awesome Eucharist

Baptist communionThe end of term at the Koinonia Federation is always busy for everyone, the chaplain included. Being the end of an academic year, there are people moving on and new people joining. This week there were will be both sadness as we say goodbye to some great people and excitement as we look ahead to working with a new team.

One of the exciting things for me this week as chaplain was presiding at the first ever school Eucharist in our secondary school. During the preceding two weeks I had the pleasure of teaching all 6 classes an RE lesson on The Eucharist. This was an interactive lesson which the students responded amazingly well to with some great conversations as we discussed the meaning and names of Eucharist across the Christian tradition. One student summed it up by saying … ‘So … Rev Rob … you are saying this one meal is the same thing but we all call it a different name and think some slightly different beliefs about what is happening … but they are all the same and all equally valid?’ Job done!

During the lessons we came up with a practice of ensuring all students and staff felt included in this celebration. We decided that people should have the freedom to come forward or stay seated. We discussed that some might want to come forward forward for a blessing rather than receive bread. We then discussed that some may feel left out who did not want to receive bread or a blessing and so decided people should have the freedom to come forward and say no thank you or simply shake their head.

On Monday morning we celebrated Eucharist for the first time. The students were fantastic in their level of respect and there was an amazing atmosphere of inclusion as most students came forward, some of faith and some of none, to receive bread, or a blessing or simply to come forward as part of the school family. There was a tangible sense that this was a special time for all of us who were there.

Sometimes being school chaplain means you get the privilege of being involved in some amazing things.

 

and next there was lego …

The busy weekend continued after Saturday as we hosted our second making@church service at HTGP on Sunday.
lego july pic
I think the postcard is pretty self explanatory as to what this is about. I got this amazing idea from a colleague, Peter O’Connell, and it seems to work amazingly well in this community.

making@church is our response at HTGP to the changing demographic on the Peninsula. Until quite recently the village looked like it was overwhelmingly populated by young professionals … certainly the people waiting at bus stops indicated that.
Recently, in the last four or so months, we are seeing many more young families at the bus stop and doing school runs.
Making@church is our relevant response to what we observe happening around us.

The format is simple and non labour intensive … sing a couple of worship songs, tell the particular bible story in two different ways, e.g. lego video and Godly play style and then give each family unit a box of lego with the simple instruction to ‘build something that you are inspired to build after hearing that story’ … after around 20 minutes we then show our models, pray using lego, eat pizza, receive a blessing and go home.

I love this format of service …. not just because it is simple … but because this is one of the few things I have seen church done worship wise that really DOES bring the family unit together. There is no child / adult divide. We have whole families building a model and helping each other … it’s simply beautiful to see.

A great comment on Sunday afternoon was ‘this is better then other church!’ …. I’ll take that as an indictor that we may have hit on something here on the peninsula.

On Sunday, we looked at the Parable of the Good Samaritan …. below are some lego interpretations of the story …. note the ‘Police Donkey’

what a weekend

poster latest .jpegIt’s been a pretty amazing weekend!
For the last few months I have been pretty involved in the planning and running of the first ever Residents Association Summer Fayre. I was part of an amazing team that caught a big vision of local traders, local artists, local musicians, local foodies …. you get it …. local local local …. getting together to put on some sort of festival which would be enjoyed by local people. The vision for the event was that local people would have an opportunity to showcase themselves o that local residents could then make contact with them in some capacity throughout the rest of the year.

We received lottery funding, we received sponsorship from some amazing people and organisations and we put on a pretty cool and great event! We had 400 – 500 people throughout the day.

I had some amazing conversations with people and particularly loved the conversation which went something like ‘I’ve got friends who are Christian and vote Tory …. how does that work?!!!’ You know I would have agreed wholeheartedly with this person …. (now don’t go bashing me Christian Tory friends …. because I am not saying you ain’t Christian or rubbish like that …. I’m just saying I don’t get your voting choices! Two different things!)

The atmosphere at the event was amazing. Lots of people talking to each other and some people now, a few days later, making links and sharing conversations of Facebook …. which has got to be good as talking is how community starts …. and we need more community here.

Some people did ask why there was no Holy Trinity logo on the sponsor list considering the amount of time I had given  …. my response was that, for me, the role of church is to bless community and help community to grow and to inspire community … but most of all to serve community. We don’t need recognition for people to know we are serving … that should show in our attitude of being willing to just get involved and bless. I hope we did.

So … my hopes from this is that community will develop, that we will interact more on the peninsula and that we, as church, can understand more about how we can bless this community. Working behind the scenes to help this community grow is something that church does , or should do, and it’s exciting to see. Obviously we also want HTGP to grow (you’d surely expect a vicar to want that!) and maybe when people see us they will become interested … but if they don’t … nothing will change …. we will continue to serve, and to bless, and to get involved … because that is what we are called to do here. That will not stop.

Thanks planning team, thanks musicians, thanks stall holders, thanks funders, thanks concierge and porters and village manager, thanks bouncy castle people, thanks millers ark people, thanks food vans …. and thanks to those of you who came.

gpcu pt. 7: hanging around … or holy loitering … maybe!

DSC_0415In a place like the Greenwich Peninsula it can take a while to meet people, and it is quite rare for me to see the same person in the same place. In all of my other locations I have intentionally loitered, or hung aro

und, in various places in the hope I would meet someone to chat withor engage with someone who might be looking to explore their faith is some new way. In other locations I have found the same people in the same place at various times … creatures of habit maybe .. but not here on the Peninsula.

I have done a lot of ‘holy loitering’ in a variety of places …
in two particular coffee shops
in two particular pubs
in the park sitting on benches
by the bus stops at particular times
in the ‘village’ square

I have now been doing this for 23 months
a long 23 months
but a 23 months where I have kept putting myself in places
looking for opportunities
seeing little signs of encouragements
consistently and without hesitation
returning to the same places

and in the last few weeks, after 23 months of ‘holy loitering with intent’
I have become noticed
In the pub recently someone said ‘are you the vicar?”
In a coffee shop recently someone asked for a blessing and then asked if I would pray for his daughter
At the bus stop recently I had a good conversation with a man and his family … and they came to HTGP the following Sunday evening
On the park recently someone asked me if it was ok for anyone to come to meditation … and what was the church service like
in the percent recently I was, again, asked to bless and pray for someone …

For 22 months I have been in the same places over and over again
In the last four weeks some people have started to notice
and they have noticed enough to engage with me
Just the last 4 weeks
Ido not have any idea if this will continue or cease as quickly as it started
But I can say …

Seems some places just need time!

gpcu pt 6: prayer & pastry

prayer and pastryOne of the first things I started after arriving at HTGP was Prayer and Pastry on a Friday morning. I think it is really important that a community has opportunities to come together to pray.

Prayer & Pastry is an opportunity for anyone that wants to to start their day in prayer and grab a sort of breakfast before launching themselves in to the day ahead.

Sometimes we use standard morning prayer from from Common Worship, while other times we replace some of the service of morning prayer with an examen type meditation.

Being able to check in with each other before getting on with the day is always good … particularly while consuming great (not just good … but GREAT Monmouth or Has Bean coffee and a pastry of some description).

So … Friday mornings … 8am …. maybe see you sometime?

 

gpcu pt 5 … mindful(l)

mindful-jpeg

Each Tuesday for the last 6 months or so we have been holding a meditation class in the NOW gallery. One of the struggles for someone like me on the peninsula is finding space that is suitable to offer stuff from … and the gallery staff have been amazing in supporting what we are trying to achieve by letting us use some space to offer a free meditation class for anyone that wishes to come. We get anywhere between 2 and 12 people coming to this class each week, although recently numbers have dropped off as a lot of things seem to do in the summer months.

Following on from yesterdays happiness/Ravensbourne post I was asked if I could run a mindful meditation class in the college for students and staff to attend as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. I did and we had nearly 40 people turn up. The majority of people were students, some were staff.

Most of the 40 had not tried any form of meditation before. I shared that I have used the John Main style of meditation a lot and they were happy to try that using a word to repeat over and over again for 20 mins. John main suggests ‘Maranatha’, which means ‘Our God comes’ … I also offer ‘Metanoia’, which means ‘change my heart / mind’. I like to offer this alternative (or any other word people may be comfortable with) so people with no faith feel comfortable to join as well as those with a particular faith.

I find that 20 mins is a good length for introducing people to silent meditation … and often I give a reminder at the 5 or 10 min markers to remind people to re focus on their word and let them know how much time has gone.

Although the meditation lasted only 20 minutes I was then questioned by students for a further 30minutes as the majority of them could see that what they had just been involved with connected with them spiritually and had a positive impact on reducing their level of stress. (I should have mentioned that before the meditation started I gave everything a credit card size piece of paper with the words foe and after on. I asked them to rate their stress level out of 10 before we started and then again after the 20 min silent meditation. Everyone had decreased by at least 2 points… e.g. 7 out of 10 to 5 out of 10).

It’s been great to hear that both the college staff and students have requested that I return to run another meditation class, and some are asking whether it could become more regular. So .. that is a case of watch this space to see what further impact we can have here in supporting students and the college.

It’s just amazing sometimes how God opens up little opportunities for us to be able to have a positive impact in our local communities and individual lives.

Meditation continues every Tuesday at the NOW gallery from 6 … we usually start at 6:10pm, finish at 6:30pm and sometimes some of us go for a bite to eat or a drink … or go home a little more de-stressed then when we arrived …. why not come try it out!

gpcu pt 4 …. are you HAPPY!?

One of the most amazing organisations on the Peninsula that have been a real support to me since being in post at HTGP have been Livability. Andy and Corin have been amazing in their regular check ins with me, coffees and just general chats about how we grow ‘church’ on the peninsula.

ravesOne of the great resources Livability has is The Happiness Course.
I Happiness-Course-Logo-750x350have been licensed to run this course and, after a few hiccups,  ran the course with Andy from Livability (who basically wrote it!) for students and staff at Ravensbourne College.

This was an excellent time and a good example of the local church and Livability working together … but also of the local church being a resource, a support … and bringing light into the stress full lives of and serving both the students and staff of the college. Senior staff even sat in on some of the sessions as they were intrigued and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive … so much so that the college have asked me to run another course in the autumn term as they can see the real benefit of having a course like this to be a tool in helping to reduce student, and staff, stress.

If you are looking for something to help you engage with your local community … seriously check out The Happiness Course as a possible resource for your setting.

While serving the college through the happiness Course another departmental staff member got sight of something else we offer and invited me in to the college … but that’s another gpcu for another (maybe tomorrow!) day!