Connexion Articles Summer 2018

Two Articles from the Connexion magazine Summer 2018

Paul Taylor, Operations Director at Cliff College, was an active member of our GPS church until he took up his current post at Cliff. In this extract from his article in Connexion, he describes this development at GPS.

Called to a second congregation

A group of us felt that God was calling us to establish a second congregation on a Sunday morning: a congregation that would meet the particular needs of the families and young people who were currently part of our church, and so provide an environment where it would be easy to invite others. We all had other roles in our church and circuit, and many of these had to be laid aside in order for us to focus on this new congregation.

Over the years this became a place where lay people felt able to explore their vocation as we were prepared to shape the congregation around its members at any particular time. Some examples demonstrate this: at times the music was led by a large band and at other times we used CDs; at times someone preached a sermon and at others we had a discussion; at times we met in the church and at others we met in a coffee shop. Some 18 years later, we have seen many lay people becoming confident in saying “this is what I believe God is calling me to,” and in response we ask the question “how can we as a church respond?”

It has been both exciting and humbling to witness God shaping a church community through the gifts and experiences of the people involved. We have recognised the value of:

·         a supportive community willing to let people grow and develop

·         a leadership recognising people’s gifts and willing to explore ways in which they can be fully used

·         a community taking risks with people, letting them ‘have a go’ and learning from the experience

·         a culture of walking alongside each other; allowing a trusted friend to share our journey

a priority of making space, away from the local church, to hear and respond to the will of God.

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This second article is by Jamie who is an active member and steward at our Irthlingborough church. 

Local church member Jamie Poole gives his ‘vocational’ testimony of a new direction for his life and art

At university, I began to hunger for artwork that expresses the power and force of life itself. I started to paint landscapes using rich colour and texture in my search for a spiritual connection with nature, the world and life itself. I felt I was moving in the right direction, but still missing something.

Challenged faith

I had never considered taking a course to discuss Christianity until my lovely wife Sophie asked me to join her on an Alpha course in 2010. As a child I remember lying in bed talking to God about things and asking questions of God, but my family never went to church. This course challenged my preconceived ideas about faith. Sophie and I started going to Irthlingborough Methodist Church, where members welcomed us with open arms. I never looked back.

My new relationship with God began to lead me in a different direction in my creative work as an artist. This was tentative at first; however, when I had a full immersion Baptism in a birthing pool on 27 October 2013, things really started to change. I decided if I was going to declare my commitment as a disciple of Jesus, I wanted everyone one to see and feel the joy of the occasion. Being baptized in the Holy Spirit took my breath away.

New art

To mark this major event in my life I knew that I needed to produce a new piece of artwork. It was a long time in the making: I attended many church services contemplating and praying for guidance. A painting that really inspired me was Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross, and I used this as a starting point.

In the Nene Valley near Irthlingborough are many lakes and I decided to use these as a setting to symbolise the water used in the act of Baptism, but also because they are local and reflect God’s presence everywhere.

First, I made a wooden cross, and after photographing this near the water, I developed it into a full-sized image. Gridding the photo up into 4 cm squares, I then matched the grid on to the canvas. I was now ready to ‘paint’ the artwork with strips of colour-printed Bible passages and poems about Baptism.

These dissected words I then glued into each square, one at a time, until the whole painting was completed. As I copied each square from the photograph, words and phrases were layered on to each other creating a dense textured surface revealing the image of the cross on the lake. Phrases and words, if you look carefully, can be read in the painting.

Baptism is an artwork that marked the beginning of a new direction in my life and work. It symbolises both my commitment to Jesus, the area we live in, and that I can use my talents to glorify God. Since then I have been making small Christian-themed paintings and prayer crosses, using the same technique based on individual Bible passages and poetry. People from all over the world have bought my work on Etsy either for themselves or gifts for Baptism. One was even commissioned as a wedding present.

Jesus is a part of every moment of my life, I pray when travelling to work, when sharing my talents with others at workshops and art classes. Jesus is present in all that I do and it is my aim to do everything with him by my side.

www.jamie-poole.com

Jamie Pool from the connexion, the free magazine of the Methodist Church, www.methodist.org.uk

 

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