Harvest – a time to give thanks

Harvest in my mind always heralds the real arrival of autumn. There’s a different smell in the air as the trees start to turn and I almost feel I am facing a different direction in the church year, turning away from the glory of Easter and summer and looking towards the anticipation of (dare I say it) Christmas.

In our school-centred life we are full of new beginnings again – new pencil cases, new activities and new responsibilities. But it’s also time to take stock and give thanks for all that the year has produced so far and look forward to what we can do with those gifts…

At our traditional Harvest Festival service, people brought offerings of food and collection money but also less traditional things such as toothpaste and a kettle! These items were targeted at specific groups – Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC), DASH and Tearfund.

As well as non-perishable food, people entering temporary housing often need basic items such as clothing, bedding and household items (hence the kettle), so these will go to SHOC.

DASH is a local charity supporting people who have had to leave their homes in a hurry with virtually no possessions or money due to domestic violence and abuse. A basic kit of toiletries is a small token of dignity at such a traumatic time so these items will be much appreciated.

Lastly, our cash collection which was extra to our church envelopes will go to Tearfund, whose recent campaign shows how a little help to get someone a few tools or skills goes a long way to their self sufficiency and contribution to their community economy. Tearfund (and we) trust God to take what we have given and multiply it, just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed so many people.

Junior Church was held in the Hastings Chapel with extra helpers and included some smaller members of the Girl Guide movement, who weren’t camping in the pouring rain that weekend! They produced some beautiful hedgehogs and pumpkins to mark the season.

Another Thank You

At the end of the service, we said a huge thank you (though we are not calling it goodbye) to Kate Holliday who has served as Church Administrator for almost 20 years and has now set up her own gardening business. We prayed for Kate as she puts both feet into this new venture – that it will blossom and grow – and we are sure that it will still be as much of a mission field for her as the office.

This week, we welcome Debbie Langham as she takes over from Kate in the office, but we’ll find out more about Debbie in a future post…

Care International Sponsored Cycle across Vietnam and Cambodia

After months of planning, Margriet and Charlotte Wells have embarked on this 450km ride and are several days in to the 10 day trip already. They are raising amoney and awareness for Care International, which the Wells family and the Coffee Shop have been supporting for some time.

CARE International works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. We put women and girls in the centre because we know that we cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities. To find out more about the charity, visit their website. https://www.careinternational.org.uk/

Margriet and Charlotte have been sending regular photos of their progress – below are a few of their orientation day and first few days of the ride.

How can you help?

Firstly, please pray for stamina and safety during the ride – they have another week to go! Secondly, if you are able, please sponsor them, by visiting their Just Giving page.

We look forward to welcoming them home and hearing all about their trip at our next all age service.

Family Barbecue 2019

Sunny spells greeted our combined congregations as we met up at St Giles’ for a communion service and our annual family barbecue.

Thanks to everyone who contributed a morsel to the sumptuous feast, the catering team who put everything together and cooked all those burgers and sausages, the coffee crew and to those who created the interactive all-age service.

The Churchwardens presented Tony Bunce with a gift to thank him for 50 years of service on the PCC! Over the years, Tony has taken part in so many important projects for the church, including making our beautiful and practical altar table at St Andrew’s, which folds away at the end of each service and yet is sturdy enough to hold the sacrament safely as well as the many other demands placed on it.

Tony’s gift was a painting featuring the table, set for a service and the banner behind it on the wall of St Andrew’s, to which Tony’s wife Anne contributed as part of the Women’s Fellowship. A small token of appreciation for both their faithful service to God and the community.

As part of an ongoing plan to make sure everyone can hear during different sections of any large service at St Giles’, extra thought and preparation went in to the microphones, speakers and piano volume. The more people that are in St Giles’, the bigger the challenge to spread the sound effectively for the loud and quiet elements of the service; to keep the children involved but not hindering the proceedings and to make sure people coming for the first time can follow what’s going on as easily as the regulars and encourage them to come again. We are still working through how this can be achieved within our tight budget and what the benefits are for the cost.

It is no mean feat to do all of this without losing the essence of St Giles’: a continuous place of worship for over 900 years. Long may it continue…

Showtime!

Congratulations to everyone involved in running or participating in the Stoke Poges, Wexham and Fulmer Horticultural Show this year. The weather tried to put a dampener on it but the spirit of the Show prevailed!

So many members of the church were involved in some capacity, it would be impossible to name them all but I’ve tried to capture the breadth of our involvement in a few photos… from planning and coordinating the whole show and setting up the showground, to judging and stewarding in the show tent; prize winning in every section, manning stalls and clearing up at the end of the day; you name it, the congregation was in it all.

Flying the flag for the church, wearing our new t-shirts, was our barbeque team, refreshed with new volunteers throughout the afternoon. Stirling job everyone!

A year in the life of 7Up

Thanks to Simon Edwards for this summary of the year in 7Up and an even bigger thank you to Simon, Tara, Jamie and Suzanne for leading our young people towards Christ.

We had a great turn out and a great time in our last Sunday 7Up session of this term. Below is a summary of our time together this academic year – A Year in the Life of 7Up: September 2018 – July 2019

In our autumn term 2018 sessions we explored; ‘Is Forgiveness always good?’, ‘Different Ways To God?’, ‘Meeting Jesus’ and ‘How Old Is Jesus?’(Creation) – based on questions which 7Up members came up with at the start of the term.

In our spring term 2019 sessions; we looked at identity and played Mr & Mrs with our new vicar, Natasha and her husband, Jamie; we explored; ‘New beginnings’ & ‘Heaven & Hell’, we looked at newspaper and magazine articles and considered what moves us, and we looked at journeying together (Paraclesis), with a particular focus on forgiveness.

In our summer term 2019 sessions, our emphasis moved from ‘learning it’ to ‘living it’ – how we lead our lives as an act of worship, God in the everyday, on our ‘frontlines’.  We used a CPAS cards-based resource, ‘Talk Calling’ to help us examine our motivations, what God might be calling us to next, and any barriers in the way. We also used a LICC resource, ‘Fruitfulness on the Frontline’.

Over the year: We have listened to God and to each other. We have started to share our prayer needs and to pray for each other on a regular basis. We have experimented with live worship and we have used reflective worship songs to help us focus in prayer times in sessions.

Our group has grown so much that some weeks we can’t all fit at the large round table in the coffee shop. A lovely problem to have.

Fun activities to activate us have included blind tasting of different pancake toppings, tricky relay games in the youth hall, and taking a selfie with Jesus. We have enjoyed a pizza and film night and we are looking forward to a BarBQ and Treasure Hunt at the vicarage on 31st  July.

Last but not least, most of us have eaten nearly half our body weight in various forms of chocolate spread, hot chocolate, pastries and fruit! We all seem to be doing fine on it.

Whether your summer holidays involve camping, preparing for university, relaxing in the sun, or catching up with all those books you haven’t managed to read, we encourage you; to spend time with God each day, to stay connected with each other and to continue to pray for each other’s needs and concerns which have been shared. Continue to build each other up and see God do amazing things in us and through us. 

We reap what we sow

Our All age service last Sunday followed the theme of reaping what we sow from the reading Galatians 6:7-16 . Beautifully illustrated by the cress heads! You can listen to Nigel’s sermon on the website here.

Action song time!

Bacon sandwiches were ably cooked and served by Rachel, Cath and Piers with helpers, plus Barbara and Simone on beverages – thanks team!

In other news…

Congratulations to our erstwhile Trainee Minister TJ, who is now a fully fledged Deacon, following her ordination by Bishop Alan on Saturday 29 June (St Petertide) at Christ Church, Oxford. We know she’ll do a top job, wherever God sends her (currently on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela!). Safe travels and best wishes for your curacy TJ!

A group from Stoke Poges were there to support her on her big day.

Lighthouse Holiday Club

Lighthouse Burnham is a Christian summer holiday club running from Monday 29th July to Friday 2nd August.  As a congregation, we are familiar with the seasonal call for toilet roll tubes and flattened cereal boxes, but surely there’s more to Lighthouse than junk modelling?!

John Wheatley and Deborah Wetherall have been involved for a number of years and this year, Natasha and Jamie will be joining the crew. As Lighthouse are the only Christian holiday clubs in the area, we want to make sure the one in our Deanery thrives. Deborah tells us more…

“I’ve volunteered every year for the last 5 years on the craft team and Theo and Grace have attended and we love Lighthouse! I’m very enthusiastic about Lighthouse because I feel it meets a genuine need in the local community, i.e. affordable childcare for a week in the holidays for many families in the area.  Many children say it is the best week of their summer holidays! It plants seeds of faith in children and young people, many of whom don’t go to church. And it does this in a fun way!!”

According to their website, Lighthouse is…

Unashamedly Christian. 
Amazingly Popular. 
Locally Proven.
Welcome to Lighthouse…

Lighthouse is a week long summer holiday programme involving all ages and run by an increasing number of local churches working together in a widening area of locations with more enquiries each year.

Each day the children and volunteers enjoy worshipping, dancing and praying together, messy games including Gunge! Discovery (bible teaching), Craft, Drama and Sport. 

Today it is attended by around 5000 children with 3000 volunteers of all ages, 2000 of which are teenagers, in ten Lighthouse locations. 

The volunteer roles are really varied – including behind the scenes set up and admin or hands on if you are sporty, crafty or drama-inclined. It’s a great place to volunteer – friendly and fun and time-limited! You can sign up for a day or two if you just want to try it out, or the whole week if you are ready to jump in with both feet. Of course, volunteers over 18 have to undergo a (free) DBS check and the relevant safeguarding training and the teenagers have their own training and preparation time. This year the Craft team are particularly in need of helpers.

  • You need to enjoy working with children!
  • The craft team have a great sense of humour along with a love of cutting & sticking, googly eyes and chocolate! We would love to have new recruits to help us this year
  • You need to be prepared to be on your feet for much of the day 
  • You need to attend volunteer training on either Friday 28th June, Thursday 11th July or Friday 19th July at 7.30 pm

For more information about volunteering, please speak to Deborah.

If you would like to register your child for Lighthouse, please go to https://lighthousecentral.org/lighthouses/burnham/about

Volunteers with smiles (and moustaches?!)

Collecting for the craft team

As a congregation we are great at collecting for the Craft team, who rely heavily on donations to help deliver a great experience for the children on the theme of the daily Bible teaching. This year they are collecting loo roll tubes, cereal boxes, wrapping paper, coloured paper, glue sticks, felt tips, craft pipe cleaners  and pony beads. Please bring to St Andrew’s office or give directly to Deborah Wetherall.

All together now… ♪ My lighthouse, my lighthouse, shining in the darkness… ♪