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.

 

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

Thin Places

I have just attended a local preacher training day about Celtic Christianity. My journey to Chandler’s Ford by bus started badly with a very long wait at the bus stop, but I was lucky with the second bus, so arrived in time.

It was good to be reminded of the Celtic understanding that the whole of life is sacred, worship can be part of everyday experience, and the natural world speaks of the glory of God. Imagination can play an important part in worship; poetry is a wonderful vehicle of God’s grace. The phrase from St Patrick’s Lorica that grabbed me was ‘Christ in mouth of friend and stranger’.

I knew about the Celtic concept of ‘thin places’, where earth and heaven seem to touch, where God’s presence is more readily experienced: places like Iona and St David’s. I thought it was their remoteness and beauty that gave them this special characteristic, but I was wrong. In Celtic Times, 4th–8th centuries, these were busy places, harbours on the shipping routes which were the ‘motorways of their day’, to quote our speaker, Revd Dr Stephen Skuce, the Principal of Cliff College.

So when we were challenged to write a prayer in the Celtic tradition (in 10 minutes!!), I didn’t write about the glories of nature. Instead I tried to let my morning experience of the bus stop lead my thoughts.  I wasn’t brave enough to read it out, but having worked in a little more I offer it for your reflection.

Lord of all life,

open my eyes to see you in the people around me.

I’m standing at the bus stop

so many people waiting,

so many hurrying past,

so many anxious faces.

Two teenagers, totally absorbed, listening to music

oblivious of all else,

A group of chattering children, running, skipping, their

faces alight with the enjoyment of life.

Lord help me to see you in each of them.

Give me the child’s delight in the ordinary.

Help me to stay tuned in to your presence and your guidance,

don’t let me be diverted by trivia.

Teach me I have no need to be anxious.

Lord of all life

Your love surrounds us always and everywhere.

Thank you that you speak to us in our everyday experience.

 

Pat Fry

Blessing

Tim used this blessing at the end of the Christian Aid week service in May and I wondered if others might like to see it written down. It has been used by a whole range of organisations (Christian Aid, Cafod, Amnesty, Franciscans, Benedictines) so it may be familiar to you.

May God bless you with discomfort

at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,

so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those

who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,

so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

and turn their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe

that you can make a difference in this world,

so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God who creates, redeems and sanctifies,

be upon us and all we love and pray for, this day and forever

more.

The Minister’s Letter - June

Election Special

As a staunch non-conformist, I find myself in the interesting place of recommending contributions from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for the second month in a row! Yet good words they are, and as I often hear people lamenting the absence of input from senior Church leaders on political issues (rarely a fair assertion) I feel it is right to draw our attention to their wisdom. In this case, they have written a very thoughtful letter on how Christians might respond to the snap election on 8 June. It’s too long to include in its entirety so below are a few choice paragraphs that I hope will encourage us to look at the election through the lens of our shared beliefs and virtues. For those interested in reading the full article it can be found at: https://www.churchofengland.org/media/3977056/electionletter_text.pdf

They write:

In the midst of a frantic and sometimes fraught election campaign, our first obligation as Christians is to pray for those standing for office, and to continue to pray for those who are elected. We recognise the enormous responsibilities and the vast complexity of the issues that our political leaders face. We are constantly reminded of the personal costs and burdens carried by those in political life and by their families.

Our second obligation as Christians at these times is to set aside apathy and cynicism and to participate, and encourage others to do the same. At a practical level that could mean putting on a hustings event for candidates, volunteering for a candidate, or simply making sure to vote on Thursday 8 June. The Christian virtues of love, trust and hope should guide and judge our actions, as well as the actions and policies of all those who are seeking election to the House of Commons and to lead our country.

Religious belief is the well-spring for the virtues and practices that make for good individuals, strong relationships and flourishing communities. In Britain, these embedded virtues are not unique to Christians, but they have their roots in the Christian history of our four nations. If treated as partners in the project of serving the country, the churches – and other faiths – have much to contribute to a deep understanding and outworking of the common good.

These deep virtues and practices – love, trust and hope, cohesion, courage and stability - are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview, but go to the heart of who we are as a country in all of its diversity. An election campaign, a Parliament and a Government that hold to these virtues give us a firm foundation on which to live well together, for the common good.

We keep in our prayers all those who are standing in this election and are deeply grateful for their commitment to public service. All of us as Christians, in holding fast to the vision of abundant life, should be open to the call to renounce cynicism, to engage prayerfully with the candidates and issues in this election and by doing so to participate together fully in the life of our communities.

In the Name of our Risen Lord,

+Justin Cantuar: +Sentamu Eboracencis

I wholeheartedly echo their words: that we pray for those standing in this election, that we resist the pull of cynicism and apathy, and that we hold fast to a vision of abundant life for all.

Tim