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The Vicarage
24th March 2019
Dear Friends
This week I want to update you on the results (so far) of our gift day and financial challenge for 2019.

So far we have raised an additional £8,325 in monthly pledged giving for 2019, from a mixture of increased pledges, and new people joining our giving scheme. In addition, the gift day has raised £26,000, from over 50 different donations. I know that a few people are probably still intending to adjust their planned giving, or to give to the gift day, but that means that we have raised an additional £34,325 this year, against our ‘budget strive’ of £40,000 (£20,000 planned giving and £20,000 gift day).

This means we can do a number of things.

First, of course, we can give thanks for God’s goodness and the generosity of his people. these are significant sums of money, and so we give thanks to God for enabling us to have, and to be generous, to be part of the gift of giving.

Second, those of us who are still planning to change our monthly giving, or to give a one off gift, still have the opportunity to do so. It would be wonderful to fully meet the target of £40,000 that we set out in January.

Third we can pray for the right person to be appointed as our trainee minister. I have begun sending the advert out, and we will look to appoint for September 2019. Pray for those who might see the advert, to get excited about the possibilities. Pray for the right man for the job, who will be able to be come and join us. Pray for us as a church as we adjust to a new staff member, and as we begin the exciting journey of new ministry which that entails.

Pray on, and keep giving thanks.

Yours in Christ,

James

The Vicarage
3rd March 2019
Dear Friends
This week we came to the end of our course looking at the Way, the Truth and The Life on Thursdays. In the second half of that course we have been looking at the Ten Commandments and thinking about how they teach us to live as God’s people. We’ve looked at our duties to God, and to neighbour. We have seen juts how much of life is covered when you think about the commandments in the context of the whole bible.
One of the documents we have uses to help us on the way is the Anglican Catechism, which puts our duties to neighbour in this way:
Q12 What is your duty to your neighbour? My duty to my neighbour is: to love him as myself and to do to all as I wish they would do to me; to love, honour, and care for my parents; to honour and obey the Queen and all in authority under her; to submit to my teachers and spiritual pastors; to be humble and show respect; to hurt no one by word or deed; to be true and just in all that I do; to bear no malice or hatred in my heart; to keep my hands from stealing and my tongue from evil speaking, lying, and slandering; to keep my body in temperance, sobriety, and chastity; not to covet nor desire other people’s goods; but to learn to work honestly for my own living and to do my duty in that state of life to which it shall please God to call me.
A challenging list, and something for all of us to reflect upon as we seek to be the people God has called us to be. At the same time, we have recognised that we don’t manage to keep God’s commands – and we certainly can’t even begin to keep them without His help. Which is why the next question of the catechism begins in this way:
Q13 You are not able to do these things in your own strength, nor are you able to keep his commandments or serve him without his special grace. This you must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer. Therefore recite the Lord’s Prayer.

So, as well as teaching us how to live, the commandments teach us to rely and God, to pray to Him, and to seek him. Let us encourage one another in this as we seek together to be the people God has called us to be.

Yours in Christ

 

James

The Vicarage
10th February 2019
Dear Friends,
I thought it would be beneficial this week to talk a little about some of the changes that will be happening as a result of the move to one vicar for the Benefice in Summer 2020, and how they will affect St Alkmund’s.
Later on this year we will be launching a New afternoon service at Little Eaton; longer term this will allow me to be at all three main services in the benefice every Sunday. This is an exciting opportunity to do something new, and to seek to reach a new group of people, in Little Eaton, but also more widely. I will be looking for a number of people who will be willing to support that service, through attending it alongside services here for a time, and also through getting involved in serving. If you are interested in doing that, please do speak to me.
There will also be changes to how we do other things. We need to think about how we organise a Joint Prayer Meeting, and how small groups are organised in the future across the benefice. Some of our other activities will become joint, and others will remain focussed on Little Eaton or on Duffield. These changes will begin to take place after this Easter. Look after for information I the coming weeks and months about that, and do involve yourself in the conversations that will be taking place about how best to do this.
We are also planning for a mini-mission across the benefice in September 2019, led by Davis Barnsley. This will be a great opportunity for us to invite friends to hear the good news of Jesus.
Finally, I am praying that we will be able to appoint an assistant minister in the autumn. Whilst his particular focus will depend on the gifts God has given him, we will be looking to spend the year of ‘overlap’ with him and Dave to prepare ourselves for the future.
Interesting times. But also a time of opportunity. Do continue to pray for both our churches as we all make adjustments.
Yours in Christ

James

The Vicarage
3rd February 2019
Dear Friends,Most of you will now have had the opportunity to read the letter I wrote last week about our financial situation here at St Alkmund’s and across the Benefice, and the challenges we face and decisions we have made about how we go forward as a church and as a united benefice. (if you haven’t pick yours up at the back or grab one of the envelopes marked ‘Budget 2019’) So do join us on Wednesday evening from 8-9pm as we pray through our present situation and our plans for the future.
If you are not able to join us (or even if you are), let me suggest some ways in which we can pray:
1. Give thanks for provision we have: we rejoice in what God has given us as a church, and we thank God for providing for us up to this point. Even as we seek a challenging financial goal, we have confidence in the God who has provided.
2. Rejoice in God’s plan for the future even if we’re not entirely certain what it is. This is what we mean by trusting God – we rejoice in what He has in store, even when we are unsure about what is around the corner. In fact, the more uncertain we are, or the more things apparently are going against God’s plan – the more we can trust God.
3. Pray for the provision that God promises. We saw last week that Jesus calls us to ask, and to seek, and to knock, and to receive what we need from God. So, let us come before our heavenly Father with confidence that He will bless us, by giving us what we need.
4. Pray particularly for Little Eaton for the changes that will be taking place. We had a good meeting with the whole church a couple of weeks ago, and we’re looking at how to move forward. Pray particularly against the rumours that we are planning to close the church (we’re not), or that Dave and I have fallen out (we haven’t!).
Finally, as I said last week, if you have any questions or concerns about the letter I wrote, do get back to me.
Yours in Christ,

James

Dear Friends,
A slightly strange letter this week, as it is a letter about a letter. Today is the
first week where we are looking at our finances for the year ahead, and so I
have written to everybody separately with details of our budget plans and
financial needs for 2019, and with information about a gift day we are
planning for early March.
I won’t repeat what I have written there here – so if you have not received a
budget letter and would like one, please pick up one of the spare packs at
the back of church. You will see that we have made some significant and
challenging decisions. With that in mind let me encourage you to join us on
Wednesday 6th February at 8pm for our prayer meeting, where we will be
praying about these decisions, and our finances.
We are encouraged to pray about every area of our Christian Life, and of
course our own personal finances; how much we give to the church, and
how we spend money as a church are all part of this. Jesus reminds us to
pray with confidence in the Lord for His provision, and to trust in God’s
promises, that He has a plan for His people, and that He will bring that plan
to pass. And so, with some challenging times ahead, we remind ourselves of
Jesus’ words to us:
Matthew 7:7
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock,
and it will be opened to you. 8
For everyone who asks receives, and the one
who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one
of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for
a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give
good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven
give good things to those who ask him!
Let us be those who treasure and act on this promise in the coming days and
weeks.
Yours in Christ

James