May 2022


Dear Friends,
I have recently been reading a book by Rowan Williams called “Passions of the Soul” – where he writes about how we can learn from early Eastern Christian theology. He describes how the early theologians of that time suggested that if you are not growing spiritually then you are shrinking. This is a thought that was also presented by St Teresa of Avila in the 17th Century as she said of our spiritual journey, “You can either go on or you go back, you can’t simply stand still.”

Now we like to think that this way of thinking was introduced in our modern fast paced world, but the idea that if we spiritually stand still, we go backwards (as described above) has been a long standing theological thought.

With this in mind, I want to encourage you to think about how you and we as a church might grow – both spiritually and numerically. The draft Mission Action Plan (MAP) provides a systematic framework to discern, discuss and pray about the way forward for our church. I want to urge you then to engage with it over the summer, meet together in groups to discuss it if you would like, before we discern and adopt the final version all together on Saturday 5th October 10am – 1pm at the church.

Part of the discussions about worship in the church can be added to via the Worship Consultation Questionnaire that will be circulated from today (26.5.24). I would really like to hear your views about how you engage with God through our worship services and this questionnaire is open to all ages, including our children and young people.

The MAP which I am willing to acknowledge is ambitious, is a necessary challenge as we seek not to stand still but move forwards and grow. In addition, we have to acknowledge that the pandemic has meant an acceleration of change in both our churches and in our society, meaning that we need to adapt and find ways that allow others to encounter the Gospel. We have to recognise that a greater choice of social activity on a Sunday plus a more pluralistic and consumerist approach to spirituality and worship presents challenges to us as a church and myself as a church leader. Also, the pandemic has moved people around hastening the decline of denominationalism, so that people looking for churches that they can connect with, rather than hunting for a specific denominational identity.

Whilst we have seen a growth in people becoming members of our church and a great increase in children and families (the envy of many churches) over the last three years, there remains significant challenges ahead. I would ask you to pray for the following:

Vacancy: Pastoral Team Leader – we have a vacancy in this important role within our mission and ministry of the church. The role includes the key responsibility of being a link person, passing on any pastoral concerns to the Minister.

Vacancy: Property Team Leader– this important role will become vacant in January 2025 – and is vital to our mission and ministry as a church. Part of our current success in reaching out to our community is the warm, modern and welcoming building. This role could potentially be split with someone to look after the inside of the building and another the outside.

Youth Work: As we have invested in children’s work it is of utmost importance that we create opportunities for our young people to meet and learn about faith, life and who God is. We are looking at applying for outside grants and fundraising / gift day to potentially match fund these to employ someone for 8 hours per week.

Children & Families Work: we have been reliant on the Circuit funding half of the current 18 hour role of Children & Family Worker. We are making a further application to the Circuit, but this funding route is not guaranteed. We therefore need to consider fundraising / gift day to continue this role.

There are other challenges that we face as a church, but I am asking you to particularly pray for the ones mentioned above.

In addition, having recently returned from a District delegation to Zimbabwe, there was much that we learnt from cementing our partnership with the churches in the Biduriro Circuit. During the Autumn we would like to create opportunities to share with you what we have learnt – under the title “Faith and Not Fear”. This will enable us to reflect on the question about whether our churches in the UK are more predicated towards fear in decision making, rather than faith.

Finally, as many of you know, I will be embarking on my sabbatical from 1st June. Initially I was reticent about spending this time away, but I have now come to realise that I need the break. Working at full capacity for the last 5 years, with all the upheaval of the pandemic and a pastoral load of four churches, has left me tired. So, I would value your prayers over the next 3 months – that I will be able to be renewed and refreshed.

I look forward to seeing you all in September, which looks like it will be a critical month as welook to avoid standing still and move forward.

Every blessing
Rev Nick