May I wish you a very Blessed and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! This photograph was taken in the spring but there are signs of spring breaking round all about us at the moment. I only hope the frost does not cause too much damage in the months to come!
January is a quieter month in the life of All Saints but our regular events continue.
CAMEO - Come and Meet Each Other - continues on Monday afternoons from 2pm to 3.30pm in the church hall. It is suitable for anyone who wishes to come in for a chat or coffee or tea and cake. I am pleased to say numbers have risen in recent months with the arrival of some new faces. It is a great way of meeting new people.
SINGING FOR FUN AND HEALTH continues on the third Wednesday of the month from 2.30pm to 4pm - Wednesday 20th January. This again is proving to be most popular with good numbers of people attending each time and is great fun - a chance to singalong to a mixture of all sorts of songs in a relaxed setting with teas and coffees and cake.
FILM CLUB - this meets on Thursdays each week. The full programme for the current season can be found here
BOOKINGS FOR BAPTISMS AND WEDDINGS
Please check our website and then come along to the church on Saturday mornings from 10am to 11.30am. This is also a good time to look round the church.
Our Family Service will take place on Sunday 10th January at 10am and the theme will be the Baptism of Christ, as is normally the case for the Second Sunday in January. There will be the opportunity to renew our baptism promises.
I have written a short piece about the need to be gentle with ourselves and with others as we start the New Year - you can read it here www.simonsblogallsaints.blogspot.co.uk
Although numbers were not great attending the Pilgrim course before Christmas the quality of the material was so good I have decided to continue running the course, starting again at the beginning of Lent. We will be looking at the Lord's Prayer. There will be the opportunity of a day time or evening time for the course. Can you let me know if you are interested in attending?
Full details of the course can be found at this link http://pilgrimcourseatallsaints.blogspot.co.uk/
SPECIAL CONCERT FOR THE SAVE THE CHILDREN SYRIA APPEAL
The Church Council arranged that a retiring collection over Christmas should be taken for this important appeal and has also agreed that a concert will be hosted at All Saints in February with all profits going to this appeal, details of which can be found at this website
Tickets will be £8 per adult and £5 for under 16s. The music will be classical in nature and Jennifer Brisk, a professional opera singer who attended an Alpha course some years ago at All Saints and now studies in Germany, is bringing a few of her musical professional friends (mainly from England) over to Whitstable to perform for us free of charge for this appeal. All performers will be of the highest quality and it will be a wonderful event.
Please can you reserve the date in your diary now - Saturday February 13th at 7.30pm - and I will give an update on how to buy tickets later this month. Please encourage your friends and family to attend this concert. It is very important that we as a church do respond to the international crisis that is unfolding in the Middle East and this is one way we can do just that.
We have our Annual District Church Meeting on Sunday March 20th at 4pm in the Church Hall. It would be good to see you there. Can you please reserve this date in your diary.
Would you be interested in standing as a member of the Church Council? You should be on the electoral roll of the church (please ask a churchwarden about this). Meetings are once every two months though hopefully you would be on a sub-committee which would meet in the intervening month.
We will also elect our churchwardens at this meeting. Christine Williams is stepping down after many years of faithful service as a churchwarden. Margaret Arnold has very kindly expressed a willingness to serve alongside Mike Binks who is our other current serving churchwarden. If a third person wishes to stand as churchwarden please remember this will turn it into an election and that the ballot papers should be with me before the meeting begins as it is now not legal to put forward a candidate once the meeting has begun. That said, I would be very happy to work alongside Margaret and Mike as churchwardens so there is no need for a third candidate to come forward unless you feel God is specially prompting you to do so, in which case by all means contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01227 272308
GIVING TO THE CHURCH
Over recent months I noticed quite a number of new faces at our services and our Sunday attendance in November and December was pretty good. Christmas services attendance, and particularly the Crib services where about 520 adults and children were in attendance over the two services, was very heart warming.
There is therefore a lot to be thankful for in the life of All Saints at the moment. Our Social Committee has put on some wonderful events in recent months and our Organ Fundraising total is now approaching £20,000 thanks to your generosity.
That said, we continue to faces challenges as a church to pay our bills. We do have a lot of overheads, having to finance the maintenance of our church building and hall and nursery school ourselves as well as a huge churchyard. Then there are my costs that the church also has to pay for including my salary, and there are the national and Diocesan costs too to contribute towards.
For this reason, we are always so grateful to the many of you who give regularly to our church.
There may though be others who have not yet joined our regular giving scheme and for this reason I am posting this link below so that you may be informed how you can become a regular giver to church life. Joining the scheme would be greatly appreciated and although I am never able to thank you personally, as this is completely confidential information known only to the stewardship secreatary and treasurer, believe me when I say I am immensely grateful to you for your giving.
We would like to do so much more so any additional gifts are always most gratefully received too.
The link is here
Sacred Space takes place on Tuesday 26th January from 8pm to 9pm at All Saints. Please remember to bring a torch. The church is in near darkness, lit just by candles, and there is quiet Taize music in the background. There are times of silence. It is the perfect environment to pray. For those who prefer, it is possible to arrive late or leave early.
The dates for the rest of the year should be made known in the next Xtra.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or require a pastoral visit at home. Particularly can you let me know if someone is ill and requires home communion or a visit or just to be put on our prayer list.
Christian love and Happy New Year!