Newsletter – Jan 13

A huge amount has happened since I last managed to put out a newsletter – all the hectic bustle of Advent, Christmas and New Year. I am finding this an exciting time to be part of MCC North London. With the new ideas for growth and outreach that arose from the visit of our elder Rev Darlene Garner, the prospect of working together with the other MCC churches in London to do more to fulfil our shared vision of God’s truly all-embracing love in the world, and the new areas of skill and enthusiasm being brought to the Board by our newly elected Board members, there is so much energy and potential with us as we move forward into a new year.

Rev Darlene’s visit

The Rev Elder Darlene Garner, whose ‘patch’ appears to cover most of the planet apart from the USA, came to visit us in November, and brought with her some exciting ideas from the denomination as they seek to grow the mission and outreach of MCC in the 21st century. On Saturday 10th November our church hosted a gathering of all three London MCCs as she presented her ideas and asked us to contribute our own perspective.

We enjoyed some vigorous discussion and by the end we had formed a group comprising two volunteers from each church who will be meeting together to discuss the ideas and to see how they might be used and adapted for us here in London, which is after all a big place full of people who for many reasons have been marginalised and unwelcomed by some christian churches. There are so many ways in which we could be reaching out to the communites we have been called to serve.

So, if you have any ideas about how we could do this, please speak to Douglas Maitland or Peta Evans, who are the volunteers chosen from MCC north London to work with this group. As we meet and explore the possibilities we will be bringing to the church the results of our discussions and asking for your input.

Already, we have begun to make progress toward working together as we hope members from South and East have joined us for social events, and we begin to plan joint activities.

As well as this, UFMCC has recently started to put together an Advisory Council to help the denomination to make sure they are truly inclusive and consider the needs of various minority groups within the LGBT community. They have been seeking applications from people around the world who can advise them on issues pertaining to women, trans, BME, disability, age (both older and younger) etc. and our very own Rev Sharon was asked to apply and has been elected to be in charge of the Advisory Council for Disability.

 

Many of you will know that Rev Sharon has spent many years working within the field of disability as well as being registered disabled herself and is therefore very passionate about this topic.

 

Rev Elder Darlene Garner announced the appointment to the Board during her visit and expressed how excited and honoured she was to be able to work with Rev Sharon on the Council.

 

AGM

On Sunday 18th of November we had our AGM. The minutes of the AGM will of course be available for those who wish to read them, but I would like to include here our thanks to those who have stepped down from the Board this year, Peter Collins and Lee Jameson, for all their hard work and their valuable contributions to the work of the church as Board members. Likewise to welcome the three newly elected members: PJ, Philip and Douglas. Not forgetting, of course, Richard Gore, who despite having been our treasurer for many years has been kind enough to agree to do so again, which I think shows a wonderful degree of generosity, as it is by no means an easy task!

New Board Members: 

Philip Nix

Philip Nix has been attending MCC North London since 2005. He had previously attended a Pentecostal fellowship for D/deaf Christians in Sheffield but found it difficult as they didn’t accept him as a gay man. He still attends deaf church in London on a regular basis where he is able to witness to God’s love for the D/deaf gay community. He enjoys Scottish dancing and is a member of Gay Gordons in London.

He is a member of Deaf Bear UK and helps with the organisation of this group. Philip is passionate about expanding the D/deaf ministry of  MCC North London and increasing the numbers of D/deaf LGBT people in our community.

 

Study Day with Journey MCC

Saturday 24th of November saw the first of our Study Days in collaboration with Journey MCC Birmingham. The topic was Transgender theology, and Rev Chris Dowd from Birmingham provided the study, while MCC North London brought the worship. Three of us from London went along for the day, and joined members of our Birmingham church and also a couple of students from Aston University, where we were meeting. We enjoyed learning more about how faith, church and the Bible can look from a transgender perspective. For some of us much of it was very new, for others the subject was more familiar, but all the group agreed that they had learned something new from the day. For instance we looked at the familiar creation story in Genesis and discussed how it can be seen differently when you step outside the traditional gender-role perspectives – and how and why people might struggle to let go of the familiar, traditional view of what the story means for our gender identities.

We finished with a communion service, and I enjoyed the chance to share worship and prayer, and am definitely looking forward to the next one!

The next study day is planned to be held sometime in the new year, and we will be hosting and providing the study. If there any subjects that you would particularly like to look at on future days, please speak to Rev Jak.

Carol Singing at Sainsburys

As we did the previous year, we were invited to sing carols at Sainsbury’s on14th Dec. This was an amazing experience once again, with a group of us singing, and sometimes signing, a range of carols and Christmas songs to people as they came in and out of the store. Not only was it an excellent fundraising opportunity and a chance to be visibly present in the Camden community, it was also wonderful to give something back, as some shoppers even enjoyed it so much that they stayed and sang with us for quite some time!

A big Thank you to all who turned up and sang, played or waved collecting buckets, dressed in the fetching reindeer antlers which Rev Sharon so kindly provided!

Advent and Christmas Services

We enjoyed a number of carol services during advent – our own, of course, and also the URC, LGCM, and the Deaf Church carol services! It was a reminder that we are not just a church alone, but part of a diverse community of God’s people – drawn together, whatever our differences, to celebrate the birth of the Jesus we love.

And on Christmas Eve, we once again celebrated a quiet and intensely moving, candlelit midnight service to welcome the Christ-child. I have always found this to be the most perfect start to Christmas day – that our first words spoken should be praises, and the first food eaten should be the communion meal. For me it brings the whole day into focus, and helps to keep a sense of proportion when faced with the usual excesses of food and drink and family!

Upcoming Events:

 

Social Event: DVD night – ‘Call me Kuchu’

Unfortunately this event had to be postponed due to the snow, which disrupted travel for many, it will now be shown on Saturday 16th February .

The film is about the life of David Kato, an LGBT activist in Uganda who was murdered for his activism. The film will be followed by a discussion with Ugandan Refugees.

Admission is free and refreshments will be on sale. If you want to know more about the film, the official website is :  www.callmekuchu.com

Social Event: 23rd February –This will be a walk ending with a visit to the British Museum –meeting at 12 pm. Please speak to Clive or Rev Sharon for more details

 

Small Groups Lent Series

At the moment there is one Small Group, meeting in Camden at the church. We have concluded our Advent series about angelic visitations, and will be starting our Lent series on February 13th with an Ash Wednesday service in the afternoon, followed by the first study group at the usual time of 7:30.

The series will focus on women in the Easter Passion stories, starting with Simon’s mother-in-law on Feb 20th. The group meets on Wednesdays at 7:30pm. If you wish to know more please contact Rev Sharon or Rev Jak.

Baptism and Membership Classes

 

MCCNL have a tradition of offering baptism and welcoming new members at our Easter Sunday service. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a member or in baptism, come along to these classes on 3rd and 10th of March before the service. Anyone who wishes to be baptised or to come into membership must attend the classes, but attending does not mean you are obliged to go ahead and do so! This is your chance to learn more about what it means and to discern if it is right for you.

 

Healing Prayer                

Healing prayer is on offer every third Sunday in the month from 6.30 – 6.50 and again after service. The next will be the 17th February If you feel the need for a healing touch for body, mind or spirit, prayer and also anointing with blessed oil are available, in the Nursery room (next door to the tea and coffee area) 

 

Music

All singers and musicians who want to be involved in the music ministry at the church are encouraged to come along to choir and music practices, as this is the time when we learn new songs and also rehearse for special services.

The next one is on Saturday 23rd February, 10.00 – 2.00pm at Rev Sharon’s house. Please let Rev Sharon know if you are coming, and any dietary requirements you may have, as she always provides a delicious lunch to keep the hungry singers going, and wouldn’t want any of you to go short!

 

If you have suggestions for songs you would like to see included in the worship, please give them to Ian Peaple, as we need time to learn new songs before we introduce them in service.

 

Reflection

The time between Christmas and Lent, as the liturgy for the past few weeks has shown, is the Epiphany season, the season of Light. Jesus is remembered as light of the world. There is no accident in this – long before Christians arrived in northern Europe, this was the time when light was of overwhelming importance. The longest night has passed, and the steadily lengthening days prove that, no matter how cold and lifeless the world may seem, spring and summer are on their way back to us. For me, too, it is the promise of better days ahead – since my gardening work can only be done in daylight, the fact that sunset becomes later and later each evening is cause for eager attention and celebration. I can well understand how carefully my farming ancestors must have measured the hours of daylight and prayed for spring.

In a sense, this is the season we are living in. Advent recalls the long wait for the coming of the messiah – the season Israel lived through under the shadow of occupying powers, until in the middle of the longest and gloomiest night, Jesus came. It isn’t summer yet, the world is still troubled and full of hard and difficult work for us to do. But since Jesus has come, the corner has been turned, and the promise of heaven’s realm is being slowly and steadily fulfilled. The full joy and warmth and brightness of God’s presence will come. Til then, it is up to us to prepare and to make the best and fullest use of the light that we do have – ready to go out with the first glimmerings of dawn and to use our strength and energy to the utmost while we can. We don’t yet have all of Christ’s presence, all justice, all peace, all understanding. But we have enough to be getting on with.