Belinda Groves – 13 August 2017

Dear Friends      

During this year we are undertaking a review of our church. Not because we are unhappy with our current ministries or ethos, but because, from time to time, it is important to think – and invite the Spirit of God to illuminate our thinking -about the kind of community that God calls us to be. The deacons have also recommended this review to increase ownership of the church’s strategy and to tackle questions of what it means to be the church in a changing and challenging society.

The first stage of the review has been ‘input’ from a variety of sources:

Firstly, Keith Blackburn and John Clark led several workshops, here at church and in small groups, helping people to understand the profile of our church provided by the National Church Life Survey.

Secondly, we have heard ‘stories’ from people who are part of our church, specifically stories about what it was that drew them to this community, has enriched their faith during their time here and what they hope to see happen in our future.

And there have been the workshops. Unfortunately, one of these has had to be delayed for early in September, but the two that we have had have been very stimulating. Anne and Richard Mallaby took us back to the 10 signposts from Diana Butler Bass’s book, Christianity for the Rest of Us that we explored in our sermons at the beginning of year, and encouraged us to ask the question: which of these ‘signposts’ or spiritual disciplines will best guide us, best match our identity and best meet our needs? And, last Sunday, Scott Higgins came and talked about three models for being faithful Christians in a changing and a challenging society, how we affirm diversity in our community, while freeing our members to speak and act for justice, and how we might preserve authentic faith in the future.

And all of us bring our own life experiences and reflections and reading and thinking. These, too, are part of our gathered reflections.

This weekend ‘Ears to Hear’ marks the end of the input phase and the beginning of the ‘reflection’ phase; where we consider our identity as a community of faith and how that shapes our mission, and we have been delighted to have the skills of Ann Lock helping us bring our reflections together this weekend.

The reflection phase is not over! During the next week, I will be preparing a summary of thinking and reflections to date, and on Sunday, 10th September (‘Signpost Sunday’ I’m calling it!) you are all invited to help ‘draft’ – from our reflections this weekend and our ongoing prayers – a set of goals that affirms who we are as a church and where God is calling us to go in the future.

Guide us, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrims through this barren and blessed land.