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… ♪

Confirmation Service

St Giles’ hosted the Deanery Confirmation service on Sunday, where four Stoke Poges candidates were joined by five from other churches to be confirmed by the Bishop of Buckingham, The Right Revd Alan Wilson.

Jamie, Tara, Oliver & Rachel with Bishop Alan
photo credit: Harvey Whittam

In his sermon, Bishop Alan encouraged the candidates and all of us to look to Jesus to find our best selves – that confirming our faith in Christ frees us, rather than constrains us. Although we need to be out in the world, meeting people where they are, being members of a Christian community helps us to keep our compass pointing towards Christ: doing our best to love God, one another and even those “out there”.

Congratulations to Tara, Jamie, Rachel and Oliver on their confirmation and thank you to everyone front of house and behind the scenes, both from our congregation and the rest of the Deanery for creating a spirit-filled and ceremonial occasion.

APCM & Worship Addendum

by Simon McDowell

On Sunday 29 April, Natasha welcomed people to her first APCM as our vicar.  It’s actually her second APCM with us, as she was the guest of honour last year.  After a lovely bring-and-share lunch, we got to the meeting, which is a chance for the church leadership (vicar, wardens, the PCC) to share with the wider church membership how we’ve been doing over the past year.

There are some formal bits in the APCM, to do with election of new PCC members, re-elections of those retiring by rotation after three years, the approval of the electoral roll and sidesmen and women.  The appointment of the churchwardens happens in an entirely separate Parish Meeting in the middle of the APCM – such are the vagaries of Church Law!

We said farewell to two long standing members of the PCC – to Tony Bunce, who stood down from the PCC after 50 years and to Gaynor Houghton-Jones, who has been our Treasurer for over a decade.  The PCC are immensely grateful to both of them for their many years of service to our church community.  In Tony’s place, we welcome Rachel McCarthy to the PCC for the first time and hope that she’s still here in 50 years to break Tony’s record…

Also stepping back from a role, but fortunately not from the PCC, is Paul Elderfield, one of our churchwardens.  Paul has been a calm, yet humorous churchwarden for the past seven years, working alongside firstly Nigel Lowe and then Simon McDowell to ensure that the church runs smoothly.  He stayed an extra year beyond the normal six years for a churchwarden to help Natasha settle into her post, and both Simon and Natasha are grateful for his wisdom and guidance.   Paul remains in the PCC, as a member of the Deanery Synod, alongside John Wheatley and Mark Wells.  John also replaces Paul as churchwarden: his powers were immediately tested with a water leak at St Andrew’s!

In Gaynor’s absence, Simon gave the financial report, stressing that although the church seems in good health, most of our money is tied up in ‘restricted’ funds, which limit the spend of that money to restricted items.  Our General Fund, which is unrestricted, just about broke even last year and we need to continue to be careful on how we raise income and spend money to ensure that we can increase our Diocesan Share again, having had to reduce it for the first time in 2019.  With no official Treasurer, the role automatically falls to the churchwardens. We are therefore grateful to have the support of Richard Beckingsale and Jamie Brady to help do much of the day-to-day financial roles.

Finally, we had some questions in advance from parishioners.  We are grateful for their thoughts and consideration in getting them to us before the meeting so that we can get the required information to give a full reply.   Our meeting finished with Natasha thanking the parish for the welcome that she’s received since starting here and with an inspiring video on what we can be as a church community.

Further details of our activities in 2018 can be found in both the previous editions of this blog and on the church website. 

Please help to contribute to the church’s successes in 2019 – whether that’s by attending events or supporting us with your time to help with the organisation of those events or through your giving.  Thank you.

The Annual Report of the Trustees and Financial Statements can be viewed in the Church Office and the full proceedings of the APCM can be listened to as an audio file. The minutes will be available by the end of May.


Finally, with apologies for the omission…

Addendum to the Annual Report: St Andrew’s Worship Group – Tina Edwards

In 2018 we found ourselves with singers but much fewer worship leaders and musicians – in fact just 2 musicians and 3 leaders. So far we have been able to lead worship at every service. 

In services where it isn’t possible to have a live musician we have, through trial and error (thanks for being patient with us St Andrew’s folks) developed a way of using MP3 music files on a phone played through the PA.  

Another blessing for us in 2018 has been Lindsey and David Mackie who come, on loan, from St James’ Gerrards Cross.  Lindsey has not only lead worship but introduced new songs and coached singers and musicians in leading worship and microphone technique.  David has introduced a new PA desk and trained a small number of volunteers on how to operate it.  Oliver McDowell has proved a real asset to the team with a good ear for sound balance and logical thinking when things go wrong.  

We are also thankful for John Wheatley who often finds himself operating both the PC for the words and the sound desk – a second pair of hands here would also be helpful. 

Our prayer for 2019 is to see more musicians join the team, more singers prepared to lead worship and more people willing to be trained on use of the PA desk and the PC. 

He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

It’s not often that you have to decide how long the Easter Eggs can stay in the churchyard before they melt, but it was the hot topic this year…

Shirt sleeves and summer dresses were dug out (and in some cases, ironed) for the occasion and there was a hearty turnout of regulars and plenty of others who came to hear the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection and find an egg or four.

If you’d like to listen to the sermon again, you will find it on our website here. Do you have questions about the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross so that we might be forgiven and saved? Join us for our Alpha course, starting 1st May. No question is too basic!