Thursday, September 3, 2020

September 2020 Week of Prayer

At the start of 2020 we encouraged everyone in our community to do three things:

  • Pray on our own every day
  • Pray with others every week
  • Fast for breakthrough once a month
For our September week of prayer (Monday 7th to Sunday 13th September) we want to encourage everyone to pray with others every day. To help achieve this we are providing multiple opportunities to pray together throughout the week.

The start of the day (6.45am Monday to Friday)
 
Each morning there will be an opportunity to pray with others on my prayercast on Facebook. If you're not an early starter you can watch later in the day, or for our deaf community the prayercast gets translated by our amazing interpreters. I will lead all five mornings and we will pray for a different topic each morning. 

The end of the day (9.45pm Monday to Friday)

We will finish each day with a 15 minute time of prayer, lead by different people from across our sites. This will take the form of an examen where we will review the day and recognise where God has been at work. This will be on Instagram Live on our Kerith Instagram account

Kingdom Come Zoom Hour of Prayer (8pm Monday)

We will join together on zoom for an hour to pray for one another, the church, the nation and the nations. We will finish by taking communion together so please come prepared with some bread and wine or equivalent. 

Kingdom Come In Person Hour of Prayer (8pm Wednesday)

As much as possible this will be a repeat of the Monday hour of prayer but instead of being online will be held on the Kerith Centre balcony. This will be our first physical gathering since the Covid restrictions came into effect and in part will be a test event for the safety procedures we have developed. Attendance will be limited to 55 people on a first come first served basis with places booked via ChurchSuite. We are targeting this event for those who will struggle to access the Monday zoom prayer meeting. If you know somebody who you think would like to attend but would struggle to book a space then please can you contact them and offer to make a booking on their behalf. If you would like to attend you can find all the details and the booking form on ChurchSuite

Prayer for Revival (9am Saturday)

I want to encourage as many of us as possible to join Jon Hulme's zoom hour of prayer for revival in our nation and the nations. Jon is away this weekend so Jacqui Webber-Gant will be leading it in his absence. 

Fast for Alpha

Please also pick one day of the week to fast (food or something else), praying for somebody you would love to see come on the Alpha course starting at the end of September. This term we are starting Alpha with a TASTER Night on Wednesday 30th Septenber 19:30 via Zoom. You can 'bring a friend' and then at the end of the evening they can decide if they want to sign up for the other weeks. It's therefore an easy invite as you are only inviting to 1 week not 10!

There are some helpful guidelines on fasting on the 24-7 Prayer website. Pray that God will give the person or people you are going to invite a receptive heart, and that God will give you the courage to actually ask them!

Zoom Links

For the events on zoom (the Monday Kingdom Come hour of prayer and the Saturday prayer for revival) we will send out the links to everyone on Church Suite on Friday. If you don't get that email then please email the church office and we will get the links to you. For all the other events you should find the links above. 

Sorry that this blog has come out a bit later than I would have wanted, but it has taken quite a while to make sure we have everything in place to run the in person prayer meeting on the Wednesday. 

Hope that all makes sense. There's quite a bit going on but please plug in where you can and enjoy a week of praying together (with a day of rest on Sunday!). 

Simon

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Sundays - We want to hear what you think

 



We are now around 5 months into this season where everything we do on a Sunday has moved online. I've been so proud of all the people who have worked incredibly hard and shown amazing creativity to produce all of our online content. There has been an army of both staff and volunteers, in front of and behind the cameras, who have been serving and continue to serve us so well with Kerith Kids TV, Kerith Youth, worship, preaching, the pre meeting chat and much more. I'm also incredibly proud of our church family who have adapted so quickly to this new way of 'doing church' and the opportunities it presents. 

Now feels like a good moment to evaluate how well our online content is working for everyone, to gather ideas on how what we could change or improve and to see if there are any fresh ideas of things we could do. We would also love to hear how people feel about gathering again physically and what people feel would need to be in place before they would want to be part of an in person Sunday gathering. 

We've therefore put together this questionnaire which we'd really appreciate everyone taking the time to fill in. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes to complete and will be incredibly helpful for us as a leadership as we look to chart a way forward. We'll report on the results in early September. The questionnaire only asks about our Sunday adult online content but if you want to comment on our kids or youth content, or any other area of church life, then there is an opportunity to do that at the end.

I realise that not everybody in our community will be able to complete an online questionnaire, and in some ways those who will struggle to do it will be some of the people we most want to hear from. If you know somebody who you think may be in that camp I'm asking whether you could help us by contacting them and filling the questionnaire in with them. That will be much more relational than us trying to do something centrally - thank you. As an aside we are also setting up a project to attempt to deal with the 'digital poverty' of those who struggle to access the online world. If you know people who are struggling in that way, and you personally are not able to help them, then please let us know by emailing our reception team and we will see what we can do to help. 

Thanks in advance for taking the time to let us know what you think - it is really appreciated. 

Simon

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