15th August

Andy’s Update

Being at New Wine last week was a such a blessing! Worshipping with thousands of other Christians, receiving life-giving and stretching Bible teaching, hearing stories of God’s work across the world, seeing our children’s enthusiasm for the groups they attended, bumping into old friends, receiving prayer ministry and experiencing a fresh touch of God’s love, all made for an incredible week that made going camping and sacrificing creature comforts for a week more than worthwhile.  If I had to sum up the heart of what I felt God was teaching me this week, it was about how much I rely on him.  I can only grow as a disciple if I have a life founded on prayer and a love of His Word. I also need to be constantly renewed by his Holy Spirit, who brings life to me.  We’re also thanking God for his work in our family – Liz’s sister who’d been suffering for the past 18 months from chronic fatigue and needed a scooter to travel any distance, received prayer a couple of weeks before New Wine, and has made an extraordinary recovery. She can now walk, run, even jump – it’s a miracle! Praise God! 

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

How are you at resting? Take time to do something you love, and as you do so, sense God’s pleasure in your enjoyment. God is interested in the whole of your life.

Loving each other

Give thanks for the work God has done in creating unity and a sense of family in our church. Pray for this to grow and for no one to feel excluded or left out.

Serving our community

Pray for the refurbishment of the hall taking place this summer; that all would be completed smoothly in time for the new term. Pray for JLS the firm doing the work, whose premises was burgled.

Bible Verse for the Week

“God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.”

Ephesians 2:19-22 (Message)

1st August

Andy’s Update

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your [household]. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”(Exodus 20:8-11) Of all the ten commandments, this is the one arguably most frequently ignored, and yet it is so important. Busyness has become an idol in our culture and arguably in the church too.  There’s never enough time and we almost compete with one another in the busyness stakes.  We’re too busy to pray, too busy to go to church; as a result, our relationship with God and God’s people suffers. We are called to regularly rest; rest is an act of surrender to the reality that God is God and we are not. The commandment to take Sabbath is a gift to us.  So, this summer, let’s strive to get into good habits so that we become better at resting and learn “the unforced rhythms of grace” which will sustain us day by day.  

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Reflect on Jesus’ words below.  Pray that God would enable you to lay your burdens down and rest in him.

Loving each other

Give thanks for the work God has done in creating unity and a sense of family in our church. Pray for this to grow and for no one to feel excluded or left out.

Serving our community

Pray for the refurbishment of the hall taking place this summer; that all would be completed smoothly.  In the summer holidays, pray that children and those who work in education have a great time of rest and relaxation and stay safe and well cared for so that they all can go back next term ready and keen to learn and grow. 

Bible Verse for the Week

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

18th July

Andy’s Update

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for making last Sunday’s baptism celebration so special. It was a lovely church family occasion and we really appreciated being able to share it with you all.  It was special, but not unique; it was typical of the church family that we’re becoming; where our gatherings are characterised by a sense of joy, unity and generosity.  I believe that God will build on this even more, particularly as we begin our year celebrating the 60thanniversary of St Christopher’s Church.  Of the various events we have planned (watch this space!), perhaps the most significant will be our church weekend on 12-14 June 2020.  We’d love it if as many people as possible could be part of the weekend – please make this a priority – and let us know if financial constraints would stop you – bursaries would be available for anyone who would need them – chat to myself or Louise. The church weekend will be instrumental not only in celebrating the community that, under God, we are becoming, but also in discerning how God will lead and shape us in the years and even decades to come. 

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Reflect on the verses below.  Offer up any worries to God and rest in knowledge of his love for you.

Loving each other

Give thanks for the work God has done in creating unity and a sense of family in our church. Pray for this to grow and for no one to feel excluded or left out.

Serving our community

Pray for the refurbishment of the hall taking place this summer; that all would be completed smoothly and that it will be a blessing to the community.

Bible Verse for the Week

 “Look at the lilies. They don’t labour or spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 

 “And don’t worry about what to eat or drink. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.(Luke 12:27-31)

11th July

Andy’s Update

Last week Archie, Prince Harry and Meghan’s son was baptised. It was a private family affair. While it’s understandable that the service was held in this way, baptism was designed to be an occasion with the church at the heart, as we celebrate together that a new member has joined the community of faith of all tribes and tongues across the world and across the ages, acknowledging that despite our differences, we are united in Jesus Christ and “children of the same heavenly father”. In baptism we all state our commitment to pray for the adult or child and bring them up in the way of faith, recognising that it’s impossible to be a Christian (or to bring up Christians) on our own. Liz and I are thrilled to be celebrating Ben’s official entry into the church family today, grateful for your support of us throughout our time here and for the fact that he has so many role models and teachers (not just in Sunday School) of all ages who will help him discover what it means to be a follower and worshipper of Jesus.  Thank you to Pauline and others who have worked behind the scenes to make this such a special family – and church family – occasion.  

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Reflect on the verses below.  Pray that God would help you keep your life well-lighted and restore a sense of wonder to you.

Loving each other

Pray for Thanize, that she would settle well into her new home in Sao Paulo and find the right job.  Pray and give thanks for the young people who are such a significant part of the church community, and for those who lead and support this ministry.

Serving our community

Pray for the building work to refurbish the hall that will take place this summer. Give thanks for God’s financial provision, pray that the work will be completed smoothly and that it will be a blessing to the community.

Bible Verse for the Week

Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.” 

(Luke 11:34-36, Message)         

4th July

Andy’s Update

A decade ago my life changed forever. Firstly, in April, I became a dad; then, 10 years ago last weekend, after waiting what seemed like half a lifetime, I was ordained and my life in full-time church ministry began. Looking back on the decade I feel tremendously grateful to God; blessed and humbled to reflect on those who have journeyed with me in the first ten years of my life as a minister in the Church of England, both where I served as curate, but most of all here at St Christopher’s, where I feel so blessed to have been called to serve over the past 7 years. Thank you for all you’ve taught me, given me, encouraged me, for the love you’ve poured out on our family (we can’t wait to celebrate Ben’s baptism with you next weekend). Thank you for your patience, for putting up with my wild ideas and for your commitment to Jesus and his church. God is clearly at work among his people here, as we worship together (as a number of you have commented to me recently) and as we share life together.  I have great hope for this church community as God continues to grow and shape us as his family.  

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Reflect on the verses below.  Is there any part of God’s Word where you know God is calling you to obey, but you’re finding it difficult? Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.

Loving each other

Pray for Thanize as she returns to Brazil, that she would settle well into a new home in Sao Paulo and find the right job.  Pray and give thanks for the young people who are such a significant part of the church community, and for those who lead and support this ministry

Serving our community

Pray for the building work to refurbish the hall that will take place this summer. Give thanks for God’s financial provision, pray that the work will be completed smoothly and that it will be a blessing to the community.

 

Bible Verse for the Week

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’

He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’(Luke 11:27-28)

20th June

Andy’s Update

You may be wondering where I’ve been this weekend.  Well, I would have been “in a field near Swindon” along with a couple of other guys from church at the annual Christian men’s camp, “The Gathering” the largest men’s festival in the UK, where over 2,000 have booked to attend. “The Gathering”, a weekend of teaching, worship, fun, comedy and music, has been designed as a weekend where Christian guys can bring their mates who don’t go to church, as well as those who do. Having been to the festival before, there is nothing like being part of such a large group of men singing out their hearts to God – it’s such an uplifting experience. God meets people in such a significant way on these occasions, and I know he will do so again this weekend.  I know it’ll be a weekend where, as Jesus said to Zacchaeus, salvation will come, as many men will give their lives to Jesus for the first time, almost certainly answering the faithful prayers of people who’ve been longing for their loved ones to come to faith. It encourages me that God does hear and answer prayer.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Reflect on the verses below.  How can you make time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him?

Loving each other

Pray and give thanks for Tom and Pauline, and other church wardens, who were commissioned this week.

Serving our community

Give thanks for the ministry of Coventry Foodbank. Their stocks are at a record low, as there’s been 68% increase in people needing food parcels this year. Pray that through donations they would meet this demand.

Bible Verse for the Week

Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Her sister, Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

 (Luke 10:39-42)

13th June

Andy’s Update

Today, as we celebrate our dads let’s remind ourselves of why dads are so important, with some interesting research and statistics from CVM

·     Fathers keep kids on the straight and narrow - 76% of young men in prison come from homes with absent fathers (Prison Reform Trust) 

·     Fathers help kids do better at school/college- father absence lowers children’s educational attainment 

·     Fathers are good for their kid's mental health – There is a negative effect of parental divorce on adult mental health. 

·     Fathers lower risk of their kids 'doing drugs' - Father absence affects their children’s likelihood of smoking cigarettes and using drugs and alcohol. 

·     Fathers help their kid's employment chance - Higher levels of unemployment is more common among those who experienced divorce in early childhood. 

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Thank God that he’s adopted you as his child. Give thanks that when we pray, we can address God as “our Father”. Meditate on the verses below, praying God would fill you with a fresh sense of his love. 

Loving each other

Today is a difficult day for some.  Pray for families within our church community.  Reflect on the statistics on the front page and pray for the family life in our nation.

Serving our community

Pray for Home for Good, as it raises awareness of the need for foster and adoptive parents, encourages families to provide loving homes for the children in care, and equips the church to make a difference in this area.

Bible Verse for the Week

Those led by God’s Spirit are God’s children.  The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. By him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit testifies that we’re God’s children.

 (Romans 8:14-16)

6th June

Andy’s Update

“There’s such a sweet spirit” …. “a lovely atmosphere” … “It feels like a family” … These are some of the things that have been said to me about their experience of St Christopher’s over the past few weeks.  I’ve felt so encouraged as this is evidence of the work that God has been doing among us, forming us into the people he is calling us to be. Our vision as a church is “Living and loving as God’s family” and it’s wonderful to see this is being fulfilled; certainly the testimony of those who have joined our church in recent years is that they have found it easy to belong in this community, that we have become family for them.  This is, of course, how it should be; Jesus called his followers to be defined above all as those who love one another.  I believe there are many people in Allesley Park and Whoberley who need to experience such a community for themselves; after all, as Peter said on that first Pentecost, “The promise is for … all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:39)

Growing in God

Pray that God would fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit, empowering you to be his witness in word and deed.   

Loving each other

Give thanks for the gift of God’s family, here at St Christopher’s and across the world.  

Serving our community

Pray for businesses in our community, that they would thrive.  Pray also for our those who work and serve in our local medical services, the library and community centre.

Bible Verse of the Week

‘“In the last days, God says, 

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, 

your young men will see visions,

    your old men will dream dreams. 

Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’

(Acts 2: 117-18)

Andy’s Update

As we approach Pentecost, when the church celebrates the day the disciples were filled with the Spirit, completely transformed, and equipped to share the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of “Jerusalem, Judea and the ends of the earth” (Mt 28:20), let’s pray for God to fill us afresh with his Spirit, to renew and revive us, and equip us to be his witnesses. Please make use of the opportunity ahead to join in with Thy Kingdom Come, especially the prayer space in church. As we pray together over the next couple of weeks, may God meet with us, build his Kingdom in and through us.  

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Pray that through Thy Kingdom Come, God would deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ, that God’s spirit would work in the lives of those you know, and that you would realise that every aspect of your life is the stuff of prayer  

Loving each other

Pray for our young people and those who work in schools, that they would have good rest in the half term break, and for those who are taking exams at the moment – for peace and the ability to do their best.

Serving our community

Pray for businesses in our community, that they would thrive.  Pray also for our those who work and serve in our local medical services, the library and community centre.

Bible Verse of the Week

Jesus replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I've given you authority to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

(Luke 10:18-20)

16th May

Andy’s Update

What would happen if every Christian felt inspired and able share the love of Jesus with their friends, neighbours, colleagues and communities? What kind of transformation would that bring in families, societies and nations around the world?

Thy Kingdom Comehas become a global prayer movement that invites Christians around the world to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. It takes place between Thursday 31stMay and Sunday 9thJune. During this time, it is hoped that everyone who takes part will: 

·     Deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ

·     Pray for God’s spirit to work in the lives of those they know

·     Come to realise that every aspect of their life is the stuff of prayer  

Justin Welby says, “Prayer moves us closer not only to God, but to one another. It connects us with those whom we otherwise cannot see. Prayer breaks down division, in prayer we take each other’s hands and find our safe stronghold.” See this news sheet for how you can be involved this year.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Plan how you’ll get involved with Thy Kingdom Come. Ask God to help you grow in faith in this time. Reflect on the verses below and ask God to help you follow him faithfully.

Loving each other

Pray for our young people who are taking exams at the moment – for peace and the ability to do their best.

Serving our community

Pray and give thanks for the Coventry Street Pastors, which has become an accepted part of the night time economy (pubs, clubs, restaurants), as they seek to care for, listen to and help people who are out and about late at night, and aim to ensure their safety. They are looking for more volunteers. Could God be calling you to be involved?

 

Bible Verse of the Week

Jesus said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 

(Luke 9:23-25)

9th May

Andy’s Update

Have you ever read a book (other than the Bible), that impacted on the course of your life? At the beginning of last year, I read a book written by former Police Commander for the Met Police, John Sutherland, “Blue – a memoir: Keeping the peace and falling to pieces”, which described candidly the highs and lows of policing and his experience of suffering a major breakdown after 20 years of service. This book gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the work done by police officers and for the immense pressures that they are under, and I felt a compulsion to help in some way.  As a result of reading this book and after a journey of exploration, I have begun to serve as a voluntary police chaplain based mainly at the Coventry Central Police Station, which so far has involved getting to know the officers by accompanying different teams for shifts as they have gone on patrol, but will mean spending a 1 or 2 days a month with them. Please pray for our police and others in our emergency services, and for me as I try to share God’s love with the officers and others I encounter.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

How is God calling you to respond to this week’s readings from Luke’s Gospel? Spend time seeking him this week.

Loving each other

Pray for John and Frances, nearly a year into their ministry in Ansley and Arley, for continued inspiration and guidance.

Serving our community

Pray for preparations ongoing for Hope@Motofest on 1-2 June. Pray that many people would encounter God’s love and that people would meet with Jesus for the first time. 

 

Bible Verse of the Week

When the woman saw that she couldn't hide, she came trembling and fell down before Jesus. The whole crowd heard her explain why she'd touched him and how she'd been immediately healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith's made you well. Go in peace.”

(Luke 8:47-48)

2nd May

Andy’s Update

On Easter Sunday, Sri Lanka was hit by some of the deadliest Easter attacks on Christian targets in history. Three churches and three hotels were bombed by suicide bombers. The latest official figures now put the death toll at 253, with at least 500 people wounded. Open Doorshas written the following prayer, that I’d like to invite you to join in with:

Loving God, thank You for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. Be amongst them as they meet in their churches. Strengthen them by Your Holy Spirit and enable them to see You - for You see them and are closer to them than the breath they breathe.  We pray for all who were caught up in the attacks on their churches and communities on Easter Day. Bring healing to those who were injured and comfort those who have experienced loss.  Thank You for all who are visiting the affected, praying with them and listening to their needs. Give them all the resources they need to bring our brothers and sisters comfort and hope. 

We pray for those who were behind the attacks. Sovereign God, You understand their motives – only You can change their hearts. Risen Lord, give them a true Easter experience and turn their lives around – for Your glory.  Amen.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

In this Easter season, pray for God to fill you with his Spirit and with new hope in the same way he filled his disciples.

Loving each other

Give thanks for the wonderful celebrations of the marriage of James and Emma Bowman-Powell on 24thApril. Pray for them, for your blessing and protection.

Serving our community

Pray for preparations ongoing for Hope@Motofest on 1-2 June. Pray that many people would encounter God’s love and that people would meet with Jesus for the first time.

Bible Verse of the Week

“The seed that fell among thorns are those who hear, but cares, riches and pleasures of this life prevent them maturing. The seed that fell on good soil are honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.”

(Luke 8:14-15)

Easter 2019

Andy’s Update

We’re at the beginning of the most significant week in the church’s year. They may have taken place over 2,000 years ago, but the events between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, the entry of King Jesus into Jerusalem, his arrest, trial, death and resurrection, still reverberate around the world today.  If you’ve never really taken the time to make the journey with him, to understand why things happened as they did, then may I invite you to make this journey this year. Come and see; welcome Jesus the King, marvel at his sacrifice for you and me, and rejoice in the hope of his resurrection.

Easter Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Read through one of the resurrection accounts.  Pray and meditate on the way God brought transformation to those who had been broken.  Give thanks that Jesus brings new hope in the face of suffering and death, and pray for a fresh infilling of his Spirit in your life and in the life of our church.

Loving each other

Easter is a season of new hope.  Pray for someone you know who struggles to hold onto hope at this time.  Pray that Jesus would give them that hope.

Serving our community

Pray for all who are preparing and who will attend services over the Easter period.  Pray that God would move in people’s hearts and bring more people to come to faith in the life-changing news of the resurrection.

Annual Meeting and Celebration - Reports 2019

Vicar’s Report

 “In view of God’s mercy, offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)

 

Sacrifice is a challenging word, isn’t it? Yet it’s a word that is part of the DNA of this church community. Almost exactly 60 years ago, the foundation stone was laid of this church building.  This was thanks to both vision and sacrifice. Bishop Neville Gorton, motivated by a deep longing for the people of the new Allesley Park estate to encounter Jesus, had the vision for a church community to form and for the building to be a base from which God’s mission would be carried out. This vision would have stayed a vision, a mere pipe dream, without very real, gritty sacrifice. In February 1956, in announcing this new church community, the Rector of All Saints, Allesley, Rev. F.W. Moyle, commented, “This is a colossal challenge! If we are to answer it to the full, every man-jack of us must think and pray and give to the point of sacrifice.”  The people of Allesley bore a great financial burden to ensure the new church building would be built. They rose to the challenge and the new church building was consecrated on 26 March 1960.

We are here today, because of that initial sacrifice, but also of the sacrifice God’s people have made ever since, giving their time, skills, and money to sustain the work of the church community here. In some ways the challenge has never been greater than it has now. We have to adapt to a rapidly changing culture, we have to constantly rediscover what it means to be the people of God here in Allesley Park, what it means to be a church that fulfils our vision of “Living and loving as God’s family”– and this works most effectively when we all play our part.

When I look back over the past year, there is so much to encourage me.  Not least, last weekend, when so many men were involved in serving at Mother’s Day Café Church. I hope the ladies appreciated this! I’m especially grateful to Tom Borrasand Stuart Hartfor their hard work last Sunday, which is characteristic of the kind of work they do behind the scenes on behalf of the church community week in week out, Tom, who with Pauline Bluntserves excellently as a church warden.  St Christopher’s Church is full of these “behind the scenes” people – Stan Aldridge, who with Graham FoxwellTina Veaseyand Louise Hicks, helps us as a church steward our financial resources effectively; Garry and Jo CookeDiane HarrisonAngela McCannwho help keep the church grounds neat and tidy; Sylvia Cliffoversees the team who beautifies the church through their flower arranging; Jim Patrickhas installed wifi, the TV aerial and other bits and pieces.  Various others serve teas and coffees.  Heather Beasley, as our Parish Safeguarding Officer, works tirelessly to ensure we keep our children as safe as we can. This is no mean feat, so thank you, Heather for your vital work.  Pauline Bluntas churchwarden has a wonderful eye for detail and her oversight of the rotas besides many other aspects of church life makes sure Sunday mornings run smoothly.  

Speaking of Sunday mornings, I’m so excited about what God has been doing as we gather together each week.  It’s lovely to share the preaching ministry with Matt Woodand Ali Grimley, who bring their own insight and experience of walking with God to the Word of God.  I’ve been encouraged by our “Fingerprints” slot as people have shared their experiences of the ways they’ve seen God at work in their lives. We also had a wonderful Sunday morning in October as we held a celebration of Confirmation and Renewal of Baptism Vows, led by the Bishop of Warwick, John Stroynan.

We have remained a church of and for all ages. Numbers of children have remined strong and I’m so grateful for the ministry of Chris DunkleyMary AbamwaThanize Borges, and the newly formed creche team, who give their time to serve our young people.  Liz Marchand Louise Hickswill share in coordinating our children’s work together, which is deeply appreciated. 

Our youth group continues to thrive under the leadership of Thanize and Dave Boyle, and the fortnightly discipleship group for young people is well attended.  We would love for more church members to be involved with this exciting work with our children and youth.  In addition, Thanize with the rest of the Pais Coventryteam work in schools across Coventry, including Blue Coat, Allesley Hall and St John’s, leading lessons, lunch clubs and assemblies, helping children lead services at Christmas, and Easter, setting up prayer spaces, etc. They also run an after-school club here in church on Wednesdays.  Though Thanize returns home to Brazil in July, the work through Pais will continue next year, as we will hopefully receive another apprentice, although this is dependent on someone within the church being willing to provide accommodation for our next Pais apprentice, as Liz and I are doing and Louise and Mat Hicksdid in the autumn.  Could this be you next year? Could you host, even for only a term?

I am grateful for the ministry of John and Frances Langlands who moved on in June to serve churches in Ansley and Arley.Pam Stoteretired as Associate Minister in January, and we miss her pastoral work and support of the life of the church, although I’m excited that she’s planning to return in September as a member of the congregation. One of her legacies was the team that led all age services each month, and we’re so blessed to see that continue, and Louise HicksKaty Coupeand Laura Greenwayhave done a fantastic job taking this on.  Louise deserves special mention for leading the service at her son, George’s baptism!

Thanks to the partnership with Nexus Institute of Creative Arts, where students study theology and worship education as well as popular music, we’ve been blessed by the presence of Ruben ZantemaPeter Jennings, and Jon Lidbetter, who have got thoroughly involved in the life of the church, and are now serving our worship ministry, which is overseen by James Bowman-Powelland Emma Beasley – very soon to be Mr and Mrs Bowman-Powell– I’ve been so grateful that they’ve been able to take on such a vital area of the church’s life, and it’s flourishing as a result. Susan and Lisa Borrasalso faithfully serve in this area. Another exciting development has been our monthly evening service, Pursuit, where we have spent more unhurried time worshipping, listening to God’s word and praying for each other, and this is growing – there were over 30 of us in March. I think God will do something significant in the corporate worshipping life of our church over the next year. The best is yet to come.  

But Church, of course, isn’t only about Sundays or services.  The majority of church members are part of Life Groups– from the standard Bible study groups to solving jigsaw puzzles together or doing craft, there are some wonderful opportunities to gather together and form community throughout the week, which is in itself an important part of the precious gathering of Coffee, Cake and Communion. Do become part of a Life Group if you’re not already. They are such a blessing. Also, if you have a good idea for a Life Group that’d bring people together, then please let me know.  Church Fellowshipremains an important part of the life of our church – thank you, Irene Foxwell, for leading this ministry, and on her behalf, can I issue an invite to everyone – there’s room for more members of this group, for all ages in the church and wider community.  

Over the past year, we’ve had lots of fun as a church family – in the summer we had our World Cup Final Family Festival and Wimbledon social – and it was lots of fun planning the event with Irene and Graham, Tom and Pauline, Katy and Tina, and we have lots more fun planned for future events, so watch this space.  In addition, we had lots of fun with the Strictly Come Dancing final.  Jan Joyled a brilliant team for the Christmas Fair, which was a glorious community occasion.

Our wonderful ministry to toddlers and carers Christopher Robin, is led by Liz March, Caroline Pedley-Minnett, Bev Patrick andHeather Wood and remains a significant ministry to those who don’t yet know Jesus. Please pray for the growth and flourishing of this group.

The danger of naming names is that I miss out people, so I apologise if you feel like you should have been mentioned.  

 

This is an overview of our church’s life – it gives a picture of a vibrant community that I’m proud to be part of. But what might be in store in the next twelve months?

Romans 12:1 speaks of the calling for each of us to be living sacrifices, to be wholehearted in the way we follow God.  What does that look like? Let’s have a look through the lens of the different parts of our vision.

 

Growing in God

I am passionate about helping people grow in faith.  This is why I write our Bible study guides and why I’ve produced the reading guide and daily reflections for Luke’s Gospel.  It’s not too late to join in with this. I think it could be significant for us as individuals – Jesus promises, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5). We all long to be fruitful, don’t we? I know I do, but we each need to take responsibility for our own growth in faith. How are you Growing in God?  

I am convinced that the only solution to the world’s crises is Jesus. I don’t think it’s coincidental that as a church we’ve been led to make Jesus and the Gospel of Luke as our main focus for our Sunday teaching over the next year or so, in this year that we celebrate 60 years of the life of this church community in this building. It feels like a call to re-lay our foundations, to rediscover our love for Jesus. It’s all about him and all for him.

On our church foundation stone, laid almost exactly 60 years ago is our calling to be a house of prayer for all nations. How can we better live out that vision, become more of a praying people?

 

Loving each other

I love the community God is building here. To be a church, one family of all ages, every decade of life from 0 - 90s is truly remarkable.

Fellowship times are key - after service shared lunches, evening socials - strictly final, Eurovision, summer party - these are all so important.

We’ve also just formed a pastoral care team under the leadership of Pauline and Rosemary Lavens, which will mean we have a new system of visiting and home communions. Speak to them if you are aware of those who need visiting.

Serving in various roles is part of loving each other. We need more people to step up and give their time. At the moment it seems like fewer people are filling key roles.  Need someone with an administrative gift for serving as PCC secretary, as well as someone to step up and ensure smooth transition for new church warden to replace Pauline next year.  Filling unglamorous roles all part of what it means to love one another. Please consider doing something. There is a danger that people will burnout - we have a track record of this, people taking on too much and then needing to stop. Certain ministries simply need to be done. What could you do?

 

Serving our Community

I’m so thrilled that we were successful with our grant application for £40,000 to refurbish the church hall.  I think God’s hand was on this, as I was alerted to the existence of the Veolia Trustjust a week before they had a grant application deadline and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been overwhelmed by your response to the challenge of raising £4,000 in order to release the grant – the full total came within a fortnight.  This is amazing. The hall will look so lovely once the work is done in the summer.  I know this will be a blessing to the community.  But hall refurbishment is only part of the dream – we still hope to be able to add an entrance foyer along the side of the hall to provide an attractive meeting place for the community.  Will require sacrificial giving to reach this, as well as God’s providence, but I think we’ll get there. I truly believe in the Scripture that says, “God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20). 

 

In my induction service in September 2012, Steve Burch had a word for me and for the church, that as in the parable of the sower, there would be a process of removing rocks from the soil.  As this process happened, there would be tears. He then quoted the promise in Psalm 126:5. “those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”  We’ve known more than our fair share of tears in the past, haven’t we?  However, this last verse has been repeated to me by a few different people in recent months.  It’s as if God has been saying, that he hasn’t forgotten, that he will keep his promise. We’ve had our time of digging through the soil, removing the rocks and rubbish, to create good soil. We’ve had our weeping. It’s time for the reaping.  It’s time for joy.

 

May God lead us into his good future. May we be able to rejoice in all that he has done for us and through us. May we give our all to the one who gave his all for us.


St Chris Youth report

Hear about the fantastic work that happens each week at St Chris Youth.

 

Pais Coventry report

We work in partnership with Pais Coventry and Christchurch Cheylesmore to bring the good news to young people in churches and schools across Coventry. Watch the report to find out more.

7th February

Andy’s Update

On Sunday 3rdMarch we will be having our Gift Day.  Firstly, I want to thank you all for your financial contribution to the life of the church; your giving is vital to the ongoing life of the church. Although there is a perception that churches receive money from outside sources, we are actually completely self-funding, covering the cost of ministry (my stipend, running costs of the vicarage, training of clergy and future clergy) as well as all the additional costs that come with running and maintaining the church building. While we are profoundly grateful for the income generated through hall rental, the vast majority comes from your support. Secondly, I would like to appeal for your help.  At the time of writing, it is forecast that our expenditure will exceed income by £6,000 and we are asking you to review your giving and see if together we can bridge the gap.  If we all contribute, then this funding gap can be met easily – for example, if, 25 church members increase their giving by £2 a week, 15 by £3 a week and 6 by £4 a week, we would have a balanced budget. Every member of the church family should receive a pack of information explaining the challenge we face in more detail as well as a leaflet showing how you can respond.  Please, please, read it. Please prayerfully consider how you can help us meet the challenge ahead of us.  This isn’t simply an issue of supporting the church in the present and ensuring that the thriving ministry for all ages that happens throughout the week, from Christopher Robin to Craft Group, Youth Group to Coffee, Cake and Communion, as well on Sundays, but it’s also about helping to ensure that there is a vibrant Christian presence in Allesley Park and Whoberley in the years to come. We’re called to be generous; may we give in faith, knowing and trusting that “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).

Bible Verse of the Month

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

(Luke 4:18-19)

 Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

How is God calling you to respond to the Gift Day appeal? How can your life be characterised by generosity in the way that you give financially as well as in your gifts and time?

Loving each other

Pray for those who are ill or bereaved.  Are there those who are alone, whom you could call and/or visit? How could we show love to those who are isolated and lonely?

Serving our community

Give thanks for the Coventry Winter Night Shelter, sustained by many volunteers from churches in the city. It is a life-changing project that helps people living on the streets to cope during the winter nights whilst also helping them to move off the streets. Pray for those to whom it ministers.

31st January

Andy’s Update

On Monday 11thFebruary I’ll have the privilege of visiting Dresden as part of a group from Coventry. As well as remembering the bombing of the city in 1945, we’ll celebrate 60 years since Coventry and Dresden became twin cities.  As dresden.de states, “this partnership has become an international symbol for reconciliation and the will for peace, since the two cities which had suffered so greatly during the Second World War [first] stretched out hands of friendship in the mid-fifties”, which was formalised in 1959. The visit will have personal significance for me: as well as returning to my grandmother’s hometown, I’ll be sharing the story of my grandparents, reading excerpts of the book I wrote about their relationship. Though the events took place over seventy years ago, they’ve never felt so relevant: they remind us that love can destroy barriers and overcome hate. I pray that God would help us to be a community defined by his extraordinary love.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Spend some time meditating on the verses below. Give thanks for Jesus, God’s beloved Son who took on our human frailty to enable us to have those same words, “You are my beloved child” whispered by God over us. 

Loving each other

Give thanks for the children and families who are such a vital part of our church. Pray for all those who are involved in leading our children’s and youth ministry, which is so vital for our church. Ask God if you could serve him in this way.

Serving our community

Pray for God’s blessing on the businesses in our community, that they would flourish.  Pray particularly for the Mocha Lounge and other places where people gather. Pray for the ministry of Pais Coventry – for Thanize, Rike and new team member, Jordan, that they will be effective and fruitful in sharing God’s love with the young people in our church and schools.

 

Bible Verse of the Week

When all the people were being baptised, Jesus was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

(Luke 3:21-22)

10th January

Andy’s Update

We’re right at the beginning of our journey through Luke’s Gospel, examining the life of Jesus and “God’s plan for a broken world”. He’s the reason why we gather together; the only source of hope for humanity; the Saviour of the world.  Through this series we’ll see Jesus’ radical teaching, wonderful compassion and extraordinary miracles. We will see Jesus give hope to hopeless cases. I’m expectant that God will meet with us, deepen our faith and enable us to have a lifechanging encounter with our Saviour. Together we’ll discover God’s plan for a broken world, finding that we are a vital part of this plan, as his Spirit lives and breathes through us.

I’d like to encourage you to make the most of this series:

·      Prioritise coming to church each week, as we learn and grow together

·      Read Luke’s Gospel – Note down any questions.

·      Join a Life Group – after Easter, groups will focus on Luke’s Gospel.

As we journey through Luke, let’s allow Jesus to transform and fill us with the same joy that permeates the Gospel.

Prayer Guide – New Year Examen (it’s not too late!)

Looking back on this year …

What am I especially grateful for?

- An event that took place?

- Courage that I mustered?

- Love and support I received?

I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.

Where have I felt true joy this year?

What troubled me this year?

What has challenged me?

Where and when did I find an opportunity for renewal and pause?

Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?

In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?

As I look ahead, to the coming months what comes to mind?

With what spirit do I want to enter the next few months?, the next year?

I ask for God’s presence and grace, for this spirit, as I enter the next year.

Bible Verse of the Week

 Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying: ‘Sovereign Lord, as you’ve promised, you may now dismissyour servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you’ve prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’ (Luke 2:28-32)

20th December

Andy’s Christmas/New Year Update

It’s traditional at this time of year to share news with distant friends and family by writing Christmas letters, so I’d like to use this space to write one of my own to you, my church family.  Our year couldn’t have begun any worse, with the news of Brian Bailey’s sudden death, and soon after his funeral there was the announcement that John and Frances were moving on.  Additionally, over the next few months we lost further members of our church community – Diane Weale, Stephanie Summers and Betty Jones. I think this contributed to there being a lack of hope around our church community in the early part of the year. We were also coming to terms with changes in our Sunday services. Such changes bring an element of grief with them and it take times to adjust to a new way of worshipping together and being a community. But we haveadjusted and there’s a new air of hope when we gather.  Through these trials we’ve become closer, and the “loving each other” part of our vision has become more of a reality. We’ve also continued to be a welcoming community, where people find acceptance and love, and become part of the family.  And, though we may take it for granted, it is truly remarkable that when we gather to worship, we’re a community of all ages and every decade of life from 0 - 90.

What I’ve come to love about this church family is that far from allowing the various bereavements and challenges to defeat us, we’ve become more resilient, and have refused to let go of hope.  As much as we’ve grieved together, we’ve celebrated together – it was lovely to share the joy of the birth of Ben with you in March, and to welcome George Hicks, who starred as baby Jesus in last Sunday’s nativity! Also, the service we had in October of confirmation and renewal of baptism vows was simply glorious! We’ve played together, including celebrating the World Cup final; laughed together – at the Strictly social among other occasions; eaten together, at the Easter breakfast and many other times; worked together –so many came together to make the Christmas Fair so special.

Above all, our church community is a testimony of the reality of “Immanuel” – “God with us”.  We’ve known his presence with us as we’ve grieved, as celebrated and been together. He’s held us through our trials, refined us, sustained us and given us renewed hope.  

I pray that we’d individually and together enter fully into the plans God has for us in the coming year. They may not be what we expect, but we can trust that they will be good. Thank you for your love and support. Thanks to all of you who do so much to make the church community what it is. 

May God bless us now and throughout the year! 

Prayer Guide – New Year Examen

Looking back on this year …

What am I especially grateful for?

- An event that took place?

- Courage that I mustered?

- Love and support I received?

I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.

Where have I felt true joy this year?

What troubled me this year?

What has challenged me?

Where and when did I find an opportunity for renewal and pause?

Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?

In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?

As I look ahead, to the coming months what comes to mind?

With what spirit do I want to enter the next few months?, the next year?

I ask for God’s presence and grace, for this spirit, as I enter the next year.

Bible Verse of the Week

The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

(Luke 2:10-12)

 

 

6th December

Andy’s Update

Given the ongoing negotiations over Brexit and the crucial vote in Parliament about the EU withdrawal bill, it seems appropriate to invite you to join me and many others in praying for our government and our nation.  PrayingScriptures.com has written the following:

Heavenly Father, I give thanks for our government.   I pray for all men and women having authority over us in any way (1 Tim 2:1-2).  Pour out Your Spirit upon them and make Your Word known to them (Prov. 1:23).

Cause them to be men and women of integrity, obedient concerning us (Ps 25:21), that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim 2:2). Let wisdom enter their hearts, and let knowledge be pleasant to them. Let discretion preserve them and understanding keep them, to deliver them from the way of evil and from evil men (Prov. 2:10-12).  Make their hearts and ears attentive to godly counsel Psalm 1:1), doing what is right in your sight (2Chr 20:32).  Let the upright dwell in our government (Prov. 2:21). Cause there to be a shaking in all areas (Heb 12:27).  Let those complete and blameless before You stay and cut off the wicked. Let the unfaithful be rooted out. (Prov. 2:21-22).  

Bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and expose the secret aims of the hearts (1Cor 4:5). Let this nation remember from where they have fallen, repenting, and returning to doing their first works (Rev 2:5), setting their hearts and their souls to seek the Lord (1Chr 22:19), humbling themselves, praying, and turning from their wicked ways. Then hear them, O Lord, and forgive their sins and heal our land (2Chr 7:14). Open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). Soften the hearts that are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb 3:13).

Deliver them from their destructions (Ps 107:20).

Father, You have been longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2Pet 3:9).

Raise up a standard in this nation (Isa 49:22).

Cause the rains of Your Spirit to flood this land (Zech 10:1) and revive Your work in the midst of us (Hab 3:2). Raise up intercessors for this nation (

Isa 59:16), to pull down strongholds over this land (2Cor 10:4) And let the glory of the Lord be revealed! (Isa 40:5).

AMEN!

 

22nd November

Andy’s Update

In a month’s time the waiting will be over. We’ll be unwrapping presents, eating lots of food, enjoying (or enduring!) time with family; we may feel relief that the end of Christmas is in sight. Some of us might be worrying about how we’ll pay for the presents. Perhaps the biggest danger is that in the maelstrom we wake up on Boxing Day and realise that we’ve forgotten the whole point of this glorious season of Advent and Christmas. The trend for luxury ‘Advent’ calendars (some costing hundreds of pounds), containing, behind each window, trivial or expensive gifts that have no connection with Christmas, demonstrates the absolute power of commercialism in our culture. Let’s resist the temptation to be swept up by it all. Let’s get ready for Christmas, but make a concerted effort not to forget the one whose extraordinary incarnational love is truly the reason for this season.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Today the Church marks Christ the King Sunday. This week, take time to ask God afresh to rule in your mind, will and heart, praying, “May your will be done in me.”

Loving each other

This coming season is a difficult time of year for many people. Pray for those within our church community who are struggling and find a way to share God’s love with them.

Serving our community

Pray for all the Christmas events over the next month. Pray about whom you might invite to some of these. Pray that this would be a time when new faith would spring up.

 

Bible Verses of the Week

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I’m ruined! I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

One seraphim flew to me, touched my mouth with a live coal and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is removed and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”.

 (Isaiah 6:1-8)