Did you know the Church heating was renewed over the summer. In a building of this size and complexity that takes some planning, financing and conversation with those who use the complex it was not the only thing that required a raid on our assets. I am most grateful to Property and Finance and for the generosity of our members and their encouragement and prayer. In a large church such as this, the possibility of big bills is part of the landscape. We are in the period of gift days and some of you have arranged regular giving, which can be gift aided and some have arranged to leave a legacy to help in time of trouble. Take care that identified instruction leaves no doubt which gardener you favoured or which church you intended to endow because if you just put it to the ‘Methodist Church’ it will all go to head office. Please include full name and address. You may not be able to contribute anything, but do please pray for us and if possible give time to our work. And of course – smile often smile often. A vicar called Bruce had a church with a terrible boiler and when he passed away he left in his will the instruction ‘if the church is still open and still has ‘Betty’, (the name of the Boiler), I will leave money to upgrade the heating. Betty was still there and the congregation was still frozen. The work was done, new radiators and a gleaming boiler etc. all went into the little church. It was noted that the workmen came out sniggering on the last day. First Sunday in January as well the place being toasty warm, the flock couldn’t believe it. At the end of the service they were asked to go and look at the heating plant which was in the church by the bell tower. Soon laughter could be heard and when people went in they saw the boiler had two plaques which the vicar had prepared. The first one said Big Ben which was obviously the name of the new boiler. The second in smaller print said ‘in memory of Bruce’, another great provider of hot air. There are a number of items around these premises that have been given in memory of people. Not everything has been marked with a label or plaque but their generosity has benefitted all of us. The last time the heating went in my previous church every single unit in the place failed at the same time. Unbelievably we had the money ‘under the bed’ so to speak because there had been a number of legacies, we had more members and there was incredible generosity. I never write this sort of letter, especially in the minister’s slot. I don’t feel comfortable asking for money. See below. However, we stand at a moment in time when a number of problems arrived in our midst all at once. A lot of churches in every denomination will not be able to weather such showers let alone the gale that’s blown through here in recent months, ( this is a metaphor) This essential work on the building and the prolonged closure in Covid has been a great strain on the accounts. A fall in numbers through relocation etc. has contributed to the matter. But there is generosity and we can solve this problem together. We also stand in a moment when the Circuit has been able to help. Did you know that Jesus spoke about money more than prayer ? I didn’t believe it when I heard that detail, but it’s true. I feel uncomfortable talking about money to churches. I think the screens flash stipend with each breath. Jesus didn’t seem to have that problem. The man with the barns had plans in Luke 12:13-21. And his plan didn’t include God but he did get to meet him briefly v20-21. I read a piece on this parable recently which said, Jesus is asking people to identify the barns in their lives, where extension after extension has been bolted on for the rainy day. That day never comes for many before their time is up, or worse, they are gone with the first crack of lighting. A large barn will sustain anyone, but harvest is an annual event so refill the barn. Replace what has been needed and then use the plenty that remains for God and the community. If wealth comes at the expense of generosity then in Gods eyes something has gone wrong. Whoever wrote that had no difficulty fund raising for Christianity. They probably were unpopular for saying it. Indeed it may upset some people but when you look at the Gospels it is a challenging statement in scripture. I know some will not be in the position to help strengthen the finances, but help, prayer and serious invitation to others to share our services and events will all help taking us forward. After all, churches are supposed to grow. Working together we can deal with this challenge. Finance and Property have done a lot of work already to get things moving, so pray about this issue and remember that there are churches that may be closing after the challenges proved too much. Rejoice in what we have and what can be accomplished. Honour and remember those who built and donated for the future. Take joy in the resurrection.

Best wishes Brian – still of this Parish