Friday, November 24, 2017

Job Opportunity - Sandhurst Kids Lead



Last Sunday we had an amazing day in our kids work. We had 26 children aged from 5 to 9 who responded to a call to commit their lives to Jesus Christ, of which 16 were doing that for the very first time. I realise that for all of the children this is a journey, which as with us adults will have a whole load of twists and turns, but even with that proviso it’s so exciting to see what God is doing among our children.

As a church we realise that our children’s work is one of our most fruitful places for us seeing lives being transformed. We want to create a great experience for children when they come on a Sunday, and do all we can to equip and support families in raising their children to have a deep and lasting relationship with Jesus. I blogged a couple of weeks ago to let you know about a full time role on our Bracknell site for heading up our kids work. Applications for that role close on Monday so if you’ve interested please get your application in quickly.

I now want to let you all know about an equivalent role at our Sandhurst site. This is a three day a week role, including Sundays. You can find a job description here, application packs are available at the Kerith Centre reception. The closing date for applications is Friday 29th December.  If you would like further information on the role please contact either Ali Hudell, our HR Manager, or Sonia Hopkin, who oversees Kerith Kids across our sites, or phone the Kerith Centre reception on 01344 862699.

Please be praying about whether this might be for you, for someone you know, or if neither of those apply that the right people will come forward for both Bracknell and Sandhurst, as part of us helping people find their way back to God.

Simon

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tope Koleoso preaching this Sunday


On Sunday we have the privilege of having Tope Koleose preaching at all of our meetings. Tope leads Jubilee Church which is one of the biggest churches in the UK, with three sites in London and one in Lusaka, Zambia. He is an outstanding preacher and regularly speaks at conferences for the likes of John Piper, New Wine, Vineyard, Newfrontiers and many others. I think you’ll love him!

Tope and his wife Kemi have also become good friends to Catrina and me over the last few years. Kemi has regularly brought a group of women from Jubilee to our REAL women’s conference, and this year she hosted her own women’s conference which was a big success.

I’m so looking forward to having them with us on Sunday. Please come full of expectation for God to speak through Tope and to move in us all.

See you Sunday :)

Simon

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Andy Jackson



If you were around on Sunday morning you’ll have heard that Andy Jackson is going to be leaving the staff team at the end of this year, after 11 years on staff overseeing all of our social justice. 

Our church has always had a social justice stream running through it, with over the years everything from prison ministry to food distribution to supporting families with children with special needs. But under Andy’s gentle but focused leadership the stream has becoming something of a flood plain! It started with Andy being our first CAP debt centre manager in 2006, but has then expanded to include Foodbank, Job Club, Life Skills, Addiction Recovery, working with the homeless, caring for ex offenders, early years intervention and much more. It would be no exaggeration to say that Andy’s leadership has transformed our church, and made us a church many others look to when they want to launch or enhance their own social justice ministries. 

Andy has also been responsible for overseeing and developing many of our partnerships with CAP, Tearfund, Hope for Justice, TLG and others. If all that wasn’t enough Andy has also had a huge input to our safeguarding team, making sure all the children and vulnerable adults accessing Kerith are kept safe. He has also plated a big part in helping people within Kerith looking to set up their own charities such as Create Hope, Novō and Tehila

Words cannot begins to express how grateful I am to God for Andy and the gift of having him alongside me in the ten years I’ve been leading Kerith. He has been amazing, and I’m going to deeply miss having him around for his wisdom, insight, leadership, encouragement and continual reminder of God’s heart for the poor and marginalised. 

So why is Andy leaving the staff team - that’s a questions I’ve been asking too! Well about 18 months ago Andy felt God speaking to him that he had a fresh challenge for him. That sense has only grown over time, to the point where it seemed (to user a Biblical analogy) that Andy needed to step out of the boat if he was going to walk on water and access the new thing God has for him. So that’s what he’s doing - a huge step of faith which I applaud him for.

Please join with me in thanking God for Andy, and for praying for the door to the next thing to swing open sooner rather than later! He has a number of open job applications - my prayer is for a role where he will be even more fruitful that he’s been in Kerith, and selfishly where he and his wonderful wife Janine can stay as part of our church community. 

We’re going to have a celebration next Tuesday (21st November), starting at 7pm in the Kerith Centre auditorium, to thank Andy for all he has done and celebrate all that God has done through him. Everyone is invited - if you are coming please can you sign up here so we have some idea of numbers. It’s a bring and share dinner, so if you’re able to please bring some food along, although if you can’t I’m sure there will be enough for everyone! Just go easy on the quiche :)

Hope to see you there on Tuesday, but if you can’t make it and know Andy why not send him a message expressing your gratitude for all he’s done - I know he’ll appreciate it.


Simon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lost People Matter to God - Vision Fund


We’ve had an amazing day in the office today, celebrating six people who over the weekend chose to make Jesus their Lord and Saviour, and another three people who recommitted their lives to Jesus. For me it doesn’t get better than this. Our vision as a church is to help people find their way back to God, so there’s nothing more exciting than it actually happening. 

That’s what our vision fund is all about. You can read the details of what we’ve done in the last year and some of what we intend to do here, but in essence we’re looking to improve and expand each of our sites to make them more effective places for people to connect with Jesus. 

I know that lots of you will already have given, but for those haven’t yet given but would like to please can I encourage you to do it quickly, so that we can include it in the total we announce on Sunday. You can find all the details on how to give here - if you’re doing a bank transfer please mark it as being for the vision fund so our finance team know where to allocate it. Or you can give using our Church Suite app for smartphones or tablets. 

I’m so grateful to be part of such a generous community. Having just come back from Zambia where I got to meet some of the girls now in the Serenje Dormitory, I’m so aware of the power of our generosity to change lives, and the eternal nature of the return on that investment.

Blessings,

Simon

Friday, November 10, 2017

Job Opportunity - Bracknell Kids Lead





We currently have a vacancy for someone to lead Kerith Kids on our Bracknell site. This is a full-time position, to include Sundays, and involves facilitating a great Sunday experience for Kerith Kids.  You will be key to the safe recruitment, training and relationship building of volunteers whilst being the lynchpin on a Sunday morning, giving our kids the best possible experience every time they come to Church.

Application packs and job descriptions are available from the Kerith Centre reception desk. The job description is online here. The closing date for this role is Monday 27th November, with interviews being held on Thursday 30th November.  If you would like further information on the role please contact either Ali Hudell, our HR Manager, or Sonia Hopkin, who oversees Kerith Kids across our sites.

If this isn’t the role for you then please be praying that we find the right person, as this is a  key position for us to fill. In the past God has answered that sort of prayer in amazing ways, including one time a number of years ago when we were praying for a youth pastor and I ‘happened’ to meet a visitor whilst I was serving in Kerith Kids who when I asked him what he did said he was a youth worker looking for a job. That person (Nigel Taylor) ended up applying for and getting the job, and he laid the foundation for much of what is happening in our youth today. God answers prayer!

Simon

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My experience, and some thoughts, on #MeToo


”Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”‭‭ 

(1 Timothy 5:1-2‬)

My only experience of being on the receiving end of sexual harassment was when I was 16. It happened in Pangbourne just the other side of Reading in the early afternoon during a school holiday. I was out with a bunch of friends, and went alone into the public toilets for a wee. While I was stood at the urinal I noticed that an older man to the left of me (the only other person in there) had turned to face me, and was exposing himself. He then zipped himself up and as he walked our ran his hand across the back of my trousers, touching both of my buttocks. I remember this mix of emotions - shock, dismay, a sense that it was somehow my fault and a feeling of being very unclean which stuck with me for months afterwards. After a few moments I walked out, but said nothing to any of my friends. It was over 20 years later that I spoke to anyone about what had happened that day.

Now I realise that what happened to me was in the scheme of things very minor compared to what many have experienced, and although traumatic at the time it hasn’t (I think) had a long term impact on me. But I wanted to tell my story to say that I know from personal experience this stuff is very real, and that in the midst of all the daily revelations currently coming out around Hollywood, Westminster and I’m sure soon may other areas of life, this is an issue we as followers of Jesus need to be engaging with too. We need to realise both that it will have affected many people in our community, and that church is sadly not immune to the abuses currently being exposed in society.

So I want to make an appeal to make church a safe place.

A safe place where those who have experienced sexual harassment can find the courage to talk about what has happened to them, begin to find healing and move to a place where their past doesn’t define or limit their future. If you’re a victim of sexual harassment and have never talked about it, or maybe have talked about it but still haven’t found healing, then please find the courage to talk to somebody. And if somebody comes to you wanting to have that conversation please make the time to listen to them, to take them seriously, and if it’s something bigger than you can handle, to find others who can help. One of my joys as a pastor has been seeing people find freedom in this area - some of the heroes of Kerith, whose stories we may never publicly tell, are those who have overcome abuse in their past and are now living victorious lives. 

A safe place where people know that if they do disclose something that if will be taken seriously, rather than just being laughed off as “well that’s just what that person is like”, or covered up in order to try and somehow ‘protect’ the reputation of the church. If you have a concern please know that you can speak with me or one of our elders or trustees and you will be taken seriously. 

A safe place where we do everything we can to make sure that nobody feels intimidated or harassed. That’s not just about our safeguarding policies for our children and vulnerable adults, but also the spaces we create in our small groups, on our courses and on a Sunday. We need to be very aware that physical touch which one person thinks of as being affectionate or friendly may be seen by the person receiving it as inappropriate or creepy. That should cause all of us to be aware of how we may be making other people feel. In no way do I want to stop us being a physical community, hugging and all the rest of it, but all of us need to be aware of our action and people do need to be empowered to speak out if they do ever feel uncomfortable.

And finally a safe place not just for victims but for perpetrators too. That might sound like a strange thing to say, but the reality is that the world doesn’t neatly divide into saints and sinners, victims and perpetrators, as we might like it too. We are all sinners. My sin may be different to somebody elses sin (and may be more acceptable in the eyes of the world) but it’s still sin and puts me in the same place as everyone else on planet earth. That is not in any way an attempt to excuse anyone’s wrong behaviour, but it is a recognition that church is a place where everyone can experience the forgiveness of our sins, both before God and with one another. For perpetrators that will require repentance, honesty, courage, and even boundaries around what they do in the life of the church, but church has to be a place of hope and restoration for everyone. If you know that’s you, then I encourage you to have the courage to talk to someone in the life of our community and being your journey of restoration.

I write this blog with a sense of anxiety. Anxious about how people might react to me being honest about my experiece. Anxious that for people impacted they may feel I’ve trivialised their experience and don’t really understand their pain. And anxious that some will feel this is over the top and I’m just going along with the crowd in raising this issue. I pray instead that God will use it to provoke us into an honest discussion, that those impacted on both sides may begin the journey towards healing, that our church community will be a safe place for everyone who chooses to become a part of it, and that we might have a voice into society about how we should behave towards one another.

Blessings,

Simon

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vision Fund Gift Days

Greetings from the 100 degree heat in Lusaka, Zambia! I want to warn you in advance that this is quite a long blog, but if you can please make the time to read it all the way through to the end :)

On November the 5th and the 12th we’re going to be having the next offerings for our vision fund - can I encourage you to be thinking and praying about what God would have you give.

We launched the vision fund last September with the goal of allowing us to develop our Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor sites. To date we’ve raised over £300,000, which has allowed us to do the following:

In Bracknell we’ve been able to:
  • Pay off the mortgage on the house behind K2, which this time last year stood at over £170,000.
  • Make an offer on some additional land around K2 - we hope to complete the purchase of this in the next few weeks using money from the vision fund to pay for it.
  • Draw up plans for a redevelopment of K2 which should give us the facilities we think need on the Bracknell site for the next 10 to 15 years. We’ll be in a position to share these plans early in the New Year.
In Sandhurst we’ve been able to:
  • Draw up plans for a potential permanent home for Kerith Sandhurst. This is in partnership with another organisation. Please be praying for this as in the next few weeks we should know whether this is a door God is going to open, or whether we need to be looking elsewhere for a permanent home for Sandhurst. I’ll hopefully be in a position to share more on this soon.
  • Invest in making our Sandhurst Sunday venue simpler to set up and tear down including acquiring a large storage container and buying flight cases to move all the equipment around. 
In Windsor we’ve been able to:
  • Agree a deal to hire the Gospel Hall in Dedworth for the next three years, giving us a midweek home for Kerith Windsor.
  • Refurbish the Gospel Hall, including redecorating, putting in a new carpet and buying new furniture.
  • Buy the equipment required to start meeting on a Sunday in Windsor, including our own portable PA, signage and toys for the kids work.
We’ve also bought a van to allow us to more easily equipment between the sites. It’s silver and covered in Kerith logos - you can’t miss it!

In addition to all that we’ve also tithed on the money that came in, allowing us to give away £21,000 to churches in Albania and Estonia, give to the Partingtons in Bolivia and support a number of local projects. There is still another £9,000 of tithe which we’re in the process of giving away. 

I think that’s an amazing amount of progress to have made in a year. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has given in the last year, making all of this possible. 

So what next? Well by buying land, paying off mortgages, exploring potential partnerships and drawing up plans it’s likely that some time in the near future we’ll be launching into at least one building project. We’ll also want to be in a position for Kerith Windsor to start meeting every Sunday from some time in th second half of 2018. It therefore makes sense to start accumulating funds now, even if we’re not exactly sure what they’re for or what how much we’re going to need. 

I’ve recently met with leaders of two different churches which both want to embark on building projects. Over the last few years one has built up a fund of over a million pounds, and the other has accumulated nothing, even though they knew what was likely to be coming. You can guess which church is better placed to move ahead quickly. I would love us to be in the former situation, so want to encourage all of us to be praying about what we should give.

We’re going to have midweek vision meetings in the New Year where we hope to be in a position to talk about all the plans in much more detail. If you want to put them in your diary now they’ll be in:
  • Sandhurst on Tuesday 9th January
  • Bracknell on Wednesday 10th January
  • Windsor Thursday 11th January
Until then please have confidence that whatever we do, all the money raised will go to helping create spaces where we help people find their way back to God. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this :)


Simon

Monday, October 16, 2017

Zambia Bound

I’m travelling out to Zambia this afternoon with a team from Kerith and would really value your prayers. Our itinerary is as follows if you’d like to pray for us on specific days.

Monday 16th - Overnight flight to Zambia via Dubai (sadly BA no longer fly direct any more)
Tuesday 17th - Arrive in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia
Wednesday 18th - Spend a day with Sam and Hannah Fairs-Billam seeing the work of Tehila
Thursday 19th - Travel up to Serenje and in the evening meet with local pastors and dignitaries
Friday 20th - Visit some of the Church Community Mobilisation projects we as a church have helped sponsor in Serenje
Saturday 21st - Spend a day at the girls dormitory meeting the girls and seeing thebuilding 
Sunday 22nd - Preach in Pastor Samson Kasele’s church 
Monday 23rd - Travel back to Lusaka

The rest of the team then fly home and my wife Catrina, our daughter Alice and I are staying on to spend a few more days with Sam and Hannah. We then fly home, leaving on Thursday 26th and landing back in the UK on the afternoon of Friday 27th. I’ll then hopefully make it to at least some of the half night of prayer that evening.

I remember Erwin McManus once saying that when people travel you shouldn’t pray for them to be safe but to be dangerous! A bit of safety wouldn’t go amiss, but we do want to be dangerous for the kingdom - for a bit more of heaven to come to earth because of what we’re doing. We’ve already massively seen that with the whole Serenje project. Please pray we’ll see more of that in the coming days.

Thanks you!


Simon

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bracknell Prayer

Our Bracknell site has a few different opportunities for us to pray together coming up.

This is what Mel Woods who helps create the space for us to pray in Bracknell has put together.

Simon

————————————————————————————-

On Tuesday 10th October we’ve got our monthly prayer meeting from 8-9.30pm in K2.
We’ve got the theme of ‘celebrating the body of Christ’, taking time to pray for one another, for families, for our small group communities, and that through our love for one another the world would see Jesus. 

On Friday 27th October we’ve got a half night of prayer, running from 8pm until 2am on the Saturday morning.
As we’ve done in the past we’ll split this into one hour slots, with a different person leading each hour. If you can’t make all of it then please feel free to come for the slots which work for you.

We’re then going to have a week of prayer running from Friday 27th October to Friday 3rd November. 
We’re running with the theme of ‘changing seasons’ – so in the prayer room we will have resources around.
  • As the leaves fall off trees in Autumn, are there things God is asking you to let go of or that he wants to strip away (Heb 12.2 throw off everything that hinders)
  • Who is our harvest? Who would you like to see come to know Jesus?
  • The abundance of Gods blessings, how a good harvest was a celebration, that after sowing and toiling and waiting you got to reap the harvest. What do we have to be thankful for?
  • Encouragements in the waiting period – what promises of God can we stand on.

You can book into the prayer room here

Monday, October 2, 2017

Kerith Leadership Day - Saturday 14th October

I really want to encourage as many of us as possible to get to the Kerith Leadership day coming up on Saturday 14th October.

We’ve made this day by taking the very best talks from two day Global Leadership Summit which we’re hosting on the 11th and 12th October, and putting them into a one day event which we’d love everyone in Kerith to attend. We realise that it can be hard to get to the two day midweek event (although if you can get the time off then it will be well worth it) but hopefully everyone can make it to at least some of the Saturday.

I know that some of us will be put off by the term “leadership”, but at the end of the day leadership is all about influence, and we are all called to have influence in our families, amongst our friends, in our workplaces and in our wider world. Come and be equipped to make a difference where you are.

On the day we’ll get to hear from church leaders such as Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley, business leaders including Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, leaders from organisations seeking to bring justice such as Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission, and some brilliant talks from people challenging the way that we think about the world including Julia Funt and a guy called Fredrik Haren (who has a very funny story about a swimming pool!).

During the day there will be process time to think about the implications of what we’re hearing. I’d encourage you to sit with friends and people you serve alongside so that you can share wisdom and thoughts on the talks. Why not also plan to book lunch with some friends in our shiny new town centre - lunch is from 1-2pm if you want to make a booking!

If you’re part of Kerith you get a special discounted rate. You can sign up for the Saturday event here, or for the two day GLS here. If you’re not part of Kerith then you can sign up here.

Don’t miss it!

Simon




Thursday, September 28, 2017

Asking the Best Questions

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with the questions longer" - Albert Einstein

I spoke recently on a Sunday about how the smartest people in the world aren’t those with the best answers, but those with the best questions. If you always have the best answers then you’re doomed to never get more intelligent than you already are, but if you have the best questions (and the humility to learn from anyone) then there is pretty much no limit to how smart you can get.

I want us to be a community that isn’t afraid to ask questions. One of the strengths of a culture where you can belong before you believe is that asking questions is safer, as being part of the community isn’t dependent on signing up to everything it believes. That’s true for people looking in on the community from the outside (part of the beauty of Alpha is creating a space where non believers can ask their questions in an environment which is safe), but should also be true for people within the community. We should be a people who are endlessly inquistive, and should be unafraid to ask the sometimes uncomfortable questions which will take us closer to God, and closer to discovering his purpose for our lives.

Jesus should be an inspiration for us in this. Somebody has counted that in the gospels He asks 307 questions. Many of those were to get people to think more deeply, although some such as His question on the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) were deeply personal.

I wonder when you last seriously asked any questions? Not who is going to be selected in the next England team or what am I going to have for tea, but big questions. Questions that might impact how you live your life, spends your money, use your time or relate to God. My observation would be that children love to ask questions, but the older we get the less and less comfortable we are asking questions. I don’t think that’s helpful.

Two things I think we need to bear in mind as we ask questions:

First of all are we’re asking the right questions. Good questions will take us closer to God, closer to finding who we are and closer to finding His will for our lives. Bad questions can take us down blind alleys which go nowhere, or could even lead us into error and out of a relationship with Jesus. How can we be sure to ask the right questions, and avoid the wrong ones?

And then we need to look in the right places for our answers. We live in a world which is drowning in a sea of information but which is parched through a lack of wisdom. Where should we look for our answers?

They’re questions I want to look at in some future blogs. For now I’d love to know what questions you might want to ask?

Blessings,

Simon

Friday, September 8, 2017

Vision Sunday and Windsor Launch

This Sunday I'm going to be sharing vision for the coming term and beyond. It's been an exciting year so far, in particular with over 80 people getting baptised, so there's much to build on as we look to how we can be even more fruitful in helping people find their way back to God.

On Sunday we're also publicly launching Kerith Windsor. We've already got small groups in Windsor and Maidenhead, have a great hub with the Gospel Hall in Dedworth which we're renting, and have been holding regular prayer meetings and an Alpha course in Windsor, so this is the next step on that journey. Initially we're going to be meeting on the second Sunday every month at 4pm in All Saints Church in Dedworth (SL4 4JW). If you're free on Sunday afternoon please come along to support and encourage our Windsor and Maidenhead gang!

Finally a reminder that the thanksgiving service for Michael Ross-Watson is on Saturday in London. There are still a few spaces on the coach going up - you can book in here.

Hope you've had a great start to the new term, that those of us based in Bracknell are excited at our new town centre, and hope to see you on Sunday - I'll be speaking at all five meetings :)

Much love,

Simon

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two Job Opportunities in our CAP Centre

One of the most impactful and fruitful ministries at Kerith is our CAP debt counselling centre, which has now been running for over 11 years. We currently have 2 vacancies for Debt Coaches in our CAP Centre, which will allow us to increase both the number of people we can help and the geographic area we can cover.

One is a permanent 3 days a week role serving the Bracknell area - you can find the job description here.

The other is a year’s fixed term contract for 2 days per week serving the Sandhurst area - the job description for that role is here.

Both roles will be based in our Bracknell office at the Kerith Centre. Finding the right people to fill them is key to developing our social justice ministry at both our Bracknell and Sandhurst sites, so if you have the heart to communicate CAP’s debt advice to people whilst positively reflecting the Christian faith and the core values of CAP and you feel this might be the job for you or someone you know, please pick up one of the application packs which are available from the Kerith Centre reception desk.

The closing date for both roles is Tuesday 12th September with interviews being held on Thursday 14th September. If you would like further information on either role please contact Ali Hudell our HR Manager, or Sarah Hardy our CAP Centre Manager, by e-mail or via telephone on 01344 862699.

For the rest of us please be praying that the right person comes forward for each role.

Blessings,

Simon

 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Transport Details for the Thanksgiving Services for Mo Davies & Michael Ross-Watson

Our Thanksgiving Service for the life of Mo Davies is this coming Wednesday, the 30th August, at 1pm. Ben and the family are inviting everyone who knew Mo to join with them in remembering her, celebrating her life and thanking God for what she meant to so many of us.

Parking at the Kerith Centre will be extremely tight, and we want to reserve the car park for the family and close friends who will be coming from the crematorium, and disabled blue badge holders. We're asking everyone else to please find alternative parking. The nearest car park is the Charles Square Car Park (which is now known as the Braccan Walk Car Park) - details of this and the other town centre car parks can be found here.

As I blogged yesterday the Thanksgiving Service for the life of Michael Ross-Watson is being held at the Emmanuel Centre in London on Saturday 9th September at 2pm. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get there, so we're arranging coach transport for anyone who would like to make use of it. You can find all the details here. Please book in as quickly as possible so that we can make sure we can book enough coach space, and give Esther and the family some idea of how many people might be coming for the catering.

Much love,

Simon

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Service for the Life of Michael Ross-Watson

There is going to be a thanksgiving service for the life of Michael Ross-Watson at 2pm on Saturday 9th September, with refreshments served after the service.

Given the number of people from around the country who want to attend, Esther and the family felt it would be best to hold the thanksgiving in London. It's therefore going to be held at the Emmanuel Centre, which is the home of Emmanuel Church, where Michael and Esther were pastors for a number of years. The address is Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW.

We will be arranging coach travel from the Kerith Centre for anyone who would like to make use of it. We're just in the process of working out the cost and logistics for that - once we've worked it out I'll blog the details and a link to where you can book on. Alternatively if you want to make your own way up there the nearest tube stations are Westminster, St James's Park and Victoria.

Please continue to pray for Esther and the family. Esther is coming back from Singapore this week after spending time out there with her son Tim. Pray she will continue to know God's comfort and strength, and the love of the community around her, as she begins this new season of life.

Much love,

Simon

 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Three Pillars

“I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.”

(Revelation 2:13 NIVUK)

In the last few months our church community has lost three people who have, in many ways, been pillars of our church. Val Cottee, Mo Davies and then most recently Michael Ross-Watson have all passed away, and it has left people feeling not only a deep sense of sadness that they are no longer with us, but also a sense that their passing has created a large void in the life of our church. Val brought to our church a huge pastoral heart, being a spiritual mum to so many different people in our community, along with a deep love for the Bible and an ability to communicate it to others. Mo had an enduring love for some of the most hurting people in our society, those with special needs, those dying of cancer, those not know where their next meal was coming from, as well as a deeply rooted but quietly expressed faith and confidence in God. And Michael had such an enormous father heart, a willingness to do sometimes outrageous things in support of those in need, and a unique ability to communicate God's heart through his preaching. Each one represents a huge loss to our community.

So how do we respond? With sadness undoubtedly. But beyond that is it time for us to be worried, to be anxious, to be fearful, or is God asking for a different response from us?

Well as we've been going through Jesus letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, I've been struck in particular about one encouragement from Jesus to the church in a place called Pergamum. It relates to a guy called Antipas who has been martyred there for his faith, and the way the church has responded. We don't know too much about Antipas, although one church tradition holds that he was the bishop of Pergamum and was burnt alive in a bull shaped altar for casting demons out of people! What we do know is that Jesus commends the church for the way they have responded to his death.

As I've prayed and reflected on this it's reminded me that we don't get to choose what happens to us in life, but we do get to choose how we respond. It makes me think of God telling Joshua not to be terrified or discouraged, but to choose to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9). Joshua had to make a choice as to how he was going to respond to the challenges he faced, as did the church in Pergamum as they faced up to the death of Antipas. The same is true of us as we respond to the loss of these three. As I've prayed I've felt a couple of ways God has been encouraging us to respond.

The first is that along with our sadness and grief, God would want us carry an even greater sense of thankfulness and gratitude that we ever got to know Val, Mo and Michael. It is quite possible to imagine a world where we never got to meet any of them. Let's make time to stop and thank God that we did get to meet them, to recognise the impact they had on us, and the legacy that they've left in our lives. God commands us to "give thanks in all circumstances" so let's do that. Val, Mo and Michael were an incredible gift to so many of us. Let's be thankful for the life God breathed into each of them, for the time and energy they invested in many of us, for the love and the gifts God gave them, for their generosity, their courage and whatever else God brings to mind as you think about them.

Secondly God would encourage each one of us to begin to step into the void which Val, Mo and Michael have left. Somebody wrote to me this week to say what a father figure Michael had been to him. I wrote back encouraging him to take that legacy, and rather than mourning the loss of that input into his life begin to think about how he can now begin to be a father to those around him. The natural progression of life is that sons and daughters grow up to become fathers and mothers. That's what God wants from those of us who have benefitted from Val, Mo and Michael being spiritual mothers and fathers to us. We now need to be those who step into the gap they have left. We'll each do that in our own unique way based on who we are and how God has gifted us. God isn't looking from clones of Val, Mo or Michael but for people willing to be who God has created them to be. As we do that the church will flourish and grow into the next generation.

And for those of you who didn't know any of these three, there will be people in your world who have been spiritual mothers and fathers to you too. Please take time to thank God for them, and to think about how God wants you to be to others what they have been to you.

I hope that's helped somebody.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Michael Ross-Watson

Earlier today I got a message from Esther Ross-Watson to let us know that at 6.28am this morning Singapore time her husband Michael had passed away. Although Michael has been battling cancer for some time now, the recent news about how his treatement was progressing had been positive, so I know that this will be a shock to many of us.

I will always count having known Michael as one of the greatest privileges in my life. I know when I first met Michael I struggled to believe some of the stories he told of God's provision and the ways God had used him, simply because they sounded so amazing. However, the longer I knew him the more I got to know that not only were all the stories he told me absolutely true, but they were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of all he had experienced in God. I've rarely met anyone with such a strong pastoral heart, with such faith for incredible acts of generosity, with so many stories of God repaying him and Esther for their generosity, and with such faith and joy in the face of adversity. I will treasure my coffees and lunches with him and the times he both encouraged and challenged me. I will never forget his acts of generosity, both the small ones such as when he bought blankets for all the academy students because he'd heard they were getting cold in the classroom, to giving away thousands of pounds when he had no idea where the money was coming from. He was one of a kind, and we will deeply miss him.

From what Esther has told me the wake and funeral will be held in Singapore over the next few days to allow all their Singaporean, Indonesian and Australian friends to attend. I fully expect that once Esther is back in the UK there will be a thanksgiving service where we can all come together to thank God for Michael and what he meant to so many of us. I'll let you all know once we have those details.

As I heard the news of Michael I was reminded of the words of Job "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21). Let us praise God as we reflect on the gift Michael was to so many of us, and let us continue to praise God as we process our grief over him no longer being with us.

Please be praying for Esther, for their children Angie and Tim, and for all of us around the globe who will be mourning the loss of this amazing man of God.

Much love,

Simon.

 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Opening of the Serenje Special Needs Classroom

I got an amazing reminder of just a small part of the legacy of Mo Davies when I received an email this week about the opening of a classroom for children with special needs in Serenje, Zambia.

A number of years ago Mo travelled to visit the HIV/AIDS project we as a church supported in partnership with Tearfund in Serenje. Whilst there she was introduced to the deputy headmistress of one of the local schools who mentioned her dream to have a classroom specifically for special needs children. At that time for most children with special needs in Serenje there was no provision whatsoever, and for those who did get help it meant them moving to a specialist school hundreds of miles away from Serenje.

Mo felt God saying “you can help" so she began fundraising, until she was diagnosed with Myeloma. At this point her husband Ben took up the challenge, and at the age of 76 he undertook a 1,130 km bike ride across Europe to raise money. Between them they raised an amazing £11,907 which was enough to both build and equip the classroom.

The pictures show the handover of the special needs classroom to the government through the District Commisioner, as well as some of the children who will benefit from the provision.

Jesus taught us not to store up treasure on earth which is temporal, but to store up treasure in heaven which is eternal. God's treasure is people, and Ben and Mo (and all those who supported them) have made an incredibly wise eternal investment in these children and their education. Let them be an inspiration to all of us.

Simon

 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mo Davies

It was with great sadness that I heard the news this morning that Mo Davies passed away at 9.25pm last night (Tuesday 18th July). I spoke with Ben this morning and he said they'd had a quite remarkable last few hours together with their children Naomi, Caradog and Rebekah and some close family and friends singing hymns and praying together with Mo.

However, mixed in with that sadness is also a deep confidence and assurance that Mo has gone to a better place. A place with no cancer, no suffering, no pain, no sadness and no tears. It is really is true that for Mo, as for all who trust in Jesus for their salvation, that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I spent some time a while ago reflecting on Mo and the lasting impact she's had on my life. These were a few of the things I wrote that I appreciated and admired about her:

  • Her enduring love for Jesus, and her desire for Him to always be at the centre of her life
  • Her devotion to Ben, and the example that their commitment to one another was to so many of us
  • Her deep love for her children and grandchildren
  • Standing alongside Ben in giving sacrificially to the building of the Kerith Centre
  • Her regular prayer and fasting - particularly for her children
  • Her willingness to serve the weak and vulnerable:
  • - As a Marie Curie nurse, caring for people in their final days
  • - In Foodbank - Mo was serving there the Friday before she was told she only had days to live
  • - In our Konnections Respite ministry, caring for children with special needs and providing a much needed break for their families
  • - In helping so many individuals, both inside and outside the church, who needed a dose of Mo's wisdom, love, practical support or correction
  • Raising money to build a classroom for children with special needs in Serenje, Zambia
  • Her acceptance of and support for me taking over leading Kerith from Ben
  • Her dislike of the limelight, even though whenever she spoke in public the power of God moved through her
  • Her kindness to everyone she met
  • Her faith for lives being changed through our midweek Encounter meeting, as well as her commitment to making sure that everyone was well fed
  • Her fierce love of Wales, and her refusal to let Ben wear an England rugby shirt when he was asked to wear one at a Christmas Day meeting
  • Her trust in God throughout her life, and especially since being diagnosed with cancer
  • Her commitment to being in church as an utter priority, even if her favourite place was the second row from the back
  • Her smile and the twinkle she always had in her eye

I'm going to miss Mo hugely, as I know so many of us will. Please be praying for Ben in this new season of life that now lies ahead of him. Be praying for their children Naomi, Caradog and Rebekah as they come to terms with the loss of their mum. Be praying for their partners Howard, Anja and Simon, and for all the grandchildren who are mourning the loss of their 'nanna'. And be praying for all Mo's close friends, that God will be comforting and strengthening them as they grieve.

Let's also pray for God's kingdom to come at this time. For friends of Mo who didn't know Jesus to come to know Him. For Mo's legacy to be both a deeper love for Jesus and trust in Him for every one of us, and for each one of us to partner with Jesus in bringing His love and compassion to our lost and broken world.

I know that there will be many of us wanting to come together to thank God for Mo's life and to celebrate what she meant to so many of us. Once we have a date for the service of thanksgiving we'll make sure to let everyone know when it is. In the meantime I know many of you will want to write tributes to Mo. You can obviously send them directly to the family, but we'll collect together all the tributes which get left in both response to this blog and on the Kerith facebook page and make sure they get passed on to Ben and the family too.

Much love,

Simon

 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Elsie White and Gillian Guest

I wanted to let you know about the funeral arrangements for two people who have been linked with Kerith over the years, as I know that some of you will want to take the opportunity to pay your respects and stand with the families in their time of grief.

The first is for Elsie White who was part of Kerith a number of years ago. There will be a service of committal for Elsie at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Friday 21st July at 1.30pm.

The second person is Gillian Guest, who has been part of our community much more recently. There will be a service of committal for Gillian at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Monday 24th July at 1.30pm, followed by an opportunity to celebrate and thank God for Gill's life at 3pm in the K2 Hall.

Please be praying for both families as they mourn their loss.

Simon.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Going deeper in Revelation

We all need to turn up the volume of the word of God in our lives, because we all need a bigger revelation of Jesus. The more we know and experience of Jesus the more we'll experience the abundant life he promises us, and the more we'll reflect Jesus to our broken and hurting world.

Perhaps no book in the Bible presents a bigger or more unique view of Jesus than the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. I'm therefore really excited that we've started a new series looking at the first three chapters of Revelation.

I want to encourage all of us to use the next few weeks to go deeper in this book. In order to do that I'm recommending a couple of books which will help us.

The first is Tom Wright's commentary on Revelation. Tom Wright (or NT Wright as he seems to call himself in his more academic books) is one of the world's foremost theologians. He has that rare combination of a deep understanding of his subject and an ability to express that knowledge in a way that ordinary people like you and me can understand! He's written commentaries on all the books of the New Testament. Each of them follows a similar format in that he gives his own translation of a section of scripture, then unpacks it in a very accessible and engaging way. For a couple of years now I've been using them for my personal devotions. I encourage everyone to get a copy of this book and to start working your way through it - you won't regret it.

The second book is by a friend of mine, Phil Moore. Phil leads a vibrant, growing church in London called Everyday Church. He's not only an inspiring church leader but is also a gifted theologian. He's written books on a number of books in the Bible. They're not commentaries in that they don't cover the whole of the text, but instead take short sections of scripture and gives highly engaging and insightful thoughts on those verses, including lots of very useful background information.

Both books are available from all the usual places. Please take a look and get hold of one of them in order to turn up that volume!

Simon.

 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Letters to the Seven Churches

On Sunday we start a new series looking at the first three chapters of the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation. For the first week I'm going to give an overview of chapter one, then we'll spend a week looking at each of the letters written to seven different churches contained in chapters 2 and 3 (skipping the 23rd July which is our Academy Graduation day).

Revelation is a very unusual book, full of strange images and goings on. However, it's also a book with a vital message for us which I'll hope to start to unpack on Sunday. If you would like some homework I'd encourage you to read Daniel chapter 7, chapter 10 and Revelation chapter 1 before Sunday. Please also bring a pen and a notebook as we'll be covering a lot of ground which you'll hopefully want to go back to after Sunday.

Hope to see you there :)

Simon.

 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Monthly Bracknell Prayer Meetings - Starting 11th July

We're going to restart a monthly prayer meeting for everyone who comes to our Bracknell site. These will be on the second Tuesday every month from 8.00-9.30pm in K2, starting this coming Tuesday 11th July. The following one will be on Tuesday 8th August.

I'd like to invite everyone who comes to any of our Bracknell gatherings and is free on Tuesday to come along. We'll have different people leading the meeting each month, and as well as making time to worship we will pray for one another, for Kerith, for our town, for the nation and for the nations.

I want to say a huge thank you to Mel Woods who has been taking a growing lead in pushing us forward in prayer. She organised our very powerful recent half night of prayer, has overseen the production of a new set of prayer boards highlighting the various "Beyond Kerith" ministries which are about to go into the prayer room, and is taking a leading role in making these prayer meetings happen.

Just for full disclosure Catrina and I will be away for this first prayer meeting. I always feel awkward announcing something which I'm not going to be at, but we're taking a weeks holiday after all the excitement of REAL. However, please don't let that stop you being there. Perhaps you can even find some time to pray for us - we'd really appreciate it!

Simon.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Leah Mutala with us this weekend

This weekend we've got the privilege of having Leah Mutala from Zambia with us. Leah is an amazing woman of God who was responsible for so much of the success of the work we've been involved with over the last 10 years in Serenje, a rural area in Zambia.

The photo above is of Leah (in the green dress) greeting the First Lady of Zambia at the opening of the girls dormitorty in Serenje - a building which when fully open will house 100 secondary school girls who because they live so far from the school would otherwise have to live in a slum area during term time.

We wanted to get Leah over to thank her for all her hard work, and to celebrate with her all that has been achieved in Serenje.

She's going to be around for all of REAL (women it's not too late to join the over 400 women who will be there - you can get tickets for the whole conference here, or pay £7.50 on the door to attend either the Friday or Saturday evening).

Leah will then be in Sandhurst on Sunday morning for the 10.30am and in Bracknell for the 6pm - at both meetings we'll hear the stories of some of the girls in the dormitory as well as get an update on how the other projects in Serenje are progressing.

At the 9.30am and 11.30am in Bracknell Joy Blundell, one of our REAL speakers and an incredibly gifted young leader from Stuart Bell's church in Lincoln, will be speaking. If you're a Bracknell regular why not come and hear Joy in the morning and Leah in the evening!

The photos below are from the dormitory opening ceremony. The first shows the initial group of girls in the dormitory who got to have a meal with the First Lady, and the second shows some of the Serenje pastors at the dormitory.

Hope to catch you all some time over the weekend (I'll be sneaking into REAL!).

Simon.

 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Serenje Update - 22nd June 6.45-8.00pm

Apologies for the short notice, but tomorrow night (Thursday 22nd June) Anne Mumbi from Tearfund Zambia is going to be giving an update on the progress of the Serenje Dormitory, and the Umoja project which we've been sponsoring there for the last couple of years. It will be in the Kerith Centre from 6.45-8.00pm. If you are able to come it would be helpful if you could sign up here so we have some idea of numbers.

Then next Tuesday Leah Mutala, who oversaw the whole of our HIV/AIDS project in Serenje, is arriving in the UK. She'll be with us for the REAL women's conference, and the following Sunday where we'll have a chance to hear from her. It will be great to see her again, and to have an opportunity to thank her for the the time and energy she gave to making both the HIV/AIDS project and the dormitory such a success.

Simon.

Ps - Hope you're enjoying the sunshine! We've just had a cooling system installed in the Kerith Centre auditorium which hopefully will transform it from one of the hottest places in Bracknell to one of the coolest :)

 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jacqui and Alex Trekking across Iceland

I get lots of people asking me to help tell others about sponsored events they're taking part in. Much as I'd love to say yes to all of them, I usually say no as otherwise my blog would be nothing but an endless list of sponsorship requests!

However, every now and again a request comes along which really catches my attention. That's the case with two amazing people in our community, Jacqui Bowden-Excell and Alex Calce. They are soon heading off to Iceland for a sponsored trek. This would be a big challenge for most of us, but as you read Jacqui's description below of the health challenges she faces you'll realise just quite what a challenge it is going to be. I'm so proud of Jacqui's bravery, and Alex for stepping out to support Jacqui in what she's doing.

Please take a look, and cheer them on in any way you can.

Thanks so much,

Simon.

--------------------

I am taking part in Icelandic Lava Trek in July this year. Host to some of Europe’s most incredible wilderness, it will involve trekking 58kms through one of the planet’s most volcanic regions, weaving through vast steaming lava fields, thundering waterfalls, plunging fjords and spouting geysers and walking against a background of multi-coloured rocks. The terrain is very challenging with steep climbs and rough descents.

I have Usher Syndrome, which is a genetic condition affecting my hearing and sight. I am profoundly deaf and have limited sight – tunnel vision and am registered blind. I am raising the money towards Sense, the national (UK) voluntary organisation working with and supporting peoples of all ages who are deafblind.

If you would like to sponsor us please follow this link.

Thank you so much,

Jacqui.

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Windsor Vision and Prayer Meeting - 4pm on 11th June

We're taking the next step in the launch of our Windsor site when we hold a vision and prayer meeting at All Saints Church in Dedworth (SL4 4JW) on Sunday 11th June at 4pm. We'll make time to worship, hear the vision behind the Windsor site, pray for ourselves and the other churches in Windsor and talk about what the future holds. We'll also have a limited programme for children. There's plenty of parking around the church - we'll be serving drinks from 3.30pm.

We'll hold a similar meeting on Sunday 9th July, then starting from the 10th September we'll have a monthly meeting which will look more like the regular Sunday meetings on our other sites - all of these at 4pm at All Saints Church. For the meetings from September onwards (which generally will be the second Sunday in the month) we'll have a full kids programme and do everything else to replicate what happens in Bracknell and Sandhurst on a Sunday.

I'd encourage everyone with any interest in what is going on in Windsor to come along on the 11th, whether you're planning on making Kerith Windsor your home or not. It will be great to have you along to pray, and to encourage Leon Johnson and the rest of the team.

Hope to see you there!

Simon.

Ps - a huge thank you to the Rev. Louise Brown and the team at All Saints Dedworth who have been incredibly welcoming to us. We're so grateful to them making their building available to us for these meetings.

 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Celebration for the life of Val Cottee

A service to celebrate the life of Val Cottee is going to be held at the Kerith Centre in Bracknell at 12.30pm on Thursday 8th June. Val's sons Simon and Dave would like to invite everyone who knew Val to come along to remember her life and give thanks for how much she meant to so many of us. After the service everyone is invited to stay for drinks and refreshments.

Parking at the Kerith Centre is going to be very tight, especially given that it's also Election Day and our K2 building is being used as a polling station so we won't be able to park outside K2. I'm therefore asking everyone, other than family and those with a Blue Badge, to park in one of the town centre car parks (the Charles Square car park is closest to the Kerith Centre).

Many thanks,

Simon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Kerith Golf Society

Whenever I meet somebody visiting us on a Sunday one of my first thoughts is always "how can I help this person to find community and friendship in the life of the church". It's so key that people begin to build relationships which go deeper than just saying hello on a Sunday. Where they can find a depth of friendship where they can begin to take of the masks and both get and give support in all the ups and downs of life.

As a church we try to make as many ways as possible for people to make those connections. From courses to life groups to interest groups to serving groups, they are all opportunities to start to build friendships at a deeper level. One of those groups is our Golf Society, and Andy Emery who heads it up asked if he could have a bit of space on my blog to let people know about it. So here goes :)

Simon

________________________________________________

Saturday 29th April saw the first Kerith golf event of the year being played at Pine Ridge golf course. Following bacon rolls, coffee and a catch-up, men of Kerith and their friends started their 5km trek following a little, white ball. Navigating sand, water and trees with the aim of getting that same ball into 18 different holes before heading back to the club house for a well deserved drink and prize giving.

The Kerith Golf Society is made up of around 40 men with a wide range of ages and golfing ability. Whilst there are 6 organised games per year at local golf courses across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey, there is no requirement to play every game. A typical game would consist of between 16 and 20 golfers.

The golf days are open to everyone, whether you're new to the sport or you've been playing for years. All that's asked is that you've played golf before, have an understanding of golf etiquette and have a handicap, official or otherwise, of 28 or less. They provide a great opportunity to build friendships with other golfing men whilst enjoying friendly competition and exercise. Its also a really good environment to invite golf-loving work colleagues, neighbours and other non-Christian friends into; most enjoy it so much that they then end up playing regularly.

If you would like to join the mailing list or get more information about Kerith Golf Society, including the list of events in 2017, please contact Andy Emery by emailing golf@kerith.church

 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Safeguarding Training

One of our highest priorities as a church is to make sure that all the children who acces our various meetings are kept safe. To that end I'm so pleased that we've got the amazing Hilary Hulme working as our Safeguarding Officer. Hilary does untold amounts of work, so much of it unseen, to make sure the environment we provide for children and vulnerable adults is as safe as it possibly can be.

To that end one of the things Hilary arranges is for everyone working with under 18's in or community to attend safeguarding training every three years. I attended one of these courses recently and found it both helpful and sobering as to what we need to do and be looking out for, and what can go wrong if we don't do our job properly.

Here are some details on the forthcoming courses:

  • It’s a Bracknell Forest course which Hilary delivers on behalf of the Local Child Safeguarding Board.
  • In order to comply with government guidance everyone who volunteers with under 18s needs to do the course.
  • The training needs to be renewed every 3 years.
  • Some people may have completed the course through their work or through another voluntary organisation so they don’t need to come to the Kerith one. If so you just need to let Hilary know you've already completed a course and send her a copy of your certificate.
  • Hilary has arranged 4 dates in June on different days of the week to enable people to do the training (you only need to book one date!).

The dates are as follows. Just click on the link to register for that particular date:

All the courses will take place on our Bracknell site.

If this applies to you please serve Hilary and our children well by booking into one of these courses. And if you see Hilary around please take time to thank her for the amazing job she's doing for our community.

Many thanks,

Simon.

 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Generous Gift Days - Cinnamon Update

In December 2015 we held what we called our Generous gift day where the goal was to raise a load of money and give it all away!

As part of that we were able to give £25,000 to Cinnamon Network, an organisation which gives micro grants to churches looking to set up social justice projects. We got an update from Cinnamon on what they'd done with the money in June 2016, but for reasons I'm not quite sure of we never shared the update publicly - sorry about that! I therefore wanted to rectify that by sharing the update here.

Please take a moment to read it as it's so exciting to hear the difference the money made, and I'm sure continues to make, to churches in Northern Ireland.

Simon

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is inviting Christians around the world to pray for people to know Jesus Christ. That sounds like something that all of us should want to be involved in!

The idea is to have 11 days of prayer, from Ascension Day on 24th May through to Pentecost on the 4th June. I want to invite us all to do the following:

  • Sign up as an individual on the "Thy Kingdom Come" website, to get a daily email on each of the 11 days with thoughts and ideas on how to pray and what to pray for.
  • Book in to use the prayer room on our Bracknell site. We'll be putting resources into the prayer room to help you as you pray.
  • In Bracknell come to our half night of prayer in the Kerith Centre from 8pm on Friday 2nd June until 2am on Saturday 3rd June.
  • In Sandhurst come to our prayer meeting from 6pm - 7pm on Sunday 4th June in Sandhurst School.

You'll find a whole load more information and resources on the Thy Kingdom Come website, much of which has been produced by Brain Heasley and our other friends at 24-7 prayer.

When all of this was put in place nobody knew we would now be in the middle of a general election. Could there be a better time to be asking God for his kingdom to come and his will to be done in our nation and the nations.

Simon.

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Val Cottee

It was with a deep sense of sadness and shock that I received the news last night that Val Cottee had passed away. Val has been a hugely loved part of our community for over 40 years, and it's hard to imagine that we're not going to see her or hear her voice again this side of eternity. On Saturday 29th April Val had a major stroke and was taken into Frimley Park Hospital. Despite the best efforts of the doctors and nurses, and many of us praying for Val's healing, she passed away peacefully last night surrounded by her family.

It's hard to know where to start speaking about Val and the huge impact she had on the lives of so many people. She carried a wonderful combination of a deep love for and trust in God, a heart for people which made everyone who came in to contact with her feel special and valued, and a wisdom around how to practically help people connect with the God she loved. Even when she went through trials such as the extended illness of her husband Graham, you never saw her with anything other than her wonderful smile and a word of encouragement which would always leave you more full of joy and hope.

My own fondest memory of Val is a trip I got to go on with her to Serenje in Zambia. She'd never been to Africa before, but she just threw herself into everything that was going on. To see her kneeling to play with and embrace AIDS orphans, imparting wisdom and encouragement to young mums, sharing jokes with fellow grandmothers, and bringing the love of God to everyone she met was so inspiring to see. I'll always be hugely grateful to Val for the way that she supported me when I took over leading the church from Ben Davies. It was an intimidating time for me, and the support and encouragement of people like Val in that season helped me so much. Val continued to live her life like that right up until the end - she was serving on a growth track course and still running her small group the week before she was taken into hospital. An inspiration to all of us as to how to finish well.

Please be praying for Val's sons Simon and Dave, and their families, at this time. I'd encourage us not to phone them as they'll need space to come to terms with their loss, but to send them a card or a text so that they know we're thinking of them. Please also be praying for Val's many close friends who will also be feeling a deep sense of loss. There's always a tension at these times. We know that Val has gone to a better place by far, and that when the Apostle Paul wrote that "to die is gain" it was if anything an understatement. That doesn't however mean that we don't still feel a deep sense of loss at Val no longer being with us. Let's not be afraid to process that sadness in our own different ways.

Once we have a date for the thanksgiving service for Val's life we'll let people know via my blog. I know that many people will want to be there to celebrate a life well lived, and to thank God for the impact which Val had on so many of us.

Much love,

Simon

 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Vision Fund Gift Day and April Giving

Our April gift day total (including gift aid) was £84,526. Together with the £220,000 we raised in November that gives us everything we need to do all that is in our hearts for the next few months. This includes:

  • Paying off the remaining £65,000 of the mortgage on the K2 house. This will leaves us debt free as a church which is brilliant.
  • Pay the first years rental on the Gospel Hall in Windsor. This has a hall which seats 40-50 people which will be perfect for midweek meetings, courses, parent and toddler groups and the like.
  • Invest in equipment for our first Sunday meetings in Windsor. The current plan is to start doing these once a month at 4pm, meeting in the hall of the Anglican chuch in Dedworth. More details on this soon.
  • Continue to develop our plans for the buildings in Bracknell & Sandhurst.
  • Give away another £8,500 on top of the £22,000 we've already allocated to give away. £5,000 will go to the Tearfund East Africa appeal, and £3,500 to churches and organisations we work with.

Thank you so much to everyone who gave. It's so encouraging how things have moves forward and God has opened doors since we first announced the Vision Fund last September.

We'll be having another gift day in October. Hopefully by then we'll be able to talk more clearly about the plans for all three sites. Until then please continue to pray for God to move in and through all we're doing.

In addition to the Gift Day our regular giving in April was remarkable, coming in £33,149 over budget. Again a huge thank you to everyone who gave to make that possible.

That now means that this year we're £56,330 over budget in our giving. That is brilliant as it means that things we had hoped to do this year but had to delay in order to balance our budget can now be scheduled in. You should hopefully see the fruit of that over the next few months.

God is indeed our provider. He always gives us our "daily bread", giving us all we need to do all he has called us to do.

Simon.

 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

To the Men of Kerith (and beyond)

If you aren't already planning on coming I want to encourage all the men who get to read this to come to our Truth Men's Conference which is this Saturday (6th May) at the Kerith Centre. It starts at 8am with sausage and bacon butties, then from 8.45am through to 1.30pm we'll have a mixture of worship, teaching, prayer, coffee and the opportunity to continue old friendships and make new ones.

The main speaker is Steve Campbell from C3 church in Cambridge. He and his wife Angie are good friends to Catrina and me. Steve is a Liverpudlian who speaks from the heart, but also with a deep passion for God and the church. He's also a really keen cyclist if you're in to that sort of thing! I know we're in for a great time with him. Ben Davies will also be speaking - it's going to be a powerful time together.

You can get tickets online here priced at £15. If you can't afford that please come along anyway and just let us know - we don't want any men to miss out.

Parking is going to be quite tight, so if you can car share or park in the town centre and walk up that would be helpful.

Hope to see you there!

Simon.