Steve writes: Welcoming the Walkers

We have the great privilege this month of having a curate for All Saints’ and St Mary’s ordained on the last day of June, Saturday 30th, at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. Paul Walker will be ordained deacon in a service beginning at 2.00pm and to which we are all invited. Indeed, please do come to support Paul and pray for him, his wife Sheree and their daughters Charlotte (aged 7), Harriet (5) and Alice (7 months).

Paul has been training for ordination at Trinity Theological College Bristol but, as for most curates, a lot of day-to-day learning is going to take place ‘on the job’ amongst us. I’ve certainly got a number of days now fixed in my diary on which I have to have my ‘training incumbent’ skills refreshed so that I can offer the best to Paul during the time he is with us, which we expect to be between 3 and 4 years.

How can we best welcome Paul, Sheree and family? A key way will be by getting to know them as people and fellow members of God’s church here. What I mean is that we should fight the urge within us to think that when Paul is ordained he stops being part of the ‘laos’ – the people of God. Paul will not have become a member of an exclusive dog-collared caste on whom we can load unrealistic expectations and hopes.

God’s church is hugely hindered in its mission and ministry by an unhealthy clericalism which assumes clergy are the ‘ministers’ when the New Testament knows of no such demarcation. God’s people throughout this country, and in Faringdon too, urgently need to recover a sense of ‘every member ministry’, for the church to be the church as God intends.

As we see Paul responding to the particular call of God on his life and his family coming with him in this sacrificial and servant-hearted new start, we should also be opening ourselves up to the particular call of God on our lives. And as we pray for the Holy Spirit to fill and equip Paul and Sheree and the girls for all that lies ahead for them, we must then ask God to fill us again with his Spirit, so we allow Him to develop and use our gifts.

As we rejoice to welcome the Walkers, let’s allow God’s call to them and His gift of them to us remind us of God’s call to us personally and His gift to us of the Spirit to enable us also to live for the glory of God as his ministers here.

Yours in Christ,

Steve

Home group meetings in June

New members are always most welcome at all Home Groups – please contact the people listed below for more details

Day and Dates

Time Place Contact

Subject

Monday 11th & 25th 7.15pm 28 The Pines Bridget Adams Alpha Film series
Tuesday 12th & 26th 2.30pm 2 Leamington Gate Barbara Mapley The Beatitudes
Wednesday 6th
Wednesday 20th
7.45pm 2 Ash Close

2 Leamington Gate

Barbara Mapley Abundant Life
Thursdays 14th & 28h 8.00pm 10B Coxwell Street Andrew & Clare Sargent Women of God

Prayer calendar for June

Please continue to pray for the life and work of our parishes

Friday 1st Mission of the Month – CMS.
Sat 2nd Give thanks for our new Director of Music.
Sun 3rd Saints Alive this morning. Church Prayer Meeting this evening.
Mon 4th Little Allsorts this morning.
Tues 5th St Mary’s PCC meeting this evening.
Wed 6th Psalms Course continuing throughout this month.
Thurs 7th “Open the Book” at the Infant and Junior School this morning.
Fri 8th Flower Guild decorating the Church.
Sat 9th Meeting with secondary school children tomorrow evening.
Sun 10th Jonathan Self (CMS) visit this morning followed by lunch.
Mon 11th For all Home Groups meeting during June.
Tues 12th Work of the Mustard Seed and Seekers Light.
Wed 13th All who are ill, recently bereaved or in any other kind of need.
Thurs 14th For Lynn Treneary now in England for treatment.
Fri 15th The Wisbey family.
Sat 16th Magazine preparation this weekend.
Sun 17th Fathers’ Day service at Westmill Wind Farm today.
Mon 18th  Bell ringers practicing this evening.
Tues 19th Work of Churches Together and the Family Centre.
Wed 20th Our witness to friends and neighbours.
Thurs 21st Our Bishops Steven and Colin, and our Area Dean David.
Fri 22nd All who help run our Churches.
Sat 23rd Steve, Graham, Helen, Barbara, Dick, John, Max, Paul and Jim.
Sun 24th Wardens, Vergers and Welcomers, Intercessors and Readers.
Mon 25th For Community activities in Faringdon and Little Coxwell.
Tues 26th Outreach to people in the new houses.
Wed 27th For all our prayer groups and meetings.
Thurs 28th “Open the Book” at the Infant and Junior School this morning.
Fri 29th For all newcomers to our churches.
Sat 30th Paul Walker and his family on his ordination as deacon today.

Meetings for Prayer in June

All Saints’ seeks to have an active and regular prayer ministry with a number of informal meetings during the month to which all are very welcome.

Friday 1st 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Sunday 3rd 6.30pm Church Prayer Meeting (All Saints’)
Tuesday 5th 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 6th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 8th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 13th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 15th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Friday 15th 8.00pm Prayer for the World (Call 240 509 for venue)
Tuesday 19th 7.30-9.00pm Julian Meeting (call 244 905 for venue)
Wednesday 20th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Wednesday 20th 10.30-11.30am Prayer for CMS (8 Coach Lane)
Friday 22nd 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)
Wednesday 27th 9.00am Morning Prayer (Lower Asset Room)
Friday 29th 7.40-8.30am Parish Prayers (20 Market Place)

Missions news

News from the Church Mission Society

As I write this article for June, the month when we remember the Church Mission Society and the work it does throughout the world, we are in the nine days in May when we are praying in all the churches, “Thy Kingdom Come”

As we read the daily papers, full of terrible stories, we know how important it is that we all pray this prayer.

In South Sudan it is reported that 100 aid workers have been killed since the war began in 2013. These are local people who are willing to risk their lives to go to help the sick, the hungry, the homeless, every day.

Lynn Treneary was able to go to Juba, along with others from Maridi, to the enthronement of Archbishop Justin Badi, a joyful occasion, but on the way back to Maridi the new Bishop of Maridi’s car was attacked and those passengers were robbed. They gave thanks to God that no one was killed or injured, but it was a reminder that the roads are just not safe, whoever you are.

Lynn herself has not been well. She had two bouts of malaria, and though she recovered after treatment in Kampala, Uganda, she was still not fully fit. It was decided that she needed further treatment in the UK and she flew back in mid May. Please join us in praying for her full recovery.

CMS works in many countries worldwide and we are pleased that Jonathan Self, from CMS Headquarters in Oxford, is coming to speak at the 10.30am service in All Saints’ on Sunday 10th June. Keep this date, it is going to be an exciting visit. Earlier this year Jonathan was able to represent CMS at a Mission Conference in Tunisia. and on 10th he is going to tell us the amazing story of Muslims in North Africa turning to follow Jesus. This is not due to the expertise of mission workers, the local church has told the stories from the Bible between the Crucifixion and Pentecost and God has done the rest!

There is not time in the service to expand much, but there will be a Bring-&-Share lunch after the service and Jonathan will be there to chat and to show a short film .Do stay for this, I think we will all be inspired. Water/squash/coffee will be supplied, just bring something that we can all share.

Jonathan will also tell us more about CMS support for local Christian leaders in their own countries, whose community are too poor to support them. CMS has support for UK mission partners from UK churches and individuals, but there is no special fund for these local leaders. We will be having a retiring collection at the service and also at the lunch for the local Christian leaders. There will be leaflets about these people to take away and other CMS leaflets. This day is your chance to learn more about the world wide work that CMS is doing, and seeing how your giving and your prayers are making a difference.

We were reminded last month that Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you”. We may not go ourselves, but we can pray for Lynn who goes with our prayer support. We may not know any Christians in another country, but we can pray “Thy Kingdom Come” in the confidence that Jesus said “Ask, and it will be given you”

So please come to the service and lunch on 10th June and if you are able, we would love more to come and pray for CMS once a month on the third Wednesday at 10.30am at 8 Coach Lane.

Joan Plumptre

Our New Music Director

Hello, thank you all for the warm welcome you have given me and my family.

I have been married to Caroline for 27 years. Caroline is a Piano Teacher and plays piano/keyboards and sings backing vocals at church.

We have 3 children: Adam (14) currently studying for his GCSEs and who has an interest in sound and drums; Zachary (20) currently in his second year at Oxford Brookes University, studying Politics, Economics and International Relations, and plays electric guitar and drums; and Hannah (23), married to Mathew White, who has a degree in education from Oxford Brookes and now works at Tower Hill School Witney and is training to be a teacher.

One of my roles is Director of International Ambassadors short term missions, and during a recent summer mission to Indonesia we were greeted by Muslim government officials, Christian Leaders from lots of churches, and reporters. It turned out that the local Muslim government realised that after the last time we visited the crime rate had gone down, so they decided to back and promote another visit.

They hired a football stadium and the Muslim government officials sat alongside Christians on the platform each night while we sang and preached the gospel. I was also given the top Indonesian pop band as my backing group and I trained with them for a few days; we performed on the last night. 15,000 people turned up at each meeting and I witnessed around 3,000 each night give their lives to Christ . . . with God all things are possible!

I look forward to what God is going to do through All Saints’ to reach the wider community in Faringdon.

Denvyl Lewis

Join a winning team

All Saints’ bellringers are now officially the best in the Vale. We won the Greenley Shield in the annual competition on 18th May. This year it was held at Longcot and nine bands took part during an enjoyable social sunny evening.

The standard of our ringing even surprised us, and we were streets ahead of our arch rivals, St Andrew’s Shrivenham. They will surely practice to fight back next year. If you want to keep the shield at Faringdon please join us to keep All Saints ahead.  We are recruiting hard this year.

Ringing is a pleasure, a hobby, a duty and a passion according to taste. It is the national music of England. Ringing can greatly enhance your life, without it the world would not know that the Church was alive and well. Do come and see what it is and please publicise it to friends and relations who may not read the Parish Magazine.

The day after the competition we did one of bellringers’ other traditions, ringing for a national celebration. On Saturday, we rang for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Jon Chamberlain

It says in the Bible . . . Are you listening?

A recent article in my newspaper (18th May) told of a man in Blyth being convicted for keeping four men as slaves and it reminded me of some reading I did on the slave trade some 10 or so years ago.

In 1788 a Jesuit called Fr Raymond Harris published a little book called ‘Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave Trade, Shewing its conformity with the principles of natural and revealed Religion, delineated in the Sacred Writings of the Word of God.’ Harris, as was not unusual at the time, assembled a list of quotes from the Bible showing that slavery was part of the natural order – and one of the most important proofs came from Philemon, the shortest book in the New Testament. Harris’s reasoned that St Paul had told Philemon to take back Onesimus as a slave; and that meant slavery was sanctioned as an institution. Therefore the slave trade that was such a good profit-making enterprise and financially beneficial to the ports of Liverpool, London and Bristol was also sanctioned by the Bible. Harris used the Book of Philemon to defend a gruesome trade in human cargo.

A book that repudiated Harris’ claim was written in the following year by a former African slave. His book was called ‘The Interesting Narrative of the life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African.’ The book told of his life and how he educated himself mainly via the Bible and eventually bought himself out of slavery for £40.

In his memoirs he took Fr Harris to task –saying what was important was that Philemon was asked to take Onesimus back as a brother – and that meant that masters were to exercise brotherly love towards their slaves. And what is more, Equiano thought that since at the time when Paul was writing Christians held all things in common, then there was no way that Philemon would be allowed to keep his slave as his own private property. In the end he thought that Paul was actually not defending the slave trade at all, but attacking the very institution, not just of slavery, but of the holding of property altogether; and that meant of course that if there was no property there would be no slaves.

He concluded with a pretty blunt message to Fr Harris: “of this epistle which you cite strongly in favour of slavery, when the whole tenor of it is in behalf of the slave. Besides who would lose out if slavery was abolished? Perhaps the manufacturers of neck-yokes, chains, collars, handcuffs and leg-boots.”

John Wesley brought Equiano’s book to the attention of William Wilberforce and other anti-slavery campaigners. What Equiano was doing, which was so different from Fr Harris, was opening the Bible and letting it speak to him, instead of distorting it to make it fit his own words. He spoke to the Bible from his own world and it answered him back.

And that was not universally the case for all books, “I have often taken up a book, and talk to it, and then put my ears to it, when alone, in the hope it would answer me; and I have been very much concerned when I found it remained silent.” But the Bible was different – he addressed it from his situation and it spoke back to him.

By taking his question to the Bible, Equiano received an answer quite unlike those who merely found what they were looking for. He didn’t conform to any stereotype and perhaps because of this, his answers were original – in Philemon, St Paul was heard speaking afresh and he began to say something quite different. Slaves were not commodities but human beings; and perhaps even more importantly, certainly for William Wilberforce, they were human beings who would hear the Gospel.

It was through his act of open listening that Equiano’s Bible was allowed to speak to him and eventually it silenced the other voices of inequality and oppression; it shook a world which had grown all too comfortable in slavery. And it seems to me, if there were a bit more listening going on – not least to the Bible, then the churches might not be quite so divided, and there might be a bit more listening to those who have been cast outside the net of believers.

In fact there are many people who fear the Bible because they think it might say something that threatens their presuppositions about the kind of people God might love; but if we were to listen more carefully then things might begin to change – God loved slaves and condemned slavery and the Western world gradually accepted that message. And there may be many others whom he loves but who so often we seek to condemn.

Max Young

Steve writes: Thy Kingdom Come . . .

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is the title of a special time of prayer to which we and all  churches are invited by our Archbishop Justin Welby. He’s encouraging all Christians to pray specifically for people we know to become Christians and to especially do this between Ascension Day, 10th May and Pentecost, 20th May.

At All Saints’ we’ll have the chance to begin to pray for family members and friends whom we long to see becoming Christians by coming to our Church Prayer Meeting at 6.30pm on Sunday 6thMay . There are also great resources for individuals, churches and families at the website www.thykingdomcome.global.

Though it’s always great to see new people coming to church services, what we really need to pray is for people to enter the kingdom, that is that people will become Christians, making a heart commitment to follow Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Many of us who did the Alpha course recently were encouraged and enthused by hearing again the good news of the gospel. Some of us recommitted our lives to Jesus while, wonderfully, others asked Jesus into their lives by his Holy Spirit for the first time.

Jesus asks us to be passionate about helping people of all ages to start following him and then to grow as his disciples, that’s why Archbishop Justin has begun this prayer season of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. We need to take Jesus seriously when he says: ‘Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are already ripe for harvest’.

Let’s lift our eyes from our own pre-occupations and look to Jesus and the harvest that he calls us to work for . . . and there’s no need to wait until the Church Prayer Meeting or the ten days of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ to start praying for friends or family to come to know Jesus.

Here’s one of the Thy Kingdom Come prayers we can use to ask God to help us see the importance of working for his Kingdom and helping others to enter it too.

Oh God of the new day,
Your Son Jesus knew what it meant to watch and wait through the dark silence of the longest night.
Teach us how to wait with heaven’s indrawn breath on tiptoe with anticipation, until all of our being reaches towards you, all our desire is for you, and all our onward movement is for your Kingdom coming. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Steve