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/[email protected]/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

Are you baby?

No one likes to be called a baby. In the passage we’re looking at in church today the writer of Hebrews accuses the 1st century Roman Christians of being just like that, “You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant.” They thought, because they’d got the basics right about the Christian faith, they didn’t need to try and understand anything deeper. They thought they could just tread water.

No one thinks like that in general life, we want to learn and develop, we want to progress in our careers. But, are we in danger of being infantile in our Christian faith? Are we treading water? The writer encourages them to “move beyond the elementary teaching about Christ and be taken forward to maturity.” This is a great encouragement for us to keep growing in our knowledge and love of Christ. If you’re not sure how to do that please ask someone you trust Don’t stay a baby Christian, grow up!

Upcoming events:

A Monk’s Tale
Saturday 11th November
7.30pm-9.30pm
Windsor Youth & Community Centre, Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

Tickets £10 – More info or to book: [email protected]

Friday 1st December – Christmas Wreath Making – Ladies’ guest event – A fun, relaxed evening making Christmas wreaths. This is a ticketed event. More details to come soon.

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 – Details coming soon.

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.

A Monk’s Tale

“A hugely entertaining hour” The Times

A Monk’s Tale
Saturday 11th November
7.30pm-9.30pm
Windsor Youth & Community Centre, Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

Tickets £10 – More info or to book: [email protected]

This show is about Martin Luther. And it’s for people who aren’t quite sure which Luther we’re talking about. With a feeling of Horrible Histories and Monty Python, A Monk’s Tale helps the audience understand the unfamiliar medieval mindset, and exactly what Luther was trying to do with his 95 Theses, which sparked one of the most significant movements in history: the Reformation.

The show is light, accessible and funny, using sketches, and songs to explain the specifics of the story: the indulgences, purgatory, the sacraments and theological disputes of the period. As the play unfolds, the audience will be informed and challenged as well as entertained and amused.

Suitable for all ages and all faiths, as well as skeptics, the fast-paced hour-long show also covers the Wycliffe and the Lollards, popes, princes and the seismic changes brought on by the internet of its time, the Printing Press.

“I laughed a lot… energetically choreographed, and packed with lyrical wit… smartly-judged art.” – Christian Today

“A great deal of silliness make for a hugely entertaining hour that revels in the absurdities of one of the biggest religious arguments in history.”
– Damian Arnold, The Times

Thank God for Harvest

Harvest is a great time of year to remind us to give thanks to God for all He is and all He does and all He has given us. Giving thanks also reminds us of how God has blessed us and that encourages us to be generous. Below is a wonderful photograph of some children in the Lebanon receiving some of the clothes donated by you. Thank you for your generosity.

We have a “Thank God for Harvest” event coming up on Sunday 1st October at 2pm. It will be a fun filled, all age family event. There will be games and crafts and activities and food, and a short talk about giving thanks to God for all he has given us. Please pray for this event and think about who you can invite to come with you?

Additionally, during our normal church meeting from 4pm, on the 1st October, we have Ruth from Compassion International coming to tell us about her experiences growing up in South East Asia as a sponsored child. There will be an opportunity for us to think whether we could sponsor a child ourselves, perhaps that could be your harvest gift this year.

Upcoming events:

Saturday 16th September 4pm – Church BBQ – a wonderful chance to spend time with each other – RSVP to [email protected]

Thursday 21st September 7.45pm – Women’s evening with Sarah Sayer as guest speaker – RSVP to [email protected]

Sunday 1st October 2pm – Thank God for Harvest – All Age family fun activity afternoon in celebration of Harvest

Looking ahead:

November 11th – A Monk’s Tale – A professionally performed comedy play about the reformation – Windsor Youth & Community Centre – Tickets and more details coming soon

New Start

Even if you’ve not been away during the summer I do hope you’ve had a chance to ease back on the usual hectic pace of life. We all need time for relaxation. However, the summer is coming to an end and now it’s back to work (or school or university). My brain is conditioned to think of September as the start of a new year. So, it’s a good time to reflect on some big questions: What will this year be like? What will God teach me? How can I serve Him more effectively?

Those are good questions to ask at any point, but perhaps with September upon us you could spend some time thinking about them today.

Also, with so many of us being away for parts of the last few weeks, September is a great time to reconnect with our church family. Why not come along this Sunday, or even this Saturday join us for our Church BBQ!

Upcoming events:

Saturday 16th September 4pm – Church BBQ – a wonderful chance to spend time with each other – [email protected]

Thursday 21st September 7.30pm – Women’s evening with Sarah Sayer as guest speaker

Sunday 1st October 2pm – Thank God for Harvest – All Age family fun activity afternoon in celebration of Harvest

Looking ahead:

November 11th – A Monk’s Tale – A professionally performed comedy play about the reformation – Windsor Youth & Community Centre – Tickets and more details coming soon

Regards,

Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church

What’s your vision like?

What’s your vision like? Not seeing clearly is a real problem. Without my glasses I stumble around and can’t find anything. That image is also true of us as a church. If we don’t a have a clear vision we’ll stumble around and be ineffective.

Therefore, to help us all see clearly what we’re trying to be like and what we’re striving to do here at the Windsor Fellowship Church we’re going to have a Vision and Mission Dinner on the 21st April. At this dinner we’ll have a great time together as a church family and think about our vision as a church. As a group, we will think about what God wants us to do and how we can work towards that goal.

Please put this event in your diary now and do all you can to be with us. It will be in the evening. Other details have yet to be finalised. We’re hoping this Dinner will enthuse all of us to want to be involved in all we do as a church family.

Upcoming events:

Monday 6th March – 7.30pm – Youth Bible Study – A new group for our teenagers to meet to discuss whether the Bible is true and how it might be relevant to their lives. For more information contact Pete Matthew.
Wednesday 15th April – 7.45pm – Monthly Prayer Meeting – 90 Frances Road, SL4 3AN
Saturday 25th March – Youth event and social – More details from Alicia Felce

Future dates for your diary:

Sunday 2nd April – 2pm – Thank God for Easter – Windsor Youth & Community Centre – A fun, family event which will flow into our normal Sunday meeting.
Good Friday 14th April – 10am – All age celebration of Jesus’ death on the cross – Windsor Youth & Community Centre – An interactive re-telling of the Good Friday story
Good Friday 14th April – 11.00am – An hour at the cross – Windsor Youth & Community Centre – Quiet reflection on Jesus’ sacrifice in our place for our sins
Easter Sunday – 16th April – 4pm – All age Easter celebration – Windsor Youth & Community Centre
Friday 21st April – 7.30pm – Vision Dinner – Details to be confirmed

Regards,
Pete Matthew
Senior Minister, Windsor Fellowship Church
[email protected]
07919 577676
www.windsorfellowship.com

How to have a happy 2017

Happy New Year!

We had a great time on Sunday with our first New Year’s Day ramble, which probably should have been called New Year’s Day swim, such was the ferocity of the rain.  Once we’d dried and thawed out we spent a few minutes thinking about what would make 2017 a happy year.  Psalm 1 starts by saying “Blessed is the one…”  The word used for “blessed” can be translated “truly happy”.  So, if you want to know how to be truly happy in 2017 look at Psalm 1 and do what it says.

This Sunday we’re back to normal at the Windsor Youth & Community Centre at 4pm.  We will be starting a new sermon series looking at the Old Testament book of Malachi.  It was written about 2,500 years ago to warn God’s people not to go soft on their relationship with God.  God’s people were giving him little or no attention; they were going off doing their own thing and only occasionally gave God any consideration.  That seems to ring a lot of bells with our contemporary society and church. 

The plan is for the house groups 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. 

Regards,

Pete Matthew, Senior Minister

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