as they were sold.
The food was good too – bacon butties throughout the day and baked potatoes for lunch. The cakes were worth a jigsaw in themselves. Many of our visitors stayed to eat and we were pleased to welcome many families.
No doubt there will be other jigsaw fairs in the locality, but we were one of the first, and several visitors wanted to know when we were going to do it again!
This was the latest in a series of successful events raising money for Action for Children, and we made well over £2000 for our charity.
Celebrating the life of Norma Dawson (1923 – 2018): 9th March 2019
Many people from all walks of Norma’s busy life came to remember her in a tribute organised by her son, Kingsley and daughter, Julia. Whatever the activity or the work of the church, Norma was there. She had many talents (including on one occasion when she climbed onto the church roof to assist Eric inspecting the property) but the main ones were artistic, dramatic, and of course, gardening, which she loved and was super-knowledgeable.
She was firm in her opinions and always friendly and smiling. She was a stalwart of the drama group in its busiest time, acting, producing and also providing costumes (for this was her expertise). Some of the costumes for the pantomimes were really challenging, such as undersea locations or sci-fi. For Trevor Beardsall, she edited Under Milk Wood for an evening reading, an undertaking requiring immense literary skill. Perhaps her greatest acting performance was as Miss Marple.
Mention was made of her runner beans and her stall at The Homewood fete. She went on gardening until the end of her life.
Her life and that of her mother are remembered in the church building itself. There is proof that Mrs Cemm was responsible for the very necessary handrail on the wall of the Community Room. In the same room, you will find the chair that Norma upholstered to commemorate John Wesley. It is unique, and shines as brightly as ever.
9th February 2019: Valentines meal and fun day
children braved the cold winds of storm Erik to enjoy the activities and a fine
meal of melon, pasta Bolognese or vegetarian with garlic bread, and – to follow
– yummy cup cakes with plenty of topping. Tables were set out with board games,
flowers, hearts and little Disney-style unicorns, and the diners made little
pictures with the flowers, completed a word search, and made flowers with
multi-coloured squares of paper.
This is what the church looked like as we awaited our first visitors:
Just before the meal appeared, there was the inevitable pass-the-parcel accompanied by Michael’s new and exciting form of singing which you might have thought was slightly ethnic – except that it wasn’t.
June and her team were especially thanked for such a good meal, and Ian and Michael for having arranged this event and presented it with appropriate energy.
here is one of the flowers for you to work out how it was made – just one of
the many surprises at this Valentines fun day.
Stargazers, the musical: 18th – 19th January 2019
We started looking for a musical way back last May and finally decided on Stargazers, by Roger Jones. However, it only lasted some half hour, so we asked him if he would mind our adding our own script. When we showed it to him he immediately said he would come to a performance, and so became one of our distinguished – and very satisfied – visitors.
The story is how the three wise people travelled to the manger – you know the story, but ours made them real people. They started their journey for various other reasons but were brought together and diverted in their purposes by a series of text messages that flashed on to the screens. Caspar was an awfully bad poet and spent the entire musical trying to write the chorus to We three kings. He achieved his epiphany when he created the line Heaven sings alleluia and danced weirdly to it. The wise people had no presents and had to make do with what they were carrying. Our Mary was a feisty lady and Joseph was clearly having problems adapting to the role of a modern father.
The message: Herod tried to impress on us that he was the King, and Caspar mistakenly wrote We three kings, but what they discovered was that there was only one King, and he came without servants and palaces – and his name was Jesus.
The music: Roger Jones originally wrote Stargazers for a school production, and the songs were catchy and easy to sing once you had mastered the words. We stuck mostly to unison singing and accompanied with piano, bass and percussion. A flute helped to create the atmosphere of the stable and the manger.
There were three performances and we attracted audiences totalling nearly 300.
The wise people and their servant, Blisters, reach Herod’s palace, while Herod and a scribe look on.
Click below to hear "Let's take a trip to Bethlehem":
Click below to hear "As with gladness":