Friday, November 28, 2014

Incident in K2

Some of you may have seen the report in the Bracknell News, read on social media or heard elsewhere about an assault taking place last week in our K2 building. Rather than letting the rumour mill run wild I wanted to let you all know first hand what happened, and what we're doing about it.

Last Thursday (20th November) Henry Forrest, one of our site services team, was working on his own in K2 when he saw two men come into the building who he didn't recognise. Henry challenged them and asked them what they wanted. They asked if there was any cash in the building. Henry replied that there wasn’t and told them they had to leave. As Henry was escorting them out of the building one of the two men turned and punched Henry, after which they left. Henry was left with a small cut on his cheek and was obviously shaken.

The incident was immediately reported to the police who have taken statements and have a description of the offenders. Hopefully they will be found and brought to justice.

Thankfully incidents like this are incredibly rare - as far as I'm aware this is the most serious incident we've had since the Kerith Centre or K2 were opened. Having said that the safety of people using our facilities is something I and the rest of the team take incredibly seriously. I never want us to be naive or complacent over safety, especially as we are increasingly dealing with a wider and wider cross section of society, and more and more widely known as a place where people can get help.

In terms of the safety of staff and volunteers, we were already in the process of taking a number of steps to increase our security, steps which we will now accelerate.

We are planning training for key staff and volunteers around how to best deal with difficult people, and with situations where they may start to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. We are looking to install CCTV in key areas, as a deterrent, to allow monitoring of what is happening around the buildings, and in order to provide evidence in the case of anything happening. We are also reviewing our processes around visitors who raise concerns or who become aggressive, and how receptionists and others can quickly get help if required.

We do have to strike a tricky balance of making our facilities welcoming and accessible for people who genuinely want and need to engage with all we do, whilst making sure it is a safe environment for all if someone chooses to abuse our welcome. We will keep reviewing what we do in order to make sure we get that balance right.

Let's also be praying for protection for all who use our buildings. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, so whilst we will take all the practical steps we can let us also be asking for God to defend us and fight for us.

Please let me know if you have any questions. If you hear people talking about the incident, please do your best to reassure them that our buildings are still safe places to be, that incidents like this one are taken very seriously even if they are rare, and that we are always looking to see where we need to strengthen our practices.

Simon.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From Here to Eternity - Thoughts on Hades

First of all thanks to everyone who has given me feedback on the Here to Eternity series we finished last weekend. It's always a bit scary as a preacher when we cover something as wide ranging, emotive and at times controversial as "what happens when we die and how to live in the light of that?". There are some topics people would have liked to hear more on, which we'll look to cover in future series, but from the comments it seems that overall we got the balance of what we covered and the overall tone about right.

One thing that did cause quite a bit of debate was me talking about hades. For many this was a totally new concept, others had a totally different idea to the one I outlined as to what hades is. At the end of the day it's not something we should get fixated on, the bigger picture is that our destiny is eternity with God in a resurrected body on a recreated earth. However, as part of his daily devotionals Michael Ross-Watson has written an extended devotional on Hades and Paradise which hopefully you'll find helpful.

If anyone else does have reflections on the series I'd love to hear them. Or if you've got other topics you'd like us to tackle I'd love to hear about those too.

Simon.

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Angela Moore - Radio Berkshire Interview

Many of you will know the amazing John and Angela Moore, who adpopted three children and then had triplets! Having experienced the (wonderful) chaos of our three children who arrived at nicely spaced intervals, I can only declare my total respect and admiration for John and Angela coming to terms with their children arriving in groups of three.

On Monday morning Angela was interviewed on BBC Radio Berkshire talking all about their experience. She sounds like she's being doing interviews all her life, and speaks incredibly powerful on being a mum, the power of adoption, her faith and why they've done what they've done. I really encourage you to take the time to listen to it.

You can hear Angela's interview here. It starts about 7 minutes into the programme and is just brilliant!

For anyone wanting to find out more about fostering and adoption take a look at our Kerith website, where there are links to a number of organisations we partner with.

Happy listening,

Simon.

 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dealing with Grief - Interview with Rick & Kay Warren

Yesterday, as the final part of our series From Here to Eternity, I spoke about how we deal with our own grief when those close to us die, and how we can help others who are grieving. Given the time available I was only able to touch on some of the issues this raises, but realise that most of us will face this issue multiple times in our lives, yet are often totally unprepared as to how to deal with it.

In order to go deeper I'd love to encourage all of us to watch the interview Rick and Kay Warren gave at the HTB leadership conference this year. In it they speak movingly of the suicide of their son, Matthew, how they have dealt with their own grief and the thing which others have done and said which have been both helpful and unhelpful. I can't imagine anything more painful than a parent dealing with the loss of a child - to hear the honesty and openness of Rick and Kay is both moving and very instructive for us all.

If you are working your way through the loss of someone close to you I'd also recommend signing up for our next bereavement course. Although we haven't got a date for the next course please fill in the application form and we'll let you know when the next course runs.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the From Here to Eternity series I'd love to hear them. I've really enjoyed preaching it - I hope you've got as much out of it as I have.

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.

 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From Here to Eternity - Making a Will

I spoke today about the vital importance of anyone who has assets, or children under the age of 18, making a will. If you don't then in the event of your death you could leave a huge mess behind for your loved ones to sort, at a time when they are probably least able to deal with it, and both your assets and your children may not end up where you'd have wanted. By making a will you can not only make your wishes clear but also specify funeral arrangements, gifts to charities and potentially reduce any inheritance tax.

It is vital to get professional advice when drawing up a will to ensure it is legal. There are lots of options for doing this - I thought I'd mention a few to help you get started. I obviously can't endorse any of these so I'll leave you to do your own research to choose the best option for you.

Martin Elliott is part of our community and runs a company called Thames Valley Wills, which as the name suggests specialises in producing will. He's offering a 10% discount on his normal fees for anyone from Kerith wanting to draw up a will.

Martin Lewis, who runs Money Saving Expert (and is also a big fan of CAP which is always going to endear him to me!), has on his website an advice page on drawing up a will.

Similarly the Law Society has a web page giving both advice and resources to help find a suitable solicitor.

Citizens Advice Bureau also have a page of advice on drawing up a will.

Finally CAP have some advice on leaving a legacy. If you are drawing up a will why not consider leaving legacies to Kerith, CAP or other organisations where your own personal legacy can continue into the future.

I strongly want to encourage you to draw up a will if you don't already have one, or if you do consider whether it needs to be updated.

Hope that helps,

Simon.

 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Andy Partington and Pesky Freepost

Many of you will have heard Andy Partington when he spoke a few weeks ago as part of our PURE series. In that talk he spoke about the plans he and his wife Mickey have to move out to Bolivia next year to establish a drug rehabilitation project called Novō. We also gave out leaflets which described the Novō project they are planning.

Andy & Mickey Partington have asked to let me know that there was a problem with the FREEPOST address on the response forms of their Novō leaflets, which means that any which peope completed haven’t been delivered to Andy & Mickey. If you completed a form Andy & Mickey are really sorry that they haven’t got back to you, and would be incredibly grateful if you could email them at andy@novocommunities.org to let them have your response that way. You can also take a look at Andy’s blog to find out more!

Although Novō isn't a Kerith project (it's a totally separate charity), as a community we are completely behind all that Andy and Mickey are planning to do. Please take a look at Andy's blog, and if you'd be interested in suporting them send them an email to express your support.

Thanks from me, and from Andy and Mickey.

Simon.

 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Prisons Week


This week is Prisons Week, a week of prayer for all those impacted by prison, whether that's as victims of crime, prisoners, their families, prison officers, chaplins, ex offenders or those working in the justice system.

If you were at the prayer meeting on Wednesday night you'll have heard Mel Woods tell an inspiring story of someone we've been helping as a community on their journey from prison back into society, who on the way has found a relationship with Jesus. How cool is that!

Kerith has two primary prison ministries, Sunday visits to various prisons in our area (headed up by Lee and Sonia Brett) and Restart, a mentoring for prisoners on their release. I realise that Restart may be new to many of us, so asked Mel to give some more infomation on it which I've included at the end of this blog.

As part of Restart we try to meet mentees out of prison with a ‘release pack’ – a bag of essentials eg shower gel, deodorant, towels, diary, Bible etc.

If you'd be interested in donating items for the release packs, getting involved in mentoring or joining the team doing prison visits please contact the team via email. They'd love to hear from you.

And please pray. If you're not sure what to pray for please pray for our teams, and take a look at the Prisons Week website for inspiration.

Hope you have a great weekend,

Simon.

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RESTART is our mentoring programme for those being released from prison, designed to help ex-offenders reintegrate back into their local community and move forward with their lives with the support of a mentor.

Approximately 68% of adult offenders re-offend within two years of release. Evidence suggests that appropriate support, and focusing on achieving goals in key areas, can reduce this re-offending rate significantly. We believe that as a Church community we are able to, and have a responsibility, to do something. As Jesus quoted (from Isaiah 61) "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…"

Kerith has linked with two charities in order to deliver this – New Leaf who work with short-term offenders in the Thames Valley area to reduce re-offending rates, and Caring for Ex-Offenders who aim to link those being released from prison with a local church for support. We also accept referrals from agencies in Bracknell, for example Bracknell Probation Service or Foodbank.

Our aim is to meet mentees at the gate on day of release in order to provide crucial support on that first day helping them settle back and attend necessary appointments. The mentor will then meet with them on a weekly basis for a minimum of 3 months in order to provide support and work through issues linked with their offending behaviour. Mentors can signpost their mentee to key local agencies and will also help them plan and work towards their goals, and can help them get specific advice in areas such as benefits, accommodation, healthy relationships, employment, alcohol and drugs, and debt as well as supporting them in their faith journey if they are interested.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Kerith Centre - Happy 25th Birthday!

Twenty five years ago today (Sunday 19th November 1989) the Kerith Centre was officially opened.

At the time it was a totally unheard of thing for a church to do. Virtually no churches a that time were building new buildings, particularly not on the scale of the Kerith Centre. At a total cost of 3.1 million pounds, paid for almost entirely by the congregation with many of them double tithing (giving 10% of their gross income to the church and 10% to the building fund), it made the national news in the UK. I remember the first few weeks with a different TV company there to film every Sunday and articles in national newpapers.

I was stood in the reception area today reflecting on all that has gone on over the last 25 years. All the different people who have been in the building in that time. All the Sundays, conferences and other events we've run. All the people who have come in to attend Alpha courses, Freedom in Christ, Job Club, Foodbank and the huge range of other minsitries which have been hosted in the building. All the parents and toddlers coming through the doors for Sparklers. All the weddings and funerals. All the lives changed. Amazing.

I felt a huge debt of gratitude to all who had the vision and the courage to go for such an outrageous project. In particular Ben Davies, without whom there would be no Kerith Centre, and everyone around him who got on board with the vision, prayed for it and paid for it. I pray that my generation will lead with the same courage, vision and sense of the bigness of God.

And I wondered what the next 25 years might hold. What things will we do in 25 years time that we couldn't dream of doing today. What new buildings will we have built. How many more lives will we have seen changed.

At the end of the day a building is only a tool. We don't worship buildings, but we can be grateful for them, and for the previous generations who have left them to us as a part of their legacy.

Happy birthday Kerith Centre!

Simon.

 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Social Justice Christmas Plans

Our social justice team have some great plans for blessing our clients over Christmas Christmas - I'd love you to think about how you could get involved in helping to make these plans a reality.

The team are highlighting specific individuals and families who need some help this Christmas. We will be blessing them in a few different ways – through survival packs, food hampers and presents for the children. There will also be a Christmas Party on the 6th December where we will watch a film together, enjoy some festive food and there may even be an appearance from Santa and his elves!

 

There are 4 different ways to help:

 

  1. Volunteer at the Christmas Party on the 6th December – welcoming, serving refreshments, chatting to people, dressing up as an elf… the party is between 2 and 5pm and we will also need volunteers to help set up and set down.
  2. Donate items for the survival packs – we would love wrapping paper, sellotape, gift tags, Christmas cards and Christmas crackers. Please bring donations to the Kerith Centre reception by 23rd November.
  3. Help collect donations from the Bracknell News Toys and Tins appeal collection points across town.
  4. Pray – that we would be able to bless clients during the Christmas season and that this would lead to great conversations and opportunities to invite people to church.

 

Please email the wonderful Pip Reeve for more information, and to let her know how you would like to get involved.

Thanks so much,

Simon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Prayer Meeting this Week

This Wednesday we've got our monthly prayer at 8pm in K2 on our Bracknell site.

Those who came to my talk on "7 Years a Senior Pastor" (if you missed it you can listen to it here) may remember that I spoke about the three things I felt God said to me when I started leading Kerith. These were:

  • Build a big church - pray and believe for churches of thousands
  • Be courageous - don't be afraid to do things differently to other churches
  • Be a cultural architect - focus more on the culture of Kerith than the structure or systems

We're going to use these three as a springboard for our praying on Wednesday. In that we'll also find time to pray for our Christmas events, pray for the persecuted church around the world and pray for one another.

If you're free then please plan to be there - in the light of eternity you won't regret it :)

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Some 2015 Dates

Unbelievably 2015 is rapidly approaching, and I know many of you will already be filling up your calendars. I wanted to let you know of a few Kerith events we know will be happening next year.

On Saturday 14th February Erwin McManus will be with us, doing a day conference based around his outstanding book The Artisan Soul (which I will get round to writing a review of it at some point!).

Erwin will also be with speaking with us on Sunday 15th February, which is brilliant. I know many of you will also be excited to hear that his wife Kim, who has spoken twice at REAL, is coming with him too :)

On Thursday 19th March we're going to be hosting a one day conference with James Emery White and a team from his church.

Many of you will know James from his previous visits. His specialism is analysing and understanding the culture we live in, and working out how we as churches can best engage with the culture. His church is pretty unique in that 70% of their growth has been through seeing unchurched people come to faith. At the conferences we'll hear not only from James but also from the people leading his kids, creative arts, communictions and welcome teams on how they've built a church which is reaching the culture so effectively.

If you're part of Kerith please think about coming along. If from another church I strongly encourage you to being a team to learn about how we can build churches which are truly going to transform the culture.

Thirdly, after the success of our youth's SummerLife 2014 they'll be doing it all again in 2015 (with a new logo I promise!). All the details will be coming out soon, but for all those parents looking to book summer holidays I wanted you to know that this year it will be on the 24th-28th August. This year they're going to a new venue, Grittleton House School in Wiltshire, which looks excellent. More details to follow.

Finally to let you know that we'll be hosting the Global Leadership Summit on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October. Please put those dates in your diary for what will be another outstanding leadership training event.

In the meantime get on with enjoying what is left of 2014 :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From Here to Eternity - To Live is Christ

Sunday is part two of our series From Here to Eternity. Last week I attempted to answer the question "What happens when I die?", looking at whether Paul's statement that "to die is gain" is really true - if you missed it you can listen to it here.

This week we're going to take a look at the other half of Paul's statement, which is "to live is Christ". How should knowing that our eternity is secure cause us to live and think differently in this life? I'm really looking forward to it - I hope you get as much out of hearing it as I have preparing it!

See you Sunday :)

Simon.

 

Monday, November 10, 2014

From Here to Eternity - Follow Up

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIVUK)

I realise that Sunday's talk on "What happens when I die?" both provoked lots of discussion and raised lots of questions. I love it when we do that, when we cause people to think, and to examine in depth what the Bible actually says on a given subject.

I wanted to suggest some things you might do in order to follow up on Sunday, and in particular the idea that eternity is not about us going to heaven to be with God, but God coming from heaven to be with us.

First a series of devotionals Michael Ross-Watson is writing to go with the series, which you can find and sign up for here. They provide excellent food for thought and teaching around many of the things we'll talk about in this series.

Secondly Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright (or as he's also known N. T. Wright). If you want a book to challenge your thinking, and give you a whole new prespective on eternity, then this is for you. I wouldn't agree with every conclusion he comes to, but that's probably because I've got it wrong! Having said that this book would concur with all that I taught on Sunday, and this would be a great resource to use to study each area I touched on in more detail.

Thirdly another book, Heaven: it's not the end of the world by David Lawrence. In many ways it's a less academic, easier to read version of Surprised by Hope, covering much of the same material.

Finally there may be some questions you'd like me to attempt to answer over the next two Sundays, or in a blog. If so please let me have them via email, Twitter, Facebook or any other way you can get them to me and I'll do my best to answer them.

Hope you have a great week.

Simon.

 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Turn £10 into £20 - Here's How

Would you like to give to the Social Justice ministries at Kerith, and in the process turn £10 into £20? You can do this by donating to Foodbank, CAP, Job Club, Release Groups, TLG Early Intervention, Prison Ministry, Social Justice Outreach, Konnections or One+ (or make a general donation to Social Justice) via this website. If you want to give to a particular ministry just write the name in the comments field when donating.

Any donation you make up to £10 will be matched pound for pound (if you want to donate more than £10, you can do this in separate payments of £10 each so that it all gets matched) and monthly donations of £10 per month will be matched for the next 6 months! Give £10 and our ministries will receive £20 to help change the lives of people living in Bracknell Forest.

There is a limited amount of matched funding, and it's going quickly, so so if you'd like to do this please do it soon! Everything you can give will make a difference in the lives of people who really need it, expressing God's love for them.

Thank you :)

Simon.

Friday, November 7, 2014

From Here to Eternity

On Sunday we start a three week series called "From Here to Eternity" based around Paul's statement "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).

This first week we're looking at answering the question "what happens when I die?". I've really benefitted from doing the preparation, I hope you get as much out of it as I have! We'll also be having a minutes silence in all 4 meetings as part of Remembrance Sunday.

Those of you who follow Michael Ross-Watson's Daily Devotionals will know that he's writing devotionals to go alongside this new series, if you haven't already then please think about signing up to have them emailed to you daily.

Hope to see you on Sunday.

Simon.

 

Sandhurst Men's Prayer Meeting

This morning (Friday 7th November) the guys at Kerith Sandhurst started a men’s prayer meeting running from 6.30-7.30am.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says ‘if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ All Kerith men are invited to gather at the Sandhurst Baptist Church Chapel (Yorktown Road, GU47 9BH) to pray for all areas of life. They'll be meeting every week up until Christmas, and then seeing what God will do after that. Why not decide to set that alarm a little earlier and go along next Friday.

It's so exciting to see growing numbers of activities springing up around our Sandhurst site. If you're part of our Bracknell site and you've never been to Sandhurst on a Sunday I'd really encourage to go and visit - 10am at Sandhurst School (Owlsmoor Road, GU47 OSD).

Simon.

 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kerith Christmas 2014

Christmas is rapidly approaching (how scary is that!), and this year we've got some great events to invite people to. Our Christmas publicity is available from today at church, but for anyone who didn't pick up a postcard here are the dates you need for your diary.

Please take a look at all the events, and be thinking about which ones to be inviting friends and neighbours to. There's something for everyone :)

Simon.

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Sunday 14th December - Carol Concerts at 9am & 11am at the Kerith Centre

Join us for the very best of Christmas - a meeting packed with all your favourite carols and creative elements focusing on the Hope of Christmas. All your favourite traditions with a contemporary twist.

Tuesday 16th December - Slingshot Theatre Company present ‘Nativity in Creakbottom’ in Sandhurst at 7.30pm

This year at Kerith we have a great opportunity to invite friends along to a pantomime with a difference. The Slingshot Theatre Company are based at the Coign Church in Woking and are bringing a hilarious Christmas comedy to our Sandhurst site. Tickets and more details are available here.

Sunday 21st December - Carol Concerts 10am Sandhurst & 6pm Bracknell

Another chance to see the carol concert we did at the 9am and 11am in Bracknell on the 14th December. Invite along all those friends who couldn't make it on the 14th!

Christmas Eve - "A Very Special Gift" 4pm Nativity

This afternoon production at the Kerith Centre is especially for families with young children. Come and watch the nativity story unfold with us, sing carols together and experience a host of other surprises.

Christmas Eve - 11pm Unplugged

Join us for a candlelit meeting at the Kerith Centre, which will conclude as we enter Christmas Day together! We’ll be blending the traditional with the contemporary as we focus on the true meaning of Christmas with acoustic worship, bible readings and a message.

Christmas Day - 10am

Kerith is gathering as one church at the Kerith Centre to celebrate Christmas Day together. This meeting feels like a crazy family gathering- kids showing off their presents, singing songs together and a Christmas message from me :)