Thursday, October 31, 2013

Open House Bonfire

We start a three week series on Sunday with the slightly enigmatic title "Open House Bonfire".

We're going to look at the tension we live with of wanting to create a community where lost people feel very welcomed and at ease (having an open house) whilst also wanting to be full of the Holy Spirit and eagerly desiring spiritual gifts (that's the bonfire bit!). My observation is that most churches go one way or the other, but that if we truly want to reach the people around us we need to be both welcoming and exposing people to the power of God.

This Sunday Ben Pocock is going to speak on us having an open house, and what that means for us as individuals and as a community. He'll also be giving everyone in Bracknell an update on how things are going at our Sandhurst site - all very exciting. Then next Sunday Liam Parker will be lighting a bonfire! The final week I'll attempt to pull it all together.

Hopefully the title makes a little bit more sense now!

Hope to catch you on Sunday,



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Project 125 becomes Project 196 (and a half)

This picture represents a huge answer to prayer, as it shows work starting on building the girls dormitory in Serenje, a rural community in Zambia we as a church have been involved with for the last 5 years. For those of you who don't know this is a project to build a dormitory for 100 girls in secondary education, saving them from having to live in a slum area where currently only 5% of them actually complete their schooling.

The girl on the left here is one of the girls who will hopefully end up in the dormitory. She's stood outside the 'house' that she sleeps, cooks and lives in while she's at school. What you can't see is that just behind her home is a bar with a bunch of guys who even this early in the day are already drunk. Most of the girls fail to complete their education because they get pregnant, many of them are raped and a number of them contract HIV/AIDS in the process. It's because of these girls that we, and the people we work with in Serenje, are so passionate about seeing the dormitory built. If they were our daughters we would do everything in our power to keep them safe - we want to do the same for these girls.

Ralph Allen, who did the initial design for the dormitory, recently went out to Serenje to see how the dormitory building is going. The great news is that we now have a builder, a fully costed plan and timescales we actually believe are achievable which should see the dormitory completed by April 2014 (assuming the rainy season doesn't come too early and isn't too rainy!).

The not quite so good news is that the cost has gone up since it was first all costed 3 years ago. We thought then that it would cost £125,000 to complete. With a contingency fund the expected cost is now £196,500. There are various reasons for the increase, including inflation, changes in the exchange rates and things not included in the original estimate such as getting electricity onto the site. However, we still feel strongly that we should still go ahead with building what we set out to build in the beginning.

We therefore need to look at raising another £71,500. How are we going to do that you may ask - a very good question.

  • First of all we're going to pray. If you're free please come and join us at the finance prayer meeting at 6am every Thursday where this will be high on the agenda. God has a habit of answering these sorts of prayer in spectacular ways.
  • We're looking at identifying grant giving organisations who might want to join the project - if you know of any please let us know.
  • I know that individuals, both within and outside Kerith will want to give. If that's you then please either give online (use the regular giving option and send a message to Helen Dodwell so that she know your giving is for the dormitory), or use one of the regular Sunday giving envelopes and write Serenje Dormitory on the form.
  • If we don't have all the money by Christmas we'll take up our regular Christmas Day offering for the dormitory, looking to raise enough to cover whatever shortfall we have.

Finally a few people have asked me whether we also have the money to fit out the dormitory with beds, chairs, tables, kitchen equipment and everything else they'll need. Currently we have about £15,000 for this which was raised by the bike ride Howard Reece-Smith, Ralph Hazell and others did to Istanbul earlier this year. We're currently trying to get a more accurate estimate of what the fit out will cost to make sure that is going to be enough.

Hope that all makes sense. It's so exciting to think that we're going to be able to provide a safe place for these girls to complete their education.



Thursday, October 24, 2013

2013 Finance Update

Several people have asked me recently for an update on our finances, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to post one here (I'll also plan to talk about this in more detail on a Sunday in November).

Our regular giving in 2013 is ahead of target, which is brilliant. To the end of September we had budgeted for offering income of £555,000 and have actually got in £566,000 - putting us £11,000 ahead of budget. That represents an increase of about 5% on 2012 giving, which especially given the economic times we're living in is fantastic.

The Give to Grow gifts days have also gone very well. Against the target we set at the start of the year of £310,000 we've so far this year raised just over £240,000. This leaves us just over £69,000 to raise in the gift days in November and December. Already we've been able to do so much with that money, including paying off all the interest free loans on reception, buying the house behind K2, launching our Sandhurst site and upgrading rooms on the Bracknell site. I'm really praying that we can raise that remaining money as there are still some projects we want to fund this year, including new carpets in the Kerith Centre auditorium and corridors, upgrading our Sunday kids registration to work electronically, paying next years rent on the Sandhurst site and giving us another £7,000 in tithe to give away.

On top of all this we've also managed to build up £25,000 in reserves so far this year. That's well short of our eventual target of having three months income (currently about £210,000) in a reserves fund, but is a good step on the way of where we want to get to.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in giving this year, whether you've been able to give a little or a lot. Jesus taught us that in life we reap what we sow, I know that both in this life and the one to come you will reap so much more than you have chosen to sow.

As always if you have any questions on any of this please ask, either via the website, email, Facebook, Twitter or (my favourite) actually coming and saying hello on a Sunday!


Serenje Celebration

This coming Sunday evening, starting at 6pm in the Kerith Centre, we're going to be celebrating all that God has done in us and through us in Serenje over the last 5 years (for anyone who doesn't know Serenje is a rural community in Zambia where for the last 5 years we've supported an HIV/AIDS project). It's going to be a brilliant evening as we:

  • Tell the story of how the project started and how God joined our hearts with the people of Serenje
  • Hear about what the project achieved over the last 5 years
  • Get an update on the building of the dormitory - a project to build a dormitory for 100 girls
  • Celebrate how local Bracknell Forest schools got involved in the project
  • Hear about how medical provision in Serenje has been transformed
  • Remember some of the other things God has done through the project
  • Find out what is going to happen next and how we can individually be involved

Andy Jackson and Zoe Hayes will be taking us through the story, along with lots of video of clips of what has happened over the years. We've also got a good friend of ours, Jamie Fyleman, coming from Tearfund to explain the next phase of the project.

It should finish by 7.30pm, and it's the start of half term, so hopefully many of our children who have played their part will be able to come as well.

Hope to see you there (and don't miss out on hearing the Ten10 speakers in Bracknell and Sandhurst in the morning either!),



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Getting Better Before Trying To Get Bigger

Last Sunday was the six year anniversary of me taking over leading Kerith from Ben Davies. It's had me reflecting on all that has happened over the last six years, and what this next year might hold - if you were around on Sunday you'll have heard me talking for a bit on this.

Most of my reflecting on the last six years is how much has changed in the life of our church, and how many new things we've started. Just in the last 18 months we've launched the Sandhurst site, finished paying for the reception redevelopment, bought the K2 house, opened the K4 shop, finished the 5 year project in Serenje (raising over £500,000 in the process), seen work start on the girls dormitory in Serenje, moved staff to the barn and the studio using the space freed up for mid week ministries and kids and youth on a Sunday, launched the TLG, CAP job club and caring for ex offenders ministries and got free use of a warehouse. We've also seen growth in pretty much every area of church life with growing influence, both locally and further afield.

As I look forward to year seven it feels that we need a year of not doing anything new but just growing into all the space we've created. That we need a season to regroup and consolidate. Interestingly although I didn't start there it ties in with the Old Testament idea of Jubilee, where they worked the land for six years but in the seventh year didn't plant anything new in it to give the land time to recover, ready for another six years of growth. Not doing anything new is going to be a huge challenge for me (I'm wired to want to always be starting new things), but I feel this year is going to be essential if we're going to reach our potential. In this year I sense we need to focus on three areas of church life:

  • Serving - encouraging everyone who is a part of Kerith to serve in some area of church life and putting in place leadership development for all the leaders we will need for the next season of growth.
  • Financial giving - to grow all of us in the spiritual discipline of giving, with a focus on regular giving rather than gift days (we'll plan to have no gift days in 2014). As part of this we'll look to build up reserve funds, both to provide us with fiancial stability as a community and to allow us to respond quickly to opportunities which are going to come our way.
  • Prayer - we've achieved a lot with one level of prayer, I just dream about what can be achieved if we take our prayer lives both as individuals and a community to another level. As part of this we're going to set up a 24/7 prayer room in the old Rochdale room in the Kerith Centre, and have a month of 24/7 prayer in February 2015. We'll also be encouraging all of us to grow in our prayer lives, engaging with the scriptures and worship.
There's much more I could say, but I'll sum up with something I heard Andy Stanley say recently (he stole it from S. Truett Cathy who is the founder of Chik-fil-A which makes me feel better about using it). It relates to a time when Chick-fil-A were being challenged by a competitor who had huge expansion plans. The founders simple wisdom was that Chik-fil-A simply needed to focus on getting better, because if they could get better then the customers would force them to get bigger. A few years later the competitor had gone bust and Chik-fil-A continues to flourish.

We could focus on trying to get bigger. Instead I sense God would have us all focus on getting better. Better individually in our walk with God, better in our community and our sense of loving one another, better in all we do to reach out to the world around us and better structurally as a church to support all that we're doing. If we can do better then with God's anointing on us we won't be able to help getting bigger.

Hope that all makes some sort of sense.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Wallpaper Removers Required

One of the things we've done this year is to buy the house behind K2. In the long term we've bought the house to give us the future option of knocking it down and extending K2 into the space created. However, in the short to medium term we want to use it to house local people in need of accomodation.

Lorraine Wade is overseeing a project to get the house renovated so that people can move in. As part of that she wants to organise working parties for Tuesday 22nd and Friday 25th October from 10am to 4pm to strip wallpaper, do sanding, remove carpets and a load of other jobs which need doing to get the house ready. Also if any has any wallpaper stripping equipment that would be a great help.

If you can help, even for an hour or two, please phone Lorraine on her work mobile, 07591 579 149. She'd love to hear from you.

Keep watching the blog as even if you can't make these dates I'm sure there will be other opportunities to get involved.


Ps this blog originally had a slightly different title, but I changed it as I was worried quite who Lorraine might get applying :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grow Your Tenner - Double Your Money

Starting on the 15th October an organisation called Local Giving are running a "Grow Your Tenner" campaign, where they will match any amount you donate up to £10, so if you give £10 they will double that gift to £20!

There are two Kerith Social Justice projects which you can donate to through this scheme.

Konnections supports children with disabilities and their families through a number of projects and schemes. You can donate to Konnections by following this link.

The Bracknell Foodbank provides nutritionally balanced emergency food for people in need in the Bracknell Forest area who are referred by a wide range of local agencies and organisations. Each food pack contains enough food for three days and the food is donated by local people and businesses. The website to donate to Foodbank is here.

Happy doubling!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Job Opportunity at Joyce Meyer Ministries

Our friends at Joyce Meyer Ministries Europe, based in Windsor, are looking to employ a couple of people as Call Centre Representatives. I've included the job description below. If you're interested then please contact Cindy van Vledder at

If you get the job via this blog then part of the payback is to persuade Joyce Meyer to come and preach on a Sunday!



As a Joyce Meyer Ministries Call Centre Representative your main responsibility is to answer incoming calls and determine how best to assist the customer according to their request/s. This will be done by using an existing database, known as NAy, to access the various information needed.

On occasion you may be required to draft letters for response, phone customers for information and communicate with personnel in other JMM offices via phone and email.

Initially work is performed under close direction using established practices, procedures and instructions. Later work will be performed without supervision with general guidance if necessary.

As a Call Centre Representative you should have a pleasant, confident and clear phone manner. You should also be able to work at a speed with accuracy to meet daily quotas.

Other responsibilities will include:

  • Prayer calls
  • Process Walk-In and Phone Orders
  • Processing of daily mail, web and mail charges
  • Assisting customers with selecting partnership method and taking all relevant information needed.
  • Gift Aid Admin
  • Provides clerical support as needed
  • Work overtime as mandated and other duties as needed


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Laptops for Serenje

Last Sunday Ralph Allen and Howard Reece-Smith headed out to Zambia to visit Serenje. Ralph is going out to review the plans for the building of the dormitory and meet with the builder. Howard is going to be working with the hospital out there helping to train the doctors and other medical staff.

If you know Howard you'll know that he likes to travel with very little luggage. We therefore thought it would be amusing to add to his luggage 30 laptops which Garth Hill College have donated to schools in Serenje!

Hopefully by now the laptops will be in Serenje, being delivered to the primary and secondary schools where they are going to be used. For many of the schools this will be their first computer - how cool is that!

I want to say a huge thank you to the staff at Garth for their generosity in making these laptops available, to Pip Reeve who has done an amazing job in sorting all the logisitcs to get them out the Zambia, to Howard and Ralph for being willing to take them, and to all the teachers in Serenje who will be working hard to make the most of what for them will be an incredibly precious resource.

Please also be praying for Howard and Ralph, espcially that they will have wisdom and success in getting the dormitory built as quickly, as well and as cheaply as possible.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

GLS this Friday - Not Too Late to Come

This Friday and Saturday we'll be hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Having seen the event live I can't wait to get to see it all again, and for a whole bunch of us to get to experience it too!

If you're already booked in then you're in for a treat. To whet your appetite then take a look at some of the highlights here.

If you're not already booked in then it's not too late. If you're part of Kerith then you can turn up and register on the door - £30 for both days or £25 if you can only make one day. Otherwise you'll need to register on the Willow UK website.

We've already got over 500 people coming to the event, including the volunteers, with over 90 Kerith delegates booked in. It's brilliant that so many people are willing to make this two day investment in their leadership gift - whether you're coming from a church, a charity, a business or some other walk of life I know that you're in for a great two days.

Hope to see you on Friday or Saturday,


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Volunteer Opportunity for a Human Resources Administrator

Kerith would be nothing without the army of volunteers who are at the heart of everything we do. Many of those volunteers serve on a Sunday. Lots serve during the week in our social justice ministries and on the courses and conferences we run throughout the year. Yet another group are behind the scenes, working alongside our staff team supporting the more corporate side of all we do as a community.

At the moment we're looking for a key volunteer to work in Human Resources. If you are able to volunteer at Kerith on a regular basis (1 or ideally 2 days per week), are a relationship builder and an Administrator through and through, Ali Hudell who has responsibility for Human Resources would love to hear from you!

This busy but vital role involves the administration of a number of areas within HR such as recruitment and selection for staff members, performance management, staff record keeping, volunteer recruitment and the processing of our DBS (formerly CRB) checks. You need to be tenacious and well organised but with a real heart to serve people well.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy doing please contact Ali on who would love to hear from you. She’ll be more than happy to answer any questions!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Catherine Barrett - Play Therapy

Many of you will know Catherine Barrett, part of our Kerith community. Catherine does amazing work as a play therapist, helping children come to terms with and overcome hugely challenging circumstances in their lives through play. She does lots of work in local schools, as well as doing work through Kerith social justice, running programmes such as one to help children who have siblings with special needs.

Catherine is self employed, and is often limited in what she can do because of lack of funding. She is therefore trying to raise funds by using her creative skills to make craft items which she can then sell. You can see some of what she's been up to on Facebook here.

If anyone would like to buy some of her stuff, help her produce more items which can be sold, or would like to help fund Catherine's work in some other way I know she'd love to hear from you - if you don't have her contact details then get hold of me and I'll introduce you to her - you won't regret it.

We as a church are also applying for grants to allow more of Catherine's work to be funded through Kerith. We have had quite a bit of success with that, but please pray for more as what she does really is life changing for the children and families involved.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Bren Stevens

Bren Stevens, with her husband Paul and daughters Danie and Tilly, was for many years a hugely loved part of our Kerith community before she and Paul moved down to Dorset. Many of you will know that Bren has fought a long battle with cancer. Sadly Bren passed away last week.

Bren was one of the kindest most gentle hearted people you could ever hope to meet. She was one of those people who would always take you "up in your lift", even when she was unwell always having something positive, uplifting and faith filled to say. She had that sort of quiet, faith filled faith in Christ which from what I saw was unshaken by her illness. She will I know be hugely missed by Paul, Danie, Tilly and everyone else who knew her.

The funeral service for Bren is going to be on Friday 11th October at 1.45pm at Weymouth Crematorium, Quibo Lane, Weymouth DT4 0RR. There will then be a thanksgiving service at 3pm for Bren's life at the Dorford Centre (Dorchester Baptist Church), Bridport Road, Dorchester DT1 1RR. Everyone is invited to both services.

Sadly for me the funeral is on the same day as the Willow Creek GLS, which I need to be at. However, I know that a number of others from our community are going to be able to make it. Either way let's be praying for Paul and the family. As the apostle Paul says we don't grieve as those who have no hope, we know that Bren has gone to an infinitely better place than anything she ever experienced on this earth, but that doesn't make our grief over her no longer being with us any less real.


If we each gave £67....

This Sunday is our next "Give to Grow" Gift Day. This is a series of gift days we've been having throughout 2013 with a goal to raise


This money was to allow us to launch our new site in Sandhurst, finish paying for all the improvements we did to the Kerith centre reception a couple of years ago, pay the deposit and legal fees to allow us to buy the K2 house and make a number of improvements to the Kerith Centre and K2. We also aim to give away 10% of all the money that comes in.

So far this year we've done brilliantly, with


coming in including gift aid. Thank you so much to everyone who has given. That leaves us with a mere


to raise by the end of the year!

That may sound like a lot, but if each of us going to Kerith on Sunday were to give


and gift aid it then we'd reach the target. That somehow feels much more achievable. So please be thinking and praying about what you are going to give.

We've achieved so much this year through these gift days. Launching Sandhurst, buying the K2 house, paying off £76,000 of the costs for the redevelopment of reception, improving our facilities including buying a vision mixer and giving away over £20,000. However, there are still things we want to achieve in terms of more equipment to buy and rent to pay for Sandhurst, finishing paying for reception, recarpeting the Kerith Centre auditorium and giving more money away.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness - Sex

This Sunday Ben Oliver is preaching part 2 of our Pursuit of Happiness series. He's got the exciting challenge of reflecting on how the world approaches sex as a potential source of happiness and fulfillment, how that so often gets distorted and messed up by our own brokenness, and what the Bible has to say about God's view of sex. In advance you might also want to read the relevant chapter of the Peach and the Coconut - a chapter I was originally going to call peachy sex but had the name changed because the editors thoughts might get misunderstood :)

Should be interesting!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Our next Alpha course starts this Wednesday, 7.30pm in the Kerith Centre. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal, make some new friends, hear a talk about an aspect of the Christian faith and have an opportunity to ask absolutely any questions you might have about Christianity. You can read more about what Alpha is here, and get all the details on our course and find a registration form here.

There are already over 50 people booked in to attend, but there is plenty of space for more, so whether you've got a friend who you'd love to invite, or you'd like to come yourself, then please register and come along. It will be great :)

I'll be there for the start of the course - hope to see you there.