Friday, March 8, 2019

Dr. Lucy Peppiatt with us this Sunday


On Sunday Dr. Lucy Peppiatt, the Principal of Westminster Theological Centre (WTC), is going to be speaking with us at all our meetings in Bracknell and Sandhurst (Kerith Windsor will hear her a week later on Sunday 17th March).

From September we are going to be hosting a WTC hub in Bracknell, which will allow anyone on a part time basis to study theology at a every level from a Certificate in Higher Education all the way through to a Masters Degree. I’m passionate that as a community we become better equipped theologically, and my hope is that a number of of us will take this opportunity to deepen our understanding of the Bible and how to apply it. We also want to offer these courses as a resource to other local churches. 

As an aside we’re also going to relaunch what used to be called Invest, which will be a two year theology course run termly on a Monday evening which academically will be closer to GCSE level. This will be accredited by Moorlands Bible College, and I hope will be a great route to a whole load of us getting better equipped theologically. More details on this coming soon.

On Sunday we’re hosting an open afternoon at 4.30pm in K2 on our Bracknell site where leaders from other churches can come along, meet Lucy and hear more about WTC. If you know any leaders of other local churches please pass this invite to them. However, it struck me that as well as for leaders of other churches it might also be a very helpful afternoon for anyone in our community who thinks they might want to get a qualification with WTC and would like to hear me, so if that’s you please consider yourself invited! If you can register in advance that would be helpful, but if not just turn up.

We’ll be talking more about all of this over the coming months, including at the Bracknell and Windsor vision nights next Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively. 

Blessings,

Simon

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Radio 4 are coming to Kerith


On Sunday 24th March we’ve been asked to host the Radio 4 Sunday Service from the Kerith Centre. This is a service which gets broadcast live every Sunday from 8.10-8.50am, to an audience of well over a million people. 

It would be fair to say that it normally features churches which are more ‘traditional’ than Kerith, but the producer is very keen that as far as possible the audience get to hear an accurate representation of what we do every Sunday. I find that thought both exciting and slightly daunting, but we’re going to go for it

It’s going to be part of a series looking at the different things Jesus says from the cross. Our week is going to focus on the conversation Jesus has with the thief on the cross, and will focus on the work of the church with those in prison and seeking to integrate back into life after prison. We’re hoping that Lee and Sonia Brett who head up our prison ministry will get to speak, along with a story from someone they have worked with, and a message from Paul Cowley who heads up prison Alpha. 

In order to give the meeting a live feel to it, the producers would like us to have at least 100 people in the congregation. That will mean getting to the Kerith Centre for 7.40am in order for us all to be ready to start at 8.10am. If you’re able to come then please do! It would really help us if you could register here so we know you are coming - but if for some reason you can’t register, or at the last minute you decide to come, then please come anyway - we’d love to have you. We’ll provide tea, coffee and pastries for all who make it!

The BBC hope to be all packed up and out of the building by 9.15am, so the 9.30am and 11.30am meetings will go ahead in Bracknell as normal. So come for the 8.10am then stay for the final week of our declutter series at 9.30am! Perhaps this a taste of things to come with four meetings on a Sunday :)

Whether you can make it or not please be praying that God will powerful use this opportunity for his message of hope to be clearly proclaimed, and for people to hear a different expression of church to one they may have previously experienced. 

Simon

Monday, February 25, 2019

Bracknell & Windsor Vision Meetings



In a couple of weeks time we’re going to have vision meetings for our Bracknell and Windsor sites.

The Bracknell evening is on Tuesday 12th March starting at 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre. There are a number of things we want to talk about including news from across our sites, changes to the way we do small groups in Kerith, an update on proposed improvements to our Bracknell site infrastructure, news about the theology hub we’re going to host from September and much more! We’ll also have space to pray together during the evening. 

The Windsor evening is on Wednesday 13th March starting at 7.30pm in the Gospel Hall in Dedworth. It’s now six months since we started meeting in Windsor and there is much to celebrate and reflect on (including the homeless shelter we’ve helped to host), as well as looking forward to how things like the new small groups structure and theology hub will impact Windsor. 

We’ll make an audio recording of both meetings available for anyone who can’t be there on the night.

We aren’t doing a vision night for Sandhurst as we had one in January to announce the move to Farnborough and the rename to Kerith Blackwater Valley. We’ll look to schedule one for West Wight later this year.

These evenings are a great opportunity for us to come together as sites, hear some of the vision of where we are going, and think about how each of us can play our part in what God is doing in and through us. Help to see you there!

Have a blessed week,

Simon

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Ben Davies


As a community we are about to witness the end of an era as Ben Davies, who lead our church from 1964 through to 2007, prepares to move back to his beloved Wales. Ben has been a huge part of so the lives of so many of us, and we as a church simply wouldn’t exist in our current form if it wasn’t for Ben and his decades of inspirational and courageous leadership. 

We are having an evening to say goodbye to Ben on Sunday 3rd March at 6pm in the Kerith Centre. Everyone is invited to come and be a part of what will be a very special moment in the life of our church. 

The evening will start with a time of worship, where as part of our worship we’ll sing a couple of songs Ben has chosen. I’m then going to interview Ben, giving him a chance to reflect on his time in Bracknell, as well as telling us about some of his plans as he moves back to Wales.  We’ll then make time to pray for Ben, after which he’ll have an opportunity to speak. 

After the meeting  we’ll serve tea, coffee and cakes, which will give everyone the opportunity for a chat with Ben. 

I know that many of us will want to share with Ben the impact he has had on our lives, as well as thanking him, bringing prophetic thoughts, prayers and scriptures. We’ll have a book where all these things can be written for Ben to read afterwards, or you can email them to the Kerith Centre reception either before or after the evening and we’ll make sure they get to Ben. 

Parking will be at the college car park for everyone other than the elderly, disabled or women coming on their own. 

Hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it then email in you memories, thanks or prayers and we’ll pass them all on to Ben.

Blessings,

Simon

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Proposing Ben Oliver as an elder



At Kerith we have a team of elders who oversee all that happens in the life of our church (if you’d like more detail on the role and qualifications for elders then there’s a chapter in the book I wrote, the Peach and the Coconut, which describes both the role of elders and the other leadership structures within Kerith).

Our elders have proposed recognising Ben Oliver as an elder, but before we formally appoint him I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone in our community who might have thoughts or comments on Ben stepping into this role, either negative or positive. Please send any comments to me via email. 

To tell you a little bit about Ben, he and his wife Beccy joined Kerith 20 years ago. Eleven years ago he joined the staff team on a part time basis as my first appointment after taking over leading Kerith, then in June 2015 he came on the full time staff after giving up his job as a project manager at GSK.   

As a volunteer Ben has served in a whole variety of roles in the church including leading a small group, overseeing all of our small groups and serving in our children’s ministry. His roles on staff have included leading our operations team, overseeing courses and developing the growth track, preaching, pastoral care and now leading the whole of the staff team. He has also been attending and contributing in elders meetings for the past 13 years. 

Ben and Beccy have three girls, Sophie, Naomi and Megan and live in Wooden Hill in Bracknell. 

If you do have any thoughts or comments then please email them to me by Tuesday 22nd January. Unless we hear anything to cause us to pause the process we’ll formally recognise Ben as an elder when David Devenish is with us on Sunday 27th January. 

Many thanks,

Simon

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Boiler Blessings



Those of you who have been around the Kerith Centre recently will I’m sure have noticed that it’s been quite chilly inside the building.

The reason for this is that in the middle of December all three boilers in the Kerith Centre stopped working, and have refused all efforts to coax them back to life (at least without us spending a huge amount to have them fixed). We’ve known for a while that they were going to need replacing, but had been advised that they should be all right for one more winter - sadly that hasn’t been the case. For now we’re heating the building with a whole load of room heaters for the smaller rooms, and industrial gas heaters for the auditorium. All of this is helping, but for the next couple of weeks you might want to bring an extra jumper on a Sunday or if you’re coming for a midweek meeting. 

In the midst of this I want to pull out some good news and things for us to be thankful for. 

The first is that we need to be very thankful if this is the most serious hardship we face. For many Christians gathering as church means putting your life at risk, with a very real threat of persecution, arrest or even death. Last month our Foreign Secreatery, Jeremy Hunt, started a review into what more can be done to support the 215 million Christians around the world who last year faced discrimination and violence, and the 250 Christians who on average are killed every month. In respect for our brothers and sisters in those nations let’s not let it being a bit colder than we’d like stop us going to church. 

Secondly we are going to have new boilers fitted the week starting Monday 21st January. We’re hoping they’re going to be up and running in time for the start of the Alpha course on the 23rd January. The heating system is being modified to make sure the problems we’ve seen before don’t reoccur (for the technically minded we’re having heat exchangers installed) and the new boilers should be more than up to heating the whole building for years to come. 

Thirdly because we’ve built up reserves we can afford to do this work without having to have a gift day. The new system will cost around £40,000 to buy and install, but we can do that from our reserves, and use gift days to fund much more exciting things like new sites and doing new things on our existing sites.

Finally we’ve saved around £3,000 on the cost of the boilers because somebody we have helped through our social justice ministries happens to sell boilers, and as a way of saying thank you negotiated a cheaper price with the company he works on the boilers we’re having installed. As Jesus taught us, you reap what you sow.

So lots to be thankful for, and an opportunity to wear those Christmas jumpers for a couple more weeks. God is good :)

Simon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

News from the Kerith Sandhurst Vision Night


Last night we had our Kerith Sandhurst Vision night, where we shared two major pieces of news. You can find an audio recording of the evening here. 

The first is piece of news is that from the 28th April (the Sunday after Easter) we’re going to be moving the Sunday venue for our Sandhurst site to the Village Hotel in Farnborough. The second is that we’re changing the name of the site to Kerith Blackwater Valley to reflect the fact that we’re drawing people from across the whole of the Blackwater area.

We realise that the move to a new location represents a big change for the people who are part of Kerith Sandhurst. For some it will make our Sunday gathering closer to where they live, for others it will mean traveling further. I realise there will also be sadness about leaving the school which has been such a great meeting place for us for the last five years, with all the stories of the lives we have seen changed in that time. We want to do all we can to help people make the transition, and to help explain why we think this is God’s next step for us as a community. 

To that end our site pastor Heather Pocock has written some notes explaining why we’re making these changes, and answering what we think will be some of the most common questions. However, you may well have different questions or want to discuss what the change means for you personally. This coming Sunday I’ll be around in Sandhurst before and after the meeting to talk to anyone who has concerns or questions (we can talk about other things too if you want!) along with Duncan Klitgaard who is our elder who oversees Sandhurst. Please also feel free to email me, Heather or Duncan if that works better for you.

We do think The Village is the right next step for us as we seek to help people find their way back to God, and are excited about the opportunities it is going to open up for us. If you want a sneak preview of what our new location looks like then take a look at this video.

If you’re part of Sandhurst I hope to catch you on Sunday.

Praying for you all to have a blessed week.

Simon