Each week in church during the weeks after Easter we find readings rich with imagery and illustration describing the salvation that God brings to his people. St Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2: 4-6 that it is God’s rich mercy that makes us alive in Christ, and through his grace we are risen with him. So often we forget that our very life, and the hope of life eternal, is a gift of God in his generosity, and not something we can earn or deserve. Whoever we are, whatever we have done or not done, our status with God is all his doing. I do hope this core aspect of our faith might be something we time and again return to in our worship, the study of our faith, and through the preaching and teaching of the clergy.

The overwhelming generosity of God, who saved us through his love, I would hope inspires us to ask a question about our own generosity. Can we try to love as God loves us – loving ourselves, our neighbours and even our enemies? And how might we respond to this generosity of God in our lives, and reveal that love to others.

The Church offers a practical way to respond to God, through the use of our time, talents and treasure. This month sees our annual stewardship campaign in each church, when we will each be given the opportunity to prayerfully consider how we respond to God and his church. Stewardship campaigns can often be relegated in the minds of the congregation to the church yet again asking me for more money, or to undertake more jobs in a busy life. But over time I would like to reframe Christian stewardship in this parish as being our generous response to a generous God. If St Paul is right and it is only through God’s generous love that we find life, then might we realise that all we have comes from God, because without him we have nothing? And might our response to this be to give more of ourselves – offering our hearts to God, offering our time and gifts to God, and offering our money to God?

In the time since I arrived I have been struck by the number of people who in different ways have described to me their excitement and energy in the face of the many opportunities facing us as churches in this parish. There are countless opportunities to develop our children and youth work, enhance our worship, and work with other Christians in serving the wider needs of the parish. This is the Mission God calls us to in Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham. All of this needs us to offer ourselves – our time, our talents and our treasure – in response. I hope that the stewardship booklets your receive this month will inspire you to pray and ask God how you might respond to his saving love in your life. Please do try to be generous so that our life as churches might continue to develop.

Rev Mike Smith, Rector

Flora MusicaFuture Events 1
Flora Musica
St Peter’s Church
Friday 27 June & Saturday 28 June 10.00am to 5.30pm
Sunday 29 June 12.00 to 5.30pm

Pastoral Care

There is a prayer I often use when I reflect on the ministry of pastoral care; a ministry we all share.

‘’May the knowledge of the love and grace of God sink from my head down into my heart so that it flows out of my hands, my mouth, my ears, and my eyes so that this body becomes the body of Christ in the world.’’

This prayer reveals one of the most important aspects of pastoral care; engaging our physical being in the service of caring for others. We do this through our hands as we reach out and touch or refrain from touching, our mouths as we speak or remain silent, our ears as we listen to the voices of those who cry out or speak softly, and our eyes as we see things from the perspective of our faith. The church becomes the body of Christ in the way we care for one another.

But sometimes caring is tough. It’s not easy to be with people in the midst of intense feelings, uncomfortable situations, and serious disagreements about moral and ethical decisions, being with people nearing the end of their lives, visiting people in grief and bereavement, the list goes on. Because of this, what pastoral care there was in the church was left to the ‘vicar’. ‘’People want to see a collar’’ was often said. But pastoral care is the ministry of the whole congregation, not just those individuals who happen to be ordained or called into the formal leadership of the church. As members of the body of Christ we are all called to be pastoral caregivers.

Our formal response to pastoral care here at St Peters is ‘The Olive Branch’, look us up in the Net. We are always busy! As a dedicated group we do our best.

But the ministry of pastoral care should be shared by everybody – even you!

Contact me ( if you would like to talk about it!

Reverend Marion Pyke, Associate Priest

Ballroom dancingFuture Events 2
MillsTones Dance Band
St John’s Church
Saturday 5 July at 7.30pm

Mission Matters

Mission matters – or does it? As you may know, part of my brief as Community Priest is about leading on mission within the parish, finding ways (both new and old) of enabling us to connect with people outside of our churches. The Mission Action Plan, which we drew up two years ago, is an integral part of this and is something we will be reviewing in due course. So, what’s been happening mission-wise across the parish?

3Cs Cafe opening 2On Tuesday May 6, the Mayor of Reading (Councillor Marian Livingstone) opened the 3Cs (the Caversham Community Café) in St.John’s church. The café is the product of a partnership between St.John’s, New Bridge Nursery and Caversham Hall, designed to meet the needs of those in this part of Caversham who are looking for a reasonably priced cup of coffee and as a way of building community. For many it will perhaps be the first time that they have crossed the threshold of the church and hopefully it will not be the last, maybe returning for other events like our Big Lunch on June 1st or our live screening of England’s World Cup matches on June 19th and 24th. Thanks are due to the members of the Lower Caversham Community Partnership for all their hard work in bringing the project to fruition, as well as to members of the parish in various ways, and not forgetting the generosity of our funders – namely the Big Lottery Fund, Springboard, and Church House.

St Johns community gardenMay also saw the beginning of St.John’s community garden. Thanks to the Church Urban Fund, we have been able to work with Food 4 Families to begin to construct this garden in the south east corner of the churchyard and to employ a tutor to teach church members and those in our uniformed groups how to grow different types of fruit and vegetables. Again, this will hopefully not only help to feed people but also to build community in this part of the parish, and to enable people to identify positively with the church. It is hoped that the Bishop of Reading will come to open the garden in due course.

Finally, I am pleased to report that the Amersham Road Cooking Club has a new part-time development worker, Marilyn Hanson. Marilyn is a member of Caversham Baptist Church and comes with loads of enthusiasm for working with children aged 7-12 and their families on the estate. We were asked to take part in the recent Easter community day at the Youth and Community centre and have been invited back to cook the burgers at the estate fun day in August, both valuable opportunities to make links with people, alongside our regular monthly club sessions. Our thanks are due to Tina Presly for all her hard work as the previous development worker.

Rev Jeremy Tear, Community Priest

Fete advertFuture Events 3
Church Fete in Caversham Court
Saturday 12 July starting at 1.45pm

August services

As most of us know this year marks the beginning of the centenary anniversary of World War 1. The Government, assisted by the national Church of England, have encouraged local communities and churches to mark the various events over the next 4 years. 4 August 2014 marks the centenary of the last day of peace, as the world stood on the cusp of world war in 1914. Each of our churches on 3 August will use part of their morning worship to focus on the theme of peace leading into war. The services will be good opportunities for inviting people from the wider community to come to church to remember how precious a gift peace is.

Sunday 10 August will see a new departure for us in this parish. I have asked all the churches to come together on that day for one parish service, to be held at 10am at St John’s. This will be the only act of worship that day, and there will be no services at St Peter’s of St Margaret’s. I have advised the Standing Committee of the PCC, and the church leadership team of each church, and mostly this plan has been welcomed.

With my arrival mid way through the year, I have had to manage a situation where there was only one clergy person available in our parish that day, and rather than have to import clergy for all our others services, I want to encourage us to come together for worship. This is a common event in many other parishes and benefices, and I hope it will encourage us to look to how we might share other aspects of our parish life together. I will ensure this one service is advertised well, but please do your bit to ensure all those who normally come to church know of this change of plan.

Rev Mike Smith, Rector

Clergy staffing

At the annual parochial church meeting I mentioned that our clergy staff team would continue to develop. I am in conversation with Jeremy about how his role may focus more on the priorities of Mission for which he was recruited. More immediately, Marion and I have agreed that she should return to the hours she offered to the church when she was first ordained. As someone who is not paid, and generously offers her time and energy to God for free, we need to be careful that we do not demand too much of her. Marion has therefore returned to having Monday and Friday not working. I have also agreed that she will not work one Sunday each month, so that she can decide herself what she does with that weekend.

Finally I am delighted that John Dudley has agreed to commit himself to being part of our clergy team in the parish. John is known by many of you and has been working particularly at St Johns for a number of years. John asked whether he could make a greater contribution to the parish, and I have invited him to be on our Sunday rota once a month, to take part in clergy meetings, and to assist us with baptisms, weddings and funerals as the need arises.

Rev Mike Smith, Rector

Other editions of this newsletter can be found at the archive page