Zephaniah’ Christmas Newsletter

Happy Christmas from everyone at Zephaniah! It has been good this term to get back to work that looks a little more ‘normal’, whatever that means. Even though everything is a little more complicated, we have been able to do almost everything we would normally due in the autumn term, with most of it being in-person. It has been great to actually be back in front of children, rather than being a recording on YouTube. Below you can find links to our full Christmas newsletter, our diary for next term, and our Christmas card to you.

New! – Zephaniah Christmas Cards

Sorry! Orders for this year’s Christmas cards are now closed.

Each pack of 12 cards includes 4 each of 3 of Zephaniah’s past Christmas card designs, all wonderful creations by our Associate, Katie Jones. Each A6 size card contains a Christmas greeting and an appropriate quote from scripture.

Each pack of 12 cards costs £5. All profits raised from the sale of these cards will help fund the ongoing work of the Zephaniah Trust, taking Light into dark corners in schools across Bradford and the Spen Valley.

The deadline for orders was 31st October, so we’re sorry but no new orders can be accepted now. Orders will be delivered/available for collection by the end of November.

To order, complete the order form below and return to Zephaniah Trust, 2a Norwood Road, Shipley BD18 2AZ. Alternatively you can scan and email the form to us at office@zephaniah.org.uk . Please ensure your form reaches us by 31st October.

If you’d like to see more of Katie’s work have a look at: http://www.instagram.com/creativeangelkatie

Summer Newsletter

The summer holidays are drawing to a close, and the photos of children in their new school uniform, standing eagerly on doorsteps, are starting to appear on social media pages. Here at Zephaniah we are gearing up for a new term which, we hope, will look slightly more normal than the last 12 months. To keep you up to date with both what we’ve been doing, and what we hope to be doing over the next few months, here is our latest newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it.

If you have read our Diamond Challenge, and you want to become a Diamond Giver – or encourage someone else to become one – here is the form that you’ll need.

Easter Newsletter

Happy Easter!

It’s now been just over a year since we were able to regularly and reliably go into our schools. It’s been a year of adapting and developing the ways that we work, so that we can still be there for schools, churches and families. It has also been a year of hoping – hoping that the case numbers will go down, hoping that restrictions will lift, hoping that we can get back to seeing children face-to-face, hoping the finances will hold steady. Easter is all about Hope too. It is our reminder that God is all about restoration – the stripping out of the rubbish that gets in the way of our relationship with Him, and with each other, and filing the space that creates with His love and new life.  

Our newsletter gives you a glimpse of some of the ways that we have kept on ‘taking Light into dark corners’ this term. Grab a cuppa, and have a read to find out about the assemblies, RE lessons, Easter workshops, and ZephFamily worship that we’ve still been able to do despite the restrictions. God is good!

None of what we’ve been able to achieve this year would have been possible without you – our supporters. Your prayers and your giving have enabled and encouraged us. Thank you!!

Enjoy the newsletter and Happy Easter!
John, Julie, Julia, Yvonne and Jenny
The Zephaniah Trust Team

Easter Activity/Resource Pack

We’re excited to launch the Zephaniah Easter Activities and Resource Pack for 2021!

Normally, we’d spend the weeks before Easter running events, workshops and lessons, in schools and with churches, to help children explore the Easter story. The pandemic continues to stop us from doing that face-to-face – but we can still carry on remotely! Our Resource Pack is suitable for use by schools, churches, volunteer children’s workers, and families.

In this pack, you’ll find a craft activity from Julia, poetry workshop from John, drama workshop from Julie, and reflection/RE lesson from Yvonne – along with a guide to additional resources on our YouTube Channel.

The pack is available completely free of charge – download yours here or by clicking the image below. If you’d like to make a donation towards our work as a thank you, you can do so on Virgin Money Giving.

December Fest

December Fest is our virtual online festival, shining some light in the early winter darkness.

Seven hours of music and spoken word, recorded live and edited together in a full festival programme.

The festival is free to access but we ask that you make a donation to our fundraising appeal, supporting our work in schools, communities and churches in Bradford and beyond, on the links below.

WATCH from 2pm on Sunday 6th December:


Garth Hewitt
Stewart Henderson
Rachel Croft
Tony Vino
Froud & Daughter (with Yvonne)
Julie Wilkinson
Daryll Hackett
Amy Harris
Conrad Burdekin
John Biglands
Chris Gates
The Mudlarks
Jon Buckeridge
Hilary Bond
Gary Borrows
Carol Barwick/Raise Your Voice Choir
Great Yorkshire Chorus
Mussanzi Family Choir
Katie Jones

Keep your eye on our Facebook page for updates!

Visit the December Fest shop front, where you can find links to more information on the performers, here.

Summer Newsletter

The country may have been in lockdown, and our schools may have been closed to all but key-worker children, but our team have been working hard developing new ways to keep ‘taking Light into dark corners’. Find out what we have been getting up to this term in our summer newsletter.

Read our latest newsletter here: Summer20let_webversion

Here is a giving form if you would like to respond to our appeal: Giving form_webversion

Zeph Daily 92

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This is John beginning the last Zeph@10 for now with the response of one of our holiday club kids replying to his invite. YES !!!! Cheered me up, I can tell you!

Hallelujah! Or if you’re a kind of Anglican, “Alleluia.” Who knows? “The nit song” (chorus “Hal, lal, la la la leluia” is a big favourite with the Clitheroe Kids (none of the Zephteam are old enough for that reference, but maybe someone dropping in is…
When introducing this word to children I say it’s an exclamation of joy, with a big thank you wrapped up in it. A word you might use to greet your favourite food. (I might have been a bit excited in Sainsbury’s last week to see Morbier on the cheese shelves…)
A word Yvonne might use should Liverpool ever win the League. Oh, they have! Who knew? A word that I long to use at Valley Parade—ah well…
Find a “Hallelujah” moment in your memory to thank God for this morning.

I wrote this song for an assembly I was due to share with a Gideon, Stephen Keighley, and it’s a bit of a homage to him and Bob West, but it’s heart is what Jesus did/does for people… It’s a song of happy people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcKmiqwnxe4…

How would you react if Jesus fixed your legs?
If he made your blind eyes see?
If he brought your dead brother back to life?
If he sent your leprosy packing?
How about if he saw to it that you were sorted with God—whatever you’d done/thought/said/not done, etc?
What if sitting up in a tree so you didn’t have to meet people who didn’t like you, Jesus looked you in the eye?
I’d missed that line in the Bartimaeus story “ Cheer up ! He’s calling you” “Cheer up” slight paraphrase, but it catches the mood.
Thank God for the miracles, large and small, in your life or someone else’s, that you have seen…

Julie wrote yesterday of the sustained sense of joy that holds the individual Christian together through the dark times, but there is also that spontaneous moment of joy as the realisation of what God has done/is doing breaks over us (like sea billows roll—never felt that as a cheery image myself (having the sea roll over me)

Hobnob, as an old lady cat developed some disgusting habits, but there were beautiful moments: times when for no obvious reason she would start to purr (very loudly). Perhaps she was remembering a particularly fine supper, or a fierce chase that saw off a courting tom, or perhaps, how blessed she was to have left an unhappy life behind to come and live with the Frouds. Who knows.

As I was looking for words for an instrumental (?) in a video, I came across this little gem in Deuteronomy 4:9 “…don’t forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live…” Those blink-and-you-miss-it moments of spontaneous joy don’t have to disappear, we can hold them deep in our memories, so deep we often forget they’re there, but they fit together to form that solid sustaining joy that “bubbles up “ and blesses the world around us.

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v99kHXoYNPs

So… at the end of the last Zeph@10 for the near future at least, thank you, team for the blessings you have cheerily dispensed. Excellent medicine. You may never know how many lives you have touched. Go now, to bless and be blessed.

Zeph Daily 91

Morning Zephyrs! Julie here. What word would you choose to sum up the photo montage below?

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I’m currently spending a ridiculous proportion of my waking hours editing footage together for our online holiday club sessions next week – which is where I’ve sourced all these wonderful smiling faces! For me, they capture something which is at the very heart of everything that Zephaniah is – even virtual socially-distanced Zephaniah! And that something is joy.

It’s easy to under-value joy. It doesn’t feed people, or clothe them, or give them somewhere to live, or teach them new skills. But time and time again, through the work that we do, I am struck by just how transformational joy is and by just how very much the world thirsts for it.

The Bible has a surprising amount to say about joy – I say surprising because it’s not something I often hear talked about, preached about or discussed in Christian circles (though that could be my fault – I’m not always good at listening…). It’s the second of the listed fruits of the spirit in Galatians, between love and peace; Proverbs tells us “a joyful heart is good medicine”; and, of course, in Zephaniah 3:17, we hear how God rejoices (feels and shows great joy) over us with singing.

I wonder if one of the reasons joy is so easily under-valued is because we misunderstand it, we so often see it portrayed without nuance or depth (think Joy in Inside Out – bit annoying, right?). Joy isn’t about empty platitudes or choosing to be happy in spite of our burdens; it’s not about embracing vacuous motivational memes or pressuring ourselves to always think positively. True joy, I think, is stronger than that, it’s a spiritual discipline that, at its best, is rooted more deeply than trauma or fear or uncertainty, and that deep-rootedness means it can sustain us through dark times.

Those deep roots of joy anchor themselves in the soil of connection. They grow initially in our relationship with God, as we come to understand the joy he takes in us and in all of his creation. And as our connection with God moves us to connect more strongly with his world, we find joy in our relationships with each other. Joy in one another is found when we feel most connected, when we feel accepted in a way that enables us to take down our defences and embrace who we are. One of my most vibrant experiences of that kind of joy was a night with friends in a Northumbrian bunkhouse, when we unintentionally stayed up all night, laughing until the sun came up.

Joy is vital because it is strong enough to sustain us through the dark times. Relationships – with God and with each other – that are forged with deep roots of shared joy are strong enough to support us when things go wrong. The Bible is clear that suffering and joy go hand in hand. “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Psalm 126: 5-6)

At Zephaniah, this relationship of joy and sorrow entwined couldn’t be clearer. There is a vulnerability shared by both joy and sadness that means we are welcome in times of both. Taking the Zephaniah sense of joy into schools, churches and communities, sharing fun and laughter, singing and stories, means we can, naturally and in turn, share the sad times, spending time with classes of bereaved children, taking part in funerals, being a shoulder to cry on in the staff room or headteacher’s office. Those deep roots of joy sustain us – and each other – in troubled times.

What a privilege it is that we are able to do that through our work. “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people” (Philemon 1:7). Give thanks to God that we are able to refresh the hearts of his people.

We are only able to do what we do because we, in turn, are supported by others, by those who sustain us, who connect with us, who share their own joy with us, who give their time and their money, who cover us in prayer. Give thanks for all those who enable us to spread God’s joy and reflect him to those around us.

Lockdown has been hard in so many ways; not least because it has enforced disconnection from each other. But looking at the smiling faces I shared at the beginning – laughter that has come naturally to so many while preparing resources to reach out and shine virtual light into dark corners – has encouraged me. Because light and joy – those deep-rooted sustaining holy attributes – have not been stopped by lockdown. They simply find new ways to shine on.

In John 10, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When we take that gift from him and pass it on to others, we are doing God’s work. What a wonderful thing that is.

This is the most joyful thing I could think of sharing – have a watch and give yourselves a joy top-up…

May your days be joyful, Zephyrs!