August 2011

Prayer for the Week

Ian Corless

Take us Lord, from busyness to a place of quietness
From the storms of our lives to Your great unending peace
From the fears that grip us to the faith that liberates and empowers us
Help us, Lord, to see who we are and who we ought to be.

We offer our prayers now for family, friends and community, for people in need or distress and for situations throughout the world which bring hardship, sorrow and the need for compassion.

Thank you God, creator of the universe, for the fruits of the earth that give us the means of life:
Thank you for plants, animals and birds that we use for food and medicines
Thank you for the natural world, in which we find the means to be clothed and housed
Thank you for the ability to use the gifts and resources of the natural world for so many purposes
But help us, God, not to squander your creation
May we respect the life of all you have made
May our spirits be strengthened by using only what we need
May we use our strength to help those who are in need
Lord, where your creation is hurting – through environmental disaster and man-made abuse
May there be healing and renewal.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord, we confess our day to day failure to share your peace and justice
We may know the word, but not say it….
We may know the truth, but not face it….
We may love the fruit, but not taste it….
We may know the time, but waste it….
Lord, help us to be bold and to pour hope into Your world.
Show us how to walk in way that leads to justice
Make us honest enough to tell you our fears and failings
Treat us with devotion, hold us in your arms,
Give us the confidence to risk ourselves and reassure us when we have doubts
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord, our newspapers, radios, televisions and computers show us that your creation and world has been abused, neglected or fragmented and that the gifts that you have given us have not been used wisely or for the common good.
We see the faces of uncertainty and fear, we hear the sounds of anger and bitter weeping
Lord, bring your strength and encouragement to all faced with disaster at this time:

For the people of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya – as the cocktail of civil war, drought, famine and poverty threatens life itself and the ability to live each day
For the people of Syria as protests and violence escalate in towns and cities – leading to increasing loss of lives
For the people of Norway as they reflect on the brutal events of the past week, mourn the loss of so many young lives and strive to heal as a nation
For the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya where the actions of rival factions continue to decimate communities and entrench hatred

Lord, bring your best to their worst
Bring your peace to their pain
That none who cry aloud may cry in vain
That those who fear may never walk alone
That those near death may see the light of day
That guilty folk may see the pain caused, change their ways and seek forgiveness
That those who doubt may find a deeper faith
That broken folk may know that they will be whole
God of love, heal your world and its people.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lord, we thank you for those closest to us who share our daily lives and concerns
For our families and friends who know instinctively when we are troubled or sad or anxious.
We pray for the coming summer holiday season when many seek rest and refreshment and renewal in our lives.

We pray for all those we love and those names known to who have a burden to carry at this time, praying that you will be beside them in whatever they face.
We wait for you, Lord, with longing.
Give us faith and show us your power.
Lord, help us all to be sensitive to one another, that through the Holy Spirit, we may bring your comfort and healing touch to those in need.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

Lift us Lord from darkness to light
From sickness to health
From distress to calm
Lift us Lord, from sadness to joy
From fear to faith
From loneliness to love
Lift us Lord in mind and in spirit
In word and in deed
In body and in soul.


Leslie Brown

Did you know that Traidcraft’s delicious Fairtrade sugar from Mauritius is packed by hand?
Craft Aid's packing unit is deliberately labour intensive so it can provide employment for disabled workers, including some men and women who are deaf and speech-impaired. The 500g bags of sugar are packed, sealed, checked and then put into cartons, ready to be shipped.
Traidcraft was the very first buyer of sugar from Craft Aid in 1985. Today, Craft Aid ships out 120 containers per year. By working with the government of Mauritius, Craft Aid has invested in the packing plant, in metal detectors, in conveyor belts and in printers.
All of this provides employment for people like Johanne Martinel (pictured) who weighs the individual bags of sugar. Working on Traidcraft orders helps her to provide for her baby son.
Craft Aid's influence goes much further though. The first five sugar cooperatives in Mauritius had their FLO certification costs funded by Craft Aid. Soon, thirty-two of the 165 sugar co-ops on the island will be FLO certified. The Mauritian government has been so impressed by Fair Trade that they have set up a scheme to help sugar co-operatives obtain Fairtrade accreditation by providing soft loans for up to 75% of the cost of consultancy and application.
Helping HandsHelping Hands

Eldership is..... Two Personal Opinions

Jane Dowdell and Katie Standing

Following on from the "not too seriously!"  take on "What is an Elder?"  in last month's Messenger, Paul challenged the eldership team to share some thoughts with the readership as to  "What does eldership mean to me?" . Jane Dowdell and Katie Standing, who were elected together as first time elders eighteen months ago at a relatively challenging time of ministerial vacancy, hope to share our personal reflections and experiences and ask for your prayerful support in our continued service.

Jane Dowdell reflects .............
It was with serious consideration, that after a life time's career in the NHS, as a nurse, health visitor and latterly Associate Director on the Isle of Wight, I decided that some of the skills and expertise of leading diverse teams of health professionals might be of some assistance in the leadership of our church, where as a family we have worshipped and been very happy for over twenty plus years. My Scottish Highland heritage with my grandfather, uncles and father as Free Church missionary, Minister and Elders, had instilled in me the need to commit fully to the leadership of the church.  Commuting to the Isle of Wight, however, leaving home at 5:40 am and not returning until late into the evening, had until retirement, precluded the call I knew was being made. Perhaps I was consciously, or unconsciously just not hearing the call?
A training module LEO used extensively in the NHS, "Leading an Empowered Organization"  divides skills and expertise into four quadrants from novice to highly professional. The skills I felt I was offering to the Eldership in the fourth quadrant as a highly skilled professional, were quickly dismissed, "that's not how we do it in Elders". I was back in quadrant one, a novice , which  was quite deflating, but  at the same time also stimulating. Paul has now bridged the gap, organizing dedicated training sessions, which he is also offering to neighboring churches. The Handbook for Elders stresses "a team will have little chance of playing as well as it can, let alone winning, without a commitment to training’ We would do well to write this commitment into our contract. As we learn together, we build teamwork and confidence."  

Katie Standing writes ………
For me, joining the Eldership came at a time when I was relatively new to Fareham URC, although I brought with me a history of family life in the URC with parents who have been for most of my memory church secretary and a non-stipendiary minister.  Do you think that prepared me for what was to come…….?!
It has always been clear to me that the Elders should work as a team, but importantly, should operate very closely with the church as a whole.
To my mind, here at Fareham, we have been very conscious of the need to remember the importance of the whole membership and to try and encourage and enable church members and those new to the church. I do wonder if that is partly why I was elected as an Elder so early in my time at Fareham!
There have been bits of the role that I have really enjoyed – welcoming people at the door on a Sunday morning, taking part in the sharing and serving of Communion with the church family, the excitement of meeting with a prospective new minister (and grilling him!!) and of course, there have been bits that have been more of a struggle…such as for the first several Elder’s meetings just trying to understand what was actually being talked about!
As I approach the end of my two year term, I perhaps stand down with more questions than I started with, but also with a better idea of how and where to find the answers, and an acceptance that there isn’t always an answer, certainly not always one that everyone will agree on.

All Creation Sings: Art and Flower Festival 2nd -4th September

Gill Bailey

A while ago I was asked by Cams Hill school in Fareham, whether I thought it might be possible for them to stage an exhibition of their children’s art work in this church.

Having been involved in two very successful Art and Flower Festivals at Christ Church Milton, it seemed to me that we could put on a similar event here.

This will help to make a connection with the school and since the children’s parents will be invited along to see and will give us an opportunity to meet people who would not normally come inside our buildings.

The children’s work will be based on a jungle theme and the whole event will go under the heading,’ All creation Sings’ with, hopefully, lots of flowers depicting various aspects of creation provided by us.

So if have an urge to be creative with flowers, whether you are skilled at it, or not, you will be very welcome to come and have a go. We would also like each of the groups in the church to produce an arrangement.

We hope to begin setting up on Thursday 1st Sept and to be open from 1pm-5pm on Friday; all day Saturday from 9am-5pm and again on Sunday afternoon.1-5pm. The weekend will conclude with a service of celebration at 6.30pm on the Sunday evening, preceded by tea and cakes.

Since exhibitions can make us thirsty, we will be laying on some refreshments during our open times and would therefore appreciate offerings of cakes to sell, together with offers of help, both for the refreshments and for stewarding the event.

Any money we receive in donations will go towards the cost of our new Combined Mission Praise hymn books.So if you can help in any way, please come and see me and let’s make this a really good weekend. Thank you

Fury Camp

Annice Dunning

On Friday 15th July, Helena, Miriam, Sandy, Imogen and I arrived at FURY camp with the theme ‘Receive’.

We started by putting our tents up in the rain and having a light supper. We then went straight into worship after being introduced to the staff for that weekend. We had a talk on different ways that God is mentioned in the bible and the images to do with Him. We had a campfire and hot chocolate before going to bed in what felt like a hurricane!

The next morning we woke to yet more rain and did a number of workshops such as graffiti and den building. In the afternoon an inflatable fun fair came with side show attractions as well; needless to say it was very enjoyable when the sun decided to make a brief appearance. That evening we had our ‘Re’: themed party with various costumes including red, reporter, rebel and Imogen as a Reliant Robin!

We went to bed well fed and yet again in more rain. Sunday morning was nicer and we did some more workshops such as building animal habitats and making a banner to represent camp in years to come. We finished with worship and then put our tents down in the short time that the rain held off. All in all it was a great weekend despite the weather which meant we had to tread carefully on the grass, but we all enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

Moonlight Memories Walk 2011

Val Saunders

Saturday 18th June dawns; yet another weather check to decide whether wet or warm clothing will be required. Decision made, take both just in case. Is it me, or are our weather forecasters getting younger and less precise?

Early evening en-route to Southsea Castle Fields for the start , weather looks OK , a bit breezy perhaps. Meet up with the two friends I will be walking with and on completion of registration get into character, that will be a Queen Bee then! Don Bumble Bee wings, Bee antenna’s and magic wand (?) and immediately attract the attention of the local press. On completion of the photo shoot (ok it was just a single photograph,) retire to the Army tent to top up with tea and cakes.

The hour approaches and at 22:30 a group warm up exercise was started, swinging arms around with gay abandon and singing to music, Gosh thats enough we still have to walk 12 miles !

The mass start commenced at 23:00, with just under 2000 walkers; cheeering and clapping and great support to send us on our way. We set off near the front of the mass and maintained a good speed, it was now no longer breezy, but very windy. However, it was still dry and spirits were high. At the five mile point the torrential rain started, deep joy! Husbands of our group were marshals at 5.6 mile point cheering us on with platitudes such as ‘remember skin is waterproof’, no help there then!

Approaching the welcoming lights of Portsmouth Cathedral at 01:00 after nearly 8 miles, we were meet by somebody at the door who said “ Welcome to our cathedral, come inside”. This reminded me of the occasion when I visited a dear friend in Taunton Hospice where I meet a lady who said walking into that hospice felt like somebody had wrapped a blanket of love around her. I had a similar feeling of being surrounded by God’s love and peace on entering the cathedral. We were able to light a candle, say a prayer and write a personal message onto a post-it note, which we could place on the cathedral wall with other messages.

After the welcome respite provided by the cathedral, we continued the walk through the historic dockyard past HMS Victory which was fully illuminated for the occasion. Through the dockyard gate and on to Old Portsmouth despite the hour there were still supporters and marshals to guide and cheer us on.

Along the front from Old Porsmouth to Castle Fields, the final push.Still very windy, but at least the rain had stopped; a smattering of light in the eastern sky. At the finish medals and goody bag in hand, we register completion and are then invited to tuck into tea and hot dogs, again supplied by the Army, they even catered for me by providing a veggie option, well done Army.

There were nearly 2000 walkers that night, all participating for many reasons, but, all for the same cause, the Rowan’s Hospice, supporting the wonderful work that goes on both within the hospice and in the wider community. Once again thank you for all your support , together we raised £302 for this great cause. Also well done to David Collins, who also completed the walk for the first time this year.

Letter from the Minister: August 2011

Paul Bedford

Dear Friends,

Being wise after the event

Thank goodness our church magazines are independent, and their editors beyond reproach! Not for them any underhand means of getting a story!! No, far from it. Our magazines are co-operative efforts. We get out what we put in. So do keep interesting thoughts – your own or those of others – flowing through. We can hear God’s voice in many forms of the written word – or picture, or art for that matter.

The sordid revelations surrounding the News of the World and its owner News Corporation have been a long time coming. The unwieldy – or should we say all-too-wieldable power of certain newspapers has skewed British politics for too long. There may, even by our publication date, be more far-reaching aspects of this story. But they must come out and a cleansing process begin: a process akin to that following the MP’s expenses scandal.

Many have been wise after the event. This letter, you may say, is an example of that. But people of faith are challenged to take an objective, and as far as we can, a Godly view of affairs, both private and public. That’s why the prophets got into some hot water. At root that is why Jesus was put to death.

Remember his words to his disciples? “ You must be as wily as serpents and as innocent as doves”. This is a caution against naiveté for members of churches in general, and ministers in particular!

Have a good August.
Yours ever, in Christ,