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14th January 2023

Dear Church Family,


I hope you had a good Christmas and you all got the chance to rest, relax and enjoy time with family and loved ones. I certainly have come back feeling more refreshed than I was at lunchtime on Christmas Day. It’s always important to ensure that we’re making time and space to recharge our batteries after busy seasons in life.


Thank you to everyone who played a part in the Christmas Services in December. We had a good number of visitors who came along and partook and we hope that some will return this month as well as those that come along to Alpha. A particular highlight in December was the Christmas Party we had – there was a real sense of energy, life and fun as we gathered to be together. It honestly is such a blessing to be a member of this church community.


It was however sad to have lost Anne Shire so close to Christmas, and we are only just beginning to realise the extent to which she was at the core of all that we do as a church. She will be very much missed, not just for what she did, but for who she was also. Her funeral is scheduled to be 11am on 20th Jan in the church. This service will be the first after the new carpet has been laid, which seems very fitting for she loved the building so.


As I’m starting this year there seems to be a number of important things happening in the life of the church. The most imminent of these is the transition to a weekly two service worshipping pattern with the 9am Traditional and the 11am Contemporary Services becoming the norm, with our monthly Joint Service at 10am on the first Sunday of each month. I’m hoping that you will find a “home” in one of these two services.


Just to explain the two services…. 


The 9am Traditional – will be modelled on the 9am services we’ve been running on the 3rd Sunday of the month over the last year. So we’ll have liturgy, hymns, and robes. What we’re trying to achieve is a proper “Anglican” service.


The 11am Contemporary will have extended times of sung worship using newer worship songs. There will be less liturgy and a more informal feel. We will run children’s ministry on the 2nd and 4th Sundays and retain the All-Age Worship for the 3rd. 

The sermon preached at both services will be the same (although may vary according to audience) apart from the All-Age Service on the 3rd Sunday of the month.


As we move to the new service pattern and transition back down to the building at the end of the month with the momentum that this brings, it is a perfect time for each of us to invite those we know to come along and join with us on a Sunday. My guess is there are some who still live locally who have drifted off for various reasons. Maybe because church wasn’t formal enough, or possibly not as dynamic as they wished.. or just because the cicumstances of life meant that it became less of a priority. Whatever the reason maybe it’s time to invite them back to experience this new season? We’re hoping to have some postcards printed up that you can take and give to people as you invite them. We’ll let you know on Sunday’s where to get them.


Additionally, you will know some people that are looking for community, love and belonging, and church is a place where they can experience those things for themselves, and hopefully they will encounter Jesus in our midst?


As an aside In regards to the 9am in particular, we recognise that some who may want to come may not be able due to bus times. If you know of individuals where this is the case, can I encourage you to think about giving them a lift? As a church if we organise a lift service centrally, then there is a lot of mandatory administrative work involved, but if this was done individually then it would not apply. I’m hoping that we can be the church to each other in this, and recognise the need on an individual basis and fill it, rather than have an overly bureaucratic centralised mechanism? I know this happens for some already, but it’d be great to grow in this across the church community.


Similarly to the “Season of Invitation”, we’re running the Alpha Course as a church this term, starting on Tuesday 10th Jan. Alpha provides the ideal opportunity for those asking the bigger questions of life, or just for those you know who need the hope and inner transformation that Jesus bings to come and ask questions and explore what the Christian faith means. It’s not too late to ask someone if they’d like to come aloing to Alpha… pick up an Alpha invite card in the lobby and have a go at inviting someone along…. 


At the end of the month (22nd Jan) we have the Bishop of Salisbury coming along to officially open the building and bless it after all the restoration works. Having moved to a two service format, for that week we’ll move back to a single service starting at 10am. The idea is that we’ll reverse the process of walking between the buildings at the start, as we did last February when we ceased worshipping in the church. So if you’re able we will gather at 10am at the Parish Centre that Sunday before we walk down to the church building.


I’ve asked +Stephen to not only bless the building, but also to commission us as we “begin again” with a refreshed vision and take up occupation in the church as a spiritual beacon at the centre of our town, reaching out to all who need Jesus in our community. I’m hoping this will be powerfully symbolic for us as we start this year of pursuing the growth of our church community, but also seeing how we can play our part in building the Kingdom of God.


The summer is a long way ahead but it is my intent to go along to New Wine’s summer conference “United” which this year will be at the Kent Event Centre near Maidstone. I’d love for as many of us who are able to come along. These weeks for me have proved to be spiritually invigorating and refreshing, but also provided opportunities for those who do go along to deepen relationships with each other. I love going, and so I want to invite anyone who wants to come along to sign up. We’re going to Week A and you can sign up here:www.new-wine.org/events/United23 - if you do so by end of Jan you can take advantage of the early bird rate.


Many Blessings