New Year Party

Join us at the Rec House to welcome in the New Year from 8pm on New Year's Eve. A great time to get together, party and have some fun. God goes with us from one year to the next and he never changes and we will pray together for the year ahead too.


St Michael's at St Michael's

At the beginning of each month we have a slightly different routine for our Sunday gathering. At 9am we have a 'traditional communion'. At 10.15 we have breakfast together and at 10.45 we hold an informal, more creative service specifically aimed at being accessible and meaningful to families.

The other Sunday we discussed together a new idea - holding this "Sunday Live!" service at the school rather than in 'church'. After some worship together we introduced the idea and opened it up to discussion and reflection. Everyone threw in their ideas and prayers. People wrote down what they thought and wrote prayers to God about how they were responding. It was a good time.

The response was very positive and the next day the PCC discussed it further and there was a strong sense of unity and clarity about the way forward, so much so that we decided to give it a go from February!

So, from February the timings of our services will look like this:

1st Sunday - 10.15am at St Michael's School for breakfast followed by worship for the whole family
2nd Sunday - 10.15am at St Michael's Church for a Family Communion
3rd Sunday - 9.00am at St Michael's Church for a Traditional Communion, 10.15am Coffee, 10.45am Contemporary Worship service
4th Sunday - 10.15am at St Michael's Church for a Family Communion

You may notice that one thing we are going to try out alongside holding a service in the local school is also moving the ‘traditional communion’ that we hold on the first Sunday of the month at 9am, to the third Sunday of the month – giving us all time to set up the school and get things ready for a 10.15 breakfast down at the school on the first Sunday of each month. On the third Sunday we will hold a communion at 9am, then have some coffee and doughnuts between the services where we can all mingle and chat, and then have our second service.

As many of us commented when we chatted together holding a meeting at the school will require many more people to get involved and from the sound of it many of you would like to! We will chat about it more as the day approaches and we look forward to this new venture together. Chat together and pray for it. If you have any ideas or suggestions, now is the time to feed them in. If you want to get involved in some way – just let me know : )

Thanks for all your input!

Rich


Rock Solid

A new club is coming after school at St Michael's Junior School. Probably on Thursdays. It's going to be fun!


Advent is coming

Outside the church there is little talk of 'Advent'.  The only words associated with it are 'calendars' and 'candles'.  Apart from that Advent holds little power over our imaginations and lives.  It didn't used to be like this.  For centuries the season of Advent was a significant and eagerly anticipated season of reflection, preparation and prayer.  Advent is a gift to us and for the next month, as a church community, we are trying to reconnect with this tradition and bring it up to date.  On the 5th December we are holding a special Advent service in the evening from 7pm.  Join us for an interactive service of worship and reflection which will awaken all the senses and bring Christmas alive. Looking forward to seeing you over this season : )


The future's orange

Over the next few years it is my hope that our church here in Twerton will learn to ‘be church’ in a fresh way. Instead of organising ourselves around our services and programmes we want to see what happens when we see ourselves primarily as people engaged on a mission.

A few weeks ago now I was reflecting about church and had an image in my mind of an orange. All my life I have been involved in church life trying to make it as juicy as possible – helping to make the worship relevant or contemporary, being involved in social programs, modernising our buildings, updating our use of technology, learning about leading services and preaching, trying to run vibrant house groups. It has been a good journey and I know that God has blessed many of our efforts and ideas. At times we have felt inspired.

The aim of all this commitment and endeavour has been to help make the inside of the orange (the church) as juicy as possible, as attractive as possible, as meaningful as possible and our hope has been that in doing so we would attract more people to join us on the inside of the orange, form a living relationship with God/Jesus and join church. We have prayed about this, sung about this and worked for this with all our effort.

All this has placed me right at the centre of the orange (the church) and I have been ordained as one of it’s ‘ministers’ or ‘priests’ and now, with responsibility for my own ‘church’ I have set about trying to make this particular orange as juicy as it can be here in Twerton.

This has been good and important. And not wanting to devalue any of this effort, or anyone else’s commitment, I now believe that God is wanting us to completely rethink what it means to be the church.

For years ‘church’ has been a building, a service, a program provider or an institution. From here on we need to see it as a people on a mission. For years ‘church’ has been something we went to, attended or helped to make. From now on we need to see it as something we belong to and participate in. The change is from seeing church as a club to seeing it as a team. Just as a football club is something people organise, watch, contribute to and maintain and a football team is something you belong to and participate in, we need to see church as a team where everyone is involved in working towards a goal.

What we need to do is turn this orange inside out. For years the juice has been kept and maintained on the inside of our church buildings, our church services and our church programs. From now on we need to open up the orange and get the juice on the outside – into people’s lives, our workplaces and our neighbourhoods.

This is a completely new way of seeing church and will require us to give up our old ideas and practices and systems. ‘Minister’ will no longer be a title given to just one or two but instead owned by everyone. ‘Disciple’ will no longer be something the super keen sign up for but will be the normal Christian life. ‘Worship’ will no longer be something we go to for an hour but a life lived in adoration to God and in response to his love. ‘Mission’ will no longer be something cringey that only the bravest and craziest of us do but the very foundation of our community life together.

And it is to this mission that we will begin to invite others to join us in. It is to this life that we will now invite people to commit to. It is to this ‘order’ that we will invite people to shape their life around. Instead of asking people to come to church we will be asking if they want to participate in the life we are living, centred on Jesus, focused on blessing our neighbourhood, and oriented around seeing the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

It is time to get the juice out, to step outside our church buildings and structures and services and to give ourselves away to people in need around us. And by our love for one another, for our neighbours and for our God perhaps at last many will again know us to be ‘Jesus’ disciples’ rather than just people ‘who go to church’.

Undoubtedly it will mean a few of the things we currently cherish will fall away or be less highly prioritised. So be it. May God help us as we start to peel away the skin and open ourselves to the reality of people’s life, letting go of our desire to be a church on that meets together and becoming a church that meets the needs of others.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for there is the kingdom of heaven.


30hr Mission

A wonderful group of Young People are heading our way from Nottingham to do a 30hr Mission here in Twerton and Whiteway, organised through Youth For Christ. There will be about a dozen young people coming down on the Saturday morning ready to bless the community up in Whiteway (car washing, litter picking, football) and hand out leaflets about the Rec House to other local young people. Then in the evening they will be running a Youth Cafe at the Rec House where we hope to have some music, DJing and some dance. On Sunday they will be available to help out with Children’s work and Youth Work before heading off back up the motorway after lunch.

It’s great that a group of young people want to offer themselves to us for this weekend and I am praying it will help us connect with young people especially and advertise the Rec House which is looking amazing. How about Joining in? Let Richard know : )

If you have any ideas or suggestions do get in touch!


Connecting with Harvest

All around churches in the UK, especially the more traditional ones, people are celebrating Harvest. We know the kind of thing to expect - a few hymns (We plough the fields, Come ye thankful people come, etc), a short talk about Africa or Water or Ecology or Giving, and some prayers that have a more repentant feel. This is all good, but if we are honest the festival is hard to connect with at a deep level.

So what will we do?

This year we are not having a 'Harvest Service'. We are having a 'Harvest Season'. During this period of time (four weeks) we will be encouraging each other to give thanks to God for all that we have. As part of this we also want to make an offering to a local charity helping the homeless and the poor. It's a simple gesture, but it helps us reconnect ourselves with a bigger picture of how life is. No matter how poor we are, we actually have so much more than so many others in our world. And being grateful for the plenty we enjoy we want to make sure we act with integrity and generosity to those who have less. We also want to reconsider our connection with the planet we live on. Taking none of it for granted we want to celebrate, share and ponder.

We may not bring a pumpkin to church or a big marrow or some carrots... it will probably be a tin of something. But as the tin bleeps it's way across the till at Sainsburys we will pray with thankfulness for the wonderful gift of life.


Camping trip

It was a brilliant weekend! The weather was kind to us and the rain held off. Full English breakfasts, great banter, a fab curry, a cosy pub with local beer, a beautifully kept campsite, amazing views. What more could we have asked for? All of us who went returned home happy, weary, alive... And Alan is planning the next one now : ) Penyfan was worth the effort!


Thanksgivings and Baptisms

It's great that you are enquiring about a Thanksgiving or a Baptism here at St Michael’s. We are thrilled that you are eager to find out more and are considering either to have a service for your child or for yourself. We hope that this page helps answer some of your questions and will help you as you think through whether this is the right step for you at this time. Of course reading all this is fine, but we would love to chat to you about it all, so if you want to find out more please do call Richard Wilson on 01225 421438 or email him at richard@stmichaelstwerton.com

 

A Thanksgiving Service

You may have heard about a service called a 'Thanksgiving'.  Some people call it a 'Naming Ceremony' or a 'Blessing'. This service is offered to everyone who would like it, whether you attend church or not and whether or not you have given your life to Jesus. It is a wonderful service which (as it says on the tin) gives thanks to God for the life of your child and asks for God’s protection and God’s help in bringing the child up. At a thanksgiving service the mister will lay hands on your child and pray for you and your child. They will give you a candle as a sign of Jesus' light in your lives and children can have godparents to support them.

This is an increasingly popular service as many parents today are not sure whether they are comfortable saying that they are completely committed to Jesus and to belonging to the church, but are sure that they want to mark the birth of their child with a service in a church and to ask God to bless them. Also many parents want to leave the decision about following Jesus to their children - letting them decide when they are older.

The other great thing about this service is that it can take place outside normal service times making it easy to arrange around a family party or celebration.  Also because the service doesn't have to be part of a Church service Parents can also give it a very personal flavour with your own music or powerpoint slideshow.

 

Baptism

Although being baptised as an adult and being baptised as a child (often referred to as ‘Christening’) are different, the meaning for both is the same. However, because there are differences between them we have prepared two further sections – one called ‘Adult Baptism’ and the other called ‘Children’s Baptism’ – to make things as clear as we can.

What’s it all about?

The New Testament teaches that Baptism is the act by which a person, having openly declared a trust in Jesus Christ and a desire to follow him, is joined to the Christian Family, the Church. Baptism involves both a personal allegiance to Jesus and a commitment to the life, fellowship and worship of the church.  In other words it means that a person has been so gripped by Jesus that they want to make him the centre of their life...

Baptism is a first step in response to the gift of new life in Jesus.  Importantly, baptism is an identity marker – a badge – that not only identifies us as belonging to Jesus, but also helps us remain faithful to him all our lives. Through Baptism we are saying that we have died to our old lives and now live for Christ alone. Through baptism we are trusting Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and for the power and freedom of the Spirit to live a new kind of life – the kind of life that Jesus had.

As a church here at St Michael’s our main aim is to bringing people to faith in Jesus – Children and Adults. We therefore encourage those who come to faith to make their commitment to Jesus public in baptism. Baptism is normally administered at a public Sunday service when a large number of people are present, either in the traditional manner of sprinkling with water from the font, or by total immersion. Baptism is not a private thing but a public thing and having it in our main service gives the congregation as a whole the opportunity to welcome new members and to remember their own profession of faith made to God in their baptism.

From early times, the Church has also baptised children who are not yet old enough to profess faith for themselves, on the grounds of the obvious faith of the parents and on the understanding that they will teach them about Jesus and how to be a disciple like them. Just as children learn language simply by being surrounded by it and by trying it out, we baptize children of Christian parents in the expectation that they will naturally learn from them what ‘living in Christ’ means. We see that children of Christian parents belong to Jesus right from the start of their lives and because baptism is a badge that says "I belong to Jesus", we think that Children of Christian parents should also be baptised if their parents want them to be.

But this all depends on faith... and consequently as part of the baptism service parents and godparents are asked about their faith and called upon to make public their own love of God and their discipleship of Jesus. In line with Anglican tradition, parents and godparents who choose baptism for their children are required to have been baptised and ideally also confirmed or to be fully communicating members of the Church.  It is expected that parents will be fully involved in the life of the church community, worshiping with the church on Sundays and growing the their faith.

 

What to do?

If you are a parent, have a read of the information on the children's baptism page and have a think about it all.  If you are considering baptism for yourself click here instead.  If you want to take it further the best person to call is the Rector, Richard Wilson.  Preparing for baptism usually takes several months because baptism is so important to the us as a church... but why not give Richard a call.  He'd be delighted to come and talk more with you about it all.

 


Men's Wilderness Weekend

Make sure you have the following date in your diary : Friday 17th - Sunday 19th September. The aim is to take as many men away on a wilderness camping weekend in Wales and to enjoy quality time away from it all taking in the beauty of the world we live in and reconnecting with each other and ourselves. Leaving Friday night after work we will make the journey across the bridge and up the valleys of South Wales and set up camp. Saturday will feature a rugged walk and perhaps some climbing. Sunday will be more gentle as we relax and enjoy the outdoors before returning home, alive, weary, and happy. Get in touch with Richard for more details, but make sure you get the date in your diary asap and protect it from all other claims.