Dear Ivy Church framily
I might have made up a word there – but we want to be friends following the mission of Jesus and belonging together as the family of God so I’ll stick with it for now.
I’ve written various annual reports recently by reflecting in some way that, “It’s been a tough year, but God is faithful.” That’s certainly been true for us Delaneys and maybe for you too, so I started to write something similar again until I realised it will always be true in this life, and I know why.
I heard the story years ago of a missionary couple who returned from service for the Lord in a foreign land and when they arrived at the port there was a band to welcome some celebrity off the ship, but nobody for them. The man told his wife how angry he was, so she suggested he talk to the Lord about it. When he came back from prayer his face had totally changed. “The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told him how bitter I was when no one met us to celebrate as we returned home. Then it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ‘But you’re not home yet!’”
The Lord said, “In this world you will have trouble….” Yet, as the God of all blessings continues to prove Himself faithful, generous, and loving “…take heart, I have overcome the world.” I really am expectant that 2023 will be our year of BLESSING, in which as we obey and trust the Lord we will see incredible breakthroughs, miracles, signs and wonders like never before.
This annual report is our chance to reflect on a year of rebuilding, which as those who rebuilt the temple in the Old Testament found is sacrificial, hard work, with spiritual opposition all the way, so that there’s always a mixture of tears of joy and celebration (see Ezra 3). Take time to look at the statistics but see behind and beyond them, to the incredible stories about how God has moved among and within us.
We are not the same church as we were in the past, nor should we be, because God is moving and we are followers!
He’s moving in our city, in our church, and in the lives of so many. Thank you for being part of this. I love how many of you have joined us in the year of rebuilding and rolled your sleeves up to get involved. I love how we are not just sitting in rows on Sundays but living out obedience and passion for Jesus 24/7 and everywhere we go. Every week our brilliant staff team (and every month the wonderful elders) get to hear and share the stories of hope, life change and people moving ‘from lost and alone to found and at home’ through this church. It’s breath-taking and faith building and I wish we could tell you more stories but this report gives the headlines.
I sincerely thank God for those of you who have been here longer too, our reward for staying the course means we have seen him do even more great things, and, as you read, my hope is that your response like mine is gratitude and worship for what was, combined with faith and expectation because I can’t wait to see what the Lord does next!
The first step on the DISCIPLESHIP PATHWAY as we help people find their way back to God is DISCOVER. How do we discover people far from God and help them discover Jesus? We do this by releasing God’s power through all of God’s people, inspiring, equipping and commissioning every person at Ivy Church and beyond into the mission of Jesus.
We are celebrating some significant advances in that mission.
We are also thrilled that John Carlow became the new Ladybridge Connect Centre Manager and that the Ivy Cafe celebrated its first birthday in November 2022.
The Ivy Cafe and the Brockbank Centre have begun to establish themselves as a quality community hub. The cafe has increased its opening times, from one to three days a week (Thursday - Saturday) and provides a friendly, inclusive environment. This missional project is supported by an incredible group of volunteers with a huge commitment. May they all be blessed, as they are a blessing to all the customers.
Cafe Manager Jo Clark continues to provide an imaginative menu. Excellent food and coffee are important, but critically we have also started a proactive prayer ministry during cafe opening hours, where we believe people will find healing, restoration, love, peace and faith.
We have seen a wider demographic of community users, including welcoming young families on Saturday mornings during the lacrosse season. Many have become regulars and enjoy the unique setting. Both home and away spectators are impressed with the exciting collaboration between the sports clubs and the church, expressing genuine interest as to why a church would do this.
The use of the both the Brockbank Centre and the Pavilion has increased gradually, for a wide range of activities including: Asian ladies’ evenings, family parties, fitness classes, a foreign language course, many meetings and conferences by various groups including business, charity, education and health care providers and, of course, church activities and services.
We’ve also moved forward with a greater social media presence - please like and follow the Ivy Cafe Instagram and Facebook pages and look out for us in SK8 and the Cheadle Post. We are entering into an exciting year, where Ladybridge Connect will flourish and pray we see many find their way back to God.
As part of our Discipleship Pathway we recognise that people who have discovered Jesus need to be delivered fully into the new life he offers. That happens firstly by being born – again. After we are washed free of the stains of sin we need to be continually set free from the chains and healed from the pains that inevitably come as part of us living in this broken world.
This is so broad-ranging as to be nearly all encompassing in terms of complexity, yet it can be summed up as living as a community who practise the ‘one anothers’ of scripture (there are 59 of them, but boil it down to “Love one another” and you won’t go far wrong!). It’s the job of the whole church working together to care for everyone else.
Hannah Bettany who set some of the architecture for the role, particularly training for Ivy Care which continues to help many, stepped down from the role to give time and care to her family’s own needs. We are grateful for the additional time and cover Louise Yuill has provided for this ministry area as we now continue to prayerfully consider the best way forward to ‘deliver Deliver’!
Some aspects of the deliver role have been met by myself, the elders and staff members and must of course remain confidential, but we thank God for marriages helped, griefs comforted and financial stresses alleviated by appropriate pastoral care whether through prayer, counsel or practical help (including but not limited to the CAP ministry) provided in Jesus name.
While many needs and opportunities come to our notice when chatting after services or from people contacting the church office, others have been helped because people are connected into the life of Ivy through regular commitment to their Grow Groups. We encourage you to consider making that a priority so you have a place to know and be known, love and be loved, in a small group setting.
At the Ivy CAP Debt Centre we celebrated 13 debt free clients this year, taking the total to 114 since the centre opened 11 years ago.
We were asked to speak up on the cost of living crisis on the BBC national news and on local radio, letting people know there is hope and free help available. We were pleased to fulfil Proverbs 32:8-9, to "Speak up for those that cannot speak for themselves".
Through the generosity of Ivy members (there was even a sponsored run and a bake sale to raise funds) we were also able to go the extra mile and bless clients with food shops, phone top-ups, heated blankets, insolvency fees and more.
40 people have attended the CAP Money Course at the Message Grocery. All feedback forms score 100% on "Would recommend this course." with each person moving from being “anxious/don't like to think about money” to “keeping on top of things or in control.”
"The course has taken away the worry, I am now excited to be in control of my finances" "I no longer have a fear of money"
“Thank you so much for helping me clear my debts and start off from scratch. It was nice to meet someone that actually didn’t judge me. You have made my life that bit easier.”
God is rebuilding his church and wants our full devotion. The Lord asked us to prepare the grounds for him to dwell in. He is here already, but he has much more he wants to do and so our Prayer and Worship night was born, to establish rhythms of devotion to the Lord as a foundation.
We have an amazing team leading Flow once a month who are committed to pursuing and encountering the presence of God. We also started Worship Jam sessions in September, an opportunity for everyone to bring their instruments and voices in worship, giving what they have.
Faith Lifts continued every weekday until November when they became ‘Faith Lift Friday’. I’m so proud of the staff team for continuing this journey for two and a half years! People who connect with Ivy online and joined our Faith Lifts have let me know how they shared these with their friends and family, some who aren’t yet Christians. We never truly know the impact made in God’s Kingdom!
I’m grateful to have a dedicated team of worship leaders and musicians who make themselves available to serve. We’ve had people step up into the role of leading worship and people growing in their musicianship. We’re so blessed to have incredible and reliable tech teams for our services and events. We’re also pleased that our Sunday online services are still going strong, with a wonderful group of committed digital hosts.
The songs we sing as a church set the tone for our worship as a church and in our everyday lives. We start with songs of praise and of gratitude, diverting us away from ourselves and directing us to God alone. We launched a quarterly song list for Ivy worship in the summer to help us in this.
Highlights this year include the worship leaders and Devote Core team spending time with Luke Finch, the Worship and Creative Director at Glasgow Prophetic Alliance. We also had the privilege of our dear Lynn Swart sharing her wisdom, experience and teaching on worship over a weekend in October, with such positive feedback- it was suggested we should do something like this every year!
One of the most memorable and special times this year was when the Holy Spirit led us to a spontaneous healing night in October. God wants to heal and we believe everything we have been doing as a church is preparing the ground for his Spirit to move.
In this year of rebuilding, our focus has been on listening to the heart of God, praying and seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit as he leads the church with Jesus as our Lord, Saviour and King. We will continue to share more resources, ideas and provide the space for his church to grow in their devotion to our Lord.
Develop is about equipping one another for works of service, so that we as the body of Christ may be built up, as we release God’s power through God’s people, regardless of age, gender or race . During the Year of Rebuilding we have certainly seen this come to fruition. We have had new exciting initiatives begin as well as new leaders being developed in all areas of our ministries – Sunday hosts, worship, grow group leaders, new church leaders, kids team and youth to name a few.
Over the past year we have hosted regular evenings for our Grow Group leaders to ensure we are investing in them well and helping them to lead you. They do such an incredible job throughout the year and we are truly grateful to each one of them. They have also been supported by a wonderful team of Grow Group Connectors who regularly check in with them and offer a listening ear or advice if it is needed.
As a staff team we have continued with our bi-monthly staff college and have had valued input from members of our own congregations’ professional expertise! These sessions will continue in 2023 as we seek to develop ourselves, ultimately to grow you too!
It has been really exciting to have been part of the New Church training alongside Tim Burr, raising up new leaders who are being called by God to build his church in new ways.
There is a vast array of gold within Ivy church and each one of you has that gold inside of you. As we enter 2023, why not be ready to say yes to him and see how he uses you. I would love to help you with that.
Big love, Louise
Abi Shuttleworth/ Lorna Lindsay
Throughout 2022 Lorna has carried the reins of the WTC Manchester Hub with grace and joy. She has brilliantly guided each of the students through their own journey of either starting, continuing or finishing their studies. We have had 6 new students join the Hub and a few students returning who took breaks over the past few years.
This year has seen us consistently meeting in person and the Brockbank Centre has provided an excellent base for the Hub nights. In April we hosted a Kingdom Theology Event with Jasper Knecht which saw the Brockbank Centre filled with theology enthusiasts and potential students. We have been able to transition the library from The Message to Cheadle Hulme which has significantly improved the student experience.
It has been wonderful to return from maternity leave to find the new cohorts becoming established. It is a privilege to walk alongside each student as they learn and become formed into his image through their learning. We are praying for an increase in connections with churches in Manchester and beyond and for an influx of new students in the coming year.
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus heals or delivers people, then sends them back home to show and tell their communities all that Jesus has done. Deploy is about helping all of us do the same. Ivy continues to be passionate about mission; sharing the gospel, loving people practically, multiplying disciples, and seeing new churches started.
A key part of Deploy is supporting our Mission Partners who are reaching specific groups of people for Jesus in different ways. For instance, The Message Trust helped bring churches together for Festival Manchester where thousands heard the gospel for the first time. In similar ways, our other mission partners are at work sharing Jesus. We welcomed Ray and Bridget back to the UK as they continue to support mission work in Latin America. Next year we will say a fond farewell to the Duffys who are obediently following God’s call to those in the Middle East and Asia. Barnabus recently launched a new initiative to support homeless friends starting out in new homes and have trained up Ivy members to form a Sustain Team. Safe and Free are innovatively working with different sectors to halt the evil of modern day slavery. Numbers seeking asylum in the UK are at a twenty-year high, with Boaz supporting and housing many who find themselves homeless through the asylum process, at times through the generous provision of accommodation by Ivy members. Dignity are aiming to multiply their life groups to half a million, Henneke Cooke has followed God’s call to set up the Hephzibah project out in Athens reaching asylum-seeking and refugee women.
We spent time with Steve and Flor in the summer, hearing some highlights of building God’s kingdom in Bangkok and across Thailand, training leaders and teaching at Bangkok Bible Seminary. Early Essentials have now supported over 3,000 new mums. Ed and Martine, and the Barbiers, continue to make disciples and grow churches in Southern France. Light are seeing hundreds of young people not just respond to the gospel but start journeys of discipleship after their gigs. NewDay United have resiliently continued through national and local upheaval to raise up leaders and their communities in South Africa.
This small highlight doesn’t include so much more that's happening through Ivy people and other connected organisations such as Press Red, TLG, OM, Street Pastors, Open Doors, Safe Families, Hope Lebedyn to name a few.
There are so many opportunities for us to be deployed and reach our communities with the good news of Jesus. From discover to deploy, where are you at in your discipleship pathway adventure?
Our partnership with NewThing exists to catalyse movements of churches that reproduce at every level. NewThing comes alongside apostolic leaders around the world to help them start and sustain movements of church planting in their city, nation or continent. Anthony Delaney and Ivy Church have been a key part of pioneering the work of NewThing in Western Europe since we joined in 2015.
This year Tobbias Ngala took over from Tim Burr as the Regional Director for Western Europe. We had three significant Movement System trainings in Manchester and Geneva this year and have more scheduled in Geneva and Berlin. We also started a 2 year Movement System training and coaching journey with Festival Church in Chester who have a vision to multiply churches across Wales and beyond. There are many exciting opportunities ahead of us in 2023 including with a major denomination in the UK and a developing relationship with a key leader in Norway.
We believe this is just the beginning and God wants to do even more to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the 415 million people that live in Western Europe.
2022 saw the return of in-person LAUNCH as we gathered 300 Christian leaders from around the UK for RE:PLANT. We were joined by incredible global church pioneers and practitioners including Ness Wilson, Josh Howard, Anne and Gavin Calver, Steve Uppal, Dr. James Emery White and Keri Ladoceur (some digitally due to the hurricanes in the USA!) The theme dug into what it looks like to create and multiply healthy church culture and leaders. The Edge, Wigan became a thriving Eden as we visually created a metaphor for growth. LAUNCH saw church leadership teams go deep, receiving healing from the hardest years they’ve faced in ministry - and then go in faith into what God would have them plant next.
We introduced the Discipleship Pathway, Knowing Growing Going and Multiply Churches Cohort resources to the group, which we know will be a blessing to many churches and ultimately the many thousands of disciples they sow into. We’re excited to see what God does with these opportunities, as well as our partnership with RightNow Media to get the Discipleship Pathway videos on their screening platform globally.
LAUNCH is always a fantastic opportunity for Ivy to invest and receive and we’re very grateful for everyone who gave time to serve this year, you’re wonderful!
Chris Jackson and Holly Heap
What a great year! All praise to Jesus for what he is doing!!
We have welcomed new families and enjoyed getting to know one another more. Sundays have been set aside for fellowship and bible teaching in line with the adult teaching themes and it has been so inspiring to hear back from the children every week in the services – their simple yet profound understanding of what they have learned and what the Lord is saying has encouraged us all!
Our events this year have proved very popular! Our summer holiday club, Backpackers, welcomed 80 children who had so much fun over 3 days adventuring around Wales, Israel and Greece, tasting delicious delicacies from each country and hearing bible stories along the way!
The Glow party was a wonderful, fun, light-filled evening. More than 60 children from church and our community learnt about why we celebrate Jesus, the light, rather than the darkness on Halloween.
Our Grotto and Nativity Trail welcomed many families who don’t normally come to church, as well as passers by! The wonder on the children’s faces and their and gasps as they arrived at the door of the trail spoke volumes as they discovered the real meaning of Christmas. Over 400 people visited us that day and were very thankful for the whole experience.
This year we have gone deeper in equipping and enabling family discipleship to happen at home, by providing simple activities throughout the year alongside our Ivy Family Lent Adventure and Ivy Kids Advent Adventure.
For the younger children Ivy Buds has continued to go from strength to strength. Didsbury is very popular with a great regular group of parents/carers and their little people. In September we launched a new group at Cheadle Hulme. It has been so lovely to welcome members of the community into the Brockbank Centre as we share the love of Jesus with them all.
Many thanks to all our teams who serve our children so faithfully at all events.
Luke Anthony and Gemma Tuson
Thank you Jesus for an incredible year!
In our year of rebuilding we made the decision to move the night in which Ivy Youth meets to Sunday. One of the main reason for this was to raise up, grow and equip the older youth in leading and using their God given gifts to build the church. We have seen so many of them step up in different areas and this has been exciting to see.
In addition to meeting once a week on a Sunday evening, a fortnightly Thursday night gathering has been put into place at our Cheadle Hulme location. Here we have seen a really great and organic youth group grow where deep connections and friendships have been formed with God at the centre.
The Easter Sunday Youth Service was a particular highlight of the year with youth, parents, friends, family, kids and loved ones filling the church to see 8 of the young people being baptised. Some of them have journeyed with us from birth to Ivy Kids, onto Ivy Youth and to be baptised, making the commitment to publicly declare their decisions to follow Jesus. Isn’t God just great?
In July we took a coach of 50 youth and youth leaders to the Friday night launch of Festival Manchester. They had an incredible night seeing some of their favourite Christian bands (Guvna B being the highlight) and an awesome preach to which many made first time commitments and recommitments to following Jesus.
The last youth of the summer term saw 2 more youth being baptised making that 10 for the year which is beyond our comprehension. God certainly can do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.
In October we had our alternative to Halloween which was an incredible Bingo night (yes Bingo!) with music, gifts and a talk, providing the youth with a different response to the darkness we see around Halloween. We followed this up by having our annual fireworks social at Cheadle Hulme.
We finish the year by cheering on England as they beat Senegal, if only we had done the same against France (sad face) and finally we had our Youth Christmas Party, where the youth band led for the first time on their own and Christmas karaoke was taken to the next level!
We are so excited to see how God is going to continue to work in and through the Youth in 2023! Thanks to everyone who has helped make Ivy Youth so incredible this year!
Catherine Proudman and Ruth Pearce
As ever, so much more has happened in the life of the church than we can include in this report. We are thankful to all of those who have served, reaching out to share the gospel, support, encourage and help others both find their way back to God and find their gifts in order to step out to serve him.
We want to say thank you to those who have led Alpha; basketball and football; Ivy@ Work sessions and mentoring and many prayer, worship and reflection opportunities including our Wave of Light, Healing Club, Flow and The Call. Hospitality has flourished and we’re thankful for the 20s/ 30s team and those who’ve served regularly to offer monthly meals for refugees living locally in hostel accommodation and termly Ivy Gold tea parties.
We had various events, including a World Cup Night with 40 people of all ages from Ivy, along with friends, neighbours and a group from Chorlton Football Club to watch the game and hear about how Jesus is the best goal in life!
Men’s Breakfasts started in 2021 and culminated in over 30 men from Ivy Church going on the Xtreme Character Challenge in April 2022 which was a life changing experience for many.
As a staff team we’re privileged to hear of many answers to prayer and miracles, as well as sharing in the challenges and disappointments of our members. We are bowled over by the kindness and mercy shown by Ivy members.
Comings and goings
This year, as always, we have seen people step into new things with God, joining or leaving the staff and eldership teams.
We have said farewell to Danny Baker from the staff team, thankful for his service and investment into Ladybridge Connect. We have welcomed John Carlow into this new role and are excited to see what God does as he steps further into what God is doing at Cheadle Hulme.
We’re also thankful for all Lorna Lindsay did in covering the WTC Hub Leader role and welcome back Abi Shuttleworth from her maternity leave.
We’ve said goodbye to Hannah Bettany as she stepped down as Deliver Team Leader and thank God for her years of faithful, caring, joy-bringing leadership. We’ve also said goodbye to Joel Delaney who has invested so much into LAUNCH as Event Assistant and has now moved on to work in Sheffield.
On behalf of the Elders
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
We can now look back on our Year of Rebuilding and reflect on a year of profound change for our church, our congregation, our partners and our nation, as well as in international events. While we were unprepared for how the year would pan out, we can wholeheartedly say that it is only by the grace of God, who continually leads us into each new and exciting day that we have remained steadfast.
As we adjusted to a new level of normality much of what we saw looked familiar, yet the environment in which we were operating was startling and profoundly different. As a result, our church, like so many others, found itself at an inflection point. External forces such as the impact of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine, have led to a fundamental transformation in society, business, government, and the church at large that has challenged how we must think, act, and operate going forward.
As elders we want to acknowledge the hard work of our entire dedicated staff team and numerous volunteers, who have served so well this year. We want to say a huge “Thank You!” We have been so blessed by your contributions, sacrifices and selfless acts of kindness and commitment.
We have also benefited greatly from the steadfast and unswerving leadership of Anthony. The underlying resilience of his devoted leadership means we’ve continued growing, changing as needed and playing our part in strengthening the whole body of believers and those who partner with us too. Anthony ensures we always stay on track, and with our feet firmly planted on solid ground, so that we are not swept away by the storms of life we encounter.
Rebuilding is hard and seemingly never-ending work! Even the strongest amongst us have moments where we get tired and things appear too great for us to handle, yet this is when the Lord comes alongside us and whispers to our hearts, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ - Matthew 11:28
Part of any rebuilding project is to ensure we do it to the best of our ability. Our programmes over the year were geared towards encouragement, support, and practical help - all bathed in prayers. We maintained a resolute and intentional spirit in accepting transitions readily, using the information available to us as best as we could. Change is never straightforward; thankfully we have a Lord and Saviour who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow to keep us focused on the task at hand.
While it is important to look back and see our journey to date, we must look at the present and set our eyes to the destination ahead to help us be better equipped moving forward, asking:
How do we build on our experience of the past to shift the narrative and look at what we have, here and now in this season?
How do we train ourselves to be a people who ooze gratitude, godly character, and a correct life perspective?
How do we ensure that we continue to love and keep loving when things get tough?
How do we ensure that we stay focused on the long-term goal we’ve set to help people find their way back to God?
As we reflect in this report and consider our mission. Let’s think about how it will be when the Master returns. How are we investing the talents he gave us?
May you be blessed, encouraged, and motivated to stay on board, get plugged in and see how and where you can invest your own skills, talents, gifting, and time to contribute to our journey.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also