It is lovely to have a shared magazine and to get to know more about each of our churches! I am Claire, the vicar at St Paul’s where I have been part of the church family here for the past 9 years, whilst the church is just over 150 years old. I love the mix of all ages worshipping God and serving together. We like to encourage all to have a go at things and don’t mind mistakes!
We have a mix of services from traditional communion services at 8am and mid-week, through an informal Sunday service at 10am and then Messy Church monthly on a Thursday evening. Though most of this has been online recently or in packs!
We have good links to St Paul’s infant school and have seasonal events for children e.g. Exploring Christmas and Exploring Easter. Our aim is to be for all in the community, so we also have our monthly Fellowship lunch for retired, small groups for adults and events for all ages.
Our Sunday 10am service has groups for children and we love families worshipping together at our family services and as part of our groups online. On Sunday evenings we have a group for teens called The Hub.
We have a passion for the environment and supporting people in need (see later articles!).
And finally, we support a few local charities and mission organisations, including Step by Step and Phyllis Tuckwell. But our main mission link is with Blythswood Care. We have been linking up with a project in Romania as part of our services, collect shoe boxes for them and have a member of our church working for them which means she has been able to visit with her family – and excitingly we have been invited to take a group out there when it is possible to arrange too!
Our vision is to be a “growing community of faith” – welcoming and including all and helping everyone to encounter God’s love for themselves. We aim to resource people to live out their faith in everyday life, reflecting on God in the ordinary and everyday, and thinking about how we can serve Him wherever we are.
The most exciting thing to happen this year (apart from vaccinations!) has been the start of the ramp building project. That isn’t to say that this has not been many months, or even years, in the planning. Only last summer we were busily examining bricks for compatibility with the clunch work of the church. (Phew – they match…). The ramp will make such a difference to wheelchair or pushchair users, in fact anyone who finds climbing stairs difficult. As part of the same project we are renovating the porch, with new glass doors and curtain heating to ensure a warm welcome – in both senses of the word!
We have carried out a considerable amount of fund-raising to finance the project, and people have been so generous, both in donations and in legacies and fund-raising, e.g. making cakes. (We do love cakes in Tongham.) Claire – our Vicar – was planning to do a sponsored sky-dive, and in fact may still do so.
Our builder, Richard Margetts, started work in December 2020, closely followed by Christmas, in quite horrendous weather – he has worked through rain, gales, snow and occasionally sunshine – and expects the work to be finished around Easter day, but as a back-up we are hoping to have an outdoor service to avoid using our shiny new ramp and porch. Or, more honestly, we are hoping to navigate any sudden changes of Governmental policy in the Lockdown restrictions by planning an outdoor service. Watch the website and Facebook for updates – because of course in Britain we can’t ignore the weather. But one way or another, whether online, outdoors, in church or maybe a mix of all three – we plan to be in action.
We are so looking forward to welcoming as many people as possible into our Church.