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 please 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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Final Gift Day Update

In case you missed the announcement last Sunday, I wanted to let you know the full results of our November Gift Days for the New Building Fund.

The total amount given, including cash, cheques, bank transfers, pledges, and gift aid amounted to a grand total of:

£460,000

That’s a huge amount of money … so let me say a huge,

“Thank you!”

Adding that to what was received during the Gift Days in May, it now comes to a total of £1.86m given and pledged over the course of just seven months. That is a ridiculous amount of money and represents a huge amount of faith and sacrifice by so many people. I’m a little overwhelmed to be honest!

What next?

For those who have made pledges, please do redeem them as soon as you are able.

Additionally, we do need to raise that last £140,000 needed to finish the job, so do be praying and seeking God about that.

We have several months to do it in, so for those who have not given yet, do consider making a gift, and for those who given already, please keep asking God if there is more he wants you to do.

In the mean time: THE BUILDING FUND REMAINS OPEN! 😃

Thanks. One final thing:

Building work is now underway.

Our contractors (O&D Construction) have taken over the site and put fencing up. Proper hoardings will follow in the next weeks and the demolition and construction work will develop in the months ahead. We will try to post interesting photos when we can, but this lot is the best we can do right now:

In the mean time, for your own safety, please remember that we no longer have the full car park here at the Welcome Centre. There are a few spaces available for those who are employed to work here and for a few of our volunteers and visitors to the building too, but the days of free parking for popping into town have gone!

And please also remember that the building site, behind the fences, is now absolutely off limits! We have had to remind a few people of that this week …

 

A Welcome Church Gift Day Update

This Sunday – 18th November – is the second of our autumn Gift Days for the New Building Fund.

We’re very excited by what God is doing with our building plans at this time, and in case you missed it, some of the preparatory work started this week:

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There is some work going on here …

Yep! A man in a yellow jacket dug a trench between the current building and bike shed, and some cables went in. Lot’s of mess and lots of noise.

The building work starts in earnest from Monday 26th November, and we lose the current Church Car Park permanently from that date (so don’t leave your car in there!)

It’s going to get pretty noisy and messy around here for a while, and step 1 will be the demolition of the houses … which might be fun to see.

Finances

In terms of finance, at the start of the Gift Days I announced our target: we need to raise a further £600,000 to be able to do all we plan to do. It’s a lot of money on top of the incredible £1.4m given already, and it’s going to take some sacrificial giving from us all once again.

Let’s be ready to step out in obedient faith and overwhelming generosity as we approach this Sunday’s giving, and let’s each be asking God what he has enabled us to give.

And let’s remember what it’s all for too: this building is all about the mission God has for us here as a church in Woking. We’re here to see lives changed and our community impacted for good. The new building will help us do that so much more effectively.

So let’s step out in faith and let’s do something amazing together once again.

The results after week 1 of our Gift Days are detailed in this short video – Enjoy!

This video contains sub-titles – just click on the caption button to switch them on or off.

The video should be visible above, if it’s not then please click here to view it.

100 Years Of Remembrance

On Sunday morning we marked a significant Remembrance Sunday: 100 years to the day since the end of fighting in the First World War.

Memorials

Our church has been around long enough that we lost members in both the First and Second World Wars – 14 young men in the first and 4 in the second – and we have war memorials that honour them.

It is our plan to get these memorials appropriately restored and put them back up on the wall as part of our new building project

Looking at the memorials there are some things that stand out:

  • There were two sets of brothers killed in the First World War: Provins and Snell. It must have been a terrible, double tragedy for those families
  • There is one surname we still know well: Gloster. We still have Glosters in our church today and they are related.
  • There is one surname that appears on both boards: MacDonald. They were a father and son, one dying in each war.

When we realise that our church was much smaller in 1914 – 1918, only about 200 people, it brings the scale of that loss into sharp focus.

Remembering our history

On Sunday we observed the two minute silence (silent prayer!) movingly marked by Andrew Dennington playing the Last Post on the flugelhorn.

We also looked at the stories of a few of the men who died … such as

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Harry Jater

Harry Jater: 

Died 3/11/1917; Age 33

 

Harry died fighting in Syria (a country at war again today)
Woking News and Mail said at the time: “He was a member of the Baptist Church and was well known in this district as a local preacher”.

It goes on to say that he was in charge of a Sunday School, and that he used to do work with poor caravan dwellers in Kingfield (where we were then planting a church). He left behind a widow and a young son.

 

Charles Bessant:

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Charles Bessant

 

Died 12/10/1915; Age 20

Charles was killed when a shell exploded next to him in a trench in Flanders Fields.

He worked on the railway in Woking and he loved football and played in local team. He was also part of a local Bible class.

 

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Henry Gloster

Henry Gloster:

 

Died 9/10/1918; Age 25

Henry, known as Harry, went to school in Ripley.
He signed up at the start of the war and was injured in Gallipoli. Having recovered he was sent to France, where he got septic poisoning. Having recovered once more he was sent back third time where he was involved in tank warfare. This time he got wounded in the leg and foot.

Recovering once more he was sent back for a final time. This last time he was caught in a Mustard Gas attack which damaged his lungs. He died of pneumonia in hospital as a result. Harry received two medals.

Gilbert Macdonald:

Died on or after 28/11/1917

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Gilbert McDonald

Age 33

Gilbert was the organist and choirmaster of our church. These days we have no organ or choir, but we have lots of great musicians. He died fighting in Cambrai, France. He was so well thought of in the church that he got an extra plaque which is in the pictures above.

It seems that he signed up to fight, in 1917, after a number of younger men from the church had been killed. He did not last long himself.

A letter sent back from a friend in his regiment said this, “Gilbert hated war, but by absolute will power he suppressed his gentler feelings and made a good soldier. He was a jolly companion and did his duty right to the last”

He left behind a widow and two sons: Harvey and Hamish. Hamish died in 1943, in World War Two, as part of the crew of a Blenheim Bomber.

So many lives

We could have mentioned a lot more detail and a lot more stories, but we looked at these few as a way of remembering. We remembered their lives, we remembered their sacrifice and we remembered that these young men were not so different to us.

They also represent many millions of others who have died in war. It’s important that we remember and are thankful for the price that other people paid for our freedom, and we should also be thankful to God for his protection over his.

Jesus Wept

Ben Martin gave a short talk during the meeting, looking at the story of Lazarus from John 11. He focussed in on one short Bible verse:

John 11v35, “Jesus wept”

Through Jesus we can see that God himself feels grief, and that he is able to stand with us in our times of trouble.

It’s reassuring to know, when faced with tragedy ourselves, that God is is not indifferent to our pain and our loss. It’s reassuring to know that God is able to weep.

Faith and Flowers

Here’s a quick story about a husband and wife. They’re fictional, so don’t try to work out who they are …

The husband made a decision to do something special for his wife, to show her that he loved her, and he decided to do it with a gift. He thought about what to get her and decided that as she liked flowers, and flowers seemed like a traditional romantic gesture, he would buy her some.

beautiful-black-coffee-bloom-842862.jpgTo make things simple, he lived opposite a petrol station that sold flowers in the entrance to their shop. What could be easier?

He nipped over the road in his slippers, picked up a bunch that looked okay, not too big and not too small, paid for them, nipped back over the road and handed them to his wife, in a plastic bag, saying, “Here you go. I got you some flowers because I love you.”

It was a surprise to him that his wife was did not seem too pleased. She even seemed a bit grumpy! The husband asked his wife why she did not appreciate his gesture. She said this, “These flowers are a nice idea, but you’ve made no effort. You’ve nipped over the road to the garage and picked up the cheapest bunch that you could get away with. They’re not wrapped, they are not special and you haven’t even taken the price off – you’re just handed them to me in a plastic bag. I thought I might mean more to you than that.”

angry-bad-john-art-black-and-white-709732.jpgThe husband was a bit cross and said, “Are you meaning to say that you expect me to get all dressed up, get in the car, drive across town to a florist, pick a special bunch, maybe even have to go to the bank to withdraw money to pay for them, have them wrapped up and then drive all the way back over.

That would take up time we could use doing something else and it would make an impact on our finances too – we would have to adjust our budget … we’re not made of money you know.

Maybe you expect me to pay to have them delivered. Do you really expect me to go to all that expense and effort?”

And of course his wife said, “Yes!”

And she said yes because love is willing to make a sacrifice.

That’s what love does. 

Gift Days

This Sunday and also on 18th November, we are having Gift Days for our New Building Project. Because of the incredibly sacrificially giving of so many people on our Gift Days in May we are almost ready to move ahead now, but we do need to raise another £600,000 to be able to do all we plan to do.

The giving so far has been amazing, so I don’t want us to be casual this time around! Let’s not give God the equivalent of garage forecourt flowers! Let’s all be listening to God about what he wants us to do and let’s come prepared.

And remember that sacrifice costs … but that’s what love does. Let’s not give God a sacrifice that costs us nothing.

If the Gift Days are news to you, we have a brochure available with all the info … it looks like this:

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It tells you what we are doing, why, and the progress so far. It talks about ways to give. If you need a copy just ask. And if you have any questions please ask.

And remember we’re not building ourselves a temple or a mausoleum; this isn’t about doing something to serve ourselves. This building is all about the calling and the mission God has for us here as a church in Woking. We’re here to bless our town, and this building will help us do that so much more effectively. So let’s step out in faith and do something amazing together once again.

 

Welcome Woking

Back in May we changed our name to Welcome Church. That change is part of our new approach to connecting with the people of Woking.

This September we have an awesome event planned to tell the town all about it: the Welcome Woking Fun Day, on Saturday 22nd September, 11am – 3pm in Woking Park.

This is a free event that has something for everyone: a petting zoo, live music, ice creams,  BBQ, tea & scones, face painting, bouncy castle and youth zone … and it’s all free!

For our church this event may be the biggest opportunity in our history to connect en masse with Woking, to bless people in an extravagant way, and to introduce them to Welcome Church.

For the people of Woking this is a great chance to have a great day out with their family for free, and to experience God’s lavish and extravagant love first hand through Welcome Church.

There are three things that Welcome Church people can do to help publicise the event:

  1. Deliver flyers: we have 30,000 flyers to deliver and lots of this is happening through our Life Groups. You can find out how you can be involved with that through your Life Group leaders, or you can contact the church office directly
  2. Invite friends: a personal invitation is a great way to encourage people to come along and enjoy themselves, and this may be the easiest thing you ever get to invite people to, so do let your friends, neighbours and colleagues know about it
  3. Share the event on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – share the event and invite people who live nearby to come along. here is a link to the Facebook event. You can click ‘Going’ and share it as well.

Together, let’s try to invite the whole town to this event!

People can say a yes or a no; our job is simply to make the invite. And let’s pray that God would draw many to come along and have fun with us … and some may even begin a journey towards encountering Jesus.

People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Let’s show the people of Woking our love, care and generosity.

Permission Granted!

Last night (Tuesday 4th Sept) I had the joy of sitting in the viewing gallery at Woking Borough Council as the Planning Committee gave their unanimous approval to our new building plans for Welcome Church.

Permission Granted!

This is going to be a huge blessing: to us as a church, to the local area and also to the town more widely. We are so grateful both to God and to Woking Council.

There were lots of positive comments made by councillors at the meeting …

  • About the design: “This will provide a state of the art facility”
  • About the process: “They have worked hard to consult the neighbours”
  • About the impact: “This will be good for the town and the local area”

And there were also many positive comments made about us as a church, accompanied by positive comments about us coming to the end of a long road with this final (and “much appreciated”) application for development of our site.

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We have a lot to be thankful for

Let’s remember to give thanks to God, and also to thank the planning officers and the councillors who gave their time and effort to consider our application.

And let’s remember what we heard on Sunday morning during the worship time: “God did not give us an amazing site in the middle of town so that we can stand still”. We have so much ahead of us to do as we serve the town where God has placed us; the best days are not behind us!

What’s next?

We now have some key steps to take:

  • We need to finalise the finer points of the design
  • We need to raise the rest of the finance
  • We need to sign contracts with the developers
  • We need to prepare ourselves … including putting some things in storage, throwing some things away, working out what it means for how we work and what’s in the diary during the building process

Early warning: one of the first things to go will be our current car park … but we will make sure to communicate well ahead of time.

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A bird’s eye view of our plans

Gift days

We have done amazingly well with raising finance for this project so far. We now need to do the last bit, so there will be Gift Days for this on Sundays 4th and 18th November. Look out for information about that over the next few weeks, and do be praying and preparing your heart for what God may be leading you to do.

Double celebration

It’s actually a double celebration for Jo and I this week. Not only was planning permission granted, but we also passed our first anniversary at Welcome Church on Saturday (1st Sept).

Thanks for all the friendship, support and prayers along the way. We love this church and it’s a joy to be here with you.

Looking for something to read?

If you’ve got some time out this summer and are looking for something encouraging to read, here are a couple of suggestions from me:

1. Unshockable Love

Why were “sinners” so attracted to Jesus, yet repelled by the religious? Do the broken people we meet feel drawn to us and our church, or do we repel them by expecting them to clean themselves up a little before we can accept them?

In this book John Burke looks at how Jesus interacted with people in the gospels and considers what we can learn from that. Prepare to be shocked.

I found this hugely shaping personally, and I would say it’s a must read for us all.

2. God is closer than you think

Intimacy with God can happen right now if you want it. A closeness you can feel, a goodness you can taste, a reality you can experience for yourself.

That’s what the Bible promises, so why settle for less?

This book by John Ortberg is a personal favourite of mine.

Enjoy … and I would honestly love to know what you think.

Blessings!

Some Summer News Updates

Summer is here!

The schools have broken up, the sun is shining, hose pipe bans are on the way and it’s raining on the North Devon coast … a typical British summer.IMG_2982

I hope you’re enjoying our summer preaching series looking at “What Would Jesus Say”; it’s been great hearing from some new people too.

I’ve enjoyed having just one meeting at 10am (instead of our usual two at 9am and 11am). Of course, whilst it’s good to all be together in one meeting, it’s also be very clear why we need two meetings for the rest of the year. Even with many people away on holiday, we’re pretty much full!

 

Here are a few news updates, in case you’ve missed them:

Westpoint

Westpoint is a key annual event for us as a church and is one of the most important things we do each year. Westpoint brings us together with the other Commission Churches in the UK, and with many from overseas too. We enjoy excellent teaching, apostolic input, powerful worship and personal encounters with God. Don’t miss this fantastic event which will help to shape our agenda for the year ahead. It could even change your life.

We now have over 300 booked in from Welcome Church, which will make it our biggest Westpoint ever, and it’s still not too late to book.

We do provide full catering as a church, and don’t forget that we need you to book that food with us through our website now. While you’re there please also fill in the form to let us know your camping arrangements (for those staying on site). Here’s a link to that form. 

Building Plans

We have applied for planning permission for our building project and had hoped we would be hearing the outcome this month. For various reasons (which are honestly far too dull to go into here) our application will actually be heard in early September.

Do please pray for a positive outcome. We have no reason to be concerned, but let’s remember that we’re Christians, not fatalists! Let’s pray! That way God always gets the glory, just as he should.

Staffing

Huge congratulations go to Karen Patrick who, against some tough competition, has secured a much sought after promotion to ‘Head Of Operations’ at Harvest Church in Alton ( which is also a part of our Commission family of churches.)

She will be working alongside Nathan Silvester again, and also with my friend Andrew Lawrence who leads the team at Harvest Church now.

This means she will be leaving us at the end of September, and will be moving house to Alton too. Karen will leave a big hole after more than 8 years employed on the team and more than 38 years as part of the church.

Let’s send her well with our blessings!

Vision Focus

Finally,  do put the evening of Sunday 16th September in your diary now. We will have our next Vision Focus evening then (6.30pm at The Welcome Centre) and we’ll be updating everyone on plans for the autumn and further ahead.

It will be a chance to gather together to hear news and vision and to pray for the next season of our church life together. Be sure not to miss it.

Hope you all have a great summer.

 

 

Some Welcome Changes

It’s been great fun over the last few weeks working through our name change and our gift days. In case you missed it the gift days raised just over £1.4 million pounds, which takes us a long way towards our goal. Thanks to everyone who gave to that.

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WHAT A RESULT!

God is so good to us!

 

Since we changed from The Coign Church to Welcome Church we’ve also made a few changes to the names of some of our groups and ministries, and we’ve got some new logos that you will start to see being used too. (By the way, we know that the Facebook Page is still called “The Coign” … we’re working on it …)

Names matter

Names have meaning. Names describe. Names are linked to identity.

Here is short list of some name changes so far to keep you up to date:

Coign kids (our children’s work) is now called: Welcome Kids

Coign youth (our youth work) is now called: Welcome Youth

Check out their awesome logos here:

Treasure tots (for parents and toddlers) is now called: Welcome Tots. They still meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and new mums and helpers are welcome! You can check out the details by clicking here.

One more for the children: Key Club is now called Welcome Crew. They still meet on Monday evenings from 6.15pm to 8pm for school years 3 to 6.

Its not all about children and youth though.

Our men’s pub nights have christened themselves Welcome Pint (have you spotted a theme yet?)

‘Way In’ – our meal for people in need on a Friday lunch time is now called Welcome Meal.

Options, which provides a whole range of activities for people who are 60 years and over will now be called Welcome 60+. They’ve got a new logo too:

60+

Our twenties and thirties ministry is now called Welcome 20’sThirties (it matters how you write it!)

And finally our mid-week life groups, meeting in homes for Fun, Food and Friendship are now called …

… wait for it …

… can you guess???

Life groups

Well … we wouldn’t want to change everything!