Praying together in 2020

Pray in 2020 on the 20th of each month at 20:20 for 20 minutes. This is the invitation from HOPE Together to Christians of all denominations. HOPE’s executive director Roy Crowne says, ‘Through Prayer 2020 we are asking God to work through all that is done in 2020 – personal witness; church outreach plans in villages, towns and cities; stadium events – evangelisation in all its many forms. Already this is catching the imagination of Christians around the world. 2020 is such a significant year and Prayer 2020 will be a key part of the year.’

CW83: Rains from Heaven and Fruitful Seasons

Only a livestock farmer will fully understand what it means to have to sell up their herd or flock. In the spring of 2004, the day after the auction of our cattle, I stood in the yard and prayed. The particular smells and sounds of dairy cows were absent for the first day in generations, and added to the financial pressures of the tenancy was the strange guilt that after so many years I was the one who had to leave the dairy industry. But I had trusted in Jesus for long enough to know that God can use our failures and disappointments to bring about what he really wants from us. So began a new adventure in farming the particular way in which the Lord led.

CW83: Rural isolation and loneliness

Just before I headed off to Greenbelt in the summer of 2019, I wrote a tweet asking if any clergy had ever felt lonely and would they be prepared to talk to me about it. If so, they could message me privately. In my head I was hoping I’d get loads of folk replying; in reality, there wasn’t a single response. Now, of course, there might be a hundred good reasons why this was the case – not least, that they might not have seen the tweet – but it did leave me wondering whether loneliness is still something that we struggle to talk about. I believe there is a stigma about it

CW83: Saying thank you

Saying ‘thank you’ is simple but can mean so much and goes such a long way especially in this difficult time in the NHS. At Heart of the Health Service, we are committed to showing our gratitude and giving others the opportunity to say thank you to NHS staff. One of the ways in which we do this is through Thank You Dinners which we host in partnership with local communities.

CW83: Sharing God’s blessings

‘We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand’ we sang heartily at the beginning of our annual Harvest Festival Celebration Service in the village chapel of Kirkheaton. The previous month we had received a wonderful blessing through our partners the United Reform Church who gave us a very generous £3000 mission grant to be used locally. Harvest was our first opportunity to get to work and join in what God was already doing in our village.

CW83: Transport Troubles

With nearly 10 million people now living in areas defined as ‘rural’, a reliable transport infrastructure is important and can have a significant impact on people’s quality of life and ability to carry out daily activities, not least because of its role in enabling access employment, education, shopping and health services.

CW82: Walking out with Jesus!

Processions and walks of witness have always played a part in the life of God’s people. One example of this recorded in the Old Testament is when King David paraded into the city of Jerusalem with the Ark of the Covenant, playing joyful music on harps and cymbals (1 Chronicles 15). In the New Testament we’re told that Jesus rode on a donkey as he too processed, with his friends, into Jerusalem as the festival of Passover began.

CW82: In harmony

It is often said that sharing stories of hope, of what God has done and is doing in our lives can inspire, encourage and enthuse. I hope this story will do just that. It began on Open Farm Sunday 2017 with a visit to St Bartholomew’s Chapel on Corton Farm, Portesham. That day, I met Anne and Mike, now in their nineties, on whose farmland the Chapel stands. Generous in their welcome and hospitality, they shared the story of their family and farming life and worshipping in a rural community.

CW82: A church for all

Childrey is a vibrant rural community with an award-winning village store and a good Church primary school. St Mary’s, which is listed in Simon Jenkins’ Best One Thousand Churches, is central to community life. The Grade One listed building dates back to the 12th Century although the site goes back a thousand years, to Saxon times. But, with an elderly and dwindling congregation, churchgoers realised they had to consider the long-term sustainability of St Mary’s. What began with an £80,000 appeal for works including a new kitchenette and loo grew into a huge, multi-faceted project to keep St Mary’s alive and relevant in a small village with a population of just 500.

CW82: Our identity as disciple-makers

‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:19-20)

Susan saw a flier about Christmas services in her village church and decided to go along to the carol service. She said, ‘I’m not religious, but I like the old hymns and carols.’ The Vicar made an impression on Susan. ‘He seemed like an ordinary guy and when he talked about an Alpha course starting after Christmas, I decided to go along.’