Category Archives: St John’s Church

Safeguarding

Most people will be aware of the safeguarding problems that the national church has had.  To help address this, and to help ensure that children and vulnerable adults are kept safe the national church has created new safeguarding procedures, which the Diocese and the Parish have adopted.  The Parish is now in the process of implementing these new procedures.

As a result of this we will be:

  • Drawing up a list of all church activities, together with leaders and assistants.
  • Circulating a “know your safeguarding role” to all people working with children or vulnerable adults.
  • Asking all people working with children or vulnerable adults to sign the new confidential declaration form.
  • Implementing the “Safe Recruitment” procedures for people taking on new roles.
  • Creating risk assessments for all church activities.
  • Working with regular hall bookers to ensure that they have adequate safeguarding procedures and public liability insurance.

It will take us some time to do this, but we have no choice, both because this is best practice, and because we wish to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults using our services (in the wider sense) or our buildings.

Alan Crawley

Wendy’s sermon on Inclusive Church

SERMON -ST. JOHN’S – Sunday 6th August 2017- preaching on Inclusive Church (on sexuality)
Isaiah 55.1-5, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14.13-21
May I speak in the name of the living God who is and was and is to come? Amen.
In December 1990, aged 33, I attended a Christmas dinner dance with my husband, Steve. I was happy with the new dress I wore. That Saturday night I felt especially feminine. I felt very much part of the fun and conviviality of this special dinner.
Steve’s company had paid for an artist to do ink drawings of us all. His drawings were in cartoon style. The picture he drew of me showed my nose, mouth and chin much larger than they really are but he captured my smile and character.

The cartoon artist exaggerated certain aspects about my physical appearance but minimized others so that my shoulders appeared much smaller than they should have been for the size of my head. This was so he could fit my shoulders into the picture.
I now ask you to fit yourself into the picture which Saint Matthew draws for us of the Feeding of the 5,000. Transport yourself back almost 2,000 years. Where in the crowd do you think you’d be sitting? Who might you be with?

Imagine yourself sitting on the grass with all sorts of different people, Jewish and non- Jewish. Traders, merchants, stonecutters, masons, sculptors, craftsmen and fishermen, weavers, stone carriers, non-Jewish slaves, men and women, children, lepers (standing a little apart from the others), the blind, mentally ill and disabled people. What a wonderful mix of humanity.

It had been an incredible day when hundreds of people had been healed but now very ordinary needs were requiring attention. Everyone was hungry and the nearest village was a long way away.

In a matter of fact way, Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, looked up to heaven, gave thanks, broke the food and gave it to the disciples and then they gave it to the crowd. We are assured that all not only ate but all were filled and there were 12 baskets of left- overs. God more than supplied their need.

Most scholars believe that more than 5,000 people were fed but only the men were counted. Women and children had a low status in the society of the time but Jesus includes them in this miraculous dinner. I wonder who else might have been included? Might there have been some people with a different sexuality in that crowd? I think it is possible.

I read recently that approximately 1 in every 1,500 births are of people with dual sexual characteristics and some people are of indeterminate sex. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to be one of those people? They cannot even tick the male or female box on a form.

I would suggest that in such a large crowd that evening you would have found some lesbian and gay people and possibly some people whose sex was uncertain, in addition to the heterosexual men, women and children. All ate and were filled. Jesus left no-one out.

You may wonder why I am speculating like this. It is because the PCC has recently debated whether we should join Inclusive Church. A decision has not yet been made but Lesley and Alan have asked those who preach to preach about inclusivity as a way of seeking the opinion of the congregation. We have not been told what to preach. As individual preachers, with our own opinions and life experiences, we pray, as always, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in what we preach, also in how the congregation hears and receives what we say.

The statement of belief of Inclusive Church is as follows :-
‘We believe in inclusive Church – church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.’

Each of us is preaching on a subject of interest to us. I chose sexuality because it is the one which often causes the biggest difference of opinion. For the record, I am a heterosexual woman married to a heterosexual man but Steve and I have had homosexual friends of both sexes, some of whom have died of AIDS. I have one friend whose daughter had a sex change operation to become a man.

Now some of you may have particularly heard those words ‘scripturally faithful’ in that statement of belief. Perhaps you thought of the Old Testament book of Leviticus 18.22, warning that a man should be put to death for having sex with another man. However, I would risk a bet that no-one today avoids wearing clothes of mixed fibres which is a grave offence according to Leviticus 19.19. We must ask ourselves whether these ancient prohibitions, set at a very different time in history and culture, have relevance today. Some do but many do not. If we applied them all, how would they hamper outreach and mission?

Back to the Gospel reading. Remember the first sentence of the Gospel reading today. ‘Now when Jesus heard this he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.’ The word ‘this’ refers to the death of John the Baptist. The crowd, desperate for healing, did not even allow Jesus time to grieve. Perhaps keeping busy was what he needed and boy, did he keep busy!

Somehow John’s death is a catalyst giving a 1,000-volt injection to Jesus’ ministry in this miracle which, for me, sends out the biggest example of his new commandment to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind (in the thankful lifting, blessing, breaking and massive distribution of miraculously increased quantities of food) and to love your neighbour as yourself (in the feeding of all present, regardless of who they were). There is no other commandment greater than these.

Our Old Testament reading today also speaks to me of inclusivity. Isaiah, sounding like a market trader shouting out a bargain ‘Come all you who are thirsty… you will delight in the richest of fare’.

Should we deny people who are different to us the rich fare we receive here at the Holy Table and the benefits our faith gives us? Have we given a thought to the rich fare which these new people might bring to us and to this church?

Our Romans reading chimes with me also. It gives me sorrow and anguish when we cut off from Christ any human being who seeks him.

If it is decided that we will join Inclusive Church, it is very unlikely that we will have a rush of new people arriving but I would hope that, if we join, when we receive Holy Communion, we will be happy to have a transvestite man wearing a new dress in which he feels feminine, kneeling beside us at the altar rail, happy to share a coffee and fellowship with any lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex human being who may bless us by choosing to worship with us.

At that 1990 dinner dance the cartoon artist exaggerated parts of my face.

In the church in 2017, I believe we need to try hard not to exaggerate the sexual lives of people whose sexuality is different to ours. It is just one part of their lives as it is of ours and maybe not such a significant part. It is all too easy to focus exclusively on others’ sexuality as if there was nothing else to them at all. They are children of God like us with gifts and talents, hopes and dreams, joys and fears.

Jesus said of the loaves and fishes, ‘Bring them here to me’. I say, of those with a different sexuality, ‘Bring them here to us that they may eat and be filled’. Amen.

Thy Kingdom come – praying with psalms

Do you ever wake up to find your partner’s put the radio on in the small hours of the morning? In our case, it’s a sure sign that Lesley’s got something on her mind and is having deep and profound thoughts about it at 3 o’clock in the morning. It could be sermon writing or holiday booking, but in this case it was the exhibition recently held at St John’s.

“Thy Kingdom Come” is an annual international Christian initiative supported by the Church of England. The idea is to have a “wave of prayer” between Ascension and Pentecost (25th May – 4th June). Last year, the emphasis was on the Lord’s Prayer and our parish held an art exhibition illustrating and focussing attention on this. This year, we didn’t have such definite guidelines, so it was decided within the parish to use the psalms as our basis.

Lesley spent a lot of time perusing the psalms and finding ones that would be suitable for illustration. The artists of the parish, and Farnham in general, were then sidled up to and it was suggested they might like to produce works to be displayed in St John’s. To our delight (and slight surprise), thumbscrews were not necessary and most artists were thoroughly enthused by the idea.

So, works were commissioned, checks made occasionally to see that the artists hadn’t forgotten, but despite the smooth running, such events always generate a certain amount of stress – hence the 3am panics. Do we have enough easels? (No, we purchased and borrowed some more.) We haven’t got enough small tables! (Hooray for “The Range” in Aldershot. Four tables purchased for £9.99 each.)

So the afternoon before Ascension several of us assembled in St John’s to put the exhibition up. The contributors ranged in age from seven to seventy and the art works showed a fascinating range of imagination that does credit to all involved. I did a slight double take as I stood on a precariously propped up stepladder to mount Alison’s picture high up on a column (I’m H&S officer – should I be doing this?). However the end result was one we were very pleased with. The comments book indicated we were justified in this.

The event finished with a Pentecost party on the afternoon of Sunday 4th June, in which tea and scones, music and singing featured prominently. Thanks to all involved.

Altogether a nice parish event. Not earth-shattering in its impact, but:-
“The least you do for Jesus will be precious in his sight”

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Bob Shatwell

St John’s Survey Responses

An open session and display to discuss the possible future of St John’s Church, Hale, will be held next Saturday, 27th May, at the church from 10am to 2pm.

The discussion will centre around the ideas generated from responses to a recent survey sent out to residents living close to the church. This asked for their ideas about how to ensure the church remains open in the long-term and how it can be used for the local community during the week as well as on a Sunday.

The survey was delivered to 1,700 houses in Hale. The overall response was positive to the idea of the ‘interior of the church being altered to create a space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use’.

Ideas include removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would be used in church services including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and also allowing complementary uses during the week such as a soft play area, a cafe, and groups offering support for those suffering with addictions or needing debt counselling. The space created could also be used for art exhibitions, or for orchestra and choir recitals.

One respondent commented that by “removing the dark pews and replacing them with bright comfortable chairs will create a versatile space and be lighter”.  Another said: “as much as I love the pews, they do limit the way the space can be used and make worship very formal and perhaps for many do not foster a feeling of participation and equality”.

However, for some of those who responded, the idea of reordering the interior of the church is painful and difficult.  A respondent who regards himself as a traditionalist sad that he could “see the need to increase usage of the church for other activities apart from church services” but would “just have to accept it as progress”. However, another added: “St John’s will remain beautiful whatever happens and to me will feel more beautiful if the building is more full of life”.

The feedback session with refreshments will run from 10am to 2pm on 27th May 27. Come along to discuss some ideas and options for the future of St John’s.

For further information, contact Rev’d Hannah Moore on 01252 659267, email revd.hannah@badshotleaandhale.org or visit https://badshotleaandhale.org

Not just on a Sunday: Survey looks at new ways of using local church

An open session and display to discuss the possible future of St John’s Church, Hale, will be held next Saturday, 27th May, at the church from 10am to 2pm.

The discussion will centre around the ideas generated from responses to a recent survey sent out to residents living close to the church. This asked for their ideas about how to ensure the church remains open in the long-term and how it can be used for the local community during the week as well as on a Sunday.

The survey was delivered to 1,700 houses in Hale. The overall response was positive to the idea of the ‘interior of the church being altered to create a space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use’.

Ideas include removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would be used in church services including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and also allowing complementary uses during the week such as a soft play area, a cafe, and groups offering support for those suffering with addictions or needing debt counselling. The space created could also be used for art exhibitions, or for orchestra and choir recitals.

One respondent commented that by “removing the dark pews and replacing them with bright comfortable chairs will create a versatile space and be lighter”. Another said: “as much as I love the pews, they do limit the way the space can be used and make worship very formal and perhaps for many do not foster a feeling of participation and equality”.

However, for some of those who responded, the idea of reordering the interior of the church is painful and difficult. A respondent who regards himself as a traditionalist sad that he could “see the need to increase usage of the church for other activities apart from church services” but would “just have to accept it as progress”. However, another added: “St John’s will remain beautiful whatever happens and to me will feel more beautiful if the building is more full of life”.

The feedback session with refreshments will run from 10am to 2pm on 27th May 27. Come along to discuss some ideas and options for the future of St John’s.

For further information, contact Rev’d Hannah Moore on 01252 659267, email revd.hannah@badshotleaandhale.org or visit https://badshotleaandhale.org

Thy Kingdom Come – Praying the Psalms

It doesn’t seem like a year since I was hastily putting together an exhibition of paintings depicting the Lord’s Prayer.  Artists with strong connections to our parish each took a line from the prayer and created an image.  Musicians and singers performed, and scones were enjoyed.  Amid all this festivity, we remembered that our Archbishops of Canterbury and York had set the ball rolling when they called for a wave of prayer to cross our country.

This year, they have called again; and as I write, artists are planning their response, bakers are checking their recipes and singers are practising their new repertoire.  This year, our theme is the Psalms and we are hoping that our pictures may stir up new ideas and ways of looking at these ancient songs.

Praying the Psalms – good heavens, what have those old things got to do with our lives today!  What is a Psalm anyway?

To start with, you can find them in the Old Testament because they are part of our Christian inheritance from the earlier Judaic tradition.  Open the Bible, about half way through and flip back a bit and you will find 150 Psalms lurking between Job and Proverbs.  They are ancient songs written by the Hebrew people.  If you look at the headings, you will see (for example Psalm 15) “A Psalm of David”.  We have legends of King David writing the Psalms and often you can see pictures of him, with his harp, wrestling with some poetical tracts … but this is just a legend.  We do not know for certain who composed the Psalms, there could have been several authors.  There are Psalms of joy, Psalms of despair, deep anger with God … I think we have lost the ability to have a really good lament.  The Psalms hurl so much grief and anger at God and there is nowhere better to aim it.  God is big enough to take all our human suffering – together with our joy, delight and thanksgiving for our world.  The Psalms give voice to it all.

psalms

(Photo: King David, from a 6th century mosaic from Gaza)
http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/Gaza.html#Anthedon

 

Our exhibition will give a tiny glimpse into these ancient songs, I pray that it will open your eyes to look again at the Psalms and perhaps be glad when they say, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (see Psalm 122).

 

Art Exhibition: open 25 May – 4 June 2017 at St John’s, Hale

Pentecost Party:  Psalms, art, music, refreshments: 4 June at 3.00 pm (St John’s, Hale)

 

 

Looking to expand the use of St John’s

St John’s Church in Hale is a large, Victorian building with wooden pews which currently don’t allow the space to be used flexibly. The church is open daily but is chiefly used on a Sunday for a 9.30am service and for weddings and funerals at other times in the week.

We want the community to have a say in how the building might also be used so that more people can take advantage of the space it offers, while maintaining worship as its primary use.

To this end, a questionnaire is being sent out to people living close to St John’s asking them if they would be happy for the interior of the church to be altered to create more space and what they might like this space to be used for. Ideas include a cafe, soft play area, GP surgery, debt counselling service, rehearsal space, studios, small office space for home workers, and meeting rooms. The results will be analysed and an exhibition will be held at the church on Saturday May 27 from 10am-2pm.

Rev’d Hannah Moore from St John’s Church said: “We have a beautiful building that is open every day and has a worshipping congregation which meets every Sunday, as well as being used for weddings and funerals. However, the church has great potential as a community resource with more community events and participation and we would like local people to tell us what they would like from the church. We are sending out a questionnaire with an Easter card and will look carefully at the responses to see how we can best serve everyone and ensure that the church is a vibrant part of Hale life for many years to come.”

Please help us by filling in the following questionnaire:

1. Would you be happy for the interior of the church to be altered in order to create more space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use?
2. How can you envision this church being used for:
a) Community use, (eg. café, soft play area, debt counselling, GP surgery)

b) Cultural (mosaic studio, orchestra rehearsal, book-swap library, local history display)
c) Commercial (office space, shop, meeting rooms):
We really need your ideas! What does our community need? At the back of St John’s is a box for you to pop your ideas into, alternatively email admin@badshotleaandhale.org (please note, we will not reply to emails to this address – it is just a way of collecting ideas)

Solvitur ambulando

“It is solved by walking”.  Now, I’m not sure who first came up with that phrase, my internet search has thrown up a number of plausible suggestions.  I first came across it whilst training to become a licensed lay minister and someone told me it was attributed to Augustine of Hippo.  Hum … I don’t know.  It is certainly a very clever phrase and it’s true:  it is solved by walking.

A small, cheery group of walkers met at St George’s on 6 August and set out to walk round to each of the three churches in our parish.

Hats or no hats?  Sunglasses or no sunglasses?  Had we brought enough water/sun-cream?  Oh the perils of parish walking on such a rare summer’s day when the sun shines!  Still, solvitur ambulando.  Friendly conversation and soon we came to St John’s.  The church was cool and welcoming and we took our first  break.  There we were met by John Evans who told us stories about the Sumner family and their close connection with St John’s (foremost – of course – amongst many churches and ecclesiastical matters connected with the Sumners).  We saw the simple, yet beautiful Sumner plaque by the altar and prayed, remembering Hiroshima (6 August).  The walking party was joined by Hannah and her family and we discussed the best route to walk up to St Mark’s.

walkers at St John'sIt is solved by walking – we set off through Farnham Park and headed to the Green at Upper Hale.

On the way, I discovered that Jackie has a degree in Russian and that she has known Rachel since they were eight.  I like walking with friends.  Somehow, you have more time to chat, more opportunity to share ideas and we got to see more of our lovely parish.  Solvitur ambulando.

Mind you, it was jolly hot and it’s uphill all the way to St Mark’s.  We were glad to reach the dappled shade in the orchard, we’d made it to the summit – downhill all the way back now.

walkers at St Mark'sIt seemed as though Hannah’s little dogs appreciated the rest.  Little did they know that this was not their final destination and there were yet more miles for their little legs.

We rolled back down the hill to Badshot Lea, and I chatted about music with Margaret.  I discovered that when Margaret had to learn music by heart, she would visualise it on the page.  Isn’t that interesting, I don’t think I can learn music in that way, I hear the harmonic structure then mentally attach everything around it.

By the time we got home, we had walked over five miles.  I was surprised actually; I like walking, but I hadn’t walked that far for a while.  And it was easy.  I could have dropped out if it got too hard, and people did join and leave us at different times.  Perhaps you would like to give it a go next time, because, of course, “it is solved by walking”.
Hum … I wonder what “it” is?