Sunday, 10 December 2017

Gifts with Love

Our next Christmas activity has been our gift service, today, when the congregation was encouraged to give gifts to people whose Christmas might otherwise be rather spartan. After contact with local women’s refuges and mother and baby hostels he got a list of children likely to be there at Christmas and the congregation took away gift tags with the child’s sex and age. They then went away and bought a present for a child of that description. The gifts were brought up during our service this morning and placed under the church Christmas tree. These gifts will be delivered to their homes in the next few days.

There was also an opportunity for those who had not taken tags to give appropriate gifts for the refugees in contact with the Welcome Project run at Leicester Cathedral.

At a time when we remember Jesus coming as the greatest gift of all it’s important to show his love bygiving to those who have much less than we do.

Coffee Pot Carols

Although Christmas Day is still two weeks away, we seem well into the Christmas season at St Paul’s. On 5 December, the Parkinson Society Choir who use old buildings regularly, held a session of carols, led by the former member, Revd Richard Curtis, who has now moved to Wiltshire, but came back from vacation. They had invited our congregation to help swell the noise! It was a good time.

Two days later Coffee Pot are regular Thursday group held their Coffee Pot Carol service. It was led by our curate Gillian Gamble, with readings, a talk – in which the Christmas story was told using some hideous puns on the names of popular snacks (but it made it memorable) – and of course lots of carols. The service was held grouped round tables and afterwards there was tea and coffee and mince pies.

Lots more events are planned. Do come and join us.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Welcome Rector (Designate)!

Since Michael Rusk left as Rector of St Peter’s to serve in Geneva, the Parish of Oadby has been without a Rector.

Last night (28 November), the Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, licensed Steve Bailey, currently the Vicar of St Paul’s, Oadby to be Rector designate of the whole parish. He is only licensed as “designate” because the parish borders are undergoing reorganisation. The “designate” ceases when the scheme is completed.

At the same service, Liz Wilson, who has been the Curate of St Denys' Evington, to be the Team Vicar (designate) of St Peter’s. Liz will be sharing in the Ministry of the team and we look forward to seeing her at St Paul’s.

The licensing took place in a joyous service, with a packed church, filled not only with members of St Peter’s and St Paul’s congregations, but also people from previous parishes of both clergy, representatives of the community and of neighbouring parishes and family. The service contained both the necessary legal promises, but also devotion and praise to God. The exuberant music – both traditional and modern – nearly raised the roof as we praised God for this occasion.

In his sermon, Bishop Martyn pointed both clergy to the way that Jesus preached, starting from small beginnings (the mustard seed) but always pointing to faith in Christ – the Pearl of Great Price.

After the service everyone was invited to a magnificent buffet in the St Peter’s Centre.

We offer Steve and Liz our prayers and support as they start this new stage of their ministries.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Christmas Fayre

Unbelievable as it is, Christmas is only five weeks away. Last Saturday St Paul's held its annual Christmas Fayre, with lots of offerings of and crafts, gifts to be given at Christmas, refreshments in the neighbouring Barnabas Centre and a visit by Santa. We were able to raise to be shared between the Children's Hospital and the Air Ambulance. Thank you to all those whose hard work made the event such a success.

Archbishop Welby – Welcome to Leicester!

The visit by Archbishop Justin Welby to Leicester called “The Big Conversation” has been well-publicised in the media. It is good to be part of a church which has an Archbishop who is so willing to speak of his faith – whether that be on the “Hospital Hopper” or in conversation with students.

One of the events in the programme was “In Jesus Name” on the Tuesday night at the Leicester Arena (where Leicester Riders basketball team play). Christians of all denominations were invited to come. There were about 2500 present.  Those who didn’t come missed a treat. There was modern worship, a talk by the Archbishop, several sessions of prayer led by church leaders of different congregations and nominations, and an Act of Commitment to Mission, made by those present.

If you didn’t manage to come, there are several videos available:

See the highlights of the Archbishop’s visit.
See how people of Leicester reacted in the Archbishop’s visit
See the Archbishop speak on suffering.
See some of the events of day 1
See some of the events of day 2, the rural church
See some of the events of day 3,
we pray that many who heard the Archbishop may be drawn to get to know Jesus Christ better.

Bishop's Lay Congress

St Paul’s is a member of the Church of England Diocese of Leicester. One of the valuable things about being part of a larger group is that is able to do things that we could not do not do on our own. One of these is “the Bishop’s Lay Congress” which has taken place in the autumn term for a decade.
This year, it was held at the Cathedral itself on Saturday 4 November. There were two principal speakers. In the morning Rodney Green, a former Chief Executive of Leicester City Council gave a challenging talk in which he showed, not only a decline in church numbers, but also a decreasing acceptance of Christian principles, such as the Ten Commandments – many did not consider covetousness or adultery wrong, and even murder was not absolute.
Because it was Armistice Day, 11 November, proceedings stopped after the first talk, as outsiders joined us in the cathedral and we held an act of remembrance, with a two-minute silence.
In the afternoon, the speaker was Bishop Martyn himself. And then there was a time of questions and answers.
All the speakers were very challenging and interesting. These three quotes give a taste of the talks:
Revd Rosie Woodall:: “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song.”
Bishop Martyn said: “The greatest challenge we have is to share the gift that is Jesus Christ.”
Rodney Green: “If you’re a Christian you cannot be optimistic but must be hopeful.”
It was a good day – and so was the lunch!
This event happens every year and is open to all non-ordained members of the parishes in Leicester Diocese. It is well worth coming along. Look out for the next one!

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Most Valuable Thing that this World Affords

Traditionally, the last Sunday before All Saints Day is celebrated as Bible Sunday. This year, this is particularly appropriate, as it is just 500 years ago that Martin Luther rediscovered the Bible’s teaching that we can approach God only through faith in Christ.

This is why, during the Queen’s coronation, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland presented the Queen with a Bible, while the Archbishop said: “We present you with this Book, the Most Valuable Thing That This World Affords.”

This month, our charity is the Bible Society, which seeks to make the Bible available to all. In the past this has been through the printed book, but now they also use literature and recordings to make the message of the Bible better known.

Many of us and multiple versions of the Bible. We are so fortunate as in many countries it is a criminal offence to own a Bible. In others, there are still many people for whom the is not yet available in their mother tongue.

We are pleased to help the Bible Society make the word of God more widely available.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

African Experience

Lou McGoldrick, our youth worker, recently joined other diocesan workers in  visiting Mount Kilimanjaro diocese, Tanzania. It is one of several dioceses with which Leicester has links.

Last Sunday, in the place of the sermon, Lou showed us photos of her visit there, and talked about her experience of the churches in Mount Kilimanjaro. Two aspects particularly struck her. One was  a couple who had left relative luxury to work in a very poor area, teaching life skills and teaching the children. Ultimately they were able to found a church.

She was also impressed with the work among the Maasai, a group who up until recently had had little contact with Christian belief. She and the group visited different new churches.

The visit had given the opportunity to talk with those who led young people in the church there. As they discussed social issues that affect the church, they found that their understandings were frequently different. Who was right?
It was certainly a different and challenging sermon for those of us who live in a relative lap  of luxury.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A New Face in the Pulpit!

In recent months Karen Johnson and her husband have started worshipping regularly at St Paul’s. Karen has already been licensed as a Reader when she was in her previous parish. We are hoping that Karen will be able to continue her ministry in St Paul’s, and Sunday 22 October was her first sermon, here. However, before preaching she was interviewed by Colin Chettle and she told us of her life (she is a teacher) and her development in faith.

She also talked to the children before they went out to Supertroopers (the Sunday school). She dressed up one of the young people with multiple baggages and used other people to make a gateway (the eye of the needle). She showed how all these encumbrances (“things”) could stop one passing through. This was also true as one approached Christ – things will get in the way   

At the end of the month we reach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther proclaiming his ninety-five theses. Karen spoke to us from the book of Romans highlighting his teaching, on the way that salvation is a gift of God, that we cannot earn – but just have to be willing to accept by faith.

We look forward to Karen continuing her ministry among us.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The African International Christian Ministry

The African International Christian Ministry is a government recognised Ugandan NGO, working in the south-west of the country. The Friends of African International Christian Ministry is a UK charity which supports their work financially. It has been one of the charities that St Paul’s supports, and now St Peter’s Oadby is supporting it as well.

The inaccessible forests of south-west Uganda have some of its poorer citizens. In particular, there is a very high percentage of the pygmy people, known as Batwa. The Batwa are a despised group and are often excluded from society.  AICM provides support, training, schools (where there are none), feeding of schoolchildren (who are often undernourished) and Christian ministry.

A link here links to an article by the Archbishop of York which gives the background of the work in greater detail.
Last Sunday (15 October) we were joined by the congregation of St Peter’s. We were visited by Colin and Sue Townsend who are AICM supporters. Colin had just returned from a visit to the AICM work in Uganda and was still jetlagged. Sue explained the situation in the area and showed photos and videos of the work. For those of us used to the facilities we have in England, it was quite an enlightenment. But the scenery was magnificent!

There is more about the work with Batwa here.

We look forward to continuing to support this work and deepening the links with it.