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Pete Walker

May 13th, 2011

Pete Walker recently joined the Churchcentral staff team in what we believe is a crucial role as we look to multiply further sites across the city.

CC: Pete, could you could start by telling us a little about yourself

PW: Hi! I am Pete, a civil engineer, (or as a good friend once put it: Civil Pete Walker, Engineer). I became redundant 18 months ago, so am now semi-retired. Me and my amazing wife Lizzie moved to Birmingham 3.5  years ago to join Churchcentral.

CC: …and in 20 words can you tell us what your staff role is at Churchcentral?

PW: I was asked a few months ago to take on the part-time role of  Logistics/Maintenance Officer for Churchcentral

CC: Exactly 20! But maybe you could tell us a little more about what’s involved.

PW: I am working with others to prepare both our sites for Sunday morning meetings and making sure the venues are set-up in an efficient and welcoming manner, as well as being set-down tidily with due regard to the requirements of the schools we meet in. My role is to help release others to do other tasks; for example we have reduced the work for our set-up team at our Lordswood site as I (with others) now go in on Friday afternoons to set-up. Another part of my role is the maintenance and improvement of equipment, so running repairs, and the making of trolleys has been a major part of my work so far! We hope to develop a system that will enable us to move to other venues and resource the set-up of multiple sites in the future.

CC: How is it going so far?

PW: Having spent an exciting and interesting life working with teams of people, building underground railways; aircraft hangers; multi-storey buildings; (just to name a few) this is my first opportunity to practically help in building a church. I think it’s right that the timely putting out of chairs, signs, setting up PA while liaising with the staff  of our venues to ensure the smooth running of our meetings is considered such an important part of growth. If we cannot do that well, then it’s unlikely people will feel as welcomed as we want them to.

I want to thank so many people who take such an interest in what I am doing, and have come up and offered to help, and also those who take part so consistently. I have to say that if I had not taken this role, I would never have had the experienced the droll wit of the PA teams as they solved yet another impossible problem; or the priceless demonstration of Andy Back and Pete Halford on how NOT to put a drum kit together. It is good, I enjoy it and the hard work has kept my trouser belt on its last notch!

Categories: Central Life, Interviews Tags: ,

Internationals Team:

April 5th, 2011

God has called us to build his church in one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the UK. At Churchcentral our International Team work hard to welcome, incorporate and bless internationals newly arrived to Churchcentral and sometimes even the UK.

John and Mollie Oldfield: Hello, we are John and Mollie Oldfield.  We have been passionate about cross cultural work since the 1960′s when God first called us to mission.  Having worked abroad, and been involved in cross cultural work in England over the years, that passion has never declined!  So it is a joy to be involved with the International Team. With the many international guests and students that we see coming into the church,  it excites us and encourages us to believe that God will establish us into a truly multicultural church.

Sam and Dawn Keong: We started coming along to Churchcentral around 3 years ago.  We’d moved down from Manchester, had just graduated and were newlyweds, so it was a big move for us.  In Churchcentral, we found a welcoming family, fantastic friendships and people who loved Jesus and showed His love to us. Sam is from Singapore and Dawn is from Northern Ireland. We’re passionate about family and community.  Having people from other countries and cultures in our church brings fun, diversity and experiences of God that we can all learn from.  It reminds us that His family is worldwide, and that we are all one in Christ.   However, sometimes moving to the UK from another country can be daunting, lonely and difficult.   We joined the Internationals Team to help ensure that the Internationals in our church can experience the same family welcome that we were so blessed to have, and so that we as a church can benefit and learn from them.

Nick and Connie Reading: Hello! We are Nick and Connie Reading and we are part of the Internationals Team here at Churchcentral. Why internationals? Well, we love visiting other countries and to immerse ourselves into different cultures. In fact we spent the first four month of our married life together in South Africa.  We find it exciting to learn from and to spend time with people from all over the world. We are ourselves a multi-cultural family – Nick is British, Connie is German and our daughter Heidi is being raised bilingual. It is exciting to be a part of an international church congregation with people from all over the world.

Dan and Anna O’Neill: So we are Dan and Anna, the O’Neill’s, and we are part of the International Team here at Churchcentral but I guess what you are really interested in is what we do… Actually we are writing this to you from Amman in Jordon (truly international I think you’ll find) as we are out here to encourage our friends and see how they are settling in.  We are blessed in Birmingham with being in one of the most diverse cities the UK, if not the world, and what that represents is an opportunity for each of us at Churchcentral to reach out to all corners of the world, every tribe, nation and tongue, from Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth!  We want to help build a church that is the beautiful bride of Christ representing the diversity of the character of God in his people, created in His image, worshipping He who created us.

Categories: Global Focus, Interviews Tags:

Pete Halford

March 11th, 2011

CC: We know you are a Student in Birmingham. Where and what do you study?

PH:  I’m reaching the end of my four years at Aston University, studying Business & Computer Science. The time has flown by (especially the year I spent on my Placement, working for Churchcentral) and my intention is to stay in Birmingham to continue to be a part of what God is doing here.

CC: What is it like being a Christian at Uni?

PH:  Being a Christian while at University has definitely been a lifestyle choice. I make no secret of my beliefs, and my friends accepted me like that. I’ve found that many students are spiritually open and willing to debate and discuss Christianity. However, it’s not always been easy but at last I have managed to get two of my friends to agree to come on an Alpha Course!

CC: What have you seen God do on campus while you have been at Uni?

PH: God is certainly at work on the campus, especially at times when groups like Agapé and the Christian Union have been active in mission. I am certain there’s a time of reaping ahead at Aston – as Jonny Mellor prophesied the other week ‘there has been lots of seed sowing at Aston University; now it’s time to reap the benefits of this labour’. The start of the Alpha: course near campus although a small step is a highly significant one.

CC: What is it like being a student at Churchcentral?

PH: Student life in Churchcentral is brilliant! There’s always something going on, and it’s good to be in a church setting which is young and vibrant and yet which contains wise and mature Christians. Student lifegroups are where it’s at, and the Loft (our fortnightly gathering on the Birmingham University campus) has taken off with some great times of worship and teaching. With so many great families in the church we get to share fellowship with them in their homes, enjoying their hospitality and being included in their lives. As a student in Churchcentral you can be fully involved in church life and part of the wider loving community with our own unique contribution to make.

Cross-Cultural Training: John and Mollie Oldfield

November 23rd, 2010

Following another Churchcentral ‘Cross-Cultural’ training day we caught up with John and Mollie Oldfield, two members of Churchcentral with a vast experience and passion for Internationals to find out what it was all about:

CP: So, what exactly is a Cross-Cultural Training Day?

J&M: It’s a day organised especially for the church (although others are very welcome to join in), to get together and share our cross-cultural experiences, learn from each other and support each other.  The programme is different each time – and sometimes we have someone from outside of Churchcentral to speak. The idea is to give some training and encouragement, as well as a challenge to us all to reach out to the many cultures around us, both at home and abroad.

CP: What kind of things happened this Saturday?

J& M: We were focusing on the international guests we have seen coming to the church, both students and others, as well as looking at the many asylum seekers who live in Birmingham.  Jo Sharman talked from her experience about the work of Restore – a ‘churches together’ group reaching out to asylum seekers in Birmingham and Sam Keong shared about the work of the International Team in Churchcentral.  We then had a really helpful session from Connie and Ellie, who shared very honestly what it was like being a foreigner in Birmingham, and the difficulties they faced.  All together it was a very challenging and helpful time.

CP: What is it that makes you so passionate about Internationals?

J&M: Our passion for Internationals has been with us since the 60′s when God put the desire for Mission in our hearts.  He is the God of the Nations, and one day we shall be with those from every tribe, language, people and nation praising him around his throne – so why not start now!

CP: What is your vision for Internationals at Churchcentral?

J&M: We would love to see our church reflect, in every way, the international city we live in – where barriers are broken down, with everyone playing their part, displaying their cosmopolitan background and adding their rich diversity to the life of the church.

Estelle Blythe

March 1st, 2010


CP: Estelle, tell us a bit about what was going on in your life before Christmas?

EB:Well, towards the end of November I received a phone call from the hospital telling me that they would like to discuss some test results with me. So I went in and they told me that they had found a lump about the size of a conker, and that this particular lump was cancerous. That was a Christmas present I didn’t particularly want!

CP: What did you do in response to this news?

EB:At the time I was going along to the Alpha course in Selly Oak and I knew that there was a particular week dedicated to the topic of healing. I really wanted to go and I went along that week and decided to ask God to heal me, so after the talk I responded and got prayed for.

CP: And did you feel God respond?

EB: Well, it wasn’t done instantly. I did feel God really with me at Alpha, so much so that I nearly fell of my chair! I went in for more tests, the lump was still there and I was still going through the motions of going for appointments and being told about procedures that they were going to do. A few weeks later, just while making a cup of tea in my kitchen I felt a touch on my shoulder and a very gentle male voice say to me “it’s going to be alright.” I turned around and there was no-one there, and it took me a while to weigh up whether that was God speaking to me, or whether I had lost my marbles!

CP: And what has happened since then?

EB: Two weeks later I was shopping, just going through normal life. I got a phone call from the hospital telling me that they were really sorry and the further tests they did after Christmas came back negative and the lump is benign. They thought they’d made a mistake and they didn’t know what’s going on. I knew exactly what was going on! Praise God.

Categories: Interviews Tags:

Lynda Kelly

March 1st, 2010


CP: Lynda, how long have you lived in Birmingham?

LK: I’ve been living in Birmingham since August last year when Jonathon (my husband) and I moved here from Kent. We were both members of the Newfrontiers’ Medway Family Church in Rochester, which is where we met and subsequently married in 2006. I was born and bred in Leicester but after graduating from Brighton Polytechnic, I spent many years living and working in Europe and Africa so it’s rather a novelty to be so close to my roots.

CP: We understand your husband is a bit of a stickler for time?

LK: Well yes… let’s say he’s working on it! After a career in engineering, Jonathon took a big decision to make a change and last September he became a full-time student studying Horology, the study of time, clocks and watches, at BCU in the Jewellery Quarter.

CP: Before joining the CC staff team, how have you been spending your time?

LK: Painting, decorating and generally getting sorted in our new house took up a lot of my time and energy in the first few months of arriving, so it was good to become involved with some Churchcentral events such as Senior Life Group and ‘Time for Tea’. I also became part of a student disability support team at BCU working as a note-taker, which has provided a lot of variety particularly as I’ve been attending all sorts of lectures such as criminal justice, braille and even electronics at the various city campuses.

CP: What do you love doing in any spare time you have?

LK: I love everything to do with growing vegetables and flowers, particularly on allotments. I have been known to get very excited about compost heaps. Last year I was introduced to the art of beekeeping, so who knows what I’ll get up to when I finally get my own allotment!

Categories: Interviews Tags: ,

Olly Thorp

December 1st, 2009


CP: How are you involved in 61:4?

OT: In August I started full-time work with a Salvation Army team as part of what’s called a ‘61:4 Project’. Having worked part-time for the project for eighteen months beforehand, it has been an exciting step to be fully immersed in the vision and the work there.

CP: Tell us more about 61:4 and the vision behind it?

OT: There are a number of 61:4 projects throughout the country and in fact the world. The vision comes from the scripture in Isaiah chapter 61 verse 4:

‘They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.’

In basic terms, those involved look to take on a lifestyle through which they work to live out lives in the community that are Christ-like, accessible and relevant to those around them. By living this way and contributing to change in the community, we hope to see the good news of Jesus spread through action as well as through word.

CP: So what does the Aston project do?

OT: The project in Aston is essentially a youth provision looking to support the local community through open youth groups, a mentoring scheme, support to local schools, running holiday schemes, sports teams, residentials and community days. This is part of the broader incarnational lifestyle vision through which we look to serve the entire community.

CP: What effect have you seen this project have?

OT: Much of the effect that a project like this has, especially in terms of youth and children’s work, will often only be seen in the long term. The day by day influence on people’s lives means gradual  change and sometimes a retracing of those steps many times over. God’s provision has meant that we have been able to get to know a huge variety of people from the community and have seen some  of those develop and grow deeper in their relationships with Jesus. We are passionate and excited about this continuing and seeing God transform this community into one of His image.

Categories: Interviews Tags:

Biggs Family

October 1st, 2009

CP: So, this was your 1st ever visit to Zim. Was it how you imagined it?

P&C: Yes… and more! We had gone to Zim with a number of questions and things which we were praying about. We were trusting that God would provide answers to these questions during our trip and through those we met. We found that this was definitely the case and we feel we have much clearer direction for the future.

CP: Is it possible to distinguish a ‘best part’ of the trip?

P&C: That’s tricky. The first week was great relaxation and good fun – driving through the bush, dodging Giraffe and Baboons. The second week was full with building relationship, getting informed, making plans and absorbing the vision. All good in different ways, whilst also presenting a number of challenges to pray about.

CP: What are some of things God is doing through his church there?

P&C:The foundations for farming college at Ebenezer is ground breaking – Literally! Not only are students learning sustainable farming techniques that allow them to feed their own family and have a surplus to sell, but they are also coming to know Jesus for themselves. There is a real sense of momentum and excitement about what God is doing in the nation through the church.

CP: What was the most unusual thing you saw?

P&C:A tortoise in the road

CP: If you were to sum up the trip in 8 words, what would they be?

P&C:Life changing, Future shaping, Momentum building, Faith stretching

CP: What did Hannah and Sophie enjoy most?

H:Big gardens, great countryside but most of all Victoria Falls

S:I liked it all, but riding on an elephant was the best

Jonny Mellor about Alpha

September 1st, 2009

CP: What is Alpha, and how will it look different at Churchcentral this term?

JM: Alpha is a course designed for people who want to investigate the Christian faith themselves. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, ask difficult questions, eat, drink and enjoy! And just to make sure nobody misses out, this term we are not just doing one evening Alpha, but two.

CP: So why have two locations?

JM: We’ve run evening Alpha in Selly Oak for the past few years and know that Selly Oak is an excellent location for students and for others who live locally, however we wanted a second location for people from other walks of life or other areas of Birmingham . So two of our Life Groups are spearheading a new Alpha in Bearwood. Selly Oak Alpha gets a change of venue to the Selly Sausage and Bearwood Alpha will be held at Casa Italia (a fine Italian restaurant just off Bearwood High Street- we have the whole top floor. Woo hoo!) The format of each will be the same: there will be a free meal, then a short talk on an element of the Christian faith, then (the best bit) a chance to discuss

CP: Can anyone come?

JM: Too right. If you’re not a Christian, you’ll love Alpha as it won’t be Christians hammering you into submission, but a chance for you to explore the claims of Jesus at your own pace. If you’re a Christian who has nagging questions that maybe you’ve felt too embarrassed to ask elsewhere then Alpha is for you. If you’re a Christian who knows how good it is to be loved by Jesus, it’s the perfect place to invite your friends so they can get to know him themselves. Anyone who has an inkling that there might just be more to life than work, food, TV, booze, sex etc. would love Alpha. Oh, by the way, Selly Oak Alpha is not just for students and Bearwood Alpha is not just for people from Bearwood Life Groups. You can go to whichever one you wish.

Greg & Angela Kemm

May 1st, 2009

CP: Can you give us a highlight in your family lives since you where with us a year ago?

G&A: We went to Cape Town in December last year and enjoyed glorious sunshine and Christmas lunch in the ‘open air’ on a Wine Farm. Our whole family were together for the first time in quite a while. A real highlight!

CP: Has much changed at Churchcentral since your last visit?

G&A: Yes it has! We found such an air of maturity over the whole church and this has nothing to do with age. People, generally, seemed to have developed greatly in their relationships with God. And there’s such a hunger for God that it makes it a joy to be with you again. We really enjoyed seeing spiritual gifts flowing so freely at the Sunday service, and trust that they are being used in the week as well..

CP: You travel internationally. Where are some of the places you have been in the last year?

G&A: Besides two trips to Cape Town we have also ministered in two Newfrontiers churches in Denmark and two in Sweden. We’ll be back there this year again, as well as helping the embryo of a church plant in Antioch, Turkey.

CP: What do you miss most about being away from home?

G&A: Our family and friends, long uninterrupted spells of sunshine and the vibrancy of the various cultures. Having said that, we really enjoy being here as well!

CP: What do you enjoy most about ministering in local churches?

G&A: We love the Church and know the power and effectiveness of the local church to change society and bring hope. So we really enjoy helping to build confidence into people to know their authority in Jesus and their ability to advance God’s Kingdom wherever they are.