Three years ago we were searching for a building, pushing at closed doors believing one would open.
More than two years ago we found The Granary, a four storey Victorian warehouse building in the centre of our city. We made an offer just before Christmas.
In Jan 2015 our offer was accepted, the start of a long and very complex legal process which ended in our purchase completing in August 2016.
In the last 2 years our smallish church has managed to buy the property outright and, additionally, given almost £250,000 towards it’s development…(not to mention ALSO paying engineers, architects, surveyors and solicitors) Amazing generosity!
Meanwhile, on site, we have been working hard: carefully stripping out all the accumulated heavy rubbish, getting test holes drilled and obtaining engineers reports on existing foundations, to see how deep the piles must go for the new glass extension.
This month we have completed detailed drawings and submitted them to the council for planning… We are, obviously, hoping and praying for a favourable decision in the new year
Our aim in the next phase is to insulate and re-roof, supply services and complete the glass extension, with staircases and lift. (See previous Granary article for pictures).
If you are able to pray for us or encourage us in any way – thank you!
If you would also like to invest in this community project send to Hope Church, PO Box 230, Worcester. WR5 3ZE. U.K.
or email email@example.com
We have just completed on our purchase of THE GRANARY!
Change of use permission has already been granted for HOPE to develop the building to serve the city of Worcester and beyond.
The city council are very supportive of our aims and have encouraged us to submit more ambitious detailed plans for an attractive frontage to the building… (see architects recent impression above). It has been a very long slog to get to this stage … but now we can move on to prepare and submit detailed drawings, and consider how we move forward…..
Imagine a building where all kinds of people are welcome! … Picture an exhibition foyer area with space for photographs and the work of artists, a characterful venue to listen to musicians, able to serve the vulnerable whilst, at the same time, businessmen can hold meetings about creating jobs and wealth for the city, health professionals might hold a conference… and, meanwhile, all the day to day activities of a church can continue.
The POSSIBILITIES go on for “HOPE – the church in The Granary”
Exciting? Yes! … Challenging? Definitely! …
That’s why your support, encouragement and prayers are requested and are very much appreciated.
If you would like details of how you might invest in this project –
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “The Granary” as subject.
Write to HOPE Church, PO Box 230, Worcester. WR5 3ZE
Watch this space for more details…. Thank you!
Last Friday we signed a contract for the purchase of The Granary, St Martin’s Quarter, Worcester. Yesterday we applied for change of use so we can adapt the building to serve the city – our offer is conditional upon getting that permission.
The link above is to a first artistic impression of additional stairs and lift shaft.
We are able to purchase the building and make a start on converting it. All your support, in whatever form it takes, is very welcome in the coming days… Please pray for us in this faith venture and if you would like details of how you might contribute email email@example.com
This Christmas we bought Abel a motorbike. He is a community worker and overseer who has spent very many hours walking through the countryside to visit outlaying communities.
Through Exporting HOPE we have been able to provide him with a motorbike, which will make his life and work so much more effective.
Thanks to all who contributed to the Christmas present!
It is great to be partnering with out friends in West Uganda, from whom we have learned so much!
In January I traveled with James Shepherd, from HOPE Church, Bedlington, and Paul Harrison, from Jubilee Church, Coventry, back to Kampala, Uganda.
HOPE Church, Worcester has been investing in friendships, in projects and training for many years now and the fruit of that could be seen in the warm welcome and wonderful openness with which we were received by all.
The group of churches we partner with, Life Ministries Christian Centre, has been so helped, in quality and numbers, as they have consistently trained leaders in theology, leadership ministry and church life. It has been a joy to partner with them in that and we aim to continue!
This time we spent a week training leaders and teaching with a special focus on the book of Ephesians. We also had two Sundays in Uganda and so were able to go our separate ways and teach in different churches.
For me it was a good week of continued building and friendship. For James and Paul it was a first experience of Africa – one they can take back and share with our friends in U.K. churches. Our aim is to have been involved in training up 100 leaders by 2020. I am planning to be at the graduation of another 30, this coming December, at their national convention.
Somewhere in Africa our minibus rattles along the interminably long, hot, dusty, potholed road. It’s been a long day and I am sleepy. A sudden braking and crunching of gears and I awake… Rousing myself, I see a large crowd blocking the road, waving sticks. The driver leans on his horn and edges slowly through the crowd who, very reluctantly, part.
To my amazement, in the centre of the mêlée, stands a naked lady. She is trying to protect her modesty, and, at the same time, avoid the worst of the sticks with which she is being struck.
I feel as if I have slept and awoken in a parallel universe. I have no idea what is happening. Our driver is nonplussed and accelerates out of the crowd, continuing on our journey wordlessly.
Disturbed, I ask him “what was happening? What was that all about?”
“She has been a very foolish woman” he solemnly replies. – Verdict and end of conversation!
My mind wanders to a different time and place but, maybe, a similar lady. Caught “in the act of adultery” she is dragged before Jesus. Leaving aside the question of where the man was, (last time I checked, statistically, it took two to commit adultery), Jesus is told that the law of the day required a death sentence – What did he think?
Though they did not know it, he is the only one qualified to punish her, since he’s the only guiltless one present. However, he calmly declares “Let the stoning commence – providing the first person to throw a stone is guiltless”
He then bends down, seemingly without a care in the world, and doodles in the street dust. The doodling continues for some time until the crowd, so recently roaring for a stoning, slowly slink away.
“Is there no one left to punish you? – neither am I your punisher… go … and sin no more”
This lady had looked for love in destructive places and the law had tried and failed to steer her from the outside. She now experienced love of a different quality. This love freed her from guilt and freed her to choose. The love of Jesus steers from the inside.
The writers of the New Testament didn’t encourage us to go and sin! – “I am writing this so you won’t sin”… but, on the other hand, they were keen for us to know what would happen if, and when, we messed up.
• “You have an advocate” – One who speaks -up on our behalf – Jesus
• “You have a propitiation” – A giant Bible word which simply means that God’s right wrath against sin has been taken away, through Jesus’ work on the cross – there is no punishment.
“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy!” You are a work in progress – but while others, and sometimes you yourself, may condemn, Jesus can still doodle!
The bones of this teaching is found in John 8 v 1 – 11, 1 John 2 v 1-2 and Hebrews 10 v 14
This August it was a great privilege to travel to teach at leaders conferences in Rwanda and Uganda. Serving Emmanuel Rucyaba once more, we taught on “leadership character” and had much fun both in Kigali and in Kyenjojo, in western Uganda.
It was also a joy to visit clinics, a school and a hospital that we have played a small part in helping…
The work is going well, with many excellent projects and some 140 churches in 6 nations. I love our partnership with these dear friends!
Allow me to introduce Mama Ketrah. With the help of some mentoring and a micro loan she has improved her small shop in Kampala, Uganda – and developed a delicious line – “Mama Ketrah’s peanut butter”
This is Tsusabe. He used to produce furniture as almost a sole trader but with help, and much hard work, he has opened a timber yard, increasing his profits by selling to other furniture makers and also cutting out a long drive to the timber yard.
By exporting HOPE we are enabling friends, like Tsuabe and Mama Ketrah, to not only make a living, but also to produce increased employment opportunities for others.
Once he had put behind him his God respecting father, he was able to embark on a disastrous, debauched, reign of his own.
He began by celebrating religious diversity. Leaving behind the God of his Fathers, he promoted any and all kinds of cult – the more perverted the better.
Baal, or “The Master”, a storm god, and his consort Asherah were favourites – and depraved in the extreme. Asherah , – a female mother deity – was worshipped with ritual prostitution, famous for phallic “Asherah poles”. Sex as worship soon became very popular and he led his nation into an enthusiastic celebration of immorality.
In the temple, built for the one true Creator God, he placed altars for stars and planets, angels and demons. As bad became worse he introduced a cult to honour Moloch, involving the horrific ritual sacrifice of children to the fire.
He replaced his cabinet with witches, mediums and spiritualists resulting in civic chaos; a corrupt government filled the capital with innocent blood.
Perhaps, at some point, his conscience was pricked but he learned that, with constant practice, he could ignore it and that, eventually, it even seemed to go away.
Those challenging him were silenced. One brave prophet gave him two words… One was a simple picture of a builders plumb line; “what isn’t built straight, God will flatten”. The other, “like a dirty bowl, I will clear you out, and turn you upside down”.
When the end came it was dramatic. Brought down by a foreign power, Manasseh was led around with a hook through his nose, like a prize bull. Having been ritually humiliated, he was then exiled and imprisoned in what is now Iraq.
Hooray!! The prophet killing, child murdering, despotic, satanic, God rejecting, sex addicted tyrant was history! … Except, before we all cheer, he wasn’t!
This atrocious, obnoxious man turned to an amazingly gracious God. In some “god forsaken” dungeon he prays and finds he is not, after all, God forsaken. He vomits up the deep truths about himself – and God forgives him. Whilst I might have given him a million years solitary confinement, and then the same on probation, God even restores him to his throne!
Grace is truly outrageous!
God loves to respond to “gut prayers” and he alone sees what is going on in our hearts. Genuine repentance irresistibly releases God’s mercy. This was not a token gesture kind of “sorry”, but a genuine remorse. – “I wish I’d never done this, I wish I could undo it, I am ashamed before God and want to renounce it all” kind of praying.
The reinstated King then removes all the idols and altars, rebuilds the neglected capital city and its defences and reinstates the worship of Creator God.
This king, Manasseh, illustrates a wonderful Bible phrase – “their sins … I will remember no more” This is “grace” – a totally undeserved “forgettery” in which go all our demerits. No atrocious sinner is beyond the grasp of an amazingly gracious God.
Perhaps our temptation is to identify ourselves too much with our past sins, and mistakes, when the truth is that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us”
Paul once wrote to a people trapped by their past and reminded them “this is what you were”. The Christian can grasp hold of a whole new identity – “I was this but now …”
• “You have been washed” – the work of Jesus totally cleanses you from sin and shame
• “You are sanctified” – the Holy Spirit has set you apart and gifted you with a new identity
• You’ve been justified – The Father himself has declared His verdict “not guilty”.
This is outrageous – and wonderful.
(The bones of this story are in the Bible – 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33 v 10ff. Other useful verses, for the curious, are Psalm 103 v 10-12, Heb 10v17, 1 John 1 v 9 and 1 Corinthians 6 v 9-11)