Sunday 29th September saw my family and I formally commissioned by the bishop of Birmingham for the pioneering ministry we are heading up.However, we have been living on ‘the wood’ now since April, and loving it.
We have spent the summer absorbing all that Chelmsley has to offer; exploring the woodlands, Meriden adventure park, meeting new people and getting to know our neighbours and the many many children that congregate both on our road and also the surrounding streets. It has been an incredible summer of watching, listening and praying.
One of the reoccurring themes we hear Chelmsley residents say is “no one loves us”, “we are the forgotten people” and that neither Birmingham or Solihull councils wanted to take Chelmsley Wood as its own, that they are in a sort of no mans land. yet, we see it differently, there is such a fantastic community spirit here that already feels a blessing to be a part of. Just last week, we held our first outdoor community film night in our back garden. It was full of such a variety of people from all walks of life, young and old, (mostly younger as we watched Monsters Inc).
The parents that came, though we wanted to host them and bless them - in turn it blessed us by getting involved and helping with the hosting of drinks, cooked food and the like. This enabled fantastic conversations to develop as we listened and heard stories from those who have lived here for many years and those more recent. As we saw the richness in the conversations, it reminded me of how Jesus must have felt. He wasn’t particularly loved by those of his time! He was misunderstood and condemned, it was only the few who chose to listen to his message that came to know the gift that he came to offer. Taking time to listen and hear a community of people who have felt unheard and rejected, and valuing their voices and contribution to their community, we think is key, that’s what Jesus did, he listened and spent time with people intentionally in growing relationships and sharing good news.
We are by no means experts, however, this is a journey of exploring what it really means to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’… pioneering might be the title, but it is simply doing life together, encouraging and affirming all that is good in the wood, building relationships and asking, what does it mean to be the ‘beloved’. To claim it, live it and experience that wonderful intimate relationship that only God can fulfil.
As we explore this through activities like the open air film night, community meals and church services and other activities, we welcome you to explore that question with us. Each month we have a community meal around the table on a Sunday afternoon, sharing experiences and eating together. There is an opportunity to gather during the week to again meet over the table with food to deepen relationships and know one another on a Wednesday. And finally, we would love to invite you to join us and know what it means to belong to the wider family of God as we meet to worship together on a Sunday.
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Call or message us to find out more about getting involved in this new and exciting phase of St. Andrew’s Church.
Andi & Briony
Andi, Briony, Jonah and Elijah (and Max the dog) are coming to Chelmsley Wood
We've seen many changes over the past couple of months with Mike reducing his working hours and the appointment of Geoff as our Parish Missioner. I mentioned my hope that later in the year another person would come to work in Chelmsley Wood but that I couldn’t give you details before it was all signed and sealed.
Well now it is! It’s sealed and signed! The green light is on! We have lift off! Thunderbirds are go! Spectrum is green! Sorry, no more references to 1960's TV programmes.
From the 1st September, Rev’d Andi Thomas will be joining us as the Pioneer Minister for Chelmsley Wood. Andi, his wife Briony, and their two boys Jonah and Elijah will move onto Chelmsley in June-July; they will be around a couple of days a week through August in advance of the new role beginning in September.
Andi’s focus will be to work with people living on 'The Wood', who are aged under 40, with a view to creating a new worshipping community. That’s where the “pioneering” bit comes in; it’s about engaging with people and families who don’t currently hang out in church; telling them about God’s love and inviting them to follow Jesus. It’s really exciting. We’re praying that God will build his Kingdom on The Wood. Please join in and pray that prayer every day.
"We're really excited by Andi and Briony's vision of and commitment to this missional opportunity on Chelmsley Wood. We're also grateful to Bishop David, Bishop Anne and the Church Commissioners for sharing and investing in this vision. Andi, Briony and the boys have moved onto the estate and the project is already underway. Hospitality is at the heart of who they are and what they do. Their new home is already open to children and neighbours. We can't wait to see how God will move and bless."
There’s no text book for establishing new groups of disciples, so we’re being prayerful and trying to listen to what God may be saying. It would be great if you would join in the process of praying; listening; planning and building.