All around us we see changing understandings of human identity, changing patterns in relationships and families, changing sexual attitudes and activity.
What does it mean for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today?
Living in Love and Faith is a five-session course which provides a structured and accessible way for Christians to learn about and reflect on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. It is open to anyone from any parish in Southampton Deanery, and will be held over Zoom. Each session will include some reflections on the Bible, listening to people's stories and discussion together. It will be facilitated by the Revd Professor Liz Stuart of Winchester University.
Dates: Wednesdays 19, 26 January; 02, 09, 16 February 2022 all at 7.30pm. If you're interested, please register here
St. James’ by the Park Church donated part of its 2020 surplus to Enable Busoga and together with the regular monthly donations during the second half of 2021, these funds were used to support FLEP(Family Life education Programme) since it ran out of funding earlier in the year. Consequently, the organisation has been able to continue delivering health services to the rural population throughout Busoga. This includes running a vaccination program against COVID 19.
Within Uganda as a whole, the COVID 19 vaccination program has picked up considerably in recent months. Jabs are now available to all over 18 years of age and by the end of the year, 10 million people should be fully vaccinated! Church congregations are now able to meet regularly in limited numbers and all schools should return in early 2022 provided pupils have been vaccinated.
Here is Chris Kyewe’s report on how the money was used:
• FLEP health facilities have been partnering with district local government health departments including district health offices and health facilitities to extend COVID-19 vaccination services and information in the hard-to-reach communities of Kamuli, Bugiri and Namutuba Districts. Health facilities received an assortment of vaccines that included Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca vaccines.
• Community mobilisation to create awareness on the availability of vaccines was conducted through village megaphones, posters and the radio station.
• The vaccination exercise was conducted at the health facilities with outreaches at some sites.
• Every individual who was vaccinated recieved a vaccination card indicating their vaccination date, vaccine received, dose number and when to receive their next dose.
• 95% of the vaccines administered were the first dosage.
• The vaccination exercise is still on-going.
• The vaccination results from Muterere and Mpulira Health facilities are still being compiled and will be shared in due time.
Furthermore, the funds given have contributed towards the reconstruction of an important, long-established health centre at Kisozi which lost its roof during a heavy storm earlier in the year. The roof is now being replaced and the local community is contributing funds and materials to make good the inside of the building.
Chris is hopeful that FLEP will be able to secure new funding from January 2022.
We’ve all heard about the toppling of statues of historical figures with links to slavery. We haven’t got any statues, but what if we had some plaques which pedestaled such people (or their equivalent) in words?
The Church of England has drawn up some excellent guidance for parishes on how to review items of ‘contested heritage’. This is very timely, following on from Dan’s sermon series on “Race, God and the gospel”, and our desire to be a church which is truly welcoming to people of all backgrounds.
Andy Sawyer has done an amazing job looking at all the memorials and other items in our building, to see which ones might be dubious and need considering further. The Church Council recently received his initial report. History buffs will be interested to read it! You can download it here.
Church Council member Geoff writes …
Reflecting the current church theme of Discipleship, the meeting started with a reading from John 15 and some time thinking about what it means to abide with Christ, i.e. to remain and be conscious of Jesus in different areas of life, and in particular how this may have been affected during different phases of the recent pandemic.
This was followed by feedback from the recent online PCC training evening, organised by CPAS, and attended by several of our PCC members. In general it was agreed that our PCC meetings work reasonably well, normally keeping fairly close to the scheduled timings for the different agenda items. However there is always room for improvement, and several refinements were suggested and discussed.
Safeguarding always needs to be an item on the Agenda. Rosie Brookes, our Safeguarding Officer, presented a brief scenario for us to consider to help us engage with the issues involved. Although there is quite an overhead in establishing and maintaining these processes, they help parents and others to have confidence in us, and also act as a protection for our staff and volunteer helpers.
There was some further discussion about the sale process of St John’s church. This is now proceeding quite rapidly, with those wishing to buy it needing to submit sealed bids by early December. We needed to think a little in advance about possible outcomes (e.g. bids from other church or faith groups, or use for redevelopment in some form) as shortly the PCC will need to decide how to respond to offers made.
The meeting concluded with a brief review of the meeting and a time of prayer.
Marie writes ...
As the nights are getting chillier and drawing in, the PCC spent a fruitful evening together to consider various aspects of church life.
In line with the current sermon series on discipleship, we began by thinking about some of the things that form our spiritual beliefs and behaviours, both unintentionally and intentionally. We focused in on ways to intentionally grow to be more like Christ, such as building a habit of reading the Bible and praying, being part of a Christian community and hearing Christian teaching. We were reminded that the desire and power to make these changes come from the Holy Spirit living within us, whoever we are. The resources we used to help our discussion were from talks by John Mark Comer – if you are interested you can watch his short talks on Unintentional Spiritual Formation and Intentional Spiritual Formation.
Like all older buildings, the church at St James' by the Park needs maintenance and upkeep. Every 5 years all churches undergo an inspection by an architect to work out what needs to be done and whether it needs to be done urgently or whether it can wait. Our new buildings maintenance manager Steve Condell has revisited the last inspection, which was done in 2016, and highlighted for us the things that need to be done within 5 years of the report that we haven’t done yet! The first of these was lightning protection, which will cost around £5,200. The second is the church clock, which requires cleaning and repairing of the mechanism (£3600) and restoration of the dials (£14,600). The third main issue was areas of the brickwork that need repointing to keep them waterproof; quotes so far come to around £4,000, but there are some other quotes still to come. The PCC had previously agreed to use up to £31,000 from our 2019 and 2020 surpluses on our buildings, so we decided to use some of this money to install lightning protection, repair the clock mechanism and to do the repointing. We will investigate grants towards the cost of restoring the clock dials before making a decision about it. We are grateful to Steve for his hard work on all this.
As we wait for the building plans for the Parish Hall to move forward, we received a proposal to reorganise and redecorate the back room of the hall to make it more warm and welcoming. This room is used by a number of groups but is uninviting and could be used much more than it is. As it will be at least 18 months before any building work is likely to begin, the PCC agreed to spend around £1,000 to pay for a revamp of the back room. Thank you to Zoe Craggs for all her great ideas!
Each year our church is invited by the Diocese of Winchester to give towards the Common Mission Fund – a pot of money used to help churches across the Diocese. The suggested amount to give is based on the wealth of the area in which the church is, with the aim of enabling churches who have more money to help those who have less. You can find out more about the Common Mission Fund here. In past years we have felt it appropriate to contribute more than the suggested amount (because the relative wealth of our congregation is greater than the relative wealth of our geographical area), and we hope to do the same again if possible and so will draw up the church budget for next year on this basis.
There are a couple of new groups that we have set up: a Buildings Finance Group to oversee the financial aspects of our exciting building plans, and a group to look at our ministry to the 18-30 age group.
As you can see, a lot of this month’s meeting concerned how to best spend the money we have been entrusted with. We are so grateful to God and those who sacrificially give to the church for making these things possible as we seek to be Jesus’ disciples within the church community and beyond.
Thank you for reading.
Marie, on behalf of the PCC