The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
Psalms 23



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 


Dear friends

Warm and sincere greetings in the name of Christ.

I am delighted to be able to make this contribution towards your newsletter – the first of many over the years to come.

I am very grateful at being given the opportunity to become your Minister. This is God’s call to me and to you, and there is much to look forward to with joy and hope. I pray that I will be able to serve you faithfully in the power and love of God’s Spirit.

When I begin work among you later this year, I will initially be concentrating on the pastoral side of things – getting to know you and developing relationships of respect and trust. I sense there are many of you looking forward to having “a pastoral Minister”, one who will be seeking to care for the Church and be ready to pray for you in your homes.

I will though – from day one – begin to analyse Christchurch’s attitudes and commitment to no less than ten areas of Church life. These ten areas are all significant to growth – whether that be spiritual growth, numerical growth or simply growth in unity and common purpose. The following are things you can begin to think and pray about now. How can we strengthen our life in these areas? How can I play my part? Where can I use my gifts? Where might I prayerfully help to bring development?

The first challenge is to consider Christchurch’s commitment to the authority and power of the Scriptures. How can biblical authority be strengthened in our Church – and in my life?

Then there is Christchurch’s commitment to prayer. How do we ensure that prayer is the foundation of the Church’s life and mission? Prayer must be a priority. How do we ensure this is the case?

Next, we must consider building effective leadership. All successful organisations and businesses need good leadership – the Church is no different. So, I must spend time with the present leadership team, and together we must look at developing strong servant leadership for the Church.

Close to this, we need to encourage a mobilised membership. This involves all our members growing in their understanding of the gifts that God has given them – and then putting those gifts to use in the Church and local community. Everyone has a calling and a part to play. What is yours?

Not surprisingly, I want to also think about eventful inspiring worship. This will be a personal priority as I seek to emphasise the need for everyone to prepare themselves to meet the living God in each act of worship at Christchurch. Expect to encounter, hear and be changed by God during worship!

Worship should inspire us to be witnesses in the world. Therefore, understanding the need for continuous evangelism is the next area of importance. It will be challenging to see how we can educate the Church in sharing its faith naturally and relevantly. Evangelism as a natural outflow.

I have already mentioned my commitment to pastoral care but aiming to build a united and loving community life is a challenge for us all. Such a loving Church family life will be the starting point of all effective mission to the local community and beyond. Do we really love one another?

Compassionate service is the eighth area of concern. How is Christchurch reaching out to the real needs of the Abbey dale/Abbey mead communities and to the wider world beyond? Where are we presently exercising compassionate and caring ministry? How and where can this grow?

Then there is the need for openness to change and to the Holy Spirit. New growth will come as the Spirit breathes life over us, and as we are challenged to move and grow in new ways in many different areas of Church life. Where does Christchurch need to change under the leadership of the Holy Spirit?

Finally, there is released resources through generous giving. Our financial giving is very important, and without that openness to be generous and bold in our giving the Church will never reach it’s potential in mission. There is a cost to everything, and you usually find that growing Churches have growing incomes to meet the needs and the challenges that lie ahead.

There we are. The ten areas that I will be thinking and praying about.

Biblical authority

Commitment to prayer

Effective leadership

Mobilised membership

Eventful worship

Continuous evangelism

Loving community life

Compassionate service

Openness to change


I hope this excites you as it does me. Your praying and thinking can and should begin now. Seek the Holy Spirit’s touch upon your life and be open to personal change and growth.

May the Lord richly bless you all.

Please keep Julia and I in your prayers. It’s going to be a big move and a big change for us!

Love in Christ


Christchurch Church Council

The Council meets regularly to discuss and plan the way forward. Members of

the Council take turns to introduce services and have taken on an additional

role - they are now taking it in turns to write a monthly contribution for the

Chronicle. This month Norman Whitaker shares thoughts with us

I read recently about a four year old who has a mind like a sponge. He

soaks up information from TV kids’ shows, and remembers everything his Mum

says, (much to her dismay at times!) One day she asked him what the heart

did. Without hesitation he answered ‘It pumps blood round the body, and

gives you love.’ His mum discovered through further conversation, that he

was sure those two functions are connected.

This made me think. We’re told by the prophet Jeremiah that when we

search for God with all of our heart, we will find Him. (Jer. 29: 13.) But how

do we seek The Lord with all of our heart, when we’re also told to love others

as we love ourselves? Maybe that young boy’s understanding has the answer.

In Hebrew, and throughout Scripture, the ‘heart’ is more than an organ of

romance; it’s the very centre of our being, physical, mental, emotional and

spiritual. So rather than being consumed by thoughts about God, He asks to

be put at the centre of our lives, so that we seek Him from the very core of

our being. If we manage this, concern and compassion for other people are

natural by-products. Jesus shows us how to do this, by His ministry, death and

resurrection. By His example, our lives become God-focused, and God-centred.

In our last month’s Chronicle, Peter Clarkson included a very challenging

letter about 10 points he wants us to focus on, in our life in Christchurch. He

is obviously coming prepared to play his part in the pastoral side of ministry. In

return he expects us to play our part in maintaining and enhancing the witness,

work and worship of our church.

It seems to me that to do that, we need to take to heart that 4 year old’s

philosophy; and enable the life-blood of Jesus to be pumped round His body,

which is the Church. In that way, we can, in thankfulness and praise, give God

back the love He gives us, through our care for each other, and the people in

our community.

As we look forward in anticipation to Peter’s ministry, may we continue to

love and serve God, in the Name of Jesus and by the power of The Holy Spirit.

Shalom, Norman Whitaker.


THIS ‘N THAT from Chris

As I write this, I am still coming down from the tremendous high we

all experienced when we had the privilege of singing Roger Jones’

Jerusalem Joy at Christchurch with Devon, our guest singer. He

recreated the role of Jesus that he sang when the Musical’s CD was

first released. It was just amazing, and we all felt deeply blessed by the

experience. Thanks to all who attended from Christchurch and other

churches in the area. For those of you who missed it, there is a video

that was recorded of the performance. It was a very special evening.

At the Annual Church Meeting we dealt with the business issues of

the church, and adopted our Annual Report. This will go to the Charities

Commission and to the denominations. My thanks go to all who

contributed. We are blessed that we have an active programme of

events and activities. These are not only for our own fellowship, but

through them we reach out to our local community. Thanks to all who

make this possible.

We continue to look forward to the start of Peter Clarkson’s ministry

here at Christchurch, and to his Induction Service on Saturday 27th July.

Please hold Peter and Julia up to the Lord in prayer as they prepare for

their big move. Change brings challenges to everyone. I pray that we

are all prepared to listen to God’s voice as He leads us on.

As those of you who were at the ACM know, I will continue to serve

you as Church Secretary for another year, but will leave Council at the

next ACM. I will have completed 6 years as Secretary by then and a

break from the responsibilities of being a Council Member beckons. I am

sure that God will have plans for Jan and I so we do not expect to be

twiddling our thumbs, but we do look forward to a break and some extra

space in the diary.

May God bless you all, and thanks so much for your love and support.