This week it's been so exciting to see our Parish Rooms become more populated and lots of our activities starting up again. From very small people at Monday Mums and Mini Moments, through to Life Skills and Kintsugi Hope for adults, it's great to feel even more like community again; and it's very evident that with everything going on we're definitely outgrowing our building! This week there are two easy (and free) things you can do to help The Branch project along, which you can read about below.
Our sermon series on Ephesians has been inspiring and it has been great to hear how last week's reading on the Armour of God has captured the imagination of some of the younger congregation members, as well as hearing about how different members of the congregation incorporate their armour into their regular prayer lives.
The big lesson of Ephesians is Unity in Christ, and this week our small group thought about how we use the Armour collectively as well as individually. One group member mentioned how the Roman soldiers used their shields in a "tortoise" formation (pictured).
One source tells us: "The shields fitted so closely together that they formed one unbroken surface without any gaps between them. It has been said that it was so strong a formation that men could walk upon them, and even horses and chariots be driven over them."
One Shield of Faith is great, but lots of Shields of Faith combined is even better!
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
LIFE SKILLS CELEBRATION PICNIC
We were recently able to celebrate the end of our 4th CAP Life Skills course with a picnic at Sarsden Glebe. The sun broke through the clouds and the rain stopped for a treasured 2 hours enjoying the beautiful gardens and sharing food together, in a Covid safe way of course!
This Life Skills course was done via Zoom due to lockdown 3 so this was the first time we had been able to gather together as a group face to face. This in itself was cause for celebration and it really was joyful to be together to chat, laugh and enjoy each others company, and celebrate what we had achieved on the course. Despite many challenging circumstances, technology issues, changing childcare needs and babies nap times, the members completed the course sessions covering subjects from budgeting, managing home energy, and cooking on a budget through to communication, healthy relationships and wellbeing. The members all set and achieved numerous goals and one said:
"Life skills is brilliant! I now budget and plan my weekly meals better and it has reduced my food waste which has saved me money. I met a great bunch of ladies all with similar mindsets and I looked forward to seeing them every week for a chat, even if it was on Zoom. It came at the perfect time; I didn't realise I needed it as much as I did."
This week we have now started our fifth Life Skills course with 8 new members and we are so excited to see what God is going to do. As I reflect on one course finishing and another starting I am reminded again of Ephesians 3: "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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
TWO EASY THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP THE BRANCH
Nominate The Branch for an award
Insurance company Ecclesiastical will shortly be launching their Movement for Good awards for 2021 – a programme designed to give £1million to charities.
Each charity will receive a £1,000 donation. Anyone can get involved by simply nominating an eligible charity, and we'd love for you to nominate The Branch. You can nominate between Monday 24 May and Sunday 13 June.
Click the button below to find out more on the Ecclesiastical website.
(If you'd like to nominate The Branch , the full charity name is The Branch Trust, Chipping Norton (CIO) and the charity number is 1191055.)
Support the building plans by leaving a comment
The planning application for the redevelopment of The Branch has now been submitted to WODC.
During the next phase of the planning process any member of the public can go to the WODC website to comment on the plans and say whether they think the plans are a good idea.
If you're new to church or you've been around for a while but still feel new, then we'd love you to come along to the newcomers lunch after church this Sunday.
There will be some delicious snacks and nibbles, a chance to meet the team and find out more about church, and it will be a perfect opportunity to meet other people who have joined recently.
We're working on a contingency plan for the bad weather!
Any questions please talk to one of the team at church on Sunday.
REMIX IS BACK!
We're so excited to be able to tell you that Remix is back, starting today!
Our weekly community youth club runs from 3:15 - 4:45pm at Glyme Hall. Come along for games, sport, a café and a chance to chat. Please pray for the young people and volunteers.
Alpha continues each Monday at 7.30pm via Zoom. Please continue to pray for those leading and those attending.
These times have raised some pretty big questions for us all. It may be that you, or someone you know, has got questions about life, death, the future, God and…well, everything.
We’re running Alpha Online; a chance to watch a video about some of the questions around the Christian faith, and then chat about it together online.
Alpha continues this Monday. Meet at 7:30pm to watch the 20ish minute video. Or watch the video beforehand and join at 8:00pm to discuss.
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
The 3rd Big Church Read
The Big Church Read is a scheme to get Christians reading more Christian books. The third of these events starts on 24th May, and you are invited to join other Christians across the country in reading a particular Christian book over the same period - a bit like a book club but with hundreds of members!
This time the selected book is Pete Greig's "How to Pray". This is your chance to join Pete as he walks you through his book over six weeks. Head to the website where you can watch Pete's weekly videos, download the reading plan, buy the book and sign up to receive emails to help you along.
Also on the website you can find out which other books are coming up. The 4th Big Church Read is planned for September and will feature "Bouncing Forwards" by Kintsugi hope founder, Patrick Regan. We'll send you a reminder nearer the time.
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.