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.

 

The Minister’s Letter - April

Pancakes-a-plenty!

I must begin this month’s letter by saying how impressed I was with the spectacle that is Pancake Day at The United Church. As I walked in for my first time at the event my initial impression was … WOW! From the practised production line in the kitchen (which certainly looked orderly even if it was masking chaos), to the wonderful selection of fillings, both sweet and savoury, to the constant line of eager punters queuing for a slice of the action; it was quite a feast to behold. I stayed for over an hour, during which time the queue never subsided, and furthermore, I am told that the usual post-school-run lull which gives a chance for a well needed breather never actually materialised this year. All I can say to everyone involved is … WELL DONE!

A big well done also needs to go to our Young People and their leaders (particularly Jo C) for organising the Fairtrade chocolate fondue that marked the end of Fairtrade Fortnight. I’d never tried gherkins or chilli with chocolate before (not to mention crisps!) and whilst I can’t say I warmed to the former, the combination of chilli and chocolate was a pleasant surprise. Well done to Josie, Mark, Luke, Tom and others who ran the stall and raised almost £170 (minus expenses) towards our mission projects. And if that wasn’t enough, lots of lovely cakes were in plentiful supply at the Cook’s Big Brew event the day before; yet another super occasion kindly put on for us to share in fellowship and raise money for needy causes. With all this food, my diet is looking in greater jeopardy every day! Perhaps some restraint is now needed (at least on my part) when it comes to the consumption of such delicious treats –particularly if I’m going to grant myself a customary cream egg on Easter Sunday!

Thinking about Lent for a moment, I know that the whole Shrove Tuesday/Ash Wednesday thing doesn’t float everyone’s boat, and I hear the cries of those who say that the period of restraint it announces shouldn’t be reserved just for this season. Yet whilst I wholeheartedly agree that penitence and self-examination should be part of the Christian’s character all year round, over the years I’ve become more appreciative of how our ‘diet’ of Christian seasons and liturgies reminds us of the themes so central to our faith story. The theatre, if you will, of playing out these roles invites us to recall their significance and re-invoke the character of them for ourselves. Done well, they help to shape our attitudes and inspire us to continue their practice beyond the season.

The role of filling up on rich foods, like pancakes, is symbolic of preparing ourselves for the Lenten journey; a wilderness trial often hampered by impoverishment and temptation. The cross which adorns a hot bun spiced in memory of the spices used at Jesus’s burial reminds us of that moment of catastrophic loss where hope seemed to give way to despair. The egg, a sign of new life and hollow to symbolise the empty tomb, gives cause for celebration as hope is once again restored. So I encourage you to continue playing out these roles this Lent and Easter, to remember what they really mean, and to shape our lives around them … throughout this period and beyond!

Tim

 

Church and Society on Immigration and Refugees: An Immigrant’s Perspective

While fear of immigrants and refugees has existed for some while, in the time since the Brexit vote and President Trump’s election, it has become particularly palpable. This fear is in part fuelled by the media and can be seen in many newspaper headlines related to immigration.

The results of increased stress and anxiety levels lead to a cocktail of diseases. These include cancers, mental health problems, obesity and heart problems, to mention a few.  It can ultimately lead to a sense of isolation and the loss of community.

My experience as an immigrant in the NHS

The media informs us about immigrants taking the British jobs and at the same time it tells us about critical shortages of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. The NHS recruited me from Zimbabwe due to staff shortages. My husband, who is a Power Systems Engineer, speaks of shortages of engineers and they have to recruit from outside the United Kingdom.

Curbing illegal immigration

The Government is doing all it can to stop illegal immigration and those who come from other EU countries to exploit benefits. Not that I support illegal immigrants, but the truth is they leave a tormented life. A life where one has to live a lie and hide from the authorities. Those who work illegally, pay tax to the government, which they rarely benefit from. They are unable to access medical health or other assistances.

I once came across a man who had fist like swellings in his neck. He was admitted at the hospital very ill. As soon as the hospital discovered that he was an illegal immigrant, working illegally in the UK, he was discharged without any medication and was not even told the results of his tests. As gravely ill as he was, he had to go back to his country.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

As a working immigrant, I sympathise with those who cannot find jobs in the fields they want to work. Hopefully, Brexit will lead to more jobs as promised. On the other hand, one wonders how the current employment shortages, which are not being met by the British nationals, will be filled.

Time will tell whether we can live as an entity without the help of our neighbours. Brexit and President Trump have brought a glimmer of hope to those who really struggle with immigrants and refugees.

Conclusion

As God’s people, we are given the capability to reason. We do not always get it right but we do learn from our mistakes. When we have got it wrong we should be humble enough to apologise, forgive and move on.

Life is precious and too short. Let us not take immigration issues personally but leave them in the hands of the authorities as each refugee and immigrant have their own stories to tell. Let us think of our physical and spiritual health. After all, we were all immigrants at some point.

Let’s Go Green in 2017

It’s been the hottest year on record for the third year in a row and nearly 1 in 6 species are at risk of extinction from climate change. The world is changing – fast. It’s never been more important to show support for action on climate change.

Earth Hour is a global movement, bringing millions together across the world to call for greater action to protect our amazing planet. Last year a record 178 countries took part – a number that rises every year.  From the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower to Buckingham Palace and Edinburgh Castle, cities, towns and communities like yours across the world will switch out their lights and come together for an hour, to join a global show of support for action on climate.  Find out more at www.wwf.org.uk/earthhour.

The following extract and seasonal prayer are from The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) reflection pack for WWF-UK to support churches and other places of worship wishing to take part in Earth Hour 2017.

Wherever you are, whether you are alone, with others or in a crowd, we can all join in Earth Hour at 8.30 pm on Saturday 25 March.  Switch off your lights and show you want action on climate change and to help protect our beautiful planet.

Simply take a moment to appreciate a break from TV, radio, phones, computers, electric lights … just for an hour. Perhaps have a candlelit dinner with friends.  If it is a clear night, how about stargazing? You could sit in candlelight and pray for the earth. You may like to use the prayers below, play an acoustic instrument, perhaps have a good conversation with a friend over a drink.

 

We are all invited to reflect on the beauty and mystery of the earth, and what our part might be towards living more simply and lovingly.

SEASONAL PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING:

Blessed are you, Lord God, creator of day and night. To you be praise and glory forever. As darkness falls you renew your promise to reveal among us the light of your presence. By the light of Christ, your living Word, dispel the darkness of our hearts that we may walk as children of light and sing your praise throughout the world. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Blessed be God for ever.

A BLESSING:

God’s blessing be upon us ... May we strengthen and encourage one another in our shared vision. And may the blessing of our adventurous Creator God go with us. And may the blessing of the Son, who showed us how to live, re-shape us. And may the blessing of the dancing Spirit joyfully enable us in our renewed living.

Amen

 

Prayer from ‘Hope in God’s Future’ Report and Study Guide from the Methodist Church, URC and Baptist Union of Great Britain

 

 

Jo Crocker

 

 

 

 

The Minister’s Letter - February

Many people over the last month will have made (and perhaps already broken!) New Year’s resolutions. These often stem from a sense of guilt about how we lead our lives and what we would like to change about them. The desire to eat less and exercise more are common motivators for making such resolutions, and when sensible goals are set within realistic time frames, the dawning of a New Year can be just the incentive we need to challenge unhealthy habits.

New Year’s resolutions don’t just have to be guilt based though. The New Year is a great reminder of the creativity at work in our world and of our own natural, God-given desire to learn, explore and be creative. Equally valid are New Year’s resolutions where we decide to try something new, rather than it being all about what we should give up. This could include many things, like learning a new language, trying out a musical instrument or taking on a new role.  Furthermore, I believe that New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t just be reserved for people but should challenge organisations as well, including churches.

It’s a natural point in the year when we, together, ponder where we’re going in the grand scheme of things and seek out the Spirit’s leading for the next leg of our adventure. A chance to reflect on the past and envision what the future might hold, to think imaginatively and boldly about the possibilities open to us as a church.

Churches can spend years trapped in a cycle of guilt and anxiety like the perpetual diet weighing heavily on our consciences but never seeming to budge the pounds. Instead, during this season of fresh starts and new beginnings let us be positive about what the future holds for us and rekindle our desire to learn, explore and be creative for God. You never know, someone might just have made a New Year’s resolution to try out or reconnect with Church and could be heading this way as we speak! Should they walk through our doors, may they find a shared hope that the future is brighter for journeying with God, than it ever could be without.

Tim

Let’s Go Green in 2017

Welcome to a new regular slot in Yours looking at how we, as the United Church community, are trying to shrink our carbon footprint and live in a way that demonstrates God’s love for and of ALL things. We will have different authors, ideas, practical suggestions and news about faith and sustainable living.

In December, the UK became the 111th nation to ratify the Paris agreement from 2015.  HOORAY!!!!  This aim to keep global temperature rises to below 2 degrees celsius is a commitment ... which now has to be delivered. And we are all part of delivering it!  The challenge is to each do our share.

To help us work out a realistic plan of how to do this, we are all invited to a workshop called Tools for Transformation: simple and practical ways for your church to care for God’s earth on Monday 13 February, 7.30 pm at Christ Church, Winchester, SO23 9SR.

This event (organised by Winchester Anglican Diocese) is a chance to explore the new Eco Church scheme and hear about current local church projects and share experiences. It will also help you to articulate effectively the Christian case for action. The speaker will be Ruth Valerio, Churches & Theology Director for A Rocha UK (a Christian conservation charity).

For a reminder of the current picture of climate change I urge you to watch the new film Before the Flood.  It is available free on youtube. Hollywood’s Leonardo DiCaprio (of Titanic fame) has worked with National Geographic to make it over the two years he has been a UN messenger of peace. Search the name on the web or just google ‘before the flood full movie’.

Jo Crocker