Welcome to Advent and the journey to Christmas. As well as a season of preparation and waiting, it is also a season for thanksgiving and counting our blessings. As our verse for the year encourages us … as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
As we begin Advent together, I would like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers and staff who have worked so hard on our Advent and Christmas programme. I am full of anticipation and hope for all that God is going to do in our midst during this very special season. At the same time I would like to pay tributes to particular Church Family members.
Looking back over the last six months, I have written regularly about Alistair Stevenson and his appointment as Associate Vicar of All Saints (0.5) and Vicar of St Gabriel’s (0.5). And as we move into the New Year, I will be writing extensively about Beth Keith and her licencing as Associate Vicar on 30th January. So for the moment I would like to pay tribute to Dan Christian, the first Associate Vicar appointed since I became Vicar in September 2013. This coming April 2019 Dan, Laura and Theodore will have been at All Saints for three years. His hard work, energy and the way in which he shares his giftedness, have all contributed very significantly to the current flourishing of so many different parts of church life. I love the way in which he relates to so many different people in the life of the Church Family and I always look forward to him preaching or leading services. Dan – Thank you!
Much less visible are the flower team, who work faithfully week by week to prepare the church for worship. As I come into church, my attention is always caught by the beautiful flowers on the main pedestal. My thank you also includes the members of the church family who generously donate money for flowers to be provided on particular Sundays. Looking ahead into 2019, we do have a number of gaps in the rota. If you would like to donate funds in memory of a loved one, Lorna Mason would love to hear from you on 236 1455. Lorna’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also if you have the gift of arranging flowers, Lorna would be very very pleased to hear from you.
Alongside the flower team, I would also like to say a very big thank you to Kathryn Walker who single handedly made all the new curtains for the east end of the church. We now have four different curtains for the different seasons of the year. Purple for Advent and Lent, Red for Festivals, Pentecost & Remembrance, White & Gold for Easter and Green for Trinity. Lots of people have commented on how contemporary they feel and how they highlight the cross as the central focus in the church.
With the appointment of an additional Associate Vicar, I have been reviewing the number of matching stoles we have for use at the 8.00am and 9.15am services with the intention of creating complete sets of four in each colour. Here I am very grateful to Jeannette Jackson for all her input and advice. Currently we have two purple stoles and three red stoles, with material being held in stock to complete the sets. Very generously Jeannette and her son Alexander have agreed to pay for new additional purple stoles in memory of Jeanette’s late husband Lionel. I am thrilled. If anyone would like to sponsor the single outstanding red stole at around £300, I would be delighted to hear from you.
A number of you have asked me about how are we progressing with them proposal to extend the church building. Unfortunately we have needed to slow down due to the complexity of the task and the lack of staff capacity to go any faster. Here I am delighted that when Michael Gordon steps down as Church Warden, he has agreed to spear head the project. This will create a lot of new momentum. In the meantime we are progressing with the significant works that need to be done to the stone guttering of main roof of the church. Following the successful compete re-roofing of the Edwardian Chancel and Transept, we now need to attend to the repairs that need to be done to the Georgian part of the church. This is a significantly smaller project than re-roofing but will be no less important in ensuring that the church building is absolutely watertight. Once the works are done to the Georgian part of the building, it will be completely watertight! Only then will we be able to redecorate and re-carpet. The project is currently in the hands of our church architect and roofer. We hope to seek permission from the DAC in the spring so that we can proceed with the works in the summer/autumn. I will keep you updated.
But for the moment Advent is upon us. We have the most amazing suite of services planned; ranging from the Advent Meditation to Christingle to the Tea Service to Carols by Candle-light to the Crib and Nativity Services. Please remember these services in your prayers. Also who could you invite to come along with you? And who could you encourage to be thinking about joining the Alpha Course in the New Year?
Yours in the service of Christ Jesus