New Venue (for the moment at least!)

It was a great joy to be able to meet physically on Sunday at the URC Church on William Street and to welcome those who zoomed in. It all worked well and we look forward to doing the same again on Sunday 6th September. We are glad to have Sam Allberry give us the second of his two sermons. On Sunday he spoke of “The Marks of a Healthy Church” and this Sunday he will speak on “The Love of a Healthy Church”.
We will be having a church / prayer meeting after this which will replace our monthly prayer meeting for September.

Meeting up again physically in a new venue

We are very grateful to God for His provision of a venue at this strange time. As children across the country prepare to meet one another again next week at school, the Lord has opened up the way for us to meet together at church. We will be using the Windsor URC on William Street.
We are meeting there for the first time on Sunday 30th August and are very much looking forward to this.

Coronavirus and the Windsor Fellowship Church

I lift up my eyes to the mountains– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7)

As Boris Johnson said yesterday, this current crisis is unprecedented in peacetime.  The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have just released this statement and we’re going to follow this advice.  Therefore, all formal group meetings of the Windsor Fellowship Church are postponed until further notice.  Whilst this is entirely the right thing to do, I feel deep sadness about this.  Meeting together as a church family is one of the great joys of being part of Jesus’ family.  However, we live in a technological age, so below are details of how we propose to deal with this crisis as a church.  First however perhaps I could offer some encouragements:

  1. We are all bound to feel anxious. It’s a sobering reminder of our human frailty and mortality and of the limitations of medical science and government.  However, if we trust in Jesus, our living sovereign Lord and loving personal saviour, we can be sure that he loves us deeply and we’re secure with him. (Romans 8:28). So may I encourage you tocast all your anxiety on him’ in prayer.  We have an opportunity to encourage one another, to witness to unbelievers, and to remain calm in the face of sickness and death.  Not because we are British, but because we trust in our living Lord and loving Saviour, Jesus Christ.
  2. At a time when many unbelievers will be afraid or even panicking, God may be giving us special opportunities to love and serve them – we really do have the gloriously comforting gospel – Jesus loves us so much he died for us and lives to offer us the certain hope of resurrection! We’re likely to have opportunities togive the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15)

So, considering the wonderful technology available to us, this is what we propose:

  1. Sunday at 4pm

In lieu of physically gathering on Sundays we will ‘gather’ remotely.  We’ll use web conferencing software which will allow us to ‘meet’.  Further details will be sent out later in the week.

– It will include a time of prayer, a Bible reading, and a shorter than usual talk.  It will also provide an opportunity for us to interact with each other, to ask questions and to share prayer requests.  We won’t be able to sing together, but will suggest some songs that you could listen/sing along to after our time has ended.

– If you have children, we’d love them to join with the whole family gathered round your screen.  We will include some activities for the children as well.

  1. Prayer Meetings

– I will send out suggested ideas for prayer and would encourage us to all to join in prayer at the time of our usual prayer meetings.  The first being tomorrow at 8pm.  Regardless of whether you usually attend the prayer meeting, please do pray!

  1. Home Groups

– If you are in a home group, then your leader will email you separately with ideas about how to ‘meet’ and support each other.

– For those not in a home group, I will contact you about setting up a ‘virtual’ group.  This is so you also can be supported, prayed for, and know in what ways you can encourage the wider church family and love our community.

  1. Contact & Contact Nano

– These groups are postponed until further notice.

– We will think of ways our children and young people can still ‘meet’.  As they are so much more technologically advanced than we are they probably are way ahead of us!  We’ll send an email to parents with ideas about organising group ‘meetings’.

  1. Loving our Neighbour

– I’m in frequent contact with the other church ministers in Windsor about how we can support our community.

– Please do contact your physical neighbours about how you can help them.  If you would like one, I have a template of a flier I can send you to print out to put through letter boxes.  Also, I have ordered 300 short tracts – Hope beyond Coronavirus – to give out.  Please let me know if you would like some of these.

  1. Share one another’s burdens

‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ (Gal. 6:2) – We have the joy of supporting each other.  Please let me know if there is anything you need, so we can help carry your burden.  Also, please let me know if you have capacity to share the load of someone else.

And remember, ‘God is our strength and refuge, an ever-present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1)

With love in Christ

Pete Matthew

Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church

pete@windsorfellowship.com

Your dreams for 2020

Happy New Year!

The new year is a time to think about your dreams.  What do you want your life to be like in five years’ time?  What steps do you need to take to achieve those dreams?  Perhaps this is even more so at the start of a new decade.

It’s the same for our church family, what are your dreams for the Windsor Fellowship Church?  What would you like the church to look like in five years’ time?  What are the steps we need to take to achieve those dreams?  What’s your role in taking these steps?  This is a great time for us to dream big.

In all our dreaming and plans, for ourselves and our church family, where does God fit in?  Today at church we’re thinking about 1 Corinthians 3, in all we do, with all our efforts, we need to look, trust and rely on God to do the work.  “Nether the one who plants nor the one waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.”  (1 Corinthians 3:7)

So, in 2020, let’s dream big, let’s work together, and let’s trust God to make things grow.

We rely on God for growth, but we need to do the ‘planting and watering’:

  • Be regular at church to encourage each other.  Very helpful article by our Sam Allberry, Your Church needs you, can be found here
  • Be committed to prayer.  Come to the prayer meeting – our next one is tomorrow evening, Monday 6th Jan.  If God is the one who makes things grow then we need to talk to him in prayer.
  • Be involved in talking about Jesus.  God makes things grow, he gets the credit, but we’re involved.  Plant the seed, water it, and trust God.  Our next Christianity Explored course starts on January 16th.  What about your friend who came to the Jeremy Marshall evening/the wreath making/carol service/nativity?  Invite them to come along.

Happy New Year and see you this afternoon to encourage each other to rely on God who makes things grow.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us

We’ve reached the 5th request in our series on the Lord’s Prayer.  In our sermon (see sermon tab) on Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us we focused on the first part of the request.  Forgive us our sins.  The second half automatically flows out from us when we understand the first half.  Recognising the depth and depravity of our sinful hearts leads us to delight and depend on the magnitude of God’s amazing grace and forgiveness.  When our thinking about sin and forgiveness is orientated correctly we automatically become forgiving people.  The oft repeated cliche is helpful, “The unforgiving heart is the unforgiven heart” (see Matthew 6:14-15).

As we focused our attention on the our sin and the magnitude of Christ’s forgiveness we didn’t have time to ponder what it looks like for us to forgive those who sin against us.  As promised here is the link to the very helpful article I read this week which answers a number of our questions about this – https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erik-raymond/common-questions-christians-ask-forgiveness/

Why do we have communion at church?

Why do we have communion at church?

In our All Age spots this term we’ve been thinking about why we do various activities at church.  We’ve thought about why we sing, pray, and give.  Last week we thought about why we have communion at church.  This is important for all of us in the church family.

Firstly, communion is a gracious gift from Jesus, along with baptism, that illustrates the significance of his death on the cross.  Baptism symbolises the effect of the cross in washing us clean from the stain of sin.  Communion illustrates the horrific events of the first Good Friday.  Nothing happens to the bread and wine, the Apostles never confused the bread in Jesus’ hands with his body, or the wine with his blood.  It remains bread and wine.  But it is more than a graphic sermon illustration, as real as the bread and wine are to taste is as real as Jesus’ death in our place, it is a visual, physical, emotional action that unites us in a deep and real way with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

In communion we do three things:

  • We look back – we remember what Jesus went through, on our behalf, almost 2,000 years ago. It happened, it’s an event of history.  We should remember.
  • We look up – as we eat the bread and drink the wine we’re connecting spiritually with Jesus as he rules all things from God’s throne room. It’s not magic, but, as we eat and drink, we’re relating to Jesus on a deep and intimate level.
  • We look forward – we’re reminded that Jesus is coming back to bring in his perfected, completed and fulfilled kingdom.

So, who is it for?  All Christians in good standing – if you’re a committed Christian, then communion is for you.  Communion isn’t something to be glib about, it’s for those who are disciples who are trusting in Jesus for their identity, security, assurance and life.  It’s also for those who are in a good relationship with their Christian brothers and sisters.  None of us are ‘perfect’, but we need to be a repentant believer who is living with Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and is committed to their church family.

The New Testament has a lot to say about communion, for instance, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. (1 Cor. 11:27-29 NIV – emphasis mine.)  Clearly, it is an important and serious act for a Christian to partake in communion.

So, should your children take communion?  Well, the same considerations you should think about prior to take communion are also true for your children.  Do they believe they’re repentant sinners saved by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone?  Are they committed disciples of Christ who are striving to grow and mature as His followers?  If you feel it is appropriate for them and they understand, at their level, what communion is and why we have it, then they’re welcome to join in.

Some families will make different decisions on whether it is appropriate for their children to take the bread and wine, that’s totally fine.

If you’d like me to come and talk to you, and your children, about communion then I’d be very happy to do this.  If you’re happy to talk to them yourself that’s great, please could you let me know what you decide, so we know who to distribute to when we share communion.

Pete Matthew

Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church

What are we up to in 2019

I know 2018 hasn’t quite finished yet, but I’m assuming you’re going to get a nice new diary in your stocking and you want to put the church dates in first to make sure you don’t miss anything!

We’ve got lots of plans for the year ahead—women’s events, men’s events, youth events.  We’re planning on a day trip to the Big Church Day Out with up to 30,000 other Christians.  We’ve got church social events and evangelistic events.  We’re putting on a 2-day children’s holiday club.  We’re helping at the Windsor Homeless shelter.  It sounds like a lot, but spread through the year we hope it’ll be a good balance.  See below for some key dates, but before then here are some highlights.

Friday@Hopkins’ – For those who were here at the start of the Windsor Fellowship Church’s life you’ll remember how you met on a Friday evening at the Hopkins’ home.  From what I’ve heard they sounded like a wonderful social time and many people, not just church people, enjoyed spending time together.  We’d like to recreate something of that and the initial run of 3 will be Friday 25th January, Friday 22ndFebruary, and Friday 29th March.

Big Church Day Out – This a weekend Christian festival suitable for all ages, from the very young to the very old.  We’re planning on going down for the day on  Saturday May 25th with as many from our church family who can come.  Because we’ve not been before we’re eligible for a large discount on normal prices—£23 per adult and £17 per child (5-16 year’s old, under 5s free).  A friend from our previous church who has been wrote this “It’s a little snippet of what heaven will be like just coming before King Jesus in worship, adoration and praise… Where else can you listen to Christian hip hop, and dance about in a mosh pit, see Pirate Gem from cbeebies swashbuckle (kids!) and hear powerful music and amazing testimonies.  Our motivation was primarily showing the children that “church” is so much bigger than a building on a Sunday and hanging out in the field with tens of thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ certainly did that! It’s not just about the main stage though, the site is massive with several other stages offering different  genres of music and places to simply stop, reflect and rest.”

Children’s Holiday Club – Thursday & Friday 30th & 31st May – 10am-12.30pm – Holiday Clubs are amazing fun and hugely engaging for primary aged children.  Lots of activities, games, and great Bible teaching.  We’ll be in the youth centre.  Great for our kids at church, great to bring other children you know, and a great opportunity for you to serve and be involved.

Summer Camps – We’d love all of our 11+ young people to go on a summer residential Christian holiday.  Many of ours already do, but if yours doesn’t then please talk to me.  Last year 5 of our young people came to Maidwell 1 CYFA Venture www.maidwell1.org (there’s a promo video on there with incriminating pictures of me!).  We’d love it if as many as possible could come from our church family, (even if they’re already going on one it’d be great if they could come on this one too), including students coming back as junior leaders, and any others to consider coming as a leader or cook.

Key Dates:

Sunday 27th January – Confirmation Service – The Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas, is coming for this special event as a number of our family make a public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ. If you’re interested in being confirmed (or re-affirming your baptismal vows) please talk to me asap.

Sunday 31st March – Church Lunch – Join the whole church family for a Sunday roast.

Saturday 28th September – Annual Vision Dinner – Join us for our annual dinner as we think about the year ahead.

 For a full list of church events see our church calendar on our home page of the website.

Regards,

Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church

GAFCON III – What a week!

The above photograph was taken on the Temple Steps in Jerusalem, as the delegates at Gafcon III gathered together for a celebratory service and to have a photo taken ’10 Years On!’.  You can read more about the significance of this global photo shoot here.

It was a joy to be in Jerusalem, and hopefully this blog post will allow you to taste something of the flavour of Gafcon III and to place the conference statement, written in the form of “A Letter to the Churches”, in context.  (Also, I have taken most of this post from a friends reflection and she has let me ‘borrow’ what she said!)

“We will proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations!” 

This was the rallying cry repeated over and over again by the 1,950, or so, delegates at Gafcon 2018 and there is no doubt in my mind that it was more than a slogan.  This was a declaration of intent.  Gafcon is not a conference where people come to moan about the state of the church – instead it was a conference where those facing persecution and under pressure to conform, were reminded of the glorious truth of the gospel and inspired to return to their corner of the globe ready to share the greatest news of all with those they live among.  It has certainly been a personal challenge to me as I have met with friends and neighbours – will I proclaim the gospel to them?

Additionally, it caused me to think about us at the Windsor Fellowship Church, are we in maintenance mode or missional mode.  A church in maintenance mode is easy, predictable, everything is the same.  In contrast being in missional mode is hard, sacrificial, tiring.  Are we willing to proclaim Christ faithfully to Windsor?  If we are it’ll be hard, but it’ll also be glorious.

Global Anglican Futures Conference: Gafcon lives up to its billing.

Gafcon is Global: There were delegates from over 50 countries; from France to Fiji, Mexico to Myanmar.  Some national delegations were made up of hundreds of bishops, clergy and laity, (click here to see the Ugandans in fine song on the plane to Jerusalem) other countries were represented by lone voices, but to hear the Lord’s Prayer spoken in over 100 languages simultaneously was to experience something of what it means for God to be calling people from every nation, tribe, people and language to praise his holy name.

Gafcon is also developing truly global teams, networks and leadership, which overturn the sometimes neo-colonial expectations of the traditional Anglican structures.  It was a joy to have preachers, presenters and seminar leaders from six continents sharing their wisdom with us.

Gafcon is Anglican: In England we often downplay our Anglican connections – but at Gafcon the benefits of belonging to a biblically based, historically grounded, episcopally led global family, with a shared liturgy that allows us to worship together, is something to be celebrated.  The message was clearly stated in the “Letter to the Churches”, published on the final day: “We are not leaving the Anglican Communion; we are the majority of the Anglican Communion seeking to remain faithful to our Anglican heritage.”

This is an Anglicanism which is based on a joint confession of biblical faith and a desire to support one another as we proclaim the true gospel to the nations.  It stands in contrast to those seeking institutional unity based on archaic structures.

Gafcon is looking to the Future: Many commentators have remarked on the ‘maturity’ of Gafcon III and there is no doubt that this conference has moved forward in tone, content, organisation and ambition.

In 2004, the Windsor Report warned that the proposed actions of The Episcopal Church would ‘tear the fabric of our Communion at the deepest level”.  In the intervening years, faithful Anglicans have prayed, protested and pleaded in their attempts to persuade the traditional Instruments of Communion (The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ Meeting, the Lambeth Conference and the Anglican Consultative Council) to uphold discipline and restore order.  Their efforts have been ignored and, emboldened by the lack of discipline, other provinces have followed the revisionist path, which in turn has increased the size and depth of the problem.

The “Letter to the Churches” states:

“During the past twenty years, the Instruments of Communion have not only failed to uphold godly discipline but their representatives have refused to recognise our concerns and have chosen instead to demean Gafcon as a one-issue pressure group and accuse it of promoting schism, where in fact the schismatics are those who have departed from the teaching of the Bible and the historic doctrine of the Church. Slogans such as “walking together” and “good disagreement” are dangerously deceptive in seeking to persuade people to accommodate false teaching in the Communion.”

The letter expresses grief and repentance, but this is no outward display of hand-wringing, instead those present accepted that it was Gafcon’s responsibility to ensure the future health of the Anglican Communion:

  • Through the formation of a Panel of Advisors (made up of lay, clergy and episcopal representation of the Gafcon Provinces and Branches) to meet with the Gafcon Primates as a Synodical Council.
  • Through the creation of nine global networks to expand Gafcon’s ability to proclaim Christ faithfully to the nations in both word and deed (see below).
  • Through a change in leadership:
    • Archbishop Foley Beach will replace Archbishop Nicholas Okoh as the Chairman of the Primates’ Council at the next meeting of the Gafcon Primates in April 2019.
    • Archbishop Ben Kwashi will take over from Archbishop Peter Jensen as General Secretary of Gafcon in December 2018.  He will be assisted by regional representatives, including our very own Bishop Andy Lines, who will be responsible for Gafcon’s work in Europe.
  • Through a final plea to the Archbishop of Canterbury to consider carefully who he invites to Lambeth 2020 and an agreement that, if the guest list includes those Provinces that have turned their back on historic Anglican doctrine and ignores those who are seeking to stand firm, Gafcon bishops are urged not to attend.

Gafcon is truly a Conference: One of the most extraordinary things about Gafcon is that it is a proper conference – the delegates are able to confer with one another – and their voices are listened to.  Those with responsibility for writing the conference ‘statement’ worked long into the night on Thursday, as they sought to consider every delegations’ response to the ‘Draft Statement’.  What emerged was the “Letter to the Churches” – a letter that I hope will encourage and challenge us all and one that we will wish to share widely for discussion and prayer.

Finally, one of the remarkable (and perhaps unique, in Anglican circles) elements of Gafcon III was the global participation enabled through social media and the live stream video output.  165,000 unique individuals tuned into the Livestream (and this doesn’t count the 5 million Nigerians who watched it on their local Anglican TV network), and more than 3/4 million individuals engaged with the official Gafcon Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds (#gafcon2018).  These are extraordinary numbers, even more so when one realises they do not take into account those who viewed content after someone else shared it, or after the conference closed or heard about Gafcon through the thousands of unofficial tweets and posts by delegates!

If all this makes you feel as if you might have missed out – do not fear – the official video, photos, news and blog is all there waiting to be watched, viewed, read and shared.

Video – https://vimeo.com/gafcon
Photos – https://www.flickr.com/photos/142366446@N02/albums
News – https://www.gafcon.org/recent-news
Blog – https://www.gafcon.org/jerusalem-2018/blog

So, if you are still reading after all that, what can we pray?

There is of course, much to give thanks for – God poured out his blessing on the conference in so many ways – allowing us to bear witness to the truth of Psalm 33:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

I have also been reminded of Nehemiah chapter 6.  Gafcon is, I believe, a ‘great project’ and one that the enemy would love to destroy through distraction (6:1-4), fake news (6:5-8) and intimidation (6:10-13) – our prayer for those who are leading this movement, both globally and locally, must be the same as Nehemiah’s:
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking,
“Their hands will get too weak for the work,
and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
Nehemiah 6:9

 

What’s your focus for 2018?

We had a great time on Sunday with our New Year’s Eve ramble.  We spent a few minutes thinking about what we should focus on in 2018.  We looked at Hebrews 12:1-3 and saw our focus should be on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.  Whatever happens in 2018, good or ill, if we follow, model, focus on, and live for Jesus, it will have been an effective and productive year.

This Sunday we’re back to normal at the Windsor Youth & Community Centre at 4pm.  We’ll be continuing our sermon series from the book of Hebrews.  Will Stileman will be preaching from chapter 10 and we’ll be thinking how stratospherically superior Jesus’ sacrifice is to any other options.

House groups will continue to follow the sermon series.  If you’re not in a house group and would like to know more about them, do get in touch with me.  Our mid-week groups are a wonderful forum to deepen our love for each other and for God as we study his word.  We’re planning to launch a third evening group soon.

Dates for your diary:

4th January (this evening) – Hope in depression course starts

13th January – Men’s breakfast –  Thinking about the nature & character of God.  8.15-9.30am, The George, Eton High Street, SL4 6AF

18th January – Women’s evening with Rosie Dunn, coordinator of the London Women’s Convention, speaking about friendship – more details to follow

22nd January – Monthly prayer meeting

10th February – Church Social

11th March – Church lunch

15th March – Women’s evening with Hilary Nicholls

21st April – Windsor Fellowship Vision Dinner

Regards,

Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church

Christmas is coming

Christmas is almost here – who can you invite to come along to one of our events?

Christmas is a great time of year. Fun, parties, presents, Brussels sprouts. And, of course, the celebration of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Plus, Christmas is a great time of year because it’s an easy time to talk to our friends about Jesus. People are more receptive to come along to a carol service or nativity. And that is wonderful because we want our friends to hear about Jesus.

In our sermons from Hebrews we’ve been reminded that Jesus is the only way to be saved. Jesus is stratospherically superior to any other option. He is the unique means of salvation, and that’s what our friends need to hear. So, please do invite a horde of people to come along to our various Christmas events.

Also, we have bundles of flyers to deliver around Windsor, so please do help with this distribution. And why not take a bundle to give out to your neighbours? On our Facebook page we have all our Christmas events so, if you are socially media minded, you could invite them that way.

Friday 1st December – Christmas Wreath Making – Ladies’ guest event – A fun, relaxed evening making Christmas wreaths. This is a ticketed event. Please contact Nicki Matthew if you’d like to come.

Saturday 9th December 6pm – Carols…in a pub! – Great fun, great carols, great atmosphere – Duchess of Cambridge pub – If you were there last year, you won’t need convincing to come along. If you weren’t there, ask someone who was and they’ll tell you it was brilliant!

Sunday 10th December 4pm – All Age Nativity – Everyone who wants a part is guaranteed a role – last year we had babies to granddads dressed up! A great event for all the family.

Saturday 16th December 7.30pm – Church Christmas Social – Beech House, Hermitage Lane, SL4 4Z. Bring a wrapped Christmas ornament and we will play a silly game!

Sunday 17th December 4pm – Carols by (some) candlelight – Traditional service of lessons and carols – the youth centre can actually look Christmassy!

Sunday 24th December 4pm – Low key carols – Relaxed Christmas Eve service.

Monday 25th December 10am – Christmas Day Celebration – Hopkins’ house – Beech House, Hermitage Lane, SL4 4AZ. If in Windsor, please join the church family in celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

Regards,

Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church
07919 577676
www.windsorfellowship.com

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