News & Views

Holy Week Statement from British and Irish Church Leaders

Please see below a united response to the Covid-19 pandemic from Church leaders in Britain in Ireland.

Holy Week Statement from British and Irish Church Leaders

God’s world is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. In the nations that make up Britain and Ireland the Covid-19 virus continues to affect people at an alarming rate, health services along with many of our institutions and organisations, both local and national, are under extreme pressure and people are getting used to living in a very different way, many in extreme isolation. As with all such crises, there is a danger that the most vulnerable in society will be most badly affected.

Christians the world over are entering an important time in the church year as we look to the events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. At the centre of our common faith are both the depths of despair and the heights of joy. In the Bible and in the songs and liturgies of the Church, we see Jesus entering fully into human suffering. In His rising again, that suffering is redeemed and transformed into hope and joy. After Jesus’ death his disciples were afraid and all seemed lost and hopeless, but the risen Christ met them in their despair and restored hope through his victory over death. We pray that the world today might know this hope in place of despair.

In the Book of Daniel we read about God’s people being taken into exile in Babylon. Daniel could not pray in the Temple in Jerusalem, but he continued to pray in exile – opening his window to face Jerusalem. Though he was on his own he joined with the prayers of the people wherever they were. Now we too are separated from each other physically, but when we pray in our homes we join in with this ancient tradition of our home as a place of prayer. Wherever we are, whenever we pray, when we speak and think of Christ, there he is in the midst of us. We join our prayers with all those who pray in our own churches and communities and around the world.

As church leaders from across the many and varied churches of these Islands we urge all people to join us in prayer this Holy Week and Easter; to pray for those who suffer, those who face untimely death and all those who care for them; to celebrate our common faith at a difficult time; to help and support our neighbours in need; and to observe all the safeguards in place to slow the spread of disease.

Our Prayer

Loving God, in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation, cast out the darkness of our anxiety, fear and mourning, enfold us in your love and give us joy and hope this Easter. Amen.

Archbishop Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury

Very Rev Dr William Henry Moderator General Assembly Presbyterian Church of Ireland

Archbishop Eamon Martin Archbishop of Armagh

Revd Nigel Uden
Moderator of General Assembly United Reformed Church

Bishop Hugh Gilbert Bishop of Aberdeen

His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain

Bishop Mark Strange
Primus, Scottish Episcopal Church

His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos Coptic Archbishop of London

Mr Rheinallt Thomas
President Free Church Council Wales

Revd Brian Anderson
President Irish Council of Churches

Gavin Calver
CEO Evangelical Alliance

Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster

Rt. Revd Colin Sinclair Moderator General Assembly Church of Scotland

Commissioner Anthony Cotterill The Salvation Army

Archbishop-elect John McDowell Archbishop of Armagh

Revd Dr Barbara Glasson
President Methodist Church of Great Britain

Revd Lynn Green
General Secretary Baptist Union of Great Britain

Archbishop John Davies Archbishop of Wales

Pastor Agu Irukwu
Redeemed Christian Church of God

Revd Hugh Osgood
Moderator Free Church Federal Council

Revd Sam McGuffin
President Methodist Church in Ireland

Paul Parker
Religious Society of Friends

Consultation – Protecting Places of Worship

CTiC has recently received the following communication from our Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hurst.

Please consider passing it on to ministers and church members.

You may also download the below in A4 pdf letter form – click here.


Dear Partners

Protecting Places of Worship – Government Consultation

I hope that this letter finds you well, and that you and your family and friends remain well in these difficult times.

As many of you may already be aware, earlier this month the Home Office launched a consultation on Protecting Places of Worship. According to the consultation document, its aim is to improve schemes that are currently in place to protect places of worship, and to provide the government with evidence on what more needs to be done to support faith groups, so they
can worship free from fear or abuse.

The full consultation document is available via the link below.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protecting-places-of-worship-consultation

The majority of questions within the document are about the individual worshipper’s experiences and perceptions. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in this consultation directly.

I will also be providing a response myself and if there are specific points you would like me to raise, please let me and my team know by emailing pfcc@essex.police.uk

Yours sincerely

Roger Hirst
Police Fire and Crime Commissioner

Prayer – Just have a chat with God

This morning I was sitting reflecting on how prayer has come into focus at this time. So many seem to be encouraging indeed facilitating online, local, national and global initiatives. There are petitions, requests, declarations, sometimes loud voices casting out or binding this and that!

You haven’t got to engage with them all, or indeed any! Don’t feel guilty if you just missed that important Zoom prayer meeting you fully intended to join with.

The wonderful thing about prayer is that at its simplest, it’s just making a little time to have a personal chat with Father God, your heavenly dad.

Jesus used to spend lots of time alone with his Father, I guess much was listening, sitting quietly, meditating, absorbing, an alignment of wills. Two hearts beating as one.

Jesus only did what His Father showed him. We should too!

Speaking to His followers, Jesus once said, “…I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19

I believe that within this global crisis, there is an amazing opportunity to make a personal realignment to God’s will and purposes for your life, such that going forward you may well see and do things differently that will change you and those around you forever.

So maybe when that next call to prayer hits your inbox or newsfeed, gently put your device aside and make some time instead for just you and Father.

David Gilbey

Chair of CTiC

The Best Way to Eat an Elephant

THE BEST WAY TO EAT AN ELEPHANT?
.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the whole coronavirus situation? What can little old you do to help? Do you seek to become a volunteer, if so who with? But, what if you need to self-isolate, are unwell or caring for others at this time? Maybe you time is taken up trying to find a shop with a stock toilet rolls!

Two simple thoughts:

1. PRAY. Ask Father God what you should do. He not only wants to hear from you, but to respond.

The response might come as a fleeting, increasing or confirmatory thought, maybe of a situation or someone you’ve previously had on your heart.

2. ACT on what you hear. Simple! Telephone, message, pray or take the practical step you have heard. Take that one step and REPEAT 1. Another step, your personal ‘volunteering’ opportunity is likely to open up.

An old African proverb comes to mind – How do you eat a whole elephant.., one bite at a time! And if many people are taking individual bites…?

(No harm is wished or implied to elephants!)

May The Lord direct your path at this unprecedented time… a time of real opportunity for us, The Church of Jesus Christ to BE the very Good News to our City and beyond,

David Gilbey
Chair CTiC

CANCELLED – Good Friday Procession and Service of Witness

With great regret, but in light of the coronavirus situation and in line with current Government guidance, the CTiC committee have made the decision to cancel this year’s event.

2020 Event – Good Friday – Great News

Since the 1980’s, CTiC has organised a Good Friday Procession and Service of Witness in the City Centre, involving hundreds of Christians from many of the Churches of Chelmsford.

This year, Friday 10th April, we will find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented global situation and we have decided that wisdom is that we should cancel the event.

However, Good Friday will still happen! Easter  – Resurrection – Sunday will come three days later and the very Good News of Jesus Christ will not alter, even if our plans and traditions have to!

Can we use Media Technology instead on Good Friday?

We are now rapidly working on the possibility of either utilising radio or internet to broadcast/stream a Good News programme and message, on Good Friday, to Chelmsford – indeed the reach of something like this would geographically go way beyond!

Check our website ctic.org.uk or our Facebook page: facebook.com/CTiChelmsford for updates as things become clearer.

National Call to Prayer by CTe – Sunday 22nd March

National call to prayer

Presidents of Churches Together in England have issued a call to prayer in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is for all churches and people of prayer to join on Sunday 22 nd March, Mothering Sunday.

They write….

This Mothering Sunday, 22nd March, we are calling all churches to a National Day of Prayer and Action. At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.

At 7pm this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.

Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation. We would pray for all in leadership at this time, making decisions about the containment of the COVID-19 virus, for those working in health and social care, and especially for the most vulnerable, whether elderly or those with underlying health conditions.

There are already stories being told of wonderful acts of kindness across neighbourhoods. Alongside your prayers, take the opportunity to telephone or email someone who is isolated, buy some additional food for your local foodbank, or offer to deliver shopping for an elderly neighbour. We may not be able to touch physically, but we can make connections in so many other ways.

In the meantime, do please attend to all the government health advice that will be issued, and look out for resources from your specific church governing bodies. At least for those of us in the global North, we do seem to be in unusual times, and wisdom and flexibility about worship gatherings are a key part of our Christian discipleship during this period.

We note that this call to prayer and action comes on Mothering Sunday: a time of thankfulness, remembering especially mothers who have served us, often in very costly ways. It is also a very mixed day for many. For some the remembrance is painful, and for others Mothering Sunday is a reminder of disappointment or loss. In many ways, this period under the shadow of the coronavirus will be prompting similarly diverse reactions and so it seems especially appropriate that the call to prayer is made this Sunday. At this time of uncertainty join in with the National Day of Prayer and Action, lighting a candle of hope.

“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7

Presidents of Churches Together in England
Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Archbishop Angaelos of London, CTE President for the Orthodox Churches
Pastor Agu Irukwu, CTE Pentecostal President

Prayer for Chelmsford Online

CTiC works with City Prayer (formerly Chelmsford 24-7 Prayer), who hold a monthly City Prayer meeting. In view of the latest Government advice over Coronavirus, this month’s meeting, scheduled for 26th March has been cancelled.

So… Introducing, Prayer for Chelmsford Online. We don’t stop being The Church when we can’t go to church!

First online meeting  – Tuesday 17th March – 9pm for 30 minutes

For future opportunities to join in online prayer, details can be found at https://cityprayer.uk

Wooden cross - Prayer for Chelmsford with wording

Hosted by Leader of City Prayer and Chair of Christians Together in Chelmsford (CTiC), David Gilbey.

At this time of global crisis over the coronavirus and growing concerns over meeting in person, let’s use technology to come together and pray God’s blessing and protection over our City and all who live, work or visit here.

This is a trial run! We hope that it will become a regular meeting, maybe at different times/days. Join us and help us shape it!

Join via Zoom video conferencing on your phone, mobile device, laptop or desktop computer:

https://us04web.zoom.us/j/246481933
Meeting ID: 246 481 933

(You should also be able to join by phone call by dialling 0800 031 5717 and following audio prompts).

If you are not familiar with using Zoom, you will need to download an app. or program first. Check out this link https://support.zoom.us/…/artic…/201362193-Joining-a-Meeting

We ARE The Church, so stop going!

A personal reflection from CTiC Chair, David Gilbey

As updates about infection rates and news of further precautions concerning Coronavirus continue to flow in, many Christians are wondering if they should, for the time being, stop going to church?

But… remember, we ARE The Church, it is not simply about a weekly meeting or attending a few events! Christians are called to be representatives of Jesus, purveying his love and kindness wherever we live, work and everywhere we go.

Image result for we are the church

For years now, I’ve sensed The Lord calling members of His Church, to increasingly leave the confines of their buildings, traditions and practices, alien to many in our post-Christian society, and determine to be much more a 24-7 presence of Jesus out in our communities. Many are starting to see this and are moving towards this model.

At this time of increasing national emergency, I believe we are being called to be, as in The Bible, an ‘Acts 2’ Church:

Acts 2:42‭-‬47 (NIV)

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs [including healings] performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.

They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts [the City centre of the day]. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved [decided to also become followers of Jesus].’

It is the perfect time for The Church, (us), to reposition, both in our thinking and physically. As death is being spoken about, we carry LIFE!

Let’s gladly stop simply ‘going to church’ and become in our communities, all that Jesus originally intended!

Does Jesus still bring healing today?

Does Jesus still heal today? A testimony from CTiC Chair, David Gilbey and an opportunity to discover for yourself next week!:

‘Over a week ago, the wife of a close friend of mine had a serious surgical procedure to her jaw. She had since been in pain, unable to open or move her mouth properly and had found it almost impossible to take in even liquid food by straw.

Last Sunday at Church, she was explaining the situation. As she spoke I felt what I can best describe as a tangible ‘rush’ of faith and felt compelled to pray for her. I made a declarative prayer for her ability to eat to be restored.

The next morning, I got the following message from my friend:

‘Praise God! … [my wife] got up this morning suddenly realising she can now open her mouth wide. Eating, albeit still no solids will be without hindrance. Likewise, she will now be able to clean her teeth. Pain is practically zero. Thank you Jesus…! This is important to both of us as I go away to college today for the week knowing she is so much better. We are overjoyed with this surprise even with our own measures of faith. What was a dark prognosis is turning out to be a victory for Jesus!”


Flame of Revival

7.30 pm, Friday 20th March at the URC, Great Baddow -all are very welcome.

Churches Together in England – March Newsletter

CTiC is umbrellaed by Churches Together in England – cte.org.uk.

View and download the highly informative CTe March newsletter as a pdf – click here

Here is the lead  article:

Reflection of the Month: Churches working together provide a glimmer of hope

Bishop Mike Royal, Co Chief Executive of Cinnamon Network UK and part of CTE’s Charismatic and Pentecostal Leaders Forum, shares our Reflection of the Month for March 2020…

A recent newspaper article in The Guardian, under the heading ‘Life Expectancy’, highlighted the fact that over the last decade austerity has caused life expectancy to stall in the UK for the first time in a century. During the same period, a third of children were living in poverty for three years running. The socio-economic picture painted here is depressing, and it’s difficult to find any glimmer of hope in what has transpired over the last decade.

But there is a glimmer of hope in the current malaise. Up and down the country, local churches who are rooted in local community have being coordinating a response to people in their communities who are falling through the cracks. The last decade has seen an unprecedented response from churches of different persuasions. Liberal churches, High orthodox churches; conservative evangelical churches and charismatic Pentecostal churches have all adopted best practice projects run by organisations specifically collaborating with local churches to make a difference. At Cinnamon Network UK we seek to encourage everyday local congregations to adopt these best practice projects.

Across the UK, Street Pastors teams have worked with local church networks to be a visible presence on the streets at night. Listening, helping and caring for the community. The great thing about the way they work is that they will only work in an area where churches are willing to work together. I had the privilege of leading the Birmingham Street Pastors team for five years. It was great to see how people from a variety of different backgrounds came together to patrol streets in the North Birmingham area.

In Shropshire, Telford Christians Together, a local Churches Together initiative, recently completed a Cinnamon Faith Action Audit in their community. The Faith Action Audit measured the activity churches and other faith organisations were undertaking in the town. A survey was undertaken and a report written which now forms the basis of conversations with statutory agencies as to what faith organisations are doing and what else they might do in that community.

These opportunities to collaborate not only break down barriers between local churches, but they also show the world that we are one church.

In John 17:20-23 Jesus prayed “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message… that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me so they may be brought to complete unity”.

When different churches work together in the community, our unity is a witness to people; not only that the church is a loving community, but that God loves the community. Jesus goes on to say that “then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them”!

There are so many issues where churches have different theological views. It’s great when we can journey together ecumenically, putting those issues aside to reach out to the last, the least and the lost. When we do that, we bring credibility to the message of the gospel.

Our words are demonstrated by action, and our actions are an opportunity to speak words of life. So let’s get out of our silos and extend an arm of friendship to other churches in our villages, towns and cities, as we commit to work together. Not just once a year during the Week of Christian Unity, but 24/7, 366 days of the year 2020, and beyond!

Bishop Mike Royal is the Co Chief Executive of Cinnamon Network UK, a charity supporting churches with their community engagement. He is also the former National Director & pioneer of Transforming Lives for Good (TLG), who work with children and young people at risk of exclusion from school.

Mike is a Pentecostal Bishop based in Birmingham, and represents his denomination the Apostolic Pastoral Congress on CTE’s Charismatic and Pentecostal Leaders Forum.