18 November Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter. It is hard to believe we’re just five weeks out from our Community Christmas Carols event to be held on Sunday 23rd December from 5-8pm, with Sausage Sizzle, Bouncy Castle, Face Painting, etc., preceding Carols at 6:45pm. (Remember this will be the only service that day and replaces our Christmas Eve service), so services over the Christmas period will be:

Sunday 23rd Dec - Community Carols 5-8pm

Tuesday 25th Dec - Christmas Day – 8am

Sunday 30th Dec, 6th, 13th, 20th & 27th January - combined service at EPAC, 9:30am

As you can see the school have very kindly offered us the use of their air-conditioned Performing Arts Centre again for which we will no doubt be very grateful.

Thank you to everyone who was able to contribute to the consultation process. After an exhausting program the task now lies before the Church Council to discern any considerations and/or actions that should now be initiated. Please pray for us as we meet Monday night, 19th November.

If you liked the idea of a 15 minute interview to share your thoughts, I’d also love to offer that to anyone at anytime (subject to diary restrictions – please make appointments through the office). Please feel free to visit me at my office or I can certainly come to your home or even meet somewhere for coffee.

Speaking of the office, Helen’s partition wall went in on Wednesday so you will now notice a significant difference when you arrive at the offices but you are assured of the usual friendly welcome from Helen and the rest of the staff. I am very grateful for Helen’s “ad-ministry” amongst us – she is very much the oil that makes the machine work. Please do always include her in your prayers for the ministry team – she is our “frontline minister” and critical to so much of our mission and ministry.

I’ve also just confirmed that the painting of the offices will commence on 7th January with the carpet to follow. That means I’d be thrilled if a few folk could help me shift furniture on Thursday 3rd and/or Friday 4th January – I’ll even shout you some Subway for lunch!

Lastly today, I’d love you to join me out at Samford Valley Community Church next Saturday 24th November from 9-12. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are providing some free training in sharing your faith naturally. Please let Helen know during office hours if you can make it. I know we’ve been busy but this training will set you up nicely for inviting people to our Carols and other events!

God bless, Ian.

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4 November Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter. As you’re reading this we have just commenced our consultation period. We welcome Carolyn Kitto amongst us – she is no stranger having been involved with us before in a similar capacity and her findings directly and indirectly contributed to the employment of Dom, Jess and me!

If you haven’t already got involved this time, here are some ways you can still contribute:

1. Pray, and keep praying! For clarity in review and courage in planning.

2. Stay for lunch after the service TODAY, Sunday 4th November.

3. Set up a time for an individual interview with Carolyn via the office (during office hours) – there are still times available.

4. Come to the consultation especially for 8:00-ers; Tuesday 6th at 9:30am (morning tea to follow)

5. Participate in the planning workshops next Saturday 10th November (2 x 1hr session available – please book via the office)

6. Worship in Celebration next Sunday 11th, either at 8am or 9:30am, and hear some preliminary findings and challenges for the future.

The kinds of questions Carolyn will be asking us are:

· Where are we as a church?

· Where should we be heading?

· What gifts am I contributing to the church?

· What ministry am I receiving from the church?

Alongside all this is our desire to be a church where Missional Discipleship is at our core. At the heart of Missional Discipleship are those three sets of relationships which Jesus expressed: “Up” with our Heavenly Father, (Passionate Spirituality); “In” with other disciples, (Radical Community); “Out” with those who don’t know Jesus yet (Missionary Zeal). [Score yourself out of 10 for each of those three . . . try not to use 5!]

We are grateful to Trinity for putting on the event with Sam Chan which over 20 of us attended. Next on the agenda is training in preparation for the Franklin Graham Tour and the event happening at Riverstage on 18th February next year. Samford Valley Community Church are hosting some training which will equip us better with our “Out” by exploring how to tell Our story of faith in the context of God’s big story intersecting with their story of life and belief. You will find this invaluable, especially if you’re finding it hard to get the right words out at the right time with the right people. And funnily enough it begins with listening. Let’s see if we can get at least another 20 folk ready to go the next step. It’s on Saturday 24th November from 9-12. Please indicate your intentions to attend via the office.

God bless,

Ian.

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21 October Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this newsletter. This is the last one for October – where has the year gone?

We’ve had a fantastic take-up of the Sam Chan seminar at Trinity College on "Things I wish I knew when telling my friends about Jesus..." coming up on 1st November. Twenty-one people are booked in (and it’s not too late if you haven’t booked yet).

And in another boost to our evangelistic efforts, we registered our church to be part of the Franklin Graham tour which is happening next year. The event will be held at Riverstage on February 18th at 7.30pm. Franklin is Billy’s son and I have been involved with his ministry previously and can assure you of an event well worth inviting your People of Peace to. In preparation for the event there will be Christian Life and Witness (CLW) training available – more skills in talking to your People of Peace about Jesus. Remember a Person of Peace (based on Luke 10:5-7) is someone who: likes you; listens to you; helps you. Samford Valley Community Church is hosting a CLW training session on Saturday 24th November from 9am-12noon to which we have been warmly invited. Please let Helen know via email or during office hours of your willingness to participate.

Meanwhile we only have a couple of weeks to go until our Congregational Consultation with Carolyn Kitto. If you would like a one-on-one interview with Carolyn please let Helen Smith in the office know ASAP so we can schedule you in. The staff have begun a formal process of review using a tool called “360° review” and we would value your prayers as we not only consider the whole of church life but our particular roles in it and our styles too. This is a vulnerable time but a valuable time for encouragement and growth. And do keep our whole church in your prayers for this important time.

Lastly, can I encourage you, if you aren’t already, to begin praying for whom you might invite to our Community Carols on December 23rd? It promises to be a great night of fun and singing, (of course), along with a re-telling of the Christmas story.

God bless, Ian.

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7 October Newsletter

Welcome to Everyone and a special welcome to our good friend Paul Jones (from Trinity College) who will be preaching today on two very familiar parables, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, which I will be following up on with next week’s sermon on the Lost Son.

As always, there are follow-up questions contained inside this newsletter which should help you: dig a little deeper; and think about how to apply what you learn and make some life-transforming decisions!

We have two significant events coming up in the last quarter of the year. Chronologically, we have the “Life & Witness Consultation” taking place from 2nd – 11th November. This is a larger consultation than usual with Carolyn Kitto facilitating review and planning as we prepare to move further into the discipleship/mission quadrant. This will be preceded by our upcoming combined service on 21st October, (followed by congregational meeting which we will use to introduce and pray for the themes of the consultation). Please put this dates in your diary as markers and be prepared to be interviewed and otherwise engaged in workshops and training. It’s my first one so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works and have high expectations for setting directions for the next 4-5years.

In addition, I had a meeting last week with a working group of people who are helping me create a Community Christmas Carols event for this year. At our last Church Council meeting we agreed to hold this event on Sunday 23rd December in place of our usual Christmas Eve service. So that means our Christmas services for this year will be:

Sunday 23rd December, 5-8pm – Community Christmas Carols

Tuesday 25th December, 8am – Christmas Service

The idea behind the Community Christmas Carols is to invite a number of choirs from our church and wider community to lead us in a carol-singing service preceded by a sausage sizzle and fun activities for families (Bouncy Castle, etc). The Carols will begin at about 6:45pm. We will start small this year and, God-willing, look to expand in coming years. This will be an ideal event to invite friends and family who don’t normally come to our church. We are expecting about 300 people to attend! Please pray for the organisation and good attendance of this event.

Meanwhile, in the next month, you can expect to see a structural change in the administration area. This was approved sometime ago by Church Council but we are now not far off having a partition wall (part solid, part glass) built in front of our reception desk which will include a lockable door, a service window and ledge (for writing forms etc). After that we may be looking for some volunteers to paint . . .

God bless, Ian.

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23 September Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter. It’s great to be part of Emmanuel and we’re glad that you are part of our “extended family on mission” too!

We’ve just had another really good hard rubbish collection experience! We got rid of heaps of stuff and almost all of it was taken by people putting it to good use. AND we got to recycle a piece of furniture from someone else’s pile which we’re now putting to good use too.

Did you know there are other forms of recycling which can help in our outreach to others?

Our most precious commodity (some would say) is time and the use of our time is something we have to manage carefully. Sometimes people say to me, “I’d love to get involved in ministry/mission in some way but I have no spare time!” We’ve all been there.

But what if we were able to recycle time? “What?” I hear you say, “How can we use time again?” Well, maybe the phrase “upcycling” is more appropriate. Here’s what I mean:

There are loads of activities we do every day, every week, every month, even every year. We do them over and over and over again. And usually with the same people (or on our own).

But how can that work for mission and ministry? (I acknowledge that some people need time by themselves so you don’t have do this with every activity . . . ) If I’m going to the movies, I try to think of someone else who might like to come. If I’m going to watch the footy on TV (whatever code) maybe there’s someone else who can come around and watch it with me – or maybe go to the local pub and watch it with a bunch of different folks.

This one is my absolute favourite though. I eat meals two to three times a day (at least!) I’m always going to be eating seven days a week. That’s 14-21 opportunities to share a meal with someone: you don’t know very well; you’d like to get to know better; you need to talk through an issue with; get advice from; try a new cafe with; you get the idea. And here’s the thing – they’re going to need to be eating all those times too so it’s not like you’re wasting your time or theirs either!

It’s an easy way to extend the “family” – what if we each tried to find just one of those 21 opportunities each week to include someone else? Might we change our little bit of the world? Maybe . . . how many times do we read of Jesus sharing a meal . . . just saying . . .

God bless, Ian.

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9 September Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

I’ve just come from a visitor’s night at Girls Brigade where Fathers, Uncles, Grandads or other special males were invited to help make a crazy golf course which we then later did our best to conquer. What a great night and wonderful to see the culture of inviting visitors to our activities developing in our next generation! I hope there’ll be many more events and special services that we can feel confident to invite our family, friends and especially people who don’t yet know Jesus to. Plans are underway for one such event at Christmas – stay tuned for more details!

To help us in this task, Trinity College is hosting a night with Dr Sam Chan on Thursday 1st November on the topic, “Things I wish I knew when telling my friends about Jesus”. Please let me know if you are interested in going as we can get a group discount with 5 or more people. Their next open night is also coming up fast this Monday night 10th September, 7-9pm.

We had to very interesting conversations on Tuesday with regards to same gender marriage. A total of about 35 people attended and most people who attended felt able to express their feelings and opinions. Some of our Elders were able to be there and they will feedback into the next stage which is that our Church Council will now make a decision about whether to allow such marriages to take place in our buildings at Emmanuel. We expect to meet on Monday 17th and would value your prayers for that occasion.

Speaking of prayers, I came across this article in Eternity Magazine (online) 28th August, 2018, on how to pray for our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who is a practising, Pentecostal Christian . I commend it to you not just for the Prime Minister but for all our parliamentary representatives.

10 Things to pray for our Prime Minister

- Do pray for him, rather than preach at him.

- Do see his appointment as a responsibility, rather than claiming him as your right.

- Do encourage him, rather than instruct him.

- Do ask God for his blessing and protection on his family, rather than being only committed to his support for yours.

- Do realise that his responsibility is to govern for all Australians, not just those of your denomination or expression of faith.

- Do seek his peace, rather than have a piece of him.

- Do attempt to understand the pressures of the office, rather than add pressure on him from your office.

- Do intercede for God’s agenda to operate through him, rather than push your agenda to him.

- Do use your social media influence to build up, rather than “grand stand” or point scoring to your mates.

And most of all …

Every AM pray for your PM!

God bless, Ian.

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26 August Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

Today is a good day to celebrate belonging to Emmanuel. Many churches around the world celebrate Patronal Festivals (the festival where your Patron Saint is honoured) and this can be ours. Perhaps every year on the last Sunday in August we will gather for this purpose. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making this day happen, especially Jess, Russell and Cheryl and all those who’ve supported them. What wonderful people we have in our church!

With new signs, flags, audio/visual equipment in the hall, and some much-needed renno’s in the admin area, and new furniture in the foyer on their way, it feels like we’re getting ourselves set for some fresh beginnings. Two other things, which will help us on our way in 2019, are a Congregational Consultation in early November and next month I will be launching a new initiative called “Deep Foundations” in which I will gather all those in leadership at our church for some extra input and training. There is good reason for optimism into the future.

In which case, it will be great to offer our annual tithing commitments and any other general thanksgiving offering today as a sign of our investment into the ministry of our church. If you are not able to make such a commitment today (or have simply forgotten your pledge forms), you are welcome to deliver them to the office in due course.

Today also marks the end of our period of prayer and fasting to consider our response to the 15th Assembly decision to allow for Same Gender Marriage in the Uniting Church. As part of our ongoing discernment process, at Church Council the other night, I was asked to facilitate two conversations at our church to allow for comments, questions and just being heard on the issue by any member of the congregation who wishes to. To that end there will be two conversations held on Tuesday 4th September: one at 9:30am and then again at 7pm, here at church. They will be no more and no less than conversations between interested people. If you would like to do some further reading on the issue we have made available three documents: the Assembly’s Working Group on Doctrine report “Marriage & Same Gender relationships”; a pastoral Letter from the President of the Assembly; and a proposal called “Standing Firm by Stepping Aside”. There are a limited number of printed copies available in the foyer today or you can ask for them to emailed to you via the office. I have also included my critique of the current situation at the request of Church Council.

So, plenty to read, plenty to think about and plenty to celebrate – let’s keep giving God all we have and remember that because of Jesus and in the power of His Spirit we do indeed experience Emmanuel – God with us!

God bless, Ian.

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12 August Newsletter

Welcome to everyone reading this Newsletter.

I hope by now you’ve received your 2018 stewardship letter, including response forms, and are planning to join us for our “Emmanuel Day” Celebration Service, followed by our Big Brunch and family games. It should be a great day to give thanks to God for all he’s given us and to offer ourselves afresh to the mission he’s calling us to!

You know me well enough by now to realise that I try to keep these letters bright and breezy but today marks the beginning of some rather more serious dialogue.

Many in the Uniting Church, me included, feel betrayed by the 15th Assembly’s resolution 64 which provides for an additional understanding of marriage to include marriage between partners of the same gender. They wish us to believe that it is perfectly reasonable to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs about marriage as equally valid. On the one hand they wish us to say “Christians believe that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman” and on the other that “Christians believe marriage can be between any two persons, regardless of gender”. Whilst the second allows for the first, the first certainly does not allow for the second. So they have delivered us an illogical, nonsense, (and one which places us, especially registered marriage celebrants, in legal jeopardy if challenged).

But there are two, far more serious grievances.

1. The Assembly decided that this was not a matter of “vital importance to the church” and therefore that it did not require wider consultation or “concurrence” (agreement between all of the Councils of the Church, ie, Assembly, Synod, Presbytery, Church Council and especially you, the members of the congregations).

In claiming that marriage between two persons of the same gender is “biblically valid” they have in effect led our church into what is known as Apostasy (heresy – ie rejecting a religious belief). Let me state this again - there is absolutely no biblical affirmation for homosexual marriage – not one scrap. The only “biblically valid” form of marriage affirmed by scripture is the traditional one, between a man and a woman.

The horrendous truth before us is that our church leadership neither value our opinions nor worse, is quite happy to mislead us into false teaching. How could this happen? I have included a reflection from a UCA Minister from NSW for one perspective.

As a result, many congregations are agonising over whether to leave the Uniting Church, and some already have. In fact, any congregation which is not considering their future is in effect saying, “We agree with this new teaching on marriage”.

By my reckoning we are about two thirds of the way through our 40 days of prayer and fasting. In addition, this past week I have been on four days retreat focussing on how to respond both pastorally and institutionally. I urge you, please, to pray for our Church Council as we face this crisis and try to find a way through. [I can tell you there are moves afoot, amongst wider networks, to find alternative ways of belonging whilst still maintaining our integrity as orthodox Christians and I (amongst many others) am working hard to find a palatable solution.]

God bless, Ian.

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