St. Stephen's Church

Bideford Way, Cannock, Staffs. WS11 1QD

Saturday 14th November

We have an extra Pastoral Letter from the Secretary to the Methodist Conference, Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler.

Saturday 7th November

Sadly we cannot meet in our church building for Remembrance Sunday. However, the children of Busydays have created a poster that can be seen in the ramp window and Barbara has put poppies on the communion table.

Cannock Foodbank is still seeing a high number of families in need. They will probably be even busier with more businesses closed during Lockdown. Barbara is still collecting food to take to the Foodbank. If you would like to donate. They are in particular need of tinned potatoes, rice pudding, toiletries and tinned meat.

The collection date for Christmas Shoeboxes has been moved to 14th December so you have a little more time to get your boxes to Barbara.

Saturday 31st October

Last week our Chair of District, Revd Rachel Parkinson, shared a Pastoral Letter.

Saturday 17th October

Operation Christmas Child


For almost 30 years St Stephen's has supported Operation Christmas Child by filling our shoeboxes with lots of Christmas goodies to send to some of the poorest children in Eastern Europe. It will be a little different this year but Covid won't stop us carrying on with this tradition.
If you would like to fill a box you can check the latest advice on the
Samaritan's Purse website.
Barbara has a supply of empty boxes and will be collecting the filled boxes at her home rather than at the church. Please get in touch with Barbara if you would like her to collect it from you. The all important date to get your box to Barbara is 9th November. Thank you.

Saturday 10th October

On Sunday 18th October St Stephen's will hold a short act of worship to be followed by our Annual General Church Meeting. Please see the invitation below. Note that due to the recent increase in COVID cases both locally and nationally as well as some technical issues, the meeting will now be held only on ZOOM without the planned presence at the church. If you are not yet familiar with using Zoom please get in touch with Alison, Roger or any of the regular members of the Men's Wednesday Meeting or Gospel Choir who have been using Zoom every week and can help you get connected. Note that if you do not have internet access you can still join the meeting using your traditional landline phone. Do ask if you are not sure and a trial run can be arranged.
The meeting ID and password are included in the invitation below.

Saturday 3rd October

On Sunday 4th October St Stephen's will hold its first "live" service since March. The service will be led by Mark Timothy, one of our Circuit Lay Workers. It will start at 10.30am and last about 45 minutes. Obviously there will need to be all the distancing and face coverings that we find everywhere else. Numbers will be limited and we will need to keep a record of those present in accordance with the Government's Track & Trace system. If you would like to attend this service please let Alison know by email, phone, text, Facebook,etc and a place will be reserved for you.

On Sunday 18th October St Stephen's will hold a short act of worship to be followed by our Annual General Church Meeting. Please see the invitation below.

Saturday 26th September

On Sunday 4th October St Stephen's will hold its first "live" service since March. The service will be led by Mark Timothy, one of our Circuit Lay Workers. It will start at 10.30am and last about 45 minutes. Obviously there will need to be all the distancing and face coverings that we find everywhere else. Numbers will be limited and we will need to keep a record of those present in accordance with the Government's Track & Trace system. If you would like to attend this service please let Alison know by email, phone, text, Facebook,etc and a place will be reserved for you.

Thank you.Judy would like to say "Thank you" for all the prayers, kind thoughts, cards and flowers she has received both following David's recent death and during his long illness. We continue to hold Judy and her family in our.prayers.

A message from our treasurer.

Saturday 12th September

Every Tuesday there is an online coffee morning which we call Tuesday Chat. This is simply an opportunity for folk across the circuit to chat together and share news. It has been running for about 12 weeks now and we are all getting to know each other and it is really interesting to find out what is happening in all our churches.
All you have to do is follow this link and log on for a group chat Tuesday Chat Meeting ID: 730-339-0126

The Circuit Meeting took place on Monday evening and there are a couple of things of general interest.
Firstly, there will be no change of ministerial staff for the next couple of years as both Jacob and Sue are confirmed in their positions. All the paid circuit staff (ordained and lay) are now back from their various summer breaks, and raring to go. So, if something needs to be done, come and talk to us.
Secondly there was some discussion about Bourne Church and what we could do there. This seems a great opportunity for a church and community hub, but we need to be sure that we have the finances in place, which will be a challenge in the current circumstances. It looks fairly certain that discussion will continue for some time.

MWiB or Methodist Women in Britain have a district gathering on Wednesday 16th September, by Zoom, 10. 30 – 11.30. They will begin their New Year with a service for the rededication of officers, which will be led by the Chair of District, the Rev Rachel Parkinson, followed by a talk by the Rev Bev Boden from the Walsall circuit who will talk about the work of Ablewell Advice. This is the incoming President’s charity and funds are very much needed to continue their work in the Black Country. If you are interested get in touch with June Scrimgeour or Mark Timothy who will pass on the Zoom login details.

The Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District of the Methodist Church, of which we are a part, have their own newssheet which details what is going on in the district. It is always a good read and can be found here. District News

Thursday 3rd September

Revd Nigel has written a pastoral letter about plans to return to worship at St Stephen's in October.
The letter includes a long list of actions from the Return to Worship Risk Assessment. Please do not worry too much about this at the moment. Many of the things on the list will be taken care of beforehand. For the person in the pew it will come down to social distancing, wearing a face covering, not singing and touching as little as possible. The main thing to focus on must be that we will be able to come together in fellowship to worship our loving God.
The bit that does apply from today is that Busydays are now back in the building. They too have a rigorous risk assessment to work to and in order to help them we are asked to limit our access to the building to the absolute minimum. If you really have to go inside please check with Eric or Roger beforehand and be sure to use the porch entrance (NOT the ramp) and to use the hand sanitiser on entry. Also please use the wipes on any surface you touch, particularly door handles and light switches.
At last we can look forward to meeting again, but in the meanwhile please pray for all that the stewards, property stewards and others must work on to make it happen.

Busydays are all ready for the children to come back today.

Saturday 29th August

St Stephen's Church Council met on Thursday and accepted a number of risk assessments that pave the way for returning to our building. It was agreed that we will open up in stages so that we all have chance to iron out any unforeseen problems and keep everybody as safe as we possibly can. So Busy Days will return on 2nd September and our first Sunday morning service is planned for 4th October. The Annual Church Meeting, postponed from July, will be held on Sunday 18th October. Revd Nigel will be writing a Pastoral Letter with more details which will be circulated soon. Please add your prayers for Busy Days staff and children as they start their new term and also for the stewards, property team and others as they work towards our return to the building.

St Stephen's Walking Group invite you to join their stroll over Shoal Hill on Saturday 5th September. Meet on the Tavern car park at 9.30am. Phone Mick or Barbara for more details.

Foodbank. Thanks to everyone who has got food to Barbara for the Foodbank. She was able to take 20.1kg of food and toiletries up to Coniston Hall this week. Donations can be taken to Eric & Barbara's home or can be collected - ring Barbara to arrange.

Revd Chris Ambler

Saturday 22nd August

St Stephen's Church Council will meet on Zoom at 7pm on Thursday 27th August. Details on the email from Kate.

Members are reminded that each group that normally meets in the church will need to consider if they wish to return to using the building. Some groups may decide that for their members it is better to wait a little longer. Any group wishing to return will need to complete a risk assessment that will need to be agreed with Revd Nigel to make sure it fits in with whatever else is happening. It would be helpful if groups could let the stewards or Nigel know if they are planning to return soon or if they would prefer to delay a little longer in time for the Church Council meeting on 27th August.

Saturday 15th August

At the begining of September we will welcome Revd Chris Ambler to our circuit.
There will be a Welcome Service on Saturday 5th September at 7pm. This service will take place on Zoom and be streamed to YouTube. The plan is now that most people will view the service on YouTube. Details will be shared when they are available.

St Stephen's Church Council will meet on Zoom at 7pm on Thursday 27th August. Details on the email from Kate.

There is a national initiative to pray for 20 minutes at 20:20 on the 20th of each month throughout 2020. This is called Prayer 2020 and more information can be found here.. Anyone is welcome to join in with this. It is August 20th on Thursday so this is happening on Thursday evening. This is being promoted by Melody Jones and you can her at layworkerMelody@hotmail.com.

Saturday 1st August

Church Buildings – thinking about re-opening...

Local Churches may be starting to think about planning to re-open Church buildings. Do please consult together with your minister and with me as Superintendent as I am required to sign-off your completed risk assessments.

In the interlude between The Revd Edward Sakwe leaving us and The Revd Chris Ambler starting work (1st September) the Superintendent will assist with the re-opening if requested for Bethel, Chadsmoor, Florence Street, Mill Street, St Stephen's and Trinity Hednesford LEP; and Deacon Sue Culver will assist with re-openong if requested for Featherstone, Great Wyrley, Penkridge, Salme and Upper Landywood.

There will be no Circuit Plan until the December 2020 Quarter when interim informal arrangements (including Zoom Services) will start to be brought together and co-ordinated as a whole.

Safety is paramount and Church and HM Government guidance must be followed assiduously. The latest protocols and resources to help us as Church Councils work through these decisions are to be found as follows:

Methodist Church COVID-19 Guidance

Please note the Guidance for Property page on the Methodist Church website.

This page is being updated regularly. There are guidance documents for just about every aspect of church life including
Other community users of the church building;
Pastoral visits;
Children's worship;
Holy Communion;
Open air worship;
Face covering;
House groups and small gatherings;
Weddings;
Guide for shops;
Guide for cafes;
Cleaning churches during Covid-19.

It is also worth noting that there is a dedicated page on the CPO website for those who wish to purchase PPE with a 15% discount.

Saturday 25th July

Church Buildings – thinking about re-opening...

Local Churches may be starting to think about planning to re-open Church buildings. Do please consult together with your minister and with me as Superintendent as I am required to sign-off your completed risk assessments.

Safety is paramount and Church and HM Government guidance must be followed assiduously. The latest protocols and resources to help us as Church Councils work through these decisions are to be found as follows:

Saturday 18th July

Next Sunday afternoon - 26th July - we will bid farewell to Edward.
Plans have been made so that members of the churches under Edward’s care can meet him. If you need to know more about this contact your church stewards. The service on Sunday will be hosted on Zoom at 4pm. The Zoom meeting ID is 853 2207 7440 and you can get on through an internet browser using this link. You can also phone by dialling 0203 051 2874. There will be an automated answer service provided by Zoom and be prepared to tap in the meeting ID. The phone call will not be free and the whole service will take about 90 minutes, so beware if you don’t have a weekend call plan.

There is a national initiative to pray for 20 minutes at 20:20 on the 20th of each month throughout 2020. This is called Prayer 2020 and more information can be found here.. Anyone is welcome to join in with this. It is July 20th on Monday so this is happening on Monday evening. This is being promoted by Melody Jones and you can her at layworkerMelody@hotmail.com.

One of the things requested by churches in recent circuit meetings is time-limited bible study groups, so you might look at a particular book or subject for a few weeks and then move on to the next, like a Lent or Advent course. This suits many people as they can sign up for a specific length of time, rather than feeling committed forever. I guess it is like signing up at college for a night school course. Graham and Karen Lowther are going to run The Bible Course which has been prepared by The Bible Society. This will run for 8 weeks starting on Thursday 23rd July at 7pm. Each week will last between 60 and 90 mins and comprise of a couple of videos and some discussion questions. This is a fantastic course which has already been run in Penkridge. It covers the whole Bible (in 8 weeks!) and teaches you how everything points to Jesus, so you will take collection of books each week, starting at Genesis, and look at the points to Jesus. It is a fabulous course and will be ideal for long committed Christians who know their bible as well as folk trying to fathom Christianity.
So contact Graham Lowther on g59lowther@gmail.com for more details.
The Bible Society have a promotional video for the course here and has links for reviews and more information. Indeed the videos for week 1 can be found at here so you can have a sneak preview.

Happy 165th Birthday Salem
Salem was 165 years old last week (Happy Birthday to you!) and Keith Rothery and Mark Timothy had a short conversation about Salem’s history which we recorded and posted on YouTube here. It is only about 10 minutes long and worth a look.

Saturday 11th July

HOLIDAY CLUB with a difference (27-31 July).

Some weeks ago we had to acknowledge that it would not be possible to hold our traditional Holiday Club at St Stephen's this year. However, Berkswich Church in Stafford have come up with an online version of Holiday Club and they have kindly invited us to join them. We will be sending out invitations to all our previous Holiday Clubbers in the next week. If you know of any other children who might like to join in, please let Roger know and we will add them to the list. On the plus side you can now invite children who might live further afield and they can still be part of it via the magic of the internet. Of course it will not be the same as welcoming a hall full of excited children (and adults) into our Church, but this year we have to be dare to be different.
It should be great fun and if you want a quick taster, click here.

CHURCH COUNCIL.
There will be an online Zoom meeting of Church Council on 30th July at 7pm.

You can view the full circuit newsletter for this week in this pdf file .

News from Revd Nigel 5th July

I’m on holiday 6th – 22nd July so the next ‘Lock-down Letter’ from me will be for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 26th July. Please do access other worship and devotional resources featured on the Methodist Church - and various Local Church – websites, Facebook pages and YouTube channels. Thanks to all who have contributed to the planning, making and distribution of worship services in our Circuit.

The Government has already announced that Places of Worship may re-open from 4th July 2020 for services. The Connexional Property Team is working on what Managing Trustees will need to consider if they may be asking to re-opening buildings and the Methodist Church website will be updated accordingly.

Given that COVID-19 is a continuing threat to our safety - especially for gatherings in enclosed spaces - I am personally very wary of re-opening Church buildings too swiftly following the relaxation of Government restrictions. If Local Churches are thinking of requesting to open for private prayer or services under controlled conditions, they would need to give thought to who is going to be responsible for opening & closing up and who is going to do all the cleaning (all Churches have had the property checklist / cleaning things to do) and putting into place a system that means there are not too many people in the Church building at one time. Of course, these will need to be people who are under seventy years of age and those who are not categorised as "vulnerable"

In the meantime you can see the updates on what steps Managing Trustees (Church Councils) will need to take when considering whether to open church buildings here.

Safeguarding considerations during the pandemic can be viewed here.

News from Cannock Chase Circuit 5th July

Once again just as a reminder, keep Sunday afternoon 26th July free as we will bid farewell to Edward. The plans are pretty loose at the moment, but it seems possible that Edward will socially-meet members of his churches in the various car parks in the early afternoon. This will obviously be a challenge but one we can rise to. There will be a service at 4pm using Zoom that we can all logon to where hopefully we can all come together.

Don’t forget that there is Messy Church on Zoom each Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 for about an hour. A couple of questions. Do you want your children and grand-children to have some Christian input? And are they looking for something to do on a Wednesday afternoon? Melody Jones leads a Messy Church on a Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 for about an hour. Contact Melody Jones at layworkerMelody@hotmail.com to get more information. I think that this is a really good thing and worthwhile getting involved … and it’s fun.

The Stafford Methodist Circuit are doing a holiday club this year for children 5-11 starting on Monday 27th July and going through to Friday 31st July. Now this is going to be on YouTube and it may be that children younger and older will enjoy it. It will comprise about an hour’s “show” each day with crafts, stories, drama, jokes all aligned along a biblical and jungle theme. The team doing this are very experienced and everyone has a fab time. For more information contact Hilary Reynolds at hilaryr54@hotmail.com. It should be great fun and if you want a quick taster, click here.

We have finally got our own circuit website where you can go to quickly find information. You can find it at https://www.cannockchasemethodists.org.uk
Drop Mark Timothy an email at mark.timothy1@virginmedia.com with thoughts and comments.

You might have seen Penkridge Methodist Church in the news this week as it worked with the Round Table in Penkridge, to gather food for their foodbank. I visited on Wednesday and the organisation, range and amount of food is magnificent. They are working closely with other foodbanks in the area to ensure that no one who needs help goes without. Big Thank You to Sue and the volunteers at Penkridge for making this happen. As economic recession hits and health concerns still remain, such foodbanks are essential and give us an opportunity to serve our communities.

We notice that the government are to allow churches to open in a very restricted format, and we are all too aware that many of our congregations are in the 70+ age bracket. No decision will be made nationally by the Methodist Church on re-opening the churches before the end of the conference on July 2nd. In Cannock Chase, there is some casual chatter about how this might happen but nothing official and we have made no firm plans yet on opening the churches in the foreseeable future. Therefore, just at the moment we will remain closed. You will receive a lot of notice before we open the churches and we will do that only when it is safe to do so. This is obviously changing by the day as we write this but we will keep you in touch with developments as and when we know them.

So lots of things going on and sorry that this is so long. If you have any news that you think I should circulate then let me know as it is really great to know what is happening across our circuit. mark.timothy1@virginmedia.com

You can view the full circuit newsletter for this week in this pdf file .

News from Cannock Chase Circuit 28th June.

There is a new circuit website where you can find out about all the churches in the Cannock Chase Circuit.

Circuit Website

Please also see our special Lockdown page.
and Revd Nigel is sharing thoughts and prayers .

This week we have a news sheet from the circuit.

Please note that the links in the following notices will not be "clickable". If you open

On Sunday 8th December we made Christingles to celebrate Jesus as Light to the World. (Thanks to Martin for the pictures.).On Sunday afternoon about 60 people gathered together to say "Thank you, Mr Taylor" and to mark the end of Junior Guild after 60 years. Many memories were shared and a good time was had by all. (Thanks to Karyn for the pictures.)

What a busy start to Advent! On Saturday the Gospel Choir hosted a Candlelit Christmas Afternoon Tea. On Sunday morning the Junior Gospel Choir decorated our Christmas tree. (Thanks to Sue and Martin for pictures)

On Sunday 10th November we held a Parade Service for Remembrance Day.

On Sunday 20th October we celebrated Val's 25 years of service to the Day Centre.

Over the weekend 21/22 September we celebrated all that God provides for us with Harvest services and the Gospel Choir's Harvest Afternoon Tea.

Last Week's Notices