We are looking forward to the festive period at Kempston East and we wanted to highlight our Christmas services in the coming weeks, along with the recently re-introduced restrictions so that we can all enjoy this time together safely.
In short, our services will continue ‘face to face’ as normal, albeit with some familiar adaptations (see below) and some will also be broadcast on YouTube which you can watch via our website here - https://www.kempstoneastmethodist.org/live.html
When coming to Church:
- Wrap up warm: we’ll keep the Church well ventilated
- Help the Door Stewards to record your attendance on arrival
- Keep ‘distanced’ from other groups when seated, allowing one chair – or two if possible – between you and the next group
- As is required legally unless an exemption applies, wear a face covering
- We advise keeping your face covering on whilst singing
- Refreshments won’t be served, and you are asked to do your ‘fellowshipping’ outside.
This is all explained in more detail below.
Please also find the list of upcoming services at the bottom of the page.
Changes at Kempston East because of new Omicron Covid variant
As you can imagine, there has been considerable discussion about what changes we need to make to improve our Covid security in light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Our immediate plans (let’s call them the ‘Kempston East Plan A’) are as follows:
The Church based services will be held subject to COVID safe guidelines. There will be some constraints on these, though and, although the church will do as much as it can, there are also things that you can do to improve both your and other people’s safety. Firstly, you must wear a face covering at all times when you’re in the church and halls – unless you have an official exemption. This is mandatory under the Government’s Plan B. You are also strongly advised to keep your mask on while singing.
Secondly, you will see when you arrive at church that we have gone back to closing off alternate rows to help with social distancing. You are also requested to leave at least one or two free seats between yourselves and other people outside your group. Thirdly, there will be no after-service refreshments until further notice. You are asked to leave the church immediately after the services and, if you want to chat, do this outside. Fourthly, we will be reverting to ‘hybrid’ services. This means that as well as services in the church we will be going back to streaming them on Zoom and also on Youtube via this page.
It is possible that things may move so quickly over the coming days that it is decided that services in church will need to be halted for some time (‘Kempston East Plan B’). If that happens, you will receive an email telling you of this and of how you can then access the online equivalents on Zoom and YouTube. There are, of course, things that we would encourage you to do if you are coming to one of the live services at church. Top of the list of these is to take a lateral flow test at home before you come to ensure that you are free from the virus.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this.
Please find a list of upcoming Christmas services and events at Kempston East below:
Children’s Christmas Carol Service - Friday 24th December at 4pm
Children's Christmas Eve service with carols and the nativity story.
Midnight Communion - Friday 24th December at 11.15pm
Short service with carols and communion.
Christmas Day Celebration - Saturday 25th December at 10.30am
All-age Christmas service led by Rev. Michael Giles.
There will be no Service on Boxing Day (26th December) so our next service after this will be on Sunday 2nd January 2022.
This week at Kempston East, we will be having a slightly different but very special and meaningful service, as we learn and celebrate the diversity in our church family. It is important to do this as it is an opportunity to understand the history, culture and background of our members. Our diversity enriches our community and church. It is what makes Kempston East unique and special to us. We should celebrate the differences that we have because they are the work of our Father in heaven. God created us as a diverse people and that should be treasured and celebrated.
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. In the same way, we can also recognise what we have in common and what connects us. Over the 117 years that Kempston East Methodist Church has existed, there have been many different members who have lived locally, moved from the far corners of the UK and many further than that. We all have different backgrounds, cultures and interests; but there are many things we have in common, with the main connection being our faith. Our church family has continued to evolve to what it is today, and it is something that we are proud of.
You may be aware that the month of October is Black History Month, and ultimately, it was created as a festival of celebration. This service will be part of our way of marking this and celebrating our church family in its fullness. The Black Lives Matter protests around the world sparked a commitment among many individuals and organisations to educate themselves about Black history, heritage and culture – as part of understanding racism and standing in solidarity against it. Whilst the protests raised awareness of the issues and opened up progressive discourse on the matter, the main theme and focus of Black History Month is celebrating heritage and diversity. This year in particular, we collectively want to inspire and share the pride people have in their heritage and culture – in their own way and in their own words. This is similar to what we are hoping to share with you all this Sunday at Kempston East, with several church members talking about their heritage and background.
Another theme for our service is Christians around the world – highlighting that our faith is something that connects us to millions of people across the world, not just in Kempston. We are also hoping to show a short video from our friends in Uganda who are part of the organisation, GAAF. In 2018, our Church charity was GAAF (Gideon’s Anti Aid Foundation) who are based in the community of Bombo just north of the capital Kampala, Uganda. The charity supports children who live and are cared for at the site, and are taught in their school. The charity also supports the local community, with crops that they grow and animals they rear. We were pleased to have Fred (one of the first children who was supported by GAAF) and Victoria to stay with us in December 2017. They also came to Kempston East to speak to us about GAAF and the work they do in the community. From this, they are also indirectly part of our church and wider church family. We continue to stay in touch with them and hope that one day we can go to visit them in Uganda.
The themes of diversity and Christians around the world remind me of the song ‘We are the Church’:
I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together! All who follow Jesus, all around the world! Yes, we're the church together!
It also says that the church is not a building, but a people. We have learnt this over the last couple of years, with the church coming to our living rooms via Zoom and through this newsletter. The work of Kempston East is not limited to the church building and is something that reaches many people, both near and far. We have all had our part to play in enabling this to happen and to continue the good work of this church. The book of Corinthians in Bible specifically highlights that we are collectively the body of Christ and individually make up the different parts.
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many." - 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
It is important to remember this and that no matter who we are, we are all a part of this church. It is our differences and diversity that makes Kempston East unique and special. But ultimately, as we celebrate and learn more about church family and community this week, it is amazing to think that the main constant that connects us is God and his love for us.
We wanted to take the opportunity to officially welcome everyone back to the church as we start to get back to business. Ever since we opened up again in September and as restrictions were eased, it has been great to see everyone happy to be worshipping back in church and sharing in fellowship together. Not only that, it has been fantastic to welcome back the people and groups that use the halls and premises for their meetings and activities during the week.
Almost all of the outside groups who use the church halls and who have not been meeting since the first lockdown have decided to start up again and begin to use our premises again. As well as outside groups starting up again, some of our own church groups will be re-starting and we hope and pray that this will be a resurgence and a return to the pre-pandemic normality of our church life.
The Kempston East Wesley Guild meets twice monthly on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday at 2.30pm between September and the end of May in the New School Hall at Kempston East (entrance in Foster Road).
All are most welcome to join the group. The Wesley Guild was initially established by the Methodist Church over 100 years ago. Its membership has embraced a wide age group drawn from various denominations.
Learn more about the Guild and their programme here
On Fridays, the 1st Kempston Boys Brigade Company meets from 6pm in the New School Hall and Old School Halls for their weekly activities. The Boys Brigade is one of the biggest Christian Youth Organisations in the UK & Republic of Ireland. We are committed to seeing lives enriched by supporting children and young people to reach their full potential by providing opportunities to meet together and engage in a range of fun and developmental activities and experiences.
Learn more about the company and what they do here
Every Friday during term time, we have a parents and toddler group in the New School Hall from 9:30-11:30am. This is an ideal group to bring your child to let off a bit of steam and interact with other children in a safe and friendly environment.
Learn more about the group here
Not only that, but the Tibbs Dementia Group and Lunch Club are both hoping to meet again soon so there is a lot going on and we are pleased to welcome everyone back.
There are now opportunities to be involved and volunteer with these groups so if you are interested, you can find our contact details here.
We are pleased to announce that Kempston East will reopen for face-to-face worship from Sunday 4th April at 10:30am.
The following precautions must be followed by all people who attend:
You are also reminded that should you feel unwell with Covid-19 symptoms, which can be any of the following:
In terms of lettings and users of our Halls, the restrictions mean that the earliest that these can recommence is the 12th of April (again, this is subject to further Government review). We are working towards this date and thank Barbara for liaising with our Hall users.
During the 10:30am service on Easter Sunday we will also be holding communion. We have developed special arrangements to ensure this is done safely in accord with our COVID Risk Assessment. So, during communion, the congregation will remain in their seats and the elements will be brought to you (using the alternate roped off rows). We will be wearing PPE and using wafers instead of bread to ensure that only the person taking communion will have touched it, and you will be asked to pick up your own glass of communion wine (being careful not to touch any of the other glasses) and then to replace that back onto the tray.
As usual on Easter Sunday we will be collecting fresh eggs. These will be distributed to local charities to help people in need. There will be a table at the front where these can be placed.
Once again in the church garden we will have the large cross. On Easter Sunday you are invited to bring flowers to decorate the cross. (When doing this please do maintain a safe distance and wash/sanitise your hands afterwards.)
We look forward to being back together again!
A challenge we have all been facing recently is how do we stay connected. Staying connected to friends, family and to God. With another UK wide lockdown in place, Kempston East is once again having to close our doors until it is lifted and it is safe to meet and worship together again. So we are once again left with this question, how do we stay connected with God?
It is important to keep a strong connection with God and we wanted to outline some ways in which you can do this.
In terms of connection, I’m talking about how strong is our connection to God - similar to a WiFi signal. I thought that was fairly apt for the current times where the most asked questions nowadays must be: “How do I improve my WiFi signal?” and “Have you tried clicking on the microphone symbol?” We have all been there when our connection to the internet has been a bit dodgy, the picture isn’t as clear as it could be, and we have unexpectedly left an online meeting due to a bad connection — or that was our excuse anyway! In order to keep the picture clear and be able to communicate we have to have a strong connection. This is the same in our Christian life; we have to have a strong connection with God.
To ensure we have a strong WiFi connection, we have to pay a subscription. To ensure our strong connection with God, we have to play our part as well. Instead of paying money, we have to dedicate our time and our lives to God to ensure our connection with Him stays strong. Recently, we have celebrated Kempston East's 116th Church Anniversary and this week we remember those who served in the war all those years ago. Both of these initial events in time that we are marking are remembered in a similar way; where the actions of the few benefit the lives of many. The people involved dedicated their lives to do God's will and to make the world a better place.
We are all God's people and we were created to do his will. By doing this, we strengthen our connection with Him.
Without this strong connection with God, we cannot communicate with Him and we cannot understand the plan that he has for us. We can do our bit to keep our connection strong by praying, reading our bibles, living as the people of God and being stewards of his world.
The Bible tells us how important it is to have a strong connection with God. We learn on several occasions that Jesus removes himself from everyone else to pray. Sometimes, his own followers have to look for him in the mountains, where Jesus sits and connects to God. He was able to re-connect with his Father in Heaven. We can do the same and create a deep connection when we take time to spend with God. This deep connection can balance us, create direction and purpose in our lives, and recharge us for the rest of the day. This is all linked with our relationship with God.
Private prayer, Bible reading and meditation play a pivotal role in our personal walk with God, in building a relationship with him. This doesn’t have to all be done inside either; going outside for a walk and being thankful for the world that he has created is very beneficial for the soul. Many great thinkers and leaders scheduled a daily walk to help their thinking and connect to God. Winston Churchill walked every single morning right after he got out of bed. Other great leaders who set the same example include Einstein, Beethoven, and of course Jesus.
It’s important to remember that no journey with God is ever the same. We all take different paths in life and have discovered Christianity in different ways, so keeping our connection with God is going to be personal for each person. Ensuring a strong connection is one of many challenges we are facing at the moment but as was mentioned earlier, a strong connection with God can balance us, create direction and purpose in our lives. Keeping a strong connection with God will make everything else in life fall into place.
Put your faith in him and you will not be disappointed.
Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you back at the church when we are able to worship again.
We are pleased to be celebrating our 116th anniversary as a church in 2020. Despite the unusual circumstances, we still worship, share in fellowship and feel the presence of God just the same as our founding members in 1904.
Church Anniversary services are about looking back with thanksgiving, learning from the past and then they are about moving forwards. We celebrate the achievements and faith of so many saints at Kempston East. Many we shall never know by name but they quietly and faithfully kept the faith and passed on the baton to the next generation; for that we are truly grateful. But if it’s only about looking backwards then what of today and the future of the Church? We need to ask ourselves questions about the church, organisation and our own faith.
Why does it exist? What in a sentence is it doing today? What will it have become in, say, 5-10 years? What does your church have to do in the next year in order to become the church you wish it to become in 10 years time? What are the values which you will not sacrifice in order to see your vision fulfilled? What is your strategy? These are not easy questions to answer, but the real shock is if we have rarely asked them. These four points may help us:
1. Building a Personal Faith
Looking at Acts 2, which is a snapshot of the early church where building a personal faith was vital. Is our faith the same as 50 years ago or has it changed? I am not talking about the core beliefs but our experience and knowledge of our faith. Hopefully we have grown and John Wesley’s rule on doing good all the time means we have an active faith.
John Wesley’s rule:
Do All the Good You Can, In All the Ways You Can,
At All the Times You Can,
By All the Means You Can, In All the Places You Can,
To All the People You Can,
As long as Ever ......You Can!”
2. Building a People of Faith
Ezekiel 37 is a picture of walking through the valley of dry bones and being given a vision by God of new life. I am not suggesting that Kempston East looks like a valley of dry bones, but when we celebrate Pentecost it is a reminder that the spirit created a fellowship and community of faith. The Church is NOT a spiritual sanatorium in which to hide from the world but a mission station where folk are cared for and equipped to engage with the world. Ultimately, it’s not about church meetings but MEETING with the living God that really matters. We are in the business of ‘Building a People of Vision’ in our 21st century post-modern culture.
3. Connecting Locally
The church in the book of Acts connected with folk from a wide range of backgrounds. In fact the wrong sort of people got converted and Kempston East should be attracting the wrong sort of people as well as the right kind. In the words of Archbishop William Temple the Church exists for the benefit of its non-members. The church that doesn’t evangelise will fossilise and we need to constantly re-connect to the local community.
4. Connecting Globally
The New Testament Church communities connected and supported each other. However I sometimes think it is easier to contact with people around the world than locally. I have spoken to Church members by phone - one was on a beach in Corfu, another in Shanghai - and with a Methodist Minister from Ghana ringing up from his village in the jungle. Perhaps it would help to see Kempston East as a part of a global church worshipping locally.
If we want the Church to be around for the next 116 years we need to allow God’s spirit to continually renew its life. A good question to ask ourselves, do you still have faith in a Great God?
Kempston East, Happy 116th Birthday Blessings
Rev. Michael Giles
Kempston East Minister
As of Sunday 13 September, we are pleased to be reopening for Sunday worship. As you may be aware, the Government has just announced new regulations on meeting together from 14 September. Therefore, we will now be meeting together for worship in the church at Kempston East this week under our four-point guidance. We have also included a new poster below about how you might recognise someone who is unable to wear a mask because of a hidden disability.
If you are not able to come to the church on a Sunday morning, we plan to livestream and record the services and make them available to view in full on the website. If you would like to watch the services live, please sign up to our email list to receive the viewing details.
Four Point Guidance
New Rules on Socialising from September 14
Last Tuesday, and following the large increases in Covid-19 cases in the previous three days, the Government announced new rules for how we can socialise with other people. This is our guide to what these are and how they might affect us.
There will be a limit of six people allowed to meet together socially (up until tomorrow the limit is thirty people). This applies to meeting together indoors and outdoors, so you won’t be able to have more than six family members meeting together, even in your garden, in a restaurant, or in the park.
There will be some exceptions to these rules:
This exemption has not been mentioned as widely on the news as the others have but the Methodist Church has posted its guidance by quoting a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury: "After contact with Government we hear that there is no change to guidance on places of worship. Worship is the work of God – not a social gathering – and gives the strength to love and serve. The increase in COVID cases is very concerning. We must follow the guidance and take all the necessary measures to keep people safe. And let’s keep praying for everyone who is affected – those who are ill, or whose families are ill, those who are anxious, or struggling with cancelled plans and isolation. We give grateful thanks to God for the NHS and all those who work tirelessly to keep us safe." - The Archbishop of Canterbury
This Sunday (5th April 2020) is Palm Sunday where we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1–9), when palm branches were placed in his path. It marks the beginning of Holy Week and the final week of Lent.
It is a time where we remember and read about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, as the King of Israel who had come to save all mankind. Palm Sunday is traditionally celebrated by the blessing and distribution of palm branches representing the palm branches the crowd laid in front of Christ as he rode into Jerusalem.
The symbolism of this event is captured in the Old Testament: Zechariah 9:9 "The Coming of Zion's King – See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey". According to the Gospels, Jesus Christ rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, and the celebrating people there laid down their cloaks and small branches of trees in front of him, singing part of Psalm 118: 25–26 – Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
At the end of the Bible, people from every nation raise palm branches to honour Jesus (Revelation 7:9) and we want everyone to do the same now. In this time of adversity and uncertainty, let us put our faith in our constant friend and saviour, Jesus Christ. Put your cross in your window and join others around the world as we celebrate the coming of the King.
Send in your pictures and we will share them on our website and Facebook page.
If you don't have a palm cross but would like to make one, here is a great video tutorial of how to make a paper origami cross.
As you may be aware, the Government has provided updated information suggesting that social gatherings be limited and have suggested that for the over 70’s social distancing is encouraged.
With that in mind, the stewarding team and our minister have met this evening and agreed the following:
There will be a service on Sunday 22nd March (Mothering Sunday) at 10:30 am led by Rev. Peter Byass. There will be no refreshments served after the service. Individuals can of course choose not to attend if that is their preference.
After the service on Sunday we will be suspending all worship at Kempston East Methodist Church until further notice.
- We are aiming to publish weekly internet-based worship material for the duration of the church closure, that will be accessible from the church website. (More information will be published in the church newsletter this Sunday).
- Our pastoral leaders will be in contact with our church family to keep them updated.
- Weekly newsletters will be published online, which will include information on where to e-mail any prayer requests. These may be mentioned in the online newsletter the following week and may be used our internet-based worship, so that we can also include them in our personal prayers.
- In line with Methodist Church guidance published earlier today, there will be no refreshments served after the service this Sunday, nor indeed at any events on our premises.
As a church, please continue to look after each other by speaking regularly on the telephone and reaching out to us if you need help.
We pray that you and your families remain in good health and look forward to seeing you in person as soon our face to face worship resumes.
May God’s love be with you all.
Phil Timms (Senior Church Steward)
Revd Prof Peter Byass (Minister)
Life seems so uncertain at present. I suppose it’s always been that way but there just seem to be so many more things that are outside our control which could have a major effect on us.
The spread of COVID-19, the novel form of Coronavirus, around the world is occupying many people’s thoughts at present. While it was only in China we perhaps were less concerned. It’s over there, thousands of miles away, no need to worry. But now, as I write this, there are three cases in Hertfordshire and, maybe by the time you read this, it will have got even closer. Much more of a concern.
Then, because of the effect the COVID-19 is having on the financial markets, people are also getting concerned about their savings, their pensions and so on. Not only that, but how much of our liberties, that we take so much for granted, will we lose if the government starts to impose restrictions on our lives to try to ‘contain’ the problem.
Mind you, if you live in Worcestershire or in Yorkshire, losses of a different kind may be occupying your mind, particularly if, like one couple, you’ve got flood waters right up to the eaves of your bungalow and have lost not only most of your possessions but possibly your home as well.
Like I said, so much uncertainty, so much to concern us. But, time and time again, Jesus tells his disciples, and us, not to be afraid. When he walked on the water towards his disciples, they thought he was a ghost but he reassured them - ‘Don’t be afraid’. When Peter, James and John were overwhelmed by the vision of the Transfiguration he told them - ‘Don’t be afraid’. These were all things that were
beyond both the control and the understanding of the disciples. No wonder they were afraid, but Jesus calmed their fears. As long as he was there, in control, they had no need to fear.
It’s the same now with us. Whether it’s the fear of catching Coronavirus or the worry of what the weather may do to our home, Jesus is in control. Don’t be afraid. Whether it’s the uncertainty of the outcome of tests you might have been having or the operation you might be facing, Jesus is in control. Don’t be afraid.
There are some books in the Bible that you can just dip into, read a few verses and you feel much better. The book of Proverbs is one of those, so let me quote to you some verses from The Message version of Proverbs 3, verses 21-26.
“Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.”
So, don’t be afraid, God is in control. He will keep you safe and sound.