It always comes hard to me to have to think about and sort out all the services around Christmas time so many weeks before Christmas and this year was no exception. Yes, I know that these things need forward planning (especially for Christmas and Easter, when the Newspapers try to make a composite list of all the services in all the churches) because, as Media Publicity Director here, I always have to be working several weeks ahead or I wouldn't get the coverage like, for instance, the paragraph that appeared in the Reading Chronicle last week advertising our Autumn Fair with an African theme to be held on November 3rd.
So it was a great relief when, with 65 days still to come before Christmas, that I answered the annual (and very early) request of a local Newspaper and emailed the list of services and other celebrations to be held in the Methodist churches in the North of the Circuit. It includes an annual Christmas Carol service at one church for those who have been victims of polio and a 'Birthday Cake for Jesus' at another.
But first there is our Autumn Fair for which the church and hall will be decorated with African artefacts and there will be a picture competiton with entrants' work on show. Any photos or artwork with an African theme taken or created by the entrant in any medium is eligible, and there are several age groups. There will be lunches, musical entertainment and children's games, including rides on 'the little red train', as well as the usual stalls with goods for sale. The money raised will be divided between the Racecourse Community School conected with our twin church in Mindolo, Zambia and the Groom Street Methodist Church in Koksted, Natal, where our Minister was once stationed and where they are now building a community hall. As you will gather, this is a time to have fun together as well as raising money for our friends overseas.
I have also been working on the draft of the November Prayer Guidelines for the Methodists North of the River Thames and, when it's been approved by the Minister, I will be creating a large print version before both versions are sent to be printed ready for distribution on Sunday. It is surprising how long it takes to gather all the information from all sources, so that our people can be praying for the President and Vice-President on their travels, other Connexional issues and happenings, District and Circuit affairs, local ecumenical and community events, our own immediate needs and challenges and, of course, world-wide concerns.