A New Season

January will mark the sixth year of my leadership at Grace Church. Our evolving, emerging & brilliant team have been on a fantastic journey seeking to lead our community well.

Initially we entered into a pruning season as a community. We felt for faith to be relevant for our generation a number of things had to change. A number of people left and a number of people joined as we focussed on what we see as important for today.

It feels like we have moved from pruning to sowing. New prayers, study, teaching, emphasis and teams have been worked on. Theological foundations have been laid, philosophy of ministry established and ministry shapes shared. ‘Giving ourselves to God’s reconciliation of all things’ is how we have been describing the big vision for all we are doing.

Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3v6)

Through personal prayer, team experience and a special sense of God’s presence at our prayer time that the season is changing again. Now is time to water our community through Bible saturated prayer.

A number of people at our overnight prayer independently felt Psalm 1 was particularly important for us now. A tree, planted by the stream, that yields fruit in its season is like those who delight in the Scriptures.

Given this shared sense of leading I can’t wait for our overnight prayer in the new year and our ‘Empowered’ teaching series. Additionally, we’ll be teaching from the Psalms in the summer term seeking to know His presence through prayer. Our series will be called ‘Songs for all Seasons’ and we hope will be one of the ways we receive an invitation to receive nourishment together.

MINISTRY INTERNSHIP

September 2017 – August 2019

Please note that applications for this role have now closed.

What is the aim of this role?

This leadership role will include leading, managing and developing ministries with Grace Church in order to support and strengthen our Community Group network and Sunday gatherings. It also includes opportunities to deliver ministry and leadership through teaching and preaching.

Over the course of this internship vital areas of pastoral ministry including Marriage Ministry, Grace Foundations (baptism preparation), Community Group pastoral support and the Alpha Courses will be equipped, empowered and supported by this position.

This role will enable the intern to “test” calling for full time ministry part time for a two year period.

What does the role involve?

This role involves empowering volunteer leaders on behalf of the SLT to ensure that supporting ministries are appropriate, accessible, well-communicated and delivered effectively. This will be achieved through providing clear guidelines, motivating teams, progress reporting, risk and cost management, problem-solving and good communication.

It will also include teaching and equipping others through Sunday teaching opportunities.

Who are we looking for?

The ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate:

  • A passion for church and ministry
  • An understanding and/or willingness to learn Grace Church philosophy and theology
  • A servant heart
  • An ability to communicate publicly
  • Management experience
  • Self-leadership in planning and time management

Hours

Estimated 20 hours per week (5 sessions)
Wednesday Morning (1 session) Staff Team time including personal admin.
Sunday Morning (1 session) Ministry Time.
Personal Preparation (1 session per week)
Ministry Delivery / Oversight (2 sessions per week)

How to apply 

For further information please email Stuart Alred to express your interest. stuart@gracechurchexeter.org

Further details regarding the application process will then be provided, if required. Successful applicants will be invited to interview in April. Applications close 9th April.

Thank you for your interest.

REFUGEE APPEAL

Syria: “The worst humanitarian crisis of our time”, UNHCR

We’ve become accustomed to daily news reports of suffering arising from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. We feel both compassion and confusion, wanting to help but wondering how we can in the face of the enormity of the need.

As part of our response in Grace Church  we are partnering with Samara’s Aid Appeal who focus on ‘the relief of suffering through the provision of humanitarian relief including medical aid, and the practical demonstration of God’s love in action’. You can find more details via their website or Facebook page.

We will be organizing a clothing collection during February, but encourage Community groups to consider one of these other appeals during the coming year:

Here is a list of items for our clothing appeal – items must be new or excellent condition (washed, no holes, no stains, working zips etc):

  • ALL SEASON CLOTHES, adult, child & baby
  • COATS & SNOWEAR, new and used – adult, child & baby
  • NEW UNDERWEAR only (no used), with tags or in packaging
  • SHOES (polished) in immaculate condition
  • BOOTS & WELLY BOOTS, clean, adult/child
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, sheets & towels in immaculate condition
  • Duvets only if like new with no marks or stains
  • Wheelchairs, zimmer frames and crutches (paired)
  • Moses baskets and baby bedding
  • Disposable nappies, sanitary towels & incontinence pads
  • Soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes (unopened)

We will also collect donations towards the transportation costs which are around £5/carrier bag, £10/bin bag and need people to help sort and pack items. To donate money, please either do an online transfer and ensure your reference includes ‘RA’  (Account name: Grace Church Exeter, No: 00011476, Sort: 40-52-40; if you gift aid already, it will be added) or give cash at the table at our Sunday gatherings.

There will be a table at the back of the main meeting hall at our Sunday gatherings with further information and a collection point throughout February. Items can also be taken to the Church Office Tuesday – Friday (please phone ahead 01392 211331).

If you’d like to help or have questions, please feel free to contact any of us on the core team directly or email via refugeeappeal@gracechurchexeter.org.

Many thanks,

The Refugee Response Core Team

Mike and Ann Banks, Jo Todd, Leslie Tellerain, Amanda Schmid-Scott, Olayinka Oyekola

GRACE FOUNDATIONS

In the new year we’re planning to offer a ‘Grace Foundations’ course. This will be a seven session course looking at the basics of the Christian Faith and how we can live as Christians today. (8th Jan, 15th Jan, 22nd Jan followed by 19th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March, 12th March.)

You can sign up here.

This is a great opportunity for those who are looking to take a ‘next step’ this term. It would be good as a refresher of faith. It would also be great for you if you are considering following Christ and for those who are interested in Baptism.

The sessions will include a series of short Bible studies around the below subjects as well as opportunities to learn about the practises of prayer, Bible reading and community.

1. The world we all want
2. The invitation we all have
3. A new beginning

4. Everyday talk
5. The wind in your sails
6. A journey together
7. A difference to make

CHRISTMAS SEASON PLANS

This Christmas season, we will be starting our series on ‘The Christmas Promise’ and how it is fulfilled in Jesus. Here is a schedule of our gatherings for this winter:

November 27th, 10am for 10:30am – ‘A New King’

December 4th, 7:30pmCarol Service: ‘A Rescuing King’
Note that there is no morning service on the 4th. Come along to the Carol Service in the evening for mince pies, mulled wine, funky carols and the second message in our series.

December 11th, 10am for 10:30am – ‘A Forever King’

December 18th, 10amAll Ages Service: ‘Welcoming the King’

December 25th – No meeting, enjoy Christmas morning with your family!

January 1st – Our community groups will be holding social events across the city.

January 8th – Our Sunday Gatherings start again with our series ‘5 Expressions of His Goodness’.

ST PETROCK’S COLLECTION

This year we will be taking up a collection for St Petrock’s, a local charity who provide a range of emergency, support and prevention services for the homeless or vulnerably housed. We will be collecting essential clothing and practical items from their most wanted items list as well as making a special Christmas gift donation of personal hygiene items and small gifts. Items can be donated by bringing them to our donation point at the back of the hall in our meetings on the 4th, 11th or 18th of December. Alternatively, they can be bought straight from St Petrock’s Amazon wishlist, for delivery directly to the charity.

BAPTISM SUNDAY

On Sunday 15th May in our Sunday Gathering we will be baptising Ashleigh, Charlotte, Ethan, Esther and Lucy.

Baptism is a foundational moment in the Christian faith as these men and women say yes to Jesus and no to life without him. In baptism they associate themselves with Jesus’ death and embrace the hope of Jesus’ resurrection life.

We invite you to join us as these individuals take a next step in their journey of faith, a step that is also a community moment as they stand in unity with their church family.

We gather at The Maynard School, with coffee from 10.00am, and the service from 10.30am-11.50am. During this time you’ll see a video of each baptism candidate sharing their story, hear a short message on faith, and see them being baptised.

WELCOMING REFUGEES?

A pastor, a doctor, an architect and others sat in a living room hearing a local social worker share her passion for her work and the pain of it as she works on the cases of refugees seeking assylum in our nation. A Community Group gathering.

In a previous gathering we heard from an engineer in the group, and I’m looking forward to hearing from others in future.

What can we do about the refugee crisis and assylum seekers?

The Christian faith, as Krish Kandiah explains in the video below, tells us that all of us are refugees, to whom a lavish welcome is offered.

In Jesus, we see that God is at work in this world for good, he’s ahead of us in responding to the needs of his world, and invites us to join him in what he’s doing, to renew all things.

The need seems overwhelming and we tried to consider what response we could each give to this situation.

We recognised that some of us might engage politics campa,igning and supporting those who fight for justice, others might need to consider the longer term work of pursuing a career in politics or law.

We asked whether we have the capacity to open our homes to those in need.

We saw that our friend working in social work is engaged on the frontline – just as each of us is in other ways for the same or other causes. We spoke of how we as a church family might be a part of a response.

It’s easy to say someone should do something. Armchair outrage at injustice isn’t difficult. The situation is complex, involving many factors, and if the solution was simple surely the problems would already be resolved. But, perhaps, there are concrete steps we can take to do something, steps that might cost us, steps that can empower and encourage and equip others to do what they’re doing.

Some can join in with God’s renewing work in his world by being social workers, others in redeeming places through architecture, others overcoming illness in the NHS, and many other ways in culture, neighbourhoods and workplaces.

Krish Kandiah of Home for Good offers practical steps to respond to the refugee crisis in this short video.

PREPARING FOR COMMUNION

This term we’re exploring the meaning of Communion in the gatherings of the church.

In our first message on this we considered the way we should prepare for this meal, whether in our Sunday Gatherings or Community Groups.

In 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 Paul charges the Corinthians church that their approach to Communion is “for the worse” rather than “for the better.” He offers guidance as to how we can prepare.

Stuart’s message can be streamed or downloaded here. 

(Image from Redeemer Central Belfast)

FINDING MEANING IN OUR WORK

For most of the week we spend most of our waking hours at work. What’s it for?

There are many things we could say about the meaning, purpose and value of our 9-5 work and our wider participation in the life of our city. Here are a couple of insights, whether you’re working at the University, the Met Office, the RD&E, the council, at a school, home, office or shop,  doing things that seem meaningful or menial…

Joseph Sunde and Abraham Kuyper write on loving the hunt of scholarship:

“A real student does not make any progress until the study itself gives him pleasure. Wherever we are, and however we spend our days toiling, serving, innovating, loving, learning, and simply beholding, Christians are called not just to search in the service of finding, but to love and cherish the search itself. Whether professors or students, masons or farmhands, painters or poets, husbands or wives, fathers or daughters, let us learn to love the hunt, and love it so that we might glorify God and one day rejoice in its fruits.”

Sunde again writes, quoting from Stephen Williams on finding meaning and beauty as a fast food worker:

This is not what I thought I’d be doing at twenty-seven… The thought hits me again, but with a far different force than before. It is humbling to work here, but not in the way that implies shame. Who am I to so readily dismiss a job where I witness the entire spectrum of human emotion during the course of a single shift? Who am I to think ill of this chance to observe – over and over again – the miracle of childhood and the poignancy of prayer? Who am I to think that the transcendent things that happen every night in a southern Virginia fast food joint are in any way of lesser importance than those that happen elsewhere? …the beauty you seek is not elsewhere, bro…Keep your eyes open. It’s often right in front of you.”

Have a good day at work.

Image – Amanda Dias – Creative Commons