Bill’s Letter June 2015

I have just had the great privilege of spending three weeks in East Africa. For the 3rd week, my daughter Susie and I went on a road trip adventure. This involved hiring a 4×4 and driving down to Tanzania to visit our link parish and for Susie to deliver a training course for her women’s health project.

The traffic in Nairobi gets very bad, so we started our trip at 4am. This was a great success, as we got out of the city easily and got to the Tanzanian border by midday. Once in Tanzania, we were met by the link person for the diocese, Peter Oyoo. We spent the first night in Tarime and set off the next day for Sakawa, our link parish, in time for the Sunday service. Driving on dirt roads in the rainy season is very difficult and we were glad to have the 4×4!

We had a most warm and enthusiastic welcome with singing and dancing outside the church, followed by a lively service. They       produced a feast afterwards, which was humbling to receive. We had sent funds for a rain water harvesting system from the church roof. We saw it had been completed, albeit only two days earlier. We exchanged gifts and shared prayer needs. They promised to dedicate a special day of prayer for our church building and securing a long lease. The next day found us at Kowak where Susie did her training about health and making sanitary towels using locally sourced materials. She expected 15 people, but 63 turned up! It really showed how important this is. We will watch to see if the ideas and lessons are taken up.

We went on to meet with the Water for Life team in Musoma and Tarime. We visited one of the well sites that has stalled as they have reached rock. They are not allowed to use dynamite as they are within the town boundaries. One solution would be to drill, but that would be very expensive. The lack of resources means that problems that would be straightforward to solve in this country, are almost impossible there. Susie met with Lucy, a dynamic lady working in women’s health.

From Tarime we returned to Kenya and successfully negotiated the border. The next day we drove through the Maasai Mara game reserve, then had the long drive to Nairobi through very heavy rain and awkward police checks. Thank the Lord we arrived safely exhilarated by our journey. Thank you for your support.

Rev Bill Henderson


Bill’s Letter May 2015

I have spent some time recently in Kenya visiting our daughter, and travelling back to Tanzania to help with the ‘Water for Life’ project. It has been running for 7 years now and so far over £75,000 has been raised and sent to the project.

We began by helping train people to build hand dug wells and fit hand pumps to extract the water. There is also an important element of health education so that people understand the value of clean water. The purpose of the visit is to help evaluate the project, see what lessons can be learned and how to carry on into the future. I hope to get some good feedback from the local people about what has been helpful.

There are a number of challenges to make the project work. The first one is for the villagers to take responsibility for ‘their’ well in the long term so it will be maintained. Education is part of this so people will understand the health benefits. Finding a good site can be difficult too and of course it is very discouraging to dig down, even breaking through rock, only to find there is no water. We have been looking at ways to do more effective surveys, but these can be expensive.

I visited each of the three dioceses: Mara, Rorya and Tarime. Mara is well established and has an experienced team working in development. Tarime is a new diocese but has some very good staff working for them. Rorya has much poorer infrastructure and probably needs different support.

I flew into Nairobi, Kenya, then hired a 4×4 and drove with Susie over the border into Tanzania. This is always an interesting trip; hot, dusty with lots to see. We met with the development team and people from the communities in each of the dioceses. In some places it is not suitable to dig a well and so the project is to harvest rain water from roofs. This does not provide as good a solution as a well, but is better than just going to a river or unprotected well. Susie will teach about her women’s health project and see if it can be launched in our link dioceses. In Rorya diocese, I visited our link parish, Sakawa. I also visited Rose and her husband, Samuel, who is now principal of the local Bible College. Rose visited us here in Stanley some years ago.

Rev Bill Henderson


Bill’s Letter April 2015

Since the demolition of the old church we have been working to establish a long term place of worship in the village.

There has been recent change in the legal designation of the Church Centre. It is now a ‘Parish Centre of Worship’. A Parish Centre of Worship is a church or other building licensed as such by the diocesan bishop in the Church of England, usually where there is no parish church. For most purposes it is deemed to be a parish church but it is dedicated, not consecrated, and parishioners have a right to be married in a neighbouring parish. There is also a licence to be married at St Peter’s Church and Centre too. This means people living in Stanley have a choice about where they get married. So if you are thinking about getting married and are not sure of your options do get in touch.

The events we remember at Easter are, I would say, the most  decisive events in human history. They contain the deepest tragedy and the greatest hope. As we enter into this story once again, we are given strength to face our own difficulties and confidence to embrace our times of joy.

Jesus was called to the home of his dear friend Lazarus who was on the point of death. But he does not set off straight away. By the time he arrives, Lazarus has died. His sisters Martha and Mary, both say, “ If only you had been here”. But Jesus transforms the situation; he claims to BE the resurrection and the life. Then he demonstrates it by raising Lazarus from the dead.

The implication of this does not sink in for the disciples—that Jesus has the power over death. So when Jesus was killed, his friends were frightened and upset. This changed when Jesus was not resuscitated like Lazarus but resurrected. At this Easter may we know the transforming power of Christ, so we experience the hope of new life in whatever we face.

Rev Bill Henderson


Bill’s Letter March 2015

One of the great themes of God’s relationship with his people throughout history, is helping them move from slavery into freedom. As we approach Easter we see this powerful picture of hope displayed in a number of ways. At Passover the Jewish people remember how God set his people free from slavery in Egypt, using symbols to remember both the pain and suffering as well as the joy.

This year we are planning some thing special for Maundy   Thursday—the night we remember Jesus at the last supper with his friends. It was the time of the Jewish Passover and Jesus took the traditional symbols that had been used for hundreds of years and developed them in a way that is relevant for us today. We will be celebrating a version of the Passover meal.

This has been the foundation for the communion service that we use today. Taking part in the Passover meal really adds to our understanding of the history of our faith, and the powerful symbols of bread and wine help us to identify with the first disciples.

When Jesus took these symbols and applied them to himself, he was pointing to a profound new way that God was setting people free. Free from a deeper and more insidious slavery, a slavery to selfishness that leads to self destruction. This is not just a message for 2000 years ago, but a message for today. A message not just for certain communities, but for everyone. As we become more self aware we realise the different ways that we are still slaves: slaves to other     peoples’ opinion; slaves to the desire for more money or excitement; slaves to fashion and consumerism. Each of us can move and grow into new freedom. Jesus said, “ I have come that you may have LIFE, and life in abundance”. He delivered this promise, supremely by releasing us from the fear of death by his glorious resurrection.

This is a time when we seek to receive this promise afresh. Do please make a point of coming to join in our celebrations that evening, Thursday 2nd April at 7.30pm in the Church Centre, or some of our other Easter celebrations, details of which you can find here.

Rev Bill Henderson



Bill’s Letter February 2015

This is the first magazine of 2015, so I would like to begin with wishing you a Happy New Year.

This time last year I was writing about the imminent dismantling of the old church building, and inviting people to a service that we held to commemorate its place in the community.  We had a really good turn out, so thank you to those who supported that, and came to tea at the Centre afterwards.  It was a moving service and I was encouraged by the number of people who came

We are determined that the old site will continue to be a sacred space where people can come to sit, reflect or pray.  We are working with Groundworks to take the ideas that have come from the community and turn them into a workable plan to include the War    Memorial and an attractive seating area.  We are now looking for   funding to take the plans forward.  People have been offering to contribute, either with funds or with time and skills.  The more we can work together to put the plans into place, the more it will be a genuine community project that will be sustainable and we can be proud of.  Let us know if you would like to help.

With the old building gone, there is the opportunity and  challenge to continue to develop a place of worship in Stanley that  people will want to use for the important occasions in life when people naturally turn to the church: weddings, baptisms and funerals. The place we are seeking to develop is the old nursery building we are    using now. From the outside, architecturally it is clearly a school.  We are looking for ways to transform its identity so that it is clearly a place of Christian worship as well as a place to serve the community in other ways.

The council have kindly agreed for an Asset Transfer of the building to us for 25 years.  If we are going to do major work on it, it would be helpful to have a longer lease, and we are in discussions about that now.  Please pray that they will be successful.  We would welcome ideas from the village, so if you feel inspired, please get in touch.

Rev Bill Henderson

Bills Letter Christmas

Bill’s Letter December 2014/January 2015

I came across this picture some years ago, as an idea for a Christmas card.  It’s a picture that set me thinking about a number of messages that are important for Christmas.


The focus of the picture is Jesus as a baby, but with the star that shows this is not an ordinary baby.  The star is a symbol of his power and glory, his light and role as guide and revealer of the truth.

Jesus is the one whom people are coming to see and to meet.  The people are from different cultures yet all are attracted to see Jesus. The Bible and Christian history are full of stories of people meeting Jesus and their lives being transformed.  If our Christmas is going to start with Christ, this means taking time to think what this means.

I would like to encourage you to use this picture to think about Christmas and your place in the story.  Where would you put yourself in the picture?  What would it mean to meet with Jesus?  How would you like your life and your relationships to be transformed?

With all the rush and bustle of Christmas, it is sometimes hard to keep the focus on Jesus.  With all the crowds it is sometimes hard to really meet with each other.

Please take the opportunity to come to some of the events advertised in this magazine; decide to start this Christmas with Christ and show his love to one another.

Rev Bill Henderson


Bill’s Letter November 2014

We are moving towards the end of 2014 already.  The clocks have gone back and the dark evenings are drawing in but we are seeing the beautiful autumn colours beginning to show as we move into the next season.

Plans are also progressing for the site of the old church.  The idea is to make it a place that people will want to come and visit; a place for reflection; a place to tell stories of Christ, the church and the community.  Plans will be on display from 17th November and there will be a drop-in day on Friday 21st November.  It would be helpful if you have any ideas to hear from you.

A theme this month is ‘remembering’.  We had the Memorial Service for people who have died recently on October 26th.  Thank you to all those who came and stayed on for tea and cakes; there was a real sense of supporting each other at a difficult time.  The Remembrance Service for those who have been killed in wars will be at 10am on Sunday November 9th.  As part of the service we will go over to the site of the War Memorial to place poppies and wreaths there.  Do come and join us.

Each of these services are different, and at each we do more than just remember.  We are bringing God into a situation that is painful. We show respect and show how we value the lives of those who have died.  We say thank you for what they have given us.  Sadly, as we look around today, the prospects for world peace are not very good.  It is truly shocking as we observe what human beings do to each other, for example the terrible actions of ISIS and others: cycles of violence that only seem to escalate.

We can be left feeling helpless but there are some things we can do.  We remember with thanks the death of Jesus; a death that was not in vain as we show each time we respond to Him.  Jesus was also the great peacemaker, and lays down a challenge for us: love your enemies; do not keep a record of wrongs; forgive one another.  We may not be able to effect world peace, but we can be peacemakers in our families and community.

Rev Bill Henderson


Bill’s Letter October 2014

After a bit of a break, work has continued on the site of the old church.  The ground has been prepared for grass seeding and we are waiting for the grave stones that were moved for protection to be     replaced.  It is now possible to see more clearly what the state of the site will be when it is handed over ready for the next stage.  I would very much like for the community to get involved with ideas and   helping with the work.

One of the jobs to be done is to clear the path that leads down the steps to Aberford Road.  I would like to invite anyone who would like to help to come on Saturday 18th October to help.  Please bring your own tools if you can.  We will start at 10am and if enough people come, it will not take too long.  On the down side, it looks like some of the stones that have been left for building the legacy of the old church have been stolen.  I would ask people to look out for this and report any suspicious activities to the police.

We are moving forward with the plans for building a suitable place for the war memorial and peace garden.  These will be on display when we have our next consultation during the week beginning 17th November, in the Church Centre.  On Friday 21st there will be people available to talk to and ask questions. We have had some great ideas so far.  One of the graves that will be restored is of a local engineer called Bartholomew.  His story is well known in Goole but is little known in his home town, Stanley.  We would like to have something that tells his story.  There may be other stories from the past to record and I would like to hear your ideas.

This is also the time of year when we celebrate harvest.  We can stop and think about the good gifts that come from the earth, our     gratitude to God and to those who work the land.  We would like to invite you to join in these celebrations.  There will be a Ceilidh on    Saturday October 11th at St Peter’s School, with the usual live band (please ring 835746 for tickets).  There will be a special service on Sunday morning at 10am and on Tuesday October 14th a harvest lunch open to all in the village but especially aimed at the more mature   members of the community to come and join us.

Rev Bill Henderson



Bill’s Letter September 2014

This August we have lost two of our village’s real characters: Muriel Bell and Lilly Noble.

Muriel was well known for her involvement in the community over the years and for supporting the family business of funeral directors.  The family were very involved in supporting the Scouts and Muriel was a founding member of the Parents’ Committee.  She was a governor at St Peter’s school and of course did an amazing amount to support the church.  In her younger days she helped doing flowers and polishing the brasses.  Her home was a venue for jumble sales when the garage was cleared and all family were involved in helping.  Muriel organised coffee mornings with cakes and people would be waiting for grandma Bell’s cakes to appear on the stall.  Her bedroom cupboard was full of jars of homemade jam to sell for the church.  Even in her last weeks, her one outing was to support the Church Gala.

Lilly was a sickly child and was rather amused in her latter years that she had lived so long.  She lived life to the full and was always  determined to do as much as she could.  Lilly had real concern for the community and was willing to get involved and help. She has been  indefatigable in the work on the Moorhouse estate being a founder member of the Action Group and always willing to speak up for and work for the improvement of the community.  She was someone who was willing to give her time to making sure things happened and so was, for example, active in keeping the Monday bingo group going.

I have been inspired by the example of these two stalwarts, and it is true to say if more people could follow their example and give time to working for our village, it would be a better place.  So we remember them with affection and gratitude and see how they reflected their faith and the example of Jesus.  It challenges us to look at each other as brothers and sisters with love; to want the best for our neighbour and be willing to listen and understand each other, and to build significant relationships.

Rev Bill Henderson



Bill’s Letter Summer 2014

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make our Summer Gala such a success, and thank you to all who came to support us, despite the rather miserable weather.

The gala is always timed to be as near as possible to the feast day of St Peter, our patron saint, which is celebrated every year on 29th June. St Peter’s school began the celebrations with a special service in school followed by a sleepover, which was a great success. It is always helpful to remember some of the stories about St Peter, and be encouraged in our own journey of faith.

I find that I am most encouraged by the times when Peter messed up. When we are honest we can all admit to doing things that we regret or are ashamed of, just like St Peter.  At the school service we retold the story of Jesus walking on the lake in the midst of a storm.  Peter, full of courage, follows Jesus’s call to step out of the boat and walk on the water too.  At first it goes well as he walks towards Jesus. Then he notices the wind and waves and becomes afraid and begins to sink. Fortunately Jesus is there to help him back into the boat as the wind dies down and all becomes calm.

Most people will remember that Peter famously denied knowing Jesus three times, despite saying he would always be there for him. Again Jesus lifts him up when he forgives him on the beach after His resurrection.

Therefore, we can identify with Peter’s  humanity and know that, as Jesus helped him, he can help us too.  I am reading a book about a church that has the motto, “No perfect people  allowed”.  It is really about being authentic.  This means if we have doubts it is good to admit them but also be willing to talk about them.  It means acknowledging that none of us are perfect, so we can accept each other as we are; but also that we can encourage each other in seeking the help of Jesus to become more like Him.