Dear Friends

“I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32.8)”

I don’t know about you, but as a Christian pilgrim, I have found that being a friend of Jesus can be a costly experience. There have been times when the relationship has been smooth sailing, and some seasons when it has been incredibly fragile. But, over the years, I have come to understand, that both the stillness and storms of life deepen our understanding of who God is in our lives. I have found it is in the depths of darkness that my trust in Jesus has become stronger, better able to weather the storms of life.

In my early 30s, I had my heart set on travelling to the Middle East with a Christian mission organisation. I ended up at Redcliffe Bible College (Gloucester) for a one-year theological training, preparing me for cross-cultural mission work. I had to rely on fundraising for this endeavour and I always found it incredible how God came through, sometimes at the last minute, with the funds required to support my studies and residence at the college. Throughout my time at Redcliffe Bible College, God gifted me many lessons on trust, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56.3-4). Yes, I had a plan to go to Egypt to serve God there, instead I found myself at an Islamic School in Birmingham, teaching English to students from many parts of the Muslim world (Indeed, God has a sense of humour!).

After 5 years in Swindon, serving at All Saints and St Barnabas churches, and in the wider diocese, I’m about to embark on a new chapter in my ministry at St Paul’s Cathedral (London diocese). Again, I am called to trust God in his leading and guiding. We are often not privy to what the future holds for us, but we can trust the one who holds our future. In times of change and flux, I hold on to God’s promise, “For God has said, “‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13.5). When we reflect on how God has journeyed with us over the years, we can trust him to remain with us into the next adventure of our lives.

More information of my new role at St Paul’s Cathedral

God has blessed me abundantly in Swindon and it has been a joy and a privilege to serve the worshipping communities of All Saints and St Barnabas, as we sought to be a beacon of hope, love, and peace in Gorse Hill and Ferndale. My prayer is that we will continue to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ wherever God has placed us — with strangers, family members, neighbours, friends. So that God’s name would be glorified through all that we think, do and say.

Every blessing,
Revd Catherine Okoronkwo

Weekly Activities

  • Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am — Morning Prayer: Why not come along? It’s a fantastic way to start your day/week!
  • Wednesdays at 10 am, Coffee Mornings in Barney’s (St Barnabas) at 10.00am. Why not come along and join in the chat?
  • Wednesdays at 7 pm, (Fortnightly) — Contemplative Service: An opportunity for a quiet reflective service. Our next scheduled services are at All Saints Church on: 17/7, 6/8, 21/8, 4/9, 18/9, 2/10, 23/10, 6/11, 20/11, 4/12… Resume January 2025.
  • Saturdays 10-12 noon: St Barnabas Church is open on Saturdays. Refreshments offered. All are welcome!
  • Saturdays 10-11 am: Choir Practice at St Barnabas choir. Why not come along and join in! All are very welcome.
  • Sundays at 10 am — Public Worship: All are welcome to our act of worship on a Sunday mornings at All Saints Church and St Barnabas Church.

Dates for your Diary

  • Sunday, 18th August 12 noon: Benefice ‘Bring & Share’ Picnic Lunch (Vicarage Garden). It would be great to fellowship together. All are welcome.

Autumn “knitting” Projects

  1. Hearts: Ferndale School have requested double green heart (connected) for the September intake of students. For more information, please speak to Revd Barbara.
  2. Harvest: We will focus our knitting project this autumn on ‘Harvest’. You are invited to knit a sun (for a brooch or fridge magnet). This will go out in the October benefice magazine. For knitting patterns, please speak to Revd Barbara.
    The bible verse for this project: “The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.” (Psalm 85:12)

Ministry

Life Events: Please pray for weddings, baptisms and funerals across the benefice. Pray for all the couples/families, and for the ministry teams involved in preparation sessions and visits.

Prayer Ministry: If you know anyone who would like to go on our Prayer Circle list, be prayed for at our Sunday services, and/or would like a phone call for a prayer — please contact Brenda Young (b-young7@sky.com), our Lay Minister. Please note we do need express permission from people before they are put on any prayer lists. Thank you.

Pastoral Ministry: Please let Revd Cathy or Revd Barbara know if anyone would benefit from receiving a phone call or card from the ministry team (they do not need to attend church on Sundays, but should reside in the parishes of Gorse Hill and Ferndale). Many thanks.

Extended Home Communion: If you know anyone who would value receiving Holy Communion at home, please let Revd Cathy or Revd Barbara know. Thank you.

Healing Ministry: Are you interested in a ministry of healing? If so, please send Revd Cathy an email. It would be good to gather interested people for a conversation and to pray. There are many passages in the Bible that encourage us to pray for healing, including: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 2). Let us ask God for wisdom, direction and leading.

Out of Parish:

  • Retreat: Revd Cathy will be on retreat Tuesday, 11th June to Saturday, 15th June (inclusive). Please uphold me in your prayers… for God’s replenishment!
  • Holiday: Revd Cathy will be on leave Tuesday, 9th July to Wednesday, 31st July (inclusive).

For prayer support please contact Brenda Young (b-young7@sky.com), our Lay Minister. For pastoral support please contact Revd Barbara.

Notices for June 2024