Friday, September 8, 2017

Vision Sunday and Windsor Launch

This Sunday I'm going to be sharing vision for the coming term and beyond. It's been an exciting year so far, in particular with over 80 people getting baptised, so there's much to build on as we look to how we can be even more fruitful in helping people find their way back to God.

On Sunday we're also publicly launching Kerith Windsor. We've already got small groups in Windsor and Maidenhead, have a great hub with the Gospel Hall in Dedworth which we're renting, and have been holding regular prayer meetings and an Alpha course in Windsor, so this is the next step on that journey. Initially we're going to be meeting on the second Sunday every month at 4pm in All Saints Church in Dedworth (SL4 4JW). If you're free on Sunday afternoon please come along to support and encourage our Windsor and Maidenhead gang!

Finally a reminder that the thanksgiving service for Michael Ross-Watson is on Saturday in London. There are still a few spaces on the coach going up - you can book in here.

Hope you've had a great start to the new term, that those of us based in Bracknell are excited at our new town centre, and hope to see you on Sunday - I'll be speaking at all five meetings :)

Much love,

Simon

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two Job Opportunities in our CAP Centre

One of the most impactful and fruitful ministries at Kerith is our CAP debt counselling centre, which has now been running for over 11 years. We currently have 2 vacancies for Debt Coaches in our CAP Centre, which will allow us to increase both the number of people we can help and the geographic area we can cover.

One is a permanent 3 days a week role serving the Bracknell area - you can find the job description here.

The other is a year’s fixed term contract for 2 days per week serving the Sandhurst area - the job description for that role is here.

Both roles will be based in our Bracknell office at the Kerith Centre. Finding the right people to fill them is key to developing our social justice ministry at both our Bracknell and Sandhurst sites, so if you have the heart to communicate CAP’s debt advice to people whilst positively reflecting the Christian faith and the core values of CAP and you feel this might be the job for you or someone you know, please pick up one of the application packs which are available from the Kerith Centre reception desk.

The closing date for both roles is Tuesday 12th September with interviews being held on Thursday 14th September. If you would like further information on either role please contact Ali Hudell our HR Manager, or Sarah Hardy our CAP Centre Manager, by e-mail or via telephone on 01344 862699.

For the rest of us please be praying that the right person comes forward for each role.

Blessings,

Simon

 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Transport Details for the Thanksgiving Services for Mo Davies & Michael Ross-Watson

Our Thanksgiving Service for the life of Mo Davies is this coming Wednesday, the 30th August, at 1pm. Ben and the family are inviting everyone who knew Mo to join with them in remembering her, celebrating her life and thanking God for what she meant to so many of us.

Parking at the Kerith Centre will be extremely tight, and we want to reserve the car park for the family and close friends who will be coming from the crematorium, and disabled blue badge holders. We're asking everyone else to please find alternative parking. The nearest car park is the Charles Square Car Park (which is now known as the Braccan Walk Car Park) - details of this and the other town centre car parks can be found here.

As I blogged yesterday the Thanksgiving Service for the life of Michael Ross-Watson is being held at the Emmanuel Centre in London on Saturday 9th September at 2pm. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get there, so we're arranging coach transport for anyone who would like to make use of it. You can find all the details here. Please book in as quickly as possible so that we can make sure we can book enough coach space, and give Esther and the family some idea of how many people might be coming for the catering.

Much love,

Simon

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Service for the Life of Michael Ross-Watson

There is going to be a thanksgiving service for the life of Michael Ross-Watson at 2pm on Saturday 9th September, with refreshments served after the service.

Given the number of people from around the country who want to attend, Esther and the family felt it would be best to hold the thanksgiving in London. It's therefore going to be held at the Emmanuel Centre, which is the home of Emmanuel Church, where Michael and Esther were pastors for a number of years. The address is Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW.

We will be arranging coach travel from the Kerith Centre for anyone who would like to make use of it. We're just in the process of working out the cost and logistics for that - once we've worked it out I'll blog the details and a link to where you can book on. Alternatively if you want to make your own way up there the nearest tube stations are Westminster, St James's Park and Victoria.

Please continue to pray for Esther and the family. Esther is coming back from Singapore this week after spending time out there with her son Tim. Pray she will continue to know God's comfort and strength, and the love of the community around her, as she begins this new season of life.

Much love,

Simon

 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Three Pillars

“I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.”

(Revelation 2:13 NIVUK)

In the last few months our church community has lost three people who have, in many ways, been pillars of our church. Val Cottee, Mo Davies and then most recently Michael Ross-Watson have all passed away, and it has left people feeling not only a deep sense of sadness that they are no longer with us, but also a sense that their passing has created a large void in the life of our church. Val brought to our church a huge pastoral heart, being a spiritual mum to so many different people in our community, along with a deep love for the Bible and an ability to communicate it to others. Mo had an enduring love for some of the most hurting people in our society, those with special needs, those dying of cancer, those not know where their next meal was coming from, as well as a deeply rooted but quietly expressed faith and confidence in God. And Michael had such an enormous father heart, a willingness to do sometimes outrageous things in support of those in need, and a unique ability to communicate God's heart through his preaching. Each one represents a huge loss to our community.

So how do we respond? With sadness undoubtedly. But beyond that is it time for us to be worried, to be anxious, to be fearful, or is God asking for a different response from us?

Well as we've been going through Jesus letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, I've been struck in particular about one encouragement from Jesus to the church in a place called Pergamum. It relates to a guy called Antipas who has been martyred there for his faith, and the way the church has responded. We don't know too much about Antipas, although one church tradition holds that he was the bishop of Pergamum and was burnt alive in a bull shaped altar for casting demons out of people! What we do know is that Jesus commends the church for the way they have responded to his death.

As I've prayed and reflected on this it's reminded me that we don't get to choose what happens to us in life, but we do get to choose how we respond. It makes me think of God telling Joshua not to be terrified or discouraged, but to choose to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9). Joshua had to make a choice as to how he was going to respond to the challenges he faced, as did the church in Pergamum as they faced up to the death of Antipas. The same is true of us as we respond to the loss of these three. As I've prayed I've felt a couple of ways God has been encouraging us to respond.

The first is that along with our sadness and grief, God would want us carry an even greater sense of thankfulness and gratitude that we ever got to know Val, Mo and Michael. It is quite possible to imagine a world where we never got to meet any of them. Let's make time to stop and thank God that we did get to meet them, to recognise the impact they had on us, and the legacy that they've left in our lives. God commands us to "give thanks in all circumstances" so let's do that. Val, Mo and Michael were an incredible gift to so many of us. Let's be thankful for the life God breathed into each of them, for the time and energy they invested in many of us, for the love and the gifts God gave them, for their generosity, their courage and whatever else God brings to mind as you think about them.

Secondly God would encourage each one of us to begin to step into the void which Val, Mo and Michael have left. Somebody wrote to me this week to say what a father figure Michael had been to him. I wrote back encouraging him to take that legacy, and rather than mourning the loss of that input into his life begin to think about how he can now begin to be a father to those around him. The natural progression of life is that sons and daughters grow up to become fathers and mothers. That's what God wants from those of us who have benefitted from Val, Mo and Michael being spiritual mothers and fathers to us. We now need to be those who step into the gap they have left. We'll each do that in our own unique way based on who we are and how God has gifted us. God isn't looking from clones of Val, Mo or Michael but for people willing to be who God has created them to be. As we do that the church will flourish and grow into the next generation.

And for those of you who didn't know any of these three, there will be people in your world who have been spiritual mothers and fathers to you too. Please take time to thank God for them, and to think about how God wants you to be to others what they have been to you.

I hope that's helped somebody.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Michael Ross-Watson

Earlier today I got a message from Esther Ross-Watson to let us know that at 6.28am this morning Singapore time her husband Michael had passed away. Although Michael has been battling cancer for some time now, the recent news about how his treatement was progressing had been positive, so I know that this will be a shock to many of us.

I will always count having known Michael as one of the greatest privileges in my life. I know when I first met Michael I struggled to believe some of the stories he told of God's provision and the ways God had used him, simply because they sounded so amazing. However, the longer I knew him the more I got to know that not only were all the stories he told me absolutely true, but they were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all he had experienced in God. I've rarely met anyone with such a strong pastoral heart, with such faith for incredible acts of generosity, with so many stories of God repaying him and Esther for their generosity, and with such faith and joy in the face of adversity. I will treasure my coffees and lunches with him and the times he both encouraged and challenged me. I will never forget his acts of generosity, both the small ones such as when he bought blankets for all the academy students because he'd heard they were getting cold in the classroom, to giving away thousands of pounds when he had no idea where the money was coming from. He was one of a kind, and we will deeply miss him.

From what Esther has told me the wake and funeral will be held in Singapore over the next few days to allow all their Singaporean, Indonesian and Australian friends to attend. I fully expect that once Esther is back in the UK there will be a thanksgiving service where we can all come together to thank God for Michael and what he meant to so many of us. I'll let you all know once we have those details.

As I heard the news of Michael I was reminded of the words of Job "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21). Let us praise God as we reflect on the gift Michael was to so many of us, and let us continue to praise God as we process our grief over him no longer being with us.

Please be praying for Esther, for their children Angie and Tim, and for all of us around the globe who will be mourning the loss of this amazing man of God.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Opening of the Serenje Special Needs Classroom

I got an amazing reminder of just a small part of the legacy of Mo Davies when I received an email this week about the opening of a classroom for children with special needs in Serenje, Zambia.

A number of years ago Mo travelled to visit the HIV/AIDS project we as a church supported in partnership with Tearfund in Serenje. Whilst there she was introduced to the deputy headmistress of one of the local schools who mentioned her dream to have a classroom specifically for special needs children. At that time for most children with special needs in Serenje there was no provision whatsoever, and for those who did get help it meant them moving to a specialist school hundreds of miles away from Serenje.

Mo felt God saying “you can help" so she began fundraising, until she was diagnosed with Myeloma. At this point her husband Ben took up the challenge, and at the age of 76 he undertook a 1,130 km bike ride across Europe to raise money. Between them they raised an amazing £11,907 which was enough to both build and equip the classroom.

The pictures show the handover of the special needs classroom to the government through the District Commisioner, as well as some of the children who will benefit from the provision.

Jesus taught us not to store up treasure on earth which is temporal, but to store up treasure in heaven which is eternal. God's treasure is people, and Ben and Mo (and all those who supported them) have made an incredibly wise eternal investment in these children and their education. Let them be an inspiration to all of us.

Simon