Thursday, 10 August 2017

August 1906 and August 2017

This was Holy Trinity on 6th August 1906!  Or, rather, The Henry Brass Memorial Church as it was known at the time. The view is of the North Side, and the photograph is taken from the ground on which the Church Hall would be built 14 years later. 

The land had been gifted by Lord Monson. What early photos of this building project reveal is that the site was a sloping, undeveloped piece of land - unrecognisable from the busy and developed London Road that we know today. 

111 years later we are involved in another building project! Our vision is for a Connected Church and Centre, linked via two doors that will be made through this North wall and come out onto a concourse within the new centre. A Connected building that will facilitate mission and ministry on this (now) strategic site for generations to come.

This week I have written a letter to all members of HT, with encouraging news about pledges made so far to the project. You can read the letter below.

If you would like to know more about the project - by viewing the video or the online brochure - you can find it on the Connected page of our church website, here.

If you have any questions about the project you can email us at

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Update: August 2017

Dear Friends,

In our Connected brochure we promised to keep you up to date with news and information on our progress with the Building Project.
We are in the period of praying and pledging as we approach our Pledge Day on 17th September, and I know a number of you will be prayerfully considering and discussing your contribution over the summer holidays. Below you will find encouraging news on pledges made so far, some information on a new ‘Connected Prayer Space’ in church and a new page on the HT website. Read on…

Update on Pledges
I am delighted to be able to share that we have so far received 19 pledges totalling £502,000 (inclusive of Gift Aid). Together with the £330,000 already in the bank that amounts to a total of £832,000. Thank you to those who have already made your decisions and encouraged the rest of us by your generosity.  We trust the running total will increase further as our Pledge Day gets nearer. Thanks be to God!
If you have questions or would like to talk further with one of the Connected Team before our Pledge Day, please email or contact the church office.

Connected Prayer Space
To recognise the vital need for regular prayer as we approach this project under God, we are creating a special area in church for this purpose. The new Connected Prayer Space will be located where one of the two new connections will be made, at the front of the north aisle by the vestry door. With permission from the Archdeacon of Reigate, we are temporarily removing one pew and its bookrest to create a space suitable for use by individuals or a small group, with information and reminders on how we can be praying for the project. Please join others in the space if it would be helpful to you, either before or after a service, or when the church is open at other times.

Connected Prayer
During August we shall be meeting in the prayer space on a Sunday from 9.45am to 10.00am for 15 minutes of prayer before the Summer Services. Do join members of the staff team and prayer team as we pray together.
The church is also open between 2.00pm and 5.00pm on a Monday for silent prayer, and I encourage you to make use of the church to pray if you are free at that time. You won’t be alone! (‘Thank You’ to those who are staffing this slot to enable the church to be open). We are producing a prayer sheet for each of these Mondays.
Connected Prayer cards are available in the church foyer to pray for HT over the summer.

Questions and Answers
After the presentation in June we invited questions about the Building Project. Members of the Steering Group have been responding to these questions via the rolling notices shown on screen in church on a Sunday. A slideshow with all the answers provided so far now appears on the Connected page of the website, and this will be added to as the questions are addressed.

Connected page on the website
Have you watched the video recently to inspire your praying for the project? The video, plus an online copy of the brochure is available here:
As I watched the video again today, I was struck afresh by the following:
·         The opportunities that the new facilities will give us to be more active and welcoming in our engagement with the community. The possibility of outreach through use of the kitchen facilities, and the improved spaces for creative youth and children’s ministry excite me. The impact of a welcoming concourse area and a friendly face on the reception desk are hard to put into words, but are all-important in terms of first impressions.
·         The increased visibility of Holy Trinity from the London Road. The glazed frontage and new access from this busy road will present Holy Trinity as a welcoming and thriving Christian community.
·         The importance of accessibility and level flooring has been brought home to me in recent days. The fact this new building is fully accessible will be a huge benefit for those who push a buggy, use a wheelchair, or have mobility issues.

A Lesson from History
As we looked at Nehemiah together recently we saw how a vision given to one person became a vision owned by a whole community. Everyone from the perfumers and priests to those more used to taking up a trowel were engaged in addressing a part of the wall, as the Lord used his people to rebuild the city’s defences. But a rebuilt wall was nothing without a rebuilt people, and the book tells of how the people gathered around as Ezra read aloud the book of the Law ‘and all of the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law…then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.’ Neh. 8: 3b, 6b
We’re reminded that this is a spiritual project. We’re called to read our Bibles to seek God’s wisdom and guidance. We’re called to pray for God’s provision and prompting. We’re called to respond in worship and sacrificial giving by offering ourselves to him in response to the ultimate sacrifice he made for us.
In Romans 12 Paul speaks about our ‘true and proper worship’. We’re to ‘offer (our) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God’. He goes on to flesh that out in surprisingly practical and personal terms: ‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…if your gift is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously…’ Paul lists the ability to give generously as a spiritual gift that has been given to some. Generosity is an attitude of the heart rather than a number, and a generous gift will have a different figure against it for each one of us, depending on our circumstances. If you have not yet considered your pledge, then please do so and - as Paul urged the Corinthians - do so cheerfully!

Your friend and Vicar,       

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8th August 2017  

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Bishop, Bob Dylan and the Book of Psalms

It's not always the case that I find myself in tune with a Bishop on Thought for the Day...but today, the Bishop of Leeds, our former Bishop of Croydon, Nick Baines gave a Pause for Thought on Radio 2 that chimed with what we have planned here for the summer at HT.

Nick's transcript is below if you'd like to read the whole thing, or you can listen to it here.

Nick spoke abut the power of songs - words and music combined - to 'shred our souls' as we listen to songs that convey the whole range of human emotions.

He then turned to the Psalms:

Whether howling with complaint about the injustices in life, or laughing with joy at the wonderful enormity of the cosmos, or weeping alongside those whose lives have been torn apart, or encouraging your mates to stick with it regardless of the hindrances … the whole of life is in there and there’s a song for everyone at every time and in every place.

Over the summer services at Holy Trinity we are looking at some of the Psalms. 
On Sundays it is Psalms 61-63: God my Rock (61), God my Fortress (62), God my God (63). 
Tomorrow at Rendezvous - our 10am midweek service - we begin a series on 'My Favourite Psalm (and Why)'. Different preachers will say how the psalm they have chosen has been used by God to speak to them at some point in their life - pointing them to God, to hope, to comfort; enabling them to express pain, sorrow, doubt, delight.

Come along and let God put a new song in your mouth!

Psalm 40

Long journeys

by nickbaines
This is the script of this morning's Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Show.
It's that time of year again. For me August slows everything down and I finally get some space. But, it's also the time for long car journeys … and that means loads of time to listen to music. The great thing about your kids having grown up is that no one argues with your choice of CDs.
Well, what you’ll find in my car this morning - I have just checked - is a strange mix of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Richard Ashcroft, Elbow and the wonderful Imelda May. I got back from a trip the other day feeling that my emotions had been shredded, listening to songs that seem to have been dragged out from the depths.
And that’s the power of music. Words on their own can pack a punch, but add a good tune and some decent backing and your guts go on a different journey.
There’s nothing new about this. One of the other things I do during August is read all 150 Psalms from the Hebrew Scriptures. Why? Simply because I get immersed in a song book that doesn't always reflect my mood or circumstances, but does provide a vocabulary for times yet to come. Whether howling with complaint about the injustices in life, or laughing with joy at the wonderful enormity of the cosmos, or weeping alongside those whose lives have been torn apart, or encouraging your mates to stick with it regardless of the hindrances … the whole of life is in there and there’s a song for everyone at every time and in every place.
Just over a week ago I was talking to child refugees in the countryside outside Khartoum in Sudan. Kids whose family have disappeared and who find themselves abandoned or orphaned through the violence of others. Yet, they still hear the echoes of a haunting melody that whispers of hope as they are taken in and cared for by strangers who meet them where they are. Lament is coloured by laughter; memory does not just belong to the past, but is being created for tomorrow.
So, in all the twists and turns of a fragile life, it is still possible to detect the sound of a plea uttered by Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn: “Love that fires the sun keep me burning.”

Monday, 7 August 2017

A great start to our Summer services!

Yesterday saw the first of our Summer Sunday Services - combining our usual Sunday@9.15, @11 and @4 services into one Sunday@10.30 service throughout August. (Just in case anyone is tempted to think the clergy are slacking over the summer, there was also an 8am and a 7pm service...)

We also began our sermon series on Psalms 61-63.

Psalm 61 is full of evocative imagery for those who are struggling or weary:

Hear my cry, O God;
Listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. 

God the strength (the rock, the strong tower) of those who put their trust in him; God the security (refuge, sheltering wings) of those who look to him.
The Bible offers no illusions of a trouble-free life, but it describes a relationship with a personal God who is present when troubles come - the Psalms encourage us to cry out honestly, and the gospels reveal Jesus as God's personal response to our need, 'the rock that is higher than I'.

The service included a dedication and thanksgiving for the safe arrival of Bethany Tait, and those who came to support the family swelled the numbers of our post-service picnic.

Great weather and great company meant that the picnic went on until well into the afternoon. All in all a great start to our Summer Services at HT - same time next week...and another picnic on the 20th!

It was a great start 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Games Shed pt 2

Where we turn an unpromising pile of metal panels and self-tapping screws into a very useful shed. 

The base - see The Games Shed pt 1

We were visited by a garden gnome with home-made cookies...

(Break for a curry)

A satisfying afternoon / evening's work. The doors will go on tomorrow. Thanks, Steve!

Update - the next day...

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Mindfulness, Thankfulness and Resilience!

To my old theological college, Oak Hill College, for a '3-day intensive'! Sounds like a physical work-out, but the sessions are set in the classroom and focus on forming 'resilience' in ministry. 


Why are some people able to cope with stress, hardship and trauma, and even able to bounce back stronger than before, whilst others are overwhelmed and crushed by similar experiences? Why are some more resilient than others in the face of these kind of pressures? Is 'resilience' a trait that some are born with, or something that all can develop? A strong case can be made for the latter. 


Mindfulness is the practice of training the brain to respond in a disciplined way - not to be taken over by events or experiences. Mindfulness can be described as 'being more fully aware of your own experience in the present moment', and the practice of it involves focusing on what you are experiencing as you sit quietly - thoughts, sounds, sensations etc are all noted without following them up. 

It has its origin in Buddhism, but was taken up and secularised by clinical psychologists in the 1970's who found that mindfulness practice helped bring relief to those those in chronic pain. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as a means of managing the 'stresses' of life in the 21st C. 

Most studies don't focus on the benefits of this to the life of a clergyman, but one study with obvious parallels was conducted among members of the US Marines... You can read about it here. The study, and others like it, show that mindfulness clearly has some benefits for both physical and mental health. The brain changes the way it responds and reacts to stress when mindfulness has been practiced, and a mindful person is a more resilient person.


The session ended today with time spent drawing connections between what the secular practitioners of mindfulness are discovering, and what the Bible has always taught as being a wise way to live in God's world. What every Christian who prays and spends time with God knows in their own experience to be true.

Thankfulness is emerging as one of the most beneficial attitudes for health. Thankful people are healthier people. Religiously centred thankfulness is particularly beneficial. (I'm not sure who or what you are thankful to if not to God). Practicing thankfulness in the midst of difficulty has more benefits than the removal of suffering and stress. 

Why is being thankful so good for us?

- We are more likely to savour - to dwell on, to recall and retell - positive experiences

- Thankful people are more likely to be content - not constantly seeking new stimulation 

- A positive approach makes negative emotions and bittr ness less likely

- Improved sleep is a result


Psychological literature is slowly discovering that what God has always said is true. Spiritual practices work. God is good for you! 

Jesus called it 'life in all it's fullness' 

If you would like to listen the lecture on resilience (previously given to a ministers conference) click here

Just Once More

For those who weren't able to attend Just One, here is J John's talk on You Tube.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Just One 

To the Emirates Stadium in N7 this afternoon for the much anticipated Just One event. 

It was billed as an invitation event - i.e. each one bring Just One guest - which made the decision to open with 20 minutes of Hillsong worship an interesting choice. Should we be expecting our non-believing friends to sing a song that repeatedly recites the creed? Hmmm. 

The interviews were more guest friendly, including ex-footballer Linvoy Primus, and former Vicar of Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, who both spoke about personal faith. 

The London Community Gospel Choir, Matt Redman and Noel Robinson all played their part in leading us in praise. 

The central part of the event was J John explaining passionately the message of John 3:16, pointing us to the identity and authority of Jesus. His talk was clear and offered listeners the chance to respond - and many hundreds did. 

I pray that for those who responded to hearing the good news of Jesus today, this encounter with him will be as significant and life changing as was a similar experience for me 33 years ago in Derby Assembly Rooms. Best 50p I ever spent...