Church Gathering on Sunday 27th September

On Sunday 27th September at 10.30am we will have our first trial church gathering at our buildings in Chapel Street since lockdown.

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Follow Us on Instagram

Want inspirational Bible verses, prayers, notices, and fuel for your own worship? Follow us on our Countess Free Church Instagram account.

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Ely Brick Show Goes Online

Following the success of last year’s Brick Show, we had hoped to bring another this year – but of course events with the coronavirus took over. However we are now pleased to announce that from Saturday 5th September the Ely Brick show is going online!

Using videos and other online interactive possibilities a number of incredible models and contraptions built out of Lego will be on display. This collection has kindly been put together by a local presenter in support of the Ely CAP Debt Centre that the church supports.

To access the displays and information about them, please go to the Ely Brick Show web page. Through that web page donations can be made, which will all go to the work of the CAP Debt Centre.

From Star Wars and Harry Potter to Great Ball Contraptions, there are a plethora of creative builds to view. Furthermore, you can also see displays such as medieval castles, watch a country western animation, view Disney Main Street, delight in the Lego City, Brick on Sea, and wonder at the intricately detailed buildings, as well as so many others, conjured from the imaginations of these talented creators.

Extras that add to the show also include an interview with finalists from the Channel 4 programme Lego masters, a Lego Kahoot quiz, Lego build competition and Lego workshops ranging from how to make Lego trees, to getting the texture right when making a Lego beach.

New Series in Ezekiel: Strange Messages for Strange Times

We all agree that this year has been the strangest of times, with the corona virus pandemic turning the world upside down and leaving us all scrabbling to think what might be a ‘new normal’. It is time for us to think outside of the usual confines, and seek God for the bigger picture!

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Life Stories – Nigel: Faith Journey through Cancer

Nigel, born in Chelmsford in the early sixties, always knew deep down that God was working under the surface for him.

In 2012, Nigel truly felt Gods presence during a tough point in his life. Having recently been divorced, he was enduring a career in sales for which he had no passion. It gave a poor working environment and set unachievable targets. He thought that: “there’s got to be a better way to earn a living but there’s also got to be a more satisfying way to make a life”.

Only a few months earlier Nigel had started attending the Countess Free Church, and had decided to let Jesus into his life. After talking to a gardener, a seed was sewn in Nigel’s mind and he decided to begin working for himself in the gardening business. Through the newfound peace that the gardening bought, Nigel felt his faith really coming alive and knew that this was God’s plan for him all along.

“there’s got to be a better way to earn a living …
but there’s also got to be a more satisfying way to make a life”

However, not long after this, Nigel discovered that he was unwell. After a visit to the hospital he found out that there was a cancerous tumour in his bladder. Despite all of this, Nigel kept his faith with God strong and trusted that Jesus had a purpose even in the difficulty. He was not nervous and after the tumour was removed, Nigel took regular medications and felt his life return to a peaceful state once again.

He was incredibly thankful to God that he could remain business minded and develop his faith through the Countess Church small groups and Bible studies. In 2015 he was married to Paula, and they were both baptised in that same year.

Unfortunately, in January 2019, Nigel realised that something was not right. The bladder cancer had returned. Upon hearing this news Nigel said, “I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me.” But still, he trusted in God and was grateful that the tumour had been caught early. Nigel felt God’s presence through various cancer support groups and was blown away by the openness of the members. He truly felt as if these people had been selected by God to make this hard time far easier.

In October 2019, Nigel decided to have an operation to have his bladder removed. It was a decision heavily influenced by God’s word telling him ‘I’ve got things I want to do with you, I’m not finished with you yet’.

“Life interlocks perfectly, like a jigsaw, but we never see the final picture. We just have to trust in Him”

Then, on November 11th, 2019, with full faith in God, Nigel had his operation. He went in with an amazing feeling of peace after praying with Paula. Thankfully, he could not have asked for a better recovery or more helpful staff in the hospital for the next 6 days. Despite the operation having similar effects to being in a major car crash for the body, Nigel still managed to enjoy his Christmas dinner 6 weeks later.

Nowadays, Nigel enjoys the tranquillity of gardening and is not limited by the operation. He also regularly helps people out by giving advice in cancer support groups in order to give back to Addenbrookes hospital.

Nigel would advise people to ‘enjoy the now’ as God is always working. He describes life as something that ‘interlocks perfectly, like a jigsaw, but we never see the final picture. We just have to trust in Him’.

Nigel with his wife Paula are members of the Countess Free Church.

Story authored by Tom Hawksley.

Church Scattered

Because of the lockdown restrictions and public health precautions we are still unable to gather as church. However that doesn’t mean that the church has stopped functioning or existing, because We Are Church.

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Seeking Jesus Together in the Small

Thankfully restrictions are slowly lifting … and yet even from this weekend they are still tight. We can use our building, but with lots of restrictions – so many in fact that as a leadership team we do not believe we can sensibly hold any kind of meaningful worship gathering.

However, it is possible from this Saturday (4th) for people to meet in very restricted numbers at homes or outdoors. The regulations permit:

In both the above cases social distancing should continue, and of course people should not meet if they or a member of their household have or suspect symptoms.

We are encouraged by the discipleship pattern of Jesus, and Luke’s record of the infant church. Those early Christ-followers met both outdoors (temple courts in their case) and in homes. The format was simple: processing the teaching from the leadership, sharing together, breaking bread (being one – together in Christ), and praying together. The simplicity derives from Jesus, who sat with just a few to teach, discuss and share.

“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer … they met in the temple courts and in their homes”

Acts 2:42, 46

So for this next season we want to encourage ‘micro meet-ups‘: very small gatherings of people to seek Jesus together. There is an ongoing teaching feed that you might discuss (written / podcast), you can share (e.g. ask each other the most recent ‘soul question’ or key question), and of course you can pray. You can even ‘break bread’ together if you can agree a way of doing that which is appropriate and you are all comfortable with.

Remember also that Jesus’ initial Kingdom witness strategy was to send pairs of people out to other people’s homes (e.g. Luke 9 and 10)! It really doesn’t need larger numbers or complexity!

“Where two or three gather in my name, I am there with them”

Matthew 18:20

You might meet as an existing prayer partnership or triplet, as an existing IPOD or other group (if small enough), or take initiative and reach out to someone else in the church for your own gathering – these will be up to you (we are not proposing to micro-manage everyone into these micro meet-ups!).

We know some of us must still keep safe by not meeting up, and others may not yet feel comfortable to do so. This is perfectly understandable – each of us has both our own risk profile and our own attitudes to risk. We do not therefore seek to prescribe for anyone.

Going forward our building is not completely off limits: we can sensibly use it for things like focussed prayer gatherings – for example praying into pioneering. Look out for these being scheduled in the near future.

We will also continue with a mix of podcasts and whole church zooms. Groups who are meeting online can of course continue to do so, especially if it is not permissible or appropriate to physically meet outdoors. Yet through it all we trust in one of the greatest promises Jesus gave: to be right there with us, even in the smallest gathering.

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