Happy Christmas … and some important information

Christmas is here at last and a lot of people will be finishing work today. I hope you have a Fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year, whatever you’re up to.

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Some key bits of info:

The Welcome Church offices will close from 3pm this afternoon, and although people will be in and out for various things in the next two weeks, “normal service” will be resumed on Tuesday 8th January. In emergency do use people’s mobiles, or else email info@allwelcome.uk which will be checked from time to time.

Building work ceases for the Christmas season from today as well. The builders will be back on January 2nd and full demolition of the houses will start shortly after that. For site safety reasons (what’s left of) the Car Park will stay closed over Christmas and New Year too.

We will be meeting on Sundays 23rd and 30th December at the H G Wells Conference Centre as normal. On these Sundays there will be one meeting at 10am. I’m preaching on the 23rd myself and I’m really looking forward to it. Don’t miss it!

On Monday 24th, from 4pm – 5pm, we have our Families Christmas Celebration, aimed at Primary School Aged children. This is also at the H G Wells Conference Centre and will be lots of fun. Bring your kids and grand kids for a fun time. There is space for a few more helpers to serve drinks too.

An important date for the New Year

On Sunday 13th January we have our first Vision Focus evening of 2019. It will be at The Welcome Centre, 6.30 – 8.30pm. The main focus of the evening will be to talk about a new approach to the subject of church membership.

Lots of people have asked questions about this, and this is our chance to get some answers and to find out how our Belong, Believe, Become approach will be shaping our future together even more.

It’s going to be a great evening, and key to our future together, so book your baby sitters now.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas time and that you know the Peace of God, the Presence of Jesus and the Joy of the Holy Spirit whatever may come. And remember: really it’s all about Jesus.

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Our Welcome Church Story

Our church has a fantastic back story, which has been written across a time span of 139 years. It was founded in 1879 by Edward Tarbox who seems like a fairly impressive guy to me; a heroic ‘wall-builder’ in God’s Church.

A few years ago John Gloster wrote a history of our church, covering the period from 1879 to 1999, and it makes fascinating reading. This year he has produced Book 2, and it looks like this:

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In this new book John traces how God has grown Welcome Church from its early roots as Woking Baptist Church. He recounts how God has led us from the early days, on through the Coign Church years until today, when more than 600 men, women and children are sharing His ‘Welcome’ with the Woking community and far beyond.

Copies of the book are available at the Welcome Centre, costing just £5 (£1 less than the price on Amazon) but, as all profits are going to Welcome Church building fund, feel free to pay more than £5, if you wish! 

John will also be selling copies after the 10.00 a.m. service at HG Wells on Sunday 23rd December.

And what a great idea for a Christmas gift, or for some Christmas reading for yourself. 

The book is fascinating, whether you’ve lived through many years of the Church’s history yourself, or are a comparative newcomer wanting to know more about the heroic ‘wall-builders’ of our past.

And rumours are that Book 1 is getting a makeover too and may be available again in 2019 as well. I’m looking forward to that.

A Carol Service For Woking

I’m really looking forward to our Carol Services this Sunday 16th December (at 4pm and 7pm at the HG Wells Conference Centre).

The services will be fairly traditional: Christmas carols, readings and a short message from guest speaker Adrian Holloway, who never disappoints. There will be BSL signing at BOTH services, and there are some excellent performance pieces too.

To get a taste of the carls in advance, you can listen to one of our amazing performance pieces, O Holy Night, right here. It’s performed by Jo Petch, Owen Petch and Steve Bradfield. Turn it up loud and enjoy:

 

Or click here for a link to it on You Tube.

This year the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking will be joining us for the 4pm service, and some other Councillors will also be with us at each service too. We are so grateful for all that these people do to serve our town all year long; let’s make sure we thank them.

While each of the services take place, there will be a Christmas Party for Primary School Aged kids taking place upstairs at the same venue, so the kids can enjoy the party and adults can enjoy the carols; it’s a win for everyone.

We finish up with free mulled wine and mince pies too.

All in all it looks set to be a great event, so please come along and please invite your friends and family too.

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Recent Travels & Some Future Plans

You may know that in addition to my role at Welcome Church, I’m also involved with Commission more widely. In that role I’ve been out and about a few times lately:

Regional Celebration

46503824_10157865078449692_8412979250755272704_nOn Sunday 18th November I was speaking in the evening at a Regional Celebration for three Commission Churches held in Epsom. The churches involved were Kings Church Epsom, Open Door Church Sunbury and Jubilee Church Shepperton. Epsom have just recently joined Commission so it was great to be there with them for the first time.

I spoke on the topic of Seeing People Clearly, covering some of the material from our own Belong Believe Become preaching series.

I really enjoyed the evening and was pleased to give one of my favourite shirts an outing too. Big thanks to David Maskell for coming with me.

Eldership appointments

The following Sunday evening, 25th November, I was at Bridge Church Newbury appointing three new church elders: Mark Landreth-Smith (Lead Elder), Pete Carter and Alastair Clark.

This was the first set of eldership appointments for this newly planted church, which is a church plant no longer … now a full fledged church.

Jo came with me and it was great to be with them for the evening, and to see the excitement, passion and vision of the people there.

On the same day, in the morning, Chris Kimbangi was appointed as the new Lead Elder at Centrepoint Church in Guildford following Boggles and Jill Harty moving on. Chris is married to Catherine and they have two small girls. Chris was also part of my team back at Grace Church (before I moved to Woking).

I wasn’t there for the morning, but it’s another big step in the life of a church that was planted from us here at Woking. I’m really glad to have Chris and Catherine just up the road and the early reports are that things are going well.

Week away

In between the two Sundays David, Dean, Dub and myself had a week away, as an Eldership Team, in a remote cottage on Dartmoor to talk, pray and plan for the future … with no phone signal or internet!!! 🙁

We had a great time that included looking at some 360 Feedback on our leadership styles (with help from Robin Willison), the role of eldership, pastoral care plans for the future, plans for life groups, plans for integration of new people (with help from Chaz and Mazz McCallister) and future leadership development. We also had the odd visit to a pub (purely to access their Wi-Fi!)

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We now have lots of plans formed for 2019 … YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!😃

Compassion UK

One more thing in case you missed it: Dean is currently in Kenya with the child sponsorship charity, Compassion. He flew out on Thursday morning … and landed back at Heathrow a couple of hours later due to the plane’s undercarriage malfunctioning!

He says it was pretty tense on the plane as it came in to land, but the stewardesses were excellent (nice one BA). He then flew out again a few hours later, this time getting all the way to Nairobi (we hope 😃). Do pray that he has a safe trip and a life changing experience.

This trip is giving Dean the chance to look at the work of Compassion in Africa, something I did myself a couple of years ago. It was an experience that still lives with me.

Next year we will be launching a project with Compassion as a church (although not in Kenya). Look out for more details of how you can get involved with that in the New Year.

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