Category: Minister’s Letters

This is the archive of our parish magazine’s lead article, which is written by one of our ministers (usually the rector).

MINISTER’S LETTER FOR OCTOBER

Recently, as a group of parishes, I signed us up to be part of a Baptism pilot project run by the Church of England. We are one of a number of parishes across Coventry and Leicester Diocese. Some parishes in other diocese are doing similar pilots for Wedding and Funeral resources.

I had to attend a briefing back in July (it involved an overnight stay at the Hinckley Island Hotel – sometimes we do have to suffer for the Kingdom!). At the briefing we were given some feedback on a major survey that had been conducted across the country with families who had brought children to be baptised last year.

The first thing for us to take on board was that approximately 125,000 are baptised every year and that on average 50 people attended the service. That means over six million people come to church for a baptism service during the course of a year. Even if you allow for some attending more than one that is a staggering number of people through the church doors.

In our group of parishes we are at around thirty baptisms for the year to date – so it is a significant part of the ministry in our churches and one in which we need to be more helpful and effective.

The purpose of the project is to develop some new resources for use in our contact with baptism families. For instance, a new website was launched in July. It is full of information for parents and godparents, and anyone else who is interested in finding out what Baptism is about. If you have access to a computer have a look at it and let me know any feedback you have and any ideas you have to improve it. You will find it at www.churchofenglandchristenings.org.

The material that has been produced is based around the idea that Baptism is the beginning of a journey of faith both for the child and their family, not to mention their godparents. So all the printed material has the theme of “An Amazing Journey”.

We have placed leaflets in church and other venues which are for those who are thinking about getting their child baptised entitled “Start an amazing journey”. Look out for them in all our churches.

Then there are other leaflets for the family and a card for the godparents. In the card for godparents there is the extra attraction of a fridge magnet with a short prayer to pray for their godchild.

We also have prayer cards for members of our congregations which will be given out around the time baptisms are taking place. This will give you the name(s) of those being baptised and invite you to look out for when services are taking place and remember to pray for the child and their families.

Finally there are invitation cards for us to invite people who have come for baptism to other services and events.

They are in the process of developing a new preparation course for us to use. I am hoping to hear more about that in mid-October.

I have shown the materials to members of our church councils but if you would like to see anything just ask me, and as I suggested earlier, if you can take a look at the website – and give me any feedback that I can pass on so that we can make these resources even better.

 

David Silvester

 

 


MINISTER’S LETTER FOR SEPTEMBER

 

We all know that the world is constantly changing. In our personal and family lives we all experience change and yet, when asked, most of us would say that we don’t like it.

We experience change in the church, although, again, many struggle with it. I’m reminded of the story of the man who visited a church and found that there was someone there who had been Churchwarden for almost fifty years. “You must have seen many changes over those fifty years?” commented the visitor. “Yes”, replied the Churchwarden, “and I have opposed every single one of them!”

But change is important because we are entrusted with the task of bringing the gospel of the Jesus to each new generation – to communicate it in ways that modern society can hear and understand. It is not use saying “it was okay for my day” without recognising that this is a new day. The heart of our vision for the Coffeehouse Project is about looking for new opportunities for us to serve and connect with our community.

That well known hymn “Abide with me” has the line “change and decay in all around I see”. Perhaps we can misunderstand that line in thinking the “change and decay” are two sides of the same coin or even that change is decay.

But change is part of life, and at the heart of our Christian life. As we seek to live our lives for God we are called to become more like Jesus “being transformed (changed) into his likeness with ever increasing glory”.

Sometimes that change is the ebb and flow of life in our community. People will come and go and we all go through different “seasons” of life.

In our churches in the coming month we have the news that Andy Shearn stepping back from public ministry and that Bill and Hilary Miles are moving south.

All of us have been immensely thankful for Andy’s ministry and he is greatly loved and respected in the churches and in our communities. We thank him for all that he has done.

Bill is also loved and we thank him for his ministry among us. For both I’m sure as one season comes to an end a new one will open as they continues to serve God.

AND as some move out of areas of ministry we look to new people to move in. Maybe that’s you!

Also, this month we have our VISION DAY on SATURDAY 13th SEPTEMBER.

Throughout Coventry Diocese we have been looking at our churches through the eyes of the Eight Essential Qualities of growing churches. Research in churches across the world have led to the conclusion that there are certain essential qualities that need to exist in church communities for them to grow.

At our Vision Day we will be helped by the Rev Martin Saxby (who has the wonderful job title of the Healthy churches Development mentor). Martin will explain the eight qualities and help us to look at our churches through an audit process which we do together. This is a tool that will help us to understand our strengths and the things we need to work on in the coming months and years.

This is a really important day and I, the MLT, the PCC and DCC members want to encourage everyone who can possibly come to be there. (You will find more information about the day elsewhere in this magazine and on the weekly news sheet and on the website).

 

David Silvester

 


MINISTER’S LETTER FOR JULY/AUGUST

It was a bit of a crisis. What am I expected to do?

 

The World Cup has started and there are three games to watch with 5pm, 8pm and 11pm kick off times. But there is also a Cricket Test Match to watch. To make matters worse there is the England versus All Blacks rugby international…and somewhere along the line I have to prepare for the Sunday services (and help someone move house!!). How could God do this to me? Sometimes he makes life too difficult. What does He expect of me? Sometimes it seems too much!

 

Yes I know it’s all a bit trivial – it’s only sport. But sometimes in life the conflicting demands on us are very real and very difficult. Sometimes living life is hard enough but being a Christian in the midst of it can seem even worse. What does God expect of us? What does he want of us?

In the Old Testament we find the Book of the prophet Micah. Micah was the prophet of the downtrodden and exploited people of Judean society. He prophesied during a time of great social injustice and boldly opposed those who imposed their power upon the poor and weak for selfish ends. As he preaches to the people, Micah himself raises the question “What does the Lord require of us?” his answer comes as a three-fold response, beginning with “to act justly.” In other words, act with fairness, honesty, and integrity. Micah had a special concern for justice, primarily because he saw so little of it. What God requires of us is that we do what is right and fair in our relationships with other people.

Justice involves the sense of a standard of equality among people. It can be as simple as being honest in even the smallest routine transaction. The prophet complained about the person who uses “dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights.” (Micah 6:11) There is an old saying, “honesty is the best policy.” But for the Christian, that slogan should be, “honesty is the ONLY policy.” This is a consistent theme through the whole Bible – we are called to be people of fairness and integrity in all our dealings. Secondly we are “to love mercy”. We are to be people who act with compassion and kindness toward one another. The Hebrew word that Micah uses here is translated as “mercy,” is a rich one, used variously as mercy, tender mercies, loving kindness, steadfast love. It is a word that most often used when talking of an agreement between two people about their relationship with one another. In relation to God’s mercy, it is used most often of His grace, or of unexpected, or even, undeserved kindness. Notice also that we are asked not that we to have mercy, but that we are to love mercy. There is a big difference between the two. One way of describing the difference is to say that we don’t just do acts of kindness from a sense of obedience or compulsion, but we do them out of love. Thirdly, we are “to walk humbly with your God”.

When Micah tells us what God expects, the first two things he expects have, in a sense, nothing to do with God. They have to do with how we behave toward one another. God expects us to love and get along with one another. He expects us to treat one another justly and fairly, and He expects us to love mercy and to show kindness toward one another.

But the third expectation Micah shares is that God expects us to have a right relationship with Him – with God Himself and that right relationship with God always begins with humility, not arrogance. God expects us to walk humbly with Him. Sounds easy, but it is hard to make a reality. We are arrogant. We are proud. We tend to think that God’s role is to make us happy, to serve us, to answer our prayers. But it is we who are to serve and glorify God. So what does God want from us? Not that much, really. “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”. (Micah 6:8)

 

David Silvester

 


June 2014

At last month’s Annual Meetings we had the opportunity to report on all that had happened in our churches during 2013 and elect our officers for the coming year.

Like most organisations a big issue for us is that of finance. When we look at our accounts it is clear that it is a real struggle for us to raise sufficient money to pay the bills and to do those things that we want to do to build the kingdom of God in our communities. This year we have had to recognise that the situation is critical in all our churches.

Continue reading “June 2014”


May 2014

On June 18, 1815, twelve miles south of Brussels and two miles from the Belgian village of Waterloo, the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was soundly defeated by Arthur Wellesley, better known as the Duke of Wellington. At the time of this victory, though, things were not so clear.

Without our modern means of communication, the people in those days were limited to semaphore signals. The news of Wellington’s decisive victory was passed along until finally, in the last relay from a ship out in the channel, the message was passed on to receivers stationed high in the towers of Westminster Abbey. The communication stated, “Wellington defeated.”

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April 2014

On Easter Sunday, with other Christians around the world, we will gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

At the height of the first Gulf War, a mother received a very sad message from the Pentagon. It stated that her son had stepped on a mine in Kuwait and was dead.

She later wrote, “I can’t begin to describe my grief and shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For three days I wept. For three days I expressed anger and loss. For three days people tried to comfort me, to no avail because the loss was too great.”

But three days after she received that message, the telephone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Mum, it’s me. I’m alive.” She said, “I couldn’t believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice, and he really was alive.” The message she had received was all a mistake!

Continue reading “April 2014”


March 2014

There is a story that in the 4th century AD in Korea a man had two sons.

The elder rose to become Chief Judge but the younger became an infamous criminal.  The elder brother loved his younger brother but was unable to persuade him to change his ways.

Eventually the younger son was caught and brought to the Court before his brother.  Everyone in the courtroom thought it would be a stitch up and that the younger brother would get off – because it was well known that the Judge loved his younger brother. But at the end of the trial, people in the courtroom gasped when the verdict was announced – the Judge sentenced his brother to the mandatory sentence for murder – death.

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February 2014

In the middle of February we celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Tradition has it that sometime around 250AD there was a priest by the name of Valentine. He lived in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius, who was committed to rebuilding the once-great Roman army. Claudius believed it was much better for men to volunteer for armed service, rather than being conscripted against their will. But, given a choice, most young men in the Roman Empire refused to serve. They would rather stay at home with their wives and children than go off into battle.

So Claudius came to believe that only single men would volunteer for service, and he issued a royal edict that banned all further marriages. He actually outlawed weddings in the Roman Empire, earning himself the nick-name Claudius the Cruel.

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January 2014

Have you noticed that while Christmas seems to be starting earlier and earlier these, it also seems to be ending quicker. I can remember as a child that Christmas continued well into the New Year, Our decorations didn’t come down until, at least, the twelfth night. These days Christmas seems to be over by the New Year and January 2nd at the latest. All the decorations come down as everyone goes back to work.

But Christmas is too important to be limited to just a few days. In the traditional Christian calendar Christmas, like Easter, is celebrated as a period of time, a season of the church year, rather than just a day or two. The season of the church year associated with Christmas actually begins with the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent is marked by expectation and anticipation in preparing to celebrate the coming of Jesus.  Christmas begins with Christmas Day December 25 and lasts for twelve Days until Epiphany (January 6), which looks ahead to the mission of the church to the world in light of the Nativity. For many church traditions, the season of Epiphany actually extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday.

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December 2013

Like lots of others, as I go through Christmas I will read and hear the Christmas stories again. They are great stories, familiar and comforting, but perhaps that can be a problem: Maybe, because I have heard these passages so often, I am tempted to think that there is nothing new for me to hear.

I think that that would be a mistake, because I think the Bible stories about the birth of Jesus are not only inspired storytelling but also important for teaching us about our relationship with God.  These passages are filled with challenges to our faith and with the encouragements we need to grow in our relationship with God.

Can I suggest that one way to get a new insight is to put ourselves in the place of one of the characters of the story? For instance, one I am often drawn to is Joseph of Nazareth (perhaps it is because he is the one character in the story who doesn’t say anything!). Joseph, in a very short time, has to learn some key lessons about being called by God.

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