Central Church Newsletter September 2021
Can’t believe that summer is almost over and we will soon be into Autumn. Although it’s a beautiful time of year it means that Winter is just around the corner!
Both the last two years have been a challenge for many and maybe some of you will be glad to see the back of 2021.
Those of us that have stayed clear of Covid have a lot to be grateful for and with the prospect of a booster jab being offered to the over 50’s in the Autumn, we can hopefully continue to stay healthy, whilst not forgetting those families that have lost loved ones to this terrible illness.
Linda and Malcolm Johnson
I became your Transitional Minister back in April but the pandemic has repeatedly delayed my Welcome Service which we are, at last, looking forward to holding on Wednesday, September 22nd at 7pm. I do hope that you will be able to join us.
I love the word ‘welcome’ which I believe takes us to the heart of the Christian message. The apostle Paul wrote, “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15.7 ESV) The welcome that we offer to other people is rooted in the fact that Christ first welcomed us, so we need to start by reflecting on his welcome. The Gospels reveal that Jesus was welcoming to every kind of person. Irrespective of their age, gender, religion, education, wealth or state of health they were all welcome. And, to the astonishment of his religious critics, Jesus even spent time with people who were notorious sinners. He was well known for the way in which he partied with prostitutes and tax-collectors. He went out of his way to ensure that everyone knew that they were welcome.
Two thousand years later our job in the middle of Swindon is just the same. We are called to welcome people, whoever they are and whatever their background. Most people do not attend church these days but we believe that Jesus is still seeking to welcome them and to draw them into his Kingdom. As a church we are looking at a number of ways to reach out to people, and one of them has been to sign up to the Hong Kong Ready initiative. It is likely that tens of thousands of people from Hong Kong will move to this country over the coming months and we have said that we want to be ready to be welcoming. This will begin with a big smile but could lead to many other practical ways of supporting those who move into our town.
We can all play our part in making Central a welcoming church. We are not all outgoing and confident but through our kindness, smiles and interest we can all reach out to other people, and so pass on the welcome that we first received from Christ.
Your brother in Christ,
Rev. Jonathan Edwards
Some of you will know that I became a Governor of the GWH Foundation Trust last year. I originally stood for election in November 2019 and lost by one vote. Someone stood down in April 2020 and I was asked if I was still interested, which I definitely was. I am a Public Governor for the Swindon Constituency. This means I am one of the seven governors representing the people of Swindon. It isn’t easy to connect with so many people so I’m starting with those I know, which means, you.
You may be wondering what being a governor involves. It has taken me a while to understand the governance structure but, basically, there is a Board, a number of non-executive Directors and then the Council of Governors. The Governors hold the non-executive Directors to account. They make sure the non-executive Directors are asking the right questions of the Board. It is the job of the non-executive Directors to hold the Board to account. Confused? I am happy to explain in more detail if anyone would like me to.
The Governors have the opportunity to sit on working groups and I am on one dealing with the quality of patient care and another dealing with membership.
Governors are not able to deal with individual complaints but we can signpost people to the right place. We can, though, raise issues.
If any of you have questions, concerns or issues you would like raised, please let me know and I will do my best to do so. Please ask if you have any questions.
5th September – Mr Eric Hewitt
12th September – Revd Stephen Henderson (Communion)
19th September – Revd Norma McKemey (Harvest)
26th September – Revd Jonathan Edwards (Communion)
Tuesday 14th September – Executive Meeting (6 p.m.)
Wednesday 22nd September – Welcome Service for Revd Jonathan Edwards (7 p.m.) preacher Revd Alisdair Longwill
Sunday 26th September – Church Meeting (12 noon)
Thought for the day
Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
These words of John Pavlovitz appeared in the Old Town Partnership Magazine and I thought they were worth sharing in our Newsletter.
I refuse to be a Christian who lives in fear of people who look or speak or worship differently than I do.
I refuse to be a Christian who believes that God blesses one country more than God so loves the world.
I refuse to be a Christian who can’t find the beauty and truth in religious traditions other than my own.
I refuse to be a Christian who uses the Bible to perpetuate individual or systemic bigotry, racism or sexism.
I refuse to be a Christian who treasures allegiance to a flag or a country or a political party, above emulating Jesus.
I refuse to be a Christian who is reluctant to call-out the words of hateful preachers, venomous politicians and mean-spirited pew sitters, in the name of keeping ceremonial Christian unity.
I refuse to be a Christian who tolerates a global church where all people are not openly welcomed, fully celebrated and equally cared for.
I refuse to be a Christian who speaks always with holy war rhetoric about an encroaching enemy horde that must be rallied against and defeated.
I refuse to be a Christian who is generous with damnation and stingy with Grace.
I refuse to be a Christian who can’t see the image of God in people of every colour, every religious tradition, every sexual orientation.
I refuse to be a Christian who demands that others believe who I believe, or live as I live, or profess what I profess.
I refuse to be a Christian who sees the world in a hopeless spiral downward and can only condemn it or withdraw from it.
I refuse to be a Christian devoid of the character of Jesus, his humility, his compassions, his smallness, his gentleness with people’s wounds, his attention to the poor and the forgotten and the marginalized, his intolerance for religious hypocrisy, his clear expression of the love of God.
I refuse to be a Christian unless it means I live as a person of hospitality, of healing, of redemption, of justice, of expectation-defying Grace, of counterintuitive love. These are non-negotiables.
Deadline for October newsletter Tuesday 28th September 2021.