We are delighted to welcome Pippa to the team at St Barnabas!

Pippa is taking part in the Gloucester Ministry Experience Scheme, which gives people the opportunity to experience ministry in local churches in Gloucester whilst studying a part time degree in Theology. We are really excited to have her on the team for the next year and we will be seeing more of her in the coming weeks!

Hello, my name is Pippalina Daniels, known as Pippa. Starting soon I will be an intern at St Barnabas; I'm taking part in the Gloucester Ministry Experience Scheme as I prepare for ordination. I'm really excited to get involved and to meet you all soon. I grew up in south Wales and have just finished a degree from Lancaster University in History and Religious Studies. When not working or studying, I enjoy cycling, crafts and watching films.

You can get to know Pippa a bit better by watching the video below, which was taken from the service this morning.

Please keep Pippa in your prayers as she explores her vocation and settles in to Gloucester.

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Last Sunday, we met together outside (in rather windier weather!), to worship as a church family, focusing on the theme of "sharing a smile". We chatted in bubbles, crafted, wrote letters and poems to those who may need a smile and went on a prayer walk where we measured "smiles per hour" (we made it 96 smiles per hour!). It was a great opportunity for fun and fellowship outside in the fresh air! So why focus on smiles? Steph shared some of her thoughts on what the bible has to say about the importance of smiling!

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart: Proverbs 15:30

The last few months have been a time where we have perhaps struggled to find things to smile about – there have been many challenges along the way, strains on home life, some have lost jobs, have been furloughed or had to work longer hours to cover colleagues. There has been home schooling, working from home, isolation, and people have been seriously ill.

However, I am sure there were times where you did find happiness and joy during lockdown and more recently – zoom calls with family and friends, online quizzes, being with you close family – playing games, cooking together, going for walks, being in the garden and enjoying the wildlife. Even just the slower pace of life.

Smiling is good for you! Did you know …..

Smiling helps you relax and boosts your immune system it lowers blood pressure. Smiling releases endorphins and relieves stress, it is sometimes referred to as a natural pain killer! Smiles are contagious- a study done in Sweden at Uppsala University showed that people struggled to frown when they looked at other people who were smiling, and their muscles twitched into smiles on their own! It takes 62 muscles to frown, but only 26 muscles to smile!

When we are in crowded areas the wearing of face masks is advised and it is not always easy to see people’s expressions, but you can tell when someone is smiling as their eyes really do sparkle.

Throughout everything, even when we are feeling down God is smiling on us, but sometimes we are preoccupied with what is going on around us to notice.

How do we know God is smiling down on us?

The beauty of the world around us – the bird song, the trees blowing in the wind – when we are feeling low a walk in the countryside can lift our spirits.

When we have said or acted as we shouldn’t, God will forgive us and wash our sins away. The Bible often refers to water washing away our sins as it is cleansing, powerful and pure.

God smiles on us when we take time to talk to Him, to pray, to reflect, to tell Him our worries, our stresses – by sharing our concerns He will take them and ease our load.

God smiles on us when we follow His word.

So allow God’s love to shine through our smiles to spread joy & happiness; as you go about your day to day life, do as it says in Proverbs, give a cheerful look to bring joy to those you meet.

Steph - Family Praise Team

If you want to find out more about the Smiles Per Hour initiative then visit Gloucester Community Building Collective's website. The next Family Fun morning is due to be on 11th October. Would be great to see you there!

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Today (6th September) marks the beginning of Creationtide where we turn our focus to the climate crisis and explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate. This morning, we heard from Dr Ian Todd, who in addition to being a trainee Reader, has spent his career lecturing in biology and conservation. You may recognise his name from the last blog post, where Ian spoke about the importance of biodiversity when heading up the new wildflower meadow.

As stewards of God’s creation we have a responsibility to look for warning signs or damage to the earth and everything that lives on it, including people. And when we hear and see those warning signals we are called to respond— whether it is ecological damage, inequality in availability of resources, oppression of groups of people or unsustainable ways of living. Despite the terrible cost to human life and health, the Covid-19 lockdown led to reduced pollution across the world and an opportunity to see how things can be different. This can be an inspiration to us all to recognise our Christian role in not just living in harmony with God’s world but striving for national and global changes in the way governments and businesses impact on our planet.

In the online service, we also watched a video from A Rocha, which is a organisation dedicated to the protection and restoration of the natural world, committed to mobilising Christians and churches in the UK to care for the environment. If you would like to find out more about what they do, visit their website, where you can also find resources about being an eco-church and "Wild Christians".

St Barnabas is currently working towards its Bronze award as an Eco-Church, where we have begun to think about our energy use, the way we use our grounds and what we choose to preach regarding the environment. This week, a group met at the grounds to begin a bit of a tidy up of the grounds, including tidying up and filling our compost bins! It was a great time of community, worshipping God and caring for creation in a hands on way!

As we move forward we pray that we continue to hold God's creation in the forefront of our minds in all of our day-to-day lives. We are really exciting to see how the grounds will transform over time but this really is the very start of our journey!

If you are reading this, and you would like to commit yourself to this part of the Christian journey, you may like to say these words that we said at the end of our service this morning.

As followers of Jesus, we seek to honour God and love our neighbour by committing to pray faithfully and act boldly to care for the Climate, Amen
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