Inside the magazine this month

Inside the magazine this month. 2

Minister’s Letter 3

Church Family News 5

Holiday Forum 2011. 5

Friendship Club 60th Anniversary Celebrations 6

Park Church Library. 7

More Zumba Classes 7

Maintenance and Improvements 8

Pilots 8

Church Weekend Camp in July. 9

Gift Aid Update. 9

Churches in Reading Drop-In Centre. 10

Finance Update. 10

Where are you on Good Friday?. 11

WEA Day and Evening Courses - Summer Term 2011. 12

April Calendar 13

Church Contacts 14

Regular Activities at Park. 15

















The views expressed in this magazine are those of the individual contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Park United Reformed Church.

Dear Friends,

Spring is with us and there are signs of new life all around. The spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips are providing colour in our parks and gardens. The extra sunlight seems to have brought us out of hiding, more people are out walking and cycling. I wonder how you feel at this time of year?

I always find this season a time of great encouragement – as all my vegetable seedlings begin to force their way through the soil, ready to be planted out in my allotment. After several years I’ve begun to understand the needs of different plants; some like warmth, some need cold to trigger them into action, some need much water and some need just a little.

Makes me wonder what the sower was doing in the parable that Jesus told (Luke 8)? Why did the seed get scattered all over the place? On the road it was obviously going to be crushed by the traffic? On the rock it would be far too dry. Among the weeds it was bound to be choked. Maybe I am missing the point – maybe God’s generosity and grace is bigger than mine.

When I plant my vegetable seeds where I think they will survive, do I restrict the possibilities, reduce my horizons, narrow my vision? Perhaps, the sower in the parable is reminding me that there are no limits to God’s grace, love, mercy, compassion… and that we are called to be the same, to be people of grace, love, mercy and compassion.

For many people the United Reformed Church is a place where they have experienced a warm welcome, at our Church Meeting we heard about the advertising campaign being launched by the URC.

This will comprise a series of poster adverts in which radical welcome is offered, with the strapline of ‘Jesus never turned anyone away, neither do we.’ The campaign posters are challenging and provoke many different reactions. In considering their impact may I remind everyone that they are aimed at people who are currently outside the church, rather than those of us who already see ourselves as a part of God’s kingdom.

In the May Church meeting we will consider whether we wish to ‘sign up’ to the advertising campaign, please remember this is something that we have to opt into – not something that is being forced upon us. I look forward to hearing your responses and I’m sure there will be many conversations about the style, content and message of the posters. The campaign won’t be going ‘public’ until January 2012 – so we are not allowed to print the designs in our magazine (not yet)!

During this period of Lent we have a number of special opportunities to meet together and learn more; the Lent study group meeting in the Upper Room is following the closing chapters of Mark’s gospel and is entitled ‘Singing in the Rain’.

Our house groups meeting on Mondays and Tuesdays are always pleased to welcome new members – why not try a couple of sessions to see if this is something that you would like to be part of on a regular basis?

The parable of the sower is also a powerful reminder of the Easter story, unless the seed falls to the ground there can be no new life. Jesus died so that new life might be possible, death is defeated and is not to be seen as the end of the story but a new beginning. As we look forward to the future, may we be open to the new possibilities that come from the seeds of new life.

During this season of Lent, may you feel closer to God; and may we all celebrate new life and new hope as we celebrate this Easter!

Yours in Christ,


Good wishes to all who have recently celebrated birthdays – especially to Julia Marsh, who had a special one on March 26th. Dulcie Payton send her thanks to everyone who remembered her 93rd birthday at the beginning of the month.

We send our love and congratulations to Andrew and Karen Jackson on the birth of their daughter Natasha Kathleen, who was born on March 11th, a sister for Harry.

We send greetings to various new ministers who have been inducted locally: to Rev. Judith Wheatley at Anderson Baptist Church, and Rev. Ken Blanton at Bracknell United Reformed Church; we pray for them and their congregations as they embark on their journey together.

We pray too for Les Dray’s daughter, Sue Cossey, who trained at Salisbury with John Lee. Sue will be ordained and inducted to serve with a Ministry in the Workplace group at Swindon on April 30th.


Do things always happen as you expect ? Have a holiday with a difference this year by joining Holiday Forum 2011 and explore the theme  Expect the Unexpected.

It takes place from Saturday 20th August to Friday 26th August 2011 at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick , Derbyshire. 

In February 1951 there was a new addition to the activities at Park Congregational Church. The Young Wives’ Friendship Club was born, and although there have been some changes over the years, the Club has an unbroken record throughout the 60 years since then. We have found a number of ways to celebrate this over the past few weeks.

On February 1st, as near as possible to the anniversary of the first meeting, the afternoon was entitled: “Looking Back – where were you 60 years ago?” Geoff Cornell told us something of how his mother, encouraged by Rev. David Davies, brought the idea from her previous church, where she had been a member of a Young Wives’ Club founded by Rev. Elsie Chamberlain (a pioneering woman minister of the Congregational Church). The idea soon caught on, and a waiting list had to be organised, as the Parlour (now the Lounge) could not hold the number of people wanting to join – David’s Hall had not been built then. After this, several members entertained us with their reminiscences, and we also made a chart to show where we were all living in 1951 – quite a number in Reading, but others scattered across the country. And at least one wasn’t born!

On the following week we held our birthday party. This is an annual event, but this year was special, and we had some good entertainment from Sue Smith.

On March 1st, we celebrated in a rather unusual way  with “Diamond Drama”. Joan Pearson (who we have to thank for all of these ideas) had found an author who writes short plays and sketches for special occasions.  We used the ones which were all based on some aspect of “60” or “Diamond  - the glitter of the theatre, diamond shapes reminiscent of pierrots, diamond rings, and other facets of daily life. Several of us performed five of these, and they seemed to be well received. Entertainment continued the following week, with a “Tea Dance” led by the Denton Dancers – a most enjoyable session.

For our final celebration this term, we are going out to lunch at The Shire Horse on March 29th.

During the 60 years of the existence of the Friendship Club, it has become a very important part of the life of the church.

As well as providing friendship, companionship and support for countless people, has offered service in a number of ways. For many years we provided people to run a WRVS Tea Bar on Thursday mornings in the Eye Department at the Royal Berks Hospital; and each year we have chosen a different charity, which we support with monthly collections, coffee mornings and lunches.

Over the years we have raised £18,000 in this way. This year, as part of the celebrations, we have done this slightly differently; we have supported the charity of one of our speakers each term: Mercy Ships in the autumn, and the Campaign for renovation of the Kings Meadow Baths.

The morning service on May 15th will be a celebration of this wonderful record of friendship and service, and we hope that everyone will be there to help us celebrate.

Doreen Woods

Park Church Library

The bookcase in the Large Hall has been given in memory of Mavis Cordery and Kathleen Hewitt and it is stocked with a library of Christian books, for use by members of the church and anyone who uses our church halls.

There is no charge to borrow the books and they can be booked out and returned by the borrower.

If you have any suitable resources that you’d like to offer, please bring them to the church office to be suitably labelled.

We now have Zumba classes on Thursday and Friday mornings in the Church Halls; for high energy, high volume exercise classes there is nothing better – for further details contact Julie Cameron, our Centre Manager.

Some of you may have noticed that the hot water heater in the church halls kitchen has not been working properly – we are in the process of getting quotes for a replacement. The old water heater has lasted over 30 years, so it has served us well.

The Finance and General Purposes Committee have instructed Rainbow Carpets to fit a new carpet in the Crèche, this work will also be completed in the Easter holidays when the building is being used less intensively.

We thank Les Dray for the little maintenance tasks that keep needing attention: fixing the loose screws, fixing the water heater, lubricating the hinges, etc.

We thank John Goodchild for filling the holes in the church car park. And we thank all who help with the gardens and grass cutting (yes, it’s that time again)!

We are always looking for more helpers with the maintenance tasks, please see Robert if you would like to offer some assistance.

The Upper Room is now operational and has been appreciated by many groups already; the final touches to be added are blinds/curtains and some pictures on the walls.




The Pilots group continues to meet at Park URC on Fridays during term time, from 6.30 – 8.00pm. It has around 20 members but there are spaces for new members.

If you know anyone who might be interested in further information about Pilots please contact Tim Lancaster, the Pilots Captain.

Robert Weston



Church Weekend Camp in July

This year’s weekend camp will be from 1st – 3rd July at White Mark Farm, Watlington – this is a camp site with all the usual facilities – toilet and shower block, a small shop, and walking distance from the village of Watlington. The camp is open to all ages at Park URC, whether you have a small tent, big tent, trailer tent or a caravan!

If you don’t like camping then you are welcome to come and join in the fun for the day and return home in the evenings (the site is just 40 mins from Reading). To book your place please contact Suzy Weston.

Suzy Weston


Gift Aid Update

Graham Fuller and I felt it would be appropriate to update you all about a key deadline in the Gift Aid scheme.  Until April 2008 the basic rate of income tax was 22% and this meant that the Gift Aid reclaim was worth just over 28% of each qualifying donation.  From 6th April 2008, the basic rate of income tax was reduced to 20% and the effective rate of Gift Aid reclaim correspondingly reduced to 25%.  As a result of many charities complaining to the Government that this move would instantly reduce their income from Gift Aid by over 11%, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) set up a three-year Transitional Relief scheme, by which they paid charities an extra 3% reclaim to compensate for this lost income.

The Transitional Relief scheme winds up at the end of the current tax year on 5th April.  This means that the money we are able to reclaim from HMRC from your giving will reduce to 25% for any donations received after 5th April.

If you are a regular giver, you might wish to consider increasing your giving to the Church to compensate for this loss of income (worth about £1,000 to us every year).  Furthermore, if you are thinking of making a large donation in 2011, you might wish to make it before 6th April, as it would then be worth 3% more to us - at no extra expense to you...!

Although we support CIRDIC all through the year, churches in our area (Earley and East Reading) are asked to make a special effort during the months of March and April, as part of a rota devised some years ago to ensure a regular supply of food.

Mabel, the Manager, reports that they are running low on the following items, and would be grateful if we could help with any on this list:


steak                            minced beef                meat pies

chicken                        irish stew                      beef curry

chicken curry               chilli con carne            peas

soup                            ham                             luncheon meat

hot dogs                      carrots                         custard


salad cream                mustard                       marmite

coffee                          peanut butter              chocolate spread

breakfast cereals

Please leave your gifts in the box by the side door of the church.  Thank you.

At our March Church Meeting, the budget was presented for 2011 and for the first time in many years we are on track for a surplus at the end of this financial year.

This is due to the increased giving by members, the increase in hall lettings and the resignation of our youth & children’s worker.

We will be reviewing the role of youth and children’s worker, with representatives from Wesley Methodist Church and Park URC, the results of that review should be ready for discussion at the July Church Meeting.

They knew how to tell a good story those gospel writers. The account of that first Good Friday has drama, plot and sub-plot, it has the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’, the innocent man, the cruel rulers and the baying crowds. It’s a familiar story for many of us and we know how it ends so we are in danger of missing the suspense:  will they or won’t they set Jesus free, will he convince them of his innocence, will Pilate take the risk or will Jesus just walk away?

A story of events 2000 years ago but scarily it is our story too, for this is a story of fear:  fear of authority being challenged, fear of the crowds, and fear of being out of step with the majority.

In the week before Easter I sit listening to other stories. These are stories of the children of asylum seekers in Great Britain, stories of the twenty first century in a free and democratic country. And they are stories which tell of the cruel and inhuman treatment of innocent people caught up in a system where powerful politicians fear the response of the electorate if they’re not seen to be ‘tough’.

The electorate – made up of individuals like you and me – fearful of being seen to be out of step with the majority or maybe just too apathetic or too busy to stand against the reported mass view.

The Good Friday story is our story in so many places where we fail to defend the innocent victim.

Before we reach the celebrations of Easter Day, let’s think about the Good Friday story: who are we in this story and how can we become messengers of the Easter story of hope in 2011?

Val Morrison, Moderator Elect of the General Assembly

The Reading branch of the Workers’ Educational Association will be mounting an interesting and varied mixture of courses, starting in May.

Val Pretlove, known to many in the Reading area, will be presenting a seven-week course which explores Soho, which will include three visits to this lively area of London. Val will also be running a course which looks at Bloomsbury, home to many fine squares and museums.

Art history and architecture again feature in the programme, with courses on Women Artists through the Ages, Palazzo Barbaro: Life in a Venetian Renaissance Palace, the Art of Crete and the Aegean and London’s Contemporary Architecture.

Music is well represented. We are marking the centenary of the death of Gustav Mahler, perhaps the greatest composer of the 20th century with a seven-week course led by a tutor new to the area, David Podd.

In a new departure for the Branch, we are presenting a dramatised reading of the tempestuous correspondence between Mahler and his wife Alma at an evening meeting at Randolph College in Reading, which includes a light buffet supper.

Lars Franke, Director of Randolph College will team up with Sandra Smith to present a day school on the Ballet Russes in England, also at Randolph College.

Other day schools include Adam Smith on Below Stairs in the English Country House, Chris Skidmore asking what could you do with your genome, a day on Frank Lloyd Wright and the Mastery of Space. Gordon Tripp will discuss our amazing weather when he presents Here is the Weather Forecast.

You can down-load a brochure from the WEA web-site or you can request a paper copy from WEA Reading, 27 Derby Road, Reading, RG4 5HE (01189464137).



9.30 am

Morning Prayer Group in the Upper Room




Morning Worship with Holy Communion



4.00 pm

Songs of Praise at Sutton Court



9.30 am

Morning Prayers



7.30 pm

Lent Study Group

Sat 9th – Thurs 14th Group at Spring Harvest




Morning Worship



9.30 am

Morning Prayers



7.30 pm

Lent Study Group




Morning Worship



6.00 pm

Holy Communion with a time of prayer for healing and wholeness



9.30 am

Morning Prayers



7.30 pm

Lent Study Group



7.30 pm

Joint Maundy Thursday Communion service at St Andrew’s URC.



3.00 pm

Good Friday Meditation at Park



9.30 am

Decoration of the Church for Easter

Preparation for Easter Morning Breakfast



8.00-8.30 am

Easter Morning Service in the Forbury Gardens



8.30 am

Communion Service and Breakfast




Morning Worship with Holy Communion

Last Day for contributions to the May Magazine



9.30 am

Morning Prayers


House Groups meet on Mondays and Tuesdays. Please speak to Rev. Robert Weston if you are interested in joining a group.




Rev Robert Weston                                                          office:       0118 926 5003

                                                                                             e-mail:       minister@parkurc.org.uk

Church Secretary:

Roger Clark                                                                      e-mail:       churchsecretary@parkurc.org.uk

Centre Manager:

Julie Cameron                                                                phone:       0845 463 6426

                                                                                                                           e-mail:       centremanager@parkurc.org.uk

Magazine Editor:

Rod King                                                                                           e-mail:       editor@parkurc.org.uk

Church Website:                                     www.parkurc.org.uk


10.30 am




Young people’s groups & Crèche facilities



Holy Communion  (1st Sunday)


4.00 pm 

Worship at Sutton Court (1st Sunday of month)


6.30 pm

Ignite Coffee & Cakes (in term-time)


7:00 pm

Ignite Worship(in term-time)


9.30 am

English Language School


10.00 am

Monkey Music


1.45 pm

Mayfield Singers


6.45 pm

Cub Scouts          


7.30 pm



10:00 am

Park 60+ Exercise


10:00 am

Happy Feet Footcare (every 3 weeks)


2.15 pm

Friendship Club    


2:15 pm

Reading U3A Tai Chi/Yoga (every 2 weeks)


4:00 pm

Street Feet Dance


7:30 pm

Earley Folk Dancing


7:45 pm

Aldbrickham Clog & Step Dancing


7.30 pm

Badminton Club


7.30 pm



9:30 am

Embroiderers’ Guild (monthly)


12.00 pm

Reading Lunchtime Choir


2.00 pm

Reading Macular Society


5.00 pm



6:45 pm

Tribal Fusion Classes (Belly Dancing)


7.30 pm

Mostly G&S Singers


8:00 pm

Arnica Parent Support Group (1st Weds of month)


11.45 am

Senior Citizens’ Lunch Club


2.00 pm

U3A Madrigal Society (every 2 weeks)


2.00 pm

Active Retirement Group


2:00 pm

Reading Abbey Trefoil Group (4th Thurs of month)


5:30 pm



6.00 pm



7.15 pm



7.30 pm



7.30 pm



9:30 am

English Language School





9.00 am

The Allenova Ballet School


10.30 am

Councillor Surgery(monthly)


7.30 pm

FIZZANG(Youth Club)