Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Reformation 500

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

The 31st of this month will be the 500th anniversary of what is generally considered to be the beginning of the Reformation, the posting of the 95 Thesis by Martin Luther. The diffusion of the teachings were blocked in many countries by the Council of Trent (1548-1563), that discussed and rejected much of what the reformers were saying, setting down instead for the first time many opposite doctrines (salvation by grace and faith, revelation by Scripture and tradition, the Apocrypha, transubstantion, etc.). So as a Protestant church in the city of the council, we thought it would be appropriate to remind the city of what started to be taught 500 years ago, and that was rejected here. Hence from the 21st to the 29th we will be organising a series of events. Every day, in a hall across the road from the cathedral where the decrees of the council were signed, there will be an exhibition explaining the Reformation, that people will be invited to see. Then each day from Monday to Friday there will be a talk or conversation about some aspect of the Reformation: the Bible, the music, the people, … Finally, on Sunday the 29th, there will be a service with about 400 people (many from other evangelical churches in northern Italy will come specially for the occasion), followed by a time of fellowship together, visiting and praying for the city, and then a rally in the square in front of the church where the discussions of the council took place. Pray for this witness, that the people of Trent will understand better what the Reformation was (and is) about, and for love from us as we present it.

Mini camp

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

This year we are trying something different in the children’s ministry, with four “mini camps” during the year – instead of doing the usual Sunday School, we will try to mimic a camp in the space of an hour. This aims to create excitement in the children for the activities, strengthen relationships (especially between the classes, that are usually separated), and give other people an opportunity to serve in the children’s ministry. Always with an eye on the growth of the children as disciples. Today there was the first such mini camp. The idea was to go to a nearby park for the hour, but the rain washed out that possibility. So we fell back on Plan B, adjusted our activities a bit , and held the camp in our usual hall. It was a great success, as we did various activities together (across the age groups, it was good to see the older children learning to help the younger ones rather than putting them down), a lesson based on the activities, and a bit of food and free play. I don’t know about the children, but I’m looking forward to the next mini camp!

End of the year

Monday, June 12th, 2017

The school year has finished, although Pinuccia at the preschool and Luca and Mattia at the nursery keep going until the end of June. With the end of the school year, the Sunday School as well has finished, so yesterday there was the presentation of the year’s ministry with the children. It worked well in showing how the children had grown in their relationship with God over the past 9 months.

Now instead it is time for our major ministry commitment for the year, at least for how much time we put into it. From Friday until Sunday there will be the church children’s camp that Pinuccia and I organise and run (with help from various other adults and teenagers), with 13 children from 7 to 11 years old. Pray for a good weekend, that the teaching will help them to understand better their faith, and that we will be able to teach and model Christianity during the non teaching time of the camp as well.

New hall

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Today there was the first service in the church’s new hall, almost a year that it was purchased, due to bureaucracy and renovation work. There were a few technical hitches and there is still some work to do, but the tripled space was a breath of fresh air. Due to a larger than normal number of people, we ended up with people standing up anyway, but at least we have the room to fit them in – we just have to buy some more chairs.

5 snapshots

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Some snapshots of church activities in this period:

1. On Saturday, the women of the Valsugana valley held an evangelistic dinner. The 10 ladies in the group had 53 friends come. My usual rule of thumb at Trento is that to have the same number of people not from the church as from the church is a good sign, but to have more than 5 times the number is amazing. Many of the friends commented on how much they felt the love between the members of the group, but also towards each one of them personally.

2. Last weekend the Christian groups at the universities (IFES) of north-east Italy had a camp together. A group has just been started at Trento thanks to the witness of Bruno, a Brazilian student. At the camp there were Bruno, two of his friends, and two students from the church at Trento and one from Rovereto who are studying in other cities. It is great to see the university ministry taking off again – it remains close to my heart (it was the main reason why I came to Trento in the first place).

3. This weekend Ruben (a Brazilian missionary working with refugees), Latif (the pastor who fled from Pakistan) and two other Christian refugees from Pakistan drove to Switzerland to speak at the United Nations about religious freedom in Pakistan. Our ministry to refugees is to not only help with their immediate needs, but to give them a political voice as well.

4. Next Saturday there will be the second meeting on raising children, to help both those in the church and their friends in this important role.

5. On Saturday morning, the cleaning group will be hard at work again preparing the new hall for when we move. A very important ministry! It is probably not a typical couple of weeks, but it gives an idea of the range of areas in which the church is trying to reach out.

Various events

Monday, February 13th, 2017

There are a few special events in the church in this period. Last Saturday there was the first of three meetings on parenthood, using the expertise of a couple of people in the congregation (Daniela and Enrica). It is always a good sign when half the people who attend at not from the church. The next meetings are in March and April. Next Sunday we will be continuing our reflections on what ministry God is calling us to amongst the refugees. This time we will be listening to the refugees, to understand their needs and what they would like to see. So they will be coming to a lunch hosted by Ruben (a missionary specialising in refugee ministry, who is a part of the church), with a few non refugees coming as listeners.

Renovation work always takes longer than expected, but we are getting very close to moving to the new hall. So there will also be some working bees to do some cleaning up in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the folding walls which were between the Sunday School rooms have been taken down and moved to the new hall. This makes the Sunday School lessons a bit of a challenge. Pinuccia rose to the occasion and was happy to do her first lesson for a few years (since the twins came along) – also because she was the only person courageous enough to prepare something for all the children together, from 4 to 13 years old!

Preparing for ministry

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Last night we continued our program for the integration of and help for the refugees, with the working group meeting for the first time. The group, with a few other interested people, are looking at meeting and listening to the refugees at the end of the month. We shall see where to go from there, when we have heard their stories. It was good to work with this group – apart from myself, there are Ruben and Mary, Brazilian missionaries with a vision for refugee work who are leading the church in this integration process, Maddalena who is a social worker, and Cassia. We have been trying to get her involved in the life of the church for some time, and it is good to see her finally mobilised in a ministry. As she said herself at the end of the meeting, “I enjoyed this time together. I was missing being useful to others”.

On Saturday afternoon there will be a training meeting for the Sunday School teachers. Pinuccia is organising it, but it will be run by Enrica and Daniela, two members of the church who work in the area of training and coaching. The meeting will not be so much on how to teach the children, but how can we serve and work together better. There have been some difficulties recently in the relationships between the teachers, so we hope to improve this.

Refugees 2

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

The most notable feature of the meeting last night about the refugees was that there were not any refugees present. This was despite personally encouraging them to come and getting some positive responses as well. So we learnt a few lessons about cultural differences and reflected on them, for example meetings at 9pm might be best for the Italians, but not for the refugees, and that it is hard for them to say “no” to an invitation. But the meeting was positive anyway, with a consensus on some ideas to try. The meeting was too large to work on the details (that was a great thing!), but formed a group to start talking with the refugees (at a time that is convenient for them) and to create a concrete proposal that everybody will be happy with. Making a committee is not always a good outcome from a meeting, but I think it is the best way forward. Ruben, the missionary who specialises in refugees ministry, will be leading the group, and I am looking forward to being part of it as well, at least until there are enough other people of the church to keep it going.

Less than two days now until we leave for Australia – time to start doing some packing.

Refugees 1

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

A couple of things to pray for this week:
- On Wednesday evening there will be a meeting on the ministry to and of the refugees. This meeting is for the whole church, hopefully with the refugees attending as well. It should be a concluding meeting, wrapping up the reflections and discussions of the last couple of months. And if it goes well, also an introductory meeting, if the church decides to do something and not just talk. Pray for Ruben as he leads the meeting, and that we will be led by the Spirit in all we say and do.
- On Saturday we will be flying to Australia, for a 3 week trip to stay with the family. The plane trips will be interesting with all the children – Stefania and Daniele should be fine with the personal TV screens (although Daniele does not eat airplane food), but we don’t know if Luca and Mattia will be able to sit in one place for so many hours. So you could pray for the travel and for the time with the family.

Children’s camp finished

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Each year, the church children’s camp is a bit different from other years, and this time it turned out that the main benefit was the time that the children spent with each other. This was in part due to the theme (sport and especially the Olympics), which meant more physical activities and less reflection, but it was also due to how the children are now. Certainly what our children were looking forward to most in the week leading up to the camp was seeing their best friends in the church for three days in a row. So the boys spent a lot of time on the football field, and the girls camped out in their bedroom, and I was happy to see that happen. There were also some children outside of the “groups”, due to differences in age or culture or personality, and although they did get a little bit better known, there is still a lot to do there.