Dear Friends

 

I look back over the past year with thankfulness and look forward to the coming year in anticipation of the Lord continuing to be at work in and through us to bring about his Kingdom.  The year culminated in the most amazing baptism and confirmation service led for us by Bishop David and the year starts off with the news that we are likely to start building at the beginning of May.

 

I’m pleased to report that the past twelve months we have seen significant growth in our numbers, in fellowship and in Spirit.  We have welcomed several new families and individuals who have made a wonderful addition to our church family. I’m delighted to welcome Denis and Priscilla and Bob and Mandy who are actively helping out with the leading of worship in addition to contributing in other areas of our busy church life.  It’s also been good to welcome Martin and Hannah and their children as well as William and Nuzhat with Rachel and Elijah to mention just a few of our new joiners.

 

Popley Festival in May of 2016 was again a brilliant success but sadly we shan’t be there this year as there are budgetary constraints and the imminent start of the buildings work that otherwise demands our attention.  Please do visit the Festival on the day and if you have it – wear your St Gabriel’s polo shirt!

 

We have also seen significant changes in our approach to Sunday worship.  Late last year I met with God in prayer in the very early hours of one cold October morning.  I felt strongly that God was challenging me personally on a number of different aspects of my ministry and in particular how worship was developing.  The outcome of that prayer was a discussion with the churchwardens and the PCC and a decision not to robe for the main service for a trial period.  I believe that to have proved successful and the worship has a more accessible and relaxed style that is attracting more folk along.  I’m really pleased and so thankful for the support of our worship team of Emma, Karan and Catherine who lead us so well each week in singing – especially the newer songs.  I know they are greatly appreciated by everyone.

 

At the November PCC, we had a very lengthy discussion about our All Age Worship Service and again from those discussions emerged our new ‘One Church’ service with a fresh look and style (with bacon rolls etc) that many are finding much more appealing.

 

We continue to be actively engaged with our community with the Hope Café especially seeing substantial growth.  Jo and Catherine ably run the Cafe as together they also oversee Messy Church and TAG.  Schools work and our links with the uniformed organisations are also strengthening with the addition of Marnel Infant School now a Church of England Affiliated School.

 

I have to say that over the past year the PCC have, as always, worked hard and in particular our churchwardens Kelvin and Marion to whom I am particularly grateful for their prayerful and practical support.  Without the PCC I doubt we could have achieved much of what has been achieved.  I am also grateful to Amanda our administrator and in many ways account person.

 

We are still seeking able folk who would want to actively serve on the PCC to fill the vacancies we have for the coming year.  We are looking especially for someone to take on the role of treasurer.  If you feel called to either of these roles please do speak to myself, Kelvin or Amanda before or at the meeting.

 

I could list all those I would like to thank personally but the list I fear may fill several sheets so may I just say to each and everyone of you thank you for your wonderful support and encouragement over the past twelve months and we praise God for his abundance and look forward to the revealing of more of his glory in the year ahead.

 

With every blessing

Arthur

Vicar,