By Jenny Needham
During October more than 40 leaders from churches around the UK descended upon Lenham for our first cluster gathering since lockdown. Our time was, appropriately, called 'RE:CONNECT'.
At Pathways we are part of a family of Churches called Church of the Nations. More specifically, we relate to Dave and Carol Cape as our apostolic leaders, and our group of churches is called Acts Life Cluster.
Our cluster gathering was long overdue - having been postponed from last year due to the pandemic. We felt very honoured to be able to serve everyone by hosting in Lenham. We previously met here as a cluster in 2017, which must have been good as everyone came back! Here we all are in the Dog and Bear function room:
re:connecting with one another
Much of our time was spent eating and drinking together. It was wonderful to share lockdown stories, rekindle friendships and encourage one another. We shared news from our various churches, prayed for one another, and even heard from other church leaders around the globe via Zoom. Dave and Carol Cape were able to join us on Zoom from South Africa too.
We managed to fit in a local walk (organised by Estelle), which, although muddy, was a good time of catching up and showing off some of our lockdown walking routes. Here is a photo of us with the North Downs and Pilgrim's Way behind us:
RE:CONNECTING WITH THE ANOINTING
Another main purpose for gathering together was to corporately connect with God and allow Him to equip us for the new season - as our churches start meeting together physically again.
Dan Maudhub spoke about 'the anointing', based on Luke 4:16-21. This passage was Jesus' manifesto!
Luke 4:17-21, NASB
And He [Jesus] unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”
And He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all the people in the synagogue were intently directed at Him. Now He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Dan explained that the anointing is the power of the Holy sent upon us, to enable us to achieve a purpose. Jesus was anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit to achieve His purpose. We were all encouraged to also receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit - that each of us would need for the time ahead.
In particular, the Friday night was very special. Jesus truly made His presence felt among us - and many people were powerfully impacted by the Holy Spirit in tangible ways.
Here we are with Neil Pattison (left), celebrating our very own local leaders - Johnny and Estelle McCabe - who shared their life experiences as they approach retirement from church ministry:
We finished the time feeling much loved by God - and blessed to be part of such a great family of churches. And we felt better equipped to help lead our individual churches into the new season - whatever it may bring.
On the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend, a group from Pathways joined with other churches from our Cluster at St Augustine's cross near Ramsgate. This marked the official celebration of the start of Walking the Way as written about in our previous post.
As a church we are supporting Dave Cape as he walks the entire Pilgrims way between Ramsgate, Canterbury, Winchester and London, carrying his Cross and Bowl. The Pilgrims Way passes right by our village of Lenham, so it carries a special significance for us.
St Augustine's cross can be found at Cliffsend near Ramsgate, and marks the point which is traditionally thought to be the site of St Augustine's landing on the shores of England in AD 597. A plaque by the cross read that Augustine "preached his first sermon to our countrymen thus he happily planted the Christian faith which marvellously spread throughout the whole of England".
We started our service with some worship, then Dave Cape shared a few words. Neil from Jubilee Church Maidstone told us a bit about the history of the site. We read some bible verses and prayed, before sharing communion together. We also buried a peg with some bible verses written on it in the ground. It was a special time and felt significant.
"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in."
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Over the next few weeks we will be following Dave's progress, and walking and praying with him at times, so watch this space for more updates!
In October, leaders from the Acts Life Cluster (of which we are part) joined together with Freedom Hill Cluster in the beautiful surroundings of Windsor for a weekend away.
Here is reflection on the weekend by Karen Brookchild.
When we were invited to go to the cluster weekend I was determined not to have any expectations, I just wanted to be open to what God was saying. However, I was excited at the chance to see some people that we had not seen for a while.
The hotel was lovely, the food was delicious and the staff served us incredibly well. We were quite late arriving as we had to finish work and get changed before setting off. On arrival we bumped in to Alex and Dorcas from a church in London, they recognised us and greeted us warmly. Louis Els spoke that evening about spiritual momentum and gave us a check list to go through.
Over breakfast the next morning we had an opportunity to share this checklist with a lady at a different conference, who was there seeking answers to a disease she had protracted. She shared much of her life story with us and before she went I felt prompted to ask if she had faith and offer to pray for her. After praying we did not expect to see her again.
More great teaching and opportunities to socialise followed. Imagine our surprise we we bumped into our new friend again! She thanked us for our prayers and declared they had already been answered as she had spoken to one of the top doctors who had offered her treatment. We prayed again and gave her our phone number, offering to pray any time she asked us too.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take
Upon reflection, I realised we had done what God was commissioning us to do through Dave Cape's message. He said nurture people, disciple them, encourage them. We looked after this lady, encouraged her with words and by prayer and we discipled her, demonstrating prayer.
I have been considering God's grace a lot as we go through the Grace Course and thinking about what it means to be available. The thing with availability is, you have no control over what you are available for, it's not like going for a job interview where you choose what you available to do. You trust your heavenly Father to send something or someone your way and you do what is required.
Trusting God can be hard at first as we have been let down by others so many times. However, it is well worth taking the risk because He always knows best, leading on paths of righteousness, extending grace and mercy to us each day.
Our Pathways elders: Jenny, Dave, Johnny and Estelle, enjoying time in Windsor
You may also be interested to read the following article about the weekend by Hazel Pattison from Jubilee Church
During the early May bank holiday, Pathways elders Johnny, Estelle, Dave and Jenny journeyed to Sidmouth to join with other church leaders from the Acts Life Cluster. Pathways is part of the family called Church of the Nations, and Acts Life is a smaller group of churches that relate as a family within that. Acts Life is headed up by Dave and Carol Cape, who were with us over the weekend. There were also leaders from South Africa, London, and other parts of the UK.
Part of the aim of the weekend was to spend time together and build friendships. This was achieved over some leisurely meal times with plenty of time to talk, and also with free time in the afternoons where we could enjoy exploring Sidmouth in the sun. Some even went for a swim!
Accelerating the dream
Another objective was to provide helpful input for the church leaders, and this input was based around the theme 'Accelerating the Dream'.
Hazel shared about how some dreams have to be laid down in order for God to bring something new. Some things need to die, and we let God choose which are resurrected and which are not. Dan talked about 'dreaming kingdom' and what that looked like in the book of Acts in the bible. He compared 'pipe dreams' which are 'I' based to 'Kingdom dreams' which are God based
We had a special treat on the Saturday evening when Mike Davies joined us from Okehampton. He is a church leader, politician and has been the Mayor of Okehampton several times. He was a delight to listen to, and reminded us what it's all about; walking with Jesus, being ourselves, and going out to be a light in the community.
On the Sunday Claire shared about engaging people in the dream, Neil shared about Navigating the Changing dream, and Kara reminded us to keep in mind what we are leaving for the next generation. Dave Cape rounded off our teaching by reminding us that nothing is impossible with God.
On the final morning Josh spoke about turning passion into purpose. Blair encouraged us not to give up if our dream seems to unravel, but to look to God. Dan wrapped up the morning with some practical pointers.
The weekend finished with sharing communion together.
Dave Cape spoke some prophetic words. Some people washed each other's feet. Others prayed together and spoke words of encouragement. Altogether it was a perfect way to finish an uplifting weelend
The overriding sense throughout it all was that God is doing something new among many of us, both individually and in the churches we lead. There was one song which seemed to some up the message of the weekend, which is 'New wine' by Hillsong Worship, and I will leave you with that song.
A more comprehensive set of notes can be downloaded here.
By Jenny Needham