United Benefice of Altham and Clayton-le-Moors

The Revd Toby Webber, The Vicarage, Church Street, Clayton-le-Moors, BB5 5HT

(01254)384321    tobywebber@btinternet.com

February 2021

Dear friends

If you’ve a garden, or if you’ve been out for a walk, you’ve hopefully seen some snowdrops out by now.  In fact, there are also a few crocuses out in the churchyard and one primrose in our garden began flowering in mid-January, very prematurely!  Snowdrops are a flower beautiful in their simplicity and in their role as the first herald of the new growth of the spring that lies ahead.  They are also remarkable for their resilience in the midst of ice and snow.   One of their traditional names is Candlemas Bells – a lovely link to this time of year and to the feast we celebrated this Tuesday of Jesus’ presentation in the temple.  The light of Jesus our Emmanuel shines in the darkness even yet.

We’ve needed every sign of hope and every encouragement to resilience over this last month of renewed lockdown.  After such long restrictions, and coming in midwinter, it’s been the hardest one to cope with for many people.  Please God, though, it will be the last one. With vaccines reaching more and more people – 10 million already have had their first doses, including many of our older parishioners – and with better weather not too far off – we can be hopeful.

As part of all this, thank you for bearing with church being closed for physical services.  As you will be aware, this wasn’t a legal requirement this time – but was the right thing to do, especially in response to the plea from the director of public health for Lancashire.  We will keep this decision under review and as it seems appropriate will begin to offer ‘in person’ services again.  At the very latest I pray that we’ll be back in church by Easter Day.

As well as worship, one thing many have missed is the social side of church.  To help with this, we’ve begun holding a ‘coffee and chat’ zoom meeting after the service each Sunday morning at around 11:55am.  Those who log on spend half an hour or so having a catch up, which is very welcome.  Why not give it a try?  The Mothers’ Union also have a weekly zoom meeting each Tuesday – Jaqui Houlker can let you have the log on details for that if you’re interested.

Shrove Tuesday (16 Feb) gives us a chance for a bigger social gathering.  We’re having an online quiz!  Join us on Zoom at 7pm – Meeting ID: 853 3586 9496   Passcode: 955912.  There will be a round especially for children as we hope this will be something families will join in with.

Ash Wednesday follows on 17th Feb and there will be an online service at 7:30pm.  Do join if you can and begin Lent with a joint act of worship.

Our focus this Lent will be on St Mark’s gospel.  I would strongly encourage you to join people around the diocese in reading a little of it each day.  And – if you can – to read it all through at the beginning and end of Lent as well.  It’s by far the shortest and simplest to read of the four gospels.  Our diocese has produced a booklet ‘Read, Mark and Learn’ with a reflection to accompany each day’s reading. Find it at www.blackburn.anglican.org/seasonal-resources  or I have copies available – please just ask and I can drop one off.

What of Lent groups? Well, of course we can’t meet in each other’s houses or at the back of church.  So instead, we will use Zoom.  Apologies to those who are on this or similar platforms for a lot of the day, but there is little alternative at the moment.  Each Thursday evening, beginning 25th February, we’ll meet together in this way.  The title is ‘Looking out in Lent’ and through the lens of Mark’s Gospel we will explore what it means to look outwards in sharing the good news, teaching the faith, tending to human need, transforming society and caring for creation.  There will be a video to watch and we will share in discussion, splitting into smaller groups for this.  We will end with a short time of worship which will replace night prayer on these Thursdays.

Whether or not you have previously joined in Lent groups or courses, do think about joining this one.  It is an opportunity for us all to continue to grow in faith, to share in fellowship, and to begin to think outwards and upwards.  Lent is always a time for preparation and opening ourselves to God’s re-creative love.  This year let us pray that it will be a time when we can especially be prepared through it for all that God has in store for us as individuals and as a parish as the lockdown eases, more of life returns and new opportunities arise.

At the present time we are very conscious of those who grieve – the families of the 100,000 lost to covid-19 and the many others who have lost loved ones where they have not been able to visit them in hospitals or care homes and where funerals have been reduced to a short service with limited attendees and no chance to socialize afterwards.  A run of recent deaths in our own church families – Jessie Ireland, Mildred Birtwistle and Ian Mimnagh – brings this home.  Do continue to keep all the bereaved in your prayers.  You might like to use this one, issued by the Church of England.

Gracious God, as we remember before you the thousands who have died,
surround us and all who mourn with your strong compassion.
Be gentle with us in our grief, protect us from despair,
and give us grace to persevere and face the future with hope
in Jesus Christ our risen Lord.  Amen.

Finally, before Christmas I received a note from the Rev’d Brian Stevenson, who has helped so much in our parishes in the past, especially during the last two vacancies.  He writes,

“Dear friends, I realize that I must seem to have disappeared from the radar screen (as they say), so I thought I ought to bring you up to date.  Many of you know that at the beginning of 2019 Marian and I moved to a flat in Whalley.  At the time I thought I was just feeling the effects of the trauma of moving, not realizing that I wasn’t very well.  Within days of moving, I had to see my ‘new’ doctor in Whalley, the result being that I am being ‘sorted out’ medically and am now ‘taking the tablets’!  The end result is that at 86 and with ill-health I am not ‘fit for purpose’ and have not renewed my Permission to Officiate from the bishop.  In short, I have finally retired from retirement ministry which I have enjoyed these last nineteen years, much of which has been in your parish.  I write simple to thank all of you for your support and to Vicar Toby for inviting me to help.  23 Vale House Close, Whalley, BB7 9TY tel 824229.”

I pray that this Lent – as nature renews itself from its winter slumbers – God may renew us in faith in our salvation, in devotion to Christ and in service of others in His name.

Love in Christ, Toby




We are resuming the short children’s service starting this Sunday – as before it will be just before the main Sunday service starting at 10:45am. You can watch the service here.

Hope you can join us.

We are hosting a free online family fun quiz night on the 16th February at 7:00 – a fun way to keep in touch with each other and our wider church community. Join Zoom Meeting using the link below.Topic:

All Saints’ Shrove Tues Quiz
Time: Feb 16, 2021 07:00 PM London


Meeting ID: 853 3586 9496
Passcode: 955912

Hope  you can make it!

On-line giving

Many of you give through the weekly church envelopes, which obviously is not an option at the moment. Others may feel they wish to make an extra donation towards the continual running costs of the church. If you would like to do so, an easy way in the current circumstances is click here  and it will take you to use our on-line giving link.

The church remains very grateful to those who are continuing to support our work, and towards meeting our ongoing costs, which are still ongoing even though the church is closed.
Thank you.


Thank you to everyone who filled in the Survey Monkey on family worship during lockdown.
There was roughly equal preference between Sunday mornings and Friday Praise. The majority preferred live facebook broadcast, but around a third preferred zoom.
We will continue to offer Friday Praise weekly during the pandemic – normally as a live broadcast, but occasionally as a zoom (as we did in July and for the Christingle).
And during full lockdown, whilst church is closed, we are bringing back a short family service at 10.45. You can watch this live as it goes out – or at whatever time on a Sunday suits you as a family. The first one goes out this morning!
Thank you again for your support. It was very encouraging that we so quickly got to the maximum number of responses to a free surveymonkey.

With the new lockdown let’s try something new.

After the Sunday on-line worship finishes, make yourself a brew and log on to our zoom coffee and chat. I hope it will make up a little for what we miss from our fellowship at the end of the service on a normal Sunday or Wednesday.

Toby Webber is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: After worship coffee and chat

Time: This is a recurring meeting Meet anytime

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 883 1081 1279

Passcode: 819532

Friday Praise each week –  join in on-line ; the church is closed during this lockdown.

Church /  Christmas  donations

Some people like to make a donation to the work of the church in thanks. If you would like to do so, an easy way in the current circumstances is to use the following link –

The church remains very grateful to those who are continuing to support our work, and towards meeting our ongoing costs, which are still ongoing even though the church is closed
Wishing you a blessed and safe 2021



On Thursday evening  during Lent at 7:30pm why not join our ‘Lent Group’ we will meet using Zoom. 

Opportunities for All Saints’ Families to join together for worship  via Facebook Live.

Monday – Night Prayer at 9:30

Tuesday – Night Prayer at 9:30.

Wednesday: Morning Prayer and Litany at 10:00am and Night Prayer at 9:30pm.

Thursday  – Night Prayer at 9:30pm

Friday – Morning Prayer and Litany at 10:00am

6:30pm Friday Praise .

Saturday – Night Prayer at 9:30pm.

Sunday – 10:45am  Short Children’s service.

11:00am Prayers and Litany.  Night Prayer 9:30pm.


We hope that this will provide one way for us to join together virtually whilst we can’t join together



In the light of the national lockdown we have sadly decided that church services will NOT take place in the church building until further notice, but will be on-line only. Whilst this is not legally mandatory, it seems the most socially responsible course of action, especially given high rates of transmission of covid-19 in our locality and the fact that the new variant of the virus is so easy to spread.
If anyone would appreciate access to church for individual prayer this can be accommodated on request. And if anyone needs a chat do be in touch.
Don’t forget, as in the spring, the building is closed, but the work of the church, in worship and in service, very much continues.