Posted: Mon, 17 Apr, 2017 (6 months ago) - by Pearl
Flordon book exchange is now up and running and there are lots of fresh books to choose from. I would like to thank everyone who uses the exchange and hope you continue to enjoy the variety of material available. Al and I will get round to giving the phone box a fresh lick of pillar box red paint soon. Many thanks, Pearl.
Posted: Wed, 29 Mar, 2017 (7 months ago) - by Adrian
April is the month in which we have to have our annual church meetings. It is also the month In which Easter often falls - this year it's right in the middle of April. It always strikes me as something of a juxtaposition. Remembering the week leading up to Jesus' death and celebrating His resurrection is perhaps the most intensely spiritual and searching of all our festivals. The word "crucial" comes from the Latin "crux", meaning "cross", and this week of celebration is truly crucial in every sense. On the other hand, we have the intensely practical work of attending to the legal aspects of running 4 charities, and ensuring that notices, electoral rolls, and reports are all in order for the annual meetings.
So, I find myself with this balance between spiritual and practical, between meditating on the timeless meaning of Jesus conquering death, and reading up on the latest changes around charity regulations, and making sure we do what we should. In reality, both these things are important.
We have to keep circling back to the roots of what we believe and what really makes us get out of bed in the morning. How Jesus has expressed His love to us in the person of Jesus Christ and in the events of Holy Week, is nothing short of astonishing, and it does lie at the heart of all we engage in. And yet we find ourselves with our own unique context and our own specific calling to pursue.
The APCMs provide an opportunity to review how we are living out God's call upon us and to cast the vision for where God is calling us to next. The annual meetings are much more than a series of talking heads, giving dry reports out of duty to the demands of charity law. They are a time when we can gather the wider church family, celebrate what God has done in the past year and seek God together for fresh vision and direction in the year ahead.
Our foundations and our values remain constant, and the resurrection celebrations bring us back to these. But our vision shifts and turns as the Spirit blows in new directions, and our annual meetings give ear to this.
I do hope to see as many folk as possible from the church families gathering through April, to seek both a re-grounding with God and a re-envisioning from Him.
Hethel Tuesday 4 April 7.30pm in Bracon Ash Village Hall
Mulbarton Monday 10 April 7.30pm in Harvest House.
Bracon Ash Tuesday 11 April 2.00pm in Bracon Ash Church
Posted: Mon, 20 Mar, 2017 (7 months ago) - by Caroline
As at 16 March 2017 we at Mulbarton Church have collected a total of more than 1,310kg of food for the Norwich Foodbank. This would be enough to feed approximately 174 local people, who are in crisis, for 3 days.
Thank you very much for your support!
Items most needed now are: instant mash, long life sponge puddings, tinned vegetables, chocolate (including Easter eggs!) and male toiletries.
Posted: Mon, 13 Mar, 2017 (7 months ago) - by Adrian
I love the new gathering in Mulbarton social club for afternoon tea – it’s been great to partner with others on this and meet a real community need. The spread that Angie, Beth and Jasmine put on, at our trial event in November, was sensational. There was such a good buzz there, so it’s great that the “Mulbarton Mardlers” will continue monthly in 2017.
Something else that seems to have struck a chord has been our community choir. I’m so pleased Andrew has been able to put his many musical talents to such good use, and to make good friends among the choir, and that so many have been able to tap into the benefits of community singing and simply have fun together. The fabulous carol service was only the beginning – look out for the choir concert at the Village Hall later on. Newcomers to the choir are always welcome – just contact Andrew.
We’re planning a new event for 2017, inviting the whole village to an open day and gift day at the church on Saturday 13th May, after which we hope to be ready to open the church permanently during daylight hours. You may be curious about what goes on at your local church, or the ways we seek to serve the community. You may fancy a go at playing the organ or ringing bells, or want to get some ideas about a baptism or wedding. You may want to find out more about the amazing heritage or see the special artefacts, which are usually hidden away – or just have a nose. Or you may simply appreciate a good quality coffee and a slice of cake. If you’d like to come and see for any reason, we’d be delighted to see you.
There’ll be no obligation, but for those who would like, we will also provide opportunity for you to make a gift to the church, especially to help us preserve some important heritage, and make the building more comfortable. Two key projects for 2017 are to improve heating and to restore the baptismal font. For so many decades, the font has been used to baptise the people of Mulbarton, and without help we risk losing it forever.
In case you’re wondering about progress with churchyard rules, we’re still negotiating with the diocesan legal office – hopefully more news soon.
Posted: Wed, 28 Sep, 2016 (1 year ago) - by Adrian
Dear praying friends at Mulbarton Church, greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I hope this finds you in good health and spirit! I am pleased to inform you that finally we have been able to hand over the second phase of five houses to earthquake victims.
I am sorry that due to constant rain and unfavourable situations in Nepal, construction work got delayed. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for your prayer and partnership in helping these suffering people. We are going to start building a similar building in another district soon and will continue to build houses as long as we have funds. In Him, Ram Prasad Shrestha
Flordon’s annual get together – the village barbecue/ Hog Roast – was enjoyed in perfect weather by villagers aged 0 to 90. Excellent food was followed by face painting and games for the children, while the rest of us just enjoyed each other’s company.
Our grateful thanks to Tony and Amanda for their hard work and organisation and to everyone else who provided food or helped in any way to make this a wonderful event.
Flordon Flower Festival attracted a steady stream of visitors during the August Bank Holiday weekend. It featured in Radio Norfolk’s Treasure Quest on Sunday morning – the picture shows Sophie finding the clue.
Delicious teas and Ploughman’s lunches were enjoyed in Helen and Jimmy’s garden next door.
Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make it such a successful event.
The magnificent sum of £1385 was raised for church funds.
What a great 4th birthday we had on Thursday! A huge well done to everyone for adapting so well to different surroundings and the heat - and for adjusting to last minute surprises, like no electricity. The team worked brilliantly together and also created a new way of producing and presenting another set of imaginative crafts on our 'stage' for Adrian to re-tell the story. Thank you Gill for this great suggestion. A special thank you to Evie for reading the story so well. Everyone was listening intently and we have already had feedback from parents saying how helpful this was. Thank you for your debut on the piano Andrew.
Theresa was a star in the kitchen once again juggling coffee making when the electricity came back on in the midst of preparing a delicious lunch for us all. Thank you again everyone for what you have baked and brought. Ros, special thanks for making our birthday cakes this year.
We were 61 people in total: 29 adults and 32 children. Several of our regular families were away, but there were still a good number. It was encouraging to hear from these families how much their children also appreciate the Open the Book team who go into both schools to act out Bible stories.
Thank you everyone for a great day.
Our next Messy Church will be in the October half term on Thursday 27 October. Between now and then there will be a Harvest Service with a taste of Messy Church, very suitable for families, on Sunday 25 September at 11 am at Hethel Church, followed by lunch at Hill Farm, Hethel (tickets soon available for the lunch).
Update of 14th bath of Residential Mission Training Course
National Mission Commission of Nepal
Three months Missionary Training was organized from 2nd March to 24th May 2016. There were twelve students, including 2 ladies across the country. Most of the students came from the least evangelized region of Nepal.
During the training, including NMCN staffs and more than 20 pastors, teachers, taught different subjects such as: Walk through the Bible, Bible study method, Biblical foundation of mission, History of Mission, Christian ethics, Preaching, Christian family, Book of Acts, Church management, Church planting, Fivefold ministry, Role of Holy spirit in Mission, Spiritual warfare, Muslim religion, Tent Making, Spiritual Leadership, Holistic Mission, Income generating, Evangelism and Discipleship.
NMCN promotes Cross-cultural and holistic mission. Students were taught how one must get involved in the community transformation to look for an avenue to witness the Christ. It has been strongly emphasized that the church must take the whole Gospel to the whole society. Apart from that, students were taught an Income Generating Training in order for them to do mission without any support from outside.
A Graduation Ceremony
A Graduation Ceremony was held On May 24, 2016 in Jyoti Great Commission Church, Sainbhu Lalitpur. At the ceremony, we had invited our board members, distinguished pastors and leaders as well as pastors and relatives of graduating student to bless the students. Over 50 pastors and leaders were present at the ceremony where 2 students shared their experiences and blessings of their time at the Mission Training Course. The ceremony was presided by Prem Kumar Rai, while Rev. Satay Tamang a Chairman of NMCN gave the message of exhortation to the graduating students.
CEO Ram Prasad Shrestha, during his welcome speech thanked to pastors, leaders and supporters for encouraging the NMCN through valuable presence. During his talk, he mentioned that more than 250 missionaries have been taught so far and 99% of them have gone to the unreached areas to plant a church. More than 300 churches have been planted by the missionaries sent by NMCN through the partnership with the churches and denominations. Of them, some have been sent to India and Bhutan as missionaries. He also specifically thanked to the TEAM Mission for their long standing partnership through providing grants to make this training successfully. We would not have been able to come thus far with manifold blessings if TEAM would have not prayed and supported.
Finally, former chairman Rev Indra Thapa shared a word of encouragements to the graduating students and led the dedication prayer along with other pastors and leaders present at the ceremony. The Ceremony was concluded with the benediction prayer pronounced by the Rev. Indra Thapa.
Mr. Uttam Bahadur. Tamang is 29 years old. He is a resident of Lamagaun, Bhumeshthan-6, Dhading district. He got married to Dhan Maya Tamang 12 years back. They have four children: three daughters and one son. Mr. Uttam's main occupation is agriculture. He also is a truck driver. His wife helps him in agriculture and caring children at home.
This family was severely affected by the destructive earthquake of April 25th, 2015. According to Uttam, there was no human death in his village. However, there were huge damages of houses death of cattle and animals. Mr. Suren Shrestha, the existing government secretary of Bhumesthan Village Development Committee said many domestic animals were killed during the first hit by an earthquake on 25th April.
The Uttam's house was completely collapsed. He said, because of the daytime earthquake hit, the family was able to ran-away immediately. If this was not the case or if this was taken place at night, whole members of the family would have died inside of the house. Till the completion of this earth-bag house, his family was staying in a temporary shelter.
How did we meet this family? A team from NMCN did a field survey led by our missionary. As a response from our missionary along with Government official they proposed to build an Earth bag House for Uttam Tamang which will serve as a model house for that district.
What is earth-bag house?
It is a new technology invented specially to stand firm in the e earthquake which is called earthquake resilient house. It is a house made up of soil mixed with sand and gravel. Soil mixture of sand and gravel are put in a plastic bag which is stacked on top of another as a wall. After wall is erected with the support of metal wire, it is plastered with either cement or mud. This can be built with local sources in minimum cost.
We require Uttam to contribute from their side to have an ownership of the house. Two workers were given from Uttam till the completion of the house; he also fed workers every working day. We also encouraged them to help each other. And rests of workers were paid. This building has been built in partnership with Steadfast Nepal Pvt. Ltd who has helped us financially and technically.
Within 24 working days, we were able to finish off constructing the house. Whole villagers were amazed to see this speedy completion of a house with new technology in minimum cost. They are impressed to follow the same model of the house as they are looking ahead to rebuild their houses as well.
On Tuesday 12 April 2016, early morning, a team from NMCN and Steadfast Nepal reached to this project location to hand over the building. Local leaders, social workers, local church leaders and local government authority were invited. In the presence of all these important representatives, as well as, brother Uttam's neighbors, a small formal function was conducted.
In the same function, the National Mission Commission of Nepal/Steadfast handed over the key of this house to Mr. Uttam as the owner of it. Brother Uttam is much happy about it and he expressed his gratitude to NMCN family. He further said he was wondering and worried, because he did not have a house and also no money to build a house. Now, He is so grateful and pleased with the wonderful gifts of house.
During the function, Mr. Suren Shrestha, secretary of the Village Development Committee, local village leaders expressed their gratitude towards NMCN/Steadfast Nepal family for extending help to this needy family. They said that this model of the house is a permanent house. Since the house is mostly built up with local resources, they even urged villagers to follow such model house, as all of them are looking forward to rebuild their houses.
A special thank to the Steadfast Nepal for the partnership of extending technical and financial support in this project. We would also like to extend thanks to our local missionary of Dhading district as well as VDC secretary and local social leaders of Bhumesthan VDC- 6, Dhading.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the partners and supporters for continuing to help financially toward the rebuilding the destroyed houses and lives in Nepal.
Posted: Wed, 18 May, 2016 (1 year ago) - by Adrian
Strong views, big assertions, fear of the unknown. I don’t know how you’re finding all the talk about our big decision this month. This is a much more significant vote than a general election. It will chart a course for the future of our nation, the EU and the wider world and it’s something that will be felt far and wide and for generations to come.
Surely the simple thing is to work out what the Christian way to vote is, and then we can all do that. Just as within the political parties, however, we find within the church there is a wide range of opinions. So, if our minds are made up, how can we check that our views are consistent with our Christian convictions? And if we are unsure how to vote, how can we think Christianly in order to come to a decision?
Andrew Goddard has recently published a Grove booklet, aiming to help us identify the key areas to consider. From that, here is a checklist of questions for starters:
Have we understood something of the history and founding vision of the post-war European project, and the widening and deepening relationships between European countries over the last 66 years?
Can we be clear on the difference between the EU and Europe?
Can we sum up the political, economic and ethical foundations of the EU?
OK, so having a foundation of understanding, are we committed to loving our neighbour and maintaining the best possible relationships with neighbouring nations?
In coming to a decision, are we considering the common good rather than individual interests, relinquishing “what’s best for me” – including considering minors who can’t vote but will have to live the longest with the consequences?
Likewise, can we relinquish “what’s best for the UK”, instead considering consequences for EU neighbours and the wider world?
Finally, and as a springboard to deeper engagement, are we striving to think biblically and theologically, beyond specific policy issues, to broad debates on the nature of the EU and the UK’s relationship to it? Notably, considering the EU’s composition, ethos and structures?
From this last point, Goddard delves into the theology of nations, ungodly empire-building, identity, migration, peace, solidarity, money, consumerism, debt, justice, subsidiarity, democracy and representative leadership, while examining some of the intricacies of how the 7 political institutions that make up the EU operate and seeks to relate theology to practice.
He then shows how a strong Christian case can be made for remaining in the EU, centring around its foundational Christian values, the good that has been achieved, the need to stay in relationship with neighbours, and the potential damage caused by leaving. He also shows how one could construct a strong Christian case for leaving, arguing from the current failings and recent damage caused by putting economic issues too high on the agenda, failed reforms, the lack of spiritual vitality or acknowledgement of Europe’s Christian heritage, the inability to adequately represent the people of the EU, and the democracy-deficit.
Goddard finishes by encouraging us to disagree well as we debate these issues, keeping in mind to be honest, open and attentive, resisting caricaturing opponents or parroting standard arguments. He encourages us to see this vote in the context of God’s coming kingdom and God’s plan to gather people from all nations to Himself and His service, and urges us to work hard at developing principled views, which we can defend biblically and theologically.
Following the success of the flower arrangement day at Christmas, another one was held on Saturday 23rd April which was enjoyed by those who attended. As can be seen from the photos, two styles of basket arrangements were made. At the request of those attending, another day will be arranged in the summer if there is sufficient interest.
Posted: Tue, 26 Jan, 2016 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
FROM THE RECTORY
Third Easter in the Rectory Household
We moved house just over 2 years ago, and began work here on 6th Feb 2014, so now Year 3 begins. Time has flown, and yet lots has changed, with more change coming in 2016, as we welcome a stipendiary curate into the mix, and get used to cats in the Rectory. Staff changes, financial and building challenges, some personal health issues, and lots of learning has characterised our time here so far. We've been involved in some really good things along the way, and made some good friends, and we’re looking forward to more of that as things progress. I’m sometimes painfully aware of what I’m not doing, and particularly lament that I’m not able to visit as widely as Jess and others did, under different circumstances. Nevertheless, I’m working hard to be as effective as possible with my time, and to develop a pastoral visiting team to ensure we continue the treasured legacy of home visiting in this benefice – please be in touch if you’d appreciate a visit.
It seems like there are a lot of things hanging in the air at the moment - unresolved issues, from the personal to the global. The increase in Islamic militancy. Our government cutting support for green energy and associated businesses, and introducing Ofsted inspections for Sunday Schools. More debt taken out than ever before over the Christmas shopping season. These are just some of the things that leave me wondering where it’s all heading, as well as issues closer to home. Nevertheless, I'm reminded of the old Bill Gaither hymn: "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow". I don't know what the future holds but I know who holds the future, and therein is our solid ground. What’s true of God is true for good.
As we approach our third Easter here, the message behind arguably the most important of all the Christian festivals is so apt. Whatever is happening in the world, and whatever is going on in our personal lives, there is a God who has beaten death, and who ultimately will bring good, harmony, peace and restoration to all things. It doesn’t depend on us to make it happen. It’s certain, because it depends on what God has done in history through the person of Jesus Christ.
Wishing you true hope and security in a changing world,
Posted: Wed, 13 Jan, 2016 (2 years ago) - by Janet
At Flordon on December 12th, seven people enjoyed making Christmas table decorations and door wreaths at a workshop led by Pam, Janice and Cynthia. Other flower arranging workshops may be held during the year if enough people are interested.
Dear Praying friends, Ministry Partners and supporters,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
I trust in the Lord that this finds you both in good health and spirit!
By God’s grace we are doing quite well. Our Relief Co-ordinator is busying with government work to get official approval soon. I am sending a report of one of the shades that we built. We are continuously doing the small scale of relief works
Due to recent freezing cold, many adults and children have died. Several earthquakes affected areas such as Gorkha and Dolakha, due to constant snow fall, the tents, temporary shelters are collapsing due to snow on the roof. People are not in a situation to get out of the home because there is snow above 2 feet. Their blankets and warm cloths are soaked wet and they are getting sick. The government has sent an emergency relief team of army to relocate them. Please pray for them.
Thank you very much for your prayer and partnership.
A roof piercing slogan was chanted again and again by the pastors and leaders gathered in Damak when a Mission Conference for Pastors and leaders was held in Eastern Nepal. The slogan was the declaration of their renewed commitment of being a missionary people as a Nepali Christian. A three days Mission Conference was held in Hope Church in Damak in partnership with the Regional wing of the National Churches Fellowship of Nepal. Despite the strike and road blockade, more than 180 enthusiaistic pastors and leaders attended representing different denominations and a group of eastern Nepal Pastors from the plains and mountain were gathered where they joyfully shared their fellowship, learning together and while eating and chatting over the break.
It was surprising to see how the team of kitchen served food by cooking with firewood in open air despite the shortage of cooking gas due to unofficial blockade imposed by the Indian Government.
We did experience breakthrough in the lives of the participants when Rev. Tom Keppeler of Elmbrook church ministered with the word focusing on what is missing and why the church must get involved in mission. The pastors and leaders have been cast the vision in fulfilling the Great Commission. Similarly Dr. Matt Gibson from the Emlbrook church ministered to participants about the importance of prayer lives and spirituality for missional leaders. We would like to thank the Elmbrook Church and Life North Church, USA for their financial partnership to make this event happen successfully.
During our review meeting after the conference, the organizing team of the leaders expressed saying that the conference has hugely impacted on their lives and they have been enormously blessed. They also requested that such kind of mission Conference must be held for youth as well.
"We would like to thank the Lord for enabling National Mission Commission of Nepal to continuously create the movements of World Mission by equipping and teaching to the churches. We thank once again to Elmbrook Church and New Life Centre in USA for their partnership. In Him." - Ram Prasad Shrestha
Over 120 days of ruthless and harsh unofficial blockade imposed by the Indian Government supporting one of the ethnic groups called Madhesi has over shadowed the cry and pains of the victims of the earthquake. Moreover, the pain and suffering have even increased due to the blockade by the severe shortage of humanitarian and daily essential items in Nepal. Due to such inhuman acts, the country of Nepal is almost in the verge of becoming failure status.
When the most devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Kanchhi Maya's house was not spared, her house was also destroyed but thank God no one got killed. She and her father in-law lived the tent for several days in Thakle Kavre, which is one of most destroyed district. This was quite challenging time for her because there was no one to help her.
Kanchhi Maya had lost her husband 14 years back due to the HIV. Kanchhi Maya who got HIV transmitted by her husband. Now she lives with HIV under the humiliation and desolation in the society, her days are numbered due to the lack of medication because she does not have proper job for the medication. The money that she earns by doing tedious job is not sufficient to cover the medication. HIV related social organization does not have enough resource to cover her medication however; the organization had helped her previously. She has got two children who are looked after by Koinonia Grace Home and they are studying well in Kathmandu.
Kanchhi Maya and her father in-law were homeless and did not have shelter to put their heads or to go anywhere as HIV affected person. The freezing winter is already at her door post which put their lives in risk. The National Mission Commission of Nepal has helped her to build the house where she and her Father in-law reside now warmly and happily. She has expressed her deep and sincere thanks to NMCN for meeting her need by building the house for them. I would like to take this opportunity express our heartfelt thanks to generous donor like you who has prayed and responded the needs to reconstruct the broken world and soul. WE are ever thankful to God for enabling us to touch the lives through in the name of Christ and share the good news in order to change the life to toward joy and happiness. Once again thank you for your generosity and fervent prayer support.
Posted: Sun, 22 Nov, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
As we go into White Ribbon Fortnight, marked by over 50 countries, aiming to increase awareness about violence against women, and as Norfolk plays its part with the "Norfolk Says No" campaign, Adrian talked about how we as church can contribute to tackling the root beliefs about gender. Adopting the right beliefs can lead to lots of good fruit, but adopting wrong beliefs, as the church sometimes has, leads to abusive and destructive behaviours.
To read more about this important topic, Adrian's top recommended read is "Women and the Kingdom" by Roger and Faith Forster.
Listen to the talk and view the powerpoint here (talk starts at Slide 4, after preamble!)...
On Saturday afternoon, Steve Benton, visiting from Reading, led us on a journey of reconnecting with the hopes and dreams God has given. The children also blessed us with sharing God's promises for us:
On Sunday morning, we summarised all we had been considering over the weekend, and heard from a dozen people about their experience, which highlighted what a blessed time it had been. We also heard from the children and youth before breaking bread together. The recording captures Adrian's summary, and a couple of contributions from Jack and Liz:
There are still many people who are suffering without proper shelter due to deadliest earthquake hit on 25 April and 12 May this year. Somehow, people have survived the rainy season despite suffering with flood and landslides. Whatever shelter families are living in now, they are not enough to fight the winter. The tough winter is approaching from the month of November. The winter is quite severe which may claim many lives of old and children because of poor shelter and lack of warm clothing.
The government of Nepal does seem helpful to continue the relief work. Now they have imposed new rules and regulations for the relief work. No agencies are allowed to go to the communities to do the relief work unless the budget, activities, proposals are approved by the government and local officials. This is an unnecessary hassle that the government has imposed upon the organization that have involved in relief work.
Our relief work has been stopped now because of the new policy which has been imposed upon us. However, we have been distributing the foods that we had purchased earlier and corrugated sheets in small quantity. We are working on submitting the fresh proposal to the government and we hope by December or January, we can start building the shelter and houses.
Nepal in Crisis:
It seems like a curse over the people of Nepal. After the catastrophic earthquake, pouring rain and landslides, the people of Nepal are now suffering unjustly due to unexpected blockade from India, after the promulgation of the new constitution. The political party based in southern Nepal called Madhesi has been constantly protesting and calling the general strikes and blockage which has stopped all the vehicles from coming to Nepal. India seems indirectly imposed sanction supporting this party. Since Nepal is depended upon the Indian supplies of petrol, gas, foods, medicines, raw materials for factories and all the business, now things are coming no longer, which has made life very hard. There are already foods daily household things are shortage in the market. People are finding hard to travel from once place to another. It's likely to prolong the blockade which will put life in serious danger. People are dying without medicines and oxygen in the hospital.
Churches are also being threatened by the Hindu extremist. Recently, 3 churches were bombed in the eastern part of Nepal. Nepal used to be a Hindu country but now the new constitution has declared as a secular country which as upset the Hindu political parties. They have ordered that all the missionaries must leave the country or face the consequences. There are riots and demonstrating taking place in a different part of the country, the church could be attacked any time. There are no proper justice and strong security in Nepal.
Due to lack of petrol and cooking gas, we have cancelled 2 upcoming events which were Missionary Retreat and Income Generating training. There are other Christian organizations who also have cancelled their meeting/training as well.
Please pray that country would be politically stable so that people can live and travel without any fear.
Please pray that the government would be helpful and caring toward the relief efforts.
Please pray for the protection of the churches and church leaders.
Posted: Wed, 21 Oct, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
We have produced a consistent representation of the finances for each of the four parishes, which should help us talk together about how we cope with increasing demands, and help church members to understand a bit more clearly what's going on financially. We'll be meeting with representatives from the diocese at 9:30am on Sat 7th November to put in our plea for some assistance to meet the 15% increase to parish share for 2016. If you'd like sight of the user-friendly financial summaries for any of the parishes, please do be in touch with Adrian or Caroline in the church office.
Posted: Wed, 21 Oct, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
Holly Newbery has served with us for 8 months as Pastoral Assistant, and she's done that with commitment and diligence. She's been willing to put her hand to anything that has arisen, and has shown a real flair for the creative and a real sense of compassion and care in all that she's done. She has been a great asset to the team, competently attending to a variety of work, and will be missed. In summary, Holly's 36 hours per week have been averaging out in the following way: Youth - 4 hours Children - 2 hours Young Adults - 2 hours Sunday Church - 3.5 hours Practical support - 4.5 hours Schools - 1.5 hours Pastoral - 3.5 hours Communication & Admin - 8.5 hours Training, devotional, supervision, support & one-offs - 6.5 hours We prayed Holly on her way with a bunch of flowers and a bring and share lunch on Sunday 18th October. Holly will continue to worship at Mulbarton Church, and we wish her well in the next stage on her journey.
If anyone would like to test a call for leading youth or children sessions on a Sunday morning, or would like to exercise the spiritual gift of "helps" on a Tuesday evening, setting up for the youth group, then please be in touch with Sarah or Adrian.
Posted: Wed, 21 Oct, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
In our group of churches, we've been working hard on thinking about what it means to be team and how the Lord is calling us to develop team. There's something in the very identity of God that tells us team matters. God is a triune team - three distinct persons in one. Diversity in unity. Just like the universe God has made, where time and space and matter, seemingly distinct and diverse, yet all related, all connected, and all functioning as one entity. And so it is with us, the people of God. Diversity in unity.
Teams have always been God's way. Moses had his 70 elders; David had his mighty men; Gideon had his army of 300; Nehemiah had his brick-layers; the prophets had their own "schools"; Israel began with a band of 12 brothers; Jesus had the Twelve, as well as a wider team of disciples. When Paul planted churches, he appointed elders to act as shepherds and overseers to the people of God. The local church always had leadership from teams, and everyone in the church had a valued role to play to contribute to the outworking of God's purposes - bringing good to the people God had made in the world God loves.
Wherever churches today have been able to follow the leading of God's Spirit in working these team principles out, church has been better for it. We have just launched a new leadership team in Mulbarton Church, in which 8 people will be taking on the co-ordination and leadership of different areas of ministry. We have also been working at getting the right structures for improving teamwork across the benefice, and making positive steady progress there.
It is such a privilege to be able to join in with what God is doing, and my prayer is that we each discover the fulness of what it is that God is calling us each into, as we work together to become a fruitful team, that glorifies God and earns the respect of our communities.
The Gorkha District is still a most shattered district due to the earthquake, but still the Dalit people of this the district is overlooked in the distribution of relief materials. The National Mission Commission of Nepal has been able to do an assessment based on needs through the missionaries and networks working in the devastating areas.
Our missionaries with Resham Pariyar, vice chairman of NMCN, along with local leaders distributed corrugated sheets in Amppipal Gorkha. The distributed corrugated sheets have been used to build seltars to stay safely under in the rain and in winter.
We have distributed Zinc sheets to about 60, most of them have built shelters and wish to say they are thankful to partners like you who have prayed and sent generous funds to build the shelters for the victims of the earthquake.
Missionary Purna Builds the Shelters:
Another missionary through whom we distributed the zinc sheets has also been able to build a few houses in Ramechhap Districts. Besides distributing the food and house materials, we could also distribute zinc sheets and tents for them. Due to our involvement the church has been recognized by the society and by the government. The society who used to be hostile to the Christians has become a friend and a good neighbor. Now Purna has been able to establish a good relationship with the government officials. He has been appointed as relief co‐ordinator in this region because he has shown his integrity and accountability in the society where there are other community leaders who have been found corrupt in terms of delivering relief materials to everyone regardless of caste and creed.
Orphans without Food and Shelter:
Krishna and his two brothers aged between 10‐14 are orphans without food and shelter. However, they have a Grandmother who is 70 years old, but they do not know her whereabouts. Sometimes she shows up but then disappears. She is surviving with the food that is given by the villagers. Krishna and his brothers Shantosh and Pradeep live in their relative’s house working for them. Unfortunately, they dropped out of school after their parents’ deaths.
Krishna’s father went to India to earn a living for his family. Due to his sickness he had to
Return home after a few years. He was not able to bring much money, only his things, but what he also brought was a killer and deadly sickness called HIV. Without knowing, the HIV was transferred to his wife who died of HIV. When Krishna’s mother died of HIV, people were not aware that her death was due to HIV, so she was cremated with dignity. His father kept drinking wine and smoking while taking care of the children. However, after two years his father died of HIV. When he died, nobody would touch his body in the village because most of people knew about his sickness. After his death, nobody came to his house to get the body to be cremated, so the body was left at home decaying. After a few days, the worms started eating his Body. When the smell was unbearable, the villagers came to the house and cremated the body beside his house itself. Now the boys are left without parents’ care and concern.
Now Krishna says, if my house is rebuilt, I and my brothers and grandma can live together and make our living by working in the village or elsewhere. He further says my grandma has the skill of stitching cloth; she can make her living and we can be together as a family. By realizing such a pathetic and heartbreaking circumstance, the National Mission Commission of Nepal has helped to build a house (picture above). Now boys along with their grandma live together in their home comfortably and their lives with dignity and pride.
We are ever grateful for your continued prayer and sacrificial giving for the sake of the Love of Christ and his people.
Posted: Sat, 17 Oct, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Cyndy
Saturday October 3rd saw over 50 people from Bracon Ash and Hethel enjoying a delicious Harvest Supper which was held in the village hall. The entertainment included a wonderful quiz produced by Alice Lince using photographs of local landmarks. This was followed by Peter Bailey playing his ukulele and singing some old favourites. A harvest of talents.
Sunday morning breakfast was served in the church. Tea, toast, croissants and fruit. Cups of hot tea and coffee warmed up the congregation ready for' Messy Harvest' which was greatly enjoyed by a record number of adults and children. The harvest gifts went to support Food Bank.
Adrian's sermon was based on 'The Harvest of Talents'
Look out for the Crib Service 4.00pm Christmas Eve. It promises to have a lot of crackers!
Posted: Wed, 23 Sep, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Felicity
An objective which aims to provide essentials and small recreational items to some countries in Eastern Europe where poverty and need have reached critical levels.
e.g. - Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania.
Felicity McIlwrath is launching her annual campaign within our Benefice to contribute shoe boxes filled by volunteers with items suggested on the Appeal form. Shoe Boxes can be either ‘Family’ or ‘Elderly Person’ specific – see example shown.
Felicity has a supply of forms for those interested.
Once completed, please bring boxes to Felicity’s home address -The Gables, The Common, Mulbarton, Norwich, NR14 8JQ
28th October 2015
They will then be taken to a Norwich collecting centre, eventually being added to the overall UK shipment, made from Link to Hope’s warehouse in Worthing, Sussex.
Posted: Mon, 21 Sep, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
We made our annual pilgrimage to East Sussex for Revive camp at the start of August and once again it proved to be a great blessing - refreshing, motivating, stimulating and spacious. I hope others have had similar space for recharge and refocus this summer. As well as much needed time to stop, enjoy the lakes and woodland, and declutter my mind, there was useful input on a range of topics, to give food for thought. I spent time considering:
children's work and parenting
the threat and challenge of Islamic jihadists
the role of spiritual gifts
the difference between relational and calvinistic theology, and why the former is preferable
the need to be serious about evangelism
the challenges of being part of the state church, and the role of the new churches in our nation
some ways of handling the problem of violence in the Old Testament
the wells from which I do/should draw to sustain me in life and ministry
what it might mean to truly embrace our Jewish roots in today's church
All good stuff, and all moving me a bit further along in my own Christian journey. I also managed to chat with Steve Benton, who leads the children's work at Revive. I'm very excited that he will be joining us at Letton Hall to lead our children's work there and inspire us in what we're doing and where we're going with our own children's ministry.
Through the summer in our churches, we've been considering a broad sweep of the whole of Jesus' life. It is apparent that building a team was key to what Jesus was about. This term, I'll be aiming to make progress in team building. Our profile will also arrive in theological colleges, with the hope of attracting a curate to join us end of June 2016. Food for your prayers.
I’ve been reading Tom Wright’s latest book ‘Simply Good News’ (SPCK 2015 – I think £9.99). Tom Wright was Bishop of Durham before becoming a Professor at St Andrew’s University. He’s written loads of books – all worth reading. This one is subtitled ‘Why the Gospel is NEWS and what makes it good’. The point he really wants to drive home is that Christianity is NOT a philosophy, it is NOT advice on how to live better, it is primarily NEWS – about facts (Jesus’ life, death and – especially - his resurrection) as a result of which the world is no longer the same. As with most news there is the back story (the people of God in the Old Testament and their expectation of a Messiah) and there is the need for a response (believe it or not). And he spends several chapters correcting misconceptions about our faith which made me think again about how I talk about the gospel. Well worth reading – and thinking about.
Posted: Wed, 16 Sep, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
The next stage following on from the roof work, is to start working through the various rooms with a lick of paint together with any other refurbishment that is required. ( e.g. replacement flooring). There are a few things that are needed before we can start :- Does any one have a plasterer contact that we could ask to look at the ceilings in the Bouncer and Prayer rooms? The roofing work has highlighted the need for these to be looked at before we can start any decorating. If so please let me know. To work up a schedule of work, we need to know who would be able to help in any decorating, and when (thinking of the period of September and possibly into October). Again, please let me know. Once all this information is available, we will be back in touch, with a time table and the necessary materials for work to commence. Many thanks in anticipation of your support. Ian Dunlop and the Fabric Committee.
Messy Church is 3! and 64 of us celebrated our birthday on 20 August with a fabulous birthday cake. But cake wasn't all we feasted on. Our theme was "helping" - how do we live like Jesus in the world by being helpful - and we explored how a young boy helped Jesus feed 5,000 people at a big picnic. Now that was a feast! Come and join us at our next Messy Church in half term on Thursday 29 October.
Posted: Mon, 31 Aug, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
Nepal Updates: Building Houses for the Earthquake Victims, July, 2015
Dhading is one of the hardest hit districts by the earthquake. Ninety percent of houses have been affected, either they are destroyed completely or cracked which are quite dan-gerous to live in. Most of the people are forced to live in the plastic tents. The plastic tents are not durable, after few weeks of rain and heat, the tents starts tearing down with lots of holes in it. Now the rainy season has begun, people must find a strong shelter to live with their family. One of the families in Gorkha shared scary story. They said, 'we find snakes and scorpions crawling under our plastic bed which are much dangerous to us. Kids hard-ly sleep at night due fear of snakes and wild harmful insects. Moreover, the mountain where they live are cracked due to the earthquake which is prone to trigger landslides because of out pouring of the rain. Witnessing such a pressing and desperate need for strong housing, we, through the help by the generous partners and supporters, have built 21 houses partnering with LTD/NCFN. We have financed to put the roof of every house which is coloured and high quality zinc sheets. The blue almost a dozen houses you could see on the mountains are in one area that we built houses for the earthquake victims who are now homeless. We held a handing over ceremony inviting government officials and local representatives. This handing over cere-mony has given us an opportunity to witness Christ. Now the perspective of Christian by the Hindu has been changed from the religious an invader to integral part of the society, who cares for the people in the time of needs and struggle. A handed over the house where a small family would live comfortably. The total cost of the house is USD 1,000.00. It is a semi permanent house where families can live over 10/15 years. The Distribution of Zinc Sheets The National Mission Commission of Nepal has distributed 54 bundles of zinc sheets to 54 households in Pida Village Development Community. Two missionaries Ram Chandra and Yakub are tirelessly working to serve the people in their communities. The household who has received the zinc sheets will build the shelter by themselves. We will send the updates when they finish it. We thank God that the District officer of Dhading district has given official permission to build houses and supply food materials to the earthquake vic-tims. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all for giving sacrificially and praying unceasingly to serve the people in Nepal in the times of crisis and natural disaster. In Him, Ram Prasad Shrestha FROM
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for praying with us in the time of suffering and calamity in Nepal. I would also like to thank you also for responding prayers by giving sacrificially to help the needy people of Nepal.
I am enclosing the relief update herewith this email. The rainy season has started, now our next phase will be to build the temporary houses so that they will be safe in rainy season. We are going to give zinc sheet which they will put roof on the house. They will use their local materials to build the temporary house. Once rainy season is over then they will build the permanent house by using the zinc sheets as roof.
We have received official approval to distribute the zinc sheet and build the houses from two different districts, which are Dhading and Ramechhap. We are still waiting to receive from Gorkha as well. The official permission would grant us work with local government and the use of foreign funds.
Posted: Tue, 7 Jul, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
Last year we stated our intent to be in a strong position to respond in crisis situations. This intention is our aim, and as we grow in support, we are enabled to step closer and closer to this vision becoming a reality. Nepal is the most recent step. Brad Moore (Charity MD) went directly after the first earthquake to assess the situation and figure out the best way we could help. In many cases, charities give what they think people need. People are grateful for absolutely any help, but for us to be true to our core values - we wanted to find a response that was both culturally relevant and somehow sustainable.
The outcome? Corrugated metal sheets - these provide shelter for families who lost EVERYTHING during the quakes. Tarpaulin is OK as temporary relief but will not withstand the monsoons. Brad worked with the locals to come up with this solution providing families with temporary, immediate shelter in the short term and a roof, ready for when their homes can be rebuilt.
Brad managed to identify one young girl, Anita, who lost her support structure during the earthquake. We are committed to looking after Anita but feel even more committed to making this emergency response a priority. The public have been so generous and through our simple appeal to help the people of Nepal we have raised over £7,000.
In the Autumn, once the rain has stopped, we plan to take a team of people to distribute winter clothing and offer manual support to help families affected by this earthquake. If you would like to join us please e-mail globalexpeditions@ operation-orphan.org Becky Taylor from Operation Orphan News
PICNIC BLANKETS AND FLEECES FOR SALE
Summer is here and the picnic season is upon us but have you got a blanket? We have a number of green and blue tartan waterproof-backed blankets and white fleece blankets which have been used once at the wedding. If anyone would like to have a blanket we are just asking for a donation which will be sent to Operation Orphan. Any blankets left at the end of the summer will be donated to Operation Orphan for distribution to those in need. Give us a ring (570746) or just call in at 18 Primrose Close, Mulbarton. Becky Taylor
Posted: Tue, 7 Jul, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
As you may all be aware, we have recently had the roof work completed, so hopefully later this year we will not be contributing too much to global warming! The next stage is that we want to start working through the various rooms with a lick (or more!) of paint, together with any other reasonable refurbishment that is required (e.g. replacement flooring).
So there are a few things that are needed before we can start:
Does anyone have a plasterer contact that we could ask to look at the ceilings in the Bouncers and Prayer Rooms? The roofing work has high lighted the need for these to be looked at before we can start any decorat ing. If so please let me know.
To work up a schedule of work, we need to know who would be able to help in any decorating, and when (thinking of the period over the summer - August and September and possibly into October). Again please let me know.
Once all this information is available, we will be back in touch, with a timetable and the necessary materials for work to commence! Many thanks in anticipation of your support!
Posted: Tue, 7 Jul, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
At 8.00 pm every Thursday evening the homeless people of Norwich gather in the Haymarket where the Salvation Army and other charities meet to serve them with hot food, and provide them with clothes, blankets, and other essentials for living. Tom and I recently visited them with some clothes and I met a young girl, I’ll call her Hannah, who was pregnant and homeless. It was a cool evening and as I pulled my coat around myself over a top and a jumper, she stood in her T-shirt and jeans which was all she owned, the clothes she would still be wearing in the morning. It was difficult to talk to her, she seemed silenced by something or someone. When I pulled out a coat from the bag I had brought Hannah’s face lit up and as she tried it on she was obviously delighted. On prompting from her boyfriend she quietly said, “Thank you” and I gave her a hug.
The ‘whys and wherefores’ of the circumstances that have brought people to this place can be debated at great length but talking about it will not put food in their mouths or clothes on their backs today - tonight. If you have clothes, blankets or toiletries which you can spare we would be happy to deliver them to the Haymarket or better still take them yourselves and share your time with those who need to know that someone cares. As it says on this young man’s notice, ’Homeless, hungry, sick & tired, anything helps I have no-one. From my heart - Thank you’.
Posted: Mon, 29 Jun, 2015 (2 years ago) - by Adrian
Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE.
When the houselights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit. Keep playing."
Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. And the audience was mesmerized.
Whatever our situation in life - however outrageous, however desperate, whatever dry spell of the spirit, whatever dark night of the soul-- God is whispering deep within our beings, "Don't quit. Keep playing. You are not alone, together we will transform the broken patterns into a masterwork of my creative art. Together, we will mesmerize the world with our song“
Posted: Mon, 20 Apr, 2015 (3 years ago) - by Adrian
The resurrection is massively political; there can be no greater political statement than the Christian belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God; though somehow it’s become like an afterthought, just a happy ending tacked on to make the story better – even something embarrassing to sidestep.
We talk confidently and politically about Jesus’ life and ministry, his words about love, peace, justice, money, even about kingdoms; we can talk of his death, his sacrifice. But his resurrection provokes accusations of insanity, of one step too far; bringing personal irrationally-held beliefs into the public sphere.
So it becomes a metaphor. His death becomes just solidarity with suffering; the resurrection just a symbol of hope – triumph over adversity. Which isn’t wrong. But it’s like saying winning the Champions League was a good chance to make the stadium grass look nice. It may be true, but it’s not the point.
David Cameron recently presumed to define the heart of the Christian message in a Christian magazine, telling us that our Easter faith is about “change, responsibility, and doing the right thing”. Isabel Hardman in the Spectator responded by pointing out that Christians have generally seen the heart of their message as being about God visiting, living, dying and rising in the person of Jesus Christ, from which everything else flows - which is way more edgy.
Archbishop Justin Welby recently warned vicars against preaching “moral claptrap” messages about being “a bit nicer”. Moral living is good – but there’s more. The resurrection, as Christians understand it, says something about a real transcendent God being interested and calling us to be connected to God and God’s world; about the possibility of transformation; about the fact that darkness cannot win; and about the way in which the “little people” are honoured, the first witnesses to the resurrection being women, working men, nobodies.
Placed at the centre of God’s plan to shake up the powerful are the very people the powerful would ignore. Christian politics also places them at the centre, so it cannot be a politics of dominance, but one that embraces prostitutes, adulterers, tax-evaders, wealthy land-owners, poor zero-hours workers and Syrian refugees; and sees the same darkness in all of us, no matter our status; and promises the same resurrection to all of us, no matter our status.
The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is an historical truth, not a metaphor; it is a deeply political event, not just a happy ending; it is about God transforming this world, not us escaping from it; if we truly understand it, we cannot help but be changed by it.
Thanks to Kevin for permission to use material from his blog
It was a wonderful experience for us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and witness to the people on the street. I would like to thank you all for praying for the works of the National Mission of Nepal and extending partnership through the finance and constant words of engorgements. I am looking forward to seeing you in Nepal and have taught at our mission Center. Today the Missionary students have gone for the week long outreach to the mountain side of Nepal. Please pray for their safety.
I would like to request you to pray for the need of digging the well at our center. We have to buy water in every two weeks which cost about 15 USD. We are in need of USD 400.00 to complete the digging of well. It will solve the problem of water for forever.
Posted: Sat, 15 Nov, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Cathy
How about reading the story of Ruth in the Old Testament of the Bible? It's the story we explored this week at Messy Church as we thought about the theme of "kindness" and how we can live like Jesus in the world by being kind to one another.
In the story there is loving-kindness all around: the loving-kindness Naomi showed Ruth as her daughter-in- law; the loving-kindness Ruth has for Naomi, when Naomi as an old woman wants to return to her homeland. Ruth, committed to helping Naomi says the amazing words:
"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. "
Would we have said those words I wonder? Then there is Boaz who shows loving-kindness to Ruth when she is gleaning grain to feed herself and Naomi. Boaz and Ruth fall in love and get married and give birth to Obed, who became the grandfather of King David and the ancestor of Jesus. God's loving-kindness shining through the whole story!
So what did we do this week to explore Ruth's story? Well, we had 4 brilliant craft tables:
Ellie's table made 'Pencil top friends' and thought about how we can be loyal and kind in our friendships.
On Sarah and Charlie's table there was a bead hanger prayer craft, where they were thinking about how kindness makes a difference.
Janice and Janet's table made a model of Ruth. They were thinking about how Ruth was a kind person who loved Naomi very much.
Jill and Lisa's table made pasta harvest pictures and thought about how God is someone we can rely on and how God gives us the food we need.
We had a Big Draw messy collage too of Ruth and Naomi and a puppet theatre with some hand puppets near the quiet zone for those wanting some quiet space.
Adrian told the story of Ruth beautifully, using two huge hand puppets for Ruth and Naomi (with Naomi nursing baby Obed) and Sarah joined in with Boaz. We were all enthralled and you could have heard a pin drop during the story!
Sarah taught us the action song "Our God is a great big God" and after our prayers we were all ready for lunch. Turning round from our story time seats we saw tables of food beautifully prepared for us by Theresa and Sally.
We were 54 people in total, of which 30 of us were adults and there were 24 children. As well as regular faces and those who we see several times over the course of a year, there were also two new families today. Wonderful to see everyone! Thank you to everyone who baked, brought food, made a donation!
Our next Messy Church-style gathering will be the Christingle Service at Hethel Church on Sunday 7 December at 4 pm - very family friendly - do come along and join in! Our next Messy Church will be in the spring half term on Thursday 19 February 2015.
Posted: Mon, 27 Oct, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Adrian
Back now from our first Letton Hall church weekend away - what a fabulous experience! A chance to eat together, laugh together, work together, worship together, learn together, pray together and talk together. What a valuable time!
We were privileged to have some special guests - and I don't just mean the world-famous Moretti family circus! Kim and Penelope Swithinbank travelled from Wiltshire to be with us for the weekend. They shared some pertinent insights from the lives of different New Testament characters. It was also interesting for the church family to meet some people who have been significant for Sarah and I in our own Christian lives and ministry development.
The weather was with us for the go-karting tradition, and 18 people braved the track. When it came to the competitive racing, with 2 teams of 9 people, it all came down to the last race, 6 points a piece, with Danny racing Ian to decide the winner. Experience triumphed as Danny's clutch faltered and Ian made no mistakes.
The evening entertainment was a lot of fun, with many reporting that they hadn't laughed so much in a long time. Tom performed his usual culinary marvels, keeping us all well fed for the weekend. Tony brought us up to speed on the financial situation, after which I encouraged us all to keep in prayer and keep believing through the current challenges.
In total, 95 people attended, with comings and goings, and it was over all too quickly - but there are certainly things to take forward from the weekend, so in a sense it's not over yet.
Sarah kicked off proceedings by introducing Kim and Penelope and then Kim said a bit more about the journey they've been on and what they are doing now in retirement from ministry:
Penelope led the first session, and considered Peter's experience in the boat in the midst of a storm, when Jesus appeared walking on water and invited the disciples to join him. Peter was the only one who responded positively and got out of the boat, after which he realised the impossibility of what he was doing and began to sink, needing Jesus to rescue him. Penelope posed 3 stages to this experience:
Peter was crying out: "Get me out of here!" The storm was unexpected and not pleasant. Penelope spoke movingly about the loss of her own mother in a tragic car accident and how storms can take us by surprise. She encouraged us to think about the unexpected storms that we have faced in our lives and as a church.
The disciples were invited to get out of the boat! The response for most of them, understandably, was "You cannot be serious!" Stepping into stormy waves - giving up the security of the boat seemed crazy. Penelope encourgaed us to trust in Jesus and be real about facing up to when we are not actually trusting Jesus, but rather the boat, the company of others, etc. Many things can subtly take the place that Jesus wants to occupy in our lives - if we can begin to identify what we are really trusting in, we can begin to re-focus our trust in God.
Peter stepped out and realised he had done something crazy. "What have I done?!" Penelope encouraged us to think about where we have felt overwhelmed because we've stepped out in faith and attempted something so big for God that it is bound to fail unless God be in it.
In the second session, Kim spoke on the familiar parable of the lost son, and challenged us to reflect on whether we identified more with the rebellious prodigal or the religious prodigal. There were some really relevant insights on the older brother, whom Kim called the "religious prodigal", and a challenge to stop circling the wagons to keep the world out, but embrace the call to seek and to save the lost.
In the third session, Penelope reflected on the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how she had been willing to say yes to God no matter the cost. Full and free surrender to God, even at personal cost, is the only way to fulfil the call of God and unlock the kingdom of God in our midst. Penelope challenged us to think about how to be willing to be willing to follow Jesus whatever the cost, in our personal lives and in the life of the church.
In our final session on Sunday morning, Kim opened by asking how many years it had been since the people gathered had first started following Jesus. By far the majority of us were fairly long in the tooth, and this set up a challenge to prioritise evanglism in what we are doing as church and to structure church to be welcoming to those who are new to the adventure of following Jesus. As Kim spoke from the encounter of blind Bartimaeus with Jesus, and talked about "the shout that stopped God", we were encouraged to understand the need for the extravagant grace of God; and for us to be church in a way that we know how desparate we are for God and that we help those who have not received mercy to come to the place of crying out for mercy as well.
Posted: Tue, 21 Oct, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Adrian
I was told when I took up the post here that 6 months is the turning point in parish ministry, after which you are no longer “new” – I’m now into the season of being part of the furniture! Well, we’re certainly glad to be finding our feet, and grateful for the warm welcome - so thank you.
I still have a few firsts left, and I’m especially looking forward to my first Christmas here, completing the year of Sunday worship on my 40th birthday the Sunday after Christmas! Do look out for a Christmas card from the churches coming to you with details of all the seasonal events. Next year will see a few changes to the Sunday service pattern, and already I can see both big encouragements and big challenges looming for us in 2015.
I often wear a white ribbon, and when you receive this magazine, we’ll be right in the midst of White Ribbon Fortnight, so I’d like to explain what it’s about. After 3 inspiring courageous South American sisters, the Mirabels, were assassinated, an annual “International Day of protest against violence against women” was established every 25th November, from 1981.
In 1991, after 14 women were shot dead in Montreal University just for being female, men in Canada realised they had a vital role to play - they realised men are the initiators of so much violence, so they asked men to wear a white ribbon between 25 Nov and 10 Dec (Global Human Rights Day), as a pledge that they would "never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls". Over 60 countries have since adopted the practice.
Since I became aware of the need for the church to have a voice on this, I began to write and speak about it and found from personal experience that the statistics are true. The Secretary-General's in-depth 2006 study revealed that violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world. Globally, it found that women aged 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic incidents and war combined; and that domestic violence is the most common form of abuse worldwide. The reality is that it's on our doorsteps, and it takes many forms. See www.breaking-the-silence.co.uk for more.
I want the churches to be equipped, aware and active in this area and we’ve been working on it. You can join me in clipping on a White Ribbon. Please do be in touch or pick one up from the back of church.
Mulbarton Infant School hall was alive with activity on Thursday 21 August as MessyChurch gathered again. Amazingly it was our 2nd birthday! Sixty one of us gathered: 31 adults and 30 children. It was fun and it was messy!
Our theme was "Honesty and Fairness" and we explored what it means to live like Jesus by being 'Honest and Fair'. We used the story of Jesus meeting Zacchaeus to help us and our crafts came from that story.
We made palm trees to remind us that Zacchaeus climbed the tree so that he could see Jesus. We made a figure of Zacchaeus who could 'grow', to remind us that after Zacchaeus met Jesus he became a new man and could truly stand tall. We made purses to remind us Zacchaeus met Jesus and then gave half of all he owned to the poor and paid back four times the amount of money he had stolen from people. As our prayer craft, we made hand wreaths to remind us how we can be honest and fair. Zaccheus stole with his hands from people but then meeting Jesus changed him and he gave back what he stole.
Our new activity was having a puppet theatre and hand puppets so we could explore the story for ourselves. The puppets are part of our community knitting project and we hope to 'knit the Bible' before we're finished!
Adrian told the story after our craft time. It was fantastic - see for yourself from the photo! He dressed up as Zacchaeus and told the story in a song. Then he explained how Jesus made the difference to Zacchaeus' life. After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus changed from a cheating tax collector who nobody liked to someone who was honest and fair and wanted to give his money away rather than rob other people.
After singing the Zacchaeus song together and praying for God's to help us live honestly and fairly as Jesus would, we had a great lunch including birthday cake.
As a team we are so grateful to all those who come along to assist with crafts and those who help with baking for lunch. It is a wonderful way of working together across all the parishes. Donations came to £46 which is an additional blessing and goes towards resources for crafts next time.
Our next Messy Church gathering will be in half term on Thursday 30 October from 10 am to 12 noon including lunch in Mulbarton Infant School hall. Do come and join us!
Posted: Wed, 27 Aug, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Adrian
Do you like to have a good old natter about the stuff that matters? I do. I can’t see what the latest gadget means, or money, power, knowledge, anything really, without other people to share them with or use them for. As a Christian, I see that need for conversation and connection with others as a reflection of God in us. God is personal. No surprise that we are too. Whatever the case, we all need to talk, to listen, to be understood, to connect.
The trouble is that we sometimes find our attempts to connect end badly. So, we learn to avoid certain people, certain topics, certain taboos. Life is safer - but less interesting! The old adage about never talking religion and politics is borne out of this. If we talk about stuff that people feel strongly about, we risk offending, and then things can turn nasty - so let's talk about the weather, sport and our latest consumer purchases instead. Stay safe! Be afraid! I learnt early in life that this was ultimately an uninspiring way to live.
In childhood, I just agreed with what my parents told me and what I learnt at school and watched on the telly. I was a Christian by default, because I went with the flow. In my teenage years, I realised that I didn't have to go with the flow and I was free to think what I wanted, and behave as I pleased. It was quite a revelation. Ironically, though, I just ended up drifting with a different crew, as my peers and I tried to navigate together, none of us really knowing where to go or why we were here. Pretty soon, it was less about navigating, and more about enjoying the taverns en route! I was stuck in a rut. That was when my Christian parents' marriage ended and my atheist best friend tried to commit suicide. Suddenly, I knew life was no game and I couldn't just drift my parents' way or my friends' way. Finally I was ready to do real talking, to listen, to discuss, to explore, to engage, to find out where to go and why I was here.
Since then, I haven't stopped seeking to listen, to understand others and to discuss. With Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nepalese Buddhist monks, all manner of Christians from all denominations in several countries, a variety of humanist atheists and more, I’ve hunted out some really fascinating conversations. That hunt has led me to some firm Christian convictions - but my appetite for discussion is still strong, and my search for truth goes on. Daring to talk about big things can be risky, but if we can find a safe place to think big thoughts, why not grab it?!
The “Alpha Course” is one of the best places for doing this sort of exploration and is what it accounts for its enormous success, with over 20 million people having taken part in 169 nations. And it's coming to us in October. Check it out!
Posted: Wed, 27 Aug, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Katrina
I have been accepted onto what will be one of the most exciting adventures of my life so far! I have the incredible opportunity to get closer to God and then take Him to the nations. In September I will be flying to Kona, Hawaii where I'll be doing the 6 month long 'Fire and Fragrance' DTS (Discipleship Training School).
This begins with 3 months of 'bible school' type training, including lots of worship and prayer (YAY)! Then for the second 3 months I will be sent on outreach to another nation - I won't find out which nation until I have begun the DTS but could be anywhere from Nepal to South Africa! Here we will be partnering with local ministries and churches to build up faith, hope and generally spread the power and love of God!
I am really excited about how God's going to use me in this and how being part of it is going to challenge and change me. I would love for you to join me in my adventure whether this is by supporting me in prayer or financially (or both)!
Posted: Tue, 22 Apr, 2014 (3 years ago) - by Adrian
Thank you to so many people for giving Sarah, Toby, Naomi and I such a warm welcome to this group of villages and group of churches. For us, this continues to be a season of "looking, listening and learning". There are a few hundred new faces I've encountered; I'm well into triple figures on the names I've learnt; and I am slowly getting to know the stories behind some of the names. I have begun to pray systematically for each of our church members, rotating through several households each week, and would be happy to extend that to anyone who would like to be included in that practice. I'm finding that's also good for my prayer life, and for getting to know the fold, so win-win on that front.
There is still a lot of learning to be done, but I am also now starting to reflect and re-imagine, as together we seek God for guidance as to the way forward for us at this time of transition. Please pray for the various PCCs as we meet and think big thoughts, and also for the benefice steering group that will be coming together this month. There is certainly a diversity of styles on offer across the group of churches, which is encouraging to me, and evident in the range of Easter services available.
I hope that we can continue to grow in mutual appreciation of what we each bring, and that between us we can develop stronger connections across the board to enable us to bring something of the love of God to our communities and help make the world a better place in a variety of meaningful ways. I’m looking forward to making more connections outside of the churches personally by having three “Open Rectory” events in spring, and by going out to do some visiting in the summer months, as part of the Hope 2014 "Who Cares?" initiative. If you know anyone who would especially welcome a visit, please do be in touch.
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