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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Sam and Lucy Brewster plan to lead new Henley gospel work
I’d like to fill the church family in on some exciting future plans for me and Lucy, for which we would value your prayers and support.
I arrived at St Mary’s as a curate in September 2013. The purpose of a curacy is to be trained in gospel ministry, and over the past 4 years, the training I have received here has been brilliant. I’m so grateful to God for bringing us here, and for the ways he has grown me as a minister, and us as a family.
Since the purpose of a curacy is training, curacies are deliberately set at a limited time, with the goal that a curate should eventually leave to lead a ministry of his own. Through St Mary’s generous financial contribution, this has been a year longer than usual, 5 years in total. Those 5 years end in June 2018. Inevitably, we have been thinking through what we should do next.
Over the past year or so, an exciting opportunity has begun to emerge to pioneer and lead a new congregation in Henley. Duncan Carter, the minister of Holy Trinity Henley, has been doing a faithful gospel work in Henley for a long time, but the work is small, and in recent years has struggled to connect with families in particular. The fact that we’ve had a 5 or 6 families travelling from the Henley area to us at St Mary’s has further highlighted the need to revitalise and establish the gospel witness in Henley, particularly among families. Recognising this need himself, Duncan has offered his full support and partnership. This partnership has opened a door for me and Lucy to pioneer and lead a new Anglican evangelical congregation in the heart of Henley, with a particular vision to reach the town and its many families with the gospel.
Lucy and I both feel very excited by this opportunity! Being at the young family stage of life ourselves, we feel excited to be able to work for the Lord together in this particular harvest field, especially given the need that there is. Christian families may be willing to travel to church, but the many non-Christian families in Henley certainly are not. Equally, we both also feel very daunted! It feels like a big step into the unknown for us as a family to head towards a ministry and a job that does not yet exist!
Over the next 11 months, I will continue fully to engage with my various responsibilities at St Mary’s, which I love, and feel every bit as passionate about now as I ever have. At the same time, I will be working hard on all the planning and preparation that is required to launch a new church. Three initial needs are
- Partnership. It's wonderful to be able to partner with an existing ministry. We will need to work out what that will look like practically.
- People. We need to establish a core group of people who are excited about and willing to commit themselves to this new ministry.
- Pennies. Financially, this new congregation will be independent from both St Mary's and from Holy Trinity. We therefore need to secure the funding required ourselves through fundraising. We think it would be wise to secure funding for three years and seek to become financially self-sustaining in that time.
We would value your support and prayers hugely. If you would be interested in getting involved, or know others who might be, please get in touch!
Having committed prayer-support is our most urgent need, and we will soon be sending out regular prayer updates. If you would like to receive these and pray for us, please .
Post-Truth (Will Stileman)
Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ as its 2016 international word of the year. Post-truth is an adjective defined as “relating to, or denoting circumstances, in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
Over the last month, Will Stileman has been preaching a series of three talks entitled ‘Post-truth’ examining biblical truth in a post-truth world.
The talks examine relationships - are men and women different? Identity and intimacy? Does God prevent certain types of people expressing their identity and enjoying intimacy, or rather does God’s truth free us from damaging traps and definitions to experience a better identity and intimacy?
If you were not able to hear these talks or missed one of them, or would like to listen again, click the links below; because:
- it is important to be confident that there is absolute truth, to know and stand in God’s word and supremely in the person of Jesus who is the truth.
- it is important to be convinced that God’s true story is a good story, a story of love. God’s truth is not immoral or evil, but loving and full of hope to believe in and speak of.
- it is important to be able to think about the issues surrounding us now, and have confidence in God’s truth, God’s love for all people, and that the biblical story we will want to tell is a good story which does people good.
How will you speak the truth in love the next time a tricky issue comes up? How will you be confident to do that? What motivates you?
Do listen to the talks:
New Project Connect time-lapse (Rob Wingfield)
We now have a new time-lapse available of the Project Connect build up to the beginning of June 2017. You can watch it via YouTube below, and it's also been added to the Project Connect blog where you can also find photos of the build as it progresses.
Changes to the St Mary's Garden access (John Furley)
This week work has progressed on both the church refurbishment and the new entrance into the church garden. This week and next sees the construction of a new path along the boundary to the corner of the church garden and the blue gate entrance will be bricked up.
The new entrance will be in the corner of the garden, directly accessible from the lift and stair well of Hines Meadow car park. The path being built will be lit with new lights along the wall and wide enough for two prams side by side.
To construct the path, two conifer trees have had to be removed and some of the shrubbery, however the wood chippings created have been used on the existing paths in the garden. The conker trees have remained, but with one bough removed!
This is part of the works that have to be completed before the ground and first floor car parking area of Hines meadow, the part over the wall from the St Mary's garden, is demolished.