Articles & News

Surviving and thriving in our faith at this time - Part 1

by Steve Wilcox, 19 September 2020

We're six months into the “new normal”. During that time, we've faced a three-month lockdown. We've enjoyed a minor relaxation of the lockdown rules. And now the number of cases is on the rise and we face the “Rule of Six”, oncoming autumn and winter, and possibly, another lockdown. Is it possible to survive and to thrive in our faith at this time? And if so, how?

Here are a few suggestions. First, some things which hopefully we already see as priorities, but perhaps need to kickstart or some extra motivation with:

> Daily Bible reading – There has never been a more important time to develop and continue in a habit of personal daily Bible reading. As I read God's Word each day, I find that my faith is sustained and fuelled as I encounter and am encouraged by the God who is in control of all things; the God who cares for me and loves me so much that he gave his Son to die for me; the God who lives in me and strengthens me by his Spirit; the God who blesses me in countless ways every day. How is your habit of daily Bible reading? If you're struggling with your current pattern, or if you'd like to start, then do look here for more ideas.

> Daily prayer – As we saw in our sermon series "A praying life" back in May, we can come to our heavenly Father messy, needy, helpless, and dependent. Isn't that wonderful to know! We don't have to come to him sorted; we come as we are. Why wouldn't we want to do that each day – and throughout the day as we do the gardening or the washing up?

> Meeting with God's people on Sunday – It is a huge blessing that we now have the opportunity to meet in a safe way Sunday by Sunday. If at all possible, I do strongly encourage you to join us for one of our Sunday services. If it's not possible, for whatever reason, then do make it a priority to watch the service on YouTube, or ask for a copy of the service sheet and sermon transcript.

There are a few less obvious things that I'll mention next time...

Doing your job well as a Christian

by Steve Wilcox, 15th August 2020

Do you ever wonder what difference it makes being a Christian at work? Or how you can do your job in a way that brings glory to God? Here's a helpful article giving "Five principles for loving our neighbours at work."

The Passing of JI Packer, and his classic book "Knowing God"

by Steve Wilcox, 10th August 2020

The renowned theologian J I Packer died and went to meet his Saviour and Lord a couple of weeks ago. An article about his importance and influence can be found here. A few months ago I recommended his classic book "Knowing God" - perhaps this would be a good time to get a copy and find out why Packer's ministry has been appreciated by so many.


by Steve Wilcox, 15th September 2020

Our service pattern for the next few Sundays will be as follows:

Sunday 20th September - 10am at St Peter's Anlaby; 4pm at St Mark's Anlaby Common.

Sunday 27th September - 10am at St Peter's Anlaby; 4pm at St Mark's Anlaby Common.

Sunday 4th October - Harvest Celebration - 10am at St Mark's Anlaby Common

Sunday 11th October - 10am at St Mark's Anlaby Common

You are very welcome to join us on any Sunday but it would be helpful if you could please telephone the church office (355824) and leave a message, including details of how many people in your household will be attending. This is to ensure that we are able to arrange the seating in an appropriate socially distanced way.

There is also the possibility of holding a “quieter” service during the week for those who would like to attend church physically but don't feel ready for Sunday for whatever reason. If that's you then again do get in touch with the church office.

It may that you do not yet feel ready to meet physically – either because you are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus, or because you are finding out more about the Christian faith and don't yet feel ready to come to church. If that's you, then don't worry – our services will be Livestreamed each Sunday, so you'll be able to keep joining us online via the website or our YouTube channel.Please note that the Livestream will take place at the service taking place at St Mark's on each Sunday.

A Message of Hope


Serving the community at this time

Serving the vulnerable in the community

As one application of my sermon on Sunday 29th March, which I mentioned is that there are various ways in which members of the church family can serve the community at this time. Wonderfully this is already happening in lots of ways - people making phone calls, making deliveries, buying food; leaders of church groups keeping in touch with members of the group etc.

But here are a few other ideas for anyone who has a bit of time and is not vulnerable / at risk:

Deliveries to the vulnerable / at risk in the community -
Parish council scheme (covering Anlaby and Anlaby Common) - Either answering the phone, or making deliveries. For more information telephone 648566 / 648966.
NHS scheme - There is a temporary pause on applicants because they've had so many! Check the website again in due course if you're interested.

Foodbank hel
You can choose which location you'd like to help at - Central Hull (Jubilee Central); West Hull (St Martin's)

God bless

Resources for sermon - 29th March

I mentioned a few resources in my sermon today. Here are links to them if you'd like to follow them up.

God bless

Church history - How Christians have responded to plagues

Sermon on fasting -

To the church family of the Anlaby Churches & beyond

Dear friends and fellow church family members
This is the first of what I anticipate will be a number of emails to you in the coming weeks.

We have entered a period of great uncertainty, challenge, and potential isolation. Since the Prime Minister's announcement on Monday (or indeed the announcements before then), some of us have decided to self-isolate; some of us have been told to work from home; all of us are concerned about all manner of ways in which the current situation might affect us and our loved ones.

As Christians, our faith and our Christian fellowship is a vital support and encouragement for us - particularly in times like these. We know a God who is "our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble (Ps 46:1); who, as we heard on Sunday (and you can listen to the recording on the website if you weren't able to be there), gives us rest in Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-30); a God who is not taken by surprise by all that is happening, but is somehow working good through it (Psalm 93; Romans 8:28). And we have Christian friends and church family who support us, encourage us, and are there for us when we need them.

But over the coming weeks we are going to have to find new ways to express and grow in our faith, and to share fellowship with one another. On Monday, as part of a raft of measures, the Prime Minister announced that religious meetings would have to be put on hold for public health purposes; and yesterday the Church of England confirmed that this would be the case. And of course, we don't know how long this situation will last.

The good news is that our Christian faith, fellowship and service cannot be confined to meeting together in a building once or twice a week - nor should it ever be. Our Christian faith is expressed as we read the bible on our own or as a family each day; as we pray at home; as we listen to a sermon or sing along to Christian worship music online. Our Christian fellowship is expressed as we phone or text or whatsapp or email one another or communicate by video link; as we share prayer requests; and as we pray for one another. And our Christian service is expressed as we provide for our families; as we take care of those in the church family who are having to self-isolate; as we fulfil our responsibilities to our neighbour (including those set out by the government in recent days); and as we look out for the needs of our neighbours, friends, and the community. In fact, we have an opportunity over the coming weeks and possibly months to live as the body of Christ in a new, powerful and God-honouring way.

So let's commit together to continuing to grow in our faith, fellowship and service in the weeks ahead. And we'll be in touch in due course with more ideas and suggestions as to how we can do that.

In the short-term, it would be wonderful to hear from anyone who is in a position to offer to help support the most vulnerable, both in the church family and also in the community - for example through phone calls, or (if appropriate) delivery of food.

Please follow the link to see how we can engage in worship as a church family over the following weeks.
Do please pass the content of this message on to others who don't have access to email.

With love and prayers.
Your pastor
Steve Wilcox

Updates from the CoE

Updates on the advice direct from the Church of England, to whom we are under can be found below. There is guidance on what we can do to support those who are vulnerable and to continue being a blessing to the Anlaby Communities, whilst taking necessary precautions.

Coronavirus Updates

Chris F. 

Anxiety, Waiting and the Coronavirus

Here's a very helpful article about how we as Christians can wait in a godly way for the uncertain future brought about by the Coronavirus epidemic.

Your church needs you!

Here's a helpful article about two prayers to pray before we gather as God's people each Sunday.

Bible reading idea for 2020

Are you looking for a new way of reading the BIble for 2020? For those with a bit more time, there's a great new resource here - a Bible reading plan along with daily devotionals and articles about issues relating to the passage.

Dreaming about the future

by Steve Wilcox - 25 June 2019

Around 30 people came to the Prayer Day, at some point during the day, on Tuesday 4 June at St Peter's church. They had the opportunity to pray for a variety of things, at different “stations” - with many thanks to Claire Finney and others for the work that went into organising the space.

One of the stations gave an opportunity for people to write down what their hopes and dreams were for how we might be a blessing to the Anlaby Communities in the future. Since this connects very well with our focus for the year, “Sending disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities”, I thought it would be good to share the ideas and dreams with you. Let's pray that these things come to fruition! And if you have other ideas and dreams, do let me or Claire know.

  • Schools deeply impacted through Christian governors / helpers going to help with reading etc, a team leading assemblies / RE etc.

  • Contacting and impacting whole families through schools / children’s centre on issues like anxiety / mental health etc.

  • People being referred to ACT / Church from other agencies.

  • Sport – God will and can provide financially and spiritually, he will provide, there is none like him.

  • Sports Ministry: holding our own facilities where we can host sports clubs weekly and holiday clubs and share the love of Jesus with children and young people.

  • Bring realisation to the area that God’s way is the correct path to follow through his words and that He is good and Holy.

  • Door to door ministry: visiting every house in the parishes and giving them the opportunity to respond to Jesus.

  • Breathe in life; Show Grace, compassion and hope; Revive hearts; Work in his power.

  • Spiritual gifts to be identified and exercised for the common good. For those who think or feel they are inferior because they lack human knowledge or skill to be raised up to effective service; for the proud to be humbled.

  • Helping those with anxiety, loss, guilt, shame, debt, addiction etc to find fulfilment in Jesus.

  • Send out disciples to spread the word of our Lord and welcome all people into our family, spread the word in every possible way and see how our lives are changed for the better.

  • (href=)People filled with the Spirit, changed (and being changed) by the work of God and rooted in all he’s done for them, unable to keep quiet. So sharing with integrity. Ambassadors.

  • Not by human strength but by God’s spirit. Help us trust in your word and reflect the light through our actions, so that even the small things we do will glorify your name and stand out to others, so they will be overcome with wonder and want to seek their loving heavenly Father.

  • Restoring relationships and families; marriage support / counselling; parenting support / equipping.

  • Targeting isolation, loneliness and mental health issues

  • Community events that draw the whole village / area together which will build a sense of cohesion and unity.

  • Opening up St Peter’s as a community hub for drop ins, concerts, art displays so that the village can see it as their space / resource and may ultimately feel comfortable to come to more spiritually orientated activities.

Wearing the armour of God

Many of us are aware of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in as Christians. This article will help us to think rightly about the mighty resources that are available to us as we do so. May God help us to stand firm!

An example of generosity

by Steve Wilcox

“And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity...” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).

Amongst other things, Paul is wanting in his second surviving letter to the Corinthians to encourage the Corinthian Christians to give generously to needy Christians in Jerusalem as a response to the generosity that Christ has shown to them. First of all he tells them how the Macedonian Christians – though poor and in need – have responded generously. Then he reminds them of the generosity of Christ himself: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

I am in a position to be able to inform the church family about another act of generosity I have recently witnessed. Most of us will know that the frontage of the St Mark's hall has been wonderfully restored in the last couple of months. Most of the funding has been raised through grant-funding and individual donations. However, there is still a shortfall. The PCC of St Peter's church has some reserves available, and it had been proposed that a loan be made from St Peter's to St Mark's to cover the shortfall (expected to be in the region of £15,000). However, at a recent meeting of the St Peter's PCC they decided unanimously that the money would be gifted to St Mark's rather than loaned. I personally was blown away by this generosity, and I trust that others will be as well.

Unfortunately, the present situation at St Peter's is that monthly expenditure is exceeding monthly income – which is never a good situation to be in. I am therefore praying that just as the St Peter's PCC have shown “rich generosity” in response to what Christ has done, individual members of St Peter's (and St Mark's) will also show rich generosity to meet the needs of the Anlaby Churches.

Many of us do already give extremely sacrificially – and I thank God for that. But I'm also aware that there are new people amongst us who might be considering whether to start giving financially; and there may also be others who are aware that they could give more. The Old Testament talks about the tithe – each member of God's family contributing 10% of gross personal income towards God's work. The New Testament doesn't give a precise amount, but it does talk about giving generously in response to God's grace. In my experience, most of us can give at least 10% of our gross personal income; some are able to give more than that. As we do that, we find that God's generosity overflows all the more to us in response.

So in the light of the recent generosity from St Peter's to St Mark's, can I urge each of us to prayerfully consider whether we might also give more? If you'd like to start or change your planned giving (standing order or envelope) then do ask for a form which is available at the back of the church building.

I'll leave the final words to the apostle Paul:

“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

What to tell yourself every day

Here are some thoughts from Jim Packer's classic "Knowing God" on the most important thing Christians should tell ourselves every day.

What are you looking forward to about Easter?

What are you looking forward to about Easter?

That’s the question that I’ve been asking children as I’ve been visiting schools in the run up to the Easter holidays. The answers they give are probably the ones you’d expect. Mainly it’s Easter bunnies – did you know the Easter Bunny visits children? No, nor did I! – and Easter eggs. Some are looking forward to the school Easter holidays, and one or two are looking forward to celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. But Easter eggs is the overwhelmingly exciting thing about Easter.

I wonder what it is that we – mainly grown-ups – are looking forward to about Easter? I doubt many of us are holding our breath for the visit of the Easter bunny. Unless we’re a teacher then the Easter school holidays probably don’t promise a quieter couple of weeks. And, if we’re parents, I’m sure we love spending a bit more time with the kids, but restful it isn’t. Of course, many of us will be secretly looking forward to an Easter egg just as much as the children are.

But it might be possible that we’re not really looking forward to Easter that much at all. Maybe it passes us by a bit each year. Yes, many of us will be in church on Easter morning, and a few will make it on Good Friday as well. However, apart from that, perhaps Easter passes us by a bit.

The Apostle Paul doesn’t want Easter to pass us by. When he wrote to the Corinthians, he reminded them, and us, of its centrality to the Christian faith:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

He reminds us that the entire Christian faith hangs on the facts surrounding the first Easter.

There are two facts that Paul tells us are crucial. The first is that Christ died for our sins. He took on himself the punishment that we deserve for turning away from God. We all go our own way to a greater or lesser extent. We don’t – can’t – live the way God requires of us and we don’t deserve to be his people. The punishment for this is death. And that’s why Jesus died on the cross. He who had no sin became sin for us that we can have our sin forgiven. We receive forgiveness by accepting we deserve God’s punishment, accepting Jesus’ death on our behalf, and trusting in him. That’s the first fact.

The second is this: he was raised on the third day. The tomb was empty. He appeared in physical, bodily form to real-life eyewitnesses – well over 500 of them. People’s lives changed because of this fact, and some of those original eyewitnesses were willing even to be put to death rather than deny the facts they had witnessed. He had beaten death. And his victory over death allows Paul to say later in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55). Anyone who has received forgiveness of their sin is united with Christ in his resurrection and so the sting of death has been drawn. We’re not yet raised physically with Jesus, but one day we will be.

At schools I ask children to poke themselves to feel that their bodies are physical bodies. Then I tell them that if they’d seen Jesus after his resurrection, they’d have been able to poke him just like they’d poked themselves. Easter points us forward to a real, physical resurrection and so, if we’re trusting in Jesus, we no longer need to fear death because we’re heading to be with the physical Jesus in the physical new creation after we’ve died.

Next in school I open a chocolate Easter egg. They get very excited. And as I’m opening it, I use it as a prop to represent the stone in front of Jesus’ grave. It was big and heavy and almost certainly rested in a pit in the mouth of the cave-tomb Jesus’ body was laid in so that nobody but nobody could move it. Then I ask the children what’s inside the egg. And it’s empty, just like Jesus’ tomb was empty on that first Easter morning. He really, really had beaten death. And that’s lifechanging for us today because when we put our trust in him, he beats our death too. Death is no longer the end for those who trust in Jesus.

Celebrating that is something very much worth looking forward to this Easter. So, if you open an Easter egg this year, remember that, just like the egg, it’s a true fact that Jesus’ tomb was empty. And that changes everything!

John Telford

Church leadership day 2019

by Steve Wilcox

On Saturday 9 February 20 members of the St Mark's and St Peter's church family gathered for the Church leadership day, held at St Mark's church. The heating wasn't working, but this didn't put us off as we worked together as a team to ensure that as many electric heaters as possible were going and we were kept warm by a regular supply of hot drinks! Overall it was a very helpful day, enjoyed by many. There was lots of opportunity to get to know each other better over drinks and lunch.

Our focus for the day was our theme for 2019 - “Send disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities.” We were very blessed to welcome three guests: Revd Jon Jolly and his wife Rachel joined us from Living Hope church, in the Great Thornton Street estate; and Revd Revd Jonathan Hill joined us from St Martin's church, West Hull.

After a time of sung worship, prayer and giving thanks for ways in which disciples are already being used by God to bless the community, Jon Jolly shared how God is working at Living Hope church, and some thoughts on what our priorities should be. The Great Thornton Street estate is an area of high social deprivation, high crime and multi-ethnicity. The speaker took us to Mark 6:30-44 to consider how Jesus viewed the crowd who had gathered to hear him. Jesus had compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. And Christians are to have the same view of those around us, who don't know Jesus personally: They are sheep without a shepherd. He said that his prayer for his church family (which by implication should be our prayer for ourselves) is that we grow in compassion for those around us – that God's love is shed abroad in our hearts. He considered what this might mean for our diaries and our resources. In terms of our diaries, we need to be prepared to die to self for the sake of others - “compassion has no clock or diary.” And we shouldn't look at what we don't have – rather we should look at what God can do (starting with looking at the feeding of the 5,000!) What an encouragement to us all! May we indeed have the compassion of Jesus, and may he work in our community through us in this way!

The second half of the morning was spent thinking about the following questions (which you might also like to consider): What are the perceived needs in the Anlaby Communities? What gifts do we have as a church / individuals? What do we need as individuals / a church to be able to be a blessing to the Anlaby Communities? What specific ideas do we have of things we could be doing – as a church / as individuals?

In the afternoon Jonathan Hill shared a little of what he hopes St Martin's will be doing to connect with the community. He then led a session entitled “An honest conversation about Depression”, speaking from his own former experience as a mental health nurse. Many of us will have experienced depression, or will know others who have. Indeed, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people have a form of depression at any time. He said far more than could possibly be included in an article like this, and I for one was left thinking we would benefit as a church from more teaching on this and related matters. In the meantime, if you would benefit from receiving a handout from the session then do have a word with me.

Lent Devotions

Lent can be a great time for re-establishing a habit of daily bible reading, and Bible reading notes can be really helpful for that. If you'd like to do get back into Bible reading this Lent (or if you'd like a change, or to supplement the other Bible reading you do) why not try “The Beauty of the Cross” by Tim Chester – available from the Good Book Company website. Tim Chester is a well-known writer and speaker, and he takes us through Isaiah 52-53, a glorious explanation of the purpose of the cross written hundreds of years before Jesus died. You can also watch a short video at the above webpage to whet your appetite!

Treasuring God's word in 2019

by Steve Wilcox

On 6th January I mentioned "Treasuring God's word in 2019" as an application of the sermon on Matthew 13:47-52.

Here are a few ways we can do that:

Daily Bible reading: Have a look at for more information, and to find what's right for you. Do speak to me or John if you'd like more help.

Memorising and meditating on Scripture: A helpful recent article on this can be found at



by Gill King

As many of you will know, St Mark’s hall celebrated its 50 anniversary last year!  The hall has served the church and wider community very well over this time, providing a home for numerous groups and activities. 

As a church family we rely on the hall for basic church operation at St Mark’s, providing our kitchen and space for activities such as Children’s Church, Noah’s Ark, Light Lunches, fayres/fun days, holiday clubs etc.  Following closure of the Pre School last summer the hall now offers the Anlaby Churches with capacity for new mission activities, in-line with our vision to increasingly be a blessing to the Anlaby communities. 

After 50 years the hall is, however, in great need of refurbishment and improvement.  The PCC has agreed ambitious improvement plans, which are still on display at St Mark’s.  The plans will take a number of years to come to fruition, and will require a lot of funding!

We are pleased to confirm that the first phase, to renew the dilapidated frontage, will take place in late winter/early spring 2019.  The new frontage will be fully insulated and include new double glazed windows and doors.  This phase is costing c.£40,000.  We have been blessed with several grants and kind donations, but still have a shortfall of c. £12,000.  The grants already secured are time limited, and so to avoid losing that money an interest free loan has been offered to enable the work to go ahead.  Of course this loan will need to be repaid – which will impact our ability to continue with other improvements.

We are therefore continuing to appeal for support through prayer and giving.  If you feel led to help financially do make it clear that your gift is for church hall improvements and, if you are a UK tax payer, whether you can Gift Aid your donation, increasing its value by 25% at no extra cost to you!  Donations can be made by: cash; cheque payable to ‘St Mark’s Anlaby Common Parochial Church Council’; or direct transfer (sort 40-25-20, account 70724637). 

You could also help by running or undertaking a fund-raising event or activity - please speak to Steve Wilcox, Gill King or Chris Finney in the first instance. 

Thank you for your support!

A way ahead for 2019

by Steve Wilcox

A very happy new year to you! What are you hoping and praying that 2019 might hold? For you personally? For us as a church family?

In October, following discussion with the warden team and the Church Councils, I presented a vision for the church family for 2019. [The talk is still available on our website if you'd like to listen to it again.] You'll be aware that as a church family we seek to be a “Christ-centred community, existing to spread a passion for Jesus Christ in the Anlaby Communities and beyond.” To that end, we focus on 3 different approaches, one of which is “Sending disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities.” This will be our focus as a church family in 2019.

Supremely, we bless people / share God's love with them by sharing the gospel with them, because their greatest need is to come to faith in Jesus. But does it stop there? And is it possible to do that in a vacuum / without doing anything else? Think of Jesus. He preached; but he also healed and fed and loved and served. And towards the end of his ministry he called his followers to live likewise. When asked “what is the greatest commandment?” he replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39). It's as if he's saying “Look at me – look at how I've lived; look at how I've loved. Now you – go and do likewise.”

How will we seek to do this in 2019?

First and foremost, the church's job is to mobilise each member of the church family to go into the world – our workplaces, our family, our community – to build relationships of love and to share the gospel in that context as we have opportunity.

Where there are needs in the community that are being met by others in the community (or indeed by other gospel-centred churches in the West Hull area) we certainly shouldn't replicate that as a church, but rather should join in with what others are doing and seek to share the gospel at the same time.

But where there are needs in the community that are not being met, and as we have capacity, it seems only appropriate to seek to meet those needs, whilst also sharing the gospel.

At the Anlaby Churches, we have the added benefit of access to the Anlaby Communities Trust. This was set up to be the “social action arm” of the Anlaby Churches. In practice, some projects will fit better under the umbrella of the Anlaby Churches, whereas others will fit better under the umbrella of ACT. But ultimately all are seeking to do the same thing – love the whole person, including sharing Christ with them.

Therefore during 2019 we will be asking “what are the particular ways in which we as a church are making connections with the community, in order that we might build relationships of love, including sharing the gospel?” There are several ways in which we are already doing that; but are there others we can develop? How can we build on what we're already doing? And are there things we're currently doing that aren't very effective in making connections, and therefore should be stopped so we can focus on other things? My hope and prayer is that all members of the church family will take the opportunity to contribute to this discussion during the year ahead.

At the end of my vision sermon I encouraged each person to complete a “response form.” This was for your own personal use – no-one from the church needs to see it! But it gives an opportunity to reflect on how you are involved in connecting with the community, and how you might pray for God to work through you in the year ahead. The form is reproduced below; I encourage you to make use of it if you haven't done so already.

May God lead and bless us as individuals and as a church family in 2019!


My personal response

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Thank you Heavenly Father that I am your deeply loved child. Thank you that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation...” (1 Peter 2:9).

Please grant me:

> A growing love of people

> A growing desire for them to know Jesus

> A willingness to love people and share the gospel as I have opportunity

Ways in which I am currently connecting with those who don't yet know Jesus:

Ways in which I will explore connecting with those who don't yet know Jesus:

Ideas: Workplace; family; street / neighbourhood; Anlaby Community Library; Noah's Ark; Parish Council; ACT Community Garden; sports team; Park Run; showing hospitality; Snooker club; craft club; U3A; Light Lunches...


by Steve Wilcox.

Around 45 people (including 35 in church leadership) gathered at Jubilee Central church in Hull on Tuesday 9 October, for the launch of Hull 2030.

Hull 2030 is a new movement to pray for, facilitate and encourage the planting of 20 new gospel-centred churches in Hull by the year 2030. It has come about because of the massive need for new gospel-centred churches to reach those currently unreached, and therefore the need to work together wherever possible.

At the launch we heard about the great need in Hull. I was asked to speak about the need for the gospel in Hull, and took us to Matthew 9:35-38 and encouraged us to have the compassion of the Lord Jesus as we see the hundreds of thousands of harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd around us. We thought about the extent of the need, being reminded that in 13 of the Anglican parishes within Hull, church attendance is between 1 and 8 people for every 1,000 head of population. Thankfully there is life beyond the Church of England but the task is still enormous. Positively, the Lord Jesus reminds us that he is the Lord of the harvest, and encourages us to ask him to send workers into the harvest field. We need to pray for workers; and then following the example of the apostles (Matthew 10:1-4) we need to be willing to be sent / to send others; and we need to work together. To give an indication of the size of the task, we were reminded that for 10% of the population of Hull to be in a gospel-centred church, we would need 128 churches of 200 people (we currently have 5!), or 256 churches of 100 people. If you include the areas surrounding the city boundary those figures are increased significantly.

Steve Whittington of Jubilee Central then spoke about the importance of church planting in the mission of God, before introducing John Walley, pastor of Christ Church Longbridge in Birmingham. John spoke powerfully about the impact of 2020 Birmingham on the city, and on his own church and ministry. He explained that 2020 has enabled different gospel-centred churches to work towards a common vision. There is an awareness that in a city of millions, there is plenty of room for lots of different gospel-preaching churches. 2020 has helped to facilitate the planting of 16 churches already, and is well on target for 20 to be planted by 2020. He explained that 2020 has worked in Birmingham for a number of reasons:

> It's operated as a banner. If it hadn't been for the 2020 banner, trained gospel workers might have left the city and not returned; 2020 has brought them back.

> It's helped to create a culture that planting is normal. Churches have said “we thought we couldn't afford to plant, but we've discovered that we can.” They've found that God has provided. He also explained that the vision of 2020 wasn't just that 20 churches would be planted, but that 20 churches with planting in their DNA would be planted, so that they themselves will go on to plant other churches.

> Leaders of gospel-centred churches have been willing to work together and to put the advance of the kingdom and the salvation of souls before everything else.

> It's enabled a co-ordinated approach to planting – so that church leaders talk together about which areas most need new churches, and which are relatively “over-churched” already.

The prospect of 20 gospel-centred churches being planted in Hull in the next 11 years is both daunting and exciting, so do please keep praying for God's work in this city. He has been working in recent years; we long for him to continue to work. Please pray for co-operation among gospel-centred churches; for workers to be raised up; for churches to be planted and ultimately for people to be saved.

our story: Life Group Central Week 3

Our last two Life Group Central meetings have looked at God’s Story and Your Story.

We saw that God’s Story is a true story of our kind and generous God who made the world. He created humankind to rule over it under his good direction. But humans stepped out from under God’s rule, deciding they could run things better without him. This was called sin. Without God things went from bad to worse. Death entered the world as a direct result of sin, and people lived without peace with God or with one another. Things went from bad to worse until, that is, God sent Jesus, his Son, into the world to show us God and to die on the cross in the place of all those who trust in him. Everyone who trusts in Jesus receives forgiveness for their sin because he has paid the penalty of death. Instead of death we receive eternal life by grace (as a gift) through faith.

Your Story, if you’re a Christian, is how you have come to put your trust in Jesus and what difference he makes in your life today. We were so encouraged to hear one another’s stories of how God has brought us from death to life, and what living with Jesus is like.

In week three, we thought about Our Story – the difference Jesus makes among us as Church Family. We read Ephesians 4:1-6 and John 13:34-35. From Ephesians we found out that God, through His Story of the Gospel has united all true Christian believers into one body. We’re closer than work colleagues, friends or even family because we’re more than a collection of people, we’re one. One, even though we’re many. Look around the Anlaby Churches and you’ll find real Christian believers in every decade of life from under ten to over 90. You’ll find real Christian believers from different backgrounds, different parts of the UK and different countries. And yet God has made us one in Christ. That’s an unbreakable unity, even if sometimes we need to work on maintaining it (Ephesians 4:3).

As God’s people, we’re to live God’s way. He’s told us what that’s to be like. Read through Ephesians 4:1-6 slowly and look at the characteristics Christians are to display as we live together as one. It’s totally different from the world around us. It can be summarised as loving one another.

Jesus explains in John 13:34-35 that we’re to live his way (1) because he loved us and (2) because then all people will know that we are his disciples. If we live his way we give away the fact that we’re his disciples, his followers.

What an amazing thing it is to be loved by God so much that Jesus died for us! And what an amazing thing it is to be part of a loving church family!


Our homework this week is simply to spend some time with members of our Church Family, enjoying one another’s company and getting to know one another even better. As we know one another so we’re able to know how best to love one another. Enjoy!

Taking it Further

If you’d like to take this any further, here’s something to read, something to watch and something to listen to.

Read: How to Walk into Church by Tony Payne

Watch: Vaughan Roberts, Rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford, on Christian friendship from the Keswick Convention

Listen: Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society, on Ephesians 4:1-6.



What difference does Jesus make? This was the question we thought about in the second week of Life Group Central. You see, Jesus makes all the difference. In his brief introductory talk, Gordon Prescott introduced us to Ephesians chapter 2. It builds on last week’s theme of God’s Story, because the difference Jesus makes to us is inextricably linked to God’s story – the good news of the Gospel. You can listen to some of the highlights of the evening here.

Why not read through Ephesians 2 for yourself? You’ll find it here. Make sure you’ve got a pen and paper handy. Divide your paper into two columns, a before and after. Under before jot down what things were like spiritually for people before they trust in Jesus. Then under after jot down how things were spiritually for Christians after they began following Jesus. The difference between the two is the difference Jesus makes. I think you’ll be blown away! 

(Here's a quick side note for you if you're reading this and you wouldn't say that you've turned to follow Jesus for yourself by saying sorry for living your life without him and asking him to rule your life. Which column would you say is true of you? Why would you answer that way?)

Next, have a closer look at verses 4 and 7 and think about this question: Why did God do all this (the difference Jesus makes) for us in Christ? And have a look at verses 8 and 9 and think about how it is that we have been changed if we’re trusting in Jesus?

Jesus really does make a massive difference, doesn’t he! And everyone who has trusted in Jesus for themselves has a personal story to tell. We were so encouraged around our tables as we shared our own stories of the ways Jesus has made a difference in our lives. If you’re someone who follows Jesus for yourself why not think about your own story? What difference has Jesus made to your everyday life? And if you’re not sure if you’ve put your trust in Jesus yet, why not find someone who has and ask them what difference Jesus makes in their life?

Taking it further


John Chapman’s book, A Fresh Start is a great little book written in bite-sized chapters which outlines the difference Jesus makes. It’s a great read for anyone, whether or not you’ve put your trust in Jesus yet.


Gabby’s Story is a short piece to camera Gabby explains the difference Jesus makes in her life.


Debbie Flood has a really interesting story. She’s a retired Olympic rower and she explains in this piece how much of a difference Jesus has made to her. Listen to her being interviewed about her life.

God's Story: Life Group Central Week 1

Life Group Central began tonight. We were thinking about God's Story in our new series called Stories We Tell.

Listen to the introductory talk here

We found that God's story, the Gospel, is outlined particularly in Romans 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 and Galatians 1:6-12. You may want to work through those passages yourself, asking the following questions of each:

1. How did Paul hear the gospel?

2. Did anyone else hear about it too? If so, how?

3. What is the content of the gospel?

4. How should we respond to the gospel?

5. Are there any promises or warnings that come with the gospel? (Look for both obvious ones and implicit ones).

Once you've answered these questions, try to boil down the gospel into two or three sentences. It may take you a while, but that's fine - that's what practice is for!


Taking it further

Each week we'll suggest three types of resource to help you take things further or deeper if you'd like. There'll be something to read, something to watch and something to listen to. Click on the titles below to find the resources online. There are a limited number of both books available free of charge at the back of both church buildings:


Two Ways to Live Booklet

Essentials book

Watch (4 mins 30 secs)

Essentials Animation

Listen (40 mins)

Talk on Romans 1:16-17 called God's Gospel

Reflections on my sabbatical

by Steve Wilcox

It's great to be back with the church family after my period of Sabbatical (or “Extended Study Leave” as it's officially named!) I visited a few other churches around the city during the time, and got to the point at the end when I thought “I don't want to go anywhere else – just St Peter's and St Mark's!” I did force myself to go somewhere on that particular Sunday, but it was a great confirmation that I was ready to return!

So what did I get up to, and how did God minister to me? I had two “official” study projects – working through the book of Isaiah with a view to preaching through it in future; and thinking about the relationship between Christianity and education.

Isaiah - It was thrilling to spend the first part of each day immersed in this wonderful book. During the time I was reminded that our God is to be revered and feared; he is the God who is “in charge”; the God who is holy; the God who has saved his sinful people through the suffering servant (Jesus) and calls people from all nations to repent and trust him, and so join the remnant who will be part of the glorious new Jerusalem and new heavens and earth he will create. What a glorious God we worship!

Education - I spent a large amount of my time reading a variety of books regarding the Christian foundations of education; the current state of education in the UK; and what is being done and can be done about this. I also spoke to a variety of practitioners and academics. Towards the end of the period of ESL I collected my thoughts together in an article entitled “Renewing education for the sake of evangelism in the UK.” This article is aimed at churches and ministers, and I hope it will be published soon.

But I was also encouraged to rest – which I willingly did! It was a great joy and privilege to spend more time with my family, throughout the period but also particularly during our holidays. I also took part in a “Hill and Moorland Leader” course – something I've always wanted to do!

How did God minister to me during the time? There are a number of ways which I'd be happy to talk about in more detail. I would perhaps summarise it as “better appreciating the need to live in real moment-by-moment relationship with the living, gracious and holy God.” We are weak, dependent creatures. We are made in the image of a loving and holy God. God created us for loving relationship with him, to depend on him in all things, and to live holy lives as his image-bearers. and this affects every part of our lives – our work, our family life, our leisure time.

For me, I have been learning to live in conscious dependence on God moment-by-moment – trusting him to lead me in how to use the time he has given me. I have been discovering what it means to be his holy people, imaging the God who is supremely holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). I have been learning what it looks like to lead my family, as Scripture commands me to do (particularly as a leader – see 1 Timothy 3:4-5). And I have been experiencing that my whole being – including my emotions specifically – needs to be redeemed and directed towards our loving and healing God. Of course, like all of us I'm still a work in progress, but I give thanks to God for the steps he has enabled me to take during this period. I've also rediscovered my love of hill-walking, so watch out Yorkshire Dales, Moors and all the rest of it!

I'd like to thank all those who played a part in helping church life to continue so bountifully during my absence – and in particular John Telford. And thank you to all of you who were praying for me – it is greatly appreciated!

Jesus the greatest treasure

by Steve Wilcox

Treasure. It's a wonderful word isn't it. It conjures up images of all that we desire and long for. And Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44). Picture the scene. You're walking through a field and you stumble over something hard. And after holding in a curse and a comment about sueing someone you wonder – what is it? So you look down and see the corner of what looks like an old box. Now you're really intrigued. You start to dig – and out comes this large chest. You open it with excitement and – yes you've guessed it, it's filled with gold coins and diamonds – worth more than you could ever imagine. What would you do? Well in the story the man is filled with joy and excitement - “I can't believe this has happened! With this I can do everything I've ever dreamed...” There's no question he must have the treasure – nothing is as valuable to him as this treasure. So he sells everything he has and buys the field, so the treasure is his.

And the obvious question is - “what is the treasure?” Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure...” But I think we can get even more specific than that. The treasure is Jesus. He's the king of the kingdom after all. He's the one who above all things is supremely valuable – and who gives us everything in the kingdom.

How is Jesus the greatest treasure? Here's what we've discovered about Jesus so far in Matthew's gospel (and I suggest you sit back and enjoy these glorious realities – gaze on Jesus with your mind's eye, as you might gaze on a treasure chest or a beautiful view from the top of a mountain). Jesus is:

    • The one who brings blessing / happiness (5:3-10);

    • The one who fulfils and obeys the law perfectly - something we cannot do (5:17);

    • The one who brings great reward in heaven (5:12);

    • The one who brings treasure in heaven (6:20-21);

    • The one who provides for his people (6:25-34);

    • The one whose words give a firm foundation to life and a gate to heaven (ch 7);

    • The one who brings life and healing, who controls nature and raises the dead (ch 8-9);

    • The one with authority to call people (9:9);

    • The one who forgives sins (9:2);

    • The one who brings in a new age (9:14-17);

    • The one who keeps his suffering people going, and cares for them (10:26-30);

    • The one who was fun to be with (11:19);

    • The one who spent time with sinners (11:19);

    • The one who brings rest for the weary and burdened (11:28-30);

    • The one who will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering wick (12:20);

    • The judge of all (ch 10-12);

    • The one whose words bring life and bring us to the Father, and who will cause us to shine like the sun (ch 13);

    • And at Easter we will see – he died on a cross in our place, as the perfect law keeper taking the punishment we deserve for our lawbreaking, so that God can view us as law keepers – as righteous.

    • And three days later he rose again, he is Lord of all, he gives life, and he will return to judge.

Isn't Jesus wonderful? Jesus is the greatest Treasure. He is the treasure in the field who is worth giving up absolutely everything else for. And the more we treasure him, the more we will know that to be true.

We must fight hard for peace

Here's a helpful article about how to remain at peace with one another - at home, at church, and in other contexts where sinful-yet-redeemed human beings rub shoulders with each other. Lord help us to fight hard for peace!

Steve Wilcox

Invitation for the weary

by Steve Wilcox - 20 February 2018

We're all weary and burdened in one way or another aren't we. Some feel tired and over-busy and that we don't get enough rest; some are burdened with worries about a relationship, or our children, or uncertainty; some are burdened with regret – or guilt – or shame; some are weary with a physical or mental illness – or bereavement or loss – or old age. And we're not alone. There are thousands of people in the Anlaby Communities – and in the great city of Hull – who are weary and burdened like us.

At the Anlaby Churches we've recently been thinking about this wonderful invitation offered by the Lord Jesus - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). In the early verses of chapter 12 Jesus goes on to show us something of what it looks like to rest in Jesus. Here are three quick lessons we learned, which I hope will be a blessing to you as they have been to me.

Come to Jesus the ultimate rest

In chapter 12 verses 1-8, Jesus is challenged by the Pharisees about his attitude to the Sabbath. During the course of the discussion, he shows that he is greater than the Sabbath. In fact, he is showing that he – Jesus - is the ultimate rest given by God, to whom the one-day-in-seven Sabbath rest merely points. He encourages us to come to him, to find our rest in him, and to depend on him for everything. When we do that, we find that his yoke is easy and his burden is light – he bears our burdens for us, he deals with our concerns in ways that we might not have anticipated but which are good and life-giving. But of course, in order to experience this we need to be willing to give up control of our lives to Jesus. Are we willing to do that, and find him to be the ultimate rest?

Come to Jesus who brings life

In chapter 12 verses 9-14 Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and so shows that he, the Lord of the Sabbath, has come to give life. And we need to find our life in him everyday. How do we do that? By coming to him in his word: reading his word the Bible, and seeking to encounter him and gaze on him and be satisfied. And we can continue to be satisfied by him through the day as we meditate on what we have seen of him. I have been greatly encouraged over the last few weeks by continually thinking about Matthew 11:20-30 quoted above. Why not try this yourself, and see what a positive effect it has on you?

Come to Jesus who deals gently with us

In observing Jesus's response to the Pharisees, Matthew points us to the promised servant of Isaiah 42. He's saying “Jesus is the servant promised by Isaiah 42.” And the servant is a wonderful figure – who ultimately dies for his people (Isaiah 53). Amongst other things, we're told of this servant that “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Matthew 12:20). I wonder if you identify with the image of a reed by a wind-swept river, blowing to and fro, bruised, constantly in danger of being broken? Or with the image of a candle that once had a bright flame – but whose flame is now flickering, smouldering, in danger of going out? The wonderful truth is that when Jesus sees a bruised reed he doesn't break it; when he sees a smouldering wick he doesn't blow it out. I heard recently this quote – that the need of every human being is “To be known completely, yet loved unconditionally.” Jesus knows everything about us – our weakness, our failing, our regret, our burdens – and yet for those who are united to him through faith he loves us unconditionally. We can come to him – we can open up the darkest parts of our souls to him – knowing that he will not send us away.

Three glorious reasons to come to Jesus – trusting that as we cast our burdens on him, he will give us rest. And as we find Jesus to be our rest, we'll be only too happy to point others to the one who gives rest to the weary – and we pray that over the years many thousands in our community and city who are seeking rest will find it in Jesus, just as we have.

If you'd like to hear more about the wonderful rest that Jesus offers, do listen on the website to the recent sermons on Matthew 11:20-30, and Matthew 12:1-21.

Pray for workers

by Steve Wilcox

At St Peter's and St Mark's we began 2018 considering some words from Matthew's gospel which I hope will help each of us know what to pray for in the year ahead:

'When he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”' (Matthew 9:36-38)

With these words, Matthew gives us a precious insight into the heart of Jesus. He has compassion for the people he sees. Think of the last time you felt compassion towards someone – perhaps someone you met who was in a difficult situation, or someone you saw on the news. Jesus has compassion for the whole crowd, because they are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” This is the need that Jesus sees – and it's the need that he wants us to see as well. What do you see when you walk about in Anlaby, or in Hull? Look beyond the self-satisfied smile that communicates “I'm alright thank you.” This person is struggling to make ends meet financially. That person is falling apart emotionally. Each person without Jesus is facing an eternity of separation from God. Do you see those around you as harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd? Do you have compassion for them? Ask God to give you compassion.

But that's not all Jesus sees. He also sees a harvest. “The harvest is plentiful.” Jesus knows that God is calling numbers of those people, and that numbers of them will end up being part of God's family. We don't know who he's calling; but he is calling people. And this should give us great confidence. But there's a problem. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” The number of workers isn't enough to bring the full amount of the harvest – the full amount of people that God is calling to himself.

What is the solution to the problem? It is to pray. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus is the Lord of the harvest. He is more than able to send workers to bring in the harvest. And he tells us to ask him to do so. This is how God works – when he plans to act, he prompts us to pray first. As one person has written, “Before God enables his people to bring in a harvest, he pours out a spirit of prayer on them” (John Piper). This has always been the case.

And the encouraging thing for us as we start 2018 is that this is something all of us can do. Our motto this year is “In Christ we can do that.” All of us can pray that the Lord of the harvest would send workers. Perhaps you're housebound, unable to get out to church or to meet with others. Well – can I plead with you to do the most important thing, which is to pray for workers in the harvest field. Perhaps you're the only Christian in your workplace or your school and you'd love to have a colleague you can pray with. Then pray for workers in the harvest field. This prayer – for workers in the harvest field – has been called “the second Lord's prayer.” There are very few prayers that Jesus instructs us to pray – but this is one of them. So let's make it a priority this year to pray it regularly – perhaps daily.

Let's make 2018 a year of asking the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the harvest field. And he will!

Vision 2018

by Steve Wilcox

On Sunday 8 October I set out the Vision of the Anlaby Churches for 2018. You can listen to the talk here.  For those who don't know, we are “a Christ-centred community existing to spread a passion for Jesus Christ across the Anlaby Communities and beyond.” We seek to do this by Making disciples who make disciples; Resourcing Mission in West Hull; and Sending disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities.

The Anlaby communities, and the city of Hull, are desperately needy. They are needy in many ways - but most of all they are spiritually needy. There are 13 parishes in Hull where between 1 and 8 in every thousand head of population attends their local Anglican church. Non-Anglican church attendance doesn't improve the figures very much. The situation in the Anlaby Communities isn't much better – less than 2.5% of the population of the Communities attend church regularly. What can be done to alleviate this catastrophic situation? “How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).

We would love to work with other gospel-centred churches to help to meet this need – including by planting churches across the city. However, we are not in a position to do that yet, and so in 2018 we will focus on “Making disciples who make disciples.”

We all want to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ – knowing him better, and discerning how best we can serve him. To that end:

> we will continue to encourage one another to be part of a Life Group;

> we will encourage one another that 'In Christ, we can do that' - whether 'that' is daily praying, reading the Bible, sharing our faith, or serving the church or community in some new way;

> we will seek to equip people to serve God in the ways he is calling them;

> we will think and pray about how the whole of church life can be focused on growing as disciples. To that end, the Ministry team will work through a book called “The Vine Project”; they will feed back their findings to the Church Councils, to Church Family Night, and (from time to time) to the Sunday congregations. Do listen out for more on this! And do pray that the churches would be more and more geared towards Making disciples who make disciples.

There are also various things we hope to do with financial implications. Do ask for a copy of our 2018 “Giving to support our Vision” leaflet if you would like more information about this. And if you would like to start giving regularly, do pick up a leaflet at the back of church.

Please pray with us that we would grow as disciples, and be enabled to make more disciples, during 2018!

Look up, not inside!

I found this article really helpful on how to face our struggles and our sins. Some of the words are long but it's worth persevering with. Don't look in at yourself; look up at Christ!

Responding to God's overflowing generosity

by Steve Wilcox

Jesus has been invited to dine at the house of a Pharisee named Simon. As he reclines at the table, a woman comes in to the room and stands behind him. We're told that she “was a sinner in the town” - though we're given no more detail than that. She begins to cry – floods of tears, as she is overwhelmed with emotion at the gratitude she feels towards Jesus. Her tears fall on his feet, so she loosens her hair and wipes his feet with her hair before anointing them with perfume.

Jesus's host is not impressed – he cannot get beyond the fact that this woman is a sinner and Jesus shouldn't be relating to her. So Jesus tells him a story.

“Two people owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii (two years' wages today); the other fifty (two months wages today). Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave them both.” (Luke 7:42). It's easy to miss how remarkable this is. When was the last time you heard of a high street bank, let alone a loan shark, willingly and voluntarily cancelling a person's debts? And Jesus is using this as a picture of God's generosity towards sinners like you and me, in forgiving our sins.

Jesus goes on by showing that the woman's overflowing emotional response to Jesus is a result of her overflowing gratitude to him for the forgiveness she has found through him. (Luke 7:47).

We are left with a question, and a lesson. The question is – have we appreciated the forgiveness that is available to us in Jesus? Have we appreciated the depth of our sinfulness – the amount that we have been forgiven? Why not write down all the ways in which you have sinned “in thought, word and deed” over the past day – week – year – 20 years – and then give thanks that through trusting in Jesus it is all forgiven.

The lesson is – as we reflect on how much we've been forgiven by our generous God, we cannot help but respond to him (like the woman) with overflowing gratitude, love, and service. How will you respond?

For those who fail everyday

Here's an encouraging article for those of us - like me - who know that we fail everyday.

Worship in your waiting

Here's a link to a helpful article about how to wait for things as a Christian.


by Steve Wilcox


On November 6 I spoke on a vision for St Peter's and St Mark's for the coming year. I encouraged us to think of the church family as a vine - an image that Jesus uses in John 15. As it receives its nutrients a vine grows, spreading out across the wall or fence on which it is located. It bears fruit as it grows, bringing delight to the owner of the vine and to others. It seems to me that the image of the vine is a good image for us to remember this year, as we continue to work out our purpose to be “a Christ-centred community existing to spread a passion for Jesus Christ in the Anlaby Communities and beyond.”

In my sermon I presented 3 approaches we intend to take as a church, in order to fulfil our purpose. These 3 purposes have been agreed by the Church Councils. I'd like to explain a bit more about the three approaches. In this article I'll explain the third approach.

Approach 3 – Send disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities

As a vine spreads across a wall or fence, it bears fruit – delicious fruit which can be used for a great variety of purposes, bringing blessing to many. In the same way, we long to be a blessing to the Anlaby Communities. When God makes his great promises to Abraham, he says “All peoples will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). Later on, when God's people are in exile in Babylon, God tells them to “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for if it prospers, you also will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). In the New Testament, Jesus tells his followers “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). And in Galatians Paul writes “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

How do we “send disciples to bless the Anlaby Communities”? A great deal of this already happens quietly, behind the scenes. There are members of the church family who visit other needy and lonely people; those who serve as school governors, on the parish council, or on other community bodies. There are those who visit the schools and day centres. There are those who are salt and light in the local U3A groups and other community groups, not to mention in their workplaces. On 6 June we will be holding a day of prayer at St Peter's (more details to follow). In advance of that, I hope that those who serve in the community in different ways will be able to let us know, so that we can give thanks and pray for them.

Second, there are more organised groups which seek to bless the Anlaby Communities. Light lunches would be a good example of this – providing a meal and fellowship twice a month.

Third, there's the Anlaby Communities Trust (ACT). This was set up a couple of years ago, as a vehicle for St Peter's and St Mark's churches to serve the community, as well as providing a suitable means of operating the St Mark's pre-school. Already through ACT we have been able to provide food parcels to a number of needy people in the community, and to provide a forum for various community groups to meet together and share ideas.

On 10 June, the Anlaby Communities Day is being held at the St Mark's site. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to make connections with the community, as well as to bring the Anlaby Communities and their various organisations together on one occasion. A huge amount of work has gone into the planning of the day – in particular by Gill King, Katie Waltham and Sarah Haynes, who are all trustees of ACT. Do come along and support the day; do help in some way if you're able to; and do please pray for the day (not least that it doesn't rain!)


by Steve Wilcox

On November 6 I spoke on a vision for St Peter's and St Mark's for the coming year. I encouraged us to think of the church family as a vine - an image that Jesus uses in John 15. As it receives its nutrients a vine grows, spreading out across the wall or fence on which it is located. It bears fruit as it grows, bringing delight to the owner of the vine and to others. It seems to me that the image of the vine is a good image for us to remember this year, as we continue to work out our purpose to be “a Christ-centred community existing to spread a passion for Jesus Christ in the Anlaby Communities and beyond.”

imageIn my sermon I presented 3 approaches we intend to take as a church, in order to fulfil our purpose. These 3 purposes have been agreed by the Church Councils. I'd like to explain a bit more about the three approaches. In this article I'll explain the second approach.

Approach 2 – Make disciples who make disciples

It's a few years since I took biology GCSE, so I thought I'd do some research into how vines grow. I discovered that there are two main causes of growth – cell division, and cell growth. That is, the cells within the vine (and its berries) expand, and at some point they divide to produce new cells, which then grow, and so on. (If there are any biologists amongst us they might be able to help us even more to understand this!) In the same way, the vine which is the church grows through Christians growing in their faith, and Christians helping others to grow in their faith. Jesus uses this very image in John 15, in which Jesus himself is “the vine”, and his followers – those who remain in him because they remain in his Word – are the branches of the vine.

Let's think of this through the eyes of Matthew, whose gospel we looked at in the autumn. For Matthew, every follower of Jesus is a disciple – that's what “disciple” means. If you call yourself a Christian, then you are a disciple. And what we find in Matthew's gospel is that the disciples grow in their faith as Jesus disciples them – as he teaches and trains them. So in some places we find him teaching them (eg the Sermon on the Mount); in other places we see him modelling the Christian life to them (eg Matthew 11:1, 8:18-20); sometimes he trains them (eg Matthew 10); at other times he rebukes them (eg Matthew 16:23); and at other times he encourages them (eg Matthew 13:16-17).

Then, at the end of Matthew's gospel, Jesus gives his marching orders - “Go and make disciples of all nations...” (Matthew 28:19). In other words, the disciples are to learn from all that he has shown them – and they are to do the same with others, in his name.

This being discipled and making disciples is the key ingredient to the growth of the church / vine / body of Christ. It is the engine, the driver, the cell growth and cell division. It is something that every member of the church family – every disciple – should be concerned about and keen to see. Which is why we have made it one of our key approaches to “Make disciples who make disciples.”

But we might be able to think of several objections at this point. Someone might say “But I don't want to take my Christian faith too seriously – it's just one part of my life after all.” But Matthew would respond that every Christian is a disciple; and we find out what it means to be a disciple in the Bible. We are not at liberty to define for ourselves what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ – we must allow him to define it for us.

Someone else might say “This makes it sound like I'm someone else's project – to disciple me.” Nobody is anybody else's project; rather, each of us are disciples and it's right that we seek to grow as disciples and welcome others who seek to help us in that endeavour.

Another person might say “I don't know how to grow as a disciple, let alone how to make disciples.” And it's fine not to know – but how about asking someone to show you what it looks like? There are a number of us who would be more than happy to talk to you about that.

How might we do this?

So how might we as a church family “Make disciples who make disciples”? In the vision sermon I set out a number of ways in which we might seek to do this.

> Sundays must be our starting point. We meet as God's people to encounter God, to worship him, to be changed by him, and to be sent out to serve him in the week ahead. In other words, we meet to grow as disciples, to encourage each other, and to praise God as disciples of the Lord Jesus. Let's go to church with that attitude, Sunday by Sunday.

> Life groups – Numbers of people are finding that Life groups are a fantastic way of growing as disciples, as they hear God speak to them regularly in a more intimate setting than Sundays provide. It also gives more opportunity to think about what God is saying to each of us personally, as well as to pray for each other.

> Meeting one-to-one – discipling one another – A number of people in the church family meet together in groups of two or three to read the bible, talk about living as a Christian, and pray together. This can be done formally or informally, but I recommend it highly. I've heard it said that each Christian needs a Paul (someone to disciple them), a Barnabas (someone to walk alongside them and encourage them), and a Timothy (someone to disciple).

> Discipleship in our DNA – The Ministry team are currently reading a book called “The Vine Project”, which makes suggestions as to how making disciples can become part of the culture of the church. Please pray for the leadership of the church as we seek to make this more and more a reality, for God's glory.

Making the Vision a reality - 1. Resource mission in West Hull

by Steve Wilcox

On November 6 I spoke on a vision for St Peter's and St Mark's for the coming year. I encouraged us to think of the church family as a vine - an image that Jesus uses in John 15. As it receives its nutrients a vine grows, spreading out across the wall or fence on which it is located. It bears fruit as it grows, bringing delight to the owner of the vine and to others. It seems to me that the image of the vine is a good image for us to remember this year, as we continue to work out our purpose to be “a Christ-centred community existing to spread a passion for Jesus Christ in the Anlaby Communities and beyond.”

In my sermon I presented 3 approaches we intend to take as a church, in order to fulfil our purpose. These 3 purposes have been agreed by the Church Councils. I'd like to explain a bit more about the three approaches. I'll explain the first approach in this article, then in subsequent articles I'll explain the other two approaches.

Approach 1 – Resource Mission in West Hull

imageAs we think about the vine, we imagine it gradually spreading across the wall or fence on which it is located. In the same way we long for the spiritual vine to grow across the Anlaby Communities and across Hull as more and more people come to a saving and life-transforming faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The need for the gospel in Hull is very great – as I set out in my recent post (see below). But it's not just about church attendance. It's about people's relationship with God, and the transformation that brings to lives.

The greatest need of every human being is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Jesus warns us that hell is a real place, and because of the human condition of sin those who have not put their trust in Jesus will go there for eternity. But “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish (eternally) but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). People need to hear about the Lord Jesus and to put their faith in him in order to have life with him for all eternity.

But Jesus doesn't just transform our eternal life; he transforms our life now as well. We are aware of many social problems in the Anlaby Communities and in Hull; and yet the reality is that the single best way of helping a person's social needs is for them to come to a living faith in Jesus Christ. We see countless examples of this in the gospels – as a person comes to know Jesus Christ, their whole life is transformed for the better. (See, for example, Mark 5:15, 18-20; Matthew 9:22; Luke 7:36-50). I could tell more stories of how this has been the case in West Hull in the 21 century. To summarise then, people desperately need to know Jesus Christ for themselves – and this means people in Anlaby, Anlaby Common, Anlaby Park, Rokeby Park, as well as the rest of West Hull and the surrounding villages.

It may be hard to believe, but relative to most other Anglican churches - and most other evangelical churches - in West Hull, we at St Peter's and St Mark's are well resourced. And God has given us a vision to work with other gospel-centred churches. And therefore it is right that we should seek to work with others to resource mission in West Hull.

How might we do this?

In the vision sermon I set out 3 ways in which we might seek to do this.

> Annual programme of outreach – I have asked John Telford to help us to develop an annual programme of outreach, so that we have regular events to which we can all invite our family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

> Work with other gospel-centred churches – We will seek to work with other gospel-centred churches as much as we can, so that we can help one another in the vital task of mission.

> Plant churches – A church plant is a new congregation: for example, the 4pm service. The desperate need for the gospel compels us to find ways to reach whole new communities. There are currently communities within our parishes we are not reaching, and of course communities elsewhere in the city who are not being reached. We may not be in a position to plant a church just yet; but we can plan and pray to that end. It is much better to have a plan to plant churches when we are small, rather than when we are large and comfortable.

Do pray for the leadership of the church as we plan and pray more about these things. And if you have any ideas, or would like to get involved, do speak to myself, John Telford or a warden.

The way forward 4 - Services and Buildings

by Steve Wilcox

In February, I spoke of the need to discern the next “stepping stone” for us as a church family on two sites. We have great opportunities – as set out by our Vision and Mission Action Plan. But we also have limited resources – particularly as regards workers. I said that we therefore need to discern the best way to use the resources available to us. With that in mind, John Truscott came to visit us. John is an independent church consultant, and is able to provide a wise, independent perspective on complex issues to do with church life. We asked him to consider some questions, including “What is the best 'next step' for the churches?” and “Any reflections on the best use of the sites available to us?”

John was very encouraged by his visit, and noticed a number of things that we do particularly well. However, there were also things we didn't do so well, and inevitably it is those things we need to focus on as we respond to what he said!

John made a number of recommendations, all of which have recently been approved by our Church Councils. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of those recommendations – to explain them, and begin to reflect on what they might mean for us as a church family, and for the wider community.

Recommendation 4: Keep both main services and both sites, but focus on St Mark's site for development

John saw no reason to change our current service structure. He wrote “It might be unwise to aim for a further change in service pattern until you see the results of your other changes forcing you to do so.” The other changes he was referring to were the changes in attitude – towards discipleship and mission – that were discussed in earlier blog posts. In other words, it may be that as we move forward in our spiritual growth and our witness to the community there is a place for further changes in service structure – but we haven't reached that point yet. Of course we might be forced into such a change (if, for example, we don't have enough people serving to enable us to operate the services) but, all things being equal, we should try to avoid it for the time being. Furthermore, John pointed out that there is plenty of scope for ongoing development in the existing services, to make them more edifying for believers and accessible for newcomers.

The question of service pattern is linked to the question of buildings and sites. It goes without saying that if we were to close a building, one of the main services would have to stop, or at least re-locate! But John's advice was “This may not be where you would like to start from but you have your two sites and to close either would surely distract you from your priorities above. One has heritage, one has flexibility. Two sites give you greater visibility even if one of them is not in an ideal location. I see no reason for making major decisions for change just at the moment.” In other words, let's give thanks for the buildings and sites we have, and focus on mission and discipleship rather than be distracted by discussions about which building we might close and all the effort that would entail!

However, following from his comments above - about the flexibility of the St Mark's site and the St Peter's site not being in the ideal location - John did also have this to say: “The more you can make St Mark’s fit for purpose, though, the better - although I assume that the cost of such changes could be prohibitive. I would focus your outreach strategy on this site, although work for occasional offices may need to be more St Peter’s focused.” In other words, because of the size and flexibility of the St Mark's site, it makes sense to focus on that site as regards future development. With that in mind, discussions have begun to take place about possible medium-term changes to the St Mark's site, which I hope to discuss with the Church Councils in due course.

The St Peter's site, on the other hand, is much loved and appreciated as it is; although that doesn't mean we can't make positive changes to it, which we hope to in due course.

Having said all that, it goes without saying that if we are to continue to operate both sites we need the finances and the people to enable us to do it. With that in mind, we are very thankful for the numbers of people who have helped in maintaining the buildings in recent years. In order to grow the numbers of people involved, we have recently formed three “Buildings teams” - one for each building - and we hope that members of that team will take responsibility for each building so that the wardens can take a more “high level” view, rather than being too “hands on.” Do let me know if you'd be interested in being involved in one of the teams, or in helping us to maintain or develop one of the buildings or sites.

The Way Forward 3 - Leadership

by Steve Wilcox

In February, I spoke of the need to discern the next “stepping stone” for us as a church family on two sites. We have great opportunities – as set out by our Vision and Mission Action Plan. But we also have limited resources – particularly as regards workers. I said that we therefore need to discern the best way to use the resources available to us. With that in mind, John Truscott came to visit us. John is an independent church consultant, and is able to provide a wise, independent perspective on complex issues to do with church life. We asked him to consider some questions, including “What is the best 'next step' for the churches?”

John was very encouraged by his visit, and noticed a number of things that we do particularly well. However, there were also things we didn't do so well, and inevitably it is those things we need to focus on as we respond to what he said!

John made a number of recommendations, all of which have recently been approved by our Church Councils. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of those recommendations – to explain them, and begin to reflect on what they might mean for us as a church family, and for the wider community.

Recommendation 3: Simplify decision-making structures

John observed that our decision-making structures as a church family were quite complex. We have two Church Councils (one for each church), the vicar and church wardens, and what was formerly named the Leadership Team. John noted that “What does need to change is your decision-making structures so that you have one church, one PCC (Church Council) and, as now, one Leadership Team.” John also observed the danger of overlap between the work of the Leadership team and the Church Councils, and therefore the need for the work of the Leadership team to be clearly defined. Finally, he observed that “Your key workers appear to be over-busy to an extent that is not sustainable in the medium-term.”

The main change we have made as a result of John's recommendations is that the Church Councils of the two churches have agreed to meet together in the future. This has now taken place three times, and I have already observed a huge difference: Members of the Church Councils are getting to know each other better, and to see things from one another's point of view. They are also being enabled to see the “bigger picture” of the ministry of the two parishes. Finally, it means that decisions only need to be made once, rather than twice as in former times!

As regards the role of the Leadership Team: The team's name has been changed to “the Ministry Team” to reflect the fact that leadership is shared between vicar and wardens, Church Councils and the Team. The role of the team has been defined as helping myself and the wardens to enact the decisions that are made by the Church Council, as well as advising me. [An analogy with the Cabinet and Parliament in UK politics is not exact, but is helpful nonetheless.]

Finally, as regards key workers being over-busy: This is not an issue that can be solved immediately. We are doing our best to work in teams, seeking to ensure that no-one is on too many teams and thus becoming overwhelmed. We are also committed to helping every member of the church family identify and develop their gifts, trusting that Christ has gifted his church in exactly the way he wishes so that she might be built up. And we are trusting for his grace in the meantime! I would close by asking that if you are currently wondering how you can serve in the life of the church family and feel that you have some more capacity to do so, do please have a word with me – you might be the answer to our prayers!

The Way Forward 2 - Discipleship

by Steve Wilcox

In February, in my “Vision” sermon, I spoke of the need to discern the next “stepping stone” for us as a church family on two sites. We have great opportunities – as set out by our Vision and Mission Action Plan. But we also have limited resources – particularly as regards workers. I said that we therefore need to discern the best way to use the resources available to us. With that in mind, John Truscott came to visit us. John is an independent church consultant, and is able to provide a wise, independent perspective on complex issues to do with church life. We asked him to consider some questions, including “What is the best 'next step' for the churches?”

John was very encouraged by his visit, and noticed a number of things that we do particularly well. However, there were also things we didn't do so well, and inevitably it is those things we need to focus on as we respond to what he said!

John made a number of recommendations, all of which have recently been approved by our Church Councils. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of those recommendations – to explain them, and begin to reflect on what they might mean for us as a church family, and for the wider community.

Recommendation 2: Make it a priority to develop a new passion for practical discipleship.

John observed that one of our strengths in our preaching and teaching at St Mark's and St Peter's is the correct handling of God's Word the Bible. This is fantastic, and something to give thanks for: sadly there are many churches around the country for which this isn't the case. Often the Bible is used by the preacher as nothing more than a springboard, giving them an excuse to say what they want to say rather than what God says in his Word! May God in his mercy enable us to continue to handle his Word better and better.

However, he observed that our application of God's Word into all of life is not as good as it might be. This is why he recommends “a new passion for practical discipleship” and a focus on “the practical application of discipleship.”

In other words, as God's Word the Bible is taught and preached, God is speaking to us by his Holy Spirit. He is speaking to us about our lives, our priorities, our thinking, and in particular how we can relate to him as our Creator, Saviour, Lord and Judge. How much are we aware of this? Do we go away having had our thinking changed, and therefore aware of what difference what we have heard will make to our lives on Monday morning or Wednesday evening or Saturday afternoon?

There is a challenge here for those (including myself) who teach and preach: It is right that we “correctly handle God's Word”, and ensure that what we are saying is what God is saying. But when this has happened, our work is not yet done. We need to help God's people to see the “cash value” of God's Word – the difference his Word makes to how God's people view God and themselves, and how they live Monday to Saturday.

But there is more to it than that. I think John's recommendation encourages every one of us to ask a fundamental question: Do we view ourselves as disciples? Do we see ourselves as those who have been called by God, into his family, and are being changed by him more and more into the likeness of his Son Jesus Christ? (see 1 Corinthians 3:18). Do we see being part of God's family not just as something for Sunday morning, but for every day? Do we see that our faith is not just for Sunday, but for every part of our lives? In terms of our Values as a church – do we see the importance of Deepening in our faith? If we do, then we will be constantly seeking to hear God speak to us through his Word, and we will be asking him to reveal how what he has said changes us and the way we live our lives. And then, of course, we will be asking him to empower us, by his Holy Spirit, to be changed.

What might this mean practically? It might mean meeting up with a Christian friend to talk about how God is working in our lives – and to pray for how we would like him to work. It might mean joining a Life group, so we can encourage others and be encouraged in our faith. It might mean asking to meet with someone to find out more about how we can read the Bible for ourselves, and put its teaching into practice (do have a word with me if you'd be interested in arranging something like this). It might mean listening to the sermon again on Monday morning (every sermon is available on our website), and praying that God would show us the difference it will make for us in the office, in our families, in our leisure time in the week ahead. 

What does it mean for you?

The Way Forward 1 - Reach Out

by Steve Wilcox

In February, in my “Vision” sermon, I spoke of the need to discern the next “stepping stone” for us as a church family on two sites. We have great opportunities – as set out by our Vision and Mission Action Plan. But we also have limited resources – particularly as regards workers. I said that we therefore need to discern the best way to use the resources available to us. With that in mind, John Truscott came to visit us. John is an independent church consultant, and is able to provide a wise, independent perspective on complex issues to do with church life. We asked him to consider some questions, including “What is the best 'next step' for the churches?”

John was very encouraged by his visit, and noticed a number of things that we do particularly well. However, there were also things we didn't do so well, and inevitably it is those things we need to focus on as we respond to what he said!

John made a number of recommendations, all of which have recently been approved by our Church Councils. I thought it would be helpful to write about some of those recommendations – to explain them, and begin to reflect on what they might mean for us as a church family, and for the wider community.

Recommendation 1: Make it a priority to reach out with the good news of Jesus Christ into your community through a well-designed outreach strategy.

John observed that we are very good as a church family at caring for each other, and at discipling one another in the faith. However, he observed that our outreach into the community is not what it might be. In particular, he observed that as a church we don't have an organised outreach strategy; nor, as individuals, are we as good at sharing the gospel with others, and inviting others to events, as we might be.

My own feeling is that John Truscott is right about this. If we are seeking to grow as a church, then we need to be attracting other people into the life of the church. And this will happen as we organise events that people would like to come to, and as we invite them to those events.

Since John Truscott's visit, we have been privileged to take part in the West Hull Area Mission. This was very encouraging in all sorts of ways, and I believe that we need to make sure we build on the momentum that the Mission gave us. We need to make it a priority to devise an “annual programme of outreach events”, so that we all have something we can invite someone to.

Some of us might say “I don't know anyone who's not a Christian.” But I'm sure when we stop to think about it we do – our neighbours, our family members, the people we meet at U3A or the gym. Others might say “I don't know how to invite them.” That's a fair point – but why don't we encourage one another, and share ideas, so that we're more confident. And of course, it all begins with prayer. Why not start praying for 3 people you know, that they might come to a living faith in Jesus Christ, and to see the wonderful difference knowing him makes to life. You never know what God might do in someone's life if you ask him to!