Dear JohnPaul Church Family
You are often in my thoughts and prayers.
Summer comes as a big change for our families: juggling work and school-age children at home, but generally being less frantic without so many clubs and hobbies.
For others of us – without children at home – we have managed to get away for some sun and have hopefully avoided the fires in Europe where they have experienced soaring temperatures.
I know for those of us who have holidayed in the UK we have been dodging rain and trying to make the best of our beautiful green isle. Ever heard of the ‘Glad Game’ in the books about Pollyanna? Pollyanna was an orphan, whose parents used to be missionaries, and one day a barrel arrived with presents for the missionary children. But, when they opened it, Pollyanna only found crutches. Pollyanna was so disappointed until she discovered the ‘glad game’ and found she could see the best in most situations, however, dire they might be. I think we have all learned to do that through Covid, in some pretty difficult times.
As we move towards the Autumn and the cost of living continues to rise, I am really thankful for my lovely house which has been a blessing to me and enabled me to host a lovely afternoon tea for some of our older folk from both churches on one of the few sunny days of the summer. Many of the ladies made delicious scones and cakes and folk from St Paul’s and St John’s were able to catch up.
While we too worry about the cost of heating our lovely Vicarage, there are many who will struggle to pay bills over the winter and keep their homes heated. We have re-started Toast Time at St Paul’s and are hoping to re-start a new style toddlers group at St John’s at the usual time on Fridays. We now offer Coffee mornings or a Domino drive three times during the month for our older folk. Is there more we can do? More importantly, is there anyone with a passion to reach out to our community – using either the lounge or the church hall – between 9am and 3pm?
Families @ 5
We have now had two really encouraging meetings about the launch of our new contemporary service in the Church Hall at St Paul’s.
We had observed that fewer and fewer children were coming to church at 9am. We love our quiet, sacramental service at St Paul’s, but it does not seem to appeal to families with young children, especially since we lost our children’s team. We also did a bit of research and asked a number of families why they had stopped coming after Covid. Many said it was the early start, the lack of children’s work, the more formal service, or that their children had clubs and sports on Sunday which did not finish until 4pm.
So, we decided to create a more informal family service at 5pm on Sundays with food and contemporary music in the church hall. There will be a joint time of worship first, then the adults and youth will split off from the younger children so they can do age-appropriate activities. We also thought by offering food we would take pressure off the Sunday evening before school for busy parents.
We have a super group of people including teachers, specialists who work with children and many of the old Café church team, who are providing leadership to this new initiative. We have a practice service on the 24th of September, where we hope to iron out any glitches, before we launch to the wider public on the 8th of October. We will be meeting on the second and fourth Sunday of each month until we see regular growth and then we hope to meet weekly.
Could you join our Children’s Team at St John’s?
Although it has been incredibly hard to lose Joyce, Rebecca and Sally, it has been really encouraging to see young mums and dads come forward willing to support the ministry. New people have been willing to help lead the ministry to toddlers and their parents on Fridays, the All Age Service and now with the ministry to children during Sunday services. However, we are particularly short of a leader for one week each month. Could you be that person? We need someone who is particularly good with under 5s and is confident speaking in public. But mostly we are looking for someone who is just willing to give it a go! And allow God to do the rest. This could be a good opportunity for someone who wants to get into working with children but needs more experience. We will provide plans for each session and someone else will put together the crafts.
You will have heard that we have bought back the monthly prayer meeting – the first one is in St Paul’s vestry at 7pm on the 30th August and will alternate between the two churches taking place on the last Wednesday of every month. The next one will be in St John’s church lounge at 7pm. We would particularly value your prayers for the following:
· Most of our Connect groups re-start w.c 11th September. We will be using the MOVING ON material which is a great follow up to the START course – but also provides a refresher for all of us, find out more; have a look on line https://www.leadingyourchurchintogrowth.org.uk/the-moving-on-course
· For the new Families@ 5 service – prayer would be much appreciated that people would invite friends and family to come; perhaps grandparents might bring grandchildren? Pray that people would see our advertising and give it a go. Please pray for the new team, as we work out how to make the service the best it can be and as we start to develop new relationships with people from outside the church.
· After I gave an input at the PCC recently from the ‘Leading your church into Growth’ team we noted that we need to offer more Sacred Space (quiet reflection, peace, silence) at St John’s. So, we are delighted that Rev Hilary Murphy, who has recently gained her PTO (Permission to Officiate), has offered to celebrate Holy Communion straight after the Community Coffee on the third Tuesday of each month. We hope to have the first one on Tuesday 19th September in the St John’s Church lounge.
My prayers are with you all that you would find ‘sacred space’ with God.
Please also remember our children and young people as they prepare to return to school and some to change schools.
God bless, Amanda
Vicar of JohnPaulChurch