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Blazing Hot June News from the Colyers

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Dear Friends,

Apart from nearly melting in the heat of my study (36 degrees Celsius before I escaped last week) we have been enjoying the surely brief summery weather! Hope you have too.

We have have a new member of our family: Marvel our new rescue puppy joined us eight weeks ago. Apparently 15 years of lobbying by Ellie has paid off! We are not sure what breed he is by the way so don’t ask. However, he has won a place in our hearts and dug many a hole in our garden! We are also discovering who is Alpha in our family!

Nicki’s Fusion club is going from strength to strength. Some of the kids are moving up to the next open youth group which is really booming at the moment. We have a lovely bunch of kids at Fusion, all fidget spinner mad and very lively. We thought we would have a small turn-out on election day as we had to cram into the portacabin as the church was a polling station that day. However we had 26 kids, as some parents discovered the club whilst voting! It was a squeeze but fun. Each session we finish with sharing something about God and it keeps going in drip by drip.

I have been been helping the Christianity Explored group become stable and have now left the group running happily by itself as they continue to explore things deeper. Instead I am co-leading a Wednesday night Alpha! This is also in the portacabin (one day they will let me in the main church!) which works for the group of folks who are coming. It is a wonderfully real and down to earth group. I was back in the portacabin on Sunday night as I led Restores My Soul, the contemplative evening service. We are really pleased how this is going and there was one groan of disappointment when I said we were pausing over the summer! It certainly seems to work for those who find a quieter and more reflective atmosphere helpful.

We were involved in two crazy church Fun days over the Whitsun holiday. Emmanuel hired a number of bouncy castles and the wonderful inflatable dome which Nicki worked her magic on turning it into a pop-up café again. Emmanuel is gaining strong appreciation locally for the Fun day and we probably doubled the numbers again this year. It was wonderful to talk to so many local people.

Sadly I had to zoom away from the fun day to go to college… to give a presentation on what I am doing at Emmanuel! Anyway I must have done a good job as three of the Cuddesdon students now want to do their final year placement with Emmanuel! Studies are going very well, with very enjoyable courses and projects. Thanks to all who helped with my orality project! I did well and learned a lot. We continue to find studying at CMS tremendously helpful and highly relevant. I can’t quite say the same about Cuddesdon – that blows more hot and cold! Nicki managed to get her Pastoral and Ethics portfolio in eleven months early too! To celebrate she has recently been up to Manchester to gain some training in running parenting groups that we hope will be up and running in the autumn to help local parents.

I have been at work fundraising for the church’s building project and also for the Ark project (Double decker bus for the homeless). The bus is getting closer and closer to starting operations. There is much to do behind the scenes in getting good training, governance, policies and… well everything you need to get a homeless shelter on wheels running! ARK is a charity now and we held our first family day which drew huge support. I enjoyed entertaining the Mayor of Reading who was delightful and very supportive! Even though the bus is not yet operating as a community several addicts have contacted us or have been taken to rehabs. Now as they are returning, the ARK team are working on ways to use the strength of the community around the bus to support, reintegrate and rebuild their lives. It is wonderful seeing so many of them discovering Jesus and the power of transformation in his name.

The kids are through the exams without hitch so our blood pressure is returning to normal! We are looking forward to a quieter summer and visiting our friends in Belgium too!

Love,

Kevin, Nicki, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh.

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Almost Spring 2017 News from The Colyers

Dear Friends,

The last months have been really hectic with a busy Christmas, kid’s mocks, wider-family health issues (aside from ongoing kids issues), college, work and new projects. We have just about squeezed a weekend away in for Nicki and myself, but have not found time to write newsletters! Sorry!

Work has been increasingly fruitful. Fusion club has matured well and we have great fun each week with the 20 kids who come. They are really enjoying it and we are discovering that for some of them this is the only club that they can come to and feel happy in. They are also asking more questions about faith and are even becoming almost silent when listening to us talk! Nicki has connected to the mums and is continuing her pastoral work with them. It feels good being rooted into the community around the church like this.

I (Kevin) have a number of smaller projects on the go and some bigger ones too. I help with the toddler group to allow more pastoral time for other workers and have made good connections with different parents including the Dad’s of the twins (we have three sets who come!) Parents of twins need a lot of support we feel! I have also been co-leading a Christianity Explored course and I am working on the church fundraising for the new building extension. I feel like a lot of the group work is paying off and more people are coming along from the groups to Sundays also.

I have started an evening service called Restores My Soul, that is a development of the Just Be group I was running.  It is a very meditative and gentle service. We use the Northumbria Community’s Evening prayer as a base but have a variety of meditations as well as some choruses and Taizé chants. I am really pleased to see the Just Be group leading so much of the service and with great confidence. The practice of the Contemplative prayer and Ignatian prayer has developed useful skills for this new service.

If contemplative prayer has really been effective then the inward pursuit of God should result in a fresh engagement in the world too. Over Christmas I have met Michael who has started the Ark project (http://www.caap.org.uk) to offer a bed, shelter and support to rough sleepers in Reading in a renovated double-decker bus! I have prayed a lot, visited and taken food to the homeless, first with Impact and then with others over the last few years, always asking what I could do to be more engaged and make more of a difference. I have joined Michael and team as a trustee as I felt the Ark had identified a gap in provision of shelter for Reading rough sleepers. It is a wild and challenging ride! We are setting up the charity and the bus is taking shape with heating, power and a paint job all provided for. Much remains to be physically done let alone work out how to operate and get the staff and volunteer capacity we will require. However I am really excited about it.

I am also pleased to be training with Nicki again at CMS. I missed her last quarter. We are looking at Pastoral Care and Ethics but I had a great week away looking at The Bible in Context led by the author and academic John Drane. I have a lot of writing and reading to do as I get two large portfolio assignments in for 25th April! We both continue to find the pioneer training at CMS stimulating and our fellow students fun and inspiring.

I hope that fills you in on where we are up to right now.

Love,

Kevin, Nicki, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh

Diary Dates:

  • 11-12 March: Kevin visiting Plymouth and speaking at St Jude’s in the morning.
  • 22 April: Ark Bus launch party!
  • 25 April: Assignment deadline!

 

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Long Awaited News from The Colyers

Dear All,

Over August, ministry was quieter and our intention was to work more on CMS study assignments, although aware all four children would be home. We participated in the module “Introduction to the Bible”, focusing on the missional themes of the Bible. Kevin and I both prepared creative resources and made presentations on themes of Migration and Temples in the church.

However, the summer was harder than we anticipated as unfortunately Sam struggled increasingly as the time went on. We are sorry we did not keep you better informed although we are so incredibly grateful for so many of the prayer chains his needs went down this summer! At the end of July Sam’s chemo meds increased which slowly diminished his wellness, physically exhausting him and emotionally low and agitated at times. At the end of August his immune system plummeted and he struggled to fight infections. He was finally admitted to hospital for three days to treat cellulitis caused from ingrowing toe nails of all things!

The good news was that he received his GCSE results and we were thrilled that he achieved the five he needed to go on to do A-levels. Considering how much school he missed (since saying goodbye to the home tutors and returning to school in January he unfortunately was too unwell to attend school from Feb-April) we are all thrilled that he got particularly good grades for maths and English. Thank you for your extra prayers at that time.

In September, Sam was disappointed to only manage three days of A levels before he got another infection (again on his foot) and was admitted to hospital again for three days. Finally, we are thrilled to say he is getting back on track, after lots of antibiotics and his immunity is higher again. Please pray for his stamina to increase and his immunity to be protected. He is absolutely loving his A-levels (English Lit, Drama and Psychology) and he gets very frustrated when he cannot go.

Otherwise we have tried to get back into the new season and I am stunned that we are in October already! Kevin went on a wonderful trip to Canada with his father and sisters to see his fathers birthplace, as well as catching up with good friends there. Fusion kids club has restarted with good numbers again and more help from families in the local area.

As well as starting a new module on Church History at CMS, Kevin is looking forward to a new season of “Just Be” the contemplative prayer group, “Get Out of Church Sunday” outreach ministry and ministry to homeless in Reading among other things.

For myself, I am feeling rather tired from all that has happened over the last few months, as some of you may know my mum has been unwell too and has undergone many tests which has unsettled us all. Praise God, nothing sinister but she has ongoing health issues and values prayer too! Consequently, I am going to take a pause from this term’s study so that I can catch my breath a bit. CMS are very supportive of me postponing this module for a year. My intention would be to start-up again in January with “Pastoral Care and Ethics”.

It has been far too long since our last update, so please forgive us as it in no way reflects how we value your partnership and prayer support for our ministry. I am sure we have said this before, but really hope it wont be so long next time!

Much love,

Nicki and Kevin, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh

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July Jottings from the Colyers

Dear Friends,

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We have had a wonderful couple  of months but incredibly busy! We are all well and healthy. Sam has finished all his GCSEs. We are very proud of him, he has worked hard. He’s enjoying a well-earned break! Thank you for all your prayers for him over the past few months.

Kevin has been covering for Sean (Minister of Emmanuel) and discovering that he makes a busy job look relaxed and easy! Don’t be fooled, Kevin has been kept really busy and has gained a lot of experience too. Judging by the feedback from the crowd at Emmanuel, they are easy to please! (or very, very tolerant!)

The biggest push was for the two Fun days we ran in the nearby green and play park. This was a huge jump for the church from a small fête in the past to a two-day spectacle. But everyone pulled together and we surprised ourselves by how well we worked and how delighted the community was. We made no charge for all the inflatables we hired and that was a good call as so many local people were delighted that they could just come and enjoy it.  Nicki and I ran the café tent selling low-priced cakes and drinks. We had many good conversations and feel like we really contributed to the local community.

We have continued with other outreaches. Nicki has been out into the local area and recently worked with Wokingham council on their Gazebo days. She conducted surveys, the fruit of which went into her college Portfolio as well as feedback to the council. I have also continued to push the homeless outreach and Get Out Of Church Free Sunday outreach to the car boot sale.

Fusion kids club has continued to grow. The most children we have had is 24 and the club is still growing. It is wonderful to see it thriving and the children having such a wonderful time. As we get to know the children better we are starting to see their needs and a growing interest in knowing God. They are a lot of fun and the club flies by!

Somehow in the midst of all of this we have managed to get our portfolio assignment in! Totalling 7,00 words over eight separate pieces of work it has been quite a burden to complete! Now we only have three more pieces to do for our next deadline in September! Phew! But we are learning a lot.

Love,

Kevin, Nicki, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh

Diary Dates and Prayer Points

  • 17-23 July Kevin away for Summer School
  • 23-30 Nicki and Ellie away for New Wine

Holiday’s should be an easier time. Please pray for refreshment and for plenty of time to devote to study.

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May Mayhem from the Colyers

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Dear all,

First of all, a huge thank you for your prayers for Sam over the last few weeks. We were so encouraged by the many messages we received since our last update when we asked for specific prayer for Sam. We are pleased that despite having to work around his treatment he did manage to complete all his controlled assessments and coursework for his GCSEs in time. The school were very supportive and gave him extra tuition when he was well enough to do the work. Today he started his exams and will continue for another month. Thankfully they are spread out, with him never having more than one on a day. He will have chemo (on top of chemo meds) next week but his steroid treatment is suspended for a month. Please continue to pray for him. Thank you!

Ministry wise we are also in a busy patch. I (Nicki) am thrilled to say that the kids club, Fusion, that I have started for families on the local estate, is going really well with 17 children registered and more interested! There has been a great atmosphere and I can see how God is answering prayers as we connect with their families. As well as lots of games, crafts and challenges we are introducing in simple ways God’s message of love and hope for them. A few weeks ago, the children made rockets with old film canisters and alkazelters in water! Afterwards, Kevin talked about how God sees potential in them to go further than they think. Sadly some of them said they didn’t think they could do anything special. Some of the children come from troubled situations so please pray we can share God’s truth of how he sees them.

I have also been working more closely with staff from the local council as we work in partnership to build community in the area. One way has been through a community association and conducting a local audit. It is great to work with people of different backgrounds and faiths but all with the same goal to build community.

In a few weeks, the church and council are working together to do two Family fun days. Kevin and I are running a community café in an inflatable tent. We will have a small prayer tent in the café so please pray for good conversations and a chance to offer consolation and hope in our God to many from the estate who are going through hard times. We needs lots of prayer for this as we pull together volunteers and make all the preparations, as well as praying for good weather and a loving and safe atmosphere.

Finally, on top of our training (which continues to go well, although always challenging!) Kevin has been thrown in the deep end to see how hard vicars really work! Sean, the minister here, has just started a three-month sabbatical leaving Kevin in charge! He is enjoying the challenge and among many things has led his first communion service from the Book of Common Prayer, as well as his first PCC meeting and today his first church burglary to clear up after! So far it has gone well, but it is certainly an eye opener about what Anglican ministry involves! We appreciate Sean so much more (and all other ministers we know!)

There is more we could share but we will leave those stories for another time. Thank you as ever for your love, prayers and support. Do let us know how we can pray for you too!

With love,

Nicki, Kevin, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh

Upcoming dates:

  • Now until 21st June: Sam’s exams (chemo on 26th May and 21st June)
  • Most Tuesdays: Both at CMS, Oxford, for training
  • Thursdays at 4:30pm: Fusion club
  • 20th-22nd May: Kevin in London for “Crossing cultures training”
  • 22nd May: Nicki leads service on mission, Kevn speak on “what Christians believe” at interfaith meeting
  • 28th-30th May: Visit Stroud and Holy Trinity Brimscombe on the Sunday.
  • June 3rd and 4th: Community Fun Days
  • June 12th: Kevin leads an outreach group on Sunday morning
  • 17th-19th June: Kevin training at Cuddesdon, Oxford
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Mad March News from the Colyers

Dear All,

It has been that time of year for colds, sniffles and full-blown virus-infections for us but thankfully not Sam! That really is an answer to prayer considering his very low immune system! The new year went well for all the kids back at school. Sam has done well and has just completed his mock GCSE’s. He’s feeling more confident after this trial run and we are more aware of how we have to manage the symptoms of the “pulses” of treatment that he has in the maintenance phase. The pulse gradually increases and then decreases in intensity, but he now needs a couple of days off in the middle. Poor chap.

Work wise Nicki has been able to give far more time to prepare for and set the foundations in place for the new kids club for the local area. The club, called Fusion, is for 7-11’s. Nicki is hoping to make more and deeper connections to local families through this .

I have started a new initiative we are calling “Get Out Of Church Free Sunday”. We are using one Sunday a month to engage in some way with the local community. We gave out 40 prayer balloons at the car boot sale in the centre of Woodley and met about 100 people as we handed out Hot Chocolate too. I have also been working on fundraising for the church extension and have several mentorees on the go.

Early in January we let go of our responsibility for Impact to the young people in the group. Over just a couple of weeks we all realised that my work was done and the group was ready to take itself on and upwards. They now meet weekly, eating together first (which we found hard to offer every week) and have gained a new member already! I do miss meeting them but will be continuing the homeless work (on a different evening) so I shall still see them! This was our focus and having it complete was odd at first and left a bit of a space which new outreach ideas are growing out of.

Nicki and I have studied hard at CMS. We got our first assignments in and both got good marks back. We are now nearly finished with our second module! We find our time at CMS continuously stimulating and challenging. I feel like me vision is being expanded in many and helpful ways.

It is a little different at Cuddesdon (the second part of my training – where the “vicar” bits are added in!). I would like to thank those continuing to pray that I do “not become too Anglican” (there is one prayer group praying this for me!) which I really appreciate when I am at Cuddesdon. I have enjoyed this part too! I next visit there on 18-20 March and will be leading a very Anglican service and giving a talk! Perhaps you could pray for them!

Ellie continues to amaze us with her creativity especially in her Textiles GCSE. Luc and Josh are bundles of energy, joy and cuddles. They keep growing and are developing in to lovely boys. Luc is into a magic set at the moment. Josh is practicing being “really crazy”. They keep us on our toes!

Finally our beloved bunny Bazinga is being bonded to a nice female bunny after the sad demise of his brother Camakazi. So he is no longer pining but having a heavenly time on “Bunny-moon”.

Love,

Kevin, Nicki, Sam, Ellie, Luc and Josh

Prayer Points

  • Trip to Belgium 29th Mar-5th April, so looking forward to seeing many of our friends!
  • Sam’s upcoming GCSE’s – For energy and focus.
  • Ongoing study at Cuddesdon and CMS – For anti-anglicanisation!
  • For Fusion and all the local outreach we are doing
  • For all the kids that they would be safe, healthy and thrive at school, with friends and with God.
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Christmas News from Kevin and Nicki

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Click on the photo for more!

Christmas is almost here! Yay! I am sure that we, like you, are just about hanging in there as Christmas approaches. We are looking forward to the break!

There are have been a few things to do before we could stop as I (Kevin) have had Carol singing outreach to lead, a Christmas youth party in the woods, and a Christmas eve talk and we both have to crack on with our assignments. There is still visiting that needs to be done to families around the church. And of course the Christmas preparations to be done (and fortunately most of it is!).

Sam is doing really well. He is re-engaging with school and finding out that the tutors have taken him to a place of competence that bamboozles some of his fellow students as he is further ahead than they are in some subjects! We have said farewell to the tutors, with whom there was a mutual appreciation. One of them today said that we had inspired her as a family with our positive attitude. What a good sign that God really has been with us despite the difficulties and strains. Sam will return to school full-time in January. He is gradually growing in strength and stamina and seems to get through the monthly steroids and chemo treatment just that bit easier each time.

Luc and Josh have wow-ed their school with their acting talents in Jack and the Beanstalk in their class assembly. We need to find them an acting job as twins somewhere! Ellie is thriving at school in all areas (despite her deeply present worries to the contrary!)

Nicki and I are really enjoying training. The material at CMS, the fellow students and staff are all stretching our thinking bit by bit, giving us tools to reflect on all we have learnt and experienced over the years and helping us to engage and relate to others with greater confidence and insight. Nicki is finding opportunities with local mum’s are opening up. One mum is starting to bring her family to church. With others Nicki is experiencing greater depth. For me I am finding new ways to engage people in conversation. I am starting to see a clearer way ahead with Impact and more ways to get the rest of Emmanuel involved in outreach and local mission.

We are aware of the intensity of new things, some of which we never expected to be able to take on so soon after Sam reaching maintenance, and the realisation that we are still as a family vulnerable and needing to look after ourselves with all the stress this year has been to us. All of us are so grateful for the love and support and prayers that have lifted and carried us through such a dark time and enabled us to bring light to others.

Thank you and we look forward to an exceptional year in 2016 for all of us and you!