Welcome to the September ‘From the Vicar’. It’s a bumper edition designed to set us up for the autumn. I hope that you find it helpful and informative.
Following our summer sermon series about prayer, September’s morning and evening sermon series is entitled ‘Faith in the Church Family’. It has been planned to help us begin our journey together towards the ‘Big Church Weekend’ in Buxton 25-27 January 2019 – perhaps the most important church weekend in the life of All Saints for many years.
As a multi-generation church family we are very young, young, young at heart, middle aged, old and very old. And at any one time ‘in the midst of life we are in death’. At any one time new babies are being born just as much loved older members of the church family come to the end of their walk with God in this life. Indeed at the time of writing I am rejoicing in the birth of a baby boy to the Toombs family and mourning the recent death of Dorothy Burlison at the age of 92.
This is of course, not to forget, those of us in the middle, who have been members of All Saints for a while. We are also gradually moving up through the generations – however imperceptibly. This includes even those who have given up birthdays or have elected to stay 39 on an indefinite basis!
The last 18 months have been characterised by an unusually large number of deaths among church family members – this was particularly striking at the July service of remembrance. I was very moved by all the names read out by Stephen Hunter. It was a very special reminder of so many church family members who had blessed or inspired Gillian and I since we first joined All Saints in 2004.
At the very same time we have been blessed by the birth of lots of wonderful babies and by lots of new people including families joining us. Hence our continuing requests for help with the crèche and the children’s ministry.
All of this means that we are in the process of becoming a new Church Family – where for many of us - there are more people that we don’t know than people we do!
Many of us only know the people who attend the same home group or the same service or who do things ‘up front’ – even then we can struggle to remember each other’s names. Hence the importance of the Big Church Weekend. It will be a really special time of getting to know each other, making new friendships and renewing old ones. An important time of being renewed as a Church Family.
This is why we have chosen the Palace Hotel in Buxton. We have booked the whole hotel including 300 beds. It is the perfect venue for a multi-generation church family – although a little dated, it is very comfortable and very spacious with facilities for everyone. It is also accessible by train and less than an hour away by car.
It’s also why we have asked Bishop David & Helen Williams to be our chaplains for the weekend, Joy Adams to lead optional early morning and late night prayers and Daniel McGuinness to be our main speaker. They are a fantastic team, with very broad appeal. I can’t wait to spend the weekend with them. As well as growing together in the Gospel, I know that we are going to have lots of fun.
To make the weekend as accessible for everyone we have tried to make booking as easy as possible – either on line at
https://www.allsaintsecclesall.org.uk/big-church-weekend-away/ or by completing a paper booking form.
The only price is the non-returnable booking fee which is £35 per adult and £15 per child. We have tried to set amounts that everyone can afford. If you feel that you may have difficulty affording the booking fee please have a quiet word with Dan Christian, Alistair Stevenson or myself. We will do all that we can to help everyone who wants to be part of this very exciting weekend.
Clearly the cost to All Saints PCC is more than £35 or £15. But that is all that you are asked to pay. If you are able to donate more to help with the total cost, may I encourage you to be as generous as you are able – and to think in terms of donating to support others to attend.
We are not charging a price for attending the weekend. But asking everyone, including those who are not able to attend, to think about donating towards the total church family cost. For illustrative purposes we have mentioned £115 as the approximate cost per head - but do not want to focus on this figure. But rather to encourage everyone to think and pray about supporting other church family members.
It is possible to make donations whenever you would like. Donations are open now – either online (via the link above) or by cheque made payable to “Ecclesall PCC”. Cheques need to be sent to Rachel McLafferty via the Church Office. In addition, this All Saints-Tide from 28 October to 11 November we will hold a retiring collection after all the services in support of the Big Church Weekend – so that as many members of the Church Family as possible will have the opportunity to support the weekend by donation as well as in prayer. Finally there will be a collection at the weekend itself to help cover any outstanding costs. This is a whole church family weekend away – so we need to support it financially as a whole church family. Should we be blessed with a significant surplus of funds after all the donations – we will give a gift to another church to help them finance a church weekend away.
To help us get to know each other a little better the second Sunday of 9 September will be a Badge and Pastries Sunday. Please come to church ready to wear a name badge and to look out for church family members who you don’t know yet. Pastries will be in generous supply.
Many of you will know that members of the House of Bishops are currently working on a major teaching document entitled ‘Next Steps in Human Sexuality’. It will be endorsed by the whole House of Bishops and then commended to the whole Church of England early in 2020. Our own Bishop Pete Wilcox is chairing the sub group working on the Bible, hermeneutics and Biblical ethics. The teaching document is likely to have a major impact on the whole church. This autumn Dan Christian, Alistair Stevenson and I will be spending some time together beginning to plan how we will help All Saints navigate through what will be a very challenging and at times uncomfortable period for the Church of England. We would value your prayers. https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/gs-misc-1158-next-steps-on-human-sexuality.pdf
Last but not least, I want to draw your attention to this Autumn’s Alpha course. The launch party will be on Tuesday 18 September at 48 Renshaw Road. Who could you encourage to attend? Who could you invite? How could you help? Could you support the course in prayer? For more details contact Dan Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07841 835711.
With love and prayers for autumn 2018