Vicar’s APCM Report 2021
‘Renewing our Vision’
Acts 4:5-12; John 10:11-18
APCMs seem to be coming around at an alarming rate of knots so adding to what I said only 6 months ago has been difficult, but it is always appropriate to take the scriptures as a jumping off point. Peter and John have been put in prison for their preaching and in particular the healing of the crippled man and they are asked ‘by what power or what name did you do this?’ they respond, ‘by the power of Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith’.
We know that power today because our church is named after it. Its Christ’s church not Rosemary’s, not Sue’s or David’s, not Andy’s or Jen’s, not Malcolm’s or Lucy’s, I could go on.
We are the gathered Body of Christ in this place and as such are called into fellowship with the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us, who knows us intimately by name and who seeks out those outside the flock as well. One of the roles of leadership is to keep on telling the sacred story so I have entitled this report ‘Renewing our Vision’ because we have not had much opportunity to reflect on vision during this past year as everyone has been caught up in their own bubbles and the future has been so uncertain. Much of what I say many of you will have heard before, some however will not be as familiar and it doesn’t hurt to refresh all our memories especially at an annual celebration.
Let’s go back to our strapline.
‘Christ Church as a LIVING WELL Christ Church living well.’
We have been journeying with this vision for several years and it remains our calling and goal. However, we need to pray it through afresh in the light of the past 12 months so consequently we will be having a special prayer meeting as part of Essence of Pentecost.
Nevertheless, we still believe that God wants us as the gathered Body of Christ in this place to enable the people and environment of our parish to live well with God, one another, and themselves.
This means providing a resource for the local community in that our facilities can be a safe space for all to come and encounter God for themselves (that’s the Knowing part of our Mission); here we can access activities and facilities that support and promote that encounter (the Growing in faith). As our understanding of church is the members themselves, we seek to be resourceful people actively demonstrating the love of Christ wherever we find ourselves at home, school, work or in leisure pursuits. (Hence us all Going out in love and service). We are supported in this understanding through a Rule for Life that seeks to put Christ at the centre of all we do and touches on all aspects of daily life.
In the Rule for life there are 7 holy habits. Every aspect of our communal life also fits into these key areas. Take a minute to look at the rich variety of community life that we are celebrating today.
Each year the PCC reviews our Mission Action Plan that ties our own Living Well Vision with wider Diocesan goals (Transforming Church, Transforming Lives). Specific areas for focus are identified with smart targets. This year’s targets are on the distributed postcard so please hold them and the whole churches’ mission and growth in your prayers.
Slide’s 3 & 4
The aspirational aspects of our ongoing Redevelopment project were also developed in line with the holy habits as we considered the facilities and activities we seek to provide for Knowing, Growing and Going. We haven’t time to run through this again now, but they were on the display panels produced by the architect.
Nevertheless, the complete fulfilment of our desire to be a destination or hub for the local community has not as yet come to fruition. Obviously, we paused on active project work as we digested the financial and practical implications of Covid 19. We need to review and renew this in the light of the post Lockdown world we now find ourselves in.
Community consultation in 2019 highlighted a need for (Slide 5)
· Meeting space
· Drop in space
· Community hub
· Events facilities
· Support groups
· Fitness and interest groups
· Business opportunities
Many of these things are still pertinent perhaps even more so as people crave social interaction post Lockdown.
Further congregational consultation in 2020 prioritised the following. (Slide 6)
1. Linking hall and church together
2. Continuing outreach especially through youth & families work.
3. Improving hall catering facilities
4. Improving upper hall /office facilities
5. Improving outreach through social media /marketing new admin role
6. Developing Scout HQ
7. Servery in church
8. Open Church
9. Conserving resources
13. Sacred decoration
We need to discern if these are still our order of priorities. The PCC has obviously already begun reflecting on the challenges and opportunities presented to us over the last 12 months focusing particularly on 3 main areas.
How do we maintain a sense of unity as a church family?
There has been appreciation for the pastoral principles sermon series as it opened up conversations. We need to seek out real priorities, appreciating it is not about differing worship styles but what we believe and how we behave. Our pastoral contact has been important for people especially home deliveries for those without email access. It has been harder to keep young people and families connected – simply being technologically connected does not necessarily help. There is a need to find ways to involve young people. As we move out of lockdown balancing live and virtual worship will also need consideration.
How might we attract newcomers when church re-starts?
There have been newcomers during lockdown. We should maintain our digital footprint – use content as a magnet, use tagging in social media, as well as our roadside banners. Develop the site as a community hub. More outside services and events. The fence ministry, Miss You activities and children’s trails on the common have been a great witness and draw.
What are the opportunities of a post-Covid world?
As things open up there will be a hunger for social events. Many more people have been passing through the churchyard, should we open the church more and offer refreshments? We need to increase the use of our digital footprint and signage. We are hoping to hold an Environmental fair as so many more people tuned in to eco issues including more outdoor worship.
These were just the beginnings of our thought processes and the conversations will continue beginning as I said with prayerful reflection during the Thy Kingdom Come week and Pentecost.
Overall, I have been exceptionally proud of the way in which the Christ Church community has rallied and stayed in contact throughout what will undoubtedly go down in the history books as a unique and extremely stressful time. So let us be positive, focusing on what we did achieve most notably continuing to maintain a weekly communion service at 10am which regularly saw 70+ people attending, growing our midweek communion including running the Prayer Course 2.
We have taken leaps and strides into the digital world. I’m not a natural behind a camera and Jen will testify to how many takes it took to produce our virtual tour for schools, but we’ve done our best with Zoom for worship and meetings, and I am so grateful to all who have supported our technological advancements. We can continue to develop this and hopefully improve our offer even more. Whilst we will be continuing to stream services, I am really looking forward to the day when the whole community is worshipping together again physically in this space or in the grounds as many of us have developed a passion for outdoor worship too.
The church grounds have been a sanctuary not just for wildlife in no mow May but for so many who have sought solace in the outdoor chapel or comfort from our fence ministry. The use of installations both in the grounds and across the common have bought new contacts in ways we could not previously have envisaged. There have been other highlights such as developing a more inclusive welcome statement and new eco church handbook as well as regilding the clock in Richard Shortman’s memory.
Christ’s church is always a team effort. So many people have contributed to the success of this community that I simply cannot single them all out. I have repeatedly thanked the pastoral team and music department for all they have done, and it goes without saying but I will anyway, say thank you to the staff team for all their unseen work. Juggling the books financially has been no easy task either so particular thanks to John, Tracy, June, Malcolm and Alan are also due.
Finally, as we seek to move to electronic bookings via the website, despite a quiet year I would like to extend our gratitude to Lesley Morgan who has faithfully coordinated our hall bookings for many years and deserves recognition and special thanks, so I sent her some flowers yesterday on behalf of us all with our sincere gratitude and thanks.
As we seek prayerfully to re-envision the future let us gather around The Good Shepherd to be knowing, growing and going upwards and outwards in faith.