May - Park United Reformed Church
Inside the magazine this month
Inside the magazine this month ........................................................2
Minister’s Letter .....................................................................................3
Church Family News ............................................................................5
Introducing our new Youth Worker ..................................................6
May Calendar ......................................................................................7
Christian Aid Week 2012: 13th – 19th May .........................................8
Olympic Torch Procession ..................................................................8
Reading Abbey Trefoil Guild..............................................................9
What does Christian Aid mean to us at Park Church? ...............10
Elders Sharing Together ....................................................................11
Fundraising for South Africa... ..........................................................12
Sponsored Triathlon for South Africa ..............................................14
West Africa Famine Appeal.............................................................15
St Mark's Gospel .................................................................................15
Scout Group News.............................................................................16
Would I lie to you/Call My Bluff evening .......................................16
West Africa Appeal ...........................................................................17
Kitchen Redevelopment ..................................................................17
Olympic Torch event .........................................................................18
Olympic Opening Ceremony Big Screen Event ..........................18
Palmer Park Community Orchard ..................................................19
Maintenance and Improvements ..................................................21
Church Contacts ...............................................................................22
Regular Activities at Park ..................................................................23
The views expressed in this magazine are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views
of Park United Reformed Church..
7 High Tree Drive, Earley, Reading RG6 1EU
‘We always thank God for all of you,
mentioning you in our prayers. We
continually remember before our God and
your work produced by faith, your labour
prompted by love, and your endurance
inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.’
This is from the opening of Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, a
young but enthusiastic church. Over the next couple of months we’ll
be looking more closely at this letter and Paul’s response to the
challenges the church faced. We’ll be able to compare those
challenges with those faced by the church today, recognising that
some issues are very similar and others are quite different because of
the changing nature of God’s world.
This time last year we were embarking on two exciting eco-projects in
response to the challenge of global warming and as part of our church
vision statement: ‘we aim to promote an awareness of environmental
issues and to operate with sensitivity to environmental concerns’. We
are continuing to work with our partners, Reading Christian Ecology Link
(RCEL) who have been the catalyst and constant support with our eco
adventures. The latest initiative that we are looking to support is a
community orchard in Palmer Park, in which we hope to plant 40 trees
to mark the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the United Reformed
Forty years ago the Congregational Church in England and Wales
came together with the Presbyterian Church in England to form the
United Reformed Church – after years of division, this was a significant
opportunity to start a process of deeper co-operation. In 1981 the
Churches of Christ joined the URC and in 2000 the Congregational
Church in Scotland came on board. We remain a small but faithful
denomination with 1500 congregations across England, Scotland and
In common with all the major denominations we face significant
challenges, with fewer people worshipping regularly, causing the
demands of ministry and mission to fall on the faithful few. At Park URC
we are blessed by many people of all ages, people who are not afraid
to offer their time, energy and support – not just to support the ministry
at Park URC but also across Reading, across the Wessex Synod, across
the UK, and across the world. I would echo Paul’s words ‘we continually
remember you in our prayers’ – through the prayers of our
congregation, many people are being supported to do amazing things.
So I invite you to join in praying for the group travelling to South Africa in
July; join in praying for the Churches Together in Earley and East
Reading as they prepare for a Big Screening event at Loddon Valley
Leisure Centre; join in praying for REinspired as they meet people at the
Christian Resources Exhibition in May; Earley St Peter’s Church & Wesley
Methodist Church as they prepare for street parties for the Royal
Jubilee. Pray for those who support Commitment for Life, those who
support Trinity Halls of Residence in South Street, those who serve on the
Street Pastors teams in central Reading, those who collect and deliver
food for the Churches Together Drop-In Centre, those who support
Open Doors… and many more!
At the last church meeting we were asked to consider how we can
give greater support to the URC’s Commitment for Life programme and
this will be on the agenda of our next Elders’ Meeting. Commitment for
Life is a great way of supporting projects around the world which are
making a difference to many lives.
In a similar way, we hope and pray that our trip to South Africa will
make a difference in the lives of those whom we meet in Siyabuswa
and in the lives of those who are able to be part of the expedition.
May the God of new life and new opportunities inspire each one of us,
by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Yours in Christ,
Church Family News
We send our congratulations to Hazel and
Wragg, who were married at Park on Saturday 14th April, with our best
wishes for the future. Hazel is Robert’s niece, and it was very good to
welcome all the family here for this celebration.
Congratulations and best wishes to Cloe Stiven, who celebrated her
21st birthday on April 10th.
We continue to pray for Neil Applegate, as he awaits further tests. Neil
and Hilary are living in Reading while he attends the John Radcliffe
We also remember Annie Hitchcock, Pat Fuller, and Judith Pritchard.
Sylvia Wise’s broken wrist is making good progress, but her husband
Geoff has been in hospital and is still receiving treatment.
Julia Marsh had to have further eye surgery on April 25th, and is waiting
for a report on the results. Meanwhile she has a damaged knee
following an accident at home, and we wish her a speedy recovery.
A number of members and friends are concerned for their families at
the moment, and we remember Alan Holmes and his mother, Sue
Thompson and her father, and Elizabeth Trout and her mother.
Congratulations to the South Africa team, who completed their
Triathlon Challenge in rather adverse weather conditions on 28th April.
We pray for them all as they prepare for their visit in a weekend away
Best wishes to the new Senior Section of the Guides, which met for the
first time on Thursday 19th April.
Introducing our new Youth Worker
My name is Michelle, I'm 20 and study Anthropology in Brunel University
& I'm currently in my 2nd year.
My hobbies involve poetry & singing.
I love being innovative & active, which helps me in my new Youth
Worker role in the Church.
I hope to have a positive effect on the youth & help them be more
confident in themselves as individuals & as Christians.
Michelle Mzari - Youth Worker
This is a letter of thanks to the minister, officers and members of Park for
their kindness and generosity over the past few weeks when I
completed my 60 years membership. I received very generous tokens
and a lovely bunch of flowers.
I also received many birthday cards from my friends at Park to
celebrate my 80th birthday and gifts from friends who were able to
attend the party on 16th March.
May I again thank everyone who came and I hope you all enjoyed
meeting together with my friends from John Lewis.
I must thank my family for their hard work preparing the food and
serving the drinks which I hope you all enjoyed.
We would like to thank the congregation for their prayers, kind thoughts
and flowers, during our recent set-backs.
Sylvia & Geoff Wise
9.30 am Morning Prayers
7.30 pm Finance and General Purposes Committee
South Africa Preparation Weekend
Morning Worship led by Keith Whyte
Songs of Praise at Sutton Court led by
No Ignite! Service
9.30 am Morning Prayers
7.30 pm Elders Meeting
7.30 pm ‘Call my Bluff’ Fundraising evening for
South African Adventure
10.30am Morning Worship with Holy Communion
7.00 pm Ignite! Evening Worship
9.30 am Morning Prayers
10.30am Morning Worship
12 noon Church Meeting
7.00 pm Ignite! Evening Worship
9.30 am Morning Prayers
Last day for magazine contributions for June
10.30am Morning Worship for Pentecost
7.00 pm Ignite! Evening Worship
2.00 pm Caring Crafters
9.30 am Morning Prayers
House Groups meet on several evenings during the week. Please speak
to Rev. Robert Weston, or the Church Secretary, Roger Clark, if you are
interested in joining a group.
Christian Aid Week 2012: 13th – 19th May
By the time this magazine is published, Christian Aid Week will be almost
We hope to cover as many roads as possible of our allocation for the
Envelopes and other material should be received in the near future;
please contact me if you are willing to help again.
Some new collectors would be very welcome!
An extra incentive to raise as much as possible is the news that the UK
Department for International Development has agreed to match the
first £5 million of money raised by supporters this Christian Aid Week.
DFID are a department of the British Government who deliver aid
around the world through partner organisations like Christian Aid. Last
year this department launched a fund called UK Match.
This fund will match, pound for pound, public donations to appeals
made by not-for-profit organisations for development activities focused
on poverty reduction in developing countries. Christian Aid applied to
this fund and has been successful in receiving matched funding for a
proportion of the Christian Aid Week 2012 income.
The seven country programmes that will receive additional funding are
in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone,
South African, Sudan and Zambia.
Olympic Torch Procession
Remember 10th July the Olympic torch procession will be passing St
Andrew's URC church at about 6.00-6.30pm. Come and enjoy the fun,
including the Scottish Pipe Band, and see the Worship Bus with local
Reading Abbey Trefoil Guild
Reading Abbey Trefoil Guild meets on the fourth Thursday of each
month in the Small Hall at Park. The aims of the Trefoil Guild is to keep
alive among its members, the spirit of the Guide/Scout Promise, to carry
that spirit into the communities in which members live and work and to
give practical support to Guiding and Scouting.
Our Guild has had a very busy year, we have had talks on a wide
variety of topics, ranging from ‘Finding Out Things we can’t do Without’,
to ‘Music with Alec Simmonds’, which was a party listening to music on
old wind up gramophones. Our own members told us of their trips
abroad to Our Chalet Guide Centre in Switzerland and a Trip up the
Nile. We also had a talk on Shetland Sheepdogs in which the dogs did
Our members like to join in with the challenges to all sections of
Girlguiding and this year we took part in the SW Region Chief
Commissioners Challenge to discover as much about the South West
Region of England as we could. We did lots of visits from a trip of
Southampton Water on the Alison MacGregor a boat specially
designed for the disabled or elderly, to tours of Frogmore, Basildon, and
Lacock Abbey. A weekend away to the Isle of Wight was undertaken
by some of our members We also had a group join the County Trefoil
trip to Lancashire to stay at the Guide Centre at Waddow and enjoy
an evening at Blackpool Illuminations.
The wide age range in our Guild ment that we helped one of our
members Evelyn Turner celebrate her 100th Birthday. Yet another
excuse for a party, although we don’t really need an excuse to include
food in our activities.
Reading Abbey Trefoil Guild is open to anyone over 18 who is interested
in Guiding or Scouting although at the moment all our members are
ladies we are not opposed to men joining us. If you are interested in
finding our more speak to Maureen Johnstone, Olive Goodchild or
Sylvia Wise who are already members of Reading Abbey Guild.
What does Christian Aid mean to us at Park Church?
This year Christian Aid has a special focus from 13th to 19th of May, but
its purpose should be in our minds more often than that. When we
consider what is going on in the world around us it can be both
daunting and discouraging for concerned Christians.
Giving money from time to time in response to extreme need is
important and we should never give up on that. However, there is more
that can be done to enable poor communities to improve and the
church as a whole has often been reluctant to address some of the
fundamental issues that are the causes of serious poverty. To address
these matters usually involves an explicit political dimension and
probably that is the reason for some of this reluctance.
If you have been looking at some of the material on our church
noticeboards you will see that the way that trade and international
finance functions is a significant part of the problem. In an age of
globalisation large corporations have been allowed to develop
financial systems where massive profits can be placed in tax havens.
The company and its shareholders benefit but the country providing the
resources and labour to produce the goods or services loses. Also, we
know that speculative hedge funds, which can produce huge profits by
gambling on the price of basic commodities such as food and energy,
have the effect of creating ‘spikes’ in the cost of these essential
materials making it increasingly difficult for the poorest people on earth
It is a serious matter for Christian concern that these and systems like it
need to be challenged. Large organisations need policies and
practices that are more transparent regarding payment of taxes. The
common good should demand justice for all God’s people and include
a responsible attitude to the communities that provide much of the
labour and resources we need. On the one occasion when Jesus was
confronted on the matter through what was intended at the time as a
trick question regarding the tax to be paid to Caesar, he was
Christian Aid plays a significant role in promoting justice over the types
of issues that affect the poorest (see for example the campaign to help
poor countries collect the tax owed; for more information look at
christianaid.org.uk/tax). Or if you are interested you can contact me to
enquire about, and hopefully join, the small group of people at Park
Church who write to politicians and decision-makers on these matters
to share our concerns and make our views known.
Question – If the church is not relevant to the important issues of the
day, how can we expect to be taken seriously by those outside the
church? With God’s help we can make a difference.
Elders Sharing Together
In April our serving elders met together for an Away Day with elders
from St Andrew’s URC, Grange URC and Tilehurst URC.
This was a great opportunity to explore ways in which we can support
each other to enable growth in other parts of the URC. We also
identified the challenges of being a church for all generations,
recognising that there are significant generational gaps.
One area identified that we might wish to work on together, was that of
advertising and raising the profile of the URC across the town.
One more project that we can work on, together with St Andrew’s URC,
is the Olympic Torch relay which travels through Reading on Tuesday
10th July. There will be an event at St Andrew’s from 5.00 - 7.00pm.
Fundraising for South Africa...
...we’ve been running
we’ve been cycling...
and we’ve been
Sponsored Triathlon for South Africa
Strength, Stamina, Endurance
Over the last four months, most of the team going out to South Africa in
July have been in training for THE sporting event of the year… the
There’s been some serious dedication from several with focused training
programmes, though it has to be said that a few decided only a week
before that they really should get on with training, while a minority
suggested that running for the bus had really been adequate!
The day dawned, bright and sunny in our dreams, but wet and chilly in
reality. However that did not deter our intrepid runners and cyclists! The
weather may not have blessed us, but God certainly had and the
enthusiasm of the participants could not be dampened.
Our runners set off at 9.30am on mile laps of the park and, 35 laps later
had smashed the target of 26.2 miles. The cyclists sallied forth at
10.30am and, with the help of a refuelling stop at the White Hart in
Sherfield-on-Loddon, broke through the target of 112 miles to achieve a
massive total of 130 miles.
After an afternoon of recovery and mental preparation, the swimmers
dived into Bulmershe Pool at 7pm and swam like the proverbial fish to
shatter the target of 2.4 miles and accomplish a very impressive total of
9.5 miles on the night!
Congratulations to all the athletes, many of whom achieved personal
bests, and very many thanks to those supporters who braved the rain in
the morning and worked poolside in the evening to collectively count
over 500 lengths.
Also a huge thank you to our sponsors, our well wishers and those who
were holding the event in prayer.
This Triathlon was certainly a feat of strength, stamina and endurance
and I was reminded, as I pounded the streets in training, of how the
Bible guides us in these things.
For example: ‘Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will
continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has
promised.’ Hebrews 10:36. This verse caused me to reflect on the
endurance the Israelites needed in their time of captivity in Egypt, the
endurance the early church required to cope with persecution, and
the essential endurance persecuted Christians around the world must
have even in this day and age.
How too must the people we are going to work with in South Africa
have to endure the injustice and hardship of their situation, and Neil
and Hilary have to endure their challenging times in Siyabuswa and
exceptionally challenging times at present.
But: ‘We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we
know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops
strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of
salvation.’ Romans 5:3-4.
I know that our endurance training for the Triathlon will have built up
strong muscles and mental stamina, but I pray that it will have taught us
the benefits and rewards of endurance, and maybe our strength of
character and confident hope of salvation will have also grown.
West Africa Famine Appeal
The retiring collection held on Sunday 22nd April for the Christian Aid
West Africa Famine Appeal raised the excellent total of £185.
St Mark's Gospel
On Friday 18th May 2012 at 7.30 St Nicolas are having a reading of the
whole of Mark’s Gospel.
In a relaxed environment they will have the complete story of St Mark's
gospel enfold us in readings and music.
Scout Group News
The 73rd Reading (Park) Scout Group played a significant role in
organising a very successful (if slightly wet) St Gearge’s Day Activity
Afternoon for the Central Reading District.
Instead of a traditional parade, around 200 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts
came together from across Reading to enjoy rock climbing, pioneering,
five aside football, craft activities and food!
On 30th May the 73rd Reading (Park) Beavers are running a ‘taster
event’ in order to give young people aged 5-7 a chance to experience
Beaver activities whilst their parents hear more about Scouting today.
Based on the response to this ‘taster event’ we will make a decision
about a second Beaver Colony which would meet on Wednesdays
from September 2012.
On 14th July the 73rd Reading (Park) Scout Group will have a special
afternoon celebration event at Stoke Poges – to celebrate the 80th
Anniversary of the Scout Group.
The Scout Group was established by members of Park Church and is
delighted to continue to be an integral part of the life of the church.
Verity Kemp Group Scout Leader
Would I lie to you/Call My Bluff evening
Our next family event is an evening challenging two teams to bluff their
way through word definitions, and the audience will have the
opportunity to vote as well for the one they think correct too!
Tea, coffee and lots of cake will be served. Come and relax, with lots of
laughter along the way.
Prices £5 adults, £15 for a family ticket. Either sign up on the yellow sheet
in the Large Hall, or let Helen know if you can join us.
West Africa Appeal
The retiring collection on 22nd April raised £185 which has been sent off
to Christian Aid for the appeal that is trying to avert a major crisis in
Only a fifth of the money required has been raised so far, an Oxfam
representative noted, it is incredibly frustrating to see that people and
institutions are unwilling to donate until a disaster is well underway,
rather than being willing to give to avert the disaster in the first place.
"The world never seems to act early enough on these warning signs,
and that's what we're seeing ... Responding early saves lives before
they're put at risk. It's morally right and it makes economic sense as well,
because it's cheaper to prevent these things escalating than to
respond at the 11th hour."
Please pray that more people and institutions will contribute generously,
so that agencies will have the funds they need to help alleviate the
Discussions have taken place with the Scout Group leaders with regards
the impact of the plans for the kitchen redevelopment.
Notes have been taken of the issues raised and these are being passed
on to our architect, Ralph Allen. It is expected that by the next Church
Meeting (20th May) we will have further drawings and some costings for
the proposed works.
Please join us on Sunday 20th May at 12 noon, this meeting is open to
everyone, not just church members.
Olympic Torch event
Planning is underway for the torch relay which will travel along the
London Road on Tuesday 10th July – at St Andrew’s URC we are
planning to have entertainment from 5-7pm with a range of local
bands playing live (including our Fishers of Men worship band) plus
entertainers, jugglers, stilt walkers.
Refreshments will be available for the crowds of supporters that are
expected to line the route. If you would be able to help prepare for the
event – perhaps you could do some juggling, face-painting, help fill
some helium balloons – perhaps you can sing – perhaps you could help
serve refreshments or give out leaflets?
If you can help in any way please contact Rob Weston on 0118 966
8647 or Richard Becher 01628 898820. The next planning meeting is to
be held on 17th May.
Olympic Opening Ceremony Big Screen Event
The plan is to have the Opening Ceremony on a huge screen in
Loddon Valley Leisure Centre, with a community event running
Discussions have taken place with all the major supporters of this CTEER
event: Wokingham Borough Council, ASDA, the Earley Retreat who are
providing a BBQ.
A grant has been received by CTEER to help fund the Big Screen and
Projector. Please pray for this joint community event – that the church
will be involved in positive way, helping to serve and build community.
Further details are available from Jon Salmon (Minister at Trinity Church)
or Gaye Rees (CTEER Secretary).
Palmer Park Community Orchard
I'm writing to update you about the Palmer Park Edible Tree /
Community Orchard Planting project that you expressed an interest in
last year, and to ask for your help with making this happen.
We've been continuing to work with the Reading Borough Council parks
department on the project. It's taken a certain amount of time to build
relationships with them and to get a shared understanding of the kinds
of planting that they can allow in the different areas of Palmer Park.
This ended up taking a longer than we'd imagined, partly because RBC
parks weren't prepared for the scale of what we'd wanted to do there.
Anyway, following recent meetings, we're now at a point where we
have a sketched out plan for a few phases of edible planting in the
park, and a detailed plan for the first phase.
The phases that we have agreed with RBC parks are:
Planting around 10 large nut trees between the two ends of the
stadium (Walnut and Sweet Chestnut) – which took place on 3rd
Planting an area of "safe" fruit trees behind the stadium around some
mini-clearings, possibly with seating.
Planting hazel / cobnut coppices up the fringe of the north side of
the stadium bank.
Possibly removing and replacing some existing trees with fruit/nut
trees, but this will depend on a few other factors.
Phases 2, 3 and 4, will probably take place in the autumn planting
season. In addition to helping provide 40 trees for the 40 years of the
URC we are also hoping to have Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Rainbows,
Brownies, Guides, Rangers, Pilots involved in the planting of the trees!
Rich Waring Transition Towns Reading
...an opportunity for a change or even a challenge.
Our week by week intercessions usually include prayers for our local
community. The point being made here is that volunteering can be a
practical way of putting our prayers into action.
The idea of the ‘big society’ seemed to raise a lot of cynical eyebrows,
including mine, when it was first put forward as a rather vague idea. We
asked who would the people be to take on these responsibilities and
what might the concept look like in practice? Of course there are
plenty of opportunities to volunteer within our own church but our
efforts need not be restricted to Park. It does not have to be a matter of
doing one or the other. Volunteering can take many different forms to
fit with personal abilities and the time available.
Speaking from my own recent experience as first ‘semi-retirement’ then
full retirement became realities the question was, what sort of
contribution could I make? Already I had some contacts at the
Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) at the bottom of London
Street. They offer an induction session for volunteers and help each
person to identify what it is that they would like to do.
I quickly became involved in a series of local development projects
around Reading focusing on community gardens. The emphasis is on
families, usually living in homes without gardens. The wider purpose is to
offer quality time for parents with their children and to help foster a
stronger sense of community.
One of the benefits for me of involvement as a volunteer has been the
opportunity to meet and communicate with a wide range of people
from many different ethnic and social backgrounds. My task is mainly to
assess the effectiveness of each project and to make an overall report
for the Centre to support their future work.
As time has gone by I have found further opportunities to help with
initiatives at RISC and to work with the dedicated and interesting group
of people there.
If you are unsure where to start with volunteering then Reading
Volunteer Action in Cross Street (www.rva.org.uk ), in the centre of the
Town can be a good place to find out what is on offer. They have
plenty of possible opportunities to suit most people. It could be helpful
to look at their website or call in to their offices.
I can recommend volunteering for all sorts of reasons. It seems to fit well
with a practical Christian response to local needs, as well as being
satisfying and it can open up all sorts of new possibilities.
The personal benefits can be considerable and generally the more that
you put into it the more you get back; and by the way, you don’t have
to be retired to start experiencing what volunteering has to offer.
Maintenance and Improvements
Our thanks to all who help out in the church gardens, Charlotte
Eastwick has done a great job with the roses and in April planted out
140 geraniums which will give a bright display in the summer months,
they have certainly been watered in this week!
We thank Brian Wooldridge for tidying up the garden shed and we
would welcome more support with grass cutting – it is just a small patch
of grass round the back of church – if you could help on a rota just
once a month then please speak to the Church Secretary or Minister.
As always we want to thank everyone for their ongoing support in
maintaining and improving our premises.
Rev Robert Weston
0118 926 5003
0845 463 6426
Regular Activities at Park
Holy Communion (1st Sunday of month)
Worship at Sutton Court (1st Sunday of month)
Ignite Coffee & Cakes (in term-time)
Ignite Worship(in term-time)
Park 60+ Exercise
Happy Feet Footcare (every 3 weeks)
Reading U3A Yoga (every 2 weeks)
Street Feet Dance
Earley Folk Dancing
Aldbrickham Clog & Step Dancing
Badminton Club (Sept – March)
Embroiderers’ Guild (monthly)
Park 60+ Exercise (12 noon seated session)
Reading Lunchtime Choir
Reading Macular Society (bi-monthly)
French Rocks (French Language Classes)
Mostly G&S Singers
U3A Madrigal Society (every 2 weeks)
Active Retirement Group
Reading Abbey Trefoil Group (4th Thurs of month)
Zumba Fitness Class
Pilots (Adventurers and Deckhands)
The Allenova Ballet School
Reading Seventh Day Adventist Community
Reading Community Gospel Choir
FIZZANG (Youth Club)
WOULD I LIE TO YOU?
CALL MY BLUFF
Call it what you will, come along on
Saturday 12th May
7.30pm in the Large Hall
Coffee and cakes, audience participation and lots
£5 adults, £2 children, £15 family ticket
Profits will go towards the trip to South Africa that some of
the members are going on this summer, where they will be
carrying out community projects.
Sign your name up on the sheets to join us, or contact