Christmas won’t be the same this year for any of us. But the message of Jesus is still as perfectly relevant as ever. Do join with us in person or online as we celebrate and remember Jesus, the Light of the World.
Children: join our real-live live Nativity Trail through Hanley Park – and don’t forget to bring a torch!
In person: book to join one of our Christmas services. Sunday 20th December, 4pm or 5:30pm, or on Christmas Dav at 10:30am.
Online: all our services go out live on YouTube. It’s not the same as being there in person, but for those who need to isolate, it’s great. We’d especially recommend the Christmas service at 4pm on Sunday 20th December.
We’re not sure whether we’ll be able to sing at the Christmas service this year. But we thought it would be nice to have a socially-distanced church choir to lead one of our songs at the carol service. The idea is to have as many videos as possible of people singing this carol. And we’ll edit it together and make it look and sound nice.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the best voice in the world – your voice won’t be heard above the others.
Top tips for making a great recording:
- Listen to the backing track on headphones. Then use a different phone to record yourself.
- Warm up your voice first – do a couple of practise runs in the car when no-one is listening!
- Prop your phone up against something so it stays still.
- Make your video in “portrait” (keep your phone vertical).
- If you have a choice of resolution, set your phone to the highest quality it can do.
- Try to make sure there’s more light on your face than behind you. That way you’ll avoid being in sillouette.
- Try to smile: you’ll look better on camera, and you’ll sing much better too!
- Send your recording to Jon or Patch by WhatsApp or email.
Easy backing track
More tricky backing tracks for those who are more confident
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
This has been a year of deep darkness, and more than ever we need to fix our eyes on Jesus who is the Light. As part of that, we’re doing a series of short devotionals this Advent. Parents might want to download a colouring sheet to go with the series for younger children.
An introductory video is below or you can watch the whole series, as they are released.
Becky is originally from just outside Oxford and came to Stoke to study “History & Criminology” at Keele University.
Since her degree, she’s completed the Relay Programme with UCCF.
After 3 years of attending Park and helping out with kids and youthwork, Becky has decided she would very much like to stay here full time.
Becky is a self-proclaimed old soul and loves old music and movies – especially from the ’80’s! She loves spending time in God’s creation which helps her to be creative, loves cooking and loves deep conversations.
The headline of the Guardian newspaper this week (14.05.2020) as Christians worldwide have remained one in Christ by worshipping together online.
The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Christian aid agency Tearfund and carried out last weekend, found that a third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55.
Tell Me More
If this is you but you don’t really know what Christianity is about and why it means so much to billions around the world then we have a free book for you to help.
What if you woke up one morning knowing that it was your last day on earth? That’s what happened to the thief on the cross, who died a few feet from Jesus. Heaven, How I Got Here is his story, told in his own words, as he looks back from Heaven on the day that changed his eternity, and the faith that can change yours.
What is the best news you have ever heard?
Was it surprising? Did it change the way you think?
Or was it something you wanted to be true but didn’t dare hope?
Find out more about this course or about the Christian faith with Christianity Explored.
Tips for taking care of yourself during lockdown
Here are some tips for taking care of yourself during lockdown.
Have a routine to your day. It keeps your day running smoothly and productively and can prevent depression from creeping in, helping reduce anxiety.
Avoid watching too much news as it can feed anxiety and cause a lack of perspective.
“Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13 v 8
God is still as Sovereign as he ever was. He is in control. When you feel overwhelmed by anxiety or panic remember this.
Spend time with God, in his word and in prayer. Take advantage of this quieter time in life to be with him. He delights to spend time with us. As a result we are filled with the “bread of life”. His peace fills our hearts and brings perspective.
Deep breathing is a well-used method for help in anxiety and during panic attacks. Try breathing in for 4 seconds and then breathing out for 4 seconds. It’s a wonderful way of releasing anxiety and breaking the cycle of anxious thoughts.
Exercise is very good for maintaining good mental health. We are able to walk once a day, either on our own or within our family, if living with others. Spring is here, the world is still beautiful.
Be creative. In whatever way you are creative! Whether it’s painting, writing, baking, making cards, colouring in for adults etc. When we are creative time goes very quickly and there is a wonderful sense of achievement.
Give yourself small and achievable tasks every day and be productive with your time. Relaxing counts as being productive in my book.
Reach out to others, whether it’s a text, phone call or FaceTime. By looking to the needs of others it can help take anxiety off from ourselves. We can still minister to others in this way. Doing this can make such a difference in someone’s life, and a wonderful way of encouraging one another.
If you are struggling with anxiety, loneliness or depression please ask for help. Choose someone you know who will listen well. It takes courage to ask for help but it’s so worth it.
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29v11
You will appreciate that the situation is changing very quickly. Following up from our update yesterday, we are tonight anouncing that we will not be having any further events in the church building for the forseeable future. That means all church services are cancelled. Also ToddleIn, ToP, all the Bible study groups, addiction groups and all other events likewise.
Obviously we do this with a heavy heart, but we want to be responsible to the more vulnerable people in our communities, and to follow government guidance.
However, that does not mean that church stops. Although the next few months will be deeply challenging, we have lots of exciting plans.
Almost everything we will be doing from this point onwards will be through our small groups. If you are not connected to one, please contact Jon or Simon and we would be happy to put you in touch. They will not be meeting physically together of course, but will connect in all sorts of other ways.
We plan to have a service by video on Sunday morning at 10am, whcih you will be able to watch on our YouTube channel. More information will come through the small groups.
In addition, if you want to stay in touch with us, please join our mailing list.
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,Psalm 57:1
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
Many have asked what our plan is in the current difficulties. You’ll appreciate that this is a fast-changing situation and we will make updates when needed.
First, let’s be clear: Jesus is just as much Lord and Saviour as he was a month ago. There is no need to panic. The Lord says “do not fear” to his people more than pretty much anything else. But we need to be sensible and protect the most vulnerable in our church and in our communities.
Second, the following groups of people MUST self-isolate, in line with government guidance:
- Anyone aged 70 or over.
- Anyone under 70 with a serious underlying health condition (especially asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, those on steroids, those using certain immuno-supression medication for arthritis and cancer.)
- Pregnant women.
- Anyone displaying symptoms of coronavirus (high temperature, cough).
No-one in these categories should be at any church service or meeting.
Third, the AGM scheduled for tomorrow is cancelled. Instead, we want to invite anyone who is healthy to come to the church to talk and to pray for ourselves and our communities. We will take extra precautions to keep people safe, and feel free not to come. However, we think the number of times we can gather together is very limited – it may be our last opportunity for a while.
Fourth, we are currently planning to have a service on Sunday morning. We will run some sort of Sunday School, recognising that younger people and families are vastly less vulnerable to Coronavirus. We plan to live-steam the whole service on our YouTube channel, and maybe on our Facebook page. The evening service is cancelled for the foreseeable future.
Fifth, our small groups will provide the “front-line” of support to those who need it most. Your small-group leader will be in touch this week to tell you what that might look like. We will need to care for each other. If you are an irregular part of a small-group, now is the time to get stuck in: offer help, make phone calls, care for the elderly, vulnerable and those with little family support.
Sixth, don’t panic. This is a great opportunity to pull together as a church; to love one-another as Jesus commanded. Obviously church is going to look very different for a while. But we don’t cease to be church.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:22)