Notices for Sunday 30 May 2021

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy Simon if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services from this Sunday 30 May All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week (and next) our worship will be presented live by the worship team. We then continue with the Good News according to Mark brought by Ian Holmes. You can read the passage : Mark 3:20-25 here.
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.
    • Next week (6 June ) Matt Grylls will bring us will bring Psalm in the Sanctuary

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’?

This post by Nigel Coles was originally published at Seventy Two

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. Exodus 16:21

Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.’ Exodus 16:29

Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Exodus 18:17-18

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ Exodus 34:6-7

Earlier this year I sensed six questions, the Lord was prompting me to ask myself as a result of reading through Exodus again. Five months on, the largest element by far which has stayed with me is the powerful connection with Jesus’ experience in the wilderness: the context of his battle with the devil. Moses’ journey with God through forty years of wandering in the wilderness was, make no mistake, hugely significant in the history of the people of God. However, I can’t help sensing the greatest significance for Moses was not in any sense the achievement of having been ‘the greatest legislator and commander-in-chief of the first liberation army’ (Elie Wiesel), but his relationship with Yahweh, the One, True, Living, God. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it so powerfully: ‘for Moses the presence of God was the Promised Land’. Wow – you mean I should stop striving to get somewhere I’m not and stop and acknowledge the Lord is with me, right here, right now? Pretty much.

I shall be defined more by my relationship with my heavenly Father, than my context

We talk and hear others talk a lot of about context today. I remember Tom Smail coming to speak when I was at Spurgeon’s back in the 1980’s. He was the first person I heard talk about ‘contextual theology’. We’ve come a long way since then, (almost forty years in fact!) but have we? I like to think I’ve learnt some important lessons about how to engage and operate as a missional disciple in varying contexts, but I’ve also heard a lot of nonsense. Jesus knew how to sift through words, words of God. Me? I’ve not always been so good, but I’m learning. Remember Jesus’ response to what is recorded as the first of a series of temptations:

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 although it’s a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Deuteronomy 8:1-5

Here’s the thing. Neither Moses, Jesus, nor Bear Grylls allowed themselves to be shaped by their context. Bear Grylls? Me? You? I like Bear Grylls. Christian, adventurer, at last I can admit to being a Scout in public without people sniggering! This week he spoke again about the dangers of protecting young people too much:

“The ninjas of the future,” says Bear Grylls, “are going to be those who can learn how to navigate the fear. It’s like a firefight. You can’t move backwards. You’ve got to move towards it, you know?” (Interview with the Irish Times May 13 2021)

Today’s wisdom provides us with a choice invariably between play safe and avoid the danger or immerse yourself in the culture you want to identify with. Jesus offers a third way. The Jesus way is incarnation, full identification, yet without being changed by the culture, rather being transformed by the word of God.

I remember when I moved to North Cheam being told ‘it’s really hard ground for the gospel in suburbia’; when I moved to Bristol, ‘South Bristol is really hard ground’, when I became a Area Superintendent ‘you won’t be able to do it with a young family’. Basically, everywhere I go there’s someone ready to inform me, it can’t be done. I’ve developed a two-word answer: ‘but God’. Our context is important, absolutely, but it doesn’t change the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to be self-aware and not blind to our own limitations, but they don’t determine the call of God.

Here’s Ruth Haley Barton again: ‘Every time I read about Moses’ relationship with God I am filled with longing and it is not the longing to get somewhere – although there are always new places to get to. It is the longing to be a certain kind of person. A person who knows God. A person who is faithful against all odds and does not shrink back. A person through whom God can perform whatever deeds need to be done – mighty or otherwise – but also a person who can just be as content settling down beside a well or sitting on the side of a mountain in God’s presence. Someone whose face shines because he has been talking to God. Someone whose every move is a result of an attempt to listen to God and then do what he says’. (Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership. P219)

That’s me. I want to be more like Jesus. I talk a lot about Jesus’ DNA, but talk alone doesn’t cut it, I want people to get Jesus’ DNA themselves and that’s exactly what the Holy Spirit delivers in us all. Given space and permissive freedom, the Holy Spirit multiplies Jesus’ DNA in whoever allows him.

I shall trust whichever words from God, He speaks into my life, more than any others 

It’s an exciting week. We’ve been nudging towards launching an App based on The Discipleship Cycle. You can get an insight via the Seventy-two website:

In a nutshell, The Discipleship Cycle encourages everyone to go beyond listening to God, to looking to live out in practice, whatever God speaks into our lives. Listening is where we start, but not where we need to finish (how many of your Sunday gathering do you reckon get beyond listening any given week?).

My daily time in the presence of the Lord (anyone else remember that Eric Clapton song of the same name or am I alone in being that old!?) has become the most dynamic space of my life in recent years. I’m not proud of that fact as I’ve been a Baptist Minister for thirty-five years and I’m sure plenty of people might have assumed I should have said that a long time ago! However, I’ve come to the place where I intentionally seek to co-operate with what I now recognise as the process for transformation the Holy Spirit utilises in our lives. It strikes me it also happens to be the same process Clive Woodward employed, which enabled England to win the Rugby World Cup and Dave Brailsford used, which transformed British Cycling from the Olympic also-rans of 2002 to the dominant force of 2008 at Beijing. I’m not claiming any great Christian leadership insights for either guy, simply they implemented a process, which embraced how change actually takes place 99.9% of the time: incremental, daily, 1% at a time. Today I no longer stress about whether I’ll remember the content or background of the Bible passage I’ve just read, as long as I sense I’ve moved a phase around the Discipleship Cycle of listening, looking, living and learning. I don’t worry if I’ve not understood the impact of every facet of the culture clash between post-modernity and the kingdom of God, as long as I’m staying attentive to what the Lord is highlighting to me and acting on that. I’m not focusing on keeping the weeds down but nurturing every seed of the word of God he wants sown into my heart.

Every word because every day can be a step forwards on my journey towards the likeness of Jesus. ‘Every word that comes from the mouth of God’ is, for me, a seed which needs to be planted, nurtured and grown to fruition. ‘Every word’ can become a 1% incremental change, towards the likeness of Jesus in my shoes. Every word because they’re all fully aligned with who he is. They’re not just words from a God who says what he means and means what he says, they are who he is, they’re intrinsic to his very essence. His character and practice are one.

I had to laugh, or else I’d have cried. May 17th arrived. The most significant lifting of restrictions as a result of the pandemic, for what felt like ages. Also, the day on Sabbath rest we’d set up, as one of four for Webnet leaders, under this years’ leaders conference focus ‘rhythms of grace’. It was the worst attended of anything we’ve so far provided, since last March and lockdown 1. One by one, people cancelled, ‘I’m too busy’, ‘I’ve too much on this week’ were apparently the main reasons. How many decisions, conversations, plans have I made, which dissipate at the first opportunity?

I shall trust God is with me and for me, whatever the wilderness

The wilderness is good for me. Have you read ‘God Has a Name’, by John Mark Comer yet? You need to. I hadn’t until someone gave me a copy, but I am now hugely grateful for that lovely gift. It’s no new or novel theology and one might question the wisdom of anyone setting out to write a book, which is essentially an exposition of Exodus 34:4-7, for today’s generation. It is both fresh as well as refreshing. I love it. John Mark Comer has given me a renewed confidence to speak to young adults. He doesn’t get side-tracked by popular culture; he addresses it straight. ‘There are no short-cuts to life. You can’t microwave character. It’s more like a tree that you grow slowly, one season after another.’ (p213) I read it, slowly, alongside my Bible and it’s helped strengthen my roots. There’s a good reason: the whole book brings into focus my relationship with God as it revolves around the nature of God and his dealings with human beings and I’m one! I underlined plenty, but my summary was:

  • I can trust God more than I do, because God is who he says he is
  • I need to take sin more seriously wherever it appears, because God does

The thing that’s really grabbed me reading through Exodus is the relationship between Moses and the Lord. God calls Moses, he has a role, he has responsibilities, but where can you distinguish between his relationship with the Lord and his role, responsibilities, etc? You can’t. You can try, but you won’t find there’s any compartmentalising. Sure, there’s stuff here we might call our ‘day-off’ (Ex.16:29) or ‘self-care’ (Ex.18:17-18, but there’s no hint this thing called life in all its fulness is anything but a whole. Manna in Exodus and grace in the New Testament are sufficient, because God is. Every word because the grace of God is always sufficient for today.

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Dt.8:2

What is in my heart? Surely God knew what was in Moses’ heart, but he ‘led’ him ‘all the way in the wilderness these forty years’. Remember Jesus too was ‘led by the Spirit into the wilderness’ Mt.4:1. It was Moses, I think, not Tolkien who first came up with the idea ‘not all who wander are lost’. God led him daily for forty years. That’s not how it looks from the outside and maybe that’s not how my life looks from the outside. However, I’m looking to keep in step with the Spirit, day by day.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy Faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm (1866-1957)

 

This is part 5 in the 6 part series Leadership in the Wilderness. You can find the rest of the series here.

The post Leadership in the Wilderness: Am I willing to ‘not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’? appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for Sunday 23 May 2021

A prayer for Pentecost Sunday

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy Simon if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team.
  • COTG are opening for face-face services from next Sunday 30 May All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week (and next) our worship will be presented live by the worship team. We then continue with the Good News according to Mark brought by Eddie. You can read the passage : Mark 3:7-19 here.
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.
    • Next week (30 May) Ian Holmes will bring you Good News from Mark.

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

Appointment of Elders and Deacons

Following our Church Meeting on Monday 17th May:

Ian Holmes, Rob Perks and John Prior have been elected as Elders and Sue Wingrave as Deacon.

Sue has also been affirmed as Church Secretary following her election as Deacon.

Please hold our whole leadership in prayer as they guide us through the coming months.

Ladies Bible Study 24 May 7:30 pm

The ladies are meeting in person this month

If you have not done so already, please book your place here.

For those wishing to attend online the link is as follows:

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82973000518?pwd=ZmdOL2trblQ5WW1sMTNKcmVTazYvUT09

Meeting ID: 829 7300 0518

Passcode:777

Any questions, please contact Anne H,  Victoria K, or Christine C.

Ark Children’s Service Sat 29 May 10:30

Please pray for the The Ark Children’s Service and the whole team as they prepare for and run thi event

Booking has been brisk, including new families, and there are very few family tickets left.

Click on the link here to get your tickets – one per household please!

We need to ask that masks are worn by over 11s and hand gel is used on arrival, please. You will be allocated seats to ensure social distancing with socially distanced entry and exit too.  We would be grateful if you  don’t attend if you have any Covid symptoms. 

Psalm on the Farm Sunday 6th June: Cancelled.

Although there has been a significant relaxation in restrictions in wider society, notably being able to meet as two households indoors and in groups of up to 30 outdoors, there are no changes relevant to church included in the most recent changes. Notably the restriction on meeting off church premises has not been lifted as was hoped

Thus, in light of recent Government Covid guidelines and the updated Baptist Union advice, we will not be holding Psalm on the Farm on the 6th June. The Leadership Team know this is desperately disappointing and have not taken the decision lightly. Safety is of course important and Tim will keep us updated on our roadmap towards the end of restrictions.

Please note that the planned Youth activities can go ahead. Contact Dan Ovens in you have any queries.

Message from Rhiannon: Children’s Activities

[Our children] walk past the church and say ‘There’s our old church’….

As restrictions continue to ease, the church leadership are very aware that adults have the choice of coming to Priory Street or, shortly, Rudloe Cafe on Sundays but that is not so easy for our younger children.

Please access the link here to read the message from Rhiannon including exciting plans to provide an opportunity  for children to access in person meetings at church.

Do lift up these plans and events and especially our youngest members in your prayers. For them, the last 14 months represents a significant chunk of their young lives.

If you would like to get involved in the children’s work or have any queries, do contact Rhiannon.

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Children’s focus

As restrictions continue to ease, the church leadership are very aware that adults have the choice of coming to Priory Street or, shortly, Rudloe Cafe on Sundays but that is a big ask for younger children. A small group met recently to try to work out what is possible and this is the result (from Rhiannon). For some of you perhaps this is an opportunity to get involved? But for everyone please lift up these plans and events and especially our youngest members in your prayers. For them, the last 14 months has been a significant chunk of their lives. I’m sure you’ll agree with the parent who reported:

[Our children] walk past the church and say ‘There’s our old church’, which breaks our hearts.

Over to Rhiannon:

Hi all

I’m excited to let you know that I am going to trial a couple of things with the children in mind to provide an opportunity  for children to access in person meeting at church.

Firstly, I want to thank you for your patience, encouragement and support over the last 14 months with the online activities and more recently, the live Zoom sessions.  I am aware that accessing things online has not been ideal but I’m thankful that it has been helpful to many of you.

So what is the plan?

The hope is that restrictions will continue to ease however, I want to approach the next few months with a positive but cautious approach, adhering to government guidelines at all times.  We have a great opportunity to trial some different approaches to children’s ministry so, with that in mind, what we start back with may undergo changes and develop as we work out what is best for our children and end up looking different rather different from the initial plan.

Over the next few months we will be meeting on the farm for the first Sunday of the month, during theses services you will be able to collect an activity pack for your child, which will include colouring sheets, puzzles etc for them to complete during the service or at home later in the day. Hopefully, this will encourage the children to engage in the sermon at the right level. Please remember to bring your own pencils / crayons as there won’t be any provided in order to minimise contact between us.

On Sunday June 20th at 10am there will be a children’s service (the usual service with John preaching from Mark will be moved to 5pm on that day).  This will be a short service that will be focussed on the children, there won’t be a sermon for adults, it will all be aimed at the children so that they can be reminded of what it’s like to be in church with their family, and of course for us to welcome some children into the church building for the first time!! I’m working on the final structure of the service but there will be sung worship (led from the front as we aren’t able to sing aloud yet) interactive story, craft to complement the story and lots of fun and enjoyment celebrating being able to worship together in person. As we will be restricted with numbers able to attend you will need to book your place for the service and details of how to do this will be in the notices nearer the time so keep your eyes open.

I hope that you are all keeping well and positive and I’m looking forward to seeing you all very soon.
God bless
Rhiannon

Annual and Ordinary Church Meeting

On Monday 17th almost forty households met in the Sanctuary with a further score online to reflect on the year concluding Aug 20, thank Norman and Roger for service (almost) completed and to hold elections for several posts going forward.

With apologies for the plainness of most of these slides, I nonetheless commend them to you as they contain a number of useful links. Minutes will be available shortly.

Notices for Sunday 16 May 2021

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy Simon if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week our worship will be recorded. Then we continue the Good News according to Mark brought Alan Christie. You can read the passage : Mark 2:18-3:6 here.
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.
    • Next week (23 May) Eddie will bring you Good News from Mark.

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

Church Meeting 17 May @ 8pm

The Eventbrite tickets have now closed for the Church Meeting on the 17th May. You may of course attend online:

  • Computer or smartphone: https://meet.google.com/gqv-uapk-mrm
  • Telephone (London call rate): 020 3957 0549‬ PIN: ‪196 426 011#

It is essential to our church culture that we meet together to discern God’s will but if you are minimising contact due to Coronavirus it will be possible to participate online. However, to vote you will have to deliver that in person to the church within 30 minutes of the ballot opening. There will be someone to collect your vote outside so you don’t need to come into the building.

The agenda is now available and reports will be forthcoming within the next week.

Ladies Bible Study 24 May 7:30 pm

Great news: We can meet in person for this month’s Bible study.

We are meeting on Monday 24th May at Corsham Baptist Church at 7:30pm…it is fast approaching.

Please book your place here.

We will of course be following all the government Covid-19 guidelines so please remember to bring your mask and your own Bible.

Zoom is available for those not able to join us in person.

Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82973000518?pwd=ZmdOL2trblQ5WW1sMTNKcmVTazYvUT09

Meeting ID: 829 7300 0518

Passcode:777

Any questions, please contact Anne H,  Victoria K, or Christine C.

Ark Children’s Service Sat 29 May 10:30

Please pray for the The Ark Children’s Service – for numbers and for the team preparing for the event.

It will be held at Corsham Baptist Church on Saturday 29th May, at 10.30 for about half an hour.  There will be a take-home craft available. The service in church will be similar to normal with songs, Bible story and puppets.
There is still space if you would like to book.

Click on the link here to get your tickets!

We need to ask that masks are worn by over 11s and hand gel is used on arrival, please. You will be allocated seats to ensure social distancing with socially distanced entry and exit too.  We would be grateful if you  don’t attend if you have any Covid symptoms. 

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

The Last Words!

Picture of Steve and Ruth

This post by Steve and Ruth Lancaster was originally published at Life in the Lancs Lane

2nd January: High Pike in the Lakes

The very last words of Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ novel are a tad underwhelming considering what has gone before.  Samwise Gamgee, the ever-faithful travelling companion, arrives back in the Shire after completing his quest to help Frodo deposit the magical ring in the fires of Mount Doom.  He has fought off giant spiders, battled with orcs and trolls, trudged over mire and mountain, and finally arrived back at his Hobbiton home.  He slumps into a chair in his cosy hobbit-hole and says to his wife in a rather understated manner, “Well, I’m back.”

Well, we’re back!  And this is where our AIM journey comes to an end.  We haven’t had to fight any trolls, at least not in the physical realm!  Who knows how many spiritual trolls have been encountered during our journey?!  We have encountered a few big spiders and scorpions, but not on the scale that Sam and Frodo had to deal with.  We haven’t had to trudge over mire and mountain, unlike many of the early AIM missionaries, but we did clock up a lot of miles on the potholed roles of Tanzania as we ministered to pastors and missionaries across the country.  We didn’t have a magical ring to deal with, although, just as Tolkien’s ring had the power to destroy all evil, our mission was to teach God’s Word, a story that deals with the ultimate battle between good and evil, and the eventual demise of our enemy.  Revelation ch. 20 states that Satan will indeed be thrown into a lake of fire, and on that day, his influence will be no more!  The victory has been won!  Now, I realise that you can take analogies too far (Tolkien might disagree!) but the fact is that Ruth and I have completed our AIM journey and we’re finally able to say with Sam Gamgee, “Well, we’re back.”  It is the end of that story – but if you’d like to watch a summary of our final term ‘adventures’, see the penultimate paragraph for more details! 

Winter Wonderland: It’s now just over four months since we arrived back in the UK.  We enjoyed a quarantined Christmas, staying in a cosy Cumbrian cottage in the village of Baggrow – not ‘Bag End’!  Due to the fact that we couldn’t do any face-to-face deputation and that we hadn’t got a home to go to, we decided to head north to Scotland where Ruth’s sister has a holiday cottage that we could rent for a few months.  We stayed in the town of Nairn, or as one resident referred to it, Nairnia!  It certainly felt like Narnia during January when the snow came down and covered the frozen harbour!  Here’s a strange connection: the actress who played the evil ice queen in the Narnia movie actually lives in Nairn! 

Coming out of the heat of Tanzania, Ruth and I had both wanted to experience a proper cold winter, and up in Nairn we certainly got that!  We were told that Nairn hadn’t seen as cold a winter for at least 10 years, so it seems we were there at the right time!  With mountains on the doorstep, beaches to walk along, forests to wander through and birds to spot, these two months provided a real Rivendell experience for us; a place to rest and relax, to unwind and unravel, to chill and be chilled!  We loved it!  We managed to do a few online presentations and I was also able to preach a couple of times.  In fact, the wonders of modern technology meant that I could be halfway up a mountainous Munro but at the same time preaching in Carlisle!  Whilst preaching a pre-recorded sermon to a laptop does have some advantages, it isn’t quite the same, so I’m looking forward to getting back in a live pulpit sometime soon. 

A wintry Munro in the Highlands of Scotland

Morogoro to Malmesbury: Following our time in Scotland we headed south and began the process of finding somewhere to rent.  To cut a long story short, we’ve ended up in the small Cotswold town of Malmesbury where we have been able to rent a flat in an old workhouse!  Actually, it’s an old silk mill that was built in 1793 to process raw silk from China.  You’ll see from the photo that the building has numerous large windows in it, designed to let lots of natural light into the rooms, thereby avoiding having to use oil lamps and candles.  This was all with safety in mind as the silk material being processed was highly flammable!  We’ve been here just over a month and have settled in really well, and so far haven’t come across any ghostly silk-millers looking for their silk!  We had initially wanted to rent in Corsham itself but found that there was very little on the rental market that was available for just six months, so we opted for this flat in Malmesbury, only a 20-minute drive away. The silk mill will be our home for the next few months whilst we wait for our tenants to move out of our house in Corsham.    

The town of Malmesbury seems to have three notable claims to fame.1 . Athelstan, the first king of England was buried here in the abbey in the year 939. 2. A tower in the abbey was used for an early attempt at human flight way back in 1010.  One of the monks jumped into a hand-made glider and launched himself off the tower.  It flew for 180 metres before crashing to the ground, leaving him with two broken legs!  3. Nowadays it’s home to the Dyson company, an employer of over 4,000 people who design and produce all sorts of household gadgets.

Sunset on the Solway Firth

And so to the ‘what next’ question!  We’ve certainly enjoyed our home assignment months, even though they’ve been a bit different due to Covid restrictions.  Tanzania already seems a world away from where we are now; there are no geckos on our walls here, no ants crawling over the kitchen top, no snakes to be mindful of!  We now drink water from the taps without a second thought and are still amazed by the food choices available in the supermarket!  Despite what people may say, the roads here are a pleasure to drive on, and having my car serviced here only takes a day, rather than week!!  And it still seems strange that it’s not getting dark at 6.30 every night!  I guess that these, and a thousand other differences, add to the variety of life that we’ve experienced during the past 7 years, and it’s going to take a bit more time to fully adjust back into UK culture.  We’re grateful for most of these experiences (!) and thankful to God for a good re-entry!  

Ruth has been actively looking for employment and had hoped to find a job with a Christian ministry.  However, the Lord seems to have another direction in mind for her at this time and on 10th May she will start a new job as the Operations Manager of a small company that specializes in providing training through role play (see www.inspired-act.co.uk for more information).  This opportunity came about through a member of Corsham Baptist Church who runs the company.  Please pray for Ruth as she settles into the role. 

As for me (Steve), there are a few possibilities, but nothing definite to report on.  I’ve found it hard to know exactly what I want to do in this next chapter, and I’m content to wait for the right opportunity, knowing that God will show me the right door to walk through as and when that door appears!  I’d like to continue in Christian ministry through preaching and teaching but working out the right context in which to do that, at this point in time, is the hard part!  Meanwhile, Oak Hall has asked me to lead and speak on a few trips during the summer and, now that travel restrictions are beginning to ease, there is a better chance of them actually happening.  Israel is one country that has just been given a ‘green light’, meaning that there won’t be a requirement to quarantine on return.  The Israel trips I hope to be leading will be 31st July-10th August, and 8th-18th Sept, and I also hope to be doing the Bible teaching on the Oak Hall Alpine Bible week in Austria towards the end of August.  It’s always good to see a few familiar faces on these trips, so if you fancy joining me, please have a look at the Oak Hall website, or click the following links: 

Oak Hall – Israel—trip codes IS34 and IS40 

Pastor Batano & Tony 
at Sanga Sanga

News of Sanga Sanga: Our former team mates Tony & Cath Swanson visited Sanga Sanga in February to run a training course for pastors and reported back to us that the ministry appears to be thriving.  The buildings were spick and span and visitor bookings were growing.  We’re so thankful to hear this news and to know that our Tanzanian colleagues are doing a great job.  Please do continue to pray for Pastor Batano, the accountant John, evangelist Francis Manungu and all the team there.  You can receive occasional updates of Sanga Sanga through the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aictsangasanga.

Magical Memories and Memorable Moments: Back in March we put together a video presentation of our third term in Tanzania, a summary of our final term and a collection of our memorable moments.  It was done primarily for folks at our home church in Corsham because we couldn’t report back to them face-to-face, but we thought we’d make it available on the blog for anyone to watch.  You might be familiar with some of the photos and stories, as they’ve appeared in various newsletters, but we hope that it gives the full flavour of our final term in Tanzania.  So, if you’d like to see some footage of an elephant up close and personal, some grown-up men and women getting excited over a piece of birthday cake, a Muslim-majority primary school class singing God’s praises, and some Masai dance moves, head to the previous post on the blog entitled “Video – a look back at our last term” and click on the link which says “3rd term video for Corsham Baptist”.  A word of warning to those strapped for time, the presentation lasts for 46 minutes!! 
This is the 41st and final edition of our AIM-related newsletter and, if you’ve read all 41 editions, you deserve a medal!  A note of thanks to Ma and Pa Lancs for printing and distributing those 41 editions!  We hope you’ve enjoyed the journey and have felt a part of what we’ve been doing over these last 7.5 years.  We may well continue to write an occasional blog update (depending on what happens next), so if you would prefer not to be on the blog update list, please let us know.  If we don’t hear from you, we’ll assume you’re happy to hear from us occasionally!  
Our formal service with AIM officially ended on 31st March, although we’ll continue to be inactive members for the time being.  We had good debriefs with our colleagues in the Nottingham office and are grateful for all they’ve done to administer our service and smooth our transitions to and from the field.
To those who have written to us at various times, to those who have encouraged us, to those who have prayed for us, and to those who have supported us and our work at IBM financially, we want to say the biggest THANK YOU possible – asante sana kabisa for your support!  You’ve been a huge blessing!  And I guess all that’s left to say is ‘goodbye’…. for now!   
Every blessing,
Steve & Ruth
Prayer Points
– Praise God for the way in which He has helped us to adjust back to life in the UK and for the provision of accommodation.
– Please pray for Ruth as she starts her new job soon.  Pray too for Steve as he considers the future and waits for God’s direction.
– Please pray for Pastor Batano and his team at Sanga Sanga, that the ministry will continue to bless the pastors and evangelists of the AICT.  Pray for wise management and increasing visitor numbers to sustain the work.
Bird of the month: Long-tailed Duck,
seen at Hopeman, Moray
Steve, his niece Grace and sister
Bev at the end of the unofficial
Nairn half marathon in March!

Notices for Sunday 9 May 2021

This week

In-person services continue with increased capacity. Pre-booking is still required but please consider coming if you would like. You can book your family ticket (one per household) here – contact Cathy Simon if for any reason you are unable to book.

Please note that:

  • you must not attend if you have any Covid symptoms – a new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell ;
  • you must inform us if you receive a positive Covid test within 14 days of attending ;
  • distancing rules of 1m plus mask apply.

Sunday Services

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: ‬https://youtu.be/YbEXONceEGY. This week our worship will be recorded. Then we continue the Good News according to Mark brought by Eddie. You can read the passage : Mark 2:13-17 : here.
    • Please continue to pray for our preaching team as they prepare to bring God’s word to us week by week.
    • Next week (17 May) our worship will be recorded and Alan C will bring you Good News from Mark.

Zoom Junior Church

If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob (in directory)) giving permission for them to join.

There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom.
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings.And then add your name.

Church Meeting 17 May

The Eventbrite tickets are now available for the Church Meeting on the 17th May

Please book here

It is essential to our church culture that we meet together to discern God’s will but if you are minimising contact due to Coronavirus it will be possible to participate online. However, to vote you will have to deliver that in person to the church within 30 minutes of the ballot opening. There will be someone to collect your vote outside so you don’t need to come into the building.

The agenda is now available and reports will be forthcoming within the next week.

Youth Matters

Incredible youth plans that you most definitely don’t want to miss hearing about so you can commit the young people of our church & community to God in prayer. 

  1. Youth Study Groups
  2. Youth Away Day:  After the Church on the Farm (6th June),
  3. Summer Camp: We are currently exploring two opportunities… 
  4. New Horizons:
    1. We are currently trying to organise a gathering for those finishing sixth form or college to give them a good send off before they explore new horizons.
    2. Two of our young leaders are currently making applications for an AIM Community Outreach Week – Reaching out from a church in the midlands situated in a community of people from a North African background.
    3. Year 6s face a big few months as they finish off in primary school & transition to secondary school as well as being eligible to tap into youth ministry. Dan is hoping to meet with the year 6s of Corsham Primary, by taking part in the schools Careers Week – explaining something of what he does, why & who can come. This presents opportunities to raise the profile of youth ministry. 
  5. Baptism Classes: We are about to begin some baptism classes to help a couple young people think through baptism. 
  6. Detached Youth Work: With schools work & outreach into the community campus still problematic, we are exploring possibilities around outreach to young people in Corsham. We’re looking at clothing & branding that will identify us – as we meet with young people where they are at & build ministry in the margins to young people unconnected with church life.

For more details, please Dan’s full article on the website which includes a list of points for prayer

Ark Children’s Service Sat 29 May 10:30

You are invited to book for The Ark children’s service at Corsham Baptist Church on Saturday 29th May, 10.30 for about half an hour.  There will be a take-home craft available. The service in church will be similar to normal with songs, Bible story and puppets.
We look forward to seeing you so much, but need to ask if masks could be worn by over 11s and hand gel on arrival, please. You will be allocated seats to ensure social distancing with socially distanced entry and exit too.  We would be grateful if you  don’t attend if you have any Covid symptoms. 

Click on the link here to get your tickets!

Souper Friday on Facebook

Souper Friday is now in Facebook! We want to reach local people who need support with food parcels, so if you’re on Facebook please ‘like’ the page and engage with the posts via likes/shares/comments. You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/souperfriday
If you have any questions about Facebook, feel free to contact Jasmine Warren.”

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.
  • Youth Groups- Contact Dan for further details

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Youth matters – Matter!

so DO NOT skip reading this essential article!

Hi Church Family, with Covid restrictions easing, I want to tell you about some incredible youth plans that you most definitely don’t want to miss hearing about – so you can be fully informed & will be able to commit the young people of our church & community to God in prayer.
As a result of what you hear, you may wish you yourself were involved in all the exciting things happening, & so feel free to contact me & find out how YOU can get involved further with the young people.

(1) Youth Study Groups

We are now meeting in-person & this term we are applying the Good News of Jesus to social justice issues such as Poverty, Climate Change, Racism, Abortion & Sex Trafficking etc.
As part of this, some of us will be raising money for Tearfund by undertaking the Mean Bean Challenge – living of a measly ration of Rice & Beans for 5 days. For more information or to support us, check out: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CBCYouthGroup
We will also be finishing our year long journey in Witness Training, helping to equip & empower young people to be God’s witnesses among their peers.

(2) Youth Away Day

After the Church on the Farm (6th June), the young people will be staying on for an away day – creating time to hang out & re-build friendships, making up for lost time due to Covid. The Day will culminate in a youth service with various elements led by different young people.

(3) Summer Camp

We are currently exploring two opportunities…

  1. DTI Camp (replacing Soul Survivor) a 4-day camp held in Nottingham to enable young people to come together & grow their relationships with each other & God. [30th July – 2nd August]
  2. Summer Camp A weekend away for the older youth (14+) in Cornwall. [6-8th August]

(4) New Horizons

  1. We are currently trying to organise a gathering for those finishing sixth form or college to give them a good send off before they explore new horizons.
  2. Two of our young leaders are currently making applications for an AIM Community Outreach Week – Reaching out from a church in the midlands situated in a community of people from a North African background. Activities will include a children’s holiday club – games, crafts. A community artwork challenge. A women’s group to run alongside the children’s activities – crafts & practicing English. There will also be sports activities for teenagers in the evenings.
  3. Year 6’s face a big few months as they finish off in primary school & transition to secondary school as well as being eligible to tap into youth ministry. I am hoping to meet with the year 6’s of Corsham Primary, by taking part in the schools Careers Week – explaining something of what I do, why & who can come. This presents opportunities to raise the profile of youth ministry.

(5) Baptism Classes

We are about to begin some baptism classes to help a couple young people think through baptism.

(6) Detached Youth Work

With schools work & outreach into the community campus still problematic, we are exploring possibilities around outreach to young people in Corsham. We’re looking at clothing & branding that will identify us – as we meet with young people where they are at & build ministry in the margins to young people unconnected with church life.

Well hopefully, that gives you plenty of prayer fuel as we look forward to what is to come in youth ministry in the coming months. If you would like to look back, & be encouraged on some of the ministry that has already taken place in lockdown, please check out this article: https://www.webnetwork.org.uk/encouragements-in-lockdown-young-people/

As I wrap up, let me leave you with some bullet points of how you could pray for us:

  • Please pray that all we programme would serve our goals: to REACH young people – introducing them to Jesus, to BUILD young people up in Him, and to SEND young people out as witnesses for Jesus in a broken & hurting world.
  • Please pray for the young people, particularly the year 6’s & year 13’s as they transition into new environments. Pray that they may remain rooted & established in God as they make their transition.
  • Please pray for the young people as they reconnect with their Christian peers in person. Pray that relationships would deepen & grow with each other & God.
  • Please pray for wisdom & sensitivity to the youth team as they navigate young people through restrictions lifting.
  • God to change hearts & lives of young people in our church & community.
  • That young people will see more clearly the beauty of the Good News of Jesus and how it applies to all of life. Please pray that the Good News will direct & shape how we campaign when it comes to social justice issues, and that we would have courage to respond as God would have call us to, whether popular or counter cultural.