Some Key Welcome Church Updates

In case you missed them here are some updates from our Welcome Church family regarding elders, staff, the new Lockdown and Sunday meetings:

New Elders

At our vision focus evening we were delighted to propose two people to join our eldership team: Nnamdi Anyaegbunam and Robin Willison. Both of these are a real gift to our church and a model of godly leadership and life; we recommend them to you wholeheartedly.

We would love to hear your endorsement of these choices and equally, if you have any Biblical concerns, please let us know. How and when they will be appointed during Covid remains to be seen!

Staff Changes

Rhea John and Peter Leach have both now left our employment. They had been on furlough for a while as their roles were not possible during Covid.

Rhea has secured a much sought after job in London as a civil servant, a role she was pursuing before she joined us. Peter has now officially retired. We will miss them around the offices, but they will remain part of our church family.

Impact Of The New Lockdown

The new Lockdown has impacted some of what we do:

  • The church offices are closed for the next four weeks with all staff working at home
  • Recruitment of new staff (bearing in mind that Ben Martin, Peter Leach and Rhea John have all left us during Lockdown!) has been put on hold until the crisis has passed. This will both help us financially and allow us to fully assess what roles we need most for the future.
  • Welcome Youth had planned to start ‘in person’ meetings this week, but this will be delayed until this Lockdown ends. Youth Alpha starts online tonight, so pray for them
  • Our day time Life Groups were working towards some in person meetings in the building and these will now also be delayed until after Lockdown

Some things remain unchanged:

  • Sundays will continue online as before
  • Prayer meetings will continue online on Tuesday and Friday mornings
  • Our Life Group refresh will continue as planned
  • Baptisms can go ahead as planned unless the Lockdown is extended
  • Our new Leadership Development course continues online

Live Streaming on Sundays

At Vision Focus I announced our intention to move away from a ‘pre-recorded’ approach to Sunday meetings and towards Live Streaming, with whatever congregation we are allowed to have ‘in person’, from early January.

It is possible (not definite) that the start date may be delayed slightly because we need to do significant technical training for some volunteers, and Lockdown 2 is making that difficult. Regardless, our direction of travel remains the same.

Coronavirus

Finally, please pray for Alan and Beryl Hunwicks. Alan is a former elder and a current trustee of Welcome Church, and Beryl is a local councillor and the Mayor of Woking.

Alan fell down a flight of stairs and has been in hospital. Sadly we heard today that he now has Coronavirus with some clear symptoms. The hospital are unsure how he caught it. He has been transferred to the Covid ward. Please pray for Alan’s full recovery, and also for Beryl, who is not allowed to visit.

And remember …

… in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purposes. (Romans 8v28)

We are not abandoned or forgotten. God is at work for his glory and his purposes, even now.

Staying Connected

During this unusual time when we can’t meet together in person, there are a number of ways we plan to stay connected with each other as a church. I want to encourage you to make the most of these opportunities, so no one ends up feeling lonely or cut off. Let’s also be on the front foot to invite other’s to connect with us too.

For some people this may mean learning to use technology that’s completely new to you, but go for it anyway! 🙂

Daily Encouragement

Every day at 4pm (Mon to Sat) we are posting a video to help encourage us all during this crisis. It can be found on our church website, and will also be posted to our Welcome Church Facebook page (not the group!) I may blog some of these posts as well, but it would be best not to rely on that. Please be proactive and look on line at 4pm each day, and do let us know of it’s helpful to you.

Life Groups

Over the next few weeks we were due to refresh our Life Groups, with the chance to start new groups or sign up again for existing ones. In order to provide the best connection and care for us all during this crisis, that process has been postponed and current groups will continue for the time being. We’re encouraging people who are not already in a group to connect to one, and if you need help to do that, please contact Dean Guy.

We’re also encouraging all Life Groups to set up a What’s App group chat so people can easily keep in touch. We know that some groups have also started having virtual meetings using Zoom too – what a great idea (more info on that below).

Welcome Youth

Welcome Youth had their first online experience yesterday evening. Despite one or two technical glitches games were played and encouragement was given. Look out for more on that as the weeks progress.

Alpha

Alpha will be going on line via Zoom. They already had a planning meeting online this week. More details will follow in the days ahead.

89932778_10157068816725205_5846566631597146112_o

The Alpha Planning Meeting on Zoom

Sundays

Sunday meetings cannot take place in the usual way at the moment. This Sunday at 10am there will be a Sunday preach available on the church website, and also on our Facebook page (not the group!) It will also be available as a podcast.

To make this more interactive I will set up a WATCH PARTY starting a few moments after 10am that anyone can join. To access this on the day, be on the Facebook page and ready to go at 10am! The beauty of a watch party is that people can comment and interact together as we go along. (Can I hear an Amen?) I hope lots of us will join in.

Welcome Kids

This Sunday at 9am our first Welcome Kids online experience will be available on the Welcome Church website for you to enjoy with them at home. They have a great plan including craft, worship, games and teaching. This will also be accessible through the Facebook page.

Prayer

As of Monday morning we will be hosting prayer meetings online through Zoom. The plan is to pray from 7.30am – 8.00am, and then again from 1pm -1.45pm. For each prayer meeting we will post an access code in the Facebook group (not the page!)

Please use these codes to join us and pray. We did one on Friday as an experiment and it went really well.

ground-group-growth-hands-461049

Pastoral Care

If you have a pastoral need during this time, please do communicate with your Life Group. We also want to pray for people as a whole church when needs come up, so please use the email care@allwelcome.uk to keep us informed. These needs will be prayed for during the Zoom prayer meetings, so get your requests in.

In terms of practical care for those required to stay at home (shopping, getting a prescription, walking a dog etc) we need to use real wisdom! Life Groups and other contacts across the church can do a certain amount, but as this crisis grows we are unlikely to be able to meet every need. Additionally this is a moment to connect well with our community. On this basis there are some things to consider:

  1. Let’s remember to connect well with our own families and neighbours; they may also need our help.
  2. Let’s get involved with the many local volunteer groups that are springing up. Jo and I are involved with our local one in Send, which is being expertly organised by a woman called Ruth. I am now a ‘volunteer coordinator’, and leaflets are going out across our area today. This creates a great opportunity to meet new people and show them love and care.
  3. Practically speaking, most help given in this season is going to need to be done locally, especially as travel becomes restricted. 

An increasing number of Welcome Church people, of all ages, are being confined at home. We now have confirmed cases of Coronavirus amongst the church, and we have others who have symptoms that are as yet unconfirmed. Our first serious hospitalised case is in a relatively young person with young children and no pre-existing conditions.

If you’re helping someone else, or you’re receiving help, please don’t take unnecessary risks or ignore the need for social distancing. To use an  example, this would mean leaving shopping on the door step and not going inside.

Using technology

Technology is a wonderful gift from God. Let’s be grateful for it and embrace it at this time. You may have noticed that there are some specific technologies we are using at this time to help people connect, so please let’s all consider doing the following:

  1. Sign up for our regular emails – you can do that by clicking this link.
  2. Keep an eye on our websiteInformation and updates will be posted there
  3. Install What’s App on your mobile phone. This is a free messaging service that allows you to set up group chats with people. It also allows you to make totally free audio or video calls to friends who have the app, even to people in other nations.
  4. Sign up to Facebook (Yes! Seriously!) Even if you’ve never done this before and swore you never would, now is the time. Once you’ve joined send me a friend request. Also like & follow our Welcome Church page, and join our Welcome Church group. You may have resisted doing this all your life, or you may just prefer Instagram or Twitter or other social media. In simple practical terms, Facebook offers the level of flexibility and interaction that we need right now, so our focus will be there. You can always quit when this crisis is over.
  5. Sign up to Zoom. This is a free app that you install on your laptop, phone or tablet. Sign up for a free account and you can join in everything we do on Zoom. A free account lets you set up meetings of up to 40 minutes length (though you can join ones that last any length of time). If you want to set up long meetings of your own, you can upgrade to a paid account as I’ve done. Zoom offer lots of online videos and tutorials to teach you how to use it, so why not use some of your time to learn? We used it for our elders and admin meetings this week and it was great.
  6. Follow this blog. This is your one stop shop for staying up to date with the church during this crisis. You can click a button to subscribe to it.

apple-coffee-computer-desk-356056

Staying together as a church

Please be encouraged to embrace these specific technologies to help you stay part of the church community during this time. They are a gift from God for us right now and I thank God for them all.

Even if these things are new to you, or you’re someone who thinks “Facebook is so last year”, please join in. Simply put: let’s all be in the same place.

Including everyone

There are always a few people who are unable to connect in the ways I describe above. Perhaps they have no laptop, email or internet (there are a few people in this position), or the internet where they live is just too slow to stream things.

If you have friends in this position, please do phone them and check in with them regularly. In fact, why not do that with lots of people regularly? If we all made just 1 or 2 phone calls a day just to check in with how people are, what a blessing that could be.

 

A Big Weekend

We have a big weekend ahead for Welcome Church with the appointment of three new elders, and also our Welcome Youth weekend away.

Youth

Welcome Youth are away from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon. They have 59 young people booked to attend, and a fantastic range of events planned (most of which I’m not allowed to reveal in advance 😃)

Please do pray for them to have a fun time, a safe time and a great time of meeting with God. Please pray for the young people and please pray for the leaders as well.

Elders

On Sunday afternoon at 4pm Guy and Heather Miller (Guy leads the Commission family of churches) will be joining us as we appoint Eugene Engelbrecht, Christopher Hawes and Mike Reid as elders to join our current team. These new appointments will significantly impact our church as we move into the future together.

This afternoon event is for the whole family, and we will start with coffee and cake from 4pm. Let’s all aim to be there, and parents please do bring your kids. It should be done by 5.30pm so you won’t be late for bath and bedtime.

Prayer

Let’s be in prayer ahead of these appointments too.

In fact it’s positively Biblical for us to do that:

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.” (Acts 14v26)

Pray for these men, pray for their families, pray for the elders we already have and for our families too, and pray for the church at this time of change. If you’re in a position to do so, you could even give some time to prayer with fasting too.

Let’s be full of faith as we head into this big weekend for Welcome Church

Organised Chaos

Welcome Youth took over our Sunday morning meeting at Welcome Church today and we had a fantastic time together.

IMG_0973

Enter a caption

The youth did it all: they led the worship, they hosted the meeting, they did Bible readings, they led us in prayer and they even preached. It was a lot of fun and no lasting damage resulted.

I want to say a huge thank you to them all.

Goodbye

This morning we said a final goodbye to the HG Wells Conference Centre. It was our last meeting there and we will start meeting in our own new building from Jan 5th. We also said goodbye to David and Tina Maskell who will be moving off to Grace Church in Salisbury, where David is starting his new job from January.

Launch Sunday

Dub took a few minutes to talk to us about our launch Sunday on January 19th. It’s going to be amazing and it’s time for us to start inviting people:

Organised Chaos

All in all it was organised chaos, and a whole lot of fun. We were reminded of Sue’s welcome story, from the Carol Service, and encouraged to share it to our social media feeds too.

And what better way to round off our twelve years meeting there than to celebrate communion together?

Here are some pics that sum up lots of what went on today. Enjoy!

Time To Say Goodbye

This Sunday will be our last meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre as a church, and I’m looking forward to enjoying a great time together. From January 5th we will be meeting in our new building and a new chapter will begin for us.

Welcome Church has been meeting at the HG Wells for just short of 12 years. It’s good to reflect back on all that God has done in the lives of many people over that time. As we say goodbye we will end our time by taking communion together. (And please remember: this Sunday there is only one meeting and it’s at 10am. Don’t get caught out!)

header-11

More than one goodbye

We will have another goodbye on Sunday too as it will be David Maskell’s last Sunday with us as an elder, and David and Tina’s last Sunday at Welcome Church.

We are now in a position to tell people what they are up to next: from January David will be taking on a new pastoral care role at Grace Church in Salisbury, a Commission church led by my friend Simon Redmill. David and Tina will be looking to move house over the coming months. It’s been good to see God’s hand and timing in their next step.

I know that Simon and the church are looking forward to David starting, and the role he is taking on seems to be custom made for him. Obviously it’s a big change for the family to adjust to, so do keep them in your prayers.

Grace Church were only told this news last Sunday, and we didn’t want to share it ahead of them being told. If you want to read more about this move, please click here for a link to Simon Redmill’s blog.

Important Health and Safety Warning

One last thing about Sunday: Welcome Youth are leading through most of our meeting this week. This means that anything could happen and probably will 😮.

Don’t say you weren’t warned 😃