Thursday, July 2, 2020

Upcoming Dates - Prayer, Gift Days and Vision Hours



We've got some dates coming up which I wanted to make sure everyone knew about and had in their diaries.

Kingdom Come Prayer Hour - 8pm on Monday 6th July

This is our next monthly one church prayer meeting which will happen on zoom. Please come and join us for what will be a dynamic, faith filled hour of prayer. Included in the hour will be Lee Layton-Matthews leading us into God's presence, Paul Manwaring leading us in prayer for healing and the opportunity in groups to share encouragement and pray for one another. 

Because of the security issues around making zoom links public we are now sending out zoom links using our ChurchSuite database. That should mean that if you're on ChurchSuite you should get an email this weekend with the link in (you might want to check your spam folder as they often seem to end up there). If you haven't got the email by Monday morning, or you are part of Kerith but not on ChurchSuite, then please email the church office who will be able to send you the link. You might also want to ask to be added to ChurchSuite so you'll get these emails in future. 

Vision Fund Gift Days - 19th and 26th July

Our vision fund continues to provide us with the resources to move things forward on all four of our sites. In particular it is currently paying all the salaries and running costs for our Windsor and West Wight sites up until the end of 2020. We also give away 10% of all the money which comes in to other individuals and organisations. Our next two gift days are coming up - please be thinking and praying about what God would have you give. You can find all the details on how to give on the giving page of our website. 

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who chooses to sow their finances into the Kingdom of God by giving both to our regular offerings and our gift days. I never cease to be amazed by the ongoing generosity of our church community. It allows us to do so much as a church - thank you. 

Vision Hours on 3rd and 4th August

We want to update people on each of our sites as to what is going on both across Kerith and on your site. These are going to be one hour zoom calls which will include an update from your site pastor, from me and from Jonathan Davis who is our chair of trustees. There will also be space for Q&A and for us to pray.  

These are going to be:
  • West Wight – 7pm on Monday 3rd August
  • Bracknell – 8.30pm on Monday 3rd August
  • Windsor - 7pm on Tuesday 4th August
  • BV – 8.30pm on Tuesday 4th August   
The zoom links will come out via ChurchSuite emails nearer the time. Again if you haven't got your link by the Monday morning then please email reception to get it. 

Excitingly we have a growing number of people who consider themselves to be part of Kerith but aren't connected to any of our physical sites. If that's you and you're on ChurchSuite you will get an invite to the Bracknell vision hour. However, I hope that next time we hold site based vision events we might be holding a separate vision hour for our growing digital site (for want of a better name). Exciting. 

Hope that all makes sense. If not please ask :)

Blessings,

Simon

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Post Church Zoom Changes and More




We're still experimenting and innovating around how we best do church online in this season where we are still unable to meet physically on a Sunday (I'm going to talk on Sunday about the journey back to meeting again physically so please listen out for that). 

One of the ideas we've played with online has been to do something after the meeting to gather those who would like interact some more. Initially this was a Facebook live call, and then some of the sites started to experiment with zoom calls. These have worked well, with the addition of breakout rooms for small group discussions which people seem to enjoy, and now all our sites are doing separate zoom calls in the morning with one central zoom call after the evening meeting. 

However, one thing we have been very aware of is the danger that making the zoom links public allows anyone with malicious intent to join one of the zoom calls and do something inappropriate or offensive. Because of this we're going to change the focus of the post church zoom calls to be for people already connected to Kerith rather than for newcomers, which in reality is who has been joining them. This means that instead of making the links to the various zoom calls public we will send the them out in an email which will go out monthly to everyone who is on our ChurchSuite database. If you're on ChurchSuite you should get an email with the links by 5pm this Friday, they sometime end up in the spam folder so you might want to check there if it doesn't arrive by then. The links won't change from week to week so once you've got the one you need save it somewhere and you can use it every week. 

For those not on ChurchSuite but consider yourself to be part of Kerith (wherever you are in the world) we'd still love you to be able to join. To get the links you need to either:
  • If you are in a Kerith small group ask your small group leader for the links which they should have. If you're a small group leader why not send the links out to your group when you get them. 
  • Email the church office to ask for the link. They will check that you are known to us as a church and send you the link you need.
  • Apply to be added to our church database by emailing the church office.
I realise that this is all a bit of a faff and it may take a week or two for people to get the links they need, but both online and in person we want to prioritise making sure our gatherings are as safe as they can be for all of us. 

We are also upgrading the way we stream the Sunday meetings. You will still be able to watch the various components (Kerith Kids TV, the pre-meeting chat and the adult meeting) on both our website and on our YouTube channel, but from this Sunday the website will allow for interactive chat in the same way as YouTube does. Over the coming weeks we will add in other capabilities on the website such as the opportunity for people to be prayed for, respond virtually to appeals and more. 

Hope you're doing well. I look forward to 'seeing you' on Sunday.

Blessings,

Simon

Monday, June 15, 2020

Let's Talk




If you were with us on Sunday you would have heard the interview I did with Shari Barrrett, our worship pastor, something which will hopefully will be the beginning of a conversation about race for many of us in our community. This followed on from the pre-meeting chat Catrina and I had with Pelumi and Rachel Aworinde the Sunday before, and tied in with the pre-meeting chats we had this Sunday with Darlington Nwodo and Daniele Siedu. If you missed any of those interviews I'd strongly encourage you to watch them by clicking on the links. None of them make easy listening but it is so important that we hear these voices, especially those of us who are white and want to understand better what racism looks like in our own nation and the nations around the world. 

I want to encourage us as a church community to have the courage to initiate these sorts of conversations with people from a different ethnic background to our own. I realise that in the past I've shied away from having those conversations, afraid of saying the wrong thing or causing offence. However, I now realise how much poorer I am because of that. I've been shocked as I've sat down with friends from different ethnic minorities, in some cases with people I've known for years, not only to hear their stories of race based hatred and discrimination but also to realise that I had no idea that many of these things are still going on today.  

I also recommended a couple of books which I want to encourage everyone in our community to read.


The first is Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Reni is a London based journalist who writes with brutal honesty about race and racism in the UK. Please get it, read it and discuss it with others.


The second book is We Need to Talk About Race by Ben Lindsay. Ben is black but leads a white majority church in South East London. His book is very helpful in exposing some of the structural issues in white majority churches which can make it hard for black people (and those from other ethnic minorities) to flourish. 

Finally to say I finished my sermon yesterday with a poem, which for me summarised some of what I think God is up to in this moment (the poem is by a Poet called Leslie Dwight). We are seeing a shaking in our nation with in short succession Brexit, Extinction Rebellion, Covid-19 and now the murder of George Floyd. We are at a unique moment in history where God is shaking our certainties, revealing fault lines in our society, highlighting injustice and calling us to live a different way. Let us be the people who recognise God at work in it all, have the uncomfortable conversations, speak prophetically, act courageously and be God's agents for change in the world.

Simon



Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Resources to Help us with Mental Health in Lockdown


As lockdown continues, albeit in a slightly modified form, I suspect all of us are having struggles of one type or another with our mental health. For some that may be moments of anger, sadness or frustration (if you check in with my family I've exhibited all three of those!). For others it will much bigger challenges. I wanted to point you all at some resources which I think will be helpful for all of us at this challenging time. 



The first is to point you at the brilliant talk and Q&A which Dr Kate Middleton from the Mind and Soul Foundation did for us. You can find it on both Facebook and YouTube. I can't recommend it strongly enough. If you've already heard it then why not go and listen to it again! Why not also send a link to it to someone you know who might benefit from it.

There are also a whole load articles on supporting your mental health in the midst of Covid-19 on their website as well as a wealth of other helpful information. Please take a look. They also post lots of information on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube feeds, not all of which appears on their website.



Hope in Depression is a charity which founded by Lisa Owens who is part of Kerith Bracknell. The charity runs a six week course hosted by experts in various areas of mental health to help both people who are struggling with depression and those who are seeking to support people who are struggling. I have spoken with a number of people who have attended the course and they have all spoken incredibly highly of it, both in terms of the quality of the people presenting it and the impact it has made on their own lives. You don't need to have a faith background to do the course.

The latest course, which is being run online, started last Monday (11th May) but it's not too late to join in week 2. I'd really recommend it to anyone who feels they could do with some help. You can find all the details and a sign up form on the small groups section of the website

Hope in Depression have also recently posted some really helpful short videos on their YouTube channel around various aspects of mental health. 


Kintsugi is the name for a Japanese technique of making artwork from pottery which is broken and then put back together using glue which is golden coloured, highlighting the beauty which can come from brokenness. Kintsugi Hope is a Christian charity seeking to to see a world where mental and emotional health is understood and accepted, with safe and supportive communities for everyone to grow and flourish. Earlier this year I heard Patrick Regan who founded Kintsugi speak and found him very helpful. They run Wellbeing Groups as well as having a load of helpful talks and articles on their website. 


Finally many of you will remember Zoe Dickinson (or Zoe Hayes as she was). Zoe was a much loved part of Kerith and one of our key contacts at Tearfund before she moved to Cheltenham and retrained as a Wellbeing Coach, helping people with their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Zoe has produced a free Wellbeing Toolkit which could be a great first step in evaluating where you currently are and what some first steps might be in beginning to move to a healthier place. Sadly Zoe doesn't have a circular logo, which would have created a really nice symmetry to this blog, but other than that I highly recommend her!

Hope some of that helped somebody.

Keep safe and be kind (to yourself and others).

Simon.

ps. My final suggestion is to watch the Disney Film 'Inside Out' which is a masterclass in the importance of us engaging with our emotions. You can get a one month free subscription to the Disney Channel if you haven't got access to it on DVD or any other digital format!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Roy Buck


Sadly at midday on Wednesday (6th May) Roy Buck passed away. 

Roy and his lovely with Ruth have been part of Kerith for 45 years, two of those people in our community who have remained faithful through the huge changes our church has seen over the years. This has included the move into the charismatic, two major building projects, two changes of name, a change of senior leader and much more! Those of us who have joined Kerith more recently owe a debt of gratitude to the likes of Roy and Ruth who have helped lay the foundation for all God is now doing among us. In that time amongst other things Roy and Ruth have led a very successful small group in their home in Crowthorne, and were amongst the founding leaders and leading lights of TMTL, our group for the retired. 

I will always remember Roy for his gentleness and kindness. Like many of us he always sat in the same place on a Sunday (if you can remember when we did that!) and he and Ruth would always get there early which meant I could have a chat with them before the meeting began. I will miss those chats, as well as his quiet support and encouragement for me and those around me. As a leader you come to deeply appreciate the Roys in your life. 

For some time now Roy has been at Glebelands Care Home in Wokingham. Because of all the lockdown restrictions that meant that Ruth was not able to be with Roy in his final few weeks which was very hard, although Ruth was able to speak regularly to Roy on the phone. She says the staff team at the home were incredible in the care they gave Roy which was a huge comfort (let's continue to thank God for all the care workers in our nation). Please be praying for Ruth as she grieves the loss of Roy, as well as for their three sons and the many others who will be feeling the loss of such a good friend. We know that Roy has gone to a better place, and that one day we will see him again, but we still grieve him not being with us. 

The committal service for Roy will of necessity be just for the family, but once it is safe to do so we will hold a public celebration of Roy's life which I know many of us will want to attend. 

Blessings,

Simon

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mental Health in Lockdown


I suspect that every one of us has had our mental health impacted in one way or another by lockdown. We’ve all experienced our normal routines being broken. Some of us are physically alone, the rest of us are only interacting face to face with a small number of people. For some of us there is the pressure of juggling work and children or finding that our jobs are more complex and demanding than ever before. For others there is the challenge of having very little to do. Most of the things we look forward to have been taken away. We are feeling sad at not being able to see friends and family. We have the fear that we or those we love may get the virus and be seriously ill and even die. Some are fearful for their future, for jobs and finances. Some of us are grieving the loss of people we love. It is hard for all of us, but for those already struggling with mental health when we went into lock down lockdown can represent a perfect storm.

On Sunday 3rd May at 7pm we are going to address the subject of mental health in lockdown, and to talk about it from a Christian perspective. We are going to have with us Dr Kate Middleton from the Mind and Soul Foundation. Kate is both a psychologist and a church leader, and is an expert on how science and faith interact in our quest to be mentally healthy. Kate is going to speak for about half an hour on how to stay mentally healthy in lockdown, and then I’m going to do an extended question and answer session with her. It will be hosted live on our Kerith Facebook page and then available to view afterwards on Facebook and on our Kerith YouTube channel

You can find all the details on our website, including how to ask questions. 

Please join us for what is going to be a really helpful evening, and be letting friends and family know about it too. 

Be kind and stay safe,

Simon.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kerith Finance Update


Last Sunday I gave a finance update which I thought I'd repeat and expand on in a blog.

One of the things the coronavirus has created is huge economic uncertainty: for governments, business, charities, churches and individuals. We don’t really know what the long term impact is going to be. Some are saying it is going to be a relatively short blip, others that we may experience something much harsher economically. I don’t know, and I don’t know what is going to happen to our church giving. What I do know is that God is in charge, that our hope is in him and that he is our provider. 

Our March offerings were £88,766, our highest offering of the year so far but around £13,000 below budget. We normally see a big spike in giving in March and April but this year the March spike has been smaller than we budgeted for. How much of that is coronavirus related we just don’t know, we will have a better idea when we see April’s giving. That means that for 2020 our giving is about £28,000 below budget. Interestingly although we are behind budget, our giving to the end of March is actually over £2,000 up on last years giving in the same time period. The reality is that we budgeted for a bigger increase in giving this year than we are currently seeing, rather than there being a decline in our giving. 

I want to assure us that despite behind behind our budgeted giving we are in a good place to not only survive but to thrive in the coming season.

First to say that although our income was £28,000 below budget our expenditure so far this year has been over £43,000 below budget. Some of that is down to the timing of when bills come in, but even taking that into account we are in a better cash position now than we were at the start of the year. We are also debt free, which is fantastic, and have around three months operating costs in our reserves which is a really solid place to be.

Even with all that we don’t know what is going to happen in the wider economic world and how that might impact our giving over the next few months, so we are taking steps to minimise expenditure as much as we can while continuing to fully resource everything we are delivering at this time. We have also made use of the governments furlough scheme to put on furlough nine of our staff team whose roles don’t exist at the moment because we aren’t meeting physically on a Sunday and most of our buildings are shut. For those staff the government will pay 80% of their salaries and we will make up the other 20% so they won’t lose out in any way. As soon as circumstance change such that these roles exist again we will look to bring these people off furlough.

I have three encouragements:
  • Let’s keep praying! We had a wonderful time last night at our online Kingdom Come prayer night. Prayer is foundational to all we do. That includes our finances so please join me in praying for us to have the money to do everything which God has put on our hearts to do. 
  • Some of us may get into financial difficulty over the next few months, or may already be struggling. If that is you please ask for help. Don’t be proud but humble yourself and reach out. We all have seasons where we are able to be the help giver and seasons where we are the one needing help. If you need help reach out to your small group or other friends in Kerith, and if they aren’t able to help the please contact us centrally. You can do that by clicking on the ‘I need Help and Support’ button on the front page of the church website.
  • Many of us have salaries which are relatively secure, and at the moment our expenditure has gone down because we aren’t going out for meals, having haircuts, going to the cinema or going for days out or holidays. Would you consider giving more in this season to help cover those who can’t give as much. People have already been incredibly generous, not only in the giving to the general fund but also with over £8K given to support people within Kerith who are struggling and over £22K given to Foodbank. Please think about doing this not only for Kerith but for charities which are on your heart and which would make brilliant use of anything you were able to give them at this time. I started writing a list of charities connected with Kerith but it began to get very long and I will only upset somebody by missing one, but if you know one then please consider supporting them.
To finish I want to tell you about the picture at the top of this blog, which I took yesterday yesterday while I was serving at Foodbank. Two British Gas vans turned up with a huge donation of many of our most needed food items, donated by a Tesco distribution centre in Oxfordshire. Who would have thought God would use two profit making organisations to provide us with the resources we need to be a blessing to our local community. God is our provider. He has never failed us and he never well. 

Be blessed and stay safe,

Simon