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CHURCH NEWS - May 2003
From the Rectory
One of the surprises that emerged from the details released from the last census of 2001 show that about seventy per cent of the population of England and Wales indicated on the census form that they wished to be regarded as Christian. The population totals something over fifty two million people. In round figures this makes a total of about thirty seven million people who for one reason or another wish to record their religious belief as Christian.
Obviously no one would claim that all who had so registered were active members of the various churches. Many would have some beliefs, others would hold to certain behaviour patterns which could be identified as Christian. Others may have marked their form to indicate that they did not belong to any other particular religious grouping. Allowing for a variety of reasons this cannot fully explain such a large percentage unless the history and culture of the country is taken into account.
This is all the more interesting as the question was voluntary and there was no need to answer it. In fact, some of the stricter groups refused to answer on the basis of religious freedom. This means to some extent that the figures are an underestimate rather than the reverse.
There are two serious points that can be drawn from the census figures. Those who listen to, or watch the media will be aware that the country is regarded by it as a secular state and the amount of orthodox Christianity broadcast is of a minimal size. Certainly, attacks on the Christian faith are not lacking from that source.
The point at issue is that, in spite of Government legislation such as making Sunday essentially another working day of the week, which has seriously affected attendance at Sunday services and a certain amount of hostile material being broadcast, the numbers who still retain a minimal attachment to the Christian faith are remarkably high however it is precisely understood.
It was reported by Army Chaplains that the recent war in Iraq saw a very heavy demand for Bibles and New Testaments. It was always said that there are no atheists on the battlefield. When there are serious problems people turn towards God. That is not wrong but there is a need for those who seek to be helped in their understanding and that is where the Church as a congregation fits into the scheme.
There is a downside in that there must be a serious question, particularly for the Church of England with its widespread parish system as to why this is not being translated into Church attendance, if not membership? It would seem from evidence that there is a widespread lack of teaching the basics of the faith and perhaps a loss of nerve in some quarters.
This is not a recent phenomenon but was present even in the sixties. I remember the Canon of Chichester Cathedral in charge of post ordination training remarking quite forcibly that Christianity was not solely being kind to granny and the cat! Please be kind to granny and the cat but the Christian faith is misunderstood when it is seen only in those terms.
There was a very famous Report called "Towards the Conversion of England" that was issued, if my memory serves me aright, in the fifties. The Report strongly advocated evangelism. It was never acted upon any more than the decade of Evangelism forty years later. Both reports fell by the wayside.
The real question at issue is whether Christianity is true. The answer to that lies in the overwhelming evidence of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again that we might be ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven and declared by God to be righteous through faith in Christ. If that is true, and the New Testament affirms it most strongly, then with the facts of the census there is a deep need for the Church of England not to withdraw but to promote the faith.
When all is said and done these were the marching orders given by the Lord Jesus Christ to his disciples - that the Church should go into all the world and preach the good news, calling upon all to repent and to believe in Christ. The little band of disciples did just that after the resurrection and ascension and changed the history of the world.
All good wishes,
Sincerely, David Streater
I am always ready to discuss any issue arising out of what I have written
Sunday May 18th
The Gideons, a Christian organisation that places Bibles in hotels and other public places will be in Church for Morning Prayer at 10 a m and presenting their work.
The Prayer Chain
The Prayer Chain is there if you need prayer for yourself, for others or for members of your family. Please don’t ask for prayer outside your own family without people’s permission. To have a number of people pray just telephone David (720234) or Dennis (822992).
Many of you will know that because of the problems of vandalism and theft from Churches generally, the Parish Church is kept locked. Unless there is a specific reason for opening it earlier, it will be opened for Sunday and occasional services half an hour before the Service is due to start.
If there is anyone considering confirmation please would they contact David.
News from St. Albans Diocese
Praying for peace
Prayers for enduring peace in Iraq and across the Middle East continue to be said at churches across the diocese. Further information, and prayers at a time of war, are available on the diocesan website, http://www.stalbans.anglican.org
Day to explore prayer
Around 500 people from parishes across the diocese will be gathering at St Albans Abbey in May for an 'Exploring Prayer Day' under the title, 'Launch Out into the Deep.' More than 30 workshops on prayer will be on offer on Saturday May 10th after the success of a similar event two years ago. Full information about the prayer day was issued to parishes in January. Enquiries to Laura Hart on 01727 830802.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will be making his first visit to St Albans since his enthronement, on Saturday May 17th. He is among the keynote speakers at a major conference on Christian unity being held at St Albans Abbey. Other keynote speakers at the event - called 'May they all be one - but how?' - include Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pope's Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Revd Elizabeth Welch, former member of the World Council of Churches' central committee. More information from 01727 890200 or http://www.stalbanscathedral.org.uk
'Pour out your Spirit,' is the title of a renewal course being held in Stevenage during June and July. A range of speakers will discuss renewal in prayer, mission and evangelism, healing, worship and social action. The course runs at St Nicholas, Rectory Lane, on Wednesdays from June 4th to July 2nd, at 7.45 pm for 8 pm. The fee for the full course is £10, or £3 per session. More information from the Revd Don Dowling via firstname.lastname@example.org or 01438 354355.
A national initiative to "arm local parish churches with a fresh vision and enhance their future position in the heart of their communities", has been announced. Restoring Hope in our church, which has the support of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, aims to help church congregations "embrace the need for change", and encourages them to look afresh at their primary calling, namely 'To love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.' Every benefice across the country will receive a free resource pack this Easter. More information: 020 7207 2137 or http://www.restoringhope.org.uk
Church members are being encouraged to consider their Christian vocation. The Church of England has designated May 11th as Vocations Sunday to help people "look carefully at the gifts and skills that God has given them and ask how best they may be used in God's service." More information at http://www.stalbans.anglican.org/vocation.htm
Tree Cathedral Service
An open-air service with a difference takes place in June when the annual Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Service is held on Sunday June 15th at 3 pm. The Tree Cathedral, created following the First World War in 'faith, hope and reconciliation', covers more than nine acres and contains many tree species uniquely planted in the plan of a medieval cathedral. Grass avenues form chancel, nave, transepts, chapels and cloisters, and there is also a dew pond. More information 01582 872 406 or http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whipsnadetreecathedral/
The latest edition of the diocesan magazine features: an interview with 'Songs of Praise' presenter Pam Rhodes and her support for Keech Cottage children's hospice; the Queen's visit to St Albans Abbey; a message about vocation from the Bishop of Hertford; parishes praying for peace; the 'baptism' of a child's doll; news of courses and conferences, more about the e-Round items and, as usual, lots of parish events and activities.
Communications Officer Diocese of St. Albans.
Wednesday 14th 10.30am at Eileen’s, Corner House, 38 Wymington Park Rd., Rushden.
Tuesday 27th 10.30am at Jane Eshelby’s, Newton House, Avenue Rd., Rushden.
June Wednesday 11th Venue tba.
United Christian Conferences
John Knight looks at
"The Significance of Habakkuk for Today" – looking at issues facing the ‘End Time’ Church and its role in a world that is falling apart.
Saturday 17th May
10am – 4pm
St. Bartholomew’s Church, Greens Norton
Please bring packed lunch – coffee and soft drinks provided.
Booking Essential. £2 per person (cheques to United Christian Conferences). Send to Revd. John Knight, The Rectory, Towcester Rd., Greens Norton NN12 8BL. Tel: 01327 359508.
Our Giving in May is to The Church Army.
Church Army is a society of evangelists with
the Anglican Communion, which works to enable people to come to a living faith
in Jesus Christ.
Church Army has been at the heart of evangelism within the established church since 1882. It was then that Revd Wilson Carlile, a young curate at St Mary Abbots Kensington, founded Church Army to take the good news of Jesus Christ to those people who would not normally have had contact with the Church. Wilson Carlile was also keen to encourage other Christians to do the same. This has been Church Army’s goal ever since; its areas of focus are: area evangelism, homeless people, children and young people, older people, church planting and training. For more information on Church Army, visit www.churcharmy.org.uk
Looking to Jesus
Across The Ocean, by Dav Egner.
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." - Titus 3:5
If some people were to be absolutely honest, they would have to admit that they are trying to earn their way to heaven. Their faith is in their good intentions and admirable deeds - not in the Lord Jesus Christ.
For instance, when my neighbour died, his wife said to me "Surely he is in heaven, don't you think? He was such a good man."
I agreed that he had been a fine husband and a conscientious father, but had to add, "He'll be in heaven if he believed in Jesus Christ as his Saviour."
I was thinking about our inability to save ourselves when I was fishing in my 14 -foot canoe. A person would be a fool to think he could cross the ocean through gale-force winds and swelling waves in a tiny boat like that. Even the most experienced paddler with the best of equipment would not try to travel from Boston to Liverpool in a 14-foot canoe. The unstable craft just could not make it across the Atlantic Ocean.
Just as the canoe cannot carry us across the ocean, our good works and worthy intentions cannot take us to heaven. Oh, our good deeds may make the circumstances of this life more pleasant - just as sitting in a canoe on a calm lake is pleasant - but it will never meet the just demands of a righteous God. The only solution is to put our trust in Christ. The Bible tells us, "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians. 2.8).
When we accept Jesus by faith, He forgives all our sins, and fully accepts us. Jesus alone can carry us "across the ocean" to heaven.
Have you put your faith in Christ?
Taken from "Our Daily Bread" with kind permission of RBC Ministries. PO Box 1. Carnforth.Lancs. LA5 9ES
Father we are sometimes foolish in thinking that we can do anything by ourselves, - we find out that we cannot. To come to you there is no other way except by giving ourselves, our whole life, and listening to you through Jesus your son. He alone is the route to you and to Heaven. He is the intercessor of our prayers and brings them to you.
So, we pray: For the soldiers trying to establish peace in Iraq, the wounded, and those whose families are grieving for their lost who have been killed in the fighting. No one likes war, and we do pray for peace not only in Iraq, but also in Syria and those countries linked to this unrest. We know Father that sometimes war is inevitable but we still continue to pray for a world peace. We think too of the terrorists so keen to maim and kill. Lord may your Kingdom come and your will be done.
We lift up to you Andrew Bates mourning the death of his father Colin Bates who died on 26th March. The funeral service, led by David, took place at Bedford Crematorium and was attended by friends of Colin from All Saints.
Colin helped out so kindly in keeping our church grass cut for quite a long time. We give thanks for his life and pray to God to help Andrew through this sad and difficult time. Lord may your Kingdom come, and your will be done.
We pray for all those who are sick, at home, in nursing homes or in hospital. We thank you for the caring staff involved, all doctors and nurses, and all those involved in the medical professions. Lord may your kingdom come and your will be done.
We praise and thank you for the Village children, they are a delight and we are so blessed. Thank you Lord.
For our health and strength, for food and drink, clean water in the tap, electricity at the touch of a switch, television, telephone and so much more, O Lord we really are so truly blessed and we give you our heartfelt thanks.
We thank and praise you for friends and neighbours and for the beauty all around us, for as Louis Armstrong sang: "What a wonderful world". Lord it truly is a wonderful world - still!
Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.
We do believe in prayer, and should you know of anyone that is sick please do not hesitate to telephone David or anyone connected to the magazine, and we will kindly pray for them. (See Prayer Chain details after David’s letter).
Any wedding anniversary, birthday or special event that could be included in the magazine, please telephone me on 01234: 720256. Thank you, Anne Turner
Christian Family Care– what is it about and how does it work in partnership with our local churches?
In a multi-faith, multi-cultural society, what place does the Christian church occupy in the lives of people today?
Many dismiss the church as out of touch and irrelevant. But the church that I know through my work at Christian Family Care is a church with a heart and a church with a mission.
It is a church that demonstrates the ministry of Christ in a practical way. Our work, which provides homeless accommodation and support for some of the most vulnerable people in Bedfordshire, was founded by local, radically minded Christians in the 19th century. The only reason that our work has survived into two new centuries is that the same passion and pioneering spirit that existed then, still exists today in the churches that continue to support our work.
Our work and the work of many other Christian mission organisations demonstrates the practical outreach of the Christian faith in a dynamic way. It is the love of Christ in human form. Across Britain, there are churches that have founded orphanages in the Third World. There are churches that provide support for countries suffering from the effects of Aids and famine and there are churches that meet the needs of the homeless and the disaffected and the broken.
In His ministry on earth, Christ challenged the establishment. He turned the value system of the world on its head. He reached out to the sick and the lame and the possessed. He gave status to the poor and he gave power to the weak. He demonstrated that the love of God is accessible to all and He called on us to do the same.
There can be surely no better demonstration today, of Christ's command for us to love one another than in the millions of lives that are touched and transformed in all corners of the world by Christian mission, in Christ's name.
(I. John 4 V 7)
Chris Ure, Director,Christian Family Care.
Odell Village Fete Saturday
June 14th 2003
Family Dog Show Pony Rides
Children’s Collage Competition Tombola
Fire Brigade Children’s Sports Local Band
Lucky Programme Draw Children’s Stalls
Refreshments Many Sideshows
Gifts White Elephant Bottle Stall
Books Cakes Plants Produce
Please everyone, make a note of the date of the fete now and put it in your diaries! We will once again hold the Dog Show that was such a success last year. Don’t forget to invite all your family and friends for the day.
The site is once again the field at the end of Horsefair Lane.
Fete Working Party on 10th May, from 10.00am, at Doreen Wheeler’s,
Linden House, Odell.
Request for helpIf anyone can help with the fete, particularly on the day, would he or she please contact Jill Cheadle, tel. 720261.
All Saints Odell Flower Rota
The key for the church is at The Rectory and if you have any problems please contact Jane Eshelby on 01933 410959. The only flowers that need attention are the two vases up by the altar and the large vase behind the lectern.May. 4th C. Scott
11th V. Streater
18th J. Roche
25th C. Corkery & J. Eshelby
Harrold 21st Pit Run April 26th
Once again Bethan Lee had an outstanding result. She was playing football in the morning and in the afternoon achieved first place in the under 16 female awards despite being only 13! She was was awarded 3rd place among all the local residents.
Jill Cheadle and Jane Eshelby took a more leisurely pace and raised over £70 between them.
10th 10.00am Fete working party at Doreen Wheeler’s, Linden House, High St., Odell.
10th 7.30pm Quiz, Village Hall.
13th 7.30pm W.I., Village Hall.
14th 10.30am Meeting Point, Eileen Shakespeare’s – Corner House, Wymington Park, Rushden.
27th 10.30am Meeting Point, Jane Eshelby’s, Newton House, Avenue Rd., Rushden.
Please send all entries for the June 2003 magazine to Tricia Hudson (email@example.com), Anne Turner or Catherine Corkery by May 12th at the latest. May we remind you that the editorial team exercises the right to edit, shorten or alter any items that are submitted. Also, the opinions expressed in the articles are those of the contributors and are not the responsibility of the editorial team.
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