The Great Invitation

This month as for celebrating the birth of Jesus – everyone is invited! The Christmas story is full of invitations: the angel invites Mary and Joseph to be part of God’s amazing plan of salvation, shepherds are invited by a choir of angels to go to Bethlehem and meet Jesus, a star invited the wise men on a journey to find Jesus.

Through Jesus’ life he invited people to get to know him – and it changed their lives. For two thousand years people have accepted that same invitation and discovered God’s love, hope and peace. Even today – we are all invited to get to know Jesus, trust him and follow him. The love that Jesus brings is for today and is for everyone.

So I encourage you to do two things; one – accept afresh God’s invitation to draw near and follow. Renew your relationship with him and your commitment to him, two – invite people to church this Christmas. We’ve a range of things happening – why not be brave and invite people along. Who knows? Our invitations might change lives!

So – we invite you to come and celebrate Christmas at St John’s – and to accept God’s invitation of love and life and to invite people to come and join the party with us.

Happy Christmas

7.30-9pm Create for Christmas – A ladies evening of fun and festive craft. Tickets are £6 and can be booked on this website (link)

4pm Carols at the Park Church – Join us for favourite carols, mince pies and refreshments. The Park Church Centre, Chelmsford Street, DT4 7HP

5pm Open Air Carol sing-along – Come and sing under the fairy lights in the St Johns church grounds. Plus hot chocolate and cake

4pm Pop Up Nativity – Join us for our Pop Up Family Nativity, come in Nativity – themed fancy dress for a fun and inter active re-telling of the Christmas story

6pm Christmas Eve Carol Service – At the heart of Christmas with traditional carols and readings

11.30pm Midnight Communion

10am All Age Christmas celebration with Communion

More Christmas Invitations

10th December Nativity Trail
This is from 1.30—3.30 beginning from Salvation Army to Hope Square where there will be carol singing with mulled drinks and mince pies to buy.

Christmas Lunch at Quayside Bar and Kitchen – Christmas Eve

Mike and the staff at Quayside in the Old Harbour are offering to provide a full Christmas meal – free of charge at lunchtime on 24th December. This is intended for the elderly and vulnerable, particularly those who may be struggling financially this Christmas. Arrival time is 12 noon, for a meal at 12.30pm.

Most diners will be seated upstairs – accessibly only by a flight of stairs – but a limited number of seats are available downstairs, for those who would otherwise struggle. Help may be available with transport, for those who would otherwise be unable to attend. I will coordinate the list of names of those attending; I will need name(s), a contact number and menu choices – see below. It is hoped that you will be able to use your many contacts and then pass on the relevant details to me by 8th December, so that I can let Mike know by 10th December.

The menu is as follows; please let me know of any special dietary needs.

Main course
Roast turkey with cranberry and chestnut stuffing and ‘pigs in blankets’
Beef medallion with gratin potato and peppercorn sauce
Fillet of seabass on new potato with creamy thyme and garlic sauce
Chestnut, leek and butternut squash pie with roast potatoes V, VG
Chicken wrapped in Parma ham with bubble and squeak and gravy

Homemade Christmas pudding with brandy sauce V, VG (by request)
Cheese and biscuits V, VG (by request)
Homemade profiteroles filled with Baileys Cream topped with milk chocolate sauce
Homemade Biscoff cheesecake with Chantilly cream
Vanilla bean panna cotta with winter fruit and cinnamon compote

Please don’t hesitate to get back to me directly if you have any questions.

Every good wish

(Rev.) Neil Riches

Psalm 95
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; 7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Join us with expectation in your hearts as we spend time in Praise, Prayer and waiting upon the Holy Spirit. The evening will also include Testimonies and a word from Tom.

… Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your Glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your Presence Lord

Stuart Sharkey

Craft Afternoon 5th December 1.30—3pm

Do join us on the first Monday of each month for Craft at Hope House. Bring whatever you are working on for a sit and natter. Can we encourage you to attend the prayer meeting before it?

Freedom in Christ

Diane and I will be running a course next year. We have provisionally arranged to run the sessions on Saturdays 4, 11, 18 February 2023.

The course covers:-

Flexible teaching sessions revealing the truth of who we are in Christ and the reality of the spiritual battle, with Pause for Thought times

The Steps To Freedom In Christ forms the ministry component of the course, helping us turn to Jesus through a “spiritual MOT”

The final key is “Stronghold-busting” – being transformed by the renewal of our minds, demolishing arguments set up against God.

There are nine sessions so you will need to be available to attend all the sessions as the course does not work if any are missed.

There is a joining form at the back of church. Please sign up with your contact details so that we can send you information.

If you want to know more please contact either Diane or Tony.

Weymouth Foodbank Newsletter and prayer letter

On behalf of the Trustees of Weymouth Foodbank

Thank you
Thank you for your continuing support for Weymouth Foodbank – whether you have volunteered, donated food, donated money or prayed for the work. We are making a difference with your help.

One Foodbank: 3 satellites, 1 warehouse
Weymouth Foodbank comprises 3 donating locations based in churches (St Francis Littlemoor, Westham Methodist and Weymouth Baptist) and one warehouse location for receipt and sorting of donations (on the Granby Estate). We are one Foodbank run on consistent lines, with one bank account and all donated goods shared between the donating locations. We provide food parcels to people in need, with each parcel intended to provide sufficient food to last at least 3 days.

Customers provided with food
In the 9 months to September 2022, we had 3,037 referrals compared with 1,829 in the equivalent period last year. These referrals comprised of 808 families, 589 couples and 1,640 singles. This meant we fed 5,843 people compared with 3,526 in the same period last year. In the last few months, we have seen an increase in the number of families and those in work that need help, as the cost-of- living crisis impacts more people. We are pleased to have been able to help Ukrainian refugees. We are already finding people who are avoiding using their cookers and fridges to save electricity. As the recent further increases in food and fuel costs come through, we are expecting demand for our services to continue to increase.

Christmas will be a difficult time for many, so that we hope we can bring joy to many by providing Christmas “hampers” as well as the usual food. If you wish to donate Christmas specific items (Christmas cakes/puddings chocolates, savoury nibbles, chutneys/jam, mince pies – in fact any tinned/packaged Christmas goodies but please no alcohol content), please donate in the usual way.

We are a Christian Community
We give thanks to God that with the help of the community, we have been provided with sufficient resource to meet the need. We are a Christian organisation working with churches across the town to meet the clear Bible teaching to help the poor and hungry. We help all irrespective of their faith or background. We are grateful for community and church fundraising and increased donations from individuals that has allowed us to buy more food to meet the increased need.

Praise points

  • For the large increase in donations and fundraising in the community that means we can buy
    enough food to meet the increased need
  • Our fantastic team of volunteers and drivers who give so much of their time to make the
    Foodbank work so well. For so many new volunteers from churches and the community who
    have stepped in to meet the need.
  • For the numerous agencies in our town who provide the all-round help our clients need with
    their ongoing issues.
  • For the power and witness of the churches and community working together as one Foodbank.
  • That where new needs have arisen – (e.g., Ukrainian Refugees, women escaping domestic
    violence) we have the structures to allow us to provide immediate help.

Prayer Points

  • For those in our community who are in desperate need or hungry. 9 of the 10 poorest boroughs in Dorset are in Weymouth and Portland.
  • For our food “hampers” – that they will go to the right families and bring joy.
  • The continuing health and safety of our team of volunteers and drivers.
  • That our clients will see the love of Jesus in us and want to know more.
  • For those in the community who need help but reluctant to contact the Foodbank – that they will
    find the courage to come.
  • For breakthrough for our clients who are in desperate need (debt, domestic violence, addictions
  • That we will have the resources to meet the likely increased demand resulting from the current
    economic situation.
  • That when our clients need to talk to us, that we will have the time to listen and wisdom to know
    where to signpost them.
  • That the Lord will keep blessing this ministry.

To get in touch call 07531 167465 or email For more information go to or look at the Weymouth Foodbank Facebook page

Mission Aviation Fellowship News

Mission Aviation Fellowship, or MAF for short, is an organisation which we at St. John’s have supported for many years, even having one of their planes in our car park on one Carnival Day. The motto for MAF is “ Flying for Life “ and that is literally what MAF is doing, using small planes in extremely inaccessible parts of the world to bring practical help, physical healing and spiritual hope often in life threatening situations. Working with hundreds of other Christian and relief organisations, MAF is a lifeline to so many. If you would like to learn more about the amazing work being done by MAF you can visit their website or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Recently our DCC decided to send a donation to MAF from our mission fund. This gift of £450 allowed MAF engineers to help the communities around them as well as servicing MAF aircraft and buildings.

I have just received a letter from MAF highlighting the problems they are having continuing their life-saving flights to remote airstrips due to the soaring costs of fuel for their aircraft. They ask that we “ FUEL OUR FLEET” with our prayers:-

  • Pray that HE will bless all the passengers who fly with us to remote communities worldwide.
  • Pray that HIS love will transform the lives of isolated men, women and children served by MAF.
  • Pray that HE will provide the extra funds this Christmas to buy the aviation fuel we need.

If you feel able and inspired to support them further please use the contact details above or ask me for more information.

Tessa Clothier St. John’s MAF Representative.


Dave Mells and I are looking to expand our volunteer team at Portland Prison.

“I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25 v 35 and 36

We are looking for people with a pastoral heart, group facilitators to support our Sycamore Tree Course, volunteers for Alpha, people with admin giftings, people with a heart to support 1-1 and various support volunteers with various roles within a growing developing chaplain team.

Clare Carlin (Chaplain)

Back by popular demand…St John’s Book Share!

“Popular demand? But I’ve never heard of it”.

Just to put our lovely, newer church family members in the picture… before Covid, when we were able to share items and didn’t have to worry about what we touched, we had a Book Share ‘library’ at St John’s. The idea being that we could share good Christian books, within the church family, to encourage one another and make the most of the resources we have available. This has now been re-established at the back of church, near the font.

Books are available to borrow on a trust basis – just choose one that you would like to borrow, take it home, read it and then return it for someone else to enjoy.

We have quite a wide selection already, but are always looking to refresh our titles and keep them current. If you have any good Christian paperbacks that you would like to donate* to the Book Share, please see Ruth or Dave Clinch. Space is limited so we can only take non-fiction titles.

Just the job for a rainy afternoon – look through your bookshelves and see if you have one or two books you would be happy to share.

A lot of people seem to be in a permanent state of de-cluttering. If you are one of these and have Christian books that need a new home, but which may not be suitable for the Book Share, Dave and Ruth take books across to The Good News Book Shop in Bridport, where they are sold as pre-loved or passed to Book Aid. We would be happy to take yours with us next time we go.

Happy sharing, reading or de-cluttering!

Ruth and Dave Clinch

This is the small print … please read before donating to the Book Share … the books should ideally be in a good/very good condition. We add a couple of labels – one inside to remind people where to return the books and a colour coded strip on the spine to indicate the genre of the book. Being realistic, some books will ‘find new homes’, so please don’t part with any books to which you are especially attached, as they may well disappear to pastures new.
We have deliberately not established an organised borrowing system (i.e. writing down your name when you borrow a book) because we wanted to keep things simple. Sharing involves trust, both of which are powerful biblical principles.

What goes on in Hope House

I relocated my pottery studio to Hope House in January 2022, in part to enable my business to support the vision for the building and the church more widely. This has also allowed me to be closer to home! I have enjoyed the 10 minute drive to work and having my business in the town where I live. (I was previously travelling to Bridport every day)
Exodus 31 v 1-11 has always inspired me. The two craftsmen were filled with the Spirit of God with the ability to create all kinds of crafts and artistic designs so they could make a place where God’s presence would inhabit. Since completing a BA (Hons) in Ceramics from Loughborough I have always carried the dream of creating work that God’s presence would inhabit.

In 2016 in Cardiff, with a small grant from a grassroots Christian organisation, I left my job and stepped out into the call to be a Spirit-filled craftsperson. I rediscovered throwing and became struck by the unique appeal of ceramics as handmade tableware. Inspired by the South West as a place where rugged nature has been lived in but not lost, I create my Home collection to explore the point where beauty and practical purpose meet.

I have three tiers to my business: Selling my work retail, through my website and on Etsy; Selling my work wholesale to shops and galleries; Running pottery workshops.

If you would like to come and see what I am up to, or maybe pick up a Christmas gift, I cordially invite you to an open day at my studio on Friday 9th December 10 am – 4 pm. Just ring my doorbell and I will come and let you in. If you can’t make it that day do feel free to get in touch and we will work out something that suits you! I might even make you a cup of tea!

News from Pat Blanchard

Jill Flux passed on a lengthy news letter from Pat. Although Pat is no longer our Mission Partner it is good to hear what she is doing now. The latest news is that her offer on a house in Christchurch has been accepted and she is hoping to move in the new year. Relationships with her three sisters have been re–established and support and
encouragement shared. Pat continues to worship at Tyneham Church where she came to faith. She is now waiting to get permission to officiate at the level of Deacon and plans to pursue ordination training to be priested. She began a voluntary job at a local Christian charity for vulnerable women teaching craft two mornings a month. She has kept her links with Peru and is pleased that the young people with disabilities are woking and keeping busy. She asks us to continue to pray for Raul and the ministry that they continue her work in Shalom, the church, community and those with disabilities. She ends her news with:-

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful and let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. let us not give up meeting together…… but let us encourage one another” Hebrews 10: 23 – 24

Promoted to Glory – Jennifer Rees-Larcombe

Whilst Mike and I were on holiday in Singapore, the famous Christian author Jen (Jennifer) Rees-Larcombe died and went to heaven to be with her beloved Jesus. This was just after her 80th birthday in October this year, and after another celebration for the founding of her charity, ‘Beauty from Ashes’.

Despite being dyslexic she was a prolific author of both childrens’ and adult books. Her autobiography, ‘Journey into God’s Heart’ sums up her life, and she is very real at expressing her feelings to God, especially during the hard and heart-breaking parts of her life. Her communication with God was direct, rather like King David in the Psalms, who tells God in no uncertain terms what he is feeling.

On Saturday 19th November we had the privilege of viewing on-line, the thanksgiving service for Jen, and what an uplifting service it was. Latterly in her life she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, despite the fact that she had never smoked in her life. The service at Tonbridge Baptist Church was a celebration of walking with Jesus.
I have met this lady, who I saw as my ‘Christian Grandmother’ a number of years ago at Women’s Christian Conferences when I lived in Woking. She led various study groups and also prayed personally for me regarding certain life issues I was experiencing at that time.

About 6 years ago after visiting our son in Tunbridge Wells, on our return journey to Woking, we called in on-spec at her bungalow near Tonbridge. When she came in from shopping, she made us very welcome. We saw her beautiful garden and enjoyed a lovely cup of tea. She displayed the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her behaviour and made one feel you were the most important person in the room.

Her ministry of praying for and counselling people will carry on. In part I am a player (or pray-er) as a ‘Prayer Shouter’ for Beauty from Ashes. I regularly received a letter (which was from Jen) of people who are suffering and hurting in their lives. Individual names are anonymised.

Jen will be greatly missed, but she has passed on the baton to others. I recommend reading the book ‘Journey into God’s Heart’, where she tells of her life, happy times, sad times, heart breaking times, and years of suffering due to encephalitis, where she was either bed bound or in a wheelchair for 8 years. Then God healed her. She wrestled with God in her life, but He held her secure until her last breath. She was with her family and close friends over the last few days/ weeks of her life and communicated with God in prayer right up to the time her soul left her body.

She lived on God’s promises as set out in the Bible and was looking forward to meeting Jesus in heaven.

Hilary Lidstone

Faith Painting

The paintings displayed in church were all inspired by Bible references used in sermons and work with children in St John’s School.

I am aware that we have many folk in our fellowship who paint. If you are one of them and are interested in joining a group of artists who are motivated to create work that is faith inspired – please let me know.

John Horrell Deputy Warden

Talking Fair Trade

Back in October, we were pleased to welcome Linda Perry from The Bridge Fair Trade Shop to St John’s, to tell us about Fair Trade and to share her experiences of visiting producers and suppliers of Fair Trade products abroad.
Linda started by giving us a helpful insight in to the history of Fair Trade. There have always been individuals aware of the injustice of trade around the world. As far back as the 19th century it was part of the anti-slavery movement.

After the Second World War, the movement developed until the 1990s, when a group of organisations got together – CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft, the World Development Movement and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes – to form the Fairtrade Foundation (which produced the Fairtrade Mark in 1994).

In 2002 the international FLO (Fairtrade Labelling Organisation) mark, with which we are all now familiar was launched – so finally there was standardisation of labelling and production. This mark is only used for produce – such as tea, coffee, cocoa and bananas.

In 2004 The World Fair Trade Organisation produced an alternative label which is given to organisations to reassure customers that the gifts they buy have been produced under fair trade conditions.

I can highly recommend this lovely shop. It’s only small but packed full of treasures – all ethically produced and fairly traded. It’s like an Aladdin’s cave full of beautiful, well-made items, ideal at this time of year if you are looking for Christmas presents that are a little bit special.

Upstairs, they also have a ‘warm space’ where you can enjoy a delicious cup of Fair Trade tea, coffee or hot chocolate, whilst also drinking in a beautiful view of Weymouth Harbour.

Linda shared such a wealth of information when she came, that this article has only touched on briefly. Do visit for yourself and discover more. Or why not check out their FaceBook page?

Happy Fair Trade Shopping!

Ruth Clinch

ECO ARTICLE—The Car Park and Beyond

So, yet another aspect of the Renewal Project is nearing completion with the enlargement and resurfacing of the Church Car Park. The clearly marked edges are a helpful delineation between the space for vehicles and the new growing spaces. It is here that the Eco Team in conjunction with the Gardening Team and Joe our Youth Pioneer will collaborate to maximise the beauty and benefits of this large green area.

There are naturally a mixture of needs to be met and ambitions to be considered but all parties agree that we will be following an Eco agenda when it comes to landscaping and planting in our church grounds. Together we will seek advice from the RHS, the Soil Association, RSPB and Dorset Wildlife to ensure we create not only a beautiful environment but one which also nurtures wildlife, native plants, and trees.

Eco Church in the South West has linked with Dorset Wildlife to combine on the Living Churchyards Project which sees ‘churches and their grounds as providing sanctuary for species whose living space has been cut back’. There are more than 6,000 British churchyards who run their small plots of land as sacred eco-systems. – without pesticides, and mowing the grass only once a year – ensuring that birds, reptiles, insects and bats can thrive. ‘This is an example of restoring something that has always existed as an embodiment of the church’s core teachings about respecting nature.’

The success of this Project depends on a number of key strands which include:-

1) ’because it is theologically sound’

2) ’because it enables millions of local people, through churches, schools and community groups, to be involved in a manageable environmental project’

Back at the start of Renewal in 2019 we had ideas of developing a space for a community garden with raised beds. This would be:

1) For use by our own church community but also extending an invitation to those in the local community without gardens of their own. This would have all round benefits for well-being socially, mentally and physically.

2) For our young people to grow and learn together as they plant, grow and harvest fruit and vegetables. A recent article from A Rocha asked how we can get the next generation involved. How can we listen to the voices of young people and children, and make space for them on decision-making bodies in our churches? After Cop 27 many of our young people have raised concerns and expectations about their futures. Gardening and caring for the wildlife in our grounds is one way to be positively involved in projects which focus on sustainability and restoration of our natural environment.

3) Building and maintaining raised beds will

require regular commitment in order to reap the rewards of delicious organic produce. One of the benefits of working on the land is the pleasure of sharing the work – something which can draw together young and old within our church family, to not only nurture the plants but also our intergenerational relationships as we share skills and enthusiasms.

The church grounds of St John’s Church and Hope House afford opportunities to join hands in working alongside all generations to make a positive and beautiful difference and to produce food items which benefit others. The New Year lies ahead with the promise of Spring and new life. Is this the time to get your hands dirty in order to be part of enhancing God’s creation here in our church grounds?

The Gardening Team (contact Phil Childs), the Eco Team and Joe Hobday will be delighted to hear from you…

“The earth is the Lords and everything in it”

Psalm 24:1

Sally Horrell

Singapore Delights

Hilary and I recently had a fabulous holiday in Singapore, staying with our daughter Rachel and family. At our age the long haul flight was more tiring than 6 years ago when we went to Australia. This was our first holiday abroad since Covid.

The weather was very warm (32 – 35 C) and most of the time there were clouds in the sky, which helped to keep temperatures down a bit. Interestingly thunderstorms are a frequent occurrence with the number of lightning strikes relative to population, being the highest in the world.

We celebrated our granddaughter Amelia 4th birthday in October, and for her birthday treat visit she opted for the zoo. We saw the usual range of animals including kangaroos, hippos, zebras, giraffe and rhinoceros (including a 4 month baby); unusually there was a white tiger, with subdued dark stripes, certainly the first time we’ve seen one.
We had an action packed holiday visiting various sites including the Botanic Gardens, several museums, China Town, Little India, Kampong Glam (the Muslim quarter), Marina Bay Sands and Santosa Island where we spent a night in a 5 star hotel. Our daughter and family live in a district called Bukit Timor, about a 15-20 minute taxi ride from the city centre. They live in a gated condominium of 62 town houses, each with 4 storeys – basement, ground, and first and second floors. It was quite spacious accommodation for Singapore, which is very densely populated. There are no gardens, except for a bit of landscaping, but there was an outdoor communal swimming pool; due to the year round very warm climate it didn’t need to be heated, so we went in nearly every day.

Rachel hired a wheelchair for Hilary, in which she could self-propel herself, other than on inclines. It was good upper body exercise for Hilary.

Over the last 50 years there have been vast changes in Singapore, including a new rail and road infrastructure and high rise blocks of flats and offices which now dwarf the historic colonial buildings. It is a very safe country to live in and women feel safe walking late at night.

A spiritual highlight for us, was attending our daughter and family’s church on Sunday morning. It was held at a hotel conference centre in the city centre. The membership number is nearly 1,000, and there are two services in the morning and one in the afternoon. Most of the congregation were Chinese, and it was great to feel part of a worldwide international family, worshipping the same God. In addition to modern praise and worship, there were good teaching style sermons. If interested you can find out far more information about this church by simply Googling ‘Redemption Hill Church, Singapore’.

Mike & Hilary Lidstone

Thank you Michael and Linda

Jottings has been a consistent and much valued part of the life of St John’s Church for many years. Having produced and edited Jottings for all this time – Michael and Linda have decided to step back from their editor’s chairs and hand on the baton. Jottings has not only been a means of sharing important information but has also served to encourage, amuse, inspire and bless our congregation. Michael and Linda have worked hard month by month, collating, editing, formatting and arranging printing and distribution. It’s been a big job and an important job and Michael and Linda have served with diligence and love. They have also been very gracious and patient when the Vicar has missed the deadline (again!!) We are so thankful for all they have done in keeping this important part of church life going for such a long time. Thank you Michael and Linda!

We wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

After 16 years we have decided it is time to step down from editing Jottings. We thank all our contributors over the years for their input. It has been so good to receive such a wide range of topics.

When looking through the issue from December 2010 we came across a story to make you smile. We hope you enjoy it too.

It was the day after Christmas. The pastor was looking at the nativity scene in the church, when he noticed that the figure of baby Jesus was missing. He turned and went outside. He saw a little boy with a new red wagon and in the wagon was the figure of baby Jesus.

He walked up to the boy and said, “Well, where did you get him from, my friend?” The little boy replied, “I got him from the church.”

“And why did you take him?” asked the pastor.

The boy answered, “Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the baby Jesus and said, that if he would bring me a new red wagon for Christmas, I would give him the first ride in it!”