Message from our minister

There’s something about Mary

Mary is an old friend of mine. I describe her as an old friend, partly because I’ve known her since I was 10 years old – and partly because she is 50 years my senior! I met Mary at my local Methodist Church. She was an opinionated welsh lady with a nice line in sarcasm. After a Sunday morning service she would often come and check how I was – ask me my news and then make a joke at my expense! I used to appreciate these encounters and after a while I began to go and seek her out. If she was talking to one of the adults I would wait my turn, then tell her my news, she would make some sarcastic comments, I would laugh, then I would go and join the other lads and play football in the church hall.

18 years later I was being ordained in Scarborough – and Mary was one of the people who came to share the day with me! It was lovely to see her at my ordination service. The interesting thing was she wasn’t a minister, a preacher, or one of my Sunday school teachers, she was just a Christian lady who would take a couple of minutes each week to talk to me. Growing up, I heard a lot of talks in Church, and did a lot of learning exercises in Sunday school. It all helped to educate me but in truth I hardly remember any of it! I do, however, remember Mary, and others, who took an interest in me and helped to give me a picture of what a Christian is.

What do the young people in our churches think Christianity is? Is it “what the preacher was talking about?” Can they even remember what the preacher was talking about? If so will they still remember 3 months or 10 years down the line? What do our young people think Christianity is? Do they think Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts? Do they see it as a Sunday morning routine? This may not be a compelling enough vision of Christianity to help them stick with the church through their turbulent teenage years and their early adulthood.

We hope and pray that for our young people Christianity will be an ever growing relationship with their Saviour! To help them they need to know others who are in a relationship with Jesus. They need to see Christians being Christians – they need to know and feel supported by Christian people. Parents and grandparents are often not enough. Other role models are needed! Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and ministers will be important but don’t underestimate the simple act of greeting a young person and asking them how they are doing! That’s what Mary did for me and I appreciated it more than she could have anticipated. Mary’s conversations helped me to feel part of a church community – rather than just a Sunday morning routine.

Obviously, when talking with young people it’s important to make use of safeguarding guidelines. If you’re not sure about these then get your minister or safeguarding officer to take you through them.

Did you attend church as a child? How do you remember the adults you encountered? How do you think children and young people in our churches today will remember us in 30 years’ time? The funny thing is that if someone asks one of our young people “What do you think Christianity is?” ………They might just think of you!

(For some really interesting thoughts on the church and young people try reading ‘Sticky Faith’ by Dr Kara E Powell and Dr Chap Clark, published by Zondervan)

Rev Andy Clark
minister@ChessingtonMethodist.org.uk

A Message for our Minister

Hi everyone,

My name is Andy Clark, I’m 37 years old and I’ve recently been appointed as the new minister of Chessington Methodist Church. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful welcome I have received among you over the last few weeks. Moving to a new area can be daunting but it has been made much easier by seeing so many friendly faces. I have learned a few names too, but it will take a while so please forgive me if I’m still getting yours wrong!

I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, moved when I was 2 to Cheadle Hulme, not too far from Manchester (and became a Manchester United fan), and then moved to Nottingham where I spent my teenage years. Not having a glittering school career in Nottingham, I got a job as a shelf stacker working for the Co-op. It had never been my dream job, but it proved to be the best move I had ever made. I worked hard and enjoyed my work and, as a result, had a better Co-op career than school career.

Having moved away from the church as a teenager, it was while I was at Co-op that I really felt something was missing in my life. I tried numerous ways of filling this gap but all failed and I began to wonder if church was something to do with it. One Sunday night I went along to a local church. I was the last one in and the first one out and although nothing magic happened I felt led to go along again the next week.

Some of the songs, and some of the things the preacher said began to stay with me throughout the week when I went to work. This went on for a while until I was invited to join an Alpha course which was held in the home of a young couple who went to the church. The course talked about the potential of living in a relationship with God. I had always believed in God but somehow the course gave me the chance to think about faith in a way I hadn’t done before.

It was several weeks after the Alpha course, and after a sustained attempt to live what I thought was a Christian life, that I happened across a book by John Stott which spoke of nominal Christianity. It defined nominal Christianity as that which thinks Christianity is about ‘what I do.’ The writer went on to explain that at its core Christianity is not about what we do but it’s about what has been done for us. Over time I began to realise that no matter how hard I tried there was no way I would ever deserve the love that was freely offered to me by Christ. Accepting this, I accepted Christ as my saviour and gave my life to over to Him.

Since then, I have not so much walked gracefully with Christ, as I have stumbled, limped and crawled! But again and again I have come back to the forgiveness and loving presence of Christ, and again and again I have been thankful for the sense of purpose that comes from following Him.

I come to Chessington after studying at Cliff College and the Wesley Study Centre in Durham, and working as a student minister in Middlesbrough, before serving for 10 years in Birmingham. In my spare time I enjoy football, food (not leeks), and walks with my dog Max.

This is some of my story -I look forward to hearing some of yours!

Yours in Christ,

Rev Andy Clark
minister@chessingtonmethodist.org.uk

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MINISTER’S MESSAGE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2016

WE HAVE A SAVIOUR. 

During the New Year’s eve, I was among  some street pastors  patrolling the  street in the night, when we  were approached by a young man  who asked  for the  direction to a new  hotel he was going to lodge.

He had come from somewhere and was not familiar with his surroundings.

After directing  him, he asked why we were on the street.  The answer  was : ‘to help vulnerable people in times like the situation he was in and more so to let people feel the love of Christ the Saviour’.

He then remarked:  ‘I do not believe in a God who wants us to be morally good’.  During the conversation, his mobile phone  rang  and he said it was from his girlfriend, so he left us.

His comments set me thinking and asking myself:  ‘what do we expect in a relationship, and why did he leave us to go to find his friend?’  Was it because he knew that  the person who called  him was faithful  and could help?  If in a relationship we expect to enjoy the honesty and faithfulness of each other,  is it out of the way  for our Heavenly Father to expect His children to be faithful to Him and to themselves?  Is it not that He wants us to enjoy a peaceful and happy life by listening to His advice?   I believe  we would all like that,  as demonstrated by the  young man we met walking away to look for his friend.  Similarly, God urges us to be faithful in following Him when we hear or read His word in Scripture.

The second thought that kept me thinking at the threshold of the New Year was, when the young man asked us for the direction to his hotel.  It also reminded me that we were soon going to enter into a New  Year,  a journey in which no one knows what lies ahead of us, but only  God .

He is the only one we can ask to direct and accompany us on our life’s journey through the year.

Just as the young  man found us in times of his need for direction to a place he was not quite sure and felt safe with us, so can we rely on Christ for direction and be safe  to the unknown Year we have just  entered.  Christ’s love is waiting for us to embrace and give us life and peace.

Jesus said to His disciples: ‘’ I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life( John 14: 5)”.  Christ  is already in the future and knows  all about it,  so we can trust Him to lead us through the path of the year.

Therefore for this year let us hold on and take Him by His Word knowing that even in the shadows of death, He will be our Saviour;  so  we  need not be afraid. He will guide and guard us safely  through  the days ahead.

A Happy New Year and  May the peace of Christ enfold us all. Amen.

A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Elizabeth

Rev. Elizabeth Osei
minister@chessingtonmethodist.org.uk