Stories that make us excited

The trustees of Wokingham United Charities are pleased to inform you (Woosehill Church) that your recent grant application has been successful and you have been awarded a grant towards the cost of art materials for the new Art Group”. I had to read that email statement a couple of times before I could believe it! What an answer to prayer!  God at work in Woosehill Church – providing yet again!

My involvement in all this began a couple of years ago – at the end of a church service where Partnership For Missional Church (PMC) had been mentioned. “Go and find out what this PMC is all about” This was a bit more than a thought – it was one of those strong impressions that grabs hold of you and won’t let go!

I asked that very question of someone who I knew was involved in PMC and was immediately invited to come to a meeting. To cut a long story short, it took me a while to get my head round PMC but, when I did, I found myself excited by the idea of asking God to show us what He is doing – and where He wants us to join with Him in doing it.

Trying to do PMC without prayer would be like sowing seeds and forgetting to water them” For the past two years many in the church have been praying daily automatically-emailed prayers for our community. As I read through those prayers now, I am struck by one such prayer:-  “Give us stories to tell of how you ‘show up’ – how you guide and provide – stories that make us excited and want to tell people about you so that they, too, may be drawn to you.” That’s a prayer that has been answered over and over again – and the grant from Wokingham United Charities is just the latest answer!

It had become clear, as we set out to seek what God would have us do, that Woosehill Church didn’t have the manpower or finances to undertake grandiose schemes to reach out to build community here on Woosehill. We had to think in terms of working with other people and organisations. “Bring the people you want us to work with into our lives and enable us to be channels of your love in our community,” we prayed daily. This was another prayer that would be answered – in unplanned and unexpected ways!

If you were isolated or lonely”, a group of Church ladies were asked, “what would you like to have available” A few ideas were floated, then one lady said “I’d like to sing” That germ of an idea took root, and resulted in Sing Something Simple

Shortly afterwards we set up a knit and natter group, Wool With A Mission, to reach out to lonely or isolated people. At one session someone just happened to mention First Days – a charity that provides clothing and other necessities for local children in need. Wool With A Mission and First Days have now teamed up – and we are knitting and crocheting for local children in need. Just in the past few days, three new ladies have made contact, having spotted a post on Facebook. “Bring the people you want us to work with into our lives and enable us to be channels of your love in our community,”

Woosehill Watercolour is the result of an overheard conversation one morning after the service. Sue Smith, a watercolour teacher at Bracknell College just happened to be talking about how she goes into old people’s homes to do simple painting with the residents. Would she be willing to head up a watercolour group for PMC? Yes she would! Another answer to the prayer: “Bring the people you want us to work with into our lives

We’ve been trialling Woosehill Watercolour for a few months now, but we needed to buy some art materials before we could launch and publicise the group. We wanted to ensure that people who had no paints and brushes of their own could have a go. We estimated that to buy enough materials for ten people would cost around £500!

I was talking about this, again after a service, when a lady from Woosehill Church, Jo Cullinane joined us mid-conversation. “Do you know that Wokingham United Charities are looking to give money to people who are working for the lonely and isolated?” Jo asked. Just a couple of months later we received the email from them. “The trustees of Wokingham United Charities are pleased to inform you (Woosehill Church) that your recent grant application has been successful and you have awarded a grant towards the cost of art materials for the new Art Group

For the past two years our e-prayer group has been praying “Give us stories to tell of how you ‘show up’ – how you guide and provide – stories that make us excited and want to tell people about you so that they, too, may be drawn to you.”

 

 

 

 

Interview

Recently the Archdeacon of Berkshire was interviewed by Peter Barrett of All Saints Church Wokingham. She answered Peter’s questions about Partnership For Missional Church – now that All Saints, like Woosehill Church, has completed three years of PMC.

Olivia Graham, Archdeacon of Berkshire

The interview is encouraging for us here a Woosehill in that is confirms that we’ve been ‘on the right track’ with what we’ve been doing. The interview is 23 minutes long but well worth listening to. It’s is clear, fairly jargon free – and very inspiring. Make yourself a cuppa – then just click on the link below and sit back and listen to Peter and Olivia:-

 

 

 

 

A resounding success!

The first Sing Something Simple was a resounding success!!! A lady who is registered blind was the perfect ‘barometer’. There was no need to ask if she was enjoying it – we only had to watch her face as she sang!

At the end she told us that there are so many things that, with her lack of sight, she just can’t do. But she can sing! And she clearly loved every minute. Brought a tear to my eye, I can tell you!

Be with people

Another lady told us how critical it is for her to get out and be with people. With her daughter’s recent death and her husband’s Alzheimer’s she said that it had been a dreadful year for her. But for a little while she could sing her heart out and laugh once more.

Everyone else clearly loved it too – and sang along with gusto. There were nine of us in total (about the maximum that my little lounge will hold)

Which worked best

It was really helpful to play the tunes I’d put together on my iPod – and to see which worked best. One or two of the songs were really lovely – but a little too slow. It was the catchy ones that worked best for a sing-along – so a couple of songs will come out of the list. But I wouldn’t have been able to see that so clearly without our little ‘rehearsal’

Very portable speaker

Authentic sound

Using playlists and an iPod speaker really worked. I would recommend continuing to use that means of providing the music. It produced the authentic sound – exactly as people remembered from their youth – and had the advantage of not needing to ask musicians to give up their time. That’s not to say that we couldn’t have an occasional ‘concert’ from time to time

Timing

The afternoon’s ‘rehearsal’ also enabled us to check the timing of it all: half an hour of singing before tea and cake – followed another half an hour of singing – with time in between to chat. 2pm to 3.30 felt just the right amount of time.

The way forward

So – another session is booked for the 15th February – and I will select some different songs and produce another set of lyrics. We need three or four different playlists with lyrics so that we’re not singing the same songs each time.

I would definitely encourage growing the group through relationships – rather than advertising it (at least to begin with). We need to build a strong stable group, I feel. So the idea will be to ask the current members of the group if they know of anyone outside of the church who is lonely or isolated that they could invite.

Larger venue

That can only happen, however, when we have a larger venue – my lounge was at full capacity. So the next discussion might be about where we hold these sing-alongs in the future. Should we use the church? Or would somewhere like Woosehill Community Centre be less intimidating for non-church people? Time for another MIT meeting!

Do please let me have any thoughts, ideas or comments

PS – Here’s the invitation to the meeting that went out to the group – just to give you a ‘flavour’ of what it was all about:-

Sing Something Simple

A musical meander down Memory Lane

with Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis, Glen Millar, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby,  Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Perry Como and many more.

A few people from Woosehill church are going to try out a new PMC initiative – before it is ‘rolled out’ to lonely or isolated people outside the church.

Would you like to come along and help us to ‘rehearse’ so – we know what works and what doesn’t?

Most of us can’t sing for toffee’ – but we don’t need to – the sound tracks will  cover a ‘multitude of sins’! We simply want to have fun!

Lyric sheets will be provided (though, if you were around anywhere in the 1940’s to the 1960s you probably won’t need them)

Thursday 11th January 2018 2pm to 3.30 pm

Afternoon tea will be served

 

Here’s a song we sang that afternoon – that brought back lots of memories:-

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Our community


So – now that we’ve got our heads round what Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) is all about, let’s look at what we can all do, very simply, each day.

Gavin and Roland,  a couple of comedians here at Woosehill Church, give us their hilarious version of Talking Heads as they discuss how to be friendly here in our community!

 

 

 

 

Why a blog?

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So what’s PMC all about then?” I asked at my first Mission Innovation Team (MIT) meeting. PMC, MIT, The Village, People of Peace – goodness me I seemed to be listening to a foreign language! By the end of the evening I was no wiser! Yet I was intrigued.

Where’s God in all this” I asked at the second meeting. The leaders patiently did their best to answer my barrage of questions. I went home understanding only slightly more. So – when in doubt turn to good old Google! I spent several hours looking up everything I could find about PMC. At the end of it I understood why the leaders had struggled to answer my questions – and why I’d had so many questions in the first place! Nevertheless, I was beginning to get excited.

A bit fuzzy

PMC, is appears, is meant to be ‘a bit fuzzy’ – leaving room for God to direct each church individually. But I’m a northerner – I like plain speaking – I need to keep things simple! And I felt that – even while allowing for God to direct – it could be better explained in plain, jargon-free language! In fact – I came across a video by another northerner – Peter Barrett from All Saints in Wokingham – explaining how confusing it had all been to the PMC team there. Phew – what a relief – it wasn’t just me being none too bright!

Peter Barrett on figuring out what PMC means in Wokingham

I love what Peter says about God working in All Saints through ‘coincidences’ – and ‘God moments’ – that He was at work even before they started the process. Ah – at last – someone was talking my language! God-incidences! This has been the story of my life for almost four decades!

You see, with the help of good old Google, I’d already begun to pick up on the fact that PMC is all about looking to God to see where He is working in our lives, in our church and neighbourhood, and spotting how he is directing and providing for us. I had no problem whatsoever relating to that concept. After all these years,  it’s second-nature to me now.

For confused people like me

Yet – for the previous 18 months I hadn’t got my head round PMC at all. I’d heard mention of PMC in church. I’d even been to a meeting where we all put sticky notes on a timeline – a long sheet of paper with years on it. But it simply hadn’t ‘registered’ as part of the PMC process.

As early as my second MIT meeting I’d suggested that we needed a blog – for confused, plain-speaking people like me to go to for a simple explanation of what PMC is all about. And a place where we could update people on what we feel God’s doing and what we’re learning as we go along.

God kept ‘showing up’

You see – though I’d experienced a very dramatic conversion, my early Christian life had been a case of “one step forward and two steps backward‘  – progressing to “two steps forward and one step backward“. Yet all the time God kept on “showing up” in these “God-incidences”, bearing patiently with my failings and enabling me to learn my best lessons through my worst mistakes.

He’s even used me – with all my faults and failings. And He’s directed and provided the work I’ve been doing for Him. He’s brought incredible people into my life. He’s answered my prayers. He’s provided for me. He’s transformed me. He’s given me purpose and immense joy. I owe everything to Him.

Excited about PMC

So that’s why I’m excited about PMC, in spite of my initial confusion, in spite of the jargon. I’m excited because I know from personal experience that God responds to us when we ask Him to direct and teach us. He responds in very real, tangible ways.

And that’s why I’ve created this blog – because PMC could turn out be the best thing that’s ever happened to us, individually and as a church,  if we can only ‘get our heads round’ it all and get excited about what God wants to do.

Follow the blog

The blog will evolve and grow as we, as a church, seek God and share our experiences. There are comment boxes at the bottom of each page – and  a contact page where you can share your own experience of what God is doing. It would be lovely, too, if you would click the orange ‘Follow‘ button on the bottom of any page to receive a notification whenever there is a new post on the blog.

So here’s our new blog. Let’s create a God-glorifying record of what He does in our church and in our neighbourhood!

Eileen Fletcher

So – what does God want to do in Woosehill Church?

Click here to listen to Richard Lamey explaining his vision for the parish

 

A prayer

Dear God, we dedicate this blog to you and ask you to make it your own. It is our desire that you should be seen to be at work in our church and in our neighbourhood, drawing hearts to your heart and transforming lives. And we want to record what you do – for your glory, for the building up of our faith and for the sake of precious souls in our community who desperately need you. We want this blog to to prove that you are a prayer-hearing, prayer-answering Heavenly Father, who still wants to demonstrate the love that took Jesus to the cross and the power that raised Him from the dead.