In my current professional guise, I get to work with quite a few charities, helping them with strategy, governance, evaluating their impact and sometimes getting stuck in as a frontline volunteer myself. Over the last year, I’ve worked with charities in areas as diverse as foodbanks, community gardens, science education in schools, prisoner rehabilitation, homelessness and mental wellbeing.
It would be easy to get downbeat about what is wrong with our society, that so many people have so many needs. But it’s also amazing and uplifting to see the passion and commitment of the various volunteers and staff alike, in their determination to start putting things right.
A large part of “what works well” in nearly every area I’ve looked at is actually about rebuilding a sense of local community. Academic studies on “happiness” tell us that it is often the loss of hope and of social connections that makes people’s lives more miserable. And that rebuilding a real sense of community, and rebuilding faith – both in other people, and religious faith – will do just as much to improve people’s happiness as an increase in income.
Which perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise to us. Jesus didn’t worry about his income, he trusted in the people around him that all that he needed would be provided. The early apostles set aside special ministry for those caring in the community (Acts 6).
As we have used the vacancy as time for a reflection, we have become clearer that our church is more a serving church than an overtly evangelistic one. We strongly believe in quiet but persistent demonstration by action of our faith and fellowship, to the each other and the wider community.
Gifts of the spirit come in many forms. If we’re right that this is ours, then I say “Amen” to that.
A good number of people turned up in mid-August to the two discussion sessions about the ‘Scoping Document’. It was sent to the small scoping group who will come to meet us (and then Elmers End Free Church) on Monday 30 September. Reminder: ‘scoping’ means how much ministry we will get when the vacancy is … Continue reading A Time of Reflection
Our calendar year may start on 1st January but for me September always feels more like a new start as the academic year begins. I realise that for almost all of my life it has been the predominant cycle; starting with being at school myself, then university, then accountancy training. Even in the period where … Continue reading September New Start
It is a wonderful time of the year, holiday season is in full bloom. All thoughts of winter and the problems it can bring are forgotten, especially the bad weather! The sun is out (well it has been so far), Wimbledon has brought its normal excitement and surprise results, Five test matches against the old … Continue reading Friendship and comfort
Dear Friends, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:v11 It was so encouraging to attend your first Church Meeting since Bill’s retirement and to find you all in such good heart. The amazing send-off for Bill on 2nd June was still fresh in … Continue reading Encourage one another
This is the montage that was put together and shown in the afternoon. Enjoy your retirement Bill. … Continue reading Bill’s retirement celebration 2nd June 2019
As I write this, we’re finalising preparations for the service on 2nd June when we celebrate Bill’s 13-year ministry with us. It’s a time to look back, but also to look forward; to compare the routines of the past with the varied leadership of the future; to think of where Bill has led us, to … Continue reading Change
I am delighted that you have agreed to my appointment as your interim moderator. As such I shall be supporting you in this time of vacancy and providing assistance in the process of seeking your next minister. I am a member of Christ Church URC Petts Wood where I am currently church secretary having served … Continue reading Welcome
“This will be my last pastoral letter as minister of Emmanuel URC and Elmers End Free Church. I thank every one of you most sincerely for all the love, help, support and encouragement you have given myself and Marion these past thirteen years. It has been a privilege and a joy to have ministered with … Continue reading And Finally
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all people.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) So wrote the apostle Paul from the town of Ephesus, (which some of our number visited on our 2015 pilgrimage to Turkey) to the young church at Corinth (where again a party … Continue reading Easter
In the bad weather in December a side fence at our sister church at Elmers End blew down and in the process one of the upright supports blocked a fire exit. Thanks to the excellent work carried out by our contractor, Gus Lansing and his team, EEFC now has a brand new fence and the … Continue reading Mending Fences
As I write, the country (especially Parliament!!) is divided on the ongoing issue of Brexit with no consensus of opinion seemingly in sight. The issue of trade agreements looms large in Britain’s negotiations with the EU. I think one trade issue we can all agree on regardless of political persuasion is that it is right … Continue reading Fairtrade Fortnight