Saturday, December 26, 2015

No Meetings on Sunday 27th December

One final reminder that we don't have any meetings on Sunday 27th December. Please don't turn up to either of our sites as there won't be anyone else there, which would be very sad!

I hope you had a great Christmas Day, and are managing to get some rest in the midst of all the busyness.

See you again on Sunday 3rd January as we kick off the New Year in style with our 4 regular Sunday gatherings (10am in Sandhurst; 9am, 11am and 6pm in Bracknell).

Happy Christmas :)

Simon.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Find Rhythm in the Christmas Season

It's 9am on Christmas Eve and we've only got three more meetings to go this year - 4pm and 11pm today and 10am on Christmas Day. The finishing line is in sight! It's been a really good year, especially with the impact of all the Christmas events and for me with my sabbatical earlier in the year, but like I suspect many of us I'm ready for a break.

Once it gets to 11.30am on Christmas morning and the last people have left the Kerith Centre we'll take the short drive home to enjoy a meal, films and games with just the five of us. On Boxing Day we'll have both of our wider families over for the day, then through to New Year we'll be relaxing with lots of dog walks, food, book reading, TV watching and not doing anything that looks like work! That for me will include turning off all my email (both Kerith and Hitachi), not writing any blogs, sermons or doing anything else work related (other than of course dealing with any genuine emergencies which come up).

I know that some of us don't get the luxury of stopping over Christmas, but for those of us who do please can I encourage us to make the most of the break. Life was designed by God to be lived with rhythm, times when we work hard and times when we rest. It's when we don't find that rhythm that we all go a bit cranky and start to get overstresed and not very pleasant people to be around! Remember the four elements of sabbath (stop, rest, contemplate and delight) and try to make sure you experience all of those over the coming days.

I believe 2016 is going to be an exciting year for us all, but we are only going to get the most out of it when we experience it from a place of rest. That starts with what we all do over the next few days.

Much love,

Simon.

ps For those who don't get to stop over the next few days, for whatever reason, thank you for what you do to allow the rest of us to take a break! But you too need to find time in the New Year where you too can stop, rest, contemplate and delight. Why not plan it in now :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday January 5th - All Leaders Meeting

I realise that we haven't even got past Christmas yet, but I wanted to get one date in your 2016 calendar before it fills up any more! On Tuesday 5th January starting at 7.45pm we've got an All Leaders Meeting at our K2 building in Bracknell. The invite is open to all Kerith leaders, aspiring leaders, and to anyone involved in our children's work.

We'll start the evening with coffee and tea, then I want to spend most of the evening talking about our vision for 2016. Much of this comes from things I felt God spoke to me about on my sabbatical last summer - it's going to be exciting for me to actually get to share it all to a wider audience. Amongst other things I want to share the 8 areas of church life we're going to focus on in 2016, some staff changes and some changes we're going to make in order to strengthen and grow our sites.

I will be sharing the vision with the wider church the following Sunday, but this meeting will give me the opportunity to talk about it in more detail, and with the opportunity to answer questions people may have. I hope to see you there!

I hope your final Christmas preparations are going well. If I don't see you in any of our remaining meetings this year then I'll use this opportunity to wish you a fabulous Christmas and New Year.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

If you made it along I really hope you enjoyed our Carols by Candlelight, which were attended by close to 2,000 people. We had a brilliant time today going through the response cards - a total of 776 of them, 240 of which were filled in by people who don't regularly go to church! The feedback was incredibly encouraging with some wonderful comments and reflections. We had 108 people saying that they prayed the salvation prayer for the first time, and 42 people saying they were interested in doing Alpha in the New Year. Our pastoral team have managed to email or phone everyone who gave us their contact details today. We also raised over £7,500 for our three charities, with some of the money still to be counted. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make the carol concerts so successful. We'll be doing them again next year!

But it's not all over for our Christmas programme, with three more meetings to go, all at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell. Parking for all of them for the able bodied is at Bracknell and Wokingham College, other than for the 11pm where we'll all squeeze in to the Kerith Centre site.

On Christmas Eve at 4pm we've got our ever popular family meeting. This year the nativity animals are going to be telling us the Christmas story, with carols, entertainment and a short message from Ben Oliver. We're also going to be having some real animals coming along, which children can pet if they get there before 4pm (there will be no petting the animals after the meeting).

On Christmas Eve at 11pm we've got our unplugged candlelit meeting where we can welcome in Christmas Day with Bible readings, acoustic worship and a message from Michael Ross-Watson.

Then on Christmas Day at 10am we get together to celebrate the birth of Jesus, sing carols, see what presents the children got and hear a short message from me. We'll also be taking up an offering, all the money from which will go to Create Hope, a local charity founded by our own Catherine Barrett which offers play therapy and therapeutic support to children, young people and families.

Finally a reminder that there are no meeting on Sunday 27th December. We'll meet together again on the 3rd January for our regular meetings on both sites, where I'll start to share about our 2016 vision.

I hope you and your loved ones have a fabulous Christmas and New Year.

Simon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

No morning meetings on Sunday

One final reminder that there are NO MEETINGS, either in Bracknell or Sandhurst, on Sunday morning (20th December), and no meetings at all on the 27th December. We gather again for our 4 regular meetings on Sunday 3rd January 2016!

What we do have are our Carols by Candlelight this coming weekend, Christmas Eve meetings at 4pm and 11pm, and a Christmas Day gathering at 10am. You can get details on all of those here.

If you know anyone who you think may not have got the message about us not meeting this Sunday morning please let them know. I hate people to be disappointed, but despite our best efforts there always seems to be someone who doesn't get the message which I'd love to try and avoid.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well. We've got over 2,000 people coming to the Carols by Candlelight which is so exciting - hope to see you there.

Simon.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Feedback

One of the highlights for me of our Christmas programme is the Carol Concert we host every year for adults with learning disabilities. This is a partnership between our own Hilltop group, Cameo and Challenge Club. This year was my favourite of all the ones I've ever attended, I just loved it!

One of the people who came this year was a lady called Ros Bayes, who came with her daughter Ellen who has a learning disability. Ros works for an organisation called Through the Roof, who have the brilliant vision statement of "Transforming lives through disabled people". How empowering is that!

After her visit Ros wrote a blog about her experience, and that of her daughter. It made my cry, as so much of what Ros describes is what the church we dream of is all about, trying to create a safe place where people from all backgrounds can feel at home, and can hear the dangerous message of the gospel in a way that the only offensive thing about it is the gospel itself. I really encourage you to read her blog, as it so emphasises the importance of everyone on our team playing their part, from the car parkers to the people serving drinks, to the way we interact with visitors to the way we set up our meetings. I can't tell you how much it encouraged me!

Please think about this as we come up to our carols by candlelight. Whether you're helping people park their cars, saying hello on the door, serving mulled punch, chatting to the people next to you, singing in the choir, playing in the orchestra, praying whilst I speak or giving up your seat so a visitor can have it, all of us have a part to play in helping people find their way back to God. Let's play that part with a smile, full of faith and ready to share the goodness of God with others.

Simon.

ps - just to be clear I didn't make up the story about the three trees - it's from a children's book my wife Catrina recommended to me. It's very good though!

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

November Finance Update

We won't have a chance to share the November finance figures on a Sunday in December, but I'll still give a brief update here.

Offerings for November were £81,112 against a budget of £70,640 which is excellent, especially given that in November we also had our 'Generous' Gift Day which raised an additional £48,000. A huge thank you to everyone who gave. That means that for January to November our total giving was £785,699 against a budget of £777,050, which means we are £8,649 over budget. Praise God.

In January I'll give an update for the whole of 2015, including information on how we did in terms of both expenditure and income.

Simon.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Not many sleeps until the Carols by Candlelight

7pm on Saturday, the date for the first of our Carols by Candlelight, is rapidly approaching. I was in the Kerith Centre last night to hear the choir practising - they're sounding amazing, as are the orchestra. The stage sets are pretty much done and the grand piano turns up tomorrow. It's going to be quite an event.

The 4pm event in Bracknell on Sunday is already sold out, although I've heard from a number of people that they've got tickets for their children who are actually going to be at the separate children's meeting in K2. If that's the case your children don't actually need tickets, so it would be great if you could release those tickets back by emailing our reception team and letting you know you don't need them. Similarly if you have tickets for the 7.30pm in Sandhurst, which is also sold out, please let us know so we can let others have those tickets.

The good news is that there are still some tickets available for the 7pm in Bracknell on Saturday and Sunday - get them quickly though as they are running out too!

At the actual events please remember that those of us who call Kerith our home are all part of the welcome team. That means all of us looking out for visitors and making them welcome, and if we do have too many people on the night being willing to give up your seat for a guest. There should always be room at our inn!

Please also be praying, both in advance and on the nights. Amongst all the carols will be a clear gospel message with an appeal, and a response card where people can let us know if they prayed the salvation prayer for the very first time. Let's be praying for God to open people's eyes to who Jesus really is, and for them to believe in Him.

See you there :)

Simon.

ps - don't forget there are no 'regular' meetings on the 20th or 27th December, although we are gathering at 4pm and 11pm on Christmas Eve, and 10am on Christmas Day.

 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Job Opportunity - Kerith Centre Receptionist

Hannah Liddiard, who has been our Afternoon Receptionist for the past 18 months, has sadly decided to spread her wings (literally), taking up a role as international cabin crew for British Airways. Hannah has been an enormous support to us and we will all be incredibly sorry to see her go, although we're delighted to see her fulfilling her dream of travelling the world and getting paid for it!

As a result we are now looking to recruit to replace Hannah. As the first port of call for a visitor or a caller to Kerith, we are looking for a friendly face to help direct them to the right place. This vital role also carries other duties such as mail distribution, booking rooms, stationery and book ordering as well as some administration support for the Foodbank. It is a shared role, working from 12.30 - 5pm which includes a one hour handover with the Morning Receptionist. As a result, we are also looking for a degree of flexibility to cover holidays as in most job shares.

If this is of interest and you feel that you might be the person we are looking for, then we’d love to hear from you. Please pick up an Application Pack (which includes a job description and person specification) from Reception. The window for applications is from Monday 7th December to Sunday 3rd January 2016 and we aim to interview the week commencing Monday 11th January so we can get the right person on board as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact Ali Hudell our HR Manager or Gary Scull our Estates Controller who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Simon.

Friday, December 4, 2015

King Uzziah and Zerubbabel

This Sunday we're continuing our series where we look at some of the ancestors of Jesus to see what they can teach us about Jesus, who He is and how we can put our trust in Him.

This week Ben Pocock is going to be speaking at the 10am in Sandhurst, and the 6pm in Bracknell, on a guy called King Uzziah. I'll be speaking at the 9am and 11am in Bracknell on someone called Zerubbabel, which must be one of the coolest names in the whole of the Bible. Hopefully that won't be the most profound thing I say on Sunday.

The following Sunday we'll swap, so I'll be in Sandhurst and at the 6pm, Ben will be in Bracknell for the 9am and 11am.

The Sunday after that will be the Carol Concerts at 4pm and 7pm in Bracknell (no morning meetings anywhere), and the following Sunday (the 27th) we're not meeting either.

See you Sunday :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Generous Gift Day Thanks

I want to say a huge thank you to eveyone who gave to our 'Generous' Gift Days. As of last Friday the total stood at £48,250, which we're already in the process of giving away locally, nationally and internationally. Whether you gave a small amount or a large amount, I'm so grateful for your generosity. If you didn't manage to give and still want to then you can either do that using one of our giving envelopes on a Sunday and writing "Gift Day" on the envelope, or you can give online here.

Many of you will remember that we had set a target of £100,000 for the gift day. My initial reaction to hearing what we'd actually raised was to be very thankful for it, and with Christmas and all that entails coming up to settle for what we've already achieved. However, having has time to reflect, pray and talk with others I'd really love us to still aim for the £100,000 we initially set out to achieve, even if that was a figure we made up rather than something we specifically felt God called us to. We're therefore planning to have two more gift days towards the end of February 2016 where we'll look to raise the other £51,750 we need to achieve the target.

I was at the last night of Alpha in Bracknell yesterday evening. Somebody asked me what was the most exciting thing for me which had happened in the 8 years since I'd been leading Kerith. I had to admit that it's not the growing numbers, our Sandhurst site or anything like that, but every time I hear a story of somebody's life being changed as a result of being part of our community. Last night some of the Alpha guests got up and spoke publicly about how their lives had changed over the ten weeks of the course - it was utterly inspiring. Hopefully by February we'll have stories of what the money we've already given has been used for, stories of changed lives which will inspire us to even more generosity.

Thank you again,

Simon.

ps On the subject of Gift Days one of the things we sense God calling us to in 2016 is a renewed focus on buildings. On the 3rd and 10th January I'm going to do vision talks outlining the things we feel God has called us to focus on in 2016. As part of strengthening our sites we want to investigate having a permanent home for Kerith in Sandhurst, and look to redevelop the buildings on our Bracknell site for the next season of growth. Part of that will mean raising money - something those of us who have been around for a while will remember well! Later in 2016 we're therefore likely to be having Gift Days in preparation for these new projects, initially looking to pay off the mortgage on the house behind K2 and provide the beginnings of a building fund. All very exciting!