What's New?

New Hailsham Elders

A special Church Meeting was held at Hailsham Gospel Mission (HGM) on Saturday 23 September to appoint Dave Sweetman and Martin Brown as Elders of the church.

Rev Simon Allaby, one of The Connexion trustees, was in attendance and conducted a short service, at the end of which the new Elders were anointed with oil, with the church family gathered round, laying hands, and praying for God’s blessing on them.

This is a very exciting next step for the church, which is full of life and vision and seeking to reach out to those around.

It is a joy to see the physical improvements to the building with lots of new decoration and the foyer being transformed into a café area.

From Thursday 5 October the church will be open every Thursday and Friday morning, providing free refreshments and a warm welcome to all who wish to come.

We pray that God will continue to bless Dave and Martin, and provide a bright new future for HGM.

Order Now!

Simon Allaby’s book Greater Love is now available to order.

It has been created as a book for Remembrance Sunday and contains twelve short stories that reflect on conflict, sacrifice and where we can find true peace in God. Each story is accompanied by a simple illustration, a Bible verse and questions for reflection.

In his foreword, former Royal Marines Commando, Rev Tim Saiet, writes: ‘At last an accessible book which includes faith and stories of sacrifice – a brilliant book that I will pass on to my friends’.

Ideal for both Christians and not-yet-Christians, Greater Love is an excellent resource for Remembrance Sunday Services, and also as a giveaway for churches and individuals to share with friends, family members and enquirers.

To Order

The book is priced at £1 per copy. For more information and to order visit Simon's Turn the Page Online Shop

225 Years Anniversary!

Ebley Chapel will be celebrating their 225th year in October.

The anniversary will be marked by a weekend of events on 7 and 8 October, under the theme of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

Saturday 7 October will feature historic displays relating to The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion and Ebley. In addition there will be a bookstall, children's activities, invited speakers, music and refreshments. All taking place between 10.30am and 2.30pm in the chapel and grounds.

On Sunday 8 October, Ebley will run a series of Harvest Services from 10.30am to 6pm., with collections for the Sierra Leone Mission (SLM).

Please come and join in. Everyone is welcome!

 

For more details contact Terry Gillard on 07975 704886.

Ebley Chapel, Chapel Lane, Ebley, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 4TD

 

Bible Study

You don’t get to heaven by being good! - by Dave Sweetman.

Does my title shock you?

People will often say you get to heaven by being good. Or, they may say I’m going to heaven because: 

  • I’m basically a good person even if I’ve made the odd mistake 
  • I’ve always tried to treat others the way I would like to be treated 
  • I’ve not done the really bad things like murder or rape or breaking into a home to steal 
  • I’ve been fairly honest with my business expenses and the taxman
  • On balance I’ve done more good things than bad
  • I’ve lived a lot better life than some other people I can think of
  • I go to church regularly, been confirmed or baptised
  • I live in a Christian Country

 

If you think any of the above are good reasons for going to heaven, beware!

Would you like to read the story Jesus told about the Pharisee and the Taxman in Luke 18:9-14?

Did you notice who Jesus told the story to?

Yes, people who were confident they were good enough for heaven and looked down on everyone else. The story that Jesus told is about two men who went to church to pray. It’s called a parable, a story about ordinary people or ordinary things which has a spiritual message.

Did you notice how different these two men were from each other?

The crowd who were listening to Jesus would have thought the Pharisee was the hero and the Taxman the baddie.

The Pharisee was a religious leader who was honoured by society. He lived his life trying to do everything by the book, everything that was set out in the Bible. Society treated him with great respect. He would fast twice a week and give a tenth of all his income to the church. He even tithed his mint and dill and cumin that grew in his garden. He made sure people saw him in prayer, he stood on the street corners and uttered his prayers out loud so everyone could see how pious he was. He considered himself to be a cut above the rest. He felt he was a certainty for a ticket to heaven.

The tax collectors were hated by everyone because they collected taxes for the Romans, the enemy. They were also hated because they charged more than they should to put in their own pockets. They were called sinners. No-one thought they should go to heaven. No-one who wanted to go to heaven would have anything to do with sinners like him. Both of these men went to the temple to pray. Jesus tells us what he thought of their prayers.

Who does he say the Pharisee prayed about in verse 11? Do you think people like him got up Jesus’ nose? He certainly gets up mine!

What is the Taxman’s attitude to God?

How different was the tax collector? He stood at a distance. He didn’t think he was worthy to be in God’s house and he certainly didn’t dare to look up to heaven. He beat his breast, a sign of mourning, and simply said “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. He knew he had done things wrong, and he was honest about it. He also knew that there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t reverse the past and turn all those bad things into good things. He was guilty as charged. The only thing he could do was throw himself on God’s mercy.

What is Jesus’ conclusion in verse 14?

The Tax Collector, the person everyone looked down on as a sinner went home justified before God. The Pharisee wasn’t. The sinner found forgiveness. The Pharisee didn’t.

Who are you most like in the story? What does this story teach us about how you and I should approach God? How can it be that Jesus declares the Taxman finds forgiveness?

The Bible teaches us that no-one deserves or can earn a place in heaven. We can’t, indeed we mustn’t take heaven for granted. The Bible tells us we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God, who fail to live up to what God created us to be. We fail to live up to our own standards, let alone God’s standard of perfection. We are all like this tax collector. Before the judge of all men, before the King of Kings we stand condemned. Guilty. All we can do is throw ourselves at God’s mercy.

So what’s the good news?

The wonderful news is that the Tax Collector went home forgiven. He found mercy. In his mercy, God has created an escape from his judgement. We read in John’s gospel (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him need not perish but have eternal life.” 

God loves you, and in his great mercy Jesus, the Son of God, took the punishment for your sins in your place. God judged them on the cross and, since they have been judged once, they can’t be judged again.

Don’t let us be like the Pharisee and act as if we are OK without needing God’s mercy. If God has done so much for us in giving up his own son to an awful death on a cross, so that we can be forgiven, how dare we say, “Oh, I’m alright without the gospel, I don’t need God’s mercy, he’ll accept me as I am.” _The only way to heaven is through Jesus’ _goodness, not ours. We must put our trust entirely in him and what he did for us at the first Easter. The Bible calls this God’s grace, God’s unmerited favour.

While you have your Bible open, look up Ephesians 2 v 8 and 9. It expresses God’s grace like this. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no-one can boast.” _So, you don’t get to heaven by good works.

Does this mean that it is not important to go about doing good? Can we just live a selfish life, because God has saved us anyway?

Let’s read the next verse in Ephesians chapter 2 i.e. verse 10, which says; “For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We don’t get to heaven by doing good, but when we come into God’s kingdom, we have the enormous privilege of doing good works for the King. This is our chance to respond to God’s love and grace.

God declares we are his workmanship. The result of the work of Jesus on the cross. And God doesn’t make junk! We have been created to do good works.

Who does Ephesians 4: 24 say we have been created to be like?

What a turn round comes about when we find God’s mercy.

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 describes what God the Father does for those who ask him for mercy. The Father welcomes the returning son and gives him the best robe, a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet and organises a feast for him. That’s the way you are treated if you put your faith in God’s mercy.

Good works are things the King of Glory gives us to do when we become a Christian. But before we can do them, we must humble ourselves and admit that we are sinners in need of mercy.

Thank you to Dave Sweetman for this thought provoking Bible Study.

For more words of inspiration, click on Short Thought to hear Simon Allaby's weekly recordings. The link is at the top of each web page. 

New Horizons for The Chapel!

The Chapel at Mortimer West End are delighted to share the news that William McCann will be joining the eldership team with John Moate and Tony Derrett.

William has already taken up residence in The Chapel’s manse, with his wife Clare and their four children, and will officially begin his post as residential elder on 14 August.

William’s recruitment is the latest part of The Chapel’s development plan for the church leadership team, which currently includes five members. In addition, the church has an inspirational preaching team, supported by three worship teams and a number of regular guest speakers.

The Chapel’s culture is firmly embedded in the Word and the Holy Spirit. Everything the church does is centred on relationships with Jesus and each other. As John Moate says, 'We don’t do religion, we do relationships!'

William, who is originally from up-state New York, has been in the UK for three years working with Bromley Town Church, in London with his English wife Clare and their four young girls. He is currently visiting his family in the US, before taking up the new ministry role.

In response to much prayer, The Chapel has received clear guidance from God over recent years about the direction they should take. Following the Holy Spirit's leading has at times been a roller coaster ride, but over the past 12 months, the church has been carried along on a wave that has left little time for formality!

The eldership team liken the experience to Nicodemus’ words: ‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ In addition to God's blessing and guidance, their progress pays dividends to the team effort involved: faithfulness, generosity, kindness and devotion to the Lord, together with plain hard work from a congregation who have played an integral role in taking them to where they now are.

Alleluia to that!

To find out more about The Chapel visit their website.

john moat tony derrett mwec

Image shows John Moate with Tony Derrett, Elders at The Chapel

What Next for Karl?

It is with some sadness that The Connexion say farewell to Karl Relton and his wife Karen from The Countess Free Church in Ely, but give thanks for the vision God is leading them to. We wish them every success for their new venture in Leicestershire and ask God to continue to bless them.

Read below Karl's account of how he deliberated the 'What Next' question.

The Covid pandemic lockdown experience affected different people in diverse ways. For some it was brutally hard, with effects we are still seeing play out today. For us, however, the actual lockdown period was a spiritually releasing and fertile time. We found that we could 'do what we do' – pointing people to Jesus in various one to one encounters - with a fresh freedom & boldness. Despite the loss of physical Sunday gatherings we actually found ourselves spiritually richer, with new spiritual disciplines of a short home-time evening prayer together (which we still practice to this day), and using the Sunday morning space to pray earnestly for brothers & sisters in Christ (which we lost when physical gatherings became possible again).

During that period many church leaders entertained radical 'what if?' discussions, but we could see that 'the busyness of church' could easily dilute away the fresh thinking. We already had clues from our own ministry in Ely – running small informal groups for those new to or exploring faith (we went on to call these 'Lifeboats'), and encouraging believers to take initiative with their friends & neighbours (we coined the term 'micro-initiatives' for these). These hints led us to realise that stripping away the complexity (as Covid had temporarily forced on us) and following a simpler 'bare faith' strategy was possible – and for us desirable!

A question a leader must periodically rehearse is: “Dear God, What next?”, without assuming the answer will look the same as it had done before! We realised the answer for us was to go further and model this simplicity for others. We concluded that we needed a new context for that, and so started a search – especially considering new housing estates where community is being formed from scratch. God's leading and guiding led us to a conversation with a baptist pioneer in New Lubbesthorpe in Leicestershire, working on what will be a significant new housing estates where excellent 'Kingdom Seeds' were already being planted. The existing community development work was going well, and there was scope for help to come and join!

But more important - we think - is the mindset that we are going with. Simplicity is key:

  • We want to demonstrate the Kingdom of God
  • We want to lead people to Jesus
  • We want to disciple people in following Jesus such that they too demonstrate the Kingdom, lead to Jesus and disciple others …

We can do the above from a modest rented house on the estate ('incarnational mission'). We can do that without a stipend! God has blessed us over and over financially, giving us the confidence to go forward living by faith. There is no official 'role' or money to support a role in this case, but that didn't seem to deter Jesus and the first disciples!

The Countess of Huntingdon was keen that the gospel was rightly preached. In her time-frame a valid approach was to build preaching stations (the chapels we now have) and supply eager preachers. Our post-millennial context is quite different – and yet still there is the need for the gospel to be rightly shared. On a new housing estate near Leicester that is what we are going to do, even if it proves to be one nearby household at a time.

Karl

The Voice - Summer

Welcome to the summer edition of The Voice!

As usual it is packed with variety and inspiration.

This issue includes a Bible Study by Dave Sweetman 'You do not get to heaven by being good!'.

There's an article by Janet O'Shea about Mabang School and an update on Tombo School.

David Lockett has written a piece featuring The Countess of Huntingdon, Selina's association with George Whitfield, a prominent preacher in her day.

One article looks forward to the Conference in October, while another looks back to Easter at Sheppey Evangelical Church.

To read about these and plenty more, click on the link below!

The Voice - Summer 2023

Vision for Hailsham Gospel Mission

Joint leaders Dave Sweetman and Martin Brown are developing a clear vision for Hailsham Gospel Mission (HGM) in an exciting stage of transition. 

HGM has a reputation for making visitors feel at home, welcoming all ages (and a few dogs!) to come together for informal Sunday services, prayer meetings and community activities. Under the shared leadership of Dave and Martin, they seek to be to be Attractive, Accessible and Active as a community of worship, a house of prayer and a people of hope and compassion.  

Dave Sweetman

dave phyl sweetman small

Dave joined the Connexion church at Turners Hill in 1981, serving as a leader both there and at other Connexion churches.  He came to HGM from 2019, at a time when the fellowship was looking for help. A key part of Dave's training was attending the Cornhill Course, overseen by The Proclamation Trust.

Dave's wife, Phyl Sweetman, is HGM’s Treasurer.

Martin Brown

martin gudrun brown small

Martin came to HGM with his wife, Gudrun, in 2021 after completing a degree at All Nations in Ware. Martin has gained experience as a missionary in Uganda and held a medical role attached to the British Army in Germany. Currently he splits his time 50/50 between devoting time to the church and working for the NHS as a Health Visitor.

Martin's wife, Gudrun, works for a charity in Eastbourne.

HGM's Five Pillars

In the role of Outreach and Development Worker, Martin has established HGM's Five Pillars to help to navigate the necessary changes and processes involved that will lead the church to grow and respond to God's calling. 

1. Encounter God and to know Jesus

We want to know and love Jesus more and more. To Grow in and through our times of worship, teaching, prayer, fellowship and discipleship.

2. Engage with the community and to witness for Jesus

For more people in Hailsham to come to know Jesus. For HGM to be mission minded and welcoming to others.

3. Get organised and be 'Fit 4 Purpose'

HGM to be well organised and structured, in ways that build up and strengthen the fellowship.

4. Be a community and family

We get to know each other better, to grow, to mature and are equipped as Christians.

5. Provide pastoral care and prayer ministry

We develop effective ways to provide pastoral care, practical help and prayer.

Spiritual development at HGM is also accompanied by planned structural improvements, with some key renovations to both the church building and its infrastructures.The plan is to take a non-rushed approach with small projects that may build up over time. Remembering they are embarking on a period of  'Evolution, not a Revolution' will help the church move forward together to support God's work and His Kingdom.  

If you'd like to find out more about Hailsham Gospel Mission, visit their brand new website - or maybe drop in! Sunday services start at 11am, with a prayer meeting before from 10am.

Under the Bonnet

Simon Allaby's new book Under the Bonnet is a great manual for helping us to find answers to life's malfunctions!

The book includes 14 stories exploring what makes us tick and where to turn when things go wrong. Priced at just £1 Under the Bonnet could be the perfect giveaway for Father's Day - with the added bonus that it can be used all year round, and it's not restricted to blokes!

Simon's introduction to the book

We all remember our first car. Mine was a Datsun Sunny 120Y. The only problem was I had no idea what was going on under the bonnet or what to do when something went wrong. Fortunately, I discovered the Haynes Manual which told me all I would ever need to know.

Life is rather similar. We take it for granted when all is going well, but where to we turn when something breaks down? There is no Haynes Manual for life then. Or is there?

Many years ago, I discovered that the Bible has something to say about every aspect of what's going on under the bonnet of my life. I hope this book may help you to discover the same.

To order copies of Under the Bonnet at £1 each, contact Simon Allaby by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Olivia's Testimony

Olivia is a member of Bolney Village Chapel where she serves as the leader of our Mini Connect Group (a Friday afternoon club for 5-6 year olds) and our Kids Club, which takes place on Sunday mornings. This is her testimony of coming to faith.

One detail that Olivia doesn’t mention, is that the original plan for the first church visit with her sister was to head to one of the bigger churches in Haywards Heath or Burgess Hill. But when they set out, the car wouldn’t start, so they had to walk instead. Bolney Village Chapel was the first church they found!

When did Jesus come into my life?

It was not till I was in my mid-forties that I came to acknowledge Jesus as my Saviour.

How did it all happen?

There were days when it was a struggle waking up and having to put on a false 'I am good!' face in front of others, but my sister had great faith and trust in Jesus, which eventually brought me to the Lord. Even though at times, she felt discouraged in sharing Jesus with me, due to my repeated dismissal of Him, the Lord never let her give up.

In her obedience, during the year when I received Jesus as my Saviour, my sister felt a prompting from the Lord, to visit us in the UK (at my most needed time). With courage, she asked the Lord if He really wanted her to come and HIS reply came with a special promotion on flight tickets the very next day! This enabled her to make the journey and, after many years of trying to share Jesus with me, my heart finally opened to Him! The experience felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I could breathe again!

Following that day, I found the strength and courage to visit a local church with my sister. I still attend that church, Bolney Village Chapel, and my faith and trust in Jesus has continued to grow each day. After nearly 10 years of receiving Him in my life, I do at times feel the fiery arrows coming towards me, but my faith in the one who created and loved me from the very beginning, gives me the strength I need to face them. My days now begin and end with Jesus, who never gave up on me!

 

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