What have we been doing
Festive Coffee Morning
Funds for Messy Church needed a little boosting so Brenda organised a Festive Coffee Morning last Saturday. There were cakes, bric-a-brac, Festive stocking fillers and beautiful handmade cards for us to buy as well as sitting and chatting over a cup of coffee or tea. Though not visited by huge numbers, a steady trickle of folks came and the wonderful total of £202 was raised. Thank you Brenda for all your hard work and to all those who gave items to sell or manned the stalls and of course to all those who came along.
Today we were shown various ways that we could be lights in the world around us, within our families, within our community and within the whole world. Ann re-told us about the Samaritan's Purse Shoebox scheme and we watched a video of how receiving a shoebox turned the wayward life of a young boy - Louis - around. Ann had ready covered shoeboxes and some knitted items available for those who needed them and she encouraged us all to take part in the scheme in some way. Lynne told us about how BMS takes the light of Jesus into all corners of the world and then introduced us to Beth. Beth is at present at The International Mission Centre in Sellyoak, training to go out to a placement in Tunisia in the near future. Beth told us of her background in Helensborough and her training in nursing. Her year out in India working at a Leprosy centre and her desire to put her skills to use for God's work. She said how she found it hard to "wait" for God's perfect timing as to when and where she should work as she is a "Let's get on with it NOW" sort of person, but that she has realised that the wealth of understanding and skills she has learnt at the IMC is part of God's holding her back until she is more fully equipped to do the job he has for her. What a delight she was to listen to, what a delight she will be when she finally goes to Tunisia, and what a delight she must be to the Lord to have her living and working for him. Thank you to Ann, Lynne and Elaine for arranging and taking the service and the music group for accompanying the singing. An inspirational service to us all.
Y Course - week one - Is there more to life than this?
Thursday 26 September saw a hive of activity preparing for week one of the Y Course. Church seating re-organisers, table putter-uppers, table decorators, food preparers, washer-uppers all worked hard to make sure that all was as it should be for this event. Twenty-eight folks attended and were treated to a warm welcome from Martin and seated at one of the five beautifully laid tables. Informal chat took place, and just after 6.30pm Ron and Keith arrived with trays of hot lasagne which was served with garlic bread and salad. After enjoying this, Martin outlined the format of the evening and also explained a little about the course. Next a short video was watched and then dessert was served, over which discussions took place table by table on points raised by the video. A second video was then shown and discussions took place as we were served tea/coffee. It was good to share our experiences, and to look at questions which stimulated lively discussions. Martin rounded off the evening at 8.30pm and all participants left having enjoyed a splendid evening of food for the body and lots of food for thought too. Thank you to everyone who came and to all those who helped in any way either before or on the evening.
The Big Welcome
What a fine welcome greeted us on arrival at church. The seating was set out in café style and tables laid with plates of croissants and doughnuts! We were asked whether we would like a drink and if so we could choose tea or coffee and this was then served to us. The service was lively with the accent on 'listening. Call my bluff was enjoyed and we certainly listened to some very strange definitions before learning the correct one. We were treated to a lovely rendering of 'True Colours' which started with a beautiful solo verse by Jennifer. We watched a video staring three of our members, Chris, Brian and Harvey which was filmed and directed by our own Pastor with voice overs by Maggie. We were introduced to the sign language Makaton by Gillian and we played Chinese whispers. The children brought in 'feely' boxes and Martin had to guess what the identity of objects hidden by paper straw. We were invited to take part in 'Supper chill and chat' commencing this coming Thursday and running for eight weeks. Coffee and tea was again served at the close of the service. Thank you to all those who helped make this a VERY welcoming service and a huge thank you to Martin who shouldered the bulk of the preparation work.
Harvest Flower Festival
This morning at 10.30 saw the start of our Harvest weekend, but the hard work started before that with the planning and preparation and then the staging of all the displays. How blessed we are, as a church, to have so many talented people able and willing to use their skills to transform the church. Our theme was the BMS HUNGRY FOR........ scheme and the windowsills and baptistery, porch and front of the church depicted many different types of hunger and funds raised over the weekend will go to the BMS Hungry for..... fund to spread throughout all these different ministries throughout the world. The Porch was Hungry for Prayer and included a box for prayer requests which will be used in our service. Inside the church was Hungry for Love, Hungry for Food, Hungry for The Gospel, Hungry for Peace, Hungry for Justice, Hungry for Mercy and Hungry for Water. What stunning displays they all are and how ingenious the creators have been in depicting each theme. A powerpoint display was running on the big screen, again depicting the 'Hungry for' theme and beautiful panpipe music accompanied this. Coffee and biscuits was served during the morning and then at 12 noon the now well known and loved Ploughman's lunches were served with over 50 partakers. Afternoon tea and biscuits was served later and visitors though somewhat thin on the ground because of the wet and cold weather, were still coming in at closing time. Thank you everyone who helped in any way - setting up, floral displays, meeting and greeting, serving and washing up and preparing the lunches. A wonderful job done by you all to glorify our bounteous and merciful God.
Today we rounded off our Harvest weekend with a wonderful service led by our Pastor Martin where we looked at the many different sorts of hunger there was in the world and how we had a responsibility, not only to thank God for all that he gives to us, but for us to share his gifts wherever and whenever possible. We kept the church open until 3.0pm to take part in Heritage Day where events were taking place in the town. Unfortunately though we have a rich heritage, being started in 1640, and our own church historian - Jacqui was on board to answer questions, no-one came along! However we used the time to talk through some of the exciting plans we have for the church during the next few months.
Visit of Link Missionaries
Ladies Fellowship Annual Afternoon Tea
On Tuesday 2nd July, ten ladies went for tea to Hilliers. The tea was good, the weather was beautiful and the conversation flowed. Laughter abounded across the table and a lovely time of fellowship, friendship and fun. was had by all. Thank you Lynne for organising it and for all those who took cars and aided those with walking difficulties.
Believers Baptism - Sunday 30th June
What a wonderful occasion - the church was packed with the balcony taking the overflow - the sun was shining, excitement abounded and the Lords presence was tangible. When I arrived to the quiet of an empty church the serenity of the open baptistry and the beautiful floral arrangements was very moving. Gradually the church started to fill as our regulars, visitors and friends and family of Jennifer arrived.
What a buzz filled the once quiet church. For the Mills family this was to be a very very special service and for Martin, to be baptising his own eldest daughter was very intimate and moving.
We started the service with the rousing hymn "Crown him with many crowns" which the assembled congregation sang with great gusto. This was followed by prayer and the reading from Acts 11: 19-30 by Sarah. (It was good to have Sarah back with us after her operation.) Martin then explained about Believers Baptism and what was to take place later. He asked Jennifer to join him and he asked her questions about her faith and she gave us her testimony. This she concluded by singing a song chosen by her - Cannons by Phil Wickham. Her Mum, accompanied her on her guitar and the whole church was enraptured. Goosebumps abounded and a few tears too. What a magnificent voice Jennifer has and what power of feeling and her love of the Lord she expressed in that song.
Next it was the actual act of baptism and Martin asked senior deacon Chris to join him with Jennifer in the baptistry. Martin read the declaration questions and Jennifer answered them with a clarity of both voice and conviction, following this baptism took place.
Because we have the facility to film, and show on screen, what is taking place, everyone in the church was able to see all that was happening, though the youngsters were invited to sit around the baptistery to get a better view!
As Jennifer, Martin and Chris left to get changed, Bobby led us in the singing of one of Jennifer's favourite songs - Consuming Fire. After the offering and prayers of intercession led by Jacqui, Jennifer, Chris and Martin rejoined us in time for us to sing another favourite song - Mighty to Save.
Martin led us on our journey through Acts, continuing to teach us so much of what happened after the resurrection and how we are to apply it in our own lives and in our own situations, at home, at work and in our community as well as throughout the whole world.
The service concluded with another well loved hymn - "And can it be". The volume of singing, and the obvious belief in what was being sung, was a fitting end to a truly wonderful service.
Alcester Quiet Garden - Strawberry Tea
A very successful Strawberry Tea was held this afternoon in Alcester Quiet Garden and for once the weather did us proud too.
Many folk came along to enjoy the garden and the fellowship together and of course to enjoy a bowlful of strawberries.
Proceeds were for Water Aid and a total of £162.68 was made.
Thanks to Brenda and Jacqui for all their hard work in providing the tea, to Alison for making sure the garden was in tip-top condition and of course to all those who came along to make it such a success.
Alcester Annual Street Market
A busy but happy day was had by all. The town was jam packed with folk enjoying all the stalls, games and rides. As usual we provided tea and cakes and a nice sit down for those wishing to have a little rest from all the fun.
A willing band of workers manned the serving tables, cleared dirty crocks, washed up and kept the endless supply of hot tea going.
We were delighted that Lynne and Brenda set up a stall selling their beautiful hand made cards just by the front gate.
Thank you one and all - many hands did help to make it a good day for us all. Our takings topped £300 including a 50% donation from Lynn and Brenda's takings. This sum will be divided equally between the High Bailiff's charities and charities of our choice.
The Male Voice Choir who practice on our premises each week, gave a wonderful half hours concert and there was standing room only in the church to hear them. How blessed we are to have such an accomplished choir in our town. Thank you Judith and members of the choir.
It was a tired group of folk who locked up at the end of the day, but for yet another year ABC had supported the High Bailiff in the biggest event of his year, as well as being given the opportunity of welcoming so many friends old and new onto our premises.
Alcester Garden Walkabout - Sunday June 2nd 2013
After our Morning Worship which included celebrating the Lord's Supper we had our usual refreshments and then members of our Quiet Garden Team stayed on the premises to welcome folks taking part in the annual Garden Walkabout organised by the Alcester Branch of Cancer Research. Over 500 people came into our quiet garden and spent both a time of reflection and a time of getting to know what the quiet garden represents and why it was formed. Thanks to Alison for all her hard work in the garden and to Brenda and Lynn for giving the whole afternoon to represent us at this very worthwhile event.
Anniversary Weekend 18th/19th May 2013
Pentecost breakfast and Anniversary Service
An early start this morning saw 33 of us sharing Pentecost breakfast together at 9.0am. Before commencing breakfast, Martin led us in our Service of Communion where we served each other with the bread and wine and prayed together. On next to orange juice, a choice of cereals followed by toast and marmalade/jam/marmite. Thank you to all those who arranged and set the tables, prepared and served the food and washed up afterwards.
Martin led our Anniversary/Pentecost service where he took us through Acts 2:1-12 where the people heard the disciples taking in tongues. He reminded us that we had experienced a period of waiting and now we were to 'Get Ready'. We were to be greatly encouraged that Jesus came on earth as an ordinary person like us. We were to be greatly encouraged that the disciples he chose were ordinary people like us. They did not have special gifts of mission, or gifts of oration - they were ordinary people who believed and through their faith went out to bring others to God. Jesus met them 'Where they were at' - and he meets us there too. We sang and prayed that the spirit of Pentecost would fill us anew and give us strength to go forward with God, in our homes, our work, our community and the world. He concluded by giving us all our new Mission Statement. A Mission Statement founded on our original statement and built upon. Our purpose is "Knowing Jesus and making him known". Our values are to live as Authentic Biblical Christians by Glorifying God in word, action and being. By using our gifts in service, within the Church. By encouraging and enabling others in their ministry and expressing the love of God to the Community and the world.
'Celebrations' Flower Festival
Wow! I walked into church this morning at 8.45am and what a fantastic sight met me. The entrance porch was a glorious golden wedding feast for the eyes.
The photographs simply do not do the arrangements justice for which I am truly sorry.
On into the church where each windowsill had been decorated to depict a different kind of celebration.
80th Birthday, Jesus's Birthday, New baby,
General birthday, Lost and Found, ABC's link with other churches.
All very different and all absolutely beautiful.
The Cross and Baptistry were stunningly decorated in white and green and the area by the organ depicted the celebration of Pentecost and was a sheer wonder.
What incredibly talented people we have around us who can achieve such stunning
THANK YOU one and all for all your hard work and for being willing to use your talents so that the rest of us could enjoy such beautiful arrangments.
A HUGE thank you, especially to Brenda, for not only organising the whole event but for her incredibly beautiful Pentecost and Golden Wedding arrangements.
As well as our usual supporters we had a number of extra visitors because there was a Food Festival in the town.
Morning coffees were served and at 12 noon we started to serve our now well known £3 Ploughman's lunches made by Barbara and Cath. 66 lunches were purchased and all seemed to enjoy them.
The afternoon continued to see folks coming in to view the flowers and have a cup of tea and the doors finally closed at 4.15pm.
Thanks to John who was main door steward all day and did a sterling job of welcoming and chatting to absolutely everyone who came through the door!
Thanks to all those who served teas/coffees/lunches and to all those who washed up.
All those who visited had many complimentary things to say, many had questions to ask both about the flowers and the church and all went away saying they had thoroughly enjoyed their visit.
Sing and Rejoice
Saturday evening saw us sharing another fantastic evening singing, rejoicing and praising our Lord. Thanks to Ian, John and all the group for giving us such a treat. Their songs ranged from well-known ones to those written by the group themselves and the words were beautiful, comforting, challenging and first and formost praising God and giving thanks. All who came along, left having experienced an evening celebrating him and of being in his presence.
The Ladies Fellowship went on an trip to Hilliers this week. Afternoon tea was the order of the day and all seemed to be having a really good time. Thanks to those who organised it.
During the week running up to Good Friday our Pastor lead a series of prayer sessions "in the style of..." at lunch time Monday to Thursday. Each session was well attended and the last one, which I managed to get to, was a Taize style and absolutely beautiful and very moving.
Good Friday saw us on the walk of Witness around the town and then on Easter Sunday we had a wonderfully uplifting Easter Day Service led by Martin. During this service the bare rough cross was adorned by all those present with flowers and the result was spectacular as you can see.
We also had the pleasure of a blessing for two of our members - Bryan and Brenda who celebrated their Golden Wedding.
Dedication of baby Jessica - February 10th
We had a packed church when the ABC Fellowship was joined by family and friends of Laura and Alex to be a part of the dedication of their baby girl - Jessica. What a beautiful service it was. Martin led us through a wondeful service entitled "Welcome the child". During the dedication of baby Jessica, promises were made by Laura and Alex, her wider family and her church family. Cath read the poem, "Cherish the time" by Joanna Fuchs and Barbara said a special prayer for Jessica. Martin then brought Jessica down into the congregation to introduce her to us all. A lovely occasion and we are looking forward to watching Jessica grow up within the love of her birth family, her church family and the love of God.
The Journey begins.....
Today is the day when the next chapter in the long history of Alcester Baptist Church begins. The new Pastor and his family together with all the fellowship of ABC start their journey together. Together is important - Martin asked "What happens if I get it wrong?" "What happens if the fellowship, or members of it, get it wrong"? He (and we) are human and we will make mistakes along the way but by the grace of God we will forgive each other.
He told us that he did not know what was in store for us all, but he did know for certain that whatever happened along the way, he would always be pointing us to Jesus, encouraging us to truly be "Jesus people".
Daily we were to look upward to God and give thanks for his everlasting love for us, and then we were to make every effort to bring that warmth and love down through ourselves and outward to all those around us, be they family, friends, members of the community, or folks further afield.
It was fitting that it was Covenant Sunday and
Martin gave us a clear explanation of what covenanting was and why we should do it. He looked at when and why throughout our lives we have made promises and even had some of us remembering the promise we made as brownies, guides and scouts many many years ago! He led us through various promises and responses culminating in us saying the ABC Covenant together.
We have taken as our prayer motto for 2013 the words "Send us out in the power of your Spirit to live and work to your praise and glory." and Martin concluded that together we would strive to do just that.
Induction of our Pastor - Martin Mills
We have been bubbling with excitement for a number of months now, since we invited Martin to become our Pastor and he accepted. At last the day, when the formalities could be completed arrived. Invitations had been sent and replies received, Leaders, Readers, Preachers, Musicians, cleaners, bakers, tea preparers and washer-uppers were all manoeuvred into place. The church was cleaned and prepared, and folks were asked to perform a myriad of different duties. Thanks to all those who were involved in anyway both before today and today.
By 2.0pm folks were arriving. Friends and relations of Martin and Bobbie came from near and far and it was a pleasure to welome them on their first visit to Alcester. Over the next half hour the church buzzed as Past Ministers of Alcester Baptist Church, Ministers from Baptist Associations, the local churches and neighbouring churches came to support Martin. The Mayor and the High Bailiff and their wives and members of local organisations all arrived to be greeted by both a warm welcome and a warm church (it was freezing outside! but thankfully no snow).
Revd Mark Jennings, who had been our Moderator during the interregnum, welcomed everyone and introduced Revd Canon Keith Judson, Regional Minister and Team Leader of the Heart of England Baptist Association who was to conduct that Induction formalities.
Firstly he asked John Thompson - ABC Church Secretary to explain the story of how we had reached the calling of Martin and this was followed by Martin telling us his side of the "journey".
Next Keith took, Martin, Bobbie, The Deacons and Leadership Team, The church members, and finally the whole congregation through their confessions of Faith and their promises of faithfulness.
The Laying on of hands was carried out by Mark Jennings (Moderator) Chris Gough (Senior Deacon) Alison Roberts (Member of ABC) and Simon Hodges (Alcester Churches Together)
The time we had all waited for came as Keith confirmed that Martin was now Pastor of our church and this was followed by the whole congregation saying the blessing together.
Mark then read a greeting from the immediate past Pastor/Teacher of the church - Alastair Aird and his wife Ruth and then he introduced Simon Hodges who brought greetings on behalf of Churches Together in Alcester. The Mayor brought greetings on behalf of the town of Alcester and Bill Finnemore brought greetings from local Baptist Churches in the area.
After singing some lovely songs accompanied by the music group two scriptures were read. Ephesians 4 v 1-16 was read by Revd Stephen Ansell and Psalm 133 was read by Jacqui Snowdon.
The message was preached by the Revd Canon Nigel Coles, Regional Minister, Team Leader, West of England Baptist Association. He charged both Martin and the fellowship at ABC with Ministering together in unity both within the fellowship and the wider community. He charged us not to be average in our strivings but to be radical. He asked us to be committed to drawing others closer to God being careful not to lose our own personal connection with him, but to actively strengthen it as we mature together in the coming years.
Two lovely hymns - Be Thou my vision and In Christ Alone, together with prayers of Intercession brought the service towards its close.
It was a delight that Martin - our very own Pastor gave the blessing to close the proceedings.
We then enjoyed on lovely time of fellowship over a cup to tea or coffee and a piece of delicious cake
The church was packed and the balcony was pretty full too. We were truly blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful occasion where warmth and Joy abounded. We look forward to working together in Unity, Ministering to each other, and to those around us and Maturing together in our faith.
Christmas Eve - Christingle Service
Wow! 73 folks came along to share in our 4.00pm Christingle Service, We sat around tables laden with all sorts of things to make.
We sang familiar carols, made beautiful Christingles and doves of peace tree decorations and finally made pipe cleaner christmas trees during the making of which Alison led us in prayer.
We had the delight of meeting 10 day old Jessica for the first time - which was wonderful and lots of us had a cuddles.
We also had the Mills family share this occasion with us - a foretaste of things to come.
Thank you to all those who had a hand in organising this very special service.
Sunday 23rd December
Our Service of lessons and carols was very well attended with a number of very welcome visitors sharing the occasion with us. We all enjoyed singing the familiar carols and listening once again to the Christmas story unfold.
Thank you John for organising the service and giving us the message. Thank you too to all the readers.
Sunday 16 December
Today we held our Cafe Style Family Service and what a joyous occasion it was. We Built up our Nativity Scene. We learnt that the best message ever given can be found in a simple 8 note scale. We made lovely Christmas cards and watched a shepherd being interviewed about what he had seen and heard. Mary told us how she felt when the shepherds arrived and wanted to see her baby. We sang carols old and new and spent time thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. We all learnt the Messy Church Benediction and then shared cofee and mince pies and time to chat. Thank you to all involved.
Sunday 9th December
Today was our Annual Toy Service when we welcomed Lord and Lady Hertford, their son William and Lord Hertford's mother the Dowager Marchioness. We also welcomed Lennox Cumberbatch, the town Mayor and his wife and members of the Town Council and John Mills the High Bailiff and his wife and members of the Court Leet and their wives. John Thompson led the service and the second advent candle was lit by William. The High Bailiff read the lesson and various other people took part in the service.
A record number of toys were brought forward and these will be distributed to The Gilgal Refuge for battered wives and children, and the Birmingham Mission Toy Scheme. After the service we all enjoyed coffee and mince pies and a time to chat.
Thursday 6th December
Once again we had a stall at the Annual St Nicholas Market held in the High street in the town. We served hot chocolate and cake pops. Although very cold, the rain held off until 8.0pm and we were able to sell all 200 cake pops and lots of warming cups of hot chocolate. Our profit on the evening was £104 10p and half of this sum was delivered to the St Nicholas Market Committee to distribute to Alcester Charities. The other half will be added to the sum raised on our Christmas card post box and our Christmas day offering which will be divided between three Children's charities.
Our Advent travellers have started their overnight stops at various homes from 1st December to Christmas Eve when we will welcome them back at our Christingle Service. They arrive with a prayer from the previous night's host and a welcome prayer from the current night's host. Each host family is encouraged to pray with the Nativity travellers, to play with them and to make them welcome.
They visited Cath and Keith and Cath's Mum Flo on 6th December and at nearly 103 Flo was delighted to be included in this new Advent activity. She recounted how she prayed as a child at her mother's knee "Gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon this little child.
Saturday 24th November
What a delightful evening we had at the concert given by NIA. On arrival in the pouring rain we were welcomed with a hot cup of coffee and delightful cakes set on tables set cafe-style around the church. We had time to chat with Nia as she moved around the tables and also with each other as we enjoyed our drink and cake. Then it was time for Nia to start her "Memory Lane" concert. What a treat! We had songs, stories, bible readings all seamlessly delivered by Nia. She treated us to pictures of herself as a child which evoked memories for her and for us as we could associate with ourselves in similar settings. She treated us to pictures of herself with her husband and her two little boys - what a delight. All this accompanyied by the beautiful songs she sang. A friend from Gorsley - Sid - accompanied her in some of her songs and she asked us to join in some too! The range was from hymns and carols to poignant songs and the hillarious "Mums" song.
Thankyou Lynne for organising the evening and to all those who helped with the catering. Thankyou Nia for a wonderful evening - we certainly hope you will come back to Alcester soon!
Sunday 21st October
Today we held our Cafe Style Shoebox Service and the church was packed. We were seated around tables and Ann led a wonderful service, which included beautiful hymns, prayers, stories and a DVD. We were encouraged to share what we have with those who have little and all aspects of the service showed us not only that we SHOULD do this, but HOW we could do it too. Not only did it show us how to fill our shoeboxes, but it showed us that just like the small offerings of five loaves and two fishes, the shoeboxes sent from our church would become part of the thousands of shoeboxes received by children all over the world. We can help to make a difference. We were treated to Coffee/Tea and biscuits served to us at the close of the service. Thankyou Ann, Elaine, Brenda, Chris and all those who helped in any way to make this such a wonderful and meaningful service.
Sunday 14th OctoberTwo of our members Ron and Barbara Smith celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary this weekend and invited us all to share a celebration luncheon with them after the morning service. Over 50 of us sat down to a splendid lunch, all provided by Ron and Barbara and a wonderful time was had by all. Many thanks Ron and Barbara for asking us to share your special anniversary and we wish you many more happy years together.
Saturday 13th October
Messy Church was a wonderful morning with 27 children, parents and helpers having a great time. The theme was "Jesus is the light of the World" and we made marshmallow lighthouse towers, spinners and lanterns, Stained glass windows with tissure paper. We made cards to give to folks who need a cheery light in their lives and candle holders so that we take Jesus' light with us into the darkest places. We played "pin the bulb on the lighthouse" and tried building a lighthouse big enough to sit in. Everyone took home a candle to light at home to remind us of Jesus' light. As usual we all sat down together for a lovely lunch. Thankyou to all who attended and all who helped in anyway to make it such a successful morning.
- Church Street
- B49 5AJ