What have we been doing
Tuesday Fellowship Afternoon Tea
A very enjoyable afternoon was spent at Hillars on Tuesday 12th June for the members of the Tuesday Fellowship. Lots of lovely cake and lots of lovely chat and laughter. Shared prayers for friends in need and those unable to join in the fun. Blue skies and sunshine - wonderful.
24 hour of Prayer - Friday 22nd- Saturday 23rd June
Pastor Martin instigated and organised this event and a number of our folk manned the church throughout the whole 24 hours, allowing others to come in for quiet prayer. Members were asked to spend some time prayer for guidance for the way forward at ABC, within the church and with outreach.
Church Anniversary Weekend 20/21 May 2017
What a fantastic weekend we have had. Brenda has been working for months on the Flower Festival and gathered together folks willing to decorate the windowsills and the Baptistery and Church entrance.
As our Anniversary service was to be led by Rev Tony Peck, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation it had been decided that each of the window would represent a country from that Federation.
Thursday and Friday saw folks beavering away at their displays (but there had been hours of planning, sorting suitable embellishments to the floral displays beforehand). What a superb talented group of folks we have, as you can see by the photographs included here.
On Saturday, Alcester was hosting a Food Festival of huge magnitude and there were thousands of folks from near and far crowding through the High Street, sampling and buying the wares on offer. Some of them, together with our faithful friends found themselves coming into our church to view the flowers, have a cup of tea or coffee, and/or have one of our Ploughman's lunches. They were greeted at the door and given time to peruse the displays and watch the projection presentation of all the countries which make up the European Baptist Federation.
Donations were received and together with the profit from the lunches and donations for tea/coffee the sum of £341 was raised. Once again we decided to support the ongoing work of the Freedom Bakery in Thailand and we thank all who have enabled us to send such a lovely amount to help in their work.
Sunday morning our service was led by our special guest speaker - Rev Tony Peck - and what an absolute delight that was! He informed us of the work that the EBF is doing in some of its 61 countries and we all learnt not only about these churches but where some of the countries actually are!!! He later took four churches in particular and quoting from Revelations 3 verse 8 - "Behold I set before you an Open Door, which no one is able to shut". He showed how each of these churches is recognising their Open Door and the incredible work they are doing under the most difficult and challenging conditions.
The last of the four churches was ours - and he encouraged us to continue our long history of faithful service in Alcester, looking what the present day challenges for us are - what is our Open Door? And then, of course, working through these challenges as we move our church, its people and the community in which we are situated forward into the next stages of our history.
We had a beautiful service this morning, the sun was shining and joyous greetings were heard as people arrived. Martin led our service which involved lots of eggs! Coloured plastic eggs were searched for around the church and the finders came up to open them in turn, finding inside articles which told the story of the Crucifixion, all horrid reminders of what Jesus went through, but the last one was empty and that reminded us that Jesus rose victorious and lives in us and through us.
We sang heartily of Jesus risen from the grave and Martin led us through the various encounters with the risen Lord, emphasizing that these encounters were not about the people who were met but about Jesus himself.
The bare rough desolate cross which had stood as a reminder of the horror of the crucifixion was transformed into a celebration of living when it was adorned with flowers by the whole congregation. Of course there had to be some chocolate and Martin handed out eggs as folks returned to their seats.
It was Martin's final service before his holiday and sabbatical. He will be keeping us in touch with his pilgrimage journey through Bobbie and the girls and we wish him God's blessings on both his physical and spiritual journey over the next three months.
Sunday worship will continue as usual at 10.30am each week and a variety of speakers have been booked to cover Martin's sabbatical. Our thanks to Lynne T for making these arrangements and to all those who have filled the slots.
TUESDAY FELLOWSHIP AFTERNOON TEA
The Tuesday Fellowship had a lovely relaxing afternoon tea at Hillers on Tuesday 14 March. After many rainy days it was good to have a dry day with a glimmer of sunshine as we drove to Hillers. A great time of fellowship and fun was had by all as we tucked into our scones, or crumpets, and enjoyed our welcome cup of tea.
Thank you Lynne for once again organising a delightful afternoon for us all.
Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 October
Up bright and early to go down to church. The town centre was closed because of a Food Festival which was being held and was bustling with stall holders setting up and tantalising smells from the many stalls was wafting across the street. When we walked into church what a sight met us - some very skilled folks had transformed the church with flowers, produce and on the dias was a very dramatic full size shelter similar to those which are having to be used by displaced persons in war torn areas of our hurting world. Our Harvest Appeal this year is for Syria's Forgotten Families and stepping inside the shelter and finding ourselves not being able to stand up, looking at the very cramped and basic conditions gave us a tiny inkling into what conditions must be really be like for those displaced families.
Next we started preparing the morning coffees and the Ploughman's lunches and soon a steady trickle of people were coming through. Over the lunchtime period this steady trickle became a bit of a crowd and we sold all our lunches, bought more provisions and sold those too! We even sold the ones we had put aside for ourselves!
During the afternoon people still came in for tea and biscuits and of course to see the decorated church and watch the BMS video of Syria's Forgotten Families. We returned home, delighted to have been able to make over £388 for BMS, even if we did have empty tummies! (Maybe we felt ever so slightly like those thousands of people who daily have to go without food)
Sunday, our All Age Harvest Thanksgiving was held when along with traditional hymns and choruses we followed the story of Ruth, the hardships she endured and the help she received.
Many thanks to all those who played any part in our special weekend, where we could help others whilst thanking God for the abundancies we receive.
MEETING WITH OUR LINK MISSIONARIES - CLAIRE AND MICHAEL SKINNER
What a delight it was to meet Claire and Michael for the first time this morning. We had been on tenterhooks as to whether they would be able to join us as the due date for their first baby is only two weeks away - however they both arrived and we were pleased to see that they looked relaxed and 'blooming'. Ours was their last official booking and we hope that they enjoyed their visit to us as much as we enjoyed having them share our worship and tell us details of what they are planning to do on their return to the Lebanon in February. Some of the situations which Michael told us about were quite scary and some of the foods they have been given were more than a little odd, but they have taken them on board as part of the cultural adjustment needed in order to do their work in their Mission Field. It was very poignant when Michael told us how helpless they felt when faced with many situations but particularly with the begging children. He told us that they had come up with the solutions of handing out water bottles and sweets to show they cared. (Money would not be able to be kept by them but handed over to 'minders'). To bring 'hope' into the disastrous situations which so many of the people live, was their dream and this time back in England whilst awaiting their baby is giving them time to work on ideas in which they will be able to do that on their return.
After a shared lunch, we hopefully sent them off, knowing that our prayers would be with them, both over the birth of their baby and on their return to work in the Lebanon in February.
On 22nd August 2016, a band of pirates took over Alcester Baptist Church! Stranded on an island, they found a map that promised to lead them to the treasure that they craved. Through a series of clues that mysteriously appeared throughout the week, the pirates were led to Philippians 3:8;
“Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as rubbish. All I want is Christ.”
During the week, over 50 grown-ups, young people and children explored this verse and learned more of what it means to us right here and right now. We were led through the week by Captain Yo-Ho, captain Heave-Ho and Captain Book; we learned about a group of pirates, captain Kate, Dangerous Daisy and Miser-Ray, pardoned by the King. We were kept on our toes by a very enthusiastic First Mate Mary and fed and watered by a fantastic galley crew. The children were organised into crews with creative and caring crew captains and first mates, supported by extra deckhands on occasions! We made treasure chests, lighthouses (with working lights!), treasure eggs, games, semaphore name flag banners and lots of pirate cards, maps, jokes and prayers.
By the end of the week, the room was full of treasure; in treasure chests and eggs and in chocolate coins handed out to children and golden nugget chocolates handed out to helpers; in the laughter of the children; the prayers that they wrote; the songs that they sang and danced to; the simple worship of young children and the hope that was sown and grown in the hearts of all who attended.
A barbecue in the sunshine finished off the club in fine style with many parents and siblings attending.
We thank God for His work this week and for His calling on all those who took part. This was an Alcester Churches Together event and was a demonstration of the growing unity between the churches in the town. The wonderful week we had could not have happened without the support from all the churches, a generous donation to ACT for the club (that meant that we, in turn, could show generosity to the children) and, most importantly, God's faithfulness to us.
Although we were all exhausted at the end, I was amused (and slightly scared!) by how much talk there was of "Next time....."!!! Bring it on!
VISIT FROM MEBERS OF DAGNALL STREET BAPTIST CHURCH
What a wonderful afternoon and early evening was shared by eight members of the fellowship of DSBC and some of our members today (21st August 2016). Two members were spending time with their sister – Jennifer Tutt, who lives in Alcester and is a good friend of ABC as she helped us out by playing the organ for us when we found ourselves without anyone in our congregation who could accompany our singing during worship. These three folk arrived first and there was a bit of a wait for the rest as an accident on the motorway had caused a holdup. However we all eventually gathered in the church and Martin welcomed them all and said how pleased he was that this visit was a result of friendships formed at a visit made to them by members of our fellowship as part of our 375 celebration programme.
Jacqui then gave us a potted history of our church history and after taking photographs of the group she then took us round the church building. As our fellowship started by meeting on the beautiful house opposite our back door in Meeting Lane we took them out to see it, just as the present owner was speaking with friends outside her front door. We explained to her why we were outside her door and to our delight she invited us in to actually see the room where our ancestors from the 1640’s actually held their secret first meetings. What an added delight that was. On then to a walk around the town, which we kept short as it kept raining in short bursts.
Back to the church where Jacqui presented them with copies of the photograph she had taken - a surprise which delighted them. Next we shared a buffet tea and time for lots of chat. The visit concluded with a short time of prayer back in the church. Chris Penn, organiser of the DSBC contingent then thanked us for a wonderful time and presented us with a beautiful book as a memento of the occasion. We waved them off at 7.30pm
Thanks to those of our fellowship who came to meet and greet, who helped with the setting up, clearing away and washing up – many hands made the workload easier.
COMPASSION COFFEE MORNING
SATURDAY 16 JULY
Lynn Kirkman organised this coffee morning which not only raised funds for Compassion but gave a fuller insight into all the children being sponsored by members of the church under the Compassion Programme. There were various stalls as well as detailed displays and of course coffee and cakes.
Though footfall was sparse, Lynn carried the stalls over to Sunday morning and this together with donations given by absentees, resulted in a staggering £200 being made.
Well done Lynn and Brenda and all those who helped, attended or donated.
SUNDAY 12 JUNE - CHARITY STREET MARKET AND PICNIC PARTY FOR THE QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY
The day dawned grey and overcast and even an early start of 8.30am had some of us arriving to drizzle, which turned into heavy rain by 9.30am. Still we set up as much as possible of the inside area before Morning Worship. Martin led us, preaching on another "I am" quotes of Jesus. This time it was "I am the gate" and he urged us to take that "gate" which was the "True" way and to avoid the imposter "gates" which would lead us elsewhere. We, sang hymns which resonated with this, as well as being ones which the Queen valued for their, teaching and guidance. - Lord of the years, Thy Hand of God has Guided.
After service with the weather lightening we set up some tables outside before a number of us sitting down to have our picnics together. A slow start to our tea and cake sales, grew steadily until a mighty downpour had us abandoning our outside tables and bringing everything inside!
Once again the Male Voice Choir gave a half hour concert in the church which was beautiful and well received by a full church of folks. Then it was a hectic time of giving choir members refreshments as well as serving a rush of customers. Although it stopped raining it was deemed safer to remain inside but it was difficult to attract customers.
Alongside the serving of refreshments we also gave out copies of "The Servant Queen and the King she serves" - a book produced by The Bible Society, HOPE and the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.
Another weighty downpour just after 4.0pm caused a sudden end to any customers, so we decided to call it a day and clear away. A band of helpers made the job of moving tables, chairs, urns, cups and saucers etc a relatively easy task but there were a few weary folk finally locking up the church at just after 5.0pm. Proceeds for the day which are in the region of £240 will be divided between the High Bailiff's Charities and ourselves. Our share will be used to offset some of the costs of purchasing the books mentioned above.
SATURDAY 11th JUNE
This morning we met on Church Green for Alcester Churches Together Service of Thanksgiving for HM Queen Elizabeth II for her 90th Birthday. The weather forecast had us a little worried and as we gathered a few spits and spots of rain fell but it wasn't enough to dampen our spirits as the crowds swelled. Lord and Lady Hertford and the Dowager Marchioness were accompanied by the High Bailiff, Mayor and members of the Court Leet, Council, British Legion and other organisations of the town.
Revd Adrian Guthrie,(Alcester Minster Churches) welcomed everyone and we sung the hymn, Immortal, invisible, God only wise, accompanied by Alcester Victoria Silver Band. A tribute to the Queen was given by Deacon Gwynn Bamford from the Methodist Church followed by Prayers by Dom Andrew Berry of the Roman Catholic Church. Our Pastor Martin Mills gave the Bible Reading followed by a Reflection which centred on the importance of "Forgiveness". Revd Adrian Guthrie gave the final blessing which was followed by us singing the National Anthem. The event was rounded off with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and three cheers for the Queen. A Birthday Cake was then taken from its place of honour to be shared, along with cups of tea and coffee.
SATURDAY 21 MAY
Preparations for our Anniversary Flower Festival have been going on for a number of weeks as Brenda has organised this event. She has tirelessly encouraged members to take on the decoration of windows, depicting a Royal event, she has organised a rota of helpers to prepare and serve teas, coffees and Ploughman's lunches. Today all her hard work came to fruition. What a beauteous sight greeted all those who came in to see the displays. The front of the church had been decorated to depict a Street Party with tables set for tea and the area adorned with union jacks, balloons and streamers. There were windows celebrating the Commonwealth, Royal Christenings, Jubilees and Coronations. All paying homage to the wonderful commitment given by our Queen during her 90 years of life. It was accompanied by a screen show covering those 90 years.
Visitors were greeted and made to feel very welcome by Martin and Brenda.
Many, many thanks to all those who came and donated, to all those who made the displays, to all those who prepared, served and washed up the many cups of tea, coffee and lunches. A truly combined effort which has resulted in a fantastic total of £500+ being made for the Alcester Refugee Fund Charity. Well done everyone and a huge congratulations to Brenda.
SUNDAY 15 MAY
Pentecost Breakfast: This morning we met at 9.00am to share communion before sharing breakfast of cereals, croissants, toast. It was a delightful time and very special.
SUNDAY 17th APRIL
What a delight today to have Gina back with us after such a long spell in various hospitals. She was determined to get well enough to come home which she is hopefully doing tomorrow, but arrived from hospital by taxi to come and share worship on her special day - her birthday. She got a wonderful reception, with everyone wishing her well and praising God for answered prayers. I hope all the attention and love that she received has set her up well for her real homecoming tomorrow. We were also treated during and after the service to unexpected refreshments. Martin preached on the feeding of the five thousand and had brought along four cheese and pickle sandwiches which her shared with a few but there was not enough to feed us all! Then we all did share in Wendy's 80th birthday cake which was delicious. So fed both spiritually, emotionally and physically we left feeling fulfilled and thankful for all we had received and all that we daily receive.
SUNDAY 10th APRIL
Our Service today began a series looking at the time between Easter Sunday and Pentecost. Our reading and teaching looked at the time when Jesus returned to his disciples and the fact that the first time he did so, Thomas was not present. When the other disciples told him, he said he needed personal proof - he needed to touch the wounds and see for himself. Do we still doubt too? Martin pointed out that though Simon did doubt, he ultimately believed. He challenged us, as to whether we believed wholeheartedly, whether we had truly met and fully accepted Jesus or whether something still held us back from that absolute belief and commitment.
After morning worship, at a specially convened Church Meeting, the membership voted unanimously to accept the nomination of Mrs Carole Washington to fill one of the vacancies on the Diaconate. Martin welcomed Carole onto the Diaconate and thanked her for being willing to take on this role in the leadership of our church.
CHRIST IS RISEN - HE IS RISEN INDEED - HALLELUJAH!
What a wonderful sight greeted us as we arrived this morning. Because of the strong winds the floral statement had to be brought inside, but it still shone out to greet us.
Folks kept arriving and there were hugs and greetings of "Happy Easter" echoing around the building. By the time it was 10.30 there were over 80 folk gathered to share this special service.
We all joined in with sharing the joyous chant of Christ is Risen - He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah. Martin led us through our Easter morning worship of songs, prayers and reading and then challenged us by asking "What does resurrection mean to us".
Then we were all given the chance to bring flowers to decorate our bleak empty cross and transform it into a glorious cross of hope and joy.
DAFFODIL CROSS SERVICE
Women at One led this very special service and though the weather in the morning was wet it cleared up to allow folks onto the field without getting too bogged down. It is a wonderful witness across the town as the daffodils come out and the cross can be seen in all its glory.
GOOD FRIDAY - WALK OF WITNESS
At 10.15am folks started gathering outside the Baptist Church and by the start time of 10.30 a good crowd had gathered in the sunshine. Martin called us to order and welcomed everyone before he introduced Carole to do the first reading which was followed by Prayers for this Walk of Witness around our town. Then with the Marshalls stopping traffic to allow us all to cross the road we all set off behind the folks carrying the cross to make our way up to Hopkins Precinct where Simon led us in our seconded reading. We sang "Lord I lift Your Name on High" and had prayers for the schools, shops and medical practices. Off once more across Moorfields playing fields and across the main Birmingham Road to the Catholic Church. We were again led in a reading and prayers, this time for the clubs, societies and organisations of the town. Crossing the road once more we processed to the Methodist Church for our next reading. We repeated our song before praying for the united outreach of the churches of the town. Next we processed into Waitrose car park for another reading and prayers for those involved in food production and distribution. I was particularly surprised by the fact that the florist had made a huge cross of yellow ribbon over her door and put a sign in the window saying "Closed in respect of Jesus - Good Friday". On then into the High Street for a reading and prayers for the town and parish councils and the leaders of our Country. Finally we processed up onto Church Green where we had our final reading. We all sang "When I survey the wondrous cross". Before pronouncing the blessing the Rector asked for silence for the victims of the Brussels attack. He also reminded us that Jesus prayed for his enemies, and asked that we too, pray for the perpetrators as well as the victims of this terrible act. He then gave the blessing and invited everyone to go into the church for tea/coffee and hot cross buns. A lovely time of fellowship was shared by everyone and we were blessed with glorious sunshine throughout the whole walk.
EASTER WEEK - Prayers and Soup Lunches
Monday to Thursday we are having prayers at 12 noon followed by Soup lunch. Each day the numbers have grown and on Wednesday we shared a Taize style service before going into the garden room to share soup and fellowship together. The choice was Pea and Ham or Spicy butternut squash soup with lovely homemade bread. This was followed by hot cross buns. Thankyou to all who made the soup, served it and washed up and to Martin for arranging the very special worship time and Bobbie who led the chants.
Mary led us in our First Family Service for the year, ably assisted by Harvey. She showed us by readings, hymns and activities that "small things" are sometimes more useful and effective than larger seemingly more significant things. A small word of encouragement can trigger off far greater things within someone. A small gesture of hospitality, kindness, caring can make a significant difference to someone who was feeling alone, struggling with some aspect of their day to day living or just perplexed with a situation in which they found themselves. We can all do small things - don't let us waste time trying to think of big things we should or might be able to do in our service of the Lord - let us concentrate of doing as many small things as we can and who know what BIG things we will achieve. What about many of us joining together, each doing small areas of a task but TOGETHER achieving a much large goal. Thank you Mary for a really helpful and encouraging service.
What a fantastic time we have had during the whole of December with our daily opening window services, where we shared with so many folks from organisations within the town, a time of worship and reflection as we revealed each window. We sang carols together and shared chocolate and mince pies too. So many folk from around the town and much further afield too came to look at the Calendar as they did their shopping or were visiting our lovely town. Pictures of our Calendar have gone around the world and we have been featured in a number of TV News programmes - one couple saw us on their local TV News in Norwich and as they were coming into our area for a wedding, detoured to come and see our Calendar!
Thank you to all those who made this outreach possible in whatever way. Look out for 2016's Calendar - we are working on it already!
What a delightful time we all had this afternoon at our Christingle Service. We arrived to a lovely warm church, to tables set out with a wonderful array of goodies - things to make, things to colour, things to eat! The church was packed and at 3.0pm Lynne welcomed us all. She guided us through constructing, cards, labels, reindeer hats and we all had lots of fun.
She led us in a short time of prayer when we remembered what indeed we were celebrating. We sang carols accompanied by Bobbie on her guitar and then at 3.45pm we all donned our coats and went out to witness the opening of our final Community Advent Calendar window.
We sang as we left the church and gathered around the Calendar. Martin said how much we had enjoyed opening the windows each day and how many people in the town had taken part - Lord Hertford, The Mayor, High Bailiff, Representatives from each of the schools, from each of the churches, from organisations in the town, the lady who sells The Big Issue, the fire brigade, the dementia café and many more. He said how much interest it had generated within the town and how many people had commented on it. Then we moved into opening the last window which was opened by Jessica Enstone who was the first baby whom Martin Christened on his arrival as Pastor. Now 3 Jessica (with the help of her Dad opened our last window to reveal a picture of the Nativity. Her Mum, Laura, read the bible verse and Martin led us in a short reflection. A wonderful end to a Service of Celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus.
We shared a lovely service of readings and carols where we were encouraged to "Wonder" - to wonder at the coming of Christ as a humble baby laid in a humble manger. To wonder at the news told to the ordinary shepherds. To wonder at all his beauteous creation. To Wonder WHY?
Carols by CandlelightAfter opening day 20 of our Community Advent Calendar we processed into church at 4.0pm for our Carols by Candlelight service which was magical. Lit by various light sources, candles large and small, shaded lights and most magical, oil lamps from The Holy Land. Readings and Carols - well known and loved together with the message of Christmas. A beautiful and thought provoking service.
Community Advent CalendarUpdate on our beautiful Advent Calendar which has now got over half of its windows open and is shining out over our Community as they walk too and from the town. It has caused quite a stir and got many people talking which is what we hoped would be achieved. Each day around 20-30 folk gather for the opening of the next window, share a short time of worship and a lot of fellowship one with another over the hot chocolate and mince pies! It truly is a light shining for Jesus in our town.
Café Style Service - 13 December
What a wonderful time we had yesterday! We were warmly welcomed and there was a buzz as folks greeted one another and handed out cards and hugs too. The Service was led by a number of different folk each bringing such powerful messages at this Advent time. Martin showed a very moving video of what the journey must have been like for Mary and Joseph and the hardships they would have had to face on the journey to Bethlehem and back - it really made us think! Jennifer sang a song she had composed which again made us think about the true meaning of Christmas and what we really WANT amongst all the commercialism around us. The children helped by James and Clare constructed a shelter from rugs and blankets which made us think of hardships suffered by those fleeing from their home with very little in the way of goods. Harvey and Martin had a dialogue about what we were likely to be having at Christmas against what a refugee fleeing from home would have to look forward to. Ending with a very poignant and self searching statement when our affluent selves wished that these immigrants would "Go Home" and all the immigrant really wanted was to be able to "Go Home". Wow made us think!
Mary led us in crafting the most beautiful bauble to hang on our Christmas trees containing a bible message and nativity scenes. Bobbie asked us if "We had ever had a day like ....." and went on to talk us through how we all need secure, safe, peaceful, places in our lives and how so many do not have the chance for any of these in their everyday life but there is one "haven" which we can all have and that is the secure, safe place with Jesus and at our bleakest times or even in our joyous times we should always seek him and welcome him in. I hope I have done justice to a wonderful service. Thank you everyone who took part.
Tuesday FellowshipThe Tuesday Fellowship met at the home of Lynne Thompson to have a festive time making various Christmas crafts for the home. A good time was had by all. Thanks Lynne and all those who gave instruction!
Long time away!
Apologies that due to my long holiday it is a while since I updated! Back now and so many wonderful things happening during this time of Advent it is difficult to know where to start so I will do things datewise.
DECEMBER 1stOn this date we had the opening of the first day of our beautiful Community Advent Calendar. This has been a years project from the idea brought by one of our Deacons, to its design and then wonderful construction by Reg, lighting by Harvey and artwork by Brian. It now stands across the right hand side of our entrance and shines out over our town and the folks walking by. Each day at 3.45pm different members of our community have been invited to open a door, read a short bible reading and a member of our church leads a short time of worship followed by us all singing a carol. All this is accompanied by hot chocolate and mince pies! It is fantastic. Do come along a share in the fun.
The day dawned wet and windy but it cleared as folks arrived for our Annual Toy/Gift Service. We had a full church and it was so good to have Lord and Lady Hertford, the Dowager Marchioness, High and Low Bailiffs and members of the Court Leet, Mayor and members of the Town Council and friends sharing this special service with us. Martin gave a lovely service centering on "giving gifts" and the reminding us that God gave us the greatest gift of all when he gave us his son Jesus. He reminded us that this gift was heralded by Angels but given to ordinary shepherds and that he arrived not on a gilded throne but as a baby in an animal feeding trough. During the service we all had the opportunity to bring our gifts for children who would otherwise get nothing or very little on Christmas Day.
ST NICHOLAS NIGHT MARKET
The team of helpers set up the tables and banners and we were ready to go at 3.30pm. Chocolate cake pops, marshmallows dipped in chocolate and hot chocolate were all on offer to buy at our Stall. Slow start but trade picked up and by the end of the Market we had sold out of everything but hot chocolate. Thanks to all who helped in any way .
Sunday 4th October
During Morning Worship we had the pleasure of meeting Jenni Entrican President BUGB and learning a little of her faith journey. Then at 4.0pm we welcomed members of the Cluster churches for a service at which Jenni preached - telling the stories of three people who encountered Jesus and what effect it had on their lives. She challenged us all to Dare Greatly through Mission. She urged us to be REAL and not hide behind a façade of what we think we ought to be. To be open about our struggles with life and our faith. To acknowledge we have failings and that those around us do so too. To be honest with ourselves as well as with God. She then urged us to be courageous enough to step out of our comfort zone and embrace areas of our faith which are sometimes scary and often make us feel out of our depth but which will, if we give them a try, bring unexpected rewards and pleasures. Above all she urged us to keep following Jesus. What an inspiration Jenni was to us all. Lots for us all to take away and think about - but after thinking we must put those challenges into practice. Can we do that? Will we do that? DARE we do that?
We were then treated to a splendid tea over which we were able to chat, make new friends and strengthen established friendships. It was a shame that we were fewer in numbers than we had anticipated but hopefully future Cluster Gatherings will "gather" momentum.
Saturday 19 September
375th Joint Anniversary Celebration – 19 September 2015
The day dawned misty but dry and large coaches, small coaches, mini buses and cars set out from all our nine 1640 churches to join together for our special joint anniversary Service. Heavy traffic, road works and finding parking places caused a number of last minute headaches but members of all our fellowships eventually made it to Broadmead Baptist church in the centre of Bristol.
What a delightful welcome we received and what a beautiful setting to share this special time together. We sang, with gusto, some wonderfully uplifting hymns and we were treated to hearing stories of the last 25 years of ups and downs of some of our fellowships. Most of us were able to empathise with these stories as we had experience some, if not all, of the same ups and downs within our own fellowships.
Revd Jonathan Edwards took the theme of “Courageous Faith” as his message and said that like our forefathers we needed to be courageous in our faith. Courage, not in our case, to stand up and risk imprisonment, but for us to stand up against indifference, against injustice, against faiths without Christian truths. Courage to leave our comfort zones, both as church fellowships and as individuals. To truly seek where God wants us to be, as we move forward into the next 25 years and to always remember that when we do this we are never alone, but that God will walk with us and graciously bless us along the way. He also asked that as we go forward we do so as encouragers. Encouragement is such a wonderful gift to give, and we should strive to give it as often and as fully as we can, one to another within our own Fellowships and to each other’s Fellowships as we journey together in the coming years.
Next we had the thrill of singing for the very first time the special hymn written for us by Graham Kendrik. How good was that! The third verse recognised that the task of “Making Jesus known” is still an unfinished task. It recognised our fellowships are small and so our workforce is limited thus making the task harder. But, if we ask God to help us to renew our vision, faith and obedience, together we can reap a greater harvest for God.
During our prayers we were encouraged to say together The Lord’s prayer – but not mumbled into our shoes, as is often the case, but with joyful “shouts” – to raise up all those precious words in a truly meaningful way.
So many things to share together and to take back to our fellowships in Warwick, Kingsbridge, St Albans, Berkhamsted, Reading, Kings Stanley, Newbury, Alcester, Bristol.
Our afternoon was rounded off by sharing together a time to chat over platefuls of beautiful sandwiches and cakes, for which we thank our Broadmead hosts.
The party had to end and at 6.0pm we set off back to our
respective home towns, uplifted, challenged, encouraged and determined that, as
the present custodians of our churches, we would strive to do our utmost to
grow our churches and make Jesus known as widely as possibly within our
communities, in the years to come.
Saturday 12 September
After a hectic couple of days setting up our "Harvest Flower Display" with a team of folk giving their time and considerable talent to arrange all the wonderful displays - both floral and historical, it was time to open our doors.
Our theme was the BMS 2015 Appeal - My Father's House - restoring broken lives in Nepal. People living in Nepal who were paralysed and told that their lives were over, and there was no hope for them so they might as well go home to die are now learning that they still have a life to live and are helped to do so by Megan Baker, an occupational therapist now working with the Surkhet Programme in western Nepal. All monies raised over the two days of our Harvest Flower Display are to go to this appeal.
The day dawned cloudy and grey and then down came the rain! This caused us to have a somewhat slow start but gradually folks came through the doors to see the flowers, listen to the videos, have a cup of coffee and chat.
From 12 noon the sun came out and our visitors were able to have lunch as well as a drink. We served 46 lunches which is less than usual but all who came enjoyed their meal and opportunity to chat to friends as well as see the beautiful flowers.
The afternoon saw more showers but still a few folk came along and when we closed at 4.0pm we felt that all the effort had been worthwhile.
Thanks to all the folks who made and served refreshments (and washed up), to those who chatted with the visitors, as well of course, to those who set up the historical display and floral displays. How blessed we are to be able to use the talents given by, and the fruits and flowers created by our awesome God, to glorify his house and raise funds for a project running in his name.
Sunday 23rd August
Today we had a feast! - well TWO in fact!
Lynne had prepared a "Summer Songs of Praise" Service in which members chose their favourite hymns and songs and told us why they were special to them. What a feast of delight we had and how moving were the reasons for the choices. Thank you Lynne and all those who took part in any way for making this such a lovely service.
Our second feast was the table set with such a range of foods for us to share in our "Bring and Share" lunch. A good time was had by all. Thanks to those who prepared the food, and those who washed up and cleared away.
Sunday 16 August
We were treated to some surprises this morning which numbered two James' . Pastor Martin's "Summer Summary" was dealing with the Numbers book in the Bible and he told it using sketches, videos and an impersonation of James Bond - in which he looked very dashing!
Our second James was a young man known to our fellowship since he was a little boy. Now a young man with lovely wife and two children - Hannah and Lewis. He and Paula celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary this week and as they had been married in a hotel and in the ensuing years their faith had strengthened and become a much more important part of their lives, they now wanted to renew their marriage vows before God. The ceremony was beautiful as they pledged, with the help of God, to love and support each other and we as their church family pledged to support them as we all walk together with God. Hannah and Lewis said a beautiful prayer for their Mummy and Daddy and there were quite a few tears of joy amongst us all. Thank you Paula and James for letting us share such a lovely ceremony.
Faith Lunch - Sunday 26 July
We had a lovely Worship time this morning being led by Martin. Bobby and Jennifer accompanied the beautiful songs on their guitars and we were treated to a slide presentation of the work done by our link Missionaries Harland and Jill during their time in Peru. We have been following and praying for them during their time in Iquitos and now they have returned home to the UK and are awaiting learning what God has in store for them next. Our time this morning was rounded off with a shared Faith Lunch which was enjoyed be us all.
Saturday 25 July
After a horrendous day of rain yesterday when we feared the BBQ would have to relocate to indoors - today turned out to be sunny and blue skies (with just a few threatening clouds which thankfully did not spill their contents over us!).
Hard work had been done by the background crew to get out tables and prepare salads and pickles etc and then chefs Chris and Ann got to grips with cooking the burgers and sausages so that at 12.30pm all was ready.
What a lovely atmosphere there was as folks sat and ate together, sharing not only the food but all manner of topics of conversation too.
The sun continued to shine and it was truly a delightful time for everyone.
Welcome visitors were our Link Missionaries Harland and Jill and their lovely children - here for a weekend with us.
Thank you Ann for arranging the event and to everyone for all you did to make this such a beautiful time of relaxation together.
QUIET GARDEN STRAWBERRY TEA AND FAYRE
Beautiful sunshine put a halo on a lovely afternoon when we were treated to bowls of strawberries and cream accompanied by shortbread and cookies - yummy! Tea or coffee and a chance to buy Bric a brac , books and beautiful cards - what more could one ask for? A truly good time was had by all. Our quiet garden really shone and the work done by Brenda and Jacqui throughout the year was appreciated by all those who attended. The afternoon was not only a happy one but it also raised over £158 for Water Aid. Well done everyone.
TOWN MARKET SUNDAY 14 JUNE
How the years roll round! Another Town Charity Market and we arrived early at church to make some of the preparations. We then shared Worship together, learning of Jonah and the Whale - a well know story but one which had us searching our own lives as to whether we were saying 'No' when we should be saying yes!
After the service the final preparations were made as we took out tables onto the front lawns and cut up cakes and filled urns ready for making teas all afternoon. The Alcester Male Voice Choir once again sang in the church and as usual they were superb.
The weather though much better than yesterday, was cloudy and cool but we had a steady flow of folks taking tea with us and it was an enjoyable afternoon. Thanks to all who were rostered on to help serve, clear, wash-up and provide cakes - a joint effort which raised £162.40 which will be split between the High Bailiff's Charities and the Freedom Bakery (our Anniversary year project).
PENTECOST SUNDAY - 24 May
Another fantastic day! We started with a shared table of Communion followed by breakfast when 25 of us sat together, prayed together and ate together. Thank you Ann, Lynne, Reg, Brenda and washer-uppers for preparing, serving and clearing away. A great start to the morning.
Martin led our Pentecost service reminding us that last week had been our own Anniversary but today was THE Church's Anniversary. What a cause for celebration. We were delighted to have many visitors sharing our service and it was great to see the church so full once again. We sang specially chosen songs which were uplifting and thought provoking. Pam read Acts 2:14-41 and we were transported into the time when Peter spoke out to the crowds and after his preaching, those who believed, were baptised.
We may not have had 3000 to be baptised, as there were on that day, but we did have two very precious people from our fellowship who wanted to commit themselves to faith in Christ by having a "Believers Baptism".
Maggie and Brian both gave moving testimonies as to why they wanted to take this step, at this time in their journeys with Christ, and how they had made their decisions.
After this Martin, assisted by Chris performed the baptisms and we were able to see it all on the big screen which made it very special for us all. Thank you Jacqui manning the camera to give us this treat. We all recited the Apostle's Creed before the baptism party went off to get changed.
Christian books were presented to our five youngest members of the congregation by Lynne and we were delighted that we had a goodly number of visiting children who joined ours to go through for their special time of learning about Jesus.
On returning Martin presented certificates to Brian and Maggie and prayed over them. His sermon preached on how much we, as much if not more so, NEED the power of Pentecost today. The service concluded by a rousing rendition of "Send the fire Today".
A noisy and full schoolroom greeted everyone for refreshments and lots of time for meeting new people and catching up with our own fellowship.
ANNIVERSARY SERVICE - Sunday 17 May
Sunday dawned and the rain held off so we were delighted that the sunshine greeted our regular fellowship and our special visitors. The church was full as Martin led our worship. We had beautiful hymns which were sung with great gusto and the scripture was read by Karen Martindale, Secretary of HEBA. Freedom was the message centring on "If the son sets you free - you are free indeed" (John 8:36).
Testimonies were given by Bobby Mills, Terry Mann and Alison MacKay on how coming to Jesus has set them free. These were all very moving insights into how they came to Jesus and their journeys with him.
Because our Anniversary weekend clashed with the Baptist Assembly at which Martin would have received his full accreditation certificate, it was a delight that Alison, as Regional Minister of HEBA, conducted this lovely ceremony during our service making it very special indeed.
After the service, refreshments were served and a chance to chat. This was followed by a stupendous "Faith Lunch" when over 60 share a lovely time together.
It was then time to take down the arrangements, put away the festival banner but though this was sad, we could reflect on a superb Anniversary weekend in which we had truly celebrated 375 years of God's love and faithfulness. Hopefully we had used this opportunity to "make him known" to many folk during our three days of celebration.
PREVIEW NIGHT OF OUR FLOWER FESTIVAL
Once again ladies from our fellowship had used their talents to produce the most beautiful floral arrangements to bedeck our church so that visitors arriving were truly transported on a floral journey both of beauty and insight.
As FREEDOM was the theme, each letter of the word was used in depicting the "meaning" of the floral masterpiece. To arrange flowers beautifully is a true talent, but to take the viewer into the deeper meaning of the concept of that arrangement and provoke emotion and back-of-the-neck hair tingling is just incredible. How blessed we are to have such folk amongst our fellowship.
Thank you ladies for all your hard work, and long hours of time spent in producing such beautiful and awe-inspiring creations.
Also on display for the first time is the new banner made by ladies of the church - beautiful.
From six o'clock our invited guests started arriving and having been served a drink they looked around the church before being formally welcomed by Pastor Martin at six-thirty.
Then a lovely couple of hours of gentle chat, viewing the arrangements and historic display, sharing light refreshments and watching ABC's history unfold on the power-point presentation.
A very special start to our very special Anniversary weekend. Thank you one and all.
Saturday dawned a little cold and grey as we made our way to the church to open up the Festival to the people of Alcester and those who were attending the Food Festival which was being held down the High Street. With the road through the town filled with stalls selling all manner of delicious food items it was an assault on the taste buds as we made our way to the church.
Soon we opened the doors and as the skies cleared and the sun made an appearance the steady trickle of folks swelled and our coffee makers were hard pressed to keep up with the thirsty customers. As well as the flowers and the historical presentations we were treated to two delightful choral items from local schools.
Soon it was time to start serving the Ploughman's lunches and once again members were hard pressed to keep up with demand. But all were served and all seemed to enjoy both the food and the company.
During the afternoon more folks came through the doors and it was a tired but happy bunch of members who closed up at just after four o'clock having raised over £600 on the day. This, together with other monies raised in our Anniversary year are to go to The Thailand Bakery Appeal which is being run by BMS worker Sarah. She is teaching women who are trapped in the sex industry in Thailand. The skills the women learn will enable them to help run a bakery that will sell
cakes and confectionary, and
will give them a life of dignity and hope for the future.
VISIT TO NEWBURY BAPTIST CHURCH - Another of the BAPTIST CHURCHES STARTED IN 1640
Sunday May 10th
How privileged Keith and I have been to visit our fifth church of the eight other 1640 churches. This time we were in Newbury and we were joined by Christine who had friends in the area and so we all had the whole weekend in and around Newbury. Keith and I stayed with our dear friend Paul, who was our best man (47 years ago!) and who now lives with his wife Anna in Chieveley near Newbury. We arrived on Friday afternoon and after taking Christine to her hotel, we drove to find where the church was situated. Next we tried to navigate out of Newbury to Chieveley. Unfortunately we got a bit tangled up with the pedestrian areas in operation during the week, and our sat nav took us down a narrow street which did not really feel right to us, but we could not turn back and we ended up going over what is known as the "American bridge", which is nowadays only for buses and taxis. With number plate recognition cameras in operation, we fear we will be receiving a £50 fine in a few days time!!!! However, other than that we have had a superb weekend - all of us spending Saturday driving through the beautiful surrounding countryside which abounded with bluebells and blossom and green green fields and trees. Truly a wonderful spectacle of God's great bounty - and he blessed us with blue skies and wispy white clouds.
This morning we arrived nice and early for the 9.30am service and were warmly greeted by two ladies as we entered the church. We chatted with them and others as they arrived and all seemed very pleased to see us. We next met Paul Davey who was conducting the service and he put me at my ease and explained the way the service was to run. After a time of prayer and a hymn, he introduced me and asked me to tell the fellowship a little about ABC and what we were doing, in the name of Jesus, at the present time and what our hopes for the future were. After this I was able to present them with our gift of celebration chocolates and the engraved communion cup, both of which were very well received. During the singing of the next hymn Keith and I were asked to take around the chocolates to everyone in the church. There was much rustling of sweet wrappers and many smiles and thankyous during the next few minutes! We were then treated to a sermon which centred on communication - using the fact that Newbury is the communications centre of England, and looking at how Paul communicated with the people in the places he visited when journeying to Thesalonica. He ended by saying that in this day of facebook, tweeting and the like, one needs to get the message across using a minimum of words. He stressed that in our communications with folks around us, who may not have God in their lives, we must not "preach" at them, or quote bible tracts to them. We need to keep it simple - we need to get them to understand that GOD LOVES THEM. We must do this, by the way we act, and the way we treat them, and we must never miss an opportunity of telling them that he loves them, wherever they are, whatever they are doing, and that he will continue to love them always. We shared communion together around the Lord's Table before closing the service with the Grace.
After the service many folk came up to talk with us and we shared a lovely few minutes together before the second service started a little after 11.0am. A larger congregation with lots of children then took place with a live band. We had a fantastic report from their Missionary from Napal, who was back home for a few days. It was wonderful to hear first hand what had happened when the earthquake hit and what has been happening since. He was presented with a gift to take back and use the best way could on his return to Napal tomorrow. I was invited up again and Paul asked a few questions about ABC and I repeated some of what I had shared earlier and again made presentations of chocolates and the communion cup. Again both were well received and we shared the rest of the service together. At the end of the service we were presented with a 375 Birthday card made by the children to bring back and give to our fellowship on our celebration weekend next weekend.
Thank you Newbury for giving us such a warm welcome. I truly hope that as with the other 1640 churches these meetings will be the start of our fellowships sharing more often together in the years ahead and we, the custodians of our churches and their fellowships in the "today" of our history, will the strengthened together as we strive to do God's will in furthering his work in our respective communities.
VISIT TO ABBEY ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH,READING - A FELLOW CHURCH STARTED IN 1640
What a fantastic welcome Keith, Barbara, Ron and I received when we arrived for tea on Sunday 19 April. We met a number of folks from their fellowship before sitting down to a lovely tea of quiche and salad followed by trays of beautiful cakes - delicious. Then we went up into the church and shared a wonderful service together in which Pastor Paul told us the history of their church through the 375 years and I did the same for our church, showing pictures of our church and town and explaining how Alcester is pronounced! We sang some wonderful hymns, were treated to a challenging and uplifting sermon and rounded off by sharing communion together. We had presented them with our celebration communion cup gift which we are giving to each of the 375 churches and we were then given a beautiful rose tree to plant in our quiet garden as a very unexpected and much appreciated gift from their fellowship. We shared such a lot together in the space of those few hours and started friendship which we trust will develop as each of our fellowships move forward into the next years as stewards of our churches at this time in their history.
EASTER DAY WORSHIP
A beautiful day dawned - a wonderful herald of the Risen Lord. As the fellowship gathered and greeted each other with Easter Joy and blessings the church held a stark reminder of what happened on Good Friday - a bare grim cross. But we sang wonderfully uplifting hymns, celebrating our risen Lord. We were treated to readings, prayers and teaching, all giving thanks for the sacrifice made for us and for the joy of knowing that Christ overcame the cross and rose to take his rightful place with God. We were asked to give the names we know Jesus by and Bobbie turned our suggestions into a two part song to a well know hymn tune. We celebrated communion together and then we were invited to change our bare cross into a celebration cross by adorning it with flowers. Slowly but surely the crude, harsh bare arms were transformed with the bright shining glory of golden daffodils and other flowers. We concluded by singing "Tell out my soul" and we almost raised the roof with our joyous and hearty rendition. Through for a time of refreshments and fellowship and a slice of Fred's birthday cake to round off a truly wonderful Easter morning worship.
DAFFODIL CROSSA short service was held on Saturday 4th April at our wonderful Daffodil Cross. Even with the horrible cold weather over the last few days the daffodils have struggled their way through adversity to start shining forth their glory. By tomorrow with a little more sunshine they should be really shouting out their Easter message across the A46 to all travellers coming and going along that route. What a wonderful message this cross of glory gives out to so many people.
WALK OF WITNESS
Once more Good Friday arrived and folks gathered for our annual walk of witness. A little changed this year in its order, commencing at St Nicholas Church and finishing at Alcester Baptist Church. At each stop, prayers were said and on the Recreational ground at Malt Mill Lane a short service was held before folks made their way up to ABC for hot coffee and hotcross buns. The weather was grey and mizzling with rain but folks were not daunted and eventually the rain stopped and though the sun never broke through we were given a wonderful worship time giving us the bright knowledge that with Jesus it just gets better. If in a not so good place we were given the hope of the knowledge that with Jesus better is to come and those is a good and comfortable place were asked not to settle for good but to know and move forward into GREAT - with Jesus this is what we have to look forward to.
MID DAY PRAYERS and SOUP LUNCH
Monday through to Thursday of Easter week we have had Mid-day Prayers led by Martin. Each day was a different style of prayer structure - Celtic, Benadictine, Iona, Taize. Each day a different layout for seating together. Each day different readers. Each day a selection of folk from all the churches. Each day a wonderful time of meditation and prayers followed by a time of fellowship over lunch. Thank you Martin and Bobbie and other soup makers for organising and delivering these special and meaningful times for us.
COFFEE MORNING FOR 375 FUNDS
A lovely welcome greeted us as the rain started falling - a wonderful collection of handmade cards by Brenda and Lynne, a superb array of second hand books, and bric a brac too as well as coffee, biscuits and cake - a truly nice way to spend a Saturday morning. There was a steady flow of folk braving the weather and soon the sun started to shine and the rain abated.
Thank you Brenda for organising it all. I will add the total raised to this report when I receive it. £180 raised. Well done everyone.
COMING HOME - YOUTH FOR CHRIST SERVICE - Sunday 22 March
Four members of the Youth for Christ team came to take our service and it centred around Coming Home. Coming Home to Christ. Coming back to the Father who wants us within his loving arms. Coming back, whether we have strayed a lot or strayed a little. Whether we have let the distractions of life take us away from him often or occasionally. He yearns to have us back wholeheartedly within his arms - we just have to recognise the need in us to want to be closer to him because he is waiting for us and he WANTS us and he NEVER stops wanting us whatever we say or do.
After the service we all shared our Faith Lunch and had a happy time of fellowship together.
Later in the afternoon musicians from the youth in our cluster churches got together for a 'jamming' session and some refreshments before giving a Youth Service in church at 5.30pm.
JUNE'S ANNIVERSARY TEA PARTY - Saturday 21 March
June had an idea, which was to have an Afternoon Tea Party with Musical Entertainment - she had very talented friends from her youth and put the two together to bring a simply splendid afternoon on Saturday 21st March. Tables were adorned with pretty cloths, cheerful daffodils and a wonderful collection of assorted pretty CHINA cups and saucers (provided by many folk in the church). Dainty cakes were put onto cake stands and cake plates and finger sandwiches of salmon and cucumber, coronation chicken, egg and cress and ham and cream cheese were prepared and the folks arrived.
Peter (Clarinet) and Michael (accordion) are known as "No Strings" and they entertained us with a superb selection of pieces from Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, through Irish Reels, Bye Bye Blackbird, Radetzky March and Begin the Beguine. Then our beautifully dressed waitresses served the food and cups of tea or coffee and we enjoyed all the delicious food. After we had eaten our fill (and probably more than we should!) Joyce played and sang our chosen favourite hymns and the afternoon was rounded off with another selection of pieces from No Strings including June's favourite of Stranger on the Shore. Lovely atmosphere, lovely entertainment, lovely food and a lovely idea in the first place. Thank you June.
COVENANT SERVICE AND START OF ANNIVERSARY YEAR
WOW! What a day!!
Preparations had been going on for a while and yesterday folks gathered to deck the Hall with 375 Bunting, balloons and streamers - thanks to everyone who helped in any way. Then this morning we gathered for our special Covenant Service which was led by our Pastor Martin. The church was full and it was so good that some of our folk who have not been very well lately were able to come along and be a part of this special day. During the service we stood and after responding to statements made by Martin we all said the Covenant together.
For his sermon Martin took the theme of our motto this year - "Jesus Christ, the same today, and tomorrow and for ever".
Yes when celebrating this year, we are celebrating the 375 years of knowing Jesus and making him known and celebrating all of God's goodness over the past years, but we are also seeing ourselves in the present - knowing Jesus is the same today and being able to celebrate God's goodness to us now. Then the icing on the cake - we are looking forward to the future, knowing that Jesus is the same for ever and that we have God's goodness to look forward to for ever! If that isn't something to celebrate I do not know what is! Thank you Martin for an inspiring and encouraging start to our special year.
After the Service folks were hurried through to share coffee/tea and a chat in the hall, whilst a team of folk moved tables and chairs and set up the church in readiness for our special Bring and Share lunch. - It looked absolutely splendid and ready for our party. Folks helped themselves to all the delicious food and brought it through into the church to sit amongst friends to share the meal and to share conversations and friendship together. After seconds had been consumed, the dessert table was visited and what treats there were in store for us all.
Having had our fill it was time for Martin to move us in to the special time of sharing the Lord's Supper together - just as Jesus did around the meal table with his friends.
At the close of this special time Martin pointed out that two of those present had been using our Anniversary communion cups and these two were asked to come forward to cut our Anniversary Birthday Cake which had been made by Jacqui. Gwyneth and June came and did the honours and the cake was distributed to everyone. Thank you Jacqui for such a splendid cake and for all the time of love you put into it.
And it did not end there!!!
No! we all moved back into the hall for a time of fun and dancing for our BARN DANCE. We were very ably led by our caller David and our thanks go to him for his patience as we all got in a tangle from time to time. It was huge fun and those who did not feel able to join in the dancing had great fun laughing at the antics of those of us who did! At the end of two hours we were all exhausted from either dancing or laughing or in most cases both!
Time to clear up and go home - happy, relaxed and ON A HIGH! Just like we were when we were kids at the end of a good party! We have certainly made a fantastic start to our Anniversary year and we have a lot more to look forward to as well - we are certainly very blessed.
Thank you to everyone who played any part whatsoever in making the day so successful and THANK YOU GOD for giving us so many blessings.
What a lovely hour spent in the church this afternoon. All seats were filled and there were lots of children as well as those of us who are a little older. But we all enjoyed the carols, the making of a prayer chain, being given a present to remind us of the love Jesus brings us and of course the making of our own special Christingle. A pity I cannot put in pictures of the children but here are some of the adults (who are children at heart), enjoying this very special service.
Thank you Lynne and all the Bowld family and others who helped make this such a wonderful part of our Christmas.
CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT
A soft candlelit Church awaited us this afternoon as we gathered for this service. The soft embracing ambiance continued throughout the whole service - carols, readings, prayers and address. But a reminder of the light which the candle gives in the darkness and just how special is the light brought into our world by knowing Jesus as our Saviour and recognising what he did for us.
Lots of lovely Carols and Readings, a clear and uplifting message about making the age-old story of Christmas one we will always remember and cherish, one which makes us feel we are keeping in touch with 'home'. A message challenging us to embrace the 'light of the world' the birth of which we celebrate each Christmas, and to let that light shine in us and from us so that it reaches all those with whom we come into contact.
CAFE STYLE SERVICE LED BY THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE CHUCH
What an absolutely delightful service we were treated to this morning. Well done, everyone who took part. We are blessed to have such talented young people amongst our fellowship. (The adults who were involved were pretty good too!). Such a clear message, given in such a different way. Can't wait for the next service led by this lovely team. Thank you one and all.
ANNUAL TOY SERVICE
Our Annual Toy Service was a delightful occasion and the church was filled. We were treated to a joyous service and the volume of gifts brought was better than ever. These toys were then taken to a refuge for abused wives and children and also to the Birmingham City Toy Link. Thank you to all those who took part in the service, brought gifts, helped with the organisation and those who distributed the toys.
ST NICHOLAS NIGHT
Once again we had our stall in the high street for this lovely event held in our town. This year our stall was "Chocolate Heaven" and our chocolate fountain into which we dipped marshmallows for our customers was a huge (if somewhat messy) success. We sold chocolate cake pops, chocolate posies, chocolate cookies, chocolate filled beautifully crocheted stockings to hang on your tree and cups of creamy hot chocolate!!!!! The monies raised were divided between the St Nicholas Fund and our own Christmas Children's charities. It was cold but dry and we all had a wonderful time and hopefully our customers did too!
What a beautiful day we have had today. The church looks absolutely beautiful - we are so blessed with folk who can do such beautiful floral decorations. We took the BMS Theme of "Share the Light" and the interpretations are simply wonderful. Thank you to all who took part in anyway. A steady stream of visitors were treated to a visual delight and then could partake of a cup of tea or coffee or even have a Ploughman's lunch. Thank you to all who helped with the provision of this and all the washing up. Truly a case of many hands....... Thanks too to all those who came and made it such a lovely day. Last but not least a huge thankyou to Brenda for organising the whole event and for working tirelessly to ensure it was such a success.
Today (6th July 2014) we had shared a wonderful service celebrating 'Disability Sunday' where we re-enforced that whatever our differences we are all alike to God, all valued as much, all cherished as much. We are charged both with not thinking ourselves inferior, if we do not measure up to those who are shown as being the 'best', and also with us not seeing others with emotional, physical, sensory or any other difficulty, as inferior, but as different. Thank goodness we were made to be different and we should celebrate those differences just as God does. We had three wonderful testimonies from Lynn, Gillian and Ann which gave us all a great deal to think about. After we shared Holy Communion together, we had great pleasure of welcoming two new members into our fellowship -
Welcome to membership of ABC to you both - we are delighted that you have joined us in our walk with, and work for, God here in Alcester.
What a fantastic weekend we have had. Saturday dawned clear and bright and 10 o'clock saw us opening our doors to visitors wanting to see the beautifully decorated windowsills, baptistry and porch. The theme this year was "favourite hymns and psalms." Congratulations to all the talented people who designed and created all the beautiful arrangements. The Porch was "Make me a channel of your peace" and was a beautiful arrangement in green and white, with Peace Lilies and a white dove. Messy church's "Our God is a great big God" had submarines and skyscrapers amongst the flowers. "All over the world the spirit is moving" had ribbons linking the globe with flags of nations showing the joy of knowing Jesus all over the world. "Lord of all hopefulness" centred its arrangement on knowing that God is with us through the dawn, noon, eve and end of EVERY day, The quiet garden was delightfully depicted with a garden table set for afternoon tea. "He leads me beside still waters" was a beautiful arrangement of flowers around the Baptistry. "If I were a butterfly" saw flower heads fashioned into a stunning butterfly alongside a floral arrangement. "One more step along the world I go was a poignant progression of arrangements depicting the journey of those working through cancer treatment. "All things bright and beautiful" was bursting with vibrant colours and had a fantastic tapestry of the words. "Away in a manger" had all the nativity models nestling amongst the flowers celebrating our Lord's birth. What a joy all of these arrangements were to see. Morning Coffee, Ploughman's lunches and afternoon tea and biscuits were served and Lynn had her beautiful hand made cards for sale too.
Sunday saw Martin leading our Anniversary Family Service which was enjoyed by all. Sunday afternoon saw the Floral display open for visitors again and though not as many folk came as had done on Saturday, those who did come said how wonderful it was. Thanks to everyone who did anything to make the weekend such a success. A wonderful total of £350.00 was raised. Thank you Brenda for organising it all.
11th May 2014
Today we were urged to put our HOPE in God. Our service was led by members of The Gideons International, and what a great service it was. Hymns, readings, and Sermon all reminding us what a faithful, true and constant God we have. Being a Christian does not mean an easy life and we know that there will be ups and downs throughout our days, weeks, and years but in all these events we must always look to God and have our hope in him in all that we do.
Thank you Ken and David for leading our worship this morning. The blessings of our fellowship go with you in your work in spreading the Gospel both in this area and through the work done by The Gideons International, throughout the whole world.
4th May 2014
Today the sun was shining and the birds singing as we walked to church. A good congregation and a welcome back for Martin and family after their holiday in Wales. We were treated to a sermon on "prayer and praying" which was informative and encouraging to us all. The service concluded with The Lord's Supper after which we had the joy of welcoming Terry and Ann Mann into membership. Terry and Ann have been worshiping with us for over a year and we are thrilled that they wanted to join the fellowship as members. We trust that together we can move forward in our work for the Lord, within the church and the community.
Monday to Thursday of Easter week saw Martin leading lunchtime prayers in our church. Each day was presented in a different style of worship - Benedictine, Taize, Iona etc and everyone attending said how much they enjoyed the sessions.
Walk of Witness
The sun shone but there was a chilly wind as we gathered outside our church to start the walk around the churches and through the High Street for our Annual Walk of Witness. We had a hymn, reading and prayer outside each of the churches and the cross was carried ahead of us as we went around the town. One stop outside Waitrose and two stops in the High Street saw us on the church green outside the Parish Church for our final stop. The morning concluded by sharing hot coffee or tea and cold hot cross buns which were very welcome and thanks to our friends from St Nicholas church for providing them.
The Saturday of Easter
This saw a few folks gathered up on the hillside on the outskirts of the town where our daffodil cross has been a fantastic sight over the last few weeks. Unfortunately most of the flowers are now over but we still held our short service on the hillside as usual.
Easter Day saw the church packed which was lovely. We arrived to see a stark empty cross at the front of the church. We sang uplifting celebratory hymns with gusto and were treated to an encouraging sermon. During the service we were invited to bring a flower to adorn the empty cross with the result of us finishing our service looking at a very different cross from that which we had seen on our arrival. Let us bring the Easter message to all those around us, not just in the coming week but always.
A busy time for everyone. Lynne and Cath led our Café style service which was enjoyed by all, and we were treated to a beautiful rendition of 'Do you hear what I hear' by four of our young folk. Both the Carol Service and Carols by Candlelight on 22nd December were well attended and a delight to share. On December 24th we held our Christingle Service when we made Christingles and Baby Jesus in the Manger biscuits as well as putting 'Thank you' prayers on our Christmas Tree. Christmas morning we were asked to bring a present to share at our short service and our last service on 29th December looked towards the coming year. A busy but very rewarding time.
What a busy weekend!
Friday - St Nicholas Evening
The High Street was closed to traffic and from 4.00pm people were beavering away at setting up the many stalls along the pavements. We put up the Gazebo and Brian attached the new signage which he had designed and then we filled the serving tables with cakepops and chocolate tree decorations and chocolate table favours. Selling began at 5.30pm and the street became very busy with families happily moving from stall to stall. The weather was very kind to us and we decided that it was in fact one of the best St Nicholas evenings we had had weatherwise. We had a good rota of folks serving and giving away sweets and we sold almost all of our products raising funds for both the St Nicholas Evening organisation and our Christmas Children's charities. Tired but happy we took down the stall and made our way home. Thanks to all those, who donated towards chocolates, those who made the boxes and cake pops, those who helped put up and take down the stall. those who served on the stall and those who provided hot soup and coffee to keep us going during the evening.
Sunday - Annual Toy ServiceA wonderful service led by Martin in which readings were given by both The High Bailiff and the Mayor. We also welcomed Lady Hertford and the Dowager Marchioness to share the service and were sorry that Lord Hertford was unable to join us as he had planned and send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery from his fall. The church was packed with members of the Town Council and the Court Leet in addition to our own folk and we had to bring the balcony seating into use which was excellent. Martin illustrated his children's talk with a DVD and CD and had prepared a colourful powerpoint presentation to illustrate his message. The gifts were brought up to the front of the church and what an incredible sight they made - thank you to everyone who brought a gift. After the service these gifts were wedged into cars ready to be taken off to be distributed to children who would not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas. Coffee and delicious mince pies were served after the service and there was a lovely time to chat together.
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.