***Please save the date! Saturday 31st August is the date for the service of induction of Revd Mark Woodhouse at Derriford URC. Further details and timings will be announced next month.***
What an exciting time for our fellowship at Derriford URC! Last month we heard that we have a Minister exploring the call to Derriford and now we have met with him and his wife. By the time you read this we may have voted at our extraordinary Church Meeting on whether to issue a call. We can see that God has been preparing the ground over the past few months and this is an ideal time for us to be reviewing our vision for Derriford URC. You will be aware of the words of wisdom in the Proverbs (29:18) ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish…’ – so the main focus of our Church Meeting on Sunday 19th May will be to share our ideas about the future and the doors that God is opening for our future mission in this place.
The Elders have also spent much time in prayer and in sharing together, out of that process we identified the need to hear from every member of our church community and find ways to hear from those in our community – so that any new vision incorporates all that God is saying to us.
For we are a people who believe in the ‘priesthood of all believers’ – we know that we have direct access to God and God is able to speak through each one of us. May God bless us, as we discern the way of Christ together!
Rob Weston Interim Minister
The Elders are delighted to report that they have met with a potential Minister for Derriford URC, who is coming to preach with a view on the weekend of 27/28th April. Further details of the opportunities to meet the candidate will be issued soon. Please continue to hold this important weekend in your prayers, asking that God’s blessing will be upon all the proceedings. Rob Weston will continue as the Interim Minister until any new Minister arrives.
Growing the Church…
In 2014 the Church Growth Research Programme published a report, having studied churches across the United Kingdom that are growing. The research had been thoroughly carried out and the findings analysed – some of the findings may come as no surprise to you, others may be a complete surprise. They concluded that, while there is no single recipe, there are common ingredients strongly associated with growth in churches of any size, place or context:
- Good leadership
- A clear mission and purpose
- A willingness to self-reflect, to change and adapt according to
- Involvement of all church members
- Being intentional in prioritising growth
- Being intentional in
chosenstyle of worship
- Being intentional in nurturing disciples
As I look through this list, I am encouraged that many of these ingredients are evident at Derriford United Reformed Church. When I preached in February I was delighted to be inundated by ideas on how the church might reach out to the community and engage in new mission opportunities. I believe you are a people of faith, with great ideas; and as we discern the way forward, I pray that we will see the church grow in holiness, unity, effectiveness and numbers.
You may like to use this prayer for growth that we have used in our worship recently:
God our Creator and Redeemer,
help your church to grow in holiness,
unity, effectiveness and numbers.
Draw us closer to you
and those around us.
Give us enthusiasm in our faith,
and wisdom in sharing it
with young and old.
Open our eyes to new opportunities,
our lips to speak of you,
and our hearts to welcome
Grow your kingdom in us
and in the world,
in the name of Jesus and
in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Having agreed at our January Church Meeting to register with the Eco Church scheme, I thought it would be useful for me to explain how it works and what it means for the life of the church. Now that we have registered we can go online to complete the Eco Survey about how we are caring for God’s earth in different areas of our life and work. The answers we provide will collect points towards an Eco Church Award – the more we do, the more points we get!
If our score doesn’t gain an Eco Church Award straight away don’t worry – the idea is that we complete further actions in order to gain the points necessary for an Award. For example, we already have a new efficient gas boiler, but we might be able to add more insulation in the roof or replace old windows with double glazed windows.
The survey cover five key areas of church life:
- Worship and teaching
- Management of church buildings
- Management of church land
- Community and global engagement
- Lifestyle of church members
The online survey means we can save our survey responses at any point and return to update them as we complete additional actions.
There are free, Eco Church resources on the A Rocha Eco Church website (https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/) which offer support and advice about how to make the changes our church needs, to become an Eco Church. There are three levels of Eco Church Award – Bronze, Silver and Gold. In order to qualify for an Award you must attain the required standard in each of the five areas covered by the Eco Survey. We will keep everyone informed of progress over the coming weeks and months, and everyone can make a difference – whether it is through prayer, preaching, recycling, reducing waste or reusing. May God bless us and guide us as we walk the way of Christ and care for all of creation.
Here is a link to find out what is happening across Plymouth with regards latest environmental action:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
In the past towns were built at the top of a hill so that they could be seen and could see who was approaching. Derriford URC is on a hill, on a clear day there is an amazing view and I am told that because we face west, it is ideal for catching the most incredible sunsets. As a church in 2019 we are focussing on this verse Matthew 5:14, which is most appropriate, as it serves as a reminder that we are a light shining in the darkness and that everyone can see whether we meet the high expectations that we set for ourselves. Together we must work for the good of all people, not just those in our fellowship, not just those in our circle of friends. Jesus calls us to love God and love our neighbours, that means everyone. We are here to share the love of Jesus, with our neighbours, in whatever way we can. In 2019 we will have a focus on prayer for our community, postcards will be available for people to submit prayer requests, this is just one small way that we can be a blessing to our neighbours. Please do share your ideas on how we can be ‘the light of the world’ for our community, with me or any of the elders, for we know that God speaks through each and every one of us.
Every blessing for 2019,
When was the last time you were excited about something? Did you tell someone about it? When we hear great stories or things that stir our hearts with excitement, we have to share them.
In Luke chapter 2, verses 8-20, we see this to be true for the shepherds in Bethlehem. They were considered by many to be the lowest of the low in their society and spent their days with animals. What’s so amazing about Jesus’ birth is that God chose to share the birth of His Son with these lowly shepherds first! What’s even more amazing is the response by the shepherds. They simply had to share the good news they heard. They had to talk about this amazing hope that was now available to the world!
Hope is contagious. When we’re promised great things, we’re filled with expectation that something incredible is going to happen. True hope cannot be stopped, and it cannot be contained.
Jesus came to earth to conquer death and allow us to have a relationship with God again. Jesus gives us hope. This is good news we cannot keep to ourselves. In our schools, in our workplaces, and in our friendship groups, we know that some people are hurting and desperate for hope. Just like the shepherds, we can share our hope by sharing what Jesus has done for us.
I’ve been so encouraged in recent weeks, to hear of so many answered prayers here at Derriford Church, so many pictures of new growth and a new start. Some people have shared a picture of shoots just poking through the ground, like the bulbs in the garden that are just breaking the surface in our gardens. Some people have shared a picture of a sheepfold, surrounded by sheep that are making their way into the sheepfold. The spirit appears to be showing us that just like the shepherds on the hillside, we should be excited, for God has something special to show us this Christmas…. and I look forward to finding out more about what God is doing at Derriford Church in the coming weeks.
Rev Robert Weston