Questioning Faith

Question MarkIs there more to life than this?

How do I deepen my faith?

Why not come along to an informal group and explore questions you would love to raise?

Here are some of the questions we will ask:
• What is faith and how can I find it?
• Who was/is Jesus?
• Why do we pray and how do we do it?
• What about evil?
• Why do we go to church?
• What is Communion?
Dates and times to be agreed – email me on or ring 01252 820537

Women can now be Bishops in the Church of England

Women can now be bishops. Hooray!! Finally!!

I think this change is vital for the Church of England for many reasons, but mostly because I believe that good leadership is imperative for every organisation. This belief has been deeply rooted in me from the time when I started my engineering apprenticeship back in 1988. I was pretty naïve, my school was an all-girls school and I had no idea that women weren’t meant to be good at engineering! Furthermore, the sexual harassment and distrust of women on the shop floor astonished and frightened me.

The managing director had a different view to the lads on the shop floor. He said that the company was in a very competitive market. For the company to survive he needed the very best people working for him, in particular the very best leaders. He didn’t care whether they were black, white, pink or green, whether they were male or female, short or tall, gay or straight. He had to have the very best, otherwise his competitors would employ the best and then they would prevail.

This pep talk enabled me to walk tall for all the years that people told me that women couldn’t be engineers “judge me on my work, not my gender” would be my reply. Furthermore, I watched to see whether the managing director’s theory was true – that organisations that practised prejudice failed and those who enabled everyone to use their gifts succeeded.

Over the years I have become aware both of how arduous it is to lead well and also how few people have this gift. I also became aware of how important good leadership is, I have been very blessed by working alongside amazing leaders who have helped me no end. I have also experienced times of working with terrible leaders and I believe that the damage that they do is significant.

It is my opinion that God gives each of us gifts, and leadership is a gift that God gives to some, whilst others are fantastic researchers or great team-builders or brilliant ideas people. Every gift is vital for the building up of God’s church and God’s world and should be received with joy.

Sadly, I think that we have wasted the gifts of many in the church by excluding then and this has left the Church of England impoverished. I don’t want to see women bishops per se – I want to see great bishops. Great female bishops, awesome gay bishops, inspiring disabled bishops, bishops of all races, genders, sexualities, disabilities and from different backgrounds. Only then do I believe that we will be fully receiving the gifts God showers on the church. I’m looking forward to the riches that we are going to discover.

Beyond Belief

We have been asked to re-start a group called “Beyond Belief” where we read books that challenge us and have a free and open discussion where people of any faith or no particular faith can talk about their beliefs. I’m very happy to do this and suggest we look at Jack Spong, Richard Holloway and Brian McLaren for starters. However, I would like to know that there are eight people interested first so that each time we meet (monthly perhaps) we have at least five of us. So please let me know and ask your friends if they might like to attend too. (Not for those who struggle when people express doubts in core tenets of the faith!) Email: or ring 01252 820537
Alan Crawley

St John’s Sunday School

St John's Sunday School 2014-15 We had a really good year last year with Sunday School – there is a good core now and we seem to be getting more new members. Plus additional members of the congregation have been helping and the children are becoming more and more part of the congregation.

We have planned the next year and these are the dates.

If you want to know more email or ring me on 01252 820537

St John’s Vision Day and “Praying for Growth”

On 1st June we had a Vision Day at St John’s Church, led by Steve Cox who is the Local Mission Adviser from the Diocesan Parish Development and Evangelism Team.
Although St John’s has grown 10% in the 2012 and a further 13% in the year 2013, growth was high on the agenda for those who attended, who feel that the congregation that does not include people of all ages and hence we feel we are not fulfilling our calling to be inclusive to everyone. At the Vision Day families, children and young people were highest on our list of people we would like to serve better, however we felt that there may be that there are others that we are not including too.
We discussed that it may be that the 9:30am service needs to change, or perhaps 9:30am on a Sunday is not a great time for families and a new service needs to start.
We decided that we need to listen to folks to hear what they think of our church and indeed church in general, and also we decided that we needed to pray. If you would like to comment on how we can make church more accessible to all then please email me – Also if you would like to join us to pray please come along – these are the future dates, we meet at St John’s:
Thu 24 Jul 2014 20:00 – 21:00
Wed 13 Aug 2014 15:30 – 16:30
Thu 28 Aug 2014 20:00 – 21:00
Wed 10 Sep 2014 15:30 – 16:30
Thu 25 Sep 2014 20:00 – 21:00
Wed 8 Oct 2014 15:30 – 16:30
Thu 23 Oct 2014 20:00 – 21:00
Wed 12 Nov 2014 15:30 – 16:30
Thu 27 Nov 2014 20:00 – 21:00
Wed 10 Dec 2014 15:30 – 16:30

Baptisms and Confirmations

I have been asked about Baptism by a number of parents with older children and also by adults. So in September I will be running a Baptism class for older children and also one for adults. When I say class, I really mean an opportunity to think through the Christian Faith and also to ask any questions that you like. If this is something that you would like to explore then please do get in contact with me – my number is 01252 820537 or email me on

Open the Book

This year we are going to do something new for assemblies in Folly Hill School and Badshot Lea Village School – we are using a resource called “Open the Book”. OPEN THE BOOK offers primary school children an opportunity to hear the major stories of the Bible in an interactive and enjoyable way during assembly times. Teams of Christians from local churches tell the stories in a 10-15 minute presentation. This can be incorporated into a wider school assembly, or stand alone.

All the Year One stories are taken from The Lion Storyteller Bible written by Bob Hartman, and give an overview of the Bible from Creation to the Ascension. OPEN THE BOOK fulfils OFSTED requirements for Collective Worship.

We are hoping that this will be an ecumenical endeavour with all the local churches involved. So far we have done the training and it has been both tremendous fun and also helped us understand the Bible Stories in different and deeper ways.

If you would like to know more, please email me –

Open the Book


MindfulnessOn Monday 22nd September at 9:30am at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, GU9 0LT, Suzette Jones the Diocesan Health and Wellbeing Advisor will be leading a Mindfulness Taster Session. Mindfulness simply means paying attention to our experience in the present moment, on purpose and with an attitude of kindly acceptance.

It is a technique that helps us be in the moment and it can be of particular benefit when we are feeling stressed or anxious.

Parable of the Sower – Lesley Shatwell’s sermon July 2014

Jesus said, “Listen! A sower went out to sow”

Swoosh – that’s the seed thrown from the sower’s hand
Swoosh, clitter clatter – that’s the sound the seed makes when it falls on the path.
Then there was a flapping of wings, a pecking and a squawking.
Did you see that?
I thought there was seed sown,
but I must have been mistaken.
All I see are birds,
there’s no seed on the path now.

And Jesus said, “Listen!”
Swoosh – the seed from the sower’s hand again
Oh, look, there will be good blackberries this year, but mind the thorns, nothing else can grow in that dense thicket.
Jesus said, “Listen!”
Swoosh – there’s the seed again from the sower’s hand
Yes, yes – we all know the story,
the seed fell amongst rocks, shot up, got scorched and died
Tell me something I don’t know.
Yes, I’m listening! I’m doing my best.
But sometimes, no matter how hard we try,
we don’t understand,
we just don’t get it.

There was a missing section from our reading today
– the bit where the disciples question Jesus as to why he talked in parables, in riddles.
Why can’t he make himself clear,
then we’d all know what he was trying to say.

Now the disciples are on a fast track,
Jesus has work for each one of them to do
so he explained the parable to them.
They heard the original,
they listened,
they questioned and they were answered.

So why is it that when we listen, really listen
and even when we have something explained to us,
why is it that sometimes we still don’t get it?
It could be that we are just in the wrong place
at the wrong time
and it’s nothing to beat ourselves up about.
It just wasn’t meant to be.

It could be that we don’t speak the language.
I was in France last week, my French is pretty good,
but sometimes someone would say something totally incomprehensible to me.
Even when repeated, still I couldn’t make it out.
I hear the words, I listen,
I know they make sense to someone,
but I can’t understand.
It’s frustrating.
And how can you react, reply, respond if you
don’t understand?

I wonder what the very first people thought when they heard Jesus tell the parable of the sower?
Well, I suppose they might have wondered why any sower would waste so much good seed.
Perhaps there were some in the crowd who just zoned out, it wasn’t relevant to them, perhaps they were fishermen
stupid farmers, wasting good seed –
what does that say to me?
Talk to me about fish, then I’ll listen.

God, the sower, is just wasting his time.
But nevertheless, God keeps sowing more seed

Swoosh, that’s more seed.

OK, some won’t ever bear fruit.
There too many distractions we mean to do God’s will, but we are easily distracted.
Someone has a better plan – let’s go out this evening, let’s have fun, it’ll be OK.
Well perhaps it will, perhaps it won’t,
but are these thorns?

Swoosh – God keeps sowing more seed
And now we are listening.
This time it seems like a really good idea,
it’s great for a while.
Our plans are going well, we’re engaged, purposeful
and really, really mean to do so much …
that’s the sun coming out and
our roots aren’t that strong.

As God keeps sowing more seed, perhaps this time it will find good, fertile soil.

OK Nice pictures:
so what does it all mean for us today?

In our parish there have been changes, I know,
one has dramatically affected me.
My call to serve God has taken me away from St Georges for a while and I miss you – I will be back now and then.
But a seed was sown.
Seeds sown call us to change, to adapt, to grow

Some may not like what is happening, everything moves too quickly, we’re in danger of losing what we have,
what is special to us.
Yet others will be dreaming dreams and wanting to share their vision for the future
God has made us each different. Unique.
Within each of us at any time, there is a variety soil which will be fruitful or not. It’s just one of those things.
Our parish has something really special, an inner core of prayerfulness, joy and peace.
Our parish is outward looking and welcoming to all.
Our congregation are loyal, generous, hardworking people who come together and share God’s love.
What is God sowing within us?
Yes, we’re listening to God,
we are all praying,
we are waiting to hear God

In fact we are all doing everything we can.

And Jesus said, “Listen! A sower went out to sow.”

Many seeds are sown continually
The seed which will grow our community
has been sown
and it will bring forth grain,
some thirty,
some sixty,
some a hundredfold

Lord God, open our ears to hear your word
open our minds to listen and understand
open our hearts to bear fruit and to do your will

Matt 13.1-23: The Sower: 20 07 14

Are you being heard?

Are you being heard (2)1 in 6 people have a hearing loss in our Diocese. An increasing older population and longer life expectancy, mean that our church buildings need to be able to welcome and accommodate those with sensory loss to aid communication.

We are looking for volunteers to:
• Be trained in the basic maintenance of hearing aids
• Offer these simple maintenance sessions, at existing church social events e.g. coffee mornings & lunches




Hearing Champions Training will include:
• Checking the hearing aid is working
• Replacing the battery, battery life
• Re-tubing
• Fitting the hearing aid in the ear
• Hearing aid controls
• T-loop
• Use of hearing aid
• Assistive listening devices
• Communication tactics
• Outline of audiology pathways in your area

If you would like to find out more, please come to our “Are you being Heard” event on Thursday 25th September between 10-12 at St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane or contact: Tracey Wade, Deaf & Inclusion Co-ordinator , Communities Engagement Team, Diocese of Guildford