The Turning Final Update

The Turning is only a week away, and here are the final details for the programme:

7 Evenings of Worship, Prayer & Testimony

Sunday 22 September, 6:30pm @ Coney Hill Baptist

Monday 23 – Friday 27 September, 7:30pm @ Coney Hill Baptist

6 Mornings of Training & Outreach

Monday 23 – Saturday 28 September, 10am – 1pm

Monday & Tuesday @ Coney Hill Baptist

Wednesday & Thursday @ St Mary’s, Hayes

Friday & Saturday @ St Francis, West Wickham

We are looking for people to pray, be involved in the outreach on the streets, and engage in follow-up conversations with anyone who expresses a desire for that (any or all of those). There will be a sign-up sheet in church on Sunday, or if you’re not around then, send Jon an email.

The Turning Update

The Turning initiative is only 3 weeks away, so here are a few more details that we have received about what’s happening locally:

 ·         The programme will kick off on Sunday 22 September, 6:30pm at Coney Hill Baptist, with all the churches praying for the week and worshipping together;

 Throughout the week (Mon-Saturday, 23-28 September), there will be a pattern of morning and evening gatherings:

 ·         The morning get together will start at 10:00am at St Francis (other possible venues to be confirmed) for training and prayer, followed by sharing faith on the Hayes, West Wickham and Coney Hall ‘High Streets’, finishing up with a debrief;

 ·         The evening meeting will take place at 7:30pm at Coney Hill Baptist for prayer, testimony and worship – encouragement for the next day.


New Term Looming

I don’t want to prematurely draw a curtain on the Summer season, especially not on a Bank Holiday when we’ve actually got some sunshine! But as we approach the start of a new academic year as a church, there are a few new ventures and updates in the pipeline for the Autumn:

  • Going online with ‘Church Suite’ - the new tool for some of our Communications and Publicity;

  • Refreshing/ Development of our Teams;

  • An experimental initiative called ‘Learning Leadership’;

  • Our Church Weekend Away.

I’m deliberately not giving details as yet, but keep your eyes open for information on all these things in the coming weeks. In the meantime, enjoy whatever is left of the sunny days.

Jesus said, "I am ..."

In the sixth century St. Gregory composed a commentary on the book of Job and he is famous for saying that “Scripture is like a river . . . broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim.”

As we study the I Am statements of Jesus this summer it astounds me that Jesus was able to use imagery like these to help all of us understand more of who he is, what he is like and why he came to the earth.  There is a broadness and depth that makes it shallow enough for our new believers to wade in but deep enough for our scholars and theologians to swim in.

This morning, I (Amber), will be mentioning how God has been using imagery in The Lion King since I was 9 years old to help me better understand my friend Jesus and help me to understand Scripture more.

Is there any imagery that helps you to understand our Heavenly Father more?

Thank You

In September you will receive a further update about the Sunday morning and mid-week activities available for our children and young people. Very slight changes are being made that will hopefully ensure that these activities best support our children, young people and families.

 Our mid-week group 14+ is set to have the biggest change as it moves from a Thursday to a Tuesday evening. All three of our mid-week groups will then be on the same evening helping the children and young people to transition between the different age groups. This has come after many months of consideration.  

One of the huge disadvantages of this change is that Guy Harris will no longer be able to lead the group. Guy and Rachel initially took on the responsibility of the role two years ago. Over the last year Guy has mentored and supported these young people and has talked openly and passionately about his faith, sharing with them what it means for him in his everyday life. Amber and the young people are going to miss the weekly input, enthusiasm and passion that he has poured into 14+.  

So, a big thank you Guy and Rachel for all you have done for 14+ over the last couple of years.

Wickham Grange

If you haven’t clocked the branding, Wickham Grange is the name of the new collection of town houses and apartments currently being built nearby. In more homely terms, we’ve have the privilege of a new community appearing on our doorstep. We’ve been liaising with Roxanne, the sales representative, and she confirms that it is hoped that the building works will be completed in the next 2-3 months, in readiness for Autumn sales. She has also offered to take people on a tour of one of the houses and site next Sunday after church (11 August). If you are interested, gather together as a group after the morning service and make your way over to the Sales Office.

 In the meantime, we are working together to include a profile of St John’s over there, and discussing ways we can work together to extend a welcome to new home owners.      

Summer Hols

We’re rapidly heading towards the close of another Academic year, and the start of those Summer weeks, where people head off in lots of different directions.

 It can feel like a slightly fragmented time in terms of ‘church life’, but whether you are stepping foot onto foreign shores, or staying at home, we hope there is some genuine space for rest and refreshment. With that in mind, we’ll be spending the next 6 weeks exploring some of Jesus’ ‘I am…’ sayings – many of which speak into the nourishment of our souls.

 These will be ‘All Together’ services. Amber has been doing a lot of thinking and research around our worship life across the generations, so we are continuing to tinker with these times together to be a rich occasion for people of any age.  

Open Church

With our church building situated on the route of a couple of walking trails, there is a fair amount of footfall passing our doors. Over the Summer, we are going to give people treading those paths an opportunity to grab a rest, and if they want, to find out a little bit more about St John’s story.

 We’ll be opening the church on certain Sunday afternoons to visitors, offering refreshments and history tours of the church/churchyard. The plan is to open up between 2-5pm on the 18 and 25 August. If you feel that you would like to be involved – could offer an hour or so on the day to assist visitors, want to help prepare the church, or generally contribute, then we would love to have you come along to a meeting at the church on Sunday 21st July at 2:30pm. We will take you through the history tours and sign people up to help. If you have any questions then please contact Dawn Tickner on 0208 462 1573 or speak with Jackie Barter.


Hopefully, it hasn’t passed you by that next weekend is our annual camp for 8-14 year olds. A big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the planning and all those who will be helping run the weekend.

 The fun and games will be taking place at Downe Scout Activity Centre. We are inviting families to join us on Sunday 14th July for our meeting at 10-11:30am. There will be no Creche, Sunday Club or Explore Together available at St. John’s on this day. After the meeting the WHOLE church family are invited to come to a church barbeque at 12noon, followed by a kids and adults rounders match at 1pm-2pm.

 If you are able to come and help set down and pack up tents from 9am on the Sunday it would also be hugely appreciated - especially by our Tent Man Jonathan Tickner who will have just done a whole weekend with 40 children and young people! We look forward to seeing you there.  

Good Friday

There is a different format to our Churches Together activities this Good Friday.

 We’ll meet at St Mark’s Church at 10am as we have in years gone by, but rather than the ‘walk of witness’ and gathering in the Swan, there will be reflections taking place at 6 stations at different points in the High Street.

 Different Cafés and shops have agreed to put up posters in their window during Holy Week, depicting some of the themes of Good Friday – Fear, Betrayal, Forgiveness, Hope, etc. Groups will gather at these points to distribute Hot Cross Buns to the public, but also partake in a reflection around the theme that is at their venue. This will then be followed by a service at St Francis, with Children’s Activities in the church hall.

 The more people who opt to support this event, the more effective it will be, so we hope you can join us on this day which lies at the heart of our faith. 

Churcher Family Farewell

Hopefully, you have all registered the fact that Peter’s last working day in the parish is on Easter Sunday.

 To give him and the family the send-off they deserve, we’ll be having a big tea and cake party immediately following the service on that day. We recognise that Easter will mean commitments for many of you, so we will bring the shedding of tears to an end in plenty of time for you to make it to any lunch engagements.

 That’s about all we can give away publicly (wink, wink), but it’s also worth reminding you of the date of Peter’s installation at his new job in Ilfracombe – 13 May, 7pm. If you were thinking of making the trip, or hoping to but weren’t sure how you might get there, please can you let Jon know so we can think about travel arrangements.

Maundy Thursday

In a change from our usual Maundy Thursday activity, both Coney Hill Baptist Church and St John’s have been invited by West Wickham & Shirley Baptist to join them to see the Riding Lights Theatre Company present ‘The Narrow Road’.

 If you haven’t seen any of the Riding Lights productions you are missing out. They are one of the UK’s most successful independent theatre companies, with international renown. Amazingly, we’re being offered tickets for free, so if you’d like to come please can you sign the sheet in the Information Point.

 As an alternative, there will still be a communion service taking place at St Francis at 7pm on Maundy Thursday evening, to which there is also an open invitation.


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.

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. 

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.