Wall Building Heroes of the Week: John and Mollie Oldfield

In this blog I’m giving you a chance to honour some great leaders in a tangible way, so please read on to the end to find out how.

My Privilege

As the Lead Elder here at Grace Church I am privileged to work alongside a high quality group of leaders at all levels: worship leaders, site leaders and leaders in all of our different ministries – there far too many to list them all – you know who you are!

The team I personally spend the most time with is our eldership team – a group of men for whom I am so grateful. This group, who oversee the life of our church, set the vision and bring pastoral care and direction, are a joy to serve with.

Changes are afoot

Those who were with us at our Prayer and Vision night on Wednesday will know already that, among other things, we had a mix of stepping up and stepping down on that evening:

  • Simon Taylor stepped up to join the site team for Bognor Regis
  • Greg Bell and Jez Cooper stepped up to join the Midhurst site team
  • and we announced that John Oldfield has decided that the time has come for him to retire from eldership

Honouring a fantastic couple

John and Mollie have been huge blessing to us – personally and as a church – since they arrived at Grace Church back in 2013, serving in so many ways and bringing blessing to so many. The good news is that they are not moving on, they will still be living here and serving the church:24410_103853996323857_7087165_n

  • John will remain on the Bognor Regis Site team
  • They will still be looking after the Life Groups in Bognor
  • They will still do much of the pastoral work that blesses so many
  • They will still be involved in mentoring some of the younger couples in the church
  • And we will still hear John preach from time to time

However John has decided that, before he hits his 75th birthday (what a shining example of faithfulness!), the time has now come to lay aside the eldership role. We want to thank and bless him for all he has done, and to thank Mollie for all that she has contributed too.

Honouring this couple

Those who don’t know John and Mollie well may not realise the huge variety of things they have done in the past. They have served God and the Great Commission in many ways, including:

  • Church planting in India
  • Being the lead elder at a church in Dartford
  • Being the lead elder at a church in Chatham
  • Leading mission work and teams in Yemen
  • And, of course, helping us establish a congregation in Bognor Regis

This is a couple who are a great example and deserve to be honoured by us all … and here are three tangible ways we can each do that:

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1. Keep listening to them

Although John may be stepping down from eldership, this couple still radiate a passion for God and His church, and they carry a huge wealth of experience. Please keep pressing in to learn from this couple.

2. Say “Thank You”

We are all grateful to this couple, and because they are still here and serving it could be easy to forget to say, “Thank you”. Please don’t just assume they know you are grateful … tell them. This moment, when John is significantly changing his role, is a great chance to show them your love and appreciation.

3. Help them on their way to India

We will soon be waving them off on a six week trip to India, to visit some new places and to revisit some of the people and the works they were so involved with. Commission has a lot going on in India, and John and Mollie were a foundational part of that for many years. They are so well loved over in India, that everywhere I go there people ask if I know them and how they are!

Because of their health, and because we love them and want to honour them, there is a small thing we want to do for them as they go – something we can all do together:

let’s send them business class.

This will really help them to make the most of the trip, and to start and end it well (it’s a long and tiring journey!), so we are inviting anyone who wants to show their thanks to give financially towards this. Anything over and above this will also be passed on to John and Mollie.

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If you feel inspired to say thank you to them in this way, please give it via Grace Church in the usual ways and mark it clearly so we know what it is. (And if you’re not part of our church and you’ve been blessed by John and Mollie and you also want to give to this, you can do it via our website here – and please send us a message so we know who you are and what it’s for)

Finally – be inspired by scripture

1 Timothy 5:17 says this,

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour”

here is a great chance for us all to put that into practice.

Ten Years of Grace, and so much more to come

Grace Church is ten years old!

We officially launched the church on June 10th 2006! A lot has happened since then, and looking back I have a mix of memories … some good, some sad, some downright hilarious.

Over those ten years we’ve grown from a small group of pioneers to a church with three Sunday congregations, meeting in Chichester, Bognor Regis and Midhurst.

Over those ten years a lot of people have been a part of the journey.

Some have been along for the whole ride; others have joined us along the way.

Some came and went. Others came and went and came back again.

And some stayed with us until Jesus took them home.

We have former members who we’ve sent off in faith to many different places in this nation and also to various nations around the globe, from Australia to the Middle East. One of my main reflections on the last ten years is this: life moves pretty fast. I find it hard to believe we’ve been here that long! I’m tempted to quote Ferris Bueller:

Ferris Bueller | Grace Church 10 Year Birthday | Chichester Midhurst Bognor Regis | Steve Petch Blog

This world isn’t our ultimate home

But my main thought on the speed of life passing is not that we should ‘stop and look around’ for ‘fear of missing it’, but rather that we should remember that this world is not our ultimate home; we are citizens of heaven.

Although this blog won’t be uploaded today, I’m writing it on June 10th 2016, which is the actual day of our tenth anniversary. And today, as well as a birthday, we also have a funeral.

Peter, part of our Midhurst congregation, recently died of lung cancer. Today we are burying him. David Thompson is taking his funeral and lots of the Midhurst site will be there to support his wife, Helen, and the family friends who will gather to remember him. They will be there to give thanks and to mourn.

Life is passing

Birthday parties and funerals are both a reminder that life is passing. So the question becomes,

Are we using ours well?

How actively are we pursuing God’s call on our lives?

The last ten years have passed in a flash, but there is nothing I would rather have spent them doing than building this church in response to Jesus’ call on my life.

And for Peter, the good news is that his story is not over. Philippians 3v20-21 says this,

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body …”

What a promise! Sown in weakness; raised in glory!

Looking to the future

So far God has given us ten wonderful years of grace as a church, and there is so much more to come. God has more grace for us in the future, both as a church and as individuals: grace for this life and grace for eternity – resurrection life, new bodies, new heavens, new earth, every tear wiped away, the dwelling of God with man…

So lets live this life in the light of eternity.

Lets build his church to reach as many people as possible.

Lets remember that God’s grace to us is never going to run out.

Wall Building: Heroes of the Week

There are people in our church who astound me from time to time with their faith and commitment, and sometimes it’s easy to miss what they do to ‘build the walls’ (Nehemiah 3). With that in mind, from time to time and with permission, I want to tell some of their stories as an encouragement.

My first “Heroes of the week” are Greg and Becky Bell

Greg and Becky Bell | Hero of the Week Wall Builders | Steve Petch Church Leader Blog

Greg & Becky

Greg and Becky have been a part of our church for several years. They have always been full of faith, like the true ‘living stones’ talked about in 1 Peter 2 v 5. Sometimes God has taken them right to the edge before coming through in various ways. It was nail biting to see it happen again recently.

Greg and Becky became confident that God wanted them and the family to relocate from Bognor Regis to Midhurst to help support the new congregation. This presented a challenge since houses to rent in Midhurst are few and far between and often more expensive than Bognor. Added to this they found out they were being evicted from their Bognor house because it was going up for sale.

Having Faith

Convinced Midhurst was God’s calling for them they refused to rent anywhere else. As the weeks ticked by some of us worried on their behalf. As the deadline got closer we worried a bit more.

And then a house came up … and they put in an offer … and someone else took it. And we worried more for them, but Greg and Becky prayed.

Living Faith

Then the same property fell through and came back on the market and they put in another offer … and someone else took it, only this time they had to move out of the other house with their three children and all their furniture NOW.

Growing Faith

But Greg and Becky believed that this house in the centre of town was theirs … so they refused to look elsewhere … and that same house came back on the market a third time … and they put in an offer

… and moved in seven days later.

God is so good and they have been so faithful. And now they live in the centre of the town they believe God called them to and are helping to build the church in that place.

One more thing along the way…

Becky was very keen to go on the Commission India trip this summer but it costs around £1,000, which with moving they did not have, and with all that was going on she laid the trip down before Jesus with a good attitude and focused on Midhurst and on moving in.

When we told the church about the trip taking place and invited people to apply to go (not mentioning Becky at all), one response we got came from a couple who told us that they believed this trip was not for them, but that maybe God wanted someone else in the church to go who could not afford it, and if that person existed in the church could they please pay for them instead?

So Becky is going to India now too and I’m delighted.

God is our provider: 5 loaves + 2 fish + 5000 people (+ women & children) + JESUS = everyone fed + 12 baskets of leftovers.

That’s how we build!

 

 

Loving Midhurst, Helping Refugees, Doing Good

One of the reasons I love Grace Church is that we do good things!

We are structured as a multisite church, which means we are one church with one vision, one leadership and one message … but meeting in more than one location (or ‘site’).

Grace Church Midhurst

Our third site was started in 2015 in the wonderful and picturesque town of Midhurst, currently meeting at Capron House each Sunday at 10am (All welcome! Come as you are!) Being in Midhurst is exciting and we have been delighted to see new people coming along as our congregation there has started to grow in number and connect with the town.

Garden Party & Syrian Refugee Fund

Grace Church Midhurst Sussex | Steve Petch Church Leader BlogLast autumn we launched this new site publicly with a “Garden Party” in Midhurst, which incidentally raised £875 for the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund who work in refugee camps in Reyhanli in Turkey, near the border with Syria. They used that money to provide prosthetic limbs and the required physiotherapy to two refugees who had lost limbs to bombs in Syria. They were also able to provide some training to people in the camp to help manufacture more prosthetics.

Grace Church then sent a further £2,275 to this cause following a special offering at each of our carol services. I love our church! We do good things!

In March we delivered 16,000 leaflets across Midhurst and the surrounding area to let people know that we are in town. It’s been good to see guests come and check us out as a result.

I’ve included a copy of the leaflet which says it all:

 Grace Church Midhurst | Steve Petch Church Leader Blog

Grace Church in Midhurst … HERE FOR GOOD!

To find our more about the good things we do together as a church, or to get involved, have a look at the GraceWorks section of our website.

Joy, pain and staying connected @ Grace Church

Grace Church is a multi-site church.

It’s been a joy to launch our new approach for growing Grace Church over the last few years, and to see congregations begin and grow in our two extra locations, Bognor and Midhurst …

… it’s been a joy to connect to people we would never have met if we had just stayed in one location in Chichester …

… it’s been a joy to see many new leaders trained and released to do their thing …

… it’s been a joy to learn and grow along the way …

… but it has been painful to feel less directly connected to every member personally.

I’m aware that in the past I would see everyone who came along each week, even if only in passing, but multisite doesn’t allow for that in the same way. It makes sharing news and life that little bit harder.

Steve Asleep - Steve Blog

Sunday Afternoon

There are lots of things we’re doing as a church that are a fantastic blessing to our community, there are lots of people making faith steps in various ways, there are several exciting things I’m involved with personally in the wider world of Commission … and some of these could go by unnoticed.

For that reason I wanted to start this new blog. My aim is to connect to more people across our church and to let you know what we’re up to – to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing as it were!

So let’s celebrate what God is doing with us as a church family! And if there is something good that I miss along the way then let me know and maybe we’ll get it included.