Greater than Gold at the Oakes
On a dark Friday night Annie, Helen and Alan travelled up the M1 to the Oakes Holiday Centre, in south Sheffield. The Oakes is an amazing place - an old manor house taken over and refurbished into a wonderful youth and children's centre, complete with dormitories, a panelled room for meetings, a lovely dining room, games rooms, climbing wall, ropes course, archery range, football field, lake and mudder course. Annie (orchestra), Helen (choir) and Alan (drama/movement) were there to lead a group of over 40 8-16 year olds in learning the musical Greater than Gold. With just three rehearsals the young people performed on the Sunday afternoon to a packed room of family and friends.
|Sunday morning snow at the Oakes!
Other highlights of the weekend included snow, the Bible teaching sessions and worship, Annie being able to share her testimony with the campers, and also the unstinting enthusiasm of the leaders - mostly made up of a gap year team living in the house for the year. They tirelessly got alongside the young people, mentoring and supporting them, as well as taking part in the choir, orchestra and drama! If you know of any children/young people who would benefit from a place like this, or any school leavers looking for a good gap year opportunity, the Oakes is an excellent place to start!
Barnabas Barnt Green
Then the following weekend we travelled the very short distance down the road to St Andrew's Church, Barnt Green. St Andrews have been wonderful supporters over the years - Tim and Emma used to attend the church until they moved away, and one of our associates, Katie, has been involved in the music and worship there for a long time. For the last couple of years in January, Katie has led a musical in a day event at the church (last year it was Simeon) and roped in a lot of the CMM team to provide the accompaniment. This year instead, Katie invited Roger, Helen and Annie to come and lead a special Barnabas day, bringing CMM soloists and instrumentalists along to help.
With St Andrews' kind agreement, CMM took the opportunity to invite lots of associates to the day in order to train up a batch of soloists to perform Barnabas. While not as many were able to come as hoped, there was still a great turn out.
Annie led some worship to start the day, and Helen led the warm up. Then after Roger's notices the day began in earnest with Annie taking the choir of 50 through Trust and Obey, Helen teaching Three men in a boat, and then Roger teaching The Word became flesh. Signs were good that this was going to be a fabulous choir.
After lunch the Saul and Barnabas parts had a rehearsal, and Annie made amazing headway with the choir, finishing nice and early. The second half of the afternoon saw the choir and soloists come together along with Annie, Helen and Dave on viola, flute and soprano sax respectively. Katie's brother John had also been present all day operating the sound system - his help with microphones and backing tracks was invaluable.
The rehearsal finished and the choir were fortified by much cake and prayer, as well as time spent listening to God for direction for the performance ahead. The church filled up with audience, and the performance went very well indeed. The choir were fantastic despite many of them not having heard the musical before. The CMM soloists were excellent, showing a great deal of confidence in their parts and the message they were conveying. Huge, huge thanks go to Rob, Katie, John, Rosemary, Bob and all at Barnt Green for their hospitality and support. We look forward to working together again in future!
Time with God
The month of January came to a close in a very special way - the annual EBRG retreat. The regular Thursday evening housegroup that supports Roger, Mary, Annie and Helen were joined by Mike and Barbara (honourary members) and Simon Cooper as facilitator at Shallowford House, near Stone.
Shallowford House has become a very special retreat venue to us over the years, and once again it did not disappoint - this year we were even blessed with beautiful weather for our free time on Saturday afternoon.
|Glorious sunshine in the fields
The aim of the retreat was to seek God together. There are lots of questions and uncertainties over the ministry looking forward, but we decided to place that all before God and simply spend time in his presence. And God is forever faithful - in the worship and the waiting we heard him speak to us as individuals, and then as the weekend progressed we came before him in intercession for the ministry and for the many people we meet and are blessed by - our 'parish'.
Please be praying for EBRG and also the EBRG Trustees as we digest all that God has said and begin talking and praying together about the future.