Get Ready

On Sun 23rd May we are having an Open Air Pentecost Celebration at 10.30am in the Church grounds. This will be a service for all ages and another opportunity for us to worship together after such a tough time. I’m really looking forward to it and looking forward to seeing you.

Pentecost is when we remember that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the church.

Just before His ascension Jesus said to His disciples, “You will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8b). What an extraordinary thing for this small bunch of people to hear! Imagine for a minute how they felt. Excited and itching to get on with it? Or daunted, unsure and even scared? Or a bit of both.

Lockdown is coming to an end. The Church Renewal Project is in full swing. Our Church is being physically prepared for a new era of mission and ministry. Our church is growing. Our community is in need. Big opportunities await and God is calling us to be His witnesses here.

How does that make you feel? Excited and itching to get on with it? Or daunted, unsure and even scared? Or a bit of both.

For me it’s both. I can’t wait until we’re up and running again to embrace this new era of mission opportunity with a renewed building and a passionate and growing church. It’s going to be great and full of many joys! But I’m also daunted. The needs around us are huge, the world has changed, church has changed. Being witnesses for Christ is going to take some hard work, change, risk and sacrifice.

I bet that’s how the disciples felt because they were human just like you and me.

But, Jesus had already landed the even bigger and better news; “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you,” Acts 1:8a.

The disciples were not having to go it alone – and neither do we. They were not going to have do it in their own strength – and neither do we. They were not going to have to be in control of everything – and neither do we!

However we are feeling about what’s coming, the promise still stands – “You will receive power,” and I thank God for that.

So for all that lies ahead our calling is simple – stay connected to and open to the power, comfort and leading of the Holy Spirit. This is the era that awaits us as a church – bring it on!

See you on Sun 23 May!

With much love

Spring Harvest 2021

The accommodation was very comfortable. The food was delicious. We were by the seaside and had plenty of spiritual food to feast on. That was at Butlin’s in Minehead about 30 years ago, when we last attended Spring Harvest. This year it was all very different. Spring Harvest came to us in the comfort of our home in Weymouth, all on-line of course. It was live streamed from 4th to 8th April, with the advantage of us being able to view events at a later date via catch-up or on demand.

The theme was Worship. The Bible teaching was based mainly on the book of Hebrews led by Doug Williams (a pastor at Emmanuel Community Church, London). We looked at who we worship, why we worship and how we worship. Worship is more than singing choruses in church – true worship comes from the heart but can involve hand waving, dance and flag waving.

Hebrews was written in the first Century AD, when Christians living in the Roman Empire were being persecuted for their faith. We are not sure who wrote the book, but its purpose was to encourage Christians to maintain their faith, whatever the cost.

In our so called tolerant society, where any behaviour is allowed as long as it doesn’t offend anybody, we do have the opportunity of making a stand for Christian values, so people may ask on what we base our hope. The Covid 19 pandemic has provided an opportunity for people to question what life is about and to reassess their values. As Christians, we know that Jesus died on the Cross, so that we can be reconciled with God who created the whole universe, but it can remain as head knowledge only.

Doug gave 3 separate talks highlighting the following points –

  • Jesus is our one sacrifice, made perfect and holy for us.
  • We are to draw near to God with a sincere heart and to remain faithful to him.
  • God gives us the strength to face life in hard and sad times.
  • We are reminded not to take our salvation lightly.
  • Our faith must be authentic, where endurance, persistence and perseverance are part of the Christian life.
  • Faith is having the confidence on what we hope for, but cannot see.
  • Our God is compassionate and generous.
  • We need to see life from God’s perspective, and worship the right things – we can so easily worship false idols including money and material possessions.

Interestingly in the Hebrew and Greek languages there are no exact equivalent of the English word Worship. The dictionary definition of this word uses the terms adoration, exaltation, admiration, idolisation, glorification, honour and so on.

Christian worship is God and Jesus focused which can be expressed individually, in a small group or in a large group, on-line or off-line.

Maybe next year, a group from St John’s could be heading off to Minehead with our buckets and spades!

Mike and Hilary Lidstone

We are so thankful for the beautiful array of colour appearing in the garden and around us. This is a
reminder that even when we feel things are bleak, God is still around us just waiting for us to notice.

Janice Foster

Family Prayer

God make us a family
We need one another
We love one another
We forgive one another
We work together
We play together
We worship together
Together we use God’s word
Together we grow in Christ
Together we love all men
Together we serve our God
Together we hope
for Heaven
These are our hopes and ideals
Help us to attain them
O God, through Jesus Christ
Our Lord

(Thank you to Meg for sending in this prayer)

Missionary Prayers

Tearfund

St John’s Rep – Ruth Clinch

The military coup in Myanmar happened in February this year. The Tearfund team in Myanmar say, ‘We thank God for letting us know that we are not alone and we are grateful that we have people who are constantly praying for us’.
So, thank you my friends. Look forward to seeing you all again when we can get together.

Please continue to pray:

  • Pray for the people of Myanmar, particularly the emotional wellbeing of children, who are heavily affected by the tragic stories and images related to the coup.
  • Pray for those who have had to flee their homes because of the escalation of violence and fighting.
  • Lift up to God those who have lost their family members and those whose family members have been arrested.
  • Ask God for a peaceful solution to this current crisis.

More information can be found on: https://www.tearfund.org/

CMJ
(Churches Ministry Among Jewish People)

St John’s Rep – Dave Clinch

“You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” Romans 11, v18

As with all aspects of the Church, things have had to be done differently this last year, and this includes CMJ’s work of reaching out to Jewish people with the Good News about their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).

Praise God, this has continued to be successful. Please pray for the Community Based Evangelists (one of whom recently received an award from the Archbishop), and for their many ongoing contacts.

Also, let’s pray that the ‘Bible Comes to Life’ exhibition soon recommences touring, bringing a wealth of knowledge about bible lands and times. This year is the 130th birthday of the ‘BCTL’, so pray for Paul & Janey Hames as they head-up the work.

We continue to pray for safety for all the staff, and for the peace of Jerusalem. Shalom.

More information can be found on: https://www.cmj.org.uk

Eco Church

In April the newly formed Eco Church Group met for the second time via zoom. There were two main focusses:-

Getting to know each other and exploring what had led each of us to a passionate interest in environmental issues.

This was a way of discovering our individual strengths revealing a pool of knowledge and experience. Areas which emerged were:

  • Experience of working with ‘A Rocha’. This is an organisation which has devised an extensive survey for churches to complete, leading to Bronze, Silver and Gold standard awards. These are indicative of how much a church is a good steward of our natural God-given resources. The survey is divided into sections entitled Worship & Teaching, Buildings, Land, Community & Global Engagement and Lifestyle. The higher the award the more attractive the church could be to anyone looking to join who is serious about their ethical commitment. Establishing links with local groups; com- ing alongside other people.
  • Wanting to make a difference by re-cycling and avoiding food waste.
  • Transport – cycling and links with cycling organisations.
  • Plastics – re-cycling items, re-using, classification and location of easily accessible centres
  • Diet & fitness, animal welfare, compassion and links with anti-cruelty animal charities, fair distribution of the Earth’s resources.

Discussing the questions in the survey.

We concentrated on the first section entitled Worship & Teaching and completed the ten questions in that section. The agreed answers were later entered onto the A Rocha website, where the answers will contribute to an award. Standards need to be attained across all the different categories in the survey to achieve a particular level.

We also became aware of the increasing need for communication and collaboration between the Eco Church Group and the various other groups such as the Renewal Group, the Gardening Group and Children’s and Youth Groups.

Meanwhile we are working on a logo and mission statement. At our next meeting in June we shall be tackling the section on Buildings. Watch this space!..

Valerie Collings

Responding to rapid church growth in Lockdown

I’m counting the days to June 21st when (we hope and pray) we can all gather again in the church as usual. What a joy it will be to sing and worship together. Will we be ready?

Astonishing growth

It has been such a strange and upsetting time, which has affected our entire nation so deeply. But during Lockdown, the Lord has been doing amazing things among us as a community here in Weymouth. On recent Zoom call, just a few people in our church were able to name 24 different people who have joined us since Lockdown began in March 2020. And we probably missed out a few. That’s the fastest rate of growth for St John’s for a generation or more!

What is more, numbers attending our weekly services have doubled since we moved online, while significant numbers are also finding their way to our new website, launched last September, some of which are contacting the church office to find out more. And all this at a time when many in our nation wondered if church life would fall apart under COVID restrictions.

How exciting is that! What an amazing answer to so many of our prayers! Just think what the Lord may do when we fully reopen the church building for worship, teaching, prayer, hospitality and other ministries!

Getting church building ready to re-open fully

After 14 months of lockdown, a large team of people, including volunteers, are working very hard to get the church building ready to reopen on time (we have a wedding in the church at the end of May). A lot has been done already – church yard tidied and trees pruned back, major repairs to high roofs and gutters, redecoration of main interior including the new entrance, new interior lighting, three new toilets, and new church heater (finally working properly after replacement of a fan recently).

Now we are pressing on against tight deadlines to complete a huge new kitchen which we can use for Sunday lunches etc, a raised dais with wheelchair access, new wiring for the worship band, new carpet, moving the Font, new children’s play area and informal café style seating at the back and so on.

Kitchen hatch

Wheelchair access

Routine maintenance

At the same time teams are working hard on a backlog of routine maintenance tasks, filling skips, repainting smaller rooms and lobbies etc – mostly tasks identified in a Quinquennial Review by the Diocese three years ago. Please pray for smooth progress – complicated projects like this mean hundreds of minor decisions and many larger ones, many of which are time-critical, with consultations and expert advice needed, and relevant permissions obtained.

Please also pray for additional funding – looks like we will need £30,000 in addition to amounts raised to complete everything, including extending the car park, which is now really urgent in our desire to be welcoming – with very poor disabled access and cars packed so tight on Sundays that there is no room for visitors!

The final step in interior works will be buying new chairs, as soon as we get DAC approval – please pray about that as this is proving rather difficult. But at the end of the day, all these works are just restoring/improving the outward appearance of a Grade II* listed building. What matters most of all is the beating heart inside!

The Lord is changing us as a community

As we come out of Lockdown, the church is going to feel rather different! We are not the same community we were back in March 2020! The Lord is changing us!

Our motto is: “Welcoming, Worshipping, Loving, Growing”

Growing!

Isaiah 54v2 is living with me at the moment, especially in response to the rapid growth we are seeing. “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”

What might growth mean for us as a worshipping community? To enlarge the place of our tent, stretch our curtains wide? One thing is certain, a lot of people who have never stepped inside our church building for a “normal service” are about to do so for the first time and will need welcoming.

Opening our hearts wide as well as our building!

It’s quite a stressful and courageous thing to join a new church! Especially for people who are also moving to a new area at the same time. Sheila and I experienced this ourselves a couple of years ago. It’s all about helping new people feel part of the family, as if they have been part of the church for years, when they may be feeling lonely and unsure. We’re so grateful for all those who made us both feel so at home. So how can we achieve the same for 24 others in a short time?

Stretching the tent curtains open wide will mean I suggest far more than looking out for and befriending new people after Sunday services. It will also mean welcoming new members into our home groups, as well as starting new home groups, enquirer groups and so on.

It will mean things like offering hospitality – very soon we will be allowed once again to open our own homes (after May 17th) to visitors and new members for a cup of tea or coffee, lunch, dinner, whatever. We can also meet up with people for walks along the promenade or for a cup of tea in a café. Hospitality is the fastest way for new people to get to know us, and after 15 months of Lockdown, is even more likely to be appreciated.

Enlarging the tent curtains will also mean making sure we include new members in every aspect of church life, making space in ministry teams for the ministries of others that the Lord is adding to us. And also, of course, at the same time continuing to look out for those who have been part of the church for a long time, in particular supporting those unwell or in need of encouragement.

Enlarging our tent curtains means reaching our community, seeing friends, neighbour, work colleagues and family find faith in Christ, impacting our whole area, supporting those who are in need, encouraging and caring, praying for the sick, bringing God’s Word into situations, preaching the Gospel – with worship and love at the heart of all we do.

I’m praying for the next 24, and the next 24, and the next 24! All very exciting!! Praise the Lord for all He is doing!!!

Patrick Dixon

Evening Prayer Meeting Sunday 11th April 2021

There was to be a time of prayer. Prayer at Church or at home, for the Renewal Project, before the contractors moved in. I was so excited – you see this is both home and church. I’ve been here for quite a while.

Then the time came. I heard people arriving. They went past my door, into the main church. A little later I heard Tom talking about my room. But then the words “it is empty – it’d be good if you took the opportunity to go in and pray for the new kitchen”. KITCHEN!! – I looked around – yes, cleared out. But it wasn’t empty, I was here.

People did come in to pray. Talking of the meals that would be served. The people welcomed to St John’s. The blessing the café would be.

Then someone came in, saw me on the floor. Left behind, dropped in the clear out. I was picked up, held in a hand. At first thinking I was a pencil, then realising actually a crayon. Albeit ‘gray crayon’ but useful for shading.

It was busy with people in the chancel – all praying and listening. The crayon now in a coat pocket couldn’t share feelings. Just a crayon, a bit unsure, almost out of place. But I heard a prayer “What are you showing me?”

Early next morning, found again in the hand “I must shade with this, not draw – just shade”. And together created a picture of a river – a very gray river but none-the-less a river.

‘Gray crayon’ felt better for that; it was what was being shared the previous evening. The Renewal – the river of life that was going to flow from St John’s out into the community – where we live, work, shop, go to school, wherever we are.

Later the most marvellous thing happened. It wasn’t a gray river at all, nor blue. It was a purple river; in sunlight, purple. ‘Gray crayon’ WOW!! Purple.

So, if like ‘gray crayon’ you are a bit lost, a bit abandoned, not feeling a part of this: you know the Renewal Project is happening but you don’t yet know where you fit: uncertain where this Renewal is taking St John’s – Please ask. Pray; maybe that prayer, “What are you showing me, God?” and wait with Jesus’ help.

(I did pick up a crayon that Prayer evening and later it inspired the story above. I hope you are blessed as you read)

Frances Childs

Thanks to Matt Flux for this photo from our Easter outdoor service. Wonderful weather, great music with ‘real singing’ – amazing way to worship.

Dates for our next outdoor worship:

  • 23 May Pentecost
  • 20 June
  • 25 July
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