Our continuing journey - more about us and our activities

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Church in the time of Covid

Our activities have been rather constrained by the pandemic, as you might imagine. No more coffee mornings, social events or hymn singing! But we continued to worship and to meet for fellowship, making good use of Zoom - even some of our members in their eighties have become adept at new technology! And for a short time we were able to return to the building, under strict social distancing rules. The pictures show a few images of what it has meant to be church in the past couple of years.

At Christmas 2020 we managed to gather some folk in the car park to sing carols - a rare treat! And our Nativity display outside the church doors lit up the night sky.

The Gethsemane Garden

Christ Church is a full member of Churches Together in Marlow, which normally organises a Walk of Witness on Good Friday. But what to do in 2021 when such gatherings were not allowed? The answer from CTM was a 'church walk' itinerary, visiting most of the churches in the town and with an external display at each.

So Christ Church's garden became Gethsemane for a two week period, during which we were pleased to receive many visitors. The pictures show some of the display that they were able to view.

Christian Aid Week 2021

Christ Church has long supported this annual activity and, as well as our own contribution, one of our members coordinates the appeal across all of the churches in Marlow. This year, due to the pandemic, it had to be completely rethought on multiple fronts.

We raised funds via JustGiving under the headline 'Say thanks for your vaccine'. At the same time, in place of the traditional house-to-house collection, we organised an envelope drop with return to several retail outlets. A cake sale was held outside Marlow Methodist Church. And Christ Church ran an online Psalmathon, in which 75 readers from many parts of the country read the book of Psalms in a Zoom marathon.

The grand total raised was £14,641, by far the best we have ever achieved and despite the difficult situation. Of that, almost £4,000 came from each of the JustGiving appeal and envelope drop, £440 from the cake sale, and an amazing £6,740 from the Psalmathon. And the total doesn't even include over £900 that, our Minister, David Downing, raised personally from a fitness challenge!

Friends in Zimbabwe

For over a decade, Christ Church has supported a group of sculptors called Artpeace in Zimbabwe. The link passes through a member of another URC, who has most loyally and persistently championed their cause over the years and tried to find ways to help them.

Our first step on this road was in 2010 when we hosted an exhibition of the sculptors' work at Christ Church, turning our building into a gallery and raising almost £20,000 to send to them. Sadly, since then, economic and political circumstances have spiralled down and down in Zimbabwe. The sculptors can no longer sell to tourists, as that business has all-but dried up, and they have been forced into desperate poverty.

In recent years we have helped by sending funds for buying seed maize and fertiliser, tools, or to meet other practical needs. In return, when they can, Artpeace send us pictures, news updates and prayers of thanks.

While they are far away, and we have never met them, they are our friends.

Marlow and Maidenhead

Maidenhead URC, like Christ Church, traces its history back over three centuries. But we had not had many connections as congregations until around 2015 when we were both looking for a new minister. So we formed what is called a 'joint pastorate' and we now share the ministry of Revd David Downing.

Coming together in this way has enabled us to get to know each other better, enjoy shared social activities like church concerts, quizzes and walks, pool our efforts (for example, both churches combined to send a team to help out with refugees in Calais) and worship jointly on some Sundays. During Lockdown, this was a particular strength as both congregations came together on Zoom for worship, something that we are continuing to do once a month.

Serving our neighbour and the community

We are called as Christians to love and serve our neighbour. Living out this challenge leads us sometimes to unexpected places.

Individually, many of our members are engaged in local projects in the town, including Marlow Age Concern and the local Rotary. As a church, we fundraise for local (and national) charities, collect food and clothing for One Can Trust and Wycombe Homeless Connection, lend a hand where we can to Marlow Refugee Action and, during the pandemic, baked cakes for NHS frontline staff as part of 'Operation Wingman'. We also support the annual 'Lighthouse' ecumenical summer event for children in Marlow, and have been involved twice in visits to Calais to help with the refugee response there.

In 2019, before the pandemic, we also ran a Volunteering Fair at Christ Church to help local charities reach out to the public and try to find new volunteers to help in their work. The pictures show this and some of the other activities.

Witnessing to Marlow

As a small church, it is not easy to 'speak' to a whole community about your faith. And, in truth, we may not be the world's best when it comes to talking about what it means to us. The big word is 'evangelising' - but we probably don't either say it or do it as much as we should.

For all that, we try to tell Marlow about us and about Jesus. We try to show what we are about and we try to do it through practical action. So we have regularly taken part in community events, run stalls in the park, or invited local people to activities that we put on. We also have been contributors over recent years to the 'Faith Matters' programme on Marlow FM. Through such means, and through this website, we hope that people will see and hear something of us, and perhaps want to know more!