These items are extracted from the church's monthly magazine 'The Quintet'. You will find many more itmes of interest in the magazine itself. It is available from the back of each church at a cost of 70p per issue. You can also subscribe to the Quintet for £7.00 per year, which is a saving of the cost of two copies per year. Just give your name and contact details to a member of the clergy and we can set you up. You can also contact the editor, Richard Pomeroy, 01858 462273, who can help you.
From the Clergy - August 2018
Revd Bryony Wood sees a metaphor for life in our long summer.
My garden is so dry! The ground is cracked and parched and my once green and lush lawn is yellow and bare. The bees have given up looking for clover and buzzed off elsewhere in search of nectar. I'm watering pots of newly planted flowers to keep them alive yet very aware water is becoming a precious commodity.
This week in my thirsty garden I'm prompted to reflect on something deeper and how this links to a life of faith and our reasons for actually going to church.
This hot summer is a season that really illustrates the image in Psalm 42 of the deer longing for streams in a desert. We then read, ‘My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…’ We have been reminded this summer that living in the dry place is hard, uncomfortable and unfruitful, yet when enough water is poured onto cracked flowerbeds that welcome drenching can revive wilting plants. Surely this offers a picture of our own need for continual drenching by the Holy Spirit and the living word of Jesus to bring spiritual refreshment.
It’s the glorious sunshine that makes the ground so dry; that and the lack of rain. For most people that combination of dry weather and sunny days equates to a ‘good summer’ (in moderation of course). However it’s also a salient reminder that often in the ‘good times’- when our world is bright and clear-that we could become spiritually dry and parched. Because it’s these times, when things are going well that we can forget to rely on God and instead are tempted to rely on our own strength. In the storms however, those tough times of life, we cry out to God and dig deep for his guidance and strength and rest.
As I potter in my garden and walk in local parks across tinder dry grass I’m aware that we, like our gardens really need to keep spiritually well-watered. I'm reminded too that we are not solitary creatures designed to be totally self-sufficient. As every garden needs a gardener and someone to both plant seeds and pull out the weeds, so we all need each other and that’s why it’s important to be rooted into a church community. As a garden needs feeding, watering and nurturing offering a safe space to nurture seedlings so we need to be in a community of faith, all learning, growing, challenging and encouraging each other.
As we look at what our churches are becoming we can give thanks for each person and each opportunity and how these delights of ‘God’s garden’ represent a growing community of faith producing ‘healthy blooms’ and more ‘seedlings’. Our vision is that every person in our wider community comes to know they are loved by God and a precious part of His living, growing, fruitful kingdom. And as people usually notice beautiful gardens and want to pause and appreciate them- so we are reminded of another God-given challenge to really blossom where we are planted!
So as I carry my watering cans from tap to flower pots I am praying that God would also water my soul and help me grow deeper in faith. The ‘water of life’ is essential – the promise of Jesus that He is the one who nurtures us through our relationship with Him. I might well be heard singing that song, ‘as the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you…’
All of us are like beautiful plants growing towards the sun - The Son. Growing yet needing divine tending, weeding, being pruned and watered- together. Seeking and soaking in the Water of Life through prayer, reading God’s word and meeting together to be inspired, refreshed and invigorated to bloom and grow for the glory of God. Who knows when the rain will come- but I do know every season has both its blessings and lessons - may this be a season of blessing for you and may we all learn to keep our spirits well-watered.
Team Vision Day: ‘It’s not about us – it’s about our Community!’
How can the five Anglican churches most effectively reach out to the 93 per cent – the huge majority of the 23,000 population in the parishes who don’t yet have a living faith in Jesus Christ? Lin Ball focuses on this question as she reports on Team Vision day last month
That was the big question facing all those who gathered for the Team Vision Day in June.
Team Rector Barry Hill reminded everyone of the Archbishop William Temple quotation: ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.’
He said he wanted us to challenge the statistics that said that across Europe someone is 33 times more likely to join a new church than an existing one, and 33 times more likely to become a Christian in a new church than an existing one. Developing both ‘what is’ alongside ‘what could be’ will be key, he stressed.
Like the mustard seed
The Church, said Barry, is like the mustard seed – it’s small, but it grows deep roots so can grow bigger; it makes a big difference; and it re-seeds itself.
During a number of group discussion times during the day, members from the different congregations had opportunities to say how they felt about progress since the last Vision Day 18 months previously, and what excited them about ideas for the future.
Generally, it was felt that the passions people outlined in January 2017 remained, and that progress had been made. These passions were broadly defined as:
· Being more inclusive and welcoming
· Offering more people the opportunity to become disciples of Jesus
· Discipleship – deepening our faith
· Serving the community and being a witness
· Tackling social injustice
· Working more closely with other churches and Christian organisations in the town
Most people felt positively about recent changes, such as the influx of newcomers to the new 9.15 service at St Di’s, and ‘changes in gear’ to activities already happening across all five churches. Plans or discussions are in hand for:
· Starting ‘café church’ at Great Bowden
· Potentially a new youth-led worshipping community across the Team (possibly based at St Hugh’s)
· Further development in serving those who are older and more isolated
· Giving more opportunities to grow as disciples
· And (longer term) several other new worshipping communities.
Desire for unity
Concerns were expressed throughout the day about how to develop more unity within and across the congregations and churches, as well as becoming much more prayerful. Also, fresh challenges to outreach could be identified, particularly with the new housing planned – 600 new homes in the Transfiguration parish and 1500 in Lubenham.
And many people were concerned that more should be done to connect with teenagers, at a time when there was real worry about the mental health of young people.
Barry explained that it was hoped to extend Dawn O’Connell’s role as Children and Families Development Worker. Her current 3-year contract will finish in August but, after consultations over the last year with each PCC, the children and young peoples’ steering group and Team Council, a proposal has been agreed for her role to become permanent.
Dawn will take on strategic oversight for 0-18 year olds across the Team alongside the appointment of two Apprentice Youth Workers (each working 22 hours a week).
Half the money for this is being bid for, from the Diocese and a local charity, along with the five churches needing to sacrificially and generously increase giving (the cost locally being £100,000 over the next four years). Barry described this as a ‘significant step of faith’ to help meet the needs and opportunities across the town and villages.
In an exercise to discover what were felt to be the attitudes and behaviours that would help or hinder forward momentum in fulfilling the churches’ vision, people voted that the most helpful attributes were being welcoming, accessible and open, with devoting more time to prayer coming a close second.
In terms of attitudes and behaviours that hindered, the vote went to being critical, inflexible and grumbling as being the most unhelpful.
All responsible for growth
Bryony Wood, Team Vicar at Great Bowden, took up the theme of how the responsibility for growth rests with all of us.
‘Within the Body of Christ in Market Harborough, you are all called and chosen,’ she told everyone. ‘You are appointed and anointed; and when God calls, he equips.
‘Our purpose and passion are not about wanting a job or a title, but about being children of God, loved unconditionally, and called to be a blessing to our community. If we don’t, who else will?’
Countering the impact of loneliness
It’s a sad truth that many people spend their days with only their TV or
their cat for company. Loneliness, said Mother Teresa, is a terrible poverty. In western society, with its increasing emphasis on the individual, the consequent loss of community feeling has a great impact – and that is felt particularly keenly by the elderly among us.
Tea@Three aims to alleviate loneliness and isolation in Market Harborough by providing a warm and welcoming gathering on Sunday afternoons – regarded by many as the time when being alone feels hardest.
‘I like to get out of small flat on a Sunday for what can be a very empty day,’ says one regular guest. ‘I particularly enjoy singing some of the old tunes.’
Another says, ‘It’s great to be in company and mingling with people who are in similar situations. And it’s good to be getting some mental stimulation!’
The programme for Tea@Three on the last Sunday of each month is a varied mix of music, games, fun activities and interesting speakers – always accompanied by plenty of cups of tea and delicious homemade cakes. In the summer there is an outing to a local place of interest. The meetings provide an enjoyable opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones.
The venue for Tea@Three is St Dionysius Community Hall, on Coventry road next to the Harborough Medical Centre. As a number of those who attend have mobility issues, many are collected on the community minibus, with a qualified driver and his able assistant.
Although linked to the church, not all who attend Tea@Three are churchgoers. Some perhaps attended many years ago. No distinction is made, but all are warmly welcomed. No charge is made, though a number are happy to make a donation to running costs.
Please contact David Palmer on 07505 968767 or email email@example.com for further details.
Tanzania and Zambia
Julie Fagan ‘girds her loins’ for a profound and adventurous experience
On the back of the Tearfund quarterly magazine there was a photo of two little girls. The older one was trying to console the younger one who was crying inconsolably because she was so hungry – a deep hunger I have never known. My two granddaughters are of a similar age and they often hug lovingly and console one another. The photo made me weep.
Another painful picture is of a parent holding a dying child, dying for want of clean water or through malnutrition or the disaster of climate change with floods or drought and famine. And then there are people living in war zones too and their terrible suffering or trying to migrate to escape. I can’t begin to imagine their anguish and sense of powerlessness.
How can people hold on to their faith in these circumstances? How does God help them? (I know he weeps with them.)
Tearfund invites people to go to one of the projects they work with, to learn and help as much as possible. It is something I have wanted to do for some time. My caring role prevented it until recently but now I can manage it.
The only project I could visit in August (to fit in with term time responsibilities) was in Zambia for two weeks at the Jubilee Centre (See www.jubileecentre.org ) an HIV/Aids support project. (The alternative was a craft project in Peru! With my total lack of craft skills maybe not!)
My application was accepted and to help me prepare I’ve attended a weekend of training in a youth activity centre in Wokingham, where most of the people were under 40. It was great to be with them. There are five of us going to Zambia and the weekend gave us a chance to get to know one another.
Team building, thinking about poverty, culture, hearing about the project, practicalities, safety – don’t swim near hippos – and the like; it was interactive with a lot of humour, inspirational too.
Tanzania - When I first said I was looking into going abroad, son Jonathan suggested I visit Tanzania to see the educational project that he has been supporting financially from some of the 10% he donates from his company’s profits. Son Jeremy’s friend Grace runs it with her husband Festo Kanungha. Jeremy got to know Grace through the Penzance Venture children’s mission when he went as a helper.
Looking at the map of Africa, I noticed that Tanzania was geographically next door to Zambia so Jeremy made contact with Grace and Festo, Church Mission Partners, who said I was very welcome to visit. See www.churchmissionsociety.org (CMS) and look for Festo and Grace Kanungha there to read about them and their project. It looks inspirational. (CMS requests that they organise their own financial support. They have reached 60% of what is needed.
If you can help them by regular giving, however small the amount, they would be very glad of your support. It can be set up through CMS. St Dionysius Church supports Freda Carey a Church Mission Partner in Pakistan and she is also very grateful for financial support. Many thanks if you can help them. Freda is back in the UK at present.)
The preparations continue and I am well outside my comfort zone! Vaccinations, visas, travel including how to journey across Tanzania to Ndola in Zambia, (I have a new appreciation of our public transport systems) and all the rest is slowly being sorted plus being personally ready, setting off on 7th August and returning on 1st September. And yes, I will be glad of your prayers!
There is a worship song called Oceans. It is about stepping out on the water, based on Peter asking Jesus to join him when Jesus walked on the water to reach his disciples, just before dawn. (Matt 14 22 – 33). You can watch it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw The song feels very relevant.
Welcome to Andy Giles – new Resourcing Church Curate.
Barry has announced the appointment of Andy Giles to the team from July. Here Andy introduces himself and his family.
I am delighted to introduce myself to you all as your soon to be Curate. Having experienced at close quarters the life of a vicar due to my father being one I was determined never to become one myself. Instead, I spent 20 very happy years in the Outdoor Education industry, which is how I met my wonderful wife Jo.
I grew up in Surrey and Jo in Northampton, but we both had a deep love for sea and hills, so we felt incredibly blessed to live in the places our work took us - North Wales, North Devon, Scotland and for the last 15 years, Cumbria.
Jo was very clear when I asked her to marry me that her ‘yes’ was on the condition I would NEVER become a vicar.
So how did I come to be an ordinand in the Church of England? Well, it’s a long story which you can ask me over coffee, but the short version is that God took a long run up and gave me a massive kick which my wife had pre-empted by only 2 days before telling me that although she had made me promise never to do it, she actually thought I’d make a good vicar and I ought to consider it.
I had quickly dismissed Jo, however God wasn’t quite so easy to dismiss, my calling was too direct to be ignored. It took the Church of England slightly longer to agree to have me, but here we are.
Although, Jo says she’d not have given God the idea if she’d known he’d send her back to the furthest point from the sea and hills, but the tea and cake shops of Market Harborough are slowly winning her over.
We have 4 wonderful children Lucy - 16, Ellie - 15, Lydia - 12, and Caleb - 11. We also have a very energetic Cocker Spaniel called ‘Rubbly’. They all agree that their Father used to have a cool job, now they are decidedly vague when anyone asks what their dad does!
The move to Market Harborough will obviously be an emotional rollercoaster, Cumbria is all our children have ever known as home, but we know it is where God is calling us so we trust him for the rest. We are excited to come and be part of what God is doing in and through you.
Revd Andy Giles
Parties and Prayer
“They do go together,” maintained Bishop Martyn at a first of its kind service at St Dionysius last month. The Editor, along with many other townspeople, attended a special service of thanksgiving for local food and drink producers.
The best ideas are generally hatched over a glass of wine. So it was last November when Bishop Martyn, Barry Hill and James Pickersgill visited Duncan Murray Wines in Harborough ostensibly to find out a little more about local trading. It would be unkind to suggest that the visit provided a warm escape from a chilly evening.
But given that wine is mentioned 233 times in the Bible (yes, I googled it) and food many more times it was probably destined that the conversation would lead to the idea of celebrating the creation and subsequent production of man’s sustenance.
Local wine merchant Duncan Murray who helped to organise the evening commented, “The idea came up when I met James, Bishop Martyn and Barry over a glass or two of red wine in my wine bar prior to Christmas and it just seemed a bit different and a lot of fun. “
The discussion became a project with Taste Harborough which culminated in this unique thanksgiving service. It is surprising how many food and drink producers are in the region. Beer, wine, cider and gin were all represented as was local farming, food and coffee.
The service began with each of the producers placing something an item that they use on the altar and giving us a small insight into their craft.
A verse or two from the bible and a prayer followed each short presentation linking us back to the Creation. The hymns and the short entertaining address from Bishop Martyn focussed on the enjoyment of God’s creation in all its forms.
The whole evening turned out to be “a bit different and a lot of fun”. As the Church enters ‘Ordinary Time’ we were reminded by Barry that, “the Church is called to show how God offers to transform everything we do Monday to Saturday and not just on Sunday’s”. We should give thanks, he reminded us, for the ordinary things in our everyday lives.
Nothing, I suppose, is more ‘ordinary’ than eating and drinking. Stalls for the food and drink producers and suppliers were set up in the church and we were able to sample something of what they all had to offer. The community came to the church and all present thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Roy from Welland Park Cafe said “It’s really good that everyone can get together like this. It’s been a great evening”.
Kirsty from Waterloo Cottage Farm teased: “It’s nice that there’s not just grey hair here this evening!” (looking at mine, I think).
Bishop Martyn summed up the whole evening: “It’s wonderful to celebrate God’s creation with so many local producers,” he said.
The service was an undoubted success. It was a success too for the Street Pastors, present at the service and for whom a collection was made to support their work. What organisation could represent better the concept of outreach to the community than they do?
What comes next?
Derek Williams probes life’s deepest mystery
My friend is dying of untreatable brain cancer. Driving north I call in to see him. What do I say? More importantly, what do I think? As his wife makes me coffee, he asks tearfully, “Why has God allowed this?”
He is a progressive, visionary pillar of a lively outgoing church. I give him the response he himself has given to countless people he has helped over many years. We don’t know, but God is still there. “We don’t know,” he repeats thoughtfully, looking away into the garden.
We catch up on family news and he doesn’t pose the question I had expected: What’s next? What happens after we die? My answer would have begun, We don’t know, but God is still there. Later I rehearse the bullet points I would have added if we had had one of our occasional theological discussions. One day, I’ll need them myself.
We do know there will be something. Death is not the end. Jesus rose from the dead, the first instalment, Paul said, of what will be true for all (1 Corinthians 15:19,20). Further, Jesus assured the disciples, “I am going to prepare a place for you [and] I will come back and take you to be with me” (John 14:2,3).
But beyond that, we really don’t know. There are many mythical ideas, fanciful conjectures and hopeful assumptions in circulation, but you’ll find only vague hints in scripture.
We can forget sitting on puffy clouds strumming harps. Mercifully, we can also forget the heavenly equivalent of an endless church service; and a futuristic city with streets paved with gold.
These are biblical metaphors, not a sneak preview of God’s photo album. They portray an unimaginable spiritual realm in the only terms we can imagine.
Jesus’ resurrection body was a preview, though: real, tangible, and yet very new, belonging to a different dimension. Maybe physicists and sci-fi writers are not so wrong to speculate about many dimensions or multiple universes.
We don’t know. But God will be there.
It will be delightful. Paul said that to die and be with Christ was better than anything. But he didn’t want to go there yet because he had more work to do (Philippians 1:21-26). This life – every minute of it –before death is important in God’s economy; it’s not a mere waiting room for the last train to Kingdom Come.
Above all, it will be unblemished. John’s vision in Revelation, written for Christians suffering political aggression and social cruelty, assures us that “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”.
Everything will be made new and timeless: no more sun and moon, an ageless continuous present (21:4,5).
We don’t know. Then, however, we will know: our questions will be answered (see 1 Corinthians 13:12). However, it will be a community, not a hermitage. Other people will be there, some of whom we currently can’t stand.
As God loves them as he loves us, we need to practise loving them as God does. Now. And if we’re going to live in God’s presence for ever, then we need to get to know him better, too. Now.
Derek has an extended article about life and death at https://gentlerword.blogspot.com/2018/06/whats-next-after-this-life.html
An Amos Trust Alternative Pilgrimage
Two and a half years ago I went on a pilgrimage to The Holy Land and visited many religious sites. I also went to a Palestinian refugee camp and a farm as well as hearing speakers from Palestinian and Israeli organisations sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
This time the emphasis was on the plight of the Palestinians living in Israel/Palestine. The pilgrimage was ‘alternative’ because, for the majority of the time, we visited Palestinian projects in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Hebron, the Jordan Valley and Haifa. We did have a couple of days to visit the sites in Jerusalem and Galilee as well.
We learned what life is like for people who have to live in the shadow of the separation wall, are forbidden to drive on main roads, and endure the uncertainly of house demolitions.
The wall at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The painted slogan says ‘We can’t live so we are waiting for death’.
The skips are for rubbish, which is infrequently collected and so has to be periodically burned.
Hebron, where Israeli settlers have moved into the Palestinian city. We could show our passports and walk past the IDF soldiers into the settlement. Palestinians cannot do that, or return to their confiscated homes in the area.
A demolished house on the left.
Palestinians have to apply for a permit to build, but these are rarely granted, and so they are forced to build in the knowledge that the IDF can come along and bulldoze their houses at any time and with little warning.
The house on the right was rebuilt with the aid of Amos Trust volunteers shortly after Easter. The family of nine had been living in one room in a nearly refugee camp. Although they hadn’t fully moved in all 35 of us were invited inside, seated and served mint tea! This house is less likely to be served with a demolition order because of the involvement of the international community in its rebuilding
What hope for the future?
Peacemakers like these men, a Palestinian ex-fighter and a Jewish rabbi, who became united in the cause of peace once they started talking to one another – something that just doesn’t happen under normal circumstances - and started the Roots Project.
For more information please visit websites such as:
The Amos Trust - www.amostrust.org,
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions - icahduk.org/
The Roots project - http://www.friendsofroots.net/
Ma’an Development Centre