The Welcome Church Building Work Is Finished

I am delighted to announce that the building work at Welcome Church is now complete, bringing to an end an important chapter in our church’s history and opening up a whole new one. I’m looking forward to the time when Lockdown measures are over and we’re able to start using it properly.

We had expected the current crisis to delay completion, but government guidance permits building work to continue as long as appropriate hygiene and social distancing measures are in place, and our contractor made the call to continue. They were inspected regularly along the way by Woking Borough Council for compliance.

Yesterday I had to go over to the building to collect the keys. Sadly we were unable to have a proper ‘handover ceremony’ because of the times we are in, but I was handed the keys by Simon Powell, contracts manager for O&D Construction, on the end of a 2m pole!

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The new offices are looking good, as is the whole site, and hopefully these pictures give an idea of the finished result. Let’s pray it’s not too long before we all get to see it in real life and enjoy meeting together in person.

If you’ve never visited us at Welcome Church, we’d love to see you when we’re open again. In the meantime, you can join us each Sunday online for our meetings at 9am, 11am and 6pm.

There are of course some small jobs outstanding on the building which social distancing or availability of raw materials at this time have made impossible, and there will undoubtedly be snagging issues to resolve once we get in; we will deal with these along the way.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project. Please let me encourage you, as far as you are able (and I recognise that some are facing huge challenges right now) to keep giving generously so that we can meet our monthly mortgage payments, and perhaps clear the mortgage altogether.

God has given us this building for a reason and we have not been called to stand still. We are here to be a blessing to our town and further afield, and we have a big vision that we want to fulfil. I can’t wait to be back in our building again and I look forward to seeing you there!

Gift Day: Reflections & Building News

Last Sunday (16th June) we had our final Welcome Church Gift Day to raise money for our New Building project. At this point we don’t know how much was given – we’ll announce it when we do know – but ahead of that news I wanted to share some reflections and some building news.

Seven Reflections

(Yes. I restricted myself to just seven. 😃)
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Reflections

My first reflection is how incredibly generous people in Welcome Church are. We are a church that knows how to give sacrificially! Whatever the outcome of these last Gift Days, we have given well in excess of £2m in one year. That is incredible. Miraculous even. I feel humbled, thankful and incredibly proud of us all. It’s a privilege to be leading this church.

My second reflection is the sense of responsibility this brings. We always need to be responsible with people’s giving, but the sense of responsibility feels higher with such a huge amount of giving. We will use it carefully.

My third reflection is that people have given to the building because it’s part of our mission together. We have to remember this as we go forward. It’s going to be a church building! It will be a centre for worship; a place for ministry; a resource to enable our mission together; a facility to serve and bless our town and the wider Commission family of churches. It’s not built to be a source of profit making; that’s not what people gave for so sacrificially.

My fourth reflection is the deep sense of unity we have. Despite a huge amount of change in Welcome Church over the last 18 months, people have been so clearly on board with this project and I’ve loved seeing the excitement it has brought.

My fifth reflection is that everyone has been involved. Although I haven’t looked in detail at what individuals have given, I’m aware of just how many people have given. Some have given small amounts and some have given huge amounts; both can represent a big sacrifice. Even our Welcome Kids have been involved, with some even emptying their piggy banks. My prayer for them is that this giving sets them on a path of generosity and trusting God that will stay with them for life.

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Everyone has been included in this

My sixth reflection is how God has blessed people in response to their giving. I’ve heard testimonies all along the way from people who have given in faith and afterwards have been incredibly, undeniably blessed by God’s unmistakable provision for them; Jo and I can testify to this ourselves. BUT EVEN IF THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED FOR YOU, even if you’ve given and have simply found yourself poorer afterwards, your giving does not go unnoticed by God; it is worship.

My seventh and final reflection is on the exciting future God has planned for our church. He did not give us this building just so we could run our Sunday meetings more easily. The way God has blessed this project creates an excitement in me that He must have some big plans for Welcome Church. Let’s look forward to our future as a church with expectation and faith!

I am so grateful to God

God’s blessing on us all along the way has been incredible. He deserves our worship, praise and thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to our first meeting in the new chapel; what a time of celebration that will be!

And whatever the result of these last Gift Days let me say thank you to everyone who has given! Even if all we gave last Sunday was a button and some chewed gum (it wasn’t 😮) our church has still given amazingly generously all along the way.

Some Building News

The building news I want to share is about God’s provision for us for these next few months. We need to move out of the Welcome Centre altogether from July 1st until the end of the project. We had been looking for a small office facility to tide us over, but we’ve been blessed far more than we could have ever expected.

Yesterday we moved into what used to be the Job Centre, just a stone’s throw from the Welcome Centre. We will be calling it The Annexe. A huge thank you goes to everyone who came along and made the move happen.

The amazing news is that this building has been given to us and to the Useful Wood Company, rent free, for a year. (Useful Wood is one of our Welcome Works. It is a new social enterprise being set up by people in our church to help long term unemployed people learn new skills and find employment. It will also recycle a lot of old wood.)

The Annexe is vast. It runs over three floors and I keep finding new rooms. It will meet every building need we have as a church during this time (except for Sunday mornings which will continue at HG Wells for now). It even has parking for about 20 cars.

The most amazing thing is that we weren’t even looking for a provision like this; God has given us incredibly more than all we could ask or imagine; he really did know what we needed before we even asked.

In case you need it, the official address for the building is: Welcome Church, 15-29 Goldsworth Road, Woking, GU21 6JT.

And when we know the result of the Gift Days – soon I hope – we’ll let you know.

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Time to get the calculator out

Buildings: the final push!

We’re now at the half-way stage with our building work at Welcome Church, and things are really starting to take shape. By July 1st we will need to move out of the existing building for 6 months while the work to redesign that is completed too.

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There’s a lot planned to happen to our current building, including: an extension to create new offices, new professional quality kitchens, new toilet facilities, a new entrance, doors leading through to the new building, a new reception area, a redesign of the current room layout, removal of the old baptistry and stage, a new boiler and heating system, electrical work, decorating throughout, cladding to the outside, landscaping, fencing, gates … the building will be transformed!

Gift Days

This Sunday and next (9th and 16th June) we will hold our final Gift Days to finish off our giving for this project.

Our target over these two weeks is to raise £300,000.

The aim of these Gift Days is to close the small gap in the funding for our current plans, and also to cover the cost of a few additional items/opportunities that have come up along the way. Some extra costs include:

  • Video: we would like to introduce video recording for our preaching, which will be key for our outreach and for reaching new places
  • Sound: this is very important and, after many quotes, we now know that it will cost more than we budgeted for
  • Folding doors: the folding doors we have need replacing and sound proofing is needed above them too
  • Drains: we have a collapsed drain, and twice during recent alpha evenings another drain has backed up and flooded the kitchen
  • Cladding: we want to clad more of the building than was originally planned
  • Windows: some windows need replacing
  • The Upper Room: a completely new room, above the new kids rooms in the current building. This room would have several uses: a prayer room, a place for people to meet with God, a place for pastoral and other meetings, a place for quiet study. It’s different, it’s stylish and we just need to fund it. 😃

More details about these extra’s, including the Upper Room is available by clicking here

We will also be giving away 10% of the money raised at these Gift Days to fund a Compassion Child Survival project in Togo, serving the poorest of the poor – you can see details of that by clicking here

Decisions to be made

If we raise the full amount we can do all of the work needed. If we raise less than our target we will need to make some key decisions fairly soon about what we leave out at this stage. I’m praying that we hit the target this time.

Let’s not be casual

Our target of £300,000 is lower than our targets for the previous Gift Days, but it’s still not a small amount; it will still require great faith and sacrifice from us all … especially since it comes on the back of the previous Gift Days!

So let’s not be casual about these two Sundays.

Please take them seriously. Please pray about them. Please seek God about what he is calling you to give. Please come prepared.

And please, let’s all step out in faith together:

“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.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

2 Corinthians 9v6-8

 

 

Come And See … our new building

This Saturday (11th May) we have an Open Afternoon for our new building project. You can drop in any time between 1pm and 3pm to get a view of the work done so far, to walk around the site, to ask questions and to pray. This will be an exciting opportunity to see the project before it’s complete and we move in next year.

Please remember that it is still a building site, so please do not go directly to the new building, but meet at The Welcome Centre first for a safety briefing. O&D Construction have confirmed that we will not need to wear hard hats but have stressed that sensible (closed) shoes must be worn.

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This is an exciting time for us as a church, and building work is moving quickly. We will be holding final gift days on Sunday 9th and 16th June to enable us to finish the job, and to help fund the additional items we’ve discussed over the last few weeks (details here).

If you missed the new ‘information booklet’ last Sunday with all the details, please pick one up either on Sunday morning, or when you visit the building on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all there!

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.