This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it
Psalms 118:24
 

UPCOMING EVENTS:


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Welcome to Christchurch Abbeydale

We offer a warm welcome to all.  Christchurch is an ecumenical church which embraces four Christian denominations, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church, worshipping together as one congregation.  Whether you already belong to one of these denominations or not you are most welcome. 


We welcome children of all ages. A crèche is available for pre-school children. There is Junior Church for children aged 5 to 11 and ‘The Core’ for children aged 11 years +. Children stay with us for the first part of the service and then go with the youth leader to take part in planned activities 

 

And Finally
Last year, when I told the church meeting that I would leave at the end of
July 2018, it felt as though there would be ample time to finish unfinished business here and in Leighton Buzzard. Back then I said, only slightly tongue in cheek, that I would only retire when all the work on our house was finished. Since then much has been done (Alson bearing most of the load) and I can claim that enough has been completed for me to depart! I can also say that there is more to do.
My final service here will be the 10am service on Sunday 29 July.
After the service there will be a shared lunch in the church and ALL
are warmly welcome. Unless her plans have to change it will be a
delight to welcome the Bishop of Gloucester as our preacher.
The 29 July is also our wedding anniversary. There was a time when
I thought that people reaching a silver wedding anniversary had to be
old. We are almost at our ruby! The journey to this point has been
varied with many ups and downs but we are still together (and still
having the odd disagreement). What it will be like living in the same
place as each other again I can only speculate; we will find a way! I
know I will not miss the travelling back and forth.
Before then there are important matters that need the attention of
all of us. Top of my list is the church meeting on Wednesday 18
July with the next steps that need to be decided and taken in order
to enter a ministerial vacancy and prepare the ground for the next
minister of Christchurch Abbeydale high on the agenda. There will
be a degree or two of uncertainty as to what happens next which is
all the more reason for getting as many people involved as possible.
It has always been the case that Churches strengthen and grow the
more the members are involved in the various aspects of church life.
I have written in the past about Prayer, Presence, Pounds as a simple
(albeit inadequate) way to remind ourselves about the whole life of
faith. It always starts with prayer – and continues as we live out our
part in the fellowship, getting involved in mission and contributing on
a regular basis to the needs of the church.
As I write this last column and reflect back on the last few years I
am grateful for the time I have been able to spend here as the
Minister. It has strengthened my belief that LEPs have much to
offer the wider church – although simplicity of governance is not one
of those gifts! I keep coming back to the words of Jesus in John 17
(verses 11 & 22)
Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so
that they may be one, as we are one. The glory that you have given
me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one
Jesus is praying for his disciples then and his disciples in the years
to come. With all of their differences – remember the episode when
they wonder who of them is going to be the most important in the
coming Kingdom? – Jesus prays for their unity. It would be easy
enough for them to fall out with one another; we see it happen in the
Acts of the Apostles. Churches through the years have had to face
the reality of disunity. There can be a way forward even when others
think differently!
Remember the phrase “out to pasture”? Oftimes applied to those
being put aside – including retirement. I prefer to think of going to
“pastures new” and if the evidence of retired folk here and elsewhere
is reliable then retirement becomes the gateway to an even busier
life than before. The Diocese will not give me permission to offer
official duties for the first six months in order to adjust to a new
life. There might be some pressure on that time given that the Team
Rector in Leighton Buzzard has announced his retirement this autumn
leaving the church/team with a vacancy. Ah well…
Travel with God my sisters and brothers into a
future that is in his hands.


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Steve Davies,

Minister of Christchurch Abbeydale


MINISTER'S ANNUAL REPORT
A year ago when I wrote my piece for the annual report I had in mind what I would be saying at the annual meeting. This year I can promise you that I have no intention of adding to the shock I appeared to cause last year when I announced a leaving date. My last Sunday here at Christchurch Abbeydale will be 29 July 2018, close to five years since I arrived. If the perceived speed of passing years increases with age then I have aged since being here! Where has the time gone?
Wheels were then set in motion to look at the future. What will happen is in God’s hands; what is right is that many people should be engaged with the process. The Way Forward Group has led this activity in preparing the Church Profile (the document that goes to potentially interested ministers) and all the other matters that have to be attended to. Prayer is – and should be – integral to the life of the church and no less so than in the process of succession. There are now regular monthlyprayer meetings at 7pm in church on a Wednesday evening – see the notice sheet for dates.
Prayer became a particular focus in 2017 when from Ascension Day to Pentecost the church was open during the day for folk to come and spend time by themselves or at the prayer stations around the church. “THY KINGDOM COME” has attracted much support in this country and around the world and there will be more this year between Ascension and Pentecost.
As I reflect on 2017 many images come to mind – the Nativity Lorry went out again albeit in rather damper conditions than the year before. The two local schools sent a year group to the church for Experience Easter and Christmas. The Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Association continued and it was good to see more members join at the young end.
The normal ecclesiastical activities continued: Wednesday and Sunday services, baptisms and funerals both in the church and at the crematorium.
The regular activities of the church are reported on elsewhere in this report: let me express my grateful thanks to all those who give of themselves in the various activities of the church. Most groups would welcome new folk to help – please do not be shy in coming forward.
Abbeydale Joint Council
In May the Abbeydale Joint Council met for the second time since I arrived. This is effectively the reviewing body for our Church made up of representatives, often senior people, from the four denominations. The quinquennial building report was accepted and there was discussion as to how the denominations could support Christchurch into the future. The church was commended on its approach and there is a strong desire to see the church continue to witness to God’s love in this area.
Church Council
At the time of writing it is good to know that some folk are offering themselves to serve on the Church Council. The Church benefits when there is representation from all the members.
I am grateful to those who have served on the Council over the past years, taking responsibility for various areas of the life of the church. Their input and support is greatly valued; please pray for all those who serve the church.
Personally
Throughout 2017 I was regularly travelling back and forth to Leighton Buzzard where Alison has spent the majority of her time overseeing the work in the house and being able to spend more time with her mother. There has been significant progress – more remains to be done.
Many people will be aware that for Alison and me 2018 did not start well. In mid-January Alison’s appendix burst although she thought it was just a very bad tummy upset and did not get medical attention for four days. At which point the ambulance was called and she ended up with an emergency open appendectomy. Recovery continues. In the middle of this my Dad contracted a chest infection from which he did not fully recover and he died early in February. I took his funeral at Chichester crematorium a week after my Mother’s 90th birthday. Both Mum and Dad have had (different) dementia for several years – a disease that is all too common. I want to put on record my thanks for the support I have received throughout this time and for the way cover has been arranged whilst I have had extended time away.
To all: thank you for the past year; pray for the coming year. Together we continue to learn what it means to be disciples of Jesus.
Steve Davies Minister of Christchurch Abbeydale

 

Welcome to all the family

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Alison, Steve and daughter Sian


 

Relocation of an earlier Christchurch Cross & Foundation Stone

The Foundation Stone was originally in the outside wall by the main entrance to the Community Centre

The Cross was kept in the small church rooms at the Community Centre and brought out into the Badminton Hall when services were held

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During ‘Work Week’ the Foundation Stone was relaid in the wall of the

back rooms at Christchurch with the Cross above

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Christchurch’s first real ‘home’ was the Community Centre and with recent alterations there the foundation stone was made available to us

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