This week we bring you all the latest news on Building to Serve. If you've been wondering how our planning applications are going, or where we've got to with our fundraising then read on. There's even an opportunity to add your support to the planning application online.
It is with great sadness that we're soon to bid farewell to the Harper family. Here they share with us their exciting plans for their next steps. We'll miss them immensely, with all the skills and talents they bring, but mostly for their kindness, generosity and friendship. We wish them all the best in the things that God is calling them to, and we trust that amazing things will come out of this new placement.
Finally don't forget that Thy Kingdom Come is running daily at noon via Zoom. You can find the link in the article below.
Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’
And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’
Important: 8am Services
It seems clear that after a great gathering of folk on Easter Day at 8:00, our expectations of a desire for the return of a weekly service was premature.
For June, July and August, therefore, there will just be an 8:00 BCP service on the first Sunday in the month. After that we shall reconsider what is best. Do let us know your feelings.
FAREWELL TO THE HARPERS
Almost three years ago, Athena, Beatrix and I moved from Cheltenham and joined the St Mary’s church family, as I began training for ordination at St Mellitus college and a long term training placement at St Mary’s. We’ve been joined in that time by Zephaniah, and along the way we’ve had the enormous privilege of being involved in a lot of very different things within the life of the Church!
From walking alongside young people as they explore and come to faith, to driving vans and editing videos, during my time at St Mary’s we have been so blessed to learn so much! We’ve learnt not just from James, Emma and the remarkable staff team, but from each and every member of the St Mary’s family. I will always remain incredibly thankful to our faithful God for your encouragements, kindnesses and prayers throughout our time here, as I enter into ordained ministry.
But as my scramble to finish dissertations and essays reminds me, my training, my placement, and our time here is sadly almost at an end. For a very long time myself and Athena have been identifying a calling from The Lord towards church planting, towards coastal communities, and towards a deep sense that we’ll one day be part of a Church which seeks to proclaim the hope-filled narrative that with Jesus “the best is yet to come,” over a town or region which may have a hard time believing that of itself.
That’s why we’re delighted to have been invited to be part of planting Bay Church in Torbay, Devon, a new resource Church planted out of St Matthias Church in Plymouth. Torbay is an area of immense beauty and life, but with some real challenges for young people and families especially, which is why we have a particular vision for engaging youth, children and families with the life changing reality of relationship with Jesus.
I’ll be ordained in September, and we’ll be moving at the end of June to start my curacy and to help plant the church alongside Revd Matt Bray and a team of folks who feel called to seeing Jesus loved, the church alive and society transformed in the English Riviera. We’re excited, expectant and daunted in equal measure, so please pray for us, for our family as we move, and for Bay Church as we begin this adventure. If you’d like to know more, if you know somebody in Torbay who needs a place to belong and to encounter Jesus, or if you feel a calling to Torbay yourself, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
BUILDING TO SERVE UPDATE
Giving thanks for all God is doing
It has been over two months since the last update on Building to Serve, in which time lockdown has eased considerably and opportunities to push ahead more actively with the campaign are emerging. Our fundraising total is progressing slowly towards £2.5million for the whole combined project of the church improvements and The Branch, and we continue to be extremely thankful for all the amazing work that the Lord is doing, going ahead of us and opening up opportunities. Lockdown has provided the time to focus on grant applications. We put together a large submission to the Architectural Heritage Fund in a bid for them to extend the support they have already given us (through the planning and development stages) with a potentially significant grant to fund the capital part of the project - the construction work. We have also put in a bid to the Diocese for a Diocesan Development Grant to support the crucial work of our Youth and Children's and Families' pastors. We would really value your prayers for positive decisions as we await the outcomes from both these grants, expected in mid to late June.
As we look ahead towards the summer we are extremely thankful for the handful of supporters who have volunteered to promote the Branch to their friends and wider networks, acting as fantastic Ambassadors for all that The Branch currently does and will achieve. Three of them have very kindly offered to host events on our behalf which we hope and pray will both widen our reach to more potential supporters and help us to grow and embed relationships with those who have already lent their support in some way.
Pray for planning
The Branch: The planning application for the redevelopment of The Branch was submitted to WODC in early March, a huge achievement. It is now available to view on the WODC planning portal at https://publicaccess.westoxon.gov.uk/online-applications/ - the application number is 21/00985/FUL. The consultation process is likely to take a further 2 months with a response anticipated in July/August. Meanwhile the technical design stage is going full steam ahead for The Branch. We are keen to encourage positive responses to the planning application so please do feel free to submit a response to the council online (using the 'Make a comment' box on the application web page) and encourage local neighbours and colleagues to do the same.
The Church: The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) reported to us on the proposed improvements in February, along with one or two other reports, in the light of which we are tightening up the case for need and getting a couple of other specialist surveys done, in preparation for submitting a planning application next year.
How can you find out more about this journey?
We are extremely thankful for all the prayer support that we continue to receive and for every donation, large and small as God will take these and help them grow. If you have any questions, would like to join in with the Watch of Prayer emails or our weekly Monday midday Building to Serve prayer meeting, or if you are considering a donation please do get in touch. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the church office. It would be lovely to hear from you.
THY KINGDOM COME
We’re joining the global initiative to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension (13th May) and Pentecost (23th May).
Thy Kingdom Come is the annual global prayer event that churches from all over the world take part in. This year we're meeting via Zoom at noon each day from 13th May to 22nd May to pray ‘Come Holy Spirit’, so that friends and family, neighbours and colleagues might come to faith in Jesus Christ.
As well as this we'll be keeping up our usual pattern of Zoom prayer at 6am and 6pm.
There are lots of great resources on the Thy Kingdom Come website but we'll be focussing on the Psalms and you can find each day's reading by clicking on the button below.
If you've got little ones there are some great "Cheeky Panda" resources for you to download, including the very lovely "Cheeky Pandas Prayer Book" .Zoom info:
We definitely need some rest and relaxation! But we also significantly need to be able to reflect and review our experience of the last year so we can continue on from a place of strength and understanding for ourselves and our church family.
As things open up again it's going to be very easy to just rush on and fill life up once more. Before that happens we have a window of opportunity to just pause and take stock of where we are now, what we've come through, and most importantly what God has been trying to do or teach us through it all. So this is an invitation to come and talk, listen and process with a small group of people as we reflect and review the experience of lockdown together. It's really a version of the Examen, a spiritual practice that Christians have been using for hundreds to years to grow in their awareness of God's presence and purposes. Each session will be one hour, open to anyone at all and not heavy!
Thursday 20th May - 9.45am-10.45am - in church Monday 24th May - 11.30am - 12.30pm - in church Wednesday 26th May - 7.30-8.30pm - in the Parish Rooms
ELECTORAL ROLL REVISION
What is the Electoral Roll? The church’s Electoral Roll is the register of its voting members; it is a list of those qualified to attend and to vote at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. Electoral rolls provide an indication of the membership and strength of the church.
Who can be on the electoral Roll? Baptised adults (over 16 years) who live in the parish, or who have worshipped regularly at St. Mary’s for at least six months and are committed to being part of the life of the local Church of England congregation.
Why Join? Enrolment is a way of saying....“I belong”. For us it is an act of commitment to St. Mary’s Church and the church as a whole.
In addition to this He has recently started a series of weekly podcasts which are described as:
"Upbeat and uplifting, ‘Inspired’ introduces us to a stunning variety of people from all walks of life. It celebrates perseverance, overcoming, and costly faith. Stories of adventure and risk-taking stir the listener to imagine new possibilities."
I have now listened to a couple of these – one about a man who started a charity in the UK that has won awards for its work with the homeless (Hope into Action) and one with an ex-professional woman footballer (Reckless Passion).
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.