A church of blessing, encouragement and praise
In September, the PCC adopted a new Mission Action Plan for the coming years. It draws upon the gifts we currently possess so as to build a lasting heritage of ministry and mission for the years to come; and it provides myself and the Church Council with some guiding, gospel principles by which we may plan and make decisions regarding the best use of our resources in response to the needs of the people of this place, the ‘sheep of this pasture.’
The theme for our new MAP is “A church of blessing, encouragement and praise.” Of blessing, because that is what I often see in those who share worship with us and pass through, and because it should surely be possible in a church to find God’s blessing (and if not here, then where?); of encouragement, because this is what we do really well, to a rich gallery of pilgrims who arrive on our doorstep; and of praise, because this too is our shared calling, to sing and speak of God’s presence and purpose.
On this foundation we then build the four walls of our house of mission:
- To establish a permanent engagement with the residential, commercial, cultural, educational and social care forums of the wider community. This is, I recognise, largely the work of priestly and pastoral ministry which I exercise on behalf of us all. (I am forever saying ‘We’). It has been good to renew this work again over the past six months and I look forward to extending it in the time to come.
- To build up a practice of prayer and scripture reading among the congregation. Many will have a practice of prayer and know their scriptures well, but perhaps not all. One Sunday each month, therefore, I will preach in a more expository style on one of the letters or themes of the gospel and will also look for other ways to encourage the practice of prayer
- To develop a genuine ministry and mission to children and families drawn from the parish community. This aims to build on the experience of the children’s event we held at the beginning of September.
- To enrich the liturgical year by seeking creative ways of celebrating festivals and responding to contemporary themes within the liturgical pattern of the Book of Common Prayer.
The Little Big Camp and the Children’s Space
About 30 families turned up for what I hope will be the first of many ‘Little Big Camps’ held in the churchyard on Saturday, 3rd September. Hand-made tents were put up outside along with games and craft activities, a bouncy castle, face-painting, food stalls and, later in the afternoon, a short music recital in church. At the same time we set out for the first time the play equipment and books at the west end of the church as a place where parents, carers and children can spend time together. I am grateful to a good many people who first thought of all this and then, by their labours, made it possible: to Chi, Pascalis, Eva, Rachel and many more of their friends, and also to Sunyi, Kate and Shirley from the St Giles Choir. My thanks to you all.
A Present from Australia
With a collection of small gifts recently left at St Giles was found the following fascinating note: ‘My great-great-grandmother was baptised here in the early 1820’s before being transported to Sydney on the female convict ship in 1823 at the age of 1 – 2 years. Her 19 year old mother and 16 year old aunt were baptised here and transported together. They were Elizabeth Ford, age 19, alias Miller, her daughter Mary Ford, 1 – 2 years and Hannah Ford, age 16, alias Miller. Elizabeth and Mary have many descendants but Hannah continued to lead a sad life. Threads of Christian blessing can be seen down the family ancestry (some of this is also attributable to Elizabeth Fry).’ Ruth.
Buried Treasure Bible reading group meets from 1 – 2pm in the Vestry House on 11th, 18th and 25th October | The first Sunday charity for the season of harvest is the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, which supports the more hard-pressed families within the agricultural community.