What's on in March - Services and Events
Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, following Church of England advice, all services and events in the church have been cancelled. Services and meetings will take place online via Skype. The church website www.nschurch.org.uk will show when the next event is and how to join.
For ideas for praying and connecting to God at home, see the Ideas post in Parish News.
The best way to keep up to date is to sign up to our news email.
Church at Tadpole Garden Village
Please remember to pray for God’s guidance with building a Christian Community in Tadpole Garden Village at 4pm every Sunday afternoon. We really want to hear what God is calling us to do, so please ask God to guide us and listen to what He might be saying.
If you were not able to be at the services on 9th and 16th February, please look out for the Ways to Respond to God’s Generosity sheets which were handed out on these Sundays and read the summary below.
Christian Aid’s Count your Blessings campaign is a good way to explore generosity during Lent. You can read more here.
Our Easter weekend services will be announced as above.
Parish Safeguarding Officer
Niki Wilding would like to step down as Parish Safeguarding Officer, a role we are really grateful she has fulfilled efficiently for several years. As you will be aware, Safeguarding is very important in church life and this role, which is mainly administrative, is key to ensuring that St Andrew’s runs smoothly and lovingly. Niki is happy to provide as much support as needed and full training is available. Please speak to Sally if you are interested.
As well as praying for our parish each day using the pink winter prayer cycle, please pray for the future of Church at Tadpole Farm and that we would each find the right way of spending Lent so that we draw closer to God and are ready to celebrate the pain and the joy of Easter in these difficult circumstances.
From the Vicar
That doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Surely, Lent is not meant to be a time of being happy, but of making sacrifices to prepare for Jesus’ sacrifice at Easter, of being miserable and not eating the things we like to eat?
Well yes and no. Lent is traditionally a time or spiritual preparation so that we can be closer to God and more ready to receive the good news of Easter with spiritually live hearts and minds. It may be that giving up chocolate or alcohol or social media helps you to do that. Discipline is good for us because it reminds us who’s really the boss. But the boss we want to be reminded of is God and not our own iron will. So rather than seeing Lent as a time of hardship, it’s good to look at the benefits of self-discipline and realise that if the craving for chocolate reminds you to talk to your loving heavenly Father, the God who loves you more than anyone else has ever loved you, that must surely be a good thing and not much of a sacrifice at all. Yes, we all have to battle with temptations of different kinds, but we can be really helped in those battles if we keep our eyes focussed on Jesus and all he has done for us.
These days many people prefer a positive discipline for Lent, helping others rather than depriving ourselves, so you might like to explore 40 Acts or Christian Aid’s Count your blessings campaign. (There are paper copies of the latter available on the book case in St Andrew’s).
However you choose to spend Lent, I pray that you will find it a fulfilling and Christ-filled experience.
Worshipping a generous God
I saw a meme on Facebook the other day which said “Instead of counting calories or steps, why not count your blessings?”, which is always a good thing to do.
Our God is very generous, so generous that he gave himself, as Jesus Christ to live and die for us. Not to mention the wonderful world he created for us and all he provides for us in so many ways. Sometime when we’re given gifts by friends or family we feel embarrassed if someone is too generous, but we need have no worries like that with God. He has all the resources he needs to bless each one of us as much as we need – and more – and sometimes it is good to stop and recognise that.
We can recognise it by counting our blessings and giving thanks each day for the things God gives us – why not start with 3 things each day for a week? But we can also recognise it, and be grateful for it, but looking at how we can share God’s generosity with others. This might be through giving money, time or other resources to help those in need.
We thought about God’s generosity over two Sundays in February at St Andrew’s and the congregation were encouraged to continue thinking about these issues at home with the sheets you’ll find here. Psalm 104, Ephesians chapter 1 and the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 are great places to start using the Bible to think about God’s generosity, so why not read at least one of those passages and begin a journey of generosity today?
Around the Parish
How St Andrew's became the building it is today
The first in a short series giving some background to our lovely church building.
St Andrew’s Church is located in North Swindon. The village of Blunsdon itself (which it originally served) is located on Coral Rag limestone on a south-facing scarp slope of a ridge that runs east-west through this area. The church is set in a generous churchyard enclosed by low stone walls and with long views over the grounds of Blunsdon Abbey which lies to the east of the church. The Abbey is a private house (now a caravan park) - there is no evidence it was ever a religious establishment. A gateway at the south-west end of the church-yard used to provide access directly onto Abbey grounds.
The church itself is included on the English Heritage List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest as Grade II* and dates from the early thirteenth century, perhaps as early as 1200, when the nave was constructed. The main door inside the porch on the north side of the church, the north wall of the nave and the columns of the nave arcade all date from the first phase of the church’s construction in the thirteenth century.
Blunsdon Abbey, a stone’s throw from the church, was rebuilt by a local Swindon man in 1860. Shortly after this, sometime between 1864 and 1868, William Butterfield was commissioned to carry out a 'restoration' of this medieval parish church. In practice, much of the church building was completely rebuilt by Butterfield at this time, including the Chancel, south Aisle and Porch. A new roof was also constructed and the interior, in keeping with so many churches of this era, was re-ordered to better suit the liturgical, aesthetic and practical needs of High Victorian ecclesiology. The overall impression gained today by St Andrew’s is that it is a small, Victorian country church with medieval origins built of rubble stone with a plain clay tile roof.
We'd love to hear from you
The online news is a mini-parish magazine for North Swindon - please do help make it more interesting and locally focused by providing contributions! These can be about St Andrew's and your experiences as a Christian and in the church, about events in the wider parish or anything that might be of interest to our readers. Please do email Brian Clegg with your contributions.
General Synod Sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target
The Church of England’s General Synod has set new targets for all parts of the church to work to become carbon ‘net zero’ by 2030.
At its February 2020 meeting, members voted in favour of a revised date encouraging all parts of the Church of England to take action and ramp-up efforts to reduce emissions.
A motion approved today called for urgent steps to examine requirements to reach the new target, and draw up an action plan.
An amendment by Canon Prof Martin Gainsborough (Bristol) introduced a more ambitious target date of 2030, fifteen years ahead of the original proposal.
The motion follows the launch of the Church of England’s first ever Green Lent (#LiveLent) campaign for 2020, featuring 40 days of prayers and actions to encourage care for God’s Creation.
The Church of England has also announced an appliance-style footprinting tool for parishes to calculate their carbon footprint.
Following the debate, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on Environmental Affairs said: “Synod has set an ambitious target for the whole Church of England to respond to the urgency of the Climate Crisis.
“Toreach Synod’s target of 2030 will not be easy, and requires each of us to hear this as an urgent call to action.
“But this is a clear statement of intent across the Church and to wider society about our determination to safeguard God’s creation.
“This is a social justice issue, which affects the world’s poorest soonest and most severely, and if the Church is to hold others to account, we have to get our own house in order.
“There is no serious doubt that climate change is happening, and that people are causing it, so it is very encouraging that Synod is grappling with one of the most urgent issues of our time.
“We will now need to work out a plan to ensure we do everything possible to meet this target.”
Hope Prayer Spaces
41% of practising Christians say that a spiritual experience or an experience of the love of Jesus was a key influence in their coming to faith – so if we help more people to experience God’s love and presence, more of them will come to know him for themselves.
In 2020, 24-7 Prayer and HOPE Together are inviting churches to host a creative, public prayer space. Through this communities can be invited to experience God through talking and listening to Him in prayer.
Together with 24-7 Prayer, HOPE have developed a 'Hope Spaces' guide and resources to give you everything you need to provide Hope Spaces in your community.
You might set up a 'prayer sofa' on the high street in April and give out hot cross buns, or a gazebo prayer tent in the local market in May, or prayer stall at the community fun day in June. There are lots of options and this is a great opportunity to take the church outside the walls of the building and invite people to #TryPraying.
Click here for more information and to get your resource pack and guide.
"2020 is such an exciting year of opportunity. But if we are going to see anything, the need for the church to pray is critical. Prayer 2020 is one such exciting initiative that everyone can get involved in, which is on the 20th day of each month at 20:20 we will pray for 20 minutes for friends, family and the nation as a whole to come to faith in Jesus Christ. I have been thrilled with the take up right across the church in people doing it. So please both together an individually, join in with us this year!" Roy Crowne