Church News

ChurchSuite

No, I’m afraid it’s not a new, fancy-shmancy room installation in the church. You may recall a while back we mentioned that we hoped to move to some cloud-based, church admin software. Churchsuite is that. In slightly less technical language, this is a computer/mobile phone based system that we hope will improve our church organisation and communication.

 The intention is to use it for things like rotas, calendars, contact details and organisational communication. Further down the road, it has the capacity to be used for event bookings, payments, training modules and targeted emails. We’re all signed up and most of the database has been populated, but at this point we might need this from you:

i)      If you suspect the email address we hold is out of date – your latest contact email;

ii)    Without a GDPR Consent form for us, we can’t include you on the system.

 Please send either/both to Margaret at the Parish Office and we will shortly let you know what the next steps are for getting the system up and running.

NB The photos of the crocuses above and snowdrops and crocuses below were taken in St John’s churchyard on 14th February. They can be seen in the top part of the churchyard. A stroll up there to see them will lift your spirits.

Snowdrops & Crocuses in St John's Churchyard.jpg

Crocuses and snowdrops in St John’s Churchyard.

Electoral Roll Fun

You’re right – they’re probably not three words that you readily sandwich together. But we’ve reached that point in the administrative cycle when  we have to create a completely new Electoral Roll. The fun part is that everyone gets to join in – yay! No matter how many years we have been on the old roll, we all have to submit a fresh application form to appear on the new roll, so please take an application form and fill it in today (preferably), or return it the next time you come to church. Alternatively, you can give it to Paul Kingman, Jackie Barter or Geoff Batten, our three Electoral Roll Officers.

 If you are not already on the Electoral Roll, please consider adding your name. You must be baptized, at least 16 years of age (or sixteen on your next birthday), and live in the parish, or have worshipped at St. John's for at least six months.   Membership indicates you view St. John's as your spiritual home and you'd like to be involved in the shaping of our future. It gives you the right to vote at our APCM on April 28th, or to stand for election to the PCC.

Good Mental Health For All: Through All the Changing Scenes of Life

Southwark Diocese are continuing their hard work to promote awareness of mental health issues, and how we might best support one another through them.

 The above day conference will be held on Saturday 23 February, 10am-3pm at St Mildred’s Church in Addiscombe, CR0 7EB. It includes the involvement of organisations like Mind, The Children’s Society and The Association for Pastoral Care in Mental Health. It will be a great opportunity to hear from experts in the field, as well as local churches who run projects aimed at mental health and wellbeing. There will also be a market place of resources.

 If you want to book, please email – Marlene.Collins@Southwark.Anglican.Org

 

Discerning our Gifts

This is the next subject in our ‘Gifts’ series that Dan will be speaking about on Sunday.

 In the coming weeks, we’ll be suggesting a few different tools that are available to help us work out together what our respective gifts might be. We are also giving thought to a ‘personality test’ that we could do as a whole church – to help us get to know one another better, and understand how we each might exercise our gifts. So watch this space…

 Another aspect of this whole arena is the idea of ‘calling’. Exploring vocation often takes time and space, and so the Diocese offer regular Quiet Days to facilitate this. The next one is on 8 February, 10:00am-3:30pm. It offers a mixture of short talks, reflections, prayer and plenty of room for personal prayer and reflection on the ways in which God might be calling. If you are interested please let Jon know.

New Sermon Series: "Gifts"

Back in November, we met in the Assembly Rooms and discussed ways we might come to a clearer understanding of what our individual/joint strengths and gifts might be.

 Part of the fruit of those discussions is this new series, which we will be running up to Lent. It will start by drawing us right back to our purpose/vocation as humans, but will consider how we discern, exercise and grow our gifts, and reflect on the relationship between ‘spiritual’ and ‘natural’ gifts. Through the series we will also offer different tools to help people gain a clearer insight into their gifting.

 On 24 March, we’ll get back together in the Assembly Rooms with a view to re-invigorating some of our Teams, and thinking how we can give expression to our gifts for God’s kingdom. 

New Alpha Course

Our 2019 Alpha Course starts on Thursday 24 January, 7:45 pm at SJ’s.

 

We’ve already had three people from the community sign up on the back of our Christmas Services, so we’re encouraging you all to extend an invitation to the people you know. There will be some postcard invites available next week, but you don’t need one of those to make a good, old fashioned face to face offer to someone who may be interested.

 

You can point them to our website for further details about the course. But as usual, we will  provide a meal, there will be a short video clip, and the opportunity to knock around questions on the subject matter of that evening.

 

Make it one of your 2019 resolutions to pray and ask someone!

Merry Christmas & a Joy-Filled New Year

This is a 2 week edition of our News Sheet, so you might be reading this waiting for the cork to pop on the imminent Christmas celebrations, or the festive frenzy has passed and you’re picking yourself up for the arrival of 2019.

 Either way, I hope there is opportunity to breathe deeply and take a moment to reflect and give thanks. 2018 might not have taken shape as you hoped, but the Christmas narrative reminds us that amidst real pain and insecurity, God continues to sprinkle reminders of his presence and promises to us. As we pull together the aspects of our Advent series, I hope you experience the faith, hope, joy, and peace that are found in Christ with us. God Bless.

Christmas Connections

In the next couple of weeks we will host more people from our community than at any other single point in the year – with possibly over a thousand visitors coming through our doors.

 That’s both a great privilege and responsibility.

 I’m guessing you’re not surprised to receive a plea from your vicar to pray about all these ‘hospitality moments’, but I’m going to get specific and ask you to send up a prayer every time you do something ‘Christmassy’ – eat a mince pie, wrap a present, listen to a festive tune, hang a bauble…

 It would be a true Christmas blessing if all the people who were joining us made a connection not just with St John’s, but with the Christ we worship. Amen. 

A Prayer for Advent

Lord Jesus, 
I give you my hands to do your work. 
I give you my feet to go your way. 
I give you my eyes to see as you do. 

 

I give you my tongue to speak your words. 
I give you my mind that you may think in me. 
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. 

 

Above all, 
I give you my heart that you may love in me your Father and all people. 
I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.

 

Lord Jesus, I give you my spirit that you may pray in me.

I give you my heart, Lord that you may love in me.

Advent Encouragement

We are often invited during the season of advent to step away from the bustle of the season and run from the maw of the monster mammon – all with a view to connecting more deeply with God. It’s good advice, and supposed to offer encouragement. But I suspect many of us struggle to follow the guidance. Instead, the advent invitation can leave us with feelings of guilt and frustration. Control of our diary at this time of year seems laughable, and we’re often running to stand still…

 If that strikes a chord with you and your spiritual pulse feels like it beating a little faintly, then draw some advent solace from these words from C S Lewis:

“What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those which are least supported by devotional feeling…these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard.”

Are You Ready?

That’s not supposed to read as some panic inducing question, querying whether you’re geared up for Christmas. It is however one of the lingering thoughts shot through the season of advent – what does it mean to be prepared for an encounter with Jesus?

 On one level, we hope that is a daily experience. On a different scale, advent reminds us that there will come a time when there will be an even greater immediacy to that encounter. In the meantime, prayer and stopping to take breath are good ways to ready ourselves – so that when the time does come, we will meet a friend, not a stranger.

 To help, there will be an Advent Quiet Evening on Tuesday 11 December, 7:00-9:00pm. Take the opportunity.

A Call to Prayer

Bishop Christopher, the Bishop of Southwark, has put out a plea this week for churches across the Diocese to pray for the end of knife crime and serious violence in our communities.

 Together with London Diocese, Southwark have been hosting the Pan London Churches Serious Violence Summit. It may seem like a distant reality in West Wickham, but the increase in knife and gang related deaths in the last few weeks has been taking place in communities not so very far from where we live. The Bishops are seeking ways to work with others to find ways to combat this spike in knife crime, but would love these discussions to be underpinned by prayer – prayer for an end to such violence, as well as healing for all those who have already been affected by this painful trend.

 

Remembrance Sunday

This year, Remembrance Sunday falls exactly 100 years after the signing of the armistice at the end of the immense suffering of WW1. In a time when the act of remembrance can stir mixed opinion, it is important that we are clear about the nature of what’s going on.

 I turn to one of Bishops (Richard Kensington) for a lead on at least 3 things that we are doing:

i)        Taking time to remember properly the suffering and tragedy of human conflict, and the sacrifice of so many people who gave their lives to build a better world;

ii)                   Reflecting deeply on the causes and condition of our human situation;

iii)                 Renew our commitment to strive for a world of peace and justice.

Pathways to Independence UK

The above is a Community Interest Company providing housing and support to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC). It is looking for support from local people.

 When children arrive in the UK, they will receive support from social services as a looked after child, providing them with accommodation and subsistence support. This is where Pathways to Independence UK comes in as they provide specialist support, accommodation, information and training for 60 young people in Brighton, Redhill and Croydon.  In order for these young people to succeed, community support is vital and in addition to practical items, such as fleece blankets, night lights, hats and gloves, they would also welcome gifts in kind.

 Please see the attached information sheet about the support that is needed and ways we can help, as well as information about a volunteer role to join their new Connect project.

Assembly Rooms Next Week

I hope you’ve all noted that next week we are meeting in the Assembly Rooms on Gates Green Road for our 10am service.

 For those of you who have never been there before, one of the reasons we go there intermittently is that it offers a very different ‘space’, which lends itself to chatting and getting to know one another more easily than our church building. In terms of the focus for the morning, we’ll be thinking about where we are with our Teams and setting out some of the things we may explore in early 2019.

 That falls under the broader hope of wanting to initiate a process whereby we encourage people to explore and identify what their gifts and strengths are, and how they give expression to them – all with a view to making strides in one of our expressed priority areas of ‘equipping people to engage where they are’.

The Happiness Course

Now rolling out "for real" after our test run in the Summer!

 We are launching the course on Friday 9th November at SJ's, running for 4 consecutive weeks.  It’s a free, practical course available to all.

 Although it’s something most of us want, happiness can mean very different things to different people.  This is a chance to join others in exploring the subject and consider what makes for a fulfilling life.  It’s not a series of lectures, but an interactive approach which involves sharing experience, watching short videos, looking at good evidence (some of which will surprise you!) and generally step back from daily life to take stock.

 Time :  7.30 - 9.30 pm,  refreshments from 7.15 pm

Venue: SJ's, 56 Croydon Rd, Coney Hall, BR4 9HU 

Booking or more Information: Contact Penny Seabrook (Tel: 07912 870528), or Dawn Tickner (Tel: 020 8462 1573)

Autumn Scheduling

We’ve got an exciting few weeks coming up, with a few changes to our usual schedule. So here you go:

 28 October          We begin a new series exploring hospitality called ‘Table People’. We hope to demystify hospitality and recognise that so many encounters Jesus had happened around a meal table.

 4 November       We will be meeting in the Assembly Rooms for our 10:00am service. We’ll let you know nearer the time what we’ll be thinking about together, but for now, please note the change of venue.

 18 November    George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation, will be preaching at our 10:00am service. George is known for his passion for Christ and will challenge us in what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome

The greeting extends to one and all as we gather this morning to celebrate Harvest together. We make a couple of special mentions though. One, to our Uniformed Groups as they help us celebrate this annual festival – as always, it’s great to have you with us, and thank you for all the contributions that you make towards our collections.

 Two, it’s great to have the Simpson family and their friends in our midst, as they give thanks for Aaron and mark that with baptism. We hope you’re able to jump on board with the celebrations today, and it’s our privilege to share this special occasion with you.

 All of that makes for a fairly full service, but we hope the unifying mood is one of giving thanks to God for all that’s good in our lives.

Autumn Fair

Hopefully you’ve all grabbed a flier about the Autumn Fair, if not posted some of them around the parish. We’d now like you to come along - this Saturday, St Francis Hall, 11am-3pm.  It’s a great opportunity to pick up some early Christmas gifts, with lots of new and unusual gift and craft stalls this year!  You can also support Link to Hope by visiting one of our church-run stalls including refreshments, the loot bag tree and re-gifting.  

 There are things people can help out with:

-          Please bring any cake donations to St Francis Hall on Saturday morning (from 9am) or drop to Angela at 124 Copse Avenue on Friday evening. 

-          6 volunteers to do half an hour each of handing out Autumn Fair flyers in the high street (on corner of Ravenswood Crescent) between 11am and 2pm.  It’s an ideal job for families (who would refuse a flyer from a cute child?)

-          Help on stalls for an hour or so between 11am-3pm

-          Setting up and packing away.

If you’re able to help, please speak to Angela Walters. Thanks.

Harvest Update

Here are further details of the arrangements for our Harvest Celebrations this year:

 Harvest Service: 7 October followed by a ‘Bring and Share’ lunch in the grounds of Wickham Court. If your surname starts with a letter A-R, please bring something savoury, and if S-Z, then please bring a pudding.

 Money Collection: We are asking people to donate to the charity Hope4Malawi, which we recently heard about from Julia Cernoch. Speak to Julia, or google search them for more details.

 Food Collection: We are going to collect for the Bromley Borough Foodbank. They are currently asking for the following items – rice pudding, custard, cold meat, men and women’s deodorant, washing up liquid and washing powder.

 Slip it in the diary and let’s celebrate God’s goodness together.