What's been happening in the churches in Shirley

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News Update April 2018



Elim Christian Centre



In Sept 2017 we said goodbye to Rev Brain Wallis who had been minister at Elim Christian Centre for over


25 years and had been a great supporter of Churches Together in Shirley and District. He was replaced by


Rev Steve Crosse, whose induction service was on Sept 30th. We wish Brian and his wife, Jan, a happy


retirement after many years of faithful service, and welcome Steve to the area. We pray that he and his


wife Erika and family will settle well in Southampton and be a great blessing to the church and to our area.



Christmas in Shirley



Christmas in Shirley is the new name for the Christmas activities run by the churches in Shirley. During


December we had the usual sheep hunt for children in the Shirley shops organized in conjunction with the


Shirley Traders Association. This culminated in the Christmas Craft Event at Shirley Baptist Church on


Saturday December 16th, followed by a glow stick parade, carol singing in the Precinct and refreshments


at the Salvation Army.


There were other carol singing opportunities, in the warm this time, at the New Song Café on Dec 10th


and at the Santo Lounge on Dec 23rd. The Hot Drinks ministry was also provided to people coming to the


Hollybrook Cemetery and the Crematorium on Christmas Day.




This year also saw a new venture, Angels in Shirley, where volunteers placed


small knitted angels at places around the area, which had a Christmas message


attached. The idea was that when people found them they would read the


encouraging message and an invitation to some of the Christmas events in the


area. A large number of angels were put out, and we trust they were an


encouragement to those who found them.




Churches Praying for One Another



The global Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year took place


between Jan 18 and 25th. We marked it this year by several of our


churches sending one or two people from their church to pray a


blessing over another church at one of their meetings.


The event was generally felt to be very beneficial in promoting the sense of unity between our churches.


Everyone who went to pray felt welcomed by the church they visited and actually having someone visit a


church to pray for them was a powerful declaration of our unity in the congregations being prayed for.


Shirley Baptist Church Welcomes Paul and Laura Sutton - September 2017


On Saturday Sept 9th 2017 Shirley Baptist Church held an induction service to welcome Paul Sutton as their new Assistant Pastor together with his wife, Laura.  Paul hails originally from Leicestershire but moved to Hastings where he attended Wellington Square Baptist Church as a teenager.  During that time he felt a call of God to the ministry, although at that stage it wasn’t clear what that ministry would be.  Acting on this call, he went to Moorlands Bible College to train, where he felt his call to ministry was as a pastor.  As part of his course at Moorlands College he was placed at Boscombe Baptist Church, Bournemouth where he gained many opportunities to preach and lead. Further to this placement, he also carried out a 6 week placement at Shirley Baptist Church in Southampton.  He very much enjoyed his time there, and so did the congregation, causing them to consider whether God was calling Paul to come to work with them more permanently.  After praying about this, it seemed this was indeed a ‘God-idea’ and the practical arrangements fell into place.  It is a pleasure for Churches Together in Shirley and District to welcome Paul and Laura to this new position and pray that God will bless them and Shirley Baptist Church over the coming years.




Churches Together in Shirley Holiday Club - July 2017


This year’s club was called ‘Seaside Rock’.  So in the entrance foyer of St James Rd Methodist there were multicoloured beach huts to greet people each day.  At the front of the main hall was a beach scene.  A group from the church had made a wooden lifeguard hut which fitted over the pulpit and every morning as the children arrived, our lifeguards called Sandy Castle and Rip Curl (aka Pete and Mary Hamilton from St James Rd Methodist!) were in the hut looking out with their binoculars.  Seagulls hung from the ceiling and lilos, deck chairs, buckets and spades filled the stage.  In with the seaside games, lifeguard workouts and songs we looked at the life of Peter and his relationship with Jesus; Peter being called by Jesus and leaving his fishing business, Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in –law, the last supper and Jesus sharing with Peter that he would deny him, Peter denying Jesus and Jesus dying, and then Jesus resurrected and forgiving Peter. 


Each day all the groups met together ‘on the beach’ and then after hearing the day’s story the three different age groups met in their various zones for games, activities and crafts: The Orange Team (4 – 5 year olds), Green Team (5 – 7’s) and the Purple Team (8 – 11’s).   Snack time was always a favourite time of the morning for all the children (and the adults!) with a wide range of homemade cakes, biscuits, crisps and fruit available.  The gift of hospitality was very evident each day and much appreciated!


Each morning ended with all the teams coming back together again to feedback what they had been doing and sharing what they had made etc.  We sang more songs and took part in a prayer activity to end the morning.  On the last day parents/carers were invited to come earlier so they could see photos and hear more about the stories from each day.  Thankfully on that Friday afternoon we had some sunshine to all be able to sit outside together to enjoy a hot dog lunch to end the week.


This was our fifth year of running a CTiS holiday club.  I am always so encouraged by the teamwork that takes place in the planning and preparation for the club as well as during the week itself.  It is a delight to see the same group of people who have helped since the first year joining in again as this shows what a good week it is to be involved with.  However, it is also great to see new faces on the team and others taking the opportunity to get involved enjoy this experience too.  Again this year, I was humbled by the number of people who took annual leave for the week in order to come to help!


The feedback from the children and parents was fantastic; parents telling us how much their child had been talking about the club and the stories and singing the songs, how children and parents felt welcomed each day, how children were excited to come each day and how children with specific needs were able to join in so well.  Needless to say, we received plenty of requests for the holiday club to take place every week of the holidays!  So thank God for the opportunity for another holiday club; for all the great memories that have been made from it, for the relationships formed between families and the team, for the growing friendships between the team across different churches and the enthusiasm for working together to serve families in Shirley in this way.  For me, the holiday club clearly showed the body of Christ in action and it has been a real highlight of the year.


Report by Jo Snape, Shirley Baptist Church




CRY shop opens in Shirley Saturday June 17th


Care and Relief for the Young (CRY) is a Christian charity.  Their mission is to rescue and restore young lives broken by exclusion, abuse, oppression and poverty.  They currently have 30 projects in 23 Countries.  For more information see their website here.


They are opening a shop in Shirley on Saturday June 17th 2017.  The address is 35-37 High Street.  All are welcome to come a visit the shop.


CRY are keen to engage with the local Christian community in developing the shop.  The aim is to further their own mission whilst at the same time providing a high street out-reach presence for local churches in spreading the Gospel in a low-key way.



Church in the Park – June 7-11 2017



Church in the Park was held in Southampton from June 7-11 2017.  It was put on by Southampton Christian Network with the aim of impacting our community with the message of Christ.  There were meetings going on throughout each day in a tent in Houndwell Park and teams were out and about around the city engaging with people and inviting them along to the central gatherings.


It was a great opportunity to share the good news of the gospel in Southampton.  There were 18 first-time steps toward knowing Christ, 11 re-commitments to believing the Gospel, 49 people who asked for prayer, and six who were baptised on the Sunday.


The organisers of Church in the Park thank everyone who supported the event.




Churches Together in Shirley at the New Song Café


Sunday May 14th 2017



The New Song Café meets every month at St James Road Methodist Church for a time of friendship and worship.  People from around the different churches in Shirley regularly attend the event, so we thought it would be a great place to have a meeting for CTiS.  And so it proved.  A full church enjoyed a time of worship led by the New Song Café leader, Nigel Bailey, and during the coffee interval we were able to visit stands from various charities and organisations which are linked to our churches.  It was good to visit displays from:




Southampton Sunday Lunch Project

Southampton City Mission

Christians Against Poverty (CAP)

Healing on the Streets (HOTS)

Southampton City and Region Action to Combat Hardship (SCRATCH)

Care and Relief for the Young (CRY).


In the second half of the gathering we were privileged to hear from Ian Coffey, who is a vice Principal at Moorlands Bible College, a Baptist Minister and published author.  He gave a very instructive and encouraging talk on the wonderful, agape, love of God.


Thanks to the New Song Café team and St James Road Methodist Church for hosting this event.





Good Friday Service in Shirley Precinct


April 14th 2017


This year CTiS resumed what had become their annual Good Friday service in Shirley Precinct.  Last year it was decided not to hold the event, as the Passion Retold was happening in the Guildhall Square at the same time.



The theme this year was ‘What Friday’, and people from different churches spoke (or in one case danced) on what was special about Good Friday.  It was variously described as outrageous, freedom, glorious, victorious and generous.  All of these helped us reflect on what a momentous occasion it was, and of the wonderful message of God’s love for us today that came through the events of that day two thousand years ago.



The Salvation Army led the worship, alongside a group from the New Song Café of St James Road Methodist church.  There were activities for the children and Sainsbury’s kindly provided hot cross buns for people to enjoy.



It was a great occasion to be together and share the good news of Jesus with our community




The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017

January 18th – 25th



The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a global initiative aimed at getting Christians across the world to pray together particularly for unity in the church.  It has been in operation for just over 100 years and during this time God has answered these prayers in significant ways with a breaking down of many of the barriers between churches and increasing moves to meet and work together as one church.


The theme for this year was ‘Crossing Barriers’, and is based on the passage in 2 Corinthians 5: 14-20 which speaks of Christ's ministry of reconciling people to himself, and of him passing on to us this same ministry of reconciliation.  This has national significance for us at this time with the integration of people from many different ethnic backgrounds into our own nation.  It also has local significance in our churches in the need to be one in the spirit.


In previous years, Churches Together in Shirley and District have marked the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a United Service.  This year we tried something different.  Each church in CTiS was asked to submit some specific prayer requests for their church.  Then, in our church services on Sunday Jan 22nd 2017, we each prayed for one of the other churches in our area with a general prayer for blessing and also covering the specific requests. This was generally felt to be very helpful in encouraging more people in our churches to engage with the idea of praying for one other.


Further information on the Week of Prayer can be obtained from the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland website here.


A presentation that we used to help guide us in our prayers locally can be downloaded here.




The Turning


Hundreds of people turn to Christ in Southampton


Over the period Oct 9th to 21st 2016, a team of people largely from local churches went out on the streets of Southampton sharing the good news about Jesus.  The response has been amazing, with over 550 people praying a prayer asking Jesus to come into their lives.


Earlier in the year news had been coming of similar things happening in Reading where a team from the Gate Church led by Yinka Oyekan had seen many people coming to Christ on the streets.  This led Southampton Christian Network to invite a team from Reading to come to Southampton to train people in their method of sharing the gospel and to go out on the streets themselves. 


The pattern for the event was to have training in the morning at Above Bar Church followed by the opportunity to put this into practice alongside people from the Reading team.  In the afternoon there was further training in how to follow up those who had made commitments.  Each evening there was a celebration at Central Hall, home of New Community Church, who had be very involved in putting on the event.


A total of 307 people were trained in how to share the gospel.  The method used was quite prescriptive, often referred to as the ‘script’, but proved amazingly effective in keeping conversations on track, and leading to hundreds of people praying a prayer of salvation. 


Each day the evangelism team went out in groups of two or three into the centre of Southampton.  They approached people using the pattern of the ‘script’ to direct the conversation.


The script involved first introducing oneself by name to the other person and saying “I’d just like to share two things with you, God loves you and has an amazing plan for your life”.  This set the tone in which the evangelist was able to direct the conversation.  The pattern was then to ask a question, share some Bible verses on the need for salvation followed by the offer to pray for them.  Many people accepted this offer to have a prayer of blessing prayed on them and their family.  Then came the crunch question, “If you would like to receive this free gift (of receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour) just pray with me …”, which followed on to a prayer of commitment to Christ.  Most people were not happy to do this, but over the two weeks, many were.


Those who prayed the prayer were given a card with the offer to give help on their journey with Jesus and a link to the Alpha course website. The person’s contact details were taken by the team, so that they could be followed up at a later date, encouraged in their decision and linked up with a local church.


This was an extremely encouraging event and surely gives us motivation to continue sharing the good news boldly.  It would be great to see many more people come into God’s kingdom. It is also clearly important that we, as churches in Shirley and Southampton, are prepared to welcome these new people making commitments to Christ into our fellowships.  We need to show them love and acceptance and and provide good scheme of discipleship, so that they will be able to grow in their faith and become fully part of the local body of Christ.



A very helpful comment on the initiative has been put on the Pioneer website by Billy Kennedy of New Community Church: pioneer.org.uk/the-lost-art-of-evangelism-reflections


Report by John Fleming, Secretary, Churches Together in Shirely and District





Welcome to Rev Kathy Hicken



St Mark’s Church recently welcomed Rev Kathy Hicken as their new Priest in Charge and Pioneer.  She was licensed by Jonathan Frost, the Bishop of Southampton, on Wednesday 21st September 2016.  We trust that God will guide her in this role and bless her time with us in the area.


Welcome to Josh Cook


St James by the Park welcomes Josh Cook as their new Youth Worker.  Josh grew up in Emmanuel Church in Guildford.  He took a year out working with Scripture Union in Perth, Australia before studying history at University of East Anglia.  He then returned to Emmanuel as a youth worker, where he gained experience helping with the church’s own youth group and in running youth events in a local school.  In his spare time he is a great fan of a number of sports.  He is now taking up the job of leading the youth work at St James by the Park and hopes to build on the excellent work done by Matt and Amy Bianchi.  He has appreciated the warm welcome he has received in the church so far.  We welcome him to this role and pray that God will bless him in it.


Farewell to Matt and Amy Bianchi


St James by the Park are saying farewell to Matt and Amy Bianchi, who have been the youth leaders in the church for the past seven years.  Matt had sensed a calling from God into ministry as a teenager and Amy had been brought up in St James, so when the position of youth leadership in the church became vacant, it seemed a clear leading from God for them to take on this role.  Initially Matt was appointed as the youth leader, but as time progressed it became clear that it was very much a joint ministry, and Amy was officially recognized as sharing the role with Matt.  When they took over, there were already a number of different youth events happening in the church, and they felt it was important to bring a sense of togetherness to these groups and came up with the name of Buzz as a common part of the names of the different groups.


They felt it was important to develop the work around a clearly defined culture, with key values that were emphasized over and over again, so that the young people clearly understood what they were part of.  These included being part of a family, being open with one another, not afraid to ask questions or make mistakes, being Bible focused, and giving time to worship God.  They wanted to engender a feeling within the group of the leader and young people not being ‘them and us’, but being together in an environment where leaders could learn from the young people as well as the young people learning themselves.  Special events such as New Wine, Soul Survivor, weekends on the Isle of Wight and Alpha courses were all very useful focal points for the young people, but providing continuity to sustain the progress made at these times with regular events was also very important.  In reviewing their time as youth leaders at St James, having a period of 7 years gave then time to implement this culture and see a group of young people right through from age 12 to 18.  They were also very grateful for the help provided by volunteers from the church particularly Michael and Rachel Ramsden, who worked very closely with them.


This approach, coupled with Matt and Amy’s own passion and gifting, has led to a very successful youth group, which indeed has a great buzz and family feel.   Many of the young people have come to faith in Christ and have either been baptized or confirmed, with some going on to take on a year of training in the church as youth interns.  The young people have also become a great asset to the church, serving in various activities and with the worship band often leading worship at church meetings.


Matt is now going on to train for the Church of England ministry and he, Amy and their two sons, Noah and Henry, will be moving to Oxford.  We thank them for their great contribution to the church in Shirley over their time with us, and wish them God’s blessing for the future.




Churches Together in Shirley ‘Space Academy’ Holiday Club July 2016


Welcome to Space Academy, come fly with me and you will see God’s wondrous love for everyone, so start your rockets and join the fun!’  This was our opening action song every day of the club and it was nice to see the children join in with it more and more as the week continued.  Our club took place at St James Rd Methodist Church from Monday 25th July until Friday 29th July from 9.30am – 12.30pm.  The team was made up of people from St James Rd Methodist, Shirley Parish, Salvation Army and Shirley Baptist churches.


Each day all the children joined together to prepare to ‘take off’ in to space, join in with plenty of action songs and to hear the day’s Bible story from the book of Daniel in our ‘space station’.  Inside the space station (the church) we met ‘Captain Cosmos’ and ‘Professor Rocks’ (AKA Mary and Pete Hamilton from St James Methodist) who took us through the morning’s theme with games and challenges and some wonderful acting on their part!


After this start to the day the children (the ‘space cadets’) moved in to their age groups with groups meeting in different areas of the building.  For two hours the children were kept busy with games, competitions, crafts and other activities related to the day’s story, as well as being treated to an amazing feast for their snack each day prepared by the kitchen team.  The groups then all came together to meet in the ‘space station’ again to end each morning.  During this time, the children fed back to each other some of the activities their groups had been involved with and showed the fabulous creations they had been making, as well as to recap over the story and to take part in a prayer time.  Each day too one of the team shared how their friendship with Jesus makes a difference in their lives as we looked at the themes of ‘standing firm like Daniel did despite what other people are doing’, ‘trusting in God like Daniel did’, ‘praying like Daniel did’ and ‘living like Daniel did’ to make a difference.


Thank God for another special week of holiday club:  A great time to work together with teams from other churches and to share God’s care and power through looking at the story of Daniel with the children over the course of the week.  Through the week, so many skills and gifts were seen to be used; from the very technically creative people who made a rocket in the church using the pulpit as a base!  To those who took part upfront in our times all together to tell the story for each day and to encourage the children to think through each day’s theme, and those who organised and led the activities and games that each of the age groups took part in.  The whole team worked very hard through the week; many of the team members gave up a week’s annual leave to join in with the club, which was a real blessing to the rest of us to have them there!


It was good to see so many familiar faces from our midweek clubs and Messy Churches etc at the holiday club and it was another way to build links with families in our community. On the last day many of the families came along to our hot dog lunch as we sat out on the grass outside the church, which was a lovely way to end the week.


It would seem that our annual holiday club has become a highlight for both the children who come along and the team of helpers who take part!  So as we come back to earth after the fun and busyness of our week in space, we do again thank God for a week of great memories and pray that we can all ‘stand like Daniel did, trust like Daniel did, pray like Daniel did and live like Daniel did!’


Report by Jo Snape of Shirley Baptist Church





The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2016

Churches Together in Shirley and District United Service

Sunday January 24th 2016



To celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, CTiS held a United Service at Freemantle United Reformed Church at 3.30 pm on Sunday January 24th

The service was hosted by Rev Dr Sarah Hall, the minister at Freemantle United Reformed Church, and followed the theme for this year of being the salt of the earth.  After an initial call to worship we sang Praise my Soul the King of Heaven.  This was followed by a short introduction from our chairperson, Pastor Shaun Sweeney.

We then had presentations on some of the ways in which the churches in Shirley had been trying to be the salt of the earth in our community over the last year, particularly focusing on the work of the Collective Worship Team and the Repair Café at Freemantle United Reformed Church.  Becky Purchase from St James Road Methodist Church described how the Collective Worship Team, which consists of people from several CTiS churches, had been taking assemblies in the local infant and junior schools, and had also organised several events outside school for the children such as the Summer Holiday Club and the Light Party at Halloween.  Sarah Hall then explained how the Repair Café helped people sort out problems with things that were broken or not working properly.  She showed how this service was a reflection of the work of Christ who came to repair broken lives.

After singing what might be regarded as the theme song of Churches Together groups, Bind us Together, we were invited to take part in two symbolic actions as a reminder of the theme of the meeting.  Rev Dan Clark from Shirley Parish Church invited us to light a candle, and Major Teresa Harris from the Salvation Army to take a small pack of salt, to declare that we were aiming to be light and salt to the earth, as Jesus encouraged us to be.

The meeting concluded with tea and biscuits served by the Freemantle United Reformed Church team.  While we enjoyed the refreshments, we were able to visit displays from several of the projects with which CTiS are involved: Southampton City Mission, Communicare, Southampton Sunday Lunch Project, Firgrove, Carers in Southampton and Street Pastors.

Overall it was a great opportunity for us to be together as churches in Shirley and Freemantle, to thank God for his goodness over the past year and commit ourselves together to work again this year to bring his kingdom into our local community.




Christmas Event 2015

All I want for Christmas is …. Ewe!! December 4th – 19th


For the second year running, the Collective Worship Team of Churches Together in Shirley and District ran ‘All I want for Christmas is Ewe’.  There were a variety of activities for all the family.  The main events were on Saturday December 19th but in the previous two weeks, children had the opportunity to take part in a sheep hunt.  We were again very grateful for the cooperation of a number of shopkeepers on Shirley High Street who allowed us to place knitted sheep toys in their shops in Shirley – each one having a name.  The task was to find the names of the sheep.


The prizes were presented at the Christmas Crafts Event held at 3.30 pm on Dec 19th at Shirley Baptist Church where children and parents came to enjoy taking part in various craft activities.



At about 4.40 pm the children were given lanterns and a lantern parade proceeded along Shirley High Street to the Precinct where they joined other folk from the Shirley  churches  in carol  singing by candlelight  led by our chairperson  Pastor Shaun Sweeney  with the Salvation Army Band.  The  carols were  introduced by  people from  different churches.  There was  a real  festive feel  to the evening  as we  joined  children already in the Precinct enjoying rides on the carousel  that was there, and also the Rotary club who were collecting for their charity.  This was all helped by the mild weather, which has characterized this winter so far.



Finally everyone was welcomed back to the Salvation Army Hall for refreshments. 

It was an excellent event enjoyed by all who attended.  It was great to see churches working together in organising it, and then enjoying both the fun activities and the opportunity to celebrate the coming of Christ to the world to be God with us. 

Our thanks go to all who contributed to the different activities from across our churches.  The photographs were provided by Victor Humphrey from Shirley Parish Church.  



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