'They go out with joy': goodbye and many thanks to Anita and Chuck
‘We’ve never been in a church service like the JOY Place. Love is given freely and deeply, people are cared for and joy abounds!’, say Chuck and Anita Saunders who set up and have led the JOY Place, along with Matt and Jenny Long, for the past 11 years.
Both couples had a vision for church services in Oxford specially designed for those with learning disabilities. They were put in touch with each other, and JOY Place was born, meeting first in north Oxford and at St Andrew's Dean Court since 2017.
Now the Saunders, who were previously involved in mission in the Philippines, are returning to California to be near their children and grandchildren. 'It has been such a privilege serving in this ministry the past 11 years', they write. 'As we say “Goodbye” to our time in Oxford and serving at the JOY Place we “go out with joy and are led forth with peace”.
'As we leave, our greatest legacy would be that our JOY Place folks always remember that it’s all about JESUS - ”looking unto Jesus”, his precious promises, his redemptive work on the cross for us, his life giving us life, and each one of us given the joy of passing his love on to others.
Jesus, Others, and You! That is what the JOY Place is all about!'
Anita, Chuck and Matthew lead the singing at JOY Place when it was able to meet in St Andrew's. We look forward to the time when we can get together again in person!
At Chuck and Anita's last service (on Zoom) in the UK on 2 May, one person after another gave heartfelt thanks for what the Saunders have done to touch their lives, constantly making themselves available to help and encourage.
The work goes on with Matt and Jenny and others. JOY Place is unique in Oxford and we are grateful to God for starting it and for the privilege we have at St Andrew's in providing a suitable space for it, and for our very small share in it.