Thursday, June 30, 2016

Post Referendum Prayer - Tuesday 5th July

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIVUK

Given the momentous events of the last few days I wanted to create space for us as a community to come together to pray for our nation. I've therefore booked out the K2 Hall on our Bracknell site from 8pm on Tuesday 5th July for all of us who are part of Kerith (and anyone else who would like to join us) to pray. I realise that lots of people will be involved in the run up to our REAL women's conference. Please don't worry if you can't make it because of REAL, I'm sure there will be plenty of us who can make it and plenty of other opportunities to pray for our nation in the coming months.

This will replace what would have been our Bracknell site prayer meeting this coming Sunday evening, although Sandhurst (in Sandhurst school) and Windsor / Maidenhead (at Windsor Hall, Ruddles Way, Dedworth, Windsor SL4 5SJ) will still be meeting at 6pm. Great things have been happening in those meetings so please get to one of them too if you can.

This coming Sunday I want to add to what I said last week about our response to the referendum result, speaking in particular to the rise of xenophobia since the result came out. See you there :)

Simon.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Gift Aid Volunteer

Mike Webber-Gant, our Finance Manager, is on the look out for a volunteer willing to help us with our Gift Aid reclaims. This is what Mike wrote to me:

Kerith Community Church is involved in a large number of different ministries – locally, nationally and internationally. All of these need money to make a difference to people’s lives. So we are constantly looking to maximise our income to support these ministries.

One excellent source of income is Gift Aid. This government scheme enables us to reclaim the income tax on gifts made to the church. Having done this for many years, we can reclaim the Gift Aid on an amazing 86% of our gifts. This results in us receiving over £15,000 every month from the UK government.

Gift Aid reclaims are overseen by the Finance team in the Kerith Centre, with much of the gift recording being carried out by volunteers.

We now have a vacancy for a volunteer to assist in this valuable role. The need is for about 2-3 hours per week, during the working day, and will be based in the Kerith Centre.

The role is primarily data entry, so no specialist finance skill is required. However, it would suit someone methodical with an eye for detail.

If you are interested in helping out, please contact Mike Webber-Gant either by phoning him on 01344-862699 or by sending him an email.

Thanks,

Simon.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

REAL - Don't worry if you're coming alone

Our REAL Women's Conference is just under two weeks away. We're going to have well over 400 women there, which although very exciting can be daunting for anyone going on their own (unless you're a raging extrovert, in which case that many new people to get to know must feel like heaven!). To try and remove the worry of not knowing anyone, one of our team Frances Reeve has set up an initiative to help - here's what she has to say:

Coming to REAL may feel a bit daunting if you're on your own, but don't worry! We want to give you an extra special welcome and help you not to feel lost in the crowd. We're saying YOU CAN SIT WITH ME. There will be a big area of seating just for anyone on their own, and some friendly people to introduce you to others and help you find a nice place to sit. We'll also use this area for you to eat your packed lunch with us so no need to go off alone - unless you want to.

At dinner time on Saturday we'd love you to join us for a meal out - but we will need numbers for this on Friday evening so we can book. There will be a sign up sheet in our 'will you sit with me' area.

If you're really happy about coming to REAL on your own, then do still feel free to come and join us - help us to make everyone feel extra welcome. Look forward to seeing you.

If you still haven't booked into REAL then please sign up now - whether you're coming on your own or as part of a group. Having watched the plans taking shape, and also having had the opportunity to meet this year's guest speaker Bianca Olthoff, I know you won't regret it. I'll be sneaking in too so please come and say hello (I should be quite obvious!).

Simon.

 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Band of Brothers - Men That Don't Fade

Our next Band of Brothers Men's Breakfast is on Saturday 2nd July, at the Kerith Centre on our Bracknell site, starting at 9am. This is a morning hosted by Kerith's mPower Men's Ministry, making space for men of God to gather for breakfast, to study God's word, and spend time together in worship. This is open to all men of all ages, regardless of whether you're a part of Kerith or not. If you're male and want to see God move in your life and in the men around you, this event is for you.

We're giving this BOB the title 'Men That Don't Fade', and James Hosker will be sharing a message that looks into Paul's encouragements to Timothy, and how we as men can keeping fighting 'the good fight of faith' until our race is run on this earth. I encourage men to give God your morning on the 2nd, and see what He will do with us as we gather together as men in His name.'

Simon.

 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The EU Referendum: Please Vote & Please Pray

This Thursday most of us have the opportunity to vote in the EU Refendum on whether we want Britain to remain in or leave the European Union. It's quite possibly the most important thing we'll get to vote on in our lifetimes, so please pray, do your research, avoid reducing your decision to one based on sound bites or personalities, and then turn out and cast your vote.

I've already written with links to some useful resources to help you in your research, which I would encourage you to take a look at if you haven't already.

I've also been interested to read some prominent Christians, each of whom I'd have a deep respect for, giving their own views on what the key issues are. If you're interested take a look at what Canon J. John, Terry Virgo and Archbishop Justin Welby have each had to say.

In all of this I believe our biggest responsibility, even more important than voting, is to pray. Not surprisingly a great starting point is to pray the prayer that Jesus taught us, which starts like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:9-10 NIVUK)

Let's pray that whatever the result of the referendum God's kingdom will come. The only kingdom which can ultimately bring the peace, joy, hope, justice, security and love we all long for with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their rightful places.

Simon.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Celebration of Life for Louise Holt

Following the incredibly sad news of the death of Louise Holt last Friday, her husband Andrew has asked me to let people know that there will be a service to celebrate Louise's life in Cornwall on Saturday 25th June at 5pm. Their daughter Grace wrote the following on her Facebook page, giving all the relevant details:

I know that many of us, myself included, would really want to be there on the 25th but because of other commitments won't be able to make it. The family are therefore also looking to have a Bracknell based celebration of Louise's life for those who won't be able to make it down to Cornwall. We're currently trying to find a date for that - as soon as we've got one confirmed I'll let you all know, but it will hopefully be some time in early July.

In the meantime please continue to pray for Andrew, Hudson and Grace. That they'll know God's love, comfort and peace at such a tough time for them all.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Good Stewarding - Cheaper Train Tickets

I wrote a while ago that part of being a good steward of the money God entrusts us with is making sure we get good value for the things we need to buy, and wrote about how we can get taken advantage of if we simply renew insurance policies or utility contracts with the same company year after year.

Several people asked me if I had any other tips. I'm not looking to turn into any sort of Martin Lewis replacement, but one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much you can save on train tickets by buying separate tickets for the various bits of the journey.

Just to give you an example if right now (5pm on Wednesday afternoon) I decided to go and visit our son Jacob in Swansea by train who has just finished his second year exams (hooray), if I went to Bracknell train station and bought a super off peak single to Swansea it would cost me £78.70. However, if I bought a single to Reading, then at Reading station went to the ticket office and bought a super off peak single to Swansea, the total cost of those two tickets would be £45.30, saving me £33.40. Bizarrely I'd save another £2.10 if I got off at Wokingham and bought my ticket to Swansea from there. You'd have a job to get off at Wokingham, buy a ticket and get back on the same train, but there's nothing to stop you buying all the tickets in advance to get the saving and not have the hassle of buying tickets along the way.

I don't know about you but to me that's just seems ridiculous, and a real rip off for anyone who just trusts the rail companies to give you the best deal.

I travel quite a lot by train to various church events, preferring it to travelling by car where it makes sense, and I always feel a big real responsibility to make sure I get the best deals, knowing the money that's being spent has been given by our community. One really helpful resource is this page, which is part of the Money Saving Expert website. There you can put in journeys and it will give you the best ticket option with one split in your journey - you can sometimes save more with more than one split but this is a great start.

Please don't just take my advice but do your own research, and be aware that if you start buying tickets for specific trains (which can save you even more money) then those tickets are only valid on that train - I've had some very exciting journeys across London trying to get to Kings Cross on time after a Bracknell to Waterloo train has been delayed!

Hope that's helpful for someone,

Simon.

Ps - I also found recently that if you have a wireless credit or debit card you can use it instead of an Oyster card to pay for the tubes and busses in London. I had an Oyster card but when I found this out cancelled it and got £25 back from the credit stored on the card.

Pps - please don't anyone write me off as some sad penny pinching person loathe to spend money on anything! I'm a natural spender and love being generous - I just want to have as much as possible to sow into people and situations that need it, rather than wasting it by paying too much for stuff!

 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Miracles from Heaven

A new Christian film, Miracles from Heaven, is coming out on Friday 10th June and will be showing at both the Bracknell Odeon and the Camberley Vue. There's a website with a load of information if you want to know more about the film.

I haven't seen it so can't rate it, but it sounds like a very powerful story and from the trailer looks very engaging. I'll be listening with interest to hear whether Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo review it on their Friday afternoon film review - definitely one of the best programmes on radio!

Simon.

 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Louise Holt

It's with great sadness that I write to let you know that Louise Holt passed away at 4am this morning (Friday 3rd June). Just before Christmas Louise was diagnosed with a malignant tumour on her thigh, and although it looked as though the initial operation to remove it was successful, just over a month ago the doctors discovered that it had spread to her brain. Despite the best efforts of the medical profession, and much prayer from many of us, she died this morning.

Louise, her husband Andrew, and her two children Hudson and Grace (who are pictured above with Louise) have all over the years been a huge part of our Kerith community and are deeply loved by many of us. Andrew retired recently from his job in London (before that job he was our church administrator for a number of years) and was in the process of moving down to Cornwall where Louise was based. Last year Grace moved down to Cornwall to look after Louise, and now has a job in a school down there. Hudson is still with us in Kerith, recently got engaged, is working in the construction industry and is part of our worship team. They're a remarkable family who have been a blessing to many of us - please be praying for them to know God's comfort and strength at this time, and if you know them well enough to have their contact details please write or text to let them know that you're thinking of them.

I spoke to Andrew this morning and we talked about the difference that having faith in the resurrection power of Jesus makes in these circumstances. That although there is a huge sense of loss for all the family, they know that Louise has gone to a better place, and that one day they will be see her again. Praise God that there is coming a day when there will be no more cancer, no more sickness, no more tears and no more pain. Let's never get so caught up in this present age that we lose our longing and hunger for the age to come.

Finally to say it's amazing how God is at work, even in the midst of all the sadness. Three weeks ago Louise became very ill and the family were told that she may only have a couple of hours to live. Andrew spoke this morning about how precious the last three weeks have been, that as a family they were able to express things to one another which they might have thought but never got around to actually saying. I'm often struck when I take funerals by the words of affirmation and appreciation which get spoken about the person who has died, and wonder whether they ever heard those things said whilst they were alive. Most of the time I doubt that they ever did. Maybe that can be a challenge to all of us today, to appreciate the people around us in a fresh way, and to say the things that so often go unsaid.

I'll finish with this picture which Andrew took of Louise on the their last visit to the seafront in Penzance on Wednesday. We'll miss you Louise.

Much love,

Simon.

 

CAP Birthday Sunday

This Sunday we're going to be celebrating 10 years since we opened our Christians Against Poverty debt counselling centre, and 20 years since CAP opened their first centre. We've got the privilege of doing all that in the company of John Kirkby, the founder of CAP and a huge friend of Kerith.

Please be there if you possibly can. We'll be having birthday cake in all 4 meetings, but more important than that we want to celebrate and thank God for the hundreds of lives changed through our partnership with CAP, and all that is to come.

See you there :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

There are Girls in the Serenje Dormitory!

I've got a couple of great updates on the girls dormitory which we've helped to fund in Serenje in Zambia. Please take the time to read them as it's very exciting to hear what is happening after years of hard work to get the dormitory up and running.

First an introduction to the newly appointed matron, Theresa Daka, who will be resonsible for the care of the girls staying in the dormitory. Her role is so key in ensuring the dormitory is a success - please be praying for her.

Secondly, and even more excitingly, an introduction to some of the first group of girls living in the dormitory. Their stories are incredibly removing, and a really good reminder of the reason why the dormitory is so important and the difference it is going to make.

Thank you to everyone who has sown into this project. You have laid up for yourselves treasures in heaven - a very wise investment!

Simon.

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“‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The EU Referendum: Remain or Leave

On Thursday 23rd June, in just over three weeks time, most of us as going to get the opportunity to vote on whether Britain should remain in or leave the European Union.

There's a huge danger that much of the pantomime campaigning which has been going on, with inflated claims being made on both sides of the argument and a focus on the personality involved, will mask the fact that this is possibly the most important vote we may ever take part in, with implications much bigger than any local or general election. I therefore want to encourage all of us who can vote to take our responsibility very seriously.

As a church we're not going to suggest how people should vote, but I did want to point you all at some key resources so that you can get the facts you need to decide how to cast your vote.

There's a helpful outline of exactly what is going on on the BBC website.

The Christian charity CARE have done a great website with resources including articles from Christian MPs on both sides of the argument, prayer pointers and a helpful list of the pros and cons of remaining and leaving.

The Evangelical Alliance have produced a similar set of resources, including helpful information on the potential impact on economics, democracy, freedom and identity from a Christian perspective.

Please spend time getting all the information you need, discussing it with others and praying so that you can be ready on the 23rd June to cast your vote in a responsible and informed way.

Simon.