February 2014

Locally grown

A number of you came to a meeting at Longtown School last year where John Daniels spoke about developing local ministry: for those not there, the gist of what he said can be found at http://www.hereford.anglican.org/churchwork/mission_ministry_and_development/local_ministry/index.aspx. Having given it quite a great deal of thought since then, the PCC’s all agreed at their last meetings that we should move forward to form a group of people from the benefice to develop the church’s ministry here.

Such a group would look at areas which I hope you will agree are important. While, as your Vicar, I carry certain responsibilities regarding mission and ministry, mission in its fullest sense is the shared responsibility of all God's people. Practically speaking,, if there is just a one-man-band then real progress will only be in those areas where that one man has the necessary gifts and experience: the more the players, the greater those gifts and experiences will be.

The group will meet together at least once a month, although in the initial stages, that might have to be more frequent. It will begin by looking at the following areas. (These are all, incidentally, areas where I know people here have gifts, talents and experience.)

Ministry to children & young people. The excitement at St Margaret’s whenever there is a Family Service where the children play such a leading role merely underlines how little they are engaged elsewhere, a fact underlined by the demise of the Sunday School. We need to see how we can engage, involve and teach them, making them a central part of our life. How much more important is that when we look at teenagers whose absence from the life of the church is depressing indeed.
Ministry of worship. I think we need at all times to keep an eye on what we are doing and how we are doing it. There is a balancing act to perform between making changes for change’s sake and letting things go stale.
Ministry of music. There are some fantastically able musicians in the benefice who could wonderfully enhance our church life.
Observing the seasons. We mark Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter in various ways: there are other seasons as well – Rogationtide, Harvest, Remembrance, Pentecost etc – where we need a bit of imagination to bring them to life.
Teaching and Bible Study. This is an area where, I am sure, there is much for all of us to teach and to learn.
Visiting. Every Vicar has stories about someone who needed visiting but nobody told the Vicar because everybody assumed he already knew. We know that can be the case, but need to see what we can do to make sure that everyone who needs visiting is visited.

There will undoubtedly be other areas that the group will want to look at as it evolves and develops.

So how is such a group chosen?

During February, everybody will be invited to nominate people to sit on the group. Nominations letters will be available in the churches and will be able to be downloaded from the website. I encourage all of you to think hard and prayerfully about who would be suitable candidates and to propose them. Perhaps the following points would be helpful:

The group needs balance  - of ages, skills, temperaments, sexes and backgrounds.

The group needs availability.  Members should be available enough to contribute over an extended, though limited, period.
The group needs to be representative.  The congregations should be able to feel that the group represents them all, not being biased towards any particular group or faction.

The group needs Christian commitment.  Since members are exercising leadership on behalf of the Church, it is important that each member is recognisably part of their local Christian community.  

The group needs to be enabling.  The idea is not that group members should do all the work themselves, but rather should involve others from the congregations, and possibly the wider community, in appropriate ways.  

Nominations should be returned to me either by impromptu post boxes in the churches or directly. Details will be given in the next Newsletter about the process of discernment that goes into the selection of the group. It is certainly not down to the Vicar and his own preferences!

I do encourage you all to enter in to this process thoughtfully and enthusiastically: it is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to further God’s work here in this benefice.

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