SEPTEMBER 2001

This is selected highlights from Lindfield United Reformed Church's monthly magazine, Good News. It is freely available from the Church and Lindfield Post Office. The printed edition also contains useful information regarding local meetings and 'Family News'.
If don't live in the area, and wish to recieve a copy of the magazine, please Email the Editors.


Lindfield URC Main Site WORSHIP IN SEPTEMBER


2nd
9.30am "Jesus-Centred Evangelism" – Norman Smith
11.00am "Jesus-Centred Evangelism" – Norman Smith
6.30pm "Church-Based Evangelism" – Richard Walters and David Walters


9th
9.30am "Spirit-Filled Evangelism" – David Nibloe and Barry Piper
11.00am "Spirit-Filled Evangelism" – Barry Piper
6.30pm "Strategy for Evangelism" – COMMUNION IN THE ROUND – Norman Smith


16th
9.30am "God-Guided Evangelism" – David Nibloe and Norman Smith
11.00am "God-Guided Evangelism" – Norman Smith
6.30pm "A Burden for Evangelism" – Richard Walters and Norman Smith


23rd
9.30am "A Vision for Evangelism" – David Nibloe and Norman Smith
11.00am "A Vision for Evangelism" – COMMUNION – Norman Smith
6.30pm "Person to Person Evangelism" – Peter Trump


30th HARVEST
9.30am David Nibloe and Norman Smith
11.00am Michael Davies
6.30pm Norman Smith


From the Minister


I am a ‘newsaholic’! I try to watch at least one, if not two or three, of the sessions of national news each day and usually have time to scan the national and local newspapers. As I pass by the piles in the shop, I often think each paper (especially the tabloids) tries to outdo the other in producing an eye-catching, often lurid, pithy, heading on the front page. Sadly, most of the items are bad news but these are the very stories that sell the newspapers.
By contrast, we have access to the most wonderful, exciting, challenging, life-changing news ever made known. It deals with the murky and insignificant issues of the past. It gives an incredible hope and assurance about the future and, literally, transforms the experience of the present. Everyone who hears the GOOD NEWS and responds to it has a totally new experience of life. The outlook is bright, the temperature is warm and the available resources are limitless. Those on the crest of a wave find life is enhanced still more; those in the depths of despair start to have a brand new perspective on problems of all shapes and sizes.
Many who take the trouble to read this letter know exactly what I mean; others wish they did; and thousands, locally, appear to have no significant understanding of what the GOOD NEWS is all about.
So, for the first four Sundays of September, we are concentrating on the vital importance of encouraging each other to pass on the GOOD NEWS to other people. There are members of our families who do not rejoice in the blessings the GOOD NEWS brings, just as there are people we meet at work, or in the pub, the train, the bus or the club. Lots of them have pre-conceived ideas and some have made informed judgements to reject what is on offer.
Because Christians are enthusiastically convinced that the very best news of all hinges on the person of Jesus and the incredible lengths which he has gone to in order to provide us with the very best human experience, we never give up longing to introduce Jesus to all the people we know.
Yours in His love, Norman

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MISSION GIVING IN SEPTEMBER – TOYBOX


This month we will be supporting the work of Toybox, the mission adopted by Junior Church last year.
The Toybox Charity rescues street children in Latin America, giving them a loving home, an education and hope for the future. It also works with poor communities to help prevent children becoming homeless. 600 high risk and street children in Guatemala are now helped every week. There is now a new team working among the railway children who have constructed makeshift homes along a disused railway line.
Please pick up the information leaflets from the Mission Board and put any donations in the offertory marked ‘Mission Giving’. Please also visit their website www.toybox.org

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Lindfield URC Main Site

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‘IN TOUCH’


As we move towards the end of another year, it is good to report that ‘In Touch’ has had another successful series of meetings. The evening with Gwyn Mansfield proved to be very interesting, giving some of us an insight to Lindfield that was previously unknown.
The ‘Walk and Supper’ took place on a beautiful evening and included a visit to the garden at Old Place Cottage which was a real joy to see. The walkers then made their way back to the church where they enjoyed supper outside.
On 25th September, we shall be having a ‘Dried Flower Arranging’ evening and all are very welcome to attend. A small donation, to cover the cost of materials used on the night, would be much appreciated.
Our October meeting will be a visit to Clair Hall, where the Operatic Society is performing ‘The Music Man’. We can obtain tickets for Tuesday, 23rd, at a cost of £9 each, or £6 concession.
Finally, a reminder that the dinner for husbands, partners or friends will be at 7.15pm, on 8th December, at the church. We look forward to seeing you at the above events. Please do encourage others to share in the fellowship that we enjoy on these evenings.
For further information, please contact Sue Waller on 455047, or e-mail susanwaller@lineone.net

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ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER

A group interested in ‘mentoring’ met at Ryecroft, in August, and registered a growing interest in exploring the subject further. It was recognised that, so often, Christians today fail to make progress in their walk of faith. The gap between theory and practice seems, sadly, not to diminish with the passage of time. It is very good to know that many people are being helped and encouraged, by an informal, friendship relationship, in which time is set aside to allow one person to share with the other some of the joys, frustrations, excitement, sorrows, doubts of living out the Christian faith. The one doing most of the listening has to keep confidences, guard against exercising power, and refrain from adopting the role of a tutor! The one doing the talking has to be willing to be open and honest about the issue being raised and to agree to accept the value of accountability so that progress can be made.


It may have surprised some present to accept that mentoring is not necessarily to be approached as a long-term sentence! It may be that meetings are held weekly, perhaps for a year. It may be that meetings are held monthly and stop after six months. Variety, according to need, and helpfulness, are important factors.
Mentors are not appointed to specific people. Anyone hoping to be helped in the way outlined is invited to pray about it, seek God’s guidance and then approach another person whose Christian walk makes an impact. That person is then asked to become a Mentor. It will be up to the person being approached to accept or refuse the invitation. For more information, ask Norman or one of the Elders.

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Website for Jesus

Over half the country now has access to the web and, for younger people, this has become a major supplier of information. Yet, visitors to many denominational websites (not lindfieldurc.org – "Praise the Lord") may have noticed these often have little reference to God and even less to Jesus. So, a group backed by Churches Together in England and the Evangelical Alliance has commissioned two of the most able website designers, Simon Jenkins, of Ship-of-Fools, and Bruce Stanley, of Embody, to create a site about Jesus, including a range of ways to become a follower of His.
We are asked by GEAR (The Group for Evangelism and Renewal in the URC) to pray for these designers; for the small group setting up the site; and for the churches and Christian agencies as their support is sought. News of the site going public is expected during September.
Norman

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THE RYECROFT SQUIRREL WRITES…


Hi Everyone,
You should have seen the old man’s face when he looked out of the kitchen window and saw not just one of us, but three! We were dancing on the neighbour’s roof at the time and really enjoying a spell of fine weather. I decided not to ‘let on’ just how many there are of us in Ryecroft garden in case he thinks we are about to take over. I could almost hear his brain (such as it is) ticking over! He has been pleased to see an increase in the population next door as parents have been, and are, producing new members for the crèche. He would love to see measurable production in other areas too. His ‘missus’, in a rash moment, suggested he trimmed up his sermons, perhaps in the hope that more people might find them helpful and, in turn, invite others to swell the congregation. Watching him open the door of Ryecroft to ‘dray’(i.e. house) group members, I think he looks disappointed when just the usual ten turn up. He is, of course, pleased to see them but he would be delighted to hear that numbers in all ‘dray’ groups were increasing. There is some talk of a new group for parents who have small babies (sounds good to me). As for the younger members of the community, who come next door on Sundays and weekdays, he thinks it would be simply terrific to have so many that all the rooms were full to capacity, with the added evidence of a long ‘tail’ back waiting to get through the doors.


Above all, he would be thrilled if things went ‘fur’ther and lots and lots of people danced, like we did, for joy because each one ‘nose’ Jesus as personal friend and Saviour.
It’s a ‘tree...t’ (ugh!) to write to you.
Brother Bushby

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SUNDAY MORNING SINGERS

We invite all those who enjoy singing and praising the Lord to join us for rehearsals that begin on Friday, 7th September, at 8.00pm.
We shall be rehearsing for the Harvest weekend and preparing for Christmas!
If you are interested in joining, please contact Peter Swann

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"THE LIFE OF CHRIST"

It was several months ago when I read in Good News that Sarah was organising tickets for a Passion play to be presented on a large country estate near Guildford.
"Yes, please, I would like to go, Sarah." What an experience it turned out to be!
I think there were thirteen of us set off from LURC on a beautiful summer morning in June. Wintershall is a massive estate and we found the action of the play took place on a number of different sites, with amazingly appropriate natural scenery. Perhaps the hardest work of the day was moving yourself and your garden chair around between the scenes, along with approximately 2,500 other people! Apart from all the cars, there were 27 Coaches on the day we went – most of them full of school children.

(The retired school-teacher amongst us was just glad she did not have to keep track of a class of eleven year-olds!) On arrival, it was lovely to find yourself mingling with the actors and actresses, from children right through the age range to pensioners. Their costumes were simple, yet really authentic. Coming from a family who are very interested in the technical side of theatrical productions, I was most impressed with their sound system. The quality of background music was excellent and in good taste, and you could hear every word of the dialogue.

The story is narrated by Dr Luke, much as he wrote it down in his Gospel.
The action of the Passion Play began with the Angel visiting the Virgin Mary before she had conceived the Son of God. I found the Nativity scene to be very real – the characters of the shepherds, the Wise Men and, of course, Mary and Joseph with a ‘live’ baby, came across in a most moving way. Then followed the holy parents presenting Jesus to Simeon and Anna at the Temple and, later, the 12 year-old Jesus remaining behind talking to the religious leaders in the Temple after the family had been to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with their friends.

After a mass move to another area of the estate, we were treated to a potted version of Christ’s Ministry, beginning with the calling of the ‘very ordinary’ disciples. Then through a number of the miracles that Jesus performed, including another moving moment with the feeding of the 5000 when the audience was fed with bread brought round among us by the disciples. Several of the Parables were retold as well, and the scenes with the children in were so natural and meaningful (they even brought in children from the audience at one point.)

When it came to Christ’s Passion, Dr. Luke handed over the narration to James, one of our Lord’s closest followers. The journey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as the actors passed on their way between us, the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s denial of his Lord, Christ carrying his Cross, the actual Crucifixion, Mary in the Garden after the resurrection, Christ meeting the two Disciples on the road and the way in which they re-enacted the Ascension were among many such moving and powerful moments.

It was a truly wonderful day that I think I shall always remember. We came home emotionally drained, tired, but just so blessed by what we had seen. There is a set of videos of the open-air production available so, if anyone would like to borrow them, please contact me.
How encouraging, too, that they were handing out information about Alpha as the audience was leaving. It was a great evangelistic opportunity. (The Passion Play has been presented for three consecutive years now at Wintershall. If it happens again next summer, how about taking another party from our Fellowship?)
Fiona Tingley

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Harvest Appeal

Many will remember that Bill and Rosemary Rettie came and spoke at our Harvest Supper last year and we devoted our Harvest Appeal to the work that they had been involved in at Cheptebo, in Kenya, with AIM. We plan to do the same this year.

The work originally started primarily as an agricultural project, in 1986, with 50 acres of land being given to the church by the local community. Funding was provided by Tearfund to develop a demonstration and training farm. Other activities included providing water supply to the whole community, Christian education in local schools and the organizing of youth camps.

A church was then established on the project, which now has 70-80 attending. Three young men have been sent to Bible College, one of whom has returned to serve at the project and in the local churches.
The project has been extended to include the Kerio Training and Conference Centre, which provided training courses in development subjects and lay-training for church leaders. The Centre is now managed by local staff, has a full training programme and is being used as a means of outreach far beyond the local area.

Members of many local communities have been formed into specialist farmer groups who are using new water-efficient irrigation systems, developed and demonstrated at the project. Production of fruit and other crops has increased substantially. The funds we provided last year were used to assist some of these new farmers groups. Some 250 farmers are involved and many more benefit indirectly.

Challenges facing the project and community today include:

Maintaining Water Supplies – with more and more people utilizing this scarce resource, there is a danger of conflict over limited supplies.
Marketing of Produce – increased production requires a co-operative marketing effort.
Discipling New Believers – there is a need for more trained church workers to care for a growing church.
Training of Local Project Staff – all expatriate missionaries may leave the project within two years. It is essential that local staff are fully trained to take over their responsibilities.
Improved Training Facilities at the Kerio Training Centre – the centre is now being very well used for development training, for training church leaders and members and as a means of Christian outreach into the wider community. There may be a need to upgrade some of the facilities.

We are hoping to have some up-to-date photographs for display by the end of September but, please, give generously towards this project, using the special envelopes which will be available for this last weekend in September and through into October.

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"THE LIFE OF CHRIST"

It was several months ago when I read in Good News that Sarah was organising tickets for a Passion play to be presented on a large country estate near Guildford.
"Yes, please, I would like to go, Sarah." What an experience it turned out to be!
I think there were thirteen of us set off from LURC on a beautiful summer morning in June. Wintershall is a massive estate and we found the action of the play took place on a number of different sites, with amazingly appropriate natural scenery. Perhaps the hardest work of the day was moving yourself and your garden chair around between the scenes, along with approximately 2,500 other people! Apart from all the cars, there were 27 Coaches on the day we went – most of them full of school children.

(The retired school-teacher amongst us was just glad she did not have to keep track of a class of eleven year-olds!) On arrival, it was lovely to find yourself mingling with the actors and actresses, from children right through the age range to pensioners. Their costumes were simple, yet really authentic. Coming from a family who are very interested in the technical side of theatrical productions, I was most impressed with their sound system. The quality of background music was excellent and in good taste, and you could hear every word of the dialogue.

The story is narrated by Dr Luke, much as he wrote it down in his Gospel.
The action of the Passion Play began with the Angel visiting the Virgin Mary before she had conceived the Son of God. I found the Nativity scene to be very real – the characters of the shepherds, the Wise Men and, of course, Mary and Joseph with a ‘live’ baby, came across in a most moving way. Then followed the holy parents presenting Jesus to Simeon and Anna at the Temple and, later, the 12 year-old Jesus remaining behind talking to the religious leaders in the Temple after the family had been to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with their friends.

After a mass move to another area of the estate, we were treated to a potted version of Christ’s Ministry, beginning with the calling of the ‘very ordinary’ disciples. Then through a number of the miracles that Jesus performed, including another moving moment with the feeding of the 5000 when the audience was fed with bread brought round among us by the disciples. Several of the Parables were retold as well, and the scenes with the children in were so natural and meaningful (they even brought in children from the audience at one point.)

When it came to Christ’s Passion, Dr. Luke handed over the narration to James, one of our Lord’s closest followers. The journey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, as the actors passed on their way between us, the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s denial of his Lord, Christ carrying his Cross, the actual Crucifixion, Mary in the Garden after the resurrection, Christ meeting the two Disciples on the road and the way in which they re-enacted the Ascension were among many such moving and powerful moments.

It was a truly wonderful day that I think I shall always remember. We came home emotionally drained, tired, but just so blessed by what we had seen. There is a set of videos of the open-air production available so, if anyone would like to borrow them, please contact me.
How encouraging, too, that they were handing out information about Alpha as the audience was leaving. It was a great evangelistic opportunity. (The Passion Play has been presented for three consecutive years now at Wintershall. If it happens again next summer, how about taking another party from our Fellowship?)
Fiona Tingley

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Church Stretton

I am forced (who said hurrah!) by the denomination to retire from full-time ministry in December. It is a recent rule, brought in during the last few years, to make sure we ‘oldies’ do not clog up the system and prevent energetic young men or women from leading the local church in the twenty-first century.

So, faced with the inevitable, I opted to respond positively when our Moderator asked me if I had dismissed the possibility of ‘part time’ ministry. To cut a long story short (well, one that lasted five months) I have accepted a call to minister in two churches in Shropshire. I am to be in pastoral charge of Church Stretton URC, which has around 60 members and a good number of adherents. I shall also join the staff of the village church in All Stretton, which is a Local Ecumenical Project (Joint Anglican/URC). There is only a handful of URC folk but I get the opportunity of taking services and working alongside the Rector of Church Stretton, who appears to be a young enthusiastic evangelical, keen to see the churches bringing the Gospel to the town and villages.

Just before starting ministry here, in 1984, Hazel and I had the last of four annual holidays in All Stretton and, when Sarah and I were on honeymoon, we visited Church Stretton and went to the Anglican Church’s evening service. So, I know much of the following tourist information at first hand!

"Church Stretton is set in Mary Webb and A E Housman country. Nestling in the valley between the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge, flanked by Caer Caradoc and Ragleth Hills, the Strettons extend to the visitor, the charm, and the peace of an l8th century market town, combined with the convenience of excellent shopping, eating and parking facilities. The town of Church Stretton, with its Norman Church, access road to the Long Mynd, Gliding and Golf Clubs, recreational and riding facilities, together with a main line railway station, forms an excellent base, in all seasons, for the walker, naturalist, sportsman or country lover to combine tranquillity with Marcher Country History and good food."

I believe God is calling me to this 50% pastorate and Sarah, fortunately, shares my conviction! It will be a totally different experience, with plenty of challenging issues to face. We plan to move to the Church Stretton Manse in early January 2002. We ask for your prayers as we go through this transition period, both for us and the people of the Strettons!
We go on praying for you as you move into an exciting stage in this church’s life.
Norman

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FOR YOUR PRAYERS,

AS A NEW AUTUMN SESSION BEGINS …

1 Our prayer ministry, through the variety of different groups, and the specific intercessions for people and situations. The daily prayers for those whose names are entered in the concourse book.
2 Our Junior Church staff and children, that all may be excited to learn more about Jesus and that many more children will join the regulars.
3 Our Brigades, that all new arrangements with leaders and children will go smoothly and the coming weeks be found to be very fruitful and fulfilling.
4 Our ministry to young people through ‘Carpe Deum’ and the ‘14+ group’, so that many more are attracted to join us.
5 Our LOGIC group, which is a cross-church meeting for 16-30’s, that more may enjoy the fun and more serious stuff!
6 Our House Groups as they recommence; each group having the opportunity to choose what it considers to be the most helpful material.
7 Our Sundays Services and all who participate in leading, singing, preaching, sharing, giving, caring, week by week, that every occasion will be a true opportunity to worship the Lord and grow in Him.
8 Our musical and dramatic development as an effective way of presenting the Gospel.
9 Our ‘Concourse’ and ‘Pop In’ ministry that regularly welcomes all who visit the premises and seeks to be available in whatever ways are helpful to those visitors.
10 Our joint venture with ‘All Saints’ in encouraging people to come along to the Alpha Course that starts at the end of September.
11 Our monthly Lunches as they continually attempt to encourage more senior citizens to enjoy food and fellowship.
12 Our ministry to the very young through ‘Stepping Stones’ and the ‘not-so-young’ through ‘The Fellowship’. Also, our ‘In Touch’ meeting, serving the 'social' needs of women of all ages.
13 Our relationships with other churches, especially Balcombe URC and others in the District. For more people to hear God’s call to full-time ministry. Also our links with the local ‘Justice and Peace’ Group and the ‘Haywards Heath Evangelical Fellowship’.
14 Our financial giving and prayer support to the Mission of the Church, at home and overseas.
15 Our Pastoral Care for the spiritual, mental and physical well-being of all who are part of our fellowship and those who turn to us in a time of need.
16 Our care of the premises, their upkeep and improvement.
17 Our producers of the magazine, weekly notices, web site and all publicity material.
18 Our Elders and their families as they seek to lead the church into the coming interregnum, together with all who serve on various key groups that feed material to the Elders’ Meeting. Our Church Meetings.
OUR AUTUMN PILGRIMAGE
will take place on Saturday, 20th October. It will be a circular walk of about 8 miles, starting from East Grinstead at 9.30am. It will be fairly easy, with no hills to climb – only a few stiles to negotiate – and will finish about 5.00pm. If you would like further information, please contact Brenda Stone or Barbara Shepherd
If you have been on a pilgrimage before, you will need no persuading to join this one. If you haven’t been a pilgrim, do come, if you are able. It is an excellent opportunity to share fellowship, to worship, to relax and to enjoy God’s beautiful countryside. Please sign the list on the Notice Board by 7th October, if you would like to take part.

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HARVEST PREPARATION – CAN YOU HELP, PLEASE?

As usual, we are planning to decorate the church in an appropriate way for our Harvest Thanksgiving Services on 30th September. (Betty Billins, who is so often in charge of floral decorations at festival times, is going to be away!)
In the absence of any other organiser, I have agreed to co-ordinate the arrangements so, if YOU can assist in any of these areas:
a) monetary gifts that can be used to buy produce,
b) items of greenery, flowers or produce,
c) practical help on the Saturday morning, 29th September,
I would greatly appreciate you contacting me beforehand so that I have some idea of the extent of the help being offered. Many thanks.
Clare Nibloe

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It’s a question of hearing

Take yourself back to your wild and uncontrollable youth! You remember, it might have been The Beatles on the radio, an upsurge in pink V-neck jumpers or the invention of steam-powered transport! Whatever era to which you might have belonged, you (or your mates) probably went through a phase when you anted answers to key questions of life. Regardless of whether we are Christians or not, these things can still play on our minds. But have you also noticed how, as more mature adults, we can so easily avoid some of these ‘deep’ issues. Where the popular Alpha course scores points is in allowing grown people to ask some of these big questions in an environment that doesn’t assume any knowledge or frown upon such ‘simple’ thoughts. In fact, I recently found myself having a conversation with friends and discussing what our ‘dream’ occupation would be – something I hadn’t thought about for many a year – and it was refreshing to be able to be honest and talk about the reasons behind my personal choice. Just to share and re-live those flights of fantasy with others brought a certain enjoyment and sense of expression.

‘Mentoring’ has been mentioned a little in the past few months or so within the life of our fellowship and you may, like me, be wondering what place this American business jargon has in the Christian church! However, the purpose of mentoring in this sense is, basically, to be able to share the normal, traumatic and downright dull daily life with another, in an attempt to be able to grow in our faith. This relationship entrusts an accountability and an expression of where we are at with God between two people. It is not for personal one-to-one advice but to try and hear the mind of the Lord. The mentor should not feel ‘above’ the other but simply be there to listen.

How many of us, I wonder, would admit to having trouble discerning the will of God in a situation? What percentage of our fellowship struggles with Bible reading or making space for any kind of daily prayer time? Who, in our congregation, has habits they know Jesus would not approve of, yet they are simply too entrenched for them to break. As I type that list, I know that I can identify with each one. Wouldn’t that accountability to a trusted friend help us to really try and get our lives in tune with God? We are not alone in our Christian walk and that is why churches should be so important to Christians. We should be able to learn and help one another as we try and listen to Jesus Christ. Let us use this resource to kick-start our Christian faith, to grow again and not just reach a plateau. So, who will you ask to be your mentor?

NOTE: Should you want to know more about the ‘Mentoring’ pattern referred to here, chat to Norman and get a few useful information sheets from him. There will also be opportunity to discuss this subject in greater detail at UNITE 2001, in November, too!
DAVID TINGLEY

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Boys’ Brigade


We have had a very full summer programme. The Company Section went bowling and sailing; the Juniors had a weekend away in the lovely surroundings of Holmbury St Mary, near Guildford.

At our last meeting, in July, we sadly had to say goodbye to Brian Stone and Elena Mullen who have given invaluable service to the Company. Both were presented with gifts as a token of our thanks.

However, the most important event, by far, was the camp at Glynde, attended by seven of our Boys (Daffyd Wagstaff, Jim Johnson, Ian Potterton, William Mills, Cameron Sharpe, Edward Johnson and James Watt). All but one day was hot and sunny and there was a very active programme which included snowboarding, paint-balling, abseiling, horse-riding, go-karting, laser wars, quad biking, ten pin bowling, swimming and a photographic scavenger hunt. Within the camp itself, there were sports competitions: golf, bowling, volleyball and football.

The atmosphere of the camp was a very happy one, full of fun and laugher. Although our Boys did not do too well in the sports, two of them, Ian and William, were members of the tent that won the Best Tent pennant. Much more significant, from our point of view as a church, was the very powerful proclamation of the Gospel that led to a number of commitments to Christ, among them some of our Boys.

I would strongly urge that we, as a church community, recognise the value of this camp to our Boys, get behind it and encourage more of them to attend it is future years. Its importance, in terms of Christian witness, is priceless. We will reap the fruits of its work in years to come.
GEOFFREY COCKSEDGE

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BALCOMBE URC

The main services are held on the first and third Sundays of the month, at 11.00am. The speakers for this month are:
2nd September Philip Wren
16th September Harvest Thanksgiving – Michael Davies


Friendship Lunch
This is held on the second Sunday of the month, at 1.00pm. We extend a warm welcome to everyone, whether they are connected with a church or not. There is no charge – we just ask people to bring some food to share. From time to time, we have a speaker who will give a short talk, or watch a short video following the lunch.
Before the lunch, at 12 noon, we hold an informal family service to which you are also invited. We are pleased for people to come to one or other, or both.

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A CALL TO ‘MEET AND GREET’!

It is good to be welcoming new faces to the different services month by month but it becomes increasingly difficult to introduce one person to another and for a process of integration to follow. Outgoing personalities can make the most of any situation, while the quieter, more reserved characters can feel isolated. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that people who usually attend one Sunday service do not get to know those who attend a different service.
I dare to suggest we have a three-month amnesty on identities!

A number of people say to me "I cannot ask their names again – they, and we, have been coming to church for ages!" I am pleading with everyone to be bold in an attempt to initiate, or deepen, friendships with those we don’t yet know, except, perhaps, as familiar faces. I am asking, more importantly, that none of us gets upset because somebody who, perhaps, has been coming to the church for many years, asks us our name again … and again … and even again!

Some may think we do not provide enough occasions for everyone to meet but, IF we were all prepared to use the existing opportunities on Sundays, and during the week, it could make a very positive impact on our church family life. I know, from first hand, how easy it is to be busily looking for someone to pass on information and, in the process, to fly by others just standing around. It is worth remembering, too, that our body language (my body language) can have its own effect, for good or ill. THIS IS JUST MY SUGGESTION but many of us would benefit if the suggestion does get implemented.
NORMAN

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Book Review: "Streams of Living Water"

(Published by Harper Collins, price £12.99 hardback, or £8.99 paperback)
If you have read that best-seller from the 1980s, "Celebration of Discipline", you will know that Richard Foster is a man who can write about the difficult subject of spirituality in a lively and readable way. Last year, someone gave me his latest book, "Streams of Living Water" and I would like to recommend it to you. For me, the book was very refreshing – truly living up to its title, in fact.

The book’s subtitle is "Celebrating the Great Traditions of the Christian Faith" and Foster identifies these as Contemplative, Holiness, Charismatic, Social Justice, Evangelical and Incarnational. He examines each of these in turn and, in his gentle way, deflates our exclusiveness by showing that each of these traditions originated with the Lord Jesus Christ, the one from whom all streams of living water flow. After this, he looks at each of his six traditions in turn, telling the stories of three people representing that tradition, one from the Bible, one from church history and one modern (twentieth century). But, within what could be a rather rigid pattern, Foster succeeds in holding our interest by his gift for telling a story in a totally non-stuffy way, revealing the humanity of each of his examples.
Some of Foster’s paradigms are predictable – Billy Graham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St Augustine and the Apostle Paul. But the author delights in surprising us; for example, he places Francis of Assisi in the Charismatic tradition. Hands up if you have ever heard of John Woolman, Dorothy Day or William Seymour, each of whose fascinating stories are included at the expense of more well-known (and more orthodox) figures. And there is the surprising inclusion of Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, a man not normally given much space in books by evangelical authors. One of the highlights of the book is the story of Susanna Wesley (included instead of her famous sons); educating each of her ten children at home – three of whom went on to be outstanding scholars; supporting her husband in a busy parish ministry; and ministering to parishioners in her famous kitchen services. What a woman!

If you have ever thought you ought to know more about church history, but have been put off by those dull textbooks, this is a very readable introduction that tells the story of Christianity through the lives of people, not creeds and councils. For those of you who enjoy the scholarly details, Foster includes chronological tables and two very helpful appendices, the first giving a 25-page overview of the main events of church history, the second consists of brief biographical notes on many people he didn’t find space for in the main book.
My one concern in reading the book was that the allocation of leading Christian figures into one of six paradigms was too forced and just a little artificial. However, in a moving Afterword, Foster shares his dream that the "streams of living water" are, in our day, flowing together into a mighty move of the Holy Spirit. Given a few more Christian opinion-formers with a breadth of vision like Richard Foster, it may just be happening.
MIKE GARDINER

 

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