Good News! 

The Methodist Church, Stoke-on-Trent South Circuit
Collected by: Hil Hands (Local preacher)
Dear friends,
We visited Newark Castle this week and learnt how the building provided some protection during times of unrest, but the surrounding countryside provided more, with hills and valleys which allowed for shelter and vantage points as needed. We also visited Sherwood Forest, where Robin Hood is supposed to have found his home amongst the green wood. The Major Oak is still there, though fenced off now, so children cannot climb inside and experience its shelter and hiding place.
Throughout these last few months, even though many of us have needed to stay in our homes and gardens, God’s wonderful creation has bloomed and come to fruition around us. As we towed our caravan to a site near to Nottingham on Wednesday, we saw several combine harvesters. Crops are ready to be harvested, vegetables are ready to be picked and fruit weighs down the branches of the apple tree up our garden.
Our homes have given us some protection, yet it is God’s amazing bounty across the land which feeds us. Our houses have provided shelter, but it may have been out and about in our gardens or in our communities for our daily exercise when the beauty of God’s creation will have lifted our spirits.
Hebrews 3:4 (NIV
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
Let us not fence off the love of God, for we are called to witness to others how they too can know His love. Let us share with others the hope that we have for the future, which He will build. We can learn from these last few months when our church buildings have been closed. Folk have found shelter in His love and seen from a new perspective the many ways in which we can be ‘church’? How can we keep some of these new habits going?
God bless
If you have good news, please let me know: email - Please send news to me by Friday 14 August, ready for next weekend.
From Stuart and Sylvia
Update on Ashley
Ashley has had a good week.  He is looking a lot better and is getting stronger.  Thursday morning, he went for a walk outside with the physios.  So, we praise God for the continued, gradual improvement and thank you for your continued interest and prayers.  He will have to have another endoscopy, possibly this week and one or two more CT scans but things are looking positive. Please keep praying - your support means such a lot to us as a family.
All our love, God bless/ Stuart and Sylvia
Choir in Lockdown Update 
Through lockdown there has been no physical singing with choirs.  So, I was pleased to learn that several virtual choirs had been set up. I have enjoyed being part of the Great British Home Chorus led by Gareth Malone, which entailed going on to YouTube for 30 minutes every evening at 5.30pm for several months during lockdown, learning some new songs.  Of late, Gareth has organised an hour’s rehearsal every Thursday. The choir has now released the Great British Home Chorus CD/EP – so, I’m thrilled to be part of a commercial recording even if I am one voice amongst 120,000!  The CD/EP is currently no. 2 in the Classical Charts and sits in the top 2 online albums. The video and single of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ from the CD was also released last week and currently sits 17th in the Singles Chart.  The CD is available to buy from Decca Music at £5.99 with some of the money from the sales going to the NHS Charities. I’ve also been part of the Staffordshire Community Choir Association Virtual Choir and the National Methodist Choir of Great Britain from time to time. I’m looking forward to the day when I can begin singing with the Stoke-on-Trent Methodist Singers again.
Prayer time (taken from Baptists Together Newsletter)
1.Reflecting on the world-wide situation
Let’s continue to pray for all our sisters and brothers across the world who have been, and are continuing to be, affected by COVID-19.  We pray that all will know God’s overwhelming, steadfast love.
Pray for the countries currently suffering from the greatest outbreaks: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain, Germany, USA.
Psalm 46
2. We pray for those who are particularly fearful at the moment.
Pray for those in our communities who may feel vulnerable and scared. Pray that the love of God might be their peace. That they may know that even in the darkest times God’s love brings hope.
Psalm 23
3. We pray for the most vulnerable and isolated in our neighbourhoods. Pray for those who are currently self-isolating in our neighbourhoods. Pray for older people who are concerned about shopping, regular hospital appointments and general day to day contact with other people. Bring to God the regular activities for older and more vulnerable people provided by our churches.  Pray for wisdom for church leaders to know how to keep people connected and safe.
John 14:27
4. We pray for the medical staff on the frontline of care, we pray that they will be sustained physically, emotionally and spiritually in the coming weeks. Pray for medics in our own congregations.  We pray that God will be their shield and their strength. We pray for wisdom and insight as to how to support those in our congregations and communities involved in frontline care. 
Isaiah 40:28-31
5. Pray for our world leaders and for the leaders in our own country that they will seek the wisdom of God as they make decisions over the coming days. 
Pray for physical strength for our leaders
6. We pray for all those leading the scientific response to COVID-19 across the world.
Pray for the scientists from across the globe as they look for ways to alleviate symptoms and as they seek a vaccine for the future.
7. Pray for all God’s people in this time of uncertainty and concern. That our eternal hope would make an earthly difference.