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 - March

What will Lent mean for you this year?

Lent conjures a range of different images into our minds and means different things to different people. Some will focus on Shrove Tuesday and the chance once again to dine on culinary pancake masterpieces (you can tell what my mind’s on can’t you!). Others will want to really reflect on the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and the chance it offers to walk a particular path of penitence. For some, Lent is all about giving something up, though with the rise of initiatives like ‘Dry January’ and ‘Stoptober’, it could be argued that the idea of sacrificing something to better yourself is increasingly being seen as a year-round discipline, not just in relation to the forty (ish) days of Lent. And still for others, Lent will be all about the journey towards Easter itself, the culmination of God’s saving activity which we relive during Holy Week. The point is not necessarily which is best (or even better), the point is for us to think about what Lent might mean for us and why.


If Lent is to be formative and purposeful for those that recognise it, then it must ask questions of us. It must provide us with space to reflect on who we are and what we believe, and ultimately it must offer us ways of relating the spiritual with our everyday lives. That’s part of what’s behind the Approaches to Worship and Learning work that I introduced last month. Out of the early stages of that work has come the approach of asking three questions about the bible to guide us in house groups and in worship, namely: 1) What does this passage say about God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit? 2) Does the passage offer you any personal challenge, if so, what?   

And, 3) Does the passage have any practical application to contemporary life issues? By repeatedly asking these three questions we’re hoping that over the course of the year, we’ll become more attuned to looking at the Bible in a deeper, more intentional way, and more able to articulate how it relates to us and the world.

This ‘braided’ approach, where we consider how scripture interweaves our understanding of God, ourselves and the world can easily be applied to themes as well as Bible passages. Of Lent, for example, we could ask: What does Lent say about God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit? Does Lent offer us any personal challenge, and what are the implications of Lent on contemporary life issues? For me, I hope that Lent will once again be presented through pancakes and ashes, through sacrifice and by recapturing the awesomeness of God’s grace. Most of all though, I hope that it gives the time, space and permission to ask what it really means to me and why, and how that might change the way I view life as I know it. I pray that Lent will provide you with this same opportunity.

In Christ,



Hope for Planet Earth – Witness: Luke Grigorian


Luke is 14, in year 9 at the Westgate School, and part of our older junior church group. He is into technology and computing and loves digital studies.  Luke is a key member of the Eco Group at school.


Chat with Luke in February 2018

When did you start being into environment issues?

Probably in Year 6 I got interested through a mixture of things really, church, general knowledge. I met my group of friends in eco group when I went into year 7 – we liked the same things, had the same view of what should happen in the world.

Why do you think this issue is important?

It’s important generally to keep the world good. Humans have worked hard to get to this stage and it would be bad to destroy it through not caring, or greed. There are some things we need, but we need to be careful. We need electricity, but we need to be aware of the bad effects of what it causes and we need to fix those with something else so it doesn’t affect as much. I think electric cars are a good idea. The way forward for sustainability is through technology companies, like for solar panel manufacturers…and through technology make it better.

Tell us about eco group

Our eco group at school does a clean up of the pond every Wednesday and Friday for an hour of maintenance after school.  It is in the middle of the buildings and we want it to look nice… to be a bit of the world, of nature wider than school. For the first 3 days of the summer holiday and the Easter holiday (when year 11 are doing revision) we went into school to empty the pond of silt.  We bought plants for the pond with the eco-group budget. One of my friends also regularly does popcorn sales to raise more money for the group.


·       We think about the problems in school - how we can make our school more eco-friendly. 

·       We’re looking at ‘Eco-school’. 

·       We’re looking at how we can stop littering – not with punishment, but with assemblies and talks to inform people. We checked that the site team actually sort recycling bins.  They do sort them, but there aren’t many classrooms with recycling bins in so we decided to kit school out with more. We created posters describing what you could put in recycling bins and put them on walls in classrooms.  We’re writing to Ikea because we’re hoping they may give schools free recycling bins.

·       People should walk to school. We’re going to make a map. It will have guidelines for walking distances - a green circle around Westgate for the easy to walk area, then orange then red. 

What inspires you?

We need to be careful!


Jo Crocker

Minister’s Letter - February

 ‘Happy’ New Year?

Over the last month I have said ‘Happy New Year’ to a lot of people as, I’m sure, you have too. But surely the phrase begs the question: what does it mean to be ‘happy’? Measuring happiness, or ‘well-being’ as it’s often referred to, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Governments try to measure the well-being of the nation, usually from a fiscal perspective. Companies, particularly with larger workforces, have to put resources into making sure the well-being of their employees is promoted, realising that this often boosts productivity.  Schools are encouraged to nurture the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of their pupils as part of a balanced and healthy curriculum. Yet whilst there seems to be a better awareness of the many components which contribute towards our well-being, it’s still often difficult to discern whether we are actually any happier as a result.

Of course, happiness and well-being are not necessarily the same things. Well-being, particularly in the aforementioned scenarios, might be defined as a state of financial comfort, of achieving an agreed level of physical and mental health, and of having the liberty to pursue opportunities free from abuse, discrimination or persecution. And yet some of the ‘happiest’ people I have known have also been some of the poorest, or those who have genuinely feared for their lives. I recall the Zambians who extended heartfelt hospitality to me in 2011 despite living in abject poverty, or the displaced peoples of Myanmar, such as the Karen who my father visited back in the 90’s, ever ready to laugh, smile and give thanks to God, despite the acts of genocide being perpetrated against them at that time. Their happy, generous spirits didn’t come from a state of well-being as we imagine it, but from a deeper spiritual perspective on life.

Perhaps they realised, far more than those who have material wealth and stability, that happiness is almost entirely governed by our own attitudes. It’s the age old ‘glass half full or half empty’ analogy. How we perceive life relies heavily on how we orientate our attitudes towards it. Our faith teaches us that life itself should be seen as a gift, that life is not purely accidental, but is intentional and manifestly purposeful. The fact that we are creative beings capable of forming purpose and meaning is an immensely valuable gift. Yet our attitude must be orientated that way in order for us to see life that way. In order to be happy, one must choose to be happy. ‘Count your blessings’ as the old-saying goes requires a predisposition of attitude towards weighing the positives above the negatives, the good above the bad, the blessings above the curses.

So once again, I wish you all a Happy New Year. I pray that we will find true happiness in the knowledge that we are created and nurtured by our ever-loving God who wills us to choose life.



Since I arrived at The United Church back in August 2016, Church Council has embarked on a journey to prayerfully reflect on the way forward for our church. To this end we have so far met for two away mornings (with another planned for February) which have concentrated on how we might develop the spiritual life of the church. At the November Church Meeting, Juli, as she mentions below, shared the parts of our thinking which have centred on ensuring that our worship and learning, at all levels of the church, are connected by themes which really speak to us as Christians, and as humans.

We have called this particular piece of work: ‘Approaches to Worship and Learning’. It’s not the snappiest title I’ll confess, but we felt it was more important for it ‘to say what it is on the tin’ rather than coming up with something flashy but without substance. ‘Approaches to Worship and Learning’ will be led by a small team, including myself, who will try to tease out the themes and issues that are on our hearts as a church and to see how these ‘threads’ can be weaved into our worship and learning. This could include, for example, giving guidance to myself and other preachers on how to approach the lectionary readings for a time, or it could be by planning a themed sermon series, coordinated with our own and visiting preachers, which is expanded on in Junior Church and house groups. None of this is new and much of it is already being done in one way or another, but the aim of this work is to have a more intentional and coordinated approach to how our worship and learning connects with who we are, and how God is leading us forward.

In Christ,



If you were at the Church Meeting in November, you will have heard that Church Council have been thinking about the way forward for our Church. We thought it would be helpful to write a short article for Yours for those of you who were unable to attend Church Meeting.

One strand of the discussions has been about our spiritual development. It’s important that we as individuals, and as the Church, are meeting people where they hurt the most, and this must come from our Christian understanding. 

Consequently, Tim Searle, Howard Mellor and I met together to throw some ideas around. We felt that it would be good to have a clear focus in our worship and wider educational programme (mainly house groups and if possible also our children’s work). We, as Christians, need to be more challenged to listen to God’s word for each of us and to be more proactive in applying that learning to our care for the community around us. When we hear a sermon, read the Bible, or share in house group, we could ask the questions ‘What does this tell me about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? How does this challenge me in my own response to God? And finally, What does this mean for our response to issues faced by us and our community in terms of things like Mental Health, Social Responsibility, Relationships, Environmental issues etc?’ (i.e. What hurts the most for us?)

Tim, Howard and I will be continuing our thinking and looking for some themes and issues on which to focus. We hope this will lead to some sermon series’ and accompanying house group material. Once we are clearer about what we plan, we shall be contacting visiting preachers to brief them. 

Our hope is that other groups in the Church will also focus on the themes so that we are doing ‘joined up thinking’ in the Church. It’s a work in progress, but with your prayers and support, I hope we as a Church will be blessed and be a blessing to others.

Juli Wills : Assistant Fellowship, Worship and Education Coordinator (still looking for a FWE Coordinator!)