What's New?

Help the Health Centre

Work has temporarily halted on the construction and fitting of the new Health Centre in Sierra Leone, which will serve the urgent need for communities in Brama and Bethesda.

Two generous donations enabled the purchase of land for the Centre as well as the brick structure and roof. We give thanks for this fantastic answer to prayer and God's wonderful ability in prompting blessed people to contribute. 

Completion of the project, however, will require further funding, estimated in the region of £30,000. Windows have already been purchased, but they cannot be installed until money is raised to buy doors. The next stages would be to carry out works on the interior of the building: plastering, tiling, electrics and plumbing, followed by painting and decorating, and the installation of furniture and equipment.

An application has been made to Difid for a grant to cover the costs of the first two year's operation, including salaries for midwives, setting up visits to schools and villages, inoculations and general hygiene education.

A midwife is on 'stand-by' in readiness to go to Sierra Leone to implement everything needed to make the Health Centre available to the communities, but she is unable to take on this role until the building works are completed.

Prayer

We thank God for His amazing power to answer our prayers and ask that He will find a way for the necessary funds to be raised to complete this vital project, which has the potential to change so many lives within our Sierra Leone community.

Donate

If you would like to contribute towards the important work of The Connexion both in the UK and in Sierra Leone, please click on Donations. All contributions, no matter how small, are of huge value to enable us to continue the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon.

 

Background to the need for a Health Centre

During their November visit to Sierra Leone, Janet O’Shea with Bethany and Esther Green were introduced to a church service congregation, where they noticed a young boy. Sitting next to his mother, he was in pain, whimpering quietly to himself, and it soon became obvious that there was something seriously wrong. His mother explained that two weeks earlier her son had been playing football when he fell and broke his leg - in two places. She could not afford medical help and could not raise the money for transport to reach a clinic where he could be treated.

At Mabang, the team met a young man with his two small children. He had just buried his wife because she had not been able to reach the hospital quickly enough.

In addition, at Brama School during a two-week visit in the summer, at least six children were taken ill with malaria, while at Bethesda two children needed treatment for malaria and one for typhoid.  

Help was given to those mentioned, but it left no doubt of a great need for improved health care facilities. 

 

Lockdown Band Worship

What the people of our Connexion community have in common is a sense of belonging, a shared faith in Jesus and a need to connect with and support each other.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, our churches have been sustaining these values with the creation of online Connexion services, readings, gatherings, prayer and worship. 

Lockdown Band

Over the past seven months the team at Wormley Free Church has also been creating video and audio recordings of worship music for congregations and friends to enjoy. Now these recordings have been brought together in a dedicated website The Official Site of Wormley Lockdown Band!  Click here to access the songs and videos created during these times.

God's provision

We are grateful for the innovation and dedication of so many individuals from the Connexion community in keeping us together online. It demonstrates and reminds us of God’s presence and provision for our lives, when we come together in worship and prayer. Whether our church buildings are open or closed, we are one body:

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us. (Romans 12: 4-6)

We thank God for the ways in which He has enabled the many gifts evident within our church communities to join in praise and worship as members of one body.

Online services, gatherings, worship and prayer

During this period where many of our buildings have needed to remain closed, our Connexion churches have created new and effective ways to enable you to join together for services, gatherings, worship and prayer. These are available via church websites, Facebook, You Tube pages and Zoom meetings.

  • The new Lockdown Band website is hosting songs, video and audio recordings put together during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Link: www.wormleylockdownband.com
  • Wormley Free Church is posting Sunday services each week, which can be accessed though their website. The services are followed by a Zoom get-together for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat. Link: www.wormleyfreechurch.org.uk
  • Rosedale Community Church has a selection of Sunday messages available on their You Tube page. Link: Rosedale Community Church
  • Bolney Village Chapel is streaming Sunday services on their Facebook page. The services begin at 10.30am for approximately 45 mins and include worship, Bible readings and teaching. Link: www.facebook.com/bolneyvillagechapel
  • South Street Free Church has also been posting Sunday services on their You Tube page, including Bible readings, hymns, songs and sermons. Link: South Street Free Church
  • Goring Free Church is streaming Sunday video recordings on their You Tube page. Each week there is a playlist of worship songs to accompany the series of sermons. Link: Goring Free Church
  • Sheppey Evangelical Church is posting recorded messages, including prayer and scripture readings each Sunday on their You Tube page. On the first Sunday of each month Communion is celebrated. Link: Sheppey Evangelical Church
  • The Countess Free Church, Ely meet together each Sunday via Zoom. During these gatherings members share how God is working in their lives and the community; there is a thought for both young and old, and a message is given. For details, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Messages are also put out by podcast. To access these, go to their website: www.countessely.co.uk

 

New trustees required

The Connexion is welcoming applications for new trustees to join our existing team. Due to recent retirements our numbers have been reduced to five, and we are looking to recruit four new trustees, from among our church members.

If you feel prompted to join us we would be delighted to hear from you for an informal chat about how you may become involved.

Our heritage

The Connexion includes 22 churches, spread across the UK as far afield as West Cornwall, Manchester, Gloucestershire, and Kent. Each has its own distinctive situation, personality, and ways of ‘being a church’, yet bound together, not only by a shared love of Jesus and desire to follow Him, but also by an extraordinary history and legacy inherited from one woman.

The Countess, Selina Hastings, established The Connexion in the 18th Century, using her resources to build new churches and train preachers to spread the Gospel as far and wide as possible. She was highly respected by people from every ‘level’ of society, from slaves to royalty, and she had the courage to challenge and break the rules of an intensely patriarchal and prejudiced social system. She was a good friend and confidante of John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitfield, who were celebrated advocates of the Methodist Revival, and she dedicated her life to spreading Christ’s mission. 

The Connexion today

The Connexion today is a strong family community that is brought together with shared intention to continue and build on Selina’s faith and achievements. Our members forge deep and often lifelong relationships between entire families that may span several generations. And this emphasis on genuine friendship and caring becomes all apparent when there is a chance for the whole community to meet at the annual Connexion Conference. The Connexion’s aims to welcome, network and support are deeply embedded in our culture.

What's involved

Our trustees attend four formal trustee meetings a year, quite often held in London, but sometimes at one of our churches, and between formal meetings, we keep in touch by email, phone and online platforms. Agendas for discussion and decision-making are varied, but our main focus is to find ways to help our congregations and ministers to effectively share Jesus with their communities. Resources are limited, so a key role of trustees is to establish how best to apply our assets and modest income to help our churches to thrive.

It is extremely valuable for our trustees to regularly attend one of our Connexion churches, but apart from that no qualifications are necessary, other than a love of Jesus Christ and willingness to follow Him. All of our ministers and trustees accept The Connexion’s Articles of Faith. 

The amount of work you would be expected to contribute entirely depends on your personal circumstances. Our trustees are all volunteers and some have full-time professions. 

Get in touch

If you would like to find out more about what’s involved in being a trustee please contact David Lockett, Chair of Trustees at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you would prefer, get in touch with any of our trustees or your minister/church leader. 

We would be delighted to give you more details about our activities and hope to be able to welcome you to our team!

Join our churches online

For those who are unable to attend Sunday services by visiting our church buildings, you are warmly invited to join with us online to virtually attend a range of available services and gatherings. 

A number of our Connexion churches are participating in this initiative, and you are able to to join them through church websites, Facebook, You Tube pages and Zoom meetings.

Some of our churches have been able to open their doors, carefully following Covid-19 guidance for places of worship. Please contact individual churches for details. Safety guidelines are periodically updated on Gov.uk: Covid-19 Guidance

 

Virtual Sunday Church Services and Meetings

  • Wormley Free Church is posting Sunday services each week, which can be accessed though their website. The services are followed by a Zoom get-together for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat. Link: www.wormleyfreechurch.org.uk
  • Rosedale Community Church has a selection of Sunday messages available on their You Tube page. Link: Rosedale Community Church
  • Bolney Village Chapel is streaming Sunday services on their Facebook page. The services begin at 10.30am for approximately 45 mins and include worship, Bible readings and teaching. Link: www.facebook.com/bolneyvillagechapel
  • South Street Free Church has also been posting Sunday services on their You Tube page, including Bible readings, hymns, songs and sermons. Link: South Street Free Church
  • Goring Free Church is streaming Sunday video recordings on their You Tube page. Each week there is a playlist of worship songs to accompany the series of sermons. Link: Goring Free Church
  • Sheppey Evangelical Church is posting recorded messages, including prayer and scripture readings each Sunday on their You Tube page. On the first Sunday of each month Communion is celebrated. Link: Sheppey Evangelical Church
  • The Countess Free Church, Ely meet together each Sunday via Zoom. During these gatherings members share how God is working in their lives and the community; there is a thought for both young and old, and a message is given. For details, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Messages are also put out by podcast. To access these, go to their website: www.countessely.co.uk

It's a great way to keep our strong community together during these challenging times, and our churches welcome you to join in!

Alpha Online

Bolney Village Chapel is also running an online Alpha Course. The course started on Tuesday 29 September from 8pm to 9pm, and runs for 10 weeks on Tuesday evenings, concluding on 1 December. On Saturday 7 November the online group will also meet for an additional session from 10.30am to 1pm.

Each week a link is sent out for a 25min video introducing that week's topic, together with a link to join the meeting via a Zoom call at 8pm for discussion and questions.

For further information, or to join the course, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our Trustees - Ben

Ben Quant is a Connexion Trustee and Minister of Wormley Free Church. He was born and bred in a small fenland village outside Ely. It was through the invitation of The Countess Chapel, Ely in 1990 to join in an Easter musical, that he became a Christian.

Shortly after he left for university, studying Biochemistry at Imperial College, with dreams of going on to become either a perpetual student or a rock guitarist. God had other plans!

During the 90's, he slept on many of our church floors with Youth Conference, joining their committee and ultimately running it. In August 1992 he cycled 1,100 miles around our churches, visiting all but Middleton, in order to raise funds for a new school in Foofoo Water, Sierra Leone. (One day he will remedy the omission of Middleton). This led to a deep affection for the Connexion family and his becoming part of the Sierra Leone Mission and its chair for nine years.

After university, Ben decided to take a year out and work for The Connexion, and he was offered a post at Westcott. This stretched and he remained at Westcott until 1999 when he moved to Wormley. He retains his interest in science and its relationship with faith. He is currently studying for a DMin (Doctor of Ministry) at Spurgeon's College, researching preaching as testimony. Outside of church and studies, he is a keen cyclist, guitarist, reader and tabletop-gamer. He is still on his year out!

As you may have noticed, Ben is sharing the bench with Gromit!

New trustees

The Connexion is currently seeking four new Trustees to join their existing team. Click here for more details

Connexion People - Brian and Brenda

Our stories

We are among the old stagers in the Connexion, and it is great to see younger folk joining the “family”, and these newer ways of keeping in touch. We love the revamped website!

As for our stories, here’s the quick version. Work brought us closer geographically and then our involvement in Mortimer West Chapel led to a more permanent entanglement. But there are a lot of years to fill in before that.

Brian's earlier years

Brian was born in Yorkshire, brought up in Lancashire, and went to school in Manchester. He became a Christian at a Crusader camp in Wales at 14; and was actively involved in the Christian Union when at Liverpool and then London University. He studied biochemistry. There was also a stint in the Royal Army Education Corps, towards the end of national service.

 

Brian met his first wife, Marjorie, in Liverpool and, after moving to Berkshire, two children, Alison and David, followed. By this time Brian was a research scientist at Jealott’s Hill, Bracknell, with the family becoming involved in the Countess of Huntington chapel where they lived, nearby Wargrave. 

Trustee

In 1968 Brian became a Trustee of The Connexion, eventually becoming Chairman and General Secretary, before handing on to Noel Valelly and Dave Sweetman in 2008.

Brenda

Brenda was born in Plymouth and spent most of her early years in the south west, before studying history at Reading University. She never quite escaped, obtaining a job on graduation at the Museum of English Rural Life. This was idyllic, combining bombing around the country in an old Bedford van collecting old agricultural equipment and archives, with teaching responsibilities in the University. Brenda was baptised when a student but had a period of doubt afterwards. She had recovered her faith by the 1980s and started to attend Goring Free Church.

Coming together

The two met after Marjorie died in 1990, and at a time Brenda had recently lost both her parents. Mike Ward at GFC suggested that she join a team to re-establish the chapel at Mortimer West. Brian, as connexional trustee, was also on the team. Both were very slow on the uptake, but eventually decided that the other was a good thing and married in 1995. That is 25 years ago! Wow!

The Chapel, Mortimer West End

With a brilliant restoration team, led by Max and Ros Rowe, the chapel was rededicated in 1993 and continues to be a place that glorifies God and has a wonderful chapel family. Both of us have undertaken various roles, and are still part of the preaching team, and try to encourage and support others where we can. Of course, we are now all doing things by Zoom, but look forward to when it is possible to come back together on site.

Together in Mission

A joy for us has been our involvement in Together in Mission, an initiative by local Christians to show Christ’s love within our local communities, by setting up a befriending service, a community café, and a School Pastors service. All have been running now for several years and are greatly appreciated. Brian served as a Trustee for this and Brenda as fundraiser, though have handed the baton on to a very capable team.

Our family

To complete our personal story, we have seven grandchildren, all different in personality and interests. Two are married and the youngest about to start university. Employment includes working on a new Shaun the Sheep video game, fitness training, and IT support. As the faith dimension, one is working for a big Plymouth church, another about to start Bible College, and another volunteering for Caring for Life in Leeds. What a great lot!

Update - Jerusalem Avenue School

Excellent progress is being made to the repairs of Jerusalem Avenue School, Sierra Leone, with the installation of a new roof.

jerusalem ave roof

The Sierra Leone Mission express deep gratitude to our UK Connexion churches for helping to raise funds to carry out this work. 

The building became unsafe a few years ago with the roof leaking badly and causing extensive damage to the interior of the school, particularly during the rainy seasons.

jerusalem ave 2

The Sierra Leone Mission has been working to raise necessary funds to cover this restoration project for two years now. With the contributions they have received, work has now begun on the installation of a second floor to the building. This will significantly increase the size of the school and make the entire building watertight with the completion of a new roof.

Huge thanks are conveyed to the Connexion Community for their generosity in making this possible.

We look forward to seeing more photographs as the work progresses!

Donate

If you would like to contribute towards the important work of The Connexion in Sierra Leone and the UK, please click on Donations. All contributions, no matter how small, are of huge value to enable us to continue the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon.

Online Church Services

Safety guidance and regulations for places of worship during the Coronavirus pandemic are periodically updated on Gov.uk: Covid-19 Guidance. The most recent update is 14 September, following the 'rule of six' announcement.

Some of our churches have been able to reopen their doors to a portion of their congregations, carefully following Covid-19 safety guidelines. But for those who are not able to attend Sunday services by visiting our church buildings, virtual services continue to be available online.

A number of our Connexion churches are continuing to organise virtual gatherings that are available for our community to join via church websites, Facebook, You Tube pages and Zoom meetings.

The initiative has been well received and very popular, enabling members of our Connexion Community to come together for Sunday services, messages, worship and prayer meetings, during the period where our church buildings have been closed or attendance is restricted.

 

 

Virtual Sunday Church Services and Meetings

  • Wormley Free Church is posting Sunday services each week, which can be accessed though their website. The services are followed by a Zoom get-together for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat. Link: www.wormleyfreechurch.org.uk
  • Rosedale Community Church has a selection of Sunday messages available on their You Tube page. Link: Rosedale Community Church
  • Bolney Village Chapel is streaming Sunday services on their Facebook page. The services begin at 10.30am for approximately 45 mins and include worship, Bible readings and teaching. Link: www.facebook.com/bolneyvillagechapel
  • South Street Free Church has also been posting Sunday services on their You Tube page, including Bible readings, hymns, songs and sermons. Link: South Street Free Church
  • Goring Free Church is streaming Sunday video recordings on their You Tube page. Each week there is a playlist of worship songs to accompany the series of sermons. Link: Goring Free Church
  • Sheppey Evangelical Church is posting recorded messages, including prayer and scripture readings each Sunday on their You Tube page. On the first Sunday of each month Communion is celebrated. Link: Sheppey Evangelical Church
  • The Countess Free Church, Ely meet together each Sunday via Zoom. During these gatherings members share how God is working in their lives and the community; there is a thought for both young and old, and a message is given. For details, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Messages are also put out by podcast. To access these, go to their website: www.countessely.co.uk

It's a great way to keep our strong community together during these strange and difficult times, and our churches welcome you to join in!

Jerusalem Avenue School

The Sierra Leone Mission thank our UK Connexion churches for helping to raise funds for the repair of Jerusalem Avenue School, Sierra Leone.

The building became unsafe a few years ago with a badly leaking roof, which has caused extensive damage to the interior of the school during the rainy seasons.

The Sierra Leone Mission has been working to raise necessary funds to cover this restoration project for two years now. With the contributions they have received, work has now begun on the installation of a second floor to the building. This will significantly increase the size of the school and make the entire building watertight with the completion of a new roof.

Huge thanks are conveyed to the Connexion Community for their generosity in making this possible.

We look forward to seeing more photographs as the work progresses!

Donate

If you would like to contribute towards the important work of The Connexion in Sierra Leone and the UK, please click on Donations. All contributions, no matter how small, are of huge value to enable us to continue the legacy of the Countess of Huntingdon.

Connexion People - Janet

My earliest memories of Zion Community Church are from my childhood: three times on a Sunday, church in the morning, Sunday school in the afternoon and church in the evening. My mum was a Salvationist so add in three open airs…. my Sundays were not days of rest! 

Growing up

I grew up with my dad at Zion, while my sister went with my mum to the Salvation Army.  Sunday always finished with hymns around the piano; mum played while my sister strummed the guitar, I screeched on the recorder and my dad played the comb with a piece of paper wrapped around it. Treasured memories.

When I was thirteen, I joined the Youth for Christ choir and started attending the rallies each month. On March 4th1966 Joe Fudge, the evangelist, took as his text ‘You must be born again.’  I have never regretted the decision I took that night. My teenage years were a total blessing!  There were at least twenty of us who would meet together for prayer and bible study, we would hold open airs on the sea front and ran beach missions. We organised these ourselves and didn’t expect the adults to help us. We were all from different churches and remained in those churches not leaving to go to the same church. 

I left St Ives in 1971 and trained to teach at the College of St Matthias, Bristol. Away from my Christian friends this was a period of life when I learnt to trust God wholly and not to rely on my friends.

Friendship and Marriage

Ralph and I met in St Ives after he stopped me to ask about a sticker that was on my coat, ‘Jesus is Alive!’ Our friendship grew but he wasn’t a Christian and many people tried to warn me. I prayed and prayed and a month before we married Ralph gave his life to Jesus. To those in ‘unequal’ relationships trust me it was not easy! 

We were married at Zion and both of our girls Hannah and Ruth were dedicated there. We were blessed with sound bible based teaching and valued the importance of being part of a Christ Centred Church. In 1982 Ralph established the Christian Bookshop in the Sunday School and donated all proceeds to Christian charities.

We were married for 46 years: years of joy, pain, heartache and challenges. A month after we married Ralph severely damaged his back and so started 46 years of hospitals, operations, doctors and ambulances. Four heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, COPD…I could go on but I won’t because through it all we were surrounded by saints, many at Zion, who prayed for us. There were many times when I couldn’t pray. Many times when I doubted and shouted at God. Many times when I have despaired. Through it all God didn’t let me go and even when He felt far away He was holding me tight. 

It is important to be part of a church family. We are a small fellowship at Zion which has brought its challenges, but the Lord has blessed us with our pastor’s children and my grandchildren and the work goes on. We have a vision and God is honouring the faithfulness of His people in St Ives.

Retirement and Sierra Leone!

In 2012 I decided it was time to retire. To be honest I didn’t spend hours praying, I went into school one day and told the Head that I would be leaving in the summer. I hadn’t even told Ralph!  I mentioned to Pastor Bob that I might be interested in becoming involved with the Sierra Leone Mission and when he returned from conference he told me that I was on the committee and that I would be going to Sierra Leone the following year!! 

In 2013 I accompanied Gordon Hamilton and six teenagers on a journey that would define my focus in the coming years. Gordon told me that Sierra Leone would get under my skin, into my heart and always on my mind!  What a privilege to be part of a Connexion that treasures and fosters a relationship with a people who are so deprived and poor yet so rich in their love for God.

In the last seven years I have witnessed God doing ‘immeasurably more than we can think or imagine.’ I have had the joy of watching street children develop into mature, Christian young men and women.  Churches being built in Brama, Fabaina and Mabang, where folk are hungry to learn about Jesus.  Shipments increasing so that more folk can be blessed with material items sent with the love of Jesus. And now a new Health Centre… words fail me! 

Last year Ralph was ‘promoted to glory’ and suddenly the world has been turned upside down with Coronavirus. Everything has a season and although I do NOT consider myself old, I can look back over my life and with confidence acknowledge that God has never failed me. His Grace has been sufficient and I look forward in expectancy and excitement to the future.

Janet O'Shea
Zion Community Church, St Ives

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