United Church Winchester

Welcome to the United Church Winchester.

 We invite all those who want to share in the exploration of what the Christian faith means to join us in worship and fellowship. We offer lively, relevant and interesting worship and assure you of a warm welcome.

As well as services on Sundays and Friday and groups who meet for fellowship, we have a Coffee Bar which is open to the public every week day morning from 10am - 2pm and on Saturdays from 10am - 12pm.  We also host various events open to one and all.

Please use the navigation list to explore what the church offers more.

 

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

‘God moves in mysterious ways’ is a phrase that many of us will have heard at some point. Though it’s often used to describe how a favourable outcome seems to appear out-of-the-blue or from an unlikely source, it also hints at the deeper question of how much we can really comprehend of God’s activity in the world. We want God to be present and fully engaged in our lives, and when something good happens that is beyond our comprehension it reinforces our belief that God is at work and hears our cries. Conversely, there are times when it seems as though God is moving so mysteriously that we begin to wonder whether he (or she) is even moving at all, much to our dismay. Even more frustrating is when God seems absent from a situation, or worse still the cause of it.

Such soul-searching is likely to be a constant companion to those that have suffered in recent months because of tragedies like the Grenfell tower fire or Hurricane Irma. In times of such adversity we want God’s movement to be anything but mysterious and we feel angry that God didn’t do more, or prevent these things from happening in the first place. In the wake of such tragedy questions like ‘where was God?’ and ‘why did God allow this happen?’ are, understandably, never far from our minds. No matter how enlightened our outlook, or how much we appreciate that suffering is an intrinsic part of human experience, or how willing we are to accept the cost of human agency; the fact that bad things still happen to those who don’t deserve it makes God’s ‘activity’ in the world all the more indecipherable.

Yet as a Christian, I still want to defend the notion that God moves in mysterious ways. By this I mean that no matter how imperceptible, God is still active in the world and in situations of need. It may not necessarily be in the direct way that we like to judge such ‘intervention’ to have occurred, but the hallmarks of God’s presence alongside us are never far from even the gravest tragedy. Out of the chaos that follows disaster, do we not also find an abundance of generosity, compassion and loving-kindness? Are these not also signs of God at work in mysterious ways? I’m not saying that I’m content with the fact that people suffer, or that I’m comfortable with the reality that humanity’s great capacity for compassion is so often catalysed by abject need, but in a world that so often defies explanation, belief in a God who walks alongside me, no matter how mysteriously, is something I’d rather not live without.

Tim 

Let’s Go Green in 2017

Live Locally

A good meal is to our taste buds what art is to our eyes, and the satisfaction can be far deeper than simply the sustenance that it provides.  We can enjoy flavours combined in ways that are new and exciting, or draw comfort from old and familiar foods and flavours. 

Sharing a meal builds community, can heal relationships and bring people closer together – Jesus put a shared meal right at the heart of our new relationships with God and each other.    I find great satisfaction when I can look at my plate and identify where each ingredient comes from and that each is ethically sourced without aggravating the plight of our environment, or taking the lives and struggles of others lightly. 

The closest place to get reliably sourced local foods is one’s own garden, but if this is not your forte there are still many local sources for food.

Visit the Hampshire Farmers’ Markets and get to know the stallholders.  You can ask them about where their farms are, where they trade and how they farm.  Get to know local stores (like The Good Life in Headbourne Worthy) and support them as   supporting local people is likely to keep the money in the community. 

Buying local is not just about reducing fuel consumption, packaging, pesticide and chemical use but is also about building community.  It is about finding people who share our values, who believe in more than just profit, and who seek to live gently within their communities and within the world.  It is about looking after the soil and valuing life.  It builds community beyond our narrow circles that enables us to share with our children not just where their food came from (not ‘Tesco, Waitrose or Aldi’ but maybe Farmer Bill, Ted or Mary), but an attitude to the world and the environment that says there are things more important than price and convenience. 

Grow things, cook things and prepare meals with your children and grandchildren in a manner that has them respecting and honouring the ingredients.  Talk to them of where their food comes from and do as much of your own cooking as you can.  Buy things that have fewer and more natural ingredients.

Buying choices, become buying habits, which affect the things that businesses stock and in turn affect so many more farming practices, which directly impacts the planet, the environment and our future. Know that your choices make a difference.  Live locally for life.

Stephanie Roux

 

Proposed Charity for World Mission Project

At the September Church Meeting the World Action Group will be proposing a possible charity for the Church to support over the next two years and we hope that the information provided here will ensure that members are well informed about the charity before voting.

Luna Children's Charity

Luna is a child-centred organisation, based in Alton, that trains and supports people working with children and young people traumatised by conflict, violence and disaster.

Skilled and experienced volunteer child mental health and education practitioners are trained in the UK and overseas to lead the work. They train local mental health professionals and others working closely with child victims of trauma, together with their families and communities, to relieve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They use a child-centred therapeutic protocol, Children’s Accelerated Trauma Therapy (CATT), which empowers local communities with a new and effective individual approach to the treatment of psychological trauma in children suffering from some of the worst effects of violence.

Luna has provided training in Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania and Malaysia, and with those supporting children in the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon. They have also held training in the UK for mental health professionals from Pakistan and Nigeria.

As a very small charity entirely staffed by volunteers they have minimal overheads and, as a result, tend to plan and carry out work when they have the money or have been pledged money. Their main ongoing cost is related to insurance (employer liability, public liability, data protection).  They aim to provide skills development for those working in the local community; empowering local practitioners (you can see more about this on the website).

Luna are very conscious of the impact of their work on the local economy and ensure this is minimal – their staff are only generally on the ground anywhere for a couple of weeks providing training or follow up sessions; they also have strong guidelines on safeguarding. They have not had any issues with getting the money through to where it needs to go; particularly in Uganda where they now have a strong network of people they work with.

Should we wish to have a more focused target for raising funds rather than it going to Luna's general funds, then the following suggestions of possible areas of work have been made by their Chair of Trustees:

•        Funding a training trip to Jordan, Istanbul, Uganda or Tanzania

•         Commissioning work in refugee camps in Uganda which has an extremely high number of refugees from surrounding countries (DRC, South Sudan, Somalia)

•         They have been approached by the charity Reach the Poor to help with funding to provide and cascade general mental health (not necessarily PTSD) referrals in West Uganda.

•         The Bishop Asili Counselling Centre in North Uganda is a day services centre providing support to a wide community of women and children affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. One idea is to provide a house for the lady who, along with her daughter, acts as caretaker/guardian of the centre but is living in extremely poor housing.

More information, including their annual reports, can be found on their website:  http://lunachildren.org.uk/

Minister's letter - July/August: Thy Kingdom Come – Tents-on-the-Green 2017

‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1.14)

This verse from John’s gospel, which we often hear during Advent, is a reminder of God’s desire, through Jesus, to be incarnational, to live alongside us, to share in our hopes and dreams as well as our struggles and disappointments.

Interestingly, it’s the Greek word ‘eskenosen’ (literally: tabernacled) which forms the basis for the translation ‘lived among us’ but which is actually closer in meaning to ‘pitched his tent among us’. Therefore, as Christians we can wholeheartedly affirm that God, in Jesus, pitched a tent alongside us. Not six feet above contradiction, but down on the ground, sleeves rolled up, amid the highs and lows of humanity. So as Jesus’ followers, how can we do the same? How can we be incarnational? How can we pitch our tents alongside others and share something of God’s desire for relationship with all?

Well, a number of people from our church, along with folks from Wesley Methodist Church, did just that on the Saturday

before Pentecost. As part of Thy Kingdom Come we pitched a tent in the Outer Close of the Cathedral alongside the tents of other churches and Christians. The sole aim was to be present as God’s people amongst the bustle of everyday life, and to celebrate God’s goodness with all.

The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was buzzing, and the setting was sublime. And people came – lots of people! Whether drawn by energetic music, a welcoming and inclusive vibe or the promise of a nice cold smoothie on a hot day … they came. The United and Wesley tent had a bicycle powered smoothie maker, a Fairtrade chocolate fondue, an area for prayer inspired by God’s love for all creation, an Eco Church video presentation, and a graffiti wall where people could share what delights them.

Were we there to recruit, or to compete, or to proselytise? No. We were there simply to be present, as Jesus was present, to be incarnational, to pitch a tent alongside others and to let the Spirit move. ‘… and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.’ Amen.

A massive thank you to everyone who helped plan and support the event – you were awesome!

Tim

Let’s Go Green in 2017 – Use your LOAF

Those of us who heard Neil’s sermon this morning (11/6/17), introducing us to James, were challenged not to just listen and agree with the wisdom from The Word, but to become ‘doers’. So, six months into our Let’s Go Green series for this year, I wonder what wisdom we’ve heard about our place in caring for creation ... and I wonder what we’ve done as a result of this listening!

One area we can all take action on is food – something we deal with day in and day out. As summer unfolds I challenge you to put into place a LOAF approach to food, from Green Christian:

Local – where you can, choose locally produced options e.g. watercress from Alresford, rather than beans from Kenya. It reduces food miles.

Organically grown – Consider the wider impact on food chains and soil quality by the use of intensive industrial farming methods involving pesticides and fertilisers.

Animal friendly – free range eggs and meat; sustainably caught fish (look for MSC logo).

Fairly traded – ensuring good working conditions and fair wages.

But how?

  • Grow some of your own food. Or help out at the Incredible Edible Winchester, WinACC's Food Action Group, community allotment, opened on Sunday 30 April. Local people are invited to join in digging, sowing, planting, harvesting, cooking and eating locally grown food at Edington Road allotments, off Worthy Lane Winchester (near the football ground, and ten minutes’ walk, or a short bus ride, from the city centre).

If you would like to find out how easy it is to grow your own food then come along to one of our weekend or evening sessions. If you like digging and weeding, there is plenty to do – uncover the rhubarb, raspberries and gooseberries overgrown by grass in this once productive allotment. If you want to come along, they are not expecting a weekly commitment, just whatever you can do and if you don’t fancy digging, there is a shed that needs painting, plants to put into the ground, or just come along for a chat. The aim is to involve both beginners and more experienced growers in the pleasure of growing their own food. Please contact IEW at food@winacc.org, facebook incredibleediblewinchester, twitter @winacc

·         Buy British fruit and veg in season.

·         Eat less meat and dairy, eat some vegetarian meals every week.

‘Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.’ Frances Moore Lappé author of Diet for a Small Planet Happy eating!

 

Jo Crocker