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.

 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Kerith Vision Fund Offering

A final reminder about our vision fund offering which we've held over the last two Sundays. If you haven't yet given then it's not too late - you can give online here, or via ChurchApp on your smartphone if you've got it installed.

We're going to announce the total this Sunday, so if you're planning on giving please do it quickly so we can include your giving in the total.

Things are really moving forward with the plans for all three sites:

  • In Bracknell Scott Allen, our architect, is working hard on producing plans for the redevelopment of K2. Hopefully as a result of this offering we'll be able to pay off the remaining £65,000 of the mortgage on the house behind K2.
  • In Sandhurst we're in talks with a potential partner for a permanent facility for both Sunday and midweek use.
  • In Windsor we've been offered the opportunity to rent a midweek venue at a very reasonable price. One of the churches there have also offered us their building for a once a month 4pm Sunday meeting, which we're hoping to start very soon.

Please be praying for favour for us in all three projects as we seek to lay a foundation for the next generation.

A huge thank you in advance for your part in making this dream a reality.

Simon.

Monday, April 17, 2017

We're still looking for a Morning Receptionist and Saturday Caretaker

I blogged last month about two Kerith job opportunities, one for a Morning Receptionist and the other for a Saturday Caretaker. So far we haven't managed to fill either role, so I wanted to ask again if either you, or anyone you know, would be interested in joining our amazing team.

You can get all the details about both jobs from my previous blog. The closing date for applications is Monday 24th April with interviews likely to be on the 26th or 27th April.

Let's all be praying for God to send us the right person for both roles, as they are both vital in us achieving all we feel God is calling us to do.

Simon.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Friday : Uprising - Let the Revolution Begin

Our Good Friday meeting this year is at 7pm in the Kerith Centre, and I really want to encourage you to come along if you possibly can, as well as inviting friends neighbours and relatives to what is going to be a powerful time of reflection.

We're going to do the meeting 'in the round', which basically means there will be a stage in the middle of the ground floor of the auditorium, with bean bags and chairs set up all around the stage. Hopefully that is going to give it a very intimate feel as we reflect on the revolution which began as a result of Jesus death on the cross.

The meeting will include readings from the Easter story, worship, communion, a performance song and a preach.

Parking is in the college. The meeting starts with readings so please be sure to get there early and find your space as you won't want to miss the start.

See you there :)

Simon.

 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Easter Fun Day

On Saturday 15th April we're inviting everyone at Kerith along with friends and family to an Easter Fun Day at Sandhurst School from 1-3pm. Tickets cost £1 per child with adults free - you can get tickets and all the other details you need here.

There's going to be an Easter egg hunt, a bouncy castle, face painting, and a charity cake sale for Tehila and Novo. Book early to guarantee taking part in the Easter Egg Hunt!

Hope to see you there :)

Simon.

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ralph Allen's Story

As part of our Generosity series I spoke about borrowing and saving (you can find the audio of that talk here and the video here).

In that I encouraged people not to take on large mortgages or other financial commitments (or if you have a big mortgage pay it off as quickly as possible), as although you might be able to afford the repayments it can stop you responding to God if you feel him calling you to do something which is going to pay a significantly lower salary. Subsequent to that talk Ralph Allen, who is part of our Bracknell site, contacted me to say what I'd said really resonated with his life story, so I asked him to share it.

I hope you enjoy reading it!

Simon.

-----------

 

I have found that much of my walk with God can be recognized in hindsight. This is certainly true of my professional career as an architect and Simon’s recent comments on finance struck a chord. Let me explain.

Lilian, my wife, and I together with our eldest son moved from Lancashire to Bracknell some 40 years ago and in September of 1976 we found ourselves attending Sunday morning worship at Bracknell Baptist Church (now Kerith Community Church). This was somewhat against my better judgment, as I had previously met Ben Davies, the then senior pastor. Our roots are in Methodism and, although Ben and I got on really well, I concluded that theologically we were worlds apart! Indeed following my initial meeting with Ben, I went home and told Lilian that if there was one church in Bracknell that we would never attend it would be Bracknell Baptist Church. God must have had a smile on His face.

My fears were further realized when chatting with one of the church members, Frank Brooks, after the meeting he asked what I did for a living. Having explained that I was an architect, he responded by saying that he was certain God had sent me to the church. Really - I certainly didn’t recognize this at the time.

However some two years later I had a phone call that was to significantly change the direction of my career. This led in 1980 to me becoming a partner in a large national practice of architects and surveyors with offices in Liverpool, Manchester and London. This was quite amazing, I was still relatively young (!) and here I was, one of thirteen partners with a staff of one hundred and twenty, in a practice that had been established well in excess of one hundred years, with a significant fee income. Prospects looked good - security for the considerable future plus a significant increase in income. As I reflected on this I began to wonder if this was indeed part of God’s plan for my life.

Events were to develop which made this a certainty. In the early 80’s Bracknell Baptist Church had outgrown their building (on the site of K2) and began actively looking for land in the town centre on which to build. The preferred site was a piece of land on Church Road opposite the existing building, owned by the New Towns Commission. As negotiations progressed the church needed an architect and I was fortunate that my practice was appointed. This was to be the largest church building constructed in the UK for many years.

However it took some years to finally acquire the land and during that time the practice expanded further and my role changed from designing buildings to managing staff and looking after clients. This caused some frustration – here was a job that I enjoyed very much but on the other hand a project that by now I was certain God had indeed brought me Bracknell to be involved in the new building. One late Monday evening I was driving back from a partners meeting in Liverpool, half thinking and half praying about the dilemma. Then it became clear to me that if God had indeed brought me here for “such a time as this” I needed to resign from the partnership and concentrate on the design of the building, now known as the Kerith Centre. Following discussion with the church leadership, this is what happened and with the help of Lilian, Allen Associates Architects was established in January 1988. We had absolutely no idea what would happen after completion of the building.

Now back to 1980 and in particular our finances. Having been made a partner in the practice, it did not take long for me to recognize that my partner’s lifestyle was significantly different to ours. They had large houses, in some cases second homes, and without exception their children attended private schools. Guess what, we started to think along similar lines. We now had two boys and we visited a number of private schools. We were considering moving and looked at houses that were much larger than the house we eventually moved in to. Now I am not suggesting that there is anything at all wrong with spending money that you have on large houses or private education, but I can only explain that for us we were uncomfortable about the long term financial commitments and, again in hindsight, I believe that this was God’s prompting. For if we had been committed to a large mortgage and significant school fees, I don’t think I could have left the partnership and all of the financial uncertainty associated with this decision, and followed the course that God clearly had mapped out for me. However we did spend some surplus money on one of my interests– classic cars and we did holiday abroad for the first time.

What followed was equally amazing. After the completion of the Kerith Centre in 1989, God provided an increasing number of church projects, like-minded staff and offices. Even my son Scott became an architect so that I can now reduce my involvement in the practice!

Over the years we have been involved in many exciting church building projects across the denominations, and have seen God move in most amazing ways. What better career than to enjoy what I still enjoy doing and use the abilities God has given me to serve His church. I am so grateful for His intervention in our lives and for His provision

We still live in the same house. The boys went to Easthampsted School and now both have good careers. I still design church buildings and play with classic cars!

Ralph Allen

 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

April Week of Prayer

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10

 

We're planning another week of prayer, to tie in with our Vision Fund Gift days on Sunday 23rd and 30th April. The vision fund is all around seeing God's kingdom expanding and growing, and we want to see that become a reality through our praying as much as we do through our giving.

The plan is to do a 24/7 week of prayer in the Prayer Room on our Bracknell site where we fill every hour slot throughout the week, starting at 4pm on the 23rd and finishing at 4pm on the 30th. The team will be theming the prayer room with ideas on how to pray and what to pray for, and we'll clean the blackboard wall at the start so we can fill it with scriptures, encouragement, answers to prayer and things we sense God saying as the week goes on.

You can book the prayer room here - just scroll forward to get to the end of April. Please get booking in straight away, either as an individual or in your groups.

Here's my big ask. The hardest slots to fill are not surprisingly the early hours of the morning. Please can I ask for some of our prayer warriors to book in for those midnight to 6am slots! I've just booked midnight to 2am on Monday 24th - who fancies taking over from me at 2am!

I'm looking forward to all that God will do in and through us as we call out to Him. Thanks for playing your part in it all.

Simon.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Church and Culture Conference Cancelled

I wanted to let people know that the Church and Culture Conference which we were due to be hosting on Thursday has been cancelled. Anyone who has bought tickets should already have been contacted to let them know, but I wanted to make sure anyone planning to come along and get their tickets on the day also got the message.

If you're interested in other conferences, we're still definitely hosting:

More details by following the links.

Hope you have a great week,

Simon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

February 2017 Giving

Sorry it's a bit late but I wanted to update you on our giving to the end of February.

As you can see above February giving was excellent, at £11,500 over budget.

This year we've set the monthly budget a bit differently. Over the last few years we simply took the budgeted giving for the year and divided it by 12 to give each month's budgetted giving. This year we've tried to take into account that we know that in some months (such as January, February and August) the offerings are normally lower, and in other months (such as March and June) they are normally higher. Based on the old method this month's budgetted giving would have been £73,360, so either way we're well above budget.

For the year to date we're an even better £12,471 over budget which is great.

If offerings continue to be above budget it will allow us to do even more of what we currently do. Helping people of all ages and backgrounds find their way back to God. People in our local community, in the nation and in the nations.

A huge thank you to everyone involved in the grace of giving at Kerith.

From a very grateful senior pastor,

Simon.

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kerith Vision Fund Update

For anyone who missed the Vision Fund updates I've given over the last two weeks I thought I'd use my blog to post an update.

You may remember we kicked the Vision Fund off last year where we had our first gift days which raised just under £220,000. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who gave to what was the biggest gift day in the history of Kerith.

We're going to tithe 10% of all the money which comes in for the vision fund, which from these first gift days was £22,000. We're in the process of of giving away the first £20,000 of that, with

So what are we going to use the rest of the money for?

In Bracknell we've paid £110,000 off the mortgage on the house which we bought behind K2, which reduces the mortgage to £62,000. We've given everyone an opportunity to comment on what facilities we think we'll need on the Bracknell site to take us into the next 15 years. That list has been refined and is now with our architect, Scott Allen, who will come up with a plan to redevelop K2 and the Kerith Centre in a way that will meet those requirements. We'd hope in the next two to three months to have a first draft of those plans.

In Sandhurst we've had some very exciting developments. Rather than just a midweek venue which we were originally looking for it looks like we may now be in a position to think about getting a permanent Sunday venue too. I can't say too much more at this point in time, but it could be very promising. Hopefully we'll be able to announce more in the next couple of months, but in the meantime please keep praying for God to open doors and guide us in our conversations.

In Windsor we've looked at something like 25 potential venues where we could hold Sunday meetings. We're now in the process of reviewing all the options and hope to choose one soon. Once we've chosen a venue we plan to start with monthly meetings, and once they're up and running look to move those to being weekly. Depending on the venue we're likely to need quite a bit of the vision fund money to buy items such as PA, equipment for the kids work and signage, as well as paying the rent on the venue.

The great news is that from the first gift day we have the money we need to get all three of these projects up and running.

As a next step we're going to have two more gift days this year. The first gift day will be the 23rd and 30th April where we're looking to raise another £200,000. This would allow us to pay off the the remaining £62,000 of the mortgage on the K2 house (which will leave us debt free as a church), have another £20,000 to give away and the remainder will go to the next stage of each of these projects. Please be thinking and praying about what God would have you give, as well as praying for wisdom as to how to use the money we've already God and for doors to continue to open for us.

Simon.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kerith Vacancies - Morning Receptionist & Saturday Caretaker

Due to some staff changes that have come about in the last few weeks we are currently recruiting for the following positions:

  • Saturday Caretaker - (Term Time only) 5 hours each Saturday to prepare the Kerith Centre ready for our Sunday meetings. This will involve setting out chairs in the auditorium, moving furniture, cleaning of the public areas and toilets plus additional tasks to support conferences and weddings.
  • Morning Receptionist – Monday to Friday, 9am – 1.30pm. We are looking for someone who will exude our ethos of “Love God, Love People” to be the first point of contact for all staff and visitors when they enter the Kerith Centre. The role involves dealing face to face with a diverse range of visitors, managing incoming calls and basic ministry administration.

Both of these roles are key to making our Sunday and Ministry work happen with excellence. If you or someone you know is interested in either job, application packs are available from the Kerith Centre reception desk. The closing date for both roles is Monday 27th March with interviews anticipated for the week commencing 3rd April. If you would like further information on either role please contact Ali Hudell, HR Manager or Jake Harvey, Site Services Manager by email or via telephone on 01344 862699.

Simon.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Marriage Course - Starting this week

One of the best things Catrina and I ever did for our marriage was to attend the Marriage Course. It wasn't that our marriage was in crisis, it wasn't, but as we did the course we learnt a whole load of principles which have allowed us to build a much better and stronger marriage.

The course originated in HTB in London, the church which also started Alpha. We travelled up to HTB to do the course, but found it so beneficial that we then helped run it in Bracknell to make it easier for others to attend. Catrina and I don't personally oversee the running of the course any more, but I'm delighted that others have taken it on and make sure that others can continue to benefit from it.

We've got two courses starting this week which are going to be run in peoples homes. On Wednesday 8th March we've got a course starting in Sunningdale, on Thursday 9th March a course starts in North Bracknell.

Amongst other things the 7 weeks of the course will help you to:

  • Understand each other’s needs
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Grow closer by learning methods to resolve conflict
  • Recover from the ways you may have hurt each other
  • Recognise how your upbringing affects your relationship
  • Improve relationships with parents and in-laws
  • Develop greater sexual intimacy
  • Discover each other’s "love language" and much, much more....

Who wouldn't want that!

The Marriage Course is for couples who are in a married relationship and seeking to strengthen their relationship. Some couples do the course to invest in their relationship, others need more urgent help. Either way, the course offers a lifetime of practical ideas and tools to help keep your relationship strong.The Marriage Course is based on Christian principles but designed for all couples with or without a church background.

The Course is run in the Leaders home as a small group. The evening consists of a meal, DVD interviews and talks and time for private discussion between you and your partner. You never share anything about your relationship with anyone other than your partner.

The cost for the course is £40 per couple, which includes a meal every week and all the course materials. If the cost is going to be an issue for you please let us know as we woulnd't want cost to be a barrier to anyone attending

You can get more information and find sign up here.

Simon.

 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Generous

Yesterday we started our new series on generosity. We're taking seven weeks looking at how we handle our finances and possesions, and how through using them as God intended we can live a more generous life. You can find the audio podcast of the first weeks message here.

As part of the series we're encouraging everyone to participate in daily generosity challenges, which we hope will move us as a community to grow more generous hearts and be a blessing to those around us. Every day we'll be putting out a challenge on social media (twitter, instagram and facebook), but you can also get a whole weeks worth by clicking on 'subscribe' on the "what's on" page of our website and entering your email address. You'll have missed the email with the first weeks worth, but don't fear, you can find them here.

Let us know how you're getting on using the hashtag #generosityshift. We'll feature some of the most interesting things people have been doing each Sunday.

Have a great week being generous :)

Simon.

 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Supporting our local Fostering Team

One of the most exciting things we've got involved in over recent years has been the initiative to encourage more families to consider fostering and adoption in order to provide safe, loving homes for some of the most vulnerable children in our community. This has been headed up by the amazing Penny Lander, with lots of practical support and encouragement from our friends at Home for Good.

We have a number of people in our community who have either adopted children or are in the process of becoming adoptive parents, but as far as I know only have one couple in the church providing a foster home (they're an amazing couple in our Sandhurst community who recently moved to a bigger home just so that they could foster more children). Penny is really keen to encourage more people to consider the possibility of fostering, and asked me whether I'd blog about it which I'm delighted to be able to do. Here's what Penny wants to say:

If you live around Bracknell, you might have seen the new Recruitment Officer for Bracknell Forest council fostering team giving out balloons at the Sports Centre last month. The reason she was there is that children in our area who go into care are not guaranteed being able to stay with a family locally, because of the shortage of foster carers. That can mean living in a residential home, or being placed out of the area, away from school and friends.

We want to support our colleagues at Bracknell Forest Family Placement Team, and help find local homes for local children.

Across our church community we already have fantastic foster carers and adopters. But there will also be some of you reading this who have been thinking or praying about fostering. If that’s you and you know now is the time to find out more, then a good starting point is Home for Good, the national charity we partner with. You can contact me via the Home for Good website. Please also take a look at the council’s website, and scroll down to a couple of excellent videos of foster carers. The Home for Good website also has some great resources.

Thanks so much,

Penny.