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Council bid to snuff out millennium candles

No one can hold a candle to him: Rev Lindsay sparks a flaming row

In favour: Rev Richard Lindsay lighting a candle.

Tameside councils plan to spend £20,000 on candles for the Christian church.

by Nick Hodgson

THE council want to snuff out plans to put a candle in every home for the millennium. Council leader Roy Oldham reckons the logistics of putting a candle in each of Tameside's 90,000 homes might prove tricky and suggests the churches look at other ideas.
His views came at a council policy committee - but Mossley vicar Richard Lindsay, who is promoting the scheme, said it was a wonderful idea and should be carried through. The Rev Lindsay, of St George's Church, Mossley, retorted:
"That's not true - there isn't a problem with delivery.It can easily be organised. Nationally they are suggesting the way to deliver the candles is as Christian Aid. We will deliver the candles on Advent Sunday, at the beginning of December. Each church had a number of streets allocated to it. "We have overcome the problem. I thought Cllr Oldham understood that."
Roy Oldham
Against : Council leader Roy Oldham

Cllr Oldham told the policy committee: "The churches wish to put a candle in everybody's homes. That's 90,000. The logistics don't seem really thought through. "I am not worried about the expense, but I am afraid it is going to be a bit difficult to deliver them and when they are, will the candles will be lit up?" He said £20,000 had been allocated to the churches to buy the 30p candles - or for an alternative- scheme. But Rev Lindsay explained the candle had a special significance. "Lighting the candles at 11.58pm on New Year's Eve should provide a two-minute pause for thought. "The light of the candle is symbolic. It reflects the spirit of Jesus, which should burn brightly in our lives," he said. A double funding knockback from the Millennium Commission has been taken on the chin by council leisure chiefs. The commission first said no to a £200,000 bid for local events, and then to a £500,000 bid for Greater Manchester's Millennium Streets Ahead Festival. "We're deeply disappointed but not downhearted," said Cllr Mike Ballagher, head of Tameside's millennium planning team.

Millennium candles plan wins go-ahead

TAMESIDE Council are supporting local churches who are planning to put a candle in every home for the millennium: It has awarded a grant of £20,000 to buy 90,000 candles -one each for every home in the borough - which church leaders hope will be lit before midnight on New Year's Eve. The candles are enclosed in a secure container as a safety measure.
Council leader Roy Oldham (pictured) said: "We are helping hundreds of community organisations celebrate the millennium, who are planning everything from special concerts to street parties. "But we wanted to do something special with the churches. "After all, the millennium is a Christian celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. "We did have concerns about the feasibility of distributing so many candles,and were worried about the safety aspect of having lighted candles in homes. "We did not want this wonderful celebration to turn into a tragedy. "But we've had a meeting with church leaders and our concerns have been answered. "A candle for every home for the millennium is definitely on and the council is pleased to support it.

Millennium candles unsafe

SIR Re: 'Council bid to snuff out millennium candles' (Advertiser 4/3/99). I regard it as highly dangerous and totally irresponsible. Any house with children under the age of 11 should always be advised not to use any form of lighted material around the home. Also by midnight on New Year's Eve most people will have had a drink. A lot of people will have had a drink too many. Children will be up late to celebrate. I dread to think of the consequences.
Anne Swindells Carrbrook

Keep church out of millennium

SIR - Re: 'Council bid to to snuff out millennium candles' (Advertiser 4/3/99). When is the Church going to understand that not everybody believes their superstitious nonsense?
The idea that public money should go up in flames in reverence to someone's arbitrary adherence to a belief is astounding. Cllr Oldham should be worried about the expense - it's a waste of money. No doubt this is intended as a celebration of 2,000 years of Christianity.
Well, some of us don't want religion shoved down our throats and more to the point, there seems to be some debate as to when the millennium actually is. So lighting a candle at an arbitrary time is nonsense. If the Rev Richard Lindsay thinks it is such a good idea, let him pay for it and burn candles in Christian homes. Those of us who do not believe in non-existent deities just see it as a waste of taxpayers money.
Mr DL Borrell, Ashton.

Simpler would be better!

SIR - in reply to 'Keeping the church out of the millennium' (Readers' views 18/3/(99). Mr Borrell is entitled to his views, but I can assure him, Christ existed. His birth and death are both recorded in the history of the Roman archives. That is fact.
Also the calendar marks the occasion in AD - Anno Domini - so his presence was noted. The millennium is the acknowledgement of this record. My own view is that the proposed celebrations are over the top and I would have preferred a more simple approach in keeping with 'the man' who preached simplicity. The actual date and time, I agree, are debatable, but whether it was sooner or later does not change the fact of birth and death. I disagree religion is being thrust down our throats and I have contributed unashamedly to the debate. The take-up of candles will be optional, those who wish will and those who don't won't. Candles have long been both a theoretical and practical symbol of light and this is how Christians see Christ - the light of the world. I prefer a light burning through the night to an all-night boozing session or any other form of extravaganza. After all, the celebration is that after 2,000 years the teaching and presence of Christ still flourishes.
Cllr Honourine Graham ,Mossley.

Keep faith alive

SIR - Without Jesus there would he NO millennium, Christmas or Easter. I am sure Mr Borrell partakes in the Christmas tradition of giving gifts and Easter eggs - eggs being the symbol of rebirth.
These are Christian festivals, and if he does take part this is very hypocritical of him to want the church out of the millennium. I should imagine the comments Mr Borrell made upset and hurt a lot of Christian people.
Name and address supplied.

Why do we have to pay?

SIR - Re: the millennium candles hornets nest (Readers' views 1/4/99). How much do they think it hurts to have money appropriated from taxpayers to pay for something only Christians believe in? I do not celebrate Easter or Christmas, as I am an atheist. Christmas is a pagan festival - as Channel Four documented - built around St Nicholas, who has nothing to do with Christ. That is why Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas in December. Some historians even think Christ was born in October, which makes even more of a mockery of the idea that the millennium has anything to do with Christ.
Our Gregorian calendar is an updated version of the Julian calendar - the Romans previously having 10 months in their year. So any idea that 2,000 exact years have passed is baloney. The celebration of 2,000 years is an arbitrary Christian one - so they should fund it. The take up of candles maybe optional, but the payment isn't. The decision to go ahead with such ludicrous waste is indicative of the council's mentality, spending taxpayers money how they please without consultation. How would the church feel if they were asked to pay for an atheist festival?
Let them pay for the festivities, as I would have to do if I was celebrating something I thought was a big deal - like the birth of Bertrand Russell, who tried to stop wars, rather than start them. That seems to be the prerogative of those of religious conviction, as anywhere from Ireland to Iran or the Christian Holy Wars are living testimony.
Mr DL Borrell, Ashton.


SIR - Cllr Roy Oldham would have been much wiser to spend £20,000 to repair the shocking state of the footpaths all over the town, instead of millennium candles. There are many grids which remain blocked and have been for some time, as they're always full of water on dry days. I did hear the grid cleaners are on a bonus time of three minutes per grid - no wonder they're not cleaned out properly. This seems to be a problem in many parts of Tameside.
Name and address supplied

Waste of money

SIR - I think the council are wasting £20,000 of OUR money on candles which could be better spent on education or environmental services. It would buy a lot of books, trees or pay for repairs to a school. About 20 per cent of people are non-believers and I bet 50 per cent of people will be at a party leaving their candles at home. A few more will be too drunk to care, but if they do light their candle they will go to bed and the fire service will be called out to pick up the pieces.
Name and address supplied

Not for everyone

SIR - Re: millennium candles - the arrogance of the church is inexcusable. The millennium is an event on the Christian calendar and yet all the members of the diverse ethnic communities are expected to 'reflect the spirit of Jesus.'
They are expected to celebrate an occasion which is foreign to their cultures and religions - it is not the Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu or Muslim year 2000.
Furthermore, delivering the candles to every house is moral blackmail, they should be made available in the churches for the people who agree with the church. All the candles left could be sold and the proceeds donated to where they should have gone in the first place - selected charities.
A Bennett,Dukinfield.

Candle controversy ready to spark up again?

Lighting up a controversy: Christians waste taxpayers money and arrogantly expect everyone to accept their traditions
Millennium message: Stephanie Ferguson, Mayor Cllr Frank Robinson, Father Richard Lindsay and Michelle Scott outside St George's Church, Mossley.

THE millennium candles which lit up a huge debate in The Advertiser letters pages have arrived. Tameside churches and the council have got together to dish out a millennium-celebrating candle to every household in the borough.
They are set to be dished out over the first three weekends of December, with Father Richard Lindsay keen to wax lyrical about the 57 ,000 candles' role in the new millennium.
"Candles for centuries have traditionally been used for celebration and remembrance," Father Lindsay said. "Light them at 11.58pm on New Year's Eve, wherever you are, of whatever faith, say the resolution and join with people all over Britain who will be sharing this moment."
When plans for the millennium candles was first published in The Advertiser, our Readers' Views pages were inundated with letters - both for and against the scheme. The council stress you shouldn't let anyone into the house - with local church members delivering during daylight.

Council could have delivered

EDITOR - Where were our candles at the millennium? I know of nobody in Dukinfield who received one or a card through their door telling people they had called. Everyone must know that it would be difficult for church members to deliver to every household, so why didn't the council take it on themselves to deliver what they or the local ratepayers paid for.
Passing through Stalybridge on New Year's Eve, past the market hall in my car, reminded me of deserted shanty towns in the Wild West. However I wished the old town a happier new year than of late by singing for the absent audience. Where have all the traders gone, long time passing. Gone to Ashton everyone, when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.
N Schofield,Dukinfield.

Let us celebrate in peace

SIR - The approach of the year 2000 has sparked both excitement and controversy. One inescapable fact remains: the people who created the calendar as we know it based the beginning on the birth of Christ.
Whatever the truth may be, the intention was to create a calendar founded upon the birth of Christian faith - the millennium is essentially a Christian festival.
I have no objection to the secular observance of that date, but there are those of us who would like to observe our festival peacefully in the privacy of our own homes.
I pray our enjoyment of this precious night will not be ruined by those who see it as little more than a convenient excuse for another loud party.
Name supplied, Mossley.

Candle cost was outrageous

EDITOR - Re the millennium candles. No one in the Mossley station area received a candle or a card to say anyone had called. In fact, it was all unnecessary. The cost was outrageous and if the council had just asked every one to light a candle of their own, costing coppers, they would have done so, as we in our area did.
Just a thought too about this kilos or pounds argument. I recently went into a local shop and asked a young assistant for a quarter of cheese.
She turned to an older lady and said: "I don't know what she means." The reply of course was four ounces. If this girl has problems with that, I don't know how she will go on if we change to kilos.
Mrs Hallas, Mossley.
[What do you mean "if" ? -LB]

Millennium Rip-Off

EDITOR The millennium celebrations are yet another opportunity for 'rip-off Britain' to rip off everyone yet again and just another excuse for loads of idiots to drink themselves into an incoherent stupor.
The millennium is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Christ but Jesus was born around June in 4BC so someone has got their calculations a bit out. At the end of the first millennium people were too busy worrying about taxes and the end of the world (some things never change) to go out and spend exorbitant amounts drinking themselves stupid. A rite of passage might be a better way of celebrating the millennium: a creative and positive appreciation of the knowledge and skills gained during the last 1,000 years to be used for the benefit of those who will experience life in the third millennium. That would be a far better use of resources than thousands of drunks and candles to celebrate the wrong date.
Glynis Cooper. (Address supplied)

Inquiry tries to mend school rift with church

COMMUNICATION breakdown : St George's Primary School's then head Catherine Dobson was pictured last November when she resigned from her post because she said she could no longer work with Father Richard Lindsay (inset). An independent enquiry has made 31 recommendations to resolve the row.

by Sam Lister

A COMPLETE collapse in communications led to a stand-off between a primary school and its neighbouring church, according to a independent inquiry.
Catherine Dobson, former headteacher at St George's Primary in Mossley claims she was forced to resign because she could no longer work with Father Richard Lindsay vicar at the adjoining church.
Mrs Dobson left after the pair clashed over parking provision, religious teaching and access to the school and over 80 parents signed a petition calling for the vicar to resign.
Now the findings of a three month investigation by independent advisor Rev Richard Lindley have been published.
The education director for the Winchester diocese interviewed 60 people including staff, parents, governors and parish members during his investigations.

He found a complete collapse in communication between the school and the church led to a stand-off between both sides and one of the main causes was a confusion in the roles played by the vicar, a trained secondary school teacher, and his wife in school business.
Rev Lindley's report says: "The vicar is clearly in many respects an able and devoted parish priest. It seems that establishing a role may be a problem for him when he is not in charge or total control.
"This may be explained in terms of situations, such as that at St George's school, where he is dependent upon a working relationship with other professionals, who are prepared to stand up for themselves and for the standards they aspire to."
Father Lindsay's wife Patricia was found to have adopted an assertive, policing role that had caused bewilderment and resentment with staff and parents,
Mrs Dobson, who now works at Fairfield Road Primary in Droylsden, was also criticised for using the Christmas pantomime to made jokes about the parking conflict and the clergy.
Rev Lindley has made 31 recommendations to resolve the conflict between the school and the church. He suggests that parents, staff governors and Father Lindsay should meet half termly.
And he recommended a senior priest with successful church school experience is brought into mentor Father Lindsay and the new headteacher for up to two years. He also advised both sides to buy a copy of business bible Understanding Organisations by Charles Handy.
Mrs Dobson said: "There will have to be a change of heart on the part of the church. I am sure the school would he only too happy to carry out the recommendations but I have reservations about the church's commitment."
Mrs Lindsay has claimed she should not have been included in the report as she does not have a representative role in the church and is now seeking legal advice Father Lindsay was away on holiday and unavailable for comment.
[The Advertiser 21 March,2002]

Modern twist to old tradition

Pictured: Rapper EJ with Sarah Broadbent and James Brook at All Saints Institute.
THE Palm Sunday service at one Mossley church will be more than a little different this year.
Not only will a donkey lead the Passion procession from All Saints Church to nearby All Saints Institute recalling Jesus's entry into Jerusalem the long Passion gospel will be related in hip-hop 'rapper' style to maintain children's interest.
The Rev Jay MacLeod, parish priest of All Saints, Micklehurst, said: "It's important for children to hear the story of Jesus's suffering and saving, but it needs to be done in a way that keeps their attention and ours!"
Leo the donkey can usually be seen grazing near Micklehurst Cricket Club and belongs to a friend of the Rev MacLeod. Rapper EJ, aged 20, is a hip hop recording artist from Manchester
The Rev MacLeod added: "A group of young people who sing in the church know EJ and suggested she take part in the gospel reading.
"She has created lyrics summarising each.scene of the Passion narrative and will perform live music in the church.
"Leo and EJ will help young and old to enter more deeply into the experience of Jesus and so enter more deeply into life itself."
The ultra-modern service starts at 10.30am on Sunday, but for more traditional souls, a 9am eucharist will be held at the nearby All Saints Institute.
[The Advertiser 21 March,2002]





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