But seek you first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be given you
Matthew 6:33
 

UPCOMING EVENTS:


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Welcome to Christchurch Abbeydale

We offer a warm welcome to all.  Christchurch is an ecumenical church which embraces four Christian denominations, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church, worshipping together as one congregation.  Whether you already belong to one of these denominations or not you are most welcome. 


We welcome children of all ages. A crèche is available for pre-school children. There is Junior Church for children aged 5 to 11 and ‘The Core’ for children aged 11 years +. Children stay with us for the first part of the service and then go with the youth leader to take part in planned activities 

 

“I lift my eyes to the hills”
Wondering, as I was, where to start this month the phrase above came into my mind. It is not a reference to the Sound of Music although we did use a clip from the Sound of Music
in a recent Sunday morning service. It is not even a reference to Psalm 121 although it is – almost - the opening line of that Psalm.
The connection probably comes because in a few days after writing there will be hills around to which I can lift my eyes for we will be in North Wales enjoying hills and mountains, enjoying some time off. (I am having to write this column early.) During the time away I might just wonder what happens next at Christchurch. I will wonder and
appreciate the glorious world in which we live (even if it is raining). At the Annual Meeting I reflected on parts of my journey in faith.
There was not room to share what I said last month; I hope you do not mind some of it being included now. Step back in history. My earliest memories of church used a different word: chapel.
Church was where other people (and “other” was not really a positive word) went. The historical roots/divisions between church and chapel ran deep.
Confirmed at school, Kingswood in Bath – a Methodist school – at the age of 15. Conversion came about 18 months after confirmation through a bible study group in Swaziland. In 1964 Dad had taken a job in Ghana and for the rest of my childhood home was in Ghana, Swaziland, Muscat and Oman (briefly) and Kenya.
Was the confirmation invalid? No… it was a step on the journey but not one that I fully understood. Actually, the older I grow the less definite particular aspects of faith appear even if faith itself feels stronger than ever. But that is getting ahead of myself. I believe
now that confirmation was a response to something growing in me, something to which I could not put a name, something that could not be ignored. That type of feeling has returned at various points, normally as a stir to do something. Went up to university in Nottingham at 18 and immediately became involved in the Christian Union. I can still remember the awkwardness I felt when first praying aloud in a small group of 10 or
so people. I had been going for several weeks before reaching that step. “Blurting out” the words would be a fair assessment.
I became the overseas student rep for the Christian Union getting involved in welcome parties – which is where Alison appeared, drawn in to help with refreshments. I think I should have known better!
Throughout my time in Nottingham I went – most weeks – to a Gospel Mission Hall across the other side of the city. The few students who made it across were welcomed, fed and made to feel at home. It was there I met John and Marion Davies well before he became a Baptist minister. It was at the Gospel Mission that the congregation invited the students to preach. I have no record of what I preached during those years – probably just as well.
On our marriage in July 1978 we moved to a house in Eastleigh where we joined the Methodist church (it could easily have been the Baptists) and found, apparently, we were the answer to their prayers. They had been praying for a young couple to work with the
teenagers. Within a short while we were running a youth gathering at our home on a Sunday evening after church. Getting elected to Church Council and running a house group followed later.
I responded to something within me by offering for Local Preacher training. The first two modules took a year, the second two took a year each in no small measure the result of having a daughter born who was quite keen on climbing up a leg to see what Daddy was
writing. Study time was not helped as the work at IBM was growing with promotions and I started travelling more. A familiar question was raised: family, church, work: what was the right balance of time? What is the right balance of time?
Coinciding with formal accreditation as a local preacher and the recent birth of our second child, Paul, we moved to Winchester and joined Christchurch Winchester, a large eclectic Anglican church.
We could have joined the joint URC – Methodist church in the city centre but wanted to provide something for our children. Christchurch had a large number of children; the other place had none. Now, 33 years later Siân is still meeting with friends that she grew up with in the church.
What followed was normal church involvement: leading a house group with Bible study, prayer and fellowship (in varying combinations) part of the weekly diet. Quite often the burden fell on Alison as work commitments continued to take me away. 1988 was a
particularly bad year: 7 trips, 17 weeks, most of the journeys at fairly short notice. Several times I phoned from work during a Friday to say I would be leaving on Sunday morning. It put its pressure on us.
At the end of a joint project between IBM and Microsoft an offer was made to join Microsoft working in this country. When that stopped six years later it raised questions as to what I should be doing and a time of exploration started. I quickly re-joined IBM
which sorted the material provision leaving the other questions unanswered. By this time Alison was already on her journey towards ordination in the Church of England. I was not convinced it was the right path for me; neither, initially, was the Church of England!
Two (academic) years at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford followed the formal selection process. Our second spell of living apart, made more difficult in the last few months when Alison had to go into hospital in London for an operation on her head to address the Arnold-Chiari malformation that had – eventually – been diagnosed.
A curacy in Crawley, Littleton and Sparsholt, before moving to become Vicar of Heacham in Norfolk and then to Gloucester.
Over the last year plus we have been living apart again as Alison oversees the work at the home we have bought in Leighton Buzzard. We look forward to next year and being in the same place and not having to travel back and forth. Until then, please continue to pray for me as I pray for you.

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Steve Davies,

Minister of Christchurch Abbeydale




 

Welcome to all the family

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Alison, Steve and daughter Sian


 

Relocation of an earlier Christchurch Cross & Foundation Stone

The Foundation Stone was originally in the outside wall by the main entrance to the Community Centre

The Cross was kept in the small church rooms at the Community Centre and brought out into the Badminton Hall when services were held

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During ‘Work Week’ the Foundation Stone was relaid in the wall of the

back rooms at Christchurch with the Cross above

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Christchurch’s first real ‘home’ was the Community Centre and with recent alterations there the foundation stone was made available to us

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