Newsletter - December 2015 to February 2016

Newsletter December 2015 - February 2016


Message from our Minister

Dear all,

I am writing this on a dark, drizzly November afternoon, with both dogs sitting under the table, wide-eyed, worried about the fireworks that are noisy in the distance. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees and are slowly turning to a slippery mulch underfoot. The dahlias are trying to have a final bloom before the frost comes as winter closes in.

It’s easy to view this damp autumn weather in a gloomy light, and anticipate the frost and cold of winter with resignation but that would be missing the glory that is present constantly in God’s world. The fireworks and bonfire parties that upset the dogs delight excited children, and adults. The leaves blowing from the trees are bright orange, yellow and red, making a real splash of colour in gardens, parks and countryside. Even the rain and snow should be welcomed, giving essential water to nourish plants and replenish water sources and providing beautiful snowy scenes and may be the chance to build a snowman even bigger than last year’s.

There’s always hope and encouragement in God’s world, however difficult or sorrowful the situation. It isn’t always easy to find the positive when life seems overwhelmingly sad or hopeless and that’s when we need to ask especially for the help of God’s Holy Spirit to encourage and guide us in the choices and decisions we make.

In the middle of winter the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas shines like a warm and hopeful beacon. In this supreme act of love, God comes to us as a little baby, not born into riches, remote from us in a palace, but precious child of a poor working couple, so low in social status that Joseph had no influence with a landlord to persuade him to give the heavily pregnant Mary a room at the inn, but instead had to make do with a stable. This could have been a desperately grim and dirty birth, surrounded by animals, with only

straw for bedding and with the cold wind whistling in through the rough planks of the wooden walls.

Instead, this poor lodging was lit by the brilliance of a bright and special star, the animals breathed warmth into the night air and a choir of angels sang holy songs all night. The birth of Jesus brought joy, hope and the promise of peace into a world that was full of Roman soldiers, Herod’s violence and society’s disapproval of Mary’s pregnancy.

But this was no ordinary baby although he was born into humble circumstances. This baby was God’s son, our Saviour and through his life, ministry, his death on a cross and resurrection, he turned the world upside down and offered hope and the gift of eternal life to all who believe in his name. From the doubtful beginnings in a rundown stable to the shame of crucifixion on the cross, Jesus showed the world how hope, love, compassion and peace triumph over adversity. With God’s help, we too can find the silver lining in the clouds of daily life.

Katie aged 6 says it all : “ Jesus was born in a manger because he was too special to go in a normal bed.” *

God be with you.

Claire Hargreaves

*from Kids’ Views of God by Dunn and Mann

Family News

Well, here we are in late November already and summer seems a long time ago. I trust that everyone's arrangements for Christmas are going well, whether you are spending the festive season at home or away with friends or relatives.  Elsewhere in the Newsletter, you will find details of the Christmas activities within our church family and, of course, everyone is assured of a warm welcome to our services and social gatherings.

Heather has kindly provided an update on various members of our church who cannot attend our services any more but are still very much in our thoughts and prayers.  Ruth Erasmus has now moved to The Old Rectory, Ewhurst, a family-run home where she already knows the staff from her previous short stays there.  Although she feels settled, she loves to see friends, as does Elsie Wilton at Dene Place and Rene Denew at Lime Grove.  Frieda Greenacre is still in her own home with considerable support from carers and her son who lives nearby. She also enjoys visitors after a preceding phone call.  John Lamont has now returned to the Northwest of Scotland having finished his work down here.

It was good to see Tina at a recent coffee morning where she gave us an update on her father, Keith, who is now in a home close by.

The Spackman 'boys' have been on the move. David and family are settling back into life in England and Ross and family are moving to Dorchester, Dorset.  We congratulate Ross on his new post. Bob, of course, is busy advising on DIY!

My own family will be quite scattered this Christmas.  Simon will be travelling to Southern Ireland to spend Christmas with his girlfriend's large and, apparently, very jovial family.  Michael will be with his girlfriend's family too and I am meeting up with Richard in Las Vegas as he escapes from snowbound Denver.  We are planning to do more exploring, taking in The Grand Canyon and Death Valley.  No doubt we'll all meet up at New Year.  

Wherever you are and whatever your plans, I wish you all a Joyous and Peaceful Christmas.


We bring sad news of the death of Rachel Weller on Wednesday 25th November.  She had coped with Down’s syndrome for forty years.  Our thoughts and prayers go to Ruth and her sons Andrew and Martin at this sad time.


Local News

Bible Study

The Bible study group will be meeting on the following dates:-

Dec 7th, Jan 4th  and 18th, Feb 1st, 15th and 29th and March 14th.

House Group

The house group meets at 7.00 usually on the 4th Thursday of the month, at Di Bamber’s house.  The programme for the next few months is:

17th Dec (note change of date) Christmas miscellany – please bring favourite readings, poems, prayers and carols.

28th Jan at Ruth Isaac’s, 25th Feb and 24th March, Maundy Thursday Communion.

Occasional lunches - help needed

The next Occasional lunch is scheduled for Thursday 21st January but will not take place unless more people offer to help with talking to the visitors, serving and cooking.  This is a valued opportunity for fellowship with people from our local community and it would be a pity if we have to reduce the frequency.  Please let Heather or Celia know if you can commit to helping on 21st Jan.


Our Harvest Festival Service focussed on Ethiopia with material from All We Can (Methodist Relief & Development Fund) and a slide presentation from Celia.  We were able to send £187 to help the work in Ethiopia.

Coffee morning

Celia and Di will be organising a Christmas theme for the coffee morning on 17th Dec.  Bring your friends for some light hearted fun.


Charity support

“20ps in Smartie Tubes”

Unfortunately, the charity we were supporting, Kid’s Company, has been dissolved, and Church Council agreed that the amounts already raised should go to Action for Children.  For the next 6 months, we will be supporting Cherry Trees, the local care home providing respite care for children.

Christmas collections for the homeless

The “loose” collection at our Carol Service on Sunday 20th Dec will be sent to help the work with the homeless by the Whitechapel Mission and on Christmas Day the collection will go to the Number 5 project helping homeless men in Guildford.  Please be generous in your support at this cold time of year.

Extraordinary Gifts

There is a leaflet on the notice board with the range of gits that can be purchased to help the work of All We Can.  These range from fruit tree seedlings for Ethiopian farmers at £9, through bicycles to help Ugandan farmers take their produce to market at £55 to a village water pump at £230.


Accounts 2014/15

Thank you to everyone for your continued generosity to the church over the past year.  The Sunday collections and Tax refund were up by £500.  Together with the money from letting the Wesley room for community use and the tariff from the energy returned by our soalr panels, we had a surplus for the year of £800, not quite as much as last year.  Our reserves are just under £10,000.

During the past year the 3 Anglican churches have been without clergy but in October Rev Hugh Grear was installed at Ockham.  Also Rev Renos Pittarides takes up his appointment at St Martin's East Horsley during November.  St Mary's, West Horsley are in the process of interviewing.  The 3 Anglican vicars are to work as a team ministry.  We wish them well in their various parishes and look forward to meeting them in due course.

This year there will be no Unity Service in January during the usual Week of Prayer for Unity.  Instead there are plans to have a day walk around all the churches on Sat May 14th finishing with the Unity service at our chapel at 5.00.

It is proposed to run the usual ecumenical Lent discussion groups, probably following a York Course or the Churches Together course called Pilgrimage.

On the 2nd Sunday each month we will continue to include the intercessory prayers, which are read in all the churches.

The Women’s World Day of Prayer Service this year will be held at All Saints Church, Ockham on Friday 4th March.


Events at Guildford, St. Mary’s, Quarry Street

A series of 15 minute Advent Reflections will start at 12.30 on 3rd, 10th and 17th December, followed by bread and soup.

An hour’s Reflection in Words, Music and Stillness at noon on Mondays, 11th Jan, 1st Feb, 7th March and 4th April, coffee from 11.45.

Circuit Missions Weekend

The Rev Chris Blake, is visiting our Circuit on 27th/28th Feb. 

On the Saturday he will speak at the Missions Supper at St Mary’s, Quarry Street.  On the Sunday evening, Chris will be preaching at a joint Circuit Service at 6.30 at Trinity Methodist Church, Woking.

Woking & Walton Circuit

We have started the formal consultation to explore the possibilities of forming a new circuit with Woking and Walton.  The decision will be made at each Circuit Meeting on 10th March.  Prior to that, a vote will be taken at our Church Council on Friday, 5th February.  We will be having an information/discussion meeting in January when Claire and Margaret, who are both members of the Planning Group, will help us.


Tracing ancestors, part 1

I have been interested in my family tree for decades, but had not done any research into it until our son David gave me a book on Genealogy when I retired.  Various family stories were handed down from earlier generations some of which proved to be embellishments of simple facts, some erroneous and others absolutely correct.  Some other things must have been known but conveniently forgotten!

One of the stories was that some of my father's ancestors were Huguenots, non Catholics from France.  This I checked out and indeed my seven x great grandfather, Pierre Gaucheron, came across from France after the Treaty of Nantes was rescinded in 1685.  He brought his young sons with him and they settled into East London as weavers and tailors.  They worshipped at the French Church and received help from the French Hospital (which was near the Bank of England for many years).  The Gaucherons married into the Kemp family, who also were weavers, when Pierre's great granddaughter, Ann Gaucheron, married John Kemp.  

One of their sons, William Kemp, was a devout Methodist, and unfortunately took his own life in 1842.  His friends reported that he had been much troubled by the recently introduced 'Income Tax' which he thought would bring bankruptcy to tradesmen.  

The Huguenot connection continued and in the early 1900s my grandfather's apprenticeship fees to a cabinet maker were paid for by a Huguenot Bursary.  I still have many of his tools and it gives me great pleasure to use them from time to time.



Tracing ancestors, part 2

On my way back from Cornwall, I called in at the Regimental Museum of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in Bodmin.  I took a photo album belonging to my maternal Grandfather, the Rev Hebert Hamon, which had photos of him with the 8th Battalion training at Bath.  A retired Major was able to confirm from the records that my grandfather was a chaplain to the Battalion and went with them to Boulogne in the First World War.  This was news to me as the Methodist records have him serving in the Isle of Wight at this time. The battalion later went to Salonika where many of the men died from typhoid, but there is no evidence that my grandfather went with them and I know he was back in this country to care for his sick wife, who died in 1917. 

The Major borrowed the album to take some copies of photos that they did not have in the Museum.



Dates for your Diary



Monday 7th       2.00    Bible Study Group in the Wesley Room Saturday 5th      7.00            Advent Carol Praise

Thursday 17th 10.30    Coffee morning with a Christmas theme

                         7.00    Christmas House Group at Di Bamber’s

Sunday 20th    10.30     Carol Service

Friday 25th      10.30    Christmas Day Service with Claire Hargreaves


Sunday 10th    10.30     Annual Covenant Service

Monday 18th    9.30     Stewards’ Meeting

                         2.00    Bible Study Group in the Wesley Room

Thursday 28th   7.00    House Group at Ruth Isaac’s


Monday 1st      2.00     Bible Study Group in the Wesley Room

Friday 5th       10.00     Church Council

Monday 15th    2.00     Bible Study Group in the Wesley Room

Thursday 25th  7.00     House Group at Di Bamber’s

Saturday 27th  6.00      Mission Supper at St Mary’s, Guildford

Sunday 28th     6.30      Joint Circuit Service at Trinity, Woking

Monday 29th  2.00      Bible Study Group in the Wesley Room




Our thanks to Celia for the trouble she takes to find appropriate covers for our newsletters.  This one came from material from MHA which included this prayer:

“The light of Christmas shines into the darkest of places - may you know that light for yourself,

The child of Christmas shows that God's love includes everyone - may you know that love for yourself,

And may you know God's blessing each day of the year to come, Amen.”


Pictures speak louder than words -

a Banksy cartoon in Bethelehem

Safeguarding - it’s vital            Can you help?

We are in urgent need of people willing to run training sessions for our Safeguarding Courses.  You don’t need to have any Safeguarding knowledge – just be able to operate a laptop and comfortable presenting a Powerpoint presentation to a maximum of 30 people.  You won’t need to organize the venue or get people to come – we’ll do that.  If you think this might be something you’d be interested in – please let us know and we’ll give you more details.  Please email us on:

Many thanks,

Maggie, Nan and Catherine

The Circuit Safeguarding Team

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