Our renovation work has continued at a pace all through the summer months. The church is starting to look fantastic again - most of the outside work is almost complete. The walls have been cleaned and repointed, and the new slates on the roof look absolutely brilliant!
The inside work still has a way to go, but the Building Committee have started discussing paint colours, wood stains and floor finishes - all signs that we’re getting there.
Here are a few pictures of the current stage of work.
We are now halfway through our timetable of renovation work, and it’s all going well to plan so far. We’ve had a lot done, which you can see in the following photos. Our roof has been stripped and replaced; the inside has been re-plastered; the electrics are being replaced; the exterior walls are being re-pointed - and so much more!
Thank you to all those who have supported the work and fundraising in any way, there’s still a way to go - but with God’s help and blessings, we’ll get there soon!
The contractors are only two weeks into their work, but already they’re making great headway into the job. The furniture is already away and lots of scaffolding has been erected to start the internal work. The plaster is largely stripped and the false ceiling is down too. The photos show the scale of the work already done, and give us an impression of how large the contract is!
There’s still a long way to go - but we’ve made a great start!
It’s been a while coming, but we’re finally at the point of beginning our work at the gchurch building. On 28th January 2019, the contractors moved in to the building to start taking it apart to renovate it. At first it will seem that all we’re doing is making matters worse - but we’ll need to keep the faith (if you’ll pardon the pun)!
As businesses would say in a situation like this, it’s still “Business as Usual” The building may be closed for the best part of a year, but the ‘church’ is still there - we’ll simply be meeting in the Parish Hall on Sunday mornings at 11am. We had our first in this series of meetings yesterday, and the atmosphere and worship was just as excellent as ever. Please feel free to come along and join us as we continue to worship God.
We will use this period as an opportunity to renew our faith, our worship, our church culture, our very reason to be God’s people in this Parish. It is our desire to continue to welcome all visitors, and treat all our guests as friends by the time they leave us.
Here are a few photos to keep us reminded of how the church looked after we had removed the pew runners, kneelers and all the books. Thanks to the whole team who worked very hard to move everything across from the church to the Parish Hall.
All our gifts that we’ve been blessed with will still be remembered in the new and improved building, but as a vestry, the decision was taken to not ask anyone to donate anything to replace earlier gifts. We will reuse anything that we can, and anything that needs to be replaced will be done so by the church itself.
It's Harvest time in Aghavea - and the kids ad adults responded brilliantly to the challenge of making Veggie people and animals. The church has been decorated superbly, and looks (and smells) fantastic.
We give thanks to God for his eternal provision of our food, our clothing, our families - and most of all for his free gift of Salvation!
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 We are now entering what I refer to as the second stage of settling in at the rectory. We've moved in, and put our furniture in roughly the rooms where we thought they'd fit and suit - and now that we've been here for almost ten weeks, we've started to realise that our initial thoughts might need to be revisited. In particular, we soon discovered that our snakes and lizards needed to be brought back out so that we could see them better, so we have had to rearrange our furniture to bring them out into the open. I assume that this isn't the only change we will make - who knows where half of our furniture will end up! We all do this with all aspects of our lives. We start out with a routine that seems to work, but gradually make changes to find-tune it to make it work for ourselves as circumstances change. Sometimes the changes are gradual, but sometimes they can involve a system shock, like moving home or job, or coping with a sudden illness or death. We sometimes do it subconsciously, sometimes forcing ourselves to become accustomed to the change. Some changes are easy, others more difficult. Sometimes we need to consider our spiritual lives, to check if our routine still works for us. We need to be sure that we haven't unconsciously changed our routine and lost our connection with God. We could make ourselves so busy that we've forgotten to read our Bible passages, or that we've gone a day or two without speaking to God in our prayers. In our verse from Psalm 27 - David prays that he will continue to keep his connection with God - and this was something that he sought after. We should take our lead from David - and be constant in our prayers to ask God to keep us near him. We often take it for granted that we will always be in a relationship with God, and after the first excitement of our relationship - as we start the second stage of settling - we need to start looking carefully at our relationship to ensure that it continues to survive and thrive. What do we ask of God? To we take assumptions, and sometimes take our relationship for granted? Do we need to make conscious changes our spiritual routine to make sure we remain connected?
"Back to school" - the words children dread! It means a return to early mornings, packed lunches, and playgrounds - and the inevitable routine of study and homework! To the parents, it means a return to the school runs, more traffic, and cleaning and ironing clothes, trying to remember how to spell certain words (is it i before e, or e before i?), and tricky maths problems again.
For some of our young people it means a new chapter - starting in a new school, college or university. It may signal a long year facing exams next year, or for some of our younger kids, it may even mean Transfer tests in November. Children seem to be under more and more pressure to perform each year, and feel that they must succeed at all costs - and we need to assure them that they should just t=do their best, and expect nothing more of them.
Even in our Church life, "Back to school" signals the end of the summer period. For our own parish in Aghavea, it signals the re-start of the various organisations - Bowls, GFS, Sunday School, Mothers' Union, Bible Study, to name but a few. As these organisations start back, please take a moment to pray for the different leaders and members. Each organisation needs a lot of effort in maintaining the momentum, and we should always be thankful of the skill and dedication required to keep each one alive and growing.
We wish the different organisations well this year - and welcome any who would like to join us on the different adventures ahead. All the news will be included in our service sheet each week.
We've had a busy few weeks throughout July. While other parishes may take that time to "put their feet up", Aghavea parish has been hosting events to raise money towards the restoration of our church.
We had a very successful time at the Twelfth Celebrations in Brookeborough, raising almost £4000, and then we had an extremely enjoyable sponsored walk, which has raised almost £1500. We are looking forward to bag packing in Asda on 11th August from 10am to 6pm, and hope that we can raise another significant amount then too!
Whilst it's important for us to raise these terrific amounts of money towards a very significant project that we will be undertaking soon, there's something much more important underlying everything we do. Each event gives us the opportunity to fellowship together outside a traditional church setting, getting to know each other better. This is so important for any Christian community, and a fantastic chance for the new rector to get to know his congregation so much quicker!
While I am personally delighted in the amounts of money that we've raised, I am far more encouraged by the teams of people who have turned up to help in any way - and we would all welcome everyone who will come and join us in the future!
The team of walkers and ladies who prepared the refreshments on the evening of the Sponsored Walk
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us My Verse for the Day this morning reminded me that we do not work in isolation, but rather as part of a team. That team was very evident recently when a group of men and women gathered at the parish halt carefully pore over the plans for the renovation of the church building. They carefully considered the individual plans, and the details in the small print, as well as the large plans - and they thought about the different ways it would affect the building. As we started, we reminded ourselves that we were simply the latest guardians of the building in the parish - and that we were preparing the way for the future. We gave thanks for the many generations of worshippers that had gathered in the church throughout the years in the parish, and we prayed that we would leave the building in a good condition for generations to come. Although this is the specific case for our church building - it's actually the case for our faith. We are called to serve the Gospel at this time, but we are surrounded by the prayers and examples of all who have loved and served God at any time, both before Jesus and afterwards. We stand on their example, and try to leave the Kingdom closer than when we arrived. We can all experience events, but we can only be witnesses if we actually tell others about what we've seen! I hope we can all be witnesses for God, by experiencing Him and telling all those about what he has done for us.
1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
Dear Mom and Dad,
Our leader, Mr. Cobb, told us all to write an email to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and worried about us. We are OK.
Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Chad when it happened. Oh yes, please call Chad's mother and tell her he is OK. He can't write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search and rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found him in the dark if it hadn't been for all the lightning.
Our leader Mr. Cobb got mad at Chad for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Chad said he did tell him but it was during all the shouting at the fire, so he probably didn't hear him. Did you know that if you put gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn't burn, but one of our tents did. Also, some of our clothes are unrecognizable. Johnny is going to look weird until his hair grows back.
We will be home on Saturday if Mr. Cobb gets the bus fixed. It wasn't his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked ok when we left. Mr. Cobb said that with a bus that old you must expect something to break down; that's probably why he can't get insurance on it. We think it's a neat bus. He doesn't care if we get it dirty, and if it's hot, sometimes he lets us hang out the windows. It gets really hot in there now since the highway patrolman stopped and asked us to close all the windows.
Mr. Cobb is a neat guy. Don't worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he was teaching Terry how to drive. But he only let him drive on the mountain roads where there wasn't any traffic. All we ever saw up there were huge logging trucks.
This morning all the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Mr. Cobb wouldn't let me because I can't swim, and Chad was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Mr. Cobb doesn't get crabby like some other leaders we've had. He didn't even get mad about us forgetting our life jackets.
Guess what? We have all passed our first aid merit badges. When Dave dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also, when Wade and I threw up Mr. Cobb said it probably was just a touch of food poisoning from eating leftovers. He said they got sick that way with the food they ate in prison. I'm so glad he got out and became our leader. He said he figured out how to get things done better while he was doing his time.
I have to go now. We are going into town to buy some day old specially priced chicken for dinner. Don't worry about anything. We are fine.
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16
We've just experienced the Twelfth celebrations in Brookeborough. It was a day of colour, noise, and people from all over our little corner of the Province. It was a very good-natured and peaceful event, which was enjoyed by folks from every part of the village. In short - this is everything that is good and true about our society, in that we can come together in peace, and share our culture. There was a distinct absence of the violence that dogged the celebrations in other parts of the country.
It was also a day of burgers, hotdogs, salads and queues! The weather was almost perfect for the day, which brought large amounts of supporters along to our beautiful village. They needed to be fed, and many of the local churches took the opportunity to extend a hand of friendship, fellowship and food in the attempt to raise some much needed funds for the different projects.
Aghavea was no different in that respect - catering in the local Orange Hall, and serving burgers and hotdogs in probably the best site in the middle of the village. While we were trying to raise funds for our Building Project, it was my prayer that we were doing more than just that. Had we raised a single pound in profit, I would have considered it a success if we were able to reach out to those in particular need at a particular time. In our case it was feeding the hungry, providing for the thirsty - yet we also had the chance to reach out a hand of friendship and love to those whom we served.
Jesus asked his disciples to feed the multitudes at one stage. They had followed Jesus out into the fields and hills, far away from the towns and villages. They were hungry, and few had prepared for the long day. The disciples were horrified when Jesus asked them to feed the 5000 men, women and children! Where would we find food at this hour? How would we pay for it? Yet Jesus had a plan!
OK, so we had no miracles today. We used the burgers and sausages that we had already brought along with us. We had taken bookings for the "sit-down" meals. We were prepared in advance - yet that makes no difference. We were working on behalf of the church - which means we were working on behalf of God. We fed the people, and offered the same experience to the disciples that day - namely, here's the physical food, but the spiritual food is much more important!
I would like to thank all those who helped out today in any way - those who cooked, those who served, those who tidied up, those who gave donations, those who helped prepare the halls and stall, those who came along and allowed us to fellowship with you in any small but wonderful way. I hope you enjoyed the hard work just as much as I did. I hope this enthuses you to do more, just as it did for me!
Jesus still asks his church to feed his people - not just physically but also spiritually. Let's get cracking on this together!
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”
I wonder if you've ever experienced a moment when you found yourself wishing that you could stay there forever. Possibly seeing your children being born; a fantastic experience that you've had on holiday; holding a loved one's hand as they are ill or dying; a time when you thought you could live in that instance forever.
Unfortunately that is not possible for us in our human terms. Time moves on inexorably. There's nothing we can do to stop it. Each of us gets older at the same pace, although I've spoken to a few that would try to debate that fact! Each day brings its own challenges and opportunities; some we take, so we leave, so we try to deal with - and each day we move on to the next.
In our lives, we allow some days to pass just like the last one, but with a different outfit. We think that each day is the same as the rest, as we get caught in a rut of our own making. We can look at our work lives, our family lives, our own particular set of circumstances, and simply think that it's the same as ever. We can get lost in our own lives, losing focus of where we are, where we're going, and even who we are. As the rut gets more travelled along, it simply gets deeper, and we wonder how we will ever get out.
I recently had the privilege of leading a funeral for a very close friend, and I used the above passage as my text. My friend had always had a positive outlook on life, and seemed to never find himself in that rut of "sameness". He always looked at each day as an opportunity to do something different. That's not to say that he was an adventurer! He worked on his farm all his life, and to the outside world it would look like his work was never done. As soon as he finished on job, another was crying out for attention. As one season ended, another began immediately. He always looked at each day as if it was a completely different experience.
That's how we should look at God's love. We have gotten used to having God's grace in our lives, and we sometimes become jaded into thinking that we've "seen it all before". That's not what the Bible teaches us - God's grace and mercies are brand new ever single day! That means that each new day we should experience God's grace in a new way, unlike anything we've experienced before! It's no wonder that the author exclaimed "great is your faithfulness"!
We need to experience God in a new way - not to fall into a rut of sameness with God. God wants and offers a new relationship every day - start accepting it with a new enthusiasm each day!
Last night was Good Friday, the final night of our Scripture Fulfilled series for Holy Week. We focused on what is perhaps the clearest prophecy of the cross in the whole of the Old Testament - Isaiah 53.
Last night we gathered around the Lord's Table to rejoice in the Lord's provision for us - his body broken and blood shed for us. Rev Colin preached from Genesis 22, the offering of Isaac, to show how the Lord provides the substitute for us.