Welcome to Wokingham Methodist Church
A message from our Minister Revd Catherine Bowstead
It is with sadness that I have to inform you, that following Methodist Connexional advice, our Sunday Worship is suspended until further notice, all our Church meetings have been cancelled and Café Mosaic is closed.
Fortunately, our church community is more than our buildings so a group of us are thinking of ways in which we can continue to support each other and worship together. I will be writing to you towards the end of the week with details of our plans.
In the meantime, you can keep in contact with one another by ‘phone or e-mail and please contact me or Will in the Church Office if needed.
This time of crisis will pass, and our God will remain the same.
With love and prayers,
18 March 2020
Most pages of this website have been updated with information from the 2020 annual reports.
We regret that the following are currently suspended/closed until further notice:
Alzheimer's Café and Carers Group
Café Mosaic and Little Fishes
Craft @ 4 and Creative Spirit
MorsContact (until 1 Sept)
Prayer and House Groups
Parent & Toddler Group
Railway & Transport Club
Sunday Services (but a recorded service is available each week)
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 5 June 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
As lockdown measures are starting to be relaxed a little, it may be that you have been able to have “socially distanced” meetings with some of your friends and family. I’ve heard of people enjoying garden tea-parties and walks. Some children have returned to school and I’m sure they will have been pleased to see their friends and teachers again. It’s good to see people even if we cannot yet give them a handshake or hug in the way we would like.
On Wednesday morning Claire and I went to Lovat House to deliver goodie bags to the staff. They were so pleased to see us and so grateful for the gifts, it made us feel that we had been able to make a positive difference to their well-being. Thank you for your generosity that made this gesture of love and support possible. There are some pictures of the staff at Lovat House and their gift bags included in this newsletter. We have enough donations to make up another batch of bags, which we will deliver in a few weeks’ time along with some treats for the residents. The residents are pleased to be receiving letters from us too, but there are still a few without a penfriend, so if you’d like to help with this please contact Claire.
I mentioned last week that June is Bible Month when we take the opportunity for an in-depth study of a book of the Bible. This year it’s Ruth, and in our service on Sunday we shall be looking at chapter 1, so do read it beforehand if you can. Our Circuit Local Preachers and Worship Leaders are working together to produce worship for all the circuit churches, and it’s proving to be a wonderful opportunity to plan and work together in a way that would not be possible in “normal” conditions. As a result, there will be lots of people involved in our worship for the next four Sundays. As well as the audio service for Wokingham we are producing a video version for some of the other churches, and this will be available on our website for you to look at if you wish. As we explore the experiences of Ruth, Orpah, Naomi and Boaz over the next four weeks, I hope that we might hear God speak into our current situation, and like Ruth have the courage to pursue something new.
I’ve produced some Bible study questions to accompany chapter 1 which you’ll find at the end of this letter. There has been very little response from people wishing to meet in a Zoom Bible study group, so that won’t be happening this week, but do let me know if you would like to be involved in some Bible study and I’ll see what can be arranged. You can contact me by e-mail or by phone.
June is also the month when our church provides the weekly “Church Notes” in the Wokingham Paper on behalf of Churches Together in Wokingham. I have written the article that was published this week, and Claire, Christine and Rosi are writing them in the coming weeks.
Our strange life in lockdown continues, and I hope you have been making a note of the things that you are missing about our church life. This week I’d like you to reflect on the things that we have learnt or have gained during this time that we should continue once we are able to meet again. For example, people are really appreciating our online worship each Sunday, and it may be that we would like to continue to produce worship like this to go on our website each week even when we can physically gather again. Please make a note of your positive ideas and share them with me.
Our studies in Ruth will remind us of the importance of being faithful and loyal, of the need to be brave and to follow where God is leading us. We need to remain faithful to each other and to God, for he promises that he will remain faithful to us and he will continue to love us and guide us through these testing times.
With every blessing,
Bible Study notes for Ruth Chapter 1
The book starts with the words “when the judges ruled”. This was the time before the rule of any kings when people did as they wanted, it was a lawless and uncertain time. The famine in Bethlehem (ironically the “house of bread”) meant that Elimelech and his family had to leave their home in order to survive. Elimelech and Naomi’s sons marry Moabite women, but when all the men in the family die, Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem.
Can you see any similarities in our present-day situation?
Which of the three main characters do you most identify with and why?
What did you learn from Orpah’s story?
Why do you think she decided to return to her family?
What did you learn from Naomi’s story?
What is the significance of her asking to be called “Mara” in verse 20?
What did you learn from Ruth’s story?
Imagine how Ruth’s family felt when she chose to go with Naomi to Bethlehem.
What choices have you made which have changed your life?
What do you learn from this chapter?
Weekly Pastoral Letter - 29 May 2020
From Revd Catherine Bowstead
I hope that you’ve been able to enjoy the wonderful weather that we’ve had this week. Perhaps you’ve been out for a walk or spent time in your garden. I’ve seen some stunning rhododendrons this week and we’ve had lots of different varieties of birds visiting the bird feeder in our garden. I don’t know if nature is more vibrant this year or if it is just that I am noticing and appreciating it more.
And it’s been good to meet up with people on our Zoom coffee mornings, do contact Claire for an invitation if you’d like to join in – all are welcome!
Claire wrote last week to tell us more about our plans for supporting the staff and residents of Lovat House. Thank you to all those who have dropped off donations at Purslane, but we still need a few more people who would be willing to write to one of the residents. Please contact Claire if you would like to be involved in this worthwhile task or if you would like some more information of what’s involved.
This Sunday is Pentecost – 50 days since Easter! I am leading our service this week, Lesley Wheaton and Sian Moore will be doing the Bible readings and Malcolm Ray-Smith has prepared the prayers that we will be using in the service. Pentecost was a watershed moment for the early Christians, they received the Holy Spirit in an immensely powerful way which gave them the inspiration and courage to continue the work of Jesus. From being huddled together in their homes they were transformed with confidence to share the Good News of Jesus with the whole world. At this Pentecost we pray that we too might be transformed and have the courage and inspiration to share the Good News.
June is Bible month and this year’s chosen book is Ruth. This year, our Circuit Local Preachers and Worship Leaders are working together to produce the material to be used for worship around the Circuit, exploring a chapter of Ruth each week. You could prepare for Bible month by reading through the book of Ruth, perhaps you could make a book mark to mark the place in your Bible and make a note of any interesting themes and idea that you notice as you read.
It’s quite a short book with only 4 chapters and it’s a gripping story which you can imagine being told around campfires in ancient Judah. It’s an account of ordinary people living through trials and tribulations, having to make difficult decisions and on the way learning about courage, kindness, loyalty and faith. I am sure that it has much to teach us in our current situation and I hope that we shall be both encouraged and challenged as we share the story together,
If you would like to spend some time exploring it with a group, then we could set up some Bible study groups using Zoom. Please let Will know if you would like to be involved and say whether you would prefer Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday evening to meet.
In my letter last week, I asked you to think about what you are missing about our church through this period of lockdown that needs to be regained once we can meet together again. I hope that you have made a note of your ideas as this week I’d like you to add to your list, but noting things that we have lost that can stay lost, in other words things that you’re not missing and that we won’t need when we can use our buildings again. We have an exciting opportunity to begin again as a church community and to just keep the best of what we do, so please do let me know your ideas. Although we might be able to open our buildings for private prayer in July, I think that it may well be at least September before we are able to worship in our buildings on Sundays, so our on-line activities will continue for some time yet.
I’ve been encouraged by some verses from Romans this week. St Paul writes:
In all these things we are more than conqueror through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 37-39)
We need to hold onto the promise that God is with us and that nothing can separate us from his love. He will remain faithful to us and we will remain faithful to one another and to him.
With every blessing,