There is a time for everything. There’s a time for everything that is done on earth.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIrV)
Perhaps we shouldn’t be amazed when we see how God sets out the times and dates knowing, as He does, what is on our calendars and sifting the important from the urgent in ways beyond our comprehension or ability. It doesn’t mean that everything will necessarily happen as and when we might choose but we can trust our loving heavenly Father who knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.
We are grateful for the many cards, letters, emails, kind thoughts and prayers that have encouraged and supported us during the past few months of house moving and bereavement. We finally have Christine’s Dad’s funeral this month and then a separate occasion when, over a meal with our children and grandchildren, we shall share memories of Dad/Grandad/Great Grandad.
We were unsure as to the wisdom of serving on the prayer team for Spring Harvest Holidays so soon after Dad had left us but we need not have worried. God blessed and refreshed us in numerous ways that week: through the clear, empathetic Bible teaching from Rich Webb, in times of worship led sensitively and ably by a team from Balham Vineyard, through glorious weather, relaxation and friendship, so we were able to offer listening ears and words of prayer for those who needed time and support in responding to what God was doing in their lives. We admit to having been worried on Sunday evening on our way to church when two gendarmes stopped us, that being the one occasion when Pete was not carrying his driving documents. Thankfully it turned out to be a training exercise for a young officer by a kindly older one who, in broken English, exclaimed ‘Prison!’ but proceeded to let us off with a smile and a timely reminder to carry papers at all times when driving in France. We shall!
The ‘Methodist Church’s ‘Belonging’ Facebook conference was a new experience for us. Pete had pre-recorded a keynote address on Disability and Theology but we were both required for a Q&A panel at the end of the conference which was streamed from a studio in Newcastle under Lyme.
It was exhilarating to interact with other panel members as we responded to questions raised by people across the UK, some on their own, others in homes and churches, without the need for travel. We were delighted to meet folk from Charing Cross Methodist Church in Birkenhead and to find out how they have made their church more accessible and welcoming for everyone. When they are ready the talks will be available for listening to at your leisure at this link https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-work/our-work-in-britain/children-and-youth/belonging-conference/
We had a fruitful meeting with our support group and look forward to progress being made towards CEI becoming registered as a charity. You may have read that phrase before but we are determined to move on as soon as we can with this important step which will make receiving funds easier and will also separate out CEI from our own personal tax liability. For sake of clarity, please rest assured that we are already eligible for Gift Aid but only when a donation comes via Stewardship or their www.give.net page – see www.give.net/20043120 The support group is well aware of our desire to expand CEI; ideally, and if God opens up the way, this would mean adding four more workers, not necessarily full-time. For this to happen there will need to be financial commitment to those individuals whom God calls and to the work of CEI overall. Is this something you would feel able to support or to promote within your church or network?
A recent Sunday at Ashley Baptist Church, New Milton was tiring but rewarding. We were warmly welcomed by group leader Julie Reilly, the pastor and congregation. It was good to meet up with Rachel White, their youth and children’s worker who we last saw as a courier at LPO six years ago but is now married to Jonathan and they have a beautiful baby daughter. We gave six short talks at the two morning services and then, after a bring-and-share lunch, delivered a 90-minute training session on Learning Disability and Relationships, also touching on Mental Health, these being edited sections of our Know and Grow advanced training modules.
The day ended with renewing friendship over a meal with John and Maureen Sanders, old friends from St Albans who moved to Christchurch some years ago. We also called in on another good friend, Mark Arnold, from Urban Saints who works with us on the Additional Needs Alliance. We were pleased to meet his wife Clare and son James who often features in Mark’s blogs – see https://theadditionalneedsblogfather.com/about/
Earlier in the summer Christine’s uncle (her Dad’s younger brother) and aunt in North Yorkshire died within 6 weeks of each other and in September we travelled to a Methodist chapel to join with friends and relatives for a service of thanksgiving and remembrance. Each of us is an individual with our own personalities and quirks that make us the people we are. I wonder how we shall be remembered? What sort of legacy will there be for those we leave behind and subsequent generations?
By the time this newsletter reaches you we shall be away on our long-awaited holiday. Somehow, through today’s technology, we are able to programme the sending out of the letter to take place on a date of our choice. This holiday marks the approximate division between our summer of festivals and the winter season of church and conference engagements and training days. Please pray that we shall return refreshed and committed to continuing the task of equipping the church to share the good news of Jesus with people who are so often forgotten or are marginalised. You might also pray that we shall have the time and wherewithal to have our garage converted into a home office and the rest of the house truly to become our home.
Diary dates for October, so far:
Return from holiday
Stay with friends in East Sussex ready for the following morning
Training for staff team at All Saints, Crowborough
Alive Together conference for people with learning disabilities, Chessington, then Portsmouth Celebration Day, Kings Church, Southsea
10:00 am Morning service at Littlehampton Baptist Church
4:00 pm Concert at Littlehampton Baptist Church by Worthing Salvation Army training band in aid of CEI
Funeral service for Christine’s Dad
Christian Resources Exhibition, Sandown Park, Esher – visit us on the Churches for All stand
Our first Sunday at our own church for a while
Meeting with Word Alive CEO to discuss next year’s CEI involvement
Another Sunday at St Nic’s
Know and Grow Training
Some places are still available for our November training dates so please look at the blue box to find out what we shall be doing, where and when. Book in with us (£15 per person cheques payable to P&C Winmill or ask for bank details) or pass details to those who might be interested. If there is nothing suitable, let’s discuss putting on an additional day that can then be opened up to others.
Friends with Count Everyone In
As mentioned last month, our ‘Friends’ scheme offers support, advice and prayer to those seeking external support for ministry amongst people with learning disabilities. The scheme is available principally to churches and groups but also to individuals. It is not intended to replace or compete with any other affiliations or partnerships. There is no minimum fee but we ask for a donation either monthly or annually. Please consider this prayerfully, recognising that CEI is totally a faith mission and ministry. Do get in touch if you are interested.
For discernment and wisdom in knowing what engagements to take on and when to decline
For possible opportunities in our own locality and for other people to share our passion for this
For individuals, groups and churches who feel isolated and unsupported in their desire to become more accessible and welcoming
For rest, refreshment and ‘recharging of batteries’
For Dad’s funeral to be a celebration of life and a testimony to God’s goodness
For future expansion ideas, giving thanks for financial provision so far
Do let us know how we can pray for you.
Count Everyone In will be at:
Know & Grow (advanced), Chessington, Surrey 3 November 2018
Know & Grow (basic), Harpenden, Herts 10 November 2018
Know & Grow (basic), Crowborough, East Sussex 19 January 2019
Word Alive, Prestatyn 13-18 April 2019
CEI at Cranham Baptist Church 29-30 May 2019
Le Pas Opton, Spring Harvest Holidays, France 3-10 June 2019
Keswick Convention (week 2) 20-26 July 2019
How about joining us? Get in touch for further information and to book for training firstname.lastname@example.org
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