FITYEIGHT/TWELVE

We are so excited as a church to be able to begin a long process of transformation and change for our main church building and the site it sits in.  We have big plans and we long to open up our building for everyone in the community - making it as accessible as possible to as many as possible - and enabling us to maximize the space for worship, discipleship, community and transformation.  The Fifty Eight / Twelve project is just about to be launched and it is very exciting to see the way God has provided for us as a church that wants to extend its reach and impact in the community.

Check out the FIFTYEIGHT/TWELVE website here


Annual Report

It's that time of year again when we meet to review the past year and look ahead with hope and prayer.  Here is an extract from our Annual Report from Richard

Rector’s Report

In last year’s report, I tried to encapsulate or summarise 2015/16 as a ‘New Chapter’. I had the sense that God was gifting us with new vision and new energy and I highlighted four specific areas where this was evident:

  • A new vision for our growth – seeing our church family grow to over 150 disciples
  • A new vision for our building – UNLOCK / HEART / EVERYONE
  • A new vision for discipling children, young people and families
  • A new vision for our administrative structures

And I wrote this:

God is moving among us and I sense a new breeze blowing bringing about a new culture of expectation and life.  As I reflect on this I see God changing the culture of the church in the following ways: 

  • From recipient to giver
  • From meeting needs to disciple-making
  • From hesitancy to invitation
  • From isolated to connected

How accurate were these?  Was I right in my intuition?  Have we seen things develop in these areas, and if so how?

A vision for growth

Tory and I have been in leadership here for 12 years now and over this time our church family has grown, matured and changed in significant ways.  For example, consider how far we have come in our missional work with children and families, our youth work, and in our engagement with local families and children through the school.  Think about the impact of Rose Cottage and the development of the Rec House.  Reflect on our attention on discipleship and disciple-making, on the way we worship together on Sundays and mid-week, on the development of leaders, on our levels of giving, on the administrative structures we have developed, on our finances and fundraising, and on the engagement in prayer throughout the year. There are many ways of measuring impact but in every area of church life we have been changing and growing.

We are grateful for all this, and yet, we also know that the numbers of disciples we have made, baptised and taught has been small – especially when we think of the 8000 people who live in our parish.  We also know that the mission here in Twerton is hard work.  Growth is uneven and being community together is hard work and demanding.  Just keeping going sometimes feel a victory all its own.  Indeed, it is.  Just being here is a sign of God’s grace on us.  We all know that we have an enemy that is always ready to steal, kill or destroy.

I have noticed that talking about growth is challenging.  It can push an emotional button in us and make us feel bad or judged.  I’ve also noticed how hard it is to keep believing in growth.  It is easy to gradually lower our expectations and get used to things as they are.  And lastly, I have noticed that because growth means change we find experiencing growth challenging.

But over the last few years, as we have deliberately prayed into this and I believe a new vision and belief for growth is emerging as many of us are finding ourselves more expectant and hopeful.  Faith is rising.  2016 was a year when new visions strengthened in every area of church life.  Signs of this are all around; the confidence we showed as a church to employ Mark as Associate Minister and to fund his salary from our own resources rather than simply from elsewhere; the boldness of our vision in developing Gwen’s role to help us as families; the commitment we made to investing in young people through employing Rob and having faith to believe for someone filling the role would want to be part of the family; the investment in prayer, not just throughout the year, but in a special prayer week initiated by Lucy and Bronwyn and the investment in learning how to become more evangelistic and invitational through our mid-week ‘Deeper’ sessions that have lead on so beautifully to our Alpha course this term.  We have not cracked it yet but we are becoming more invitational all the time and our focus on making disciples as our primary goal is bearing fruit.

With all this in mind this we will keep going, praying into all that God is leading us into believing that God’s future for us is better that all that we have seen so far.  We recommit ourselves to the vision of seeing our church family grow to 150 adults

A vision for a renewed building

An aspect of this gift of faith for us has been concerning our building.  Over the years, faith and confidence that we will be able to repair, renew and reorder our main building given our resources has been extremely low.  Indeed, I might describe it as smaller than a mustard seed.  We have been overwhelmed by the scale of the problems we face and our fears of change have restrained us moving forward.  But over the last two years this has been changing.  Not that I would now describe ourselves as fully confident of all that God is promising for us but I believe that we have turned a corner.  Once again, as in all areas, this is contested ground and even when we make plans we have had to face disappointments in being able to take them forward.  But as we look ahead and share a vision together of how the whole site can be developed and renewed for the mission God is drawing us into I believe that we will be stunned and amazed in how God provides for his work here in Twerton.  It will be a story that we will tell our grandchildren!

2017 will be a significant year for us in this.  As a PCC, we have discerned a way forward that is adventurous and bold.  Our architects have given us an exciting and complete plan for the whole site – the main building, the Rec House, the church yard and all the gardens - and we will be sharing this in the months to come, not just with each other in the church family but also with our local community.  We are moving forward in faith – not based on what is seen but on what has been promised.  It will be an exciting and challenging journey for us all but its impact will be truly significant. 

We know that we won’t be able to change everything in one go.  The scope of the work is too large for this and so we are adopting a staged approach.  Our first stage is to create momentum and share the vision as widely as possible.  We need to engage with the vision of the project together and to seek out the energy and commitment of others from across the city.  In the coming months, as our first step in this, we will be embarking on a temporary reordering the main church building to open it up and dramatically increase its functionality both as a worship space and as a space for community, discipleship and mission. 

All of us will notice these changes.  We recognise that for some of us these changes will be hard as we let go of the way things have been for so long.  Together, however, just as it was with Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem all those centuries ago, I believe we will see God do so much more than all we could possibly ask for or imagine.

We recommit ourselves to a vision of seeing our premises renewed and refreshed and revitalised in readiness for all that God is doing and going to do here in Twerton.

A vision for discipling children, young people and families

One of the most dramatic areas of growth and change that we have experienced in our church family over the last decade has been in the area of children, young people and families.  This has been intentional and it has been an area we have invested in significantly over a number the years.  Through the generosity of people, we have been able to employ Gwen as our Children and Families worker and Rob as a youth worker but the focus on discipling families impacts on all staff.  Mark is very engaged in the life of the school and oversees Gwen, Rob, and Nathan’s work.  Nathan serves the wider community but there is a developing mission to families and children through Rose Cottage and   Joel oversees Children’s work on Sundays as well as the Rec House.  All of us are invested in seeing families become houses of prayer and places which nurture our children in the ways of the Lord. 

We are learning much in this area together and we have much still to learn.  We need to be even more intentional if we are going to see a whole new generation of children and families come through to faith and to remain committed to Christ for the rest of their lives.  Family life is constantly under threat in our culture and it is an area where we find most personal challenge.  As a church, we need to continue to support one another in parenting, discipling and mentoring our children and young people.  This will be a challenge for us. 

We are aware of the challenges so many children in Twerton face but, despite the personal cost to us as we respond, we recommit ourselves to the vision of seeing children and young people finding life in Christ as a launch pad for the rest of their lives and as changemakers of the future.

A vision for new administrative structures

Houses built on sand fall flat when the rain comes down and the floods rise.  Administration was one of the first needs of the early church as things grew and we are no different.  Over the last few years we have recognised that every area of church life has needed an update in our administrative structures and support – our finances, the safety of our children and young people, our line management of staff, our health and safety, our responsibilities as a charity handling significant amounts of money, our communication, the maintenance and upkeep of our buildings.  All this takes time and we are all indebted to the often-hidden work of those who toil away at this for us.  Jennie in the office, Rae and Tim as Church Wardens, Shelley as Treasurer, Ann as Safeguarding Officer.  The staff team have all had to develop the administrative structures that are needed in their own areas and I am so grateful to them for taking this aspect of their work so seriously. 

In this area of our life as a trust we continue to be a work in progress.  Much has been achieved this year and I am particularly grateful to the work of Shelley in preparing the accounts as Treasurer.  We are all indebted to the hours you have put in on our behalf this year and we are very grateful.

We recommit ourselves to generously giving to the vision of seeing hundreds of people becoming disciples and our whole community transformed by God’s loving rule – giving in time and money to the mission of God her in Twerton

Every one of us living and telling the story

Being a disciple is an everyday thing.  It is marked by countless invisible decisions hidden from view.  Our life in Christ is a gift of grace but we co-operate with the Spirit in working out our salvation in growing in knowledge of him, by deepening our dependency on him and by actively obeying him in how we live.  As a church family, we spend a few hours each week in worship, prayer, conversation and learning together and we continue to invest in this weekly habit that is the foundation of our life in Christ.  But our true vocation is lived outside the walls of our church building in the dish-washing, the dog-walking and the day job.  Our ambition to make the main thing the main thing remains - to be a community that ‘lives and tells’ the story of Christ in every aspect of our lives – in all we say and do.  Our Bishops – Peter and Ruth – are leading us deeper into this vision and this life.  Let us commit ourselves once again to this goal of living as whole-life disciples, making a difference wherever we are, and in whatever we do. 

We recommit ourselves to living and telling the amazing story of Christ and his power to change lives and make all things new.

Goals and ambitions for 2017/18

Making and growing whole-life disciples

  • Maximising the impact of our connections through Rose Cottage, The Rec House and the Junior School
  • Exploring the ‘Art of Neighbouring’ together
  • Deepening our culture of invitation – running at least one, possibly two, Alpha Courses
  • Equipping one another for our living and telling the story on our frontline
  • Investing in mid-week small groups
  • Making the most of Sunday mornings – for discipling children, young people and adults
  • Further deepening our commitment to gathering for prayer and worship
  • Starting an Internship Programme

Strengthening our structures and systems

  • Initiating the first phase of the Building Project
  • Running a giving and fundraising campaign securing resources for ministry and mission
  • Maintaining high levels of oversight and management of staff and volunteers
  • Investing in key leaders

Thank you!

Lastly, as always, I want to say thank you.  Thank you to each and every one of you for the love and care and attention you give to serving Christ, to the staff team for your passion, humour and generosity, to all those with leadership roles in the church family, to those who serve us on Sundays in countless ways, to those who make sure that people are noticed and cared for, to those who give their attention to others and listen, to those who pray for the church week in and week out, for those who make jokes and make others smile, and to those who check the bins and tidy things away.  I am so grateful for everything.  Church is a family and we belong to one other.

And above all I am grateful to God for my dearest friend, my wife, Tory.  I am indebted to her above all.  Sharing the vision and reality of ministry here in Twerton with her means everything to me and I love her.


EASTER SERVICES

The gift of God's love is embodied in the blood and tears of the Easter story about this man called Jesus of Nazareth. It is a marvel and a wonder even in its ugliness, violence and pain. We give our attention to it as fully as we can. And in doing so we receive its benefits and grace.

Come and join us on the journey as we watch and follow Jesus together this Easter 

Maundy Thursday / 7.30pm / Communion / Ascension Church

Good Friday / 2.00pm / Meditation on the Cross / St Michael's Church

Easter Sunday / 10.30am / Resurrection Morning / Baptism Service / St Michael's Church


An invitation to join an adventure.

I invite you to commit yourself to be part of God’s family, here in Twerton, as part of the St Michael’s family. Come along and join us as we work through together how to live for God – not just on a Sunday, but how to live every week for God, every day for God, every hour for God.

Join us

Some of us are not convinced – not ready to jump in.  I can understand that. I realise it’s a big ask.  You are right – it will change everything – it will demand everything – it will cost everything – it will mean turning around and heading in a new direction.  Things will never be the same again.  I understand why it might be hard to join in this adventure we are on.

I guess others of us may not feel ready.  We have things to sort out, stuff to get fixed , things to make good.  Our lives are too full, or too complicated, or too broken, or too messed up, to be involved.  If this is you, then this makes sense too.  Life is complicated.  We can get stuck, really stuck, feel completely broken or lacking any sense of worth at all. 

Or others us might be feeling that we’d come but we don’t want to come on our own – we want our wife to come too, or our kids – or we worry that if we got involved they might not want to join us.  I understand that. It’s a big decision… although I bet they will come if you do.

And others of us might just not believe it.  We don’t get it.  We don’t want it.  We are not even the slightest bit interested. 

I hear all that.  I get it.  I understand.  It all makes sense.

But here’s the question:  What if the world really did change with the birth, the life, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Jesus?  What if there really is a way of being fully alive – of living life in all its fullness – and all it needs is a first step?  What if we don’t need to know all the answers all at once?  What if all it needs is just the first step out of the boat?

Join us.  Join me.  Join God. Join in with what God wants for people in Twerton.  Getting every part of life back into line with how he designed it.  Jesus came to change the world. He came to save it.  To save you and me.  He came to make us new.  He came to forgive and to mend. He came to fill and restore.  This is why he came…

So here’s the invitation again.  I invite you all, to commit yourself to be part of God’s family, here in Twerton, as part of the St Michael’s family, as part of God’s worldwide family, to live for God – every day – right here right now, right where you are.

How about it?


A community filled with hope, purpose and joy.

I have a dream of a community in Twerton that is know by three words – that they live for God.  They are a remarkable community.  They consider their lives as valuable to God and they are filled with hope, purpose, direction and joy – but they are not self-absorbed or self-oriented – instead they are open and alive to everything that God might be doing every day.  They are energized by worship by prayer and by service.  They come to life when they are involved and active in God’s plans and God’s way of doing things.  They are risk takers and adventurers – they are salt and light.  They don’t look back at their mistakes and their sins - they look ahead to the goal of their salvation – they don’t get trapped in shame or fear or guilt – they come to Christ to release them into freedom – they don’t drift through life just trying to get by but they live on purpose – they live for a goal – they live for a vision.   They don’t believe the accuser or the father of lies – they don’t engage in meaningless talk or pleasure in gossip – instead they rejoice in truth and they celebrate goodness.  They treat their bodies with respect and they treat their neighbours with respect too.  They serve God in their words, in their actions, in their thoughts.

Some of you are completely up for it!  You are ready!  You have signed up already and are ready for another year.  Others of you are tempted… or intrigued – you are interested to find out more.  You are not yet convinced but you wonder if this might be what you have really been looking for all this time.  You are wondering if this way of living will help you in your grief, in your sadness, in your loneliness, in your stress, in your purposelessness, in your anxiety.  You are wondering if there is more to life than all you have discovered so far.

If this is you, then join us.  Join in.  Join us on the discovery.  Come along and enquire – ask questions – Sign up for an Alpha course in January (Wednesday evenings 7.30pm Supper / A short video / and chatting about it with others – Starts January 11th.)

Or come along on Sundays at 10.30am.


Living. For God.

Three words to begin the new year:

Living

For

God 

Living

Not dead, not even half dead.  Not limping along, not drifting, not hiding, not caught up in worries or fear. Not lazy or tired or stuck.  Not false or fake.  Not just trying hard or making do or getting by.  Not simply paying the bills or getting through or surviving till the holidays.  None of that - But living.  Really living.  Heart. Body. Mind. Soul.  Connected. Alive. Free. Powerful.  Enthusiastic. Joyful. Confident.  Peaceful.  True.  Beautiful living. Strong. Courageous.  Bold. Adventurous. Calm. Sure footed.  Awake.  Alive.

For

Not against or despite but living for something.  Living on purpose.  Directed, hopeful, positive, targeted, absorbed, expectant.  Living for something is so good.  It’s about meaning, direction, energy, vocation, occupation, value

God

Living for GOD, not living for yourself or just for your family, or for the holidays or for status or power or recognition or the weekend or the game on Saturday or the pay cheque or the promotion or the girl friend or boyfriend.  Not simply living for more stuff.  But living in the flow of your original design – living in sync with how you were made and what you were made for – living for God.

And not just any God – not the distant, couldn’t careless God, not the joyless, ‘don’t walk on the grass’ God, not the ‘you step out of line and I’ll blow you away’ God, not the ‘what do you think you are doing’ God or you ‘make me sick’ God.  And not the ‘oh that’s ok’ God or the ‘oh don’t worry about that’ God or the ‘oh well never mind’ God.  Not the ‘ah well, you’re only human’ God. Not the ‘well you tried’ God. 

No – the God that we see perfectly in Jesus – the ‘I want you’ God – the ‘I will die for you’ God – the ‘sin matters’ God – the ‘I will forgive you’ God – I am faithful God – the you matter to me God – the I can see you God – the I will defeat Satan God – the ‘you’ll never believe how good life can be with me’ God.  The ‘I love you so much I will send you my son’ God.  The Immanuel God – the God with us God – the Atoning sacrifice God - the price is paid God - the ‘debts are cancelled’ God - the ‘I can make you new’ God – the ‘I am fighting for you’ God.

How will you respond?

Do you want it?  Will you join us?  Will you join me?  Will you be a part of the church – not just on the edge – not on the fringe – not at a safe distance – not just peering in – not every now and again – not only when I feel like it – not when it fits around my family, my diary, my agenda, my job, my work, my hobbies... but every day – living for God every day – every morning – every evening – living for God in your workplace, in your street, in your family, in your marriage – living for god with your money, your time, your gifts and abilities. Do you want it? Will you join the movement?

 


BOILER CRISIS

The pilot light had gone out and as Nathan tried to get it going again flames blew out of the back and sides of the old boiler at Rose Cottage bringing its days of service to an abrupt end. Without heating and hot water for washing we have had to close the centre for half term and quickly seek out a plumber ready to help us get back on our feet. Things have worked out and our hope is that it will be all up and running by the end of the week!  The only thing is the cost.

If you'd like to help us with a donation towards the boiler you can do so by sending a gift to the church office here at Rose Cottage or by doing a bank transfer.

Check out our giving page HERE. Make your payment to ROSE COTTAGE CENTRE ACCOUNT.

Many thanks everyone!


Easter

eastersquare16THE EASTER WEEKEND is the best time to connect to the story of God's love that changed the world forever. Join us as we journey together and rediscover the power and the joy of what it all means. We will be getting together at the following times:
Maundy Thursday 7.30pm – Remembering Jesus’ last meal with his closest disciples
Good Friday 2pm – Reflections from the cross
Easter Sunday – Resurrection morning - for all the family


JOIN IN THE STORY

eastersquare16THE EASTER WEEKEND is the best time to connect to the story of God's love that changed the world forever. Join us as we journey together and rediscover the power and the joy of what it all means. We will be getting together at the following times:
Maundy Thursday 7.30pm – Remembering Jesus’ last meal with his closest disciples
Good Friday 2pm – Reflections from the cross
Easter Sunday – Resurrection morning - for all the family


SIGNIFICANT TIME

Some times matter more than others. Some times are significant in our lives, in our families, at work, in our country, in our city.

I wonder if next week will be such a time for us as a church. I wonder if next week will be such a time for us as churches across the city. I am thinking it will.

Over the last few years churches in the deanery have been journeying together and God has been giving us a clear commission to focus our attention on making and growing disciples across our city and to make changes to our church life that most help us to follow through on this. We are being challenged by the Spirit to reimagine ourselves as a Mission Agency sent into our city to preach Christ crucified, to proclaim Jesus as Lord and risen one, to announce the forgiveness of sins, to proclaim good news to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to comfort all who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Another way of putting this is ‘seeing hundreds becoming disciples and our whole city transformed by God’s loving rule’.

Having a clearer view of our shared calling we are beginning to pray into this more, to gather as leaders more, to share dreams and ideas and problems together more, and to hold each other more accountable, in the hope that over time we will see increased fruit from our efforts and the church grow to 4000 disciples by 2020.

This has been a significant time for us.

To help us in all this God has been providing for us people to help shape and influence our thinking and vision - David Lawrence, the Lead Academy team – and now Mark Greene and Neil Hudson.

Mark and Neil are a gift to God for us. They will help us as leaders to think through how to empower disciples for their frontline and help us develop a vision and a strategy for city-wide disciple making and growing.

And that’s why I believe next Wednesday afternoon will be a significant time for us as Anglican church leaders

We will be listening together, praying together, sharing together with others form our church leadership teams. We will also be joined by other Christian leaders from across the city, deepening relationships and unity among us. I am sure that God will use this time powerfully.

In the evening Mark and Neil will be speaking to our people, our church families, sharing with them the calling God has placed on their lives and inspiring them to a life of discipleship where every aspect of their life is involved – ‘Whole-Life Discipleship’.

I believe that this will be a significant time for us all.

For some of us this will be a completely new. And life transforming. For others it will be a reminder, a challenge, a nudge. For others it will be a moment of inspiration where they see their lives completely differently.

And then, lastly, on the Thursday morning we will gather together again as clergy from across the deanery to go deeper. This will be an important time when plans emerge, when questions are answered, when things begin to turn into action.

I believe that this will be a significant time for us as a Chapter.

We have been planning for this event for many months now and the time is drawing closer. I am sure that as we invest in these three sessions together God will do a significant thing among us and I so look forward to joining you in it all.

God is good
Richard