Hi! I am Stephen Walker and I have been the vicar of Holy Trinity since July 2006. I am married to Sharon and have two children. I have had 20 years of ordained ministry and am now leading Holy Trinity into a new cell church structure.
Stewardship SundayPosted: 3rd May 2013
Next Sunday 12th May we will be having our annual Stewardship Sunday, the occasion in our year when we take the opportunity to review the proportion of our income we regularly set aside as our offering to God and his ministry through the life of this church. Through the course of this next week will you carefully and prayerfully bring this matter before the Lord and seek to be obedient to what he puts on your heart?
On the occasion of Jesus calling the disciples and the miracle of the enormous catch of fish (which of course they left behind to follow Jesus) – Jesus, after finishing teaching from the boat tells them to move out into deep water and let down their nets... CONTINUE READING
TorchbearersPosted: 26th April 2013
For us as a nation, last year was an extraordinary year. I remember attending the arrival of the Olympic torch into Cheltenham racecourse – just one leg on a journey through towns, villages and cities across the country. In many ways it set the tone for a summer of national celebration: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic torch was the forerunner that prepared the nation, generated excitement and looked forward to all that was to come.
The words of a hymn by Frank Houghton (1894-1972) come to mind when I think of those who carried that Olympic Torch:
We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hand so those
Who gave... CONTINUE READING
Easter Day - Resurrection LifePosted: 28th March 2013
Today marks the centrepiece of our faith when Jesus destroyed the power of death by breaking forth from the tomb. Our faith rests on a physical restoration to life by Jesus, for as St Paul writes to the Corinthian Church:
‘If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith…But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man (Adam), the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man(Jesus).For as in Adam all die, so in Christall will be made a live’ (1 Corinthians 15:14, 20 – 22).
The experience of Jesus in being raised from the dead serves as the ‘first... CONTINUE READING
Forgive us our trespassesPosted: 27th February 2013
Simon Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives in Hitler’s death camps. He has devoted his life to finding Nazi criminals and bringing them to justice. He is often asked when he will give up. After all, he is hunting down men in their 70’s and 80’s for crimes committed half a century ago.
Wiesenthal answered by writing a book. The book begins with a true experience he had while he himself was a concentration camp prisoner. One day he was yanked out of a work detail and taken up a back stairway to a dark hospital room. A nurse led him into the room, then left him alone with a figure wrapped in white, lying on a bed. The figure was a badly wounded German soldier, whose entire face... CONTINUE READING
A Growing FamilyPosted: 31st January 2013
How many of us started out in life with a small ‘starter home’, a flat or something equivalent, which was special because it was our first home. Then when the time came to start thinking about a family, what was adequate for the two of us suddenly starts to feel very small. Our thoughts turn to considering a move to a larger property or extending what we already have to ease the pressure of living together in a confined space. So plans are made to extend over the garage and build an additional bedroom, or build a conservatory on the back as an additional living space, or extend the kitchen to accommodate a larger dining area.
In a similar way we at Holy Trinity are a... CONTINUE READING
Linked inPosted: 8th January 2013
Sharon joins me in wishing you all a very Happy New Year. It carries with it a sense of anticipation for all that God will lead us into as we journey together in His purposes for us as a community of faith.
Each New Year is an opportunity for new beginnings and a fresh start. But then so is each week. Every Sunday is the first day of the week - a new beginning. Actually every day is an opportunity for a new beginning: God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). I wonder what new beginningwe would like to enter into this year?
‘Linked-In’is a social networking website for people in professional occupations and as of June last year had 175 million... CONTINUE READING
Road Ahead ClosedPosted: 29th November 2012
Yet again, residents of Tewkesbury and elsewhere have come across signs that warn us of flooded roads and pathways, preventing access except on foot and with a good pair of wellies! Yet our hearts go out to those who yet again have found their homes and businesses under water.
‘Road Ahead Closed’ has also been the experience for those campaigning for the right of women to be consecrated as Bishops. The disappointment of many including those who have been involved in the process of drafting legislation at General Synod is understandable. Presented in so much of the media as simply a discussion on equality between the genders, which if that were the... CONTINUE READING
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted ChurchPosted: 1st November 2012
Today, 4thNovember, is the day in which we join with fellow Christians around the world to give special thanks and gratitude to God for the faithful witness of those who endure so much for their faith in Jesus. We express thanks to God for their faithfulness, perseverance under trial and love expressed even for those who hold them in captivity. We give thanks to God that in September jailed Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was set free after a court dropped the charge of apostasy – leaving Islam – but upheld a charge of evangelising Muslims. The court sentenced him to three years, but promptly released him because he had already served the time. We give thanks for the... CONTINUE READING
Harvest 2012Posted: 27th September 2012
Have you ever wondered what Harvest is all about and where this service of Thanksgiving comes from? If you have then read on – here’s a little history. If not then feel free to skip the rest of this article!
Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning 'loafMass'Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion breadduring a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season.
The tradition of... CONTINUE READING
Knowing God's 'Thank You'Posted: 30th August 2012
Knowing God’s ‘Thank you’
In John’s Gospel we read: ‘From the fullness of God’s grace we have all received one blessing after another’ (John 1:16).
I wonder if we fully live in the reality of that blessing or fully appreciate that we have been given ‘every spiritual blessing in Christ’ as Paul writes (Ephesians 1:3).
When was the last time you heard God say ‘thank you’ to you for your commitment and service? Sometimes we think we should be thanking God every day of our lives and the only time we receive any thanks back is when we finally meet him and he says to us: ‘Well done good and faithful servant’ and we miss the fact that God lives in incredible generosity.... CONTINUE READING
Pray and never give upPosted: 29th June 2012
It is always encouraging to hear stories from one another of how earnest prayer has proved effective. Recently in our services we have heard such stories of those who have prayed and never given up, even though it may have been years before they have seen the answer to their prayers.
Jesus told the parable of the persistent widow as an encouragement to us to ‘pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1). And yet how easy it is for us to become disillusioned, disappointed and discouraged when despite fervent prayer nothing seems to be happening. It is then that we are tempted to give up, slow down and lose hope. This is when we need one another to bring encouragement to us, to... CONTINUE READING
Celebrations!Posted: 1st June 2012
On March 20thour Queen addressed both Houses of Parliament at Westminster Hall celebrating the British virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance and vowed to rededicate herself to the service of her country:
"We are reminded here of our past, of the continuity of our national story and the virtues of resilience, ingenuity and tolerance which created it," she told the gathering. "I have been privileged to witness some of that history and, with the support of my family, rededicate myself to the service of our great country and its people now and in the years to come."
It is right and fitting that we should be immensely proud of our Queen and the wholesale... CONTINUE READING
APCM 2012 Report 'A spiritual health check'Posted: 27th April 2012
How do you measure the health of a local church? As we look back over the last year and reflect on our life together and the journey we have taken are there any indicators that can help us to gauge the degree to which we are growing in a healthy way and in accordance with God’s purpose and plan for us? Although not one indicator is sufficient in itself, perhaps together as we look at certain features of our church life we can gain a general appreciation of how healthy our church actually is. Here are a number of health checks.
Health check #1 The Welcome
It is always encouraging to hear from visitors or new-comers how warmly they have been welcomed.... CONTINUE READING
RedemptionPosted: 2nd April 2012
‘I cried all the time’ was how Steven Spielberg recalls his months directing ‘Schindler’s List’. The winner of 7 Academy awards and ranked 8thin the 100 best films by the American Film Institute it recounts in graphic detail the slaughter of helpless men, women and children in a Jewish ghetto and the horror of trainloads of bewildered Jews arriving at the Auschwitz death camp. Oskar Schindler, heroic saviour of 1100 Jews is presented by Spielberg at the end of the film looking at the faces of those he has saved, then looking at his possessions and the many more lives that could have been ‘purchased’ if he had offered his possessions as bribes. ‘I could have done more’,... CONTINUE READING
Crazy lovePosted: 2nd March 2012
Love isn’t just part of the Christian life, it is the Christian life. Love is the lifeblood of Christianity. The radical lifestyle God calls us into is one of love – loving the unlovable and loving those who bitterly oppose us even though it may cost us dear.
One man who was prepared to pay the cost of love was Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda. In the 1970s Uganda was ruled over by President Idi Amin. He became known as the ‘Hitler of Africa’. He was ruthless in his policy of repression, a reign of terror in which over 50,000 Asian people were expelled from the country. Archbishop Luwum out of love for his countrymen who were being arbitrarily killed, stood up to... CONTINUE READING
Facing our fearsPosted: 3rd February 2012
Welcome to our special service today for ‘Education Sunday’. It strikes me that part of the process of education is to help us develop confidence in our abilities so that we can reach our full potential. ‘Fear’ in one form or another can often be the obstacle. But by offering support and gentle encouragement we can be helped to grow through our fears so that they no longer inhibit us.
Texan Pastor and radio personality, Ed Young writes in his book, ‘Know Fear’, ‘Fear is an unavoidable part of the human experience. Anxiety, fear and phobia threaten to encompass us…Because we are taught that it is weak to show fear, that cowards are despised, and that being a hero knows... CONTINUE READING
January 2012Posted: 6th January 2012
May I begin by wishing you and those you love much joy and peace in this New Year. There has been much to celebrate and rejoice in during the Christmas season. A big thank you to all who contributed in so many ways to the ministry of this church as together we declared the Good News of a Saviour’s birth. There were so many wonderful worship opportunities, so many guests, so many parents and children from the local schools. Thank you too to all those who gave up their Christmas Day to join the Churches Together team in providing a Christmas lunch to those on their own and those who participated in the Christmas lunch for the elderly last Thursday.
The sacrificial... CONTINUE READING
Jesus, the gift of HopePosted: 23rd December 2011
Welcome to our family celebration on this Christmas Day as we rejoice at the wonderful news of a Saviour’s birth, and worship together with joy and thanksgiving for all that this means to us and to all people.
It’s a message that will ring out from the heart of our capital city and in particular, St Paul’s Cathedral, which has become in recent months the location of a campsite and a focal point for media attention. Whatever you make of the camp or the protests of the organisers, there’s something wonderfully symbolic about it as people gather at the doors of the church to express their concerns, their fears and their anger.
We’re living in days of extraordinary... CONTINUE READING
Celebrating what God has donePosted: 2nd December 2011
Today we celebrate the re-opening of the balcony following the project to re-order it which began last year with the Gift Day. After endless consultations with various ‘interested parties’ permission was finally granted by the Diocese and the work commenced in October with the removal of the original pews. We give glory to God who alone has enabled us with His provision to undertake these two substantial projects this year: the new boiler and improved heating system and more usable space in the balcony. I would like to extend my thanks to all of you who have given sacrificially to enable this work to proceed, to the Church Wardens for their oversight and to the small... CONTINUE READING
TransformationalPosted: 28th October 2011
Victor Hugo wrote: ‘The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved’. Love has the power to change us. Love motivates, compels, energises and empowers. It inspires others to sacrifice self interest in the pursuit of a greater good.
On our recent visit to Uganda, we were inspired by all that Jenny has achieved with her vision to see the lives of babies saved through the ministry of the Potter’s village. We also met others serving the people of Uganda, including one lady in her 70s. We were struck by some of the stories they shared of the lives they live. It was clear to us that their service involved a considerable cost to them in comfort, security,... CONTINUE READING
'Keep taking the Medicine'Posted: 30th September 2011
‘This pain started twelve years ago. After joining the Royal Marines it became extremely bad. I had seen the top physiotherapist in the Armed Forces but with no successful result. The cartilage below the knee cap was completely gone. Hence, there was bone on bone and that was very painful. This injury has caused a massive set back in my life. Last year was the worst when the ligaments and the tendons were torn and the knee cap went in a 45 degree angle. It has been a long and painful journey. I could not sit or stand for long.
Cut a long story short, I decided to try God and try Alpha. I got back from the Alpha weekend and I heard people testifying and I was... CONTINUE READING
‘God is more interested in our character than our comfort’ is a phrase I picked up recently and which I believe helps us understand who God is and why we sometimes wrestle with unresolved issues.
A story is told of a farmer who placed a weather vane inscribed with the words ‘God is Love’ on top of his barn. One day a traveller stopped by the farm and watched the weather vane moving with the breeze. Then with a smirk on his face, he asked, ‘Do you mean to say that your God is as changeable as the wind?’ The farmer shook his head and replied; ‘No. What I mean to say is that no matter which way the wind blows, God is Love’.
We know that the experience of living... CONTINUE READING
As I write this today, the newspaper headlines report the tragic death of 27 year old Amy Winehouse, after a suspected drink and drugs binge. The popular singer who has spent years battling heroin and alcohol addiction was found collapsed in her flat in north London. On the next page of the newspaper in a two page spread is the story of former Eastenders star, Daniella Westbrook. The headlines read: ‘I used to worship Gucci and Prada....now I’ve given my life to God’. Daniella recounts how the drug, cocaine, nearly destroyed her life, costing her approximately £250,000 and leaving a gaping hole in her nose requiring reconstructive surgery.
‘Ten years ago, her idea of a good night... CONTINUE READING
Prayer changes thingsPosted: 1st July 2011
John Humphries, the television newsreader describes himself as a ‘failed atheist’. Long after he left the church he grew up in, he writes, ‘I continued to pray. I prayed every single night without fail for half a century…The problem was that I had absolutely no notion of the God to whom I was supposed to be praying, nor for that matter, why I was praying.’ Surveys have shown that three quarters of the population of sceptical, secular Britain admit to praying at least once a week. In fact prayer is regaining popularity in our very modern post-Christian society in the West.
At the recent Armed Forces Day service I spoke on Prayer beginning with the often quoted statement: ‘there are... CONTINUE READING
Contentment and Peace in Times of TroublePosted: 3rd June 2011
When World War II erupted, Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, Betsie, middle aged Christian women in Holland, resolved to conceal fleeing Jewish people from the Nazi’s. They saved many. But they were ultimately arrested and taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Betsie died, but Corrie miraculously survived to witness to the way God can save, heal and forgive. Their experience in the concentration camp contending with fleas, hunger and hardship served to test their faith and confidence in God. Trying to learn the secret of being content, as St Paul describes it (Philippians 4:12), even in those dreadful circumstances was not easy. Yet despite everything they knew God’s... CONTINUE READING
New Life, New HopePosted: 28th April 2011
Nicky Gumbel tells the story of a member of his congregation at Holy Trinity Church, Brompton who worked in the library of a national newspaper. This newspaper kept files of old newspaper cuttings about every well known person. The files were kept in rows of long shelves and separated into ‘living people’ and ‘dead people’.
One day, the young man was looking through the files of dead people and came across a large file marked ‘Jesus Christ’. He glanced over his shoulder to check that no one was looking and immediately moved the file from the ‘dead people’ section to the ‘living people’ section. Jesus Christ is alive. He is risen from the dead. His file was in the... CONTINUE READING
Vicar's Report - Annual Parochial Church Meeting 7/04/11Posted: 11th April 2011
‘Loyalty, Love and Faithfulness’
In 2007 a group of South Korean missionaries were captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were terrified. There were twenty three of them at the start – the Taliban separated them, isolated them, and confiscated everything. One of the Korean women managed to hold on to her Bible. She ripped it into twenty-three pieces and gave each of them a portion of the Scriptures so that wherever they were they could always read a portion of scripture when no one was watching. They knew the Taliban had decided to kill them, one at a time. One at a time the missionaries surrendered their lives again to Jesus saying, ‘Lord, if you want me to die for your sake... CONTINUE READING
Does God Care?Posted: 1st April 2011
Tsunamis in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand, civil war in Libya – is there no end to the unremitting news of disaster and tragedy? It seems as though the world bounces from one crisis to another (remember Haiti?) with yet more images on our TV screens of the effect on traumatised families. Where is God in all this? Does he even care? These might be questions we ask ourselves when we experience suffering, tragedy and loss in our own lives. The pain of heart break and bereavement is real and affects us deeply. The question is often voiced out of a sense of anger and frustration that life is not as orderly and ‘safe’ as we would like it to be. We believe it to be our right to enjoy a way... CONTINUE READING
Imitators of GodPosted: 1st April 2011
It is said that over time dogs and their owners strike up a remarkable resemblance! Children too grow up not only with the physical likeness of their parents but they also imitate them. A child will watch, observe and copy what their parent does or says and so imitate their behaviour and habits for good or for ill.
The apostle Paul writes, ‘Be imitators of God’ (Ephesians 5:1) having spelled out what it might mean to look like Jesus, ‘and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’. To imitate God is to live a life of love. Jesus Christ set the supreme example of love by giving up his life for us. It is from the cross... CONTINUE READING
Real CommunionPosted: 25th February 2011
Vicar’s Letter - March
‘Imitators of God’
It is said that over time dogs and their owners strike up a remarkable resemblance!
Children too grow up not only with the physical likeness of their parents but they also imitate them. A child will watch, observe and copy what their parent does or says and so imitate their behaviour and habits for good or for ill.
The apostle Paul writes, ‘Be imitators of God’ (Ephesians 5:1) having spelled out what it might mean to look like Jesus, ‘and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’. To imitate God is to live a life of love. Jesus Christ set the supreme... CONTINUE READING
Just 10Posted: 4th February 2011
Thousands of years ago, God revealed the framework for life as it should be. Simple values for daily living that provide the foundations of our laws and principles. Despite the surge of secular values threatening to wash away the historic links between Christianity and culture, one of the few bridges remaining above the floodwaters is that of the Ten Commandments. Although most people would struggle to name more than two or three of them, they know they exist and probably deep down think that they are generally good for the well ordering of society. Furthermore, there may be a recognition that the Ten Commandments gave previous generations a moral certainty that our own age so... CONTINUE READING