Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Foodbank Update

I thought you might be interested to see this update from Pat & Geoff Hallett on how the Foodbank has been going.

Up until recently we've been renting a storage facility in Wokingham for the food we can't store in The Kerith Centre. The store in Hanworth referred to by Pat & Geoff is a storage facility which Bracknell Forest Homes have made available to us for free - fantastic isn't it!

The Foodbank is entirely staffed by volunteers. If you have any time available I know Pat would love to hear from you, whether it's sorting and storing food, meeting clients, praying or just telling the current team what a fantastic job they're doing!

Simon.

--------
Dear friends and colleagues

This is a brief update to let you know how the Foodbank has been growing over the past 4+ months since our launch date of September 23rd last.

During that time 3,000 meals have been distributed to 328 adults and 91 children through 126 agency-identified clients. Our joint clients come to the Foodbank via 24 statutory or voluntary agencies within the town or area.

Thank you so much for your support, it has made a large positive difference to the 400+ people many of whom have expressed their gratitude either at the time or some time later. A major contribution to the success has been the marvellous response made by our Primary and Infant schools. Since last Autumn’s Harvest Festival the schools have brought 3.3 tonne of food which has formed the backbone of giving through the Winter. Now we have to concentrate on a stock replenishment programme for this Lent period and into the Spring and Summer months.

Bracknell Foodbank is run by volunteers so if any of you would like to help out either on the days we are open at the Kerith Centre (Mondays and Thursdays between 11am and 2pm) or at our new store in Hanworth (made available through the good auspices of Bracknell Forest Homes) then please let us know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Full On Week Ahead

Prayer meetings Wednesday and Thursday, John Burke conference on Friday, John Burke preaching Sunday morning and Lee leading a movie themed Sunday evening meeting. Get to as much as you can, enjoy whatever you're doing if you can't be there and remember Jesus walks with you into every situation you face this week.

And please be remembering to complete the Reveal questionnaire. We need as many people as possible to do it. Don't rely on your friend / husband / wife / child / parent / life group leader / dog having completed it - do it yourself and let your voice be heard. You can find the link to the survey off the church website or in my previous blog.

Have a great week.

Simon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Reveal Questionnaire Revealed

We've now got the link to the online Willow Creek Reveal Questionnaire up and running - click here to complete it.

I've just done it on my iPhone and it took me about half an hour to complete - it should be quicker and easier on a full size screen!

I really want to encourage everyone who is part of our Kerith community to complete the questionnaire - even if you wouldn't yet call yourself a follower of Jesus. And don't feel any pressure to be 'nice' - we really want to get an accurate assesment of where we are at as a church.

You've got until Monday 8th March to complete the survey, but please can I encourage you to do it as soon as possible. We want people without internet access to be able to complete the survey too, so if you know someone in that category can you either help them yourself or contact the office so someone there can help them.

We will get the survey results back in early April - I'll be looking to share them with the church after Easter.

Thanks in advance to everyone who takes time to complete the questionnaire.

Simon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Karena Mackay

Karena Mackay, a wonderful friend to many of us, died at 8pm this evening. There are lots of things I could say about Karena, but instead I encourage you to read what her husband Craig has written on his moving and poignant blog.

Simon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Haiti Blog

Jacqui Webber-Gant has now set up a blog where she is posting updates from Lindsey Reece-Smith in Haiti. Rather than duplicating the information on my blog why not sign up for email updates from Lindsey's blog.

A huge thank you to Jacqui who does hours of work behind the scenes making all of this sort of thing as well as the church website as great as it is. Please take the chance to thank Jacqui for all she does next time you see her.

I'm going to be writing a blog soon on us embracing technology as a church community. Blogs like this are a great example of how web technology can be used to give us all up to date information on events taking place thousands of miles away.

Simon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Praying for Lindsey

Lindsey Reece-Smith has now been out in Haiti for just over two weeks. I spoke to her on Sunday night and asked her what we could be praying for. She mentioned the following:

Pray for safety for all the team. There have been riots, especially around some of the food distribution points, so let's ask God to keep the team safe as well as restoring law and order in Haiti.

Pray for the pastors, especially as they try to unpack the theology of why God has allowed this to happen and how people should respond. Pray for them also as they deal with their own emotions and loss at the same time as shepherding their people.

Pray for the Tearfund team working in a rural area called Leogane, that they would really be able to make a difference to the lives of people there.

Pray for improved communications. Currently the only internet access is via a satellite phone which is incredibly slow - no facebook!

Finally let's pray for Lindsey that she would be able to make a real difference in terms of pulling together all the different agencies she's working with. She's out there for another six weeks, let's pray she stays strong and she is able to cope with all the devastation she is experiencing whilst bringing a message of hope.

Finally those of you who are marmite lovers will be pleased to know we've arranged for a big jar of marmite to go out to Lindsey!

Simon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kerith Revealed - Facts are Friends

One of Bill Hybels most memorable sayings (or as he calls them Axioms) is "Facts are Friends". So often we run away from the facts, afraid of what they are going to tell us, whereas instead we should embrace them as once we know where where we're at we can begin to make the journey to where we want to be.

That's true on a personal level, where those facts may be the reading from the bathroom scales, our bank balance or what our friends really think of us! It's true for companies where those facts may be the sales figures, the profit margin or what customers really think. And it's true for churches where those facts may be what people think of the church, whether people are growing in their relationship with Christ and which ministries are working and which ones aren't. We all might like to close our eyes to the facts, but the reality is that they really are our friends.

So we want as a church community to get the facts on where we're really at, and in that to give everyone a voice. To do that we've signed up to do a survey called Reveal, which was developed by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The survey has been used extensively in the US, but we'll be one of the first churches in the UK to get to do it. It's an online survey which takes about 30-35 minutes to complete and which we'd like as many people as possible to do. You'll be able to do the survey between Saturday 20th February and Friday 5th March.

Nearer to the 20th February I'll send out a link to the survey so that everyone can complete it. Some time after we've all done the survey (I'm not exactly sure how long) I'll get a report back from Willow on how we're doing. I'll then find an opportunity to share that with the whole church (unless it's really bad, in which case I'll set fire to it and pretend it got lost in the post!).

I'll send out more details nearer the time, but just wanted to give you early warning of what I hope is going to be a really exciting opportunity for us all.

Simon.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Choose Where You're Planted - The Finance Choice

Last week it was announced that the UK is officially out of the deepest recession since the Second World War. In many ways that's good news. Good news for people looking for jobs, good news for employees in companies which have struggled through the recession, good news for people who own businesses, good news for people in sales and their bonuses and annoyingly good news for the bankers now returning to their exorbitant bonuses!

But I have a huge concern that we've failed to learn the real lessons of this recession. That at the root of the recession was a belief that a debt fuelled lifestyle is the way to go. We've bought into the belief as individuals, as companies and as nations (and even as churches) that debt is the way to go, and it really does make sense to get stuff today and hope we can pay for it tomorrow - "For everything else there's Barclycard" could be a tag line for our generation. I do fear that if we don't learn the lessons of this recession then in a few years time we could be in a much worth place, both individually and as nations.

So now is a great time to get well planted financially. That doesn't happen by accident. So here are my three steps to being well planted in 2010.

First be honest about where you're at. Paul wrote to the church in Rome "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another". That's a great starting point for being well planted financially. Are you in trouble and just sticking your head in the sand - if so then admit to yourself, to some friends you can trust and to God. Don't struggle on in isolation, church is a safe community for all of us to be honest and open about whatever it is we're struggling with.

Secondly believe that with God's help you can be well planted and begin to prosper. God isn't going to condemn you for where you're at, but give you all the help you need to get to a better place. We'd often just want God to drop a huge sum of money in our laps to sort everything out, but God often has lessons to teach us through financial hardship - that's been my experience anyway.

Thirdly come up with a plan. It's so true that if you fail to plan you plan to fail. So come up with a plan to get planted where you want to be. The core of financial planning is very simple - getting to a point where your income is bigger than your expenditure. But inevitably the details will be more complicated. You'll almost certainly need some help. That might be going to CAP for debt counselling, or doing a CAP money course. And then when you've got a plan continue to work it, even when you're tempted to give up or unexpected things happen.

There's so much more I could say, and perhaps will in a future blog. But for now can I encourage you to think seriously about your situation and what God might be saying to you in all this.

Be well planted and prosper!

Simon.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti Update

You might be interested to know that the offering for Haiti is now just over £6,200 with Gift Aid and a contribution from the Mission Tithe still to be added. That's a magnificent total - thanks so much to everyone who gave.

I also just got this update from Lindsey Reece-Smith in Haiti. Let's keep praying for her, as well as the people of Haiti and all the other relief workers out there.

Simon.
------------
The compound that we are camped on belongs to a church and we attended the church on Sunday. Although the pastor is American, and it is in the only English speaking church in Port au Prince, the vast majority of the congregation are Haitian. There were a few Americans, Canadians, Dutch and us from the UK.

The pastor relayed the story of when the earthquake had struck at 4.53pm on 12th Jan. The church and building had not been damaged, and an initial assessment of the library showed that not one book had fallen from the shelves. They were looking for medical supplies and the pastor turned back to have one last look in the library, he discovered that one book had fallen, face down. It was a copy of the bible and he picked it up to look at the passage. It was Jeremiah 19, the pastor spoke on the passage verses 3-4.

It was a very moving service where the pastor spoke of needing a second quake, to shake people’s souls and for faith to pour in and change the country.

Two young women also gave a testimony that at the time of the quake both were in separate parts of the town, they looked out over the city, from a roof top and a second floor window and sang the song City of God and then the quake happened. The congregation reflected on the power of God and the need to not return to 11/1/10 but to have a new beginning and to make changes for God.