"Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.”
2 Corinthians 8:10-11
If you were with us then, you will remember that almost exactly a year ago, and accompanied by a great sense of excitement and expectation amongst us, we launched our Building to Serve Campaign. From its very conception, our campaign has been fuelled by a God-given burden both to bring new warmth, life and beauty to the church building itself and also to give St Mary’s a prominent physical footprint within the town centre - a physical beacon of God’s presence and power - from which to serve our community more sustainably in the years to come. With timing that only God could have ordained, after many months of delays and uncertainty, the launch of the campaign coincided beautifully with the completion of our purchase of the former NatWest Bank building on the Market Place (now ’The Branch’).
At a time of dramatically increasing need for many, the vision that God gave us - behind which the church family has gathered with such unity and with an enthusiasm accelerated by the trials of lock-down - was for us to seize this extraordinary, once in a lifetime opportunity to invest tangibly, not only in people’s lives in the here and now, but in the growth of God’s kingdom for the next century or more.
As God led them in the past, the sacrificial giving of our forebears has bequeathed us both our magnificent church building and many other blessings within our town, such as our Almshouses and church schools, all of which have served both the material and spiritual needs of the people in the town for generations. In the same way, God’s Spirit has again been at work in our midst, stirring us to recognise the part that he now wants each of us to play to secure this heritage, and also to develop it to leave our own legacy: enabling our children and grandchildren to worship comfortably within our church building - to live in God’s love - as well as to live it out through serving the town.
At the time that we launched Building to Serve last year, I said that we would come back to the church family to enable you to pledge your financial support more concretely as soon as the scope of the project had taken more definite shape. At that time, none of us knew how 2020 would unfold and so we have had, twice, to push back the timing of this direct financial appeal. As most of you will know, in the intervening months, God has already provided remarkably, not least through an anonymous gift which enabled us to pay off completely the loans that we had taken out, in faith, to purchase The Branch. Having now also secured considerable and growing support from other quarters, this weekend we are extremely excited to give you all the opportunity to make your initial pledges, and - in so doing - to witness powerfully to a watching world the joy and commitment of the church family behind this vision that God has given us.
Like St Paul in his appeal to the church in Corinth, many of us have been praying throughout this week that - a year-on - you will all find an eager willingness growing within you to match the tremendous support that you have already shown for this project by your financial generosity towards it, according to your means. It is my prayer that - from those with the least at their disposal, right up to those with the most - each and every one of us will come to experience the joy of giving and of knowing that we have contributed, in whatever part we are each able, towards the transformation of the lives of those in need, and towards the church’s ability to worship and witness within this community for the next century and more!
It has seemed right to set a target for this Gift Day appeal at £300,000. To read more about the project, what this total would achieve and how we might reach it, and to download a Gift Day pledge form please click below.
"Shane and Shane" are a worship band from Texas, consisting of Shane Everett (vocals) and Shane Barnard (vocals, guitar). In their album Psalms, Vol. 2, Shane & Shane take twelve Psalms and craft them into contemporary songs. The result is incredible!
Ideal for worshipping along to at home, or having on in the background for inspiration, the album is available to access online in all the usual places.
Everyone has questions about what life is all about. We believe that everyone should have a chance to share those questions, explore the Christian faith and give their point of view.
Alpha is a place where you can ask those questions in an honest, friendly and open environment.
In recent months at St Mary's, God has been extending our vision to serve the town in an exciting, ambitious and creative way at a time of substantially increasing need for many within our community...
So many people in our community feel the weight of debt, and we are passionate about helping to release anyone we can from a life sentence of debt and poverty. At St Mary's we are working with Christians Against Poverty to bring good news, hope and freedom. If you need support, we'd love to hear from you.