The Big Promise! - A marriage celebration

At 5:15pm on Saturday 8th February, something exciting is going to happen.  Across the country thousands of couples are going to re-affirm their marriage vows, and by doing so, will attempt to break a Guinness World Record!  St Christopher's Church is going to join in the fun by hosting a Marriage Celebration from 4:30-7:30pm. 

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Join us for a buffet, bucks fizz reception, quiz and a special service of thanksgiving for marriage.  All are welcome for this free event - and family members are welcome too.  Please let us know if you're able to come - contact Jan Joy - 7667 7362 - by 19th January, and join us for what should be a wonderful evening.

* If you want to take part in the world record attempt, please bring your marriage certificate with you.

Alpha - coming to a church near you!

In just a couple of weeks, St Christopher's is running the Alpha Course. Here's some information about it ...

 

WHAT IS ALPHA?

The Alpha course is open to everyone interested in discovering what Christianity is about. It’s a place where people can come and relax, eat, share thoughts and explore the meaning of life. It’s an opportunity to build new relationships and have fun.

WHY ATTEND THE ALPHA COURSE?

Guests come on the Alpha course for many different reasons; some want to investigate whether God exists and some have questions they’d like to discuss. Many guests have never been to church and others may have attended church but feel they have never had a personal understanding of the Christian faith.

HOW ALPHA WORKS

Alpha courses are based around small groups where discussion is encouraged. Most Alpha groups meet in the evening and typically last 2 hours, although day time courses are possible.

ALPHA FORMAT

The Alpha course usually lasts for eight weeks. Each session begins with some food and refreshments, then a short talk looking at a different aspect of the Christian faith each week. This is followed by a time of discussion, when guests can ask questions and contribute their opinion. No question is too simple or too hostile.

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

Join us from either Tuesday 22nd or Wednesday 23rd January from 7:30-9:30pm in local homes.  Please contact Andy March (7667 2879 or revandymarch@gmail.com) to find out more and to get involved.  You won't regret it!

#christmasmeans my wonder and worship

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago.  I tried to convey my continuing wonder at this most familiar of stories. I don’t want to ever “get over” Christmas and what it means.  I hope this will inspire you and make you wonder just a little too. … Perhaps you might be stirred to worship the baby King. Feel free to share …

 

Was it badly planned? (A Christmas Poem)

 

Dear God and Lord almighty, creator of it all,

I have a few questions about the Christmas festival.

Each year we remember these events so long ago -

We sing and tell the story – but there’s lots I still don’t know.

You see, the problem is, I don’t quite understand

Why it happened the way it did – was it badly planned?

 

Your mother was a peasant girl, so fragile and so young,

Her fiance was a hero, reluctant and unsung.

How did you know they could bear the load, that they wouldn’t crack?

Why take such a massive risk – there would be no way back.

Why involve us humans – we could have made a mess

Of this great salvation plan – it could have cost you less.

 

You could have come in splendour more fitting for a king

- anything would have been better for the Lord of everything -

So, why choose rejection? why choose the manger?

Why those first visitors – it couldn’t get much stranger

than these smelly shepherds. Could you really trust them?

They were outcasts, after all, not creme-de la creme.

 

Surely such a baby deserves a V.I.P.

Not riff-raff or outsiders, not people just like me.

Or was that just the point? Do we need to know

We’re infinitely precious – is that what Christmas shows?

Was the Christ-child born for all? Is it really true

that Immanuel – God-with-us – is the perfect gift from you?

 

And can I really come to you in all my sin and shame?

Do you take me as I am, give me a brand new name?

“Beloved” now, and “chosen”, “forgiven” and set free -

Accepted by the Saviour, who lived and died for me. 

I simply cannot take it in, not even a tiny part

But I thank you, God, for Christmas, from the bottom of my heart.

 

Andy March (c) 2011

Feasting and food for thought - Part 1 - The Big Brunch!

It's been wonderful to have the church brim full of people over the past two Sundays.  

 

Last Sunday (29th September) we had church with a difference as over 100 shared in brunch together.  

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It was a wonderful feast put on for us by Brian Bailey and his wonderful team, who worked so hard for us.Image

After breakfast we shared in communion and then continued with our service.  We were delighted to be joined by Gavin Kibble from Coventry Foodbank, who raised our awareness of the needs of people in our area - over 18,000 meals have been given out since the Foodbank opened two years ago - and he challenged us to think about how we can join in with Jesus' mission to care for the poor.  If we want to truly follow Jesus we need to do the things Jesus did, and care for the people he cares for.

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We had the opportunity to reflect on how God might be calling us to reach out to our community, particularly in Whoberley, which is the more deprived part of the parish we're called to serve.  Here are some of the thoughts, questions, reflections and prayers ...

  1. What are your strengths as a church? What gifts do you have? If those are the gifts God has put in St Christopher's, then play to your strengths.  Don't be afraid of connecting with other agencies and churches when some need arises that you couldn't deal with.
  2. Breakfast Hub - Saturday mornings
  3. God, what do you want us to do in Allesley Park and Whoberley?
  4. Help for homeless - soup kitchen, warm clothes shelter
  5. Listen more to the needs of the area - don't know what they are.
  6. Visit the people who are no longer able to come to church
  7. Work with Bethesda in Whoberley (more than one person wrote this)
  8. 3 sided gazebo in Whoberley car parks - offering coffee/biscuits/dog food/balloons for children/pencils
  9. leaflet drop about Hub in Whoberley
  10. Homework drop-in in Whoberley community centre
  11. XL mentoring (national programme) of young persons in Whoberley
  12. More publicity for foodbank and community projects
  13. Have an open house to enable people to drop in for a coffee and a chat
  14. clothes bank in Whoberley
  15. Use community centre on Wildcroft
  16. Want to get on and do it, but we don't know what!
  17. We need a contact in the Whoberley Social Housing Area (community centre?) to understand the needs of the area
  18. widows, especially the first 2 years
  19. Besom
  20. Community events held in various locations
  21. hospitals - visit people in hospital who have no family or friends to visit
  22. prayer walks in Whoberley
  23. Use city council building in Wildcroft Road for local distribution to Whoberley
  24. Give us the heart to care for those in our community who no one wants to care for
  25. If Whoberley is so needy, we should re-establish Whoberley Community Church (once a month?) - not as Messy Church.  Needs to be a regular church presence in the community.
  26. Children - toys and books for children who may not have any.
  27. more events like this
  28. Messy Church for teenagers in the community centre

 

Thanks to everyone for sharing these.  Let's keep on praying and seeking God.  Your comments, prayers, and further reflections would be appreciated as we seek to step out in mission here in Allesley Park and Whoberley.  Who knows, something special has begun!

 

The Big Brunch was a wonderful occasion, a feast in more ways than one, and we look forward to the next one!  Thanks to everyone's generosity we raised over £70 for Foodbank, which was an added bonus and blessing.

 

Update - Sunday morning worship

It’s now more than six months since we changed our service pattern and in September I invited the PCC to share views on what’s working well and what concerns they have. We had a lively discussion and we agreed to review the changes in the early Spring as originally planned. Look out for a questionnaire in the new year to gather everyone’s views. But please don’t wait until then to share your opinion – I’d love to hear of how we can make things better for you. Our discussion in September emphasized what a sensitive and important issue this is and how there are many factors that have led us to this point. I feel that the time is now right to highlight these factors and look at lessons learnt as we enter the second half of the trial period.

When I arrived at St Christopher’s I was made aware that the key issue that needed to be addressed was the pattern of worship for our church community. The existing pattern of alternate styles wasn’t felt to be ideal, and a decision was needed about our future direction. We have not been alone in needing to address this situation – many local churches in the area have had similar conversations, and felt the need for contemporary worship, which would be more relevant for society today. They have then taken the decision to have their main morning services as contemporary services, with traditional services either at 8am or in the afternoon or evening.

When addressing this issue last year with the PCC, I was aware from previous worship surveys undertaken, that there was a broad range of preference for styles of worship in our congregation. It was clear that moving to only a contemporary morning service would alienate a significant proportion of our church congregation for whom traditional worship at 8am or in the evening would not be ideal. With this in mind it seemed right to have two morning services, at 9 and 10:45, each with a distinctive flavour. This decision also addressed another issue; when we are all together on a Sunday morning, we are often close to capacity in our worship space, which, research has shown, hinders the growth of the church - “When a room reaches 70% of its seating capacity, it’s full; … when the room is full, people stop inviting friends, stop talking to guests, stop attending regularly.”

The decision to make the early service traditional and the later service contemporary was taken for a number of reasons. One was that – we were aiming the contemporary service at the younger generation and Iif we are building church for teens and twenties (a significant gap in our church) then 9am would simply be too early for them. There is also the time factor. Because we’re making space for people to share testimony and also for prayer ministry, the contemporary service is longer and would feel squeezed. The traditional service is more easily kept shorter, although I know there have been occasions when we’ve been tight on time. Both services are a work in progress, so your patience and understanding would be appreciated as they evolve over time.

We have already made a couple of decisions to tweak things a little – we have changed the service times to 9:15 and 11 to fit in with the bus timetable. One lesson we have also noted is that during the summer school holiday our congregations are smaller as people take vacations. During this period one morning service would be sensible. If this pattern is adopted next year we will be meeting together for over 20 Sundays a year and this will help us maintain a strong fellowship. We also hope to create more opportunities to have fellowship together and will consider ideas for the time between the services.

It’s been a real blessing to be able to have children’s work in both morning services – a massive thank you to those who have facilitated this. Your hard work is hugely appreciated.

It’s so exciting that together we are building for the future of the Christian community of St Christopher’s in Allesley Park and Whoberley. I look forward to seeing the fruit of our developing life as a worshipping community in the years to come.

Andy

Joy, sorrow and new life - part 2!

See, I am doing a new thing!Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

- Isaiah 43:19

Nearly a year ago the church community of St Christopher's was devastated by the news that long-standing church member and former churchwarden, John Clarke, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given weeks to live.  He and Lynnette had served the church community tirelessly for decades.  Lynnette had led the church through its vacancy after Graeme Pringle left, and before I arrived as vicar in September last year.  They had been looking forward to a rest, and wondered where God might lead them in the years to come.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that John's illness and subsequent death seemed so unfair - none of us understood why they had to go through that time, which was so painful to them as well as the whole church community.  We missed Lynnette while she gave up everything to care for John, and we grieved with her as he died on Easter Monday (on reflection, can there be a better time to go home to be with God than the season when we remember the resurrection and Jesus' victory over death?).   His funeral was a fitting farewell for such a valued member of our church family; it was a significant privilege to share the service with Graeme, and we were consoled by the fact that John was no longer suffering, that he was enjoying the bliss of perfect resurrection life with God.

Death is an awful thing - especially for those left behind.  There is nothing like the total separation that it brings between people who have shared so much together for so long.  I've heard it said that grief is like a desert or a wasteland.  This is why I think that the verse from Isaiah, above, is so relevant.  I don't believe God wills for us experience suffering and grief; I believe that it's a sign that this world is broken and in need of divine healing.  I do believe, however, that God happens to specialise in bringing new life out of the wasteland, and living water out of the desert - and so it has proven with Lynnette.  She was sensing that God might be leading her on a different path, and then this opportunity came her way out of the blue.  After having sought God, Lynnette sensed that this was the right move at the right time, and since she has made that decision, she has been more at peace, and somehow lighter.  Her spark's returned.  The challenge of leading the church community of St Alban's through the next few years seems like a good fit for someone with a big heart, who is appreciated here for her love and care, but also her ability to tell difficult truths when necessary.

We'll really miss Lynnette, and our prayers will go with her as she steps out on this new venture.  We're looking forward, with her, to seeing the new life spring forth.

New Beginnings ...

News from Lynnette

The last two years have given me both wonderful and difficult experiences, each of which has been life changing for me. These recent events have made me continue to consider the future God has planned for me.

The decision to look at the prospects has come through a series of events. I recently met with Bishop John to thank him for his support at this difficult time and for prayer about my future ministry  Then, unexpectedly, I was enabled  to attend the ordination service for Catherine in Durham where I was reminded once more of my own vocation to ordination and what God has called me to. During that day I met with Bishop Mark Bryant, once Archdeacon in this diocese and had the opportunity to talk to him about John’s death. His word shocked and astonished me as his immediate reaction was to say ‘you must move on, leave.’ ‘Where did that come from’ I asked. ‘I don’t know’ replied Mark and laughed. To both of us it felt like a word of prophecy.

Subsequently a few weeks ago I was approached by the diocesan staff  and asked if I would consider an ‘Extended Placement’ to St Alban Church in Stoke Heath to provide pastoral care and a point of focus for the church and the community for two or three years. I have met with the Area Dean, the churchwardens and a small team from the church and they are keen for me to join them. A final date has not be agree but I have indicated I would be available from 20 October.

Andy has understood that even before he came to us that John and I were thinking about our future.  I want to stress that this has been my initiative. In the meantime Andy and I were planning how we were to going to work together and it was surprise to both of us that this opportunity has come so quickly.

I am really grateful for the full support and love and care I have received from absolutely everyone, especially during the interregnum and this past difficult year.

It will be really hard moving on after so many wonderful years here but I can say with certainty we never know what is in front of us or what God will ask any of us to do. You will remain in my prayers but please do pray for me and the congregation at St Alban over the coming months.

So thank you all once again

God bless

Lynnette

 

Andy's response ...

When I arrived at St Christopher's, I was looking forward to working with Lynnette - I knew that it was such an asset to have someone already in leadership who knew and loved the church community so well.  Before I officially began as vicar we spent the morning together, dreaming dreams, and I asked her advice on where my areas of priority should be.  In the following weeks I was grateful for her wise counsel and support, and expected that this would continue in the years to come. 

Of course, things don't work out as we expect.  John's illness and diagnosis was devastating, and while it was right that Lynnette dedicated everything to his care, I think I speak for everyone when I say that her ministry was missed, especially in the period of transition with changes to our worship pattern.  Spending time with John, as his illness progressed, and then taking his funeral alongside Graeme was incredibly difficult, but also a huge privilege, as was meeting with Lynnette in the months since his death.  I think we both knew that things would be different from now on, but I was looking forward to seeing how we would work together in this new chapter of the church's life and Lynnette's life.

Again, things don't work out as we expect.  God's ways are different.  I was shocked and sad when Lynnette said that she had been asked to consider this position  and might be leaving us, but I when I looked at her, I realised something significant.  She was more peaceful, more excited, more radiant than she had been since John's death.  It made me think that this might just be the right thing, even if it wouldn't be the easiest thing for our church, or even Lynnette.

Lynnette will be greatly missed - personally and professionally - as a friend as well as a colleague, but I'm excited that God is at work, as he always is, to bring new life out of death, and fresh hope and purpose.  A new chapter has begun!

Joy, sorrow and new life!

 

 

The confirmation service on Saturday 14th September was very special.  Despite the sudden death of their Vicar, John Mills the previous day, the churchwardens and congregation of St James', Styvechale were willing for the service to go ahead.  It was inevitably a poignant service, led brilliantly by the Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who spoke movingly about John, reflecting that he would have wanted the service to go ahead; Christians were, after all, people who were able to look death in the face, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Confirmation is a reminder of the fact that we are resurrection people, who have begun a new life in Christ.

 

It was a proud occasion for me - not only was I able to support an amazing 14 candidates from our church community, but I was also able to look around at a church building packed full of people from our church community who had come to support these candidates on this joyful occasion.  Please continue to pray for the newly confirmed as this is just the beginning of their journey of faith into new life.

 

See below for pictures and quotes from the newly confirmed ...

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"Confirmation allows me for the first time to make a big decision about my faith and will make me feel a fuller member of the church" - Joshua Madden (left)

"I think being confirmed will make my relationship with God and I think I will feel a lot closer to him." - Caitlin Madden (middle)

"I want to be confirmed so I can fully dedicate myself to God" - Alice Cook (right)

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"I would like to get closer to God and have a better understanding of things.  I have always believed in God for as long as I can remember and now I feel like I would like to take my faith to another level." - Rebecca Sutton

 

"I want to be closer to God and hope to learn more." - Paula Sutton

 

 

 

 

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"Being confirmed will bring me closer to God. I hope my faith will develop and grow with the help of the Holy Spirit. I hope to continue growing in my faith and learning through reading my Bible." - Trevor Veasey

 

"I need to deepen and develop my faith further and feel now is the time to re-confirm myself to God and receive the help I need from the Holy Spirit. I hope to grow and develop in God's family, to learn more, pray more effectively and read my Bible regularly." - Tina Veasey

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"I want to strengthen and continue my relation with God - be more confident with beliefs and spreading the word.  I hope to share the word with others and journey in faith." - Marcus Patterson (middle)

 

 

 

"I want to confirm my faith in Jesus. Knowing this I will always try my best to follow in his footsteps" - Laura Keep

 

"I feel it's the right time to join God properly and be with him.  I want to learn more about him.  There will be no confusion on whether I am with God or not." - James Nicholson

 

"I want to move along in my journey of faith" - Caleb Ellis

 

"Now is the right time to make the decision of being in God's family myself and confirming the choice that my parents made for me when I was younger. I will feel closer to God, because I have chosen to take my faith a step further." - Tegan Pike

 

"I think this will make my faith whole.  It's a new beginning and it'll bring me closer to God.  I hope to grow with our church, learn more, and do more with the rest of our church family." - David Hadley

 

"It'll be good to feel totally committed and enjoy the sense of belonging that has grown since embarking on this journey.  I hope to  grow in knowledge, study more to learn and be more active part of church life." - Anita Hart

 

 

 

Confirmation

On Saturday 14th September at 5pm at St James Styvechale, an amazing 15 people from our church community (out of a total of 31 across the deanery) will be confirmed by Bishop Christopher (Bishop of Coventry). They are: Adults

  • David Hadley
  • Anita Hart
  • Annette Jones
  • Paula Sutton
  • Trevor Veasey
  • Tina Veasey

Under 16s

  • Alice Cook
  • Caleb Ellis
  • Laura Keep
  • Caitlin Madden
  • Joshua Madden
  • James Nicholson
  • Marcus Patterson
  • Tegan Pike
  • Rebecca Sutton
Please pray for them as they make this public declaration of faith, and come and support them and their families if you can.  May this be just the beginning of an exciting adventure of faith for each one!
We'll post photos and some of their stories about why they want to be confirmed on here as soon as we can.