ROSE COTTAGE HUB

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Rose Cottage HUB is thriving.  With the church office relocated upstairs, a new prayer space, and the re-launch of the cafe under Nathan's leadership, the place is  buzzing.  Mark Lawrence, mission and worship leader, has been working hard with Nathan and many different activities are now happening during the week. The local community have enjoyed the good food served at the cafe on Wednesdays and Thursdays and also during the holidays.  Nathan and the team are always open to welcoming new volunteers so if you are keen to be involved get in touch. The Prayer Space upstairs is available for folks to use and the office space is working well.

The hub is also available for church groups to use so Contact Mark if you have an idea or a request.  Community groups already use the hub each week and we hope to see new groups get involved. If you hear of any way that we can help with a community issue, do let Mark know.

These are exciting days and I am mindful that underlying all these goals and dreams are about connecting with people in real and fresh ways, inviting them into the life we have in Christ - being and making disciples.  We continue to pray for it all and ask God's blessing on it all.


IMPORTANT DAYS

Important MessageHi everyone.

Not many of us may care so much that it’s a new football season but for those of us who meet at the House of Football it’s becoming a little more all-consuming all over again. It can be like this with church life too – our interest and connection ebbing and flowing as time passes by – some of us loving it – being engrossed in it – others less so, less connected. Well, in church terms it definitely feels like the beginning of a new season. My sense is that these are important days for us as a church family and there is so much going on and so much needing prayer right now that I have felt that I needed to get in touch with you all – by video, by facebook, by email, by letter… whichever was the best way for you to connect with you about it all…

A few Sundays ago I handed out a flyer with a vision of what the church would be like in 2019 – five years from now – I hope that you have had a chance to read it. It’s not a fixed thing – it’s not a prophecy – it’s not a manifesto – it’s just what I can imagine and what I can hope for… It tells a story of how we have grown – in number and in strength and in maturity. It tells a story of how we have joined together around a shared mission and how everyone has played a part to bring it about... a story of new families, new men and new young people and children. A story of new people of all ages who have found a way back to the father that created them. It’s a story of salvation and forgiveness and healing. It’s a story of rescue. It’s what I live for.

If I am honest it’s been a challenging summer for us. Summer is great for a break but it can also fragment our community life for a while as numbers fluctuate on Sundays and mid-week meetings and activities take a breather. With Barrie and Ruth leaving Rose Cottage after an amazing four and half year stint we have had to regroup and take stock. With me making the decision to cut the number of early morning services back to one a month I know that there have been feelings of sadness about it all. With changes to the building needing to become firmed up anxieties can grow about the changes that are going to take place. With people being taken ill and needing hospital care, with anniversaries of loved ones having to be faced, and with the ongoing challenge of doing life and mission in Twerton we have felt stretched and vulnerable. Behind the scenes many of us are facing major decisions, important life choices and difficult personal challenges.

All this has left its mark on us and we have had to hold on. Which we are doing… just…

What is God saying to us in all this? What is he wanting to remind us of?

We know that God knows it all. And that he is utterly interested in it all. There isn’t a moment of our day, a hair on our head that he isn’t concerned with. He loves more than the sparrows – this we know. And we know that he has called us here – not to die in the desert but to find life – life in all its rich fullness. We know that he aches for our community, for the locality and we know that Bath will not be healed until Twerton is healed, Bath will not be free until Twerton is free. We know this. He has not forgotten us. He is ahead of us. He is providing for us. He is fighting for us and he who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it…

And it is with this hope that I want to invite you to join me in praying for the churc, for the community, for each other once again. Of course we already pray for each other but let’s recommit ourselves to this task. Let’s recommit ourselves to interceding and for digging deep into God’s storehouses of grace and seeking God for his blessing on us and our community. My goodness we need it.

Can you pray for Rose Cottage?

I am so excited about the future of Rose Cottage as we make it a St Michael’s Hub – all freshly painted upstairs and down – ready for hospitality and welcome, for prayer and ministry, for serving and listening, for discipleship and worship. Pray for the new kitchen manager being appointed this week – and for the team they will need to draw around them. Pray for the staff team relocating the office to the upstairs which is going to be so great for us – connecting us to everyone and everything. Pray for the other ideas we have – for family days, for youth groups, for the art group, for ‘house groups’ using the centre.

One exciting thing we are doing is to turn one of the rooms upstairs into a prayer space – open for everyone to use – to connect and to reach out – right in the heart of the High Street. Of course you are all welcome to come and use it!

Pray for Mark and he oversees the work and for the new Mission Committee that we are drawing together in October to shape and bless the church in its mission and disciple-making. Pray a blessing over the Rec House and all that happens there.

It’s been a great Summer at the Rec and with Andrew Lawrence appointed for 6 months as a Community Musician it looks like the place with continue to buzz. Pray for the resources to come to expand and extend his work.

And pray for the young people. Luke and the team have built up incredible life-changing relationships with them and it has been so amazing to see the work mature and develop with the creation of the two new chaplaincy posts – Laura and Gwen. Luke’s passion to see these families and young people find life in Christ is so infectious and it really is amazing that the school has contributed to funding part of a post for the next two years. Do pray for the new team as they get their feet under the ground and begin to make connections. Do pray for Luke, Mark, Louise and myself as Governors at St Michael’s Junior school – looking to build on the success of last year’s SAT’s results and deepen the Christian ethos of the place.

Of course it’s also a new term at the infant school too so pray for – George as deputy and for Kate and Nathan as governors and for Ann and the team at First Steps.

Any day now the city will be swelled with thousands of new Students returning to the city or arriving here for the first time. We may not have had many Students join us in the past but with so many of them living locally I am sure that God is going to bring a number to us this year. There is an organisation called Fusion that we are connected to that helps student’s get rooted into local churches. There are over 50 on the list who we are inviting to a come and taste our community and hospitality on the last day of Fresher’s week on Sunday 28th September when we are having a church lunch after the service. Pray for the new students moving into the area and that God will protect and enliven any young Christians as they take their first steps away from home.

In a few weeks’ time the PCC are meeting and this month we will be hearing back from the Architect who we have commissioned to produce some outlying plans to take forward. Considerable time has gone into thinking everything through and together we will need to begin to discern the right steps forward. This will include all of us and will require us to discern from God a vision for his future for the church here. Prayer will be fundamental to this.

For a number of years we have had the idea of being a ‘house of prayer’ and have encouraged one another to convene ‘houses of prayer’ in each other’s homes and at the church each week. If you are free on Tuesday’s at 7-8pm then join us in the church each week to pray and seek God together. If not, consider forming your own ‘house of prayer’ for an hour each week to join with others in circling all these concerns in prayer.

In all these things, especially after the disruption of the summer months, I am particularly mindful of the importance for us to meet together – on Sundays as a larger gathering and midweek in smaller home groups or formation groups. I believe this is vital for us as a church family and I would like to encourage everyone to recommit to these times together. We not only miss out on being blessed ourselves when we are miss out on these but we are unable to be a blessing to others who need us. Part of our purpose for gathering together is to pray for and minister to one another. I long for us to grown in confidence in doing this for each other each week as I know just how much stuff we all carry. Can I encourage you to make the most of any opportunity to receive or to offer prayer when it comes. I am convinced God will act the more we ask.

Lastly – a couple of other more random points…

The first is having a new bell ringer group. Over the last few years Sharon Bradley has been pulling together a group of novice bell ringers who have been ‘learning the ropes’ for ringing at weddings. Recently they offered to ring on Sundays and am delighted that a new group will be ringing every fortnight at 10am to call Twerton to church… Just to say, when you see them in the tower the best way in is through the porch door instead!

And lastly I am grateful that the Diocese have offered me the opportunity of having a three month Sabbatical. Vicars are usually only offered a sabbatical once in their ministry so it is an important time for me. Their purpose is to give a minster the chance to take a step back, to rest, to reflect and to recharge their batteries – spiritual, physical and emotional – ready for the next phase of ministry. It is a good time to take one when there is a Curate in post and I am delighted that Kate has been so encouraging to me about it all as she will be taking up much of the weight of my absence. But, of course, I am by no means indispensable and I am excited not only of the idea of seeing how I will grow through this time away but also how the church will grow without me being around. I am going to be taking mine in November and coming back in February which means that you will be celebrating Christmas without Tory or I. Kate, the church wardens, the PCC and the staff team have all begun preparing for my time away and I value your prayers for me, and Tory, as we take the time to go deeper into the life of Jesus and rest in him for a while.

In all this I am more and more aware that everything we do as a church is a community thing. Christianity is often presented as it’s about God and me – about us individually. It is but it is about far more than that. What really matters is how we live as a community. This is what will be what matters most over the next five years.

Let us recommit to picking up the towel, sharing meals centred on Jesus’ own last supper and loving one another as Christ has loved us.

These three remain. Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


A NEW SEASON

blackberryThe summer is almost over… not quite… but we can feel it ebbing away. Autumn is on its way and the nights are getting colder and conversations are beginning about the heating.

We are used to this rhythm of change each year and yet we still in some ways find it hard. Coming to terms with the fact that nothing stays the same for ever is one of life’s hardest tasks. September (my birth month) always brings new beginnings. Every child and young person moves up a year at school or college and everything from new pencil cases to new uniforms to new friends are acquired. It can be an exciting time of change.

Here in our community, just like nature, we are entering into a new season of life together and while daunting there is much to anticipate. Luke has been able to fund, recruit and appoint a new team to join him in the work of LIFE365 deepening our connection with families through the children and young people of the area. We are excited about the new chaplaincy posts that have been created and pray for Laura and Gwen. Mark has helped us evaluate and plan for the next stage of life at Rose Cottage and we are looking to appoint a new Kitchen Manager from October. Over the last few weeks work has begun on redecorating the upstairs of Rose Cottage in readiness for us to relocate the staff offices there and for the centre to become a stronger hub for us as a church. Connections and relationships through the Rec House are blossoming and Andrew Lawrence (Mark’s brother) has run an amazing project this summer helping young people write, perform and record their own songs.

As we look further forward we know that we need to complete the redevelopment and renewal of the building that we have been gifted. Much has been happening behind the scenes on this regard and we are going to be entering a new season of fundraising and development as we finalise our plans together and take our next steps.

In all these areas of life we can see that we are entering a new season of life as a church. Exciting. Daunting. New. Like the feeling you get at the beginning of a new term.

All new things bring loss with them too. A new child takes away those evenings when it was ‘just the two of us’. A new house means new problems to solve, new decorating to take on and new neighbours in exchange for old. A new job means leaving your old familiar workplace and embracing a new team, a new task, a new community.

It will be the same for us in our changing situation. It is inevitable. We won’t be able to avoid it. Entering a new season will inevitably mean some old things will be left behind. Over many months I have been reflecting and praying about our Sunday services (I’m always doing this actually) and I believe it is the right time to draw us back together to one main service each week and only having one early morning service a month. I know that this is hard, that it is a loss, but am convinced that we need each other more than ever at this time of change.

What matters in all this is us having a shared goal, a shared vision. ‘Being united with one heart and mind’ – just as the early church were. Jesus has always been the glue that holds us together as a church rather than social background or age or class but in these days ahead our unity will be challenged even more as we walk together into a new season. We will have to work hard at being united around him. We will be tempted to give up on each other.

As well as Jesus, it will be a shared sensed of mission and purpose that will hold us together through this time. I am unashamed about reminding us all that the reason we exist as a church community – the reason St Michael’s exists – is to participate in God’s mission to the people who live here. As a church we are caught up in God’s story (HIS-story), not ours, and we have been commissioned by Jesus to make disciples, embodying, proclaiming and demonstrating his message of good news.

Our context is Twerton and our goal is to see more and more men, women and children in Twerton find Life in Christ. This is our mission, our purpose, our reason for existence.

We are mindful that we are an Anglican Church and this gives us a history, a liturgy, and a tradition to start from, it gives us a specific role in the community and offers us numerous opportunities. It also brings with it various obligations, expectations and responsibilities, and it also brings with it a number of challenges.

All this is good. It is who we are. Who God has called us to be.

I believe God is leading us into a new future – linked to the past, but different from it. Our future is to be a church of new Christians, to be a growing church, and a younger church. Our future is to be a church that is rooted in the locality with a mission to the locality. Our future is to be a church of small groups, a church of deep relationships and strong connections. Our future is to be a church that is outward looking, reaching out to 100’s of people every week whether through LIFE365, the REC HOUSE, ROSE COTTAGE or through our own natural relationships with our neighbours.

I believe our future is to be a church that trains and equips people - interns/students/new Christians/future leaders. I believe it is to be a church that expresses itself in vibrant, charismatic and engaged worship with a deep spirituality. Our future is to be a church that models reconciliation and forgiveness, a maturing church that is committed to supporting one another in our discipleship, and which communicates strong and relevant teaching. Our future is to be a diverse church of wounded sinners – open to all but seeking transformation of all. A community of both invitation and challenge.

In all this I believe it is important to know that it is God’s desire for this to happen through us. Not despite us, but through us. God wants to grow his church here in Twerton through us, small and vulnerable though we are. His desire is to grow his family through his family. He wants to use us, the poor in spirit, the weak, the vulnerable, the broken. He wants to grow his family through us, his family here. Brothers and sisters, we are entering a new season together, a new term. Of course we are feeling the mix of emotions that come with any new season – trepidation, excitement, nervousness – all mixed together.

Let us hold firm together, walk together, re-unite ourselves around our shared Master and around our shared vision. Let us recommit ourselves to build, to work, to pray, to give, for this vision to come about. Let us enter this new season with hope and confidence. For God is with us. We may face challenges on every side, but the one who has overcome the world is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. And in him we are more than conquerors.


AUGUST RESTORATION

joufulsquareIt's been a beautiful summer weather-wise so far this year and we are all so grateful. August is a different month. It goes a bit quieter here in Twerton. Holidays are good for us. We need them and the kids need them. We may rest, but God doesn't - his love never fails, never runs out, never runs out on me. He is always working his purposes out for us - working for the good of those who love him. We live in his gift of life. Over the next few weeks a team will be running a family day each Friday at Rose Cottage. Head on down to enjoy the fun. Summer is also a time of weddings and we will be celebrating with a number of couples over the next few weeks. Pray for them. Summer is also a time of reflection - a chance to look back and look ahead. There are lots of changes taking place for us as a church at the moment. Mark is taking responsibility for Rose Cottage and we will be looking to appoint a new Kitchen Manager to run two cafe days very soon. Luke's work as LIFE365 is growing and we are delighted that GWEN and LAURA are joining the team. The Rec House creative arts centre is blossoming too and ANDREW is joining the team to bring an added dimension to the project running a pilot for the next six months. Mark and Luke have worked behind the scenes to fund-raise for these new posts and we are so grateful to God for the provision of resources. The ideas for the building developments continue to take shape and the Architects, PCC and planners are meeting with the next few months and this is a key time in the planning process.

On Sundays, over August, we will be turning our attention to JESUS and retracing his steps through John's gospel. Each encounter is beautiful and powerful and I am excited about how Jesus' life will impact us today. Come ready to worship, open up your hearts, receive from him and give to him your best.

One other thing - Richard has been offered a three month Sabbatical by the diocese between November and February after 13 years of ministry and Kate will be leading us through many of these new times and changes. There is much happening and much to give thanks for. Pray for each other. Serve each other. Bless one-another. And above all love one-another.


WELCOME BISHOP PETER

Bishop Peter HancockIt is great news that our new Bishop Peter Hancock is beginning his new role on Saturday 7th June. Married to Jane we will be welcoming him to the deanery later in the month and we are excited about what they will bring to us as a Church in Bath and Wells. We pray for them both as they settle in to their work and new home.


SEVEN SACRED SPACES

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New years bring new hopes and new opportunities. Last year was a significant one for our church but the year ahead promises to be even more so. Facing our biggest challenge of our lifetime we are going to be working together to rebuild, reorder, renew and refresh our church buildings so that they can help us be the people God has called us to be - a sign, a foretaste and an agent of the kingdom of God - a sign of hope in the heart of Twerton.  Our best days are ahead of us and together we are going to have to recommit ourselves to one another as we seek to give ourselves away for the sake of our community.

To help us think through it all, to help us reflect on our discipleship, our community life, our worship and our mission, we will be starting a new series on Sunday mornings called SEVEN SACRED SPACES. Christians down the years have discovered that their communal life together is deepened by living in richly committed lives - dedicated to God and to each other - and the spaces that they built to help them to do this reflect these deep ambitions.  Looking back it is possible to discern SEVEN types of building or space that they created - the chapel, the cloister, the cell, the chapter, the garden, the refectory and the library. Each one has something to tell us about how to structure a powerful community life that is missional in outlook. Through this series we will be looking at each one in turn and asking God to learn from the past and to reinterpret this wisdom for our own age and our own locality.

I am excited about what we will learn together and where this will be leading us as a community centred around Jesus , his life, death and resurrection.

To help us journey together there will also be the opportunity to be get together with others in a small group to discuss it all further and apply the ideas to our lives and I will be producing material to help shape these discussions.

Happy NEW year!


CAROLS AND WORSHIP

carols2013Christmas draws out of us so many different emotions and it can be hard to handle them as they wash over us or take us by surprise. And it connects us to our deepest longings - longings for family, for belonging, for being recognised, longings for peace, for reconciliation for relationship, longings for a future, for a hope, for a destiny. All these desires are known by God, most perfectly presented to us in Jesus from Nazareth, and each of them in some way find their fulfilment in him. The carol "O little town of Bethlehem" put it like this, "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

Each year we gather to light candles, sing songs and sip mulled wine, each warming the heart and reminding us that God has not forgotten us but loves us completely. I'm really looking forward to this Sunday evening when we will be holding our Carol Service by Candlelight. Come and join in if you can. Everyone is welcome!

Carols by Candlight - 7pm - St Michael's Church.


CHRISTINGLE

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We'd love to welcome you to this year's Christingle service on the 1st December and 4pm in the church.
Suitable for all ages. Refreshments will be available for donations in aid of The Children's Society.

We hope to see you there!


LONGINGS, HOPES AND DREAMS

LONGINGS-HOPES-DREAMSHi everyone. Here is another epistle just bringing you up to date with a few things and sharing some items for prayer.

SABITI

Our brother Sabiti is moving back home having completed his Masters at Bath University. His family live in a refugee camp and his father is very ill needing treatment. I would love to give him a gift from us all to help him and his family and to bless him on his return home. He is staying with Chris this week before flying off next week. We will pray for him this Sunday and hear more before he leaves.

HELPING OUT on Sundays

We really need help on Sundays in a few areas and I wonder if you could think about whether you could help:
• CRECHE – helping occupy the youngest children during the talk to help parents
• HOSPITALITY – welcoming people and making sure everyone is looked after
• RECORDING THE TALKS – help needed each week to record the talks
• PROJECTOR – making sure the songs come up on the screen

None of these things are massive in themselves but they help enormously! Please, please think about offering.

MONEY - RESOURCING THE MISSION

In the last email I wrote, “Everything we do costs something, even if it’s only time. At the beginning of this term can I ask you to reconsider your GIVING to the church’s mission. We have a calling from God to serve, to connect and to bless the families of Twerton – people of all ages - and we need finances to fulfil this task. If you are already make a monthly gift to the church please consider increasing your donation. If you don’t make regular gifts, how about firming that up an making that a regular commitment. If you have never given much before consider giving a proportion of your income to support the mission. A helpful and biblical guideline for giving is the ‘tithe’ – a 10% contribution. Ask God about it all and he will direct you as to what would be a good way to respond to the needs of the church.”

I don’t want you to miss this! Alan told the PCC this week that we are down about £400 per month this year. On average it costs £10 per person per week to do the things we are currently doing and we know we want to do more! Giving is an act of worship.

GOD’s BUILDING – PCC UPDATE

Having heard back from our Architect about the state of the structure of the building, we have arrived at a critical moment in our journey together. We can no longer just patch an aging structure and need to find significant resources to update and upgrade the structure, inside and out. The size of this task is so massive that it is forcing us to ask big questions about the purpose and use of the building and to seek God about his vision for its future. We have been offered help from the Diocese to undertake a fundamental review of the building and will need to develop a comprehensive plan and vision together for the way forward.

I can’t overstate how significant this is for us all. However, despite the size of the task and issues, I am very hopeful that God will use this ‘crisis’ for his glory and to see many more people enter his kingdom. This is not the end of St Michael’s but a new beginning!

However, we all need to be involved and we all need to PRAY! This is a massive task for us and we need to be united in prayer and in vision if we are to get through it!

I will say more about it all NEXT SUNDAY – ST MICHAEL’s DAY – 29th SEPTEMBER

CHURCH WEEKEND – CONFIRM YOU ARE COMING NOW

As in previous years we have booked ASCENSION church for a weekend of teaching, worship and ministry. A team of us are working hard to make sure that it will be the best one yet. We are delighted that TIM BUCKLEY will be speaking on the theme of going DEEPER with God and that there will be a full Children’s programme to help them deepen their own relationship with God too alongside the adult programme. The date to block out in your diary is OCTOBER 12th and 13th. A full programme will be coming shortly but book out the whole weekend as we want to be able to relax and enjoy time together in the evening as well as during the daytime.

ROSE COTTAGE / REC HOUSE / LIFE365

The visions are taking root and they are growing! It’s a new term for our key projects too and so do pray for Barrie, Ruth, Mark and Luke as they continue to develop the work and make connections with people. Pray too for the funding of these projects, giving thanks for what has already been gifted to us. So much has been achieved so far, but there is so much to continue to do.

WELCOMING STUDENTS

Although the number of students living in Twerton is on the rise we have yet to see many take root in our church family... Perhaps this year things may change. Do look out for new Students as the arrive and welcome them into our home. It’s so key that they get included into a church family quickly before they drift with everything else that goes on for them in the first few weeks of term…

HOPE AND A FUTURE

I am full of hope looking forward. God is moving among us and through us. Let us recommit ourselves to him as we begin this new term together. To him be glory forever.


PAUSE / STOP / PLAY

pausestopplaysquareThe Easter holiday is almost upon us and I'm sure that everyone is looking forward to the break. At the centre of it all lies this incredible story about a man's last few hours and the days following his death. It's the pivot point of history, the tipping point of creation, and together as a church family we work hard to let the story have its way on us. We make time for this by gathering on three occasions over three days. Thursday night (PAUSE), Friday afternoon (STOP), and Sunday morning (PLAY). Join us as we walk through it all with the aim of letting it shape our lives, resource us with hope, and equip us for mission.