Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Programme for the Alpha Course 2009

The programme for the Alpha Course has been set for a while and I thought people might appreciate seeing it here on the blog:

Alpha Course 2009 - Guests' programme

Tue 20 Jan Week 1 Who is Jesus?
Tue 27 Jan Week 2 Why did Jesus Die?
Tue 3 Feb Week 3 How can we have Faith?
Tue 10 Feb Week 4 Why and how do I Pray?
(17 Feb half term - no meeting)
Tue 24 Feb Week 5 Why and how should I read the Bible?
Tue 3 Mar Week 6 How does God Guide us?
Sat 7 Mar Holy Spirit Day
Tue 10 Mar Week 7 How can I Resist Evil?
Tue 17 Mar Week 8 Why and how should I tell Others?
Tue 24 Mar Week 9 Does God Heal Today?
Tue 31 Mar Week 10 What about the Church?

Each evening follows this pattern:

7.00 Supper Barnabas Centre
7.40 Welcome Church
7.50 Talk Church
8.30 Coffee Barnabas Centre
8.40 Small groups Barnabas Centre
9.20 – 9.30 Finish

Alpha Course registration is now open

I've just sent off piles of letters, each with an invitation to our next Alpha Course, which begins on 20 January. I'm hoping that they'll arrive in people's homes after the rush of Christmas cards but in that period when there's a chance for reflection and looking forward into 2009.

Alpha was a real highlight of 2008 and it was fabuous to hear people say how good it was to be part of it.

If you, or someone you know is interested but you haven't yet received an invitation, please email me with your details and I'll get one straight to you.

Date for Hooray Day 29 is set for 25 April 2009

Many of you like to plan long term, so I thought it would be good to confirm that our next Hooray Day, the twenty-ninth that we've held at St Paul's, has been set for 25 April 2009.

Hooray Days are for children in school years 1 to 5 (those aged 5-10). For more information, send us an email.

Midnight Communion "a special, sacred time"

For those of us at the very heart of the life of a local parish church, the sheer number of services sometimes means that the carols and Christmas readings are difficult to hear in fresh ways. But one service usually leads me to a moment where the hair stands up on my neck, the midnight Christmas Communion.

It's a time to be hushed, for the waiting of all of Advent to intensify. The yearning and longing for the appearance of our Saviour builds into a joyous but contemplative celebration.

Our service begins at 11:30pm and will end at about 12:45am, when we all slip away into the darkness of an early Christmas morning.

500 posts to our blog

We've reached a bit of a milestone today. This is the 500th post to our church blog since we began almost exactly two years ago. Take a look at the labels on the right hand side of the page and you'll see what a varied range of categories we've covered on this site.

The blog has become part of our way of doing things and a great way to tell the story of our church community. It's interactive too, so if you see something and want to offer a thought or ask a question, click on the 'comments' link under each post.

Thanks to you all for reading, and for inspiring so much to be written about.

Christingle service tomorrow 4pm

We're getting set for one of the liveliest and funniest services in our year, the Christingle and Nativity.

As usual in what's become a big tradition at St Paul's, the focus of our celebration will be the re-telling of the Christmas story through an impromptu nativity play. The cast isn't set until the service begins - we simply invite the children in the congregation to sign up for a part. Rehearsals take five minutes, as the congregation has a key role to play.

This year there's a twist, as the congregation will be involved in a slightly different way.

Christingle oranges will be distributed, and lit as we sing a carol. The Christingle is a symbol of God's loving gift to the world of a saviour and the money collected at this service supports the fabulous work of the Children's Society.

At around 5pm our service will conclude and there'll be Christmas biscuits and mince pies to share.

Carols by Candlelight service fills the church

Last Sunday's Carols by Candlelight service saw a record number of people fill the church. In all, 220 of us listened to the story of salvation told through readings and songs. We don't do things by halves on these occasions, so all mains lights were extinguished as we worshipped by the light of around three hundred candle flames. All those people and all those flames meant that we had to open many of the church windows (with an engineer's curiosity I've calculated the total heat generated by people and candle flames is 25kW - about the same as ten fan heaters on maximum).

Many thanks to Aileen, the choir, readers, and those who worked behind the scenes.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Principal Services - January to March 2009

A new year brings a sense of promise, the feeling that things can be different, better. Many of the passages explored in our worship point us towards the personal transformation and the social transformation that the gospel heralds. From Paul's dramatic conversion to the creative engagement of our church community with our neighbourhood and beyond, this promises to be a time of change we can believe in.

4 January 10.00am Holy Communion at Epiphany
Worshippers come from the east
Ephesians 3.1-12, Matthew 2.1-12

11 January 10.00am All Together Church with Baptism
Jesus is baptised by John
Mark 1.4-11

18 January 10.00am The Word Service and CTO Preacher Exchange
Finding the King
Revelation 5.1-10, John 1.43-end

25 January 10.00am The Word Service
Paul - a life transformed
Acts 9.1-22, Galatians 1.11-16a

1 February 10.00am Holy Communion
A prophet like Moses
Deuteronomy 18.15-20, Mark 1.21-28

8 February 10.00am All Together Church for Poverty and  Homelessness Week
Voices from the edge
readings to be chosen

15 February 10.00am Holy Communion
The mission and person of Christ Jesus
Proverbs 8.1, 22-31, Colossians 1.15-20, John 1.1-14

22 February 10.00am The Word Service
Seeing and not seeing
2 Kings 2.1-12, 2 Cor 4.3-6

25 February - Ash Wednesday 7.45pm CTO United service
"Return to me with all your heart"
Joel 2.1-2, 12-17, John 8.1-11

1 March 10.00am Holy Communion
Engaging with 21st century cultures
readings to be chosen

8 March 10.00am The Word Service
Engaging in a multi-faith context
readings to be chosen

15 March 10.00am Holy Communion
Engaging in the post-Christendom era
readings to be chosen

22 March 10.00am Parade Service with Baptisms
Mothering Sunday
Psalm 128

29 March 10.00am Holy Communion
Losing your life to keep your life
Jeremiah 31.31-34, John 12.20-33

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

New mosque and community facilities for Oadby

The Oadby and Wigston Muslim Association has published proposals for the use of the old library in Sandhurst Street as a mosque and community centre.

OWMA has patiently campaigned for a long time to find suitable premises for daily prayers and other community activities. It's not been easy in a congested and largely-developed borough to identify where the best location would be. It seems to me that their purchase of the old library could represent the best solution and I wish them well.

The OWMA's proposals are explained in their own words here:


As a group, our aim is to provide a much needed Community Centre in the Borough to provide various activities, which would be open to all in the community, for example:

Promoting Multi-Cultural cohesion by engaging with the local community and hosting multi-cultural events (eg at Christmas, Diwali, Hannuka etc).
Running Health Awareness Programmes (e.g. Diabetes, smoking awareness, drugs, etc)
Tackling Crime (e.g. helping the police with local issues, reducing teenager crime, teenager activities to keep them off the streets)
Emphasising Global Issues (e.g. protecting the environment, and the OWMA’s stand against terrorism)
Promoting Awareness of Islam (e.g. hosting open Eid functions)
Providing activities for the elderly (e.g. health awareness, learning new skills e.g. IT, advice re pensions/claims etc)
Providing facilities for women (ladies-only functions/activities, crèche facilities)
Youth clubs and sports activities for all ages
Hiring of Community Centre to any group subject to availability and conditions of use

These activities are intended to benefit all people in  the Oadby & Wigston area. 
In addition we will have a small designated area within the Community Centre to be used for daily prayers.
Here are some myths clarified:
Any large domes/minarets?..............NO!
Any expansion to the existing structure?.........NO!
Any loud/audible calls to prayers that disturb the neighbourhood?..........NO!
Any traffic congestion?............NO!

OWMA would also like to clarify that it does not intend to demolish the existing building unless the existing structure is deemed unsuitable/unsafe for use by building inspectors.  Any replacement structure will be of a similar footprint and size to the existing one and there are no plans to have large domes or minarets.  We have also considered the implications of traffic and parking at the facility and do not foresee a problem, since we do not anticipate usage of the car park over and beyond that of the previous library. Additionally, there are car parking attendants who continually monitor usage of the public car park and will fine users as appropriate.   
Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at contactowma@googlemail.com

Updated masterplan for Oadby Town Centre

An addendum to the 2007 master plan for Oadby's town centre has been published by OWBC. The addendum makes key changes to the original scheme, following the public consultations that took place.

The controversial site for a new place of worship in the centre of the East Street car park has been changed, with the new proposals identifying Sandhurst Street as a better location. Additional car parking on multi-level facilities in both East Street and Sandhurst Street are also included. The scale of road alterations is also reduced.

A period of public consulation is now under way and comments can be made online at www.oadby-wigston.gov.uk by 23 January 2008.