Dear Church Family
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Sam and I were in Israel recently, on a Study Tour with a group from Wycliffe Hall, led by Greg Downes and Peter Walker. Michael and Di Nokes have also just returned from Israel, having taken a group mainly from our church. Having spoken to some of those who are just back, it seems that they, like us, had an incredible time! We all greatly valued seeing the Holy Land and visiting sites mentioned in the Bible. Being there brings so much of the Bible to life, and enables you to imagine things much more clearly. So if you have the opportunity to go and are able, I'd thoroughly recommend it! In particular, go with a good guide who's a follower of Jesus, and who gives time and space for prayer and reflection. We had all that and more - and found the trip thoroughly enriching.
Back here in York we continue to make plans for the re-ordering of our building. Thank you to everyone who has given feedback on the 5 architects' concept designs. Please pray for the team as they interview the architects next week and come to a decision.
Please also pray for new church staff roles. I announced a few months ago that Amber Boydell had been appointed as our Operations Manager. Amber will begin this role soon, after a short holiday. We are also delighted to announce that the part-time post of Internship Co-ordinator (that Amber previously held) has been filled by Beth Hayden. Beth's been part of our church for nearly five years now, has a theology degree and is excited about this new role. These are both great appointments, so please pray for them both as they start on Monday 10th June.
Finally please remember that on Pentecost Sunday (9th June) there's only one service in St Michael le Belfrey Church - at 10.30am. That evening we'll be joining with OneVoice for a special Pentecost service in York Minster, where we're invited to bring friends who aren't yet following Jesus. Also, please mark in your diaries the next Church Family Day, which is coming up on Sunday 30th June. Instead of our usual services we'll share the afternoon together as a whole church family, beginning at 1.30pm and finishing with food and then a service from 5-6pm. Please do come, as we continue to explore the wonderful theme of feasting and celebration. We're looking forward to having lots of fun together, rejoicing in our great God!
Dear Church Family
I hope you've had an opportunity over the last few days to look at the concept plans that the 5 architects have put forward for the reordering of St Michael le Belfrey Church. If not, you can still view them online by clicking here. We'd love your feedback on who you think would be the best architect for us to work with. The opportunity for written feedback is now closed, but you can still do so online until 5pm on Tuesday (21st May) by filling in a survey form, which you can do by clicking here. We will let you know the decision about which architect has been chosen as soon as we can.
Our work amongst students and young adults has continued to thrive in recent years, guided by the good leadership of Brogan Hume, our Student Worker. Brogan has recently been accepted to train for ordination in the Church of England, which is very exciting! That means he will be leaving us at the end of the summer, so please do pray for him and Beth as they make training plans, and for us as we seek to appoint his successor. Also, please do be praying for the many students and young people who are under pressure taking exams at the moment.
Don't forget that there's a special prayer meeting for all churches in our city, being hosted by OneVoice, on Friday 31st May at 7pm in Central Methodist Church. As I said in my Message last week, it's rare for such an event to take place, so please do join us for prayer on that evening, if you possibly can.
Have a great weekend!
Dear Church Family
In the post-Easter season, it's good to see many signs of resurrection life around us! I know of two students who've recently decided to follow Jesus and who want to mark that by being baptised. Last Sunday it was great to see people being touched by the Lord's healing power. I know of someone who had all signs of their sore eye and headache disappear as we prayed, as well as someone with anxiety have a significant encounter with Jesus, experiencing waves of love and hearing his prophetic voice affirming their identity and speaking of their worth. The Lord is real, present, and so kind.
As most of us know, it's time for our church building (St Michael le Belfrey Church) to be re-newed, and we're excited that the 5 architects will, from this weekend, be exhibiting their proposed designs in church, for us to look at. So please do just that - make sure you have time to prayerfully consider the five designs. We'd love to hear your feedback, and information on how you can do that will be available in church.
With Pentecost coming up soon, we've again been invited by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to take part in praying over 11 days for 'Thy Kingdom Come.' This will take place between Ascension Day (Thurs 30th May) until Pentecost Sunday (9th June). Across the country, and many other nations too, churches will be praying for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For us in York, there are two important dates:
- the first is Friday 31st May. From 7pm-8.30pm in Central Methodist Church, the churches in York will be gathering to pray for our city. It's not often that we get together simply to pray, so this is significant, so if you're in York, please do come;
- the second is Sunday 9th June. On this special day in the life of the church, our usual pattern will change and we'll have just two services - one in the morning at 10.30am, which will be a family Pentecost celebration, with baptisms. And in the evening we'll join with the other churches in the city at 7pm in York Minster for a special service, which will include testimony and will be suitable for inviting friends and family who aren't yet followers of Jesus.
So please mark these two dates in your diary, and let's be praying for God's Kingdom to come, here in York and the North, as it is in heaven.
Dear Church Family,
It’s been wonderful to be back in the swing of things after a few days off post-Easter and to get a chance to look ahead to what’s to come this term!
We’ve got a Family Fun Day at the Storehouse this Saturday, attractions will include a mobile youth van, soft play, cage football, face painting, crafts, inflatables and lots of fun!! Do come along to support the youth team and to celebrate with them all that God is doing through this incredible ministry!
I’m particularly looking forward to the public exhibition of Architects initial designs for the Impact Project which will be starting on 11th May. This will be a wonderful chance to drop into church and see some of the initial ideas that our shortlisted architects have managed to come up with and for you to share your comments.
As a church we’re also encouraging Belfrey Groups to think about running Alpha Courses in their homes all across the city this term. The Alpha film series is a really easy way to run an Alpha Course right from the comfort of your own living room! If you want to find out more or have any questions about how this might work, then do email me or grab me after a service.
Finally, we’re also kicking off this term’s sermon series on ‘Feasting’, looking at all the many ways in which we can celebrate God’s goodness with each other and sometimes with total strangers!
These are just a few of the things going on that I’m particularly excited about, but there’s so much happening and so many ways to get involved in building God’s Kingdom, so do keep your eyes peeled for the many other exciting opportunities to get involved over the next few months!
Dear Church Family
I hope you've had a very Happy Easter!
Sam and I are presently in Israel, on a tour organised by Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, spending four days in the Galilee region, followed by four days in Jerusalem. We're able to go thanks to a generous gift, for which we're really grateful.
As we start to look ahead to this next season in the life of our church, do be praying for the team going to Newcastle, to plant the new resource church at St Thomas', with Ben and Ellie Doolan. The church will be formally launched in October. We're looking forward to commissioning the team at our services on Sunday 2nd June, with Bishop Mark coming to join us at The6 on that day.
Please also be praying for the New Wine United festival starting at the end of July in Peterborough. Many of our church, including lot of staff, will be helping serve and lead in various venues - especially youth, and two venues called Hungry and Presence. Presence is a new prayerful space that The Belfrey has especially been invited to lead in week1. James and Tash Fletcher will be returning to help me and others lead this venue, which will involve worship and prayer from sunrise to sunset. I'll be giving the morning bible talks and a variety of other speakers and seminar leaders will be involved, including musicians and intercessors. Please pray for this, and that the organisation and planning we're doing now will help make this be a strategic event, as we call out to God for a fresh outpouring of his Spirit in our nation.
Finally, here in York in St Michael le Belfrey Church, our services return to normal this Sunday (9am, 11am and 6pm), with Paul Myers speaking on 'Encountering the Risen Christ.' Please pray that we will indeed encounter Jesus - as we gather, and as we disperse.
Dear Church Family
Today is Good Friday. A very bad day for Jesus, but a very good day for us. If you've not been able to join us for worship in church today (at 10am or 12-3pm), may I encourage you to take a few minutes, right now, to pause and remember the sacrificial death of Christ for you, thanking him for dying for your forgiveness - freely, fully and finally.
If you can, do drop into St Michael le Belfrey Church tomorrow (Saturday) between 10.30am and 4pm, for our Easter Cafe. We'll be opening the doors, and welcoming people in, serving refreshments with a short time of worship every half hour that will include a short reflection from different people on the meaning of Easter. Please pray that many lives will be touched.
Then on Easter Sunday we have two services - at 6.30am and 10.30am. The Sunrise service at 6.30am will, weather permitting, be outside on the forecourt (so do come dressed appropriately) and it will be followed by breakfast in the Belfrey Hall. The 10.30am Service will be for all the church family, and will include Communion and baptisms. Please be praying that those being baptised will be filled with the Holy Spirit and follow Jesus for the rest of their lives. I know that many invite family and friends to lunch on Easter Day. Do be on the look-out for anyone who will be on their own, and do consider inviting them into your home. Some will want to be part of the special lunch after the morning service, being put on by the Student Team. For more information about that, please click here.
Finally, let's not forget that the forgiveness and new life we receive from Jesus is not just for us - it's to be shared and given away, to a world desperate for good news. As we give thanks for those who've discovered this new life in recent months, let's be praying and working for more in the coming season.
May you and your family have a very Happy Easter.
Dear Church Family
Sam and I were in Athens last week with James and Tasha Fletcher. It was great being with them, and seeing what they're doing. Our time there included a morning with the team they're part of, and they invited me to share from the Scriptures and pray for them. We also enjoyed a lovely evening with a refugee family with whom the Fletchers conversed in Arabic, and it was a privilege to pray with the family. Tasha and James really value our prayers and support - so please continue to pray for them, especially their work amongst refugees, in the House of Prayer, and also for their Arabic language learning.
I hope you enjoyed our Church Family Day last Sunday! It was good to be together - worshipping, eating, sharing, and encouraging one another. In particular the short talks from Chris Bayne on God honouring generosity, from Gillian Shepherd & Sophie Dearden on Impact, and Ashley Rowthorn on legacies were inspiring and challenging. It was good too to have our Annual Meeting and to welcome Daniel Brookes as Church Warden (joining Alison Dawson, Barrie Stephenson and Chris Dobson) and three new Church Council members - Alys Tarr, Ali Hale and James Webster.
It was also good to gather on Tuesday this week with so many for the funeral service of Joan Greenfield. Joan has served the Lord, her family and our church for so many years, and it was right that we celebrated her life with much thanksgiving. Please continue to uphold Douglas and the family in your prayers.
This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We'll be completing our series on prayer and fasting, and preparing for the week ahead - Holy Week - probably the most important week in the Christian calendar. That's why there will be things taking place in the life of The Belfrey every day for us to engage with. In particular we hope you will find next week's 7pm Holy Week Meditations helpful; they'll be short and reflective, as we follow Jesus on the way to the cross - being taken, blessed, broken and given to the world. Then do join us on Easter Day - either at 6.30pm for our Sunrise Service, or at 10.30am for our Easter Communion which this year will include baptisms as we celebrate new life in Christ! You can find all the information about Holy Week and Easter by clicking here.
Finally, it's been good to get positive feedback about the prayer course that Belfrey Groups have been doing during Lent. In particular may I thank all those who have encouraged me about my new book, A-Z of Prayer, which is linked to the course. I wrote the book for one purpose - to help people to pray. I'm glad that it seems to be proving helpful. As we go into Holy Week, and journey through the pain of the cross (before the joy of the resurrection at the end of the week), may these words from the book provide focus and hope to you and your family (from p.144 in chapter 'S is for Sad'):
'The cross is made from a tree grown out of the earth and is rooted in the ground - in the complexities and pain of the world. And on this cross hung Jesus, suffering and in agony, which is often our experience here on earth. The two posts of the cross express this profoundly, with the vertical post reminding us that our prayers must be grounded in the realities of life, while the horizontal beam speaks of Jesus, who died with arms outstretched for every sin and sadness of life. That's why it's good to cling to the cross in prayer.'
So may we cling to the cross this Holy Week, and find there both the generous forgiveness and abiding comfort of our good God.
I often hear people talking about church and likening it to a family. The metaphor is a biblical one and describes well how we should be loving and supportive. It can also explain how frustrated we can feel as we struggle to honour one another and deal with the confusing behaviour of different generations.
However, I think it’s safe to say that church as family isn’t a nice metaphor, but a lived out reality. In a blog post I read recently by Dhati Lewis he says; ‘The church is not like family; it is family’. God is quite literally our father which makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.
When we come together as gathered church, we need a mindset of generosity so that we prefer our brothers and sisters in Christ to ourselves. Like in family, we need to put the youngest, the most vulnerable and weakest at the centre to look after them as well as equipping and resourcing them. This radical version of community celebrates both who we are and whose we are. We need to fully understand what it means to be family if we are to show the rest of the world how much God loves them.
This Sunday is our church family day when we will be gathering together to celebrate, across the generations, what God has been doing in and through our church. We will eat together, worship together and play together. Let’s pray that we are able to learn from one another and enjoy our day!
Dear Church Family
Spring is in the air! The daffodils in York, especially on the side of the walls, look beautiful. Clocks go forward this weekend (don't forget!)
Mothering Sunday & Church Family Day
It's Mothering Sunday this weekend. At our services on Sunday we will honour mothers and mothering, and value the wider work of women in our lives. The following weekend (on Sunday 7th April) will be our Church Family Day (from 2pm-6pm in St Michael le Belfrey Church) so don't come to church at the usual times that day. There'll be lots going on that afternoon, for all ages, including our Annual Meeting. Papers for the meeting are available on our website and you can read them by clicking here. If you have questions to ask, please ask those in writing beforehand and we will be able to make those answers available. To encourage better communication and facilitate more questions there'll be a 10-15 minute time at the end of the Annual Meeting for us to chat and ask questions to those leading various departments in the life of the church (eg clergy, Impact group, music & worship, youth and children etc).
St Thomas' Newcastle
Sunday 7th April is also the date when Ben Doolan will be licensed to St Thomas' Church in Newcastle. That marks the start of the link between Ben, the Newcastle resource church and St Thomas', and allows for plans to start to come together, ready for the official launch of the church later in the year. The key dates for us to mark at The Belfrey, will be:
- the sending out of the York Team (in the summer, date to be confirmed, as we await a date from the Bishop of Newcastle)
- the launch of the church (on Sunday 6th October)
So please be praying for Ben and Ellie and the team - for all their plans and preparations.
We're thrilled to be hosting our third 'Equip' leadership day, coming up on Monday 13th May in St Michael le Belfrey Church. Karl Martin (from Central Church, Edinburgh) is the keynote speaker, and there'll be lots of practical teaching and input on various aspects of leadership. If you're involved in leadership in our church, or in your workplace, please do consider making space in your diary and try to come. And please do pass on details to others too. You'll be equipped and inspired, and it's a great way that we can serve others too. Click here for more details, and to book on.
We're also delighted to announce that we've appointed Amber Boydell to be our new Operations Manager. Amber is presently doing a great job leading our New Wine Discipleship Year, as well as being our part-time temporary Administrator. She will begin this new, full-time post at the beginning of June. Do congratulate Amber and please pray for her as she prepares to take on greater responsibility in this new role.
James & Tash Fletcher in Athens & Riding Lights in York
Finally, please remember our various mission partners in your prayers. I'll mention here two: James and Tash Fletcher and Riding Lights Theatre Company. Next week, Sam and I go midweek to Athens for 4 nights to visit James & Tash Fletcher who are working with refugees and in a House of Prayer. We want to support them in their work, meet some of their friends and colleagues, and see where they're working. Closer to home, it's great that our friends and local mission partners Riding Lights Theatre Company will be performing their passion play 'The Narrow Road' tonight (Friday 29th March) in St Michael le Belfrey Church. It starts at 7.30pm and if you don't yet have tickets, they will be available on the door. More details can be found by clicking here. This will be a great way to begin to prepare for Easter.
Dear Church Family
We're looking forward to our Church Family Day, coming up on Sunday 7th April. Instead of our usual services, the shape of the day will be different, with us meeting in St Michael le Belfrey Church from 2pm-6pm. The theme will be 'Generosity' and the plan is:
1.30pm Refreshments available
2pm Start: worship and annual meeting things
3pm 3 short inspirational talks, considering different aspects of Generosity, including one from the Impact team
4pm Meal: pizza
5pm All-age worship service
Please pray for the day, that it's a great day for us as a church family and, as we include our Annual Meeting in the day, that we look back with thanksgiving and ahead with great faith.
In this season of Lent, as we have a special focus on prayer, let's keep exploring different aspects of prayer - as we go through the A-Z of Prayer Course in our groups, and as we continue to learn about fasting (with Andy Baker teaching a further message, on 'The Struggles of Fasting' in church this Sunday, with the youth leading the XI service on Sunday too!)
Thank you to everyone who's been praying for the things mentioned in last week's Friday News. Greg Downes and the team from Wycliffe Hall really enjoyed being with us last week, and we know of at least 16 people who made a profession of faith during the week, as well as a number of others who felt called to find out more, or receive prayer, all of which is great!
Also, let's be praying for those who've lost loved ones in the typhoon and flooding in Mozambique and Malawi in recent days, praying too for church and aid agencies as they do all the can to care. If you'd like to give financially to support the aid work, one of the best ways is to do so through the combined Disasters Emergency Committee 'Cyclone Idai Appeal', which you can donate to by clicking here.
Finally, please pray for Doug Greenfield and his family as they mourn the loss of Joan this week. Joan died peacefully on Tuesday 19th March. There's so much to be give thanks for about Joan, who's been a much-loved member of our church family with Doug for many years. Joan's funeral will take place in St Michael le Belfrey Church on Tuesday 9th April at 12noon.