Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Reverent Chaos

No not the preacher, the atmosphere at the Christingle Service on Christmas Eve. 113 adults and children came and Hugh arranged for them to make their own Christingles. Firstly everyone took part in a census of where they were born, they visited one of the four corners of the church to be registered and then, following the Christingle story everyone gathered the bits and made a Christingle. The picture shows how a sense of awe gripped those who braved the awful weather to be at the service. A lot of work went into all the planning and the teams on the day were very busy. Thanks to you all.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Trip

The Old Vicarage at Whetstone was the scene of a very pleasant and friendly coming together. The tribes from Coffeepot gathered for their annual Christmas lunch. You will see from the photograph that conversation was at its loudest and best as three courses of Christmas Fayre were placed before the waiting multitudes (well 40 of us to be exact). Our thanks go to Jenny and Jill for all the work and preparation over several months. I didn’t see one unhappy face, but I did hear some appalling jokes from the crackers and you should have seen the dreadful hat I had to wear!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sunday 12th December was another landmark for St Paul’s as we began our Christmas celebrations for 2010. Our parade service included the chance to give a Christmas gift to someone with a greater need than ourselves. Angela and Liz from the Bethany Project came to take part in our Toy service and take away the gifts our congregation had brought in. The Bethany Project provides temporary housing to victims of domestic violence and has quite a few youngsters living in its accommodation. Vivien gave out cards with a few clues as to the age and sex of the individuals we were buying for: We could then buy a gift for a specific child. It actually needed two of Santa’s sleighs to take the beautifully wrapped presents away! Thanks to everyone who took part in the service and special thanks to Colin for leading it and to the Rainbows and Brownies for their reading and prayers.

There's lots going on at Christmas!

Each year at Christmas (and at Easter too) the churches in Oadby combine to distribute a card with details of the services taking place in all the churches. The task of distributing these cards to every house in Oadby is shared between the churches.

This year, there is a poignant picture on the front of the card as, like Mary, a young mother kisses her newborn baby. The verse, by Mark Lowry, contemplates all that the future would hold for the baby Jesus -- the Christ child -- Emmanuel -- God with us.

At St Paul's, our Christmas services are:
Sunday 19 December 7.00 p.m. Carols by Candlelight
Friday 24 December 4.00 p.m. Christingle service
(Christmas Eve) 11.30 p.m. Midnight Communion
Saturday 25 December 10.00 a.m. Family Communion
(Christmas Day)
Sunday 26 December 10.00 a.m. Holy Communion
In case you can't read the writing, Mark Lowry's poem is:
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will give sight to the blind man?
Mary did you know
That your baby boy
Will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You've kissed the face of God.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Frost and Fire

Like much of the country, St Paul’s has been affected by the recent cold snap. In particular, the freezing fog resulted in the most spectacular hoarfrost, as depicted in this photograph taken by our churchwarden, Paul Webster.

By contrast, the sermon on 5 December had been about the Holy Spirit who Isaiah had predicted would fall upon the Messiah, as fulfilled by Jesus. However, John the Baptist had prophesied that Jesus would baptise the disciples with the Holy Spirit and with fire -- as came true on the day of Pentecost. What a contrast! The freezing temperatures outside and the fire of God's Spirit within us!

Monday, 6 December 2010

First Sunday.

Archbishop William Temple is quoted as saying: "When I pray, coincidences happen. When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening." At St Paul's we believe that God is concerned about our everyday matters. Of particular concern at present is the appointment of our new Team Vicar as the closing date for applications from the advertisement is this week. We pray during the services and we pray in our House Groups but we also have an extended time of informal prayer on the first Sunday evening of each month. We call it "First Sunday."

We look forward to discovering God's answer to our prayers. Do come and join us.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Are you up to the challenge?

2011 will be the four hundredth anniversary of the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible. It wasn't the first translation into English -- most of the New Testament is nearly identical to William Tyndale's translation and there had been complete Bibles before it, such as the Geneva Bible. But for 300 years it became the nearly universal English translation. As language has changed, most of us prefer to use a more contemporary Version but the language of the Authorised Version has had a marked effect on English language and literature and its message, speaking of the work and teaching of Christ, has deeply influenced English civil society and revolutionised the lives of individuals.

To celebrate this 400th anniversary a very wide range of Christian organisations have united under the name "Biblefresh" to celebrate the event and raise the profile of the Bible today. One particular initiative is a challenge to read 100 Essential Readings (or E100 for short). Neil Griffiths, in his sermon on Bible Sunday, introduced the idea. Our challenge is for every member of the congregation to commit themselves to read these 100 readings in whichever Bible version they prefer. There are 50 readings from the Old Testament and 50 from the New, with the expectation that people will read five per week. Each five have a linked theme which can be picked up in Home Groups. On occasions, the current theme will also be considered in Sunday sermons. There is a very helpful accompanying booklet (photo).

We hope to start this in the first week of January 2011, so if you make New Year's resolutions, make yours E100. If going public helps you to keep a resolution, you can sign up on a special web page "wall." If you want to know more about E100 you can find them here.

For long-standing Christians this is an opportunity to rehearse their faith. For those younger in the Faith, this is a very good introduction.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


[Advert for Team Vicar] [Parish Profile] [Application Form]

At our annual Remembrance Day service on 14 November 2010, our regular congregation was joined by the Guides,Brownies and Rainbows. As we discussed the meaning of Remembrance Day it was evident that many of the very youngest already knew a lot about its meaning and the history of the World Wars.

We spoke of how much we owe to those who died to enable those they loved to live in peace, and their symbol, the poppy. But we also remembered how Christ willingly chose to die so that we, as his friends, could live at peace with God. And we remembered the symbol of his death, the cross.

The service concluded with an act of remembrance.

Christian with a Sense of Humour

Christians are often accused of not enjoying a joke. It's not true! And the Church Times, a national church Journal runs a caption competition each week. On 28 October 2010 it was based on the picture shown on the left.

One of our lay ministers (Readers), Colin Chettle, contributed the suggestion which was mentioned in the next issue: "Heads it is, Bishop; so you play the first half downhill." The winning caption was: "Olé!" Shouted the onlookers, as the Bishop turned for another charge."

If you think that you can do better, have a look at the Church Times.

Friday, 5 November 2010

A new vicar -- plans move forward

After months of prayer and discussion, there is at last movement in our search for a new vicar. The parish profile has now been published. It tells of what St Paul's is like and how God has worked here in the past. Perhaps more important, it tells of where we feel that God is leading us next and of the sort of person who could lead us. The first picture is of the cover, but it's a 20 page booklet. You can see the full document by using the link: Parish Profile Application form

Now that we have got this far, we are able to place our advertisements in the national church papers. The advertisement from the Church Times is shown below.

Now let's pray that there will be people who will read the Profile and Advertisement and will feel "perhaps that is the next role God has for me.”

Songs of praise -- St Paul's Oadby style

We decided to try something new (for us). On Sunday evening, 10 October, Hugh James compèred a “ Songs of Praise. ” Sunday evening services have suffered in recent years, so would anyone turn out? There were doubts. But a number of people had volunteered to tell us what a particular Hymn or Christian song had meant to them in their Christian life. So, presumably at least those people -- and probably their partners -- would come, so the planning pressed on.

On the night, 43 people arrived, all in good heart and voice, led by John and the music group, with Aileen on piano and organ. Hugh interviewed eight people, representing a broad section of the congregation. Where known, Hugh gave a little background as to when and why their chosen song had been composed.

The hymns that people had chosen varied from those dating back to Latin roots to those composed recently. The full list was: Make me a channel of your peace, Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, Tell out, my soul, From heaven you came helpless babe, God is love: his the care, Great is thy faithfulness, I stand before the presence of the Lord God of hosts, and O Jesus, I have promised.

The last was chosen, very appropriately, by Colin Chettle, who had been licensed as a Reader (Lay Minister) the day before. He closed the meeting for us with a blessing. There was general agreement that this had been a worthwhile time and that it was well worth repeating.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

10.10.10. What's Your Promise?

Last Sunday, 10.10.10, St. Paul’s Church joined with Christians across the world in commitment to remembering the world’s poor and in praying for a more just world.
‘What’s Your Promise?’ is a call to action on behalf of the world’s poor by Micah Challenge, a coming together of people across the world who want to take up the challenge made by the Old Testament prophet Micah, in speaking out against global poverty.

Micah Challenge UK works not just with churches but with charities and others to encourage action for all those trapped by poverty and to speak out for those who have no voice.

Micah Challenge asks us to commit to remembering the poor in our everyday lives by making an individual promise to take action – by praying regularly, buying fairly traded products, by lobbying our leaders repeatedly or some other action.
The link below leads to a video clip in which people are asked to consider one way in which they could help to alleviate global poverty.

Micah’s words, ‘to act justly and to love mercy’, are just as challenging today as when they were first written over 2000 years ago. The interviews in the video remind us that we can all do small things to become involved; burying our heads in the sand with regard to global poverty is simply unacceptable.
What’s Your Promise?

Coffee Pot Harvest Lunch

After Gordon had said Grace, members of Coffee Pot and their friends celebrated Harvest with an excellent lunch. Many thanks to Jenny, Jill and the team for all their efforts. We took the opportunity to invite representatives of the Bethany Project which has been our special fund raising cause this year and present Angela, the Operational Manager@ Bethany Leicester, with a cheque. The Bethany Project is a charity which provides shelter for vulnerable women who need time and space to get back to an independent lifestyle. It seemed so appropriate to share from our abundance with those who will benefit from it and know we care .

Yesterday about a hundred people from around the diocese came to a morning event at St Paul's to explore how we can improve our welcome to newcomers. As one person commented after the session, “we seem to forget quickly what it feels like being new to church. Much of the session was common sense, but I need to be reminded again and again.” Bob Jackson, who led the course has written a special article for the front of the November edition of Shaped by God News summarising his main points.
Why not add the Shaped by God blog ( to your favourites or homepage for weekly mission updates?
written by Barry hill

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Fully licensed -- after a long journey.

In Leicester Cathedral today, Colin Chettle was licensed as a Lay Minister (Reader) in the Church of England. Colin (right) was licensed to minister in the Parish of Oadby. Licences are renewed every three years and Hugh James (left), also from St Paul's, was relicensed at the same time. As well as Readers, Evangelists, Pastoral Workers and Children's Workers were commissioned in the same service. Colin and Hugh were well supported by members of the St Paul's congregation, as well as Simon (their previous vicar) and Jennifer Harvey who left Oadby a few months ago to minister in Islington.

Both those who were involved in the service and those who came to support them had to pass massed police barricades, erected to police the English Defence League demonstration. The service was led by the Assistant Bishop of Leicester Right Revd Christopher Boyle. In his sermon, from St Paul's Epistle to the Romans 12:1-8, the Bishop of Carlisle, Right Revd James Newcome, spoke of the emptiness of modern society, of the importance of not being conformed to its norms, and of the privilege of making Christ known.

Due to the EDL demonstration, the photos, refreshments and jazz band that were due to celebrate the event in the precinct outside the cathedral, took place inside.

Colin was licensed after taking the two-year Diploma course in Christian Discipleship. He then had to satisfy a selection panel as to his calling. Finally he undertook a year of Reader training which concentrated on equipping him for his ministerial role in church, within the Church of England.

Colin will preach his first sermon as a licensed reader at the 10. 0 a.m. service at St Paul's tomorrow, 10th October.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Diocesan Assembly

I approached this event with a lot of doubts and uncertainties. Giving up a Saturday morning to learn about “food for a journey” seemed to me to be a pretentious waste of time. However the Lord had this one in hand. Teri offered to drop me at the Samworth Academy on her way to Fosse Park and the temptation of meeting Professor David Ford was just too appealing to ignore. So I went, and really enjoyed the experience. The Bishop’s Popemobile was a giggle. It was part of a “have I got news for you “interpretation at which Mike Harrison’s team were unjustly robbed of victory.
David Ford talked about the power and majesty of the Gloria, you know! The bit of liturgy which begins Glory to God in the highest. He lifted words we have said thousands of times to a different level of understanding and had only begun on the word Glory when his official slot was finished. He continued and was able to captivate the whole conference with the depth of his wisdom. You might think this a boring start to the proceedings but I would recommend listening to Professor Ford if you get the chance.
There were several workshop opportunities which people were keen to make use of and the lunch was a credit to the Academy. A lot of the day was given over to opportunities to chat and renew friendships. John Tonkin and Brian Robertson sent their regards. The Archdeacon and Gwynneth made sure that I behaved myself and I am looking forward to the next diocesan assembly already

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Come ye thankful people come!

Come ye thankful people come! Raise the song of harvest home. So run the lines of an old harvest hymn. Few of us are now engaged in agriculture and so most have not actually seen the harvest come in. But all of us have reason to be thankful to God for food, water and fuel. And everyone loves a party! So, on Saturday 18 September we met together to enjoy a harvest supper in the church, followed by a quiz. A great time was had by all and many thanks to all whose hard work was much appreciated.

On the Sunday afterwards, we met again in church for all age worship when we again gave thanks for all that we have received from God. But we were also conscious of the responsibility that we have been given to share what we have received with others. We watched a video clip of the work of the TEAR fund, a Christian relief agency. During the service, people had been encouraged to bring up tins and packets of food as well as vegetables and fruit. At the end of the service the dried goods were sent to the Welcome Project. This seeks to help asylum seekers in Leicester. Then people bought the fruit and vegetables and that money was sent to TEAR fund.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Our fete

In some ways we are blessed by having open ground at the side of the church, occasionally it is a trial! However Saturday 11th September was a great opportunity for us to invite friends, neighbours and everyone who could make it to the fete. A wonderful team of people filled in forms, bought prizes and organised events and the prayers of many were for fine weather... it arrived exactly on time at 12.00 just as Sheridan began serving the first hot dogs.
Things developed, gradually more and more people arrived and everyone got involved. The aim of the fete is outreach to our community. It brings everyone together and is a good way to say hello to people you might not stop and talk to in the rush of a normal day. Well! Having started the day getting soaked and spent a lot of it taking pictures I ended up in my armchair waiting for the news of how much we were going to give to LOROS. It was a very good afternoon.

If you wish to see my other pictures follow this link:

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Welcome to the Archdeacon!

Richard Atkinson, the Archdeacon of Leicester, joined us at St Paul's for our morning service on Sunday 5 September. He thanked everyone who was involved in the life of the Church, during the vacancy of a Team Vicar, and encouraged us to keep up the work. He preached from Philemon 1-21 and Luke 14.25-33 on "counting the cost." Being a Christian means different priorities. He asked us: "what is your priority?" He then presided at Communion and joined the congregation for coffee and tea (fair trade of course!) at the end of the service. It was good to have someone from the central church authorities come and encourage us.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Back from Holidays

The West’s New Year starts on 1 January. Officially, the Church Year starts on Advent Sunday, in November. But as people return from their holidays, refreshed and renewed, like the schools, our year often seems to feel as if it starts in September. Coming up are the Church Fete on Hamble Green, our Harvest Thanksgiving, Persecuted Church Sunday, Bible Sunday and Remembrance Sunday. Annual giving renewal is also coming. Each of them gives us the opportunity to pause, to stop and think -- and pray -- about different aspects of our Christian life.
In our Services, will be spending some time studying Paul's letters to the young church leader, Timothy, and trying to learn from the advice given to him -- and all that is coming up even before we start the run-up towards Christmas!
I am looking forward to learning, worshipping and praying together with all the community at St Paul's in this new season.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Daddy, please!

One thing that I suspect that most Christians agree on is that prayer is very important, but also that prayer is very difficult. This Sunday, 25 July we have been studying what Jesus had to say when the disciples said to him: "Lord, teach us to pray."

We saw that in Luke's Gospel the prayer began with the single word "Father." That probably represented Jesus' much loved term for his Father, in the local Aramaic language: "Abba" - equivalent to the English term "Daddy."

The week before, I had been to Drayton Manor Park with my grandchildren. All around were small children playing. Their absolute trust in their parents - and their parents' love for them, were so much in evidence. That combination of love and trust should be the relationship at the centre as we pray to our Father .

As we pray for God's honour, for the coming of his kingdom, for our daily needs, for forgiveness, and for protection, may we do it with that same trust and confidence in our father's love that the small child has.

In the evening service, we discussed this further and shared our own and others' experiences of prayer.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Simon is the new Vicar of Islington

Imagine everyone's suprise when the coach from Oadby parish was met outside St Mary's Islington by the Bishop of London in full regalia carrying his crozier. The coach had been delayed in traffic and at Bishop Richard's insistence the service was held up until the people from St Peter's and St Paul's arrived. What a dramatic scene as people passed by and saw that something special was about to take place. Simon was received by the Archdeacon and introduced to the church. He had a good pull on the rope which rang the bells and was clapped as he re-entered the nave. The congregation sang lustily and were blessed by the Bishop's words. In fact the service was an excellent introduction for Simon. Thanks to the people of St Mary's who provided light refreshments after the service and for the lovely welcome. The link provided will take you to the report of events for the London Dioscese.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Who is my neighbour?

Last week saw the fifth anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London and the release of the film 'London River', a film which tells the story of two very different parents who are both searching for their children in the aftermath of the bombings. Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) is from Guernsey and Ousmane (Sotigui Kouyate) comes from West Africa. The films shows Elisabeth's journey from initially refusing Ousmane's help (refusing even to shake his hand), until both she and Ousmane overcome the barriers between them and find common ground - a shared humanity.

And this acceptance of help offered by a person from a very different background of culture, religion and language emphasised one aspect of our thinking at last Sunday's 'All Together Church' service. Jesus' response to the question, "And just how would you define 'neighbour'?" was to tell one of the most familiar stories ever recorded - the parable of the Good Samaritan. The response of the Samaritan to the injured Jewish man illustrated Jesus' understanding of 'neighbour' - our neighbour is anyone in need and God's love for his world is to be reflected in our love and care for everyone. It's not so much, 'who is my neighbour?' but, rather, 'do I behave as a neighbour?'

However, being a neighbour also means accepting help, even if the help comes, as the parable shows, from an unwanted or even disliked source. Allowing our prejudices, pride and self-sufficiency to be challenged by others will cause us to grow and mature so that help can be accepted from even the most unlikely of sources.

Our retelling of the parable was brought to life by the Brownies carrying out some very impressive first aid on Doug, our hapless 'victim'. A very big thank you to all involved.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Saying thank you.
It is an important part of our community’s life when we say thank you to members who have worked long and hard for the good of all. David and Neil have worked consistently, with loving hearts to help our young people find their way to the Lord. Their teaching in our pathfinder’s group came to an end this Sunday. During the service we prayed for them and presented them each with a gift to remind them of all the long hours they worked with our teens.
Is there a chance that the Lord is calling you to be part of a teaching team? We are trying to organise for John Fryer who works as a children’s coordinator for the diocese to come and lead some training. Please pray and if you feel called; you can discuss it with Anita, Derek or Paul.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What a way to celebrate!

Two of our congregation, Sheridan and Gilda Roberts celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary today. At a time when marriage often seems under threat, it's good to celebrate God's provision of marriage for mankind. He saw that it would not be good for people to be alone and so he provided mutual friendship and the joy of family life and children.

For most of us a ruby wedding anniversary would be an opportunity for a meal with friends and family or a special holiday. Sheridan and Gilda decided to be different. They held a barbecue for 170 people at their home to raise money for the work of Christian Aid in the Kibera slum of Nairobi in Kenya. It was a great time of fun for all and has already raised over £1200. Everyone benefits from their generosity. Thank you Sheridan and Gilda!

Do It Yourself -- Sign of Good Leadership!

It's a mark of good leadership that a leader enables those they have led to take responsibility in that leader's absence. That's as true for Christian leadership as for any other -- in fact possibly more true as Christians believe in the "priesthood of all believers."

So it was encouraging that the first Sunday morning service after Simon Harvey had left us, was taken by the members of one of the eight home groups -- the Dove Rise group. It was entitled "Looking forward, not back." Teri, our Churchwarden's wife led the service. Another member of the home group, Derek, preached the sermon, while other members read the lessons, led the prayers and took part in an enacted Bible reading of the prophet Elijah feeling bereft.

We explored the subject in greater detail in the small-group evening service.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Marking the Change

That final Sunday of Simon's ministry (20 June) has now come and gone (see previous post). While Simon and Jennifer look forward to their ministry at St Mary's Islington, we look forward to continuing to see what God will do here in Oadby.

Simon led us in our morning service, preached and presided at Communion -- we were getting as much value as possible from him on this his last day! For his sermon Simon preached from 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and particularly emphasised verse seven: "But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us."

Simon's sermons do not usually have "three points." But this one did:
1. God is good
2. We are not
3. It will be all right in the end -- not by chance but because of God's undeserved love to us. He has plans for us -- for good.

At the end of the service, Paul Webster, the churchwarden, on behalf of the congregation, presented Simon and Jennifer with gifts from the congregation -- a painting of St Paul's church and a cheque. Paul expressed how much Simon's ministry had meant to the congregation and wished him and Jennifer well in Islington.

After coffee, people regathered in the church building where tables had been set out and a magnificent meal had been prepared. We all lingered over the meal as people were reluctant to bring to a close this fitting mark of the end of an exciting era.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


“Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles hands” Acts 8:18
I didn’t see the point of confirmation at first. The wonderful life of following Jesus seemed complete without this ceremony. I knew the Holy Spirit, I shared in the body and blood of Christ regularly and I had already been baptised. When the opportunity arose to be confirmed I thought about it and prayed about it but I was still unsure. In the end I was resigned to the fact that with some aspects of Christianity you only see the purpose after the event. So I asked to be confirmed. The service took place at St Thomas the Apostle in Wigston on Tuesday the 8th 2010 and was more elaborate to what I was used to, being in the high church tradition. We reaffirmed the vows made on our behalf at baptism and then were prayed for by the Bishop. This was a highly individual prayer, where the bishop placed both his hands on your head as he prayed. This combined with the prayers and support of a small army of friends that had trooped down from St Pauls made the moment touchingly significant. Then I realised the point of confirmation. Those that follow Christ are called into the service of loving one another and helping each other grow in our relationship with God. This was the fulfilment of that calling and by being confirmed I was allowing the symbolic and very real sharing of the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t just entering into a family of the Church as a formality; I was being welcomed home and a party was being thrown on my behalf. It was a welcome, it was a sharing, and it was a confirmation that the Holy Spirit is active and sets to work as soon as we invite him into our lives. DR DAVID BOYCE

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Moving on

It's been quite a while since my appointment to the Parish of St Mary, Islington, was announced. Long good-byes are never easy and while it's been good to talk with lots of people in recent months about our big move to London, it's something of a relief to be almost there.

My last Sunday service will be on 20 June at St Paul's. It will be a special and somewhat sad occasion for me. I am hugely grateful for these seven happy years and there are many people to thank, much to recall, and lots to appreciate. We've seen our church congregation grow in numbers by about a quarter, so that our average weekly attendance over a full year is now one hundred adults, plus children. There's been plenty of growth in other ways and I recognise how I've grown in these last seven years. I shall never forget the lessons that I've learned from the examples of a congregation that is faithful, generous, prayerful and willing.

In the wider community, many people have asked me who my successor will be and were a little surprised to learn that the Church doesn't make arrangements for continuity in the same way as businesses and other organisations. Instead of a simple handover to a new vicar, there is likely to be a long vacancy. This will undoubtedly stretch the ministry team but I am very confident that things will go forward in the care of wise and gifted colleagues.

In the old way of looking at parish ministry, the awful notion of "interregnum" described a difficult period when everything went on hold, pending the arrival of a new vicar. I hope this outdated and inaccurate word won't be used in the coming months. Today, we understand how responsibility for ministry is shared by the whole church community. The job of a full-time ordained minister is to serve, stretch and animate the local church in its mission for God. A vacancy can be a time of growth and I'm looking forward to learning how the gaps created by my departure allow an even greater flourishing of the church.

It's clear to me that we need to embrace more wholeheartedly the patterns of ministry that can be traced in the New Testament. The early Church was under pressure and stretched, without the protection and comfort that the wealth of Christendom brought about in later centuries. In some ways, it's a picture we recognise in the UK today. In this exciting but vulnerable period, the Church learned that ministry is essentially corporate, that the initiative is always with God's Spirit, and that the partnership between itinerant apostles and indigenous church leaders is precious. Vicars today are more likely to be called to the kind of task that those travelling apostles undertook - teaching, equipping, encouraging - and then moving on, entrusting the church to local leaders who find ways of living out the gospel in their context and culture. In this pattern, vicars will come and go, but the continuity of worship, service, prayer and growth in mission belongs to the whole people of God.

Whoever the next Team Vicar will be, I pray that he or she will receive the same loving encouragement and generous forgiveness that you have shown me. Thank you! Simon

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Oadby appoints new Parochial Church Council

The Parish of Oadby has elected a new Parochial Church Council to guide and supervise the ministry and mission of the Parish. Church goers from both St Peter’s and St Paul’s were elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting held on the 22nd April 2010. The Council is made up of 25 people of a variety of ages and experience from both churches.
The Council oversees the two churches as they work together to build the Kingdom of God in Oadby. It is focused on mission and how the churches can act together to help bring people to Christ in the local area. It also works towards deepening the discipleship of those people who already attend our churches.

Each PCC meeting starts with some bible study and prayers. The meetings follow a friendly and open format where participation is encouraged from all members. Fellowship and patience abound thanks to the sharing of one common goal, building a church for Christ in Oadby. If you feel called to join in, to act on behalf of Christ and to shape the future of your church then prayerfully consider standing for election at the next Annual Parochial Church Meeting.

Dr David Boyce

Monday, 17 May 2010

Hope for the Church at The Hayes

Monday 12 May saw four of us set off for four days at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire. For those of us who remembered such conference centres as bleak and cold with food like school meals, it was a very pleasant surprise. Our purpose was to join groups of Christians from other churches around Leicestershire and to discover what God may have to teach us about how we may draw others to Christ and how the church might grow.

We were led by a Vicar from Bradford, Robin Gamble, assisted by Dave Banbury, two proud Northerners and Janet Russell from the diocese of Oxford, supported by Stuart Burns and Barry Hill from our own diocese. They kept us hard at work from 8.0am until 10.0pm most days.

We met in the main conference hall in groups of Mission Partnerships, each around a table. We are from the Gartree Mission Partnership -- parishes southeast of Leicester. As we were a large group and the number from St. Paul's was large, we did much of the work as a subgroup. The course was a mixture of presentation by the leaders of the present position and possible ideas for improvement, which were rooted in their experience, and strategies for change. Then there would be discussion of those ideas within the group and opportunities to feedback to the full conference. It was important that valuable ideas did not get lost so each group had a large poster on which they wrote their ideas after each session.

One of many concerns was the feeling that churches were good at "presence" - being in and around the local community. However, it was felt that this often had little content of "proclamation" -- letting those around us know what it was that we believed. It was suggested that if we did, there would be opportunities for "persuasion" -- the possibility of talking at greater length about faith in Christ. (Persuasion is probably a bad word for something like an Alpha course but at least it begins with P to match the others!). One night, Robin Gamble memorably showed how he would use a Quiz Night to include a brief and entertaining "God Slot."

We were encouraged to start modestly -- did we believe God could grow our church by 5%? We return committed to seeking to achieve that aim.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Freeuse for Leicester and Leicestershire

Recycling often means disposing of goods in a way that their components can be processed for remanufacture. That's a good thing to do and at St Paul's we certainly support the extensive recycling service operated by Oadby and Wigston Borough Council. Everything from paper to empty bottles of communion wine is disposed of in the most eco-friendly way we can find.

But just recently I came across a new initiative. Freeuse for Leicester and Leicestershire is a simple way of arranging for unwanted items to be collected by people who want to use them as they are. I advertised a tatty but working filing cabinet and it was gone in hours. I'll certainly be using it again.

Time-shift worship?

At St Paul's we try to make our worship accessible and relevant. We want to make sure that everyone who worships with us feels welcome and is able to participate. We're careful to use language that's not impenetrable, keeping the Christian jargon that sometimes baffles newcomers to a minimum. We laugh, we sing, we honour God with reverence but also with a generous informality.

So what's a church like St Paul's doing planning a service using the Book of Common Prayer?

Most of our regular congregation has never used the "prayer book" for worship. It's unfamiliar and because of its seventeenth-century language, it's not easy. But sometimes things that are difficult are good for us.

We're going to use the Book of Common Prayer for a one-off communion service on Trinity Sunday, 30 May 2010. We'll be singing contemporary worship songs and we won't be dressing up in historic costumes. But we'll offer God our praise and prayers using the liturgy of this work of reformed theology from an era of political controversy. What will we discover? Come along and see for yourself.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Christian Aid Week - 9-15 May 2010

Christian Aid Week isn't just one of those awareness-raising contrivances in the calendar (it's always Something-Or-Other Week). It's a practical way to change lives.

The slogan of Christian Aid is "Poverty - let's end it". That may be an ambitious goal but it's realisable, at least in the lives of those who are served through this fine charity's work. Generous contributions during this campaign will end poverty - if not for the whole world then at least for someone, somewhere.

Every envelope returned with a gift of money, every sponsored walk and every sale of goods makes a difference. Thank you for playing your part.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Churchgoing in the UK

At last week's District Church Council meeting, we looked at the findings of Tearfund, who researched patterns of churchgoing in the UK.

Those of us who belong to a leadership group like the DCC are naturally quite regular in our church attendance. This might make it harder to see things as they really are. Gaining a proper perspective on the patterns of attendance across the country is vital, so research like this is incredibly valuable.

At St Paul's we aim to offer a genuine welcome to everyone, no matter what their previous experience of church. We aspire to be an open community, where the gospel is preached and lived in a way that includes those on the edge of church.

Tearfund have made their excellent report available online. But here's what their data looks like represented graphically. Use the navigation buttons to view the animation.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Voting begins for the 2010 General Election

The polls for the General Election opened at 7.00am this morning and there was already a queue at St Paul's before the seals of the ballot boxes were removed. It's very early but turnout is expected to be higher than recent elections.

This must be a welcome development for everyone who is interested in seeing wider participation in the democratic process. Whatever our political views, whatever we feel about the problems that have beset parliament over the expenses controversy, this election will be positive if the tide of cynicism about politics recedes a little.

As for us at St Paul's, we welcome the fact that through our buildings we play a very small part in this process. Over the next fourteen hours, hundreds of people will step into the Barnabas Centre to cast their vote. We've done our best to make it a place of welcome, with displays of the regular activities that take place here, and pictures done by children of the church. After voting at 7.00am, I picked up litter and made tea for the party workers compiling their returns. We chatted together and celebrated our differences, remembering that in many parts of the world the hostility between political factions makes elections a dangerous time. There is much to be thankful for so don't waste the privilege nor neglect the responsibility of your vote.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Cathedral Square, Leicester

Leicester's new Cathedral Square project now has an updated website.

The project as a whole consists of the creation of a new public square, the internal re-ordering of Leicester Cathedral, and the refurbishment of the St Nicholas Building, formerly part of Leicester grammar school.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

New venue for Oadby's General Election Hustings - 20 April 2010

Update at 12:30 on 20 April 2010 - It looks like the event at Manor School tonight may be cancelled. We'll update with further information when available.

Update at 13:30 - We can confirm that the meeting has been cancelled.

Update 27 April 2010 - We understand that the Hustings is now being arranged to take place on Monday 3 May at 7.30pm at Kibworth School Hall, School Hall, Kibworth.

Original post: With a General Election just weeks away, arrangements have been made for local voters to meet with candidates standing in the Harborough Constituency. A Hustings event has been planned for Tuesday 20 April, at 7:30pm at Manor School on Severn Road, Oadby.

The prospective candidates who have announced that they will be coming are :
  • Dave Ball (English Democrat)
  • Geoff Dickens (BNP)
  • Edward Garnier (Conservative)
  • Zuffar Haq (Liberal Democrat)
  • Marietta King (UKIP)
  • Kevin McKeever (Labour)
  • Jeff Stephenson (Independent)
In a separate development, the Make the Cross Count campaign has been launched to help Christians in particular explore the issues which are being debated.

Update 14 April 2010: Evangelical Alliance have extensive General Election coverage on their website and the Church of England has published a set of prayers for the campaign.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Were you there?
Our Easter Morning Communion service was a sell out, nearly every chair was taken and the Children’s groups were well subscribed. The singing was rousing and the air of celebration a constant reminder that people had come with the expectation of receiving something special. Simon spoke about believing the resurrection and explained that it was hard for those such as Peter who were there, so today one should still expect it to be hard, but if you take the time to study the evidence you will probably come to the same conclusions that the disciples did. That Jesus, having been crucified and died, was resurrected and is alive today. I took some pictures at the end of the service and thought this selection might just remind those who were there what a great occasion it was.

The shock of resurrection

Easter Day begins not with joy, but with shock.

Luke describes how the women who went to the tomb of Jesus were anguished to find it empty and terrified by the presence of angels.

As the message of resurrection sank in, the women rushed to tell the disciples who were hiding. But their message seemed to the men like an idle tale and they were dismissed.

Only when Peter saw the empty tomb for himself did he realise the astounding truth - Jesus had been raised to life. Luke records that he was amazed. No wonder, resurrection takes some believing. The dead, in the normal course of events, stay dead. There is nothing more certain.

Yet within hours, rumours of Christ's resurrection were confirmed by his appearance in person. And since that first Easter, millions of men and women have encountered him in their own lives.

A cheery "Happy Easter!" hardly does justice to the shock of resurrection. Feel the shock of it. Then let your astonishment give way to awe and joy.

Photo reproduced under Creative Commons attribution licence, credit: FranUlloa

Friday, 26 March 2010

Principal Services April to June

In this season of services we follow the disciples from their fearful and feeble worst, through their discovery of the miracle of Christ's resurrection, to bold and powerful acts of witness.

Come and join us through Easter, Pentecost and beyond in exploring the possibilities of resurrection faith.

1 April 7.30pm Holy Communion for Maundy Thursday
The Servant King
John 13.1-35

2 April 7.45pm Good Friday Service with Churches Together in Oadby
Mine the tomb wherein He lay

4 April 10.00am Holy Communion for Easter Day
Jesus has risen
Acts 10.34-43 and Luke 24.1-12

11 April 10.00am All Together Church and Baptisms
God's way
Acts 5.27-32

18 April 10.00am Holy Communion
Turned around by Jesus
Acts 9.1-20 and John 21.1-19

25 April 10.00am The Word Service
Tabitha lives
Acts 9.36-43 and John 10.22-30

2 May 10.00am Holy Communion
No limits?
Acts 11.1-18 and John 13.31-35

9 May 10.00am Parade Service
Where next, God?
Acts 16.9-15

16 May 10.00am Holy Communion
Believe and you will be saved
Acts 16.16-34 and John 17.20-26

23 May 10.00am The Word Service
Pentecost Celebration
Acts 2.1-21

30 May 10.00am The Lord's Supper (Book of Common Prayer)
Justified by faith
Romans 5.1-5 and John 16.12-15

6 June 10.00am The Word Service
Jesus raises the widow's son
1 Kings 17.17-24 and Luke 7.11-17

13 June 10.00am All Together Church
Luke 7.36-49

20 June 10.00am Holy Communion
Simon Harvey's last Sunday as Vicar of St Paul's

27 June 10.00am The Word Service
Looking forward, not back
1 Kings 19.5-16, 19-21 and Luke 9.51-62

Don't be late for church

imageWith the clocks going forward this Sunday (British Summer Time begins on 28 March 2010) chances are the first thing affected is the time you need to leave home for church.

We'll ensure that the heating clocks are changed, it'll be nice and toasty inside so don't roll over and pull up the covers. Come to church for ten and you'll gain a whole extra hour in your weekend.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Church Grounds Clearing

It all began with a call to arms, “the garden is taking over” Mick planned and Anita booked a Saturday morning. These professional gardeners! Who else would choose a day when it rained, and rained, and rained! Some people were there before 9.00am, probably hoping it would be postponed. Mick just allotted tasks and provided tools where necessary. There were 6 of us at 9.05am. Then our faith was rewarded and more and more people began arriving until every task was given out and that young chap David began snapping us. I have included some of the pictures, with one of Vivien trying to blow other members of the team away. Many thanks to all those who gardened on Saturday, the grounds are looking good again.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Big Church Day Out - Saturday 29 May 2010

It's billed as "an event for all ages and across all church backgrounds to gather to celebrate Jesus and the faith that is bigger than us all."

This year we're heading off to Stanford Hall, Loughborough. The day includes corporate worship hosted by Pete Greig (24-7 Prayer) and Diane Louise Jordan (Songs of Praise); the Saltmine Theatre Company; The Kids Tent for age related worship, drama and fun; exciting bands for younger people; The Tea Tent featuring music from Graham Kendrick and Stuart Pendred and most importantly cream teas and cakes! Leslie is willing to purchase tickets but needs to know numbers by next Sunday 21 March (payment by 27 March). The price of a ticket is dependent on numbers but will hopefully be approx. £18. Please contact Leslie as soon as possible if you wish to go.

Grounds and gardening morning - 20 March 2010

Dave does a fabulous job in keeping things neat and tidy around the Church. Now that spring is finally approaching, we're seeing flowers appearing.

Every now and then we get a bigger team together to tackle some of the larger jobs. We've had an encouraging response but no one need feel left out as many hands really do make light work. Jennifer has kindly offered to provide bacon butties and a cup of tea to keep us going. Come along from 9.00am.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Google Street View comes to Oadby (and most other places too)

View Larger Map

Google's Street View now includes the whole parish of Oadby, except for a number of the smallest streets. The enormous amount of new data is likely to generate further concerns about privacy and not everyone will be keen on having their front gardens on display to the world. Google's camera car snapped someone outside the church carrying his paper but while I have a hunch who it might be, at least his face has been blurred.

What do you think? Is this a leap forward in digitizing our world for greater convenience, or a step in the wrong direction?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Mothering Sunday - 14 March 2010

Our special Mothering Sunday service is on 14 March, from 10.00 to 11.00am. It's a service for the whole family and mums will all receive a gift.

The service follows Breakfast at Barney's, where you can enjoy a full-cooked English breakfast. Breakfasts are served from 8.30 to 9.30 and you need to book a place with Anita Chettle on 0116 271 4465.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Announcement of appointment

The Bishop announces the appointment (subject to CRB clearance) of the Revd Simon Harvey, Team Vicar, St Paul’s Church, Oadby as Vicar of the benefice of St Mary, Islington in the Diocese of London. Simon’s institution will take place on Thursday 15 July at 8.00pm.

Simon writes,
I am thrilled at the prospect of serving God in a new way and in a new place. St Mary's is at the heart of a busy London district, with a strong vision for the gospel - it's an exciting move for the whole family. But it also makes us very appreciative of the people of Oadby, especially church members. We have been blessed in belonging here for seven wonderful years. We have put down roots. We have made friends. We will never forget the generosity, fun and partnership in faith of that we have found.

The coming months will give us time to express personally our thankfulness and the confidence we have for the future of St Paul's and St Peter's.

St Mary's, Islington, has a fascinating history and is very active in mission, with a large staff and an extensive ministry through its Neighbourhood Centre and Crypt. The church has been served by some well known clergy, including Charles Wesley, Daniel Wilson, Maurice Wood, David Sheppard, Donald Coggan, George Carey and Graham Kings.

Islington is a very popular place and Upper Street, with all its restaurants, bars, theatres and shops is quite different from Hamble Road! We will have to get used to all-night buses passing our door and the colour and noise of a vibrant neighbourhood. Ten thousand people live in the parish, where very wealthy people and very poor people live in close proximity. There are over two hundred and thirty on the church electoral roll and most worshippers live outside the parish. There are big challenges too. In seeking a new vicar, the church described its vision for growth, and to be “known for the love of the people among whom we live.” There are also demanding financial issues.

I will be joining a large and gifted team, which includes a curate, two Readers, three full time staff and over twenty part-time employees.

But for now, we thank God for Oadby, for what is, what has been, and what will be. To him be the glory! Amen.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Annual Parochial Church Meeting - 22 April 2010

The APCM is open to all church members and includes elections to key leadership positions within the Parish, including Churchwardens and Assistant Wardens, Deanery Synod Representatives, PCC and DCC members. It's also a moment to take stock of our churches' participation in the mission of God in Oadby. A full agenda and a set of reports will be issued in due course, but you might like to note that the date of the meeting is 22 April 2010. It will be held at St Paul's and will begin at 7.45pm.

The meeting is open to all, but to vote or to stand for one of the elected offices, your name must appear on the church electoral roll. Download a nomination form or pick one up from the foyer.

Leicester's children are "happiest in Britain"

According to an article in the Leicester Mercury, research at De Montfort University shows that Leicester's children are a relatively happy bunch.

One theory, reported in the article, is that children in our city tend to spend less time in structured activities such as clubs and groups, than children elsewhere. It's suggested that this freedom from over-organised social lives leaves more time to be with friends.

It's a good news story worth celebrating, and while the central lesson that friendship leads to happiness shouldn't surprise anyone, it helps us think about the way we work with children in the groups that we provide at church.

Simply providing structured activities isn't enough. Church is essentially relational - about the way that people relate with each other and with God. We're less interested in people "attending our activities" than in deepening friendships and growing as disciples.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Book Launch

I was very glad and grateful for a sabbatical break from ministry for three months in 2009. The adventure of my "backwards pilgrimage" has now been published and we've made plans for a small launch event on Saturday 27 February, from 3 to 5pm.

The book can be purchased from for £9.90, plus delivery. To reserve a copy for collection at the launch, please download and return the order form. The proceeds (over £3 per copy) will go to Christian Aid.

To whet your appetite, here's the blurb from the cover:

Simon Harvey, a Leicestershire vicar who describes himself as not much of a walker, sets out on a five hundred mile pilgrimage in reverse.
Perhaps a pilgrimage doesn't have to involve a package tour to a distant shrine. What happens if it is simplified and taken at walking pace, where the goal is not some unfamiliar holy site but home, the place of belonging?
This book describes an unlikely journey from the very heart of the French capital to a suburban parish on the southern edge of Leicester, in the English Midlands. Fifty-two days of solitary walking, punctuated by reunions with old friends and special places, lead Simon through an adventure in faith.
Keen observation, thoughts that are allowed to wander as far as his feet, a delight in the ordinariness of unspectacular places and a series of surprising encounters, all fill a travel story that is humorous, reflective and accessible.
Simon explores the Bible's metaphor of "walking with God" on unpromising tarmac roads and country paths. He discovers fresh insight into the possibilities of down to earth discipleship in a style that isn't preachy or too keen to persuade.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Diocese of Leicester Clergy Conference

Every two years, the clergy of our diocese are invited to join the Bishop in a three-day residential conference. Nearly two hundred of us have just returned from the Hayes Centre at Swanwick, where the theme was Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

The programme was rich and varied, with lots of stimulating input from an excellent panel of speakers. More details, including links to recordings of the sessions, are available at the conference website.

I was particularly struck by the good-natured mood of our gathering. This is a Diocese in good heart. We face growing challenges and complicated demands but I sensed among us a genuine collegiality. Among our various backgrounds and traditions we easily find issues on which we take different views, especially in a topic as potent as worship. But, as far as I could see, these differences were held within an even greater commitment to our common purpose of serving God in mission to the people of Leicestershire.

Leicester Diocese is blessed with very capable and gifted parish clergy, supported by an excellent central team and an inclusive, hard-working bishop. It's a generous place to be and I'm thankful to be part of it.