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 the archive pages, which are available when logged in. Views expressed here are those held by the individuals posting, and not necessarily representative of St Mary's Church.

Please log in to display a button below to enable notifications when a new blog entry is published.

Local Mission (Ian Miller)

If you visit the Triberg waterfalls in the Black Forest in Germany you will see water cascading down a rugged hillside from pool to pool. The waterfall is a helpful image to have in mind when we think of the relationship between what we have received from Christ and the way we live it out and share it. We are like a pool in a waterfall and the water flowing into our pool from above is like the gospel – what God has done for us in Jesus. As we receive and delight in God’s grace so our pool will overflow and feed other pools beyond us as we tell people of his grace and love them with the same kindness and generosity which God has shown us.

In our current sermon series, we have been thinking about sharing God’s grace with others, and at our St Mary’s Evening earlier this month we started by praying for that series. Our hope is that our church family will be inspired by the grace of God and encouraged to see how each of us can share his grace with others. We want people to come away thinking “I think I can do that,” rather than “I feel more guilty.”

St Mary’s has a strong tradition of supporting those who take the gospel to others. We currently support 17 individuals and organisations, working in the UK and throughout the world. Our focus at our most recent St Mary’s Evening was local mission: what can we do in our home area to share the gospel.

The population of Maidenhead is around 70,000. Just over half of that figure identified as Christian at the last census. How many of that number are active in their faith?

Please join me in praying:

  • That we would get to know people in our community
  • That we would have opportunities to show them the same kindness and generosity which God has shown us and would reach them with the gospel
  • For the 17,000 people in Maidenhead aged between 0 and 19. Very few of these attend church – pray for toddler groups, children’s and youth groups at St Mary’s, outreach at schools and the work of Wayne Dixon
  • For the more than 10% of those who recorded their religion as non-Christian in Maidenhead at the last census and for our outreach to them – especially for the work of St Mary’s mission partners in this area
  • For Hong Kong outreach as many have moved from Hong Kong to Maidenhead in the past 18 months. Pray for good conversations after the recent ‘Welcome to Hong Kongers’ evening at St Mary’s
  • The new Christianity Explored course that started on 24th January: pray that many people would be invited, many would attend and many would come to know Jesus

Why should we sing Christian hymns and songs? (James Ainscough)

I was interviewed briefly at the 9:15am service in December about singing – this is roughly what I said…

Music is a personal joy for me, a love stoked by parents who made big financial sacrifices to pay for music lessons and instruments when I was young. But as a Christian, we should all be passionate about music – specifically singing. There are many reasons for this, but the two that stand out for me are:

1) We’re told to sing.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 4:6

Note the two dimensions to singing here – we sing to God and we sing to each other.

And note how this is part of how the word of Christ dwells richly in us – it’s part of word ministry, not something inconsequential that fills in the gaps of our church services.

2) We are made in the image of a singing God.

Jesus sings – with joy at Passover and in sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane. And God the Father sings too!

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

In this passage ‘rejoice’ can be translated literally as ‘spinning and dancing’! What a glorious picture of our Father in heaven.

Why is singing so special?

There are lots of reasons why singing is special when we meet together on Sunday, and in our families or on our own throughout the week. Here are just three:

  • Clarity: well-written songs can make difficult things simple. For example, the hymn Amazing Grace was written to enable those who couldn’t read to grasp and understand the gospel. Only two words in the entire hymn have more than 2 syllables (and one of those is ‘amazing’!), yet the profound theology and the richness of the imagery and poetry means the song speaks deeply to generation after generation of believers.

    Amazing grace
    How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me
    I once was lost, but now I'm found
    Was blind, but now I see.
  • Emotion: singing helps connect the head and heart, joining up what we know with how we feel about it. Consider a hymn like I Cannot Tell. It states things we all know to be true, but in a way which engages us at a deeply emotional level.

    But this I know, he heals the broken-hearted
    And stays our sin and calms our lurking fear,
    And lifts the burden from the heavy-laden;
    for still the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here.
  • Memory: singing buries treasure deep. Lyrics are stored in a different part of the brain from information or facts. Dr Oliver Sacks wrote, “Music imprints itself in the brain deeper than any other human experience... so deep, in fact, that even when people suffer devastating neurological disease or injury, music is usually the last thing they lose.” This is why those suffering from dementia can still sing songs from their childhood and why music can trigger recall in those who have lost their memories.

    Keith & Kristyn Getty, who write many of the hymns we sing at St Mary’s, refer to them as ‘songs to carry for life’ because songs embedded deep in the mind will speak to you when words fail. Some of Jesus’ final words, whilst in anguish on the cross, were from Psalm 22 – a song written by King David, arguably the world’s greatest-ever singer-songwriter!

So if we sing well-written, biblically-faithful songs, those songs will speak scriptural truths to our hearts and minds when nothing else can reach us. We already have more of God’s word (either direct or paraphrased) buried deep in our memories than we think we do. For example:

  • Philippians 2:10-11 At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him King of glory now.
  • Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
  • Psalm 46:1 God is our strength and refuge, our present help in trouble.

How should this affect our daily lives?

Fill your lives with good Christian songs – bury that treasure deep. Here are some ways you might do that:

  • Listen and/or sing along to Christian music regularly in your daily routine – as you have breakfast, when you travel to work etc. Sing as part of your quiet time (some Bible study guides even have Spotify playlists that accompany, including the advent readings we did together as a church last month).
  • Teach great songs to your children – play them on car journeys, have a family hymn/song of the month, tune into the Getty family hymn sings on Facebook.
  • Care about what you sing – sing the theologically deep, artistically rich words that you want to rely on when nothing else is left. The lyrics of what we sing really matter - don’t build foundations of sawdust.
  • Remember you come to church not to sing for yourself, but for others and to God. So stand and sing selflessly – sing loud even if you don’t like the song and even if you can’t sing in tune, do the actions to encourage the children to join in, look around and smile to others – you are ministering God’s word to them – what a privilege!

And let’s use music to draw others in. Those who aren’t believers love to sing just as much as we do – you only have to look at the football terraces or the Last Night of the Proms to see that! So the singing at church might actually be the hook to draw friends and family in. And when they come they’ll be singing words that speak truth and life.

Come, people of the risen King,
who delight to bring him praise;
come all, and tune your hearts to sing
to the morning star of grace…

Over all the world his people sing,
shore to shore we hear them call
the truth that cries through every age:
"Our God is all in all".

Keith and Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend Copyright © 2007 Thankyou Music

Looking Back / Looking Ahead - Tom Brewster

It’s been a strange two years. Ruthie and I arrived in Maidenhead in the middle of January 2020. We had six Sundays at St Mary’s before the country went into lockdown and everything was thrown up in the air! But God’s faithfulness has been unerring, and his kindness unfaltering through the ups and downs of Covid-life. Here are three things we’re grateful to God for:

  1. Give thanks for the safe arrival of Benjamin – our lockdown boy! He arrived by God’s grace in August 2020 and has been a source of great joy and sleep deprivation in our household. We have known God’s provision and care as we’ve seen him grow.
  2. Give thanks for a servant-hearted music team. It’s been such a joy to serve alongside faithful followers of Christ – who have patiently put up with various regulations over the last two years.
  3. Give thanks for a supportive staff-team. We’re so grateful for the support we’ve had over the last two years, particularly from the staff-team at St Mary’s. They are a wise, godly and compassionate bunch.

Tom will be moving to work with Emu Music, which exists to equip and encourage the church in biblical, beautiful and transformative singing. He’ll be part of the team that runs training events, writes songs and plays at events in the UK. This will be a part-time role whilst he completes his masters with Crosslands. Ruthie will continue her work as a doctor, primarily based in Derby. So, here are three things we’d value your prayers for as we move back to the Midlands:

  1. Please pray for us as we work out a sustainable pattern of family life. Our prayer is that working a little less will mean we have more time to invest in our marriage and our children.
  2. Please pray for Tom as he begins work with Emu Music. If you’d like to keep in touch with the work he’s doing, please fill out this form. There are lots of exciting opportunities to equip church musicians to lead church music well – pray that he’d make the most of them.
  3. Please pray that we’d be servant-hearted in our new church family. There are lots of ways in which we could serve – please pray for the discernment to know where the Lord Jesus would have us serve him in Derby.

2022 Memory Verse (Jon Drake)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).

Postcards with the St Mary’s verse for 2022 are available for us to collect from the church welcome area. Do take one to put on the fridge and perhaps one for the office. We have hundreds of them, so please feel free also to take a bunch to use to write encouraging notes to one another.

We have chosen this verse because it speaks of the living and vital relationship between Jesus and his people. If we trust in Jesus then we are intimately united to him as a branch is united to the vine of which it is a part. The life of Jesus flows into us and is at work in us. What an immense privilege that is. Jesus promises that if we remain in him we will bear much fruit. Remaining in Jesus means maintaining a living connection with him. Older translations speak of abiding in Jesus. In the wider passage Jesus tells us that this involves depending on him in prayer, hearing and obeying his word, trusting his saving death and loving his people. As we do this Jesus promises that he will remain in us and that the fruit of Christlikeness will grow in us for God’s glory. Jesus also warns us that apart from him we can do nothing. In our own strength and without depending on him we can’t achieve anything of lasting spiritual value.

This year let’s delight in the union with have with Jesus as branches joined to the vine. Let’s heed his warning not to try to do things independently of him. And let’s commit to maintaining a living connection with him. I pray that these beautiful postcards in our homes and whizzing through the post as we write to each other will remind us of our living connection with him.

Click on the verse of the year image to download the image and be able to use it as a screensaver or background on your phone or device.

Christmas Unwrapped 2021 (Nick McDonald)

After a year online, we were so grateful to God that Christmas Unwrapped was able to happen…in person!

Christmas Unwrapped is a 2-hour presentation for Year 6 children where they are presented with the true story of Christmas and are invited to ‘check it out’ for themselves, just as the shepherds did all those years ago.

Over 450 children from different primary schools came along to St Mary’s over the course of three days. They were greeted with a drink and a biscuit before the show started. There was fun and games, such as decorating a mince pie (kindly provided by our amazing volunteers), sorting Christmas cards, a Strictly Come Dancing vote, and a Christmas Quiz run by our very own ‘Nutty Professor’ (Luke Douglas, one of our Ministry Trainees). This quiz challenged the children’s preconceptions of what is and isn’t included in the true Christmas story, and they were then given the chance to read the eyewitness accounts for themselves. It was a delight to see children getting stuck into God’s word and being shocked at how exciting the story of Jesus coming down to Earth really is.

The presentation ended with a questions and answers session with the Nutty Professor, where the children asked some really interesting and thought-provoking questions such as:
  • If God’s people do wrong, why is he so kind to them by sending Jesus as a gift?
  • How far did Mary and Joseph have to travel and how long did it take them to get there?
  • How did God make sure that they had everything that they needed ready for Jesus to be born?
  • Why did the Wise Men travel so far just to see a baby?
  • What was Jesus sent to the Earth to do?
  • Why do we sing Christmas carols?

That last question was answered by our very own MC Christmas (Patch Crossley, another of our Ministry Trainees), who performed a Christmas Rap as the children danced, which summarised the true Christmas story and challenged to children to “check it out, see what it’s worth, what you gonna do about the miracle birth?”

We are so thankful to God that so many children were able to discover the meaning behind the Christmas story this year. We are also so thankful for our amazing volunteers who devoted their time to serving the schools’ ministry at St Mary’s in this way.

Summer Camps 2022 (Melinda Stylo)

Amazingly, it is time to start thinking about Summer Camps already. After the varied versions of summer camps in 2021, we are hoping and praying that things will be more normal this summer. For those of you who may be new to summer camps - they are residential camps that last for about a week and involve all sorts of activities and plenty of time looking into God’s word. Each summer we have groups of young people going off to various camps where they have great of fun, make new friends and enjoy a time of spiritual growth. Please encourage any young people you know to get booked onto a camp.

There are a number of camps that we have directed our young people to go along to in the past and the websites below will give you good information about some of them. Ventures seem to have opened their bookings early this year and Sparkford 3 is already fully booked. Please have a look at Quantock 1 as a great alternative. We always have a group going to Quantock 1 and they love it – let me know if you’re interested and I can tell you who else is going along. Brymore 2 and Barnstaple 2 are open for bookings already too. There are also good camps run by Christians in Sport (bookings opening on 24th January) and Contagious (bookings opening on 25th January).

We have supported each of these camps over many years as a church, and back each of them both in terms of their Bible teaching and leadership, but also because they are fantastically good fun and safe holidays for our young people. They do each require leaders though and so if you would be interested in helping out at any of these camps, as part of Task Force or as a leader, please let me know. I helped out last year for the first time and absolutely loved it so feel free to get hold of me on if you’d like to find out more.


Introducing... Richard Crane

I wanted to thank you for your prayers and support as I officially begin my role at St Mary’s as the 6:30pm Congregation Leader. If my photo looks familiar, it’s probably because I’ve been part of the church family since 2004! I’m married to Gracy, and we have two fantastic children - Lizzie who recently headed off to university, and Thomas who’s in secondary school.

Since becoming a Christian as a student, I’ve worked first as a research biologist, and then in an office job in the biotech industry. It’s been a privilege to live and work in the ‘real world.’ But over the years, as the Lord deepened my knowledge of him and the gospel, I felt increasingly called towards church-based ministry, and especially Bible teaching. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to try it out on a part-time basis from 2018, and I’ve met many of you through the worker’s lunches, Christian Foundations, and most recently, Christianity Explored. This year I’m finishing up my training on the Cornhill course in London, two days a week. And I’m also on the path towards ordination training in the Church of England, with the selection process happening during 2022. Please be praying for wisdom in that.

Starting a completely new role after over 20 years in one line of work is quite an adjustment, both for me and for my family. But we’re encouraged by the faithfulness of the Lord, and by the servant-heartedness of so many at St Mary’s. It’s a privilege to serve alongside you, as we seek to know Jesus and make him known. If I haven’t met you yet, please do catch me on a Sunday evening, and I hope we’ll get to know each other soon!

Wreath Making (Liz Tolcher)

With thanks to my expert navigation of the church website, I managed to book tickets for me and some good friends for this year’s Wreath Making evening inside our lovely church which was all kitted out to help us begin our celebration of the Christmas season. The perfect start of advent awaited…

With plenty of mulled wine (or posh non-alcoholic options), mince pies and chocolates on tap, we settled into a fun evening ahead. Despite my complete lack of craft skills, I felt excited to be out of my house in the middle of week in a room with no children, and given I’d kept expectations low at home about the outputs of the evening ahead (I have a 4 and 7yr old!), I figured if it all went wrong, I didn’t have to bring my creation home, safe in the knowledge that I’d just had a good evening out with friends.

The evening started with some very simple (much to my relief!) instructions on how to make our wreaths from the lovely Debra Jonckers; who knew that you could get wreath making kits all in a box! My arts and crafts anxiety started to reduce and I quickly realised it was all about the glue application and how many decorations I could feasibly fit on top. Brilliantly I can confirm that we had 6 very well completed wreaths on my table which we were all happy to take home afterwards!

We also had some fabulous singing from Sarah Ainscough accompanied by James with ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ and then ‘O Holy Night’ and then Rachel Meynell spoke briefly to remind us about how Christmas brings us hope despite all the uncertainty and problems around us. Completely unbeknown to me, she showed some (very relatable in my case!) pictures of Christmas craft/cooking fails that hadn’t quite lived up to expectations as a way of showing that sometimes the anticipation doesn’t always match up with the reality. For me in that moment, this really resonated - I had started to get pretty anxious about Christmas prep in about mid-November and have had to set myself daily tasks to feel like I’ll get everything done in time and as a result I’d forgotten what we are celebrating and why I still need to remember what Christmas is really about.

Rachel reminded us that in Luke 2 the angels said, ‘I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people’. I think I’d lost sight of that in favour of my daily Christmas Post-It notes around the house, too busy trying to get everything perfect to realise that we all need a Saviour, and we all have the opportunity to experience the real joy that the angels described. Even though my wreath isn’t bad, and I will be using it as a table centre piece, the reality is I don’t get it right all the time and let’s face it, the last couple of years have been tough for everyone. The thing is though, despite the sadness and pain we see around us, we still can experience real joy. God sent his Son into our crazy messed up world, as a baby, who lived like us and grew up to die on the cross and rise again, so that even in the midst of crazy Christmas prep, we can have a sure hope of a better world to come.

My friends and I were left with a reminder that it’s not really the wreath on your door that matters this Christmas, it’s whether you know and understand the joy that came to the world that very first Christmas.

Retirement Matters (Andrew Kennedy)

I rocked up to St Mary’s church hall at 9:30am on Saturday 19th November expecting to see a load of ‘wrinklies’ like me, turning up for a seminar on retirement and what that means in the Christian journey. Well, to my surprise there were lots of attendees, but fewer ‘wrinklies’ than I expected, however, there was quite a bit of grey hair on display!

We soon learned that retirement is not mentioned in the Bible at all and wasn’t actually a thing until the 18th century. We came up with a definition – ‘To step back from, into something else.’ It was interesting to learn the Spanish word for retirement is ‘jubilacion.’ We explored how our society views retirement and how different areas of the world treat this phase of our lives.

Some of the worldly views were:

  • Wonderful free time
  • Having a rest
  • Doing what you want
  • Getting your pension
  • Wisdom to share
  • Burden on society
  • Loneliness
  • Loss of value
  • Disappointment
  • Getting to your ‘sell by date’

We then looked at what the Christian viewpoint could / should be:

  • Our identity is in Christ
  • We are still valued all the same as God’s children
  • We must look at the eternal perspective – heaven
  • Opportunity to share wisdom and experience with others
  • Time to grow in godliness
  • Time to pray
  • Time to read and share
  • Time to serve in different ways

Some Bible references we looked at were:

  • Romans 12:1-2
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8
  • Romans 12:11 “Never be lacking in spiritual zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord”

A great way to finish the session and we were encouraged to bring desire and to advance glory in all that we do – whether we are looking to retire, are retired, or haven’t really thought about it!

Conclusion: Retirement matters – yes, it does!

Next Steps and the Appointment Process (Will Stileman)

Now that my appointment as associate rector of All Souls has been made public, we have started to make plans for the running of St Mary’s during the vacancy.

When an incumbent leaves their post and there is a vacancy, the responsibility of leading the church legally falls to the Church Wardens. So, from February 9th Rae Binning and Anthony Kan will chair the PCC and be responsible to Bishops Rod Thomas and Olivia Graham for the ministry at St Mary’s. However, the day to day running of the church will continue to be led and organised by the staff team. Jon Drake, as our associate vicar, will lead the staff team ably supported by Rachel Meynell, John Blackbeard and Dick West.

St Mary’s is blessed to have many competent and godly leaders both in the staff team and in the wider church family; I know that all of them will play their part well. I leave St Mary’s confident not only in our Lord Jesus Christ, but also in the servant-heartedness and dedication of the people whom Christ has raised up amongst us. As people, both old and new, step up to the mark to take on roles and responsibilities, St Mary’s will flourish under Christ’s leading.

Let me now explain the process by which my successor is appointed. The process is run by the Patrons of the parish. The St Mary’s Patrons are an evangelical organisation called Church Pastoral Aid Society [CPAS]. CPAS is the largest patronage organisation in the Church of England, and they know what they are doing. They have already been alerted and Graham Archer (an experienced pastor who now works for CPAS) is coming to brief the PCC at its next meeting on December 14th.

One of the first steps in the process is for the PCC to produce a parish profile which outlines the priorities that they believe God would have them adopt going forward, and the sort of qualities they are looking for in the next vicar. This is an important document as the candidates are shortlisted on their appropriateness to fit the parish profile. Two representatives from the church/parish (often, but not always, the Church Wardens) are appointed by the PCC to represent the church in the selection process. An appointment cannot be made without the support of the parish representatives, so there is no way an unsuitable candidate can be foisted on St Mary’s.

In 2016 St Mary’s PCC passed the House of Bishops’ Resolution. This resolution allows a PCC, on the basis of theology, to be under a male bishop who shares those convictions and to be allowed to advertise for a male incumbent, without breaking anti-discrimination legislation. As a consequence, Rod Thomas, the Bishop of Maidstone who has been a good friend to St Mary’s, will also be actively involved in the appointment process. There is also likely to be other representation from the diocese (e.g. an archdeacon) involved in the selection process.

The whole process of appointing a new vicar can take up to a year (and in the current climate occasionally even longer), but please be assured that your Church Wardens and PCC will do all that they can to execute the process in as timely a fashion as possible.

11am Congregation Men's Weekend Away (John Hollidge)

Once again our venue for this three day event was The Pines in Wet Sussex (intentional typo). This beautiful house, set in glorious grounds near Pulborough provided us with comfort, warmth and a great opportunity to share fellowship with eleven men all from the same congregation. Some were regular to this event, but with several new faces it provided a great mix of people from many different backgrounds and experience. Our pastor Jon Drake steered us through some excellent Bible studies – all from 1 Peter chapter 1 – with healthy debate and discussion following.

With self-catering, we made sure we ate well, and often! Food preparation provided some great fun, and not a few hilarious moments. However, to offset the carb overload, Friday afternoon was reserved for a good ramble. Most headed off to the South Downs, and a few to take in the sea air (very windy it was too) at Littlehampton. We watched an excellent display of kite surfing from the beach before approaching rain drove us away.

These weekends give an excellent opportunity to deepen fellowship and friendship among the men. Our Bible studies led to a resolve to seek to ‘love one another’ more, to learn to be open and vulnerable to each other and to care at a deeper level - only with God’s enabling of course.

The weekends are open to all men, are very inexpensive (under £50 all in), and with shared transport should make them accessible to everyone. Highly recommended!

Personal Announcement: Will Stileman

After more than 18 very happy years in Maidenhead and St Mary’s, it is time for me to cease being vicar of St Mary’s and for Becca and I to move on to pastures new. My last Sunday in post will be February 6, 2022.

To save repeating myself hundreds of times over the next few weeks (!) I want to set out before you why we are leaving before I explain what we will be going on to do.

  1. I have long maintained that I should not remain as vicar of St Mary’s until my retirement as that would not be good either for myself or for the church. When a vicar has been an incumbent for a long time, the last 5 years leading up to his retirement are usually not the best years in the church’s life! I am not far off hitting my 60s. I don’t want to overstay my welcome.
  2. As a church we are currently blessed with a competent, stable staff team, who are established in their roles and who will be able to maintain the ministry of St Mary’s during the vacancy, as we continue to emerge from the Covid crisis.
  3. Although the Church of England is facing a number of challenging issues which may affect St Mary’s, I suspect none of them will come to a head next year.

So, for the last few months I have been actively looking for a new role and, at the end of August, I applied for the job of Associate Rector at All Souls, Langham Place. This is a big, complex church in the heart of central London. A couple of people who know the church well have independently told me that the Rector of All Souls is an impossible job which they wouldn’t wish on anyone! So, I hope I will be able to support the recently appointed Rector in his extremely challenging and demanding role.

It has been an immense privilege to be the vicar of St Mary’s and I am so grateful to God for bringing me and my family to this church. We have so loved being part of this church family. I will be hugely conflicted when the time comes for us to leave, but before then there is much work to do, not least preparing for Christmas and the vacancy.

There is a clear established process for appointing new incumbents; and there are good people in place to run it. Please be assured that I, along with the church wardens, staff team and the PCC, will play our parts to ensure that the ministry of St Mary’s continues to run smoothly. However, during this time of change ‘let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith’. It is on his grace we depend. He is the one who is the true leader of St Mary’s. He has always been and will always be the one who is most concerned for her well-being.

Welcome to Hong Kongers (Christine Lau)

To those who do not know who I am, my name is Christine, and I attend the 4pm service at St Mary’s. I moved to the UK from Hong Kong a few months ago and have been attending this church ever since.

How great is God’s work! Matthew 19:26 says, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” We all know that it is God’s work to move and touch people’s hearts, but God chooses to let us work with him.

To summarize the Hong Kong night in a few words; it was amazing, touching, and unforgettable.

I found the event amazing for two reasons. Firstly, that there were over 50 brothers and sisters from St Mary’s church who volunteered as the serving team. They welcomed Hongkongers with warm and sincere smiles, showing encouragement and support to Hongkongers. They showed that they really cared for us, and from this it reflected God’s love.

Secondly, there were over 50 Hongkongers that came to join the event. They enjoyed the song, the food, the games, and chatting. Most of all, they listened attentively to Ian’s message and Justin’s testimony. Both Christians and non-Christians told me that they were touched by the message and the testimony, and that they are not opposed to learning more about Christianity. I hope they experienced God’s love through this event.

It was very touching when we sang the song ‘Beneath the Lion Rock’. It speaks of the perseverance and courage we should aspire to, and is a song representing the spirit of Hong Kong people. As I listened to the song I reflected that for Christians we are fearless of hardships because of God’s protection and guidance.

Justin’s testimony was another touching moment for me. His sharing of his childhood experience reminded me of my similar childhood experience and struggles, and how God shaped and changed the course of my life.

Finally, it was unforgettable to see how brothers and sisters from both the UK and Hong Kong served God alongside each other. With the help of brothers and sisters from Hong Kong and the UK, we prepared food for over a hundred people. This shows unity within the Lord’s family. It was also unforgettable to see how different people came together to help with the event, especially Justin, Janice, Forest, Carmen, Yanzi and Paul. Even though they were ill with Covid and were quarantining during the event, they still contributed a lot to the event.

Leaving one’s homeland can be a difficult and frightening decision. For me, I had the courage to come here because I know that God holds me in the palm of his hand. As it says in Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you’.” With this event, I am once again reminded that God blesses people from all nations.

New Warden: Anthony Kan

I would like to thank you for your support in appointing me as your churchwarden.

I am 65, originally from Singapore. I have been in the UK over 40 years. I was married to Adeline for 40 years. She sadly passed away in June from cancer. We have two children, Rachael and Daniel who are 33 and 28 years old. I was born into a Christian family and attended a Methodist church in Singapore until I came to the UK. In Singapore, the Methodist movement was young and vibrant which contrasted with the cold lifeless cavernous Methodist churches that I found when I arrived in 1978. The search for a new spiritual home led us to All Souls Church in London where we worshipped for almost 10 years. Throughout my Christian journey, I have been part of four different denominations. Denominational distinctives are not important to us as long as the Bible is preached as the complete inerrant word of God. Through this, the Lord has taught me to listen, to contend with love and to be able to agree to disagree as long as the core tenets of the Christian faith are upheld.

Extract from A Summary of Churchwarden Responsibilities (from the Canons of the Church of England):

“Churchwardens shall be foremost in representing the laity and in cooperating with the incumbent; they shall use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them.”

In addition to these responsibilities, the next few years will be challenging for us as an evangelical C of E church, especially with the forthcoming General Synod meeting in November 2022. Together, we will contend for the truth and fight to ensure that scripture is not compromised.

It is a great encouragement and comfort to know that we are not doing this alone. We have the perfect servant king, our Lord Jesus who will go before us and through his strength and the enabling of the Holy Spirit; we will overcome.

I pledge to serve you, the congregation of St Mary’s, to uphold scripture and proclaim the word.

“And whosoever will be first among you, let him be your slave: just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:27-28.

I humbly ask for your prayers, encouragement and support to assist me.

Mission Partner Update: Angy King

Once again it was a pleasure to share news of Sports Chaplaincy in Women’s Football with St Mary’s at the prayer evening on 10th November.

I will start with news of the ministry with Reading Women’s Football Club. I feel blessed to have been welcomed into the training ground both during and after Covid especially as the men’s chaplains are still not allowed in. The women’s team moved into the new men’s training ground in July and it feels good to be accepted as part of the club. There is a Christian coach in the men’s academy, so we have met to pray and discuss our witness in the club.

Every year new players come into the club and now there are more chaplains working in women’s football many players have experience of the work of a chaplain in football. Conversations flow more easily if players are used to conversing with the chaplain at their previous club. I am grateful for the good work that others are doing and for the impact it is having.

I have once again been asked to write ‘Chaplain’s Chat’ for the match day programme. The article is openly evangelistic with readers encouraged to consider an alternative way of looking at life. I am no longer in charge of hospitality on match days but am enjoying the chance to mix with the fans and get to know them better.

The New Testament and Psalms printed with the Reading FC logo on the front are still given out to players and staff when they leave as a thank you for all their contributions to the club. 27 copies were presented in the last 18 months. I usually have no idea whether they are being read or not but last week I received this message from another chaplain: “I met Mel (name changed) last week and she said she had been given a Bible when she left Reading. She had been reading it and was fascinated by what she was reading. She was also very positive about chaplaincy.” The Lord said to Isaiah in Isaiah 55:10-11, “as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” I pray God will speak to players and staff through his word and am so grateful to Good News For Everyone, formerly the Gideons, for providing us with this resource.

The other part of my role as pastoral coordinator for chaplains in women’s football has been a very encouraging one since lockdown. We now have 17 chaplains in place and two more clubs waiting for a chaplain to be trained and appointed. The national governing body for football, the Football Association, are recognising the value of chaplaincy in providing holistic care for all working in the clubs and are encouraging it all levels of the game. Players moving from one club to another are speaking positively to their new managers about chaplaincy and I pray that each club in the country will one day have a chaplain. What a wonderful way to fulfil Jesus’ call to “go and make disciples of all nations,” all people groups, including those involved in football.

Lastly may I thank all of you at St Mary’s for your support, it has been much appreciated.

Angy King

Book Sunday (Autumn 2021)

Sunday 31st October was book Sunday at St Mary's. This year 10ofThose, the Christian booksellers, were able to visit in person again. Watch the video, below, for their recommendations for books for reader of all ages.


The books referred to in the talk are listed below and can be bought through the 10ofThose website or if you would like to browse these and other books then do look to support Maidenhead's local Christian bookshop, Quench, at 19 Queen Street.

  • Confronting Christianity: 12 hard questions for the worlds largest religion - Rebecca McLaughlin
  • Ten Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) About Christianity - Rebecca McLaughlin
  • The Secular Creed - Rebecca McLaughlin
  • The Grace of Gratitude - Paul Mallard
  • Bible Stories Every Child Should Know
  • The Wingfeather Saga - Andrew Peterson

All Hallows' / All Saints' Day (Nick McDonald)

Before half term, I had the opportunity to go into a local primary school to talk to Year 3 (children aged 7 - 8) about All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows' Day) which is 1st November.

The children were very excited about Halloween (originally known as All Hallows' Eve) and all the dressing up and parties that they were going to have, but they weren't sure about what All Hallows' Day / All Saints' Day was about. It was a brilliant opportunity to talk about the light of Jesus Christ, during a time where the children were celebrating darkness.

We started by discussing what we thought a 'saint' was. Some children thought about pictures of very old and important people with halos around their heads. I explained that this was to show that these people in the paintings were holy, they were special and loved by God. But the big shock came when I explained that since Saint Paul and Saint Peter in the Bible, there have been billions and billions of saints! I explained that you don't have to be famous or have made a big achievement to be a saint, you just have to trust in Jesus who died for us. John 3:16 states that whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. These people are saints, those who believe in Jesus.

All Saints' Day is where we remember all of the Christians / saints who have come before us. We remember those who died serving the Lord Jesus Christ, whether known to us or unknown. We remember martyrs who stood up for Jesus amidst great persecution, and we remember those who made a spiritual impact on us. It's a great time to remember these people, and it's also a great time to be reminded that, through the redemptive death of Jesus Christ, any of us can be welcomed into this huge family of saints who we will be with in eternity.