News from David

Talks, thoughts and stories from David Flowers
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Who is Jesus? 

Over 2 billion people, one third of the world’s population, identify themselves as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ (Pew Research Centre, 2011). That’s way more than any other religion. So who is this Christ whose name they take? We discover who he is mainly from four biographies written about him (the gospels). Mark’s gospel starts with, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God…” and it ends with the centurion who, on seeing how Jesus died, declared, “Surely this man was the Son of God” (despite having pledged allegiance to another divine ruler, Caesar).

The question, “Who is Jesus?” is our theme both for the month of prayer and fasting we’re about to start and It is also our main teaching theme for the year. The gospel of Mark is going to be our core text and the reference point for both the month of prayer & fasting and for the year’s theme. It’s an easy book to read, quite short too. You could probably read it in an evening! I commend it to you. You can pick up a free copy of the book on Sunday.
 

Swap-your-screen

Fasting means to forego those things that bring us some comfort. This month you are invited to join in a month of fasting your screen! Click here and open the pdf at the bottom of the page to find out more.
 

Vision Sunday

This Sunday is our chance to reflect a little on what went on in 2016 and what we can look forward to in 2017. Here’s a heads-up on one or two key events to look out for in 2017:

  1. Ben & Kate, Sam & Joseph will be heading North to Edinburgh before the summer. The long journey will be over and they will start gathering people to the new Edinburgh Vineyard. How exciting!
  2. Ian & Hannah, Sam & Joy will be formally launching Bradford Vineyard during 2017 too. In the meantime do check out their local events such as the curry evening this Saturday (do go and join in, they’d love your support).
  3. Our next Baptism service will be on 11 June. If you would like to be baptised or want to find out more please talk to your small group leader in the first instance.
  4. The excellent Alpha Course starts again on 6 February at the Costa Coffee shop in Headingley. Are you wanting to know more about Jesus or do you have a friend who is asking questions – Alpha is a great way of finding out more.
  5. Current leaders are invited to the Leaders’ Mini-weekend on the 17/18 March.
  6. A huge favourite for many of us is the Ashburnham holiday in the summer. If you are planning your holidays – check it out!
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The Building

A year ago, on Vision Sunday, I shared with you my expectation that we would buy a building in 2016. I was wrong about the date but right about the building and we are currently in the process of negotiating a purchase. This is a hidden treasure, a precious pearl and I’ll share more about it on Sunday!
 

Communion

This Sunday, as we start our month of prayer and fasting and as we look back and look forward, we will share communion - which seems most apt.
 

NLC

Next week, all of the Leadership Group, some of the staff team and some others will be heading to Nottingham for the National Leaders’ Conference. We’ll tell you about it the week after but much of it is available online too.
 
Finally, some rather sad news. Many of you will know Karen Davidson whom we knew when we were at South West London Vineyard and who was part of Leeds Vineyard for a while. She suffered bravely with various serious illnesses whilst holding down a senior job at Leeds Girls High School and contributing wonderfully to the church. Latterly, she and Mike have been living in her Irish homeland and last Sunday afternoon she died there peacefully. We feel her loss deeply but celebrate her life and know that she is now in a far better place: whole and well and worshipping at the feet of the Jesus she loved and served.
 
Peace
 
David


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A pearl without price

Looking back at 2016 and forward into 2017

Jesus told us these parables: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46

Let us reflect, where was the pearl without price last year? Where is it buried in 2017?

The Lord spoke to us in many ways last year, not least through our times of prayer and fasting (Taking Stock in January and then Prepare the Way in September – see below for some of the words and prophecies we have received). At the beginning of 2016 I shared two things that the Lord had given us: one was that we were going to make steps toward becoming a more invitational church. The other was that we would buy a building in Headingley.

Over the course of the year we have learnt what it means to make an invitation, how we were first the glad recipients of an invitation and how making an invitation to others is just the start of the gospel story. We learnt that the way people respond is not the measure of success but overcoming our fears to make the invitation is. We are not done on learning to be invitational but we have made a start.

When I said we were going to buy a building I confess it was a leap in the dark! Partly because we would have been unable to buy anything until we sold the Vineyard Centre and partly because there is very little commercial property for sale in Headingley. We reach the end of the year without having bought a building but we have sold the Vineyard Centre and we have found a building we could buy.

Both of these were God-given steps forward. So we find ourselves entering 2017 on the cusp of making an offer on a building which will transform our presence in Headingley. I hope to say a lot more about this at the end of January.

The Lord has revealed a pearl of great price in this opportunity. It will be a costly pearl and will mean sacrifice and a big step of faith but the prize is worth it.

There were many treasures last year:

  • We baptised 8 people;
  • Dedicated 5 children;
  • Assisted in 1 funeral;
  • Tim Boocock and I did a pulpit swap and our working relationship with the Methodist congregation has gone from strength to strength. It is a good witness to the community;
  • Ivan & Libby continued to minister in Mexico and Ruth in Asia. Rob invested 6 months working with children in South Africa;
  • We celebrated and thanked the Newman family for their years of inspired ministry amongst us and then pointed them North as they set about preparing to plant the Edinburgh Vineyard in 2017;
  • Toward the end of the year we ran “Reverse Advent” and your generosity resulted in 21 presents for the families involved in our Child Contact Centre and 53 hampers for individuals and families within and beyond our church community;
  • We closed our Debt Advice Centre but celebrated a precious 5 years of highly successful ministry to scores of people thanks to the amazing Gwen Procter and her team;
  • The Child Contact Centre continues to provide an essential service to the community with an average of 5-8 families attending every fortnight;
  • Every month the Healing on the Streets team are out in Headingley praying for people and sharing God’s love;
  • Our small groups continue to flourish, increasing in number and variety with some 27 groups running by the end of the year with 175 people attending (our best year ever);
  • 20 people attended Alpha (our best year ever) and 4 people decided to follow Jesus as a result;
  • We have been able to welcome a whole bunch of new students with well over 20 attending regularly and involved in the life of the church (our best year ever);
  • The sanctuary is regularly full for weekly worship on Sunday mornings with over 300 people attending our Christmas services;
  • We have been privileged to have prayed for hundreds of people and seen God heal and restore many lives. I continue to be overwhelmed by the Lord’s mercy to us as individuals and as a congregation.

His kingdom is truly a pearl without price.But great treasure awaits us in 2017 too. The Lord is at work in Headingley and we will unearth precious pearls in the coming months as we seek his kingdom. Pray and prepare and keep seeking. If we are to take hold of the pearl of great price we will also need to make sacrifices, not least in our wallets and purses!


Just as we did in 2016, in 2017 we will say a sad goodbye to some friends but we will also gladly welcome many new people into the church community. The biggest challenge will be buying the building but we will continue to dig up other precious pearls as we worship, teach and pray for one another.

I expect that we will dedicate many more children and baptise many more people. We’ll be telling hundreds the good news, praying for the sick and the lost and seeing them healed, restored and turning to follow Jesus. We’ll be feeding the hungry and caring for broken families. We’ll be bidding farewell to the Newman family and continuing to support Ivan & Libby in Mexico and Ruth in Asia. Finally, look out for party times, kicking off with Hygge in January!

Our teaching theme for 2017

Our teaching theme for 2017 will be, “Who is Jesus”. It seems that our post-Christian world is often oblivious to this hero of history, this titan of the universe - and so we will learn more about who he was, who he is and who he will be. Be prepared because, just as the man in the parable sold all he had to buy the field for the treasure, the more you learn about Jesus the more precious this pearl becomes and the more you will be challenged in your response!

A lot of our teaching will be based on the gospel of Mark. I also commend Tim Keller’s book King’s Cross as a good introduction to the theme.

Alison and I consider it a joy and a privilege to belong to Leeds Vineyard. We are so very grateful to the many alongside whom we have served in 2016 and we look forward to doing so again in what promises to be an exciting and challenging 2017.  We wish you a Happy New Year and invite you to press on with us into 2017 as we search for the pearl of great price!

Peace,

David

Here is a small selection of the words and prophecies shared in the Engine Room during the month of prayer and fasting:

Alison – “they are loved by you” (changing the words of the song toward the people around us rather than us - from Good good Father).

Annette – Let us be even more open. There is still a fear of opening our doors. Everyone is welcome.

Jeffrey – Be open to invite people. Come and see. Thinking about the invitation of Jesus to Zacheus.

Sally W – Ambulances remind us of the call to be rescuers (pastorally & as a GP). We are being challenged to find more ways to be open – dressing station, 1st Aid.

Theresa – Psalm 139 - if I go to White’s, Costa, Headingley stadium, the library, the Arndale Centre … you are there.
Restore O Lord the honour of your name. There have been many vibrant churches in Headingley over the centuries, his desire is to root a change that will last.

Anna – Hospitality. Not just entertaining but a posture of the heart (Romans 12 in the Message). Steady & constant calling, personal God, get along with each other and God. A life of invitation begins in the soil of the heart cultivated by the love of the Father.

Anne Button – a picture of poverty within one mile of HM. 2017 is the year of plenty, so we ask God to make us generous to feed the hungry. No to poverty, yes to generosity. No to loneliness, yes to family. Let us feed all the hungry within that radius.

Others:
Picture of businesses in Headingley, with embers glowing inside. God is doing stuff with those people, he is working in them. Do not be discouraged.

The doors are wide open. People going in and out, lots of people.

When Jesus fed the poor he did it miraculously and it drew people to him. We want to bring people to Jesus not just meet their needs or do good things.

The new £5 note. Don’t be afraid of the new £5 note. It is better, longer lasting just as valuable as the old one – even if it is new and smaller.

Keys - we have to use them. Revelation is about knowing Jesus and who we are, so what does using the key mean? Make us constant users of the keys of the kingdom.

And during a trustee meeting Steve shared this – “I see Persian carpet, which starts with the simple crossing of two threads. We’re starting to cross the threads. A blanket for Headingley – bringing comfort, protection, warmth, love for Headingley. It looks beautiful.”
 


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Christmas in the Vineyard

I love Christmas in the Vineyard. Last Sunday was a blast - lots of Christmas decorations, lights, carols and mince pies - and the presence of He whom we celebrate. In the morning there was an amazing nativity play with an overwhelming response as people brought their gifts during the Christmas Family Service and then a beautifully ambient Carol Service in the evening.

You really are a worshipping church!


Both services were followed by refreshments when people didn't seem to want to go home as they ate, drank and spent time together.

You are a friendly and fellowshipping church!


Thankyou for inviting your friends, family and neighbours. We were able to welcome many guests and share a wonderful occasion with them.

You are an invitational church!


Thank you too for the enormous response to our Reverse Advent appeal. You brought loads of wonderful and useful gifts on the Sunday and then a team spent Monday morning parcelling up scores of hampers and gift boxes so that people for whom Christmas is a struggle may have an extra reason to celebrate this year.

You are a very generous church!


Alison and I particularly wish to say a BIG THANKYOU to the many, many people who gave so much time and energy to make it all happen. Dozens of people served, many behind the scenes in the weeks leading up to Sunday and many on the day itself. You gave up your time and energy and you also shared your own gifts and talents. You know who you are and you can take credit for playing your part in making Sunday a very special day. We enjoyed it so much and the King whom we come to worship loved it too:)

You are such a serving church!


A couple of pictures attached - we'll post the music and words and more photos soon, check out the website and our FB page.

Weekly worship as normal next Sunday (when we will also launch next term's Small Group programme), and then we gather to worship on Christmas Day too. On New Year's Day we have another Expedition - meeting in Ilkley to welcome in the New Year with a brisk stroll across the Moor.

Check out my blog on pastorflowers.me "Christmas messes with my money mind".

Happy Christmas - and thanks once again.

David


David Flowers, 13/12/2016


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Love in Action

My friend Steve visited us the other week and wrote a poem about Anne’s sermon (see below). I thought you’d like it:

Reverse Advent

This year,
Although I know
that you're keen
To set up that nativity scene,
I'm advocating an alternative means,
A change in priorities
For your generosities.
 
I'm anointing a reversal,
Suggesting you parcel
A hamper of staples
And so turn the tables
On advent doors
That ignore the poor.
 
I'm asking that you choose
To proclaim the good news
Beyond the pews,
To pursue a change of people's views
Of what they thought they knew
This meant,
Yes, let's reverse this advent
And make something heaven-sent.
 
During November, before we get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, it is our tradition to focus our thoughts on how we can help others, on how we as individuals, and also how we as a church family, can Reach Out to the communities around us with generosity and a helping hand.

On 6 November Anne shared one her favourite scriptures about the Priority of the Poor and invited us to take part in Reverse Advent (hence the poem). On 13 November Liz, Elaine, Naomi and Tim challenged us to become a Family for the Lonely, thinking particularly about fostering and adoption. Next week Matt will be teaching us how to “Help without hurting.”

It is an excellent series and you can listen to the podcasts and download resources by going to the "recent talks" on Resources page on the website.

My favourite sport

My favourite sport as a youth was basketball. As I have never crept over six foot I know I am not built for dunking but because I went to an American missionary boarding school as a boy I learnt to play basketball just as English kids learn to play football (which I never did. I’m hopeless at footy and the few times I got picked to play I was sent to stand between the jumpers). However, when we came back to England I was miles ahead of English kids at basketball and I took advantage of that!

So you can imagine my delight to find that we have two pro basketball players in our midst (please don’t take offence if you are pro at ice hockey or any other sport!). Rob and Jack have come to England to play for Leeds Force and I hereby declare that the Vineyard is an official supporter! Rob is the current interviewee on their website home page.

They have a key game next Sunday (20 November) against the top team in the league and so Alison and I are going to go along and support them at the Carnegie Sports Arena at Becketts Park at 4.00pm. Why don’t you join us and help us make some noise!

Christmas Videos

This year our Carol Service is on Sunday 11 December with the theme “There is another King” (people are worshipping many kings and queens but our good news is that there is Another King – who is not of this world and whose kingdom will never end and whom we are invited to worship. His name is Jesus). I’d love to have a video or two to show to illustrate this and add some visuals to the readings and carols. If you come across one on the world wide web perhaps you could send me a link?

Theology

If you would like to understand the bible and the Christian faith at a deeper level I commend the Leeds School of Theology to you. It takes the form of 10 Saturdays across the year and their next programme starts in January (for 2017) – so have a look at their website now and see if this would be a good investment for you.

Blogs

Here is a link to my latest blog - about Christmas this time and how money messes with your mind.

David
13 November 2016



 


David Flowers, 13/11/2016


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Two things are different this Sunday a

News from David on 26 October 2016

Two important things are different this Sunday and will trouble your normal routine: Firstly, the clocks go back so you get an extra hour to sleep-in (which never works ‘cos your body clock or the kids wake you up anyway); Secondly, it’s Expedition Sunday!

Instead of a band we’ll have the birds, instead of the pews we’ll have the woods, instead of a sermon we’ll have conversation, instead of gathering in the church building we will gather at Golden Acre Park.

This is Expedition Sunday. We are going to rendezvous at 11.30am on Sunday on the meadow beside the East car park (off Arthington Road).

Depending upon the weather we will be able to stroll around the park at our own pace, or make our way to the café for warm refreshments, or just play games. There are short walks on surfaced paths or longer walks through the woods. It takes about 40 minutes to circumnavigate the park. Afterwards you may want to visit the café or go home for lunch with someone else.

If you need a lift or can offer lifts please let us know by the website. Lifts will be from Headingley (Headingley Taps car park) at about 11.00am to Golden Acre Park and back again if needed.

And do invite friends!
There is Another King
When the clocks go back our thoughts turn to Christmas. This year our theme is “There is another King”. People are worshipping many kings and queens but our good news is that there is Another King – who is not of this world, whose kingdom will never end and whom we are invited to worship. His name is Jesus.

Our special day is December 11 with a Family Christmas Service at 11.00am in the morning and our traditional Carol Service at 7.30pm in the evening. We will also be meeting on Christmas Day (which is a Sunday this year) for a short celebration service. The following week on New Year’s Day we’ll have our traditional walk on Ilkley Moor.

These are all wonderful events to which you can invite friends. Invitation cards are available at weekly worship or from the office.

Key Volunteer Post


There is currently an opportunity for a key volunteer post at the amazing Child Contact Centre for a Deputy Manager. This is a chance to see life change and scenes of reconciliation right before your eyes. More details are on the website. Applications close on Friday 18 November 2016.

Peace,

David

David Flowers, 26/10/2016


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Ordinary Sundays

What a thought-provoking month it has been. I’ve loved hearing the stories about how people have done “fast-your-fone”. Alison says she knows she has been fasting her fone because she doesn’t need to charge it every night! The Sammons bought an alarm clock so that they didn’t have to the phones in the bedroom. What did you fast? How did it impact your relationship with God and with those around you? Use the response below to share your experience (click on “permalink” below).

We’ve also been hearing about what we think God has been saying to us during the month. We’re beginning to get some clear direction on how we should Prepare the Way for the Lord to come and extend His kingdom in Headingley. Again, do share what you think the Lord is saying to the church at this time using the response below.

In addition we were privileged to hear from some great speakers: Michael Harvey, Steve Nicholson and Wes Johnston. You can listen to all their talks in the Resources section of the website - Michael in the Invitation series, Steve & Wes in Recent Talks.

There are some things I’d like to tell you about. I hope you can read on for a few minutes.

Invitation Sunday

If you have friends or family whom God has put on your heart to “Invite” why don’t you invite them to weekly worship on Sunday 16 October? We are designating it Invitation Sunday. It is an ordinary Sunday when we will gather to share, worship, learn and pray as we usually do. No special effects or drama or guest speakers. Just us doing what we usually do, expecting God to come and do what He usually does. That way you know what to tell them to expect and if they want to come back they know what it will be like.

Afterwards it is Picnic in the Church – more information here.

Expedition Sunday

On Sunday 30 October, instead of gathering in the building, we will gather at Golden Acre Park. We are going to rendezvous at 11.30am on the meadow beside the East car park (off Arthington Road). Depending upon the weather we will be able to stroll around the park at our own pace, or make our way to the café for warm refreshments, or just play games. This will be a good thing to invite people to as well.

If you need a lift or can offer lifts please let us know. More information here.

Theology

If you would like to pursue some biblical or theological study there are a number of routes I would recommend you consider. One is the Leeds School of Theology which runs from January in the form of one Saturday each month for ten months. Visit: leeds-school-of-theology.org. They have an open day this coming Saturday 8 October. Another is the Vineyard Institute which is a web-based series of courses. Visit: vineyardinstitute.org.

“Turning the hearts of the fathers to their children”

This is a verse from the bible (Malachi 4:6) which describes what it will be like when the kingdom comes. And we get a glimpse of this at the Child Contact Centre (known as the “Vine”). Listen to what Joanne Noble of ARM Cluster Services said about the services we provide,

“I am writing to express my gratitude and feedback for the service you have provided for a family I am currently supporting. Initial referral was made for a father and daughter due to a non-molestation order. The referral process was managed very sensitively and the young person involved has benefited greatly from fortnightly contact… As a professional I have valued the prompt responses to any queries and general communication as I have been managing the whole family and the young person’s wishes.  During visits to both parents they have expressed how your service has eased pressures and allowed their daughter to manage the changes (moving to high school). As the family move forward they are now in a stronger position to be able to identify the needs of their daughter and meet those needs, thanks to your help.”

The mother said, “Having the Vine service has allowed my child to develop a better relationship with her dad because his time with her...is just for her. This means that when the order is over then we have a good foundation to build on. If the Vine were not running this service then my child would not have been able to see her father for a full twelve months and we would probably have had to return to court to facilitate contact. I feel confident leaving my child at the Vine and it is obvious that everyone involved has the best interests of the child at heart.”

The father said, “I feel that the service has helped me and my daughter to have contact. I have found the staff approachable and friendly. My daughter and I are very relaxed when attending and would like to thank the staff for their help and support.”

The daughter said, “I was unsure about meeting my dad in a strange place but it was nice and I also got to meet other young people.”


Isn’t that absolutely wonderful? If you would like to join the team please contact Elaine. In particular there is currently an opportunity for a key volunteer post as Deputy Manager of the Contact Centre. More details here. Applications close on 14 October.

Work Placements

If you are in the position to offer someone work or a work placement, please consider the students amongst us. They often need part-time work to pay their way through University. Many are also looking for placements either over the holidays or for a year out in industry or business. If you or your organisation can offer something please let Liz Harden know or post a note on the Facebook page.

Peace,
 
David
 


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The clone is not the one He loves 

How are you managing during our Prayer & Fasting Month? How have you found the challenge to “fast-your-phone”? What have you heard the Lord say to you and to the church? At the Engine Room last week a clear theme emerged about being Open – open doors, open hearts, open to those not in the church. We gather again for the Engine Room on Sunday 25 September and we look forward to what the Lord will say to us then.

On Sunday morning, as I turned to Psalm 139 for this week’s theme, I discovered that my Facebook account had been cloned. As I read the verses about how the Lord has known me from the beginning and knows me still, He pointed out to me that He certainly doesn’t love the cloned me, nor the genuine Facebook me, he only knows and loves the real me. Warts and all. He detects the front I present to the digital world and wants to do business with the person behind. I was jolted into a fresh intimacy with Him – so thanks to whoever cloned me!

20160911 - invitationsLater on, after Michael Harvey’s invitation at weekly worship, I was incredibly moved to see scores of people patiently queuing up at the cross to pin the names of the people the Lord had put on their heart for invitation. All those people out there whom He has placed specially on your hearts and minds; the many invitations that are going to be offered; all the life transformations that will take place as a result; sometime, somewhere down the line. If you missed it please do have a listen to Michael’s talk on the website.

Let us continue to pray and to invite. If you would like a target date we have designated Sunday October 16 as Invitation Sunday: an ordinary Sunday when we just do what we usually do and ask the Lord to do what He usually does!

Next Sunday (18th) will be just as special as we welcome Steve and Cindy Nicholson from Evanston Vineyard, Chicago. Alison and I first met them in the 80’s and they have been inspirational leaders in the Vineyard forever. Do everything you can to join us on Sunday morning and expect the Lord to reveal something of Himself to you.

It’s September and that means (1) a new flurry of Small Groups. Lots of information on line and in the brochures. Sign up soon! And (2) the students are coming back to Leeds. Let’s look out for the ones who are returning and welcome new students looking for a family. If you can offer meals and hospitality after weekly worship let us know. There is nothing more important to a student than a home-cooked meal!

Finally, you’ll be delighted that your staff team do know how to let their hair down occasionally. We took some time out to master the art of ten-pin bowling. Here are the final scores. See if you can work out who is who! Ask Hannah about The Strike and Molly about The Dance.

Peace

David
 


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The power is there  

Dear Leeds Vineyard

Six important things to share with you:

  1. The power is there in engine room prayer! On a ship the forward propulsion comes from the engine room. It’s not necessarily a comfortable place but it releases power. In the same way, when we gather together to pray, it may not be the most comfortable place but it releases power. So join us as we pray and seek to prepare the way.

    This Tuesday evening and Sunday 25 September we’ll gather at Headingley Methodist Church at 7.45 for 8.00pm (come in by the side door) to worship, pray and seek God for His purposes for Headingley and Leeds and for how we can prepare the way.
     

  2. Last Sunday I introduced the month of prayer and fasting and we distributed the brochures to guide you through the month. You can listen to the podcast and download a pdf of the brochures on the website. I’d love everyone in the church to join in this special time of waiting on God by: putting aside 10 minutes a day to prepare the way; joining a (very) small group to keep in the loop - and coming to the Engine Room. 
     

  3. On Sunday 2 October we’ll hear back from you and discover what the Lord has been saying. You can leave comments and prayers and prophecies on the website too. 
     

  4. Next Sunday Michael Harvey (of Back to Church Sunday) is our guest speaker, Steve and Cindy Nicholson (of Evanston Vineyard, Chicago) the week after and Wes Johnstone (of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Horsforth) the week after that. 
     

  5. The new flurry of small groups has been released. More information on the website or pick up a brochure and an application card on Sunday. 
     

  6. Finally, the church offices have moved to: North Lane House, North Lane, Leeds, LS6 3HG. Telephones should get connected by the end of the month. 


There’s lots going on …!
 
Peace,

David


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