News about the PCC BYC meeting

The PCC held a special meeting on Tuesday 19 January to share and discuss your feedback from the BYC video presentations. Thank you for your prayers for this meeting and for the considerable and considered responses you gave us. These were presented to the PCC anonymously and included a whole range of positive, encouraging, constructive, helpful and challenging comments and questions – for which we are very grateful. The more we challenge ourselves, the better the building will be at delivering God’s vision for his church and community.

What happens next?

Every piece of feedback is being assimilated under different headings, including:

  • Positive endorsement of the project
  • The things we had already noted for the architect to address
  • New ideas we hadn’t yet considered
  • New or different requirements that need further discussion
  • Concerns about timing and fundraising
  • Suggestions and offers of help with how we can put the vision into action in our community.

We will await the response from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) before progressing any of the feedback with the architect, as their response is key in determining how the project develops from here. We are also in the process of speaking to community groups and local councillors, and they may also add new considerations to the process.

In the meantime, please continue to feed your comments back to us by email. We have also added some documents and the video on the BYC page so that you can find out more about the background and vision for BYC.

Prayer

Please continue to keep the BYC project in your prayers and especially the vision of growing and serving, asking, “How can I help to bring about God’s vision for His people in Oxshott?” We shall shortly be sending out information about special prayer times for the project, timed around important dates in the planning process, and for the activities we anticipate hosting within the new buildings. Please watch this space!

Blessings,

Christingle – Online

On 31 January, St Andrew’s held our Christingle – Online!  This year we asked you to send in some video and photo contributions, which made the service really special, and gave a great sense of all being together.

The service is available at StAks@home, if you missed it, or want to watch it again.

Bible Course – A second chance to study

The Bible Course is an 8-week pit-stop tour of the whole bible to help us get the big picture of the message of God’s Word. Those attending Life Groups have already been through this course recently but this is another opportunity for any who missed it, or perhaps, missed one or two of the sessions. The course will start on 26 January and run via zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings for about an hour and a half starting at 7.30pm. It comprises a booklet and some well-presented video material as well as time during the meeting for group discussion. If you would like to find out more or join this course, please contact Andy Hum. We’d love to have you on-board!

Watch this introductory video

or visit The Bible Course for more details.

A New Year update from Frances

I wonder how the latest lockdown makes you feel? I know that some feel afraid, whilst for others frustration, anger, or even despair are the overwhelming emotions.

This letter has two purposes: first, to remind you that, however you are feeling today, you are not alone; I think all of us are finding this lockdown more difficult than previous ones. Also, there are members of the church family (and the local community) keen to come alongside you and to support you in whatever way is right for you. You may wish to offer support: from chatting regularly on the phone, to ordering someone’s regular shop online, there are many ways in which to reach out and share one another’s burdens, which will be so important in these grey January days. The pastoral assistants will continue their vital role, as will the Life Groups. If you ever need or want to offer support, please be in touch with the church office.

The second purpose of this letter is to let you know that your PCC has taken the decision that, with immediate effect, the church building needs to be closed to the congregation and members of the public. Rapidly rising rates of illness in the local area, apparently due to the greater transmissibility of the new coronavirus variant, is the main reason we have taken this step. We want to keep you and all of us as safe as we can, whilst still providing spiritual nourishment and support. To this end, services will continue to be available (a mixture of live stream and recordings) each week at 10am on Sunday, and on the website for viewing whenever suits you.  Life Groups will also continue online or by phone. If you would like to be put in touch with a group, please contact Patrick Fleming via email. The PCC will look to re-open the church building for congregational worship as soon as it is safe to do so according to our risk-assessments and guided by both government and diocesan guidelines. In addition, Patrick (D) has created a Daily Prayer leaflet for us all to use at different times of the day, to keep our eyes upon our wonderful heavenly Father and to give us a sense of praying together every day.

Finally, these words from Psalm 92 came up in a Bible reading for yesterday:

‘It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;

to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness by night…

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.’ (vv1-4)

The commentator wrote the following about the ‘virtuous circle’ which these verses contain:

‘Thanksgiving and praise give rise to gladness, which results in further praise, and praising makes us glad. The best thing we can do when we experience a dearth of gladness is to praise God.’

However it is that you choose to praise God, shall we try this together through this lockdown and see where it leads us in the weeks ahead?

Blessings,


 
 

Christmas services in church

I am pleased to write with the good news that, beginning this Sunday, 6 Dec we shall return to hold services in church. Spaces will continue to be limited (according to the safety guidelines) and booking via either the website or the church office will continue to be necessary.

Services will continue to alternate weekly between a traditional style and the less formal style of Oxshott Praise. Listen & Pray will form the core of each service, which will then be followed with a short form of Holy Communion for those in church. We will need to maintain all safety precautions, including wearing masks in church, no singing and overcoming the temptation to stand and chat with our friends outside!

Christmas services are on the horizon and information about each of these is available on the Weekly News, in the magazine and on the website. Some of our festive services will be ‘live streamed’.  We are really grateful to Mike Shand, John Henshall and others involved in installing new equipment to enable this.

We would encourage most people to stay at home and experience Christmas services online. However, there will be a limited number of places available in church, which can be booked. We shall once again give priority for key services (the 6pm Carols,  Midnight Communion and Christmas Day service) to those who have no access to the internet or to those who will be spending Christmas alone. We know most of those who are in these groups and will be in touch with them individually. Once we know how many spaces remain for each of these services bookings will be opened more widely: please check the website or contact the office in the week before each service.

A special element of our Christmas Day service will be the Christmas Greeting online zoom at 10.45am. Following our successful first attempt at this on Commitment Sunday, 29 November, we shall join one another on zoom to wish each other a Merry Christmas! Please do join in if you can.

Finally, another exciting prospect over the next few weeks is that the plans for our new ancillary buildings will be shared with all Life Groups by the BYC team, having been overwhelmingly approved by the PCC at their recent meeting. Anyone who is not currently in a life group and who would like to join for one of these presentations is encouraged to contact Patrick Fleming ( or via the office – 01372 842071).  Further presentations will be arranged for other audiences in the New Year as regulations permit. At the presentation you will be informed of the ways in which you can feedback your responses to the PCC. Do please pray for all concerned: for clarity of communication and for us all to capture the vision of which the plans for our buildings form merely a part.

Blessings,

An Update from Frances

As we enter the four weeks of the second lockdown, I wanted to write both to encourage you and to inform you about the new government restrictions and the way they will affect church activities.

The first, difficult news is that in this period, we are no longer permitted to allow anyone to attend services in church.  A few of us can be in church to lead and broadcast services, which we will continue to do on Sundays at 10am.  You will find the links to join in on our home page.  If you have any difficulty accessing these – or have any other issues around using your device to join in – there are people who would love to help you, so please ring the office (01372 842071) in the first instance.

Additionally, any meetings planned need to be held virtually, rather than in person.  This applies to everything from PCC meetings to Life Group socials.  Many of you have told me how much you dislike zoom (or its equivalents).  However, if we can regard it simply as a helpful tool to enable us to gather in ways that otherwise are not possible (especially important for those of us living alone) then I hope many of our vital group gatherings can continue.  Again, if you have the technology but are worried about using it, please contact the office to seek support.

The good news is that we can continue to visit the church building for private prayer on Wednesdays from 4-5.30pm, so please do continue to book for that via the church office or the booking page. Let’s use this opportunity.

I end with the encouragement of this verse, used in previous pastoral letters:

‘Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.’     (Romans 12.12)

Our hope is not just about the end of the pandemic or the invention of a vaccine. It is based on Jesus and all that he has done for us on the cross, opening the way for an intimate relationship with our loving heavenly Father, beginning now and lasting into eternity.  When this hope feels distant may I suggest you turn to the Psalms?  They are wonderful verses containing every raw human emotion.  Peace is found as the psalmist acknowledges afresh that God both knows how he feels and is in control. And this applies to us too.

The pastoral assistants, members of the bereavement and ministry teams and clergy are all still available to help you or someone you know who may be struggling, so please get in touch so that we can support one another in any way over these next few weeks.

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

StAks@home: Light Up the Dark & Remembrance

A message from our curate, Patrick…

Just to let you all know that our Light Up The Dark resources for StAks@home are now available.  We particularly encourage any of you who have grandchildren, near or far, to take a look. The activities, especially the ones this weekend for Light up the Dark, can easily be done with grandchildren, even if it has to be on Facetime, WhatsApp or Zoom. We hope that these resources give you an opportunity to talk together about the themes of Light and Dark.

In addition, our Remembrance@home resources will be available from Wednesday 4 November, which you can use in preparation for, and alongside, our Act of Remembrance Online at 10.45am on 8 November. These, too, give you the opportunity to involve your wider family with Remembrance in a positive and meaningful way; grandparents or grandchildren can be involved in preparing the personal Remembrance garden and explaining via a video or phone call who they want to remember this year.

For both Light Up The Dark and Remembrance@home you will find a short video introducing the theme, and some resources to download which help you prepare and guide you through a family activity together.

As ever, if you have any questions, or would like to be in touch for any reason, please do email or call: , or 07780 125127.

Patrick Davies

Annual Memorial Service

Each year at St Andrew’s we hold a Memorial Service to remember the lives of all those who have died during the last year, especially those with any connection to St Andrew’s, Oxshott.

This year the service will be on Sunday, 1 November, at 4pm.

As you might imagine, this year’s service will be slightly different, as it needs to conform both to the Government and Church of England guidelines, intended to keep us all safe during the pandemic.

We are only able to accommodate a maximum of 35 people in the church service (excluding those leading the service and choir) and these people have now been invited. To enable many more to join in, the service will be ‘live streamed’ so that people can participate from the safety of their own homes. You can join the live stream on YouTube here.

Please download and print your own copy of the Service Booklet.

If you would like to have the name of a loved one read out in this service, please complete the form below stating the name clearly, exactly as you would like it to be read.  Or if you would prefer, you can call the office number 01372 842071 and give the details to Rowena or Claire.

If anything is unclear, please do not hesitate to call the office team.

Blessings,

    Please complete this form by Monday 26 October,
    or please telphone the office on 01372 842071

    Notes from Andy Atkin’s talk

    What does it mean to follow Jesus Christ in relation to the Environment- what the Bible calls ‘His Creation’?

    If you prefer, you can download and print this as a pdf.

    Reading from Colossians 1.15-20

    Over recent years theologians have realised that scripture is filled with references to the Environment which perhaps we have not noticed so well in the past.

    Biblical foundations for care for the Environment:

    1. Genesis 1: God created the world, including us.  We have a powerful creator God.
    2. Genesis 1: God loves the world and pronounced it ‘…very good’ (not just average!).
    3. Genesis 2.15: God wants us to love Creation too. Mankind was instructed by Him to ‘till it and keep it’ (other translations – ‘take care of it’).  Christians are called to serve and preserve Creation.  Christian ‘dominion’ is therefore absolutely not ‘domination’.
    4. Human sin created a breach with God.   We have treated creation very badly.
    5. Good News: we have reconciliation and redemption through Jesus.  But so has Creation.
      • John 3.16 : ‘God so loved the world’  The word for world here is GK. Cosmos.  Jesus is good news for the cosmos, for everything, not just for humankind.
      • Colossians 1.20 : Jesus reconciles ‘all things’ to himself on the cross.
      • Mark 16.15 : We are told to ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’As Christians we have a powerful mandate and obligation to care for God’s Creation because He made it and because He loves it.
    6. Critical additional point:Matthew 22.26-40, when Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, his reply is first to love God and then to love our neighbour.
      Loving our neighbour is evidenced by how we treat the vulnerable, the marginalised, the poor, the migrants and the refugees among us.  We now know that these groups are affected ‘first and worst’ by environmental damage (such as air pollution) and climate change.
      Andy cited the example of air pollution in inner cities causing the deaths of between 28 000 and 36000 deaths annually in the UK ( according to a report published in March 2019 by Public Health England).  We know that it is generally poorer people who live in inner cities.

    Therefore, we have a double mandate to care for all God’s Creation because:

    • God loves it and He made it
    • People, whom God also loves, depend upon it.

    How can we put this love into practice as individuals, or as Life Groups?

    Enjoy                                             Nurture                                          Protect

    We will automatically do all three of these for people whom we love.  But these also apply to God’s Creation – the Environment.

    Some practical ideas:

    1. Try actively to enjoy God’s Creation every day by walking in it, for example.  If you are not able to do this, use television programmes, or poetry to give you the same sense of wonder and enjoyment.  Allow God’s Nature to speak to, encourage you and to point you back towards our creator God.Consider the following:
    2. Energy supplier: Switching your household energy supplier to a firm that generates electricity from renewable resources.
    3. Transport: Reduce your use of fossil-fuelled transport.  Cycle or walk locally when you can.  Use trains rather than planes if possible.  If not, offset your carbon emissions with a reputable company (Andy mentioned Climate Stewards, a sister organisation to A Rocha UK.
    4. Investments: switch as much of these as you can to ethical funds which are not invested in companies which continue to explore for fossil-fuels or which damage nature through deforestation, and so on.
    5. Your garden: try to create nature and wildlife friendly areas with lots of pollinator-friendly plants.
    6. Your diet: can you eat less meat and dairy produce- perhaps becoming what Andy called a ‘flexitarian’ – someone who eats meat only at weekends or on alternate days alongside vegetarian options?
    7. Your voice: can you sign the petition or write to your MP about local environmental issues?
    8. Sign up to the Wild Christian e-bulletin produced by A Rocha for further ideas.

    Andy’s tips:

    • Many of these considerations are made easier if we approach them with others, eg our Life Groups.
    • Start with things you can do easily and leave the harder things till later.
    • Celebrate what you achieve and don’t be put off by what you fail at.

    What can we do as a church?

    • 2. and 3. above are applicable (including the provision of cycle racks at church).
    • Car-sharing scheme.
    • If embarking upon a major piece of expenditure (eg a new church boiler), plan to make it as environmentally- friendly as possible.
    • Put pressure on the UK government to keep to its pledges with regard to the Environment in preparation for COP26, the UN climate conference to be held in the UK in Nov 2021.
    • Hold a Climate Sunday- sign up for this via the A Rocha website.

    See also A Rocha resources from Andy

    Patrick’s Ordination!


    Saturday 10 October is a special day when our curate, Patrick Davies, will be ordained. The service will take place at Holy Trinity, Claygate, for the candidates and their families, and it will be live streamed so that anyone else can watch at home.

    Watch the live stream at 5pm on 10 October.

    More details are available on the Guildford diocese website.

    We encourage you all to encourage Patrick by joining the event online.