July 2010

The Centenary

Well, it’s about time too! And it’s only taken about 100 years to get here. This month we are celebrating 100 years of life and witness of this congregation. Well to be precise, we have been celebrating the Centenary all this year, but the weekend of the 10th and 11th July 2010 is the ‘main event’.

Not everything has gone to plan. Some of the initial events had to be curtailed or even cancelled because of heavy (for South Essex) snow, so we had a bit of a slow start.

We have been trying to gather a pictorial history of the church so we have a permanent record before it is lost, but its taken a lot longer than expected to receive and then to organize the photos so they are still not available on CD as planned. It will probably be the end of the year before it will be available, but only if we receive more photographs of past church life.

We have also had a false start with the Centenary Project. Initially hoping to buy a mini bus for a school in Zimbabwe, now through the Synod we have linked with a young church in Harare. Budiriro Uniting Presbyterian Church, a congregation of about 60 adults plus numerous children and youth, is needing it’s own land as the first step in having a building as a basis for community work and ministry and we are helping as much as we can. By mid June we have already raised approx £4000. Thank you to all who have given and continue to contribute. It is very appropriate that we can help in this way, especially after the expense of the major renovation of our building that were finally completed in 2007.

One thing that has gone to plan is the publishing in March of the Centenary History. ‘Christ Church – The First Hundred Years’. It is a jolly good read written by a former minister of this church, Revd Hubert Smith. In it, we honour and rejoice in the work and witness of former generations of worshippers. And with the price of only £6.00 (plus postage) it also makes an excellent gift......

In our Centenary year, church life has not been put on hold. The usual round of services, clubs and meetings have been continuing. We have been emphasising and struggling with the URC’s Vision4Life Year of Prayer. We are also working to appoint a young peoples worker towards the end of the year to help lead our children’s and youth work into the future.

In some ways, apart from being just a bit busier than usual, this year is just like any other year in the 100 years of Christ Church. A mixture of sacred and social, a mixture of successes and failures, and quite a bit more of the usual and normal. In other words, the regular life of a congregation that is trying to find its purpose under God to serve its community.

We are indeed fortunate that we have 100 years of faithful witness in this church that God can and does use us. There have been lean times and times of plenty as each generation has strained to find its place in God’s plan. Our challenge is to respond faithfully to God in this time and place. To worship God and to meet the needs of others; to grow as individuals and as a community of faith; to learn and then show how to experience the love of God in all aspects of our daily lives.

And then, hopefully, in another 100 years it might be that this congregation continues, not because we have got it ‘right’, but we have served the living God.

June 2010