In Our Hands: Membership Service – 28/4/24

Musical Prelude: Ave Maria – Franz Schubert (played by Abby Lorimier and Andrew Robinson)

Opening Words: ‘Here in this Sanctuary’ by Jack Mendelsohn

Here in this sanctuary of ancient dreams,
of wisdom and beauty, we come
to grow, to be healed,
to stretch mind and heart,
to be challenged, and renewed;
to be helped in our own continuing struggles for meaning and for love;
to help build a world with more justice and mercy in it;
to be counted among the hopers and doers.

In the face of cynicism, darkness, brutality around us and within,
we seek to align ourselves with a living community
that would affirm rather than despair,
that would think and act rather than simply adjust and succumb.

Here we invite the spirit of our own humanity
and the healing powers under, around, through and beyond it,
to give us the nerve and grace, the toughness and sensitivity,
to search out the truth that frees, the love that moves,
and the onward-flowing life that makes all things new. (pause)

Words of Welcome and Introduction:

These opening words by Jack Mendelsohn welcome all who have gathered this morning, for our Sunday service. Welcome to those of you who have gathered in-person at Essex Church, to all who are joining us via Zoom from far and wide, to all who are catching up on YouTube or on our podcast stream, our wider congregation all round the world. For anyone who doesn’t know me, my name is Jane Blackall, and I’m Minister with Kensington Unitarians. Welcome, one and all.

This morning’s service is titled ‘In Our Hands’ – this is the day of our annual general meeting – a time when we celebrate and affirm our membership and our belonging to this community – also a day to remember that we are responsible for the ongoing existence of this congregation and that all our contributions are valued and necessary if the church is to survive and thrive in the coming years. To that end, we’re going to hear from five committee members – Liz, Patricia, Brian, Jeannene, and Charlotte – who will speak about what they do to help keep the show on the road and why they do it.

Chalice Lighting: ‘For Each and For All’ adapted from words by Erik Walker Wikstrom

Let’s light our chalice flame now, as we do each week. It’s a moment for us to gather ourselves and remember why we’re here and what we came for; to set aside any agitation we came in carrying, to focus our attention, be fully present, as we co-create this sacred space together. This simple ritual connects us in solidarity with Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists the world over, and reminds us of the proud and historic progressive religious tradition of which this gathering is part.

(light chalice)

We light this chalice for all who are here, and all who are not;
For all who have ever come through the doors of Essex Church
(or indeed through the digital doors of our Zoom waiting room),
for those who may yet find their way to this spiritual community,
and for all those new ways of doing and being church together,
of touching and transforming lives, that we can’t yet even imagine.

For each of us and for us all, may this flame burn warm and bright.

Hymn (on sheet): ‘A Church is a Living Fellowship’

Let’s sing together now. Our first hymn is on your hymn sheet: ‘A Church is a Living Fellowship’. For those joining via Zoom the words will be up on screen. Feel free to stand or sit as you prefer.

A church is a living fellowship
More than a holy shrine,
Where people can share their hopes and fear,
Less of the yours and mine;

Where bonded by trust we search for Truth
Beyond the chains of creeds,
And thought can aspire to shine with fire
From all our deepest needs.

Let’s stretch out the open hand of Love,
Conquer the fists of hate,
Divided no more by voices of war,
Greeds of our mindless state.

We’ll take all our building bricks of Truth,
Make of them homes of Life,
A future to face the shame and disgrace
In all our past of strife.

A church is a place of human trust
More than of brick and stone;
Of Love we will sing to make it ring
In every joyous tone.

Candles of Joy and Concern:

Each week when we gather together, we share a simple ritual of candles of joy and concern, an opportunity to light a candle and share something that is in our heart with the community. So we’ve an opportunity now, for anyone who would like to do so, to light a candle and say a few words about what it represents. This time we’re going to go to the people in the building first, and take all of those in one go, and then I’ll call on the people on Zoom to come forward.

So I invite some of you here in person to come and light a candle and then if you wish to tell us briefly who or what you light your candle for. Please do get up close to the microphone as that will help everyone hear (including the people at home). You can take the microphone out of the stand if it’s not at a good height and have it microphone pointing right at your mouth. And if you can’t get to the microphone give me a wave and I’ll bring it over to you. Thank you.

(in person candles)

And if that’s everyone in the room we’ll go over to the people on Zoom next – you might like to switch to gallery view at this stage – just unmute yourselves when you are ready and speak out – and we should be able to hear you and see you up on the big screen here in the church.

(zoom candles)

And I’m going to light one more candle, as we often do, to represent all those joys and concerns that we hold in our hearts this day, but which we don’t feel able to speak out loud. (light candle)

Time of Prayer & Reflection: based on words by Liz Weber

Let’s take those joys and concerns into an extended time of prayer. This prayer is based in part on some words by Liz Weber. You might first want to adjust your position for comfort, close your eyes, or soften your gaze. There might be a posture that helps you feel more prayerful. Whatever works for you. Do whatever you need to do to get into the right state of body and mind for us to pray together – to be fully present here and now, in this sacred time and space – with ourselves, with each other, and with that which is both within us and beyond us. (pause)

Spirit of Life, God of All Love, in whom we live and move and have our being,
we turn our full attention to you, the light within and without,
as we tune in to the depths of this life, and the greater wisdom
to which – and through which – we are all intimately connected.
Be with us now as we allow ourselves to drop into the
silence and stillness at the very centre of our being. (pause)

Spirit of Life, help us to be present with all that is our life,
both our deepest sorrows and our greatest joys,
so that we can truly live: engaging fully
in our own life and in the life of our community.

Spirit of Community, help us know how connected we are,
how each one of our cares and concerns touches us all.
Help us to ask for support when we are in need,
and offer our support to others when we are able,
so that we may rest in the solace of one another’s love.

Spirit of Love, help us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves,
finding a balance between care for self and care for others,
so that we might fully embody love and resist hatred.

Spirit of Resistance, help us to stick up for what is right,
even when we are tired or afraid.
Help us to dream of the world as it should be
and act to bring that world about.
Help us to find hope each day.

Spirit of Hope, help us through this day and each day.
Help us to be present for all that is our life. (pause)

In our company this morning, and every time we gather in community,
there will be those among our number who are suffering, in body, mind, and spirit;
and we know too well that there is much struggle, hardship, illness and injustice the world over.
Let us spend a moment directing prayers of loving-kindness for those who suffer this day. (pause)

In our company this morning, and every time we gather in community,
there will be those among our number whose hearts are full and overflowing;
uplifted by family and friends, inspired by nature and culture, engaged in meaningful work.
Let us spend a moment directing prayers of gratitude for all that is good in our lives. (pause)

In our company this morning, and every time we gather in community,
there will be those among our number who are just getting by as best they can:
stumbling through life’s endless ups and downs and seeking to discern the next step forward.
Let us spend a quiet moment asking for what we need to face all that life brings our way. (pause)

Spirit of Life – God of all Love – as this time of prayer comes to a close, we offer up
our joys and concerns, our hopes and fears, our beauty and brokenness,
and we call on you for insight, healing, and renewal.

As we look forward now to the coming week,
help us to live well each day and be our best selves;
using our unique gifts in the service of love, justice and peace. Amen

Hymn (on sheet): ‘The Church Where Love Lives’

Let’s sing again. Our next hymn is a new one for us – if you’re on the WhatsApp group I shared it last week so you could listen ahead of time – it’s on your hymnsheet and it’s called ‘The Church Where Love Lives’. I’ll ask Andrew to play it through once. The words will be on screen as usual.

The church where love lives is a safe place for all
Where we gather in wonder to remember God’s call,
To embody God’s vision of kindness and care
With each song that we sing, with each protest and prayer.

On this sacred foundation of faith and of trust
We are building a world that is gentle and just.
We rejoice and repent, offer praise and forgive
And we welcome all people to the church where love lives.

The church where love lives draws the stranger inside,
Making neighbours of strangers, no neighbour denied,
Till there’s heaven on earth and God’s will has been done,
Till the whole of creation is restored to its home.

On this sacred foundation of faith and of trust
We are building a world that is gentle and just.
We rejoice and repent, offer praise and forgive
And we welcome all people to the church where love lives.

The church where love lives is preparing a feast
For the pained and rejected, for the lost and the least,
For the deeply afraid, for the truly ashamed.
Come and sit at our table. Love has called you by name.

On this sacred foundation of faith and of trust
We are building a world that is gentle and just.
We rejoice and repent, offer praise and forgive
And we welcome all people to the church where love lives.

In-Person Reflection: ‘Moving into Volunteering’ by Liz Tuckwell

I volunteer at Kensington Unitarians because I value the church and the community. I must admit, I didn’t volunteer right from the start. I enjoyed the services on Sunday mornings and meeting other people. I appreciated the chance to leave the world outside for an hour and think more deeply about things and how to aspire to be a better person.

However, I started off volunteering to make coffee or to greet after a year or so. Fast forward a few years and all of a sudden I’m volunteering in all these ways:

• As Chair of the Church Committee which mainly involves chairing the committee meetings although I’ve had some involvement in trying to resolve finalising the lease with the nursery (Jeannene did the bulk of the work on this) and also representing Kensington Unitarians at wider gatherings.

• Organising the church coffee and greeting rota which I took over from Jane to reduce her massive workload by a little as well as taking my turn to greet and make coffee regularly at least once a month.

• I organised a Pot Luck Lunch for the 250th Anniversary, held the other week.

• I’m the church librarian and at the moment, I’m slowly cataloguing the contents of our library to see what we have so we can get rid of what is no longer needed and bring in more new books that members of the congregation will want to read. We’ll have copies of all the books that we’re reading in the Better World Book Club.

I realise that the church needs volunteers to keep the community and the place ticking over, not just now but in the future too. One bonus of volunteering is that you get an insight into how the church is organised. I know that the more people involved, the less of a burden for the volunteers although I also appreciate that not everyone has the time or energy to do this. Volunteering also has the benefit of building stronger bonds with people through being part of a team working together on something we all care about.

Online Reflection: ‘Doing My Bit from Afar’ by Charlotte Chanteloup

Hello everyone, my name is Charlotte. I’m a member of the Management Committee and a regular co-host. As a member of the managing committee, I take part in meetings about every six weeks. I was also a member of the search committee which presented Jane for appointment as our minister. The committee meetings often take place in the evening, after I’ve had my workday: I teach in two different schools, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon and I drive about 50 miles every day travelling. Plus, like all other secondary school teachers in France, I finish teaching at 5pm. The committee approved changes in meeting dates last year to accommodate my university studies as I come home at 9pm on Wednesdays. I am very proud to take part in these meetings because I want to help this Church that I love keep existing and growing.

I’m also a regular co-host and in charge of the rota for co-hosts. Every month, I get in touch with our co-hosts, Jeannene and Shari, and try to figure out how to sort the dates so that every Sunday is covered. Shari has other obligations and can help us once a month, for which I thank her tremendously. Jeannene is also doing the tech hosting and has family obligations so can help co-host about once a month as well. A huge thank you to her as well. This means that I do the two services left and I have done three services, some months with five Sundays. With the time difference and the new service time, it means that at least two Sundays out of each month, I can’t do Sunday lunch with my friends or my family. Nonetheless, it’s important to me to do it as co-hosting is a way to be inclusive of everyone with challenging circumstances: family obligations, health concerns, geographical challenges (hi!). If we had one more co-host, we would all do one service a month, which would be more sustainable. I wonder if anyone attending our service today – or listening at a later date – might consider making that small step forward to join the team and make a commitment to help us out just once a month? Do reach out to me, or Jane, if you might be willing to find out more about what it involves.

Now, I’m so glad I still get to be part of this congregation, even though I’ve moved countries! And I’ve now spent twice as long as an overseas member as I did coming in person. I still feel very involved since there are ways to engage with the church and the congregation even while being a mostly online member. It is really important to me to help this Church thrive as it helped keep my head above water when I needed it but also because I believe in our values and our community.

Meditation: ‘What Does Love Look Like?’ by Saint Augustine

Thanks Charlotte and Liz. We’re moving into a time of meditation now. I’m going to share a few words – they’re printed on the front of your order of service – words attributed to Saint Augustine – his answer to the question ‘What does love look like?’ Given our service theme today, ‘In Our Hands’, I hope these words will inspire reflection on the way that we put love into action in our lives, whether that’s in our church community, in our home neighbourhoods and networks, or in the wider world.

These words will take us into three minutes of silence which will end with the sound of a bell. Then we’ll hear music from Abby and Andrew. So let’s do what we need to do to get comfortable – adjust your position if you need to – put your feet flat on the floor to ground yourself – close your eyes. As we always say, the words are an offering, you can use this time to meditate in your own way.

So as we move into this time of meditation I offer these words attributed to Saint Augustine:

‘What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of humanity.
That is what love looks like.’

Let’s take those words from Saint Augustine into our time of shared silence and stillness now.

Period of Silence and Stillness (~3 minutes) – end with a bell

Interlude: Air from County Derry – Irish Melody (played by Abby and Andrew)

In-Person Reflection: ‘Outside My Comfort Zone’ by Patricia Brewerton

Jane has asked me to speak as Treasurer of this church. First of all, I have a confession to make. When you hear what it is you might think it’s a confession I should have made earlier!

I am absolutely rubbish at maths; in fact, I am rubbish at anything to do with numbers. I am so bad that during the extremely brief period I was in the Sixth Form at my Grammar School – I think that’s now called Year 13 – I was moved down to do maths with the fourth form or in today’s reckoning Year 11. It was not until I had another stab at getting a maths’ qualification in my forties that I finally learned that trigonometry is about triangles and not about planes flying over trees in a park. Not the best person to take charge of your church’s finances, you might think.

Perhaps the fact that my first job on leaving school was at the Bank of England might reassure you? Sorry – they only taught me how to take down and type letters and kept me far away from numbers of any kind.

Thankfully I don’t have to do much more than that now as Andrea of Mindful Business Services keeps the cashbook up to date and makes sure all invoices are set up for payment and all I have to do is authorise them. Most of the other stuff I do is still typing emails and letters. When called upon to check figures I can use a calculator and for more serious decisions I can rely on my husband who earned his living dealing with financial matters.

Jane also asked me to say why I took on the role of Treasurer. First of all, let me tell you why I became a member of this church. Although if you ask me what I believe I would find it difficult to answer, I really do value church. Perhaps I could say that I believe in church. I think that time spent once a week in quietude, letting go of worldly clutter, clearing our eyes so that we can see what really matters and allowing ourselves to dream of a better world where peace and justice reign is something which is immensely valuable and difficult to find outside of church. Some people seek the grandeur of cathedrals and others the excitement of a gospel rock band, but I love the simple grace of Essex Church. Here we enjoy beautiful music and thoughtful readings and time to meditate and to listen and learn from each other.

For some people community is another important part of church; an opportunity to meet and get to know other people and to join in activities together. Both in person and online, Kensington Unitarians are a very warm, welcoming bunch of people of which I am proud to have become part.

That might explain why I became a member of Kensington Unitarians, but it doesn’t explain why I took on the role of Treasurer which, as you will appreciate, is way outside my comfort zone. When I was asked if I would take it on, I was more than a little reluctant. I was not at all sure I could handle it but at the time we were stuck. Following Covid we were exploring becoming a hybrid congregation but without a minister it was difficult to see the way forward and without a treasurer it was difficult to begin the process of appointing a minister. And I had become very attached to this congregation and eager for it to move forward. Also, I like having tasks to fulfil and I enjoy learning new things. I knew I had the time to do the job and that I could rely on others to support me. And I have found I quite enjoy it.

Obviously, it is not necessary to be a whiz at maths to do this job. You need to be okay with internet banking and the task is easier if you are good at organisation. Most weeks it doesn’t take a lot of time, and everything can be done remotely.

Of course, not everyone who comes to church wants to get stuck in like this. For some church is the quiet centre in a crowded life, the place where they can find solace in difficult times and where they can simply be at peace. And I am glad that I can play a part in creating that space. And I know there is someone in the congregation who will take over from me when the time comes. And I promise I will make their job as simple and as joyful as possible.

In-Person Reflection: ‘It Takes a Village’ by Jeannene Powell

When I came to Essex Church in 2009, I really wanted to be part of a spiritual community, and the experience of my first service, being one that was led solely by members of the congregation, really spoke to me.

This was a church where people were encouraged to engage, to participate more than just following what they were prescribed to say or do, and this was a church where people’s gifts and talents were actively invited to be used to support and enrich community life.

Having a facilitation and teaching background, my first volunteering experience was to do a reading in a service. I remember how nervous I was, despite my background, but as someone here wisely said to me, my nerves were a sign of how important this was to me. And it was important, because this church and its community, was very important to me, and continues to be so.

My care for this church community, and desire to help maintain it, has led me to help in many ways, from greeting and contributing to our old newsletter, to leading service meditations and entire services, co-facilitating engagement groups and co-running Heart and Souls, to attending in person and then online when able, and latterly being involved with behind the scenes tech hosting and serving on the management committee, and of course being part of the Ministerial Search Team last year, to name but a few things. Some tasks I did alone, and some jointly with others whilst I got my bearings. Different skill sets were drawn on, and in some cases learnt, to be able to offer my services in these ways. But that tells me that as everybody has different skill sets, everyone has something valuable that they can contribute to the ongoing life of the church, whether from time to time or more regularly.

My personal life has changed a lot in the last few months, with an addition to my family, which meant that my time as a church staff member was short lived. Now I can do less than I did before, but continue to do a few tasks, including rejoining the committee. Life can throw curve balls, unexpected things can happen, and there will be a time when I’ll step away from the volunteering roles I do now, and others will step up to do them instead.

But even before that time comes, the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, comes to my mind, as in the same spirit, “It takes a community to run a church.”

We all make up this community, and this is our church. So let’s all continue to offer our support, doing what we can, and keep it going for the benefit of us all, and those who are yet, to walk through our virtual, or physical doors.

In-Person Reflection: ‘Giving and Receiving’ by Brian Ellis

My father was a school caretaker and enjoyed DIY, and would include me in both his work and his DIY. I think genetically and behaviourally I have a caretaking gene.

Some years ago my partner of 44 years had died, I had moved from a high input DIY house to a new low input flat. I was lonely emotionally and missing an activity which had always given me a sense of satisfaction.

By chance I read about the Unitarians: congregations who meet to celebrate individual thought and movement towards a common humanity, something which resonated with me, and I came to this church to investigate.

I entered a welcoming and accepting community, where I found on talking to the then Minister and Warden, that there was an opportunity to contribute practically in the upkeep of the church building and garden as a way of giving to the life of the church, and in a way that I found satisfying and enjoyable.

Now I liaise with our Warden Ramona to do the small maintenance jobs that are not part of her contract which, if I was no longer able, or part of the community, or if there was no other volunteer, would have to be left or paid for with professional help.

The congregation at the time of the building of this church gave us a wonderful, unique space in which to worship, while at the same time giving us the flexibility to utilise the building to generate the income for a full time Minister and Warden.

We are fortunate as an always moving, changing community of people to have such a permanent home in which to practice our faith, and to pass on to future generations. This is an inheritance I feel we have a responsibility to pass on as best we can, in as good a condition as it was passed to us.

I shall be keeping going for the moment although I recognise that my abilities are declining and that I will gradually be stepping back from the amount of physical work that I do. Then it would be nice to think that someone else might step up to help carry the baton of care for this building forward.

I feel privileged to have the time and ability to contribute to the life of this congregation by caring for the building, but in doing so I recognise that I have benefited more by what I have received from the congregation here at Essex Church than I have given.

Affirming Our Membership: Responsive Prayer for this Ministry

Thanks Brian, Jeannene, and Patricia. It’s heartwarming to hear all five of you speak of what it means to you to be a part of this church – and all the ways in which you’ve been moved to give something back through volunteering – for which we are all really grateful. Hopefully this morning’s service has made all your invisible work behind the scenes visible. The church really is just us. It’s in our hands.

Each year in our membership service we welcome new members, and we encourage all members, old and new, to reaffirm their belonging and commitment to this church community. So I’d like to take this opportunity to official welcome Helen and Emma, new members who have officially joined in the past year, you’ll likely have met them both if you’ve come along to our online activities. And also to extend the invitation to anyone who attends regularly and who would like to officially join. Membership isn’t about money, not here, it’s about showing your support for this congregation, and it’s good for morale for those of us who are keeping the show on the road when people sign up.

We have a tradition of sharing in a responsive affirmation each year at our membership service. So I’m going to invite you to inwardly affirm your membership, or if you’re not a member affirm your good wishes for the work of this church, by joining in a responsive prayer for this ministry. This is the prayer that was written for the Induction Service, based on the collectively written congregational values, and I hope we’ll revisit it often. The words are printed in a sheet in your order of service and they’ll also be up on screen in a moment. I invite you to join in with the responses printed in bold.

Spirit of Life, God of All Love, we ask for your blessing
on this congregation and our shared ministry and mission.
Help us to flourish and thrive; empower us to fulfil our calling.

May this be a community of spiritual commitment;
somewhere we go to reconnect with what matters most in life.
Encourage us to seek your daily guidance; inspire us to pray all ways.

May this be a community of care and compassion;
a safer, softer, kinder space; a holy house of sanctuary.
Grant us the spirit of generosity in our listening and speaking.

May this be a community of authentic connection and realness
where we can show up as our true selves and share our stories.
Help us open our hearts to each other; reveal our common humanity.

May this be a community of learning, growth, and transformation;
in which we are encouraged to use and develop our own unique gifts.
Guide us toward new horizons; call us onward to greater heights and depths.

May this be a community of resistance and liberation;
a church where we speak and act for equality and justice.
Awaken in us the insight, strength, and courage to serve the greater good.

Spirit of Life, God of All Love, we commit ourselves to this shared ministry.
Bless the work of our hearts, minds, and hands in the years to come. Amen.

Hymn 198 (purple): ‘We’ll Build a Land’

Time for our last hymn, one of the theme tunes of our congregation, ‘We’ll Build a Land’. It’s number 198 in your purple books. Please sing up and let’s enjoy our closing hymn.

We’ll build a land where we bind up the broken.
We’ll build a land where the captives go free,
where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning.
O, we’ll build a promised land that can be.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
anointed by God, may then create peace:
where justice shall roll down like waters,
and peace like an ever flowing stream.

We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings
to all the afflicted and all those who mourn.
And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes.
O, we’ll build a land where peace is born.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
anointed by God, may then create peace:
where justice shall roll down like waters,
and peace like an ever flowing stream.

We’ll be a land building up ancient cities,
raising up devastations of old;
restoring ruins of generations.
O, we’ll build a land of people so bold.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
anointed by God, may then create peace:
where justice shall roll down like waters,
and peace like an ever flowing stream.

Come, build a land where the mantles of praises
resound from spirits once faint and once weak;
where like oaks of righteousness stand her people.
O, come build the land, my people we seek.

Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
anointed by God, may then create peace:
where justice shall roll down like waters,
and peace like an ever flowing stream.


Thanks to Jeannene for tech-hosting. Thanks to Charlotte for co-hosting and welcoming everyone online. Thanks to Abby and Andrew for playing for us today and Benjie for supporting our singing. Thanks to Liz, Patricia, Brian, Charlotte, and Jeannene for their reflections on the theme and indeed all they do. And if you’ve been inspired, encouraged, or nudged by their reflections – do have a word with any one of us – there’s bound to be some way you can help us to keep the show on the road. Thanks to Hannah for greeting and Julia for making coffee today. For those of you who are here in-person – please do stay after the service – today it’s Victoria Sponge cake – that’ll be served in the hall next door. If you’re joining on Zoom please do hang on for a chat with Charlotte.

And also please do hang around for our AGM at 12.30 – hopefully you’ll have all read the annual report – we do have a few hard copies if you’re here in person but we emailed it round a few days ago. I’m hoping that the AGM won’t take too long as we haven’t had any questions in advance.

If you have signed up as a member or renewed your membership this year you’re entitled to a copy of this book ‘Right Relationship in the Real World’. Please pick up your copy after the service and sign the sheet to let us know you’ve taken one so that we don’t also post you a copy. And if you’re an online member fear not, we will send them out soon, if you told us that you wanted a copy.

Tonight we have our ‘Better World Book Club’ at 7.30pm on Zoom when we’ll be talking about ‘What’s In A Name?’ by Sheela Banerjee. It’s probably too late to read that if you haven’t started it yet but please pick up the Book Club flyer which lists dates/books as far as August. Next month’s book is ‘On Being Unreasonable’ by Kirsty Sedgman – all our library copies of that have already been claimed – if you need a copy let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

We also have our regular online ‘Heart & Soul’ Contemplative Spiritual Gathering, Friday at 7pm, this week’s theme is ‘Self-Compassion. We gather for sharing and prayer and it is a great way to get to know others on a deeper level. Email me if you’d like to book your place for that.

On Wednesday night the poetry group takes place – have a word with Brian if you’d like to take part in that – let him know your poetry choices so he can make copies for everyone.

There are a few changes to the programme I need to tell you about – we’ve called off next weekend’s mini-retreats – I hope they’ll resume later in the year but we’ll let you know. And the community singing group will be taking a break during May as our singing leader’s away but it’ll be back on 12th June and will continue on alternate weeks through the summer.

Next Sunday at 11am I’ll be co-leading with Roy Clark for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Details of all our various activities are printed on the back of the order of service, for you to take away, and also in the Friday email. Please do sign up for the mailing list if you haven’t already. The congregation very much has a life beyond Sunday mornings; we encourage you to keep in touch, look out for each other, and do what you can to nurture supportive connections.

I think that’s everything. Just time for our closing words and closing music now.

Benediction: ‘Being There’ by Cliff Reed (adapted)

It matters that we come together when we can,
not just for what each may gain
but for what we each may contribute
by our presence and participation.

Remind us, in our heart of hearts, that if
we want our church to be there for us,
then we must be there for our church.

And remind us that, if we want others
to be there for us in our times of need,
then we must be there for them in theirs.

So, in the week to come, as we leave this place, and return to our daily lives,
may we feel a sense of lasting connection to this congregation, our beloved community.
And may we truly know this church as a place where we belong – our spiritual home. Amen.

Closing Music: Tango – Mátyás Seiber (played by Abby and Andrew)

Rev. Dr. Jane Blackall and Congregation Members

Sunday 28th April 2024