Revd Catherine Bowstead - Minister
Revd Catherine Bowstead joined us as minister in September 2015. She introduces herself:
We have come to Wokingham after 11 very happy years in Colchester where I've had pastoral charge of 3 busy churches – one in the town centre and two congregations to the north of the town; one a young church plant and the other a more established congregation. Colchester has changed a lot in those 11 years as the rapid housing development has made it the fastest growing town in the UK. Before that we had 7 years in Southend-on-Sea and my first appointment was in Epsom. Before entering the Methodist Ministry I was a primary school teacher.
I'm married to Mike who works as a Tax Inspector – he'll be working at HMRC in Reading. He is a Local Preacher and enjoys singing. We have two young adult children; James has just graduated from university and will be spending the next year as Resident Organist at Pangbourne College whilst on Sundays he'll be Organ Scholar at All Saints Church in Fulham. Hannah is reading for a degree in Classics at Cambridge and is about to start her second year. She enjoys singing and a variety of crafts.
My particular joys in ministry are preaching and leading worship. I love being with people and enabling them to find and use their gifts, and I enjoy working with children and families. In my spare time I enjoy walking, reading and music.
I'm very much looking forward to getting to know you over the coming months, and keenly anticipating working alongside you for God's Kingdom. I hope and pray that I shall be able to use my gifts and insights to further God's work in this place. Please be patient as I try to learn your names, learn my way around the place and discover about our church family here in Wokingham.
Annual Report (February 2019)
I am delighted to be able to commend to you our Annual Report [most of which appears in the various pages of this website], as ever, it reflects the wide range of activities that we are engaged in as the Christian Community of Faith here in this place and the many opportunities we have for sharing God's love.
It is now just over a year since we held our Day of Engagement and so it's a good opportunity to reflect on the progress that we have made. You will recall that when we reflected on the suggestions from that day, we came up with five major areas on which we believe God is calling us to focus our time and energy:
- Developing the meeting place Café in preparation for Peach Place opening. Redecoration work took place in the re-branded Café Mosaic over the summer and the café team continue to work hard to provide a welcome to our customers. We are looking forward to the opening of Peach Place and I am very excited about the mission opportunities that this will give us.
- Encouraging people to use their time and talents in the life of the church. It's been good to see several key jobs filled and we remain grateful for all those who give of their time to enable our church to run smoothly.
- Having a shared vision, a group have been working hard on this and will be bringing their insights and suggestions to the Church Council.
- Working towards an intergenerational church. Claire has recently been on a course at Cliff College which will enable us to make big progress in this aim. She will be sharing some of her new-found knowledge at the Annual Church Meeting, and we will be working with Claire to help make this vision a reality.
- Becoming more confident in sharing our faith with others. The Monday Housegroup is using the Methodist resource "Talking of God Together" and we plan to use this material more widely later in the year. I hope that this will enable us to talking about our faith easily and naturally with others and that we will more readily recognise when we have opportunities to do this.
Of course, there have been many other things going on in the life of the church which have sometimes prevented us from making as rapid progress in these area as we would like. But we will not lose sight of them and I hope that our day of celebration when we unveil our Fish Mosaic Sculpture will give us the opportunity to celebrate how far we have come.
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 (February 2019)
The Alzheimer's Café continues to thrive. We have experienced some changes within the team but are now settled. We decided following discussions that we would restrict the number of trips that we organised as for some these became stressful and we were struggling to ensure safeguarding of our members. We were also aware that some people could potentially turn up for the first time and we would not be there.
We have welcomed many guests to the Café. Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue came to talk to us about 'Herbert Protocol' an initiative to assist them in finding missing persons. We had a visit from a 'PAT' (Pets as Therapy) dog, a tea dance where we celebrated a 90th birthday, Tai Chi, U3A Ukulele Group and many more enjoyable visitors.
In December we held our Christmas Party kindly supported by Rose Buddies who prepared some homemade goodies for us and our own Church Choir who sang to us beautifully.
Alzheimer's Carer's Group
The Alzheimer's Carers Group continues to meet fortnightly. We are supported by staff from the Carers Hub who provide advice and support.
We now share a lunch at 12noon and then meet until 2.30pm. Those living with Dementia enjoy crafts, and games to enable the carers to be able to talk freely.
In the coming year we are looking into running some Tai Chi sessions and some basic cooking skills with carers.
Hot Cross Bun Giveaway
On 29th March, a group of fantastic volunteers distributed 600 lovingly wrapped Hot Cross Buns to people at Wokingham Station. As usual they were very well received. Each bun was wrapped with an Easter message from Catherine as well as details of our Easter Services. It is unlikely that we will hold a giveaway at the station this year because of the dates that Easter falls and a clash with the school holidays which means that I am not around. If anyone has a desire to take this on in my absence then please let me know!
Mince Pie Giveaway
We gave away 600 mince pies again this year kindly sponsored and assisted by Clifton Ingram Solicitors. We started the giveaway at 7am and had run out by 8am. The mince pies were wrapped the day before by volunteers from Rose Buddies as well as a fab team of our members.
Jesus Crew still runs a minimum of twice per month during term-time. We have a few fantastic volunteers on the team and we use material from Scripture Union's 'Light Live'. We welcome between 2 and 10 children to the sessions.
Our 2018 Holiday Club was called 'Team Builders' loosely focusing on football as this was a World Cup year. We had 56 children in attendance and an amazing team of volunteers who made it all possible. We were fortunate enough to have some coaches from the Madejski Academy who ran games one afternoon and on another, the children donned hard hats and had a special tour of the Peach Place development. On the Friday we also ran some interactive prayer activities to enable the children to reflect on their week. Every day the children completed some fantastic crafts and cooking activities as well has hearing stories from God's team! This year's holiday club is being run by Jason from Monday 29th July – Friday 2nd August.
Church @ 4
Church @ 4 has continued to run throughout 2018 with numbers varying quite widely. In the summer we gathered at Langborough Rec and had a picnic and played games even Bailey (my dog) enjoyed himself there. Towards the end of the year, we felt that Church @ 4 could be done a little differently and we decided that a more relaxed session would be good. In December we pioneered 'Craft@4' where families came and shared fellowship, crafts and food solely in the café area. We had some powerful conversations and found that it was a very calm spiritual time of sharing. We will continue with this format for the foreseeable future and hope that some of the wider congregation will support it as it is not a separate congregation but a key part of our whole church family.
All Age Worship
AAW continues to take place on the third Sunday of the month where the children and families remain in Church for the whole service. The various preachers lead engaging intergenerational services for all.
I have again been asked to be a mentor for one of the ten interns who the connexion has appointed on the 'One Programme'. This is an annual programme where graduates are placed to undertake a particular project. My Mentee Abigail is based in Rome but we have managed to meet face to face and also via the wonders of Skype. Last year I mentored a young lady who was working in a Methodist Church in Rome, unfortunately modern technology meant that I didn't need to go to Rome to see her and our one and only face to face encounter was in Woking!
This tear I am a mentor for a young lady who is an intern for Action for Children who is looking to discern her future following her placement.
I was part of a Connexional team working towards a 'Family Ministry Toolkit' we have been meeting in Birmingham to discuss a way to enable Youth and Family workers to pick up a resource book to implement new initiatives. I am very honoured to be part of this continuing work.
I continue to oversee the Open the Book scheme in schools across Wokingham and remain part of the team who go into Westende. We have welcomed Bearwood School to the programme and Sue Jones is leading and managing that team.
I was invited to assist in leading the 'Easter Experience' at the Baptist Church again this year where we told 500 year 6 students the story of Jesus's final days. The whole church is split into various zones where they can actually experience some of the things that Jesus would have. We are blessed to have volunteers from across the Wokingham Churches involved in this.
2018 has been another challenging year where as a Church we have faced some uncertainty. The new development still presents problems with access but we are trying to work together with the site managers. The new Café Mosaic has remained a key part of our church community and now the majority of people like the new colours. The Café is still a work in progress as you will see from Tina's report but I am anticipating the buzz to continue and grow. The launch of the new Café and opening of our mosaic are scheduled for bank holiday Monday 6th May. Look out for further details.
I would like to thank every single person who has volunteered for these activities and any others over the last year. We are blessed with a fantastic team of willing helpers most of whom are willing to embrace change and welcome new ideas. I know that as a paid employee I could not undertake many of the initiatives we do in the community without your prayer and support.