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.

 

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!

Gift Days: Week 2 update

Last Sunday we had the second of our Gift Days for the New Building Project, and ahead of this weekend I wanted give another update on our progress so far.

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Our giving brochure – copies available on request!

Let’s remember again what this project is for: this is all about mission. This is all about making us more effective in our calling to serve our town and further afield, and to tell people about Jesus.

Let’s remember the vision we have as a church:

“To see lives changed and communities impacted for good through God’s Grace in Action”

These Gift Days and this building project are all about moving forward in our vision together.

Once again it was wonderful to see so many people coming forward to give, and it’s been such a blessing to hear of money being given in faith as the week has gone by too.

I’m sure you want to know how we’re doing so far, so watch this video up date to find out where we’ve got to:

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

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

Be blessed and enjoy!

Gift Days: week 1 update

RESENT WITH THE CORRECT VIDEO LINK THIS TIME!

As a church we’re in the middle of three significant Sundays: we’re holding Gift Days for people to give and to pledge money to our New Building Project.

Let’s remember what the Building Project is for.:

In September this church will be 139 years old. We’re blessed to own land and a building in the middle of Woking. A previous generation, along with some who are still with us today, had faith for this church and put that faith into action to buy and to build. We now enjoy  the benefit of that.

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The current Coign Church building

Sadly the building we have is no longer big enough for us and doesn’t suit our needs, so we’ve made plans to build a new 675 seat chapel. We also want to repurpose the current building for children’s work, youth work, offices and serving the community.

In terms of finance, the project will cost around £4m. We can borrow around £2m of that, and we already have around £0.5m. So we need to raise £1.5m.

Remember, we’re not building a monument; this is about enabling us to be more effective in our mission to reach this town, and further afield, with the good news of Jesus. This is all about mission.

Last week was week 1 of our gift days, and you may be wondering how we did. If so, here is a one minute video update to excite you for this Sunday

The video should be visible above, if it’s not then please click here to view it. Its the one titled, “Our First Gift Day”

Enjoy!

Focussing Our Vision

This Sunday evening (22nd April, 6.30pm at The Coign Church building) we have our next Vision Focus evening, and it’s going to be a key one for our church.

During the evening, among other things, we will reveal the new name for our church, along with details of a new Vision Statement and Mission Statement and of course a new logo and artwork. It’s going to be a very significant time for us together, which will shape our culture and focus our vision more sharply for the way ahead.

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Let’s focus our vision for the future

On the three Sundays following this (29th April; 6th May; 13th May) we will be holding gift days to help fund our new building project. These are also very significant for us and will shape our future as well.

There’s a lot going on right now!

Pressing forward in faith

Two weeks ago I spoke about growing in faith, looking at the story of Jesus healing a man who had been born blind (John 9). Do have a listen if you missed it.

In the talk I listed seven barriers to faith:

  1. Misunderstanding
  2. Lack of knowledge
  3. Cynicism
  4. Religion
  5. Fear
  6. Self Righteousness
  7. Pride

These barriers to faith, can also be barriers in our hearts when it comes to our response to change.

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Sometimes we can’t see the end from the beginning, but we have faith in a God who can

As we go through these times of change, we each need to watch our hearts and ask if any of these  things are standing in the way of us fully and joyfully embracing where God is leading us together.

 

Which of these is is the biggest challenge for you personally?

Sometimes we can’t see the end from the beginning, but we have faith in a God who can.

A call to faith and prayer

As we go through these times of change together I want to call us to faith and to prayer.

I would encourage all of us to be at our prayer meetings during the following week (Tuesday 24th at 8pm; Wednesday 25th at 2pm and 8pm).

I would also encourage each of us to consider seeking God personally in periods prayer and fasting. We need God’s help as we move forward; our human efforts are not enough! Let’s be diligent to  bring our church before God in prayer during these weeks.

And please pray for your leaders too; we always need it and value it.

“… pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Eph 6v18)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4v6-7)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12v2)

Building Our Future Together

April is going to be a huge month for our church!

  • On April 22nd, at our Vision Focus Evening, we will be announcing the new name for our church, along with a new mission statement and a new vision statement (6.30pm at the Coign Church Building!)
  • In mid-April we intend to put in the planning application for our new building
  • At the end of April we will have the first of three Gift Sundays to fund the new building project
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Try to spot yourself

I feel like I’m at the top of a rollercoaster and it’s about to get very fast and very exciting! We’ve been climbing the slope together for a while now, and now it’s time to ‘go’.

The building project is key to our future together

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Please ask for a copy

To help communicate well with everyone, we’ve prepared a brochure which we’ve been giving out on Sundays (do ask if you want a copy – we can give one to you directly or post you one).

It looks like this:

The brochure contains lots of information about what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we hope to achieve.

It also contains information about the part we can each play to see this done

Standing on the shoulders of giants

As a church we are so privileged to have the land and the building we currently have, right at the heart of Woking Town Centre. We are reaping the benefits of the faith of a previous generation (some of whom are very much still with us!)

Now it’s time for us to step out in faith as others before us have done.

The first picture here shows an aerial view of the town centre, around 1930, and in the centre is our original building in Percy Street. The second picture shows our current building:

Why are we making these changes?

The building we have is not big enough for us and does not suit our purposes today – that’s why we meet elsewhere on a Sunday. It’s also in need of some work to bring it up to date. God is blessing our church, and we need a good building to do all God us calling us to do together.

What do we want to build?

Everyone has had the chance to see our plans and to comment on them, but in case you missed it: our plan is to create a new 675 seater hall at the back of our current site and to repurpose the current building to serve our kids work, our youth work, and our community. It will also host our offices.

This will give us several things:

  • A useable Sunday venue (no more 6.30am set up!)
  • A place to call home that will serve our church, with rooms for children’s work and youth work, crèche, offices, rooms for community use and more
  • A place from which to serve the community, in all sorts of ways
  • A place that will be a blessing to local residents; an oasis in a busy area of town 
  • A family home for our church in which we can grow and serve together

Ultimately we’re doing this to bring glory to God

This is about mission; this is about the Great Commission; this is about connecting with our town; this is about the gospel; this is about being a blessing to Woking.

These pictures give an idea of what we are planning to achieve:

Our next steps

The planning application should be put in during early to mid-April. Of course, in a process like this, we obviously can’t wait for that to come back before we start seeking funding; we need to raise finance now in order to secure the full funding we need.

I’ve talked elsewhere (and in the brochure) about what this will all cost, and our target right now is to raise around one and a half million pounds … ideally by the autumn.

Let’s see what God will do as we step out in faith together.

Gift Days

We will be holding Gift Days as a church on:

  • Sunday 29th April
  • Sunday 6th May
  • Sunday 13th May

The brochure contains information on lots of ways you can give to the building fund; some simple, some more complex. If you have any questions, please ask. We have also made a short video to explain what we are doing – you can watch that here:

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

There are three things we are now asking people to do:

  1. Read the brochure through – any questions, please ask!
  2. Pray for the planning permission to go through
  3. See what God is giving you faith to give, and then go for it in faith

These are exciting times for our church

Let’s step out in faith and let’s do something that will serve our church, serve this town and be a blessing to the generations that will follow us.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Jesus – Luke 6v38)

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
(Paul – 2 Corinthians 9v6-7)

 

A Season Of Change

Sitting working at home today it looks like Spring has arrived in our garden at last! Long may the sunshine continue!

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I love this quote from Song of Songs:

“See! The winter is past; the rains (and snow) are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” (Songs of Songs 2v11-13)

Jesus loves his church

We are Jesus’ bride, and He calls us to arise and follow him. He is the one who brings us growth and fruitfulness, and we’ve certainly seen some fruit recently, for example last weekend we had the joy of 12 baptisms. This included people from eight different nations: Nigeria, South Africa, Cyprus, Spain, China, Brazil, South Korea and the UK. Jesus is at work in our church!

A new season

As a church we’re about to embark on a significant new season, full of of change, to help us become even more effective and fruitful:

  • On Sunday April 22nd we announce the new name for our church at our Vision Focus Evening (6.30pm at The Coign Building)
  • After that we will have Gift Days towards the New Building Project
  • In May our new name will go live and we will relaunch ourselves in Woking

These are significant changes and will impact us all in various ways. As we go through these changes, we would be naive to think that it will all be smooth sailing or that we don’t have to be both watchful and prayerful.

Let’s keep watch on ourselves

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” 1 Peter 5v8-9

Our enemy would love to spoil our beautiful new season and halt the growth that God is bringing us, so let’s pray and let’s be watchful … and let’s not do his job for him!

Let’s each keep a close watch on our own hearts as we go through these changes.

Five things to watch our hearts for

These changes are positive and exciting, yet change can also be challenging for some people, so let’s make sure we each handle things well.

Here are five possible challenges we might face, which could damage our church if not handled well! Also, here are some links to helpful resources for each situation.

Watch out for fear: excellent link here

Watch out for gossip: check out this excellent article

Watch out for negativity: excellent resource here

Watch out for ungodly criticism: try this link

Watch out for disappointment: this article is particularly helpful

And finally, let’s keep on praying as we move forward together into our future as a church.

Onwards and upwards! Part 2: Buildings

During our recent Coign Church Vision Focus evening we highlighted a number of plans and changes ahead. Last week my blog focussed on some team changes we are making; this week I want to mention our building plans.

Buildings

We are so privileged to be on our current site. I suspect that if we did not already own it, we would be very unlikely to be able to obtain it today; there are so many other uses that the land would have been put to by now!

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Our current “totally awesome but also in need of work” building

Challenges

The current Coign Church building is too small for our needs; we already meet elsewhere on a Sunday (at the HG Wells conference centre) because of space constraints. The building is also in need of some work to bring it up to a good standard.

Over the years several attempts have been made to solve this issue – including some laudable attempts to create a self funding project – but none has succeeded. It does not seem that God is taking us via that route – and we have tried! 

Faith

Our current building location is great and we do not plan to give up ownership of even one square inch of it. People of faith got us into this place; let’s not have less faith than they did!

So let’s create something together that will serve our current needs, and also help us create our future together as a church. So on that basis, it’s time to take matters back into out own hands …

It’s time for a building project!

Whatever we do will cost money, and a large part of that will come from our giving. We will almost certainly also be looking to borrow some funding for the work to go ahead.

Sometimes people feel uncomfortable about the church spending money on buildings – and I understand why – but let’s remember: this is not the alternative to spending on mission!

A good building is both essential for and integral to our mission.

Everything we do as a church is mission; we are a mission organisation. And we can’t run the church we are called to run in this climate and this culture without buildings.

This isn’t a new or unique issue to us, and even in the Bible we see God’s people spending a lot of time an focus on buildings:

  • Read about David, or Solomon, or Moses, or Nehemiah, or Ezra.
  • Where did the first church meet? in a large upper room … in the temple courts … and also in homes.
  • Where did Paul build the church in Ephesus? He hired a lecture hall for two years.
  • How do we know these things? Because buildings matter and people wrote it all down for us!

Our plan for the future is fairly simple:

We plan to redevelop the current site to create an auditorium across the back, and then redevelop the front to serve our kids and youth work, our church offices and the community. Obviously this will all be far more complex and involved than it sounds, and we are now working with architects.

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The Team from Plan A UK: Paul, Darren and Steve

Our goals

  • Let’s aim for a building that looks good, and that people notice and know about
  • Let’s aim for a building that serves all of our church needs, including Sunday mornings and midweek
  • Let’s aim for a building that everyone in the community has a reason to come into at least once a year
  • Let’s aim for a building that will be a blessing to the community of Woking, the surrounding area and most of all to our nearest neighbours

The way forward

So we’ve started working with an architect called Paul Ginever, and his team from Plan A UK. We’ve had some great meetings with them, and we’re excited by how things are taking shape.

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Paul Ginever

In the New Year we will introduce them to you in person, and also start to talk together about buildings and the way forward.

Lots of people will have views and ideas that all need to be heard and feed in to what we do. And we need to consult with all the interested parties, including those who live nearby.

So let’s work together to do something fantastic. And one more thing:

A New Building Fund

We have opened a new, ring fenced, building fund, and every penny given to that fund will go to finance the redevelopment of this site; to finance our New Building.

You can give to it right away if you want to; I would love to see that happen and I know that some have started already. To  join in just give to the church as normal, but tell us that it’s for the New Building Fund. You might also like to consider making a legacy gift in your will – just ask us how.

In 2018 we will have some gift days – and we do need to raise a lot of money – but more info will follow on that in the New Year. And let’s remember

We are on a mission together, and God has  great plans ahead for us; plans to give us a future and a hope.

Let’s go for it in faith!

Onwards and upwards! Part 1: Team

We had a great ‘Vision Focus’ evening on Wednesday at The Coign Church. During the evening we highlighted a number of changes we’ve made and are continuing to make, and we also looked at our goal of helping people to …

“… Belong … Believe … Become”

Thank you for all the positive feedback on the evening

In this blog I want to mention three team changes:

Darren and Lois Forsdyke

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It’s a Petch – Forsdyke reunion!

On the evening it was my privilege to introduce Darren and Lois Forsdyke. Darren starts with us full time as Director of Operations from January 1st (although we might give him that day off as a Bank Holiday! 🙃)

Darren will be taking responsibility to lead and manage all the operational aspects of The Coign Church, which is a role we have a huge need for. He’ll also provide a ‘PA’ (Personal Assistant) function to me so I can be more effective in my role. So from January, or very soon afterwards, if you e-mail me … you’ll actually be emailing him! You have been warned …

Darren is taking on a huge role, and I know he’s well up to it; we worked together for the last 11 years! This will be a huge blessing for the Coign Church and we’re totally delighted to have this wonderful couple on board.

Nathan and Jules Silvester

During our evening we announced that Nathan Silvester will be leaving us at the end of this year. He and Jules are moving to Alton where he will be joining the team at Harvest Church in Alton as Associate Pastor.

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Nathan and Jules: we’re sure gonna miss ’em

Nathan has served us faithfully for more than nine years as our Youth Worker, and is ready for this new challenge. He will be missed! Harvest Church is another Commission Church; its good to remember that we are in mission together as a family of churches.

Their last Sunday at the Coign will be January 14th, so don’t miss the chance to say ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to them both.

That leaves us with a question of course …

“What will happen with the youth work?”

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Ben and Nancy Martin – exciting times!

We answered that question too:

With immediate effect Ben Martin, who has been our children’s worker for a few years now, will be stepping up to a new role as

“Youth and Children’s Pastor”

This will be significant change of role for Ben and he will need to work differently; he’s also going to need extra operational support … so maybe Darren is arriving in the nick of time!

Ben will be working through lots of other people within the Church to make sure our children’s and youth work are as fantastic as they can possibly be. I know he has a heart full of passion fore young people and ahead full of exciting ideas.

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Becca and Ben Corbett – youthful always

Two very key players in all this will now be Ben and Becca Corbett, who will be taking on the primary leadership role for the youth in particular.

This is not an employed position, and they will be doing this as volunteers while still doing their day jobs. It was great to hear from Ben Corbett all about how they want to move the youth work forwards, building on the past and taking us into the future. Exciting times are ahead for our young people!

One more thing:

I want to say, “Thank you Coign Church”

Thank you for being receptive to change.

Thank you for your commitment to our future.

Thank you for coming on this journey together.

One thing is for sure:

We are a church that handles change well!

And in my next blog I plan to talk about where we’ve got to with our building plans, so look out for that.