Category: News

A vision for the Third Post here at SPC

We have been seeking God and carefully considering the shape of our third post in the Team, and are now at a stage where there is enough clarity to share with you. This proposal takes seriously the challenges and opportunities we face, and tries to think creatively, sustainably and in a way that allows as much fruitfulness as possible. We are committed to caring for those within our congregations, those within our communities, our schools, those who are seeking, mourning and celebrating. We are committed to working collaboratively with other organisations working to bring transformation in people’s lives, and for our environment. 

We are also listening to the concerns of parishes that are not managing to meet their parish share, and we are aware that giving has reduced significantly through the pandemic. There is a lot to consider, particularly given the biblical call of the church to live, breath and act for the benefit of its non-members.

In our vision of who we are as the Stroud Team, the image of the vine from John 15 has been and continues to be very important.

This time has been one of being stripped back and pruned in all kinds of ways, and as we know, that often leads to vigorous new growth, and this is what we are trusting God for. 

We also know that it is exactly at the time that we prune that we also need to tie into strong supports so that the growth will be protected and strengthened.

Our vine is made up of many unique and wonderfully called branches – not only the different buildings and communities but multiple worshipping communities within and around those, as well as our mission and ministry in schools, to families at significant times in their lives, in our hospital and nursing homes…
all of this makes for a large, beautiful and complex vine.

And this is where we have been trying to think creatively. 

From back in 2018 when Andrew Braddock did a review with us, the suggestion of a Team Manager has been part of our conversation. 

A helpful analogy might be a Surgery Manager at the Doctors, who fulfils the vital, pastoral, strategic and administrative tasks, which allows the Doctors to fulfil their call of caring for the sick.

In our context, a Team Manager would be a full-time Lay Minister, called and gifted to fulfil the vital, pastoral, strategic and administrative tasks that allow the Clergy to fulfil their call of proclaiming the Gospel afresh in this generation.

We have seen something of how fruitful this model could be through Fiona being with us as part-time acting Team Manager and her ministry of team building, strategic planning, pastoral care and prayer ministry as well as ensuring we have robust systems in safeguarding and other areas.

As we have been praying and discerning, a job description has evolved.
As you will see, this is a huge role and would provide significant ‘posts and wires’ to tie in and support our fruitful vine. 

Having a lay minister as a key member of the leadership team says something important about the value we place on everyone’s ministry, not just those who are ordained. This role would also, as in the Surgery Manager analogy, free up the clergy from administrative tasks so that they can invest more time and energy into mentoring, supporting and resourcing the mission and ministry of our laity. 

Again, going back to the image of the vine, when the clergy are freed up to mentor a lay leader, another branch can grow, and they can go on to mentor another, and more growth can happen. 

This is the opposite of the image of the laity being there to help the clergy in their mission and ministry, which will always be limited by definition because the focus is on the one.

In this model, the clergy are there to help the laity in their mission and ministry, which opens up so many more opportunities for growth, because you are the very best people to minister to those around you; you are the very best people to reach out to those in your workplace, your street, your family…

The experience of this last year has shaken up everything that we knew, and there are many voices across the church in this town, this nation and the world that are joining together; to take courage, to not fall back into life as normal, to see the new thing God is doing through this.

This does take courage, and we will make mistakes. It is a truly pioneering model we are proposing. But I also believe that it brings us closer to our calling, to present one another mature in Christ [Colossians 1:28]

We haven’t got to this place in a rush.

We want to hear your reflections; not those knee jerk, ‘what about me’ reactions that we humans naturally come to first, but those prayerful, challenging reflections that come as we think about the whole. As these questions arise, speak to Simon, Kate, Helen or Fiona and a variety of voices will respond to them and we will keep this conversation going, as you keep the conversation going. I pray that in all of our conversations we would seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, knowing that then all these things will be given to us as well. [Matthew 6:33]

Weekly News 11 March

As the sun begins to shine, buds and flowers begin to peep through, our hope is beginning to rise too.

This week, we want to encourage you to take up some of the opportunities to engage with your faith that we are creating as we continue through Lent, into Holy Week, Easter and beyond.

This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, and we will be celebrating! Join us on the Services section of our website. I will be leading and preaching and members of All Saints, Uplands will be reading and praying. Remember to like and share with your friends and family – its a really easy way to reach out to others.

We are excited about what God will do through our town-wide Holy Week of 24/7 prayer. We are praying for healing for all that has been and hope for all that will be. A whole bunch of groups, churches and organisations are joining in and some amazing commitments have already been made. There will be a virtual prayer room, our buildings will be open at different times throughout the week, and there will be groups meeting virtually. There is, of course, our virtual prayer board and a wonderful, dedicated prayer team. We have added the opportunity for feedback on those prayers, and would also encourage you to add anything you have discerned through prayer to our prayer board – we want to be listening, expectantly, to God and treasuring what we hear. We are also compiling resources and ideas for you to use. If you have any of your own, please do send them through so that we can share them. You can sign up and find more information on our website.

As we get ready for our Easter celebrations in our church buildings, once again we are having to think about how we can do that as creatively and inclusively as possible. The format will be similar to Christmas, with readings, prayers, hymns and the opportunity to receive Communion on a drop-in basis. We are hoping that we will have Easter fires, gathering people in, and will be lighting our Easter candles with a particularly poignant longing for the hope of resurrection following the year we have had. Again, there is more information on our website, where you will also hear news as our different worshipping communities make decisions about when and how to restart live services as we move through April.

We are continuing to seek God about the shape of our third post in the Team. We are carefully considering the challenges and opportunities we face and trying to think creatively, sustainably and in a way that allows as much fruitfulness as possible. We are committed to caring for those within our congregations, those within our communities, our schools, those who are seeking, mourning and celebrating. We are committed to working collaboratively with other organisations working to bring transformation in people’s lives, and for our environment. There is a lot to consider, particularly given the biblical call of the church to live, breath and act for the benefit of its non-members.

 

Have a good look around, talk to friends and family about how you would like to engage with any or all of this, hold on in there and keep the faith.

Open at Easter

Our buildings will be open this Easter and you are welcome to drop in any time; stay for five minutes or rest for an hour, listen to the music, readings and prayers, receive Communion, focus on the light of the Easter Candle and the story beautifully told through the Easter garden.

Find a space to be, to hope, to pray, to reconnect with yourself, with others and with God as we emerge from this extraordinary time.

A week of 24-7 Prayer in April

We are really excited to be coming together with others from across the town to pray without ceasing throughout Holy Week. This will literally be from 12 midnight right at the beginning of Palm Sunday to 12 midnight right at the end of Easter Eve.

We are praying for God’s healing for all that has been, and that God would ignite fresh hope in us for all that will be.

This will be happening in peoples homes, as they walk, knit or sit. This will be happening in church buildings, open at different times as prayer spaces with visual focusses. This will be happening in a virtual prayer room where you can go with others or alone, and add to our virtual prayer board both the needs of the world and those things you are discerning as you listen and pray.

We are gathering ideas and resources to inspire you here and we will keep adding to this.

Do sign up, commit to pray and be expectant that we will see, and hear and sense God on the move in this place.

Sign up here.

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