Category: News

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!

Everyday Faith Festival October 2020

The Everyday Faith Festival was so welcome after months of lockdown. It refocussed my journey as a Christian and what my faith is without Sunday in a church building. Being able to connect with other Christians across the county, talking openly about faith, sharing ideas and opinions on things that matter and feeling heard and supported was an inspiring and uplifting experience. I particularly found the session on ‘Praying with your eyes open’ thought-provoking and something that would help me live out my faith throughout the day rather than just in those set moments of prayer. I am now constantly on the ‘look out’ for God in my day and praying openly for the ows, wows and nows! I am truly thankful for all those who must have put so much time into providing this experience.

Joanne Wykes

Prayer for the Nation

Our church leaders are deeply aware that this current lockdown will impact people in many different ways; through the sense of loss and trauma, being faced with sickness and even death of loved ones and threats to physical and economic, mental and spiritual wellbeing, being separated when we are created to live in community.

So, for 28 days, starting on Thursday 5th November the Archbishops have called on people from churches across the country to be committed to pray every evening at 6 pm. Cathedrals will ring their bells at 6 pm as a call to prayer and you might just hear a local bell. Phone alarms can be effective! Some people will light candles; children and adults might like to switch on a torch as we pray together – a reminder of the light of Jesus shining in the darkness.

There are prayer resources to enable participation but not to limit prayer and there is a theme for each day. To access them look here. In addition, there is a simple printable Prayer Booklet.

Photos from a wonderful day

Helen’s ordination was such a joyous occasion! I hope you had a chance to watch the service [see below], but if not, here are some photos.

The ordination service, in case you missed it

Getting ready for Helen Hill’s Ordination

I’m looking forward to being ordained on Sunday 20th even though it won’t be what we’d imagined a year ago. It feels it will be like a wedding without guests and without the party but poignantly reduced to the essence – my commitment to God and his commitment to me. I am overawed by the responsibilities of this calling, the promises I will be making but believe that everything we each do in serving Jesus is only accomplished through the enabling of the Holy Spirit – what a relief! It’s also a huge assurance to know that we always live in the love and grace of Jesus and God the Father and brilliant to have the love and gracious support of so many church friends, old and new friends and my family. What an honour! Thank you to all who have prayed and will pray for me.

Great news from our friend Rezgar

A wonderful outcome of unfailing pastoral care is the story of our friend Rezgar who, just before lock down, was granted right to remain in the UK, and has gone on to get a job, a travel permit, part way towards a driving licence, and, wonderfully, is seeing his Mum for the first time in more than 10 years! These joyous photos will make you smile. Rezgar simply wrote;
Be encouraged – prayer and love transform lives!

Book club

We are looking forward to coming together in this new space.
Whether you are a big reader or not, if you just want to explore and discuss together some provocative books on our journeys of grace – this could be for you. The idea of a Christian book club was brought to life by hearing Kate enthusiastically referring to a book called “The ruthless elimination of hurry”. There seemed a rich opportunity to carry on the discussion well after the Sunday sermon slot & chat, so the outline of a book club to explore faith further together was born.

There are some other surprisingly good Christian books out there to enjoy, stimulate us and discuss together.

If you are interested in being part of this, then the launch meeting is on October 7th 7:30 to 9:00 online. Please email Helen if you are interested.

Objectives

  • A safe place to discuss Christian books honestly, get provoked and explore journeys of grace
  • Fellowship and fun
  • Encourage sharing of good book experiences in each of the parishes

Who’s it for?

  • People willing to commit to meeting regularly monthly for a year – come and give it a trial first if you want
  • Theological experts or seekers after the truth
  • Those who are suffering or rejoicing

Launch session with an outline proposal to be refined by members

  • October 7th 7:30 to 9:00 online gathering with eCoffee & eBiscuits and then
  • the first Wednesday of each month following
    • “How to pray” by Pete Greig will be the launch book.
    • Buy a copy if possible and read the first chapter
    • Say hello and help us shape this club
    • Share some insights or questions – we would like to hear everyone if possible.

Looking forward to hearing from you, Peter Hill [Helen the curate’s husband!]

Updates on spaces to come together for growth, learning and action

[Updated 10 September]

The Government have amended their advice, and services are now permitted under extremely limited circumstances. As clergy and churchwardens, we have made the decision to take this very slowly, so that we can ensure everyone is safe and so that we continue to listen to what God is saying at this time.

However, we are making tentative steps and there are opportunities to gather together both physically and online as we continue to walk together as fellow pilgrims.

Monday 10.10: online Morning Prayer
Evening: online Compline

Tuesday 10.10: online Morning Prayer
Evening: online Compline

Wednesday 11.30: Holy Communion at Holy Trinity, Stroud
Book Club online monthly. Starting 7 October 7.30pm

Thursday 10.10: online Morning Prayer
10-11: Holy Trinity, Slad open for praying together
Evening: online Compline

Friday 10.10: online Morning Prayer
10.30-12.30: St Laurence, Stroud open for prayer
Evening: online Compline

Saturday 10.10: Morning Prayer
10.30-12.30: St Laurence, Stroud open for prayer
Evening: online Compline

Sunday 10.10: Holy Trinity, Slad fortnightly. Next service 20 September 11am
Church of the Holy Spirit, Paganhill fortnightly. Next service 20 September 11am
St Laurence, Stroud weekly. First service 20 September 9.30am
If you would like more information about any of these, please get in touch with any of the clergy.

Giving during the crisis

The crisis we are living through has had an impact on almost every facet of our lives, and that includes the finances of our churches. Our Treasurers and Revd Graham Stacey have been working hard to find ways to make giving easy and efficient, not just for now, but into the future. You will hear more from your local Treasurer, and it is now very easy to give through our website, either to the Team or to a specific church, and we are able to collect Gift Aid on those donations where it is applicable. Many thanks for your generosity towards God’s Kingdom in this place – it really does make a difference.

The church is not closed

As our church buildings are closed, it has been suggested that the church, and even God, are closed with them. This is not the case, and we want to make sure we are communicating, and demonstrating that to those in our communities.

We have produced two cards that we have been distributing during this crisis, and it would be great if you were able to distribute some too.

We are praying:

We have a wonderful, dedicated prayer team who faithfully pray for all those who ask for prayer. This is something that we can bring that is unique, and we know from both requests and feedback that it is hugely appreciated. You can drop one of these cards through your neighbour’s door and there is nothing more for you to do, but who knows what a blessing that will be to them.

Just ask:

These cards offer contact and practical help. As we get further into this crisis, there may well be some in your street who feel they simply can’t ask that person to do another favour, and this card, on which you simply write your name and contact number, could come at just the right moment for them.