Dear member of the All Saints family,
The main message this week is the retirement letter from Helen Ellis, our Families Worker who has served for many years, and also served in many other ways in the church family. A reminder that we are marking Helen’s retirement at the 10:45 service next week on July 11th, and hope that you will be able to be in church or join with us online.
Please can we draw your attention to an item on the notice sheet requesting volunteers to help at an All Saints Youth Camp later in July – please see the notice.
With best wishes and blessings,
Andy Creeth and John Chester, Churchwardens
Hi Church family
I’m retiring!! Well, what a journey the last 19 years have been as the All Saints Families Worker. So many ups and hardly any downs! My own journey began when I was 17 and committed my life to Christ at the back of a packed All Saints church during a “Come Together” musical presentation of the gospel. Then off to Ripon & York St John College to train as an early years’ teacher. Following a year after leaving college without a teaching job, I spent 3 years serving on the Lee Abbey Christian community in North Devon.
Back in Chester I had a 13 year teaching career mainly based in Ellesmere Port during which time Jim and I (re)met, married and had 2 children, Rach and Pete.
After the birth of our third child, Hanna, All Saints were in the throes of the exciting building project to create the church centre from the existing church hall. The previous toddler group that had been running in the old hall, was closed down and so, as parents of toddlers ourselves, Helen Rice and I thought it would be a great idea to set up a new toddler group. A Church based toddler group called “All Saints Minis” (thanks to Lyn Collins for the name!) was born and began meeting every Monday morning, in September 2002. I remember us feeling very nervous and wondering whether anyone would come and, as 19 families came that first morning, we discovered once again that God is faithful. The group grew and grew in number and so Friday Minis was started up the following Easter to ease numbers. Good try! That grew and grew too and we constantly have had to juggle with waiting lists ever since.
A development from Minis was the acknowledgement of the need for a group that specifically catered for parents/carers and their babies and so in 2006, I set up “Dinkies” baby group.
Then, due to the countrywide recession, Jim’s legal practice was struggling and so it was necessary that I should get a paid work to keep our family of 5 financially afloat. This was a great sadness to me as I was loving my volunteer role at All Saints with all these wonderful families.
I shared this with Christina one day when we were chatting in the office, who then passed on the news to John Kirkland. John ‘hot footed’ around to our house and, with a huge leap of faith, asked whether I would consider taking on a paid position with the church (I think the P.C.C. only heard about it afterwards!) and gave me 20 hours a week to play with. I agreed without hesitation!
With a number of hours ‘spare’, I felt God leading me to start up Messy Church which we ran for 10 years until, for various reasons, I believed that it was right to close it down. And then Little Acorns was started in 2016 for those fostering/adopting preschool babies and children and has continued to thrive with wonderful parents and carers who support and care for each other in their specific journey.
The COVID pandemic has changed my role considerably; one being that I took on the oversight of Zoom Sunday Club. This has become one of the best parts of my current job and I am sorry that so many of you can’t share in the fun that the younger group has every Sunday morning from 10-10.30!
My decision to stay on in my role over the past year has been important in maintaining some sort of continuity for my lovely families, be it weekly videos (Minis), online zoom sessions (Sunday Club) or small and covid safe “New family support” groups (Little Acorns and Dinkies) and I know that they have been appreciated during these long difficult months of isolation, as well as keeping me sane!
I love this verse in Micah 6v8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” To me it sums up how we should walk with each other as well as with God. Last weekend, at Cat Hubbard’s first service presiding at holy communion, the preacher spoke about the same verse but, rather, in the context of the whole Christian community. It is a calling for each of us to live in this way.
Extending that calling to belong to a Christian community was shared with the congregation in our Messy Church and I also believe that to be true for the families who come to Minis, Dinkies and Little Acorns too. As the ‘enabler’ I have always wanted to share the love of God that I had experienced throughout my life to those who came, in a welcoming and accessible way.
I want to express my thanks to all the church family for your support and love and help and, for many at All Saints, who have given so generously as members of the teams that I have led. It has been an absolute privilege to be paid to do the best job in the world (for me!) Thanks too to our wonderful Housegroup – great times and fantastic support of each other and may there be many more snacks, curries and pizzas. And Bible studies, obviously!
I have loved every minute of my job at All Saints. Yes, it has had its moments of stress and difficulty, sadness too when walking alongside people in pain but such an enormous joy to have had the privilege of being a part of people’s lives and faith journeys.
Enjoy the start of a new era for All Saints with the arrival of Craig and Gemma and, after a brief absence to allow my groups to develop without me at the helm, I will be back!
Love and loads of blessings