Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thanksgiving Service for Graham Cottee

We've now finalised the date for Graham's thanksgiving service, which will take place on Thursday 14th of January.

There will be a small family committal service at 11.15am at Easthampstead Park Crematorium, followed by a service to give thanks for Graham's life starting at midday at The Kerith Centre .
I know that many of you will want to come to The Kerith Centre to both remember Graham and to support Val and the family. Please can I just request that if possible you park in the town centre car parks to leave the limited Kerith parking for visitors, the elderly and the disabled.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Graham Cottee

On Boxing Day evening I got the sad news that Graham Cottee had passed away earlier that day. This is what Val, his wife, wrote on Facebook :

Graham died peacefully with us all around his bed yesterday at 3.15 pm. He knew we were there and departed this life only after having his Christmas cake! After such a long illness it was so quick in the end as if he chose to go and I know that he is in... a much better place. Nothing seems real right now except family and friends.

Graham was one of the first people I got to know after we joined the church. I'll always remember him for his dry sense of humour, his heart for people, his deep love of God and that feeling of terror if he caught you when you'd forgotten to return some tapes you'd borrowed to the tape desk! (for many years Graham ran the church's tape ministry). He was a very private man, but was always willing to make time for others. For the last four years he has lived with a number of different illnesses - it is so true that he has gone to a better place. He will be much missed, not only by Val and his sons Simon and David and their families, but by all of us who had the privilege to call him a friend.

There will be a service of Thanksgiving for Graham's life in the New Year, I'll let you know via the blog and on the family news section of the website when we've got a date and time for that.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas

I'm not going to be blogging, tweeting or emailing from Christmas to New Year, so here's me hoping you have a fantastic Christmas as we remember God becoming incarnate and living among us - truly a miracle.

Hope to see you on Sunday 3rd January when we all get back together again!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tony Pudner Updates

For those interested in following some even more extreme conditions than the ones which have brought the whole of the South of England to a standstill, check out Tony & David Pudner's progress up Aconcagua here. The first update gives the impression most of the time so far has been spent in a swanky restaurant, but it sounds like they've now started the climb in earnest! It's still not to late to sponsor them.

Hope you're enjoying the snow wherever you are.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Kerith Relief 2

Just back from The Kerith Centre where a team have been doing a magnificent job serving tea, coffee, doughnuts and providing toilet breaks for all the people stuck in the gridlocked traffic on Church Road. Rarely can Bracknell have seen such chaos! The car park is full of abandoned cars - hopefully they all have gone by Christmas Eve!

The traffic all seems to have cleared now, but I just want to thank the team who made all this possible - you know who you are. I only got there towards the end but was in time to meet a lady we helped who was due to give birth today. She and her mum were incredibly grateful, as I'm sure were many others. Even the police turned up at the end to say thank you!


Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Skidally - BOTB Winners

Thought you might like to see this video of 2009 Battle of the Bands winners Skadilly.

Please be thinking about who to invite to this weekend carol concerts, either traditional at 9am and 11am or alternative at 7pm.

Catch you at the weekend.


Tony Pudner's High Altitude Christmas

If you were there for the 9am meeting this week you'll have heard me talking with Tony Pudner about how God healed his back after prayer the previous week - he hurt it a number of years ago carrying a roll of carpet, but says it is better now that it has ever been - praise God!

People say to test healing, and Tony is certainly doing that as on Monday he set off, with his son David, to climb Aconcagua in Argentina. Aconcagua is nearly 7 km high, is the highest mountain in the Americas and the highest mountain outside of Asia. It should take them about 20 days to climb it (most of which is overcoming the effects of being at such altitude) and if all goes to plan they'll get to the summit on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

As a result of the climb Tony is hoping to raise money for a new youth building at Oakwood. If you'd like to donate then please visit Tony's JustGiving page.

Not surprisingly mobile phones don't work on the mountain, but if Tony does manage to send through any updates I'll post them here. Think of them both as you're seeing in the New Year!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Would Jesus Say To Tiger Woods?

Thousands of newspaper column inches, countless hours of TV and endless tweets and blogs have been devoted to analysis of the goings on in the life of Tiger Woods. Most of the analysis I've seen, even from reputable papers and news programmes, has had an undercurrent of delight at the way the Woods life and image have been falling apart since the initial news of him being involved in a car crash. That left me wondering about what Jesus would say to Tiger Woods if he was to meet up with him.

First I think Jesus would have something to say to all the people taking delight in Woods downfall, and who are enjoying poring over every emerging detail. Jesus once met a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and his first words were not to her but to her accusers. He told them to consider their own lives before starting to stand in judgement over anyone else. People will say "but I've not done anything as bad or as public as Tiger Woods", but let's remember that Jesus set the bar much higher than we would - "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart". I saw a newspaper article recently where some scientists tried to do a study on men who'd never looked at pornography - but couldn't find any. Jesus would tell us to put down our stones and consider our own lives before throwing our stones at Woods.

Secondly I think Jesus would tell Woods that he doesn't condemn him for what he's done. Jesus didn't come into the world to condemn it but to save it, and nobody is excluded from that message of hope. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery "neither do I condemn you". So however wretched Woods must feel right now Jesus doesn't condemn him.

Thirdly I think Jesus would be clear about how much Woods has messed up, and the impact of his sin. I'm reminded of David when he slept with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered to try and cover it up. David thought he'd got away with it, but God through Nathan made sure that David realised the seriousness and the long term impact of what he had done. That it had implications for him, for his family, for his career and for his relationship with God. Jesus was never vague about the nature, the impact or the implications of sin.

Fourthly Jesus would say to Woods that repentance is the way to restoration. Repentance means admitting that you've messed up. Getting it all out there, not trying to excuse anything, hide anything, trying to do damage limitation or pretending it didn't happen, but admitting everything you've done and asking for forgiveness - first before God then before everyone you've sinned against, which in this case would include his wife, children, family, friends, mistresses, sponsors and anyone else affected. But repentance means more than than just feeling sorry and asking for forgiveness. It means turning around and now living your life a different way. You can't do that on your own but only with God's help, and the help of those around you. Jesus would encourage Woods into a community of people who truly want the best for him and can now help him to live in a different way from now on. Tiger Woods need to find the Nathan's in his life who will help him live differently.

Finally I think Jesus would say that this doesn't have to be the end. That however much we mess up that restoration and recovery is still possible. Looking at the example of David his sin had huge negative implications, including the death of both Uriah and the child he had with Bathsheba. But God is the master of bringing good from bad where we work with him. David carried on ruling the kingdom. In the genealogy of Jesus we read "David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife", so there is hope.

Those are my thoughts. I'm sure there will be other ideas on what Jesus might say - if so then please feel free to add those thoughts as comments.

But I want to close by reflecting that we will all have times when we mess up. It's unlikely to have been as public as for Tiger Woods, but it may have had just as big implications on your life. Or perhaps you've got a sin in your life which is still hidden, but you know that one day it's going to come out into the open. Please can I encourage you to read this blog again, but putting yourself in the place of Tiger Woods and hearing what Jesus would say to you.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When Bankers are the Good Guys!

On Friday I had a visit from a lovely lady called Angela Bristow who works for HFC Bank in Winkfield. The staff at the bank recently held a Charity Christmas Bazaar and decided to donate the money they raised to our community based projects. Angela came in to give me a cheque, along with a whole load of Christmas goodies which they had bought for the Foodbank.

It's so exciting to see how we're increasingly engaging with the local community, both with the community blessing us and us being a blessing to the community.

Just to give you a Foodbank update the figures to the end of November were that we've collected in over 4 tonnes of food, given out nearly 1.5 tonnes and helped 54 different clients who were referred to us by 22 different agencies. I also heard today of a church in another area which is thinking of opening a Foodbank after hearing about ours.

Just one of the many ways God is blessing us.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Day Charity

At our Christmas Day meeting we will be taking up an offering for Bracknell Home-Start. This is a local charity which, in it's own words:

"Through a network of trained parent volunteers we support parents who are struggling to cope. Our families need support for many reasons including post-natal illness, disability, bereavement, the illness of a parent or child, or social isolation. Parents supporting other parents - to help build a family's confidence and ability to cope."

Kerith in the Community works closely with Home Start, which does fantastic work in our local area. Please come prepared to give generously.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

If You Need Cheering Up...

...then take a look at this. It made me laugh anyway.

Whilst I've got your attention a quick reminder to be inviting guests for Kerith Relief this Sunday night, the carol concerts on the 20th December and to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Have a great day.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Cricket Pitch

Today we signed the contract to rent the strip of land down the side of K2 for the next three years. The plan is to clear the area, fence it in and then put a playground and seating in there. Although it's only a small piece of land this is really going to enhance what we can do with the children on Sundays, youth on Fridays and when we're running special needs respite care (I'm sure we'll also find lots of other uses for it). There are also separate plans to turn the currently unused land at the back of K2 into a vegetable garden for the children to use.

This is all being paid for from the gift day we had in early 2009. So thank you to everyone who gave so generously then, and to Jeff Whitton, Ralph Allen and Penny Lander who have been working hard to make this project happen. It should all be completed some time in early 2010.


Prayer Meetings

A reminder that we're meeting to pray on Wednesday and Thursday evening this week. I truly believe that 2010 is going to be a year when we see God doing even more amazing things amongst us, but a huge part of our responsibility in that is seeking God's hand and face and asking him to do what only he can do.

So please join us on whichever say works for you. Sola will be leading Wednesday, as the elders are meeting with Steve Tibbert from the Newfrontiers church in Catford earlier that evening and may be a bit late, and I'll be leading on Thursday.

I know what a busy time this is for all us, but please make this a priority in the coming week - you won't regret it!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our New Magazine

If you were around last weekend you'll have hopefully picked up a copy of our new magazine 'Link'. The aim is to produce it every four months and for it to contain details on all that we're up to as a community, details of forthcoming events, articles and peoples stories. Although it is intended to replace the weekly bulletin the hope is that it will have a much wider use as a tool all of us can use to let the wider community know what we're up to.

I want to say a huge thank you to Beccy Oliver, Mike Charlton and the whole of the rest of the team of writers and photographers who made this first edition possible. I'm really proud of it and think it is going to be a great resource for us.

It was great at Kerith Relief on Sunday night to see guests sat reading the magazine before the meeting. I've just had an email from someone who has arranged for copies to be put in their local library, and today I went to a Bracknell Forest event where I gave copies to a number of new people I met. Please can I encourage you to keep some copies in your bag and at home for all those "Walk Across the Room" situations.

Finally if you have any ideas for things to go in the next edition (which will come out in time for Easter) or how we can improve it then please email them to with the word magazine somewhere in the subject line.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Serenje Gift Day Latest

Thought you might like to hear the latest on the total for the Serenje Gift Day (updated since Sunday).

The total, including the money carried over from last year, gifts, promised standing orders and expected gift aid is now £107,323.

I can't tell you how excited I am by that, and how grateful I am for everyone's amazing generosity. It's a quite astounding amount of money to have raised, especially given the economic circumstances and that none of us will receive any tangible return from our giving.

We're expecting the total to go up further, with gifts and standing order pledges still coming in, and two more Kerith Relief events to go. All of it will be used to help the community of Serenje.

Thank you so much to everyone who has given, however much. You are all part of the amazing things God is doing through us.