Sunday, 12 March 2017

Reflecting God's Glory - transcript of sermon Second Sunday in Lent 2017


Sermon – Second Sunday in Lent 2017

St Anne’s Brown Edge






Nicodemus knew, just as we all know that for something to ‘be born’ it requires a preceding act.  

This is the season for spring lambs and spring calves. This only happens because some time back around October the ewes were put to the tup and cows if not AI then to the bull around June time last year. Even in agriculture, the seed has to be planted and fertilised, it will not grow sitting in the dark in a barrel or bag.
For humans beings the most important preceding act goes back to Genesis 2.7 – ‘then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. ‘
For many Christian this was referenced on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Lenten Season with the Imposition of Ashes with the words,
‘Remember o mortal that you are dust and to dust you shall return.’
In John’s Gospel 20.22 we read ‘And with that he (Jesus) breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.”

This is quite literally a life giving second breath, a second birth – offered as gift.
When Jesus talks about being born again, Nicodemus begins to think through the mechanics, ‘how can you enter your mother’s womb a second time.’ 

However, in the wonderful prologue to John’s Gospel we read, …’But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.
Our inherited breath from Adam is tainted with sin and brings death; the second Adam offers us the breath of new life – a life that offers life in all its fullness. (cf. John 10.10)
O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
a second Adam to the fight
and to the rescue came.


O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
which did in Adam fail,
should strive afresh against the foe,
should strive, and should prevail;
To be fully, gloriously and wonderfully human we need to born of the water and the spirit.

Two ideas are carried in the image of being born of water. One is the natural process of birth when we are quite literally born of water. The other idea is spiritual cleansing as in Baptism.
However, natural birth and being born again are acts of grace freely given, to be lovingly accepted and embraced.

With reference to Abraham, Paul argues in the passage we heard from Romans about grace and the life of Faith being a gift that we cannot earn.
‘For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Now the wages of the workers are not credited as a gift, but as an obligation.
 
This is picked up even stronger in the Letter to the Ephesians,
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.… Ephesians 2.8-10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life.…

There is a tradition in the Orthodox Church called Theosis,* which is about our growing into the very likeness and fullness and stature of Christ, picking up passages such as we find in Ephesians 4.13,
‘And so we shall all come together to that oneness in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God; we shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ's full stature.’

What a joy, what a calling and what a privilege to be the image bearers of God towards His good creation and towards others – Imago Dei reflected in the mirror you look into.

Imago Dei - the image of God, in the faces of those around you today.

In those who have been born of the water and of the spirit.

In those who have been born again.
In those who have opened up their hearts and said…

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee
.
 

The second century St Irenaeus said, ‘the glory of God is living man.’ 
                              (“Gloria Dei est vivens homo.”)

That is our true destiny, our one true calling – to reflect back glory to God through our humanity enlivened by God’s Spirit.   
Just what might that mean, to reflect glory back to God in each and every situation we find ourselves in.

In each and every conversation we have.
In each and every engagement that we have with people.

In particular just what does that mean, to reflect back glory to God, when we face challenging or difficulties – as surely we all do from time to time.
There is a line in a beautiful and very meaningful contemporary worship song ‘In Christ Alone’, that has caused some controversy -

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
Some change that line that talks of God’s wrath and instead sing…

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The Love of God was glorified.

‘For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’  (John 3.17)
Even as he was lifted up, as Moses lifted up the snake to bring healing to all who looked upon it, so Jesus, in his death brings healing for all who will look to him with the eyes of faith and accept by grace that we can now be inheritors of the Faith of Abraham. Born not of flesh and blood, as ethnic Israel, but rather born again of the Spirit of God.

As we go out into the world this coming week, to our places of work, to the school, at various clubs and gatherings, and to the shops, how we going to testify that we have been born again and reflect glory back to God.
Maybe by heeding Matt 5.16…

‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’  
Therefore, the question to each and every one of us here this morning is just how bright is the lamp of faith in our lives?

 Let us pray…
Prayer –

O Holy and Ancient of Days, Good Father and Mother to us all; we thank you that we are most gloriously made and most wonderfully born again in Christ. May we reflect your glory in all that we do, think and say and help us to call forth from your creation your praise and glory. To the end that Your Kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen




*
 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Captain's Blog - March 2017

 
I had my first meeting on the Executive Committee of Love Stafford last month. Great to hear what is happening around the town and in particular the deepening relationship with the Local Authorities.  They are increasingly recognising the added value Faith Communities bring to the town through a whole range of projects and programmes.




An FCN Staffordshire Group meeting this month. I have also been involved in a ‘case’ that is ongoing with a difficult family dispute that has been rumbling on for years. Please pray for wisdom and a good resolution. I do hope that if your church is in a rural setting that you are are in contact with your local FCN Group.  They would value your support and prayers and there may be an occasion that an FCN volunteer could signpost someone to something that you are doing that may be of help. Perhaps you run a dementia café or something similar. www.fcn.org.uk


St Bartholomew's MAP Group. This is proving to be a little difficult. Prayers again welcomed for a good resolution to some very sensitive issues.

A I ran the final session of Faith Pictures for St Peter's Rickerscote.  I know I mentioned this last time but it really  is very good and perfect for small rural churches to help people gain confidence in sharing their faith story.


Only one preachment this month with my friends at St Anne’s, Brown Edge. We have had refreshments on the last couple of occasions that I have been for my monhtly visit and it does make quite a difference. Encouraging people to chat and get to know each other a little better.  Here is a link to the transcript of the sermon.

We have had a trip to Cornwall this month. Our daughter-in-law Tracey had organised a ‘Secret Hen Party’ for Tabitha that included a Princess Party in the afternoon with the two flower girls, her young neices, Kerryn and Lowenna. Then in the evening a meal out in Fowey plus a few cocktails.  Tabitha didn’t know we were going to be there nor three of her bridemaids who made the trip down to Cornwall. A fabulous occasion all round.  Us men, Peter, Daniel and I (plus dog) went off for a walk in the afternoon, going around one of my favourite walks in Mevaggissy and then Fowey.

On the way back Jane and I stayed at the Sheldon Centre for a four day self-led retreat. This is such a joy. To be totally free from the diary and things that must be done. Time to walk, pray, chat, read and even watch a bit of TV without that nagging feeling of I should really be doing, x, y or z. http://www.sheldon.uk.com/




However, it was straight back into a Webinar for Rural Mission Solutions on the Saturday morning. Then on the Sunday driving down to Chelmsford to work with Barry Osborne on a Rural Consultation Day with the Diocese of Chelmsford on Monday.   www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk
 


Captains Log for March  2017

Ash Wednesday 1st
Tabitha’s Birthday (A significant one!)

Thursday 2nd 
Meeting with Michelle exploring CA training.

Monday 6th
Meeting with JC as his Spiritual Companion

Tuesday 7th
Attending a day conference by the ‘Free Range Diary Network.’

Wednesday 8th
FCN ‘Chewing the Cud’ 10.30am Amerton Craft Farm

Thursday 9th
‘Love Stafford’ leaders Bible Study and Prayer Meeting

Sunday 12th
Preaching and leading Service of the Word at St Anne’s, Brown Edge

Wednesday 15th
Combined Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire FCN Group meeting to discuss possible new clustering for mutual support

Thursday 16th
Diocesan Rural Mission Group

Sunday 19th
Stafford Half Marathon and seeking sponsorship for House of Bread, a great local charity that works alongside the homeless and vulnerable. www.localgiving.org/gordonbanks

Tuesday 21st
Jane’s Birthday

Wednesday 22nd
‘Chew n Chat’ at Rising Brook Baptist – informal lunch time meeting

Thursday 23rd
Spiritual Directors Gathering

Friday 24th
Mothers’ Union Quiet Day (going as a Member)

Monday 27th
Meeting with my own Spiritual Companion

Tuesday 28th
Meeting to begin reviewing the ‘Rural Evangelism Course’ on the Germinate ARC website.  In the afternoon meeting with Steven Dyson, ‘newish’ vicar for St Lawrence, Biddulph. Going to be talking about the parish running a year long LICC package. www.licc.org.uk

Wednesday 29th
Stafford Show planning meeting

Thursday 30th
Day Conference ‘BREXIT AND THE RURAL FUTURE’ Implications for churches and communities.  Full Programme and booking: https://tinyurl.com/hst2wbx


Sunday, 12 February 2017

'Looking backwards to go forwards' - transcript of sermon 17th February 2017


Sermon – St Anne’s Brown Edge 12th February 2017

Deuteronomy 30.15-20 Psalm 119.1-8
1 Corinthians 3.1-9 Matthew 5.21-37





Here we are, a dozen Christian gathered together on the 12th February 2017 in a place called Brown Edge on the very edge of Stoke.

Here we are in this rather strange building and before us are some very ancient texts – and it is good to remind ourselves that these texts are ancient texts, none of them less than 1,500 years old.
Manifestly what we are doing here this morning is of little concern or interest to the majority of people in and around Brown Edge.

And as we sit in here this morning the world out there, we might say, appears to be going to hell in a handcart.
We have one of the most powerful men in the world of one of the most powerful nations not giving a great deal of thought to any texts, ancient or contemporary. Admitting to receiving news mostly through TV.

He prefers to tweet – government and pronouncements reduced to 140 characters.
Across the world at the moment there are an estimated 1.5 billion people living in an area of armed conflict or a war zone.

Europe has taken a million migrants and refugees fleeing the violence and war.  They are amongst us, and they are traumatised, especially the children and not 3,000 but 350 is scandalous.
In our own country, we have campaigns to end hunger, one shortly to begin in Stafford. Food Banks have become normalised.

Our heath service is on the verge of collapse.

We have seen advancement with robotics and AI and it is predicted that they will replace a good percentage of humans in the work place over the next twenty years.
People are beginning to seek cybernetic implants for aesthetic reasons and not simple prosthetic because of the loss of a limb.   

Members of the Cybernetics Society say this will become as mainstream as tattoos and body piercing has over recent years.
Today, if you were to read one daily newspaper from cover to cover, you would absorb more information that a person would have done in the whole of their life 100 years ago.

There is an increasing call for gender to be a matter of personal choice and not specified as male female binary but anywhere along that spectrum. This is leading to more gender-neutral toiles in public places, schools and colleges.
And we sit here this morning with these ancient texts and going through some rather strange rituals.

However, do not these very text, written by men and woman over thousands of years, men and woman inspired by God's Holy Spirit, do not these texts tell us a different story.
Do they not tell us that this earth is God’s good creation and that God is bringing everything back into good order?

Do they not tell us about how God became man and then became King – King of over all. We find that supremely in Philippians 2 – ‘The Hymn of the Kenosis’ or ‘Song of Self-Emptying.’
Do these texts not tell us about the people of God as they grasped the reality of God come amongst them – of sins forgiven and the possibility of reconciliation not only with God but also with each other?

If, Jesus says, you come to the Temple, to bring an offering, and as you get near to a Holy God in the Temple, and you realise you are in contention with a brother or sister (not necessarily relatives I think we can presume) then leave your gift and go and be reconciled. That would mean a round trip of about a week – now that’s a serious undertaking.
Our Gospel reading is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (mountains are important for Matthew and the places where key things happen) and it would appear that Jesus is saying that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart, perhaps with verses like this one in mind.

From Ezekiel 36.26-27
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.…

And this is a choice put before us as we heard from the Book of Deuteronomy…
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it

So, what is your choice individually and what is your choice as the people of God in Brown Edge?
Just what does it mean to love the Lord, walk in his ways and keep his commandments, his statutes, and his judgments? 

It would appear for the most part that the People of Israel thought this meant keeping rules and following regulations. Regulations that Jesus was to say on one occasion, that appear bright and shiny on the outside, like whitened tombs, but inside are full of dead men’s bones.
Jesus calls for a heart surgery that removes stony hearts that are satisfied with ritual and regulations for one that beats with the blood and fire and passion of the living God.

Jesus call for radical discipleship where we would rather mutilate ourselves than offend God and go against his good will and create dis-ease with our brothers and sisters. 
Cutting of hands and tearing out eyes is a serious suggestion – albeit obvious hyperbole.

Jesus knows that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Jesus knows that the thought is father to the deed and must be stopped at source.

Jesus knows what it is to live as an authentic human being and invites us to follow him.
Jesus invites us to become a different kind of community where love and forgiveness prevail.

Jesus calls us to demonstrate that we as the People of God are people of hope and we know that God is bringing everything to good order.
However, how do we go about doing that?

I would want to suggest that it isn’t by pulling up the gang plank on the Ark and shutting ourselves in and away from the world with all its problems and challenges.
Sitting here singing familiar hymns and going through certain rituals and studying ancient texts in some vain hope that we can escape from all that is going on in the world.

In The Message translation of John’s Prologue, we hear this…
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.


If we are to have anything meaningful to say to our neighbourhood, I would want to suggest that we need to do far more than we already do to be and become an authentic Faith Community of God’s people set here in Brown Edge.

We need to gather regularly as God’s people to study together and wrestle with these ancient texts. We need to do more life together, to eat more together and most certainly to pray more together with and for each other and for the wider community in which God has called you.

In these dangerous times, in these times of huge complexities, where there is so much uncertainly, so much pain and suffering we need to speak with a different voice and with confidence that this is God’s good world and that God is bringing all things together for the good. That we, as a Community of God’s Kingdom People, demonstrate how to live as authentic human beings in today’s world and to invite others into this Community, so that they might taste and see that the Lord is good. So, that they may have their own heart transplant and come to experience life in all its fullness.

In the ancient world, such radical communities quickly spread the Gospel around the Roman Empire.  Today, such Communities and Fresh Expression of Church are offering hopeful signs and showing real growth. You can read about this in this month’s copy of Inspire magazine.

Maybe the Churches future does lie in the past – if we go back far enough!

Let us pray…

O Saviour Christ, in whose way of love lays the secret of all life, and the hope of all people, we pray for quiet courage to match this hour. We did not choose to be born or to live in such an age; but let its problems challenge us, its discoveries exhilarate us, its injustices anger us, it possibilities inspire us, and its vigour renew us. Pour out upon us a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit; make us bold and courageous in sharing faith in both word and deed for your Kingdom’s sake we ask.

Amen

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Captains Blog February 2017

My first engagement with Faith Pictures began this month and I really like it. It is so much fun and yet has a great way of engendering some fantastic conversations about our Faith and our journeys to faith.  It gets a massive thumbs up from me! Check out the Church Army web site for more details - www.churcharmy.org.uk


Three preachment's this month

St Anne’s, Brown Edge for my regular monthly visit.

St Bartholomew’s, Norton-le-Moor – this is a parish that I am also meeting with regularly to discuss their MAP alongside a short Scriptural reflection. I also met with their PCC this month.


St James’ Barton-under-Needwood for a Church Army preachment.

On most occasions I will put a transcript of my sermons on my Blog.

Exciting plans emerging from planning meetings for the Shrewsbury Flower Show and the Staffordshire County Show.  On the latter I have been invited to be the Honorary Show Chaplain. 

We had another great ‘Chewing the Cud’ – based around FCN. These are open meetings and our next one is on the 8th march 10.30 at Amerton Farm, Stafford. We are also having several cases coming in and could I please ask you to pray for Farmer K. The situation is very challenging. We are also desperate for more ‘case workers’ who need to have some knowledge of farming. www.fcn.org.uk

With the retirement of our Rural Officer I have been picking up some of this work. In particular I was invited to attend a meeting of the Central RO’s  who are planning an exciting Day Conference on Brexit on the 30th March and to be held at Germinate ARC, Stoneliegh Park.

‘Love Stafford’ was launched a year ago picking up a rather tired ‘Churches Together.’  A year on and we are in good heart and have engaged together in numerous projects and ‘leaders’ meet monthly for a short time of prayer.  We had a fantastic celebration with a Mission Market Place and I was able to take along a Church Army display.  I have also been invited to sit on the Executive of Love Stafford. I am particularly keen to use my contacts to try and draw in our more Catholic minded friends in the Anglican Church and it would also be nice to see the Roman Catholics get more involved.   

 With the Report ‘Setting God’s People Free’* recently published it is a great joy to be part of a team working with LICC to create a Suite of Resources to help with Frontline Discipleship. It is our hope that as we journey over six to twelve months with a church/benefice there will be a change in practices that will lead to a cultural shift in churches. It is about viewing the 10 hours spent in church activities alongside the 110 hours ‘outside’ through a different perspective and one that sees the symbiotic relationship between gathered and dispersed church.  www.licc.org.uk




Some appointments & engagements

Wednesday 1st
Meeting with George Fisher as Line Manager
In the evening Session 5 ‘Faith Pictures’

Thursday 2nd
Love Stafford Executive – my first meeting

Monday 6th
Meeting with my Spiritual Companion
Lunch at Shallowford House & meeting those new in post following their weekend together.
In the afternoon FCN Staffordshire Group meeting

Wednesday 8th
Session 6 ‘Faith Pictures’ with St Peter’s Rickerscote. Last session – so where do we go from here?

Thursday 9th
Love Stafford Leaders Prayer Meeting

Saturday 11th
Attending Book Review with Mark Ireland and Mike Booker ‘Making New Disciples’

Sunday 12th
Preaching and leading Morning Prayer at St Anne’s Brown Edge

Monday 13th
Personal Quite Day

Tuesday 14th
Church Army Cluster (I am now Lichfield Diocese CA Cluster Coordinator)

Wednesday 15th
Social Supper with Bishop Geoff and Archdeacon Matthew and respective spouses

Thursday 16th
‘Chew & Chat’ at Brook Café, Rising Brook Baptist Church. Lunch and chat with friend(s)

Also in this period above, I need to prepare for a Webinar and a Diocesan Rural Consultation Day.

Friday 17th – Friday 24th
Taking some time out that will include a self-led retreat (both Jane and I) at the Sheldon Centre with the Mary & Martha Society.

Saturday 25th
Rural Ministry Solutions – Webinar looking at the opportunity for Spring.

Monday 27th
Rural Ministry Solutions – Rural Mission Consultation for the Diocese of Chelmsford, in partnership with Barry Osborne.



Monday, 30 January 2017

Jesus - Light of the World (transcript of Sermon 29/01/17

Church Army Preachment St James’ Barton-under-Needwood
29th January 2017 – Candlemass & Church Army Preachment 












Candlemass – that takes its name from the time when all the candles that were going to be used in the church for that year would be blessed. This was tied in with the Feast of the Presentation when Mary and Joseph according to the Law of Moses consecrated their first born to the Lord.

This is outlined in Exodus 13 and ratified in Leviticus 12.8 ‘If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.’

Jesus – Light of the World

‘A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’

Now what is your image of this scene – of Mary and Joseph with Jesus going into the Temple?

Have you got a picture of something like a parish church, perhaps like this one, maybe a baptism party type thing.

On the other hand, maybe you go a bit bigger and think of a cathedral.

That is still nowhere near big enough.

The Temple Mound was the size of six football pitches having been greatly extended by Herod.

It rose in some places over twenty stories high and had blocks of stone over a 100 tons and one a massive 400 tons.  The whole complex could accommodate 1 million people.

You have to think of thousands of people coming and going, the animals being brought for sacrifice, the Levites singing and music blaring out, the Rabbis in the porticoes with their disciples debating and discussing as only Jews can – loudly and with passion.

Into this melee, first Simeon and then Anna led by the Holy Spirit declared this one child of these particular parents to be the one who would bring salvation to all and be as a light to the Gentiles.

Nothing indeed short of a miracle.

And men and woman filled with the Holy Spirit have continued to point out Jesus to others – something the Church Army has been doing for the last 135 years since our foundation in 1882.

Wilson Carlile the Founder of Church Army and known affectionately as The Chief was a charismatic clergyman who had been involved with the great Moody and Sankey Rallies alongside William Booth.

Carlile's life as a young and successful businessman and subsequent conversion are fascinating – but a story for another time.

His first curacy was at St Mary Abbots in London where he began outdoor preaching and drew such a crowd as the police asked his vicar to stop him because the crowds were blocking traffic.

In 1882, his energies and evangelistic zeal found a ready outlet as he was invited to draw together some small and failing home mission charities.

His vision was to create a mass movement – he wanted to see men and woman fired up with the Gospel and able to speak out that Gospel in their places of work and at home. 

Outdoor gatherings continued as he declared war on sin and reckless living.  

There are some very exciting tales of his being shot at and beaten up and very regularly had eggs thrown at him and his brave stalwarts standing alongside him.





The Church Army much like the Salvation Army that had started a few years previous took the military discipline seriously.  

However, the Salvation Army expanded this much further as William Booth took the SA out of its Methodist roots.

Carlile was a radical and wanted the Church Army to remain firmly with the Church of England, to remind the Church of its obligations to share faith in words and deeds.

Initially this was for laymen – but shortly after, in 1889, his sister Marie Carlile joined him, and the woman’s work began.

Because there was no place for woman in ministry in the Church of England at this time the woman trained as medical sisters at hospitals – hence their title ‘Sisters’.

Captains, and we have only the one rank, were so called because ideally they had a 100 soldiers under their command who would engage with the Captain in the battle against, sin, the world and the devil.

Unlike the SA, the Church Army never grew to much more than a thousand Officers and although autonomous sister societies sprang up around the world it remained a home based mission.

The CA has shifted and morphed a great deal over those 135 years and in particular since 2006.

In an unprecedented and bold move, the Board appointed a Youth Minister from Christ Church Chorleywood, 31-year-old Mark Russell, to become the Chief Secretary. Mark soon styled himself CEO, just one of the many things he would change. 

Mark cherished the charisma of Carlile but recognized that for the most part Church Army had dwindled down to a core of elite Officers, all doing fantastic work, but with very few troops and with a real need to change our  modus operandi.

One of the most significant changes came in 2012 when after several years of consultation and review the Church Army became an Acknowledged Mission Community. A special Service to mark the occasion was held in September in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral where Wilson Carlile is buried. Carlile died in 1942.

The Church Army now has four pathways –

  • Commissioned Evangelist
  • Covenanted Evangelist
  • Co-workers
  • Companions


During the process of discernment, we also reviewed our policy of taking away someone’s Church Army Commission when they became ordained, the Church Army being principally a Lay organisation. This policy was rescinded and subsequently a number of clergy, men and woman, have received back their Commission and been accepted as members of the Church Army Mission Community.

Today we now have around 600 members of the Mission Community scattered across the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Ireland both North and South.

One of our new ways of operating is in Centres of Mission. Here there will be a Lead Evangelist, who will have alongside them two or three other Officers, possibly an Evangelist-in-Training and maybe engaging with local Companions.

The aim is to bring people to a living faith in Jesus Christ. In line with our DARE strategy, our Centres of Mission have the following vision:

      ·     Doing evangelism
  • Advocating evangelism
  • Resourcing evangelism
  • Enabling evangelism
This vision sees our Centres of Mission collaborating closely with the host dioceses and local churches to offer their expertise and provide training to help other Christians share their faith through words and action.

We now have over twenty of these with an increasing number of dioceses asking to host one in their diocese.

One opened last year in Tuam in the far North West tip of Northern Ireland – in partnership with help from the Roman Catholic diocese who offered the use of Offices in their Diocesan House as base.

We do still have a few residential Centres and one in particular could take up a whole story itself – the Marylebone Project. Do go on line later and check it out – it is amazing. They take woman in danger off the streets and as refugees and offer them emergency shelter. Then they are able to support and walk alongside the woman until they can be housed in a flat of their own. The Marylebone Project offers the only Day Centre dedicated to woman in London. 

Last year, the Marylebone Project settled 86 formerly homeless women into independent living. The project also provided more than 40,000 bed nights to vulnerable women and supported some 300 women a week through its day centre during 2016. 

There is lots more I could tell you – about my own work, or the Amber Project in Cardiff working with young people who self-harm.  


Come and chat to Jane or me and visit our display and take some material with you.  The Church Army is a charity and needs to raise funds to help in its work of going out to the margins of society engaging with the least, the last and the lost. 

Therefore, I thank you for your gift and your prayers.

And in all of this let us not forget where we began – with the infant Jesus being proclaimed as the Light of the World and the bringer of salvation.

Through the work of Church Army thousands upon thousands of men, woman, boys and girls have found that Jesus is their friend, had their dignity restored, their lives renewed and discovered a personal relationship with God that sets them on a new course.  Salvation indeed in its fullest sense – new life now - and a hope for the future.

Church Army Commissioned Evangelist, Covenanted Evangelist, Co-Workers and Companions are servants of the Gospel.

What about you – how are you responding to God’s call, which comes to each and every one of us as Baptized believers, how are you serving the Gospel day by day in all the places you go and in all the things you do and with all the people you meet.

You are a unique and irreplaceable actor in the drama of human history, and Jesus Christ has need of you to make known his salvific work in this particular place and at this particular moment in history.’

Michael Quoist in his book ‘The Christian Response’