This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it
Psalms 118:24
 

UPCOMING EVENTS:


About Us

Christchurch, Abbeydale is a church which is unique in Gloucestershire, a Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) with a single congregation founded by four denominations: Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed and Baptist.  Christchurch exists within a Church of England conventional district within the Gloucester City Deanery and Gloucester Diocese, a Methodist church within the Gloucestershire Circuit and Bristol District, a United Reformed church within the Gloucestershire Area of the West Midlands Synod and a Baptist church within the West of England Baptist Association.

 

The conventional district is an Anglican area created from parts of the two parishes in which Christchurch is situated.  We therefore undertake work across the entire neighbourhood, including a responsibility towards those who are members of no church.

 

Abbeydale and Abbeymead are suburban residential areas three miles to the east of the City of Gloucester.  Our church is situated on a prominent site opposite a Morrison’s supermarket at the centre of these two large areas of housing.  Other services close to the church include various small shops, a public house, community centre, a medical centre, a vet, a private dentist and optician.  There are two primary schools close to the church.  To the rear of the church is a small diocesan housing complex known as Anne Edwards Mews.

 

Building began in Abbeydale forty years ago with mainly private housing, but neighbouring Abbeymead is more recent.  There is a mixture of housing catering for families, couples, singles and purpose-built units of sheltered accommodation.  The area is predominantly owner-occupied.  When compared with the rest of the City of Gloucester, the proportion of ethnic minorities is relatively low.  There is a good age mix.  The total population of Abbeydale and Abbeymead is about 12,000.   Abbeydale and Abbeymead are pleasant areas in which to live; many people have lived in their homes since they were first built.

 

As well as being an LEP, Christchurch is part of a wider Anglican-Methodist-URC-Baptist Covenanted Partnership, working mostly with three Anglican churches, St. Lawrence at Barnwood, St. Oswald at Coney Hill and St. Leonard at Upton St Leonards.  There are occasional times of active co-operation, for example with Lent study groups, evening services during the Lent and August.  Within the immediate area there is also a Baptist church, a Roman Catholic church and two Evangelical Free Church plants, one of which is known as Abbey Church and with which relationships have grown over the last few years.

 

The location of Christchurch presents a number of advantages; we occupy a central position and have a large mission field literally on our doorstep.  The four-denomination make-up of our church presents a unique opportunity for a minister seeking to broaden his or her ecumenical experience.  There will be good support for the minister both from within the membership of Christchurch and from the wider community.

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The Building

Christchurch is relatively modern.  It was built as a single project in 1995 and has been well maintained under the direction of the property stewards.  There are no structural problems with the building.  Routine maintenance and decoration are undertaken by volunteers from the church membership during an annual work week in August.  The Quinquennial Review undertaken in 2016 raised no major issues.

 

The flexible multipurpose worship area comfortably seats 185 and is equipped with a sunken baptistry, font, altar-table, computer, three LED audio-visual screens and a sound system with a loop for the hard of hearing.  The overall effect is light and airy.  Also within the church building are modern toilet facilities (including for the disabled) and a fully equipped kitchen. There is in addition a small room known as ‘Shalom’, which is set aside for quiet prayer, an office and a reasonably-sized meeting room, which can be subdivided by a partition. There is never enough storage, but we make extensive use of two loft spaces. The church car park has space for about 40 vehicles.

 

A modern minister’s house, usually known as the Manse, stands next to the Church.  Built in 1992, it is a detached family home with a large lounge, kitchen, dining room, study, four bedrooms, a very wide garage and a well maintained garden.  Schools, doctors and all local amenities are within easy reach.

 

The facilities for living and working at Christchurch are attractive, modern and efficient

 

At the East end of the Church there is an area of Remembrance that has been authorised by the Diocese of Gloucester (the owners of the land on which the church is built) and approved by the other denominations for the interring of ashes of church members or those of any, or no, denomination requesting this and previously approved by the minister and/or Church Council..


A Visitor’s View of the Christchurch Building!!

On a hot summers day after Probus, I was chatting to my friend Mike Wood about my first visit to a Salvation Army Church and afterwards he said "if you like looking at churches would you like to visit ours."? The invitation was taken up & off we went to find Christchurch and although I have never been a member of that church & not of the same faith I do enjoy visiting other churches..

As we drove into the car park I noticed immediately that the architecture was different from that which I had imagined, no towers, gargoyles or finials and the layout was unusual in its octagonal form with a pitched roof following the shape of the red brick buttressed walls, with a cross of clear glass blocks built into one elevation, of the wall, and with the shape of its Gothic windows it was a unique design and it definitely stood out and caught the eye, even though of modern design.

As I walked through the lobby into the main body of the Church, I was taken by the raised altar with the light shining through the glass Cross from behind, it was a strong symbol and I felt due reverence toward it and as I walked around the room, the Cross could be seen quite clearly from any direction when facing the altar.

The room was devoid of chairs and looked almost minimalist, but it enhanced the presence and size of the room and your eyes are forced to lift up to to the high wooden ceiling with its angles formed by the octagonal shape of the brickwork, giving the feeling of a safe umbrella to all inside What was quite unique was the provision of a small built in underfloor pool, so that the practices and beliefs of some denominations could be observed. Mike explained that the philosophy behind the design of the Church was so that it could accommodate multi denominational worship and to provide for the wider community. It seemed to have a strong community spirit, with all who worship there being encouraged to support it by taking part in its internal and external programs and activities, with provision off the lobby at the rear for refreshments, office space & preacher. There are different preachers that visit weekly from the various denominations It is truly a " Glorious Church ". in its concept, fulfilment & worship & one which I was very pleased to visit.

Ormonde Collett

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Worship

We aspire to make our services warm and friendly, varied and accessible, but at the same time dignified and meaningful.  We are keen on congregational participation and regularly include children, who have an important and valued contribution to make.  We are good at offering welcome and hospitality.   Theologically, the church aims to be broad and inclusive and recognises the value of the Lectionary in the life and worship of the church.

 

Morning services during the vacancy will be led by a variety of ministers and lay preachers from each of our four denominations.  The form and style of worship is the choice of the individual preacher.  The result is a rich diversity, which the congregation enjoy.  Our average morning attendance during the year 2017 was 79.  At present, Holy Communion is celebrated once a month on Sundays (and always at major festivals), and weekly on a Wednesday evening which attracts between 8 and 10 communicants.  Non-alcoholic communion wine is offered by both chalice and individual glasses.  Members of the Church Council or others approved by Church Council assist with the distribution. 

 

As we are a diverse congregation with differing traditions who wish to share worship together as a single church, we have learned to accommodate each other in order to develop a deeper understanding of our common faith.  Praise, prayer, Bible study and challenging teaching are important to us.

 

We have a regular organist, two assistant organists and a talented piano/keyboard player as well as Jubilate, a music group of around ten members, including instrumentalists and singers. Books available are ‘Hymns and Psalms’ and the combined version of ‘Mission Praise’, but we hold a Church Copyright Licence and a Music Reproduction Licence so that more music is available to us.  The words of hymns and the liturgy, including congregational responses, are projected onto AV screens.  There is active lay involvement in worship and this includes stewarding, the reading of lessons and often the leading of intercessions.

 

Sunday evening services are held fortnightly at 6 p.m.  One, which attracts a small but dedicated group, takes the form of a Bible Study.  More popular in terms of numbers is the monthly Café Church, at which refreshments and informal worship are offered.

 

Special services held annually include: the Methodist Covenant Service; Wednesday in Holy Week, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services; Harvest Festival; Remembrance Sunday and the Christingle and Carol Services.

 

Whilst Christchurch’s minister leads worship at most of the services, clergy and preachers from the other three dominations of the LEP are invited on a regular basis in order to maintain the diversity of our traditions.  This gives our minister the opportunity to conduct services in other churches of our partner denominations.

 

Within our own congregation there are four reasonably active retired ministers (from Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and URC traditions), an Anglican Reader, lay preacher and a Methodist Worship Leader. 

 

Church members appreciate the variety we currently have in our worship, including the balance of traditional and more modern forms.  Our style of worship is lively and enthusiastic in an ecumenical setting.  At the same time, we are open to new ideas and fresh expressions, provided they are introduced sensitively.


Ministry

The congregation has its own minister who is appointed from each of the four denominations in turn. Worship is led mainly by that minister, but visiting ministers/preachers from the other three denominations are invited on a regular basis.


Aim and purpose

Christchurch Abbeydale Church Council (CC) has the responsibility of cooperating with the incumbent minister, the Reverend Steve Davies, in promoting the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical, in our geographical area (a Conventional District to use the Church of England term).  The CC is also specifically responsible for the maintenance of the Church building.

The ecumenical nature of the church, a key foundation stone since its inception, is reflected in the contact with other churches, and as different ministers are welcomed to our church whilst our minister visits other places of worship to lead services.

Objectives and Activities

The CC is committed to enabling as many people as possible to worship at Christchurch and so become part of our faith community. The CC maintains an overview of worship and makes suggestions on how our services can involve groups connected with our church. Our services and worship put faith into practice through prayer and scripture, music and sacrament. When planning our activities for the year, the incumbent and the CC try to help ordinary people live out their faith as part of our Church community through:

·       Worship and prayer; learning about the Gospel, developing their knowledge and trust in Jesus and supporting each other as part of the family of God.

·       Welcoming newcomers to the church whether as visitors or as in due course, as potential members.

·       Providing pastoral care for people associated with the Church and/or living locally.

·       Developing connections into our local community particularly the local schools.

To facilitate this work we maintain the fabric of the church building, the associated rooms and the area outside the church in good condition.  A Quinquennial Review carried out by the Architect appointed by the United Reformed Church has reported the buildings to have been maintained in a good condition, with no major works expected to be required in the next five years, and no major expenditures are forecast.

Following on from the granting of permission to inter ashes on site, several internments have taken place.  A Book of Remembrance has been procured and will be located in the church.

Achievements and Performance

Worship and Prayer – the Church Council is keen to offer a range of services during the week and over the course of a year to be both beneficial and spiritually fulfilling for all. For example, the midweek communion service provides a smaller more intimate, weekly opportunity to share bread and wine; this service offers a quiet space and is valued by those who regularly attend.

We continue to use worship material from various sources reflecting our ecumenical ethos, and a typical service is accessible to, and appreciated by, members of participating denominations.

Music is provided by a dedicated group of organists and piano players, and Jubilate, the church singing group, regularly provides an input before and during morning worship, and at evening cafe Church services.  In addition, Jubilate has carried out singing engagements at the local GL4 Community Open day, at other churches, and were invited to sing carols outside the local supermarket at Christmas.  It should be noted that this was not a fund raising engagement, but a celebration for the community.

A regular annual activity is "NOAL" ("Nativity on a Lorry") with Abbey Community Church.  We visit a number of local streets with a nativity scene on the lorry, carols being played, and distributed free sweets and booklets to local families.  This initiative is very well received by locals, again with surprise that we were giving away God's love and not trying to raise funds..

IMG_1539.jpgMembership

At present we have 101 members and 66 adherents. Most people live locally. The membership and adherents lists are reviewed annually, with some being added and other removed. The average weekly attendance during 2018 was 77, but this does vary through the year, particularly at festival times.