December 9th: “The Journey”
Not strictly an “Immanuel event”, as it was very much a partnership venture, but it certainly involved a lot of Immanuel folk: the dramatized story of Mary and Joseph’s trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem took place through the streets of Old Town twice on Sunday 9th December.
Starting off at Lethbridge Rd School (that served as Nazareth!) the heavily pregnant Mary together with Joseph took the long walk up Avenue Rd where they were greeted outside Bath Rd Methodist Church by the heavenly host (perhaps not so ‘heavenly’ but certainly a host of assorted singers from choirs in and around the partnership).
It was there that they found a donkey kind enough to carry Mary the rest of the way to Bethlehem, and from where they were followed by a flood of people.
Thankfully the Wilts Constabulary were on hand to divert traffic which was just as well as the mass of followers numbered well into the hundreds at this point and numbers picked up as they moved on into the chaotic bustle of Bethleham itself (Wood St doubled up very well, but it has to be said was slightly lacking in the atmosphere of a Middle Eastern township!)
From there the weary couple managed to find shelter in the only space available (the chancel at Christ Church) and while the angelic voices were still singing outside, the miraculous son of Mary was born.
Much like the events 2000 years ago, things didn’t quite go quite according to plan and the waiting mass of people outside in the cold was invited inside to witness the Christ child even before the ‘herald angels’ had sung, but a rousing rendition of the Alleluia Chorus rounded off the event, and in the extremely large congregation many were the tears of emotion that were shed….and as for baby Jesus – “no crying he made”.
Following requests from several members, please find below a link to the prayers given by Roy Lowes used at this morning’s service. The theme of the morning had been “The wheat and the tares”
Two special services were held today: in the morning via a radio link, we joined with hundreds of thousands across the country in the moving ceremony at the Cenotaph at Whitehall and were again able to participate in the national two-minute silence. Our own church had been specially decorated with a glorious tribute in poppies. In a very moving way, the communion table bore poppy petals inscribed with the names of those who members of the congregation particularly wanted to remember on this 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice, and whose biographies decorated the side walls of the church.
In the evening, as is now a tradition at Immanuel, we lit candles to remember those who have died within our congregation or whose funerals have been taken by either Robert or Geoff over the past year or two. It was an emotional and reflective evening that was greatly appreciated by all who attended. A full choir at both services certainly enhanced the worship with some superb music.
October 7th was our Harvest Sunday
As the photo depicts, a large number of gifts was presented during the morning service. The produce was later taken to Culvery Court for the use of the homeless of the town. Following a centuries’ long tradition, the church itself had been decorated by our floral art team who had put together some ingenious arrangements of flowers fruit and vegetables.
In a slight change from the norm, one of the team had cleverly reminded the congregation of this year’s current Harvest Appeal: each of the six main windows depicted one of the aims of the appeal – supporting the school in Sri Lank (see below).
September 16th saw the launch of our annual Harvest Appeal. This year we are hoping to raise in excess of £3000 to support work in a school for children with special needs in Vavuniya Province of northern Sri Lanka. The school is run by SEED (Social Economic and Environmental Developers) a non-profit-making, non governmental organisation that has been working in the area since 1995. Currently about 70 children attend the school with a wide range of various disabilities (autism, Downs Syndrome, cerebral palsy and hearing and speech impediments). Our hope is that our contribution will help install access ramps, a hand washing area and also repairing / replacing playground equipment. A full display with lots more information is in the church – do take a look.
Not strictly an “Immanuel event” but a gathering took place on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Estelle School of Dance which has used our premises for most of those 60 years. Principal Pat Bennet has long been an associate of the church and was overjoyed to meet up with well over a hundred current and former pupils and friends of the school (including at least one original pupil of 60 years ago!)
A merry time was had by all as memories of past shows and dance vents were recalled and shared .
Pat herself has been quite ill over the summer and therefore the occasion was all the more a celebration of her return to good health and by all accounts dance classes start back once the schools begin and then it will be all systems go for the Immanuel pantomime and the Estelle Wyvern Production in March of “The Slipper and the Rose”
19th August: “Summer Sing-along”
In what looks like becoming an annual event in the Partnership calendar for August, on 19th August, it was Immanuel’s turn to host the joint evening service and members of all the churches gathered to join in some rousing singing.
Accompanied by two keyboards, organ, bass, flute and drums the congregation nearly lifted the roof with some splendid singing of favourite hymns.
Interspersed with readings and poems, it made for a friendly and relaxed 45 minutes of worship.
(Right: Kay, Andy Shelly Keith and Julie made a great sound: so professional too!)
It was good that so many folk stopped on afterwards for a cup of tea or coffee : friendships were renewed and in some cases made for the first time! It all made for a really pleasant evening.