March Magazine leader

From the Vicar

The February meeting of General Synod marked an important staging post in the life of the Church of England. Under the leadership of Archbishop Justin, there has been a sea-change of attitude in the passing of legislation to allow women to be ordained into the Episcopate. The joyful celebrations surrounding Libby Lane’s ordination as a bishop heralded the arrival of the first female bishop in the Church of England (we already have plenty of women bishops elsewhere in the world-wide Anglican Communion). What has changed is that Archbishop Justin has got us talking together and asking how we might help one another to flourish, rather than talking at each other and defending dug-in positions. He is doing the same thing with the issue of same-sex marriage and we are in a process of facilitated conversations around the Church of England.

In the February General Synod we have discussed the reports from four working parties, which are designed to bring significant change to our church. These initiatives are designed to free up Church Commissioners money for mission; change our education strategy to encourage more vocations to leadership, both clergy and lay; simplify processes so that red-tape does not hinder mission initiatives; and introduce new ways to identify, call out and train those destined for senior positions in the church. Some of these proposals have come in for significant criticism, but a process of discussion has begun which recognises the need for radical change at the heart of the church, if we are to grow into a position of flourishing in the future. The fact that we are talking about these things, and acting to do something about them, is what is so encouraging.

 

Closer to home we had a visit from our bishop in January. He has challenged us to think of ways in which we can better pray together, serve the community and grow as a church. Church growth will not come about simply by finding ways to encourage others to come and do things our way. We need to commit ourselves to being a community bound together by prayer. We need to find new ways in engaging in the wider community in ways that make a difference. From those will flow the growth of our church, but we need to have a mind-set that is geared to growing disciples, not just in maintaining things as they are. It is a hopeful sign that half a day at General Synod was spent in groups talking about discipleship. Growing disciples is both about us and about others. For each of us, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing about growing in the faith, so that we are advancing on a journey of transformation that leads us ever closer to Christ. Growing disciples is also about how we encourage others to join us on that journey and to discover for themselves the joy of knowing Christ in their lives.

The Parochial Church Council will be spending half a day wrestling with the bishop’s challenge on Saturday 14th March. We would like you all to offer your suggestion before that date. How do you think we could better pray together? How do you think we can better serve our community? How do you think that together we can grow our church? The answers to these questions will help us identify our strategy for the coming year. Looking back eighteen months, we committed ourselves to appointing a Parish Administrator and to starting Breakfast Church. We have done these things. We seek to be open to the mind of God as to where he is leading us as his church in the next eighteen months, and beyond. The bishop’s questions will help us.

Nigel LLoyd

 


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