News from Whitley (South Reading)
Christmas is over and here, down in Whitley, we’re full steam ahead for the year to come! It’s only the start of February but we’ve already been very busy!
First of all, we’ve run our first ever Families Course Training Day in the UK for participants of last year's Autumn Families course. We gathered at Tyndale Baptist Church in a group led by lovely Kath McNee. The day was very insightful, each person had a go at presenting a unit and learnt a lot along the way. We’re looking forward to putting the training into action in our upcoming Families Course – Spring 2018!
Between 12th and 16th of January we’ve had our annual Team Retreat at the Legge House. Claire’s reflections:
‘It was a really special time of being together and praying together as a team. We spent some time with God and reflecting together on what He was saying to us. We did some creative projects + watched a couple of movies. But the highlight was our compulsory – traditional - night of playing the ‘Space Team!’ which everyone enjoyed!’
Following the Christmas break, we’ve returned to John Madejski Academy with our youth work. Together with the Learn4Life team, we’re working with students at the risk of exclusion every Thursday morning. We also sit and chat with the Year 7's over lunch and then run a club with lots of games and laughter!
And finally, at the end of the January we’ve started the Foundations for Life and Mission. This year it runs monthly – every fourth weekend of the month (except April when it’s the third one). We have a lively, eclectic group of 9 this time around from a solicitor to youth worker, which makes for great discussions and the opportunity to learn from a wide range of life experiences. With three more weekends and a festival to go, we’re looking forward to very insightful training ahead of us!
As you can see – we’re very busy. Plus we have many more things coming up! Keep your eyes peeled on our website and Facebook page!
News from Wheatley
Things are pretty quiet in Wheatley this time of year. We've just started preparing for the 13th St George's day funday on the 28th April followed by 'Church in the Park' on the 29th. Over 20% of the local community come to St the George's Day Funday. Last year, in the light of Brexit and rising nationalism across the western world, we wanted the message of 'Welcoming the world' to be strong. Through the crafts, games and activities we explored what our identities are and where our family has its roots. This generated a lot of interest and one main outcome was a huge map of the world covered in pins which showed the roots of many local families and how diverse our backgrounds are.
Xtreme after-school club seems to have turned a corner. We'd been having trouble guiding a handful of lively kids who were fairly focused on their own fun at the expense of the other 30 kids in the group, but these guys seem to have really settled in to enjoying the club and picking up some of the values of caring for others. More than half of the kids who attend Xtreme aren't from Christian families so it's a real joy to share God's love with them. One of the main highlights is that we have around 10 youth coming in now to lead Xtreme as small group leaders and helping hands. The way they role-model to the younger kids is so encouraging and influential.
This year's week long summer club will run from 20th-23rd August. Last year we stepped out and took on 20% more kids and we still had a waiting list! We'll do this again and expect 180 primary school aged children and youth team of around 50 to support and mentor the younger kids, with their own youth stream in the evenings.
All of these big events are high profile in our community and have a real impact, but they do stretch our resources, so prayer is much appreciated!
Dan and Gordon