The Laughing Liberator?

. New Year is often a time of hopeful expectation, resolutions and reflection on the year that’s past. This year is an uneasy time as threats of impending war with Iraq and acts of terrorism fill the media and our thoughts with fears for the future. As national leaders across the world escalate the battle of fighting talk we can be left wondering whether they truly seek peace or are simply looking for a chance to demonstrate their power. It can be difficult to see Jesus amongst all the rhetoric.

Over the last few weeks the website “”, which was launched in October 2002, has had an on-line poll asking visitors to vote for one of 10 images which they believe is closest to the Jesus they imagine when they reflect on who and what he is. Recent surveys have shown that spirituality is one of the most searched for subjects on the web, and has 3000 visitors a day. The winner was “Jesus - the Laughing Liberator” (26%), closely followed by “Light of the World” (20%). 2000 years after his birth the carpenters son from Nazareth still holds the attention of so many. Not as a remote distant figure, but as a friend and leader who can enjoy life and laugh as he heals the lame and sets those imprisoned and enslaved free.

As tensions build in the year ahead, and the pressures grow it might be worth imagining Jesus - the Laughing Liberator in your mind. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future in his hands. Jesus lived life in all its fullness, he enjoyed himself and the company of others as he set them free. Just imagine that laughter, and laugh along with him. After all it takes less muscles to laugher than frown, and a good chuckle is good for our emotional well-being.

Have a blessed New Year.




Excerpt from the past. Corps History No 25

‘The good old days’.? Let me give you a choice selection of entries by corps officers in our history book in the early nineteen-thirties:

1 January 1932:
‘Watchnight service. This was not the success I had anticipated. A nice service but poorly attended. Only 30 turned up’. They should be so lucky!

29 October 1932:
‘Visit of Wellingborough band. It started to rain heavily before the evening festival and simply poured down. However, the crowd was not bad - about 400 present. It was a success, although we lost heavily (financially) because of this’. Are we on another planet now?

25 December 1932:
‘Christmas Day falling on a Sunday affected the services badly. Attendances were very poor’. Down to 150 perhaps?

23 January 1933:
‘Visit of Hammersmith band. This was partly a failure, owing to the fact that the bus strike was on and it turned out to be a foggy night. In the midst of the meeting the lights failed. We just managed to clear expenses’.

February 1933 Self-Denial (now Annual) appeal,:
‘Result £365 - a good effort but a mighty difficult one owing to many donors’ deaths and removals’. Well. we see what they meant!

May 1933:
Cutting from The Wimbledon Borough News, ‘One can never pass through Wimbledon on a Sunday without being impressed by the fine Salvation Army band, numbering 35 players, under the leadership of Bandmaster L. James. Also the Songster Brigade, one of the finest in London, numbering 33 members, led by Songster Leader W. Foot. The membership of the corps is 202, among whom are some of the tradesfolk.

Christmas 1933-:
‘A Christmas dinner was given to 200 poor people. The mayor and a number of councillors attended. We had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, three veg, plum pudding and mince pies. About 50 parcels of food were sent out to the old folk who could not manage, to get there’.

Next month: The Army’s new General chooses Wimbledon as ‘her corps’.
Ron Foot




Praise Meeting

December is always a month of activity, when there never seems to be quite enough hours in the day. Despite this much practice and preparation had gone into the items that various people contributed. Lots of congratulations go to Charlotte Murfin for her solo on the piano, and duet with Mum. To the Drama group for their unusual telling of the Nativity Story. To Rebecca for her poem. To Ailsa for the YP story. The Timbrel group for their energy. As usual Major deftly pulled all the strands together with a few brief thoughts. If you have not been to any of these meetings try and attend one or two this year. They are different to our usual worship and allow us all to share together in praising God for all his goodness to us. They occur at 3pm on the third Sunday of the month. See you there.





The headline could read “Vicar’s novel outsells Harry Potter”. At a time when merchandise is being promoted in conjunction with the second Harry Potter film, Waterstone’s Bookstore chain have selected Rev. Graham Taylor as a featured author for the first three months of 2003. His book Shadowmancer tells the story of a young African boy shipwrecked off the coast of Britain in the 1700s, and his subsequent adventures involving magic, superstition and witchcraft. It is a children’s novel and a positive alternative to the many books about occult powers. In the first month when the book was on sale in Waterstones shops it outsold the special edition of Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets 3 to 1. It might be well worth a read.




Junior Soldier Awards

It is always a delight to spring pleasant surprises on the Junior Soldiers and Major had just this chance on 22 December. Aiden and James have been racing each other to see who can complete their Bronze Junior Soldier Award first. They have worked together in class on several activities and projects, and taken work home to complete and bring back. Now together they have both finished.

Well done both of you, and keep up the enthusiasm - it’s good to keep the YPSM on her toes.




A Child’s Prayer

“Dear God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love all the people in the world. There are only four people in my family and I can never do it.” (From David Pytches book Out of the mouth of Babes, published by Eagle Publishing)




Flower List

The new list of dates for 2003 is now available through Major. Please support this ministry which graces our alter Table each week, and allows each one of use to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation within our Hall.




Christmas Greetings

The festive season is a time of sharing with others and this year we have received Christmas Greetings from Vi Tucker; Majors Steve and Margaret Huyton; Mavis in New Zealand; Helen, Scott and Jay; Toni Roger and John Taylor.




Preaching programme for January

  Morning Holiness meeting Evening Salvation Meeting
5th 10.30 am Morning Meeting lead by Major Rosemary Randall . Monthly Corps Prayer Meeting at 5-30pm
6pm Salvation meeting lead byMajor Rosemary Randall .
Sunday Club Kid’s Zone - Wise men worship Jesus.
Matthew 2:1-12
Y Zone - Praise where praise is due.
Matthew 2:1-12
Junior Soldiers Class Remain in Holiness Meeting  
12th 10-30 am Morning Meeting lead by Major Rosemary Randall . 6pm Lead by Major Rosemary Randall.
Sunday Club Kid’s Zone - Jesus at Home.
Luke 2:39-40, 52 and Matthew 13:55-56
Y Zone - The Early Years.
Luke 2:39-40, 52 and Mark 6:1-3
Junior Soldiers Class Giving our Testimony. John 1:29-49  
19th 10-30 am YP Annual Prize Giving lead by YPSM Ailsa Flinders. 3 pm Praise Meeting lead by Major Rosemary Randall .
No evening meeting.
Sunday Club Kid’s Zone - What’s God like?
Luke 2:41-52
Y Zone - Do what your father says!
Luke 2:41-52 Colossians 3:20
Junior Soldiers Class No class remain in YP Annual Prize Giving  
26th 10-30 am Morning Meeting lead by Major Rosemary Randall. 6pm Lead by Major Rosemary Randall.
Sunday Club Kid’s Zone - Obeying God.
Matthew 3:13-17 and Luke 3:21-22
Y Zone - Check your ID.
Matthew 3:13-17 and John 1:19-34
Junior Soldiers Class Faith and Feeling. 1 John 1:9,5:19  




YP Memory Verse

Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men. Luke 2:52




Exèrcito De Salvação, Algarve

Paul and Ailsa had opportunity to visit the Corps in the Algarve in December and catch up with the news. Much growth has occurred over the last year, with all sections being opened up as outreach opportunities so friends, adherents and soldier can all take an equal part. The Brass Band has grown to 22 members. As the Corps can not afford to buy brass instruments they have linked up with the local Fire Brigade Brass Band and share instruments. The Gospel Singing Group that started in January 2002 has 15 regular members and is growing. A worship band has been created and the monthly International Services in English continue with a growing number of attendees each month. A translator is now available at other meetings to translate into English for those that need it. September saw Captains Pedro and António Neves farewell for a Corps in Lisbon. The installation of the new officers proved that the current building is too small. Of the 80 people who attended only 50 were able to sit in the hall ! The rest stood in the square outside. Each Sunday evening a Coffee Fellowship is now held in the bar next to the Hall - because there are no facilitates in the hall to make coffee. Out reach to the community has also grown. 100 families receive regular support, and more are being referred every week. Though the cost of living is different in Portugal, compared to the UK, funds to sustain this work are limited. Many of those who worship at the Corps are retired, poorly waged or unemployed. All the outreach is sustain by donations, or the giving of the Corps which is about £100 a month. It is exciting to see God moving in such a wonderful way among the people of the Corps. As last year the YP Tiddler’s Race will be raising funds which will be taken out to the Corps over Easter.





In this months Christianity and Renewal magazine Gerald Coates shares of four situations in the UK where revival is taking place. Gerald defines revival as “a move of God that is out of our control”. The four situations are close knit communities of people, where people know each other and share each others experiences. So where are they - first is the church lead by Matthew Ashimolowo in North London. This church, set within the black community, now has 7000 plus worshipping each week and growth continues. The second is the gypsy community. Over the last 12 years 10,000 gypsies have given their lives to Christ. The third is Catterick Army Garrison (the largest garrison in Europe). Since January 2002 1,000 soldiers have professed faith and given their lives to Jesus. The catalyst is 500 soldiers drafted into the British Army from the Philippines who are based there and it is their aim to re-evangelise the British Army! Finally there is the prison revival. Approximately 70,000 prisoners are serving time in the UK. Around 10,000 have professed faith in Christ, and for many who have left prison the faith has held firm and they are serving God in their communities on release.

Gerald finishes his article with this comment, “As Jesus continues to be busy in royal palaces and prisons and everything in between, let’s ask the question, what would it mean to truly put the gospel back at the centre of our lives, families, cells and public meetings.” Can you imagine the impact that could make on our Corps, our schools and workplaces, our local community? Do you have the faith to ask the question? If so start praying for the outcome and watch God change your world.

( From Revival Now by Gerald Coates published in Christianity and Renewal January 2003 page 43)




A Prayer of Samuel M’comb

A strength in the Salvation Army is our extempore prayer. Praying with people naturally and spontaneously at the point of need. There are times though when liturgical prayers, written by others for private and public use, can open our eyes to another dimension of prayer. If you are disillusioned with New Years Resolutions, that never seem to last long, why not try this prayer instead for 2003.

Strong Son of God, who was tried and tested to the uttermost, yet without sin; be near me now with Thy strength and give me victory over the evil desires that threaten to ruin me.
I am weak oh Lord, and full of doubts and fears.
There are moments when I am afraid of myself, when the world and the flesh and the devil seem more powerful than the forces of good.
But now I look to Thee in whom dwelleth all the fullness of grace and might and redemption.
Blessed Saviour!
I take Thee afresh to be my Refuge, my Cover, my Defence, my strong Tower from the enemy.
Hear me and bless me now and ever. Amen.




Corps Diary January 2003

Monday 6th Festival of Epiphany
Friday 10th Kid’s Club. 6 to 7-30pm. See Ailsa for details.
Sunday 12th Commitment Sunday
Saturday 18th YP New Year Party 3 to 6pm. See Ailsa for details.
Sunday 19th YP Annual Prize Giving. See Ailsa for details.
Thursday 23rd Bible Fellowship. Jonah - Running from God. See Ron for details.
Friday 24th Kid’s Club. 6 to 7-30pm. See Ailsa for details.
Sunday 26th Homelessness Sunday
During the week 6 January 2003 all weekly activities and clubs re-start. Do enjoy attending them and catching up with all the news.




Prayer Corner

Christmas is a time of giving thanks, so lets start this months Prayer Corner thinking of all the different things that we can give thanks for. There’s Christmas presents, family and friends, laughter, health, work, food, heating, mild weather……. I’m sure you can add more. Ron is giving thanks for good medical results. Major’s friend Mary is gaining weight and home following her surgery. It is good to see new friends worshipping with us in the Corps as each week goes by. It was good to see old friends as we have been carolling and during various meetings at the Corps. There are however a number of our Corps folk, their families or friends who are in need of our prayers. We think of Heather undergoing chemotherapy; Ernest, and the family, as Mary has been admitted to a nursing home for rehabilitation following her recent illness





Is over for another year. Just think no more Christmas carols until Band and Songster practice in October!!! In a year when numbers of available Corps folk where low and other pressures affected peoples ability to be available there was concern about how effective the witness would be both in the Homes and at Sava Centre. However God had matters in hand and with the willing support of the Band, YP Singing Group, Santa Claus, the Timbrel Group, Don and Eileen Cramp and those from Reading Central it all went well. £844 was raised at Sava Centre in just 4 hours and thanks came from all the homes for the ministry to them. Well done everyone for your efforts it has been good.




Christmas Teaser Answer

The first letter of each answer is the first letter of the next. When completed the grey boxes reveal an anagram of a Christmas visitor.
1. Stocking,
2. geNtlemen,
3. niCholus,
4. stAr,
5. rUdolph,
6. holLy,
7. Yuletide,
8. eAst,
9. Tinsel,
10. lordS





Missing Link Answer

The first letter of each answer is the first letter of the next. When completed the grey boxes reveal an anagram of a Christmas visitor.
Each group of two words can be linked by another to make a common phrase. For example, fat-cat and cat-nap. Once completed the first letters of the answers read down to spell a Christmas party favourite.
FAT _ _ _ NAP
WORLD _ _ _ _ _ _ PLAYER
DECK _ _ _ _ _ MAN
1. Cat,
2. Record,
3. Ark,
4. Chair,
5. Key,
6. Egg,
7. Ring





And We Have A Winner

When did you last look inside a Kid’s Alive Magazine? Was it recently or a long time ago? These days it’s full of lively things to catch the attention of our young folk. In fact it so caught the attention of Charlotte Murfin that she had a go at one of the competitions. Much to her delight and surprise she won a DVD. Well done Charlotte. Enjoy watching it.




Toy Service

Took place on 1 December 2002, at 10-30 am. By all accounts it was a great morning of sharing and celebrating, and the highlight was when one of the Mums placed her own son in the manager. It brought an added depth and meaning to the Nativity Story brought to us by the children from our Parents and Toddlers Group. Thank you to every one who gave so generously for the children who are young carers.