Helen Bathard writes …
I didn't get a chance to write a blog in December with wrapping things up at work and Christmas, but I hope you all had a peaceful and joyful time and enjoyed one or more of the Christmas services we had here at St James' by the Park.
To start our PCC meetings off, we have been taking it in turns to give our testimonies, but we've all taken our turn, so we're now looking into a short bible study. We like to spend a bit of time reading God's word, and in prayer before we get down to business!
Our first order of business was to run through a quick review of how things have been since we changed our service pattern. This not only affected our congregation but also the many people that support our services. Without them, we simply wouldn't be able to run our 2 services every Sunday. If you don't yet support one of the many activities at church and you'd like to, there are many ways you can get involved. We'd love to hear from you no matter what your gift is! Take a read of 2 Corinthians 9 v7-8.
Next, we discussed all the research that has been done to date about our mission priorities. This involved surveys and also talking to people in our local community, other churches and local government. We are really trying to get a well rounded view about what we should be focusing on. We will be spending more time looking at this and praying about it before any decisions are made.
We had a quick update from Chris on our buildings project. We need to put an access document together as part of the pre-planning application, so we approved that next step.
The PCC have an away day coming up in February in Brockenhurst. Being new to the PCC this will be my first one of these so I don't really know what to expect, but will be nice to spend more time getting to know each other as a group and more time focusing on business.
The congregation from Sunday@3 took their annual pilgrimage to Brockenhurst over the Summer. Esther Clift writes ...
For some folk this is the furthest they have travelled for some time, so the delight of pointing out familiar landmarks, and memories makes the excursion all the more fun! It’s a chance to hear more about one another’s lives -
I didn’t know June was born in India, nor that her parents were both faithful members of the congregation, as church warden and church hall supervisor, and how hard it was for her to go into the hall after they died, as it was filled with so many memories for her.
Rev Neil Smart (a former curate at St James' by the Park, now vicar in Brockenhurst) had put together a great Songs of Praise style service with the Ringwood Salvation Army Band blowing their hearts out for us.
It was such a lovely sunny day, we were arranged under a tree to get some shelter from the sunshine. The brass band drew in folk who were passing, and neighbours to St Saviours who came out to see what was going on! There was a glorious celebratory atmosphere - a continuation of the party the day before to celebrate Neil being at Brockenhurst for 10 years.
Some of the folk were asked to tell their own stories through the hymn they had chosen. One lady explained that ‘To be a Pilgrim’ had been her school hymn, which she had sung though out her childhood with no idea as to its meaning. She’d done an Alpha course, more recently and met the real Jesus who she now follows, and the penny dropped for the old hymn!
It’s such an encouragement to hear peoples’ stories and their journey of faith, and to see that older people are also coming to faith. We have in this demographic, the last cohort of people who lived in the ‘Christian’ era (as apposed to our post Christian current days). Most people went to Sunday School, and have the basic teachings of Christianity as part of their schooling. But many have since moved away from a personal expression of faith, for a whole variety of reasons. Its really encouraging to see people re-engaging as they think again, or as they look for another community to engage with, and find the church to be welcoming, and relevant to where they are at. Research suggests that older people who have a sense of purpose and hope, often age much better than those who don’t. This gives us a compelling reason to invite people to join our community of faith.
Do you have an older neighbour you could bring along to Sunday@3? (which meets on the third Sunday of each month)
Or is there anyone in your family who might resonate with our quieter contemplative services at 9 am?
We are also planning a ‘Neighbourly Love’ tea party in conjunction with Communicare on February 10th in the Parish Hall, for anyone in our wider community, who might like to get out a bit.
Who might you invite?
The Barbara Project enables disabled children in Busoga, Uganda - an area with whom we have strong links. Katy and Penny will shortly be going out to help this work again ... so here's an update on developments over the last year.
There have been some positive developments over this last year with encouraging progress towards sustainability.
Benson our rehabilitation worker is undergoing an official training course and once completed will be a qualified Community Based Rehabilitation worker: the only one in Busoga! Benson loves this work, has a brilliant manner with the children, and he is conscientious and caring. In July Benson carried out two village assessment clinics with Stephen (a Ugandan physiotherapist) so the project is beginning to run without Katy and Penny actually being there.
This project began in 2011 since then we have seen attitudes towards disability changing in the villages where we have held clinics and workshops. The provision of exercise regimes and essential mobility equipment has given many disabled children the chance to attend school. This has also enabled some of our young disabled adults to gain employment.
2017 has been an expensive year for the Barbara Project which has provided funding for Bensons training course, his one day a week wage and fuel for his work in the villages. Also a substantial amount of essential mobility equipment, prescribed by Penny and Katy, was purchased this year. So we need your help for this project reaching some of the most marginalised people in Uganda.
a) please pray for continued wisdom for all involved in the project.
b) if you'd like to give financially, give to the Parish Office, Penny or Katy , or make an online gift (which can be gift aided). For details e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webale Nyo !