Over the past few months, the Committee and I have been meeting to pray and discuss the future of Open House.
The numbers of those able to attend on Tuesday afternoons have been dropping for some time and continue to drop.
We have been wondering, therefore, if the Lord has not been saying to us that Open House has run its course and the time has come to bring it to a close. We have now concluded that this is the right course and that after more than thirty years, firstly as Women’s Action then as Open House, it will close at the end of the current session.
Closing any church activity can sometimes been seen as a failure, but this is not always the right way to look at it.
There are times and seasons for all things; we need to recognise that Open House has blossomed and flourished, has had its day in the sun, but now is on the wane and needs to be brought to a close so that the Lord can bring forth new life and fresh initiatives.
Open House has touched the lives of many in our fellowship over the years and it is right to celebrate its achievements and successes. The Committee and I want to invite you to a very special afternoon on Tuesday 17 July at 2.30pm which will be the last meeting of Open House. We are planning a special time of worship and thanksgiving for all that Open House has achieved and enjoyed over the years. We hope representatives of other groups in the church will join us and we do hope that all will be able to come to share both memories and a sumptuous cream tea!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jenny Streeter, Val Nimmo, Jean Parmenter and Jennifer Diack, members of the current committee, who have served so faithfully for all their dedication to the work of Open House.
Very grateful thanks on behalf of the whole church fellowship to Dave and Clare Clark and family and their wonderful team of helpers who laid on and hosted the event. In recent years this lunch has become, for many, a highlight of the All Saints’ Christmas programme and we praise God for all those who have helped to build up this very worthwhile and practical ministry.
In addition, I would like to pay tribute to all the many other individuals and groups who have made Christmas 2011 so special - flower arrangers, tree decorators, sound and vision operators, sides-persons, Christingle makers, service sheet folders, and many, many others who have contributed in small ways and large. I would like to single out two groups for special thanks: Jonathan Robinson and his teams of musicians and singers who have made our Christmas festivities so joyful and celebratory; and also to our Office team led by Ken Markham and Sarah Hagger who did so much of the behind the scenes work in the run up to Christmas.
Christmas 2011 has been special—a great family atmosphere into which we were able to welcome once again many occasional visitors (nearly 2000 people attended services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone) - a great springboard for 2012 and for our Christianity Explored course which begins on Tuesday evening (10 January)
The Christmas Day Lunch in the Tiger was once again this year a great success! Just under 50 people were present, most of whom would have been on their own if the lunch hadn’t been arranged. As ever, they were hugely appreciative of all the hard work that had been put in to make the day such a tremendous success.
After ten years of outstanding work as our Pastor for Residential Homes and Seniors’ ministry, Peter Diack retired at the end of last month. Peter has given his time freely to work as a full member of the staff team. I cannot speak highly enough of his contribution to the ministry of All Saints. His organisational and leadership qualities have been very amply displayed in the development of teams to minister in the various Residential Homes in the parish. His initiative of Holiday@Home goes from strength to strength with another very successful venture last month.
Thank you, Peter, for all that you have given us over these last ten years. There will be an opportunity to mark Peter’s retirement at an afternoon tea in October (date to be announced) to which management and staff of Residential Homes as well as the fellowship at large will be invited.
Another faithful servant, Gordon Scoble, stepped down from the office of Reader at the start of the summer. Gordon’s ministry, as preacher and leader of services, has been immensely appreciated over the years. I am very grateful for the encouragement and support Gordon has given me personally over that period of time. Gordon will be taking on a new role as co-ordinator of our prayer ministry in the autumn.
Also leaving us shortly are the Ransley family, Steve and Jo, Lydia, Nathaniel and Roman. They move to Eastbourne where Steve will become Ministry Assistant at All Souls Church with the Rev Mark Redhouse. We have been greatly blessed by Steve’s ministry, not least by the excellent Mission Rescue services during the summer.
We will miss them greatly, but send them with our love and our prayers for the future.
Joining us on the staff is Oli Taylor who is our new Ministry Trainee (Apprentice). Oli begins on 5 September and more details about him and his role will appear in next week’s ASN.
I have reliably been informed by the Editor that this is my last ASN front page article. Ah, how all good things come to an end!
As we near our time of leaving All Saints, I’ve found my thoughts turning to Paul’s words to the church in Philippi. While in no way do I compare myself with Paul, nevertheless, his words resonate with the way I feel about you all, my church family, as I look back over four special years.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partner-ship in the gospel from the first day until now... Philippians 1:3-4 (NIV)
It has really been a privilege to have served alongside you all and been in partnership with you in the work of the Lord.
I’ve learnt many things while at All Saints, but one of the key lessons has been the importance of working together, of being partners together in the work of the gospel. And it’s through serving alongside fellow Christians, in the power of God’s Spirit, with one common purpose of building Christ’s kingdom, that relationships grow and develop and affections form.
You have all become very dear to us as a family and we would like to take this opportunity of saying thank you for sharing your lives with us and letting us share our lives with you in the service of Christ. Thank you for all the warmth, encouragement and support that you have given to us as a family.
We will all look back at our years here with great fondness and with gratitude to the Lord.
And it’s of great joy to us to know that we will not be too far away from you in Horam, and that we will still continue to be partners together with you in the work of the gospel in Mid Sussex through our shared involvement in the Sussex Gospel Partnership.
With much love,
We wanted to take this opportunity to offer heartfelt thanks to you all. We have been wonderfully welcomed to All Saints, not just in the last week, but over the past 12 months . . .
-The requests for prayer
-The Facebook messages
-The hard work on the house
-The cupboards and fridge filled with goodies
-The meals for the family while I was on Retreat
-Some friendly faces at the ordination service
-The invites to meals, offers of babysitting, notifications of what’s happening and when
-The warmth of your welcome at our first few services
-Your graciousness in letting us keep getting names wrong
I could go on, and there are more names than we could possibly thank individually, but THANK YOU!
Your kindness has sparked two quick thoughts in our minds...
Firstly, the All Saints family have delightfully taken Jesus seriously, when he says, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another . . . by this all people will know that you are my disciples’ (John 13.34-35). As we mention to not-yet-believing friends, at how we’ve been cared for amid a busy relocation, ‘wow’ is a standard response!
Secondly, as we became increasingly aware of how unsettling moving can be, a friend reminded us that our Lord Jesus was no stranger to moving himself! From the ultimate comfort of heaven, to a manger in a stable; from there his family fled to Egypt before returning to Israel once it was safe; his public ministry provided him little opportunity to settle anywhere and get cosy; his final move to Jerusalem was to take up the cross where he moved into ‘our shoes’ and bore the sin we deserved, before ultimately being raised from death to life. ‘So’ said my friend, ‘we have a saviour who knows all about moving!’
Our move has been made so much easier, thanks to your love and support, but also the reminder that Jesus is in the business of moving, and that ultimately his death on the cross, moves those who believe from death to life! We look forward to getting to know you all better, as we grow in our love for such a Saviour.