Happy Easter! It’s Easter Sunday as I write this.
I know it's been a long time since my last blog here, due to COVID. It’s as if COVID has created a time warp. We had to embrace so many new things and stop the old during that time. We came back to the church building in September 2021 and have gradually eased back in to a routine that is now becoming busier and more akin to how things were before the pandemic.
So what changes have we made, I hear you ask? To start with we now have a morning service at 1030 instead of an afternoon one. And until today, we had followed that with a Zoom Fellowship meeting for all those who joined with us during COVID but who are still unable to join us in person for various reasons. Whilst we were broadcasting from home, Zoom Fellowship was very structured, with a programme of news, notices, Bible study and religious content relative to that particular week. Once back in the church building, this became more informal over time. We have now decided to replace Zoom Fellowship with a new version of our Prayer and Praise, beginning Sunday 24th April, at 1130.
So this coming Sunday, Prayer and Praise will re-launch, to include on-line participation, after our morning service. This is a time for Parise and Worship, prayer requests and open prayer; however God leads, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak.
We also have our weekly Bible study, via Zoom, on Wednesdays at 1900. We are currently going learning the ‘Freedom in Christ’ programme which is a discipleship course.
Last summer we ran an online Alpha course together with Elim churches all over the country, nearly 200 congregations took part. We had four new people join us and we even baptised two people in September as a result! We will be joining Elim churches again in September 2022 to run another Alpha course so if you know anyone, or would have the courage to invite friends or family to join us would be great. Please pray about who and for the boldness to invite. It will be online again, so should be even easier to encourage friends or family to join in.
Such exciting things have been happening; Baptisms, Alpha, Discipleship and recently, we started a Sunday School and God sent us children. Children’s ages range from 14 months to 11 years. We have a few volunteers now, but it was one of those situations where we had to step out in faith and God has blessed us. Do please bring along your young children or grandchildren to our Sunday School! The previous denomination that owned the building had a thriving Sunday School. Let's see that happen again, this time, long may it continue.
Sweethearts pre-school are now resident in our minor hall and have been in place since September 2020. It felt strange at first having other people have use of the building and especially when we’re not even there. A bit of an adjustment but it’s good to have children utilising the building. It was something that was on my heart, yet I was imagining a 'Parent And Baby' group, never imagined something so grand as an entire pre-school here the whole day every day of the week. It's good to think that a building which would otherwise be empty from Monday to Friday is now home to a thriving local business, and one with such strong community ties. Sweethearts are happy and we hope they'll be here for a long, long time.
Limitless Youth hasn’t yet started up again as our Youth Leader’s situation changed during COVID involving a change of job for him and his wife. God knows the plan, He just needs to reveal it to us. We are still geared for youth and are able to restart Limitless whenever we have the human resources available to do so.
My post in the Royal Navy came to its natural end and so a new one then began. On top of that during COVID, we welcomed our own little boy, Brunel, in to the World in September 2020. Brunel's now a toddler and in to JCBs and tractors, Tellytubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine. He’s a real blessing to us both! So we're praying for a new volunteer youth leader if Limitless is to be restarted. Our Sunday school may grow into the youth age and thereby we have our youth group on a Sunday, who knows? If you’re a young person looking for a youth group, consider joining us on a Sunday initially during the Sunday school, but if enough are interested we can expand it to run independently as Limitless Youth.
My blog this time was a news update, but there has been so much to tell you about.
God Bless your Easter weekend and holiday.
Here we find ourselves in isolation. Not sure how long you’ve been isolating but it must be around 3-4weeks. We’ve also had around 3 weeks of sunshine! The irony.
I’ve been fortunate to be working from home for the duration so am keeping busy. The online church has also kept me busy. Sermon preparation, recording, uploading, and if the upload doesn’t work, I have to do it again.
I’ve noticed a couple of people with recent diagnoses of advanced cancer. My cousin Debi was one. Sadly since starting this blog, she passed away, very quickly as a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer. Given three months, then only a few days later after admission to a hospice she passes away. I did get a Facebook private message to her that I think she saw, but no response. She may have been too weak. I pray she took it on board as I put the gospel in there in the hope she would turn to God. Another case of advanced cancer for one of our member’s brother and son who is not a Christian. It’s times like this that make me realise the urgency to get the gospel to people. Even if they reject it, but we as Christians have a responsibility. It’s sad times. Only a week ago my mum's best friend passed away, not Covid related. It’s a lonely time to be in hospital. Without family or friends. People don’t seem to be hanging on for long.
I’m really pleased to say members are working together to send cards of encouragement to each other. Andrea sends daily messages on the WhatsApp prayer group to encourage and others do from time to time. Lots of encouraging words and prayer requests go on there.
I’m impressed at how most of you are embracing Zoom. It’s new to all of us, but most churches are now using it.
I believe God is wanting us to be an Acts 2 church. Watch my sermon of Sunday 19 April 2020. I’m starting to get more comfortable recording sermons but still having issues with the upload not working the first time. Might be to do with the fact it takes so long. I move my laptop to rest overnight and somehow the internet connection must break. I don’t discover until the morning and have to start again.
We have had a very eventful seven months with a lot going on since my last blog in January.
On Easter Sunday we had a 'BBQ & Praise' event after a morning service. We used what little outdoor space we have and the sunshine shone upon us. Complete with BBQ and also Wendy Adams-Evans, our pro-singer, leading worship, too. We even had a coach load of 12 Pentacostal worshippers from the Wembley are of London join us which livened up the service and the BBQ. Over 30 people attended the BBQ as it was a hot scorching day for April. Fun was had by all and the worship went on even longer than planned. I found out later there was a bit of a buzz on the Hayling Island community Facebook pages about the "...noise coming from the Church..." that they thought had closed. So some free PR!
Since then Ross Grindlay, the Youth Leader at Portsmouth Elim, approached me about starting something with youth off the back of 'Limitless' (Limitless is the Elim youth initiative) and pioneering something on Hayling Island. In that same week Issy Scott, the Councillor for Hayling West, approached me. She shared her heart to start youth work on Hayling as she feels there is a great need to do so. Since the initial discussion with both, we as a church have just completed 'Limitless' Elim Youth Training for a team of volunteers and will be launching a Youth Group on Monday 30th September! The times are 5.30-7pm and it will run every other week.
Issy’s youth initiative on Hayling Island is called WAVE ("We All Value Each Other") and we are jointly launching a youth space at HCC on Monday 9th September! 'Homework Space' will be running (initially) five days a week 2.30-5pm Mon-Fri. Eventually a youth group will also be launched. All the youth pioneering, Limitless Youth, and our work with WAVE, is subject to change but at least we are getting started. We just need to find out what works best.
We are also starting our own Hayling group of House of Prayer (HoP). This is part of '24/7 Initiatives'. We launch on Wed 11th September 7-9pm. All are welcome to come and pray. It’s an open invitation for Christians across Hayling and the surrounding area to pray together. Portsmouth HoP will be coming along to support whenever they can. The October HoP is on the 9th but that is a J. John launch meeting at Portsmouth Cathedral to prmote J. John's appearances at Portsmouth Guildhall on 4th & 5th April 2020. November HoP will be led by the Baptist Church on a Sunday evening (date tbc).
It’s exciting what God is doing. And there’s more… Steve Ball, our Regional Superintendent, and his wife Helen, visited us in June and the meeting went exceedingly well. Many people turned up to support him and the work we are doing, and I preached. I’ve not been sacked after that so it must have gone well. In fact, since the meeting, Steve has presented us with a cheque towards some of the building renovations! Praise God! An answer to prayer. Still more is needed, though.
As if a visit from our Elim Regional Leader was not enough, how about a visit from a serving Member of Parliament? We received our local representative during a Saturday 'Vine & Dine' event at HCC and again we had a really good turn-out of local people to support us and meet the MP himself. We were presented with a Union Flag and a Flag of St. George by Alan Mak MP for Havant and Hayling! Alan, himself also a Christian, said he really enjoyed the atmosphere at HCC that morning and he did a good job of talking with many of the Congregation. Issy Scott came too, as Alan is supporting Issy's WAVE youth pioneering. Alan has offered to fund an external notice board for HCC; something that we desperately need. We will then be able to let the community know what’s happening with our youth initiatives on Hayling as well as all of our other, ever-increasing, community events.
We also now have 'Kids Zumba' (an independant, privately-run business initiative) to complement 'Seated Zumba', taking place in our Minor Hall at HCC. In September we will also have the 'Lipreading and Hearing Loss' group meeting weekly in the Main Hall. Yes you read that correctly... in the Main Hall, as it has now had it’s floor repaired! We do not yet have the funding for the treatment and subsequent re-decorating of the internal walls, but we can at least use the space if people don’t mind the rustic look! It’s a good space and that's what counts.
We are in the process of setting up the audio/PA in the Main Hall and have until 11 September to get it working for the Hayling HoP and then also the 15th for the Churches Together Pentecostal Service.
So, an incredible lot has been happening, and I’ve probably missed some things as there’s been so much going on. God hasn’t stayed silent! Some well-received rest in August, by way of simply just Summer Morning Services, (not to mention our well-deserved holiday in Norfolk) was well-received. Come September we will, once again, hit the road running. Yes, there's a lot happening in September for the church and for me pulling all the different elements together.
My husband, Nicholas, is as always busy too, managing all that the premises demand of him and continually improving the experience of being at HCC. Not only is he project-managing the Main Hall Restoration Project but he is always hands-on himself carrying-out maintenance and rapairs wherever and whenever required (which is basically continuously). Nick is constantly applying for funding from various grant-making organisations as the sums involved are many thousands of pounds which is beyond the scope of the Church's own bank account. The floor has finally been repaired, replaced and restored in the Main Hall since writing my last blog. This means the church's Main Hall floor is now safe, enabling Nick to bring that potentially magnificent space back in-to-bounds for the first time in years, and hence on its way to being fully-used again. Check out the Restoration page of our website for a history of the church premises since I returned to manage and lead the Church in September 2017.
Thank you for reading and I hope you've enjoyed my summary of February-August 2019 at Hayling Christian Centre.
With Such a good end at HCC to 2018 we can look forward to 2019. For those who hadn’t heard, although hard not to as those of us who regularly attend HCC have been praising God constantly, we received a record-breaking congregation for our Carol Service. Putting it into perspective, in December 2017, eight attended the carol service and 12 months later in 2018, 32 attended including visitors, but that was even without 11 of our regulars who at the last minute couldn’t make it. So we quadrupled our numbers, and had the potential in fact to have increased by five-fold. God is growing the church. It shows life and is heading in the right direction. We have only small resources, but that’s okay as that means in our weakness we have to trust God.
I came to lead HCC, for the second time, in September 2017 to relaunch a re-purposed church with an afternoon service. Many said it would not work and some walked away from the church. I felt we needed to make a definite clear intention to see things differently and change how we do things as what the old church was doing, albeit good in its time was clearly not bringing life into the church. It wasn’t about the time of service as we could meet in the morning; in fact we meet for prayer in the morning instead. But aligning ourselves to the will of God and clearly indicating no matter how crazy it sounds, we will trust Him to guide us. Like Naaman told by Elisha the prophet to wash himself in unclean water of the River Jordan seven times. He didn’t want to as it didn’t make sense to him. This is how walking the Christian life is. Many things won’t make sense, but if God’s telling you to do it, you need to be obedient.
So moving into 2019 we are excited as we see growth. We will continue to pray for it and for those whom have faithfully come to us and are serving, not just spectating. Little steps forward.
We pray for the main church to be repaired to a point of being able to use it again in time for the Christmas Carol Service as we are going to need it!
My hopes and prayers for this year:
Keep praying and God Bless you in 2019
'Could a Jury Convict You of Being a Christian'*? If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
I spoke about this in Sunday's sermon. It’s a challenging thought. With persecution of Christians getting closer and closer to home it’s a sobering thought, too. Would you have enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?
Look at things like:
Physical Evidence: how you live day to day. Is there evidence? Reading the bible regularly and especially reading about the fruit of the Spirit. What do you do that sets you apart from non-Christians?
Witness: how many of your family, friends, colleagues and people you come into contact with could testify of you being a Christian because they have seen Godly characteristics? Would they support or hinder?
Testimony: how many of your witnesses can give a powerful testimony of the things you’ve done?
Converts: how many people have you invited to church lately? Or to your home or an event where they might hear about Christ.
Innocent or Guilty?
Reflect on the moment that the jury declares that you are innocent or guilty of being a Christian. If you are innocent and set free because of lack of evidence do you feel relief that you escaped persecution or regret that you are not truly living a Christian life? If you are declared guilty of being a Christian and sentenced to death, are you willing to die for your faith? Are you truly convinced that you will have eternal life in heaven?
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Your life has to come into alignment with who He is, reflecting His character.
Reverend Karen Bassett first led the church from August 2005 until 2009, before taking a break, to return again in 2017. Karen holds a BA in Theology from the University of Wales. Karen has served in the Royal Naval Reserve for many years, and having been ‘called-up’ for War Duty was decorated for her front-line service during the Gulf War. She successfully passed-out of Britannia Royal Naval College as an officer, a Sub-Lieutenant, and has since been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Karen volunteers as the Squadron Chaplain to Portsmouth Air Cadets and as the Southern Area Chaplain for the Sea Cadets. Karen lives with her husband Nicholas (an ex-Royal Navy Weapon Engineer, Radar), at their home in Southsea. Karen is a keen runner, cyclist, kayaker and mountaineer, and relaxes by practicing trumpet, saxophone, guitar and drums. Karen completed her first London Marathon, in aid of The Sailors Society, in April this year.