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NEWS FROM ST MARY'S CHURCH

Dear Friends

As the Autumn term progresses, we're so glad that a number of our activities are back up and running; Alpha is meeting online again, the Nurture Room is back open, and CAP Life Skills enters a new phase (see below).

Current plans are for physical Sunday services to resume in October, but we'll keep you posted about that. In the meantime, midweek services continue each Thursday at 11am, and Encounter is back and in church on Sunday 27th.

While a few months back we were all going through similar experiences together, it's likely we might have quite different things going on now: it might be that your children are back at school, so you're finally finding some breathing space; it might be that you're doing largely the same things as before Covid, but having to do them in a different or more complicated way; or it might be that you're still having to very much minimise your contact with people.

The complexity and uncertainty that most of us are dealing with is enough to make many of us doubt ourselves and it's easy to feel not in control. However I do wonder whether feeling not quite in control helps us to better know who God is, and to better know who we are.

To better know who God is, because if we did everything in our own strength all the time, we'd never really get to experience the amazing and infinite strength of God.

And to better know who we ourselves are because ultimately our identity is children of God, loved and bought at a price. It's one thing to feel God's love and assurance when we're strong and confident of ourselves. It's a whole other thing to have learnt (as Joseph did in his journey) that when we feel confused, wrong, weak, empty-handed or broken, God's presence hasn't evaporated and God's love is just as real.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthans 12:9-10

CONGRATULATIONS TO JUDITH!

After many years of being a very valued and active lay member of the congregation at St. Mary's, Judith felt the call to become an ordained minister. Following two years of study and training, Judith was ordained ‘deacon’ last year, and at 3pm this Sunday (20th September) at Dorchester Abbey, she will go on to be ordained ‘priest’.
 
We're so grateful for all Judith brings to our congregation and community: her relentless hard work, her practical skills, her great love and dedication to the church family and her passionate faith which shines through when she speaks to us. We pray for every blessing for Judith as she continues to follow faithfully on the journey to which God has invited her.
 
If you'd like to follow Judith's ordination service online, and join your prayers to those attending in person, then please click the link below.
Oxford Diocese Livestream Page

CAP LIFE SKILLS

Picture of the week: An amazing gift made by one of the members of Life Skills for the volunteer that had delivered food to her and checked in on her during lockdown.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Ephesians 3:20.
 
Yet again God's faithfulness, abundant generosity and love have filled myself and the CAP Life Skills team with awe. 

During the last 6 months, when the Life Skills family have not been able to meet in person, we might have expected the group to become disparate or disengaged. However, we have witnessed the community grow closer, stronger, and support each other in the most wonderful and generous ways during the Covid 19 crisis.

Food parcels have been delivered, coffee mornings have taken place over Zoom, course sessions delivered remotely, and encouragement given when times have been very tough. We have laughed together, cooked together (over Zoom!), cried together and prayed together. God is good! And it was with great joy that we have been able to meet in person these last two weeks (obviously with all social distancing and Covid safe measures in place!). 

To be reunited after such a tough period was emotional as you can imagine, and I praise God for His steadfast love and protection over this group. We are now looking ahead to starting our fourth course in October and I wait with eager anticipation to see what God has in store for us next. More than ever, people need the practical skills that CAP's course delivers; and the support of an encouraging community around them.

Please pray for the team as we plan for this new course and we navigate the guidelines that we need to follow during these shifting times. And above all please pray for those people whom God is preparing to join this course. He is preparing the way for them, and I can't wait to meet them! 
 
I will leave you with a little snippet of what one of our incredible members says about Life Skills:

"Life Skills changed my life completely. It gave me hope where there was none. It helped me to understand and manage my finances and I have been debt free ever since. It fed me physically, spiritually and emotionally. It gave me back my life and made it worth living again. It was one of the best things that has happened for me".

Thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement.
 
-Hannah and the Life Skills Team

AT HOME WITH... JEN AND JON

If you've been enjoying the music team videos then you'll be familiar with Jen and Jon and their many instruments.

Here they share with us (including some great photos!) some of their musical journey from playing in a Christian goth band in the 1980's, right up to editing the audio on our congregation lockdown song earlier this year. 
Jen and Jon

ENCOUNTER

Encounter is back in church!

We are excited to have another contemporary evening service called ‘Encounter’ on the evening of 27th September in church. (More details to follow.)

Our hope and prayer is that many people will encounter God through this vibrant and exciting opportunity to worship together. We're going to have great worship and a relevant talk from God’s word, along with an opportunity to see each other in person.

We would love to attract both familiar and new faces, especially seeking to welcome young people from our community and other local churches. What an amazing opportunity to gather to encounter the living Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and His people in a new and fresh way….Will you be a part of it?

RESOURCE OF THE WEEK

Biblical Justice - A North Cotswolds Gospel Coalition event 

On 22nd October 2020 at 7.30pm, Helkias Mapimhidze, minister in the Gloucester Diocese, will be hosting a discussion on how to think Biblically about justice. The recent BLM riots have brought the issues of justice to the fore, and unfortunately, many Christians have struggled to understand what true justice looks like.

The good news is that the Bible has much to say about justice and Helkias will argue that without the Bible, it is impossible to attain true justice. True justice helps society flourish and most importantly, it has important implications on how we should understand the gospel of God’s grace.
Access Biblical Justice discussion
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What's happening soon?

Thursday worship Thu 24th Jun St. Mary's Church, Chipping Norton More info
Kintsugi Hope wellbeing course Fri 25th Jun The Parish Rooms More info
Remix Fri 25th Jun Glyme Hall More info