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 (March 2022)
I’m glad to be able to commend to you our Annual Report. As ever, it reflects the wide variety of activities of our Church Community. Of course, the pandemic has meant that this has been another difficult year for us, but I hope that as restrictions are eased people will feel more confident in meeting with others again and the work of our church community will flourish once more.
It’s good that some of our church activities have resumed and that Café Mosaic is often very busy. Other groups have not been able to meet and perhaps most notably our MORS group has decided to cease its meetings. We are grateful to all those who have faithful supported MORS offering valuable outreach opportunities and “friendship for all” through their monthly meetings. I hope that we soon might have the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for all that MORS has achieved over the years.
Our Church Community is effective in its mission to be a place “where Christian love meets Community need” if we continue to work as a team, using each person’s gifts and abilities and value the contribution made by each one.
I pray that this may continue, that our work for God’s Kingdom might grow and so I warmly commend our annual report to you.
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 2022)
The Alzheimer’s Café resumed in September following an 18 month break. Many of our existing members have moved on during that time, but we have welcomed many new people to the café. We held a Christmas party which was funded by a donation we received in memory of Joan Harris, one of our former members. We have frequent visits from Heather Dyson from Wokingham Library who always brings something to talk about. We are also looking forward to having a visit from a singer in the next few weeks.
I am still supported by Michelle Gilbert the local Dementia Care Advisor who produces newsletters and provide guidance and support to people living with dementia and their carers across the borough.
The Carers group supported by Tu Vida also takes place on the second Tuesday of the month from 12-1.30pm with lunch and discussion.
Jesus Crew resumed in September,2021, however since Christmas we have Had very few attendees on a Sunday morning. We have now introduced a standby team with activities to be undertaken in church.
Craft @ 4
Craft @ 4 met on a few occasions and we tried to meet in different ways to try to ensure safety. We met in Elms field for a picnic and sat under the gazebos at Blue Orchid and enjoyed cake. Craft @ 4 became a little difficult for people to attend so we decided to only meet for special occasions. In December we held a nativity afternoon where several of us met and created our own nativity sets from corks, loo rolls, bottles, felt and pegs. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon followed by tea.
‘Fresh Start’ – Breakfast Church
Fresh Start met for the first time in September 2021. We meet on the second Saturday of the month from 9-10.30am in the café. We start with breakfast including ‘muffin of the month’, listen to a bible reading, join in various activities such as bible study, craft or games and then join together for a short period of worship. Breakfast Church has something for everyone and is a great chance to spend time and learn from others. Everyone is most welcome.
The Café reopened in May 2021 in the Rose Room with restricted numbers as the main centre was still being used as a vaccination centre. A few weeks later we were back in the main café area and in the summer, we returned to offering lunches on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Café has been surprisingly busy and we have been delighted to welcome some charity groups such as Parkinson’s, The Link, MOTO and Grief and a Cuppa. We have also joined the Friendship Alliance scheme and now host a ‘friendship table’ on a Wednesday morning and Thursday lunchtime. We are also blessed to have CLASP assisting with the running of the café on Tuesdays and hosting activities on Fridays.
We really enjoy welcoming CLASP into the café and the friendships we have with them. We are very much hoping to run some activities with them in the coming months.
We have booked dates for our charity coffee mornings for this year including Thames Hospice, Breast Cancer Care, The Cowshed, Alzheimer’s Society and Miscarriage Awareness.
The little fish regrouped in September 2021. It was amazing to witness toddlers who had been born at the beginning of the pandemic venturing out and playing with other children for the first time! We have continually grown since we reopened and welcome many parents and grandparents. The children enjoy free play whilst the adults chat and make new friends. I serve the refreshments from the hatch which I find is as great way of meeting everyone and chatting.
I assisted in writing the material for Bible month, this time on the book of Isaiah. Much more of a challenge but fulfilling nonetheless.
I undertook some work for the connexion for 3generate which was held in October at the NEC, Birmingham for 4-11-year olds.
I am now the ‘Friendship Alliance’ ambassador for Churches Together in Wokingham.
I am still leading Open the Book and we have been back in Westende delivering assemblies since September.
I am undertaking some work with CTW with regard to Youth and Children’s Work in the borough.
The communications team have not met for a while however, I have started a new newsletter ‘Casting the Net’ which is enclosed with Greetings with details of what’s going on. I am also responsible for the screen in the Café and all of our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers involved in the running of the centre and the café. The last two years have been very difficult for everyone but your determination and willingness means that we are able to make our church a real community hub.