Chaplain’s Reflections on 2017 and Looking forward, as we move through 2018.
A report is a way to look back – perhaps remembering the funny moments, or the profound and moving ones from the past 12 months, and to recall where God has led us and been at work. This report is also look forward to what we are doing and the direction we are going in, within this coming year.
Thank yous. I believe in thank you. I am thankful for all who serve in the church’s life across the past year. And with our move to the Nieuwe Erven more role have been created, and more bodies and hands needed to fill them.
I want to thank all who served and have served – in our set up teams, who come in at 0830 regularly… to Paul-Folkert and his work on sound. To those who serve as bible readers, intercessors, chalice assistants, who serve as altar server or prepare the altar for worship. To all our musicians. To those who serve in Sunday School, creche. To those who are stewards, serve refreshments. To our home group leaders and prayer ministry teams. To TACA leadership team who have met on average every 6 weeks with me, focusing on a range of inspiring and perhaps sometimes less inspiring but highly important topics concerning our congregations life and direction and future. Thank you for your service.
Looking back, a few moments.
2017 was a year of three away days.
* There was our time in, in February, the Roode Schuur in Nijkerk, our first time away for a day as a church. A full day it was. There was great good. Getting to know you activities. And shared our reflections about being and becoming a church of UP, IN, OUT.
Photos of our time in Nijkerk.
* In May, on Ascension Weekend, we went to the YMCA, on an incredibly warm weekend, a weekend full of BBQ, worship, testimony, teaching on the Holy Spirit, sleeping in big tents, and laser gaming, which brought out sides of people rarely seen! We plan to go back to that same venue, for a similar style of 24 hours on Ascension Weekend in May (11th – 12th May).
Do please attend our next Away Weekend.
Photos of our time in Leusden.
*And finally the TACA Leadership team along with the leaderships of Utrecht, Groningen and Zwolle, met for 24 hours at a venue near Deventer. The primary aim was to build and deepen relationships between the leadership teams. There was teaching on the church of Antioch in Acts 11. Sam van Leer – who is chaplain in Groningen but also was area dean (until the end of 2017), gave a good overview of the 12 Anglican chaplaincies here in the Netherlands. Each leadership team shared about the challenges and encouragements they face in their particular setting. It was a moving time together. On that time away, the TACA felt deeply moved, by the Spirit, for situation faced by the congregation in Zwolle, to consider how can we support them. We can say we are a young congregation. But they are a small, struggling one. And Paul reminds us – when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers (1 Corinthians 12:v26) – this is something TACA will continue to pray and discern this year. It includes some members of the team visiting a Zwolle Sunday service to spend more time with their leadership team on Sunday 1st July. Peter Gillies will also preach at one of their Sunday Services in April.
Pray for us as we reflect on what the Lord may be asking of us.
Photos of weekend…
in 2017, different members enjoyed positive good growing worship experiences at NEW WINE and at TAIZE in 2017.
There will be another group going to the New Wine Summer Conference this July. Why not come along? Check out the link…
Pictures from New Wine last year…
And photos of Taize…
At the start of this month, our Taize group shared briefly about their experiences last summer.
We have seen babies were born and baptised – Saralynn baptised in April, Timo last month when we squeezed in 156 people! And of course, having Isa, Filip, Benjamin, Sebastiaan newly part of the church family.
But sadness also was among us. A lady – Corrie – who had come often on Thursday evening Holy Communion – went home to be with the Lord last month. And Lodewijk whose presence is still missed by many here, and who, until his body and energy levels, could no longer manage it, faithfully assisting and helping with this congregation during the first half of last year… We will continue to remember in our prayers David and Nora, Stephen and Eline, and the kids as they continue in a new stage of grief.
And our move. TACA worked hard, many prayed in this congregation, and the Nieuwe Erven became the home the Lord led us to.
I think again of Paul, when he wanted to go to different parts of Turkey in Acts 16 and the Spirit, (we don’t know how but Paul knew it was He, the Spirit, who was stopping them) , stopped them until they were led to Troas. And from there, a new step – into Macedonia – but only at that place, in Troas, did the Lord reveal the next part of his kingdom plan.
I have been encouraged by how the move has gone, how this has become our new home. I feel we have settled here. Yes new demands were placed upon us, in setting up, and getting used to worshiping in a new venue. I am thankful for how so many people have stepped up and stepped into those areas and challenges.
Patrick and I are the two main people in contact with the coordinators of Nieuwe Erven. Do speak to Patrick with any questions or concerns.
But as we gather, we remember the Lord is here, his Spirit is here. We do continue to be open and keep contacts and research going to see if a move to a church building becomes possible. Part of the TACA – Peter, Stefan and Patrick – are focused upon that and will continue to be so during this year. But we enjoy good relations with the Nieuwe Erven which is a blessing and one of the things we have prayed for when we moved here.
Their only concern has been – recently – to ask that our members park not in the nearby streets but at the Kinderboerderij.
For this year. We want to continue to work out UP IN OUT in our church life.
We remember that:
UP is about worship and prayer
IN – Deep community and discipleship
OUT – Service of others and evangelism (locally but also nationally and playing our role in the global one holy catholic apostolic church).
For UP, we have done some work at the start of our time in the Nieuwe Erven on All Age – our All Age Booklets, children’s talk and beginning to shorten the sermon. This year we want to continue to work on that service to make it shorter and more accessible where possible for our children. We have the wonderful challenge of many of our children speaking only mainly Dutch.
Secondly we have introduced particularly three ways to deepen and focus our intercessions – our prayer wheel, praying for 5 non believers, and praying weekly for one of the 50 hardest countries to live as a Christian.
Prayer wheel – a way to pray, on a daily or weekly basis, in a focused way for different aspects of the life of All Saints.
As a church where kin is strong, and we would stand by each other and support one another, we think of those brothers and sisters of ours in Christ who are persecuted in different parts of the world for being Christian, whether in Latin America, Asia, Middle East, Africa. We seek to stand alongside them and support them in the ways that we can. So each week we pray for those suffering believers…
A video reminding us of some of the pressures Christians can face in the countries where persecution is greatest…
Thirdly, we established, in November weekly prayer ministry – having began this opportunity for prayer in May last year (2017). It is an opportunity to pray with two people in confidence – to bring thanksgiving, praise, lament, need, pain – and these trained people will pray with you and for you. We hope to grow the numbers involved in this ministry. To aid this, we will run a training course sometime between May and the start of the school holidays in July. But also in our home groups, the members will grow in experience as they also will have opportunities to pray with one another and to be prayed for.
Fourthly, we began at the end of last year, and we will use this coming year, seasonal liturgy booklets. So the Black Books will no longer be used in a Communion this year, only for morning prayer. The reasoning is – to hold the liturgy in one booklet instead of moving between books which makes it easier for visitors to follow the worship. Also we have a practical limitation on the space we have for our books. Also seasonal booklets will be consistent during the season – so no changing of service words for that particular church season. The Anglican church has a range of resources which allows us to pray more deeply the season we are in. So we will take the opportunity to use some of those options within the seasons. We pray or say the words in different ways but the heart of what we say will be same. Liturgy forms us as we use it, pray it. And so a variety of liturgy will form us and further deepen our walk with our Lord.
As said earlier, for our monthly All Age, the liturgy in that service and how we do it, will continue to change as we seek improve how we approach that worship, so all can worship together.
We started last autumn, 2017, our first home groups, after running a pilot series to work out how to run our groups as well as train our leaders. We are hoping to see further growth in numbers committing to an All Saints home group.
Our Men’s Group – led by Peter Gillies – in the coming year, will be focusing upon Spiritual Gifts, What motivates us (Heart) what are our natural and learned abilities , what is unique about our personality and the wealth of life experience we all bring to a congregation. SHAPE (S piritual Gifts, H eart, A bilities, P ersonality, E xperience) in short.
A challenge we seek to address is that of our post confirmation teenagers. How can we provide for them – both on a Sunday and during the week. This is not a new challenge but one we seek to move forward in during this year.
In, is about being a deep community. And that points us to caring for one another, as Jesus commanded, we are to love one another, help with each other’s burdens. We seek in the next couple of months to put a structure in place to help deepen and broaden our existing pastoral care. There is the current work of the chaplain, the work of home group leaders, the work of existing members, but we want to take it further. More of that will be shared in the coming weeks.
Safeguarding. The Church of England is emphasizing in recent months that a deep community, also involves the vulnerable adult or child being cared for and supported in a safe manner. This involves checks on those who work with such members, and good training for all involved in such ministries – all with the aim of each and every church being a safe secure place for young and old, vulnerable (which can mean a lot of things), or not.
Speak to a member of TACA to know more.
In the coming months, we want to appoint our own safeguarding officer – at present we rely upon the support and assistance of Ineke Cornet, the safeguarding officer in Utrecht. But it is important to discern the correct person and appoint our own officer to lead this important ministry.
One question we have only began to think about is how we can be a witness in this area in this year. We had a very encouraging time on Christmas Eve giving away a candle and card and ringing the bell and passing on this gift and inviting them to our worship. Involving our children as well in this work. Thanks to Sophie and Marianne for initiating that idea, as provoked by Ron’s sermon in December.
We want to work out further ways to be of service to and connect with this area. This involves being better and closer ecumenical links in this city.
As you know what each congregation is doing, then you see ways to support one another and to work together. We do not need to do everything alone.
In the past year, Angela and Jolanda have continued to visit a couple of ladies in the AZC seeking to support them. It was deeply encouraging to see how All Saints responded to assist Yartu, the lady whom Angela had been visiting, to help her settle now she had been granted status. That is just one example of how we serve others, how we do OUT. If you would like to become involved in this work with refugees have a word with either Angela or Jolanda.
But a question we have raised a few times. We know there is roughly 10000 expats and internationals in the Amersfoort area. How do we connect? We have a good web presence, twitter, facebook, but what can we do more… They cannot come if they do not know we are here. A focus for our year ahead will need to be PRESENCE, that folks know we are here and so they can come or tell others. To have a number of events to raise our profile and help us connect.
One such event is very soon. We have a Music Concert on Tuesday 3rd April led by Thomas Telford Academy. To be held in the Ansfridus Kerk. More information is on this website. It will be a very good evening and worth attending and bringing your friends and family.
That is OUT locally…
We continue to want to strengthen our overseas OUT – we have mentioned Edi Demo and the Illyricum Movement. Peter and I will return in late September to do some leadership training and teaching, as well as Grant to do some theological teaching, and Peter to do some input for teachers on ethics.
We have the invitation from Edi to bring a team or group to Albania next year, for a week, to assist in their work – we want to work on, if this is possible for All Saints at this time.
We want to continue to strengthen links with Compassion Netherlands. And also to grow our awareness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. For this latter point, we have two dates for our diaries:
June 30th – an event – either in Voorschoten or in Amersfoort – where an Open Doors UK speaker will come and share about the work among persecuted believers.
October 20th – in Utrecht, Open Doors Netherlands has its annual day when it shares about its work and how we can become involved in standing alongside the persecuted.
Naturally a significant focus will be this year, upon preparing to become an independent chaplaincy. When All Saints was planted the intention – from Utrecht and also from the Bishop and Archdeacon – was for All Saints to become self sustaining and self governing after three years – which would be in 2019. So Utrecht council and TACA and the senior staff will be exploring these matters this year. This movement will form a regular part of TACA and the main Chaplaincy Council’s work in the coming 12 months.
To close. To finish with some words from Jude…
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.