Sunday, July 31, 2011

Facilities Manager Job Vacancy

If you were in church today you'll have heard me mention that Jon Turner, who has been in charge of our facilities for the last three years, has decided that it's time to move on to a fresh challenge. I'm incredibly grateful to Jon for all that he has done, and it's been a real privilege to watch him grow and develop over the last few years. Jon and his family are going to be staying in Kerith - let's be praying for them as they step into this new season of life.

Jon's pending departure means that we are on the look out for a new facilities manager. The role involves looking after all aspects of the upkeep of both the Kerith Centre and K2, including maintenance, room setup, cleaning and decorating. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in finding more about the job then please email Ali Hudell who will be able to send you a job description and application form.

Applications need to be in by the 26th August. Interviews will take place in early September.

Let's be praying for us to find the right person for this role, which is vital to our community functioning well.

Simon.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Reception Photos

I thought you might enjoy these photos of the reception works in progress. You can already see it starting to take shape with the building of the new reception area starting.

A prize to anyone who can work out where each of the photos was taken from - some of the views are through what used to be walls, which makes it all the more confusing!

These photos were taken by Penny Lander on Thursday as she met with the site manager to review progress - more should have been done by the time we get to see it on Sunday.

Simon.







Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reception Work in Full Swing

This week has seen the work on reception quite literally start with a bang (trying to work in the office on Tuesday almost required ear defenders), as the builders moved in to remove the old reception desk and bookshop, knock down a number of walls and generally create havoc in our much loved reception area! On Sunday you'll be able to see what has happened so far as you walk through reception (remember all drinks will be served in the auditorium, and the doors won't open until 6.15 on Sunday evening).

Just to update you on a couple of more details you might need to know as the work progresses.

We aren't going to be able to process debit/credit card giving until the project finishes. Our card giving machine is linked (for anti-fraud reasons) to an analogue phone line in reception which is unavailable for the duration of the project.  If people do give by putting their card details on a giving envelope then those will get processed at the end of August. I mention this particularly as I suspect a number of people will want to give to Canon Andrew White when he comes to us on Sunday night - you might want to bring one of those old fashioned cheque books! Online giving is still also available via the website.

Secondly the Thursday morning 6-7am finance prayer meeting will be in the K2 lounge for the length of the project, and will carry on through the whole of August. Ben Davies will be leading the days when I can't be there.

I'll keep blogging with anything else which changes over the next few weeks. Just remember that flexibility is the name of the game!

Simon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book GLS Before Sunday for Cheapest Rates

For all my non Kerith readers, this is a reminder that the cheapest rate for booking in to the Willow GLS we host on 7th & 8th October ends this Sunday, the 31st July. Full details on the various price breaks, and booking details, are here. If you want to stay over on the Friday night we've also got a great deal at one of the best local hotels, email reception for details on how to book that.

If you're a WCA member and bring at least 5 people you can get in to the conference for as little as £47 each. That's an incredibly good investment in you and your team - I encourage you to sign up now. If you can't make it to Bracknell then there are a host of other UK venues and dates, all of which will give you a great experience.

For all Kerith regulars you can get in at a special Kerith rate, which is available up until the day of the conference. To book in at that rate you'll need to register in person at the Kerith Centre reception.

I head off to Chicago with a number of people from Kerith and beyond to see the 'live' version of the summit a week on Tuesday - I'll be blogging and tweeting through the conference if you want to know how it's going. Having seen the speaker line up I'm sure it's going to be a great event, both live and via video, so please come if you possibly can.

This year we'll also have around 40 people coming from overseas to see how we run the Summit in Bracknell, before they take it back to their own nations. This includes people from Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Portugal and the Faroe Islands! Very exciting.

Hope to see you in Bracknell on the 7th & 8th October.

Simon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What a Weekend

Often I write an email at this point on a Monday reflecting on all the great things that went on over the weekend. I'd love to do that now, but sadly I wan't around for any of the weekend to have observed any of it.

It's been a really busy three or four weeks for me. Preaching, an overseas trip, several trips to London and two different days down in Brighton, numerous meetings including the bank manager, the town planners, a morning with our MP and a breakfast with leaders from Yateley, the Stand, singing at Real(!),  early mornings and late nights and much more.

Over the last few years I've learnt so much about the rhythm of life, and the importance of Sabbath, but this time I thought I could keep going until our first holiday of the summer (a week today). However, I knew that wasn't going to happen when on Friday morning I couldn't remember the name of one of our team (sorry Yvonne!). So I've spent most of the weekend horizontal, with my body saying to me if you won't stop then I'm going to force you to, and it did! This used to happen to me every two or three months, but over the last two years I've learnt to spot the warning signs earlier and take action - this time I didn't.

So why am I telling you this?

First because I always want to be honest and real about my life. I'm not "super pastor", I'm just human, fallible, broken Simon (who Jesus loves very much). Please don't ever put me on a pedestal, or make me out to be something I'm not (sorry if that's shattered any illusions!).

Secondly to reflect that Kerith isn't centered around me, and never should be. We have an amazing God, who must always be our focus, but I also serve with an incredible team. Catrina brought back great reports on Lincoln leading the wedding brilliantly on Saturday, Michael preaching so well on Sunday, the band and tech teams serving everyone so well over the weekend, Ben & Mo speaking and praying with passion for Bob and Averil on their golden wedding anniversary, record numbers of children in K2 served so well by our Kids teams - I could go on. You are an amazing bunch of people.

Thirdly that in the Autumn I'm going to do a series of sermons on "Doing Life Well". We're going to start looking at the rhythm of life and Sabbath - this weekend shows that I need to preach these as much to myself as to everyone else!

And finally that I love being in a community that cares for me. I had lots of messages asking how I was, and not a single one from anyone complaining that I'd let them down or caused them to have to step in and do more - which I know was the case. Thank you.

In case you want to know I'm feeling loads better today, looking forward to the week and then holiday in a weeks time.

Simon (doing my best to follow Jesus, and being forgiven when I mess up!)

Building Begins

Building work starts on the reception area today! It's been an amazingly short time from deciding we were going to make the changes to work actually starting - please pray that all will go well with every aspect of the project, and that God will speak to the builders as they are around the building and interact with all of the team.

Just a reminder to anyone wanting to come to the Kerith Centre during the week that the office will be open as usual, but to get in you'll need to go round to the side door and press the buzzer. You'll also still be able to ring in on the main reception number if you need to get hold of anyone. The whole of the reception area and Kerith Centre lounge will be out of use during the week, foodbank will operate from under the auditorium.

On Sundays the only addition to the information in my previous blog is that we will have no use of the Kerith Centre lounge area on Sundays. Can I encourage everyone when they turn up on a Sunday to come into the auditorium and grab a drink, even if you normally sit up on the balcony.

Work is due to finish in time for Ben and Heather's wedding on the 27th August (let's pray for their sake that it finishes on time!).

These changes are going to make a huge change to our building, the welcome it provides and all that we are able to do with it - well worth the inconvenience we are all going to face over the next few weeks.

Simon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Act for Justice - Clothes Sale

Those of us who were at "The Stand" last Saturday, or heard Ben Cooley speak when he came to us earlier this year, will know about the amazing work of Hope for Justice, an organisation committed to rescuing victims of human trafficking in the UK.

At Kerith we have an Act for Justice group, lead by Lianne Allen, which aims to promote the work of Hope for Justice locally. They do this in a number of ways, including praying for Hope for Justice, raising awareness of the issues around human trafficking, lobbying parliament and fundraising (if you want to know more about the group then contact Lianne by sending her an email here).

As part of their fundraising they are going to hold a children's clothes sale in K2 on Saturday 3rd September, from 10am-1pm. If you have any unwanted children's clothes which you could donate for the sale then they would love to have them. There is a blue recycling bin, with Act for Justice written on it, which is outside The Studio - the building on the Kerith Centre car park which isn't the Kerith Centre!

We know as a church that money is one of the keys to growth. That is just as true for Hope for Justice. More money means more investigators, which means more people getting rescued - it's as simple as that. So please support this if you can, either by donating clothes or coming and buying them on the 3rd. Or maybe you just want to give money directly - you can do that here.

Thank you so much.

Simon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

RockNations - Recruiters Required

Rocknations is the event which our young people go to every August, and which for many of them has proved to be a life changing few days. We have this strange effect every year where lots of people book in at the last minute (which is actually true for just about every event we run - just talk to my wife Catrina about the women's REAL conference!). 

For Rocknations the last minute booking really causes us problems, as we have to order hotel rooms, coaches and lots of other stuff in advance. So please can I ask you to do the following:
  • If you're a young person, and you think you're going to Rocknations, just check with your parents that they have actually booked you in!
  • If you're a young person, and you want to go to Rocknations, talk to your parents, get a booking form and get booked in asap.
  • If you're a parent and you've already booked your young people in - thank you so much!
  • If you're a parent with young people not coming then please encourage them to go - they'll love it and so will you!
  • Encourage friends with young people to get them to go to Rocknations.
  • Talk to any young people you know about going.
Money shouldn't be a barrier to anyone coming - if it is, or if you have any other questions, then please speak to either Liam Parker or Lorraine Wade who would love to answer any questions.

Let's be praying for all the young people, from all around the nation, who will be going to Rocknations and similar youth events over the summer. The God would raise up an army of young people who will follow Jesus with everything they have, and transform our nation for Him.

Simon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Try and guess where this is going!

Thanks to Michael Ross-Watson who sent me this - hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Simon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Next Two Sundays

Many people I meet at the moment have that "end of term" feeling (me included), looking forward to the schools breaking up, the summer holidays starting and everything slowing down for a few weeks (although don't say that in the hearing of anyone involved with the reception redevelopment or our summer holiday special needs respite clubs!).

Well I want you to know that there's no "end of term" feel to our Sundays over the next two weeks.

This Sunday (24th July) Michael Ross-Watson will be speaking at all three meetings. For anyone who doesn't know Michael, he and his wife Esther have worked as missionaries into Indonesia for many years, and they are two of the most God filled people I have ever met. I've seen Michael's message outlines for both the morning and the evening (he's preaching two different messages) and you won't want to miss either.

Then on the 31st July I'll be wrapping up the Old Testament series in the morning, and in the evening Canon Andrew White will be with us again. For most of us Andrew needs no introduction, but for any who haven't heard of him he leads a church in Baghdad and is simply unique in terms of who he is and the way he brings the presence of God - not to be missed.

Hope to catch you over the next two weeks.

Simon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Redigging Old Wells

I preached a while ago on how when we face problems produced by growth God wants us, as well as doing some new things, to also go back to doing some old things we used to do. One of things I sense God has called us back to is to have an early morning prayer meeting for money.

We used to have one of these when we were building and paying for the Kerith Centre. Mostly it was from 6-7 on a Wednesday morning, but at some points when the need for money became urgent it was happening every weekday. At the time Catrina and I were living in a one bedroom flat in Reading, and I well remember getting up at 5am every Wednesday morning to drive over to Bracknell to pray for an hour, before heading back to Reading where I would catch a train to Oxford and Catrina would get a train to Paddington. At the time our own personal finances weren't in a great place, having got into debt to pay for our wedding and struggling to pay the mortgage on our flat with interest rates up around 15%. Through going to that prayer meeting I know that God built our faith for money, and we saw amazing answers to prayer, both for us as a couple and for the church.

So three weeks ago we 'restarted' the money prayer meeting, from 6-7am on Thursdays in the Kerith Centre Reception area (it will have to move somewhere else from next week - I'll let you know when we work out a new venue). The Sunday after we first met was the Sunday we got over £200,000 pledged in interest free loans - a pretty direct answer to our prayers from the previous Thursday.

So I want to invite you to come and join us. Especially if like me and Catrina 22 years ago you are in a place where you need to know financial breakthrough in your life. Faith grows as we cry out to God, and as we see God answer our individual and community prayers. Maybe you've never felt able to pray for money before, well now is the moment to learn. We've had about a dozen of us each week so far, it would be great to see those numbers grow as the weeks go by.

Also a reminder that it's prayer meetings this week from 8-9.45pm in K2 on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll be at all three prayer meetings this week, so hope to catch you in at least one of them :-)

Simon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reception Rebuild Information

Next Monday works starts on all the changes to the Kerith Centre Reception. I wanted to quickly let you know what this is going to mean for the 5 weeks (Monday 25th July to Friday 26th August) which the building work is going to take.

The main thing to say is that the Kerith Centre will be open throughout the building work. People coming midweek will need to buzz at the side door - there will be signs to direct them. Foodbank will still operate, based in the auditorium by the kitchen.

On Sundays 31st July, 7th, 14th and 21st August the main doors will be open as usual from 8.30am. In the evenings the main doors will be open from 6.15pm, 15 minutes later than normal. Temporary walls will block off working areas, and we will have access to the auditorium, the toilets and the balcony via the main doors and through reception.

Discover Kerith will operate as usual on Sunday mornings. On Sunday evenings, the sofas will be in the auditorium rather than in reception. Let's all especially look out for visitors in order to explain to them what is happening.

For Sunday servers - you will be hearing about special arrangements from Sue Ranger affecting welcome teams, reception and drinks servers. Worship and tech teams - look out for information from Helen Cottee and Colin Boyle. If you are serving and arrive before the building has been unlocked please go to the main doors and wait to be let in. The corridor past the toilets leading to the side door will be blocked off on Sundays, so you cannot buzz at the side door to be let in.

On Sundays, anyone needing to use accessible toilet will need to go over to K2. Welcome team will be on hand to help you go over there if you need that. Other ground floor toilets will be open in the Kerith Centre.

Drinks will be only be served from the kitchen on Sundays - before and after all 3 meetings - with evening coffee bar at the kitchen. Even if you are going to sit in the balcony, come and grab a drink from the kitchen first. There won't be a drinking water point in Reception.

There will be a temporary reception desk on Sundays, with friendly receptionists still there to help you, and a limited temporary literature stand. The Bookshop will re-open on September 4th.

Parking will be unaffected on Sundays. However anyone coming to the Kerith Centre midweek, please be aware that parking may be limited as there will be many delivery vehicles coming and going. K2 will be reserved for parking for the respite Holiday Club. If you normally use the site to park and walk into town, please try and avoid doing that during building work.

I hope that all makes sense. The bottom line is that we are going to try and make it "business as usual" as far as possible. If you do have any questions then you are best off directing them to Penny Lander, who is doing a great job of managing the whole process.

I'm so looking forward to September when we'll get to enjoy all the new facilities!

Simon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life on Tour

This Friday our weekly youth event, LIFE, is going on tour. Rather than meeting in the Kerith Centre, Liam and the team are taking the whole event to Yateley. We will be bussing a whole load of our young people over there, as well as gathering young people from Yateley - you can find a whole load more details here.

This is all part of our vision as a community to be a blessing, not only to Bracknell but to the wider communities and ultimately to the nations. I'm so proud of our youth team, lead by Liam Parker, for all that they are doing and the lives that are being changed through them. Let's be praying for our team on Friday night as they lead the event, for the young people of Yateley to be impacted, and for the churches in Yateley to be blessed and built up through this, and through future events we run.

Simon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Stand

Many of you will have been here earlier this year when Ben Cooley came and inspired us as he spoke about the charity he heads up, Hope for Justice, and their mission to eradicate human trafficking in the UK and Europe

This Saturday evening we are hosting an event for Hope for Justice called The Stand. I really want to encourage you to come along and be part of the event, support Hope for Justice and find more about how you can get involved in eradicating this evil trade in human lives. It should be a great evening with two different bands and Ben Cooley speaking (plus, for all you soap fans, Tom Lister from Emmerdale!).

There are more details on the event, and on how to register, here. Sue Ranger is also still looking for some more volunteers for a variety of roles on the day - contact Sue if you would be able to help with that.

Hope to see you on Saturday.

Simon.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lithuania Reflections

In this picture are Daiva and Leon, who have come over to Lithuania with me, and Saulias who leads the church here, with his wife Sanna and two of their three children.

In the background is the building where the church here meets. It is an old communist hotel, which the church bought a number of years ago. Over the last few years they've been gradually renovating it room by room. They've recently completed the chapel which is where they meet on Sunday. It's interesting in that it's in the shape of a cross, with the stage at the top of the cross and chairs down all three 'arms'. That means you have to remember to look three ways as you speak, even more complex than trying to look at all the different sections in the Kerith Centre!

Saulius is an inspiring and fresh thinking leader. The church gathers about 200 people on a Sunday and packs out the chapel with standing room only and an overflow (one of the things I've talked to them about is moving to multiple meetings). Preaching is in Lithuanian with live translation into English and Russian, reflecting the national diversity of their community. They also have a great mix of ages with loads of teenagers, singles, married couples with children and older people. The worship is mostly songs that we would have sung in the past but in Lithuanian.

Our relationship with them began when a group from their church came over to our first Real conference, and ever since we've tried to work with them in whatever way we can. Most recently this has included us helping them to run the first Willow GLS in the country. From September a number of their young people will be coming over to join the Academy for a year - very exciting.

I've had various meetings with their leaders, the elders, and preaching this morning, as well as spending time with Saulius. The way they 'do church' would be very similar to us, meaning we all feel very at home here. It's also been great being with Leon and Daiva. I think it's been very interesting for Daiva who is Lithuanian but has only ever gone to church in England. For her this has been the first time she's been able to worship and hear people pray in Lithuanian. They are a great couple, and I think God has big plans ahead for them.

Please know that if you are part of Kerith then through your giving and releasing of leadership you are part of what we are able to do here. You might even get to come over here next year, as over the summer they have working parties who come from the USA to work on the building - I'd love to have a Kerith team come over next year.

Simon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baptisms & Picnics

Just a reminder (all the way from Lithunia!) that it's baptisms this weekend. There are people being baptised at all three meetings, and different preachers each time (Ben Oliver at the 9am, Andy Jackson at the 11 and Lydia Harris-Lane at the 7) so why not get to more than one meeting as these are always such great celebrations.

It's also the church picnic from 1.30pm - 5.00 pm at Oakwood Youth Challenge in the afternoon. More details will be given out in the morning meetings, or just turn up with your picnic for an afternoon of chat, games and death defying activities!

I'm gutted to be missing it all, but look forward to hearing how it all went when I get back from Lithuania on Monday.

Simon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lithuania Bound

Please be praying for me as I'm flying out to Lithuania this morning to spend a weekend with the church we work with there in Klaipeda. Many of you will have met Saulius, his wife Sanna and other people from their church when they've come over for to Bracknell for Willow events and some of the past Real conferences. Ben Davies, Ken Bothamley, Lee Layton-Matthews and a youth team have also been out there, but this will be the first time I've visited. I'll be meeting with their leaders, as well as speaking to the whole church on Sunday.

Some of our Academy students are already out there - it will be fun to see them in a different context. I'm flying out with Leon and Daiva Johnson. For those of you who don't know them they've lead Alpha for the last couple of years, and Diva is Lithuanian so should be a real asset out there. They are a great couple, and I'm looking forward to spending time with them too.

I'm being picked up tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 3am for a 7am flight from Stanstead, so if you pray for nothing else please ask for energy for all of us! But more than that please pray we'll know God's presence with us, and will be a real blessing to all of the people out there.

Simon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Magnanimous

Our worship team have just done a new CD, which we are giving away for free! Hopefully if you were around at the Real women's conference, or on Sunday, then you'll have picked up a copy, but if not please make sure to grab one next time you're in the building. Please also take copies to give to friends, neighbours, people you know in other churches, anyone who you think might enjoy and benefit from listening to it.

If you're not able to get to the Kerith Centre then you can listen to the songs by following this link and then clicking on "BandPage" on the left hand side of the screen. We'll get them onto the Kerith website in a more easily accessible location soon.

Sheet music for the songs is also available for free from the Kerith Centre, and will be available online here in the next couple of days.

Usually in life when something is free it means it's either not very good, or it comes with a catch. In this case neither of those is true. All five songs are in my opinion outstanding, and reflect what God is doing in Kerith as a community. The production quality is superb too (hats off to everyone who put countless hours into making it all happen). And there really is no catch. Just enjoy listening to the songs and worshipping to them on your own, in your car, in your small group or if you're part of another church community in your church gatherings.

We have a regular stream of new songs coming through from a variety of songwriters. The plan is to do one of these CDs every six months or so - look for the next one coming out before the end of the year.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments or questions on the CD - please email them here.

Happy listening,

Simon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Answered Prayer

Well what a weekend. The Real women's conference was quite remarkable (at least the bits I sneaked in to were - other than one rather badly sung song!), and Rachel Hickson on Sunday brought such as sense of the presence of God in both the morning and the evening. So exciting to see God changing lives and moving and working in so many people, and for me most exciting that there were people making first time commitments to follow Jesus. If you have a story of how God moved in you or spoke to you over the weekend we'd love to hear it.

So many prayers were answered over the weekend, but I thought you might like an update on one particular thing we've been praying for, the money for the auditorium and reception improvements.

If you were around on Sunday you'll have heard me say we've already raised over £175,000 in the gift days so far this year (thank you so much to everyone who has given so generously). However, the total cost of the project is round about £410,000, meaning we were looking at needing a bank loan of around £235,000. On Sunday I asked if there were people who would be willing to make interest free loans to save us having to borrow from the bank, and since then over £115,000 has been pledged as interest free loans. That means that we now need only need to borrow £120,000 which will save us so much on both the arrangement fee for the loan, and on the interest. Again thank you so much to everyone willing to get involved in this

I'm going to continue to pray that we won't actually need to borrow any money from the bank. To that end I'd love to invite you to come and pray on Thursday morning from 6am for an hour in the Kerith Centre reception. There were 11 of us there last week and we had a great time asking God to break in both financially and with people being saved - both prayers which were answered last weekend. I won't be there on Thursday as I'll be on the way to Lithuania to visit the church we work with there, so Ben Davies will be leading the prayer meeting and I'll be praying from the Stanstead departure lounge!

Also if there is anyone who could help us with a loan to reduce the £120,000 further then please let Helen Dodwell know (Helen told me she got quite emotional today as she spoke to people offering to lend money - I love us having someone overseeing our finances who is moved as God begins to move).

People might ask why I'm grateful to God for answering prayer when it seems to be people who have done all this? In answer I'm reminded of the prayer I read a couple of weeks ago from 1 Chronicles 29 where David is reflecting on himself and the people giving all the resource required to build the temple.

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you." (1 Chron 29:14-17)

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.