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September 2019

In this newsletter:

Church fete or fated?

July 13 brought another wonderful fete in Caversham Court Gardens. The sun shone, the gazebos stayed up and hundreds of families, possibly thousands of people, had a great day with stalls, sideshows, entertainment and refreshments.

Put another way, our parish had a great day at the Caversham Church Fete. We got to be the Christ-like Community we want to be for a day. We invited in the local community and they arrived in their droves. We introduced our three churches through the programme and the parish stall; local people talked to clergy, walked around with leaflets about weddings; children got face-painted in church and learnt about the building with a treasure hunt.

Our churches provided an opportunity for the community to come together, we engaged with the community and sent the community away happy and fulfilled. In religious language, we call that mission – being about God’s work in and with the local community. As an extra, it raises a lot of money.

But the day of the fete is a bit like a swan on the river – calm on the surface with a lot of frantic effort setting up in the morning and clearing away after. Over 10 months, a committee of eight plan out and draw together the strings that knit together to make a great day: maintaining contact with the Council about Caversham Court, negotiating grand draw prizes and tickets, selling ads in the programme, deciding on and arranging entertainment, what refreshments and will there be a flypast? There is a significant amount of work planning the fete, building the fete and taking it down, as well as the events on the day.

The committee work silently in the background, for church and community. But each of us needs a break from time to time. Some have been on the fete committee for many years and need to step back, to allow the next team to take up the reigns. This year, sadly but with great gratitude, we say farewell to half the committee who, between them, have served for more than 40 years. That leaves a committee of four.

We desperately need more people to step forward to help plan the fete, and also to be part of the team who source all the resources we need before we implement the fete each July. These need not be the same people – ideally we would have one team of people leading the planning on the fete committee, meeting each month to review plans and make decision. We would also have another team working with those committee members, but not needing to attend meetings, who would ensure that the fete was delivered: securing prizes, booking entertainment, hiring equipment, and building a team of volunteers for the day.

We cannot go forward with the 2020 fete without a committee of 8 people (we have 4 currently), and need people who would be prepared to take one of the following briefs:

Can you help? We need to decide by 31st October at the very latest that we have a strong enough team, otherwise the PCC will have to make a very difficult decision not to go ahead. Once we stop holding the fete, it will be difficult to start it again.
Even if you are not a committee person, we need others people to volunteer now to support the committee members – perhaps you would be prepared to go to some businesses to source grand draw prizes, or make some phone calls to book entertainment, or to manage lists of those prepared to volunteer on the day?

Please will you volunteer for the committee or a supporting role to the Rector, Penny, or one of the churchwardens.
We all agree that the fete is a great day, and it is our biggest mission opportunity as hundreds of people come to a church sponsored event and have a great day out. We need to maintain and build this fete as we seek to Become a Christ like Community. But we need your help.

Mike Smith & Steve Jenkins

Ransomed, Healed, Restored, Forgiven

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him In love. – Ephesians 1:4

Here is my song of praise, my testimony of God at work in our church community.

It was in the 1980s, when I was living and worshipping in Manchester that I first went on retreat. On the good advice of my then Rector, I went to the Fairacres Convent, the Oxford home of the Sisters of the Love of God. At the end of my retreat I was called in to see Mother Mary Clare. I wanted to know whether I should become a nun, attracted as I was to the romance of living the contemplative monastic life of the sisters. ‘No’, she told me with unarguable certainty, I should be out in the world, earning my living in engineering and IT companies, and letting my faith be evident to everyone I encountered.

Fast forward to 2016, Microsoft has retired me, and I am on my second retreat, once again at Fairacres. This time my question was ‘could I have a spiritual director to guide me?’ I was fully expecting to be told that I would be able to meet a sister maybe once or twice a year. But once again the answer was No. Rather, I should go back to my own church and find direction there. So it was that, sent by the sisters, I approached Mike, and he – wonderfully – took me on.

Mike and I meet regularly and he has been helping me to gradually uncover the many burdens I have been accumulating over the years. At times it could be a bumpy ride, undoubtedly painful when Mike gives me a reality check, calling my behavioural spades the spades they surely are; but what he gives me in our discussions is always wise, often insightful and ultimately liberating.

Early this year I began to feel that I wanted to confess my lifetime of sins to God and to ask for His forgiveness once and for all. Mike felt this was right for me and arranged for me to meet a Church of England priest who offered the service of Sacramental Confession. He introduced me to another priest in Reading, I met him at his vicarage and we briefly discussed my circumstances and wishes. He proved to be as penetrating as Mike in his response to my various difficulties. He explained the service to me, and gave me the choice of where and when to make my confession. I chose the church.

On the appointed day, shortly before Easter, I arrived at the church, feeling a little nervous. The priest was busy with his church warden sorting out an electrical problem, so they sat me down with a cup of coffee to put me at my ease. It was all very relaxed, comfortable and unhurried. In due course the priest took me to the south chapel and began the service.

Mike had told me that I would be talking directly to God, and so, in a way I had never imagined, it proved to be. I told God my sins, expressed my sorrow for any harm I had done and asked for His forgiveness. Then in an extraordinary, out-of-this-world moment, as I looked for anything more I needed to confess, I found there was nothing there: God had gathered my faults and failings in His cupped hands and had breathed them away as weightless gossamer. My burden had gone as though it had never existed. I saw with wonder how God sees me – beautiful and whole, ‘holy and blameless before Him In love’. I knew, with complete certainty, that God loves me and sees only the real me, not the bruised and broken thing that I believe myself to be.

Cleansed and forgiven in this remarkable way, Easter 2019 was breathtakingly special. I know how much Jesus loves us – on Good Friday He once again died an agonising physical, mental, emotional and spiritual death on the cross for our sake, for my sake, and broke my heart. Then on Easter Sunday the resurrection of light in our Caversham Gardens opened a wellspring of love and joy that more than mended that poor heart.

The healing and the joy remain with me. I still have Parkinson’s and a compression fracture of a lumber vertebra, which together are crippling me. I still have seemingly insoluble difficulties in life, but I also have this extraordinary inner healing and source of happiness. Maybe like Paul I can welcome the sufferings, knowing that I am safely in God’s hands and that the adventure of what I might be in Jesus Christ lies ahead. As Paul wrote to the Philippians: ‘For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake’.

Now I know for sure that God loves me – He made me and He has called me by my name. I am His. I can truly say ‘Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me His praise should sing’!

Jenny Harrison (member of St Peter’s Church)

Churches Together Holiday Club

We are often asked by our clergy, “Where have you noticed God at Work?” My answer is simple, at the CTC holiday club! 140 primary school age children, supported by a team of 30 adults and 20 teenager helpers, enjoy a full week of fun and activity; but above all, learning about the love of Jesus and how He is present in all our lives. There is a tremendous sense of Christian Community when volunteers of all ages, from 10 different churches in Caversham, give freely of their time and talents to share their faith with children in such a joyful way.

It occurs annually in a local primary school on the first week of the summer holidays. Children are grouped by age from reception to Yr 6. The children come mainly from local churches, but some are of other faiths or no faith. They are able to make new friends from other churches, schools and clubs while enjoying sport, games, craft work, puppet shows, and bible stories. Many children come each year and have ‘grown up’ with holiday club, looking forward to it each year.

Each day a bible reading is chosen; this is studied by the leaders each morning in a pre-school meeting with prayers and reflection, is later read out to the children by a ‘storyteller’ and finally is discussed in each classroom in an age appropriate way. As adults we are able to explore our scriptures afresh by seeing them through the eyes of the children.

The holiday club is also supported by a large group of ‘junior leaders’. These are teenagers who volunteer to help in specific roles, some in the classrooms, sports-field, kitchen, stage lighting and sound etc. Many have themselves grown up in the club and so ‘know the ropes’, others are children of adult leaders. All junior leaders receive training in their specific roles, safeguarding and youth leadership; it’s a real joy to observe how they grow in confidence and commitment as they assist the leaders and help ensure the safety and smooth running of this event.

There are many places where we can notice God at work, this is certainly one of them. At the end of a week of worship and exploring our faith with the children, we are all exhausted, but really feel we have been walking with Jesus. Finally we joyfully set to clearing up the week’s mess and look forward to doing it all again next year!

Charlie Scola

Stewardship

The 2019 stewardship campaign will be launched next Sunday 15th September and run to the 6th October. Everyone who has agreed to us contacting them about fundraising will have a named envelope in church next Sunday. It, will contain the stewardship leaflet, explain the opportunity facing us and invite you to prayerfully consider your giving. The pack also contains a reply envelope for you to make your response. Ideally these should be brought to church on the 6th October, but do bring them before if you are not going to be in church that Sunday.

In the packs also is a leaflet about the Parish Giving Scheme (PGS), which the PCC have agreed to join. Alongside more than 20 other dioceses, and over 200 parishes in this diocese, we will use the PGS in future as our preferred giving scheme. It asks you to convert to contributing to church funds, regularly of an amount you choose, using a Direct Debit. Some of us already contribute by Standing Order, and those doing so will need to talk to their banks or building societies about converting this into a Direct Debit or do it online. The great benefit of the PGS to the parish is that it provides a regular and efficient way of managing our income. The scheme allows you, the donor, to automatically inflate your giving every year, should you wish, so that you don’t have to fill a new form in each year (you will be contacted by PGS once a year about your giving). The parish will also receive Gift Aid (if you pay enough tax) automatically shortly after your donation, which helps our cash flow. Parishes that use PGS have seen their income grow in the months and years after its introduction. After completing the PGS application form in your packs, send it to the address on the form (not the church treasurer). Each church in our parish has its own application form. If you give to more than one church in our parish, or would like to, then you can ask the church treasurer for a PGS form for their church.

hope you will support our stewardship campaign and we can grow our income as we seek to embody our vision to Become a Christ like Community.

Mike Smith

Dates for your diary

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

8 September 6.30pm Choral Evensong, St Peter
11 September 7.30pm St Peter’s CLT & St John’s CLT
14 September Ride & Stride
15 September Launch of Stewardship Campaign in all churches
15 September 3pm Christening Tea Party, Rectory Garden
18 September 7.30pm PCC
22 September 9.30am Harvest Festival and Brunch, St Peter
24 September 7.30pm St Margaret’s CLT
27 September 6.30pm Barn Dance
29 September 11.15am Parish wide service at St Margaret
6 October Stewardship campaign ends
6 October 9.30am Harvest Festival, St John
6 October 11.15am Harvest Festival, St Margaret
7 October 7.30pm St Peter’s CLT
9 October 7.30pm St John’s CLT
13 October 11am St Peter’s Church Forum
13 October 12.30pm St Margaret’s Church Forum
13 October 6.30pm Choral Evensong, St Peter
20 October 9.30am St John’s Church Forum Note: changed date
3 November 3pm Remembering a loved one, St John
3 November 6.30pm All Souls, St Peter
7 November 7.30pm St Peter’s CLT
10 November Remembrance Sunday
12 November 7.30pm St Margaret’s CLT
13 November 7.30pm St John’s CLT
16 November 2pm St John’s Christmas Fair & Fun
20 November 7.30pm PCC
24 November 9.30am Toy Service, St Peter’s

 
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