Appointing our New Elders

This Sunday evening (17th January) we will be meeting at 6.30pm on Zoom, for about an hour, to appoint two new elders for Welcome Church. I’m very excited that Robin Willison and Nnamdi Anyaegbunam are now joining the team and it’s been great to receive so many positive encouragements about them and their families from across the whole church.

Guy Miller, who leads our Commission family of churches will be leading us through the evening together. Please come full of faith and be ready to show your support and add your prayers; this a key moment for us to be together as a church.

You will be able to log on from 6.20 pm for some informal chat and a chance to say ‘Hello’ to some people, and then the meeting will then begin properly at about 6.30pm. See you on Zoom!

Some Sad News

I’m very sorry to report that Alan Hunwicks died in hospital late on Saturday evening after a long battle with Covid-19.

Although many of us have lost friends to this disease and others amongst us have suffered with it, Alan is the first person within Welcome Church who’s died from it. He will be greatly missed.

Alan was an amazingly faithful man with a strong Christian faith. He was a part of Welcome Church for 36 years, and for 17 of those he served as an Elder. He was also a Trustee for many years.

Alan was kind, gentle, diligent and loving, and he never sought the limelight; in many ways he was an unsung hero. He was only 77 when he died and the hospital reported that his fight was a long one because, apart from the Covid, he was strong.

Beryl and Alan had been married for 50 years, and celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary this summer.

Alan Hunwicks (20.8.1943 – 28.11.2020) & Beryl Hunwicks

Please keep Beryl and the family in your prayers in the weeks ahead. Beryl has an important role in the public eye as Mayor of Woking, and carries a lot of responsibility. She will need our support and prayers more than ever, and I know we will be there for her.

Although this is sad news let’s remember that Alan had a deep faith in Jesus which shaped his whole life. All through this illness he was at peace, remaining steadfastly confident in his faith and in God’s loving care for him in both life and death. He is now with Jesus.

Some Key Welcome Church Updates

In case you missed them here are some updates from our Welcome Church family regarding elders, staff, the new Lockdown and Sunday meetings:

New Elders

At our vision focus evening we were delighted to propose two people to join our eldership team: Nnamdi Anyaegbunam and Robin Willison. Both of these are a real gift to our church and a model of godly leadership and life; we recommend them to you wholeheartedly.

We would love to hear your endorsement of these choices and equally, if you have any Biblical concerns, please let us know. How and when they will be appointed during Covid remains to be seen!

Staff Changes

Rhea John and Peter Leach have both now left our employment. They had been on furlough for a while as their roles were not possible during Covid.

Rhea has secured a much sought after job in London as a civil servant, a role she was pursuing before she joined us. Peter has now officially retired. We will miss them around the offices, but they will remain part of our church family.

Impact Of The New Lockdown

The new Lockdown has impacted some of what we do:

  • The church offices are closed for the next four weeks with all staff working at home
  • Recruitment of new staff (bearing in mind that Ben Martin, Peter Leach and Rhea John have all left us during Lockdown!) has been put on hold until the crisis has passed. This will both help us financially and allow us to fully assess what roles we need most for the future.
  • Welcome Youth had planned to start ‘in person’ meetings this week, but this will be delayed until this Lockdown ends. Youth Alpha starts online tonight, so pray for them
  • Our day time Life Groups were working towards some in person meetings in the building and these will now also be delayed until after Lockdown

Some things remain unchanged:

  • Sundays will continue online as before
  • Prayer meetings will continue online on Tuesday and Friday mornings
  • Our Life Group refresh will continue as planned
  • Baptisms can go ahead as planned unless the Lockdown is extended
  • Our new Leadership Development course continues online

Live Streaming on Sundays

At Vision Focus I announced our intention to move away from a ‘pre-recorded’ approach to Sunday meetings and towards Live Streaming, with whatever congregation we are allowed to have ‘in person’, from early January.

It is possible (not definite) that the start date may be delayed slightly because we need to do significant technical training for some volunteers, and Lockdown 2 is making that difficult. Regardless, our direction of travel remains the same.

Coronavirus

Finally, please pray for Alan and Beryl Hunwicks. Alan is a former elder and a current trustee of Welcome Church, and Beryl is a local councillor and the Mayor of Woking.

Alan fell down a flight of stairs and has been in hospital. Sadly we heard today that he now has Coronavirus with some clear symptoms. The hospital are unsure how he caught it. He has been transferred to the Covid ward. Please pray for Alan’s full recovery, and also for Beryl, who is not allowed to visit.

And remember …

… in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purposes. (Romans 8v28)

We are not abandoned or forgotten. God is at work for his glory and his purposes, even now.

New elders, staff changes and a plan for Sundays

On Sunday 18th October at 7.30pm, for about one hour, Welcome Church will hold an online Vision Focus meeting. These meetings provide a great opportunity for us to look ahead and share news and vision for the church.

This one will take place on Zoom, and login details will be publicised nearer the time; in the mean time please put the date and time in your diary.

There are three main things we need to talk about that evening:

We have two new elders to propose to the church

We have some staff changes to announce

We want to update you on plans for our Sunday meetings

There are a few other things to mention as well, so don’t miss it!

A New Staff Team Member

During our online communion meeting on Sunday evening, it was my privilege to announce a new staff member for Welcome Church. From September 1st Christopher Hawes will leave his role as a full time teacher to join our staff team. Chris will focus on preaching & discipleship and also on leading & developing the creative elements of all we do as a church.

hawesChris is married to Sarah and they have three young children. He’s already part of our eldership team, and I’m delighted that someone who carries our DNA as a church is going to be available to focus on this key role full time.

Chris will be undertaking our new Commission training courses, starting at level 3 and working through to the level 4 masters degree. By the way … there are some great courses available through Commission, including an internship year you could do at Welcome Church. Do let me know if you’re interested.

Chris and Sarah are a big gift to our church family. In addition to her work as an actress, puppeteer and motion capture artist, Sarah regularly hosts our online meetings and helps develop others in this too. She’s also part of the leadership of Welcome Kids.

I believe we have a good future together as a church. Coronavirus will not last forever.

This appointment will release significant time for me in my own role, and Chris will also be looking to develop other people in their gifts. I believe this appointment will serve us as a church in many ways and will help shape us for the years to come.

 

A Big Weekend

We have a big weekend ahead for Welcome Church with the appointment of three new elders, and also our Welcome Youth weekend away.

Youth

Welcome Youth are away from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon. They have 59 young people booked to attend, and a fantastic range of events planned (most of which I’m not allowed to reveal in advance 😃)

Please do pray for them to have a fun time, a safe time and a great time of meeting with God. Please pray for the young people and please pray for the leaders as well.

Elders

On Sunday afternoon at 4pm Guy and Heather Miller (Guy leads the Commission family of churches) will be joining us as we appoint Eugene Engelbrecht, Christopher Hawes and Mike Reid as elders to join our current team. These new appointments will significantly impact our church as we move into the future together.

This afternoon event is for the whole family, and we will start with coffee and cake from 4pm. Let’s all aim to be there, and parents please do bring your kids. It should be done by 5.30pm so you won’t be late for bath and bedtime.

Prayer

Let’s be in prayer ahead of these appointments too.

In fact it’s positively Biblical for us to do that:

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14v26)

Pray for these men, pray for their families, pray for the elders we already have and for our families too, and pray for the church at this time of change. If you’re in a position to do so, you could even give some time to prayer with fasting too.

Let’s be full of faith as we head into this big weekend for Welcome Church

New Elders For Welcome Church

This Sunday at our Vision Focus evening I had the joy of putting forward three men to join the eldership team at Welcome Church.

It’s a sign of God’s blessing on a church when godly leaders are raised up to lead and govern God’s people; when they are raised up as shepherds to feed, guide and protect ‘the flock’. It’s my privilege to propose three such men for this church (and I can see more on the way too).

Each of them will bring their own unique combination of gifting and personality, each has demonstrated solid character and good leadership, and they all model godly family life. Hopefully none of the names comes as a big surprise:

Eugene Engelbrecht

Eugene is married to Jodie and they have four children. Together Eugene and Jodie run a business called Engel construction. Eugene has a strong pastoral gift and loves to see people discipled, set free, full of the Spirit and thriving in God. He and Jodie also lead a fairly enormous Life Group.

Christopher Hawes

Christopher is married to Sarah and they have three children. Christopher works in a school as a drama teacher and Sarah works in acting, as well as serving the church in leadership in children’s work. Christopher has a strong Bible teaching gift and is hugely creative. He is also one of our Sunday morning worship leaders.

Mike Reid

Mike is married to Lou and they have three children. Mike works in London in underwriting and Lou regularly gives time as a volunteer, serving in our church offices and helping with pastoral care. Mike has a strong prophetic gift and a clear pastoral heart too. Mike is also one of our church trustees.

We wholeheartedly recommend these three men and their families to you and believe they will be a blessing to our church

They will add a solid strength to our current eldership team, and we are looking forward to what the future brings together. At this point in time all three will continue in their regular full-time jobs.

What next?

The Bible lays out what sort of person an elder should be in three places: Titus 1v5-9; 1 Timothy 3v1-7; 1 Peter 5v1-4. Do have a read of those passages.

Appointing elders is done in combination between apostolic oversight (Guy Miller), the current eldership team (Dean, Dub and myself) and the church.

The church, meaning each of the people who make up the church, has a God-given responsibility: we are called to submit to our leaders, especially our elders, and to receive their ministry in faith. We are also called to encourage them and make their task a joy (Hebrews 13v17).

On this basis, if anyone has any Biblical concerns please let us know straight away. Equally, if you agree that these men are awesome and will be blessing to our church please also let us know that too. Remember: everyone needs encouragement!

A date for your diary

On Sunday 23rd February, at a special meeting, we will appoint these men as elders. Guy & Heather Miller are going to come and join us and lead us through that occasion. Please arrive from 4pm for coffee and cake with a 4.30pm kick off, wrapping up at 5.30pm with more cake.

This will be a celebration for the whole church family, so come with your kids. We will also be meeting as normal that morning at 9am and 11am.

See you there!

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Time to celebrate!

Merry Christmas – what a year it’s been!

We’ve made it safely to the end of another year (almost), and what a year it’s been for Welcome Church! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Some highlights

Along the way we’ve built a new building, moved into the annex, held an amazing Gift day, launched Welcome Works, sponsored 141 kids in Togo with Compassion UK, launched The Useful Wood Company, seconded Ben & Nancy to Gateway Church Basingstoke for a while, welcomed Rhea John onto staff, said goodbye to David & Tina Maskell, taken 300 people to Westpoint, finished meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre, launched and shared our Welcome Stories, published our first book, run an amazing Fun Day, held a fireworks event with around 2000 people, put on a Carol Service for Woking (featuring both the Mayor and our local MP😃) and done a whole lot more too.

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Additionally there’s been the usual, day to day stuff of church life that has carried on, including baptisms, pastoral care, Sunday meetings, worship, preaching, weddings, funerals, kids work, youth work, Life Groups, Alpha courses, ministry to the poor and lots more too.

If you’ve chosen to make Welcome Church your church then we want to say,

“Thank you for being on the journey with us in 2019”.

Looking forward to 2020

2020 is going to be and in incredible year for us. The new building will be launched in January, and there will be many God given opportunities and blessings ahead for us. I’m sure we will also face some big challenges, yet we have a big God who is with us every step of the way. Let’s all start inviting people to the launch event on the 19th.

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Something for us all to do

ImageIf you haven’t done it already, or even if you have, why not take a quiet moment over the next week or so to read Dub’s book, “Caring and Sharing”.

This book is our ‘manifesto for evangelism’ as a church. It’s easy to read, full of great stories and it will only take 1 or 2 hours to read from cover to cover.

I know that if we were all to put the principles in this book into practice in 2020, it would have a huge impact on many lives.

Merry Christmas

I hope you have an amazing Christmas this year, whatever you’re up to. Do take some time out along the way to reflect on the real reason for the season: Jesus coming into the world. Do take time to pray and to thank Him for all he’s done in your life. And I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.

Organised Chaos

Welcome Youth took over our Sunday morning meeting at Welcome Church today and we had a fantastic time together.

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The youth did it all: they led the worship, they hosted the meeting, they did Bible readings, they led us in prayer and they even preached. It was a lot of fun and no lasting damage resulted.

I want to say a huge thank you to them all.

Goodbye

This morning we said a final goodbye to the HG Wells Conference Centre. It was our last meeting there and we will start meeting in our own new building from Jan 5th. We also said goodbye to David and Tina Maskell who will be moving off to Grace Church in Salisbury, where David is starting his new job from January.

Launch Sunday

Dub took a few minutes to talk to us about our launch Sunday on January 19th. It’s going to be amazing and it’s time for us to start inviting people:

Organised Chaos

All in all it was organised chaos, and a whole lot of fun. We were reminded of Sue’s welcome story, from the Carol Service, and encouraged to share it to our social media feeds too.

And what better way to round off our twelve years meeting there than to celebrate communion together?

Here are some pics that sum up lots of what went on today. Enjoy!

Eldership Changes At Welcome Church

Welcome back! I hope you had a great summer!

Jo and I had a good break, including a relaxing holiday in Corfu. I also had a break from my blog for the Summer Season, but church life has now begun again in earnest.

Last night we had our “Vision Focus” meeting, kicking off plans for the year ahead. There are several pieces of information I could mention in the next few days, but one piece of news I wanted to share straightaway, in case you missed it, is a change to our eldership team at Welcome Church.

We do hope to be able to announce some new elders for the team soon, but we’re not quite ready to do that (perhaps that will come in early 2020), we did announce a change however.

Changing our team

As a team we’re always seeking God for the future. As we move into our new building it’s the start of a new season, and it’s only right that we seek God for His guidance; we want to be intentional about what God wants us to do in this next season together as a church.

As an eldership team, in the two years I’ve been here, we’ve been away together each year taking time to pray together, to discuss the future and to plan. We also have regular meetings together most weeks. I think we’ve achieved a lot together in the last two years and hopefully you can see the impact on the church in that time.

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Our eldership team with our amazing wives

To be honest, it’s a good team and we’ve had a lot of fun together and built some good friendships – I think this was pretty obvious to those who were with us at Westpoint for our karaoke number!!!

Getting outside input

As a church we’re part of Commission, and that means we get the benefit of not working in isolation; we get input and apostolic oversight from Commission – specifically from Guy Miller. Guy has been involved in the appointment of every elder on the team. He knows us as a team and is involved.

As a team we’ve been considering what the best shape for the team is going forward, and we’ve also drawn Guy into that discussion. We’ve been trying to discern what will serve the church best as we move forward, and we are making a change as we enter this next season.

We all have different seasons of life:

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Seasons Change

  • In 2017 Malcolm Kayes started a new season after 27 years leading this church, stepping back from staff and eldership, and jumping into retirement
  • John Wardill also started a new season, stepping back from eldership whilst continuing to focus on his work in Turkey
  • I also started a new season, moving to Welcome Church from Grace Church.
  • Dub Everitt did that when he moved here from Jubilee Church in Shepperton a few years back

 

The point is this …

 change in church eldership teams is a normal process 

It enables new people to come through and releases others to move on into God’s next step and plans for their life. As a team we’ve recognised that its time for a change.

David Maskell

David Maskell has been on staff at this church for 18 years, and has been part of the church for 40 years – that’s a long time! For just over 4 years he has been serving as an elder. I know that he works really hard in that role and many people have benefitted from all he has done.

The change is that David is going to step down from eldership and from employment at the end of this calendar year; it will be a new season for him and also for Tina.

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Tina and David

As a church we need to get ready to release him to the next season of his life.

David is not looking at retirement yet and is actively seeking his next step. He is in conversation with another Commission church, but it’s not something we can make any announcements about.

They are looking for someone with David’s skill set and they really want him, but that church need to work out if they can afford another person and have some work to do on that front. Nothing is decided, so please pray for him and Tina about that – they only want to go forward if it’s the right thing.

Whatever David’s next step is, this is going to be a huge change for the Maskell family and they will need your prayersIt’s also a huge change for us as a church to adjust to.

We know it will be a challenge for some people, not least for David and Tina having been here for so many years. It will also mean we need to make adjustments to how we deliver pastoral care as a church. David has been working on that already, with a brand new Pastoral Team taking shape, and there will still be a lot of things we need to work out for the future.

David will finish on the eldership team at the end of December and finish employment at that stage too. Obviously we need to take the time to mark that moment well when it comes, and we will do that on Sunday 22nd December during our morning meeting.

Costly

Changes like this are always costly, yet we believe that God always works things together for our good, both as individuals and as a church.

Let’s keep David and Tina in our prayers in the weeks ahead, and let’s make sure we show them that in tangible ways that they are loved and appreciated by us all.