Vicar touched by teenager's letter and £10 offering for "making a mess on the church steps"

The Northern Echo: Dr Threlfall-Holmes - heart melted by child's apology Dr Threlfall-Holmes - heart melted by child's apology

A CHRISTMAS card in a teenager's handwriting and containing a £10 note was sent to a County Durham vicar with the words: “We are sorry for making a mess on the church steps.”

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, vicar of St Mary Magdalene Church in Belmont, found the card addressed 'Please give this to the vicar of the church', recently.

“Inside was a £10 donation to the church, and the words 'We are sorry for making a mess on the church steps',” said Dr Threlfall-Holmes.

“The child who wrote the card went on to say thank you to the lady from the church who had cleaned up, and who had then taken them into church, fed them, and helped them light prayer candles.”

The message in the card added: 'thanks...cos she cleared up and give us food and candles to light'.

Anna Harvey, a member of the congregation, is the lady mentioned in the letter.

"It was a couple of weeks ago, the morning after Nelson Mandela had died. I went early to open the church up for Morning Prayer, and found about nine teenagers sitting on the steps, smoking and spitting," she said. "I said good morning, but also told them that this wasn't a good place to behave like that, the church is here for you to come to pray.

"They were still there when I unlocked, so I invited them in so I could clean up the steps. They stubbed out their cigarettes, came in and sat on the sofa while I swilled the steps, and then I gave them some of the juice and biscuits that we keep at the back of church.

"Then one of them said, quite sharply, 'you do know Mandela has died don't you?' It turned out that was what had drawn them to church. So we talked about him for a while, and I invited them to come and light a candle in his memory.

"What really sticks in my mind is as they left, one of them said 'we're gonna pray for peace."

The card echoes the recent story about a little girl who broke a Christmas decoration in a John Lewis store in Cambridge and sent a letter of apology containing two pound coins.

Dr Threlfall-Holmes said: 'It was a really heart-melting moment, opening the card and reading the child's writing. Not only were they saying sorry, but they had obviously been touched by the welcome they had received.

“The idea that God takes the mess we make, and turns it into a prayerful encounter with Him, is at the heart of why Jesus was born on that first Christmas. I hope everyone might find such a welcome at church this Christmas time.”

You can follow Dr Threlfall-Holmes on Twitter @MirandaTHolmes

Services at Belmont church this Christmas are as follows: Christmas Eve, family carols with nativity play, 4pm; Christmas Day, family communion service, 9am.

Comments (2)

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6:09pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Longbowman666 says...

Heartwarming to see that, despite perhaps outward appearances, some of the teenagers of today do actually have a conscience about what they do, and in this case, simple kindness and talking seems to have done far more than merely shouting at them.

Good for the kids, and for the lady who took the time and the effort to engage with them.

And the prayer for peace? Would be nice to think that the prayer was answered, wouldn't it?
Heartwarming to see that, despite perhaps outward appearances, some of the teenagers of today do actually have a conscience about what they do, and in this case, simple kindness and talking seems to have done far more than merely shouting at them. Good for the kids, and for the lady who took the time and the effort to engage with them. And the prayer for peace? Would be nice to think that the prayer was answered, wouldn't it? Longbowman666

7:07pm Thu 19 Dec 13

Snilly says...

I agree 100% with you Longbowman666
I agree 100% with you Longbowman666 Snilly

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