Belinda Groves – 10 September 2017

Dear Friends

Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.”

I have been reminded of that verse this week – when I’ve woken during the night – and thought, “Oh my goodness! Is this Sunday really ‘Signpost Sunday’ when we will be articulating who God is calling us to be as a church?” But I have also been reminded of the vital role of prayer – time spent intentionally in seeking God’s face and through that, God’s direction. Unless the Lord is part of the thinking and planning and discussions, those who think and plan and discuss do so in vain.

As we gather today there will be an opportunity – for those who would like to do so – to gather in the Fellowship Room and pray – from 10am to 12pm.

Then, at 12pm, we will enjoy a meal, beautifully coordinated by Kelli Hughes and prepared by many of you. And following that, Aron Downey will facilitate our discussion, as we seek to hear God in our thinking and the thinking of others, and as we articulate together who God is calling us to be as a church.

This review, as many of you know, started with the deacons who felt there was a need to increase ownership of the church’s strategy; to better know who we are and our purpose as a church; and to think in new ways to continue to make the church relevant.

The process began in earnest in June, when we began hearing stories in church from people about how this place had nurtured their faith and how it might continue to in the future. Next, Keith Blackburn and John Clark helped us understand our results in the National Church Life Survey. Following this, we invited Anne and Richard Mallaby to speak to us about deepening our spirituality as a church and we re-visited the ten signposts from Spirituality for the Rest of Us. The two most mentioned were hospitality (perhaps no surprise) and testimony (some surprise there!) as was our second emphasis; discernment/contemplation. Then Scott Higgins opened up the idea of being a graceful presence in a changing society. And last weekend Alan Marr invited us to consider mission as:

  1. The gifts of the people gathered here
  2. The picture of God/God’s love they have come to know together
  3. The context of this church.

Our Reflection Weekend, 12-13th August, was an opportunity gather together these threads of story and statistics, faith and challenge and discover where they connect in call and mission for us as a community.

And today we are seeking to put this into words! Can I urge you to come! I believe this will be a very significant moment for us as a church. But if you cannot be there, please continue to hold us up in prayer!

Grace and peace