Warm greetings in the name of Christ.What a lovely Platinum Jubilee Sunday we enjoyed together. Like all the Jubilees the Queen has celebrated during her long reign, this one once again brought the nation together and local communities united in celebration. I believe it did our national unity and identity a power of good. Our worship service was full of joy, as was our special time of fellowship and entertainment which followed. It was a superb day and extremely well supported. Thank you to all who helped organise the day and to all who came and shared in our celebrations. I was thrilled by your positive participation.
In July we have another Church Meeting which will focus on developing vision and purpose for our Church. Please try to attend. There will be opportunities for sharing and discussion. Your participation is very important and much valued. The LYCIG process is drawing to a close. Now – it’s time for action, and we pray for new opportunities to serve, and we should anticipate growth as we move on together with hope in the Spirit’s power and presence. Pentecost reminded us of the promise of the Holy Spirit with us! We can be confident in the strength and faithfulness of the Spirit.
I have been promising to include an update on my work and ministry in theForest of Dean in Chronicle for some time – so here it is: As you will no doubt be aware, roughly 20% of my time is used to serve and lead 3 small Churches in the Forest. They are situated in Lydney (22 miles away), Littledean (16 miles away) and Drybrook (17 miles away). I am generally working in the Forest on Tuesdays, and preaching and leading worship there on the 4th and sometimes the 5th Sunday of the month.
Drybrook is the smallest of the 3 Churches. It is led by a very committed Christian called Judy George who effectively acts as both Church Secretary and Treasurer. Now that’s commitment! This Church opens for worship onSundays at 3pm and worship is always followed by excellent home-made cake and tea/coffee. Drybrook had an average congregation of just 4 or 5 people when I arrived in 2019. We now have an average of 7 or 8 despite Covid. Still small but growing, and beginning to grow in confidence. Keeping the old Chapel going is the biggest challenge for a small but dedicated number of villagers.We are currently beginning to work on a plan of what we would do if the Chapel had to be abandoned and then sold. We will start to talk to friends in the Methodist Church later this year, and from the middle of next year myMethodist colleague Revd Michelle Ireland will begin to also lead in Drybrook. Michelle works alongside me in Lydney and we know each other quite well. Together, we could seek new ways of working together and perhaps with less reliance on our buildings?
Littledean URC has a very strong relationship with the Salvation Army and has had for many years. It is fair to say that without the great support and love of the S A, Littledean URC may well have closed by now. Worship happens twice each Sunday, but is now generally organised by the SA. I lead at the morning service which starts at 10.30am and is supported by SA members as well as URC people. A second service beginning with fellowship and food starts at 5.00pm and is very much the SA’s main worship service to which small numbers of URC members attend. This is all-age! There is a great unity in Littledean, and theAnglicans also form part of a well established 3-way covenant. There is a lot of children’s work done in this Chapel by the S Army and a great community café opens on Thursday mornings. A food bank for the Forest operates from here and the SA Hub building which is near Coleford. There is an exciting project and vision that is now being put in place by Major VivPrescott to use the Littledean Manse as a home and base to train several young leaders in pioneer Christian ministry, and this would see Christian mission developed in different places around the Forest.We hope to get this vision off the ground in the next few months. It has the potential to breathe new life and mission into some of theForest villages andChurches. I am personally excited and will be involved in encouraging its development. I have been amazed by the strong love everyone has for this old Chapel.
Lydney URC is of course visited by Jubilate each year – and in 2022 Jubilate will lead worship in Lydney twice, much to the delight of the congregation. Lydney is a bit bigger than Littledean and Drybrook but until recently only really opened up on Sunday mornings for worship, and occasionally for a Saturday Coffee morning and Cake sale. However, sinceSeptember 2021, Lydney Churches Together, which I have now Chaired for 2 years, took the bold step to employ a part time Children’s/family worker whose name is Jane Penny. You can read about Jane’s exciting and growing ministry in the Charities page of this edition of Chronicle. Her work has blossomed quickly and we now have a really thriving parents and toddlers group meeting onTuesday mornings at Lydney URC. The work is growing and the Churches are working hard to make this mission initiative a success for the whole of the town. King’s Arms Christian Fellowship effectively employs Jane, but the ministry is being supported financially by just about all the Churches and different Christian’s living in and around Lydney. I can tell you, that keeping this ministry going and growing will involve financial support and sacrifice –which is why I am hoping that this month, members of Christchurch might consider giving something to Jane’s inspiring ministry and the work ofChurches Together in Lydney.
Because of her ministry, Lydney URC will seek to develop all age worship one Sunday a month next year, with a view to drawing in younger families.
We are seeing and sensing God at work in many ways and the united work of the Churches has moved to a new level. It’s great to be working here and seeing all that God is doing in this part and other parts of the Forest. SmallChurches are still aiming to make a big difference.
If you can support Jane’s ministry through our Charity giving in July –please do. It will mean a lot to her and to all the Churches in Lydney. Jane now regularly leads worship at Lydney and her presence is making a big difference to the atmosphere in the Churches and in the town. With Jane’s help, our united outdoor mission events for Christmas, Easter and the Jubilee have been truly amazing. The Churches are back on the map! The town is warming to the gospel of God’s love.
May the Lord bless each Church I serve, and may we all experience God’s grace and peace as we aim to glorify God and reach others with the love ofChrist. We must do all we can with the strength that God blesses us with. We can do great things in the strength which Christ supplies. We have a very great God!
Yours in Christ’s name,