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: God in the Simple Things of Life

The cover of this month’s special Christmas edition of Yours magazine (available in the Church coffee bar) is adorned by Amy Crocker’s winning entry to the 2016 Moderator’s Christmas Card competition. It’s an annual competition run by Wessex Synod to find a worthy picture to decorate the Moderator’s Christmas card. This is then sent out to all Ministers and churches in the Synod the following year, so Amy’s artwork will travel far and wide! Well done to Amy for her fantastic design and look out for it on the Mod’s Christmas card when it appears on our hall board in the next month.

We had some excellent entries to the competition from our young people. One piece worthy of particular commendation is Katie Giffin’s advent candle design, which I have on good authority came a very close second to Amy’s picture. Well done Katie.

As I look at Amy and Katie’s pictures I’m reminded of some very simple truths about the real meaning of Christmas. In Amy’s rendering of the nativity scene we see once again that at the heart of the Christmas story is a family. Not a high-born or noble family, just a simple family trying to get by in the world and make sense of God’s call in their lives. The stable was no doubt damp and draughty, and with the animals lowing (not to mention Jesus’ crying!) it would have made for a restless night’s sleep, I’m sure. Yet as many will have found, the birth of a child seems to put all other worldly concerns into perspective. Once held in our arms we marvel at the beauty of creation and everything else pales into insignificance.

Similarly, the simple dance of a candle flame in Katie’s picture as it bobs and weaves into the air bringing comforting light to places of darkness seems the simplest of images. Behind its dance are complex laws of physics that are anything but simple, but in that first moment of illumination it’s more about accepting it as it is, rather than asking why or how. In the same way, when we think of Jesus as the light of the world, part of the beauty of that picture is simply accepting the gift of God without need for qualification or caveat.

Sometimes it’s in the very simplest things in life that God comes close to us. The gentle smile freely offered, the kind word of encouragement carefully chosen, the support found in meaningful friendships, or the tender embrace when words simply aren’t enough. In these moments of simplicity God comes close to us; in these moments of illumination the darkness is rolled back. So, as you venture through Christmas, look for God in the simple as well as the profound, and be prepared to shine God’s light back into the world and the lives of others.

Wishing you a peace-filled Christmas and New Year. 

Tim

THE COMMON GOOD

Over the last year, we have seen some of the effects of people feeling that they have been left behind – we only need to think of Brexit or of the election of Donald Trump.  The idea of ‘The Common Good’ is one response to this, as a more Christian way, as opposed to the modern emphasis on individualism within the neo-liberal mindset.

There is no accepted definition of the term, but the common good necessitates action taken together to the end of seeing a common life in which all can flourish, and social conditions that make it possible for everyone to participate.

The recent series of ‘Space in the City’ consisted of four excellent talks about various aspects of the common good, and can be found on the website: www.spaceinthecity.org.uk

‘Together for the Common Good’ is a movement of people across different interests and traditions working to put relationships and the dignity of the person at the heart of cultural, economic and political life.  To find out more, visit www.togetherforthecommongood.co.uk

Meanwhile, Space in the City takes a different direction in January: on 17th, 24th and 31st we shall welcome as our speaker the recently arrived Dean of Winchester, the Very Revd Catherine Ogle.

 Graham Rolfe

Going Green in 2017

BANKS

Thank you for being part of Christian Aid’s Big Shift campaign. In October ten of us visited High Street branches with your messages to urge banks to invest in renewables. In each bank, letters for the CEO were received cheerfully. Sixteen thousand people across the country lobbied banks in September and October! HSBC has since announced it will spend $100bn combatting climate change. This is encouraging but CA urges further action because they are still funding fossil fuels. Some of you may be interested in looking at Christian Aid’s new report A Virtuous Circle: scaling up investment in low carbon energy (available on the CA website and in the coffee bar).

GLOBAL NEWS

As I write this, COP23 is happening in Bonn. It is two years since the Paris Climate agreement which all countries have now committed to (except for the USA who have withdrawn), Nicaragua in October and Syria in November being the last two nations to agree. The emphasis at this point is toward bold and ambitious action before 2020, in order to prevent the worst of catastrophic climate change.  I pray for strong leadership from those involved in setting the frameworks that we can then act in.

OUR CHURCH

 

Those of you in house groups will be working through the Hope for Planet Earth series.  I hope that has encouraged deep, heart-searching conversations. Our context is a hopeful faith, and a tide of global will towards living gently on the earth – a good context in which to share our own stories.  Look out in Yours next year for stories of the impact of creation in a regular interview slot Hope for Planet Earth: Witness.

Jo Crocker

Hong Kong Evening Thursday 23rd November

Howard and Rosie Mellor lived in Hong Kong for five years. They have put together a really interesting audio visual presentation about Hong Kong, its challenges and strengths. They have offered us the opportunity of seeing this on Thursday 23rd November, 7.00pm, at the United Church Hall, Jewry Street, Winchester. There will be light refreshments. There is no charge but donations very welcome. Proceeds will be split between WAG (United Church World Action Group) and MIC (Methodist International Church HK).

A ticket will be needed but this is so we have an idea of numbers for catering purposes. For more information contact rrichardcoleman@gmail.com

Minister’s Letter - November

What kind of poppy will you wear (or not), and why?

As remembrance approaches, the annual dilemma of what to do about poppies presents itself again. There is an array of differing opinions (some more credible; others less so) on what sort of poppy you should wear and why. My default practice is to pin an enamel red poppy badge given to me by a departed friend on my suit in the weeks before (just so that I don’t forget nearer the time!) and to supplement that with a red paper poppy pinned to my top whenever I feel the occasion warrants it. And in that (honest) statement, the problem presents itself. Has my poppy wearing become more about what people expect I should be doing, particularly as a person in the public eye, rather than why I choose to wear one (or not) in the first place?

The question has become even more contentious in recent years given the red poppy’s heightened profile through various WWI centenary commemorations such as 2014’s ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation at the Tower of London. In 2015, John McTernan, writing a piece in The Telegraph which targeted Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of a red poppy at a war memorial service in St Paul’s stated that: ‘The wearing of the red poppy is the ultimate celebration of Britishness.’ He questioned whether Mr Corbyn, by choosing not to wear one, really loved Britain.[1] With such polarising views out there is it any wonder why so many, including myself, feel the pressure of ‘should’ instead of being free to articulate ‘why’ or ‘why not’.

With such a difficult dilemma before me, I give thanks that I’m part of a church community that makes both red and white poppies available during this period. People (I hope) feel free to choose whichever colour, or both, or none, to wear as part of their Remembrance Day observance. This is an important contribution to an emotive subject because through it we encourage people, so far as it is possible, to think less about what they should do, and more about why.

For me, the red poppy symbolises the need for us to have a collective memory and to express a collective will that yearns for humanity, step-by-small-step, never again to repeat the immense tragedy of ‘the War to End All Wars’. Following on from that, the white poppy (for me) is a manifestation of that will, a desire to pursue peace and dialogue wherever possible as the true path to human flourishing. You may very well have different reasons for your own choices. The point is that whatever they may be, the Church should always be a place where people of conscience can express their views openly and respectfully. That together we foster a genuine desire to understand and learn from one another, rather than building walls between what we do and don’t agree with.

Tim

[1] McTernan. J, The Telegraph ‘Does Jeremy Corbyn have any idea what Poppy Day is about?’ (22 Oct 2015)