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April stories

A selection of tales from 2004 to 2009 which enjoyed short lived presence on the Harrogate Churches Together website - with thanks to all who allowed us to be cheered by such variations to reality - although some suggested that these events might have been preferable!  Our favourite?  Solving Traffic Congestion on Harrogate's Skipton Road (2005).
The brochures and documents referred to in the text are available as downloads in the attachment section at the bottom of this page.
For 2010, a couple of fishy tales were seen on Twitter:
"A church collection has been formally ratified as -£150, more taken out of the plate than was put in..." and
"The launch of a new group to promote unity fails as it splits into multitude parts within weeks; they couldn't agree on what 'unity' means"
3-4 April: Mark Stibbe, Father's Heart weekend (2009)
Seminars and events based at St Mark's, Leeds Road, Harrogate (Map/HG2 8AY) with separate youth programme - details in the brochure (attached below, pdf, 145kb).
Friday: 7:30pm Evening meeting open to all (not 'Leaders only' as per brochure)
Saturday: 9:30am, 11:30am and 2pm
£15, child £5.
Organised by various churches across Harrogate. (This was the genuine story; PA support by THM)

Mother's Joy weekend3-4 April: Mamma Mia, Mother's Joy weekend
Simultaneous series of seminars, music and fellowship with opportunity to put teaching in practice with karaoke opportunities throughout.
Based in the Upper Room at St Mark's, Leeds Road, Harrogate (Map/HG2 8AY).
Free events; more details in the brochure (attached below, pdf,
56kb) which includes the conference song sheet.
Numerous vacancies for helpers in the crèche up to press.
Our gratitude to those wellwishers who spotted the stories and encouraged the Secretary to copyright the songs since they were likely to be used in churches this coming Sunday...

Tight security at the Symposium3-4 April: Symposium on Church Conference Security
An ecumenical conference exploring future horizons, ensuring doctrinal purity and legalism. These seminars spring the church into a new season of religious zeal and authority. Catering by a pedigree team with refreshments and biscuits available throughout. Accommodation included in new kennel facility. Each session includes a paws for thought. Fully booked by the start of April, sadly. Apologies to all disappointed. Our thanks to those clerical dogs and their collars - and coats - for inspiring this item.

Secretarial moves
Christians expressing how much they appreciate each other - or the outside world - by creating an inward-facing carol-singing circle in the Market SquareSome were visibly relieved when the news filtered out that the Honorary Secretary was stepping down at the AGM on 13 May this year. In recent months many have heard rumours of attempted sackings - with the Hon Secretary described as a slow minute secretary, castigated for typing the minutes before meetings and being treated as an outcast for asking deep and searching questions such as "Please let me know what details you would like to be published" (yes - an email request with nothing in it!).
It all became too much when the Secretary was reprimanded for 'doing the job too well' and, worse, for 'doing far too much'. There are 40 churches in the area - he only ever managed to visit 38 in one Sunday morning run - room for improvement, then.
The map on the display banners proved handy at CRE to help folk find their way out of the car park... truly!After nearly seven years promoting what God is doing in the churches and organising residential fraternals for all church leaders, the postbag has seen some unusual salutations: many letters addressed to the 'Rev...' and a few even suggesting the secretary was the 'Bishop of Harrogate'. There's another reason to step down.
The marketing manager, web editor and communications officer, mentor and quiet musician is moving on, responding to the Lord's call.
Anyone could take over; the secretary knew nothing about Dreamweaver until he started the honorary post. He lived out the ethos of being more interested in others than himself (
Matthew 16), promoting the forty congregations across Harrogate rather than his own ministry and, above all, helping the customer first and foremost. Making the customer - through places like the Tourist Information Centre - the primary focus for the website and brochures, Questionnaire, please (pdf, 146kb)Churches Together in Harrogate has received many plaudits ranging from the BBC to individuals, churches and ecumenical groups across the UK and beyond - more in the Marketing pages. Since late 2002, the Exec has responded to the needs of the community, reflecting the Lord's question to Bartimæus, "What do you want?" (Luke 8). CTH has shown how easy it is to listen to the community's needs and deliver - and all on a shoestring budget of £800pa (less subs and liability insurance). It's time to take the work onto another level, developing and improving the ministry of loving God and neighbour - together.
Pics: Carol singers creating an inward-facing carol-singing circle in the Market Square and the map on the display banners proved handy at CRE to help folk find their way out of the car park....

Odeon starting to walk on... the spotNew church takes off (2008)
In seeking their unique selling point, some churches concentrate on being the best in a specific area. To allow their congregation to participate in worship at higher levels, a church meeting in the local cinema has recognised the benefit of allowing the gifts full and free reign in their services. The gift of levitation - not seen in these parts since this time last year (Ed: that was the gift of levity) - the church has started to experience small rises or jumps from its very foundation. The church's pastor was excited at the news, inviting others in the town to share in their indulgence. With a recent launch of a stewardship programme to raise funds for their many works, these pics illustrate how the church is indeed taking off.
There are few other occasions where people defy gravity: our Lord walking on water - as did Peter - and another apostle being beamed up and away after a successful time of witnessing (
Acts 8) apart from various old testament occurrences. (
Pic: Mrs Doyley and Les L Banjo)

Pancake races and processions in times of rejoicing
The truth will out... it seems that there are ever new reasons and excuses for the missing pancake races in North Yorkshire this year.
Do you believe: that the organisers were simply unorganised?
that churches are unable to create risk plans nor are able to comply with the law?
that NYCC and the police are strapped for cash and unable to help the community have fun?
The Exec of CTH has written to the chief constable to request a meeting to find out more.

Secretarial moves
Some were visibly relieved when the news filtered out that the secretary to Church House Trust announced his retirement from their AGM on 14 May this year. Rather than hang on to a work, the secretary was heard to say how he was deeply concerned not to become the work and would far rather fresh blood took over. It is understood that he will also be standing down from other ministries and works in the coming months.

Faith the size of a mustard seed...Young faith builders
Even with youth workers leaving Harrogate, many young folk have been seen putting their faith to the test. With faith the size of the mustard seed (Matthew 17), some members of a Christian youth group have enjoyed mountain top experiences, although it is understood that the rivers authority and the local council are seeking a reverse to this miracle.
Despite preparing a full risk plan, the police were unsure how to charge for their time and the ambulance service were only concerned about people swooning at the sight.
It appears that the youth group were lost whilst looking for the sea at the time...

Ministry Accountabilities from Harrogate YfC, pleaseMinistry Accountabilities
Mrs Doyley with her curried vol-au-vents; click to enlargeFollowing the acclaimed and wise melding of biblical and business sense in a new Ministry Accountabilities tool, helping to manage salaried staff in various works in the area, there is now some discussion on how to make further developments. As well as allowing formal 360° feedback on ministerial staff, plans are in hand to introduce public appraisal of the church membership. Various areas are under consideration from tithing to ability to complain. Some are praying for the rapture to come first. The Ministry Accountabilities document is available in two forms, both Acrobat files (attached below, Ministry Accountabilities for Youth Workers and Congregation Accountabilit
es for Pew Members.
Much of the initial work was done with the help of a Mrs Doyley, pictured here with her curried vol-au-vents, and members of the shared bicycle ministry of Croggy Island,
Father Jock Ministries.

Gas pipe
Easter Day brought misery to some churches including Bilton Grange URC. Smelling gas, the church's secretary was shocked to find an 18" section of copper gas supply piping removed with North Sea Gas pouring out into Bilton. Concerned with the amount of money lost on the church gas bill, the secretary turned off the mains supply. All churches are advised to ensure that any exposed copper pipework is duly covered up.

April 1 2008 stories
Several on this page, but which ones have no truth in them? The secretary is away for a couple of days - please avoid calling the office until 7 April!

York Diocese stories
The annual flush of tales of the Venerable Armitage Shanks are a refreshing synopsis of life in York Diocese.


No Smoke in this church; click to enlargeNo smoking sign, click to enlargeNo Smoking
Alternative downloadable No Smoking signs complete with incense directions and governing laws (pdf 135 kb, from Dave Walker, Cartoon Church) also available on this website. The NHS Smoke Free England website resources pages also available - including fact sheets in several languages. The CTH website included a 999 emergency signs page

Electric drawbridge on trial at local church1 April 2007: New design for Church Access ramps approved
Following agreements at church council and regional level, a new lift-up wooden ramp has been approved for use on church buildings where space is at a premium. The ramp can be electrically operated and lifted when the church pews are full to capacity as well as being a deterrent to prevent undesirable visitors and doctrines.
The new design has been heralded by some as a tangible way of taking the modern church into the new century, ensuring that traditions are developed, not simply adhered to. A spokesperson pointed out that the new drawbridge would provide an honest and real first impression to new worshippers, illustrating their plans to be relevant and strong church: "It's a load of rot to say we're not moving with the times". An onlooker watching the installation - in time for the 1 April morning services - was quoted as saying that the change should be kept firmly at the front door; after all, "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever". The trial finishes at midday on Palm Sunday, allowing the regular worshippers time to clear up after the animals.  [The original roll over image illustrated the drawbridge in action.]

Tithe giving changes 2007
The changes in taxation announced by Gordon Brown, chancellor, in the budget have encouraged denominational churches to re-assess their giving and collection plate collections. Churches, including some in the local Methodist Circuit, are now able to draw on a new feature - 'the retained penny', allowing regular worshippers to give £9.99 (rather than £10) for every £100 gross income. The changes take place from the nearest Sunday to the new Tax Year, and follow detailed and prolonged discussions at church council level.

Palm Sunday procession in Pannal with several goats in attendance; note the hiding donkey; some folks know when they're not wanted any more.


1 April 2007: Palm Sunday processions 2007
In recognition of the need for Fairtrade and the local Jubilee Debt Campaign, church Palm Sunday processions are being led by goats in lieu of donkeys for the first time in 2007.
Pure bred Toggenburg goat It is understood that the many churches across the area are working together to then ship the goats out to farmsteads in various parts of the South. Some are said to be being drawn by Blue Peter tractors and trailers, although they have had to be modified to run on agricultural methane. This powerful new work illustrates a synergy, working hand in hand with the Christian Aid Recycle a Goat scheme.

Inflatable churchClergy moves 2007
With a growing number of clergy comings and goings in recent months, the regional synod has agreed that both the inflatable and hot air balloon churches will be brought into sanctified use in the week before Easter 2007. This will allow bishops, moderators and overseers to hover over the area and conduct induction services in several locations simultaneously.
The added advantages with the hot air balloon church of allowing more people to see the preacher, and the opportunity to reduce global carbon footprints were key motivators. There are hopes and plans for the new Ecumenical Labyrinth Resource to be draped from the balloon, allowing those meditating to feel closer to heaven.

Churches Together Reception Centre in Harrogate Town Centre; click to enlargeOne Stop God Shop proposals 2007
The doctrine commission have approved a faculty to launch of a new chain of glass fronted church reception centres in shopping areas - with a twist. Coffee shops and light café restaurants will be included in these 'Open all hours' church offices. One interesting variation will be the inclusion of an exotic cuisine serving hot curries as well as English dishes, but no mild chicken Korma will be available. This fulfils the letter to the church in Laodicea: 'So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth' (Rev 3 16).

New Political Correctness standards 2007
Following this year's acclaimed Clerical, Medical and Law Societies Dinner, a set of guidelines has been passed and adopted to ensure no party is aggrieved or felt excluded by established phrases.
Vicarages and parsonages will become broadly pet friendly, outlawing Doberperson Pinschers and Cats-with-twin-siblings. Scribes and Pharisees will be encouraged to make sure that preachers avoid saying anything upsetting. Bigotry is to be outlawed by statute except by licensed Preaching Consultant Practitioners - PCCs. The PC PCC police (the PCPCCP) are made up of many teachers and exam invigilators and they start their monitoring work as soon as the school Spring term finishes and will especially be looking out for sermons with three specific alliterative points which will be noted as a PCPCCPPP.

Saturday 1 April 2006: St Mark's 'baptistery'
St Mark's, Leeds Road.  Work nearly complete on the open-air baptistry.  Click to enlarge
After many months of waiting, Churches Together in Harrogate is now able to exclusively reveal that the new building work next to the pavement at St Mark's, Leeds Road, is to be an open-air baptistery.
Speculation has been rife about this structure; there is little truth in the rumour that it was the entrance to a priest hole - giving direct access to the vicarage and to St Robert's presbytery near Waitrose.
Digging deep to find out more, Churches Together unearthed a story about underground tunnels to Trinity Methodist church and beyond, but these tales proved to be undermined due to the limited availability of non-alcoholic communion wine through the branch tunnel to the off licence opposite the church.
More on the environment within this website, pleaseThe picture here shows workmen putting the final touches and installing the solar powered heating system, making this the first ecologically friendly baptism pool in the Anglican diocese. It is understood that anyone will be able to use it, but rather than a free-for-all, those wishing to book this streetwise witness facility are asked to contact the church office.
And the truth behind the story: the delays on building the planter - funded by a bequest from Derek Wilks - were down to finding the best materials. Look forward to a feast of beautiful plants in the weeks to come!

Click for Bilton Grange URC's own websiteFriday 1 April 2005: Local church helps beat Skipton Road congestion
Proposed new sign to help those fooled by the bewildering new junction.  Click for location mapBilton Grange United Reformed Church agreed at their recent church council meeting to Churches Together running this story on 1 April. The idea was to help put an end to the misery of thousands.  "The generous hearted congregation are only too aware of the heavy traffic, being located on the corner of the notorious Skipton Road at Woodfield Road.
Their plans are to make space for a roundabout by tearing down the church brick by brick and rebuilding it in the middle of the new roundabout, although worshippers will have to dodge the traffic to get to church in the future. 
Some suggested others may follow the lead of Bilton Grange URC - churches often do things in a roundabout way.  The CT secretary is aware that there are quite a few churches near roundabouts, so it may merit some ecumenical study.
Work to construct a traffic island on Skipton Rd  will begin at the end of March 05....There was no conspiracy with the local authority - the sign on the right refers to the creation of a far smaller traffic island on Skipton Road; it reads "Work to construct a traffic island on Skipton Rd will begin at the end of March 05....".  The date was coincidental, though.
With thanks to the church council at Bilton Grange - and to the staff of the Training Centre and Jewsons for permission to take the true-to-life pictures of the move...

Bishop John Packer1 April 2004: Local Cleric to lead the Baptist Union - the true story
Bishop John Packer wasn't confirmed as the next national president of the Baptist Union, despite the increase in numbers of church goers in this part of the world. He is delighted to baptise by full immersion and will be presiding at this month's Theos service on 18 April, St John's, Bilton; amongst those being baptised are two of the Secretary's children. More information was truly available from Direct Enquiries on 079 44444 192 - the secretary's mobile phone. . Sadly there is no evidence to date about any ability to walk on water, although it would be attributed to God's miraculous intervention on every occasion. With thanks to all - especially Bishop John - apologies to anyone taken in by the story.

Humph Baker,
7 Apr 2009, 01:04
Humph Baker,
7 Apr 2009, 00:56
Humph Baker,
7 Apr 2009, 00:56
Humph Baker,
7 Apr 2009, 01:04