In this newsletter:

“We are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song!”

Have you uttered the word “Alleluia” this Easter? It ought to be a daily refrain for every Christian from Easter day forward. For “alleluia” is the song of the Christian, affirming our joy in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our tradition invites us to refrain from using the term during the 40 day season of Lent, as a sign of denial.

The highlight for me of the Easter Liturgy, which this year as previously started early in the morning in Caversham Court Gardens, is when the priest proclaims the resurrection of Jesus with the words “Alleluia! Christ is risen”. On this new day, after the denial of Lent, the joy of the resurrection breaks into our lives and fills us once again with colour, hope and purpose. Christ has conquered death; salvation is assured if we can have faith. God has intervened in our lives – Alleluia!

By tradition, Easter is not just a day, but a season of fifty days. Throughout this season, as the people of Easter we need to be daily rejoicing in Jesus resurrection. “Alleluia” ought to be on our lips each day, privately and even publicly so that others might know of our joy and their own hope is they can be led to Jesus. We need to be Easter people who look for resurrection in the world around us – where life is brought out of apparent death, where all things are made new in Christ. We are to be the people of Easter who long for Jesus to restore creation, and who speak up wherever we see sin at work, where the poor are down trodden or marginalised – because Jesus is our risen King, and King over all. So if you haven’t done so yet, it’s not too late – take a risk, and let out an “alleluia” each day of Easter!

Towards the end of our Easter season will come the great festival of the Ascension – the day when we celebrate the completion of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as he returns to the Father in heaven. For many of us this has become a non-event, when going to church doesn’t happen. I understand that Ascension Day is on a weekday, but we try to offer two services in this parish (St John’s 10am and St Peter’s 7.30pm) to allow people the option of when to attend. Can I encourage you to try to attend one of these two services this year?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited Christian churches here and abroad to join him between Ascension Day and Pentecost in praying “Thy Kingdom Come”, and especially for those people who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord. All too often we Christians don’t take the responsibility too seriously to pray for those we know who aren’t yet Christians. This invitation provides that opportunity, and there will be further information about how we will be taking part in this initiative.

Finally, the Prime Minister spent he Easter holiday it seems contemplating an early General Election. These next few weeks will be full of electioneering by the political parties. All those who stand for election warrant our prayers, as do those who have to administer the election at short notice. The Day of Pentecost will come only 4 days before we all vote, and can I encourage us all to pray “Come, Holy Spirit” on our nation at this time.


The Alpha course

2017 05 Newsletter alpha1We have recently completed the latest Alpha course at St John’s. A group have been meeting on Wednesday afternoon’s at St John’s vicarage. It has been wonderful to watch a group of people who didn’t know each other well (in some cases, who had never met each other) grow together as they socialised and learnt together. But rather than the clergy explain to you what happened, here are two of the group members reflecting.

Marie writes, “When I first noticed adverts for the Alpha course, some years ago, I assumed it was something to do with Maths. It must have been the word ‘Alpha’ that made me think of numbers and so I imagined a course to help children with their numbers or maybe adults grappling with maths.
Having just finished the Alpha course I now know it is to do with having a meal together with a small group of people and then watching a video which covers a religious topic such as ‘why is there suffering’, or ‘how to live your life in the best way, ‘or ‘what is the church’. These important topics are talked through after the video and ideas and thoughts on them exchanged. The 10 week course, meeting once a week for a couple of hours, has the aim of helping people think through their own faith and grow spiritually. We met in the vicar’s house and she is a dab hand at producing a wonderful breakfast or maybe that should be brunch as we were meeting at 1pm.

I had a coffee with Penny Cuthbert, the vicar, as I had just moved into the area, and when she told me an Alpha course was about to start the following week I decided to join in although I didn’t really know what to expect or who would be joining me. Well, what a lovely mixed group of people I joined— about 8 of us and the mix was a young mum with a 7 month old baby, another young woman, someone working part time, a couple of retired women like me and a couple of men who were the church warden and Mike the vicar.

One of the most attractive things about the course was that it was totally accepting of everyone’s point of view and there was absolutely no pressure to say anything or even to feel obliged to keep coming. Having said that everyone did come to all the meetings including the ‘away day’ which took place in Freith. It really was a course for everyone, some of us were keen to say quite a lot, some were shy and said very little, but we all enjoyed it and knew what we said was confidential . It didn’t always result in a deeper faith as some of us became more questioning once we started to talk things through, but that is fine, we all learnt more about Christianity and had time for reflection. The group was so supportive and kind, a welcoming place that felt safe and secure.

I’m sure each course will be influenced by the person who is leading it and the meal you get will reflect their cooking skills! We did make a voluntary contribution for our meals which we were very happy to do as the food was lovely. We are very lucky in this area to have Penny and Mike as leaders of the Alpha course although I haven’t tried Mike’s cooking yet!

I really can recommend the Alpha course. It is for everyone and is a kind and interesting course that will expand your knowledge and make you think about the important things in life and develop your spirituality. Come and join a course, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.”

Fiona writes, “The alpha course offered a relaxed, social atmosphere in which to explore and discuss Christianity. There was scope to input as much, or as little, as you felt comfortable. Penny was very good at listening to individuals’ comments and offered lovely prayers at the end of the session which captured perfectly what people had said.”

2017 05 Newsletter alpha2Almost everyone who attended the Alpha courses in the autumn wanted to continue in some kind of post-Alpha group. So last term fifteen of us met on Tuesday evenings to drink tea and coffee, have fun, and read the Bible together. We used a booklet called ‘Encounters with Jesus’ and studied eight different Bible passages in which Jesus met with individuals e.g. the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, the demoniac, Peter by Galilee.

We explored themes of forgiveness, healing, freedom and truth, and reflected on the way Jesus responded to all these different people – how he restored dignity, challenged cultural norms, exposed hypocrisy and mended broken lives. We thought about what we might say to him in a 1:1, and what he might say to us in. Some things we shared, some things were just for personal reflection. I hope we got to know each other, and Jesus, a little better. More small groups will run later this term – keep an eye out for details in the news sheets.

The next Alpha course

Is it some time since you asked yourself what you believed? Do you still have lots of questions about the Christian faith – who was Jesus?; why did he have to die?; why is there suffering in the world?

The Alpha course might just be for you. We will meet on Monday evenings at 7.30pm, starting on May 15th. Venue: The Rectory, 20 Church Road, Caversham RG4 7AD

Judith’s ordination events and gift

Our curate Judith Ryder will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday 24th June at an 11am service at Reading Minster, alongside other Berkshire curates. We anticipate that this will be a service requiring an invite ticket, because of the limited space available, but I hope we will have some tickets for parish people. It would be good if we could support Judith on this great day in her vocational journey.

On the following morning of Sunday 25th June, Judith will preside at her first Holy Communion service, at the patronal festival for St Peter’s at 9.30am. This will be a service for the whole parish, and no other services will take place that day. This is always a great day of celebration in the life of a new priest, and Judith will choose the music and the preacher for this occasion. After the morning service, everyone is invited to a celebratory lunch in the Rectory garden from 11.30am.

Because of the nature of this celebration, it is usually the custom that a new priest is presented with a gift to mark their new ministry amongst us. Judith has suggested that she would like her own home communion kit, and I hope we will together be able to supply the funds to purchase this. If you would like to make a donation, please could you put it in an envelope marked ‘Judith Ryder ordination gift’ and either post it through the Rectory door, or leave it for the St Peter’s treasurer Richard Larkin in his pigeon hole in St Peter’s church.


APCM roundup

Thank you to everyone who came to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, and elected Churchwardens, Parochial Church Council and Deanery Synod members. It was also very good that so many of us engaged with our Mission Innovation Team and offered our reflections on the issues of isolation and loneliness. Our worship together touched many I know, and we need to thank Penny for leading that so well. Please do continue to pray for all those who will hold a position of responsibility and leadership in the parish and our three churches over this coming year. They all strive to help me discern how our mission and ministry might best be aligned with the will of God in this parish.


The reports and minutes are available at the APCM pagewebsite editor.

Patronal festivals

As we move beyond Easter towards the summer, we will soon have our three patronal festivals upon us. As in previous years, each church warmly invites members of the other churches in the parish, and our friends from other Christian churches in Caversham, to our festival services.

St Peter’s Day will be on Sunday 25th June at 9.30am, at which Judith Ryder will preside at her first communion service as a newly ordained priest. This will be followed by a celebration lunch for the whole parish in the Rectory garden (see separate article elsewhere in this CTM News).

St John’s Day will be celebrated on Saturday 24th June with a Songs of Praise event at 4pm for all the local community.

St Margaret’s Day will be on 20th July at 7pm, followed by food and drinks in the garden of the Old Vicarage, by kind permission of Bridget and Roualeyn Cumming-Bruce. The preacher will be the Venerable Christine Allsopp, one time curate of this parish.

Shared Interest

At St. Peter’s we are familiar with the Fairtrade stall run by Carol Malony each month. Carol buys the products from a local source and sells them at cost. It is not the intention to make a profit but her annual turnover of about £1,300 gives a welcome boost to Fairtrade producers overseas. We are indebted to Carol for her regular unstinting work in supporting this very worthwhile cause.

Recently I attended a lecture by a local representative of a scheme called Shared Interest which gives support to Fairtrade producers by giving commercial advice and granting short term loans to promote business efficiency and security. Shared Interest is a very inspiring initiative and is I consider a worthwhile charity for St. Peter and indeed the Parish to support.

Shared Interest originates from the Christian initiative Traidcraft and aims to help with a major problem faced by Fair Trade producers. Nearly all producers sell to overseas markets rather than home markets in order to secure a year-round dependable outlet for their goods. This in turn creates a cash flow problem as the long distances and often poor transport links result in a lengthy wait from dispatch of produce to receipt of money. The producers can wait several weeks or in some cases months before receiving payment. As a result, difficulties occur in supporting their families and investing in materials and equipment for business purposes. Business efficiency is thus seriously hampered.

Shared Interest works as follows. Members, who should have a UK based bank account, are invited to open a Shared Interest account, they must deposit a minimum of £100 and to remain open the account must always have a minimum balance of £100 although money can be added over time. Interest is paid on the account and money can be withdrawn at any time and can remain open subject to the £100 condition. Thus, money is not asked to be given but loaned and the account holder can determine the length and amount of loan. Although not protected by the Financial Services Acts there has not been a loss of funds to account holders since the scheme commenced in 1990. At the most recent AGM key figures reported were, Share Capital £38m, 433 accounts opened during the year, payments during year £61.7m to 397 organisations in 59 countries, members’ money lent 1.8 times during the year.

Shared Interest appears to be making an excellent contribution towards helping developing countries rise above poverty and encourage enterprise. Being an NGO the help is directed to where it is needed and not lost in Government hierarchy. All running costs of Shared Interest are met by interest on capital and not account holders’ investments.

Further information is easily obtained on line and I commend as an account holder for Shared Interest to be supported by individuals or groups throughout the Parish. I would be pleased to answer queries from anyone interested in opening an account.

Tony Walker

Dates for your diary

Events are also listed on the Forthcoming Events page and the Parish Calendarwebsite editor.

26 April7.30pmSt Peter’s CLT
30 April2pmBluebell walk, starting at St Margarets
7 May6.30pmEvening Eucharist with Prayers for healing, St Peter’s
13 May10amPMC event: What’s God up to? St John’s
20 May7.30pmConcert at St Peters: Fit for a coronation
21 May11amChurch Forum, St Johns
25 May10amCommunion for Ascension Day, St Johns
7.30pmFestival Communion, St Peters
4 June12.30pmChurch Forum, St Margarets
11 June11amChurch Forum, St Peters
16 June7.30pmConcert, St Margarets
24 June4pmSt Johns Day, Songs of Praise
25 June9.30amParish-wide service for St Peters Day
followed by a party in the Rectory garden
8 JulyCaversham Church Fete, Caversham Court
20 July7pmSt Margarets Day service
followed by a party in the Old Vicarage garden
30 July11.15amParish-wide service at St Margarets

Other newsletters are in the newsletter archive