16th August

Andy’s Update

New Wine last week was a blessing, especially hearing from Hae Woo from North Korea, who came to faith after her Christian husband died a martyr in prison. She became a believer in China, became an evangelist and was arrested. After torture and almost dying in prison, she was sent to a labour camp. There God used her to bring others to faith, despite horrific circumstances. Her story’s powerful and moving and embodies what it means to be a brave disciple. It was a privilege to hear first-hand what it’s like to be a Christian in the persecuted Church in North Korea.

Prayer Focus – The Persecuted Church in North Korea

North Korea is the most dangerous country for Christians, who risk their lives to follow Jesus. It’s absolutely illegal to believe in a greater power than the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and if a secret Christian is discovered, they face arrest, imprisonment, torture, and almost certain death. And yet, there are an estimated 300,000 courageous Christians in North Korea, who believe that following Jesus is worth the risk. 

Persecution is led by the state which sees Christians as hostile elements that have to be eradicated.  Due to constant indoctrination, neighbours and family members, including children, are highly watchful and report anything suspicious to the authorities. If Christians are discovered, they are deported to labour camps as political criminals or killed on the spot; their families share their fate. Meeting for worship is almost impossible, so is done in utmost secrecy. The churches shown to visitors in Pyongyang serve mere propaganda purposes.

PLEASE PRAY

·      For God to comfort and strengthen His followers, especially those who suffer in prisons, labour camps and remote areas

·      That God would speak to Kim Jong-Un, giving him a revelation of Jesus, the servant king

·       That the power of evil in this nation will be broken and its people healed and restored.                               Source: Open Doors ( https://www.opendoorsuk.org/)

 

2nd August

Andy’s Update

“We’re all going on a summer holiday …” This month many are spending time away from home, seeing family or visiting special places either new or delightfully familiar, where we can rest and be refreshed. Some of us will be receiving guests. Some of us will be visiting churches while we’re away.  If this applies to you, and you’re with us as a visitor, then welcome! I hope your time with us is refreshing and uplifting. If you’re with us, because you’re considering being part of a new church family, then you’re also very welcome. You’ll hopefully find that we are a welcoming and diverse family of all ages. We’d love to get to know you, so please make yourself known. If you’re away on a Sunday, why not worship with a local church family – they’d be really blessed by your presence. And let’s look out for those who find this holiday season difficult, due to a sense of loneliness or isolation.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Summer is often a time of rest and recreation. How can you make time and space to be spiritually renewed? Why not make a resolution for summer to read a book of the Bible or perhaps a Christian book that you’d find inspiring.

Loving each other

As many go away on holiday or to visit family, or receive family as guests, pray for who don’t have this opportunity, who are lonely or isolated. Pray that God would show you how you can demonstrate his love.

Serving our community

Pray for Spark in the Park taking place from 6th – 8th August, and church holiday clubs also taking place this month. Pray that children and families who attend these events will have fun and discover more about the love of Jesus.

Bible Verse of the Week

A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, the disciples saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

(John 6:18-21)

 

26th July

Andy’s Update

I was walking through Coundon Wedge this afternoon and noticed that the brook has completely dried up.  This exceptionally hot and dry weather is taking its toll on crops, plants and flowers, etc. Satellite images of our “green and pleasant land” reveal instead a land that is brown, burnt and parched by the sun’s unforgiving rays. The land needs rain for life and growth, or it dries up. What I find extraordinary is that it only takes a relatively small amount of rain for the life to spring up once more.  Our spiritual lives can be very much like the land – we need the rain of God’s presence in our lives or we find that we’re thirsty and dry. As the Psalmist cries out, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). I’ve realised that I depend on times of refreshing from God, which is why I prioritise regular retreat days and also why as a family we’re going to New Wine next week – I know that these short times of receiving from God will bring refreshment, renewal and new life that will last. When was the last time you took time to tend your soul and allow God’s new life to bubble up in you?

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Summer is often a time of rest and recreation. How can you make time and space to be spiritually renewed? Why not make a resolution for summer to read a book of the Bible or perhaps a Christian book that you’d find inspiring.

Loving each other

Pray for those who are struggling in this intense heat. Pray that God would show you how you can demonstrate his love.

Serving our community

As school summer holiday begin, 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 of the Week

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

 (Psalm 63:1-4)

 

19th July

Andy’s Update

In recent weeks there has been a great deal of focus on leaders, whether they are President Trump whose visit to UK was marked by protests and controversy; Prime Minister Theresa May who has been “clinging to power” while cabinet ministers have been resigning around her over proposals for Brexit; President Putin, who has this week met for a summit with Trump; or Gareth Southgate, who has been hailed for his leadership, lauded as a role model and credited with transforming the country’s perception of the England football team, even having a tube station named after him for 48 hours in tribute to his achievements.  Leaders matter.  They always have.  At the moment in my personal Bible devotions I am following the story of Israel in the Old Testament from Joshua when they entered into the Promised Land through the time of the Kings to exile and restoration in Nehemiah and Ezra. I have been struck time and again how the competence of leaders impacted the nation, and how success seemed directly related to how closely the leaders and their people walked with God. While it’s so easy to criticise, let’s make sure that we pray for those in leadership, that they might enable their people to “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Summer is often a time of rest and recreation. How can you make time and space to be spiritually renewed? Why not make a resolution for summer to read a book of the Bible or perhaps a Christian book that you’d find inspiring.

Loving each other

Give thanks for those who serve the church through volunteering with our children’s and youth work. Pray for a good time of rest in the summer holiday.  Pray for our families with children, that in the summer holidays they will grow closer together and closer to God together.

Serving our community

School summer holiday starts this week. 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 of the Week

An expert in the law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus answered, “A man was attacked by robbers. …  Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

(Luke 10:29-30, 36-37)

July 12th

Andy’s Update

Throughout the summer our Sunday services will be centred around the life of David, perhaps the most well-known figure in the Old Testament. He is well-known as composer, warrior and king, the boy who slew a giant, and also for his spectacular failings.  As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, as I was reading through his life story in 1 Samuel, I’ve been struck by the importance of friendship to David.  Jonathan’s advocacy and protection probably saved David’s life from Saul; his Mighty Men were men who stood by him, with whom he battled and shared life; but most of all, what kept David going was his friendship with God.  God called him from obscurity, guided and equipped him to lead his country, gave him hope for his future, and crucially forgave him when he messed up.  That precious gift of friendship from God is one that is available to us.  Jesus himself was known as the friend of sinners.  He looked at his disciples, whom he called to be with him, to share life with him, and he called them his friends.  We too can be friends with Jesus, our advocate, protector and guide. Isn’t that amazing!?

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Pray and meditate on the words of Jesus below. What challenges you? What encourages you?

Loving each other

Pray for those who are struggling in the heat.  Is there anything you can do to be a blessing to them?

Serving our community

Pray for school communities that are nearing the end of term, for energy and that they will end the term well.

Bible Verse of the Week

My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

 (John 15:12-15)

 

July 7th

Andy’s Update

Have you caught World Cup fever? Were you one of 24 million who watched England win (that’s right, win!) against Colombia on Tuesday night? The England football team has been so defined by failure in the past, notably never having previously won a penalty shootout in a World Cup. Charlie Mackesy commented, “That wasn’t just winning a game of football. It was serious moral courage, and this country needed it.” Manager Gareth Southgate has garnered significant attention. Rudyard Kipling’s words, “if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters both the same...”  were placed under two photos of Southgate; in 1996, being consoled after missing a decisive penalty, and on Tuesday, consoling a Colombian player whose penalty was saved. Sean Doherty commented, Southgate’s a “model of learning from but not being defined by your past, and persevering.” Perhaps we can learn something from football after all. 

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

Pray and meditate on the words of Jesus below. What challenges you? What encourages you?

Loving each other

Pray and give thanks for the children and young people who form such a significant part of the church community, and for those who lead and support this ministry.

Serving our community

Pray and give thanks for Anja as she finishes her year with us in the next week. Pray for a good transition as she returns home and then begins her studies in the autumn.  Pray for the preparation for our World Cup event on 15 July, that it would be a vibrant celebration that brings the community together.

Bible Verse of the Week

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

 (John 15:5-8)

 

June 28th

Andy’s Update

This week I spent a precious day with three friends who are fellow vicars.  Over the past few years we have met to read the Bible, share and listen to God together on each other’s behalf.  It has been a tremendous encouragement, and I hope that we will carry on meeting for many years.  I’ve also been reading the story of David in 1 Samuel and have been struck by what a crucial role Jonathan played in David’s life – defending and protecting him from Saul, and visiting him when David was in exile.  He truly was a friend closer than a brother.  Jonathan had a significant impact, not only on David’s life, but on the future of Israel (without him David wouldn’t have become King), and indeed salvation history, as Jesus was descended from David.  Friends are gifts from God. Friendships where we can pray and share deeply with each other should be sought after and treasured.  I hope that these kinds of friendship would grow and flourish in our church family.

Weekly Prayer Guide

Growing in God

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants, … Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Give thanks that Jesus calls us his friends. How can you cultivate this most precious of friendships?

Loving each other

Pray and give thanks for your friends in the St Christopher’s church community.  Pray that God would help friendship flourish among us, and that each of us would be a good friend to another.  Pray for those who feel lonely. Could you be a friend to them?

Serving our community

Pray and give thanks for Anja as she finishes her year with us in the next week. Pray for a good transition as she returns home and then begins her studies in the autumn.  Pray for the preparation for our World Cup event on 15 July, that it would be a vibrant celebration that brings the community together.

Bible Verse of the Week

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

(John 14:6)

 

This weeks update 21st June 2018

Andy’s Update

I’m writing on World Refugee Day, that seeks to raise awareness of the reality of the global refugee crisis. According to UNHCR, there are more than 65 million refugees around the world, over half of whom are children. The refugee crisis has been thrown into sharp relief in the past week by the forced separation of families at the borders in the US, with haunting images of weeping children and people in cages, provoking moral outrage. The role of the local church is to love and welcome the foreigners in our communities. Refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people are among the world’s most vulnerable people. God calls us to seek their protection and welfare.  While this isn’t an issue that directly affects us in Allesley Park, we have a duty to pray and campaign, as this affects many of our brothers and sisters around the world, and indeed in parts of our city.

Read the bulletin on the back page for some prayer pointers on this issue. 

Weekly Prayer Guide – World Refugee Week Special

From http://www.refugeehighway.net/10-prayer-topics.html

·      Pray that God would graciously provide for the essential needs of security, shelter, water, food and medical care for refugees and internally displaced people. Pray that God would hear their cries and lead them to a place of safety.  

·      Pray that God would raise up peacemakers and bring peace to countries where wars, violence and persecution are forcing people from their homes. Pray for peace and safety in major refugee producing countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, D.R. Congo, South Sudan, Central Africa Republic, Myanmar, Iraq, Columbia, Viet Nam, and Eritrea.

·      Pray for our forcibly displaced brothers and sisters who live in difficult circumstances and with uncertain futures. Pray that God would give them their daily bread. Pray that he will heal their hearts, minds and bodies from traumas suffered. Pray that they would know God’s presence with them and that God would renew their faith, joy and strength with each sunrise. Pray that God would give them a hope and a future.

·      Pray for refugee women and children. They are among the world’s most vulnerable people and make up more than half of the world’s refugee population. Pray that God would protect them from people who would like to prey upon them and exploit their vulnerability.

 

Morning services at St Christopher’s – an update

Dear friends,

Following on from our letter on 9 April, we are writing to update you on the final decision of the PCC regarding our morning services. As you can imagine, we had a long, at times passionate, but always gracious discussion, seeking to take into account the different views and concerns raised by members of the congregation, and we are grateful to all of those who expressed their opinions via email, letter or face-to-face. As the vicar, I felt proud of the way this conversation was conducted, honouring the weightiness of this issue.

After this discussion, we agreed to move to one 10am morning service from September. This will have a consistent style each week, using as starting point the framework we outlined in the letter distributed to the congregation on 9th April. This was a difficult decision, but we agreed to it overwhelmingly as a PCC and feel it's the best thing for the church moving forward.

Our clergy Andy, John and Pam will explore other possible options for additional services, consulting with members of the congregation in June, so that we are ready to proceed with these in September. There is still space for different expressions of worship in the life of our church family, and the PCC has affirmed this. We are considering the following two options:

  1. An additional monthly Holy Communion service either at 8:30am or 11:30am (before or after the all age service)
  2. Developing our evening service, including Holy Communion twice a month, and considering an earlier time during winter months. 

We would like to know which of these would be most valued, and again, we would welcome your thoughts.

As we look, more generally, to developing our worship in the future there are some helpful principles that will guide us, these include:

  • Unity and diversity – one main service which unites us and yet the opportunity outside of Sunday morning to have a variety of other forms of worship

  • Accessibility and depth – we want to have a contemporary, informal feel that allows people to come in and feel at home and yet we don’t want to sacrifice depth of worship which liturgy and hymns bring us

  • Intimacy and awe – we want to draw close to God in worship and allow his Spirit to move and yet we want to declare his majesty and greatness

At the core of our gathering will remain a commitment to practical Biblical teaching that equips us to live as Jesus’ disciples today.

The options for additional services outlined above are also a way expressing unity and diversity – we won’t have a weekly alternative but we recognise that for some people this tradition of worship is very important and we will give an expression of this once a month (alongside the 10am service) while also maintaining our flourishing Wednesday morning Communion service.

We are full of hope as we enter this new season for our church, and look forward to seeing how God leads us and forms us even more into a united family. 

 

Yours in Christ, on behalf of the PCC 

 

Andy, Irene, and Pauline

Vicar's report - Living and loving as God's family

I love the founding story of our church – a community that came into being thanks to the vision of Bishop Neville Gorton who longed for the residents moving onto the new Allesley Park estate to have an opportunity to meet with the risen Lord Jesus – and also to the people of Allesley Parish whose commitment and willingness to, in the words of Rector A. W. Moyle, “think and pray and give to the point of sacrifice” enabled this vision to be realised.  When the church building was consecrated in 1960, the Bishop of Coventry declared, “This is a remarkable and extremely hopeful beginning – you are going to build a family of fighters like Neville Gorton.”

 

This story of vision and commitment challenges and encourages me.  Lots has changed in the past nearly 60 years, but the mission remains the same - we are still called to build God’s kingdom here, embodying the same level of commitment and sacrifice.  As is expressed in our vision statement, we are called to be a growing family that seeks to build God’s kingdom in Allesley Park and Whoberley by “Living and loving as God’s family”, motivated by the core belief that God’s family is for everyone.  Absolutely everyone in this parish should have the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ, to experience God’s life-changing love for themselves, and they’ll do this principally through you and me, as we live the way Jesus would live, love the way Jesus would love, go where Jesus would go. Someone once said that the local church is the hope for the world.  That’s you and me.  St Christopher’s Church is the hope for the world – or our part of it, at least.   

 

St Paul’s words about the Lord’s Supper, whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26) are a reminder that we’re not only part of God’s story in Allesley Park and Whoberley, but we’re also part of God’s story that’s been unfolding for over 3,000 years.  The stories of God’s dealings with people like Abraham and Moses, Ruth, David, and Jesus’ disciples are so powerful, because they have become our story too.  The story of that first Easter we recalled just a fortnight ago, when Mary Magdalene, the first apostle went back to the disciples and declared, “I have seen the Lord!” – this is our story too.  There is an unbroken chain of people who have passed on that message of resurrection hope from those first disciples all the way through the centuries to us today.  My hope and dream is that one day in heaven we would meet people we’d never met before who had come to a saving faith in Jesus because we played our own part in that unbroken chain of faith.  As an example of what impact we could have … we’ve probably never heard of Edward Kimball.  He was a humble Sunday School teacher who took seriously Christ’s commission to be a witness in his world.  His links in the chain go all the way to Billy Graham. We’re not too likely to ever become a Billy Sunday or a Billy Graham, but every single one of us can be an “Edward Kimball” witness for Christ – no matter how old or young we are.

 

Of course, church communities play a vital part in forming part of this chain of faith.  I’m sure if you brought together the number of people who have come to faith or whose faith has been significantly strengthened through their connection with the church community here, they would fill this building many times.  It’d be wonderful to see that, wouldn’t it?  But we need to be a church community that’s willing to change and adapt to be fresh so that we can be a faithful witness to the next generation and even the generation after that, so there is a vibrant witness here in this community in 50, 100 years time.  This is one of the reasons for us making the transition to one morning service in the summer.  We have discerned that the best way of living out our vision, of embodying what it means to live and love as God’s family, is to unite as one worshipping community once again, but in a fresh way, taking the best of the old and the new, to give our worshipping life on a Sunday morning a clear identity.  This means, vitally, that we can be truly multi-generational as a church family – every one of us, whether we’re eight days or eighty-eight years old – has value and a part to play as we gather together, whether for our communal worship on Sundays or precious times of fellowship after services, in meals together, or other social occasions.  This was symbolised on Easter morning when both Isabelle (aged 6) and Barbara (aged slightly more) took part in the reading. We want to encourage a greater number of younger people to take part in our gathered times of worship, whether that’s through music, drama, dance, bible readings, prayers or behind the scenes.

 

Some might say that they wished we had never moved to two separate morning services four years ago.  All I will say is that we needed to give both the traditional and more contemporary expressions of worship the best opportunity to flourish.  My hope was that both congregations would grow, but that’s not the way it worked out.  Perhaps the four-year period – which may have felt like a desert experience to some – like the forty years in the wilderness for the Israelites – gave us time to consider what we value as being most important.  And now the PCC has discerned that we need true unity in our main Sunday gathering, and this is best embodied by becoming one congregation.  We will be exploring ways that more traditional expressions of worship can flourish at other times, including on Sunday evenings and building on the midweek communion service. Please pray for all those involved in leading our services as we make this transition – for musicians, those who lead prayers, preachers, and readers among others – and also consider whether you’d be able to join those involved if you haven’t already. 

 

I’m tremendously excited about what God has in store for us as we move into this new season, but I believe above all we will see St Paul’s vision being realised – of the church here being joined together in Christ so that that we grow and become “a place where God lives through the Spirit(Ephesians 2:20-22). We had a foretaste of this as we’ve worshipped together over the past month, and especially during the church weekend.  I valued so much of our time together – not only the teaching from Graham Archer, precious fellowship and worship together, and also hearing from each other about the ways that God has been at work in our lives as individuals and as a community.  And we mustn’t forget the barn dance – I hadn’t laughed so much in a long time!  It was a weekend that, along with so much else in our church’s life, couldn’t have happened without the support and hard work of so many within the church community. Thank you to you all.

 

There is something distinctive and wonderful about church communities – where all are welcome regardless of age. Not all churches have families, not all churches have older people as part of them. We have both. We should celebrate and make the most of this. There’s an old saying – it takes a whole village to raise a child. This is the case for church communities. All have a part to play in bringing up children in the faith.  As a dad I have seen this first-hand as I’ve witnessed my children being loved by the congregation here – and that love will probably have an eternal impact, helping them stay in the family of faith hopefully for the rest of their lives.  I personally love the fact that on Tuesdays we have a thriving mums and toddler group – Christopher Robin – again supported by volunteers from our church community. and the following day a vibrant worshipping community meets weekly for Coffee, Cake and Communion.  These are both great signs of life.  It’s particularly exciting that we’re currently running an Alpha course for those we’ve made connections with through Christopher Robin.

 

We’re moving into a new season with our Sunday worship, but also with our children and youth work.  Having Marvin and Amy Vogel with us as children’s and family coordinators was a tremendous blessing.  They expanded our vision of what’s possible, reviving our Sunday evening youth group so that we have a good number of young people along each week, bringing a sense of fun to all-age services, signing off with a Christmas special that’ll be hard to follow and is sure to live long in the memory.  Not only that, but they organised a trip of our young people to Soul Survivor, who then led an incredibly inspiring service that I found profoundly moving.  We would have loved for them to stay with us for longer, but their pull to mission and ministry in Zimbabwe was one they could not ignore.  Already in the three months they’ve been at Golden Harvest they’ve made fantastic progress in building facilities to hold camps for street children and hosted a camp for 40 young people from Fairfield's Children’s home, which was a great success. There are more planned.  They are already having an extraordinary impact in such a little time.

 

We are looking to build on the legacy that Marvin and Amy have left us.  We have a team of volunteers who are ensuring that the children’s and youth work can continue on Sunday mornings and evenings, for which I’m profoundly grateful.  Liz March is doing a great job of coordinating the Sunday morning children’s work, and Pam Stote is coordinating a team who have led some fantastic all age services.  In the background Heather Beasley has worked as our Parish Safeguarding Officer tirelessly to ensure we comply with the diocesan regulations and keep our children as safe as we can.  This is no mean feat, and I feel it’s appropriate to give her a special thanks for her hard and conscientious work. 

 

Because we want the children’s and youth work to thrive, not just survive, we are planning to make two key appointments in September –

1)     A youth worker who will oversee the Sunday evening youth work

2)     An intern, recruited by Pais, who will work with us supporting our children and youth work on Sunday mornings and evenings, and form part of a team that’ll serve in schools in Allesley Park and across Coventry.

 

These are such important appointments because we know that for our church to thrive in the future, we need to make disciples of children today.  The statistics are stark – 85% of people come to faith as children and yet, there are so few children who attend churches today.  These are God’s children, and they don’t even know this.  We must be motivated to reach the lost, demonstrate that we truly believe God’s family is for everyone.  I’m so excited about initiatives such as the Message Trust’s Higher Tour, a schools’ mission across the West Midlands next year, which could be so important.  In Manchester last year, 2,000 young people came to faith in Christ.  Just imagine what impact it would make to our schools, communities and churches if hundreds of young people came to faith here in Coventry.  Please pray for the preparations for the tour, in which the local church, including our church.  We should expect children who live in Allesley Park and Whoberley to come to a living faith in Jesus Christ, and as a church we should be ready to help them and their families become lifelong disciples.

 

Of course, we are not concerned solely about young people, but we long to reach out with everyone of all ages in the local community.  This is why, alongside the events we hold around Christmas and Easter, the Queen’s Birthday Celebrations, Christmas Tree festival, church barbecue, picnics, and our monthly Church Fellowship have been so important.  It’s also why over the next year we are considering the way we run our small groups to build on the strong foundations we have, but also enable this ministry to grow and reach more people.  This is also why one of the priorities of the PCC over the coming year will be to consider how we can realise our dreams for the redevolpment of the building in order to help it be the best possible blessing for our community.  In 2020 we will celebrate 60 years since the building was consecrated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the refurbishment were completed by then!

 

I want to close by thanking you all for your continued support over the past year, but especially the PCC and particularly Pauline Blunt and Stuart Hart who have both been excellent churchwardens. I’m grateful that though Stuart is standing down this year, he has expressed his willingness to continue to serve as an assistant warden and continue to do the vital jobs in the background that help keep this church building running.  Garry and Jo Cooke, who organised the redecoration of the hall and help keep it clean and tidy week by week, and Brian Bailey among others have also had a vital role to play. It’s been fantastic to share in ministry with Pam Stote and John Langlands, and I’m excited about working with the freshly appointed Leadership Team.  I’m especially grateful for the way you all took on extra work while I was on sabbatical last year.  It was a profound blessing to know that I was leaving the church community in good hands.  Ultimately, I know, we are in the hands of our wonderful and gracious God, who has plans to prosper and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  The best is yet to come. 

 

Important news - Morning services update

This is the text of a letter that was given to the congregation at church services this morning. ...

 

Dear friends,

                                                                                                          

Thank you to all who have offered their perspectives on the morning services at St Christopher’s, whether at the forum on 19th March, or in other ways.  When we met as a PCC recently we considered the different views that have been expressed and explored how we might move forward.

 

We had a strong sense that the church wishes to return to a single worship time on a Sunday morning and that the splitting of the congregation and the small numbers at some services detracts from our worship and fellowship times.  We felt that it is vital to honour the past as best we can, but also to make progress for the future; that therefore a more contemporary service is the best basis for a single worship time.  We then discussed how the qualities of more traditional and reflective worship might be included in a new single Sunday morning gathering.

 

We agreed that the proposed new Sunday morning pattern will involve Holy Communion twice a month, with a morning celebration and all age worship on the other weeks.  As currently, priority will be given to exploring God’s Word for us today.  Music will be led by a variety of instruments each week, but using a mixture of hymns and songs, making the most of the old and the new, and reflecting the breadth of Christian experience and deeper theological truth.  Some liturgy and times for reflection will be included (with seasonal elements where appropriate).  We do want our services to be accessible, but also to have depth, and we want everyone to be able to flourish.  We experienced all of this during our church weekend.

 

We also wish to explore possibilities of developing traditional styles of worship, either by building on our growing midweek worshipping community or making more of the Sunday evening service with traditional worship most weeks (featuring Holy Communion twice a month).  The timing of this could be changed to suit those who come.

The PCC felt that this outline of a new format for a single worship time on Sunday might be helpful:

 

  • Opening worship – upbeat hymns/songs, expressing truth about God. 
  • All-age friendly element at the beginning of services.
  • Confession – more formal in Communion service, incorporated into prayers in other services
  • “Fingerprints” – opportunity to share how God has been at work in our lives and how he might be speaking to us – during Celebration.
  • Prayers / Bible reading / sermon – same each week.
  • Creed (said before bible readings or sung as part of our corporate sung worship) in communion service.
  • Songs/hymns of response - quiet and reflective.
  • Communion – share the peace either before the act of communion or at end of the service. Seasonal Eucharistic prayers.
  • Final song/hymn – upbeat/anthemic

 

 

Next steps

With all this in mind, following the forum on 19th March and its meeting on 20th March, the PCC is mindful to move permanently to one morning service every week that will begin at 10am.  We propose to begin this transition on 23rd July (when, in our existing Sunday worship pattern, we would move to a single 10am gathering each week throughout the summer).

 

We are aware that such a step involves compromise, whether you prefer traditional or contemporary worship, and realise that it will take time for us all to feel comfortable in new set of clothes.  We believe that such a move is a step in the right direction towards our goal of creating something that fits as us as whole community and will serve us well for the future God has in store for us.

 

The PCC will make a final decision on this proposal on 22nd May.  Please submit any concerns/comments you have to us, we’d love to hear them.

 

Yours in Christ, on behalf of the PCC

Andy, Irene and Pauline

A big hello from Amy, Marvin and Pearl!

Thanks to all those who prayed with us as we sought to appoint a children's and family coordinator for the church.  Well, I'm delighted to say that we've been able to appoint two! - Amy and Marvin are working together in the role as a job share, and here they are introducing themselves.  Please continue to pray for them, Pearl and the whole church community. image1

Marvin: likes seeing young people take a lead in worship, anything to do with sport, music, playing guitar, ice-cream and weather that allows him to wear shorts.

Amy: likes seeing young people grow in confidence to pray for others, running, baking cupcakes, sewing, writing about Africa, making old things look new and generally being creative.

Pearl: likes chasing people, food, cuddles, sunflowers and being loud!

We are so happy to be joining the family at St. Christophers.

We, well Marvin and Amy, are starting the job as the Children's, Family and Mission Leader. Pearl at only 13months will be playing her part as our sidekick.

As we start out on this adventure with you all we thought we better tell you a bit about how God has led us to this point. Both of us have always had a passion for working with young people. Marvin started out as a sports coach with Zimbabwe cricket setting up academies for school children. Amy trained as a primary school teacher before deciding to jet off to Zimbabwe to work for a church as their Youth Leader. Over the six years that followed we spent a lot of time working together running youth outreaches, uniting youth work in the city of Mutare, and having the privilege of God using us to reconcile street children with their families. Somewhere amongst all this we realised God had put us together for the long term so we got married in the UK in 2010, turning up only 3 weeks before our wedding. After this we spent one more year in Zimbabwe before coming to the UK, where Marvin worked as the youth leader of St. Michaels Budbrooke and Amy worked with Holy Trinity Coventry and the Cathedral. Then not so long ago our precious Pearl turned up, which led us to go for an extended trip to Zimbabwe to see family and take time to hear from God. And now God has brought us to you.

Please come and ask us lots of questions and we really want to hear all your dreams and hopes for the future of St. Christopher's.

Application Deadline extended - Wanted: Children’s and Families’ Coordinator and Mission Leader

Job Advert Children and Families’ coordinator required. A blank sheet of paper is on offer to shape and create vibrant and outward-looking children and families’ work. Building on the existing children’s ministry and strong relationships with our local Church of England Academy, your role would be to grow and extend this work and help build God’s kingdom. We’re looking for an entrepreneurial, creative, missional-minded leader and communicator who can think strategically and has a passion for children’s and youth work.

Role Description

Title: Children’s and Families’ Coordinator and Mission Leader for the Parish of St Christopher’s Allesley Park and Whoberley

Responsible to: The Vicar and PCC of the Parish

Line Manager: Vicar

Hours:   40 hours per week (full time) Salary: – £21,000 - £23,000 depending on qualifications and experience

Contract: 12 months, with potential for further extension of this project.

Appointment to start: Preferably September 2015 Vision and aim St Christopher’s Church is a community that caters for families with young children. We have a strong history of regular attendance of around 20-25 children up to the age of 14 on Sunday mornings. We also have a strong connection with our local primary school academy and uniformed groups. We would now like to build on this through appointing a full-time children’s and families’ worker who can provide strong leadership and continue to develop youth and children’s work in the Parish.

The main aims of the role are to …

  • Establish a clear strategy for children’s and youth work, shaping the vision, values, programmes and priorities to establish St Christopher’s as a robust centre of Christian faith for children and families, and see this ministry flourish and grow.
  • Communicate, and train others to communicate, the message of Jesus Christ to children and their families and establish young disciples whose vigour and openness to God speaks to the whole church and community.
  • Lead and participate in Sunday and mid-week children’s work provision, including being part of the team ensuring that any worship is inspiring for children and families. This will include Messy Church, Sunday services, and potentially developing new forms of worship. Mentor and equip children’s and youth work volunteers and enable them to access appropriate training.
  • Equip parents for the challenges of being godly parents and to bring up their children in the Christian faith.
  • Build on existing good relationships with schools and uniformed groups to reach out to the community with the love of Jesus.
  • Provide pastoral and mentoring support to children and families in the setting of the church and partnering school, St John’s Church of England Academy (and possibly others).

The age range covered by the worker will be 0 – 18 years, with a particular emphasis currently on 4-11 year olds

Funding is in place for the first 12 months. We anticipate that this role would be extended beyond one year as further funding is achieved. The successful candidate would be required to assist with fundraising for the development and extension of this pioneering role.

 

Person Specification

Qualifications

  • A professional qualification or significant experience in working with children/young people and families.

Skills, Aptitude, Knowledge and Experience

  • An infectious love of Jesus Christ, with the ability to sensitively lead young people and families to Him. Ability to disciple young people and adults in a family context.
  • Leadership skills and passion to create a strategy and implement innovative programmes for children’s work and family support in a Christian context, in alignment with the 8 Essential Qualities for Healthy Churches (see healthychurches.org.uk).
  • Skills to communicate and connect with young people and families, and a strong awareness of children/youth culture and issues.
  • Enthusiasm and strong motivational skills to inspire, train and mentor individuals and teams to achieve results.
  • Good understanding of Safeguarding policies and their application.
  • Ability to plan for the continuation of the Children and Family worker role and to submit persuasive and financially credible funding applications.

Occupational Requirement

  • It is an Occupational Requirement (Schedule 9 part 1 of the Equality Act 2010) of this post to have a committed Christian faith.

Apply with a CV and a covering letter demonstrating how you meet the person specification and explaining why you feel a sense of God’s call to this role – to revandymarch@gmail.com

Rev Andy March

St Christopher’s Vicarage

99 Buckingham Rise

Coventry

CV5 9HF

Application Deadline extended to Wednesday 29th July, 23:59

Wanted - Children and Families’ Coordinator and Mission Leader

Children and Families’ worker required. A blank sheet of paper is on offer to shape and create a vibrant and outward-looking children and families’ work. Building on the existing children’s ministry and strong relationships with our local Church of England Academy, your role would be to grow and extend this work and help build God’s kingdom. We’re looking for an entrepreneurial, creative, missional-minded leader and communicator who can think strategically and has a passion for children’s and youth work.

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Gift Weekend 2015 - A vision for our future

This letter has been distributed to our congregation over the past couple of weeks. Firstly, thank you so much for your ongoing generosity in supporting the mission and ministry of St Christopher’s Church.

Your generosity supports staff costs, including a full-time vicar, key administrative support, cleaning and maintenance of the church buildings; and helps us sustain a Christian presence in this community, as well as supporting some of the poorer parishes in the city.  To keep us going at this current level, we need to raise additional income year on year.

But we can do so much more!  The PCC has an exciting vision for developing our mission and ministry particularly among children and families, which have been such a key part of our church family for many years.   Children and families’ work has been identified as our main priority going forward and coordinating this work has been a challenge.  To develop this work, we have a vision to appoint a full-time children and families’ worker who will coordinate and support all those who are part of our vital Sunday children’s ministry; support our current church families; build on existing links with the local school communities; and reach out in mission to the families in our community.   This ministry could make an incredible difference to our church and wider community, and secure the future of the church in Allesley Park for generations to come.

To maintain our current work and to achieve this exciting vision, we need to raise an extra £25,000 per year.  With Gift Aid, we would only need 60 people to give an average of £30 per month extra (or 45 people to give £40 per month extra) – spread across our whole congregation this could be as little as an extra £5 per person per week.

To begin to raise this money, we will hold a Gift Weekend on 28-29 March. You can either pop in from 2-4pm on Saturday, when the church will be open for coffee and cake; or bring your pledges to church at the Sunday services. It seems like a big ask, but anything is possible with God! Look out for the Gift Day response forms, which will be available soon.

Thank you for playing such a vital part in our church’s mission and ministry.

God bless

Andy (on behalf of the PCC)