The nights are drawing in and – like you – we are trying to find new ways of saving on our heating. My parents-in-law bought me a heated gilet for my birthday, which is lovely but does not help with the cold fingers on the keyboard. Perhaps, typing this to you all will help to warm them up!
What’s been going on?
Three of us recently attended a conference in Derbyshire called ‘Leading your church into growth’ and we have come back with lots of hope and enthusiasm for ideas to improve the way that we can welcome children and families back into our churches. I presented these to some of our church leaders who were keen to try out many of them. And it has also been suggested that we run a new course after Christmas for those exploring the Christian faith.
We are already working to improve our interactions with children and families. Recently St Paul’s had a very successful family quiz night with hot dogs and much fun for all ages. And, a few week’s ago, Rev Paul McNally, (who used to be the curate at St Paul’s) offered to lead a joint youth group for the local churches in our area. This will follow on from the successful confirmation prep – which saw 17 young people meeting weekly at the vicarage – and be led by members of both our churches.
We had a fantastic Harvest Festival at St John’s with the school and were blown away by the number of parents who came to support their children. I am so grateful to the team who provided drinks and to our amazing children’s team who held the fort during the talk! We do need to take risks and we also need to learn from the new things we have done, so that we can plan better for the future.
On October 30 we had another joint service at St John’s, when the Children’s team hosted a ‘Light Party’ for children from both churches. They also organised hot dogs for the rest of the church after the service. Someone wrote to me after the service and said; ‘It really felt like I had come home!’.
What’s coming up?
The Connect group leaders continue to meet over the next few months, working through the Generosity Project (https://matthiasmedia.com.au/pages/the-generosity-project) and preparing to launch some new home groups (now called Connect Groups) in the New Year. We really want to encourage you all to consider being part of a Connect group. They are a great way to connect with God, connect with each other and connect with our communities. And, as the church grows, this will be an important way for us to pray / learn together and to care for each other as we reach out to our communities.
Remembrance Day will be celebrated this month at the cenotaph at St John’s at 3pm with representatives from the scouts, the school, the community and the deputy mayor. At St Paul’s there will be a quieter, but no less meaningful, celebration as part of the main service.
Confirmations on Thursday 8th December – please join us at St Paul’s at 6pm and, if you can, bake a cake for the children and families for afterwards. We are delighted to have our very own Bishop Philip with us.
Christmas will be celebrated with crib services in both churches, a more formal Carol service at St Paul’s on the 18th and a travelling carol service starting at St John’s and ending at St Paul’s for the Cafe Service – details TBC. We will be sending out leaflets to both our parishes with details of the Christmas services and the times and places will also be in the Parish magazine or on the website. Please pray for the members of our community who only attend once or twice a year – that this might be an opportunity for them to consider again the good news that Jesus came into a dark world to bring us His light.
‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.’ John 1.5.
Finally, I would like to ask that we all remember those in our community who will be worrying about how to put food on the table and how they will heat their homes this winter. Please be assured that this is something that we are mindful of every time we pray and meet to worship. Our support is also reflected in our commitment to give financially to the foodbank in Accrington and to many, even less fortunate, in the UK and beyond.
May God bless you this November as you share the love of God in word and action in your families, friendship groups and beyond.