Meet the Candidates

There will be a General Election on December 12th.  As Christians we are called to play our part as members of society.  For some, this means standing for election, but all of us have an opportunity to engage positively and vote.  We are therefore organising an Assembly with our partners in Citizens MK.  This will be an opportunity for us to talk about the issues that our members are most concerned about, to listen to what the candidates have to say, and to ask questions.

It’s really important that we get as many people there as possible, so that we can show how much we care.  The issues that our members will raise will be:

  • Mental Health – the top priority identified by MK Deanery
  • Climate Change – a Diocesan priority and a big concern for local schools
  • Refugees – which has been a big priority for us as churches since 2015
  • Hate Crime – which is a big issue in our diverse city
  • Fair Work – which is about the way people are treated by employers

If you want to know more and book a ticket, please see Eventbrite

This is an important opportunity to speak to people who may have the power to make a difference.  We want to have a positive relationship with the MPs in Milton Keynes – whatever party they may belong to.  This will be a way to build that relationship so that we can work together with them for a better MK!

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Annual ‘Ride & Stride’: Saturday 14 September 2019

The Buckingham Historic Churches Trust (BHCT) has given grants of over £1,000,000 towards the repair and restoration of over 300 churches of all denominations in the County since its foundation in 1957, and continues to do so at the rate of some £60,000 each year.  Indeed several churches in MK Deanery have benefitted from some generous grants from BHCT. 

The annual ‘Ride & Stride’ is its main fundraising event, held on the second Saturday in September.  This year it will therefore take place on Saturday 14 September. As part of this year’s activities there will also be a horse ride in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks later on Sunday 29 September.  The horse ride will take the same route as last year, starting at Campbell Park and passing four listed churches in the Ouzel Valley before returning to Campbell Park. Entry has been opened up to a larger number of clubs this year, so the Bucks Historic Churches Trust is hoping for a much larger number of participants.

The BHCT needs to find quite a number of marshalls to help around the course.  If anyone can help out, or if you can suggest anyone who might be willing to help, please ask them to get in touch with Nina Newton, the Deanery ‘Ride & Stride’ organiser for Milton Keynes, at ninanewton1632@gmail.com.

If you’re new to ‘Ride & Stride’ and would like to get contribute in other ways (such as sponsoring a walker or rider on Saturday 14 September) or just need further information, here’s the link to find out more – https://bucks-historic-churches.org/.) Anything you can do to support either event would contribute towards the restoration and repair of our beautiful churches.

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Willen Church Sleepout to Help the Homeless: Saturday 14 September 2019

The church of St Mary Magdalene is hoping others will join them in highlighting the problem of homelessness in our city with the Big Sleepout event which will take place overnight NEXT SATURDAY, 14 September outside Willen Pavilion.

Please email willensleepout19@gmail.com for registration and sponsorship forms. You can read more on Facebook on the bussheltermk page and the Willen Sleepout page on Virgin Money Giving is available for making donations.

Rev Dr Paul Smith, Team Rector of Stantonbury and Willen parish LEP will be taking part himself in support of the MK Bus Shelter, both to help raise awareness, as well as to offer some financial support. He says,

“I would like to invite you to sponsor me. Any amount, however small, will be welcome. It is very easy, as you can go online and pledge your chosen amount. Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSmith385.”

If you could download the Willen Church sleepout poster and display it in your church too, that would be really appreciated!

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‘WithIN’ – A Conference on Everyday Faith: Tuesday 8 October 2019

This conference is a Watling Valley Ecumenical Partnership (WVEP) initiative in conjunction with the Diocese of Oxford and HeartEdge/St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The name “WithIN” refers to being WITH God, IN the world.  The keynote speaker will be the Revd Sam Wells.

The day session will start at 9.30am with worship led by the St Martin’s Singers, and will end between 5-5.30pm.  An evening session has been planned for those unable to attend during the day.  This will start at approximately 6.30pm with worship by Testament, and end by 9.15pm.  It is hoped that exhibitions and stalls will be available for folk to look at between 5 – 6.30pm.

As well as having a keynote speaker, there will be a variety of workshops to choose from, looking at the various aspects of everyday spirituality and aiming to be practical, accessible and fun. There will even be a workshop that teachers may find useful.  Workshop leaders include  Barry Lotz, Ruth Maxey, Jonathan Evens (HeartEdge, St  Martin’s), Charlie Kerr (Diocese), and Tina Molyneux (Diocese).

WVEP expects the day to be free, although donations would be welcomed. Tea/coffee/Lunch will be provided, as well as light refreshments in the early evening.  Lunchtime will include ‘Great Sacred Music’ with Sam Wells and the St Martin’s Singers.

Booking is via Eventbrite. All are welcome, and WVEP hopes to encourage a wide range of participation.

Please advertise this event as widely as possible!

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Service of Remembrance and Prayer for Sri Lanka

I’m sure everyone has been shocked and horrified by the carnage and senseless lost of life on Easter Sunday, 21 April.  Our own Rev Dr Sam Muthuveloe, Convenor of Hope Outreach UK,  has arranged a special service, to be held at Christ the Cornerstone Church this coming Sunday, 28th April 2019, starting at 2.30 pm, to remember the dead, pray for the bereaved, healing for the wounded, comfort for the distressed and peace and security for all.

‘Dr Sam’ had already planned to visit Sri Lanka in mid-May, before these atrocities took place.  The intention was – and still is – to commemorate 10 years since the cessation of hostilities, and to support and encourage Hope Outreach UK’s mission partners.  The focus of the visit will be to stand in solidarity with them and the local churches at this difficult time.

Please advertise this service as widely as you can.  Thank you.

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Lent Book Club at Christ the Cornerstone

This Lent we will be reading the book, Following the Way of Jesus, by Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopal Church USA. Join us.

Kindle Edition [Amazon] £6.72 Paperback [Amazon]- from £5.95

RETREAT There will be a retreat for discussion of the book, including quiet time and Holy Communion on Saturday 6 April 2019 10.00 am – 3.00 pm. at St Michael’s Priory, Willen. There are limited places; if you would like to come please book a place with our administrator as soon as possible. mark.okor@cornerstonemk.co.uk

“Bishop Michael Curry leads off this volume with a clarion call to join the Jesus Movement. A team of the church’s brightest stars follow up with reflections on the practice of ministry in light of the movement: Rob Wright on adaptive leadership, Broderick Greer on racial justice, Anthony Guillen on multicultural ministries, Megan Castellan on evangelism, Nora Gallagher on loving the earth, and Kellan Day on ministry with young people. Michael Curry closes with a word on making the world whole. Christians have been following Jesus together for some 2000 years – these leaders help to illuminate how we follow him in our time.” ___________________________________________________________________________________

300 Saxon Gate West, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES www.cornerstonemk.co.uk T 01908-237777 E mark.okor@cornerstonemk.co.uk https://www.facebook.com/cornerstoneMK

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£18,454 Raised in 2018 Alone!

A magnificent £18,454 has been raised by Pat and Neil Hodges through their quizzes and other fundraising charitable events this year. What a brilliant total! However, added to the grand total since Neil started keeping records in 2011, they have managed to raise an eye-watering £103,685.

The bulk of the money has been raised from quiz nights in Simpson Village Hall, but some has come along via Church events and quiz nights in the MK area that Simpson folk attend and support.  A long list of charities have been helped through these events, many of them local, including humanitarian, medical, environmental and children’s causes, but also animal charities, plants for the village, a water bore project in Kenya helping thousands of people to get fresh water, the arts, the RNLI and medical detection dogs.  Some of the money raised has also gone to St Thomas’s Church.

Modest as always, Pat reflects that it has been a joint effort with all those who bake, supply raffle prizes, make teas, set up and most importantly come along and support the events. However, we all know that without Pat and Neil’s hard work, initiative and leadership, not to mention the amount of time they dedicate to these events, they simply would not happen.

Pat gives credit to others who have also held fund-raising events in the village, but she doesn’t have details of the proceeds of these.

For the past 2 years, MK Deanery has also benefitted through the Deanery quizzes Pat and Neil have organised, which has enabled us to work with Citizens:MK. We are indebted to Pat and Neil, not just for the money raised, but also for the fun we’ve had in the process.

A huge thank you must go to Pat and Neil for their generosity of time and their commitment to helping others in need.  Over and above that magnificent fundraising total, it’s the community itself which benefits from their caring and involvement, and no amount of money can buy that.

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Organising for Growth

Milton Keynes has become a significant centre for work on Community Organising.  Since we set up Citizens MK in 2010 we have learned a lot about how community organising can help us make a difference in our city.  We’ve brought diverse communities together, welcomed refugees, got businesses to sign up to the Real Living Wage and spoken out about Hate Crime.  It’s been exciting to make a difference rather than just talk about making a difference…

Community Organising is good for serving our communities, but there is also a lot of evidence that it can help grow churches – in depth, impact and numbers.  In London, there has been a lot of work on “congregational development” and a number of churches have been recognised as “Resource Churches” because of the way they have used organising to grow their congregations.

The Centre for Theology and Community in East London is based at St George-in-the-East where Fr Angus Ritchie both teaches and practices community organising from a Christian perspective.  There’s a great YouTube video that tells their story:

One of the important strands that have shaped Community Organising in the UK and US has been the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.  These remind us that it is the values that we hold that shape our action.  Churches therefore have something to offer beyond an extra pair of hands. The ten principles of Catholic Social Teaching are:

  1. Dignity of the Human Person 
  2. Common Good and Community 
  3. Option for the Poor
  4. Rights and Responsibilities 
  5. Role of Government and Subsidiarity 
  6. Economic Justice  
  7. Stewardship of God’s Creation 
  8. Promotion of Peace and Disarmament 
  9. Participation 
  10. Global Solidarity and Development

Bishop Adrian Newman spoke about Catholic Social Teaching at the National Deaneries Network Conference this year.  Bp Adrian was Bishop of Stepney and a trustee of Citizens UK.  His parents also lived in Milton Keynes in their later days. His talk is one of the most downloaded videos on the NDN web site:

During the past year, Fr Angus and Bp Adrian have been working with Matthew Bolton (now Executive Director of Citizens UK) to run a series of three symposiums on the three quinquennial goals of the Church of England:

  1. Serving the Common Good
  2. Growing the Church
  3. Re-imagining Ministry

I was lucky enough to be at two of these – alongside people from MK and Oxford Diocese.  It was encouraging to hear how churches have been addressing these challenges using the techniques and principles which are at the heart of organising.  From my perspective, I am encouraged by the fact we have a model which is rooted in theology, while presenting a radical alternative to the managerial-leadership model often assumed as the only option for growing churches…

In Milton Keynes, we have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential of organising as a tool for Church growth.  I’ve been using some form of organising for over twenty years and really love the insights that I’m learning from the Citizens family.  I use the skills I’ve learned every day, and am a big fan.  I am struck by the model of “pastor as organiser” and it’s the way I try to operate.  Most of the time it wouldn’t be obvious to others but I know how significant it has been for me.

John Robertson has been running a course called “Leading for a Change” which follows the pattern of a two-day course in Community Organising.  This course has been specifically designed to equip lay leaders, and the feed-back has been pretty good.  A key element to this course is the concept of Salvation History and the way God invites us to join him in a mission of transformation – both within the Church and the World.

I’m really keen that we take these ideas to the next level.  Milton Keynes is already a leader when it comes to organising in the UK, but I’d like us to be a front-runner when it comes to organising for church growth.  I think this is something that we could excel in – and offer to the wider church.  

I suspect some people think this is just another “initiative” or short-lived “fad” but I genuinely believe that there are important lessons from organising which would help us build a more Christ-like Church.

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APPEAL FOR SUPPORT FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS

DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN BRITISH SCHOOLS?
If so, you might be able to do something about it by joining your Local Authority committee that oversees religious education in Milton Keynes.

Each local authority has a SACRE (Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education). More can be found through the following websites:-

Milton Keynes SACRE: https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/schools-and-lifelong-learning/information-for-schools/sacre

National SACRE website http://www.nasacre.org.uk.

RE is in danger of being sidelined by government pressure on schools to give increasing attention to the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, whilst other subjects which enrich life such as the expressive arts, other humanities and religious education get squeezed out. However local children are crying out for time given to the more enriching subjects including religious education, ethics and morality. The success of MK Youth SACRE, headed up by an award-winning RE teacher at Denbigh, Shammi Rahman, indicates the importance that children place on spending school time on areas of faith and belief.

MK Deanery is looking for two individuals to join the other two Anglican reps. (You do not have to be an Anglican, just be approved by the Deanery Synod as Anglican reps!) The commitment is to attend our once termly meetings which last for only an hour and a half during “twilight” hours. SACRE is made up of reps from other faiths, teachers and local councillors.

For more information, please contact me, Rev Paul Smith (Chair of MK SACRE). We always invite interested reps to attend one of our termly meetings to see what we’re like before deciding whether to join!

Contact details: Tel: (1908) 606689. E-mail: paul.a.smith.mk@btinternet.com

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