Author: Graham Stacey

Weekly News 5 March 2021

Hello.

We are now in the third week of Lent.

A lot of people talk about a Lenten pilgrimage or journeying towards Easter. Bishop Rachel has written an interesting article that’s on the front page of the diocese website at the moment, in which she compares going on a literal walk at this time of year, with the inner journey towards Easter. I really recommend that.

But thinking about Easter, we’ve been wondering how are we going to celebrate Easter this year in our church buildings, trying to keep one another safe, but having the opportunity of being together. So we’re thinking of doing something very similar to what we did at Christmas, which is having our church buildings open and decorated, lighting our Easter candle, and being able to join in with private prayer, receiving communion, and listening to readings and those wonderful Easter hymns. So that some of our churches will be open, some of them on Easter Eve, some of them on Easter Day for that.

In the week leading up to Easter, Holy Week, there’s emerging a rather challenging and exciting opportunity of being involved with other churches from around Stroud and other organisations in a whole week of prayer. Literally 24/7. There’ll be opportunities to be involved in Zoom prayer rooms, of course, to pray at home, to pray when you go walk, to engage in the normal online prayer meetings that we have, the various ones across our churches, and some of our church buildings will be open for private prayer, especially that week too. So, if you can devote an additional hour, perhaps that week, to prayer, could you sign up for a particular slot and let’s make the most of this opportunity of this Holy Week. Having extra time to listen to God and to intercede. We want to pray for healing and for hope, for our friends and our world.

Also, in Holy Week, we are going to be involved in the Easter Comfort and Joy. If you remember at Christmas, we joined in the project across the diocese to deliver bags of comfort and joy that involved frozen meals and some extra goodies to families who are suffering from financial hardship at the moment. And there’s an opportunity, again, to do that in Holy Week, but, of course, this time we want to include Easter eggs and an Easter card alongside those frozen meal If you’d like to take part in this by making a financial contribution towards an Easter egg, then please make a donation to Stroud Parish Churches, either via the website or via a check, or whatever usual way that you do that. But please could you mark it clearly, Easter Comfort and Joy. That would be great. And, if you’d like to actually write in one of the Easter cards, that would be wonderful too. If you’d like to join in by writing a message please let me know, and I’ll get one or more Easter cards to you. Thanks.

We’ve begun to think about how we can open our church buildings for Sunday Worship, every Sunday after Easter. And to that end, the PCCs and the churchwardens have been thinking about it, but we’d still love to hear from you, what you think about Sunday Worship in your church buildings. And, if you’d like to make your views known to one of your PCC reps or to your churchwardens, that would be good. And those views can be taken forward to one of our joint PCC meetings coming up.

But of course, the Christian life isn’t just about what we do on Sundays, Sunday mornings. It’s about our everyday faith. There’s a new initiative that’s come out in the diocese to support us in our everyday faith about how God makes a difference to our lives, every part of our lives. And it’s called Personal Shapes for Living. What this is, is an opportunity, if you’d like to take it, to be linked to a kind of a spiritual friend, a soul friend, a buddy and to arrange to talk with them maybe later on in the year in a personal meeting or over the phone, and just to kind of share about where you are a and they will ask you some questions it’s totally private It’s totally voluntary If you want to find out more about it if you think it might be something that you’d find helpful then again, look on the diocese website under Personal Shapes for Living.

Finally, this Sunday we’re delighted to have Simon back with us on our online service and he’s going to be preaching And then, I’m hoping, with us after the service in the chat room again. So that will be lovely. Looking forward to that very much.

Please join us.
Thanks a lot.

 

Weekly News 15 Feb

 

 

I hope that you are all feeling a little warmer after last weeks big freeze! 

Our news is early this week because, believe it or not, it is Lent already!

When I think back to us gathering in St Matthew’s Hall for our Lent groups last year it feels like a lifetime away; if we knew then that we would find ourselves here now I wouldn’t have believed you!
There are lots of opportunities to engage during Lent, starting with a live-streamed Ash Wednesday service from our Cathedral at 4.30pm.

There are a wide range of resources, books, courses and groups to join whatever age you are.

Why not share our families and schools resources with children in your life? Or our Engine Room resources with young people you know? I’d encourage you to invest in your own spiritual wellbeing at this time – do have a look and see what resonates with you from the resources signposted on our website.

Have a look at our website for more information.

We will start this season of Lent in our online service on Sunday where Graham will be preaching about the Temptations of Lent. Do share the link, subscribe to our youtube channel and like our Facebook page.

Later this week I will be putting up the paper that our Joint PCCs will be discussing tomorrow night on our website. This is an important meeting where we are discussing the future shape of our Team, so do come back to look at that.

Finally, some very good news from Simon and Ruth. They are now beginning to feel stronger, and so from Wednesday this week, Simon will be back to limited duties of just a few hours a day, and will gradually build back up over the coming weeks. Please do continue to pray for them, and thank God for their recovery. 

I know you will show kindness and care, as you have throughout this time.

I thank God for you and ask that God would bless each and every one of you.

Love
Kate

Weekly SPC news for 6 February

Both the Howells and the Staceys continue to struggle with ill health in different ways, and both families want to express our huge thanks for the care and prayer we have received.

I was also hugely encouraged by the beautiful 3rd-anniversary card I received last week – what a blessing that was, and it is to minister alongside you all.

Ordinand, Kim Trinder, has started her placement with us and you can find out more about her here.

I hope you have been able to look at the Valentine campaign Helen highlighted last week. These resources are going out in our paper mailing to those who don’t have access to the internet. Below is a photo of our landing window – I am sure you can do better! Let’s spread the love this February.

Our Book Club are reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer and I cannot recommend this book highly enough – I found it life-changing.

This coming Sunday Steve Saville, our Ordinand, will be preaching with the Edsall family reading and Sue Jackson, Holy Trinity Churchwarden leading our intercessions. Because of all that is going on, we are sticking with Epiphany – we figured another couple of weeks of finding light in the darkness was very appropriate. Do join us here!

If you have any concerns or questions please do get in touch with Fiona or Helen in the first instance – they, alongside so many of you, are doing a splendid job of keeping everything together. I do thank God for you all.

Kim Trinder joins us on placement

My name is Kim Trinder and I live up the hill in Bisley, where I worship at All Saints’ Church. My family have lived in and around Bisley for over two hundred years and we feel firmly rooted there.

I am married and have two teenage children, three cats, two dogs and some chickens. (I was brought up on a farm and some part of me would still like that life!) I am a primary teacher, although I have stopped working to focus on my training as an Ordained Minister.

The plan is for me to remain at Bisley as a self-supporting part-time Minister. I am therefore really keen to immerse myself as much as possible in your worshipping community, to get a feel of a different church family, in another locality.  I am really grateful to have this opportunity; I should love to think I will get to know lots of new people but realise there will be limitations with the restrictions COVID-19 places upon us at this time.

Weekly SPC News for 14 January

A little late, but Happy New Year!

I am a fan of New Year’s resolutions. They have a way of making you feel anything is possible. Resolution sounds so wonderful, so grand, so purposeful, so, resolved. They are also future focussed. They shift our focus away from what was, on the whole, a pretty awful 2020.

Making resolutions feels wonderful, but can set up unrealistic expectations. So, how about a New Year’s tweak?

At this time, especially at this time, we all need to be gentle with ourselves and with one another. So think of a tweak that will give you life, that will help your roots go a little deeper into God.

That might be that you want to pray more, and there are others you can join with listed in the spaces and places page on our website. As you pray, you can partner with others faithfully praying through the prayer requests page on our website. Please remember to pray there for our church wardens and others that lead in our churches, particularly through this difficult time.

And this week please do pray for Simon, Ruth and the family as Covid has entered their home.

Perhaps your New Years tweak could be to subscribe to our Youtube channel and Facebook page, to like and share content with friends, family and neighbours who you may not have got into church, but now church can come to them!

You may decide your tweak is to go deeper in your relationship with God through study. You can still join the Loved and Liked course – there is information on the news page of our website.

This is a good time to tweak your giving, which allows us to continue to bring the Good News to the people of this area. There will be more information about how this is spent on people, mission and buildings over the coming weeks.

This week, if you wonder about how we are continuing to minister to our schools during this time, you can have a look at the Schools page of our website, and share it with friends and family.

Because of your wonderful generosity in our match funding campaign we have been able to employ Sue Shaw for additional administrative support for our PCCs and clergy team. Sue is an expert in Church Suite and comes to us with loads of experience in IT and website management. She will be taking on some of the tasks that have been on Fiona’s plate releasing Fiona to invest further in building teams and strengthening those relationships and processes that we have already witnessed lifting the burden from individual PCCs, allowing both our lay and ordained ministers to do more of what they have been called to do.

This New Year, remember first and foremost that you are a child of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ who; “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect…” and who understands our struggles and hopes, our challenges and desires, and walks alongside us through it all, “because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”

God bless you and keep you in your New Year’s tweaks, that you may know life in all its abundance in 2021.

Kate

Loved and Liked

This is a six session course is a chance for anyone to explore how we are all uniquely made and that God actually loves and likes us.

Led by: Val Jeal MBE and the author Peter Hill [husband of our Curate, Helen]. 

Starts 11 Jan 2021 7-8.30pm online. To book your place please click here  

Bishop Rachel’s Address given on the eve of Advent Sunday

Tomorrow is Advent Sunday – the start of the new Church year  – and with Advent comes a time of watching and waiting. You might feel as if you’ve done a bit too much of that recently.

A message from Bishop Rachel: Diocesan Synod Presidential Address, given on Saturday 28 November.

 

Advent Windows

This year Advent and Christmas are going to be very different – but different doesn’t have to mean worse! To bring Good News and joy to our communities, we are going to be decorating our windows.

You might like to choose one of the days, or you might like to choose a part of the story.

You might want to change your window once a week throughout Advent, or you might like to organise with some local friends to do a different part each so that the story is added to in your neighbourhood. You might feel really ambitious and divide your window up into 24 squares and do one a day! Or you might have several windows you would like to decorate. However, you want to go about it, bring some joy and the Good News of Jesus to your friends and neighbours this Christmas.

Let’s shine as lights in the darkness to the Glory of God!

DayTitleWordsPrayer
1Good news!‘God sent the angel Gabriel to a girl named Mary’ Luke 1:26Thank you God that you reach out to us
2Don’t worry‘The angel said to her, ‘don’t be afraid because God is very pleased with you’ Luke 1:30Please God take my fear away
3Listen!‘Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus’ Luke 1:31Help me to listen out for you
4Son of God‘He will be great. People will call him ‘the son of the most high God’ Luke 1:32Thank you for your amazing gift!
5She said yes!‘Mary said, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me’ Luke 1:38Help me to say yes like Mary
6The register‘Caesar sent out an order that everyone’s name must be put on a list’ Luke 2:1Give me strength when I have to obey
7The journey‘Everyone traveled to their own town to have their names put on the list’ Luke 2:3Protect all those on journeys today
8Mary and Joseph‘So Joseph went to the town of David because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary’ Luke 2:4-5Bless my family
9The baby arrives‘While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son’ Luke 2:6-7Be with those giving birth today
10A strange crib‘There were no rooms left in the inn. So she wrapped the baby with cloths and laid him in a box where the animals are fed’ Luke 2:7Help those who do not have a home
11Shepherds in the fields‘That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep’ Luke 2:8Bless those working night shifts
12Angels shining!‘An angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them’ Luke 2:9Please shine on us today
13Don’t be afraid‘The angel said to them, ‘don’t be afraid, because I am bringing you some good news!’ Luke 2:10Comfort us when we are afraid
14Christ the Lord!‘Today your saviour was born in David’s town. He is Christ the Lord’ Luke 2:11Open my heart to you
15Signposts‘This is how you will know him: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a feeding box’ Luke 2:12Open our eyes to notice you in surprising places
16Glory all around‘All the angels were praising God, saying, ‘give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please God’ Luke 2:13-14Please let there be peace in the world
17First visitors‘So the shepherds went quickly and found Mary, Joseph and the baby’ Luke 2:16-17Help us to be eager to see you
18Everything changes‘Then the shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything that they had seen and heard’ Luke 2:20Give us thankful hearts
19Visitors from far away‘After Jesus was born, some wise men came from the East’ Matthew 2:1Thank you for wise people in my life
20Shining star‘When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy’ Matthew 2:10Fill us with joy this day
21Wonderful baby‘They went to the house...and they bowed down and they worshipped the child’ Matthew 2:11Bless our home
22Treasures for a tiny King‘They gave him treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh’ Matthew 2:11Help me be generous
23Prince of peace‘A child will be born to us. God will give a son to us. His name will be... prince of peace’ Isaiah 9:6Thank you that Jesus came to bring peace
24God loves you!‘For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son. God gave his son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life’ John 3:16Thank you that you love me

Comfort and Joy

The idea: 

In partnership with The Long Table, we will be distributing [frozen] Christmas lunches, cooked from scratch using ethically sourced, local produce in a pretty bag with lovely Christmassy items to families who are struggling at this time. We are partnering with our local schools, who have been overwhelmed by this act of kindness. Before the meals have even been made, blessings have been received!

The logistics

The wonderful Mary, who is part of St Laurence community, is coordinating the project; Holy Trinity, Stroud and St Matthew’s, Cainscross have both identified funds that can be used for just this sort of project; the meals will need to be put together in bags and we hope lots of people will join in by baking some mince pies, or hand making some cards, or decorating jam jars for tea lights, or anything else you would like to do to add blessings to the bags!

If you would like to get involved in any way, please contact Mary.

Plans for Christmas

This year, the national Christmas campaign will be ‘Comfort and Joy’, and my goodness, those are two things we need in spades this year. And they are two things our Good News delivers, beyond our wildest dreams!

We will have to think about Advent, Christmas and Epiphany in a very different way, but we are confident that different will not be worse. We are determined to focus on what can be, and let go of what can’t be, in order to be comfort and joy.

There will be trees and lights – prayer trees, for those in our communities to add their prayers and hopes; beautifully decorated buildings, hopefully inside, certainly outside.

There will be symbolic actions – giving food as an act of blessing; offering creative ideas for you to engage with in your homes.

There will be the real story – told in many different ways through our advent windows; in assemblies put together going out to primary schools across Stroud.

There will be silence and stillness – through our Stroud grown Contemplative Christmas; creating space to be still in our buildings.

There will be tradition, music and words – in our Nine lessons and carols; as we sing carols on our doorsteps.

Contact us through the links if you would like to find out or join in, and share with others!