April 2012 Messenger

Christ Church Tonbridge

The Messenger

Minister’s Letter

Dear Friends,

This is an exciting year for the UK with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June followed by the Olympic Games in July. But before all that we have the excitement of Easter.

On the 5th April we have our Maundy Thursday Communion Service which begins with a simple meal at 7pm. This year we will be sharing our meal and service with the fellowship from Tudeley and Five Oak Green LEP. This special service will be an opportunity to remember the last supper that was shared by our Lord and his disciples. It’s important to think back to that evening in the upper room as Jesus told his friends of the sacrifice that he was about to make for all his disciples. From that moment on every time that we share the elements of bread and wine we remember the Lord’s death until he comes again.

On Good Friday at 10am we will have a service to give thanks to God for gift of his Son. As Jesus gave his life on the cross he took our sin upon himself and gave all those who believe on him the promise of forgiveness and eternal life. Please join us if you can as we praise and worship the Saviour of the world.


On Easter Day we will have an all age celebration service at 10am where we will praise and worship the risen Jesus. As the women who had witnessed the death of Jesus came to his tomb to find it empty, we will think again of what that meant to them and us as we worship our risen Lord Jesus Christ.


It is going to be an exciting year but nothing is more thrilling than the knowledge that we have a God who loves us so much he was prepared to give everything so that we could be with him for ever.


With love in Christ,



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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK Wednesdays at 12.45 pm

A 20-minute lunchtime service   Prayers  –  Songs – Thought for the Week

Please come and join us.   Everyone is welcome.


Next itemChristian Aid Week (13 – 19 May 2012) at Christ Church


Once again, in May this year Christ Church will be joining with other Churches in Tonbridge and throughout the country in an unparalleled act of Christian witness to our communities – showing them we care about justice and poor people.


Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty. By being part of this week, we are not only funding life changing projects, we’re helping tackle root causes of poverty.

Last year the Churches in Tonbridge and District raised some £5700 by way of door –to-door collections on the streets in our neighbourhood.  In these difficult financial times, the world’s poorest people need our time, prayers and financial support more than ever. Christian Aid Week helps us to give people the opportunity to be generous – and by far the majority are!

If you can help this year by delivering envelopes, collecting envelopes, or by co-ordinating collections from different groups and Churches, please join us this year, giving your names to John Wynne ,Nigel Munns or  your house/cell group leader.


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From the Editor:  The next issue of The Messenger will be published in May 2012.  News from any Christian organisation or charity you are involved with would be especially interesting for our readers—please send material for this issue to Lesley Cumming by Friday 20th April.  ljcumming@compuserve.com  Tel: 833774


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The power of standing together

Christian Aid Week tells the story of a community in Sierra Leone that has seen remarkable change. Tenneh Keimbay’s life turned around when the Methodist Church of Sierra Leone (MCSL) started to work in her town, distributing tools and teaching farmers simple food production techniques. She talks enthusiastically about the difference this has made: ‘Now the children eat two meals all year round, whereas before it was one. They are growing well; they don’t cry around me because of hunger. They are happy to go to school because something is in their stomach.’

The benefits of regular food speak for themselves. But the effects of the food production group have been more wide-ranging than this. Tenneh speaks of the huge difference working in a group has made to her. Acting together, the farmers can share their skills and work more efficiently. As she tells us, the bottom line is that ‘the group work provides more food’.

Tenneh speaks of the support and the encouragement that the farmers give to each other, and how much can be achieved when the community comes together. ‘What inspires me in life is unity,’ she says. ‘To me, unity means coming together to decide on one thing and take that forward.’

Now that they are no longer limited by hunger, the people of Gbap (pronounced Bap) have come together and successfully lobbied for a new school and an agricultural work centre for the community. The people of Gbap have taken their future into their own hands.

During Christian Aid Week, 15,000 churches across Britain and Ireland will organise house-to-house collections and events to raise funds to enable organisations like MCSL to carry out their work transforming communities such as Gbap. Christian Aid currently works with 507 partners in 47 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, helping people to make change happen. Our donations will be multiplied many times over as many small actions come together to make a huge change. But the giving that takes place during Christian Aid Week is not one-way.

Unity is something that our churches are not always good at, and the value of community that has inspired Tenneh is something that we can learn from and be changed by. Christian Aid Week is about raising funds. But it is also a call to unity – an invitation for churches to come together and celebrate the possibility of hope and life in parts of the world where mere survival can be a struggle.

This is a challenge, because division and inequality and injustice will always be easier than unity. But Tenneh’s insistence that remarkable things can happen when we come together is not new. We see it in the actions and ministry of Jesus, who pushed against all that leads to violence and separation and called his disciples to model a new way of community.

Can we use this Christian Aid Week to allow ourselves to be changed? If we can work together, with each other, with our churches and with our neighbours both at home and as far away as Gbap, then we may start to see huge change happen.

Tenneh says that ‘when you are a group and work with focus and total commitment, you work at a faster rate; the stronger ones can help with work that weaker ones cannot do by themselves’. As we engage in Christian Aid Week, we can rejoice as we stand together in solidarity. Although we might ask who is the strong and who is the weak – and who is actually giving to whom.

Be a part of Christian Aid Week this year: if, together, we take small actions we can give people like Tenneh the tools to make big change happen.


£6.50/€7.50 could buy a set of four hand tools for a farmer living in the town of Gbap.


£50/€57.50 could pay for advocacy training for two young people in a Kenyan slum, equipping them with the tools they need to pressure their government to provide essential services.


£123/€141.50 could buy a reclaimed aluminium greenhouse for women working on market gardening projects in Tajikistan, providing a vital tool for growing vegetables in a harsh climate experiencing extremes of hot and cold.


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A world in crisis?

Your church seeking direction?

Is God is calling you?


TLS offers an opportunity to:

Examine your faith  Enrich your discipleship  Explore your calling

To get going with God


Training for Learning and Serving has been around for over 25 years. Since 1995 it has provided the opportunity for more than 800 people in the United Reformed Church to learn and train to serve God more effectively.

This is what some of those who have experienced TLS say:

‘TLS has helped me get a better understanding of God and myself’


‘It gave me the confidence to open prayer to the community in an effective way.’


‘The educational value of the course has been great to someone starting with only a small knowledge base.’


‘I didn’t think I could do it but others did, and with support and encouragement and prayerful backing I now feel I am where God wants me to be.’


‘My year on TLS has been a fascinating and wonderful journey.’



·     A spiritual journey

·     A variety of courses on subjects related to Christian life

and discipleship

·     A diverse learning experience with opportunities for

o    Reflective and practical work

o    Personal and group study

o    Local and residential gatherings

·     A fellowship of friendly people


YOU CAN DO TLS: just out of personal interest, to help you be more understanding and effective in your Christian discipleship; to explore opportunities to serve God in the future; to help you acquire United Reformed Church Assembly Lay Preaching accreditation; because it doesn’t matter whether you have some academic experience or none.


HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?:  More details, including the current prospectus and application form, are to be found on the United Reformed Church Web-site at www.urc.org.uk.  Click the TLS icon on the front page or follow the route through ‘What we do’.

OR contact the TLS Administrator, Mrs Heather Skidmore, at:

27 Yew Tree Road, Elkesley, Retford, DN22 8AY

Tel: 01777 838634      E-mail: tlsskid@btinternet.com

She will be happy to send to you the TLS Prospectus and Application Form.


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Safetynet – Protecting Innocence Online

A call to Government to legislate internet service providers [ISPs] to protect young people from on-line porn has been made by Britain’s largest Christian media organisation.

Premier Christian Media Trust, which owns Premier Christian Radio, wants the Government to introduce legislation which demands that pornography is filtered at source.

This would require the introduction of a network level filter, with an ‘opt-in’ facility for subscribers over the age of 18 – switching the default setting for internet pornography to ‘OFF’. The top six UK-based ISPs account for 90% of internet traffic.

The ‘Safetynet Campaign’ is being run because, as Peter Kerridge, Premier Christian Media Trust’s CEO, said, “Our kids are a vital target for those who deal in the world of online pornography. Consider the following:

• 1 in 3 10 year olds have stumbled across and viewed pornography online

• The single largest group of those seeing Internet pornography are children aged 12-17

• 81 per cent of 14-16 year olds are regularly accessing explicit photographs and footage on their home computers and mobile phone


Pornography poses a real danger to our children. Mark Kastleman, author of The Drug of the New Millennium, a book about how pornography affects the brain, warns: “Giving porn to a teenage boy is like giving crack to a baby. Addiction is almost guaranteed. No wonder boys aged 12-17 are the porn industry’s core target.”

Most people already recognise the need for measures to protect our children from sex and violence in films, video games and on TV. This campaign believes that that same principle should be extended to the internet. This measure aims to give adults the choice to access pornography, whilst giving children the freedom to surf the internet safely.”

• To get involved in the Safetynet Campaign please visit www.safetynet.org.uk. The Safetynet Campaign was created by Premier Christian Media, the UK’s largest Christian Media organization, and Safermedia.


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Thank you all for your concern for Barbara while she is in a care home in Tunbridge Wells.  The latest report is she is very poorly and has lost a lot of weight.  She is confined to bed and therefore she sleeps a lot.  Her appetite is very small and I find it frustrating trying to get her just to take a couple of mouthfuls of food when I help feed her.

I try to visit her every day as I feel if she realized someone is with her it would help her cope with the problem.  The staff at the home are very kind and look after Barbara very well.

Thank you for prying for Barbara.  I feel we can only leave everything in God’s hands.  My personal thanks to so many of you who sent me cards and congratulations on my birthday on 27th February.  Also for Linda Robinson who delivered a lovely bowl of hyacinths from the church.  They are wonderful.  The perfume is lovely when you walk through the room.

God bless you all,

Barbara and Ron Divall

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Bread of Life Church International      Letter to the church at Tonbridge


Dear Partners

Choice Christian greetings in the most precious of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Once again I take this rare but important opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate your gifts, love, care, kindness and concern for everyone you have helped in many ways, spiritually, materially, financially as well as morally.

Yesterday Thursday 2nd February I sat with some members of the Welfare Team and I asked them, a very simple but not easy to answer question. This is the question I asked them, “If you happened to be a Pastor of a Congregation that has many, many needy people who face financial and spiritual problems, what would you do?  What would you say to somebody who comes and helps those needy members, financially and spiritually, and this help is something that you can see, touch and feel?”

They spent a considerable time giving all sorts of good answers and I finally told them, that the Pastor in that question was me. On hearing this they all went quiet for about two minutes.  Then Deaconess Myila reminded us all of the message I had preached in Church on “Partakers of God’s Grace.” This is the message I heard my Bishop preach sometime before somewhere and I so preached it in church.  We took time to pray for you and all the sponsors.

And as I write this letter I would love to attach this message for the partners and sponsors, because truly you have touched my life and the lives of many. Ministry has been a joy with you helping in our work. I just don’t know how it could have been without you all. You help and support can be seen, touched and felt.

On behalf of my wife, the Church Leadership, The Church and indeed the Children and their guardians and my Bishop, I would like to salute you and express our sincere gratitude to you for all the support. Further I salute Sharon Tringham and the many others she is working with in this programme.  The love of God, the grace of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit – be with you all.

Praying for you,

Lloyd Nsakanya,



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To The Elders of Christ Church URC Tonbridge


Dear Elders,

Christ Church has always had a heart for overseas mission and over the years and in faith you have seen God move and provide in a way that only He can.  I believe that as Christians we are called to reach out to the poor and needy of this world. We are called to be God’s hands and feet and to further His Kingdom by preaching His Gospel of love and forgiveness in both word and deed. Read Matthew 25:31-40.

As some of you may know, we are going on a mission trip in India working with 3 charities out there.  Back2Back, who work in Hyderabad, provide food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education to around 200 of the 35,000,000 orphans in India.  They also aim to provide a college education to the older orphans in order to break the cycle of unemployment and poverty.  We will be teaching lessons with a Christian basis and sharing the Gospel message with the children there.  As a team of Christians we will also be providing prayer support and trusting that God will continue to provide and grow the ministry that they have.

Iris Ministries help schools, churches and community projects in Kolkata.  We will be helping out wherever the charity needs us for the 4 days we spend with them.  Specifically we will be meeting with the children in the local school to deliver Christian based lessons through the medium of drama, music and craft.  In the past the charity has seen a really good response from the kids to this type of ministry.

ASHA gives hope to around 400,000 people living in more than 50 slum colonies of Delhi by allowing them to realise their potential, regardless of their background, caste or religious beliefs.  ASHA addresses deep-rooted social and poverty induced problems by involving community members in every aspect of their work.  They aim to make lasting benefits in the lives of slum dwellers through empowerment, healthcare, education, financial inclusion and environmental improvement.  We will be helping with building and improvement of their centres and supporting the various community projects they run within the slums.

All of the charities have great needs and rely on donations to continue their work. We want to go out to India with money to support the charities financially as well as giving our time.  We would love to see an orphanage built for Back2Back and sponsorship for many of the children supported by Iris and ASHA so they can receive schooling, healthcare, shelter and food.  But most importantly we want to see many come to know Christ as their rock and fortress and to know his love and kindness in their lives.

So please pray to support the work of the three charities, pray for children come to know Christ, pray for safety for us and the team whilst we are out there and directly against illness.  Pray for land and finance so that Back2Back can build an orphanage to help even more children. I f you feel like you want to give to the work we are doing and to the charities out in India then talk to us, it will be greatly appreciated.

Yours gratefully,

Phil Cheeseman and Tom Munns


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The Book of Books : Melvyn Bragg


2011 saw the 400th anniversary of the Authorised Version of the Bible; a significant anniversary and one marked by the publication of many books on its history and importance.  At Christmas, Corinne and Mike Clugston gave us this one, rightly believing that we would be interested!

It has been reviewed generously elsewhere, and it deserves it.  Yet it is something of a curate’s egg being good in parts!  There are many strengths and not a few weaknesses.  The main weakness seems to me to confuse the translation itself with the application of the spirituality that it informed; to say the book itself caused something rather than the knowledge and the interpretation of what was recorded in it, seems to me a fundamental flaw.  It perhaps reflects Bragg’s intellectual awareness of Christianity rather than any engagement.

Yet it is excellent on the social changes that it inspired both here and in the USA – the book seems to have been written with an eye to US sales! It is also excellent in the ability to spot the flaw in many of the arguments of Richard Dawkins where the sweeping generalisations that he uses undermine his accusations of woolly thinking in theology.  Yet Bragg too falls into the trap of generalisation and indeed lazy research.  He confuses the Church of and in England with that of Britain, seemly ignorant of the position in Scotland and Ireland.  He also seems unaware of the importance of the AV in the development of education in Scotland or indeed the number of ancient universities.  Perhaps minor points, but to me irritating (for obvious reasons).  The approach to reading and preaching from the word in Scotland and Ireland was one of the ways the AV made Britain different, reaching out to the New World. It needed addressing.

A good book, worth reading, but with the application of critical thought!

Adam Cumming


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URC Local Mission and Ministry Review

LMMR, to give it its acronym, has occupied quite a bit of my time lately, but this may be the first time you have heard of it.  When the URC was first set up each church had a “district visitation”, once every five years.  This was a fairly passive exercise for each church: two people would come to a service, talk to the minister and elders, look at documents and write a report, which was then presented at a church meeting.

In 2011 the LMMR process, which is mandatory, was adopted nationally by the URC.  It’s a four-year rolling process: in Year 1 each church gets external helpers to review its “Pastorate Profile” (this is the document each church prepares before they can call a new minister); and in Year 3 the minister, elders and members of each church undertake a smaller, internal review.  Then the process starts again.

The Year 1 review is a chance for each church to assess what progress it has made towards its vision, to note where things have gone less well than expected, or have changed or need to change.  Then objectives can be revised and new objectives set for the minister, the elders and the church members for the next four years.  It also means that the Pastorate Profile becomes a “living document”, accurately reflecting the life of the church: we will need this when our current minister retires and we have to start the process of replacing him.  I think LMMR is an extremely good system because it involves the whole church community: as part of the exercise each church meeting appoints a “church review team” consisting of a few elders but also a representative cross-section of those involved in the church’s life.  It is also very practical and realistic.  It focuses on mission, using the Southern Synod 9-point mission criteria list and takes account of where a church is located.  Above all it encourages churches to set themselves a few mission goals and do these well.

Why has LMMR been taking up my time? Well, I have been doing the training to be one of the “external helpers” for churches undertaking a Year 1 review and will be off to Crawley URC and Robertson Street, Hastings in the spring and summer to help them with their reviews.  It may also take up some of your time as, later in the year, Christ Church is scheduled to have its first LMMR review and you may be asked to be part of the church review team!

Lesley Cumming


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“It’s Thursday”

April programme

5th April                      10.00 am refreshments

10.30 am “Thoughts for Easer” from Diane

12th April                    10.00 am Refreshments in the hall

10.30 am ‘It’s Bat & Trap time again

19th April                    10.00 am Refreshments

10.30 am “The Ten Plagues”.  A talk by Fred

26th April                    Table Top fund raiser for “Widows Mite”

Open to everyone.  No subscription required

For more information contact Brenda or Howard Ansdell (354351).


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Weekly collection figures

05.02.12          732.01

12.02.12          267.45

19.02.12          677.47

26.02.12          404.97

Sub-total         3235.70

Standing orders (Feb) 536.00


Total    £ 3771.70


Weekly average for 2011 to 28 February 2011 = £849.56

Weekly average for 2012 to 29 February 2012 = £770.83

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The United Reformed Church in Tonbridge, Kent