Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Right Royal Picnic – Sunday 3 June

We’re celebrating the Jubilee with a “right royal picnic” on Sunday 3 June at Crawley Ridge Junior School field. Come and join us after the 11.15am service, and bring some food!


A Right Royal Picnic in Camberley on Sunday 3 JunePlease note: Photographs will be taken at this event including those of children. Consent will be assumed unless the parent or guardian state otherwise.

This is a great opportunity to meet as one big church family, share food together, relax and chill out. The Jubilee weekend is packed with things to do, and is going to be very busy for a lot of us. This picnic is a safe haven, where we can spend time together in the lovely grounds of Crawley Ridge Junior School. Let the world pass you buy, as you get a chance to chat with people you don’t normally have time to meet.

Please join the party, and have a ‘right royal picnic’ with us on Sunday.

God save the queen!

Friday, 25 May 2012

St Paul’s Pet Service Goes International

St Paul’s Camberley, used the social network twitter to allow the wider community to take part in the service last Sunday, and had an international response. St Paul's Pet Service 2012

This year, the pet service at St Paul’s in Crawley Ridge, Camberley, had a larger involvement than expected, as it caught national and international attention. The service was featured on the BBC website, and on Mashable, a leading US website on technology. Many people from America and the UK sent in photos of their animal friends using twitter, with responses shown in the service on a giant screen. You can see some of the responses on Storify.

All the animals present showed exemplary behaviour. Maggi the horse didn’t feel like travelling in her horse box from Yateley, to Crawley Ridge in Camberley, so her owner  Annie McElligott rode her across town to reach the service just in time.

St Paul's Pet Service 2012 Geoff Andrew speaking shortly before the service, on BBC Radio Surrey Sunday Breakfast show said:  "It's a great opportunity to celebrate creation. Its a wonderful platform to thank God for everything He has made. What we're doing is thanking God. It's our biggest visitors service outside Christmas and Easter.  People connect with their relationships that they have with their animals, that gives us a chance to say thank you. It also gives us a great chance to explore the relationship between people and animals, and Gods relationship with us."

How’s twitter going to work?

"One thing it's not going to be which I understand has been picked up on the wire is we're not trying to bless pets via twitter. Really all we're doing is giving people in the outside community an opportunity to join in with what's going on in church."

Why engage with social networking?

"It's important for us as churches to spread the word as far and wide as we can. Social media has given us a platform in recent years to do that in ways we could have never have imagined."

View St Paul's Pet Service, Camberley 2012

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fireside Chat with Russ Gant – You sure you want to become a vicar?

Having done some research on “Introducing Russ Gant New Associate Curate At St Paul’s Camberley”, I thought it would be rather nice to speak with Russ and find out more about his personality, and how he will fit into life at St Paul’s. Plus I had a question for Russ from one of our young people, Daniel Nash, so I was on a mission.

Russ Gant St Pauls Camberley Assistant Curate

Here is a recap. Russ is “a boy of the 1970’s” who grew up in a family that did not go to church. He became a Christian when he was 24. Russ is married to Jenny from Canada, and they have a two year old daughter Annabelle.

He’s a Suffolk boy, having spent 30 years in the same village. Initially he envisaged taking a position in a rural area, but having visited Camberley with it’s “bright lights”, thought it would be a nice place to take up his vocation as a trainee vicar. In his zany style, he said “We’re exited to come to the biggest Marks & Spencer’s in the country”. I guess we just don’t know how blessed we are to have a shopping paradise on our doorsteps!

His previous job was as a town council clerk, which on the face of it, seems quite different to that of a minister in the Church of England. As it happens, there are a number of key transferable skills that working in a council equipped him with. Russ has gained skills and experience in community work, speaking to people about their needs, public speaking and working with volunteers whilst working in local government. He highly respects councillors, “I think councillors get a lot of bad press. It’s a group of volunteers who are prepared to stand up and say we want to make the place we’re living in even better. I take my hat off to people who want to do that, because for the most part they don’t get paid for it”.

Moving to ministry, I was curious about what aspect of his new job he is most passionate about. “my biggest passion is making the place where we come together a really welcoming community, making sure there is nothing that makes it feel like an exclusive club. I can remember going into church for the first time, and thinking this is all very alien, and feeling very out of place. I love preaching and sharing Gods word in a way that’s engaging. Someone once said to me, the problem with churches is they’re answering questions that no one’s asking. I hope that when I preach I’m answering questions that are really relevant, because I think God’s word is relevant and speaks to us just as much today as it ever has”.

I couldn’t interview Russ without discussing digital technology, given he is on twitter, facebook, and has a blog and website, and has studied at the hub of social networking for churches, Durham. I asked him if he would be using social media at St Paul’s. “Yes, I hope so. I’m kind of really keen to use any means to share the good news of Jesus with anyone, and if that involves using social media and using digital networks to reach people then I’m really keen to do that. I just think they are modern methods that the church has got to be using to engage with people”. Russ checks his social networks first thing in the morning, and loves connecting with people. He’s pretty used to using skype to chat with family in Canada and stay in touch. He is an Apple fanboy, so there we have to differ, and move on to the next subject.

Hobbies are something Russ has a lot of, but Daniel Nash wanted to hear more about his train interests. “My dad bought be a train set when I was minus three weeks only, on the assumption I would be a boy, and like trains. I grew up with a train set in the loft, and spent a lot of time with my dad. I think probably he bought it for himself really. At one time I had my own miniature steam engine. I ran it around the park at Frimley at one time. I’ve driven full sized steam engines”. Annabelle will be growing up with Thomas!

On a recent school visit, one pupil asked Russ if he was sure he wanted to become a vicar. Russ said yes, why? The boy said it sounded a bit boring. So Russ asked the boy what he wanted to be. A secret agent, came the reply. I can’t imagine Russ being a boring preacher, and I do look forward to hearing his sermons, as soon as he, and his family join us at St Paul’s.

You can listen to the full interview here …

Monday, 14 May 2012

Tweeting Pet Service #PaulsPets

Unfortunately the media has taken a story and got the facts slightly wrong. We are holding our annual pet service this Sunday where we will be celebrating our pets. Pets and their owners will be coming into church. This year however, we are inviting people to tweet in responses to questions about their pets at home, which we will be sending out during the service. Simple as that. No ‘blessing over twitter’ which the media have invented. Also Rev’d Claire Isherwood  is not part of this service. Hope that sets the record straight.

This year, we really want to hear about your pets or the animals you look after, wherever you are, and we’re going to use Twitter to help us. If you can’t make it to our annual pet service on 20 May at 9.30am or 11.15am, then join us live on twitter.

St Pauls Camberley Pet Service 2012

Our pets are all part of God's wonderful creation, and an important part of the family. As it says in Matthew 10:29, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care’.  Since animals can’t normally go to church, we reserve one day a year as a special day to include them and celebrate them.

We wanted a way to open up St Paul’s to the people in the wider community, so everyone can take part in our annual pet service, even if they can’t make it physically. We have formed good relationships in our parish using Twitter, so it’s the obvious way to hear about your pets.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care – Matthew 10:29.

We shall be tweeting from the pet service, and using a twitterfall to display the responses  to our questions about your animals on our big screen at St Paul’s. If you have a pet, we would love to hear about them, and send us a photo too. If you work in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary, then please join in and tell us about the more unusual animals you look after.

So, look out for the hashtag #PaulsPets between 9.45-10.10am and again between 11.30-11.55am on Sunday 20 May. We will post a few questions asking you about your pet or animal you look after, from our twitter account @StPaulsCamb .

Please spread the word!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Introducing Russ Gant New Associate Curate At St Paul’s Camberley

Russell, his wife Jenny and their young daughter Annabelle join St Paul’s in July. It is Russ’s first post after ministerial training at Cranmer Hall, St. John’s College, Durham.

Russ Gant- New Associate Curate St Pauls Camberley, with wife Jenny

Russ Gant – Associate Curate, St Paul’s Camberley, with wife Jenny

I first met Russ, Jenny and Annabelle some months ago when they came for a visit, and they were very charming and sincere. Russ is social media savvy with a sense of humour, “As the mighty Twitter train leaves the station, I am the one hanging on to an open door in the last carriage!”. Indeed he has a website, blog, and is on twitter, as you would expect studying at the same college as CODEC, the renowned research initiative exploring the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture. I’m looking forward to encouraging him in this area. He once tweeted: “There is no sphere of human interaction in which God is not involved - that's why we MUST use digital technology to share the gospel”. He’ll fit in well at St Paul’s then. For more on that sense of humour, check out his bond photo.

Russ is native of rural Suffolk where his parents and brother still live. After training in landscape and amenity planning, and a later degree in business management, he spent seven years working in local government, the youngest Town Council Clerk in the country. Russ became a Christian on an Alpha Course, left the council chamber and went to Capernwray Hall Bible College in Lancashire where he met his lovely Canadian wife Jenny. They had a very romantic engagement on new years day 2007, and are very much in love.

It was while studying the Bible that Russ sensed God might be calling him to ordained ministry in the Church of England. So after Russ and Jenny were married, they moved to Surrey and spent two years working in the parish of Albury while Russ explored ordination.

Russ has a few hobbies, including skiing, sailing and steam engines (he even has his own steam train). He’ll be at home at Frimley Lodge Miniature Railway. Most of all he loves to share how Jesus Christ has, and is, transforming his life. Russ said: “I believe in making the community of the Church, an attractive place for all people to experience the love and hope that is found only in a relationship with the living God.”

I wish him well, and look forward to him and his family joining us soon in Camberley.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Divinely Celebrated in Camberley

240 ladies attended Divinely Celebrated, an evening of cocktails and canapés and a huge array of stands offering everything from card making to nail painting. A celebration of women and the amazing gifts that God blesses women with, and a showcase of some of the many creative and clever things that the women of Camberley can do.DivinelyCelebratedAtStPaulsCamberleyAt St Paul's, Camberley on Tuesday 1st May, ladies heard an inspirational talk from actress and singer Fiona Hendley who told us all about her life and how she became a Christian. One of our guests said “I thought it was a wonderful evening.  Fiona Henley spoke superbly, everyone around me was spellbound.  It was the full Gospel message but in a way that people could catch hold of and identify with.”

After the talk the ladies were free to wander, dip into the chocolate fountains and shop in the fabulously well stocked retail room. There were demonstrations in jewellery making and cooking and many of the ladies had a go at cupcake decorating, card making and quilting. In the 'style and beauty' room ladies had their hair styled, their make up done and then studio photographs taken and many of our guests went away with gorgeous new painted nails!


All 1500 canapés were eaten and every lady went away with a wonderful goodie bag!