The morning service saw the ordination of two new Elders at Immanuel – Roy Lowes and Eddie Thomas – you can see their photos on the “Who we are” tab under Immanuel United Reformed Church’.
April 19th: Church Annual General Meeting
Among the items of business at the church AGM were the re-appointment of Liz Gleed as our Church Secretary and the re-election of Maria Kawonga and Frances Strange as Elders. It is particularly pleasing to report that with the election of two new Elders, Roy Lowes and Eddie Thomas, the eldership is now the largest it has been for some years.
In the vote on whether to ask for authorisation of the Swindon Registrar to use Immanuel as a venue for same-sex weddings, although a majority of members was in favour, the necessary majority of 75% was not reached and as a result the motion was not passed.
One important decision was passed, however, and shortly the church will be asking our South West Synod for permission to make our own arrangements for the letting of our premises; this will regularise the legal status of the lettings process at Immanuel. A sub-committee will be formed to organise the necessary application.
April 1st: Easter Day
During the service, following a tradition that dates back some number of years at Immanuel, members of the congregation had been requested to bring a single bloom or small posy to decorate the old Christmas tree that had been turned into a very rough cross.
At the close of the service the cross was carried outside to spread the
message of the good news to passers-by and the locality around.
It seems odd to be writing about what turned out to be a “non-event” in this ‘Recent Events’ page! But it was a great pity that the joint act of worship planned with our friends from the Romanian Pentecostal Church had to be cancelled – the heavy fall of snow overnight on Saturday 17th meant that very few of them would have been able to attend and our numbers would have been greatly diminished as well. We are looking to identify a date not too distant to hold the service, so watch this space!
Right: prior to the service a vast number of posies had been prepared for distribution to all the ladies of the morning congregation.
During the morning service today Roy Lowes led us in some challenging prayers of intercession: at the request of several of the congregation here is a link to a pdf file that you may wish to read.
Not simply Immanuel, but the BBC’s “Songs of Praise” today in its programme on pioneering women in the church, it featured the story of Constance Coltman, the first woman to be ordained in the UK a hundred years ago by the Congregational Church. It was a fascinating item and included an interview with URC minister, Jenny Mills, and is certainly worth watching. If you have the facility at home, its definitely worth watching on ‘catch-up’.
The last Sunday of the month saw the celebration our annual Christingle service at Immanuel. Aided by some of the Partnership leaders and assistants of ‘Messy Church’, in his inimitable way Stuart Benjamin introduced the whole congregation to some of the craft activities that make our messy church so popular and so much fun!
There was the opportunity to make our own christingle, produce a ‘stained glass’ image, do some colouring or write a prayer, and from the buzz of conversation there was a lot of fellowship taking place too!
The hymns too, took on a slightly different feel as we were all encouraged to participate very actively in “My God is a great big God”! With tea and cake to round off the morning it made for a memorable act of worship with a difference.
Annual Visit of the Aldbourne Band
The Aldbourne Band has been performing at Immanuel on the last Saturday of January since 1963 and this year was no exception – indeed it was something of a special event. A dozen or so of the band that played in 1963 had been invited to come along to a reception prior to the concert, and over a cup of tea, a lot of stories were told and nostalgia was in the air.
During the evening’s concert the 2018 prizewinning premier league band played several pieces from that first concert and we heard a series of amusing reminiscences by the former members.
During the second half it was great to hear the Youth Band perform for some of the time, proving that music making prowess is strong in Aldbourne and North Wilts and promises well for the future.
It was a magnificent evening of music making of the highest standard played to a packed church.
As we have done for many many years, at the start of the week of prayer for Christian Unity, a joint service was held at Christ Church: but this year it was a little different. The service was also used to mark the very happy conclusion of our joint project in the Old Town Partnership of Churches, a project that ran throughout 2017 and was aimed at raising what we hoped would be a grand total of £6000 to support the work of the Swindon Foyer.
(Left: members of the Partnership Focus Group present the cheque to Michelle, representative of the Foyer )
The Foyer accommodates and supports youngsters from 16-25 who find themselves homeless and out of work in Swindon and district. As a result of the joint activities of the three churches throughout the year, a magnificent total of £8,700 was raised which supersedes anything we might have hoped for.
(Right: Michelle was simply overjoyed!)