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What's on at St. Anne's

Alpha Course
Wednesday 22nd May 19:00pm
St Anne's Church, Worksop

Curious about faith?

Join a series of group conversations that freely explore the basics of the Christian faith in an open, friendly environment.

At each Alpha session, you’ll be hosted in a small group and watch an episode on a different question of faith – then you have a chance to share your thoughts and hear what others think. You can say anything you like, or nothing at all.

Everyone’s welcome. You’re invited, no matter your background or beliefs. It’s free and there’s no pressure to come back.

Great food and time together, watch a video and a chat about what we’ve seen and the questions it throws up. The course runs for 11 weeks. Choose a day and come every week. If you might miss a week join one of the other sessions to stay up to date that week.

Begins Wednesday 22nd May at 7.00pm in the church hall and then weekly

For more information contact Rev Dave on 07858 144733. You can either book in by calling or text or just turn up to the first session.

About St. Anne's

I ended last year’s report with a quote from the bible in Proverbs 3:4-5; ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ 2023 was a year of leaning on Jesus in all we did at St Anne’s. It always seems a bit odd to be writing the report for the APCM based on the previous year, because by the time we come to actually writing we are often 3 or 4 months into the new year. However, reflecting back I said that 2022 was a year of laying foundations and it felt like 2023 would be a year of seeing the walls go up. I think it’s fair to say that God has built come impressive walls at St Anne’s.

In many places where I look at the work of the Holy Spirit in the church life I see God doing some amazing things. New faces at our Sunday services, people growing in companionship and faith at Wednesday Welcome, children and families worshipping regularly on a Wednesday afternoon at St Anne’s Connect, children literally running to the groups after school and in church on a Thursday afternoon, our youth growing in faith and seeing young leaders for today and the future emerging. It seems that almost wherever I look God is doing a new thing.

In March we were approached by the governors at St Anne’s to see if we could help them out with a new venture of starting an after-school club, to provide wrap around care for working families. Claire and Selina, both trained Teaching Assistant, were keen to explore this new opportunity. It would present some difficulties as to how we might cover our existing children’s group and drop-in on a Friday, but in May we were blessed when Danielle joined the team to cover these groups and free both Claire and Selina, to run the After School Club. This began in June and continues to see growing numbers of children each evening. This provides an income for the church, but also wonderful opportunities to further engage with families through the school and part of the agreement with the school is that the club will have a distinctly Christian focus, both in values and themes.

At the end of June we were blessed to welcome Rev Edith as curate along with Rev Nigel who was also ordained and continuing his ministry here at St Anne’s, although now in a slightly different way as deacon, rather than reader. They have both made a good start in this next step in their own journeys of faith and beginning to establish their own distinct ministries within the team here. Bev and Lianne continue to lead services and develop their own distinct ministries, Bev with Wednesday Welcome and in the Care Home and Lianne with funerals. In October, after a year of weekly study, it was great to gather again at Southwell Minster, this time to support and give thanks, with Claire and Selina as they were licensed as Lay Ministers by the Bishop. They were licensed with a particular role to minister to Children and Families and Young People, a first for this Diocese. I am so grateful to all the team for all they do and the dedication they have, to further the mission here at St Anne’s and in our community. As always, I would be lost without Sarah and Andy and all they do as church wardens, both seen and mostly unseen, with ensuring services go well, cleaning, maintenance and looking after the church hall. A huge thanks as always to those who have served on the PCC and continue to challenge me and support me in my ministry.

It was with sadness in July when we lost our dear friend, and verger of so many years, Stuart. He meant so much to so many and was a rock of the church for so long. He often spoke of the love he had for the church and for those who attended. I felt very honoured to have known him, have worked so closely alongside him and to be asked to lead his memorial service in August. It was a day tinged with sadness, but we fondly remembered so many memories we had of him and to walk alongside Barbara and Jo during that time was a privilege. Stuart has left a huge hole in all our lives and all that he did, both for the church and in people’s lives, will not be forgotten. 2023 was also the year where our oldest member of the congregation Ken Storey was taken to be with our Lord. Again, it was a pleasure to visit Ken and hear his many stories of being in the choir at St Anne’s as a child, his recollections of Vicar’s past asking why they hadn’t been in church the previous Sunday and how he was always grateful for the many blessings God had given him. A truly inspirational gentleman and a privilege to lead his funeral service in May. Both were long time members of the church who remembered the church as it once was and yet were fully supportive of all we are now doing, with God’s help. They understood that as we minister to a new generation and a changing society, there is a balance to holding on to things of the past that continue to serve God’s purpose today but so important to embrace new ways of doing church that engages children, young people and families now.

As well as the many good things that God has been doing, 2023 has also had several challenges, not least around finance. It was a year, where we were all struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and rising food prices and energy costs have been a huge burden for many families. We are a church that believes hospitality, particularly around food, is so important in sharing God’s loves with others. This has proved challenging this year, but we remain committed to offering free events to our community or at a minimal cost and providing food and meals. We had some wonderful events in 2023 including a games evening, a barn dance, the annual quiz night raising funds for Tearfund, and welcoming children and family entertainer Duggie Dug in December.

However, you will see from the financial reports that in year, the church has made a significant loss of £48000. This has mainly been due to a significant increase in our energy bill. Our previous contract ran out at the end of December 2022 and we were struggling to secure a new contract at the start of the year, due to energy companies not offering fixed contracts due to the volatility of the energy market. We did secure a new contract, which was favourable at the time but significantly more expensive than the one we had previously, which had been taken out in January 2021. We had hoped that our new boilers would offset some of the costs in efficiency but as a comparison, the energy costs in 2022 for church and hall were just over £9000, in 2023 the energy bill was £42000. As you will appreciate this alone is more than we receive in regular giving and has made a huge dent in our reserve position, which was set aside for children’s and youth work. We will not be able to sustain this kind of loss again and so a number of steps have been taken to help in this. The gas meter, which was over 40 years old, has been replaced by British Gas and timers have been added to the hall heating system.

Even when the heating is working in church the ambient temperature is sometimes still below that of the outside. This is due in the main to the old heating system we have around the church, and even though we have new boilers, the radiators and piping are now not really fit for purpose. To replace this system is cost prohibitive presently, but the PCC continue to look for solutions. We are currently heading towards the warmer months again and the heating will be switched off, but it may be that towards the latter end of this year, an extra jumper or gloves and a scarf may be required when coming to worship. Edith will also be leading us in a generosity campaign over the coming months and we will be asking all those who attend and have a connection with St Anne’s to revisit their giving patterns and the amounts. We want to encourage everyone to think about what is a reasonable amount to give, given the increasing costs of energy, maintaining the building and keeping it open for worship. We believe in a God who is generous with us, and we want to encourage that same generosity in our giving as a church.

However, even with challenges, 2023 was once again a year in which there was much to be thankful for. Increasing regular attendance at Sunday worship, continued growing numbers at midweek worship, both adults and in our children’s, family and youth work. Growing connections with Portland secondary school, Selina acting now as unofficial chaplain, to both children and staff. As we head into 2024, there are many opportunities before us to continue to share the Good News of the Gospel. Alpha courses, baptisms and confirmation services will all form a part of our story this year, as well as going deeper in our discipleship and encouraging a praying, worshipping community of believers, both young and old, new and established, praising Jesus and being thankful for all that God is doing.

Rev Dave

The journey of Lent has ended, and the pilgrimage is over. Our fasting is complete; now we can feast and celebrate. We have travelled with Jesus from the harshness of the desert to the new life coming from the empty tomb. Having walked with Jesus as we carried our cross, we now share in and experience the joy and power of his resurrection.

When we look at the news on our televisions or read it our newspapers we are all very well aware of all the hardship and pain that exists in our world today. There isn’t a day that goes by were we don’t read the story of a random act of terrorism or a tragedy of one kind or another. There are painful scenes of war, famine and terrorism on our televisions, most if not every evening. In our own country and communities there are senseless acts of violence that leave families grieving for the death of a loved one. How are we meant to celebrate Easter in such difficult circumstances?

Even at the time of Jesus there was inequality, injustice, and poverty. He would have seen it, experienced it and been very familiar with it. But it is into that world that he came with the good news of the Kingdom of God. And it is into our world today that Jesus comes with the same good news. It is in and through our world today that we experience and share in his resurrection.

The trial and crucifixion of Jesus must have been such a painful and even disappointing experience for his friends, followers and family. They had placed such hope in Jesus; in his preaching, his teaching and in his miracles. Then they had to stand and watch as he was betrayed, condemned, beaten and then crucified. They stood and watched him die.

In it is in and through our ordinary daily lives and our world today that Jesus comes risen from the tomb. The resurrected Jesus comes to us as we are. But he also comes as he is; through the power of God, he is resurrected and comes to us with the gift of new and everlasting life.

Death has not had the final say. Where there was despair, God brings us hope. Where there was darkness, God has bright light. Where there was death, God bring us not just life, but new and everlasting life. These are the gifts that God offers each of through the resurrection of Jesus.

In a world where there is often the reality of suffering, violence and injustice, we are called to be people of hope. This is not ordinary human hope. This is the hope that comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus. In the face of sadness, difficulty and pain, we are called to look to and rely on the resurrected Jesus and not just on our strength and resources.

The call, invitation and even challenge of Easter is that I experience it personally deep within myself. I am called to be an Easter person, a person of the resurrection. I am called and asked to be person who is filled with the new life and hope of the resurrected Jesus. It is this living hope, as disciples of Jesus, that we share with the world around us. We live as hope in our town, in our community, amongst our friends and family. We may be tempted to give in and give up the world as it is today. However, because we now share in the powerful resurrection of Jesus, we are to live our daily lives full of Easter hope. As Christians, we must never look like people who have just come back from a funeral! Death has been beaten. Can we as God’s Easter people show to the world, that even amongst the pain, we can be filled with the light, joy, life, and the hope of the Resurrection of Jesus. The Lord is risen, alleluia, alleluia!

The last Sunday of the church calendar, before Advent begins, is known as Christ the King day. It is also known as ‘stir up’ Sunday, not because it is traditionally when the Christmas pudding is made, and everyone takes a stir, but because of the prayer that is said after communion on this Sunday;

‘Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’

A call to God to stir up the Spirit in the faithful to urge them on to good works and producing fruit for God’s kingdom. I sometimes wonder why at the end of the year we say this prayer, but perhaps it is obvious that at the end of a year we take stock, we look back, we reflect and we a push to go on into a new season. This is a prayer to urge the faithful to take stock and push on in the Spirit.

I was reminded at a recent home group that the season of Advent is a time to not actually look back, or even to look towards Christmas, but in fact Advent is to look forward, with joyful anticipation, to the return of our Saviour Jesus. The day when God’s kingdom will fully be restored, when there will be an end to war and injustice and God’s peace will reign eternal.

Advent should always brim with promise and hope. The long-expected Holy One is drawing near, bringing peace and righteousness. Advent promises a great reversal as well as the promise of all things new! It is foretold that the natural order of things will be overturned. The lion will dwell with the lamb. The desert will blossom and bloom. And there will be great joy!

Isaiah12:2-3 says ‘Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for God is my strength and my might; God has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’

Drawing water from the wells of salvation is such a lovely image. It is powerful! It is especially a great Advent image filled with promise and hope! What will that living water do for us? What thirsts will it quench? What wounds will it heal? How will the advent journey for each of us individually and collectively as a community of faith make real these hope filled images? In our holy imagination, especially in Advent, we watch and wait. We pray and hope for God’s great promised reversal. We hunger and thirst for righteousness. We look and long for justice, love, peace and joy to flourish as those wild myrtle bushes in the driest of deserts. Today our world is broken and lost, but some day … someday, in God’s own time, God will lead us to the wells of salvation, and there we will draw water and we, and our world, will be healed.

No matter your circumstance this Advent season please know that You matter. Know that God cares for you and walks with you through your joys and sorrows, through sickness and health. The journey is not yours to walk alone. May you feel God’s presence in your midst. Pray for God once again to stir your Spirit, to stir your soul!

As you read through this copy of the parish news you will find there are many suggestions as to how you can join in at St Anne’s and have your Spirit stirred. From Advent and Christmas services, to Alpha in the New Year, to our regular services and groups for all ages and for whatever stage of the journey you are on. You are warmly invited, you are welcome, come and share the Good News of Jesus with us.

Before I finish I must join our warden Sarah in saying a huge thank you to Sarah and Pat, to Carole, to all those who have contributed to the Parish News over the years, including past and current pupils from St Anne’s school, and to all those who have faithfully distributed the magazine around our community – thank you, thank you, thank you, you are all amazing. Parish News has been such a huge part of the life here at St Anne’s over the years and it will be strange to not have Sarah and Pat emailing us all every few weeks asking for items and thoughts for the day. But although this may be the final edition in this form, we are grateful that there are plans in the New Year to share news from St Anne’s in a different way. I suspect this may not really be quite the end of Parish News!

May you and your loved ones have the most blessed Christmas, overflowing with love and the power of God’s grace. May the peace that surpasses all understanding and the love that knows no bounds, be born to you again in the simple, yet miraculous birth of a baby who’s message continues to change individual lives and in turn the world.

Rev Dave

Easter – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Christmas is great but Easter is AMAZING! It is the time of year where not only on Easter Sunday but for the season of Easter up until Pentecost we proclaim each and every week in church with great joy in our hearts: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

This ancient greeting sums up what we celebrate this Easter Sunday, the joy of Christ risen and alive in our midst. Psalm 118 says “This is the day the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad”. This then is the Joyful Good News that we should be glad of – Christ by his death and resurrection has conquered sin so we may live. The Resurrection is the foundation and cornerstone of our faith. As St Paul says to the Corinthians if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and our faith too is in vain.

Easter Sunday is such a joyful day – in church we have party poppers, we shout for joy as children of God, celebrating the wonder of the empty tomb. But my joy of Easter Day is not the only thing I find wonderful about this season. It begins on Ash Wednesday and comes to it climax and fulfilment on Easter Sunday. Party poppers in church may seem irreverent but it is the because of the journey through Lent and Holy Week done properly that allows that joy to eventually burst forth.

It begins as we sit in awe of God’s forgiveness for each of us on Ash Wednesday as we quietly remember those things that separated us from God that leads us into a time of reflection as we journey through Lent. Then the wondrous events of that first Holy Week. The Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as we cheer ‘Hosanna – the King has arrived’. The intimate moments with Jesus and his disciples at that Last Supper where those final instructions are given to continue to break bread and share wine in remembrance of him.

And then Maundy Thursday, as we strip the church and leave in quiet contemplation for prayer and the Easter Vigil where we once again recall God’s story – in our story of salvation. Good Friday with a sense of foreboding as we once again grasp the magnitude of what Jesus took on himself from each one of us – our sin and shame and judgement. The glimmer of hope seemingly extinguished that perhaps we don’t quite grasp because we already know that more is to come. Trying to understand how the finality of death must have felt for those first disciples – they hadn’t grasped that this was the plan, that Jesus would return. The liturgy of the Word re-enacts that story and so leads us to that first Easter morning as the women arrive and wonder why the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty.

Because of the journey we can go from wonder, to reflection, to contemplation and the sombreness of Good Friday. It is this that leads to the joyful celebration of the risen Lord in our midst as Jesus offers Himself anew in the Holy Sacrifice as we share at the communion table on Easter Day. We do this in a spirit of thanksgiving to God who gives His own Son to die in order to rescue us from the slavery of sin.

Please do join us as we journey through Holy Week this year as we share together as a benefice. Details of all our services can be found in the magazine.

Easter Day is a time for party poppers because we live as people deeply touched by the resurrection and proclaim: Christ is risen, Alleluia! May our encounter with the risen Lord on our journey of faith touch us deeply and transform us as Jesus did for His Disciples. May the resurrection lead us to be the best version of ourselves; committed to live out our Baptismal covenant. When we live the new life of the resurrection, we become the best version of ourselves. We become what St Augustine referred to as an “Easter People”, a people transformed into disciples and stewards who commit to give their time, talent and treasure in witness. My prayer for you this Easter is that you live as joyful people deeply touched by the resurrection and proclaim for yourselves: Christ is risen, Alleluia, Alleluia! I wish you all a very happy Easter.

As I sit down to write this year’s report I have just come back from a full day of engagements. It began with meeting the Bishop of Sherwood, the Archdeacon and a group of clergy as we reflected and wrestled with the joys and challenges of ministry in each of our contexts. There are many things to be joyful for in the ministry here at St Anne’s. I spent the rest of the day working in those areas that bring the most joy. It is hard to say a funeral is a joyful occasion, but I came back to Worksop and donned my robes to lead a family as they said goodbye to their father. We remembered his life, we smiled at the treasured memories they have of him together and of course there were some tears. Where was the joy? In knowing what a privilege it is to be able to walk alongside people at times such as these – I am grateful to God that in a small way I can be a source of comfort to others, and I hope, showing them something of God’s love for them too.

As I arrived back at church my next stop was St Anne’s school. Our intern, Ella, who began in September, and is a joy to be around, was on a theology day with the Young Leadership College. So I was stepping in as a second with Claire at our new after school group – Connect Kidz. 25 reception to year 3 children, running around the school hall, playing parachute games and then seeing them immediately switch into listening mode as Claire spoke to them about Peter being imprisoned and rescued by an angel. Where was the joy? Well as we finished with a couple of worship songs one of the year 1’s was a little overwhelmed with the noise, and she came and we danced together and then as we prayed she grabbed my arm and whispered ‘will you say a pray for me?’ I don’t know about joyful – I could have easily shed a tear as the Spirit gently rested on this little girl.

They went home and we ran across to the hall, as we then had an hour with our year 4 – year 6 group, St Anne’s Kidz. 12 children, mainly boys, enthusiastic, full of energy, learning about God and how they can grow in their faith. I was bursting with joy as I watched Claire encouraging them to reach out to God in prayer. No sooner had they left than 10 young people rocked up for choir. Tonight they were learning a new song, being led and taught by some of the older youth. The joy of seeing a small part of God’s vision, given to us more than five years ago, actually happening. Young leaders, with the confidence to lead their peers in the worship of God.

I was getting ready for our inaugural Youth Café and our older teens came along, with a few friends and the younger youth, a buzz of excitement as they went upstairs to their newly cleared youth room, in the upper room of the hall. A visitor coming to share with them, how they might decorate to make it truly theirs. The smile on their faces was a joy to behold. And then the older youth, full of waffles and chocolate, also disappeared upstairs. As I left I popped my head in and there they were, lounging around on their new bean bags, intently listening to Selina as she too was encouraging them in their own faith and discipleship. I’ve come home shattered but so full of God’s joy at all God is doing in our parish.

So what’s that got to do with the year 2022, because that’s just a snapshot of one night in February in 2023. Well for me, today has been about God showing me, and perhaps you as you read this report, that in many ways 2022 was a little like building the foundations of a house. Have you ever driven past a building site and seen people working there for weeks and months, and seemingly nothing has changed? But then after a time you drive past again and you can’t believe how quickly all those houses have gone up? Well 2022 has been a year of building good foundations and it feels like 2023 will be the year where the walls go up – rather quickly it seems!

In all that we do the cornerstone has to always be Jesus. At the beginning of the year we were blessed to learn that as a church we were to be part of the Diocesan drive to invest in children and young people. Because of the previous work done in the parish, particularly with primary age children, we were asked if we would become a Children’s and Family Flagship and Youth Hub. We were able to secure funding for Selina’s role as Youth Team Leader and also tap into a grant to increase Claire’s role and hours as a Children’s and Family Team Leader. This funding is for five years. The targets are quite daunting, but we are excited by all that God is going to do.

Back to the foundations then. Selina had begun some initial contact at Portland Secondary school and we already had good links with St Anne’s Primary school, but we felt our Sunday service pattern was not really working as well as we felt it should be. We wanted it to reflect the different members we had in our congregation, but we felt we had become disjointed, each with their own service. We also felt as a leadership team and within the PCC that we didn’t quite have the right services to invite new people to, particularly young families. In May we put those foundations in place with our new service patterns. Interestingly, our yearly return would suggest that these new service patterns have not particularly affected our regular Sunday worship numbers. However, it does now feel like we are more together as a congregation and a church. Feedback from many of you has been appreciative of being able to keep a Eucharistic service at the heart of our Sunday offering, but we have seen new families attending our service for all-ages and Sunday evenings, although small, are a wonderful time of worship and reflection. This was certainly part of the getting the foundations right and centering ourselves on Jesus.

But where Sunday attendance has remained, in some ways stubbornly, static, our midweek offering and engagement, has been nothing but miraculous. God has been doing something amazing, through Selina’s work at Portland, through Claire’s work at St Anne’s school, through Bev’s work at Wednesday Welcomes and in the Care Home. Door after door has not just opened, but fallen off the hinges in our secondary school, leading to Selina being invited to the sixth form college and into Valley school as well. In fact so much so, that we are exploring how we can include Christchurch in the work we are being asked to do, because frankly, we’re at capacity.

We began St Anne’s Connect in May and we tentatively prayed for 20 children and their parents. In those first two weeks we had over 40 children and add in the adults it took us up to 70 each week. We thought ‘it’ll soon ease off and settle around the 50 mark’. Well it hasn’t, numbers have remained every Wednesday and it has been miraculous, amazing and, well to be honest, at least initially, bedlam. We have tried different ways of worshipping together, of engaging the families who were coming and it remained, amazing and bedlam. We prayed and I just felt that perhaps we just had to move the chairs slightly – well who knew an arc of chairs could make such a difference. We genuinely now give praise to God every week as it really is amazing! From this, we have been able to begin all our different children’s age groups meeting on a Thursday. We regularly, on a weekly basis, meet and teach, and disciple, 50 or 60 primary children and 15 to 20 young people. We meet with parents, at Connect and at Tot’s on a Thursday morning and we are now able to offer Christianity Explored courses because they want to find out more about who Jesus is for themselves.

It has been wonderful to welcome back Meet & Eat, each first Friday, and it is fully booked each time. Pat and the team do an amazing job providing a place for fellowship, joy, good food and fun. Bev gathers many at our Wednesday Welcome group and regularly visits people in the Care Home. Nigel is progressing with his training for ordination and we were blessed to find out he will be staying in our parish as curate for his training. He will be joined by Edith in July, moving from Clifton in Nottingham, for her to also complete her curacy training with us. Lianne has gone from strength to strength in her ministry and is now helping me as she develops her funeral ministry. We were blessed with Lydia’s ministry, particularly around worship, in the first part of the year and she is now thriving at Confetti, studying music and performing arts. Since September Ella has joined us, specialising on the tech side for Sunday services and a real asset with our children’s and youth work.

I remain forever grateful to so many of you for all your support and encouragement, your prayers and your suggestions. A thank you must go to all of the PCC, our wonderful church wardens Sarah and Andy, Ella, Tracey as treasurer and John as Lay Chair for all they do walking alongside me. They pick me up when I need it and they challenge me in the most beautiful way. Thank you to Mrs Middleton and team at St Anne’s school, I love being part of your school community and it is a privilege to work alongside you. I am fortunate to work with Stuart, he truly looks after me and is such a gift from God, as are the wider leadership team. And of course I truly am blessed with the team I work alongside on a daily basis, Claire and Selina. It is a pleasure to be in a team where we can laugh together, worship together, pray together and challenge each other. They truly are wonderful women of God that I have the honour of calling colleagues, but also dear friends.

It has been a year of building foundations and God has been and continues to be amazing and has been doing remarkable things. The joy I feel and the joy it is to minister here at St Anne’s at this time is humbling. I feel at times I’m just along for the ride. It feels messy at times, it feels a little out of control, and sometimes it feels frustrating, but I hold onto those verses in Proverbs 3:4-5; ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ We’re holding on, and trusting in Jesus as we go into this next year – and boy is that exciting, a little bit daunting, but most of all – joyful!

As I sit down to write my reflection for this edition of Parish News, we have just remembered those who died in war and those who have passed away during the last year within our Parish. November is a month for remembering, All Saints Day, the 5th of November, Remembrance Sunday and as we get later in the month, to remember to make our Christmas puddings on ‘mix up Sunday’ and just before we enter the period of Advent, Christ as our King.

It is good to remember, it can sometimes be painful, but it is through our remembering that we can begin to heal. We can smile at fond memories and perhaps most importantly, we can learn from what has gone before. When I come to this time of year, and start to think about what I might share, I often look back at previous ramblings I have submitted for Parish News. Partly so I don’t repeat myself, partly to give some inspiration and continuity and partly because I have a short memory and can’t always remember what I said. But this is why it is good to have set days to remember, we all forget things, we partially recall but often not in the greatest detail and we fail to reflect on all that went well and those things we can learn from.

As I look back at 2022 and remember all that has happened, it has been a momentous year. Politically, with 3 Prime Minister and a Government in turmoil. In the world, not least with war in Ukraine and nationally as we all try to cope with surging inflation and interest rates. But of course, perhaps the most significant event that happened this year was in September, when we mourned together the death of our Queen. Many people, myself included, were surprised at their own depth of sadness at the death of the Queen. She was the only monarch many of us have ever known and the seeming suddenness of her death caught many out. In one way it should not have been totally unexpected but in so many ways it was. It deeply impacted so many and for those who had lost their own loved ones, either recently or some time ago, the national mourning seemed to open up some wounds that many thought had been dealt with. I think for those I spoke to, in most cases those things had probably been dealt with, but there was still a great sense of loss and sadness that felt slightly unexplained.

However, within her death and for all the sadness, there also seemed to be a sense of hope. The Queen’s faith in God always shone through and I think that as we witnessed the week of mourning and her funeral in particular, we saw the grace in which she went about her role, the steadfastness her faith gave her and how the love she had for her Saviour transferred itself into all that she did and with all those she met.

As we enter Advent once again, we remember the birth of our Saviour. It is perhaps a story that we know all too well and we get lost in the perceived story, we think we know. We fail to recognise that at the heart of this Christmas story it is not a beginning as we so often think. Christmas is not the end and in fact is not even the start of the Christian story. It is the middle act of a story full of hope and grace for everyone. At creation, the Christian faith tells us that we were made for so much more than this earthly life and we were in fact made for a relationship with God. Due to our own selfishness and greed and pride, this relationship was broken. But at Christmas we remember that God did not leave us to it, but stepped in to repair that relationship. Jesus’ birth, was God in human form, coming to earth to restore a relationship that on our own we never would have been able to repair.

But it is at Easter, when we remember Jesus death and glorious resurrection, where we see this relationship restored. It is through Jesus we can once again, dwell with our Father in heaven. That was the hope and the faith the Queen clung to and she was an example of how each of us might live. However, through Jesus we have the ultimate example of how we should live. Through Jesus teaching, through the way he lived his life, we have a blueprint as to how each of us should live.

As we enter a New Year, I encourage to look back and remember all the good things, and perhaps some of those things that haven’t been so good. But then look forward. My prayer is that 2023 will be a year of hope and a recognition of God’s grace in your lives.

Earlier in the year at St Anne’s we changed our worship patterns, and these can be found, in this newsletter, on our Facebook page and on our website. There are now more ways than ever for you to engage with your local church and I want to encourage you, as you journey on in your own walk of faith, to join us. Join us with hope for the new year, with hope for the future and ultimately with the hope that our Queen so wonderfully displayed, that through Jesus we will all dwell together in eternity with God.

Happy Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

Rev Dave.

I wonder if there are things that still surprise you? One of the joys of working with children is their utter delight at what as adults we may think rather mundane or even worse, take for granted. I remember when I was back in Sheffield being at a toddler group and they were in the church garden. One young toddler, no more than 3 perhaps, was delighted to keep pointing at the daffodils and shouting ‘DAISY!’ I was with his Mum and obviously a little embarrassed explained that they had been looking at a book at home and it had a picture of a flower and underneath was written the word ‘daisy’. The child had learnt the word that week and so to him every flower was a daisy. Mum bent down and gently told him that it wasn’t a daisy, but a daffodil. Unperturbed, he pointed again and at the same volume shouted ‘DAFFOOODDDILLL!’

He didn’t care what flower it was, he was just delighted to be in creation and couldn’t give two hoots about being right, he was just surprised and delighted with the world around him. Perhaps that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said that all who come to God should come as a child does, full of surprise and delight. In the Easter story we hear some of the most surprising words:

“He is not here.”

Two thousand years or so ago, some people went to a graveyard in Jerusalem. They were going to one of the tombs, just one among countless other similar tombs there: carved out of rock like little caves. According to their culture and tradition, they were going to anoint the body of their friend who had died and had been buried there a couple of days previously. But as they approached the place, they saw that the huge stone that had been put across the mouth of the tomb had been moved, by persons unknown. And, even more surprising, they were met by someone who said this odd thing: “Why are you looking for your friend? He is not here.”
He is not here? But he must be here. We saw him laid here with our own eyes two days ago, surely? And so, the most baffling, extraordinary, and sensational story of all time began in earnest. The empty tomb. A tomb that looks like someone’s mouth is open in a great capital O of surprise.

It is surprising, the Easter story, the arrest, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Christian Church was born out of a surprise and continues, to some surprisingly, to this very day. It will continue surprising everyone long after you and I have gone. If, after looking at the tomb, you look at the church itself, you will see the doors of the building are like another mouth open in surprise. Inside, on Easter day, however, you will not find it empty. You will find it full of joy and of colour and of hope and of love. That is perhaps the most surprising thing about Easter. From the empty tomb comes a full building. Join us, if you can. You will be pleasantly surprised. Not least because nowadays, we no longer say ‘he is not here’. We are able to shout with complete confidence:


Never stop being surprised and delighted in what God can do! May God bless you and those you love this Easter and always.

Rev Dave.

I usually approach Easter with a sense of wonder and awe and great excitement. It is my favourite time of year. The garden is starting to come back to life, the birds are starting to nest and the weather is brightening up. But this year Lent in particular seems to have passed by and the normal level of excitement about Easter Sunday has in some ways been replaced with a sense of loss and trepidation. On Ash Wednesday we weren’t even thinking about Coronavirus, at that point it was something that was happening in China and was a bit of a concern. Who really contemplated that just over a month later we too would be confined to our homes, split apart from family and friends and our church buildings closed? This will be the first Easter Sunday ever for many, and certainly for me, where we won’t be celebrating our Lord’s resurrection in a church service with the church family around us.

Over the last few weeks we have found different ways in which to communicate with each other, and we as the church have suddenly found ourselves pushed out and online. At the beginning of March I’d never heard of ‘Zoom’, now it is a key part of my ministry and of many others. If not ‘Zoom’ then ‘Microsoft teams’ or ‘Messenger’. I was reflecting with my Home Group yesterday that although Lent seems to have passed by I have in fact found myself engaging with all sorts of different types of worship and reflections online, from other churches and sources, certainly more so than I ever would have. To see my colleagues and the wider national church embracing this new way of doing ministry has been heartening and for me although not in church I do feel much closer to God than perhaps I have done through other periods of Lent. The enforcement of closed buildings has perhaps pushed I, and the wider church, to reach out in new ways. I hope in the long run we will not forget the lessons we have learned and continue some of these practices when life starts to return to something more ‘normal’.

As Jesus emerges from the tomb he has a poignant encounter with Mary Magdalene. With her eyes full of tears and with a heavy heart, she asks impatiently where they have taken her Lord. There her eyesight (and insight) is restored as Jesus calls her by name and she recognises that he is risen from the dead. Mary and the disciples, because of Jesus resurrection are pushed to new ways of engaging with Jesus, each other and the wider world. Their new ‘normal’ is now with a risen Lord who has beaten death, who has fulfilled his purpose. It just remains for Jesus to pass on some final instructions, to make clear that forgiveness has come and then the new mission is given and the baton passed onto the disciples and followers of Jesus. Leaving behind the way they had been before his death, these disciples emerged a stronger, more resilient band of believers. Encountering new ways of telling the gospel, not just in Jerusalem or Israel but to the ends of the earth. To all peoples and all nations, making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Lord.

Yes we will be having a very different Easter to any that we have encountered before but maybe that also brings new opportunities. Our sunrise service will be broadcast live from the Vicarage garden, perhaps more will tune in than would ever come to church that early on a Sunday morning. Our Easter Sunday service will be available on Facebook and Youtube, the Good News message of Jesus resurrection and saving grace available to many more than ever before. Rather than dwell on what has gone before, perhaps like Mary, and the disciples, we need to embrace the new ‘normal’, pick ourselves up and venture out in this bright new world ahead of us proclaiming the Good News of Jesus, in any way we can, and know soon we will once again be able to join together as God’s family. Stronger, more resilient and ready to embrace new ways of sharing God’s love and peace in our community as we introduce people to Jesus.

So amidst all the worry and stress of this time, which will come to an end, may I wish you all a wonderful and inspiring Easter.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:7-9

Every time I write for the Parish news it seems we’ve just been away, and this time is no different. I’m a Vicar I only work a day a week anyway – well actually half a day! Last week during the Easter break we journeyed up to Scotland on a family break including Edinburgh and Oban. We were blessed with good weather and a very restful break. In tropical Oban we caught up with friends and were reminded of the early days of parenthood as they have just had their daughter who was 3 weeks old at the time. Whilst there amongst other things we went on a boat trip to see a seal colony, which to be fair sounds more grand than it was – I’m not sure 7 seals makes a colony, but the boys thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

On our way back down the weather changed a little and as we were driving back through the mountains towards Glasgow, the clouds were coming down around the foothills. It was very dramatic and we were once again reminded of God’s wonderful creation. As we were driving through Daniel suddenly piped up and asked ‘why the clouds were suspended on the hillside’. I have to say it’s along time since I was at school and I was struggling to recall from my old geography/physics lessons what I had learnt about why clouds form a fog. I’m not even sure if they would have been the classes I would have learnt that in! Anyway I came up with some interesting sounding drivel that seemed to satisfy him at the time. It wasn’t until later that he suddenly asked me, ‘If I walked into those clouds on the hill would I disappear and then reappear again?’ It took me a moment!!

As we journey through this Easter season, we quickly approach, Ascension Day on the 10th May. It’s the day in the church calendar we recall those events in Acts 1 when Jesus left the disciples on a hillside and returned to heaven to dwell alongside his Father. Reading this passage again it’s hard not to think about what the disciples must have been thinking at that precise moment they saw Jesus disappear into the clouds. I wonder if like Daniel they were thinking ‘he’s disappeared, maybe he’ll reappear again soon’. It probably didn’t help that as they were looking up into the clouds two angels appeared and said “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Surely you’d be thinking, ‘well he’ll be back soon!’ And yet we still wait in anticipation today for Jesus to return.

One of the key parts of our faith is that this Jesus, who died, who was raised and who ascended to heaven, will one day return again to take us to be with him where his Father is. We wait with anticipation. We maybe wait with a little worry – will he take me? And we wait sometimes with great impatience. That must have been how the disciples felt, excited, worried, impatient. But wait they did, together, in prayer, in worship and then at Pentecost 10 days later the wonderful gift Jesus promised was given. The Holy Spirit came upon them and their lives were transformed. These fishermen, tax collectors and a bunch of nobodies who we know very little about, were so empowered by the Spirit they rushed out and spread the word of God, so much so that in one day over 3000 people became believers in Christ.

This year, as in the last few years, we are being encouraged as churches to use the 10 days between Ascension and Pentecost as days of prayer. These days of prayer are called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and as a church we will be offering times for people to come and prayer together, you may see some of us wandering around praying in our local area and we hope to have some resources for individuals to use at home. I encourage you to join us as we pray for the St Anne’s community and Worksop during this time. My prayer will be that we truly do see God’s Kingdom Come in this area and to our nation and like the disciples we are empowered by the Spirit to see new believers encounter Jesus in their own lives. I hope you have a blessed month and long may the wonderful weather continue.

Every year the church holds an APCM, an annual general meeting, to reflect on the previous year. to go through the accounts, to elect new members of the PCC (Parochial Church Council) and the Vicar is also invited to share something of their vision for the future. As the first piece on this blog page I thought I would share my report with you and hopefully something about me as minister. It’s a little long – but stick with it, the vision of how church might be would be wonderful if we are able to see God’s will done here in Worksop.

“As I sit down to write this report the boys this evening have been playing in the living room together. They are able, it seems, to watch what is on telly, play with toys in the room and jump on each other with great hilarity all at the same time and even tease the dogs as well. As I watch them it reminds me of the joy of parenthood and the complexities of nurturing and seeing two young lives grow and the great responsibility this brings to me personally.

In many ways I see my role as a priest and as the vicar at St Anne’s in very much the same way. I believe strongly that God has brought my family and I to Worksop and over the last year we have seen many signs of confirmation of this through things that have happened and the blessings we have seen poured out on us and the congregation at St Anne’s. It is a very humbling experience to be able to minister in a place such as this and many of you have welcomed us with open arms and have allowed me to walk with you at some wonderful times but also at some very painful times. All I can say is that I feel very privileged to be here and remain excited and expectant about all that God still has to do both with our church and in our community.

I know my start was somewhat delayed by the holiday season and no sooner had we arrived but I was off to Cornwall – it was lovely for us, but I know for those who continued to cover services and the occasional offices this was an unexpected additional strain on their time and commitments. Thank you to all of you for allowing us some much needed time together and rest at the start of our ministry here. I would also just like to acknowledge all those who throughout the interregnum kept St Anne’s and our sister churches at St Mary’s and St Winifred’s on an even keel. Without each of you and the care, support and goodwill you gave during this time, the churches would not have been in the blessed position I found when I took up my licensing here. There were so many of you who stepped up during that time, and continue to do so, but I would just like to especially mention Christine Greeve who took up many additional tasks during the interregnum which meant my handover was a much smoother process than it could have been. Even though she is sorely missed by so many in our family here at St Anne’s, I know her long awaited move to Cheshire was a real blessing for both her and the family.

Much of the first part of 2017 was spent advertising for and successfully recruiting a new Priest in Charge but the church didn’t stand still in this time and there were many other projects and items of discussion during this time that both the PCC and the church took on. The quinquennial report was due this year and many items highlighted have already been worked on and good progress has been made to the recommendations we received regarding the building. Many of you helped to organise social events and Verity and I were particularly blessed with the service of welcome and the refreshments afterwards that were provided by so many in the church community. Thank you to all the PCC and to you as church members for all that you contributed to God’s kingdom here in Worksop during 2017.

And so September came and the real work of my ministry here began. Even in such a short time and with the help of God many things have already been achieved.  Changes to the physical appearance of the church, such as the new lighting system and the office, have been a crucial step forward in getting us to a place where we can move forward in God’s mission for our church. There has been great excitement and celebration in the way each of you have once again embraced Messy Church, the Light Party and the Christmas services. A highlight of my first months was the wonderful Remembrance Day service where as a community we came together to remember all those service men and women who have given their lives and continue to place themselves on the front line for each of us.

There has also been some sadness, and I’m sure in a way a bereavement process, over the last year as St Anne’s has seen many senior ministers move on to other things. Simon and Liz’s departure was quickly followed by Luiz’s move to Christchurch. It was with great joy, but I’m sure too some sadness for our community at her moving  on, when Becky who had spent her ordinand year with St Anne’s was ordained in the summer and began her curacy in Bawtry and then only a month later we also said goodbye to Christine. For any community to lose one of these key figures it would be a set back but to lose five within a 12 month period is hard to take and needs to be acknowledged as part of the story that you as a church have been through recently. At our away day in January we spoke of this sense of loss as part of the journey you have been on and I have been thinking and praying since then how we can best acknowledge this. I believe that a physical act of drawing a line under this part of St Anne’s journey may well be welcomed and therefore on the Monday of Holy Week in the evening I am going to hold a short service of healing and wholeness in the lady chapel (or indeed the church if there is a larger take up) for those who wish to come. This will be a time to acknowledge the past and turn our hearts to the future and all that God has in store for us. Do look out for details of this service in the notices.

So as we look back on an eventful 2017 the APCM is also a time to begin to cast a vision for the coming year and indeed the future. Some of you joined me in January at Christchurch as I have mentioned for our Vision Day and this was a wonderful time of fellowship and I felt a real sense of God’s presence as we met together. We were able to be frank and honest about the place we are in as a church and began to think big about what God’s future may hold for us. It was both exciting and a little bit daunting to hear some of the ideas and direction you think God is taking us on and we continued to build on this at the last PCC of this term in February.

Our next task as a church is to start to seek God’s vision for the church and how we together can further God’s kingdom. I have recently returned from a conference in Harrogate and over the coming months I will be sharing something of what I believe God has been saying to me through this and other conversations with church members. However, we will also be asking you all as a congregation to start to share in home groups and with each other and the senior team and PCC where you think God is calling us. We are a mixed and diverse congregation, but many of our members are involved in many different roles and professional lives and I believe that as a church one of the things we are being called to do is grow people in their faith and for them to have a confidence in their own beliefs and principles. We as a church need to build each other up to release each other into our everyday ministries at our places of work and with those who we come into contact with on a daily basis. I hope over the coming year we start to see a stronger emphasis on home groups and if you are not already a member of one I encourage you to find a group you can join.

At the away day it very quickly came to light that our strengths as a church were how we believe people are welcomed and the opportunities we have to reach out to families in our community. We are hoping to develop ways we can make these key priorities and we have already started with our ‘Wednesday’s at St Anne’s’, the development of Messy church and the change in service times. Our work through the occasional offices of baptisms, weddings and funerals is huge and we need to think again about how we helpfully use these brief encounters with people at key times to draw them further into the life of the wider church.

It has been a real joy for me over my time here to build relationships with St Anne’s and Cuckney schools as a governor but also as a visitor to the schools through assemblies and other invitations. Having St Anne’s visit the church regularly is also a real blessing and pleasure and the services we have shared together have been wonderful times of celebration. I very much hope these relationships continue to develop and my prayer is that over the next few years some of you will feel confident and able to join me in this work in and with the schools.

I am certain that God is calling us to look at different ways of worship, not just here in Worksop, but the church as a whole. I also whole heartedly believe that God is calling us at St Anne’s to be a Church for the whole community. At St Anne’s we are in a unique position to affect how families operate and relate to each other. When I say family I don’t just mean children but I mean the whole family unit.  We engage children, parents and grandparents, but also brothers and sisters of parents, their children and so, hopefully, the networks and relationships develop and maybe they start to think differently as well. Christianity Explored, a families course, the schools work, weddings and baptism preparation are all different but relevant ways of not just proclaiming the gospel of Christ but affecting the social make up of our community and country. We see in the gospels and in the Acts of the Apostle’s family units worshipping together, learning together and living together. It is only our modern western church that has lost the view of the whole family learning and worshipping as one.

In church, we have one of the few opportunities in Western society to be a real all-age community, a community where cerebral learning (head learning) is only one aspect of lifelong maturing. In church, people of all sorts can come together to be vulnerable together and grow together. It’s a place where the power balance is turned upside down and the nobodies have as much clout as the somebodies – not because everyone is the same, but because everybody is needed for their differences. Our diversity is something to celebrate. We are gloriously different – and not just in age.  So why in church, do we traditionally focus on the difference in age? I believe that through our new service patterns and particularly in Messy Church, but certainly not exclusively, we are starting to explore and embrace what this might mean for us here in Worksop at St Anne’s. In light of this I am very excited at the prospect of employing both a youth worker and a Family and Children’s worker hopefully by the summer. The PCC had already made the bold decision to set aside a significant legacy for this purpose and we are now praying that God is already stirring up the hearts of two people to take up these new and exciting roles. The adverts are currently being publicised and I would encourage you as you pray over the next few weeks and months, hold these two positions and those who we are confident will fill them, up to God.

Change can be a difficult thing to embrace. Some will thrive and others will shy away. We will struggle to please everyone and sometimes in trying to do so we end up pleasing no one. Over the last six months I have spoken to many people who are involved in the up front ministry here at St Anne’s. I have given them license to try new things, to experiment a little, to seek where God is. This will no doubt affect our worship and in fact already has. Sometimes that will be amazing and at other times will feel incredibly uncomfortable, both for you but also for them, and indeed definitely for me! But I urge you, please be quick with your praise and slow with your criticism. We are all children of God and we need to learn to deal with each other, gently, kindly, patiently. In a loving, peaceful way, bearing with one another and measuring our words to bring joy. That sounds like the fruit of the Spirit. A kindly word after a service and a more measured reflection are far more helpful than a quick word and a feeling of regret later. We won’t always get it right, but I can almost guarantee we’ll know before you that it’s not right and what we did wrong and we will be our own greatest critic, we don’t need another one. In fact it could be your word of encouragement afterwards that spurs us on to do better next time, but almost certainly your word of criticism will crush us and we’ll be unlikely to try anything again, or at least for a long time. When we do though, when we do get it right, when God meets us, when the Spirit moves, how wonderful that is and those days where it didn’t go so well are quickly forgotten, my plea is give us a chance to get there though because when we do we all see a little bit of heaven.

I would like to finish with a short piece I found recently regarding all-age worship and involvement in church. If St Anne’s were to have a manifesto I hope it would look something like this:

We believe in God who created us for him and for each other.

We believe in Jesus who welcomes young and old without exception.

We believe in the Holy Spirit who transforms the life of all believers, young and old.

We believe in meeting God most intimately in the lives of those who are different from ourselves.

We believe in a church which reflects God, the three in one.

We believe we grow closer to Jesus as his disciples when we:

  •  worship God in a variety of ways, both familiar and different.
  • worship in community as well as individually.
  • worship in a way that encourages everyone to participate.
  • worship in a way that both enriches and is enriched by our everyday life.
  • worship God with all that we are.

 Reproduced from ‘All-Age Worship’ by Lucy Moore, (The Bible Reading Fellowship, 2010, p11/p12

Rev Dave Gough

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