So much good news to share and give thanks to God for....

Festive, the Christian charity working in further education (FE) have just published their annual review for 2018 and what a year it has been!

Festive have been collaborating with FCG over the last couple of years to develop links and extend the work we do in faith and further education. You can read Festive’s report HERE.

You can also download the FCG flyer which has material to share and use in your churches on how to develop a closer working relationship with the further education sector in your area… HERE.

The Free Churches Group are committed to supporting our member churches / groups to engage with and work across all educational sectors, including further education.

Why not share and pray this prayer in the coming weeks, in your churches which Sara Iles, FCG Education Asst, wrote for Education Sunday?

Learning and education programmes can combat loneliness.....

Over the years, I have been involved in community learning programmes, as a tutor and as a student myself. I have recently attended a really interesting course about the wildlife and archaeology in my home county, with the Workers’ Educational Association. I went on the course for all sorts of reasons, but one of the main ones is that I wanted to connect more with people who share common interests. The WEA have recently published a thought provoking article about how learning programmes can help to tackle loneliness; you can read it HERE.

I tutored on adult and community learning provision on programmes for parents returning to work after periods of childcare and I delivered cookery courses for stroke survivors . One of the massive things which struck me was how isolated these people felt they were. They felt they had been outside the loop of ordinary life and felt distant and disconnected. Their periods of childcare or tackling a new situation, because of a stroke, had meant that their lives had changed and the old ways they had connected with with wider world had disappeared. Community learning was a way back into knowing and feeling life in all its fullness…

I was in a unique position, as a community tutor, to bring them back into a wider circle of people and life. In many ways, the work and mission / outreach we could do in our churches can do the same kind of thing. We, as Christians who care about the world and our communities, are hubs of learning, connection and friendship. As churches, we can extend and develop this work. You can see resources and ideas in links below which can help you get things off the ground where you are and you can contact me if you would like to discuss your ideas:

The FCG and the work of the Free Church Education Committee are committed to supporting our member churches and groups connect more with their local communities and breathe life into the way that they can work together.

There are lots of examples of how churches and community learning providers have linked together to provide services. You can read more about one of the FCG member churches, from the URC, doing just this, HERE.

We have created a flyer which you could use in your churches to being this work which you can download HERE.


Revd Sara Iles, Free Churches Group Education Assistant and Community Learning Tutor (QTLS / MSET)

40 Seconds of Prayer

FCG have created a working relationship with Festive, the Christian charity supporting those in further education (FE). You can read more about the work of Festive HERE. Each month they publish prayers for their work. Pray with us….

As we approach Christmas many Christian Unions and chaplains we support are running Christmas events and outreach initiatives.  Please pray for these events happening across the country, that many students will be challenged to consider and receive the greatest gift ever given – Jesus Christ! Below are some specific prayer requests for this month:

  • Praise God for the 39 new student contacts we have signed up this term, from two youth events this last month and from our new college work in Northern Ireland.  This makes almost 400 student contacts now in total!  Pray for our team of student support workers and staff who have needed to take on extra contacts to meet this growing work.  Pray that as we write to and pray for these contacts that we would be able to inspire and equip many to live out their faith in a radical way during their time at college.

  • Christians in Cornwall are looking to find a way to fund and appoint a chaplaincy co-ordinator who will oversee the chaplaincy work for all the 16-19 year olds in the county. This could be a very strategic post. Pray that God will provide the funding for it to happen, and a person with a heart for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus who will be able to take up the opportunity.

  • Numbers are slipping down in the CU at Alton College and Caroline, who leads it, is feeling very discouraged. Please pray for her and other CU leaders in a similar situation that they would be strong and persistent, and not give up.

  • ‘I’m still wrestling with the idea of knowing and feeling God’s hand on my life and which way to go’, writes Bethany. She is not alone. Many students are struggling through UCAS applications and planning Gap years or work after they leave college and the pressure of making all these big decisions can feel immense. Pray for Bethany and others like her, that they will learn to trust God in new ways and know the peace he gives.
    Thank-you for your prayers. The Festive Team

The gift of further education

Over the last few years, the FCG has been developing ways of supporting our member churches / groups to get involved with their local education providers - schools, further education (FE) and universities… You can read more about this work by looking HERE.

The FCG, with the Education Committee and FE Working Group, have developed an accessible engaging flyer HERE. This is designed to help your churches pray for and engage with further education - serving local communities. Each year, some 3 million young adults, men and women are on a course or training programme in FE. So at any time, many members of our churches and communities are involved in FE in some way…

Watch this space in the new year for flyers and prayer packs for your church for FE, Schools and Universities!

Let us pray…

Living God, we pray for students, tutors and support staff in the further education establishments in our area.

May students be filled with strength, determination and wisdom to fulfil their potential in their vocational and academic studies.

In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

New report published - On children and young people's mental health

On 22nd November, the NHS published a report concerning the mental health of children and young people across England. You can read the full report HERE.

We will know of children and young people in our churches and communities who have struggled with mental health issues; we may be a young person reading this who is encountering difficulties; we may have youngsters in our own congregations and families who have mental health conditions. This is a concern for us all and so it is important to be aware of the report’s findings and understand some of the issues that our children and young people are facing. There are links below which could help and can be shared with others in need.

Some of the key findings from the report are:

  • One in eight (12.8%) 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed in 2017

  • Rates of mental disorders increased with age.

  • Emotional disorders have become more common in five to 15 year-olds 

A recent article in the Premier Christian Media Trust calls for churches to be open to teenagers facing issues. You can read about it HERE and find out where schemes to support young people are currently operating.

The Free Churches Group are committed to supporting member churches and groups engage with issues of the day and find ways in which our free churches can engage more fully in the community, in issues such as education and mental health support. We will be developing these further over the next couple of years so keep an eye out in our FCG newsletters for further information.

There are various networks you can register your support with or join their newsletter circulation list:

  1. Action for Children

  2. “Beating the Blues” Programme

  3. Pray for Schools

  4. Anti-Bullying Alliance

  5. Mind and Soul Foundation

  6. Childline

  7. Festive - the Christian Further Education charity

A blessing Prayer

May the Lord God Bless you each step of Life’s way.

May you learn each day to open yourself to love and the blessings of love. May you find a stick to lean on when the road is hard- and not use the stick to beat yourself. May you be blessed with life's abundance and blessed in poor days too, learning again what really matters, what lasts.

May you never give in to despair or the lie that nothing can change. May you find ways of life and walk them with courage, knowing that every step is within the heart of Christ who holds all our days in love. Amen

© Revd Dr Christopher Jenkins