Author: Graham Stacey

Weekly News 11 June

Hello and welcome to our weekly communication!

Comings and goings

Very sadly, on this very day that I am writing, we have to say goodbye to our Acting Team Manager Fiona Gill. She will be hugely missed. She wished me to pass on her following heartfelt response to the card & gift she received from us all:
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your generosity and kind words. The work has been challenging and interesting but the main part I have loved is meeting you (even though it has often not been possible to meet in person.)  Thank you for making me so welcome and helping me along the way. Love and prayers Fiona

…and we are therefore very blessed to have Jodie Calcutt taking up the post of Team Manager and Venues manager. In the Team Manager role, Jodie will be picking up Fiona’s responsibilities, which include organising all of our Life Events (weddings, baptisms & funerals), ChurchSuite management, coordinating APCMs & Statistics for Mission, helping with graveyard & buildings issues, and supporting team collaboration across our churches. In the Venues role, Jodie will be a central point of contact for all of our halls & churches’ event bookings, standardising our bookings administration, dealing with customers and most importantly, working on supporting the churches in generating more revenue through use of our buildings, marketing and advertising all our facilities in the local area. She would welcome any & all of your ideas or support…please contact her at [email protected]stroudparishchurches.org.uk.

Weddings & Baptism Teams
Do you have a real love for families? A passion for investing in marriages? A joy of welcoming young people into our churches and God’s love? Then we need you! We are reinstating our monthly Weddings & Baptism drop in sessions, where we welcome and support couples who are thinking of getting married in one of our churches, or families looking to have their children baptised. This is a great opportunity for mission, a huge way that we can engage with our local communities. The commitment would be a maximum of once a month or less, to come along to these events and chat to these lovely families. To find out more please contact Jodie Calcutt (07701 071858), Kate or Simon.

Changes in our online services and after-service virtual chat
From July, as the new pattern of in-person services gets underway across our churches, we will modify our online presence such that it compliments this in-person service ministry. Because the ‘congregation’ who engage with our online presence goes well beyond our church membership, one focus will be appealing to those who are not immediately at home with a Sunday service structure. We will therefore have a shorter, thought-provoking format to our online Sunday presence. Perhaps a piece of spiritual music, poetry, prose or artwork – with a commentary that helps audience members to respond – illustrates what would work well here. You may have other ideas and/or you may wish to be a contributor. We would love to hear from you on both counts… please do get in contact.
This does accordingly mean that our after-service virtual chat will end at the end of this month. Thank-you for all who have shared in this – it has been a lifeline over the long weeks of the pandemic.

This Sunday’s Bible reading and a question
This Sunday online I will preaching on the parables of growth in the Kingdom of God from Mark 4:26-34. Jesus deliberately uses the imagery of a recently planted seed here. The seed can seem powerless, even dead at this juncture (not unlike Jesus on the cross). Yet it is the precursor to abundant, transformational new life. How might God be speaking  to us as individuals and churches through this? Do share your reflections with us…

May God bless you. Do reach out if you need prayer or a helping hand in the coming days. “We always thank God for all of you. We keep on praying for you.” (1 Thess. 1)

Simon

Weekly News 3 June

I for one am so delighted to see the sunshine, at long last!

I have been so encouraged by the imagination and faith being displayed in various conversations around how we gather, worship and serve as we emerge from lockdown.

Please do have a look at the spaces and places area of our website for where this week’s services are, and keep an eye open as all kinds of ways of being together as church arrive there, adding to the rich ‘buffet’ we offer across our team.

For now our online service continues, and Mathew will be preaching for us this Sunday. You can find that on our Services page of the website, and can join for virtual coffee there too.

We have heard encouraging stories from many of you about how the pandemic has meant you have been more aware of living your faith 7 days a week.

In response to that, to help us prepare for the coming Sunday and to offer food along the way, we will be including the readings and some questions in these weekly communications. Usually the questions will come out of the Gospel reading, but for the next few weeks we will be using questions devised by Table Talk. This is a local Christian organisation seeking to resource us to have good, healthy conversations as we emerge from the pandemic. You can see them on our news page. This week we are asking;

  1. What things felt important to you before that no longer matter to you now?
  2. Is it possible to find happiness and joy during this time?
  3. What are you most excited about as you think about the future?

Next Friday will be Fiona’s last day with us. We have been so blessed by her ability to find order in chaos, particularly through this difficult time. If you would like to contribute to a thank you present for her, or if you would like to write a message for her card, please click on the link in this week’s email.

Ecclesiastical Insurance has opened nominations for Movement for Good with a chance for your worshipping community to receive £1000. Do have a look for more information and a link to the nomination form in the news section of our website.

Our APCM’s, or Annual Meetings are coming up next month and your church will be looking for key people to step up. Please do prayerfully consider what you can offer, there will be a you shaped hole!, and speak to your Churchwarden or one of the team.

At the end of this month we will be starting a group which will be digging deeper into what we are doing when we come to Communion, and what that means. This group will be meeting fortnightly on Wednesday evenings and some of those in this group will go on to be confirmed on 12

September in Tewkesbury Abbey. If you are curious, do get in touch.

May the Lord bless you and keep you and smile upon you and bring you peace.

Communion and Confirmation group

At the end of this month, we will be starting a group that will be digging deeper into what we are doing when we come to Communion, and what that means. This group will be meeting fortnightly on Wednesday evenings and some of those in this group will go on to be confirmed on 12 September in Tewkesbury Abbey. If you are curious, do get in touch.

Each one will be 7 pm and the venue will be confirmed when we know how big the group will be.

30 June: Introductions, Gathering and what happens when we ask for forgiveness

14 July: Praising and scripture

28 July: Creeds and prayer

11 August: Peace and communion

25 August: Blessing and sending out

8 September: What happens during Confirmation and any questions 

12 September: Confirmation at Tewkesbury Abbey 3.30 pm

APCMs

Our APCMs are coming up in July and we will be giving thanks for the service that has been given and commissioning those who are stepping into roles for the coming year. Please consider how you would like to contribute to the life and flourishing of your church be that as a member of your Local Ministry Team or as PCC Secretary; as Synod rep or as Pastoral Lead, there will be a you shaped hole! Pray and talk to your Churchwarden or one of the team.
The dates for the meetings are;
Sunday 4 July
9.30 St Laurence
11 Randwick
Sunday 11 July
9.30 Whiteshill with Paganhill in Whiteshill
11 Holy Trinity with St Albans in Holy Trinity
Sunday 18 July
9.30 Uplands with Slad in Uplands
9.30 St Matthew’s

Farewell Fiona

11 June is Fiona’s last day with us. She has been such a blessing to us all, establishing working groups, systems and processes that will serve us way into the future. But more than that, she has been a kind, prayerful, efficient, faithful presence for so many, both within and without our worshipping communities. She has been a particular blessing to the many bereaved families she has come alongside, and to us as a team.

If you would like to donate to her leaving present and/or sign her card please click this link.

Readings and questions for this coming Sunday 

But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 4.13 – 5.1

The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.

‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

Mark 3.20-35

Questions: 

  • What things felt important to you before that no longer matter to you now?
  • Is it possible to find happiness and joy during this time?
  • What are you most excited about as you think about the future?

Movement for Good awards

The next edition of the Movement for Good awards by Ecclesiastical Insurance has been launched. Please consider nominating your PCC and Friends groups, if your church is supported by one (both are eligible), for a chance to receive £1000.

The nomination form only takes a few seconds to complete and you won’t need any information apart from the official name of the PCC/charity you wish to nominate. More nominations mean a better chance of being selected by Ecclesiastical. When filling in the online form please note that most PCCs are ‘charity registration exempt’.

Click here to make a nomination.

The deadline is 13 June.

Weekly News 12 May

I do hope you are beginning to gain confidence as we continue to cautiously emerge into the light! I have my second vaccination later on today, and there does seem to be a sense that we can dare to hope…

This weeks news is coming a little early in preparation for tomorrow, which is Ascension Day. There will be a time of prayer and reflection to mark the occasion in Holy Trinity, Slad at 10am, or you can join us online for a short service.

Ascension Day also marks the start of Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative which links us with Christians across the globe. There are lots of ways to get involved so please do click on the link that will take you to all those resources. We are particularly impressed with the Novena, praying the Psalms between Ascension and Pentecost. I’m sure you will find something there that will nourish your soul as we approach Pentecost. 

The feedback you have given about your experience of our 24/7 prayer through Holy Week has demonstrated, once again, in case we needed reminding! The power of prayer. I am excited to have this opportunity to focus again, together.

We are also in Christian Aid Week. The work that Christian Aid do is always important and impressive, and now more than ever. Richard Hollick from Holy Trinity, Stroud, is organising a group of people to walk from Tetbury to Nailsworth this coming Saturday – he’s even worked out the transport! Do have a look at the details on this news page and join in and donate. 

This coming Sunday, amongst the other Services available, there will be a Communion service, 11am at Slad and again next Wednesday11.30am at Holy Trinity next to the hospital. We are also planning for when restrictions are eased further, and encouraging everyone to take this once in several generations opportunity to ask some good questions;

How does this [whatever service or activity that may be] help me follow Christ through the week?

How open is this to those on the fringe, or outside our worshipping community?

How does this deepen my fellowship and strengthen my relationships?

And, importantly,
What am I willing to let go of?

Do please think on these questions and have conversations with others.

This Sunday evening I will be baptising Louis and Saffron, two young people, in the river down in Ebley! Our youth group, Engine Room, will be there to support them, and please do remember them in your prayers.

Following on from that, there are a group of people who are thinking about Confirmation at the moment, and we will be starting a group to explore faith with them. This will be completely open to all – whether you were confirmed years ago, or if you are curious to talk about faith. Let me know if you would like to be part of that.

And finally, at the end of the month, +Robert will be leading and preaching at our Team Service, 11am in St Matthew’s, which will also be live-streamed. We are really looking forward to him being with us and us being together.

I hope you have the opportunity to get out into the countryside, to enjoy the acid green of new leaves, the sunshine and showers and that you will be able to notice God’s hand in all of it.