Day: 11 March 2021

A vision for the Third Post here at SPC

We have been seeking God and carefully considering the shape of our third post in the Team, and are now at a stage where there is enough clarity to share with you. This proposal takes seriously the challenges and opportunities we face, and tries to think creatively, sustainably and in a way that allows as much fruitfulness as possible. We are committed to caring for those within our congregations, those within our communities, our schools, those who are seeking, mourning and celebrating. We are committed to working collaboratively with other organisations working to bring transformation in people’s lives, and for our environment. 

We are also listening to the concerns of parishes that are not managing to meet their parish share, and we are aware that giving has reduced significantly through the pandemic. There is a lot to consider, particularly given the biblical call of the church to live, breath and act for the benefit of its non-members.

In our vision of who we are as the Stroud Team, the image of the vine from John 15 has been and continues to be very important.

This time has been one of being stripped back and pruned in all kinds of ways, and as we know, that often leads to vigorous new growth, and this is what we are trusting God for. 

We also know that it is exactly at the time that we prune that we also need to tie into strong supports so that the growth will be protected and strengthened.

Our vine is made up of many unique and wonderfully called branches – not only the different buildings and communities but multiple worshipping communities within and around those, as well as our mission and ministry in schools, to families at significant times in their lives, in our hospital and nursing homes…
all of this makes for a large, beautiful and complex vine.

And this is where we have been trying to think creatively. 

From back in 2018 when Andrew Braddock did a review with us, the suggestion of a Team Manager has been part of our conversation. 

A helpful analogy might be a Surgery Manager at the Doctors, who fulfils the vital, pastoral, strategic and administrative tasks, which allows the Doctors to fulfil their call of caring for the sick.

In our context, a Team Manager would be a full-time Lay Minister, called and gifted to fulfil the vital, pastoral, strategic and administrative tasks that allow the Clergy to fulfil their call of proclaiming the Gospel afresh in this generation.

We have seen something of how fruitful this model could be through Fiona being with us as part-time acting Team Manager and her ministry of team building, strategic planning, pastoral care and prayer ministry as well as ensuring we have robust systems in safeguarding and other areas.

As we have been praying and discerning, a job description has evolved.
As you will see, this is a huge role and would provide significant ‘posts and wires’ to tie in and support our fruitful vine. 

Having a lay minister as a key member of the leadership team says something important about the value we place on everyone’s ministry, not just those who are ordained. This role would also, as in the Surgery Manager analogy, free up the clergy from administrative tasks so that they can invest more time and energy into mentoring, supporting and resourcing the mission and ministry of our laity. 

Again, going back to the image of the vine, when the clergy are freed up to mentor a lay leader, another branch can grow, and they can go on to mentor another, and more growth can happen. 

This is the opposite of the image of the laity being there to help the clergy in their mission and ministry, which will always be limited by definition because the focus is on the one.

In this model, the clergy are there to help the laity in their mission and ministry, which opens up so many more opportunities for growth, because you are the very best people to minister to those around you; you are the very best people to reach out to those in your workplace, your street, your family…

The experience of this last year has shaken up everything that we knew, and there are many voices across the church in this town, this nation and the world that are joining together; to take courage, to not fall back into life as normal, to see the new thing God is doing through this.

This does take courage, and we will make mistakes. It is a truly pioneering model we are proposing. But I also believe that it brings us closer to our calling, to present one another mature in Christ [Colossians 1:28]

We haven’t got to this place in a rush.

We want to hear your reflections; not those knee jerk, ‘what about me’ reactions that we humans naturally come to first, but those prayerful, challenging reflections that come as we think about the whole. As these questions arise, speak to Simon, Kate, Helen or Fiona and a variety of voices will respond to them and we will keep this conversation going, as you keep the conversation going. I pray that in all of our conversations we would seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, knowing that then all these things will be given to us as well. [Matthew 6:33]

Weekly News 11 March

As the sun begins to shine, buds and flowers begin to peep through, our hope is beginning to rise too.

This week, we want to encourage you to take up some of the opportunities to engage with your faith that we are creating as we continue through Lent, into Holy Week, Easter and beyond.

This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, and we will be celebrating! Join us on the Services section of our website. I will be leading and preaching and members of All Saints, Uplands will be reading and praying. Remember to like and share with your friends and family – its a really easy way to reach out to others.

We are excited about what God will do through our town-wide Holy Week of 24/7 prayer. We are praying for healing for all that has been and hope for all that will be. A whole bunch of groups, churches and organisations are joining in and some amazing commitments have already been made. There will be a virtual prayer room, our buildings will be open at different times throughout the week, and there will be groups meeting virtually. There is, of course, our virtual prayer board and a wonderful, dedicated prayer team. We have added the opportunity for feedback on those prayers, and would also encourage you to add anything you have discerned through prayer to our prayer board – we want to be listening, expectantly, to God and treasuring what we hear. We are also compiling resources and ideas for you to use. If you have any of your own, please do send them through so that we can share them. You can sign up and find more information on our website.

As we get ready for our Easter celebrations in our church buildings, once again we are having to think about how we can do that as creatively and inclusively as possible. The format will be similar to Christmas, with readings, prayers, hymns and the opportunity to receive Communion on a drop-in basis. We are hoping that we will have Easter fires, gathering people in, and will be lighting our Easter candles with a particularly poignant longing for the hope of resurrection following the year we have had. Again, there is more information on our website, where you will also hear news as our different worshipping communities make decisions about when and how to restart live services as we move through April.

We are continuing to seek God about the shape of our third post in the Team. We are carefully considering the challenges and opportunities we face and trying to think creatively, sustainably and in a way that allows as much fruitfulness as possible. We are committed to caring for those within our congregations, those within our communities, our schools, those who are seeking, mourning and celebrating. We are committed to working collaboratively with other organisations working to bring transformation in people’s lives, and for our environment. There is a lot to consider, particularly given the biblical call of the church to live, breath and act for the benefit of its non-members.

 

Have a good look around, talk to friends and family about how you would like to engage with any or all of this, hold on in there and keep the faith.

Open at Easter

Our buildings will be open this Easter and you are welcome to drop in any time; stay for five minutes or rest for an hour, listen to the music, readings and prayers, receive Communion, focus on the light of the Easter Candle and the story beautifully told through the Easter garden.

Find a space to be, to hope, to pray, to reconnect with yourself, with others and with God as we emerge from this extraordinary time.

A week of 24-7 Prayer in April

We are really excited to be coming together with others from across the town to pray without ceasing throughout Holy Week. This will literally be from 12 midnight right at the beginning of Palm Sunday to 12 midnight right at the end of Easter Eve.

We are praying for God’s healing for all that has been, and that God would ignite fresh hope in us for all that will be.

This will be happening in peoples homes, as they walk, knit or sit. This will be happening in church buildings, open at different times as prayer spaces with visual focusses. This will be happening in a virtual prayer room where you can go with others or alone, and add to our virtual prayer board both the needs of the world and those things you are discerning as you listen and pray.

We are gathering ideas and resources to inspire you here and we will keep adding to this.

Do sign up, commit to pray and be expectant that we will see, and hear and sense God on the move in this place.

Sign up here.