Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Cant's avoid Christmas!

Its the day of the college Carol Service an event I have excused myself from in past years but this year I'm a Wise Man reflecting on my experiences to the assembled company. Malcolm and his team of college caterers are preparing a seasonal buffet so I guess there's no escaping Christmas celebrations.
On Saturday we hosted our church Christmas dinner a jolly event at which we sang our first carols of the season in the building although not yet in the Sanctuary.
That will change this week as we share together in the fun worship of our All-age Nativity and then the round of Carol Services begin in earnest.
Hopefully, I trust, we have done justice to the 'waiting' of Advent by resisting the move to Christmas too soon although with the distribution of Hot Cross buns to everyone last Sunday you could be forgiven for thinking we had fast forwarded straight to Easter.

Anyway, the sobering thought as Christmas is now less a fortnight away is that I have three assignments to wrtite over the holiday season which will ensure I don't go overboard on the celebration and remain focussed on the priorities of study!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Sssshh! It's not Christmas yet!

I'm resisting the whole Christmas thing as hard as I can, as usual. There are still 18 days of Advent to enjoy - waitin, reflecting, anticipating, hoping...
That said, we had our Easter Tree at the local Christmas Tree Festival last weekend and this weekend we have our church's Christmas Dinner with obligatory carols afterwards.
College has gone all Christmassy too with decorations up and rehearsals for the Carol Service underway.
Our church Carol Service requires readers and the arm twisting has begun.
The list of the sick, recovering and hospitalised seems ever longer this year and with the colder weather finally with us after a long unseasonally warm autumn, doubtless other will succomb to colds and flu.
Having successfully despatched an assignment to college last week, it was pleasing to receive it back with a good mark.
One more week of studies for 2011 remain a hopefully amidst all the festivities there will be time to update the blog before Christmas.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Editted Highlights

Its 'Retreat Day' today in college's Reading & Reflection Week so I should perhaps be being contemplative as I sit here in the college cloister rather than updating my blog?

So, this week just some editted highlights of the past week...

Friday: Decorated the church for Advent - the sense of anticipation begins.
Also guided ladies (reps from local churches) through next year's WWDofP Service - all responsibilities assigned and a good meeting.

Saturday: Table-top sale attracted a good crowd - treasurer very happy with financial result.

Sunday: Toy Service went well. John, LCM missionary was great and left with his car boot crammed with toys.
United Service with local Anglicans was a great success. Advent has begun! They've agreed to host next year.

Monday: Dentist visit a nightmare! One of two teeth pulled but not easily so number two has to wait for next week.
Meeting with local Baptist leaders to plan Baptists Together programme for 2012.

Tuesday (today) : Up early to get the High Speed train in order to get to college in time for all that today has offered.

More detail next week, time, weather, assignment deadline permitting!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Countdown begins....

So, another Christian year ends. We rewind back to the beginning next Sunday and start once again lighting Advent candles week by week as we journey towards the retelling of the story of the Incarnation.

We rounded off the old year still with our thoughts upon the needs of others as we gathered together a wide variety of items collected by British Humanitarian Aid for shipment to the Ukraine. Bedding, knitting, tools, sewing machines etc were all loaded into the van, gratefully received by the local charity.

Toys are starting to come in for our Advent Sunday Toy Service. We look forward to welcoming London City Missionary, John Hamilton, from Dagenham, to share with us something of his work.

The Jardine family are working hard at sorting the gifts for our Christmas Parcels to the lonely, housebound and care home residents.

This week we meet too in Church Meeting to makeecisions about finance and fabric after everyone was encouraged to participate in a Day or Prayer last Thursday.

Most of our neighbours in the locality will have received an invitation to our Advent and Christmas services. Sales of tickets for our Christmas dinner are brisk and we've sold every available table to stallholders for our Table-top sale on Saturday.

Pastorally, a number of folk are recovering from, treatment, awaiting test results or surgery and for them it is an anxious time. For others, with less than 30 shopping days to Christmas adds its own pressures.

The countdown begins and all too soon we will be underway within a new Church Year!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Choir, Silence and Reflection

The past week has been dominated by the vicit by the Ukrainian Choir beginning their UK tour with us last Friday. They spent 3 nights with hosts here and we offered them the usual high standard of Walmer hospitality. After a 'warm-up' performance at The Downs School they performed their 'WOW factor' concert to a packed church and raised in excess of £800 for Hope Now International which works to support the underprivelaged and needy in the Ukraine an who organise the choir's tour.

Amidst all that activity it has been Remembrancetide and, in the unseasonably mild weather, twenty of us gathered to pay our respects to Pte William Bennett, aged 17, who died in the Great War. On a sunny morning too we gathered in church to reflect and remember in silence the cost of conflicts past and present and rededicate ourselves to uphold the cause of peace and freedom.

Amongst friends old and new it was good to both enjoy a Thai meal and to relive my own Thailand experiences at Bloomsbury as I spoke on my recent travels with the college team sent overseas by BMS.

I should not forget to record here too, the privelage of partnering with our local Vicar in presenting 60 new bibles to the year three children at the school funded by donations from our respective churches.

Its been a busy week and the coming weeks look likely to be as busy which has the potential to crowd in on the necessary study time to get assignments done.

Without the choir, there remains the need for silence and reflection!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

'We' say thank YOU!

The pressure of the third year's college schedule continues and shows no sign of letting up as assignment deadlines loom and word counts seem to be targets beyond achievement. But the focus today in this blog update is not on studies but upon church life.

Even through the semester break (half-term) life has been busy!

'We' - the royal we - have boxed up just over 50 shoebox gifts for 'Love in a Box' Christmas Appeal. 'We' have been industrious outside the church laying concrete to improve our paths. We have fed 70 guests at our (now) Annual Spuds 'n' Sparklers evening. To all who have made this possible - 'thank YOU'.

Our thoughts begin to turn to Advent & Christmas. Cards for distribution to our friends and neighbours with details of our services and activities have been order, printed and received and will be bundled for distribution soon. In advance of those who will sign-up to pound the pavements of our community - 'thank YOU'.

This week 'we' (again) prepare to host young Ukrainian visitors who begin a national concert tour here in Walmer. To those who will accommodate them and look after them - thank YOU.

It is Remembrancetide and we will gather at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in the cemetery beside the graveside of Pte William Bennett and on Sunday stand in silence in church and in these solemn acts will say - thank YOU.

Over the next couple of weeks we will be preparing Christmas gifts for local shut-in folk and also collecting new toys for distribution by the London City Mission. Whilst we may not know the recipients of these gifts in our community or in London we are confident that each will bring a smile of happiness and love to the recipient, and for that - thank YOU.

Personally, I have the opportunity to speak at Bloomsbury next week about my travels in Thailand with BMS and it is encouraging already to hear of a goof number of friends who have committed to attend and share the Thai meal and hear my ramblings - thank YOU.

Finally, for your patience with my erratic attempts to blog and your continued interest in reading what I write, in an attempt to inform you of both my college and church experiences - thank YOU.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pressure builds...

So, at week three the enormity of the challenge which is the third year assignment schedule kicks in. Today, I post this update from the library having taken time to extract from the bookshelves sufficient commentaries, I hope, of John's Gospel to enable me to write my first assignment in next week's mid-semester break.

College life falls into a routine pattern of listening to lecturers, participating when prompted in group discussions and the experiencing the diversity of expressing which is Chapel worship.

In Walmer pressure builds as a busy programme of Autumn events loom. This week sees our monthly Quiz Night, I'm speaking about Thailand to a group that meets at the church, we have two teams entered in the area Christian Aid Quiz Night and we have our monthly Table-Top at which I will be serving Bacon Butties as usual.

We are starting to plan for Spuds & Sparklers - our Indoor Firework Party - the visit by a Ukrainian Choir performing the first concert of their UK tour with us.

Last Sunday we celebrated Baptists Together at the Deal Church along with our friends from Mongeham and that ended a busy week when I attended a Womens World Day of Prayer Conference and a SEBA-run Conference on Homosexuality and the church's response.

The diary continues to fill up - today the Headteacher of the local primary school has booked an assembly when the Vicar and I will present Bibles to 60 year 3 children purchased from donations by our church members.

Thanks to our 'new' industrious fabric team members work whould start on concreteing paths around the church which have until now been problematic gravel beds.

So with Christmas looming around the corner, the pressure builds... bringing excitement, anticipation and challenges.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

New Year, New Semester, New Experiences

I guess that technically the new year began with the Trans Cultural Mission Trip to Thailand in September. With seven fellow students and our lecturer, Peter Morden, we had a challenging and enlightening experience on our Short-Term BMS Mission Trip. (I've begun a round of presentations on the trip locally and this will extend to London next month.

Now back at college the Semester proper has begun - the start of my final year - and the assignment list for the January deadline is quite demanding. That said, it is good to be back in the routine of study, interacting with fellow students and making the most of enforced travel to London.

Pastorally, the return to London has thrown up some unexpected challenges but it has been a privelage to, in some small measure, be a support to friends.

Life in Walmer remains busy. We've celebrated Harvest as a fellowship and with childen and parents from The Downs School. Our new Badminton Group continues to flourish. Although we've received planning permission for our kitchen project, funding issues have arisen along with the stipulation we install a Fire Alarm system.

So, the Autumn continues with new challenges expected or unexpected... watch this space.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

I'm alive!

OK, I realise that in this cyber world it is difficult to prove but I am alive. I am here - in the College Library - typing this long overdue update to my blog. I know many of those who are kind enough to follow the thread of my ramblings here have missed me. The e-mails building up in my in-box are testament to your concern.
What I have discovered, much to m frustration, is that I seem only to update my blog from my notebook pc rather than conveniently from my desktop pc in my study.
This is a feeble excuse, I know, but the effort of finding the notebook at home and firing it up just to update the blog constantly slips down the order of priorities especially when the pace of life changes in the summer college break.
But, here, finally, I am and on my notebook in the peace and calm of the College Library having come to London to hand in my freshly completed, bright yellow, Professional Ministry and Practice folder. In order to complete the final piece of work for year two, my Reflective Journal I need a couple of quotes from some learned scholars so after posting this blog update I need to hit the books.

So, NEWS, I hear you cry...
1. The church remains in good heart. We've had a busy summer - with me around more it means we can do more. Here's what I can remember we've done...
Coach trip to Cite Europe & Boulogne
Entered a float in the town carnival
Held a Strawberry Tea
Hosted a two-day Nostalgia Exhibition (old photos of church events since 1940's)
Continued Knitting for the Needy
Started a Badminton Group
Run a series of Hymn-sings on Thursday afternoons.
Welcomed friends from Bloomsbury their summer outing and served them tea.
2. The future: I have agreed the Settlement terms offered by the church when college studies end and will remain here on a 70% stipend. We await to hear whether Home Mission will help us with our finances. We continue to work with our architect through the complexities of the planning process to relocate the kitchen.
3. Pastorally, with an older congregation we have found a number of folk laid low, with a couple currently in hospital. The untimely death of my father's friend/companion of 30 years+ and conducting both her funeral and memorial service was emotionally draining.
4. Thailand: My College Team trip looms ever closer - I will be away 1 - 19 September - and the recent vaccination crippled me for almost a fortnight with sickness and diarrhoea! Packing must start in earnest next week to ensure I can get all I perceive I shall need to take into my case.

So, an update, such as it is, is now typed. an hour or so of serious study lies ahead.

Thank you for your patience in bearing with my tardiness in not blogging more over the summer. I'll endeavour a new update when I'm back from Thailand but failing that college resumes at the beginning of October and hopefully I can return to my usual irregular discipline of weekly updates - ha, ha!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Busy Days...

A blog update is long overdue - sorry to regular readers who feel neglected!
Since my last blog - assignments have been written and marked, the Doctrine exam sat and marked too and the two 2-day Professional Ministry and Practice weeks have begun.
I am amzaed that the marks have come back as well as they have and that it has been possible to match the grades of year 1.

Around this, life has been busy in church as we have prepared for and celebrated the Big Lunch. Although it was a very wet day the Jardine's did a marvellous job with the barbecue and the fifty or so people who filled the hall had a great social time. It was good to have so many family members joining regular attenders for the day.

We have also gathered with friends from local churches for a united evening service to recognise the value of paticipating in the Lent Course 'Confident Discipleship'.

Pentecost afforded the opportunity to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version and we had Danielle lead us in the Lord's Prayer in Afrikaans (appreciated by Dutch visitors that morning).

Thoughts are turning towards the summer, our hymn-sing programme, our outing to France and entering the local carnival.

Thailand with BMS in September looms large too not least since the days training in Birmingham last Saturday. Having found the necessary funds to pay for flights and accomodation as requested by BMS some additional effort will be needed to fund the necessary supplies - mosquitto net, repelent, vacinations, etc that are required and which don't come cheap.

This weekend we celebrate our Church Anniversary with our Regional Minister Team Leader Stuart Davison leading worship. Hopefully whilst he is with us it will be possible to inform the church of my response to their Settlement proposal of a Part-time (70%) appointment from next summer after their unanimous call. This is now possible having successfully received the Commendation of the College Principal a necessary step in the acreditation process as a Baptist Minister.

So in many ways it has been a busy time and promises to remain so for the forseeable future. Watch this space.

Monday, 23 May 2011

I don't believe it!

It can't be true! Tomorrow is the last day of lectures for the second year of this process. Next week is revision week when the last assignments need to get to college by Friday. After that 1 exam and four days of specialist training on Conflict Management and RE in schools and that will be it. (Of course there remains the summer project of the PMP folder but from here on in the pressure is off until October.
I don't believe it!

Looking back over the last couple of weeks since my last update there is little to report beyond the usual. Walmer life continues in the same vain, everyone in good heart and blessed by the gorgeous summer weather.

We have marked two special Sundays, one recognising the work of Christian Aid, the other the work of the London City Mission. We've begun to watch 'The History of Christianity' series in our Manse homegroups and held another successful table-top sale which attracted many new and familiar faces into the building.

Kids Kingdom, our Parent & Toddler group flourishes with 24 tots 'running riot' last week!

With sadness we will be remembering an elderly member who died recently at a memorial service this week. This will be the first such remembrance of my pastorate.

On a practical note, the new loo is installed and operational at the front of church which is already proving to be useful. Our architect hopes to have draft plans for us for the kitchen very soon. All very exciting!

Details of the arrangements for Thailand are emerging from BMS Headquarters. It sounds as if our trip will be busy, demanding and challenging and - I hope - fun. More of this later.

So as I prepare to upload this to the web I return to my initial thought...I can't believe it - but it's true.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The countdown...

Well there are three more teaching weeks left of year two and four weeks to get assignments written and submitted so the pressure builds. That said I'm on target - I think -assignment 3 of 4 is taking shape in my mind and may well be completed by the end of this week. It has been good to be back in college to catch up with news from fellow students on their experiences over Easter and the last two weeks.
It has been good too, to have time to reflect upon the positive experiences of Baptist Assembly - the worship, Pat Took's sermon, Wale Hudson-Roberts' Bible study, the countless opportunities to fellowship with friends and the innovative way communion was presented on Sunday morning.
Back in Walmer it has been a time to reflect as I received the call from the congregation to prayerfully consider becoming their Minister (70%-time) when my studies are completed in 2012.
We received encouragement from our Home Mission visitors who will seek to support our Ministry Grant application for 2012 and unsolicited encouragement in practical terms has also been offered from friends in London.
Work has begun on installing a new toilet at the front of church - a project muted around 25 years ago!! With the plumbers we have spent some time last week trying to understand the drainage system of the church and with the architect we've started on the 'kitchen project' by drawing up the plans we need to submit to the local authority.
So, the countdown to the end of year two has begun, we have begun the countdown to completing some fabric projects and the settlement process countdown is also underway.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Bloggiog from Blackpool

It is Baptist Assembly weekend and I am sunning myself 'up north' in Blackpool. The weather is warm and sunny and the opportunities to network with friends past and present is great as well hearing inspirational addresses from notebale leaders in the Baptist Union.
Reflecting back on the last few weeks it is clear I am a bit behind with updates!
Holy Week saw us at Walmer prepare for Easter with reflections each lunchtime that attracted 10+ people each day. Good Friday was appropriately reflective and everyone left with both a hot cross bun and a hand crafted 'cross in my pocket'.
Easter Saturday saw the fun and chaos of our Easter Egg Hunt with a good number of children trying their hardest to claim the 500 egg prizes we had available. The creativity of our ladies who entered our bonnet parade was great - not least the winning bunny design.
Easter Day saw an early start with sunshining as we celebrated Easter Communion at 8am in the park. We shared breakfast together in the Hall before joining with Celia in celebrating her baptism with a much bigger than usual congregation.
Before heading here to Blackpool on the day of the Royal Wedding I took a few days holiday seizing the opportunity to finish and submit two of the remaining four outstanding assignments of this semester. Hopefully the last two will be completed in the next few weeks well ahead of the June deadline.
Blogging should return to normal next week and will doubtless include a further update on the Baptist Assembly experience!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Books, Eggs and Getting Wet...

We're unning a bit behind the politicians, but at college we begin our Easter recess after lectures on Tuesday. With a late Easter and the May Bank Holiday it seems we will be away from college for almost a month. This means that if assignments are going to be written and submitted upon my return I need to take my full allocation of books home. This week then, I am like a pack horse laden with books on the Great Awakening, Evangelism, Atonement and commentaries on Paul's letter to the Colossians. That's enough to keep me busy in itself but, of course, when I get home there will be plenty to occupy my time. Easter looms and that at the moment means counting Easter Eggs in readiness for our Easter Egg Hunt. It also means arranging a dry run with our baptismal candidate in the baptistery, checking the heater is still working and also ensuring that our 'wardrobe mistress' has got towels, gowns, etc. ready for the big day. A member of a neighbouring church has confirmed they've finished the mini cross-stiched crosses I've requested for distribution on Good Friday. The guest preacher for Palm Sunday (I'm taking the Sunday off!) has sent through the order of service. Easter invitation cards are bundled ready for distribution. And, hopefully, two members are working on my suggestion to create an Easter Garden in one of the church planters in our grounds that is viewed by bus passengers and passersby every day. So, I have assignments to write after pouring over the books I have at home, doubtless there will be chocolate to eat or at least see others enjoying eating, and on Easter Day the prospect of getting wet as we celebrate our Easter faith with a baptism - Hallelujah!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Removing the blindfolds

It amazes me that my congregation will try anything without protest. As we reflected on the story of Jesus healing the man born blind, so they dutifully put on the blindfolds they had been given and sat listening to the service with their eyes covered.
This sight of them (no pun intended) easily matches that of them blowing bubbles together in church on Pentecost Sunday last year.

When the blindfold came off we celebrated Mothering Sunday with the distribution of plants that the children had decorated and displayed at the front of church while the grown-ups where blindfolded.

This Sundy saw the start of our pledge drive to see whether we can commit to raising sufficient funds over the next five years to sustain either full or part-time ministry beyond my placement. The Deacons have worked hard preparing an information pack which has gone to every member and friend for their prayerful consideration.

Easter looms and nervously but excitedly our baptismal candidate is preparing for her act of witness on Easter Day. Invitation cards for our full programme of Holy Week and Easter services and activities have arrived and we will distribute them to homes locally next week.

Easter Eggs are coming in in a variety of sizes for our Easter Egg Hunt which I will be promoting at school at an assembly I'm taking on Wednesday before the start of the Easter holidays.

With the sun shining, and spring well and truely here with the gardens bursting forth with colour, as an Easter person I am a 'happy bunny' looking forward to sharing with the congregation and the community the Easter story and hopefully, for some removing the their blindfolds to reveal the mystery of our faith we celebrate.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Big Society - Small World

The title of this week's update comes from the lecture title of the lecture delivered by Archbishop Rowan at King's College, London last Monday. It was a privilege to be in the audience to hear him, to meet him afterwards and to rub shoulders with a number of the Anglican clergy I knew from my London past. It was an unexpected opportunity in a week of positive experiences. In Walmer, as ever, the week was busy. Deacons met and after transacting our business we had a useful discussion on Settlement options which helped them present options to a Special Church Meeting. (I'm grateful to Brian Curtis for coming from Broadstairs to help the church through the discussions and decision process necessary.) By all accounts the SCM was very well supported and a very positive and optimistic spirit was abroad. A strategy has been adopted which will explore whether the finance is available to sustain the ministry for the next five years. It will be exciting to see how God works through this process and how he chooses to reveal his plan. Home groups continue to be well supported and Kids Kingdom, our Parent & Toddler group on Wednesday afternoons is bursting at the seems. With a lovely photo and write-up in the local paper, and blessed with a glorious spring day, we held our Souper Soup Lunch on Friday filling the hall with eager diners who contributed almost £125 to the work of Christian Aid. It has been a glorious week weather wise which meant I could spend a morning mowing the church lawns and with the help of the Grounds Team, flower tubs and borders are bursting into colour and all looks well-loved and cared for in the church grounds. The week ended with a little bit of pain - necessary tooth extractions - a rather unpleasant experience but thankfully now past! Thoughts turn to Mothering Sunday next Sunday and a school assembly on betrayal next week. Oh, and of course, there are this week's lectures to participate in. All in all, with much going on in the life of the church and its past it worth remembering we are part of the Big Society in a Small World.

Monday, 21 March 2011

It's Spring

It's official, the sun is shining, the daffodils are gently swaying in the breeze and today is the first day of spring. British Summer Time begins next weekend so it will be a short season but as ever it promises to be a busy one.

Arthur's Tuesday Bible Studies are proving a popular addition to our weekly schedule and our 'new' Lent discussions - 'Confident Discipleship' were well supported as they began last week.
The Deacons meet this week and they have called a Special Church Meeting for Thursday evening to discuss the future ministry (whether or not to seek Settlement with me post September 2012!). We round off the week, before adjusting our clocks, with a Soup & Roll lunch on Friday supporting the work of of Christian Aid.

Last week was busy, as ever although the college days were quieter as we participated in Reflection Week with guidance from Rt Rev Nick Baines - Bishop of Croydon - on Tuesday.
The Deacons met with my Supervisor to complete the Annual Review document for the college, we had a photoshoot with the local paper to promote our Soup Lunch, the 'new' Lent Discussions began and on Saturday the hall was filled with stallholders and bargain hunters for our Table Top Sale. The bacon butties sold out fast and by the end of the morning we'd raised almost £170.

Sunday worship on a mild spring morning attracted a number of visitors - attendance exceeded 50 with a blended mix of young (inc one baby) and old. It would be great to continue like this as the (hopefully!) better weather arrives after the dark, grey days of winter. It's Spring after all!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Blogging for Prayer

I have offered my blog as an example to a fellow student who is looking at how best to update his friends on his journey. He has been sending the occasional e-mail to a select group but is aware other too may benefit fro news and value prayer points upon which they might pray.

Whilst it is not my intention to use this blog as a 'prayer letter' I know some choose to use it in that way whilst others, known and unknown, simply read it for the news it contains.

So to the news...
The QIF inspection isbehind us - doubtless we will hear from the college in due course how it went and whether the inspectors appreciated their interaction with both staff and students.

This week is reflection week so there are no lecture which afforded an opportunity to travel to college on Monday morning.

It is always refreshing to share in our informal evening worship and preside at communion for our small but faithful group of friends who gather in the church lounge.

With one of our members recouperating with relatives after a short spell in the Mayday Hospital, it was good to be able to take a detour to college and surprise her with the delivery of the church flowers.

We have begun our Lenten journey. Fourteen gathered in church on Ash Wednesday - and we looked at our response to temptation in our worship on Sunday.

A full coach enjoyed a day out to a large garden centre on Thursday whilst the deacons remained in Walmer to meet with our Regional Ministers to discuss the Settlement Process.

After reflecting, tomorrow guided by the Bishop of Croydon, I shall return to Walmer for a photocall on Wednesday to promote our forthcoming Christian Aid Soup Lunch. We start our ecumenical Lent discussions; Thursday is Quiz Night and Saturday is a bacon butty morning for our Table Top Sale.

Within all of this there will be time to pray and I trust you, if you are reading this, might do the same?

Monday, 7 March 2011


'Quality In Formation' is the catchy title for the college's inspection team who have us all on our toes this week helping Nigel and the college staff show the college off to its best. That Ruth (from Bloomsbury) is one of the inspectors means that doubtless, if asked for my opinion, she will see the subtext of any carefully crafted response.

Anyway, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the spring bulbs are starting to bloom and it promises to the a good week as we transition into Lent.

Looking back, it was encouraging to hear that the 'new' homegroups at Arthur's were well supported and well received, attracting participants that had not thus far joined our Manse discussions and we had some new faces on Thursday too.

The Women (and a few men) from our community filled St saviour's for the annual WWDofP service which it will be our turn to host next year.

With a good plug in the local paper our Fairtrade Coffee Morning saw us almost sell all the stock we had from Bloomsbury's Fairtrade Stall. It was good to raise the profile of Fairtrade in our community.

Sunday saw us try something new as I elected to go out with the children leaving one of our deacons to read a monolgue based on possible reflections of Simon Peter's wife to the events of Jesus' Transfiguration. This was well received, it was good to give the children some special attention and shows we are not afraid to experiement within our worship.

With the 'Alleluia' hidden in the pulpit now for Lent we prepare for Ash Wednesday with a brief penetential service. Everyone has been encouraged to participate in the Christian Aid 'Count Your Blessings' Lent Appeal.

On Thursday we have a full coach for out outing to Polhill Shopping Village which will again, I hope, show a different way in which we can be community together for our friends and neighbours.

Lectures for the week will start soon so I hust upload this. They promise to be perhaps a little more fun this week with the QIF team around - I hope Davinia has got her beard... (another story!)

Monday, 28 February 2011

Keeping Up!

I'm in good company as I note Bloomsbury's Blog was a little behind in its updates!
How easily, distractions can crowd into the schedule and deflect you from you plans. Some of the distractions for me have been the advent of some unseasonably warm weather which has prompted some gardening - 15 primroses planted in the front garden, the lawns mown, three rows of potatoes planted and tomato plants in their growbags - Oh, and I supervised the fixing of my new bird box ready, I hope, for a new 'family' to settle into.
Signs of spring have been a great encouragement in a couple of weeks that have been dominated by loss. The sister of one of our members died in a London hospital after a short cancer related illness - it was a privilege to pray at her bedside with members of her family whilst I was in London; a friend of many years, a local councillor a tireless worker in the Parish Church also died of cancer and this last week another friend died suddenly of a heart attack in the village.
But, despite this sadness life goes on and in each case the faith and courage of the families has been an inspiration.
In church life here we have been busy, a successful Table-Top Sale, the first of our Games evenings - and, yes, the Games Room is now finished'; Arthur starts his new Home Group this week.
Our thoughts turn to Lent, we will be hiding the 'Alleluia' on Sunday and distributing the Christian Aid 'Count Your Blessings' Lent Giving Sheets.
On Saturday we do our bit for Fairtrade Fortnight by holding a Coffee Morning. Did I mention the Womens World Day of Prayer service we will be supporting at St Saviour's?
Are you keeping up?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Semester Two...downhill all the way!

It doesn't seem possible that I passed the half way point in my studies at Spurgeons. Starting Semester 2 today it is downhill all the way. Scary!
Discussions over the Settlement process which may see me remain in Walmer or move elsewhere have begun and there are profiles to write to advance that process alongside ongoing studies with this semester's studies ranging from Reformation History to Evangelism in the Local Church.
Having turned in my final essay of the Semester and sat the OT exam in January, all the work for the first half of my studies has been completed. All essay marks have been surprisingly higher than I had anticipated and this bodes well for the management of my study time for the remainder of my time at Spurgeons and at Walmer.
Life in Walmer has been busy over the last few weeks, not least with our Church AGM (my annual report and that of the administrators can be found on our website). We had a good meeting with no difficult questions! Our Deaconate remains at 5 with the re-election of Ian which is good for stability in our leadership.
We have a full programme of events, activities and services planned for the year which promises to keep us busy. Alongside this the challenge of moving the church kitchen looks like becoming a reality this year thanks to a generous gift to underwrite the cost of the project.
We had a good Baptists Together service with our friends at Deal and Mongeham and we have reflected upon how blessed we are as a church as we heard their stories too.
The privilege of preaching in the Parish Churches on Christian Unity Sunday and hosting a united service is one I hope will be repeated as we look at ways in which the Christians from the different traditions in our community can cooperate together.
The visit of my Field Placement Tutor and Supervisor apparently more than satisfied them that all was well with this particular student, his studies and his placement.

I have signed up, along with other students, to join a BMS Mission Trip to Thailand in September which promises to be an exciting and challenging opportunity. I shall need to raise some funds to help meet the cost of this so doubtless you'll be hearing more about this in the coming months.

Monday, 17 January 2011

End of Semester Looms

The mid-point of my college course and training looms close with the end of the semester studies on 1 February. With one assignment left to write - I turned in three for marking this morning - I'm on target to finish the necessary written work ahead of schedule. One or two fellow students are at pains to remind me we have an exam on 1 February to undergo and I have not forgotten that joy which officially rounds off the semester and the half way point.

So very soon it will be the down hill slop to finishing the course. Frighteningly we have begun to explore the Settlement process which will decide our future ministry's post-college. This prompts Walmer to think about its long term desires for ministry and of course a long hard look at its finances.

Our first Deacons Meeting of the year is scheduled for this week and the Treasurer seems happy that the accounts for 2010 have balanced and we have sufficient funds to keep things running for the time being. We need to prayerfully consider our application for Home Mission funding in 2012. Our AGM is a month away and we need to spend time as a church reflecting on the future goals, short and long term.

In the immediate future, however, is Christian Unity Week. It is a privilege to have been invited to preach st the parish churches and also to have an Anglican preach for us. Even more special is the opportunity to share with the Vicar in an United Service on Sunday evening which we are hosting.

We continue to be encouraged by church attendance and the number of new faces we see in the pews each week. It is also heartening to welcome back a number of folk who have been convalescing at home.

Monday, 10 January 2011

New Year - Still breathing

Happy New Year everyone - it is still only ten days old so I think I can get away with such an opening greeting. For those who have wondered whether the festive season had overwhelmed to to the extent that I had disappeared here is the reassurance that I am still breathing albeit after a period of hibernation.
Since my last blog I have been on Christmas break from college which has meant that all available time has focused on the church and our extensive programme of Christmas services interrupted from time to time by the falling of snow which necessitated some snowman building and path clearances.
All of our Christmas services were well attended by both visitors and regular folk and I hope we re-told the familiar story of the birth of Jesus in refreshing and challenging ways across the season. Certainly those who attended who received their gifts at the various pre-Christmas services - a glow stick, a bag of straw and a copy of John's gospel - had something to take away and reflect upon as well as share in the familiar carol singing and bible readings.
Our own carol singing in the neighbourhood proved a popular event and our 'choir' brought Christmas cheer to a number of our shut-in folk.
Laid low with the flu from Boxing Day, three days in bed provided a period of enforced rest which was probably necessary although I am not a good patient not least when I know I have lots I want to do and am physically not up to the challenge.
Anyway the flu has passed and we have journeyed with the Magi into the new year and the Epiphany Season. We have had three folk - local residents - visit us on Sundays and each has indicated a desire to return. We will look forward to welcoming them again.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity looms and this year I have been invited to preach at the parish churches and we will have an Anglican minister preach in place here. The Vicar and I will also lead a united service for our congregations which re-introduces something which has not happened in our community for 20 years or so.
Today I update this blog sitting in the college library having returned to Spurgeons for the last four weeks of the semester. Two assignments and a journal need to be completed by 31 January so I have enough to keep me occupied for the next few weeks but will doubtless find time to post another update here soon.
In the mean time the challenge remains to be still breathing....