Revd Catherine Bowstead - Minister
I’ve been minister at Wokingham since September 2015 and in 2019 became Superintendent of the Berkshire Surrey Borders Circuit. Previously I have served churches in Epsom, Southend-on-Sea and most recently in Colchester. I am pleased to be back in Berkshire to be near where I grew up in Slough. I am married to Mike, and we have two adult children. Before training for the ministry, I was a primary school teacher.
My passions in ministry are preaching, leading worship, and encouraging people to see God at work in their lives. I enjoy enabling others to work in teams to achieve much more than we could as individuals.
In my spare time I enjoy walking, reading, tap dancing and going to concerts and gigs.
Updated July 2023
Annual Report (March 2023)
I am pleased to be able to commend our Annual Report to you. The Covid Pandemic and lockdowns had a considerable impact on our church community and activities. It has taken quite some time to recover from this, but as the following reports will show, our activities have been picking up again and things are recovering. Our situation is quite different now from how it was 3 years ago, some of our regular groups have ceased to meet, but some new work has emerged in their place – Creative Spirit, Breakfast Church and Warm Rooms for example. The age profile of our congregation means that whilst we have a wealth of wisdom and experience to share, there is an increasingly small pool of people able to take on significant roles. This requires us to adapt how we do things, this might be by having a greater number of people taking on smaller roles or by employing people to do things that have traditionally been done by volunteers. Please do consider what contribution you might be able to make.
Our worship continues to remain at the centre of all that we do. We are blessed to have an excellent team of preachers – lay and ordained, musicians, worship leaders, readers, stewards, AV and sound team. All this combines to help make our worship the best that it can be.
Our Café Mosaic enables our buildings to offer a welcoming space to many groups over the course of the week. We are grateful to the café team who have built up a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. And it’s wonderful that the income from lettings has risen again to enable that good work to continue.
The Bible verse on our Methodist Membership card this year reminds us that Jesus said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39)
It is our desire as a Church community to proclaim and share God’s love with each other and with those in our local community. The different ways in which we aspire to achieve this are contained in the reports in this booklet – I warmly commend our Annual Report to you.
With every blessing
Claire Knight - Church & Community Outreach Team Leader
I grew up as an only child just down the road in Bagshot. Every Sunday I attended Sunday school at St. Ann's Church until I joined the Church Choir at the age of 9. I went on to be part of the Youth Fellowship group held every Sunday night and that is where my Faith really grew. I made many friends on my early journey with God and I am still in touch with many of them now even though we are scattered all over the world.
Having spent 18 years working for Barclays Bank including the post of Branch Manager at Wokingham branch, in 2007 I decided that my real passion was to work alongside young people. I joined the then East Berkshire Education and Business Partnership where I developed, managed and delivered enterprise projects to Secondary and Primary schools across East Berkshire including some larger scale corporate inter school events.
In 2011 I came to work at Wokingham Methodist Church having played a significant voluntary role at St. Michael's Easthampstead in Bracknell. Since then I have worked to develop and grow our Church family through various activities and groups.
I am married to Russell who I met at work in 1994 and have two beautiful teenage daughters, Eleanor and Lauren and a young dog named Bailey! We are very happy living in Jennett's Park.
I am delighted to be undertaking the role of Church and Community Outreach Team Leader where I plan to enhance our work with all generations within our community drawing them closer to God through fellowship and ministry through the Coffee House, Bradbury Centre and beyond.
This is an exciting time for our town and indeed our Church as we are at the centre of the town's redevelopment and an increasing population as Wokingham grows, it is my wish to ensure we always offer a warm and friendly welcome to all we come into contact with and to embrace the changes that God is providing.
Annual Report (March 2023)
The Alzheimer’s Café has continued to thrive, we have welcomed many new faces over the last year and have enjoyed a party for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, an afternoon tea for World Alzheimer’s day both supported by Alexandra Grange Care Home and Wokingham in Need and our Christmas Party supported by Parson’s Grange Care Home and Berkshire Maestros.
We have a mixture of young and old attending the café as we are also now supporting Young People with Dementia.
I am extremely grateful to my team of volunteers who help to welcome all our attendees.
The Carers group supported by TuVida also takes place on the second Tuesday of the month from 12-1.30pm with lunch and discussion. This has become increasingly popular over recent months.
Jesus Crew is no longer meeting as we do not have volunteers or attendees.
‘Fresh Start’ – Breakfast Church
‘Fresh Start’ breakfast church continues to meet on the second Saturday of every month. It is a lovely time of sharing, discussion, craft and activity and includes a fresh breakfast. It is still very disappointing that the Church congregation do not support it. We have been reviewing whether to continue, but it is a valuable ministry to those who attend and it is a shame that so many others are missing out.
Little Fishes continues every Thursday. We welcome many families with young children. We have extended our opening hours to a later closing time of 12pm and we are now offering ‘Tiddlers Lunches’ for £3.50 which have been reasonably successful.
Ukrainian Coffee Mornings
We have been hosting several Ukrainian families on Saturday mornings monthly. The women that attend are very grateful for the opportunity to meet other families in Wokingham and for our hospitality and friendship. As we meet directly after breakfast church, it has been lovely to see some of the children joining in with the activities.
We ran our Warm Space on Mondays from 10.30am-1.30pm for December, January and February. We offered a hot drink and a biscuit and soup.
We were blessed with a team of volunteers both from our own church and Christ Church who made sure there were people here to serve and welcome anyone who needed the space.
The space was advertised on the Wokingham Borough Council website, Churches Together flyer and the ‘Warm Spaces’ website.
The space was not well attended, but a few passers-by enjoyed the company and hospitality offered which is a success as ‘warmth’ comes in many forms!
Thank you to the volunteers who ran the space..
Open the Book
We still go in to Westende every week to host assembly sharing stories from the Lion Storyteller Bible. Assemblies have also recommenced in Walter Infant School and we have now been approached by The Hawthorns to re start following a three-year break!
I worked with a team from across the connexion on 3 Generate 2022 – the Methodist Church Youth Assembly which was held at the NEC in Birmingham.
I was on the delivery team for the 4-7-year olds area. The weekend was exhausting (not least because my accommodation was a tent) but an amazing opportunity to experience thousands of children and young people coming together to worship and talk to God.
We also sponsored a family that had recently moved from our church to enable them to attend as a family and it was lovely to meet with them and see them so happy and well.
This year I am again working with the delivery team and it would be fantastic if we could send a group of young people as a circuit this year.
I am still the ‘Friendship Alliance’ ambassador for Churches Together in Wokingham. This involves attending meetings monthly to share what is happening in the town.