From past to present …. raising a flag

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immerse is part of the Methodist family and it seems no coincidence that we have found our home in a community centre that is only a couple of miles from Mow Cop.

Mow Cop is the place where Methodism underwent a kind of spiritual revival. A group of Methodists at Harisseahead, influenced by camp meetings in America, decided to hold a gathering on Mow Cop on 31st May 1807. This is the account of William Clowes, one of the key instigators of the revival:

‘The morning was unfavourable; it was rainy. Nevertheless I resolved to proceed to the place; and on my arrival at the hill, about six o’clock, I found a small group of people assembled under a wall, singing. I immediately joined them, and several of us engaged in praying services, one Peter Bradburn preached a sermon, and an individual from Macclesfield followed with another. The people now began to be strongly affected, and we commenced another praying service. During the progress of these labours the people kept in large numbers, but as they came from various places, many were at a loss to know to what part of the hill they should make. At last a person of the name Taylor, from Tunstall, suggested that a flag, or something of the kind, should be hoisted, as a guide to the coming multitudes, directing them to the place where the religious services were going on. Accordingly a Mr Edward Anderson, from Kilham, in Yorkshire, unfurled something like a flag on a pole in a conspicuous and elevated position, which became the centre of attraction.’

(taken from  The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion by John Petty)

According to Joseph Ritson Captain Edward Anderson, who raised the flag, had led a pretty dramatic life, in fact he told his story on Mow Cop on the 31st May 1807:

‘He had been a shepherd-lad, a sailor, a rhymester, a Methodist, an antislavery advocate and a temperance reformer. He had been shipwrecked, captured by French privateers and in the hands of the press-gang; but in Liverpool he had been arrested and soundly converted at a Methodist meeting, and was now among the foremost in promoting weal of his fellows’

(taken from The Romance of Primitive Methodism by Joseph Ritson)

If you’ve passed the community centre recently you might have seen our flag outside. Originally we bought it so that people would know someone from immerse is in the building, but since discovering Captain Anderson’s flag it has taken on a new significance. The flag, just like Anderson’s, is a symbol, a sign, to tell those who are looking where to come. It announces to all who pass by that here is a group of Christians who are passionate about their faith and deeply committed to Kidsgrove.

So in memory of Captain Anderson – we raise our flag!

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Good Friday

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One of the key moments in the Christian story is Good Friday. It’s the day we remember the death of Jesus who was crucified by the Romans just outside Jerusalem nearly 2000 years ago. It’s a poignant moment for those of us who are Christians because we believe that because of Jesus’ death our lives are transformed for ever; that somehow are lives are bound up with his life, death and resurrection.

This means that as we remember Jesus’ death …. something in us dies

and on Easter Sunday when we remember his coming to life …. something in us is reborn

but first the agony of the cross.

A few of us will be gathering at The Galley Community Centre on Friday 3rd April at 2pm to spend some time remembering. It is not an easy time together, it is not joyous or raucous or loud but it is beautifully special.

If you would like to join us – you are more than welcome.

re:charge 1st March 2015

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Part of the rhythm of our community is to worship together once a month. Everyone is welcome and we normally have music (loud), video, conversation, coffee and more often than not – food!

If you are the type of person who likes to chew things over, to think and dialogue with others about BIG stuff, if you are suspicious of being given answers but love to seek them …. then this might be a space for you.

If you love to experience stuff, to FEEL as well as to know, if music and singing kind of get to you …. then this might be your kind of thing!

… and if you love a brew – this is definitely your kind of thing!

Sunday 1st March 2015       You are more than welcome!

Toasting success

We love serendipity here at immerse!

A conversation with a teacher about wanting to offer toast to her class at the beginning of the day led to us offering to buy the bread and butter needed to feed the class each morning.

The class teacher then invited Simon in to ask him why immerse would want to do such a thing. Simon told the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people and it all began with a young boy who shared his food.

Sharing and generosity leaves open enough space for miracles to happen.

The year 5 children have now written to local businesses to see if they are willing to buy some bread for other classes in the school.

Who knows where this miracle of generosity will end ….

You can see a few photo’s of the kids enjoying their toast here

December 7th – put it in your diary!

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December 7th is a big day for us at immerse (well – it could be a long day!)

At 3pm we have Kerygma and at 6pm we have re:charge. The chances are we will have food in between for those that want to be around all day or for those that stick around after kerygma or come early to re:charge. So if you can make all of it…. some of it…. a bit of it …. it would be great to see you.

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Lent – A time to give up something

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Today is Ash Wednesday and Lent is now upon us – what have you
given up?

Some give up chocolate, alcohol, sweets …. a whole range of things.

Why? well not normally because they are religious, but usually because they want to practice a bit of self control or because it is a way of naming a time when they get get a bit healthier. All of these things are of value – a bit of self control and a healthy lifestyle are always welcome.

Those who try and shape their life around Jesus will know that Lent is the period when we remember the temptations of Jesus. He spent 40 days in the wilderness (desert) where it is told that he was tempted by the devil to either follow him or to win people over like some kind of superhero.

Jesus had none of it, and it was in the desert that he decided the kind of man he was going to be and the kind of life he was going to live. Our reading of the stories of Jesus suggests that he was a lively, vibrant, life giving, life loving, party animal who lived with extravagant and outrageous generosity.

We want to do the same …

It’s difficult because there aren’t that many of us and we are all really busy, but we do meet every Sunday afternoon for a couple of hours and we want to use that time in Lent to practise this way of life with more intensity. So this year, for every Sunday in Lent, we are going to make soup and bread, spend some time in worship whilst its cooking, and then eat it!

and if anyone, anywhere, is hungry in Kidsgrove on Sunday afternoon you are welcome to join us – no cost – free food!

and if anyone, anywhere fancies a bit of company in KIdsgrove on Sunday afternoon you are welcome to join us – no cost – free friends!

So if you fancy some soup on Sunday – join us at 3pm

We’ve decided to give up being selfish – lets see how we do.

You are loved …

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Happy Valentines day!

So today is a day when we tell our loved ones ‘I love you’.

It seems strange, that we have all year to say it, act it, be it …. yet we choose this day to highlight it, to say it, to make it real again.

At immerse we believe that everyone is loved – it might sound idealistic, or even over sentimental ….

but it is true!

If you are struggling to believe in yourself, if you find it hard to understand why someone might love you … Trust us … You are loved.

And if you get it, you know deep down you have value and worth, and that you are not only loveable but loved …. Then we want to remind you …. You are loved.

So this is what we’ve done – we have hand made 50 Valentines Day Cards – we’ll be honest, some are better than others. But they have been made by young and old peeps at immerse over the last couple of Sundays.

And we are going to pick 50 houses to deliver them to on Valentines Day. It’s our valentines gift to you – to remind you that you are loved.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Whispering

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The blogs been a bit quiet since Christmas partly because we are slow starters – it takes us a while to get going when we’ve had a break, but also because we have had to slow down a little in order to hear a lot.

It’s probably helpful to have a bit of background (but not too much – it’s dull!) immerse came into being about 18 months ago when a number of different people, most of whom had some connection in the past, came together. We began to meet in September 2012 in the old Methodist Church building in Kidsgrove (we now call it Kidsgrove Central). This building is not ours, it belongs to the Methodist Church (immerse is part of the Methodist family) and they have been good enough to let us live there rent free and to treat the place as our own.

We’ve had a great time in the last 12 months! We’ve ripped out the pews and made the place more useful, we’ve housed homeless people, a Victorian Market, Craft Fairs, Slimming World and The Tent – our weekly gathering. It is also the space we use for our art installation, coffee bar and helping make the world a better place! Those are just the highlights – in the last 18 months we have been really busy and we have loved it. If you fancy changing the world – we’re the kind of crowd you should be hanging out with!

But there is a big BUT …. A leak has developed in the church that is causing massive damage and during the high winds over Christmas part of the chimney collapsed into the roof causing more damage. That is on top of the costs needed to make the building far more accessible and useful for other things. We are a small community who have managed to get ourselves caught up in the Jesus revolution (if you don’t know what that is – you should) but we have few resources. So we are going to have to make some decisions.

The BUT gets bigger …. We also have some responsibility for The Galley Community Centre which, due to cuts in county council budgets and the difficulty of voluntary groups raising money to pay room hire is also struggling to keep afloat.

The BUT gets even bigger …. It seems likely, though we hope a better solution can be found, that The Daycare Centre in Kidsgrove will close leaving many local adults with learning difficulties without the proper facilities for them and their families to thrive.

If, then, we cannot keep Kidsgrove Central and/or The Galley Centre open, and if The Day Care Centre does close ….. That’s a lot of social capital for one small town to lose in quick succession! The consequences could be really significant for Kidsgrove.

So here is what we are not going to do:

immerse is not giving up on the Jesus revolution – we are in this for the long haul
immerse is not leaving Kidsgrove – this is our home
immerse is not going to put a big thermometer outside the church and tell you how much money we need to save the roof! It’s just not our style.

So what are we going to do?

It’s simple – we are giving February over to a period of listening, discerning, reflecting, figuring out. We are going to create some contemplative prayer spaces where we can spend time …. Thinking! We have a strange notion that there is a God who, rather than shouts at you from a roof top, whispers little things in your ear when you’re thinking about other stuff. So we are going to think and listen out for whispers.

You can come and join us if you like, every Sunday afternoon in February at 3pm at Kidsgrove Central. Or you might have heard a whisper yourself, if so, share it with us, either comment on here or visit our Facebook Page or tweet us @immerseC

We have no idea what the future looks like, but we have a hunch that it’s going to be a crazy ride ….

….. You up for it?