Hello Woking!

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Good job my wife is an excellent driver!

It’s taken longer than we expected, and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a journey, but this week we finally arrived in the awesome town of Woking. Hooray!

Thanks to everyone who dropped by with cakes, cards, flowers and Prosecco. Your warm welcome made us feel right at home … and that’s important because otherwise we might miss our Grace Church friends and family even more than we do already – thanks for calling in!

What a week!

It’s been a huge week for us personally: moving in on Monday, then heading off to the annual Commission gathering at Westpoint on Thursday through to the following Monday. Now we’re back with a mountain of washing to do!

By the way, Westpoint was excellent this year in so many ways, and one added bonus for us was that we got to meet a lot of Coign Church people. You can book in for next year already, so don’t delay. We’ll be there for sure.

On Friday I begin my new role as Lead Pastor at The Coign Church. I’m looking forward to getting started and to finding out what God has in store for us in the year ahead. Jo also starts her new role now as Head of School at a Special School in Portsmouth. Please be patient with us if things get a little hectic along the way …

I have TWO REALLY KEY THINGS to mention in this blog:

First – what this blog is for …

I write a blog to communicate with my church. Up to now that has meant Grace Church; from today onwards it means The Coign Church – so I encourage as many Coign people as possible to read it – and feel free to post, repost and interact in helpful ways. You can even follow it or subscribe to receive it by e-mail.

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And now it’s The Coign Church

There are lots of exciting things we do as a church, there are lots of ministries that bless our community, there are lots of people who will make faith steps in various ways, and there are also exciting things I’m involved with personally in the wider world of Commission … and some of these could go by unnoticed.

My aim for my blog 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.

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.

Second – a mention of some true Coign Church heroes …

Although we now have an address in Woking, our house in Chichester has not yet sold. I confess I was starting to feel a little bit concerned! John and Ann Wardill have stepped in to make it possible for us to be here in time, so right now we are living in their house … and they are not.

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John and Ann Wardill – ready to leap into superhero action at any moment.

John and and Ann are a great example to us all of people who are using their retirement to pursue the call of God in so many ways. We need to honour people like this and hold them in high esteem! What a blessing they are to us and what an example to us all!

We trust that God will sort our house sale out in his own timing, and that we will buy our own property in Woking in the months ahead, but Jo and I want to give a public thank you to these two heroes!

We’re looking forward to seeing you all at our Coign Church meetings this Sunday!

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 “Heroes of the week” this time are Richard and
Wendy Owen

Richard and Wendy Owen | Heroic Wall Builders | Steve Petch Blog

Richard & Wendy

Richard and Wendy have been a part of Grace Church since before it even began; by which I mean they were planning and praying for it before the possibility of it even entered my head.

 

Before it began

In early 2005, when the idea of a church plant into Chichester was first being discussed, Jo and I were introduced to Richard and Wendy through a fellow church leader. Based in Brighton, and long term members of Church of Christ the King, they had been dreaming of a church plant into Chichester for several years. To help get things moving they had already joined a church in Worthing in order to get a bit closer to where it might happen. Their house was already on the market. Then Jo and I arrived on the scene and Richard and Wendy willingly jumped in with us to get the church plant started.

Godly qualities

Richard and Wendy are loved by so many people, and personally I admire them for many qualities – here are just a few (and believe me I could list many more):

Their patience:

It took more than two years for their house to sell, but they never wavered. God had spoken and God would do it in his time

Their faithfulness:

Through many ups and downs and various challenges of church life and leadership, Richard and Wendy have always remained steadfast with a good attitude

Their kindness:

So many people have been through their home at various times and have been fed and cared for – it’s no wonder they are well loved

Their tolerance:

Especially of my many quirks and foibles and leadership errors

Their pastoral wisdom:

With so many people who are in all sorts of situations

Their sense of humour:

Richard’s ‘dad jokes’ are legendary; Wendy’s laugh is infectious (Just keep Richard off the subject of “gruesome ex-policeman stories”)

Their servant heart:

Always the first in line to pray for people, to show hospitality or to just do what needs to be done, from putting out chairs to cleaning floors to visiting the sick

In short, with regards to these two, every church needs people like this in it!

So why am I blogging about them now? Because Richard and Wendy are facing a challenge.

A challenge

A couple of years ago Wendy fought her way, with the support of her church and family, through the ordeal of breast cancer. It was a fight that she won, receiving the all clear in the end. Praise God!

So it’s upsetting now to find that, after battling several other illnesses, Richard has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Sadly the treatment options are limited and Richard has been sent away to enjoy the summer. Unless God intervenes it is likely to be life limiting, but rest assured we will be praying for a miracle and would invite you to do the same.

But how do Richard and Wendy respond to this? They keep on serving the church and keep on worshipping, pressing into God and leading us all by example.

What has impressed me once again is the faith and resilience that this couple have shown.

“God is in charge; he is not surprised; our lives are in his hands”

That’s not to say there is no sadness or worry, but any of this is mixed with faith and confidence in a God who always heals in the end – in this life or the next. And that’s where our hope lies, and it’s where Richard and Wendy’s hope lies too.

Let’s keep praying

So let’s keep on praying for this awesome couple who have devoted themselves to building the walls.

 

And, remembering the kindness they have shown to so many, now is the time for us to step up and show kindness to them, as a church family, in whatever ways we possibly can.