It is my privilege to let you know, that thanks to your generosity, prayers and commitment, the PCC of Christ Church, Ware, unanimously agreed to proceed with the redevelopment of our church. After 160 years of serving our community, ministering to the poor, proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed, sending missionaries and ministers around the world, and providing a space for people from all walks of life to encounter God in worship and prayer, we are revitalising our facilities to enable us to continue to do this for generations to come.
From the 13th of January 2019, our Sunday Services move to Christ Church Centre (9.15 and evening services) and Christ Church School (11.00 services), thanks to the generosity of the Head and Governors. All other activities remain the same. Full details can be found on our website.
It is an amazing privilege to be your Vicar. And so I can say, as Paul does to the Philippian church, ‘I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Phil 1: 3-6
When Robert Hanbury (of the Truman, Hanbury and Buxton Brewery) provided for this church, I doubt that he could have imagined all that has happened here over the years and the blessing to countless generations the church would be. In our generation it is our opportunity to leave an ongoing Legacy for the work and ministry of the Lord for generations to come.
I do know that he, his fellow partners and friends were praying for us, as have the subsequent generations of parishioners and friends. These have gone on to shape and sustain this current generation and our prayers will shape the ministry for generations to come.
Next year is going to be an incredibly exciting journey as we leave the building in January and return in November. It is a year in which we can get to discover something new about God. It will be a time of learning and a year when we will need to continue to show grace to each other, as we are reminded of the grace that God shows us. We will continue to reach out beyond our walls as we serve the Town of Ware and beyond, and to lay the foundations for the next steps of our journey into 2020 and beyond.
Thank you to all those of you who have supported the project so far in any way. Your generosity both young and old is astounding.
If anyone would like further details of the project and how to support or donate to it please see: www.ccwdevelopment.info
Why don’t you come to a Christmas service this year, before the buildings are transformed in time for Christmas 2019? Details of services can be found at: www.christchurchware.co.uk
May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful new year.
God Bless. John
It is a very exciting time for us at Christ Church as we make decisions relating to the redevelopment of our church. God has blessed us with growth and we want to respond to this. Our plan is to improve the resources available to serve our community and create a space for worship fit for future generations. We have been so richly blessed throughout this process so far. We are so thankful for all of the prayers, generosity and creative fund-raising ventures. This is a big journey and we need Faith in God to embark upon all that is to come!
In Matthew 14: 23-33 there is a message about Faith.
After Jesus had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14: 23-33, English Standard Version)
The story of Jesus walking on the water in the Sea of Galilee, is quite familiar to us all I am sure. It is an amazing reminder of the power of Christ. It is also a very convicting story especially when you think about Peter’s response. It is impressive and challenging.
This is a sea that is greatly susceptible to sudden and extremely violent storms. When the disciples were in this boat, it was dark and a strong wind was blowing. The waters grew very rough. When they had rowed some distance, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on water. They were terrified.
Like the other eleven apostles, Peter could have chosen to remain in the boat. Even though the wind and the waves were against the boat, the boat was still the safest place to be. And yet, Jesus stood outside the boat, on the waves. Peter’s heart yearned to be near to the Lord as he asked Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” After receiving Christ’s invitation, Peter stepped out and became the only other man recorded in Scripture to walk on water.
At this significant time at Christ Church there are going to be times when we feel that things are going against us. We may feel frustrated and feel that there are lots of challenges in front us. In those times, it is an encouragement to remember Peter….. he was willing to step out alone in faith to be closer to Jesus. He was willing to leave the limited protection of the boat to step out further into the storm. That place was where the Lord was standing. Also, quite significantly, he stepped out alone, leaving the rest of the apostles in the boat.
This story reminds us of the importance of focusing on God and always seeking God in prayer. Just as Peter asked Jesus to call him before he stepped out, so we are reminded that we need to continually ask for God’s guidance before we step out. Walking by Faith is not walking aimlessly, hoping God will catch up, but rather waiting for His voice and following His lead. Through this we will receive God’s abundant, rich Blessings.
“Father, please remind us to call to you when the storms of an enormous project rage around us. Remind us that we can step out in faith to where You lead us. Give us, as a church congregation, a heart that longs to be close to you, seeking your guidance at every step. Prompt us to be brave and have courage. Send us out with Faith in you. Help us to remember to keep our eyes on You rather than the storm around us. Grant us wisdom and help us to hear you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Research and decision
Yes – 2019 will be a very exciting year for Christ Church! The PCC has decided to go ahead with the temporary closure of the church building for major refurbishment. How and where will the church family worship on Sunday mornings during next year?
Since autumn 2017 Neil Pearce, John Stockwell and myself have been exploring where and how the Church will meet on Sunday mornings in 2019. We have recently been joined by Alec Spence for sound and vision expertise.
This September we presented the Parochial Church Council with eleven potential meeting places in and around Ware. The PCC chose the option to remain on the Christ Church site using the facilities in the Church Centre and at Christ Church School for the Sunday morning services.
After the decision of the PCC to approve the redevelopment of the church interior, the work will commence in January 2019. The last Sunday morning in church will be 6th January – then the adventure will begin! The work is anticipated to take nine months. This is the initial plan for the Sunday morning services which may change as the need arises.
Sunday morning services
At both services there will be a need for compromise – it will not be possible to recreate the exact facilities of the church. Every effort will be made to hold services in the way they have been in the church building.
Starting on Sunday 13th January 2019 the arrangements for the two Christ Church morning services and other activities will be:-
• 9.15 am service
Church Centre main hall
Tea & Coffee Memorial Hall
• 11 am service
Christ Church School Hall
Service also relayed to a nearby classroom.
Tea & Coffee School Dining Room
Careful planning shows the number of people attending the 11am service can be accommodated in the school hall, there will be sufficient seats. The school hall is not as big as the church, space will be at a premium – one of the classrooms will be available as an overflow space where the 11am service being relayed.
Children and youth groups
The children and youth groups will continue to meet as they always do, a couple of groups will need to move to alternative locations. These are the planned locations for the groups:-
• Crèche – Memorial Hall
• Bubbles – School classroom
• Splash – School dining room
• Extreme – Church Centre main hall
• Youth – Youth wing
Frequently asked questions
Will there be disabled access?
Step free access and toilet facilities are available in the Church Centre for disabled people. The school has ramps to the entrance and corridors, there are no steps between the two buildings.
Will it be warm?
Both the Church Centre and school have reliable heating facilities, better than are available currently in the church.
Will there be an opportunity for child baptisms (christenings)?
Christenings will continue at Christ Church during 2019, families will be very welcome as usual. We may have to work with the families to ensure everyone can be accommodated at the 11am service. We will consider all opportunities, there may be more than one baptism service in a month, or a baptism at the 9.15am service.
What will happen on Easter Day 2019?
In recent years we have met together as a church family on Easter Day at one service. As an exception in 2019, it is very likely there will be two Sunday morning services on Easter Day.
Will there be hearing loop?
At both services there will be microphones and speakers. We plan to have a hearing loop available in both the Church Centre and School.
Will there be car parking available on Sunday mornings?
The car parking at the front of church will not be available during the building work. The main car park will be open and we anticipate using parking areas in the school.
What will be the arrangements for music on Sunday mornings?
The music at the 9.15am service will be provided by CDs as the organ will not be available.
At the 11am service the three bands will continue to provide the music and lead the singing.
What are the arrangements for weddings and funerals?
In the case of weddings; the vicar will work with the couple, he will conduct the service at a suitable alternative church. The person conducting a funeral will discuss the options with the family for the service to take place at an alternative suitable venue.
This information is correct at the time of going to press, any changes will be outlined in the notices and on the church website.
Escape! was a free community event in September that took place on King George Field. It featured live music, a hog-roast and BBQ, testimonies from two guest speakers, and an evangelistic message of hope that ended with an invitation to take the next steps with Jesus.
The day was blessed in many, many, different ways, and new stories of hope are continually filtering through from those that responded on the day and afterwards, both in person and via the online response form. We’ll feature more in the next Magazine, but here’s a taster for now….
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I just wonder where God is? Trying to work out how I got into a situation, even believing that I have been listening to Him and yet suddenly a door closes. Earlier this year, while I was in a place of confusion, a book came to the top of my reading pile – I’d started it before, but not got very far through it, this was clearly the time to read it as I couldn’t put it down. God On Mute, by Pete Greig.
‘If your deepest, most desperate prayers aren’t being answered, if life sometimes hurts so much that you secretly wonder whether God exists, and if He does whether He cares, and if He cares why on earth He just doesn’t do something to help, then you’re not alone.’ This is the first sentence of the Introduction, and immediately I thought this is what I need to read.
Pete explores 16 reasons why our prayers may not be being answered, dividing them into four sections.
1. GOD’S WORLD
• Common sense – some prayers aren’t answered because they’re just plain stupid! For example, praying to marry a prince or princess.
• Contradiction – some prayers aren’t answered because they contradict other prayers. For example, one person prays for rain for the garden and another for sunshine – both can’t be answered.
• The laws of nature – some prayers aren’t answered because they would be detrimental to the world and to the lives of others. For example, we need storms to clear the air, without them climate change would be even worse.
• Life is tough – some prayers aren’t answered because creation is ‘subject to frustration’ and has not yet been fully ‘liberated from its bondage to decay’ (Rom 8:20-21). Tragically, life in such an environment is inevitably going to be acutely difficult at times.
• Doctrine – some prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be because our understanding and expectations of God are wrong.
2. GOD’S WILL
• God’s best – some prayers aren’t answered because God has got something even better planned for us.
• Motive – some prayers (even spiritual sounding ones) aren’t answered because they are, in fact, selfishly motivated.
• Relationship – some prayers aren’t answered because God Himself is a greater Answer than the thing we are asking for and He wants to use our sense of need to draw us into a deeper relationship with Himself. What He could be asking of you is a deeper relationship with Him.
• Free will – some prayers aren’t answered because God will not force a person to do something that he or she does not want to do.
• Influence – some of our prayers aren’t yet answered because they are working gradually and not as an impersonal mechanism of forced control.
3. GOD’S WAR
• Satanic opposition – some prayers aren’t answered because God’s will is being directly contested by ‘the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Eph 6:12). Perseverance, faith and authoritative uses of the Word of God become vital in winning through.
• Faith – some prayers aren’t answered because we just don’t believe they will be. However, faith grows as we get to know God and starting with smaller prayers can grow our faith and confidence in prayer.
• Perseverance – some prayers just haven’t been answered – yet! Whether your prayers are being resisted by mysterious spiritual forces, by stubborn people or even God Himself, just don’t give up!
• Sin – some prayers aren’t answered because of areas of disobedience in our lives. Are there hidden sins we need to confess or actions we need to take in order to lend power to our prayers?
• Justice – some prayers aren’t answered because of our disregard for the needs of others in our communities and in other nations too.
4. EXPLORING THE SILENCE
• Perhaps there aren’t answers, we simply need to trust God.
Pete explores dealing with pain, confusion, doubt and sin. And the fact that our unanswered prayers may actually be the real ministry of our lives.
If you’re struggling with unanswered prayer at the moment, I’d recommend this read. And I have a copy if anyone would like to borrow it.
“Celebration, thankfulness, and looking to the future”
Did you know that Christ Church Ware Toddlers ministry began around 1979? Toddlers is a flourishing ministry that was launched by Jan Young and team around 40 years ago. Jan began Toddlers because she recognised that there “was a need for young mums, parents and carers to have a place of belonging, support and Christian input.”
These Toddler sessions were incredibly successful, in both number of attendees, and pastoral care offered. Toddlers was such a success, that Jan decided to increase the number of sessions provided each week, and added to the programme seasonal Toddler services, such as for Christmas and Harvest. A baby group was also launched in order to provide for younger babies. This group continues to be an inclusive group of welcome and support for parents at this stage in their life.
After this, Alison Jackson took over the leadership for Toddlers ministry and shared that Toddlers has great potential in “opening the door to Jesus into the homes and families in Ware.” Alison also shares that Toddler ministries are key to the health of a church, and are one of the first places where people are gently introduced to Christian faith and the church community.
Alison transitioned the leadership by handing over the oversight to Rachel Swatton and Laura Barker, who lovingly nurtured and cared for Toddlers ministry for a number of years. Rachel shares that she decided to lead Toddlers in order to give something back to a group that gave so much to her.
Rachel says; “It had been such a lifeline for me after the birth of my son. It truly enveloped me in love and gave me a place to find friendship.”
Rachel recognises the great work that is done at Toddlers, and how a Toddler session might be the only time when a parent has spoken to another adult all day.
Toddlers is a ministry both loved, led and cared for by Christ Church Ware volunteers. The sessions are a place of welcome and home, where people can feel a sense of belonging and community. A Toddler session includes play time for toddlers, social time, snack time, and Christian story time, songs and prayer. There is potential in developing how this community connects with church, such as creating new forms of worship for families, crafts, creativity, worship for young children, Baptisms and much more.
This article has been written to celebrate 40 years of Christ Church Toddler groups and the journey that it has been on, whilst looking towards the future, in the faith that God will lead this group into its new season. Toddlers is looking for new leadership that can move the group into its new phase of potential and opportunity. Could this be you?
Please do continue to pray for Toddlers as it transitions into a new season, please do pray that it will continue to be led by dedicated leaders and volunteers.
If you would like to know how to get more involved with Toddlers ministry, please do speak to Caroline Keightley or any member of the PCC. We look forward to another 40 years of fruitful ministry.
Sir Isaac Newton said, ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants’, a phrase which has come to mean “one who discovers by building on previous discoveries”. Early in my Christian journey I discovered the importance of the church family. Indeed it was through the church family that I came to know Jesus for myself. We are not meant to ‘go it alone’ in this faith but are part of a body. That body is universal, the Apostles’ Creed reminds us that we believe in the ‘holy catholic church’ and we can learn from so many others of faith throughout the ages.
Today, we as a church family are benefiting from the legacy of the “Giants from the past”. Indeed as Psalm 145 v4 says “Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts”
Taking a tour through the church archives, history shows us that past generations are the epitome of living out this verse.
In 1858 Robert Hanbury and his friends funded the building of Christ Church, followed by the school, the original Church Hall, the Mission Hall in Amwell End and the school mistress’s house.
In 1895 Mrs Page funded the building of the Memorial Hall to replace the original Church hall which had been gifted to the school to help them meet the rising demand for education.
During the 1940’s the Church family overcame the challenges brought by worshiping during the war years. They changed service times to avoid the blackout, worshiped in a bomb damaged church for 7 years, with boarded windows and a patched up roof.
The 1950 generation was blessed by generous gifts in memory of loved ones, which saw addition of the vestry and toilet and as they celebrated their centenary in 1958 they blessed future generations by reroofing the church.
The 1970’s generation funded the installation and upgrade of the kitchen at the back of church,
The 1980’s generation funded the enclosing of the North porch and the internal decoration of the church. .
The 1990’s generation funded the Memorial Hall extension to provide us with the church centre, youth hall and the car park was upgraded.
The 2008 generation funded the repairs to the church roof, leadwork and windows and a new boiler was installed.
The 2017 generation funded the new Church office complex.
Thanks to all of the past generations generosity, foresight and willingness to do mighty works we have the facilities to bless and serve the town.
However there comes a time when we have to stop standing on the shoulders of giants and become the giants ourselves. If we look at all of the quoted passage from Psalm 145 it reads
“One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Will generations look at us and celebrate our abundant goodness and our great deeds? I firmly believe so.
I have had the privilege of being involved in the development project from the start. I have seen God lead us, inspire us, correct us and sustain us as we have tried to take the church’s dreams and aspirations and shape them into the finalised designs we now have. The road has not always been easy but slowly from those initial ideas God has revealed his plan for us. We have shaped and refined that plan, committing it to him and sharing it with you as we have journeyed through the various stages of the development project.
You have been amazing in your support. As your understanding of the plans has grown you have grasped hold of the vision, supported us by asking questions, making suggestions, praying with and for us and supporting fundraising events. Others have helped in researching, preparing and submitting grant applications.
And finally you have given sacrificially to get us to the point where we are able to stand on the cusp of starting the work.
Past generations have dreamt of improving the facilities within the church but we are the generation that have the honour and responsibility of fulfilling all of those dreams.
“You’re too heavenly minded to be any earthly good!”
This has often been said about Christians, but it’s a lie of Satan and his forces!
Many of the changes for good in society have been instigated by Christians, who believing they were following in the footsteps of Jesus and answering His commission were not only spreading the Gospel, but putting it into practical action.
Looking close to home, here at Christ Church John Hanbury wanted to put his faith into action by helping the poor of the parish. I like to think that we are carrying on that work of showing faith in action.
Focusing on Christ and following in His footsteps we can show that being heavenly-minded we can also be of earthly good!
Ignore the lies of the devil, keep calm and kick him in the teeth!
If you’re a CAP client, please stop reading now…..or it’ll spoil the surprise.
But otherwise, do read on!
Hopefully you already know that Christ Church has a partnership with Christians Against Poverty to deliver a free debt counselling service for our local community. We’ve been operating at full capacity in the second half of the year and been able to walk part of the journey with those who are struggling under the crushing burden of debt. And now we are approaching the season of Christmas, which should be a time that brings joy but often it brings a stark reminder that life is really hard.
So we would love to bring something of the joy of Christmas to our CAP Debt Centre clients by blessing them with a Christmas hamper. And we would love you to experience the blessing of being a part of this too! As the Lord blesses us, may we be inspired to bless others also!
There are some very practical ways you can get involved with this, if you are able, to help collect together some items for the hampers for our clients. Some ideas of what you could contribute are below, though please feel free to be creative! (Please check use by dates are at least January.)
The items can be delivered to the box at the back of church or to Sam Rich. Any questions phone 07725 607425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for being a source of blessing, prayer, encouragement and enthusiasm for serving others in our community who are going through a difficult time. We thank God for each and every one of you and we pray God’s blessing on you all in this advent season.
Tinned Soup, Crisps, Biscuits, Mince Pies, Christmas Cake, Christmas Puddings, Chocolates, Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate, Sugar, Fruit Juice, Fizzy drinks, Christmas Crackers, Wrapping Paper, Sellotape, Gift Tags, Hats or scarves, Gift voucher for a meal, Stocking fillers for children.
On 11th November we passed the Remembrance Day marking 100 years since the end of World War I, the Great War. At Christ Church we particularly remember the ninety-five men who lost their lives in the 1914/18 War listed on the plaque at the front of church.
Visit to Somme, France
In September eight men, five from Christ Church, went to the area of the Somme in France for an interesting, informative and at times emotional visit. The Battle of the Somme started on 1st July 1916 and raged until 18th November. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. During the September visit our experienced guide took us to some key locations and we learned how the Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I: trench warfare.
There are many cemeteries in the area, large and small – although small there were over two hundred men buried at each location. All the cemeteries are very well maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
During the tour we visited several cemeteries, each grave representing one or more men who made the supreme sacrifice. Some graves that remain in the memory include a Regimental Sergeant Major aged nineteen, a brother of the former Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning and a son of H H Asquith, Prime Minister when war was declared in 1914.
Our guide gave us extracts from the letters of soldiers written home to wives or parents before they went into battle and sustained fatal injuries. We visited the grave or memorial of the particular soldier and read aloud the ‘letters home’ learning a little about the man, followed by the information of how he died in the heat of battle – often in heroic circumstances. An emotional experience for reader and listener alike!
Christ Church connection
Of particular interest to Christ Church, in the area of the Somme we found fifteen graves or memorials of men listed on the plaque at the front of our church. Below are listed the graves and memorials we found.
A poppy cross was left at each grave or memorial in memory of those men.
Bob said, ‘The number of men who lost their lives in the area of the Somme is staggering, many so very young!’
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,”
“When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
Christ Church members who went – Bob, Peter, Martin, Roger, Peter.
• WJ French
• Charles Cakebread
• TD Jarvis
(listed on the
• James Akers
• Charles Andrews
• Albert Clarke
• William Lawrence
• John Priestland
• Thomas Prior
• Ernest Skipp
• John Parnell
• Albert Smith
• Edward Clarke
• James Spencer
• Edward Swallow
As we have been clearing out, ready for all the Development that is happening, we have been finding things that have been hidden away for ages. One of those was a picture from about 100 years ago with three verses on it. There was a part of:
Joshua 24:15 ‘choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve’.
Joshua 24:15 ‘as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’.
John 12:26 (Jesus said) ‘My Father will honour the one who serves me’.
These three verses are interesting for two reasons: Firstly, we know that they were significant for Christ Church a number of times in its 160 years. And secondly, they form a straight relationship: choice, decision, blessing.
In every generation there is a free choice, to follow God or not. In every generation there are competing commitments for our time and attention. Joshua 24:15 ‘choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve’.
In every generation there is a response needed. It might be in a moment or over a lifetime journey. We thank God that as we reach our 160th birthday, there have been faithful men, women and families that have chosen to faithfully serve God in this place. Joshua 24:15 ‘as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ We thank God that is still the case today.
You see, as each generation seeks the Lord, seeks his kingdom, Matt 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’, God not only provides, he honours and blesses us. John 12:26 (Jesus said) ‘My Father will honour the one who serves me’.
When we put God first, he blesses us. Why? Firstly, because he loves us and secondly so that we can be a blessing to others, to share his love with anyone and everyone, especially to those who feel lost, forgotten or broken.
This Autumn Season, as we remember all that God has given us, let us choose Him, let us serve Him, let us receive from Him, as we continue to develop resources and ways, so that we can both share the love and the Good news of Jesus, while being a blessing to this town and beyond.
With my prayers for you all. John
Recapturing Christmas Wonder
The build up (from about August), the songs, the films, the adverts, the gifts, the food, the parties – all that fuss must be there for a reason, right? Maybe once, in the dimness of your memory, you remember something about ‘Joy to the World’ and togetherness, and fun and goodwill – there are hints at something good. But it is like trying to hold on to mist.
Maybe it never existed at all in your past, but you had a sense of how it should be or could be from those Christmas card scenes, and snowy films with happy endings. But the good bits seem to be all tied up with other stuff: busyness, pressure for perfection, expensive gifts, shopping in crowds, arguments, loneliness. The shops try to distract us with heartwarming or striking adverts promising cosiness or wild times; social media convinces us that everyone else has planned the picture-perfect Christmas, or has somewhere to go and people to be with. At the end of the season, many feel drained, unsatisfied, longing for something more, all those promises Paul McCartney made about a ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ unfulfilled.
“This is a very fragile world where there’s easily a loss of hope and wonder. A lot of people find those words simplistic, but I think that’s what keeps you going…….[this is] a story of [the] rediscovery of joy….”
This is not a description of the Christmas wonder of the birth of Jesus, but the director of the upcoming Mary Poppins sequel talking about the film, which will be out around Christmas this year. He recognises the need in people for hope and wonder and offers a film about a magical nanny. Other films have offered similar solutions to people losing sight of wonder and joy – Christopher Robin met up with his childhood toys to recapture his imagination, saving him from everyday boredom, grinding work, and separation from his family.
It is easy to want to return to being a small child. They still seem to find it all so marvellous. They are in awe of life, viewing it all through innocence, purity, curiosity, and joy. This childlike sense of wonder was placed in our hearts by God, and can only be fully met in Him. It is still there in our hearts, but squashed down by worry and hurry and disappointment, dismissed as something adults don’t have time for.
The wonderful thing is that Christmas is about how, while we were still far off wandering around trying to meet our needs through work or money or other people, God – the all-powerful creator of Heaven and Earth and us – came to meet us by becoming one of us through the birth of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem. This was just the first part of His rescue plan for us. We had turned away from the God of love and truth and life. If you turn away from Him, it means you are turning towards disconnection, ignorance, death. To save us, Jesus was willing to swap places with us and be disconnected, in darkness, and to die. But Jesus rose again and overcame death and darkness and disconnection once and for all, so we can live connected, illuminated, eternal lives with God. This is the true wonder that we need to recapture. The promises and messages about Christmas made by venues promoting parties, or shops selling products, are pale imitations of the truth. We are captured by these messages and feel bound to consume, spending our time and money. Yet the wonderful truth is that we only need to receive God’s gift to us. Set aside time and space this Christmas to find this wonder again. It is a wonder that needs to be shared, that our friends and family are looking for, so please invite as many people as possible to come and recapture the wonderful truth this Christmas.
The ending of the 1st World War on the 11th hour, of the eleventh month in 1918 was a watershed moment in the life of this nation for so many reasons. The war had touched every family in the UK and its empire, had exposed young men and women to horrors beyond imagination and was the catalyst for social change never seen in Britain before.
Our church, parish and town was not immune to the effects of the war and I want to share the ways that Christ Church is going to mark the centenary of the ending of the war. Continue reading
The Times They Are A-Changin’… But Are We?
Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
— Bob Dylan
In January of 1964, when Bob Dylan wrote his classic song, “The times, they are a-changin,” there was much turbulence in our society. The Vietnam War was escalating and America’s and the worlds involvement and motives were being challenged from within. A mere five months earlier Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood at the Mall in Washington, DC and passionately delivered his “I have a dream” speech that electrified the nation.
Civil rights had become a national issue (finally) and women’s rights were ascending to new heights of awareness. It was, as many in that generation referred to it, the dawning of the age of aquarius — a time when the “energy of life” would be perceived differently because things were happening at a quickened pace. All things were possible; man went to the moon and returned, nuclear war was averted, Beatle mania swept the world and skirts got shorter and shorter as trousers got wider and wider. Continue reading
Use it or lose it
The irony of this phrase has not been lost on me; this reflection has been rattling around in my head for months and I missed the deadline of the last newsletter because I did not sit down and write it in time!
However, I believe it is still relevant.
Like the servant who hid his talent, some people are reluctant to use the gifts God has given them through shyness, lack of confidence or thinking they are “not good enough”.
Don’t be put off by thinking “I can only do so and so”; forget the word only, you CAN do it.
God gives us gifts to help build up his people and to encourage one another. Don’t worry if you can’t preach or teach; if you can make a decent cup of tea and have a listening ear that is important to God. Remember, He is the one who gave you the gift in the first place, so don’t worry what others may think; it’s what you do with the gift that matters to God.
As the Nike ad says: Just go for it!
Have no fear, because God casts out all fear!
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Matthew 18:20
In this third article, we look at the impact of the building development on our congregation – both during the temporary relocation of Services, and after returning to the building in the months and years ahead.
Where might our temporary church be located?
It is often said that moving house is the most stressful thing that you can do – it’s not just the worry and disruption to our lives, it’s the uncertainty of the future that comes with it, even if it’s only a temporary move.
There will be many in our congregation for whom Christ Church has been their home for decades. And now, for a period of around 9 months, we’re proposing moving out to a temporary home, probably either Presdales School, or a combination of the Church Centre and Christ Church School hall. These options are the best of the 10 locations that have been investigated by Bob Barker and his team, but both have compromises attached.
At Presdales School, where we have enjoyed several Away Days, some will struggle with travelling there. In the Church Centre/Christ Church School option, lack of space is the issue, because the School Hall cannot accommodate our whole 11 o’clock congregation all together.
And when we return to Christ Church in November 2019, will our home feel very different? Will all of the planning by those of the congregation who are on the various committees, really recreate the sense of holiness and familiarity that are the hallmarks of our magnificent Victorian building?
Those on the Building and Managing Committees have long been discussing and praying about how to help those who may struggle with the temporary arrangements, and those who might feel disaffected by these changes. The Ministry team will do everything possible to support those who feel this way, and we know that Life Groups and our friends in the congregation will naturally help too.
And for many, the temporary relocation of Services opens up a whole new world of experiences for us all, to share and enjoy the experience of worship with the same friends and family, just in a different place. For those who have been to the Away Days at Presdales, or have worshipped in the Church Centre at the many events that are held there, we know that it is more than possible to meet with Jesus when we are there, because our church is the people, and He is with us wherever we meet.
Keep our eyes on the prize
When we return to our main building in November 2019, you will see the lengths to which the Building Committee has planned to retain the best of what makes Christ Church so welcoming now – and to build on this with modern levels of comfort, safety and inclusiveness so that no-one need ever be, or feel excluded.
- For young families with a baby, there will be changing facilities and a quiet room during Services;
- For those with hearing difficulties a new “loop” will be installed with clearer and more balanced sound throughout the Church;
- For those who would like to see pews in the Church, the new chairs will have continuous wooden backs joined together, that are designed specifically to emulate the pews – and they’ll have a book shelf and somewhere for a kneeler to hang;
- For our Funeral Services, the new higher North entrance doors will preserve the dignity of the occasion as the pall-bearers will not struggle when entering the Church;
- For weddings, the new West entrance doors and lobby will make the perfect grand entrance for every bridal party;
- For our more intimate Services when perhaps a Congregation of 20 or 30 would be usual, the Chancel can at last be used fully; and with the new ramp, access for all is guaranteed;
- For our wonderful organ that brings such joy to those hymns that need its gravitas, there won’t be a video screen hanging in front of it all the time;
- And for everyone, won’t it just be nice not to have to wear three layers, a coat and hat during the Service because the heating is down again?
God’s provision for us as a congregation is more than just this wonderful building. Though we all know and share the anxieties that are natural at a time of disruption, we have to keep our eyes focussed on what we’ll celebrate when it’s all finished, when we are once again, back “home”.
Chair, Building and Managing Committees
More information on the Development Project can be found at www.ccwDevelopment.info
Christ Church will soon be celebrating the fifth anniversary of our partnership with Christians Against Poverty. This partnership enables us to deliver a completely free debt counselling service to our community and many of you have been involved in different capacities with this and I am incredibly thankful to be a part of such a generous, kind, prayerful, talented, supportive and welcoming church. So thank you!
I would like to share with you one thing I have learned over these last few years because I believe this holds a significant key to seeing the kingdom of God come now, in our present day. It is, perhaps, a surprisingly simple thing – simply to believe in someone and encourage them! Continue reading
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thess 5:11
Whether the World Cup, Wimbledon or athletics, there is a scene on television that is the most moving… it is of the crowds cheering and spurring the athletes on. Throughout the New Testament the image of a race is used, not a short sprint, but a marathon. The race is a long one, the race of life. For us to live well, to run well, we all need people to encourage and support us on the journey.
The other day I received an e-mail out of the blue from a church leader in Hong Kong that I had helped to bring to faith 24 years ago. It was so encouraging to be reminded of something that God had done through me. As a church we are reading through the Bible in a whole year and one of the things that strikes me in the New Testament is both the need for and the use of encouragement. In Rom 12:8 there is a reminder of the gift of encouragement. All of us at some level can be encouragers. Maybe this month let’s pause to think of someone who has impacted our lives in the past and send them text or e-mail about it, maybe just think of a way of encouraging one of your friends or family. It maybe a Life Group leader or a ministry leader, or maybe a colleague at work.
Genuine encouragement is powerful, it can help to pick up the broken, heal the weak, and sustain those who are running well. The world is being changed and will be changed by those who encourage and affirm. Let’s be people of encouragement and find an opportunity to pray for and encourage someone this summer.
With my thanks and prayers for you.
God Bless, John.
Our Church Building Reordering project is wholly dependent on us having the money to pay for it
In this second article about our Church building Reordering plans, I will give you the hard facts about what is needed in the building; about what your money will be spent on; and about the plans we have in place for getting the best value for money.
Re-ordering the Church building is essential because Continue reading
St. John’s House, a former Church of England Nunnery and orphanage, provides a Christian presence and a green oasis of peace and calm in the heart of Alum Rock, an urban multi-faith area of East Birmingham. Or at least it was peaceful until, in May this year, when members of MADD descended upon it and turned it into a phrenetic hive of activity. The six of us, Andrew du Boulay, Roger Tiffin, Neil Pearce, Peter Dane, Ron Porter and myself, had been invited by James and Mel Lynch who work with Interserve at St John’s and have been mission partners with Christ Church since they left All Nations in 2007. Continue reading
Greenbelt is different from other Christian festivals. For starters it doesn’t even describe itself as such in its publicity material.* Yet the whole festival stops everything onsite on Sunday morning for an open-air family-friendly communion service attended by thousands. For us it is one of the highlights.
At other times you may find us in a packed out venue listening in to a talk by a distinguished speaker with whom we don’t necessarily entirely agree….
Or attending a small worship and/or reflective service led by Christian Aid, Taize, the Northumbrian or Iona communities or other.
Or sitting on a high bank overlooking the glorious lake leading up to the beautiful Boughton House in whose grounds the festival is sited. This bank is designated a quiet zone and a lovely spot in which to soak up God’s peace and presence.
Or queuing up for some time in order to find a seat for some comedy, slam poetry, theatre or other extravaganza. We usually manage about 20 minutes of one of the bands before our eardrums start to protest. Continue reading
Christy Wimber and Katharine Welby will be leading on the theme of Wholeness.
Saturday, September 22, 2018 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
All Saints Church, Woodford Wells
Sharing their own story, their own struggles and their own insights from seeing healing as well as not seeing healing take place. Meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds who, for the first time, felt heard and encouraged by the Church in addressing their struggles without fear of rejection. They have welcomed and encouraged many Church leaders providing them with helpful insights and materials for the local Church.
These events give us all the opportunity to see how we, the Church, see the world in front of us. How we serve those God sends along our path, still believing God is Rapha, our healer, yet not disregarding the many who fight chronic illness or various conditions where they haven’t seen God heal.
During our time together, we will look at the meaning, the purpose & the goal of healing. Christy and Katharine will be working together to share various insights and stories concerning the health of the whole person. Together, they will teach about what it looks like to step into our communities, breaking stigma to become places of refuge & healing. We’ll be taking time to look at different areas of healing (physical and emotional) as well as time to minister in the power we so desperately need to serve as God has called us to love and serve.
Whether you have mental illness, are caring for someone, are a Church leader, health care worker or someone who would like to learn how to serve the world around us by ministering in healthy ways, this day will surely encourage and equip you.
Tickets cost £25 per person.
To book tickets visit
It is now less than seven months before we are due to move out of Christ Church and the work on redeveloping the building commences!
Many people and groups are working on moving the project forward, including:
• The Building Management Committee drawing together all aspects of the project.
• The Building Committee and subgroups working on the final details of the plans to be ready to offer contractors to tender for the work. Continue reading
How it works
• When we receive a prayer request we will email the request to the Prayer Chain and activate the phone Prayer Chain.
• One of the Prayer Chain co-ordinators call the first person in the phone chain and share the request. They then ring the next person with the request and so on until the last person receives the request. The last person rings the coordinator to confirm completion of the chain.
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” – Oswald Chambers
• Please pray immediately. Continue reading
For the last four and a half years, we have been in partnership with Christians Against Poverty to provide a free debt counselling service to our local community. During that time, we’ve seen God answer prayers, change lives, bring freedom, restore hope. It’s never an easy road though and it usually has some fairly big bumps along the way, but for those who are able to stick with it, the freedom that comes when debt is gone is worth the difficulties.
When we first started out, we met some others who were already running a debt centre and we were inspired by one centre that was running a weekly drop-in. At the time, we didn’t feel able to offer that ourselves but at the start of this year, we decided we were ready to give it a try and opened our weekly CAP Café.
So what’s the point? Most of all, it’s a place build friendships! The Café is open to present or former CAP clients (and friends!) and to the CAP support team and it is to create a space where we can fulfil an important part of being church – we connect others to the God who loves them. Continue reading
‘Our church is an Eco Church’ If someone asked you, could you tell them what Eco Church is all about? There have been several reminders this past year filling you in, but I wonder whether you have picked up the emphasis: WE are part of Eco Church. It’s not just that our church is an Eco Church, but we are an Eco Church.
Yes, that’s right, you and me, we are all in this together.
Read on to discover more about how you can be actively involved.
(If this is all news to you see later for a summary of the story of the last two years…..)
In April we invited Simon Brown from
A Rocha to preach and he gave a clear call to redoubling our efforts to confront how our western lifestyle is causing serious damage to the global environment including the UK. He taught from scripture how God has called us to work to care for his environment, and to become champions of the cause.
Getting Drastic on Plastic
Following David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series on TV, in this past year we have organised two litter picks (one after a delay due to snow in March!) and we have focussed on plastic pollution. Of 14 bags collected recently, five were filled exclusively with plastic waste. We displayed some of these bottles on the notice board outside, and also inside the church, to draw attention to this unacceptable waste, and the environmental harm it is causing.
This has become a No 1 environmental concern because of the harm to aquatic and airborne wildlife, as well as the cost to the countryside. Only this month, a whale starved to death with 80 plastic bags found in its stomach – over 8kg of plastic! This was documented, but many more animals of many more species are affected by this pollution. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish!
We also invited you to consider a Lenten fast from Plastic (see last magazine). I wonder how this worked for you? Has it begun to change your lifestyle?
Shrinking our footprint and going for Gold! Continue reading
“Enlarge the place of your habitation. Stretch out your cords. You who desire more of Me you do well and I would give you more. But do you not know that I have already come to you and fill all the space you have given Me?
I am He who comes, comes again and ever comes. Yet I am humble. I will not force myself on you, but wait for you to open your door wider… to make more room and to invite Me in.
I am with you. I am in you. Yet when you pray your mind addresses an image of Me that is outside you. As if I was far away and not sharing the life you think of as yours. How can I seem so far away when I am so close? So close that your eyes cannot focus and see Me?
I am the way, the truth and the life. I own your life. It is mine. But your thinking limits what I can do in you. I wait, a well of life-giving water within you that is drawn from at times but flows only a trickle in season.
Enlarge your dwelling place. Stretch out your mind. Enlarge your thinking and look within to the place where I, the Eternal, dwell. Widen your understanding that the trickle may become a flowing river and the river a flood.”