It is some time since I last wrote to you all and so wanted to share with you words of encouragement and reassurance.
As we emerge from the global pandemic, I recognise that our church is in a time of real transition, re-shaping and responding to new circumstances. But first of all, I want to say a huge thank you for staying faithful as we moved online whilst remaining committed in your giving to the work of the church. The pandemic put an enormous strain on our finances, and I was completely overwhelmed with the response to our appeal to plug the gap in our funds. So far that appeal has raised over £7,000. THANK YOU SO MUCH.
Without your faithful giving, the church would not be in the position to continue its worship and mission in our community. Our church here in St. Ives is entering into a new season, we have a newly refurbished building that is fit for new and established worship and mission – a huge thanks to the whole P200 team who have worked so hard in getting us to this final stage. At the same time, we have said goodbye to twelve of our older members / church friends who have passed away over the last 18 months. This has left an enormous gap in friendship, fellowship and in the life of the church – we are so grateful for their faithfulness and witness over the years.
However, we have been blessed with new growth and new people, alongside a rapidly growing children’s and families ministry. This has meant that we have had to change and adapt as we welcome new people and new families, most notably in our worship. We must move on in our worship style if we are to retain this younger demographic and sustain our mission for generations to come. Nevertheless, I also want to re-assure you that this does not mean that we have abandoned more traditional aspects of worship. As we settle into new patterns, there will very definitely be an equal importance attributed to both traditional and more contemporary styles. As a church we need to come together and be generous with each other as we appreciate the need for a mix of style in order to sustain and maintain growth.
We have seen a great increase in our families work through TOTS, through our multi-generational summer programme and the beginning of Sunday Club. This has been a real blessing and with Sunday Club being so popular with our children, it also means that there can be a time of teaching, reflection and prayer in church whilst our children enjoy their time learning more and having fun. We currently have 54 children on our TOTS register and 21 children registered at our Sunday Club. As we have seen new people come to faith, others exploring faith and young people and children in our congregation, let us rejoice – for there are many churches who would long to see God’s blessing in this way.
Also, though, be re-assured. The mission and ministry of the church is for all ages, and we have begun our Coffee on the Waits time on a Thursday – a chance to share in friendship and fellowship amongst people of an older age. We recognise that the pandemic has been a time where isolation and loneliness became more prevalent and so we offer this time for people to come and be together. This time on a Thursday is precious and already enjoyed by many of our older members, it is available for those who are ready to connect with each other again in smaller numbers over a cup of coffee or tea (and often freshly made cake!). We have also begun a monthly mid-week communion and there are plans for afternoons of fellowship, singing and themed reflection for an older generation.
I hope and pray that as we move forward, we can get a sense of God’s movement, direction, and blessing – that we are able to sense a real joy as we look around and look forward. Henri Nouwen says some interesting things about joy – his perception being that joy is only found in newness, and that in times of uncertainty there is a tendency to yearn for the past. I want to reassure you all that I recognise that this is a great time of change, but I also ask you to look at the blessings that God is bringing now, to hold on to the faithfulness of the past as a starting point for the joy of new blessing as we continue to seek God’s will.
I believe that there is a place for all of us in the worship, mission and ministry of this church, and that as long as we continue to seek him, there is the promise of life and faith, of renewal and themovement of the Holy Spirit – for we have seen what God has done, what he is doing right now and as we place our faith in him, the assurance of what he will do in the future. I have no doubt that over the coming years we can look forward to God filling our church – for he is the God of abundance who makes a real difference.
Finally, I want to ask if you would pray and discern whether you could help us with our mission and outreach in the church by considering assisting us as:
• Member of the Leadership Team
• Member of our Property Team
• Helping on our Vestry or Welcome Team
• Becoming a Pastoral Friend
If you would like to know more about any of these roles, then please do not hesitate to give me a call.
So, be assured and be encouraged…some final words from Hebrews 10:
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Take care & God bless