On 16 May we went down to the riverside for the baptism of Lious and Saffron.
If you want to see the whole service then click here.
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?
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.
As fundraising events in aid of Christian Aid Week will be rather limited again this year, a small group of us from Holy Trinity are planning to join with other local church members on a walk from Tetbury to Nailsworth, a distance of 6 miles. If you would like to join us you are most welcome, whether raising funds or not. There is a good bus service linking Stroud with Tetbury – the 10.05 bus from Merrywalks would arrive in good time to join the walk which starts from Christchurch, Tetbury at 11.30.
As face to face contact is also limited we have obtained sponsor forms to enable donations to be made. If you would like to donate then please ring 01453 758 467 or email: [email protected] – all proceeds will be going to help alleviate the poverty of the world’s most needy people at this difficult time.
As another year unfolds with so much to think about have you considered becoming more mindful? Research has shown that mindfulness can help with anxiety, stress, low mood and sleep disruption. Mindfulness also helps us become more aware of ourselves and our self-destructive habits.
Lead by Simon Monk and Pauline Godfrey the next Everyday Mindfulness course is for anyone in Christian ministry and will be on Zoom.
The course will teach you a number of practices which you can try at home. For example we will be paying attention to our breathing and noticing the thoughts that come to mind while we do that. The aim is to become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and sensations at any moment in order to be present to ourselves, to what we are doing and to what is going on around us. It sounds simple, but they aren’t called ‘practices’ for nothing!
To book your place please click here.
Allelujah, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Allelujah!
I hope that you managed to get some time to enjoy the sunshine and this wonderful place in which we live over the Easter holiday?
We had a lovely few days off, catching up with old friends and family and enjoying the garden and this place.
I feel refreshed and ready to continue to navigate how we open up again, continuing to listen to God, to seek wisdom about what to pick up again and what not to so that we can all grow as disciples of Christ and live life in all its fullness.
A huge encouragement in that was our 24/7 prayer during Holy Week. I have heard many stories of encounters with God, of pictures overwhelmingly speaking of light in the darkness and celebration and a renewed sense of togetherness, that we are so much more than our individual parts; and at the same time, the depth of individual relationships with God bringing life to the whole. Please do add your experiences into the rich tapestry of what God seems to be saying to us, the church, at this time.
Our buildings are gradually opening up, and we have a pared-down pattern of services to take us through this time while restrictions are still in place. These can be found on our website, and please take the opportunity to go and worship with others you may not normally have the opportunity to. There will always be a Wednesday and Sunday Communion service through this time, and all our services are open to everyone.
If you don’t feel ready to venture out yet, our online services continue, followed by virtual coffee at 11am. This Sunday Simon will be encouraging us to fan the flames of resurrection in our communities.
On our Services page, you can also find Morning Prayer every day, led by a diverse group of people bringing different voices and styles, all accompanied by beautiful images of our area created by Neal and Krisin Kemsley. I love the knowledge that I am praying with you each day. Why not join us sometime?
Our Joint PCCs and Team Council met on Tuesday evening for another robust discussion about the third paid post in our Team, and voted overwhelmingly to take the proposal of a Lay Post to oversee the operations of, and develop teams within our Team. This will now be considered by the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Group in May. Please pray that God’s will be done.
As ever, we love to hear from you, so please do get in touch with me, Simon or Helen, or any of the rest of our team if you have any encouragements, questions or concerns.
May God bless you and keep you, make his face to shine upon you and give you life in all its fullness.
There is most definitely something deeply profound about this Holy Week.
As we walk with Jesus towards the cross, we carry our own isolation, letting go of plans and certainties, our own grief and loss.
And yet, we know the end of the story… and even now we anticipate resurrection and life! Meeting friends in gardens, then next week sunshine in pub gardens, all set amongst greening trees and an ever wider variety of flowers…
And amongst all of that we have been praying, without ceasing, 24 hours a day for all of this week. Praying for healing for all that has been, and hope for all that is to come. And as we have been praying, God has been on the move! Thank you to those of you who have added your words, pictures and visions to the virtual prayer board, or on emails, or phone calls or conversations. Please do keep feeding all of that into the picture that is building. And be encouraged. By far and away the predominant images are of celebration, of light bursting through the darkness, of unity and renewed hope and strength. If you haven’t already, do go to our website to get involved.
As well as the physical spaces that are open through the next few days, we will also have an online Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day service which you can find on our website.
We will be taking some Easter holiday over the next couple of weeks, but one of us will always be around for you. However, there won’t be a weekly email.
With the latest lifting of restrictions, we will be having more in-person services from next week, and we will keep you updated via the website. Likewise, other ministries will be starting again, not least amongst families seeking Christenings and Weddings, as well as our ongoing ministry to Funeral families. We have and are developing, Baptism, Wedding and Funeral Teams as part of this amazing outreach. If you would like to find out about getting involved in any of those, please do get in touch.
As part of that, we are reviewing our online presence. Sadly, we recognise that there is not sufficient buy-in from our worshipping communities to continue the level of investment required to put these services together beyond June. This has been a wonderful outreach, and we hope that you will find new ways to reach out to our communities.
Back in 2019 it became apparent that we were not complying with the law in all kinds of ways, particularly around safeguarding and GDPR, and we needed some good, robust systems in place to help us to minister effectively and efficiently. We were thrilled when Fiona, with all her experience and skills, agreed to come and work for us for six months to help us get some systems up and running. Well, here we are 18 months later, and Fiona is still with us! However, the time really has come that she wants to move onto her next challenge, so she will be stopping as our acting Team Manager in June. I am sure many of you have experienced her kind, competent care over those 18 months, and that you will express your appreciation.
In family news, whilst Simon is continuing to heal and regain his strength, he is also showing signs of Long Covid. Please continue to pray for him and all the Howell family.
Anna, our eldest, had kidney surgery yesterday and has not responded well. She is still in hospital, and we would also value your prayers.
I have found this, shared by Judy Howard, enormously helpful through this Lent, so share it with you for these last days of Holy Week;
‘Repent does not mean to feel guilty and become cringingly submissive, but to have the strength and determination to change your mind. Metanoia.’
I pray that we will have the courage to change our minds, that they may be conformed to the mind of Christ this Easter.
Have a wonderful, joyous Easter, as we experience resurrection and new life in many profound ways this year.
We come this Sunday to the beginning of Holy Week, a time when we’re reminded of God’s amazing love; that he chose to pour out his life so the whole world and each precious human being can be reconciled to him and know his love and healing. We are also reminded that within this is the call to draw close to Jesus and to follow him.
One way that we can do that next week is through joining in the rhythm of the 24/7 week of prayer, with its focus on healing and hope. There are lots of ways of doing that which you can find out about here. As well as showing the times when our various churches are open for prayer and when virtual gatherings are taking place, there are ideas for prayer for each day, daily meditations and a link to the 24/7 prayer toolshed with introductions and guides to help us engage with different forms of prayer. It’s not too late to commit to a particular hour or more by signing up via this link. Additionally, Kate will be leading online morning prayer that you will be able to access each day here.
All our churches will be open for a celebration of Easter on Easter day, when you can come for a short time or an hour to hear Easter music, readings and prayers and take the opportunity to receive the consecrated bread of communion: Uplands, St Laurence’s, St Matthew’s and Whiteshill from 9.30 am and Slad, Holy Trinity, Paganhill and Randwick from 11 am.
This Sunday in our online service for Palm Sunday we’ll be taking a look at Jesus’ expectations and others expectations of Jesus as he reached that pivotal moment in his final journey to Jerusalem and are invited to think about our expectations. If you can, do join in here. Afterwards, from 11am, there’s chance to share our thoughts and news by clicking on the purple ‘chat’ button below. This week the hymns for the service come from members of our local worshipping communities.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed money to buy Easter eggs as part of the Easter Comfort and Joy project. We will be giving them, on behalf of us all, with the frozen meals, hot cross buns and an Easter card this coming week to families who are going through hard times.
May you have a blessed Holy Week. Please get in touch if you’d like prayer or to ask anything.