Church Stewards 2023-24
I grew up in Westcliff-on-sea, Essex, where my parents had a greengrocer’s shop. We were sent to Sunday School at the Westcliff Elim Church, which was a great place for encouraging children to participate in the music and worship, and to feel that faith is something personal and alive.
Colin and I have moved around the country due to his job, so we have lived in Essex, Sussex and Hertfordshire before moving to Wokingham in 1996, with our daughters, Samantha and Jennifer. Nearly every time we moved, I had to change my job, with a resulting patchwork of careers; I have worked in banking, journalism, marketing and social care – all fun and challenging in very different ways.
Now that we are retired we are delighted that we see a lot of our twin granddaughters. I’m glad to be able to contribute to church life by preaching, playing music, and now by stewarding. Covid-19 has presented many difficulties, but it’s been great to see how people have risen to the challenge, learnt new skills and embraced different ways of worshipping.
I was brought up in the Methodist Church from childhood and have been a member from a teenager. Although I was moved about the south of England during my career in trustee and executor banking, we always managed to find somewhere to live with a local Methodist Church.
I lived in Wokingham in the mid-1970s and then returned in 1986. Both sons went to St Crispin’s and are now married and living in Leicestershire and York.
In 2003 Ann died and four years later I married Kate and ‘acquired’ two teenage children, now both married and living in Sussex.
Following redundancy/retirement from the bank I worked for 8 years with a local firm of solicitors, once again in the field of executorships and elderly clients but am now “properly” retired.
It seems difficult to believe that I have now been back at Wokingham Methodist Church for 36 years.
During that time I have been Gift Aid Secretary and still am, unless anyone would like to take over, and have been a church steward with each of the last four ministers.
It is a privilege to take on the role of a church steward again.
Looking back, over the 30-odd years that I’ve been a member here at Wokingham, I realise what a big part our church has played in my life during that time. I have been a pastoral visitor and a junior church leader; I set up a beaver colony - it must be over 25 years ago now (!) - and then a youth café and ‘Study with Your Buddies’, a homework club; I have been secretary to a couple of committees, and was Church Council Secretary during those busy years of redevelopment, a time when there was a flurry of fundraising activity, including a host of car boot sales, ‘The Rose Street Revels’, and pantomimes, all of which so many of us were involved in. My children still have such very fond memories of those times, and so do I.
As my accent reveals, I hale from the Black Country. I was baptised into the Methodist Church at a little chapel in Tividale, between Dudley and Oldbury, where my paternal grandfather, who died, sadly, even before my dad met my mum, had been the youngest local preacher on the circuit. The family moved to Kingswinford in 1966 where I attended Stream Road Methodist Church until I moved down to college, in Reading. I met my husband-to-be down here and we were married, back in Kingswinford, in 1983.
I taught English at The Emmbrook School, during the eighties, and part-time at St Crispin’s, in the nineties and noughties, but most of those years were devoted to bringing up the family. Fifteen years ago, I discovered The Reader, a charity based in Liverpool; this triggered a huge shift for me as I returned to studying, for an MA at the University of Liverpool, and led to me working for The Reader, delivering Shared Reading Groups (reading great literature aloud with people, for emotional and mental wellbeing) in various settings - from Wokingham Library to Reading Gaol to Prospect Park Hospital. I’m still running, and training people to run, such groups. And how fortunate I feel, to be involved in work that I am so passionate about.
Becoming a church steward has always felt, for me, a daunting role to take on. But sometimes there is a voice that cannot be ignored, and so, here I am, willing to give it my best shot, getting to know people better and serving, however I can, as part of a wonderful team of people who I know (from early experience!) will help guide me every step of the way.
I was born and raised in Enugu, Nigeria. I attended the local Methodist school, where I have good memories of early friendship in a very good close community. My primary and secondary schools were involved in a lot of Methodist church events and activities.
I was trained in Science laboratory Analysis at The University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. I worked as laboratory technician for couple of years before I met my husband. In 1991, we got married in the Methodist Church Enugu.
That same year, I came to UK to join my husband and lived in North London for two years before moving to Nottingham in 1993. In 1996 we relocated to Wokingham, as my husband was working for BG Group in the Thames valley Park. We were part of the Wokingham Methodist Church and my four children were all christened here before we moved to Egypt in 2000. We lived there for five years before moving again to Trinidad and Tobago for two more years. We moved back to Wokingham in 2007.
I studied health and social care with The Open University whilst at home looking after my children and living overseas. All these moves were as a result of my husband’s job relocations.
My past experiences have helped me to fully understand what it takes to care for children and communicate with people from various backgrounds and appreciate their culture. I hope to bring these qualities to my work at Rose Street as a steward.
I was born in Rugby to parents who were both Sunday School teachers at the local Methodist Church in Rugby. When I was 4, we emigrated to Australia and returned to the UK some 3 years later, after an idyllic time for my sister and I, and being too far from “home” for my parents!
Back in Rugby, my childhood and youth were centred around the activities of our local Methodist Church with the usual Brownies, Guides and, of course, Youth Club on a Friday night.
I moved to London in 1964 to begin my nursing training at University College Hospital, qualifying in 1967. It was whilst at UCH that I met and married Gordon who had been at University College, London.
We moved to Wokingham in 1973, and I transferred my membership when Maurice Wendt was minister here. We have been married for 55 years and have 2 children and 2 grandchildren, Josh and Harry McBain. Stephen and Penny “grew up” at Rose Street and were both active members of 5th Wokingham Scouts, along with Andy McBain.
I have played an active part in the life of Rose Street and this is my 2nd time as a Steward. I have been chairman of Contact, Secretary to Concern & Outreach, a Circuit Steward, and Secretary to Church Council until recently. I am still the Christian Aid representative, a Communion Steward, and now a member of the Sound team. I am also on the Rose Street Theatre Club committee.
I hope now, as a steward, I can extend to others the welcome I have always received and serve you all well in my “new” role.
Annual Report (March 2022)
The past year has seen a slow and steady return to worship without restrictions although we continue to encourage worshippers to be respectful of others and their needs.
We have welcomed several new faces to our services and, sadly, said farewell to friends. There are also members who still do not feel safe returning to worship on our premises; we miss them and would like to assure them that they are still valued members of our church family.
In September 2021 we launched, with Claire’s help, ‘Fresh Start’. Meeting for breakfast on the second Saturday of the month we worship together in an informal way using crafts, games and discussion. Along with Creative Spirit, which resumed meeting after the summer break, we aim to offer different styles of worship to attract those unable to attend on Sundays or who are unused to more traditional forms of worship. We would like to encourage our Sunday worshippers to support us in these endeavours as an extension of our worship activities.
Ideally two new stewards are appointed at our AGM who then hold office for three years. Siân Moore joined our team last year but we were unable to fill the second post. Martin was out of action for some time following surgery so we are grateful to previous office holders who have stepped into help. The team of Welcome stewards have, week by week, recorded names of worshippers and encouraged the use of hand sanitizer and we thank them for their loyal service.
As we come to the end of our time in office we are aware how important it has been to be part of a committed group of stewards who, along with leadership from Catherine and help from Will, have supported us during our four years in office. The enabling power of the Holy Spirit has strengthened us as we have learnt from each other and gained strength from each other’s gifts.
We do encourage you to consider whether you are being called to serve the church as part of the steward team to enable the worship life of our community to continue to grow and expand.
Christine Morgan and Chris Rooke-Matthews