Charles writes: November 2012

One of the exciting things about Christian faith is that there is always more to learn – always new things to discover. I’ve been ordained for twenty five years now, and yet I feel I am still learning new things all the time – not only about ministry, but about my own faith in God.

It’s a little bit like being an explorer who has landed on a new continent. It’s that feeling – I’ve started to explore this wonderful new land – yet there is far more of it still to be discovered.

In January, we are starting a new Alpha Course. The Alpha Course is very much an exploration – looking at the basics of Christian faith, and exploring what it can mean to us. The Alpha Course is for anybody – from those who have been in the church for a long time who would like to brush up on the basics, to those who are complete newcomers, who are not yet sure what they believe! Whatever stage of faith you’re at, and however tentative or uncertain you may feel about your beliefs, Alpha gives an opportunity to discuss and think more about what faith in God means to us, today in the 21st century.

The Alpha Course will run on Thursday evenings, beginning with a simple meal – all free! – followed by a short talk and then a time for discussion. We plan to run the course from mid-January to mid-March.

We will be running a TASTER EVENING this month – on Thursday 29th November, at 7.30pm at the United Church, with the title “Is there more to life than this?” This will be an opportunity to come along and get a feel for the course, without any commitment, so you can decide whether to continue with the course in the New Year or not. It will in fact be Session One of the course, so if you’d like to come on the course, do make sure you come on the Taster Evening if you can.

If you might be interested, do contact our Alpha Co-ordinator, Sarah Oliver, on 242 769, just so we have a rough idea of numbers.

The Alpha Course is also the place to start for adults who would like to be confirmed, as we use the Alpha Course for our adult Confirmation preparation. But those who have already been confirmed will find it equally relevant!

We are also starting a group for teenagers who may be interested in Confirmation. The “QUEST” Group is open to all young people who are in Year 8 or above. There is no commitment to being confirmed at the end; we encourage young people to come along and explore Christian faith together, and in due course make a decision whether Confirmation is right for them.

Like the Alpha Course, the QUEST Group will start in January, but we are running a TASTER EVENING this month – on Monday 26th November, at 7.30pm at the Vicarage. Please let me know if you’re interested (240 106 or charlesdraper@btinternet.com) – especially any young people who can’t make that date but would like to join the Quest Group in the New Year.

I always enjoy being involved – both in the Alpha Course and in teenagers’ Confirmation groups, firstly to get to know people better, and also because I always learn new things myself! I look forward very much to meeting everyone at our two “Taster evenings”, and to exploring Christian faith in different ways with both groups in the New Year.

 

Charles

 

Charles writes: October 2012

Faringdon is growing. More and more new houses have gone up, new people and new families are moving in, and some of our schools are now full to bursting.

We are noticing the effects at All Saints’. We have a noticeable rise in the number of families asking for Baptisms, a number of them living on the new estates, and some bringing large numbers of children with them. Our Welcome Afternoons are full of newcomers to All Saints’, and it’s lovely to see many new faces on a Sunday.

It’s an exciting time for us, but all the more important that we are ready and prepared to welcome new people and families who come to us. We have reorganised our Sunday Special children’s groups  this autumn to enable us to welcome families better, and we are delighted that several people are taking on a leadership role for the first time.

But once again…you can probably guess what’s coming…yes, it is our buildings, and our lack of facilities that are holding us back. More than ever before, we are desperate to get these Barber Rooms built and up and running.

Good progress is now being made. We are well on our way to getting our “Faculty”, which is the final approval from the Diocese, and now we have Planning Permission we have started applying for grants. Thanks to the wonderful response to our Appeal, combined with our legacy, in terms of finance we are 90% there.

But there is still 10% to go…! Another £70,000 would get us to our Appeal target. We hope a good part of this will come from grants, but we still need to raise a significant amount ourselves.

There are three things we can do to achieve this.

Firstly, there will be some of us who missed the Appeal this Spring, and have not yet had a chance to pledge. Another dozen gifts or pledges could make a huge difference. If you would like to pledge and have not yet had the chance, then please don’t delay! Do take an Appeal brochure from church, and think and pray about it. Many of us are pledging over five years – it’s amazing what a small amount per day will build up to over five years. And don’t forget to fill in the Gift Aid part if you’re a taxpayer…Thank you!

Secondly, many people have suggested fund-raising ideas. Now is the time for us to put these ideas into practice.

Thirdly we can pray. God has blessed us and has been our strength throughout this Appeal, but we need to continue to pray for God’s help right through to the end. We have restarted our monthly Appeal Prayers on the first Tuesday of the month from 8.00-9.00pm at church. Do join us if you can, or pray at home, in Home Groups, and anywhere else!

We are having a special focus on the Appeal in the month of October, from Sunday 7th October at our Harvest Festival, through to All Saints’ Sunday on 28th October. We would ask especially if new pledges and fund-raising ideas could be offered by Sunday 28th October.

Finally, do spread the word. Let’s talk about it and share it – and make this month of October be a time we all do our part and, together, take this Appeal through to the finishing line!

With many thanks for all your support,

 

Charles