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kerith community church magazine issue 16

Lioness of God: “What sort of God would do this to a child and her family?�

Uniting Youth Ministries: The low down on Next Level at The Hexagon.

Friends Reunited: When God steps in, a life is transformed.

The Night Manager: Why would a busy mum of two give up her sleep for 2 months?


Hello and welcome to our LinK (Life in Kerith) magazine. At the start of 2016 we decided as a church to focus on eight key areas of church life. In this edition of LinK, you will find stories from people within our community who are involved in some of these eight areas.


In addition to strengthening our existing sites in Bracknell and Sandhurst, we are hoping to develop a new site in the Windsor and Maidenhead area later this year. Leon Johnson will be heading up this new community. You will find his personal story on page 13. You’ll also find interesting articles explaining how we run as a church as well as some exciting things happening at Kerith this year. I really hope you enjoy reading this edition of LinK and learning how we, as a community, are seeking to ‘show people the way back to God’ (more on that on page 6). Simon


COME AS YOU ARE Discover Kerith


Unpacking the Vision


A Heart to Worship


All in God’s Time


Growth Track


To the Outback and Back


Lioness of God


The Night Manager


Women’s and Men’s Ministries


Friends Reunited


Uniting Youth Ministries


This is for REAL


Kerith Academy


Kerith -The Works


Kerith Directory


Chief Editor Suzanne Whitton Copy Editor Suzanne Whitton Consulting Editors Simon Benham Beccy Oliver John Mitchell Penny Lander Jacqui Webber-Gant Magazine Coordinator Kara Challis Editorial Contribution Suzanne Whitton Penny Lander Simon Benham Derek Jones Nikki Salt Jacqui Webber-Gant Matt Cooper Richard Cooper Nadia Permalloo Art Director Mike Charlton Head of Photography John Mitchell Photographic Contribution John Mitchell Jack Todd Stuart Bailey MediaNerd Proof Checking Clive Challis Glynis Challis Anna Britton Georgie Kelham



Introduction to the Christian faith

Intermediate discipleship

Emotional Healthy Spirituality Go deeper in your faith

Peach & Coconut Course

Freedom in Christ

Discipleship Course

Fostering & Adoption

Year training in theology Money management and practical service

Discover your strengths, passions and spiritual gifting

Coping with the death of a loved one

Drinks Team

Growth Track

Life Groups

Life Skills



Midweek small groups

Deaf Hope


Group for the deaf and hard of hearing

Midweek group for the retired

Children & Families


Accessible church for adults with a learning disability

Women’s evening events

Unique Women’s Ministry


Partnering with national charities working in prisons and supporting ex- offenders

BRACKNELL Social Justice


Kerith Community Church


Free To Be

Self esteem course

Beyond Kerith

under 2s


REAL Conference


Women’s annual Kerith event

Puddles 3s



Youth Ministry

Splash 5-7s



Friday night youth event


Schools’ Work

Networking within local secondary schools

Life Unleashed Sunday youth meetings Yrs 7-9

Next Level

Joint youth ministries event

Monthly Prayer Meetings 24-7 Prayer Room

Band of Brothers

Men’s breakfast events

Sports Events

Helping establish first Lithuanian Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Worship Resound




mPower Men’s Ministry



Creative Arts / Production

Women’s day retreat

Women’s writing group

Midweek bible study group



Women’s book club


Ripples rnoon 11’s


Bracknell Area Foodbank Feeding local people in crisis in partnership with a national charity

Prison Outreach

Sunday Guest Services



CAP Release Group

Freedom from life controlling habits and dependencies

Free debt advice through a national charity

Advice and support through national charity CAP to those who are looking to get back into employment

Set Up/Set Down


CAP Debt Advice

CAP Job Club

Car Parking



Support and advice to help break the cycle of poverty in the local community

Building Admin


Support groups for children with disabilities and their families

Social Justice Outreach

Welcome Team




Parent and toddler group

Kerith Kids

Practical skills to help with parenting

Kerith Academy CAP Money Course Bereavement Course


Early Intervention Partnering with a national charity to support struggling primary aged children

The Marriage Course The Parenting Course

Building great relationships

Wild at Heart

Men’s small groups


Adult worship bands

Sound, lighting, projection & recording

Set Design



Youth worship band

Editorial Team Comms

Social Media and Press

Events and Sundays Copywriting

Creative Hub

Developing leaders and supporting youth events in churches


Sunday meetings and productions


Supporting leaders in two churches


Photography Media Team

Website, graphics, Photography set design and illustrative and literature media

Video editing and animated production

Music Production Creative hub for music



Supporting leaders in two churches

Serenje Support for the community of Serenje in Zambia on the impact of HIV/AIDS


Supporting leaders in two churches


unpacking the vision

As part of that time I wanted to come up with a simple vision statement to express who we are and why we do what we do. With the help of others, I came up with this:

Simon Benham

Last summer I had the privilege of taking a threemonth sabbatical; time to be refreshed, to reflect on my leadership of Kerith over the last 8 years, and to think and pray about what God has in store for both me and Kerith.

Helping people find their way back to God through communities growing in their love for God and their love for people. The LinK team thought it might be helpful for me to expand on this statement and help people understand what it expresses. The following is my best attempt to do that! Let’s start in the middle with the word ‘communities’. Kerith Community Church is exactly that - a community or a family of people. When we hear the word ‘church’ we might think of church buildings or a meeting people go to on a Sunday, but the original Greek word ‘ekklesia’ which we translate ‘church’ actually means simply an assembly or a gathering of people. That’s exactly what Kerith is. We are not a company, an organisation or a charity, but a community of people. Note also that we’re not just one community but many. Our community is expressed in multiple ways, with multiple sites where we gather every Sunday, multiple small groups where people meet together during the week, multiple serving teams serving our church and the wider community, and multiple families and friendship groups. Each of these reflect the values expressed in our vision statement. All communities have a reason for existing, something which gives them a common identity. That could be support for the same football team, all being from the same family or all living in the same geographic area. What brings us together is the next bit of the statement: our love for God. We are people who realise that there is a God who loves us, in fact who loved us so much that He sent

His son Jesus to die for us in order that we might spend eternity with Him. Having experienced the love of God and having come to believe in Him, we now want more than anything else to grow in our love for Him and our love for the people He has created. Becoming a Christian is not just a one off decision, but a lifetime adventure of growing to love God and people more - what sometimes gets called discipleship. We look to grow in those areas through what we teach on a Sunday, through courses we deliver and through our relationships with one another. That’s what the last part of our vision statement expresses. Then finally, we get to the reason why our community exists. This comes right at the start of the vision statement; through our various communities we want to help people find their way back to God. All of us are created in God’s image and are made in such a way that life only works properly when we are in a living, loving relationship with God and with other people who follow Him. Everything we do as a community is to help people come to the realisation that God loves them and then create spaces where, if they want to, they can explore what a relationship with God might look like. To achieve that, all of our communities need to play their part. Whether that’s by talking to their friends about their relationship with God, practically demonstrating the love of God through serving in Foodbank or any of our other social justice ministries, inviting friends and neighbours to a meeting, or helping run an Alpha course where people can investigate Jesus and his relevance to their lives. Hopefully, this gives you a clearer understanding of our vision statement and what it means. As always, please do contact me if you would like to discuss any of this further:

Helping people find their way back to God through communities growing in their love for God and their love for people.


worship a heart to

The draw for me was the worship time. A live band would play these beautiful songs and everyone would join in singing truths about God and their relationship with Him. It was amazing! I have always been obsessed with singing - I love musical theatre and have wanted to be a singer for as long as I can remember. Because I am a singer, the worship songs just drew me in; I could connect with them easily, and quickly picked up the songs and started joining in with everyone else. One night when Liam Parker, the youth pastor, made an appeal to go to the front of the room to be prayed for, I found myself walking forwards to make a commitment to Jesus. That night I encountered God’s Spirit powerfully and from that moment I knew I was forever changed. I found I had an unusual hunger to do good things for people. It was like a part of me had woken up to myself and to others. I started to come to church on a Sunday and was invited to come to Revolution, the youth band that played at LIFE. Despite my love of singing I knew that I wanted to concentrate on my new faith. I therefore said no to being part of the worship team for over 6 months. That time was a gift for me and God; to discover who He was and what He wanted for my life. I knew months later that it was a good time for me to start serving and joining the worship team changed my relationship with God in new and exciting ways. It’s not just about singing; I have a deep passion to

connect with God through song and to invite others to do the same. At first I just served in the Friday and Sunday evening youth band but in Autumn 2014 I was invited to serve at a large international church conference being held at Kerith. This was a big stretch for me as there were many people older than me, more experienced, and leading large groups or churches; but I asked myself the question ‘What if I could lead anyone to God, not just my friends?’. I knew then, what a new thing God was inviting me into. Now I serve across Kerith by singing and leading others to use song as a way of connecting to God. My heart is to support and enable others in worship, to see everyone else in the room as more significant than myself. I used to worry and plan to try and ‘get it right’ and to practise until it was musically perfect, but God has shown me that just being me is enough; He’s got the rest and all He asks is that I let my heart lead, not my head. I recently turned 18 and got baptised at Kerith. As my family are currently not churchgoers, I had to wait to honour their wishes. I have now taken over as the Creative Leader for LIFE and am still a part of the worship team. I love being a part of a community that leads others to God through music and I am learning to trust God more and more. I’m finishing school in the summer and trying to figure out what to do from there. I don’t know all the details of what God has for me, but I do know that when I’m 95 and looking back over my life, I want to say that I never held back, that I trusted God with everything I could. I hope that I am known as someone who puts others first and that when people think of places where I have served or led them in worship, that they remember the Spirit of God was there, not Becca.

Words: Helen Cottee Picture: Jack Todd

My friend Dan, was a regular member of the church and he invited me to come along, which I did for a while until starting a relationship that took my attention away. It’s funny how life has a way of coming together - that relationship ended badly, which was part of the reason I ended up coming back to LIFE again.

Becca Hall’s Story

I was 14 years old when I first stepped foot inside the Kerith Centre for LIFE, the Kerith youth gathering on a Friday evening. I had never been to church growing up, it wasn’t something we did as a family but so many friends from school were going to the youth group, I decided to try it out.


There is a saying “Patience is a virtue” but unfortunately it’s not one that I feel I am blessed with. As I reflect on the good and bad times, I feel the frustrations of situations where things have not always gone my way…

All in God’s Time Lynn Davidson’s story

I recall a time when my mum was very ill in hospital after her first stroke and I would be pacing up and down trying to get her some attention. When she would very gently say ‘all in good time’, I found it difficult to accept as I have lived most of my life this way. In the space of a year, my mum became ill, my dad died and I experienced a relationship breakdown. It was then, just over three years ago, that God used the impact of those three events, to lead me into discovering a relationship with Him. Being born into a Catholic family, it was not the God that I knew as a child. That God was to be revered from a distance. This God was one who loved me and who I could know as a friend.

Words: Lynn Davidson Picture: John Mitchell

During those early years as a fledgling Christian, it was not always easy. Simon would talk about ‘belonging’ and ‘believing’ before ‘behaving’ and although I felt I had the first two sussed, the ‘behaving’ was proving to be more of a challenge. I suppose I reverted back to type, as the impatient person in me expected things to change overnight. Having sought advice from others, I decided to try prayer. If you know me and my personality type, it would come as no surprise to learn that I was happy to pray out loud. I love to find words, so really embraced praying as a spiritual discipline quite early on. My prayers were big audacious prayers - the complete healing of my mum, big opportunities in life, landing a part time job, and finding a boyfriend. That’s not too much to ask is it?

Two years went by and I prayed the same prayers many times. Although my circumstances didn’t alter, there was a gradual shift in my attitude and ability to deal with situations. I began to feel so much closer to God and He would speak to me in many different ways. As I began to rest in the truth that God had a plan for me, I prayed for Him to reveal what He had in store. In some of these moments God gave me a resounding ‘NO’. You can imagine how that went down; these answers were not what I was hoping for! Slowly I began learning that not everything was about me. What if my mum being like she was, meant that we got to spend more time together? What if the man God has in store, wasn’t ready to meet me yet? What if the perfect part-time job wasn’t available at this present time? In the summer of 2015, I was diagnosed with Cancer (Skin Cancer/Melanoma Stage 2). At that moment, I realised that maybe I had been praying for the wrong things. As I underwent consultations and investigations, I realised that my health is probably the most important thing. How could I possibly look after my mum and work and date someone, if I was not ok? So my focus changed. My prayers became about God giving me a chance at this so-called life. My friends were amazing, stepping in to help just as much as I needed, and I enrolled on the Kerith Academy. My plan was to get to know God better, despite what the future might hold.

After my procedure in October, when I had a piece cut out of my back and removal of the lymph nodes, I had to wait 6 weeks for the results. During this time I remained calm and enjoyed the opportunity I had to rest. My recovery led to different conversations at work and they were happy for me to reduce to two days a week during this next season of my life. Two things happened during this time: I had the opportunity and space to help on Alpha, a course which I just love (it is so exciting to see people change and grow as they accept Jesus into their lives) and my prayers became simpler. God had changed something in me. As I began to live in the good of recovering from Cancer, I had a renewed sense that God is in charge and that by Him answering my prayer, He was reminding me that I can trust Him with every part of my life. Just recently, whilst at a Christian conference, I heard about an amazing job opportunity that sounded perfect for me. I wasn’t actively looking for a new challenge but God put it right in front of me. We are currently discussing whether this is the right opportunity for me. The difference this time is that I’m not worried either way - I’m confident that my future is in God’s hands. As I start the next chapter of my life, one with a clear bill of health and the hope of a fun-filled future, I know that when my mum says “All in good time” it’s really “All in God’s time”.


The Alpha Course – Know God Explore life and the Christian faith September 2016

The Peach & Coconut Course – Connect to Church Discover more about Kerith and its values January 2017

The Freedom in Christ Course – Find Freedom Experience release from your fears and failures

Leon Johnson

God has an incredible purpose for your life and the Kerith Growth Track is designed to help you connect with that purpose. On the Growth Track, you’ll explore what it looks like to know God’s love, to connect to church, to find freedom from fear, discover your purpose and make a difference with your life. Each stage is a termly course, during which you’ll make new friends as you learn in a friendly, open and informal environment.

To the outback kcab dna

Kerith Community Church is planning a new site in the Windsor and Maidenhead area. The leader of this new site will be Leon Johnson. Leon is a part of the team that leads Alpha at Kerith and is in the leadership and preaching team for Sunday mornings. He works as an electrician and has been part of Kerith for ten years. He’s married to Daiva and has two children, Caleb and Isaac. Leon grew up in Bracknell. He had a happy upbringing, mainly playing football with his mates and living for the weekend. Aged 19, he decided to leave Bracknell and headed for Australia.

April 2017

The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course – Go Deeper Slow down to be with Jesus September 2016

The Masterpiece Course – Discover Purpose Find your purpose and where to make a difference

In quite a short space of time, he went from being very athletic, to getting into drugs. His next five years were very much centered around this world.

January 2017 Sign up via the ‘Courses’ section of our website


To the outback and back

‘I thought when I emigrated to New Zealand, I was going to change my life and become a new person.’ But during his stag do, Leon got heavily involved with ecstasy, had an anxiety attack and didn’t sleep for a whole week. ‘Somehow, I managed to get back to New Zealand and go through with the wedding. But I just became ill with anxiety. I didn’t leave my house because I was suffering from depression. I told the woman I was with that I had to go back to England, because I wasn’t in a good way and that was the last time I saw her. ‘The marriage lasted about four weeks. I went back to England and struggled with depression for six months.’ Leon slowly started getting better through medication and counselling, to the point where he could begin working again. ‘As I started getting back into normal life, I began drinking and doing drugs again. I was really unhappy and angry: my life was going around in circles. I was just doing the same old stuff that made me ill. Moving country didn’t change me and getting ill didn’t change me either.’ However, Leon’s life began to change when he met an old school friend at the gym where Leon was working. This friend started talking to Leon about Jesus and the Bible. ‘I could just see the change that Jesus had made in his life. ‘I’d always been open to the idea that there was a God out there, but the way he was talking about how you could experience God was new information to me.’

The friend invited him to a small church in Reading that had been meeting for a year. At the end of his first visit there, Leon accepted a call to invite Jesus into his life: ‘I knew something had changed. Over the next few weeks, I just felt different in the way I spoke to people. I got a real desire for the things of God. ‘Before, when I used to try and stop doing drugs, life would get mundane and boring. But now I had enough peace in my life, I didn’t feel I needed to go back to them. It wasn’t a strong pull anymore.’ In 2006, a year after becoming a Christian, Leon joined Kerith Community Church. He came not knowing what to expect but during his first service, Leon realised there were people at Kerith who were just as passionate about Jesus as he was. He quickly got stuck in, becoming part of a week-night community group and serving with the youth and on Alpha. Growing in his faith and knowledge of the Bible, he wanted to ensure everyone had an opportunity to experience Jesus in the way that he had. Around the same time he met his, now wife, Daiva in a pub in Richmond. ‘She wasn’t a Christian, but being from Lithuania, she had a Catholic background. I thought I would tell her about my story, take her out on a first date and talk about my faith. I told her everything and she was open and interested. ’She went on an Alpha course in London and started growing in her faith. You could see God changing her heart. After four years of going out I asked her to marry me.’ Leon and Daiva had been at Kerith for a number of years when Pete and Nicki Cornford - a couple who are good friends of Kerith - asked if anyone would like to help them get a new church off the ground in Ealing, London, to gain some experience in church leadership.asked

‘From quite early on in my faith, I had felt God encouraging me to get involved in church leadership so we jumped at the chance!’ ‘We moved to Ealing to see what starting a church from scratch looked like. A group of 12 eventually got to about 50 to 60 people. After a couple of years we felt it was right to come back to Kerith, even though we really enjoyed what we were doing in London.’ So they moved back to Bracknell, with their son Caleb, who was born during their time in London. In 2015, their second son Isaac was born. Now Leon and Daiva are looking forward to starting the new site in Windsor and Maidenhead.

‘Simon asked me if it was something we would be up for. He knew that I had felt a sense of calling towards leading a church or site as it’s something we had discussed from time to time, over the last few years. And I was very excited to be asked! ‘Although Daiva and I sometimes feel as though it’s a big task, we know that all we can do is serve and love people in the best way we can; God will take care of the rest. ‘Daiva and I have always had a heart for evangelism. I hope that the new site will be a place where people can come and be part of a community, a church where people who know nothing about God or feel far from God, will be comfortable and not feel judged.’

Words: Matt Cooper Picture: Stuart Bailey

Whilst in Australia, he met a woman from New Zealand and they eventually moved to her homeland, to get married.

Interested in our new Windsor and Maidenhead site? Email


Arielle {ar-i-elle} ~ meaning: Lioness of God

As a church community, our heart is to ensure that every special needs child and their family, feels included and supported. LinK caught up with Nikki Salt, a parttime primary school teacher and children’s author, to find out what it’s like being part of Kerith’s Sandhurst community...

How long have you been part of Kerith? Just after Kerith Sandhurst opened in September 2013. We were looking for a church and boom! A brand new one appeared around the corner from us (well almost around the corner). We had never been to Kerith Bracknell but we had both listened to Simon Benham on podcast and he seemed like a normal person who loves Jesus. We decided to try Sandhurst and never left. Tell us a bit about your daughter, Arielle. Arielle is our precocious, gorgeous little girl who has a real hunger for life. She is wilful and when she sets her mind on something she will conquer her fears to get there. She attends a state primary school with a full statement which means she gets full time one-to-one care. I don’t really like to think of Arielle as having ‘special needs’ though of course she does need extra help. Arielle is just Arielle. When was she diagnosed and how did you deal with the diagnosis? Arielle was diagnosed with Band Heterotopia when she was 9 months old. It is a rare syndrome which basically meant her brain hadn’t developed properly. We were told she would probably never walk, never talk and to expect her to need 100% care for the rest of her life. It was like the end of our world. Arielle was a very prayed for baby and we went through a lot to have her. We couldn’t believe that God would give her to us, then suddenly take her away. Shock quickly turned to anger as I remember thinking how could there possibly be a God? What sort of God would do this to a child and her family? It was a pivotal moment in my life. I seriously questioned my faith. It was like I had reached a crossroads - either God was real and everything the Bible says is true or there is no God. It didn’t take me long; I could not contemplate a life without Him. It made life so meaningless and empty; it was like a part of me was missing. I think it was then that I made the most serious commitment in my seek God with all my heart. I studied the Bible and actually fell in love with it (I thought it was a bit boring before that -Shhh don’t tell anyone!). I read everything about healing and love and God’s promises and

the fact that life is a battle between good and evil. That made sense to me and I don’t for one moment believe that God ever causes sickness or disability. How have you and Arielle settled in to life at Kerith? When people meet Arielle, most are very kind and understanding but they see a child with special needs. But we didn’t have that experience at Kerith Sandhurst. Arielle was and is accepted as a little girl in her own right. I will never forget how Ben Pocock got down on his knees and talked to Arielle on that first visit. She gave him her toy dog to look after. I offered to take it from him but he refused and said that he would like to find her and give it back to her himself. And it wasn’t just Ben. Arielle was really welcomed and embraced by everyone. Now she is part of the Kerith family and she loves it! She talks about her ‘Kerith friends’. She has always had a close relationship with God, reads the Bible each night and says her prayers. She will often take ages to list everyone she wants to pray for! As a community, how could we support you and other families with a special needs child? Arielle really wants to be part of the ‘scene’ and enjoys being in her kids group with the other children. We’ve always been huge believers in social inclusion and there isn’t anywhere we wouldn’t take Arielle. The more people get to know Arielle and other children/adults like her, the less awkward they will feel. Yes there are times when Arielle has had huge tantrums in a very public place (A very posh National Trust cafe comes to mind!) but if we keep calm and act as though this is the most normal thing in the world we find everyone else does the same. How to help me? Be patient with me. I often take on too much and think I’m super woman and sometimes I just have to say no I can’t, even at the last minute (sorry!). I often get things wrong and I’m learning too.

Words: Suzanne Whitton, NiKki Salt Picture: Lorraine Hart

Lioness of God

Please introduce us to your family. There are four of us humans, plus one crazy hound (Hopey Dog) and two guinea pigs (Nutmeg and Ginger). Etienne is the youngest, he’s seven then Arielle comes in at ten followed by me and then by Andy, my handsome husband.

What has Arielle taught you about faith and God? I have seen God’s perfect and unconditional love in Arielle. He has truly blessed us with this child. He has taught me to never give up, that He is faithful and most of all, to completely trust in Him. I used to pray for healing, beg Him. But now I truly believe He wants the best for each and every one of us. Now I pray for His will to be done whatever that looks like, including healing!


the night manager

Words: Nadia Permalloo Picture: John Mitchell

Why would a busy mum of two, already spending her days studying for a degree and holding down two jobs, give up her precious nights’ sleep five days a week during the dark months of January and February? LinK met up with Kerith’s Teresa Cottee to find out the story behind what this remarkable lady was doing, whilst most of us were sleeping.

In the last five years, the number of homeless people in England has increased by a third. You might think ‘this is a big city problem, not something that is seen in Bracknell’; that is sadly not true. A local Christian charity, Pilgrim Hearts, was already providing lunchtime drop-ins for local homeless people. They then worked with the local council and six churches in the area, to set up a Bracknell night shelter, offering accommodation to Bracknell homeless people during January and February 2016. The shelter needed to employ a night manager and Teresa fitted the bill perfectly. She knew that this role would not be without its challenges (lack of sleep being a major one!) so what made her take on this challenging task?

“I just knew that God had called me to do it. I continually prayed for Him to give me the capacity and to take away my fear… of the unknown, of having reduced time with my children and just not being ‘enough’.” Teresa has always had a strong sense of social justice. Even as a child, she recalls instinctively being repelled by anything that she deemed ‘unfair’. Working in Kerith’s K4 charity shop as the assistant manager for two years, fuelled a deep desire to reach out to those in need. As night manager, Teresa was given a great deal of freedom. She had to assess risk and behaviour, in particular deciding whether someone should be allowed to stay at the shelter if they were drunk. Teresa talks of a fine

balance between compassion and responsibility: “We always had to think about the needs and safety of the other guests, as well as the volunteers”. The shelter offered an evening meal, a bed for the night and breakfast, providing refuge and sustenance for the cold winter weeks. Thirty-six people both men and women used the night shelter and about twelve of the guests came every night.

For her, this work was about giving people a hand up. “Hand outs are important but the shelter tried to refer guests into services where a longer term solution could be found for those that needed it.”

The night shelter rotated across six local churches: St Joseph’s, Holy Trinity, St Mark’s (Binfield), Easthampstead Baptist, Bracknell Methodist and St Michael & St Mary Magdalene (Easthampstead). It took commitment and hard work by a small army of volunteers week by week.

So, now that the shelter has come to an end, what’s next for Teresa? Her heart for the homeless continues and her next step is to run the Tuesday drop in for Pilgrim Hearts at St Andrew’s, Priestwood. Plans are also under way to run the shelter from December through to March next year, with a much bigger team. Teresa plans to be involved with the next shelter and all the training that will be required.

To make it easier on everyone, Teresa would transport the camp beds from site to site each night. Her perspective, and indeed that of all the volunteers, was that “We are all made in God’s image irrespective of our circumstances”. The sense of security, trust and inclusiveness was clear to Teresa. “The things that we take for granted like sharing a meal, having late night cheese and biscuits, playing cards or just simply having a conversation, were really appreciated by the guests. It was also OK to just sit quietly if that was what was needed”. Teresa remarked on genuine ‘community’ being built at the shelter. “If a regular guest did not turn up on a particular night, the others were concerned about their whereabouts. They even created their own motto, ‘It’s OK’ because they knew that whatever happened, it would be OK if they were at the shelter. They were safe.”

Some of the guests attended Kerith on a Sunday with Teresa and even expressed a desire to get to know this God that she talked about.

“The churches uniting together have done a great work through Pilgrim Hearts. I have been honoured to work alongside them, helping to run the night shelter. I am looking forward to being a part of it all again next year.”

‘In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ Matthew 5 v 16.


The women’s and men’s ministries at Kerith have grown from strength to strength in 2015. One particular area that we have seen huge growth is in the weekend gatherings run by James Hosker and Helen Cottee. We thought it was high time that we caught up with James and Helen, to find out what they have in store for 2016.

Women are from Free to Be

Men are from Band of Brothers

It was a year ago that Catrina Benham (the leader of Unique, Kerith’s Women’s Ministry) asked Helen if she could start a Saturday night event for women. Free to Be now has a regular slot in the Kerith calendar and Helen runs these events alongside her career as a personal and professional life coach, mother and wife. “My heart is for Free to Be to become a space where every woman feels welcome. We want to fight back women’s preconceived thoughts of an all female meeting. We set the target of 200 women in 2015 and we got as high as 180. This year I’m holding out to reach that number.”

James is part of a local film production company MediaNerd. He is also a husband, a father, and the leader of Band of Brothers, part of the ministry dedicated to empowering men in their walk with God. It was five years ago that James attended an event specifically for men and felt God challenge him to get involved in men’s ministry. “We’ve always been great at Kerith at putting on social events for men but I felt that God wanted us to go deeper by providing more to support men spiritually. We launched Band of Brothers to provide an opportunity for men to come together as a community and pursue God as a team. We had no idea what it would turn into, but we put on a morning event to see what might happen!”


Words: David Williams Pictures: John Mitchell

head to hed hosker

Words: Debs Field Pictures: John Mitchell

LIZ CHAMBERS’ STORY Both of these ministries are open to anyone aged 14 and up. They provide opportunities to suit all personality types, allowing men and women to pursue God in a way that is perhaps not possible during a normal Sunday gathering. “It’s great to see our incredible youth standing shoulder to shoulder with our older men who have walked further in their journey of faith” comments James. “We are redefining what Godly masculinity looks like.” Helen adds “Our events are as much for a teenager as they are for a grandparent. We often split into smaller tables of women. Seeing a 70 year old and a 14 year old listening to and learning from each other is a wonderful experience.” So what can you expect if you join in? As with all great events, food is involved. Helen points out, “food is both a prerequisite and biblical”. The men gather, usually for breakfast, to eat and hang out before listening to a preach and a time of worship. At Free to Be, the women share snacks at the beginning of the evening but the format can change. Sometimes there’s a preach and worship, other times it might be an interview. Helen clarifies: “Our three aims at every meeting are to connect with God, connect with other women and pursue purposeful change.” What if you come on your own? “It can often be daunting for people to come to a new event, especially if they are on their own. We try to really welcome everyone” says Helen. She goes on to say: “Our meetings are aiming to change us though and it’s a challenge for some women as we encourage a two-way conversation. We want all women to see that it’s a safe and exciting place.”

Andy [Band of Brothers] “What I like best about Band of Brothers is the space and unity it creates for men to come together and connect with God and each other.” Geri [Free to Be] “Authentic women sharing genuine stories about messy life, without glossing over the cracks or hiding behind excuses and encouraging us to do the same with each other. Doing life on your own is hard, but sometimes allowing yourself to be real and raw about where you are can be even harder – at first. The deeper you go, the less alone you are.”

But why do we need separate gender ministries? “Because God made us different!” James answers without hesitation, as Helen exclaims a large “Amen!” Helen remarks “We recognise that men and women are different and by standing for each other as brothers and sisters, not pulling each other down but supporting and building each other up, it allows us to bring healthy men and healthy women together for a healthy church.” “Sunday meetings are for the whole family, for us all to come together but there is a power and a freedom in gathering as one gender,” adds James. It is clear that at the heart of both these ministries, is a deep desire to build friendships outside of the meetings by gathering in smaller groups to meet more regularly as friends. “Free to Be is about a bunch of women trying to figure life out together and breaking down those barriers to feminine relationships. The smaller ‘tribes’ are a great way to be in a close group where you can build on these relationships and have a support network outside of our large meeting.” James adds: “We have a genuine desire to see God move the men in the church, with no ‘fluff’ or distractions. We want to live the authentic lives that God created us for and support one another in living it out each day and each week, not just during that one event.”


Want to come to the next event? You can follow Band of Brothers on Facebook (mPower) as well as Free to Be (Kerith Free to Be). All their events are regularly highlighted on there as well as on the Kerith website ‘What’s On’ page. Make sure you stay connected.

As Liz Chambers sits on my sofa next to her best friend Elizabeth Tibble, the banter and sense of excitement makes the air fizzle. I find it hard to believe that one short year ago Liz was battling loneliness and depression. It’s been a year of life change, finding hope and community.


Liz’s story goes all the way back to the day she and Elizabeth started infant school in Binfield. Right through their teenage years they stuck together – “we had a terrific friendship, practising our dancing at home”. Life included the local church and choir until Liz’s mid-teens, when she broke away from church, convinced as she says, that she could do life her own way. By the time Liz had met and married her husband, Robbie, the two friends drifted apart and would not see each other for over 30 years.

One day over a cup of coffee, Elizabeth invited Liz to come with her to the women’s REAL conference in June at the Kerith Centre. Describing how she felt about coming, Liz screws up her face, “It was scary. Elizabeth said ‘come as you are’ and that morning I got dressed and put on makeup, but I was really scared.” REAL was a turning point in Liz’s life. Issues came to the surface, like her mum’s death a few months earlier, and losing her sister 6 years ago. “I can’t understand why, but I cried a lot at REAL” she says. “I was able to release all my feelings.”

That was nearly six months ago, so I ask Liz what God means to her now.

When Liz begins to talk about the next events in her life, I can see on her face the pain of what happened 35 years ago. For two years she longed for motherhood, but six weeks after her first son was born she fell desperately ill, spending the next seven months in hospital. The separation from her baby and the strain of her husband having to give up his job to look after their son left deep scars on Liz, that would re-surface 20 years later. After her recovery she had her second son and carried on with married life, becoming an auxiliary nurse, an outgoing and loving person.

Liz came home from that weekend, bubbling with lightness and hope. Over the following weeks, as she and Elizabeth chatted over coffee, they had a strong sense that something special was happening. Liz describes a moment in the coffee shop when she felt incredible heat and power and they both knew God was with them. As she explains what happened, her face lights up, but she also talks seriously about how she didn’t want to rely on feelings, “I had to make sure it was right for me”.

But silence doesn’t last long with these two ladies, as I’m fast realising, and Liz takes up the story again, telling me how she’s changed. Before REAL she had felt worthless, but stepping into REAL was like nothing she had known. Now she has a sense of belonging. As they chat excitedly about their times in Kerith’s Prayer Room, Liz grins, “my favourite song at church is ‘I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God’ – I wrote that on the Prayer Room wall – how about that, hey Elizabeth!” Going to the Prayer Room with the social justice team is just a part of community for Liz now. She is passionate about serving others and loves working alongside Elizabeth at the CAP drop-in on Tuesdays, serving people who come for support or a chat as they work out debt issues. Liz has a huge vision for what is ahead, “Sitting here now, I truly believe that God has got us together to do things. He’s making plans. I can feel it, but I can’t explain it.” As the two of them start talking animatedly about their team, their faces light up. They roar with laughter when I compare them to Ant and Dec!

Words: Penny Lander Picture: John Mitchell

Everything changed in the year 2000. A serious bike accident left Liz registered disabled. She walks with a limp today, but the bigger damage was on the inside. For a year she became a total recluse, only pulled through by her husband who refused to give up on her. But she was no longer the person she had been, and describes how depressed and lonely she felt. “I couldn’t be bothered with people. I got up, but sometimes couldn’t get dressed. I’m a very proud person, but even the house was neglected. I had two beautiful children and five beautiful grandchildren, but couldn’t see the wood for the trees.” At times she felt suicidal. I’m curious about where God figured in those dark times. She says, “I had no understanding of God, just dismissed the need. He allowed me to live, but I was not prepared to let him in.” Then she adds with a beaming smile, “If I only knew then what I know now!”

Just before Easter 2015, Liz was out buying Easter eggs in Bracknell when she heard her name called. Out of the blue it was Elizabeth Tibble. They had always exchanged Christmas cards, but their promises of meeting up had never come to anything. This time was different and as they began meeting weekly for coffee, their close friendship was reignited.

Her eyes instantly fill with tears and she very simply says, “I love him. He’s my Father and I’m his child. I know he will guide me to whatever is correct for me.” Everything goes quiet in the room for a moment as the three of us take in what Liz has just said.

Liz and Liz working in the CAP cafe. The final words go to Liz, “God has many a thing for me

to do. God has great things for the church. Love shines out. This is the path I want to go down.”

The Alpha Couse Next course runs from 28th September 2016 for 10 weeks. Kerith Bracknell and Kerith Sandhurst


Liz chatting to one of the CAP clients at the Tuesday drop in. The next step was to join an Alpha course. Even more than REAL, Alpha took Liz way out of her comfort zone and at the end of the first week she had to persevere to come back. As the course continued, Liz made some great friends. One Tuesday evening she made the decision that the next night at Alpha she wanted to pray the prayer to become a Christian. She prayed and the feelings of rejection melted away. In her own words: “I was hopping like a rabbit! I felt warm, comforted and safe, in a capsule of warmth and love.”

Accept that you have rejected God and gone your own way.

If you’re wondering what it means to become a Christian, here’s how to step into a relationship with the God who loves you:

Believe that Jesus died for you. Choose to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Pray the following words: Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for going my own way and not yours. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I want to put you first in my life and choose to follow you. Amen.


From the spectacular opening minutes at Reading’s Hexagon Theatre, with drummers, dancers, smoke machines, loud music and an amazing light show, it was clear that Next Level was going to be no ordinary youth event.

uniting youth ministries

Words: Penny Lander

Words: Derek Jones Picture: Jack ToddMitchell

Next Level at The Hexagon, Reading.

With several hundred young people from churches in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and even further afield filling the entire downstairs of the Hexagon for most of Saturday 12th March 2016, something special was bound to happen. And so it proved, with worship, teaching, preaching, a musical drama – oh yes, and aerobics, games and the launch of a dedicated Instagram account, not to mention nerf wars (ask a teenager) breaking out in the foyer.


Next Level at The Hexagon, Reading.

The idea grew out of LIFE, the Friday night youth ministry at Kerith, led by youth pastor Liam Parker and a loyal team of co-workers whose one desire is to see young people in our area coming to know Jesus. LIFE has seen some exceptional growth over the last few years, and the feeling was that it would be good to help other local youth ministries do the same.

Liam and the LIFE team began holding regular one-day conferences at Kerith, inviting other churches, visiting them in turn and working hard at building relationships. One success story is that of a church in High Wycombe, who sent their Youth Pastor along to one of the original

An event such as this does not happen overnight – in fact, planning started about a year ago. So many people contributed to its undoubted success that there is not enough space to list them all, but at least two people deserve a special mention: Liam himself, whose faith, drive and energy underpinned everything from the word go; and Sarah Harvey, who gave up her birthday to act as event co-ordinator for the day, organising helpers into teams and making sure everything ran smoothly, from ticket sales to wristbands and water bottles. So how come a group of teenagers ended up taking over the Hexagon for the day? “I guess it all started,” said Liam, “when other youth ministries began visiting ours. For a while, it seemed like there was a new youth ministry coming to check us out every week. It was a blessing and we really loved it, so then we thought, ‘Should we do something on a day, get everyone in?’” So the idea of Next Level was born. Liam explained, “We called it Next Level because we wanted to help youth ministries grow locally to the next level. We’re not trying to build some kind of Kerith ministry, we want to serve local youth ministries growing on a Friday night by bringing unity. The Bible says in Psalm 133 (The Message), “When brothers and sisters get along … that’s where God commands the blessing.”

alpha ad Got questions about life? Next Level events. He really got involved and ended up bringing the whole youth group to a Friday night LIFE event. Liam continued the story, “That church has put structures in place so that their young people run their youth ministry, with a young persons’ core team, a young persons’ worship team, and a young persons’ creative team. They’re now getting 80 to 100 young people every Friday where before it was more like 40 to 50. It’s been an incredible transformation.” It came to a point where the LIFE team decided that it might be good to choose a neutral location. Why not The Hexagon in Reading? “So we just booked it in faith,” said Liam, “maybe all of our dreams could come true in one day!’”. So what next for LIFE and the Next Level team? As the event closed in Reading, the bold proclamation ‘See you at Wembley in 2017!’ was followed by whoops from the 400-strong crowd. Watch this space!

We believe that everyone should have the chance to explore the Christian faith, ask questions and share their point of view. Next course runs from 28th September 2016 for 10 weeks. Kerith Bracknell and Kerith Sandhurst



this is for REAL

Words: Suzanne Whitton Picture: John Mitchell

REAL is Kerith’s annual women’s conference and part of Unique, our women’s ministry led by Catrina Benham. REAL is a place for all women to worship, deepen friendships and really immerse themselves in all that God wants for them. Kerith has been hosting REAL every year since 2007, welcoming women from all over the world to hear the truth about Jesus and work out their purpose in Him. Each year there is a new theme and in 2015, that theme was ‘Courage’. We often receive feedback after the conference, from women whose lives have been transformed as a result of what they encountered at REAL. Here are a few of those stories…




h fr Kerit r e h ah + iona Hann Catr

In the three years that I was part of Kerith, I had never been able to attend REAL. It wasn’t until I gave up my career to follow my husband across the Irish Sea, that I had the time. Suddenly I was a blank page with no daily grind to define me. So when one of my inspirational friends invited me back to Kerith and to REAL 2015, I jumped at the chance. The irony of travelling from Northern Ireland to Bracknell, to hear a lady from Northern Ireland speak, was not lost on me! But it wasn’t just Priscilla Reid’s words that hit home, it was everything about REAL - all the inspiration I had been soaking up over three years at Kerith started to bubble up and stir inside me. All the speakers were telling me I could take what was brewing in my heart and act on it. I really knew that I needed to take this message home to Annalong, a gentle farming community nestled at the foot of the mountains where daily life rumbles away to the rhythm of the tractor engine. So, with my special Kerith friends nudging

me along, I set up our first REAL Women - eight ladies hungry for God and a place to be real. We agreed to meet again in November and this time, we had two more ladies join us. And so the little spark that dropped out of last year’s REAL conference begins to burn. It will of course be one step at a time – we are testing the waters in an environment that is steeped in tradition, where conformity is the norm and women struggle to share the tangle of their thoughts. I wonder sometimes why I’m doing it? Is this really what I’m supposed to be doing? Then I remind myself of the words from REAL 2015 and invite Jesus into my boat to weather the storm. I am digging so deep and saying ‘yes’ to what God has put in my heart.





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Although my home church is not Kerith, I live locally and have been to REAL three or four times over the past few years. During the 2015 conference, Heather shared a story about her trip to Africa. She and her husband were out and about every day but they noticed that one man never really left his lodge, preferring instead to seek solace in the comfort and safety that he was familiar with. The question that Heather asked (and I felt God was certainly asking me) was “Have you signed up for the trip and missed the adventure?”. It was as a result of that challenge, that in August 2015 I went to Uganda

with 16 teenagers from our church, on a mission trip for 22 days. Every single day leading up to this trip, I had questioned if it was really the right thing to do. I had never been apart from my 6-year-old son and was really nervous about being away from him. Most days I had woken up worrying about the trip and even had several conversations in my mind about how I would “drop out”. During the REAL conference in June I had an overwhelming feeling that I had to take this leap of faith and have the courage to go. That’s when the adventure really started!


Will you join us at REAL 2016? It is taking place on 8th and 9th July and tickets are available now. Head over to our website to find out more about this life-changing conference –

Have you ever considered making some space in life to do something different and learn something new? Every year the Kerith Academy welcomes a group of people from the UK and overseas who want to grow in their Christian life through study and service. Some join at critical transition times such as finishing school, university, or a career. Others find it fits a new season in life such as their child going to school, an employment break or the start of a new ministry role.

Ben Pocock has led the Academy since its inception in 2010. Since that time he has seen it develop, take shape and define its purpose and culture. This year the Academy is looking to grow and welcome new people. The core offer for those available full-time is two days of study, experiencing a rich mix of biblical teaching and practical sessions, plus the opportunity to serve for two days in an area of interest. This could be one of the many Kerith social justice projects such as debt support, Foodbank, prison work or job club. Alternatively, the practical element could be an opportunity to get involved with young people or contribute to the creative media or administrative teams at Kerith.

Words: Penny Lander Pictures: John Mitchell


knowing that some of it would involve me getting out of my comfort zone, I kept giving in to fear. Since coming to REAL 2015, I have been very bold. I am making radical changes and letting everyone know about it! I have begun a whole new way of living: exercising, eating healthily and giving up all the ways that I used to abuse my body. It was tough to start with, but now it’s become part of my life and I am embracing it. I feel proud of the things I am doing that to others may seem little. But riding a bike, wearing leggings in public (!) and talking about my weight, were all big hurdles for me to get over. I really feel that I’m on the right path, I’m full of courage and soon I will see all the beautiful wildlife and bask in that gorgeous sunshine, instead of sitting inside my ‘lodge’ watching TV.

Words: Jacqui Webber-Gant Pictures: MediaNerd


I have been coming to Kerith for 6 years but 2015 was only the second time I was able to attend REAL. My children were due to spend the weekend with their daddy, meaning that I was free and very keen to go, particularly knowing that the theme for the 2015 conference was ‘Courage’. When Heather Pocock spoke about stepping out and being brave, I knew immediately that God was speaking to me. The story about the people on safari in a beautiful place with amazing wildlife, who never left their hotel room, really struck a chord. For some time, I had been desperately wanting to make changes so that I could lead the life that I knew God desired for me. I just seemed unable to take the steps required. I wanted to start living instead of existing. I wanted to be healthy and physically capable. I wanted to have the energy to pursue new avenues for God. But


Those who cannot give four days can participate in the two days of teaching and serve over the weekend or evenings. There is also a ‘Church Partnership’ option for those working in other churches or organisations. Partners benefit from the stimulation of learning with others in the two study days and can then put this into action

in their own work place. Quite often we only understand the full benefit of a year of personal development, when we stop to reflect on the lasting impact it has had on our lives. Let’s meet some of the Kerith Academy alumni.

FRANCES REEVE joined Academy in 2014. Having seen how the programme had positively influenced her daughter Pip, she knew what was involved. Frances felt compelled to join as the new programme was announced one Sunday. She was in the process of closing her business and didn’t want her retirement to be “a drift into nothing.” She wanted to gain fresh impetus and use the year as a spring-board for a new phase of life. “The year enabled me to explore my sense of self with a fresh group of people who didn’t have any preconceived STUART BRYAN joined the first year of Academy in 2010, before going to university. He wanted to find out whether he would be suited to a full-time Christian vocation or not. He used the year to launch a dynamic youth drama team, develop his musical skills and lead a discipleship group. This was a time to explore and learn from mistakes, underpinned by a solid theological foundation. Stuart found he was challenged to prioritise and manage expectations. He had to dig deep to find grace and forgiveness towards others on

ideas about me. It was a blank canvas to find my true self. I found my voice and came away with the confidence to say no to some things in order to pursue my own calling. I am back to writing a book that has been on hold and then plan to relaunch my blog so I can keep growing and sharing my journey. I would highly recommend this to older people. You will find your life experience is so appreciated by the younger students. I loved their energy and hunger to learn.”

a daily basis. Looking back he understands that you reap what you sow. Stuart has finished university and is currently giving one year as a political intern with Care (Christian Action Research and Education in Scotland, which is a very different discipleship programme. “If you are willing to step out, take risks and put in the hard work you will be supported by a kind, encouraging family of believers. Ultimately it’s up to you. Decide what you want to get out of the year then run with it.”

VILLU VARES is a creative genius and one of the founding directors of MediaNerd, a local production company. He has just finished shooting a promotional video to launch Academy 2016-17 and knows first hand the benefits of the opportunity. In 2012 Villu was turned down for a university place in Estonia. Kerith offered to sponsor some placements on Academy and Villu found out about it through his church in Estonia. As some doors were closing others opened. Although initially he wasn’t offered a place, Villu re-applied and secured a place with two other students. “I had a great year. I had never taken time to study the Bible and I didn’t suit academic studies at school. I grew up in a Christian family but this year enabled me to become a strong believer for myself. I stayed with a

couple of families who are now great friends. I came with my girlfriend and learned a lot about myself. Our threeyear relationship ended and Academy helped us both make that choice. “I learned a grounding of trust in Jesus and this has given me confidence that God leads me and guides my life. God has provided me with the opportunity to develop my natural gifts and use these to benefit others. I have become really confident in speaking English as it is so easy to learn in such a supportive environment when everyone is so committed to seeing you succeed. It really wasn’t like school at all. It was relaxed and very stimulating. It was a life changing year as I was tested and taken out of my comfort zone.”

Do you dream of making a difference in the world but are not sure how? There are lots of volunteering opportunities for you in Social Justice where you could be involved in seeing individual lives, our country and nations transformed. We have everything from mentoring and befriending, to volunteering in our weekly café, to praying, to helping with publicity, to supporting some of our leaders with admin, to coaching the unemployed, becoming one of our outreach workers, campaigning, fundraising and much more. Do you have an idea for a project you could lead or a social enterprise we could run? To find out more visit the Social Justice pages on our website or contact Andy Jackson on

Applications are now open for 2016/17 so why not take a look at the website and Villu’s film over at Could this opportunity be your ‘next step’?








“Elder translates in the Bible as ‘Overseer’. An Elder is responsible for every aspect of the Church: doctrine, direction and vision, pastoral care, discipline. We currently have five Elders. We have a Senior Management Team (SMT) of ten people, led by Ben Oliver. They are the “doers”, they make things happen on a day to day basis. Over the last few years, we’ve tried very hard to separate out the Elders and the SMT so that the Elders can concentrate on strategic things. It’s essential that the Elders are making decisions based on the will of God for Kerith as a community, not because of day-to-

day operational issues. The Trustees make sure the Church is well governed. They provide financial oversight and ensure we fulfil our legal obligations under Charity and Corporate law, look after our safe-guarding policies, and make sure that the buildings are maintained properly. Four of the six Trustees are also Elders. We want to ensure that the spiritual leadership of the Church isn’t overridden by the corporate. The Trustees who aren’t Elders bring specific skills with them so that the ‘corporate’ side of things is managed well.”

Sola Osinoiki is an Elder and Trustee. He works full time for a global consulting company.

“Simon is the leader amongst leaders. He starts off many of the ideas. For example, he brought the original idea to grow Kerith through multiple sites to the Elders. But before the Sandhurst site was established, there was a long process of gestation, having conversations, not just at the Elders meetings, but outside with other people, to mature the idea and to pray it through. The same process is happening for Windsor. A shell of a plan develops, such as the criteria to determine where the site should be. The Elders identify someone we think could lead the site, in this case Leon Johnson, and some

of us will talk to him about it. Then we need to start thinking about finances and timing. Ben Oliver comes to the Elders meetings and he will take the outline plan back to the SMT for them to build a more detailed plan. When they’ve done that, the plan will come back to the Elders to be agreed and to the Trustees to sign-off the finances. Once the plans are settled, it’s up to the SMT to carry them out, but the Elders will keep track to make sure things progress.”

Heather Pocock is a full time member of the Senior Management Team, leading Kerith Sandhurst.

“The Elders paint a broad-brush picture, the SMT fill in the detail. Ben Oliver is the key to communication between the two, bringing the Elders ‘heart’ and spiritual direction to the SMT and communicating what it’s like on the ground, to the Elders. A key part for me is working through the decisions and direction of the Elders as they apply to the Sandhurst site. A good example is how preaching works here at

Kerith. With the move to a third site in Windsor there was some discussion over having live preachers at each site on a Sunday morning. That would have meant different people preaching at each site. I felt strongly that that we needed to keep the closeness and feel of “one Church” that we get from the same person preaching at all the morning meetings. So I put forward the idea of live streaming the sermons.”

Ken Bothamley has served as an elder at Kerith for 27 years. He worked full time for the Church before retiring in 2007. He now spends much of his time helping the development of new churches in Eastern Europe.

“I love playing a role in helping the Church grow and seeing people come to faith. I also love helping to increase our impact on the town, our nation, and the wider nations. We’re here to serve the Church but also to watch over what goes on, things like: Is the preaching biblical? Are the worship songs bringing truth as well as being nice tunes? We work by consensus. There’s a lot of discussion of ideas after they’re first brought to the Elders. We’ll share the idea beyond the Elders and gather people who we think will play a part in them. We also have to look at

who might be put under pressure. With the new sites in Sandhurst and Windsor that’s the kids’ workers, the musicians, and the tech team. We need to make sure the plans are well thought through to support those teams. Paul says in 1Tim3v1, “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” That desire is the starting point for God to open the door for new people to become part of the Church leadership. The Elders are continually thinking and praying about who could become a leader, who matches up to the criteria which Paul sets out in the rest of 1Tim 3.”

Jeff Whitton became a Trustee in 2015. He is the owner and Managing Director of a commercial cleaning company in Wokingham.

“The Trustees are here to help and protect. Simon and the Elders set the vision and seek God’s heart for us as a community. The Trustees focus on the practicalities like ensuring our finances are well managed, that the buildings are properly looked after - for example getting the Kerith Centre roof repaired - and that the people

Kerith employs, are treated properly. We’re a very diverse group in terms of our backgrounds and that leads to very healthy debates. But while we challenge each other, ultimately we’re united in aim and don’t go forward unless there’s a consensus.”

If you have any questions about how Kerith is led and the biblical principles on which the leadership operates, Simon will be happy to answer them. He can be contacted at

Words: Richard Cooper Pictures: John Mitchell


Simon Benham has been Senior Pastor of Kerith since 2007. He is both an Elder and Trustee of the Church and, in addition, works one day a week for a local technology company.


DIRECTORY COURSES & MEETINGS Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Slow down to be with Jesus. This course is based on the books by Pete Scazerro addressing how we can become spiritually mature in our faith. Register via Course Leader: Helen Cottee.

Freedom in Christ The Freedom in Christ course is designed to help you take hold of the amazing truth about who you are as a follower of Christ. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via Email: Course Leader: Julie & Richard Evans

Peach and Coconut Course A 10 week course exploring what it means to follow Jesus and be part of Kerith community church. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Course Leader: Caroline Hanbury

Masterpiece A course tailored for those wanting to find out about their gifts and skills and how to best use those for God’s purposes. Find out more about yourself and what you are uniquely gifted to do. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Course Leader: Ben Oliver

CAP Money Course For advice on gaining control of your finances and handling your money well on a day to day basis join the CAP Money course. Pick up a form from Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 email: Course Leader: Helen Dodwell

The Parenting Course The Parenting course is an evening course for any parent or carer of children up to ten years old. There is also an annual course for parenting teenagers. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via Email:

Bereavement Course A 5 week course for those who have experienced bereavement whether recently or in the past. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via Email: Course Leaders: Pete & Alex Moon, Sue Davis

The Alpha Course Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life through a 10 week course designed as a basic introduction to the Christian faith. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Register via Email: Course Leader: Caroline Hanbury

CHILDREN & FAMILIES Konnections A number of groups that seek to support both children with disabilities and their families. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Jo Dawson

Monthly prayer meetings in Bracknell, Sandhurst and Windsor/Maidenhead. Also a permanent 24-7 Prayer Room at the Kerith Centre site, where you can book one-hour slots through the Kerith website to pray on your own or with others. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Sola Osinoiki


Women’s Events Unique is the ministry for all women and includes REAL, our annual conference. (blog) Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Catrina Benham


Midweek Bible Study An informal opportunity to explore the Bible, led by Ben Davies. 12.50pm Wednesdays in K2. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Ben Davies


KERITH Kids We welcome all children from birth to final year of primary school, including those with disabilities. To find out more come along any Sunday. Phone: 01344 862699 Visit: Email:


Parents and Toddler Group A large, friendly toddler group for pre-school children (including babies) and their carers. We meet on Monday and Tuesday afternoons or Wednesday mornings in the Kerith Centre. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Lorraine Hart

Youth & LIFE at the Kerith

A group for young people. School years 7-13. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Liam Parker

Fostering & Adoption Prayer


Partnering with national charity Home For Good to inspire and equip people in Kerith to foster or adopt. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Leaders: Alan and Penny Lander

A women’s writing group for those who would like to grow in the art of writing. Meets third Tuesday of the month. Group Leader: Jacqui Webber-Gant


Men’s Events


A book club for all women who enjoy reading or want to be motivated to read inspirational books. Meets bi-monthly. Group Leaders: Ope Olugbile & Paula Ridgway

A mixture of evening and daytime events to build friendships and our faith. Phone: 01344 862699 Group Leader: Matt Ranger



Retreat days for women. This is a day for you - time for rest and enjoyment, for personal reflection & prayer. Group Leader: Elizabeth Pudner


Saturday night events designed to empower all women to take hold of the life they were created for. Runs every other month with space to worship, connect and be inspired. Event Leader : Helen Cottee


Shine is a self-esteem course with an inspirational, practical and experiential approach to learning. Register via Course Leader: Sarah Farley

Deaf Hope A group serving the deaf and hard of hearing in the Kerith community. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Alex Calce

Life Groups

Doing Life Together Small midweek groups that meet in people’s homes. We seek to get to know God more and do life together. visit: Email: Group Leaders: Duncan & Sharon Klitgaard

The new Wild at Heart small groups are running on a regular basis. Email:

There’s More To Life TMTL is a group dedicated to the retired. First and third Thursdays of each month from 1.00pm in the Kerith Centre. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Contact: Caroline Hanbury

Hilltop HILLTOP is for adults who have a learning disability and is a place where they are welcomed and valued. Sundays, once a month from 5pm in the K2 Hall at Kerith Bracknell. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Jo Dawson


Job Club Free support and advice for anyone looking to return to employment. Club open on Tuesdays 10am- 2.30pm in the K2 Hall at Kerith Bracknell. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Job Club Manager: Richard White

CAP Release Group Freedom from life controlling habits and dependencies. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Group Leader: Andy Jackson


Debt Advice Free advice from charity Christians Against Poverty for anyone struggling with debt. Appointments freefone: 0800 328 0006 Phone: 01344 828805 Centre Manager: Tim Wheatley Email:


Bracknell Area Restoring dignity, reviving hope. Partnering with a national charity to feed local people in crisis. Phone: 01344 862699 Email: Foodbank Manager: Pat Hallett

Social Justice Outreach Serving the whole of Bracknell community with practical help and support to families and individuals. Pick up a form at Reception. Phone: 01344 862699 Mobile: 07591 579149 Email: Group Leader: Lorraine Wade

Prison Outreach Leading Sunday services in local prisons and mentoring ex-offenders through our Restart Mentoring Programme. Email: Leaders: Lee and Sonia Brett


ONE CHURCH TWO LOCATIONS SUNDAY VENUES BRACKNELL The Kerith Centre RG12 1EH 9am,11am and 6pm SANDHURST Sandhurst School GU47 0SD 10am

Catch the latest Kerith news: kerithcommunitychurch @kerithcommunity

We would love your feedback on LinK, please email:

Kerith Bracknell The Kerith Centre Church Road Bracknell RG12 1EH Kerith Sandhurst Sandhurst School Owlsmoor Road Sandhurst GU47 0SD Tel: +44 (0)1344 862699 email:

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