The St Mary's blog is a mixture of news pieces and topical articles. Each month a number of these are collated into a printed magazine, Touchline. Blog items over three months old are moved to an archive, which is available when logged in. Views expressed here are those held by the individuals posting, and not necessarily representative of St Mary's Church.

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I don't understand art (James Ainscough)

I don't understand art and I would never normally choose to spend time in an art gallery. But the "Heart Of Things" exhibition has been eye-opening. Why? Because you can meet the artist (Paul Hobbs) and talk to him about his work. The pictures open up to reveal their treasure. The themes and issues take on new depths. And art becomes personal rather than inaccessible. Whether you're young or old this is a unique opportunity to explore art, to learn, to think, to be stimulated. Don't miss out!

The exhibition in the newly refurbished church is open 10am-6pm and 7:30pm-9:30pm from Wednesday 31st January to Saturday 3rd February.

Scarlet knickers and gold fish (The Heart of Things)

What does a pair of scarlet knickers placed in a wine glass next to two gold fish on a table with a map and a page from the Financial Times mean? Why is it in St Mary's Church, Maidenhead this week?

Come and see the exhibition of paintings, sculptures and installations by Paul Hobbs that is on display at St Mary's, Maidenhead this week. There is the opportunity to talk to the artist, discuss the artworks with refreshments available in the evening. 

The exhibition in the newly refurbished church is open 10am-6pm and 7:30pm-9:30pm from Wednesday 31st January to Saturday 3rd February.

What does 2018 hold for us as a church? (Will Stileman)

God ultimately is the only one who knows and that is our great confidence. Jesus is head of his church and that includes us at St Mary's - our life and prospering is ultimately in his hands.

But given that, what are some of our aspirations for the coming year? Let me suggest five:

1. The continuing faithful proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ in everything we do. We want to do this year what we seek to do every year - that is to remain faithful to Jesus and to keep faithfully preaching and teaching the testimony to him that we find in Scripture. All the ministry we do at St Mary's needs to have Jesus Christ and the Bible at its heart. Where we hold our Sunday meetings (whether it is at Oldfield School or back on the St Mary's site) makes not a blind bit of difference to that.

2. Sam Brewster's move to Henley to establish a new congregation there, and Dave Atallah's move into the White Waltham vicarage to take on responsibility for that parish while still continuing to lead the 4pm congregation at St Mary's. As I hope most of us are aware these have been our aspirations for a long time, and we are continuing to trust that they are part of God's will. There is clearly a need for a new families-orientated congregation in Henley (check out the Trinity at Four web site); while David Andrew, the current minister at St Mary's White Waltham wants to move on, and both he and our local bishop think Dave Atallah is the man to lead that church in its ongoing mission. However, neither have been plain sailing. For instance, we have heard in the last two weeks that the school which Sam had hoped the Henley congregation could meet in is no longer available. These set-backs are a reminder that we are involved in a spiritual battle and we must remain vigilant in prayer.

3. Building up the centre. In recent years we have been involved in many significant, new initiatives: the establishment of the Windsor Fellowship Church; the forging of the partnership with St Mary's White Waltham; preparing the ground for the new enterprise in Henley; and of course the complete refurbishment of our church building. We praise God, for his leading and empowering in all these initiatives. However, they have taken their toll (and in some cases still are) on our resources of energy, time, money and people. I think that as a staff team we need to particularly focus this year on building up Christ's body at St Mary's and working out how best to use our town centre site and newly refurbished building to reach out afresh with the gospel to Maidenhead. I mentioned at the end of last year how John Furley's two year sabbatical from his job as a Civil Servant with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) was coming to an end this year. Well because of Brexit, the FSA have requested that John come back sooner and so John will be finishing as our Operations Manager on 23rd February. However, I am pleased to announce that John Blackbeard and Dick West are both joining the staff team part time to fill that post; in fact the hand over process is already happening. More on how all that will work in next month's issue of Touchline. But I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to John Furley for the huge support he has been to me over the last 22 months in that role.

4. Paying off the debt. Although we are back in, the refurbished church building is not completely finished. The organ still needs to be installed and, with our builders applying for liquidation before Christmas, there is a plethora of snagging issues that must be sorted. However, I hope that you are as pleased with the results as I am. It was always our plan, once the building was completed and we knew the final costs that we would hold a final Gift Day to try and clear the outstanding debt. We plan to hold that Gift Day on 18th March and the outstanding amount we need to raise is around £350,000. Please be in prayer about this. More details will be announced once we have had The Heart of Things mission week.

5. Being godly in the face of a growing crisis. If the present trajectory is maintained, within the next two years the Church of England will make some sort of official provision to bless same-sex unions. At St Mary's we welcome all, whatever our sexuality and personal issues, and we call on one another to receive God's grace and submit to Christ's lordship. However, if same sex unions are blessed a red line will have been crossed; for then the Church of England will be blessing something that the gospel explicitly condemns. In the face of such godlessness we will have to make an appropriate stand. However, we are not the only local church concerned about such matters and on 6th March the St Mary's Church Council is meeting up with the church councils of three other parishes in the Oxford Diocese to consider what our response should be if / when this happens. It grieves me that we find ourselves, as a denomination, in this position. I don't want us as a church to be distracted by this (that is why it is mentioned last), but when God's truth is being undermined, faithful disciples can't watch on and do nothing.

So, five aspirations for 2018. Please make them a matter of heartfelt prayer.

Will Stileman

Maidenhead Advertiser article

News of our completed renovation project has reached the local newspaper - check out the article for yourself on their web site.

Return to the church site (John Furley)

The chairs are in. Arrive early on Sunday and choose your seat!

The chairs were laid out in church on Thursday ready for the first services back in St Mary’s church after the refurbishment. The photo blog has photos of the church with the chairs. Come and worship back on site, praising God for what he has provided.

What about summer camps? (Simon Eves)

Whenever I speak to someone about Summer Camps, I normally get some of the following questions and comments. They're good questions, so I thought I'd pop some short answers down below.

Since booking for many camps opens in January, and I know people are planning next summer's holidays, I wanted to get you the dates for the camps we support.

What are Summer Camps?

Camps, first and foremost, are brilliant holidays for young people. They are incredible fun, featuring a whole bunch of awesome activities and some serious, engaging and challenging Bible teaching.

They are about a week long and most take place in boarding schools (not under canvas!).

Who are they for?

Primarily they are for 11-18 year olds. Most, but not all, will have some connection with a church - either through coming on Sunday or going to a youth group. There is always a huge mix of people of different backgrounds; some have a faith, others don't. Virtually everyone I've ever seen on a camp has a brilliant time.

Aren't they quite expensive?

Yes and no - at around £35 per day for everything (big activities, food, accommodation, on site facilities etc.) they are, I think, good value.

That said, a total approaching £300 for an eight or nine day camp is obviously not a trivial amount. We never want money to be a reason not to go. If you need help, please ask your congregation leader or Simon Eves.

Isn't going to Church and their groups enough?

Obviously, as the Youth Minister, I hope that the regular year-round work at St Mary's provides plenty of room for young people to grow and flourish in their faith.

That said, again and again I see people make huge strides in their faith during camp. Simply the amount of teaching they receive in a week and the space to think about it for themselves offers something helpful and different to the regular stuff at church.

'But none of their friends are going'

As I began by saying, they are brilliant holidays. Why not encourage your child to invite a friend along? The camps know there are always non-Christians present and many come back year after year. The Bible teaching is never cringeworthy or embarrassing. And who knows how God might use that invitation?

Equally, these camps are fantastic opportunities to make great friendships - there is nothing like bonding over shared experiences and laughing together, to create those friendships that will often then continue during the rest of the year back at home.

'I don't have children that age'

Firstly, they are truly excellent holidays. I know plenty of leaders who invite nieces/nephews/godchildren/grandchildren along and they have a great time. Why not think if you could do that?

Also, why not think about serving on a camp? There are all sorts of roles for all sorts of people - last year we had over 30 adults from St Mary's serving in a variety of capacities on camps. You can often take younger kids with you. Talk to Simon if you want to know more.

We plug the following four camps each year; we know they are camps where God's word is taught faithfully, we have a connection with them now as a church, and have leaders involved at each of them. There are, of course, many other brilliant camps across the country.

Summer Camps Dates for 2018

Barnstaple 2

28 July - 4 August

Ages: 11-14

This has been a great camp for a number of our young people at St Mary's over a number of years now.

Penrhos (formerly Edgehill)

5 August - 11 August

Ages: 11-14

This camp has changed name, date and location yet has largely the same leadership team as it did when it was Edgehill. A great camp and always very popular with our young people at St Mary's.

Quantock 1

28 July - 5 August

Ages: 14-18 

A popular camp which often sells out. By all accounts this camp is, as with the others, great fun with really great teaching.

Sparkford 3

14 August - 22 August

Ages: 14-18

A fantastic camp with an incredible quality of teachers/speakers. Amazing fun and always has a great crowd from St Mary's.

Meet the Nativity Final Episode (Glen Scrivener)

Episode 4 of Glen Scrivener's "Meet the Nativity" series is now released:


Meet the Nativity episode 3 (Glen Scrivener)

Episode 3 of Glen Scrivener's "Meet the Nativity" series is now released: