Church Stewards 2019-20
Born in Lancashire, I moved to Kent when I was 10. I became a member of Sittingbourne Congregational Church, (later URC) and attended Medway District Easter and Autumn Youth Conferences, where I met my husband, David, and made many firm friends. I trained as a teacher, and taught for five years, before leaving to start a family. Our two daughters have always been very special to us, and we now also have two grandchildren who are a delight.
Music has always been very important to me. When I was 11 I had the opportunity to learn the bassoon, and this has become a lifelong pleasure. I was able to play in many amateur orchestras at home and college, and still enjoy making music with others, as part of the church music group, and in Bracknell and Wokingham Community Band.
When we moved to Wokingham in 1991, it was important to us to find a local church where we could worship as a family. Rose Street welcomed us, and I was soon involved in a friendly house group, and with the music group for the inaugural service of the new South East Berkshire Circuit. Once my children were older I returned to working in education as a teacher, and more recently as a learning support assistant, in a wide variety of roles.
I am looking forward to being part of the stewards team as we face the new opportunities and challenges of following our vision at the heart of our changing town.
I was born in Brixham in South Devon where my parents brought me up in the Methodist Church or Chapel as it was called in those days. On leaving school I joined the National Provincial Bank for a year before taking a degree in Drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Both theatre and music have always been important to me and I was very fortunate to be able to pursue these interests whilst in London.
I then went into teaching and spent many happy years in both Bourne End, in Buckinghamshire, and at Sandhurst in Berkshire. It was whilst in Bourne End I met Peter my partner for over 30 years; unfortunately he passed away two years ago and since then I have become more actively involved in the life of the church.
I feel honoured to have been invited to become a steward of Rose Street Methodist Church and hope this allows me the opportunity to give something back to the church which has supported me so much in recent years.
To be born in the middle of World War II in the East End of London and then to be orphaned at nine months is probably not the best start anyone can have in life. But thanks to the love and care of my adoptive parents I can look back on a childhood of happy memories.
Growing up in Leigh-on Sea makes me an Essex girl – but without the "Estuary" accent, which was schooled out of me by a wonderful elocution and drama teacher. She gave me a love of speech and language that has stayed with me ever since and led to a career in speech and language therapy.
We attended Leigh Wesley Church – a most beautiful building with a large and vibrant congregation and a talented choir, in which my father sang baritone. An abiding memory is that of going to evening service, particularly on summer Sundays when the sun, slanting through the western window, spun patterns of colour over us all. The lessons learned in Sunday school – held on Sunday afternoons in those days – the traditional hymns and some really fine preaching, together with examples of practical faith in daily living set by my strict but loving parents, gave me a faith that has at times been severely shaken, but never lost.
College was a testing, questioning time, as indeed it should be, but the London University Methodist Society absorbed and answered the challenges I set – and found me my first husband. He was a liberal thinker, whose liberality took him beyond Christianity into exploring other faiths – and finally none. I followed a more traditional path, becoming a Local Preacher in 1970 – but our differences and other difficulties sadly increased, and the marriage foundered and ended.
Following my career – which I picked up when my four children (two mine, two fostered) were in their teens – I came to the University of Reading, and met Bill in the phonetics laboratory. Some of you may know Bill's work as a professor of phonetics took him to Germany and I spent eight years there from March 2000 – not becoming fluent in German alas – but doing some teaching, creating a garden and doing some writing.
Since our return to the UK we have immersed ourselves once more into the life and work of the church, and I am honoured to be asked to be a steward again. I hope God grants me the ability to serve you well.
Annual Report (March 2020)
We began our year as Senior Stewards thanking Tony Briggs for his time as steward and welcoming Martin Jackson and Rosi Morgan Barry to the team.
Christine Grainger and Pat Hogg joined the group who Sunday by Sunday welcome worshippers as they arrive for 10.30am service. We are grateful to this group and to those who count our weekly offering thus giving the stewards more time to prepare for worship and host the preacher as well as welcoming newcomers and managing the unexpected. ach Sunday when our worship is finished the area at the front of church is cleared ready for the activities in the week ahead. We are grateful that we are able to call on others to help us in this task.
We were thrilled to be able, finally, to unveil and dedicate our Anniversary Fish sculpture in July. We celebrated with a short service in Peach Place attended by past ministers, local dignitaries as well as the artists Rosalind Waites and Thrussells. We have received lots of positive feedback from admirers of the sculpture helping to draw attention to our presence in the town.
In October we hosted another successful harvest lunch.
After a gap of a couple of years due to the building work around our premises, we held an evacuation of the building at the end of morning worship in November. We would like to thank John Tomlinson for his help and advice in this matter.
Gifts from our Harvest and Christmas services were given to The Salvation Army for their work with the homeless.
We joined with other local churches in January and February helping to set up Wokingham Night Shelter, offering shelter for the homeless, taking our weekly turn by opening the Rose Room to the guests. Several of the church family helped with meals and other duties and we were pleased to welcome members of Christ Church, who joined our group of volunteers.
Since the beginning of the year the pattern of evening services has changed. The monthly discussion evening has given us the opportunity to discuss the marriage and relationships report from the Methodist Church. The monthly Bible study evenings have been welcomed as we have been able to look more closely at, and share our thoughts on, a variety of Bible passages.
As we write we are facing a whole new way of working as a church. The stewards will continue to support Catherine as she leads us through these challenging times.
Christine Morgan and Chris Rooke-Matthews