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.

 

Let’s Go Green in 2017

In recent weeks, we have heard alarming stories of flooding in Bangladesh, which has submerged one-third of the country due to extreme weather events (predicted to happen more often due to climate change).  Recently I met the archbishop of Polynesia, Winston Halapua, at the Greenbelt festival.  He was there to talk about the effects of climate change.  His home Island of Tuvalu is one-third under water because of sea level rises and that level will not be receding.

The Big Shift is Christian Aid’s campaign to get our banks to help tackle climate change.

Text from Christian Aid website September 2017:

In the Paris Agreement of 2015, world leaders pledged to stop global temperatures rising above two degrees.  There is general agreement that must move towards a zero carbon economy.  There is also a strong financial case for shifting away from fossil fuels – in 2016 The World Economic Forum identified the failure to tackle climate change as the biggest risk we face.  Investing in renewables helps fight climate change.  UK banks manage trillions of pounds of our money.  It’s up to us to be interested in how they use it.

Christian Aid research shows that the banks managing our money are still much more heavily invested in fossil fuel companies than in renewable energy companies.  Our economy has been based on fossil fuels for over 100 years, so we understand that it’s not as easy as simply changing all of their loans and investments overnight.

But what is worrying is the lack of a clear plan or commitment from the banks as to how to change this current balance and scale up investments in renewables.  To love our neighbours and God’s abundant planet as we’re entrusted to do requires a big shift in finances towards renewable energy.

What’s the solution?

  • Banks must stop financing coal power plants.  The UK Government has already promised to phase out coal by 2025 – banks must follow suit.
  • All banks must publish a transition plan for their organisation in order to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreement.
  • Banks must publish the carbon emissions resulting from their investments and loans.

 

Two months of action are ahead of us as people all over the country participate in The Big Shift campaign.  Look out for opportunities to put ‘renewable pound notes’ on the Prudence Piggy Bank poster as a symbol of our collective call on our banks to invest wisely.  These and letters will be handed in to high street bank managers of HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest.  Christian Aid is hoping for a ‘hand-in’ each day through October and November.  Our local bank ‘hand in’ will be on Wednesday 11 October at 1.30 pm.

Please get in touch if you’d like to join with others from across the city to do this.  jo@thecrocker.net.

Jo Crocker, Mission Co-ordinator

Winchester Churches Christmas Project 2017

What would you like to be on your Christmas present list this year?  The payment of a worrying bill?  A top up on the electricity key?  A second-hand fridge?  Slightly unexpected Christmas gifts, one might think?  However, this is quite normal territory for volunteers with Winchester Churches Christmas Project – who need to be understanding and flexible!  Apart from the expected toys and festive food, the list might also include warm clothes (to replace those left when fleeing domestic violence), spectacles, carpeting, furniture, a morale-boosting treat …

This project was started in 1993 by The United Church and now involves many other churches in Winchester (15 last Christmas).  It is an attempt to help those in Winchester for whom Christmas is a really difficult time.  Money for the Project is raised each year through the churches – from whole congregations and from individuals.

Many of you will be very familiar with how the Project works but a brief explanation for newcomers:

From mid-November onwards, each pair of volunteers will visit a family that has been referred to us (by professional social work agencies) to ascertain their needs and then to shop with, or on behalf of, the family.  Each family has a set amount of money allocated.  There are no strings attached to our help.  We show our Christian faith and witness in caring for and helping those we visit.  Those visited are in charge as much as possible – they choose what will make Christmas special for them (hence the interesting examples above!).  Sometimes the money is not the most important bit - knowing that someone is prepared to spend time and take the trouble to listen can mean a lot.

Over the years we have managed to transform Christmas for many families, and volunteers have found an extra blessing in their own Christmas celebrations.     

We hope that those who have been so supportive in the past, and anyone now able to help, will participate this year through volunteering, prayer and with donations.

We will be contacting volunteers from previous years directly to ask if they are able to help again this year.  However, if you are new to the Project and would like more information with a view to volunteering, then please contact me as soon as possible.  A newcomer will always be paired with an experienced volunteer.  We need to know volunteer numbers by 5 November.

Donations can be made via The United Church – ideally by mid-November.  I realise that this is an early date but we do need to have an idea of what funds we have available before allocating money to families. Cheques should be made out to ‘Winchester Churches Christmas Project’ and if you pay tax and wish to Gift Aid please add ‘Gift Aid’ to the project name.  Gift Aid envelopes and special collecting boxes will be available at church from October.

Thank you very much.                                                                               Helen McTiffin

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/