Josh Cook, our youth worker writes …
There are currently nearly 30,000 young people aged of 10-19 in Southampton. A huge proportion of these are in secondary schools across the city. Just over 700 of them attend the school that is in sight of our church building at Upper Shirley High school (USH).
Over the course of the last few months, there have been significant developments in the relationship with the school and opportunities for the church to be involved in the school. The foundations of these developments were laid in the faithfulness of the USH prayer group which has met termly over a number of years to pray for all aspects of school life.
In recent months, we have worked in partnership with the school on a Remembrance project for year 7 students, researching and honouring the lives of men from Shirley who fought in the First World War.
In the meantime, a partnership has also been developing with Young Life international, a worldwide organisation which aims to bring the message of hope of Jesus Christ to every young person, everywhere, and has been working in local schools in other parts of Southampton.
Over the course of the next few months, there will be opportunities for me to work more frequently in the school in mentoring young people, working with young people who struggle with the everyday normalities of school life and providing a Christian influence into school life.
It would be great if you were able to join with me in praying for this growing and developing ministry area. Please pray for an openness and receptivity to both the message of hope that is faith in Jesus and to me personally
“The foundations of these developments were laid in the faithfulness of the USH prayer group”
‘On the 11th February, we received the sad news that Retired Bishop Cyprian Bamwoze of Busoga had passed away. He had been battling cancer for some time. Cyprian was the inspiration behind many of the links between Southampton and Busoga, including our link with Bupadhengo, He was instrumental in setting up the Busoga Trust together with other initiatives in support of development for the people of his Diocese. The family will struggle to meet the funeral costs so any contributions towards them would be very much appreciated. You can do this by writing a cheque to Enable Busoga or, if you prefer to make a direct transfer, please email email@example.com and we will send you the bank details.
The last part of our 'I could never be a Christian ...' series saw retired scientist and church minister John Williams talk about how he would respond to those who say "I believe in science instead." He spoke about his personal journey as both a scientist and follower of Jesus. You can listen to his talk here.
For those who want to explore further the interplay between science and faith, there are lots of helpful resources around, including:
'Test of faith' - a series of videos including interviews with leading scientists. Watch excerpts here or buy the full course here.
"Creation or evolution: do we have to choose?" by Denis Alexander, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at the University of Cambridge.
"Can science explain everything?" - a new book by Prof John Lennox. You can watch a trailer for the book here, or an extended interview about the book here.
"God's undertaker: has science buried God?" by Prof John Lennox.
"Inventing the universe: why we can't stop talking about science, faith and God" by Prof Alister McGrath.
And here's the video of the recent debate in Southampton: can science explain everything?
The third part of our 'I could never be a Christian because ...' series looked at how to respond to those who say 'Christians are hypocrites.' It's a fair and important criticism for us to take on board. But does it rule out a belief in Jesus?
You can catch up with the sermon online and also download the discussion guide and sermon slides here. (Please note that the end of the sermon includes a drawing on a flipchart, which we have tried to re-create as additional sermon slides - that part of the sermon will make more sense viewed alongside the sermon slides!)
For those who want to explore this issue further, you could look at:
Mark Clark "The problem of God"
Michael Green & Nick Spencer "I'd like to believe, but ..."
Amy Orr-Ewing "But is it real?"
On Easter Monday, Dan will be starting ‘Extended Study Leave’. Here he explains why …
Clergy are encouraged to have some extended time out every 7 to 10 years. I’ll have been ordained 19 years by this summer, and have been in Shirley for 7 years – and yet I’ve never had opportunity for such a break from ministry.
In days gone by, ‘sabbatical’ was the phrase used rather than ‘Extended Study Leave’ – picking up on the biblical idea of Sabbath.
My three months of time out from the parish will include both elements. As sabbatical, I hope it will be a chance for some spiritual renewal and refreshment. I’ll go on a retreat and read some books.
A sabbatical is supposed to include time for rest as well – I’m looking forward to being able to go away at the weekend (something I can’t often do!) to visit friends elsewhere.
As a family, we’ve booked to visit some missionary friends in Lebanon for 3 weeks during the schools holidays. That will be an amazing trip for us all - experiencing a different culture and seeing what it looks like to follow Jesus in the midst of Syrian refugees and Lebanese locals.
My 3 months will have a ‘study’ element as well – I’m going to be researching and trying to write another book. Whether anything actually comes to print remains to be seen, but it’s an idea I’ve had in mind for years, and it seems like a good opportunity to give it a go.
What will happen here in Shirley? I’ve every confidence in the staff and wardens to carry on leading our church in my absence – I’m looking forward to hearing what God does once I’m out of the way!
“I’m looking forward to hearing what God does once I’m out of the way!”