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 - September

New Starts

I always think September is a good month, and not just because it contains my birthday! I suppose some children might find it tricky because it marks the start of a new academic year and there’s all the fear and excitement of new teachers, new syllabus and new expectations. But even so I seem to remember I faced the first day back at school with a level of anticipation and hope that this would be a good year full of possibilities and challenges. The question was always whether I would rise to the challenges or stay in my safe and cosy comfort zone.

In the Methodist Church, September is certainly a time for new starts, as clergy take up their new ministries, and this month we welcome our new Circuit Superintendent, the Revd Sue Keegan von Allmen (Sunday 2nd September, 5pm at Chandlers Ford Methodist Church).

I love the image of the Church being the body of Christ                       (1 Corinthians 12.12-31a).  It’s so important that we all know our worth and value one another, whether we’re a little finger or a big mouth (or somewhere in between), we still have our part to play in the life of our church, praying, welcoming, sharing, teaching and learning. 

Sometimes we can feel a bit overwhelmed by what life seems to throw at us, but one of the most encouraging things about our Christian faith is that it’s never too late for a new start, God is always there to love us into newness.

So here we are, the United Church of Winchester, facing our new church year;  looking forward with anticipation to what God has in store for us; also asking ourselves what we can offer anew to God and to one another.

It’s a great way to start our new year, knowing we have a place to belong, a task to do and a loving Saviour to support us.

 

Happy New Year!

Juli Wills

 

(Tim returns in October, meanwhile we hope he’s having a great Sabbatical)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Below is the first in a series of articles introducing inspirational Christians, as discovered by South Wonston House Group. The idea is to learn a bit more about what is behind well  known names  and to encourage people to find out more for themselves. We start with Deitrich Bonhoeffer - next time it will be St Francis of Assissi.

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian and was also an accomplished musician and writer. Born on 4 February 1906 in Breslau into a large fairly wealthy family,  he studied Theology and went on to complete his Doctorate at Berlin University in 1927. In 1930 he went to America, where he attended a black church, teaching Sunday School and learning to love Afro-American Spirituals.  He became interested in racial injustice and poverty. In his mid-twenties he experienced a personal conversion to faith and resolved to carry out the teaching of Christ as he found it revealed in the Gospels. He was ordained in 1931.

In 1933, two days after Hitler was installed as Chancellor, Bonhoeffer delivered a national radio address in which he attacked Hitler and warned against slipping into an idolatrous cult of the Führer. He resisted Hitler’s influence over the church in Germany and then, when it became too strong, started the independent Confessing Church. He spent a year in America, at New York's Union Theological Seminary, before returning to the post of lecturer at the University of Berlin. In August 1936, Bonhoeffer's authorization to teach at the University of Berlin was revoked after he was denounced as a "pacifist and enemy of the state".

He accepted an appointment as a pastor of two German-speaking Protestant churches in London and  was given a chance to study non-violent resistance under Gandhi,  but decided to return to Germany in order to establish an underground seminary for training pastors.  In September 1937, the Gestapo closed the seminary and by November had arrested many pastors and former students.

In 1938 he joined the German secret service, together with his bother-in-law, to serve as a double agent. While traveling to church conferences in Europe, instead of studying the places he visited, he helped Jews escape Nazi oppression.

Bonhoeffer went to the United States in June 1939 at the invitation of Union Theological Seminary in New York but he regretted his decision almost immediately and, despite strong pressure to stay in the United States, he wrote "I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany..... Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security." He returned to Germany.

During the war he served as a courier for the German resistance movement, conveying its intentions to the Western Allies in hope of gaining their support and, through his ecumenical contacts abroad, to secure possible peace terms with the Allies for a post-Hitler government. In May 1942, he met Anglican Bishop George Bell of Chichester and sent feelers out to the British foreign minister Anthony Eden but these failed. He continued to be involved in operations to help German Jews escape to Switzerland. 

Eventually his resistance efforts and his role in rescuing Jews were discovered and in April 1943 he was arrested together with his sister and brother-in-law. He spent two years in prison, corresponding with family and friends, pastoring fellow prisoners, and reflecting on the meaning of "Jesus Christ for today." On April 9, 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States liberated the camp, he was hanged. His siblings were also involved in anti-Nazi activities – his twin sister and his brother-in-law were executed; his brother Klaus was executed for his part in the plot to assassinate Hitler and his two older sisters’ husbands suffered the same fate.

Bonheoffer’s vision centred around international peace with countries coming together through the church, but it is for his work as a spiritual writer, musician and author that he is remembered. The prison correspondence was edited and published as Letters and Papers from Prison, and the experiences of the underground seminary were used to write “Life Together”. His writings on Christianity's role in the secular world have become widely influential and an inspiration for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; the anti-communist democratic movement in Eastern Europe; and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. His book ‘The Cost of Discipleship, a study on the Sermon on the Mount, has become a devotional classic and his short life showed great bravery and courage, leaving a legacy of inspiration for battles against injustice wherever it is found.

“Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behaviour. Christians are called to compassion and to action.”

Designing Advent!

Before Revd Tim disappeared (!), on sabbatical, you will recall that he asked for ideas about decorating the church during Advent. A number of good ideas were forthcoming. Tim has asked the AWL Group (Approaches to Worship and Learning) to take this forward during his sabbatical. 

Therefore, we plan a meeting on 20 September at 2.00pm at the Church to look at these ideas for decorating the church but also for the way worship and other events might develop over the Advent period. If you cannot attend the meeting please let Juli Wills, Pat Fry or myself have, in advance, your ideas and any offers of help. The first Sunday in Advent this year is 2nd December.

We have undertaken some initial thinking and are working with the title ‘Advent Revealed’. There is mystery and anticipation in Advent so we want to design an unfolding drama of ‘stations’, decorations and liturgy linking all the events which take place in the church.  There will be another meeting in October with Tim to sift and clarify ideas and make detailed preparations.

Howard Mellor

 

MINISTER’S LETTER - JULY/AUGUST

The right to a private life

No doubt by now you’ll have heard the ominous letters ‘GDPR’ being spoken, often followed by either a shrug of resignation or a look of annoyance. It stands for ‘General Data Protection Regulations’ and it covers the new data protection laws that came into force at the end of May.

As someone who worked in Information Technology before moving into ministry I’m very aware of the need to protect people’s data and how woefully inadequate previous data protection laws are in the light of recent technological developments. Holding data that pertains to someone’s personhood, regardless of the format it is kept in or whether it is held by an individual or an organisation, should be seen as a privilege and not a right, something that we hold with the same sacred care as we do the person themselves. The Church therefore needs to take a lead in this area and set high standards for its own practices.

Understandably, these new regulations are raising all kinds of complicated questions about privacy. Where do we draw the line between one’s right to a private life and the sometimes insatiable desire that human beings have to know what goes on in the lives of others? Where, as Christians, do we draw the line between public scrutiny and private integrity? How do we balance the need for trust with a healthy level of inquiry that allows us to judge someone’s character? How should the Church respond to the erosion of trust and the increase in suspicion that has come about through the proliferation of past abuses which has emerged in recent years, particularly by those in positions of power? There are, of course, no straightforward answers to these questions, but to simply ignore them because they are difficult is unconscionable.

Further pertinent questions come to mind for my own sense of self. Do people who occupy a public role still have the right to a private life, or have they abrogated that right by virtue of their office? What are my rights to live a life away from the scrutiny of those I serve? Though I believe that openness and a willingness to be vulnerable are important characteristics for a minister to possess, are there limits as to how open or how vulnerable you should make yourself? Surely of equal importance is that our leaders, me included, are gifted the space to exist as themselves, and are permitted to flourish in their own rights quite apart from the role they occupy.

I give thanks that I’m part of a tradition which supports the practice of sabbatical where that space to cease and withdraw is both practiced and celebrated. I pray that as I bid farewell to you as a minister for three months that I might allow myself the right to a private life. I pray that when I come back to you in October I will not just be renewed for ministry, but renewed in body, mind and spirit, and ready to live and love life in all its fullness.

Sincerely,

Tim

 

‘SYNOD CALLING’

What are your gifts?

How do you share them?

Sometimes we think our gifts are too humdrum to be much use to other people, but this is just not true.

Look again at these well-known verses from 1 Corinthians 12 in

‘The Message’ version:

‘You are Christ’s body – that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helpers, organisers, those who pray in tongues.’

We are all somewhere on that list! We just need to ‘accept our part’.

And then comes the question: where are we called to play that part – in our community, in our local church, in the wider church?

The work of Wessex Synod relies on the many volunteers who generously play their part and share their gifts.

At the moment, we are in need of:

·       Someone with legal and accounting skills to serve as a Trustee.

·       People willing to take minutes at some of our Committee meetings.

·       People interested in social justice issues to serve our Church and Society group.

But the needs are constantly changing. Why not find out more about the work we do by looking at the Synod website http://wessexsynodurc.org.uk/

 If there is an area of our work that interests you, please contact Sue Brown to find out more: clerk@urcwessex.org.uk