Newssheet Sept 6th 2020

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Dear Friends,

September marks a season of new beginnings!

Children will go back to school after their summer holidays and several months of home schooling for many. I am glad we didn't have to home school our children!

I invite you to spend time to think and pray for both the children and those who are teachers among us who face a whole new set of challenges as a new academic year begins.

Young people will go off to college and university after receiving their exam results and others into apprenticeships entering the working world.

We might also think and pray for them in this time of transition, change, challenge and excitement.

Within the church this is also a time of change and transition as the new Methodist year begins.

Many Methodist ministers will have moved appointments over the summer and will begin serving within their new circuits from September. It seems incredible that we ourselves are beginning our fourth year already!

Having said goodbye to Rev Billy Slatter at Fleet & Hartley Wintney in July we will now share in a circuit on-line service to welcome Rev Nick Oborski and his wife Sandra.

Nick was a manager at Barclays Bank before candidating for the Methodist ministry some years ago from a neighbouring circuit. Indeed his 'trial' service as part of the candidating process was held at Alton (It's a small world!). He has since served in the Woking & Walton Circuit; the Sutton Circuit based at Epsom Methodist Church and now comes from across the border in Wales where he was superintendent of the Cardiff Circuit.

We look forward to welcoming Nick & Sandra on Sunday and no doubt will benefit from their gifts and graces, wisdom and experiences as they minister among us.

Please do remember them in your prayers as they prepare to move into Fleet and make a new beginning amongst us. Meeting people and building relationships is so important in those first few weeks and at present many such opportunities are limited.

The circuit service will center on a familiar reading from the Gospels where Jesus calls his disciples to make a new beginning.
They are invited to leave their nets, all that is safe and familiar, and follow him. Peter, James and John responded to that challenge and were never the same again! He has been calling people to follow him ever since — ourselves included!

Jesus calls us! O'er the tumult
Of our life's wild restless sea.
Day by day his voice is sounding,
Saying: 'Christian, follow me.'

God is a God of new beginnings, a God of fresh starts and new adventures — which is encouraging especially when life is in a pickle or we feel we have let God down.

Helen Steiner Rice wrote this poem entitled:

'New Beginnings'
How often we look for another chance
To make a fresh beginning,
A chance to blot out our mistakes,
And change failure into winning.
And it does not take a new year,
To make a brand-new start,
It only takes the deep desire
To try with all our heart.
To live a little better,
And to always be forgiving.
And to add a little sunshine
To the world in which we're living.
So never give up in despair,
And think that you are through,
For there's always a tomorrow,
And a chance to start anew.

We also look forward to a new start as we continue preparations to open up our buildings for worship and for groups where possible.

A Return to Collective Worship

Alton — From Wednesday September 16th at 11am we will aim to hold a midweek 'Pause for Thought Service' lasting 20-30 mins. This will enable us to gather, to pray, to reflect on a bible passage and get a feel for what it is like to worship together again as a small group. More details to follow and what to expect re registering.
From October we will aim to hold a Sunday Morning Service (30-40mins) at 10am for those wishing to attend. It will be different, maybe more reflective and an opportunity for us to learn from the experience and adapt where necessary!
Thank you to everyone who completed the questionnaire we sent out. Your comments of encouragement were appreciated as were your suggestions regarding the way ahead.

Rowledge - Following conversations with the stewards, property team and members of the congregation for those able and wishing to attend we will hold a Sunday morning service at 10am from September 20th, keeping this under review.
Hale — We will consult with members and friends of the church shortly about their own wishes and the practicalities of meeting together noting that the risk assessments needed are a work in progress.
The Spire (Farnham) During September a live Sunday Morning service will be led by Rev Michael Hopkins via Zoom with contributions from the congregation.

The On-Line Service
Please be assured we will continue to provide the on-line service for the present time.
You can find it this week, as usual by going to www.altonmethodist.org.uk It is a circuit service.

FoodBank — Alton
Due to ongoing demand there is a request for more supplies to be donated — especially:
Tinned meat (Hot dogs, stew), Custard, sponge puddings, coffee, chocolate, packet soup, deodorant and dog food!

Big Birthday!
We are delighted to say that Kath Shipley (Alton) will celebrate her 104th birthday on the 9th September — Congratulations!

An Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always on your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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