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Minister’s Letter – April 2017

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10: 14-15 NIVUK)

Dear friends,

I want you to think about this question before reading on: what can we do to help our church to grow?

It’s an important question: one which is being increasingly asked as we witness the decline of the Church in “the West”. Numbers attending Sunday worship continues to decrease, and in general, people are less interested in religious belief.

Considering this, how do we answer the above question?

There are several different options before us: this is partly why 2017 is a year of reflection for us. We are giving ourselves the time and space to better understand our context, parish and culture, and allow these things to shape our ministry and mission.

What we do and how we minister is important; but these things alone will not help our church to grow. Lasting church growth comes from one thing alone: believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

How do people find out about Jesus Christ, the love of God, and all this means for us? Only if we tell them! That was Paul’s encouragement to the church in Rome, and it’s still his encouragement to us today.

If we truly desire to see our congregation grow, then we must be prepared to tell people about what God offers them through Jesus Christ. Only that will make a lasting impact on someone’s life, and make a lasting impact on our congregation.

May God bless you,

Stuart

Rev, Stuart Love

Minister’s Letter – March 2017

As I write this, it is Shrove Tuesday, and I am looking forward to justifiably having some pancakes for my supper! That means that tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the start of the season of Lent: the period in the Church calendar which leads us towards Easter.

I wonder if you’ve decided to give something up for Lent? Because that’s what we do for Lent, isn’t it? Give up smoking, or coffee, or chocolate?

Certainly, the perception of our culture is that this is what Lent is about: giving up “something bad for us”. And don’t get me wrong: there is no harm in self-discipline or taking less of something we know isn’t good for us (I include myself in this – I could certainly do with eating more healthily!). But, if we think this is all that Lent is about, I am afraid we’ve missed the point.

The 40 days of Lent are meant to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting (which is why we sometimes “give something up” for Lent) and being tempted by the devil. This was a time of, among other things, spiritual testing for Jesus, and He came out of it in the best way: He showed His complete devotion to God’s plan and purpose.

If Jesus experienced spiritual testing during this time, then perhaps it would be better for us to spend this time focusing on our faith, rather than “giving something up”? It doesn’t need to be anything too difficult either! What if you committed to reading a chapter of the Bible each of the next 40 days? (You could read all the Gospel of Mark and Luke if you try that!) Or, if you don’t already, could you make sure to spend time in prayer each morning and night? I am certain that giving your faith this kind of attention will have a positive impact on your relationship with God.

Others may wish to do something more adventurous. There are various ways you can “take something up” instead of “giving something up” this Lent.  Groups like 40 Acts and Christian Aid encourage us to do something to support and benefit others, rather than just focussing on ourselves. You can find these, and many other resources online (or if you prefer you can speak to me, and I can tell you more).

Whatever you do over the coming weeks of Lent, it is my sincere hope and prayer that God blesses you, as you focus your time and energies on your relationship with Him.

God bless,

Stuart

 

Minister’s Letter – Feb 2017

Dear friends,

I hope that this monthly letter finds you well. It’s difficult to believe a month has passed since I last wrote! This month, there are two things I wish to share with you in this letter.

The first is to say that Ruth and I continue to feel welcome as part of Clincarthill Church. Many of you have asked if we have settled in, and I have been giving the honest answer of, “we’re getting there slowly”. We definitely feel part of the congregation – on the one hand it’s amazing how quickly the last 3 months have passed; on the other, it’s hard to believe it’s only been 3 months. We feel such a part of things already, it’s as though we’ve been around for much longer!

The second thing I wish to share is a bit of an encouragement. On Sunday past, we read the following verse together: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36 NIVUK). In this verse, Peter was giving the encouragement that, no matter what happens, we have assurance that Jesus will always be our Lord, Messiah and Saviour.

This year, we are thinking about how we are being called by God to serve our community and Parish. This verse helps us because it reminds us that, no matter what we do or how we do it, we have some amazing Good News to share, which is at the heart of everything we do: Jesus is indeed our Saviour and Lord!

I hope this encourages you and keeps you as we walk with Him together.

May God bless you,

Stuart
Rev. Stuart Love

 

Lou Fellingham Concert

We are delighted to welcome Lou Fellingham back to Clincarthill for a Concert on Saturday, 18th March at 7.30pm. Lou is one of the UK’s leading contemporary Christian singer / songwriters. Having served as lead singer of Phatfish for almost two decades – during which time they recorded eight albums and toured extensively throughout the UK, Canada and America – Lou Fellingham is now four albums in to a firmly-established career as a solo artist. Her distinctive voice and heart for people have made Lou a greatly loved worship leader, singer and recording artist.
Tickets priced £10 are available online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/clincarthillchurch (with 50p per ticket booking fee) or to buy tickets with cash or cheque speak to Stuart Buchanan, email events@clincarthill.org.uk or phone / text 07754 353 782.
We had a wonderful evening of worship with Lou in February 2014 and we look forward to this.

Lou Fellingham 2017 digital poster

Minister’s Letter – Jan 2017

Dear friends,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, remembering Jesus coming to us, and that you managed to find time among the busy-ness of this season to take time to relax and recuperate.

I also hope you have found yourselves blessed as we begin this new year of 2017. For many, 2016 was a difficult year, and some may be glad to see the back of it. You may be looking ahead to 2017 full of expectant hope, believing this will be a better year. Unfortunately, we have no guarantees of this: only God truly knows what lies in store for us. This, of course, brings us comfort; but it can also be a little unsettling. None of us truly know what our futures hold.

It is with that in mind that we began 2017 in ClincarthillChurch by focusing on Psalm 46, specifically the following verse:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NIVUK)

This is a very important verse for me. It reminds me that the God in whom we believe is one of comfort: we can approach Him and find in Him safety and security. He gives us strength, and helps us through those things with which we struggle. And, perhaps most importantly, He is always with us! No matter what 2017 holds, this is the reality of God, and I hope and pray you find in Him these things.

This year in ClincarthillChurch, our main priority is discerning what kind of Church God needs us to be in this community. I believe this is the right thing for us to do for two reasons. Firstly, I believe God has a specific purpose for us, and we need to listen to Him to know what that is.  Secondly, our community has specific needs, and we need to know what these are before we can respond to them, as God requires us to do.

While we are taking this time to reflect together, I wonder if we can make Psalm 46:1 our verse for the year, and allow it to shape everything we do as a Church. Can our Church be a place in our community where people find refuge and strength? Will we be present to those who need help? And, ultimately, will we point to the one who is the ultimate source of refuge and strength, and who is truly ever-present in times of trouble?

These are challenging questions, but I hope we can say a collective “yes!” as we focus ourselves and our work on God for this coming year. God bless you!

Stuart Love

Minister’s Letter – Dec 2016

Dear friends,

As difficult as it is to believe, it has been over a month since I took up post as minister of Clincarthill Parish Church! I have to say that, from my perspective, the last month has flown by: it almost feels like I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath. My main priority at the moment is to get to know you all. I am also spending time getting to know the local area; since we are a parish church, it is also important we know the community we serve. As it will take me a while to get round to seeing everyone, I appreciate your patience and your understanding. This is made a little more challenging because of the time of year: Advent has begun, and Christmas is just weeks away!!

This time of year presents us with an amazing opportunity to share our faith with others. Although Christmas has been somewhat high-jacked by commercialism, I have found people soften a little to the Christian message. I want to encourage you, therefore, to think about any friends or family you may have who don’t follow Jesus, and consider sharing a little about your faith with them. You may also want to invite them along to one of the many services or events we are holding in our church building over the advent season!

If we are serious about following God and seeing His Kingdom built, then we need to be thinking about how to engage people with the Christian faith. Thankfully, we are not alone in this, as Advent reminds us. We are celebrating the fact that God came down to us: Jesus is Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us”. Isn’t that amazing?

It is my sincere hope and prayer that, over the next few weeks of Advent and Christmas, you will truly know that God is with you.

Wishing you a very blessed Christmas,

Rev. Stuart Love

Puppet Concert – Tuesday 20th Dec

Roll up, roll up …. it’s time to clear your diaries for the evening of Tuesday 20th December for our brand new Christmas Puppet Concert. Come along for a 7pm start at Clincarthill Church when we will present various fun and musical items, all on the theme of the Christmas story. Free entry – all ages welcome.

Puppet Concert poster square

 

Minister’s Letter – Nov 2016

Dear friends,

Firstly, let me offer sincere thanks from myself and Ruth, for your warm and kind welcome into your congregation! We have been truly delighted by your friendliness, and we look forward to getting to know each of you over the coming months. It will take us a little while to get round everyone, to learn names and who people are, so please be patient with us! But also know that we are keen to get to know you as we work together as part of Clincarthill Church.

From what I do know of the congregation, I know you have been eagerly awaiting a new minister. I am delighted that God has called us together, and that we are now on the verge of a new chapter in the life of Clincarthill. Your drive, enthusiasm, and love of our Lord are obvious, and I am glad to be on board as we explore what God is calling us to do together in this parish!

It’s important we remember that, whatever we end up doing as a church, we must always look to God for leading. The Psalmist reminds us that, “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Ps. 127:1 NIVUK). We could work our socks off, running events and working in the community, but unless we do it for God and look to Him for leading, then it is all in vain. When the people of God work with God for His purposes, then we can be assured of His blessing.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that, as we begin this new part of our journey together, we will humbly look to God for leading and guidance, believing that through Him, we can do great things as a church!

Wishing you God’s riches blessing,

Rev. Stuart Love