Some Welcome Church Summer News

I hope you’ve been having a good summer. Jo and I were not alone in having a trip to the sunshine cancelled, but we managed to get a few days away in the Cotswolds and also some time with friends in Honiton, including a sailing trip on the Devon coast where we were accompanied by dolphins 😃 (it was amazing)

I want to use the first of what will be several blogs in the days ahead to catch us all up with some church family news from the summer, in case you missed it …

We had our first Coronavirus weddings:

On Thursday 20th August I led the wedding for Leah Kapotwe and Allen Bower. It was great to see these two lovely families coming together with their five awesome boys. Allen is an Anglican Vicar and a widower. The new family will be based in Sunbury, so we’re saying goodbye to Leah and the boys as a church.

On Sunday 23rd August, Dean Guy led the wedding for Hannah Bathurst and James Oliver. It was a real joy for these two having had their original date cancelled due to the pandemic. I don’t have any pics from that one yet.

Coronavirus weddings are different, with numbers limited to 30, face masks compulsory and no singing allowed … but we did our best to make them special.

We had news of two new babies:

On Wednesday 19th August at 3.18pm, Pete and Mim Hewlett were delighted to welcome Caleb Edwin James Hewlett into the world – a firstborn son for them. Congratulations on this exciting event (and I hope you’re getting some sleep).

Precisely 30 minutes later at 3.48pm, Ben and Nancy Martin were delighted to welcome Hazel Grace Nancy Martin – a firstborn daughter. As if that wasn’t enough for them, Ben and Nancy also moved house to Hook this week, where Ben is now the Lead Elder at Life Church so it really is a final goodbye to them as they leave Woking behind.

We heard about a near disaster:

Two weeks ago Marian Boul, a much loved part of Welcome Church, had the shock of seeing her neighbours house (which is the other half of her semi-detached property) go up in smoke. The fire was caused (allegedly) by arson and someone has been arrested.

Marian is safe and well, but there’s been a lot of damage, including damage to her property as the fire was tackled. She now has the stress of dealing with both her insurance and the police, not to mention the horrendous smell. Please keep her in your prayers. It’s great that the Life Group and other church friends have been rallying round.

Lastly, we received news of a significant illness:

Janet and Mike Deavin are much loved by us all and have been a key part of Welcome Church for many years. Between them they have held many significant roles both in the church and the community. Sadly Janet was diagnosed this week with an aggressive, malignant brain tumour that the doctors say is inoperable and incurable. This news has come out of nowhere and Janet had no symptoms two weeks ago.

The doctors are working to prolong her life through the use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but without genuine divine intervention in the form of a healing miracle, the prognosis is not good.

Mike and Janet are experiencing God’s peace at this time, and have been blessed by the love and care being shown to them by so many. As a church we are going to love and support them all the way, and we are also going to pray. They are very happy for us to pray for healing for Janet, and are also at peace in their faith if this is God’s time to take Janet home.

Let’s also pray for their wider family, several of whom are part of Welcome Church.

So let’s continue to pray

Currently we pray online each week on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 8.15am to 9.00am. Please join us if you can. We’ve seen some amazing answers to prayer in recent weeks, including for Mike and Janet’s prematurely born granddaughter Chloe, who is now at home and doing well.

If Welcome Church is your church, these prayer meetings are for you. The details for joining are all on our website. If you’re nervous about joining, feel free to come and observe for a bit; you can mute yourself and leave your camera off too while you get used to it.

Ephesians 3v20, which Leah and Allen had read at their wedding, tells us that God can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Let’s come before him in prayer and let’s lift every situation we face up to him, and let’s do that both individually, and together as a church.

Summer Reading

In case you have a bit of time over the summer to do some extra reading while you enjoy the sunshine, here are some books that I found particularly helpful this year and want to recommend:

1. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

This book, by Kenneth Bailey, looks at the life of Jesus from the perspective of those who live in the Middle East. A special focus is given to the stories of Jesus’ birth, his attitude to women, the Lord’s Prayer, the beatitudes and several of Jesus’ parables.

I found it extremely interesting, easy to read and personally challenging. It was packed full of insights that were completely new to me. I will definitely be reading more by this author and I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the life and teachings of Jesus.

2. A War Of Loves – the unexpected story of a gay activist discovering Jesus

Jo and I have had the privilege of meeting David Bennett, having dinner with him and hearing him speak. This book is his autobiographical account of how he came to faith in Jesus, and the implications of this for his life. It is an honest account and doesn’t shy away from some deeply personal and challenging issues.

I would recommend this book to every Christian … I would even call it “essential reading”. Read it with an open heart and let God challenge you; it brought me to tears several times. And if you want to know more, David will be speaking in two seminars at Westpoint this year as well.

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3. Developing Female Leaders

This book, by Kadi Cole, is the one I’ve read most recently and is an absolute gift to anyone in the church. It looks at some of the reasons why women have struggled to maximise their leadership gifts in the church context and gives eight, easy to implement, best practices to help turn that around. It contained truths that I can now see are blindingly obvious, but which I had simply been unaware of before.

I particularly like how the author doesn’t have a big personal axe to grind; she just has a deep desire to help churches live up to the fullness of what they say they believe. Regardless of where we might sit on the “egalitarian” vs “complementarian” debate (and this book is not about that) this is relevant, practical and helpful. I’m looking forward to putting these steps into the practice in the months and years ahead.

4. Sustainable Power

Simon Holley’s book is not new (it’s been on my shelf for four years) but I only got round to reading it this year … and I’m so glad I did. It looks at the ‘rocks’ in our hearts and lives that can prevent God from moving in and through us to impact the world around us. It’s full of relevant stories and examples and is easy to read whilst being personally challenging to read at the same time.

If you want to grow in faith, grow in expectation and grow in your walk with God, this is the book for you. Just don’t expect to reach the end unchallenged and unchanged.

Hope you have a great summer …

… and if you do take the time to read any of these, feel free to (politely) let me know what you thought of them in the comments section below.

 

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!

Some Summer News Updates

Summer is here!

The schools have broken up, the sun is shining, hose pipe bans are on the way and it’s raining on the North Devon coast … a typical British summer.IMG_2982

I hope you’re enjoying our summer preaching series looking at “What Would Jesus Say”; it’s been great hearing from some new people too.

I’ve enjoyed having just one meeting at 10am (instead of our usual two at 9am and 11am). Of course, whilst it’s good to all be together in one meeting, it’s also be very clear why we need two meetings for the rest of the year. Even with many people away on holiday, we’re pretty much full!

 

Here are a few news updates, in case you’ve missed them:

Westpoint

Westpoint is a key annual event for us as a church and is one of the most important things we do each year. Westpoint brings us together with the other Commission Churches in the UK, and with many from overseas too. We enjoy excellent teaching, apostolic input, powerful worship and personal encounters with God. Don’t miss this fantastic event which will help to shape our agenda for the year ahead. It could even change your life.

We now have over 300 booked in from Welcome Church, which will make it our biggest Westpoint ever, and it’s still not too late to book.

We do provide full catering as a church, and don’t forget that we need you to book that food with us through our website now. While you’re there please also fill in the form to let us know your camping arrangements (for those staying on site). Here’s a link to that form. 

Building Plans

We have applied for planning permission for our building project and had hoped we would be hearing the outcome this month. For various reasons (which are honestly far too dull to go into here) our application will actually be heard in early September.

Do please pray for a positive outcome. We have no reason to be concerned, but let’s remember that we’re Christians, not fatalists! Let’s pray! That way God always gets the glory, just as he should.

Staffing

Huge congratulations go to Karen Patrick who, against some tough competition, has secured a much sought after promotion to ‘Head Of Operations’ at Harvest Church in Alton ( which is also a part of our Commission family of churches.)

She will be working alongside Nathan Silvester again, and also with my friend Andrew Lawrence who leads the team at Harvest Church now.

This means she will be leaving us at the end of September, and will be moving house to Alton too. Karen will leave a big hole after more than 8 years employed on the team and more than 38 years as part of the church.

Let’s send her well with our blessings!

Vision Focus

Finally,  do put the evening of Sunday 16th September in your diary now. We will have our next Vision Focus evening then (6.30pm at The Welcome Centre) and we’ll be updating everyone on plans for the autumn and further ahead.

It will be a chance to gather together to hear news and vision and to pray for the next season of our church life together. Be sure not to miss it.

Hope you all have a great summer.