Advent Gatherings

Coventry Winter Night Shelter

Over the summer I was please to help induct Bernardo Cortes as the new project co-ordinator for Coventry Winter Night Shelter. We talked about the past and the future; the changing shape of homelessness in the city and he began learning about the ways that people begin sleeping rough.

At the same time we have seen the numbers coming to Wednesday Kitchen growing. Many are homeless, or housed in hostels, B&B’s or inadequate housing. I can’t quote you figures, but anecdotally I would suggest that the need for Night Shelter, alongside the provision of food and safe places is growing as austerity bites at the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. It may well give us opportunities to serve – but I really wish we did not have to do so.

So, Coventry Winter Night Shelter is getting ready to open in December. St. Columba’s will again provide the venue for Saturday Nights and we are seeking volunteers, money and prayers.

  • We hope that many who volunteered in previous years will return, but inevitably there is a turnover. So, if you feel that you can help please let me know and submit your details via here We especially struggle for men to cover the Night Shift.
  • It costs us about £1200 per year to host. I’m pleased that has been covered from around the United Reformed Churches and would ask people and churches to contribute once again.
  • Prayer matters. Some of you will not be able to volunteer – but that does not stop you praying. If, you let me know that you are committing to pray then I can also give you particular prayer points. At the moment pray for Bernardo as he settles in; for the recruitment of an Assistant; for the recruitment and training of volunteers; for Natalie as she puts together the shift rota for St. Columba’s; and for all who find themselves sleeping rough and seeking shelter.

Jesus may have said that the poor will always be with us – but that does not means we have to accept the fact, or shrug our shoulders and do nothing. He also said, “When I was hungry you gave me food … when I was a stranger you welcomed me.”

be blessed



July’s Church Meeting agreed to seek funding to redevelop the building. It is a brave step. As a congregation we are increasingly vulnerable but we serve vulnerable people. We hope that setting out on such a path will bring newcomers into the church, but there are no guarantees. It was good that some felt that we should close down now, and that others felt that we have to see whether the redevelopment can happen – but from everyone there seemed to be a view that if we can not raise the money for redevelopment, then it will be time to leave. Thank you for this faithful step – lets see where it ends.

The Meeting also agreed to ask members and friends to make a significant donation. We want to be able to show potential funders that we are committed and one way to do that is by being prepared to put hands in our own pockets. Donation can be made by cheque or by a promise and will be different for different people so we would ask you to give what you can – but we are not setting any targets. If we get to a point where we realise that this project is not going to happen we will return the donations so long as you have given it in a way that means we can record the gift. So we would ask you to make any donations or promises via Moira Hill. We can delay making the Gift Aid claim on these donations for 4 years, so will only do so when we know the work is going ahead. You can use the attached form to make a donation or record a pledge to be redeemed in future.Building Fund Promise – 1

So we invite you to join the adventure. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you: seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” It is time to Ask, Seek and Knock we are looking for money and for people who want to join a brave, faithful church and serve a whole range of vulnerable people in the way God calls each who follows Christ.

Feasts & Festivals: A Lent Gathering

“So if Lent is a fast, why is our Lent Theme all about Feasts and Festivals?” Well, partly because the United Reformed Church is following that theme in various guises throughout the year, but also because Lent is as much about feasting as it is about fasting. Each Sunday is a feast day, and not counted in the 40 fast days of Lent. Our Lent Gatherings will be a time to reflect on the way our journeys can take various turns, that some are feasts and others fasts but all take us towards the greatest festival of all … Easter.

The sessions have been inspired by the wonderful prayers in this years Prayer Handbook, for example

We pick up the stones

of the hurts of the world

violence and poverty,

disaster, and starvation

wanting you to turn them into bread;

Carol Dixon, URC Prayer Handbook 2017


God so loved …

this home for humanity,

rich varieties of shape, colour, language, identity, story

that God sent his son not to condemn but to save.

May we value all of humanity with the same love,

share the same willingness for sacrifice

and make the same risks

that God makes for us

                  Vaughan Jones,  URC Prayer Handbook 2017

In the midst of a fast, we will enjoy a feast of poetry, song, prayer and discovery. We will touch, look, taste and imagine. We will roam from wilderness to garden, pausing at a well as darkness falls and we catch our breath. Come and join in

be blessed, Craig

Ansty Road United Reformed Church

On 3rd July 2016 Stoke Chapel and Wyken United Reformed Churches will come together into a new church. We have decided that we will be called Ansty Road United Reformed Church as the Hocking Road building that we will use as our main base fronts onto Ansty Road and Ansty Road is the main road running through the area.

From 3rd July we will meet at 10:30am each Sunday with Communion on the 2nd Sunday in the month. We are planning when and how other activities will continue and will announce those in due course.



Welcoming Ben

Ben 1601Ben 1601We have a new addition to our family. Today Ben arrived. He is a 3 year old Spaniel cross, with jet black hair and lovely sweet manner. I can see already that he is intelligent, a quick learner and will do anything for a food related bribe! He was found as a stray and there have been two previous attempts to re-home, both of which failed because he is boisterous, he will need attention – although as I type he seems quite happy lying in his bed under the stairs waiting for me to move out of the study. So we know we have taken on a challenge, it will not be fair on Ben for us to give up on him or for us not to give him the attention he needs. Already we are making adjustments to some of our plans and some of our routines, to take Ben into account and ensure that he feels welcome with us. It’s an enormous responsibility!

We are at that period in the Christian year where we hear about Jesus calling people to be with him, to become part of a new family, being made welcome in God’s kingdom. It calls for a change in routine, in expectations, in outlook. Jesus comes from God and is made welcome in some homes but not in others, is he made welcome in ours? Are we prepared to change our plans, our routines, because Jesus has come into our lives and calls us to think differently and follow faithfully? When we welcome a new follower of Jesus into our nice tight knit Christian Family are we prepared to make the adjustments that will make each person truly welcome for who they are – or are we expecting others to just fit into our nice comfortable routines?

I can hear Ben beginning to stir, perhaps he needs a bit of attention before I have some dinner. I can hear Jesus sniffing around our world, perhaps he needs a bit of attention as well.

Be blessed



This is a first in what I hope will become a regular communication to keep everyone informed on decisions we have made towards merging Stoke Chapel and Hocking Road, Wyken. And to share questions we need to answer together.

So First -Some dates for your diaries

10:30 am 31 January 2016 – a Joint Service at Hocking Road followed by a short Joint Church Meeting that will look for a consensus (or at least a shortlist) on a name and listen to views on progress so far.

10:00am 19 June 2016 – The final Service as Wyken United Reformed Church. A Communion Service led by Craig.

10:30am  26 June 2016 – Final service at Stoke Chapel. A Communion Service led by Craig. (No service at Hocking Road).

Saturday 2nd July – Margaret Botterill organising a party at Stoke.

10:30am Sunday 3rd July – First Service of the Merged Church. A Communion Service led by Craig.

10:30am will become our normal start time for Sunday Morning.

Elders have not discussed but at Church Meeting Craig will suggest that 2nd Sunday becomes our normal Communion Sunday as there tend to be less clashes with holiday weekends than occur on a 4th Sunday.

Synod Decisions

The Synod Pastoral Committee have concurred with our decisions to merge the churches.  Synod Trust have agreed to the sale of Harefield Road and will instruct an agent. They have also agreed that the money from the sale of Harefield Road can be used to re-order Hocking Road and to seek shop premises in Stoke. We need to do so within 5 years.

Elders Decisions

The Elders have had one joint meeting and have set meeting dates for  15 Feb, 4 Apr, 6 June but will communicate in-between as necessary.

Craig will meet with organists, Over 50’s/Senior Fellowship, Womens Own, Coffee ’n Chat to work out future plans.

Craig, Roger and Tony will draft a new Constitution.

Tony will liaise with Charity Commissioners.

Nigel and Caroline will discuss merging finances – when and how.

Ray and Mary will discuss Pulpit Supply.

The furniture we will keep from Stoke, will be the new chairs, the coffee tables and cabinet from the lounge, the Go-pack tables, the piano, the prayer table, Margaret’s pictures. Which means that at Wyken we will dispose of the metal framed chairs and the trestle tables, but still need to make decisions on other items.

Communion Furniture 

There is a view that we should dispose of both communion tables, all chairs and lecterns and make a fresh start. There is a view that we should keep one or another. There is a view that we ask a carpenter to merge them into something new. We will listen to views when we meet together on 31 January.

Naming our New Church!

We need something that is distinctive and descriptive and that could also be used at Ball Hill. We need something we are happy with and can help us create a distinct image. The header that Craig has used on the first page and at Joint Services shows how we can sub-title as “The United Reformed Church in Stoke and Wyken” and therefore describe our denomination and location without needing to put that in the title. The suggestions so far are :-

  • Ansty Road

Official address is 210-214 Ansty Road

  • Caludon Chapel

Castle, School and the name used by the Anglican Parish.

  • Wyken and Stoke United Church
  • Stoke and Wyken United Church
  • Stoken
  • East Coventry

Hopefully all self-explanatory!

  • New Chapter

A fresh beginning for us and for anyone who joins with us

  • Labyrinth

We will continue to develop our use of the Labyrinth

  • Apple Tree

We are growing one, some biblical imagery.

  • The Well

Meeting place, refreshment, lots of biblical imagery

  • Shepherd’s Chapel

We follow the Shepherd, and Luke 2:10-14 tells shepherd story and link to address above.

  • Martha Chapel

A biblical character who creates welcome

  • Bethany Chapel

biblical place of welcome, learning and resurrection – home to Martha, Mary and Lazarus

  • Barnabas Chapel

biblical character who encourages and reconciles

  • Sanctuary Chapel

Place of worship, safety, renewal

  • United Christian Chapel

We are a united, Christian place of worship

  • United Christian Ministries

our purpose is to bring Christian ministry

  • United Christian Fellowship

we are a Christian fellowship

  • Imagine!

I’ve been using this as a space saver, challenge, question, but it’s grown on me as a possible name that can be played with in many imaginative ways.

  • Community Chapel

A community of disciples serving local communities.

  • Immanuel Chapel
  • Christ’s Chapel

These names have been reproduced on a separate sheet. Please circle up to three that you would be happy with or add another. Put your completed sheet in the box left at each church and we will see if a couple of names emerge as favourites and hope to create a shortlist by the time we meet on 31 January. If any additional names are suggested we will gauge opinions on 31 January to see if they will be added to the shortlist.

And for those who aren’t happy with any of these names – some thoughts that have come to me whilst typing, Caludon means Bald Hill and we also want to establish something on Ball Hill – is there a play on Hill we could use? Is there an old name for the whole hill that is now Walsgrave & Ansty Roads?

The Sowe Valley loops around our area .

Our mission priorities talk about Welcoming, Praying, Celebrating, Growing, Encouraging, Witnessing

We have a rare opportunity to bring fresh ideas. Be prayerful, imaginative and think to the future.

CNM 2 January 2016

The Wyken Labyrinth

The front lawn at Hocking Road, Wyken used to have a willow tree in the middle of it, but it had become unruly, difficult to cut and the roots were getting under the building, so we cut it down and looked at the big open space that had appeared – what could we do with it? At the same time we had put a low fence around the area so as to discourage people from cutting across it and creating a muddy path – but we didn’t really want to say, “Keep out” we wanted to say “Come in”. We talked about landscaping and we talked about prayer and then some said, “What about a Labyrinth?” on first hearing it was a daft idea – it’s an open space next to a busy road, with lots of pedestrians passing, especially before and after school, how could anyone use it as a place of quiet prayfulness? And yet, why not? Of course some people said, “What’s a Labyrinth?’ and so Mhari, a student on placement, brought us a portable Labyrinth and enough people saw the value to say, “Yes, lets do it”. At the same time Synod told us we had to use money from the Bell Green Fund, it had been left to the churches of East Coventry to use for Mission when Bell Green URC closed a number of year ago. The labyrinth would be a landmark, a focal point, a way of exploring player, holding quiet days, retreats – it seemed a good use of the money. And you know what, it’s place next to a busy road is perfect, it’s a not a place to retreat away from the world, but a place in which we can be aware of God-with-us dwelling in the midst of busy, chaotic, travelling lives. It’s a place a peace amongst imperfection.

We explored various ways to do it, something green, something easy to maintain, something simple. We were scared off by a professional quote and then wondered if we could do it ourselves. And so we have designed a labyrinth that will consist of bricks sunk into the grass to create the lines, until you reach the centre point where there will be heathers, herbs and lavenders, scents and colour. The lines are now marked out, the pattern set and this weekend (May 3rd to 5th 2013) we will dig out the lines, sink the bricks, soil the borders and create a labyrinth. The “we” is flexible, there are some indications of help, but the more the merrier will be appreciated – from 10am on Saturday, noonish on Sunday and 10am on Monday – spades, muscles, cakes and enthusiasm welcomed!

After that, we need to use it and encourage others to use it, but that is for the future ….

First Monday at the Manse

“To start reading Revelation is to step into a strange unfamiliar world of angels and demons, of lambs, lions, horses and dragons.” (John Stott, 1990) Yet those who came along to the inaugural First Monday at the Manse decided that they wanted to look at Revelation whilst learning more about Jesus. So, with the help of John Stott’s book What Christ thinks of the Church, we are going to study the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation 2 & 3, letters which are less about angels and demons and more about the church of Jesus Christ. We will look at these churches, the issues touched on, how their life relates to Jesus’ life as told in the gospels and see if we can find revelations about 21st century church life and how we witness to Jesus today.

This new venture will replace Eve at Wyken and mark the end of the Tuesday Housegroup at St. Columba’s that has met for many years. We hope that putting the groups together with new people from any of the churches will help to create a more sustainable group than we have had in the past. My thanks to those who persisted with Eve but we now look forward to new life growing out of an ending and would really encourage everyone to come and join with us so that we can learn together and from each other.

Our Lent Gatherings will look even more specifically at Jesus. We will follow a course entitled Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. These will take place on Thursday afternoon and evening at Warwick Road and we would encourage you to come and join with friends from the ten Coventry URC’s for those five weeks.

Let anyone who has an ear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God. (Rev 2:7)

Music Quiz

So you think you know about

Music Quiz?

(with Tea & Cakes)

and here is a hint to the round titles









£5 per person. Teams of 4-6

7:30pm Friday 8th February,

Hocking Road, Wyken CV2 3EY

contact Isabel 07779586989

or Craig 02476 264264

Music Quiz Poster